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An Address to the Crowd · 10:44pm
Ladies and gentlemen,
As most of you are now painfully aware, The Journey of Graves is over. The final chapter has been posted, and for the past few days, I’ve been absorbing the responses from everyone who’s followed Graves through to his final act. Some were happy and found this to be a suitable ending for the marshal. Other, however, ranged in response from slightly miffed to downright incensed. In their comments, I’ve been called a coward, had my greatest epic tale been described as awful, and even had readers say that the entire Journey thus far was spoiled, perhaps even invalidated, because of that one chapter. How am I supposed to react to this?
It’s actually quite simple. I accept it because it was my intent to do so from the very start.
If we look back on the stories I wrote, I’d like to think that there are some things I did very well. I had good humor, good action, good fluffiness, and of course, absolutely flawless cliffhangers. But if there’s one thing I’d like to think I succeeded in doing, it’s telling a story of true love between a broken man and woman willing to fix him. A lot of you loved the growth Graves and Rarity went through together and rejoiced at how deep and meaningful the bond they shared became. For this, I am truly thankful, but I will have you understand that this meaning could only come about because of a very crucial ingredient:
As much as I loved writing happiness and joy in these stories, I spent just as much, if not more effort having the reader not just see, but feel the characters’ pain. From the marshal’s self-loathing in the cave to tearing apart his ideal dreamscape, from Rarity being abandoned and sacrificing her own happiness just so Graves could have peace, I worked to make sure the readers could feel every heartache as if it were their own. I did this not because I just wanted to torture you as the reader, but because I wanted you to really understand just what it was that Rarity and Graves were going through. If you could feel as they felt and really understand how much it they were hurting, you could understand them and hopefully, grow to love them, and once you loved them, you would be free to feel all of the joys that their moments of true happiness could bring.
As we came to the final chapter, it seems that all of that time and energy invested in struggling with them was finally about to pay off. I had put Rarity and Graves through every trial and tribulation that my demented mind could fathom, so surely, it must be time to reap the rewards of all this suffering and give them a happy ending, right?
See, as much as I’d done to the two of them, there were still things I had yet to do. Up till now, things had gone… well. In a sense. Tragedy would strike, but when it did, they got a chance to fix them. You got a down, but an up came out to balance the scales. It might have been hard and it might have been unpleasant, but in the end, it worked because it all came out to a somewhat fair trade. And yet, this ending spat on that very concept by tipping the scales and never giving them a chance to balance. It wasn’t fair, because if the universe were, Graves would have headed off towards happily ever after. I mean, he’s got to have earned it by now, hasn’t he?
Perhaps he has. But then let me ask you this: when were you ever promised that you could ever earn a goddamn thing? For those who said that it was too rushed, when did the universe ever promise you the time to get the closure you want after a battle well fought? For those who said that it wasn’t fair that Graves never got a proper send off, when did life say that heroic deeds would earn you a happy life, or even a noble death? Though Graves had lost things before, he’d gotten things of value in return, only this time, I took that away. And I didn’t just take it away, oh no. I gave him something in return that was even worse than making things unfair.
I gave him uncertainty.
People. Hate. Uncertainty. Absolutely hate it, and the comments I’ve read were proof enough. Though Graves still lived and thus, has a chance for a happy ending that could balance out the scales, many would rather have seen him dead and have that chance of happiness removed if only for the closure that it would provide. Why do you think I wrote it so that it was uncertainty that finally broke Graves? When he fell in the river, it wasn’t facing a demon or monster that motivated him to reach for the dark, but the simple fact that he didn’t know the outcome and couldn’t take the chance of being wrong. Uncertainty, especially when it’s between something you hope and something you fear, is a state that absolutely everyone loathes because it hurts, almost like having to live with a wound that can never really heal. Now where did we hear those words before?
This is why the ending is so painful. It combines our base aversion to the unfair and the uncertain and delivers it almost as a slap to the face. Why, after everything I’ve done, would I do something like this as my grand finale? The point, as it was and as it has always been, was so you could understand a person's struggle, and this case, it was the struggle of the unsung hero: Rarity.
Yes, the stories are named after Graves, but just like The Legend of Zelda, it’s the unnamed one that makes the story possible. From the very beginning, it was Rarity and her unceasing efforts that gave Graves a chance at happiness. When he was shy and awkward, she pursued. When he was stiff and unmoving, she goaded and teased. When he was sunk in self-loathing, she affirmed his worth. And most importantly, when he was hurt and despaired, when he lashed out and wounded and did everything he could to drive those close to him away, she loved. Life shit on Graves, but in key moments, Graves did the same to Rarity – she didn’t deserve being abandoned after the Gala, but he did so anyway. Yet despite being betrayed, Rarity pressed on to restore the things he broke. Rarity has always, always been the strong one because it was only through her unconditional love that happiness could happen at all.
Though Rarity is truly a hero, I’ve always dealt more subtly with her and her efforts. It seemed appropriate, as a designer like her would probably approve of my efforts in helping her beloved marshal shine, and considering the fact that few if any of the final chapter comments even mentioned Rarity at all, it seems that my methods were successful. Nevertheless, I wanted the final chapter to be one of dual purpose. I wanted to display Rarity's heroism once more while making sure that you as the reader could truly understand the weight of what it meant for Rarity to love like she did. How?
By leaving you, the reader, in the exact same situation as Rarity. The. Exact. Same.
Was it because I’m a coward and couldn’t write a decisive ending? Of course not, and it's actually very silly that some of the readers would even think so. It was all intentional and deliberate so that you could understand. With the rushed farewells and the lack of closure, I wrote so that what you would be left with is the exact same feeling of being cheated as Rarity would be. She, above any other would have expected a happy ending, and she, above all others would hurt at having been robbed of her right at the very last minute. I wanted you all to appreciate just what was required of her at that moment, of being willing to wait because she truly loved someone. After all, it’s often said that dying for someone is the ultimate act of sacrifice, but I’m not so sure. As Graves once said, it’s those who live on that have to deal with the pain of losing a love, and here, the pain is real. It’s having to stand and wait, powerless to do anything against a universe that has cheated you of everything, even the solace of a definite wound. Rarity willingly took that burden on herself because she loved Graves, and I wanted to make damned well sure that you could appreciate just how much it really cost.
So there we have it, and ending that features pain not just for the character, but for the reader in its most unpleasant, undefined, and unbearable form. But just like Rarity has never let the pain overwhelm her, I hope that my final words on the matter will help you do the same.
At the beginning of A Long, Winding Road, Rarity faced her greatest trial. Graves was gone and no amount of sense would ever have him coming back. Despite the mounds of evidence to the contrary, Rarity hoped against hope that something she did would change those facts. She loved Graves far too much to give up, even in the worst circumstances, and thus she continued to press on for their happily ever after. Her love kept hope alive, hope nurtured faithful action, and it was that faithful action that lead to miracles.
Despite the effort I put into making the last chapter hurt, know that the entirety of the story thus far was designed to help you stand strong despite the pain. There were dark times when it seemed like everything was over. When Graves left Rarity after his dream was shattered, it seemed like happiness had departed. When Rarity left Graves at camp because he was too fragile to embrace, it seemed like love had failed. Yet even in those dark times when all hope seemed lost, we saw that it could change. Rarity and Graves are an example of the miracle that occurs when love perseveres through the pain. They are heroes not because of great deeds or accolades, but because they stood fast and fought on, despite everything the world threw at them, because they knew what they fought for was definitely worth the cost.
And that’s the end of the story. Life holds many miracles, but they always come with a price. Sometimes, that price is to wait and endure in a state so painful that certain death could even seem a mercy in comparison. For those who struggle with this feeling, I don't blame you. I consider most of the harsh language as people lashing out because they're hurt by this themselves. If it's because you just don't like my writing, so be it. But if it's because you have really come to love Rarity and Graves and just want them to be together where they belong, then I want to ask you this. Will you let the pain of the present circumstances lead to bitterness that poisons even the memory of good things past till only hurt and resentment remain? Or will you, like Rarity and Graves before you did in their years of struggle, remain faithful and continue to hope for a happily ever after?
I have written this story to end with a question. Now it is your turn to answer.
The Journey of Graves: Season 1
- When the Man Comes Around As Ponyville prepares for arriving royal marshals, a new traveler quietly slips into town. 22,211 words · 20,307 views · 1,276 likes · 40 dislikes
- So... What Happens Next? Ordered to stay in Ponyville, Graves finds that his new life will take some getting used to. 7,070 words · 9,135 views · 945 likes · 18 dislikes
- Trouble Meets Disaster Marshal Graves gets settled in, but is called away on duty. Oddly enough, Sweetie Belle tags along. 13,521 words · 8,480 views · 872 likes · 17 dislikes
- Two Kinds of Complications Rarity wants a date. Sweetie Belle wants a brother. Lucky Graves just wants a day without headaches. 14,433 words · 8,282 views · 850 likes · 20 dislikes
- Untangling the Knot 21,591 words · 7,725 views · 835 likes · 17 dislikes