Solving for Death

by Majin Syeekoh

A.K.A. For Want of a Fork

Starlight Glimmer watched intently as Twilight Sparkle meticulously pushed the plate on the table until it was in the most scientifically appropriate position, then raised her hoof and closed her eyes.

First lesson of the day,” Twilight went on to say, “we very carefully set the table―”

Starlight whizzed over the place settings to the table with her magic, ever eager to please her mentor. She vaguely heard Twilight say something as she focused her attention on carefully setting the table.

“Got it!” Starlight said as she examined her handiwork, the corners of her mouth turned up at a job well done―until she noticed that the two-pronged fun fork was missing from in front of her. She didn’t know what it was actually called, but calling it that helped her remember where to put it.

Starlight hummed. “Twilight, we seem to be missing the two-pronged fun fork from one of the place settings. Do you know where it is?” she asked as she lifted her head whereupon she found the two-pronged fun fork jutting out of the side of Twilight’s skull, her head currently resting in the plate at her place setting.

Starlight blinked. I thought I heard something that sounded like a wet crunch.

She trotted over to Twilight. Twilight’s eyes were open, and blood was currently pooling into the plate.

Starlight poked Twilight. Twilight didn’t respond.

Starlight blinked again. “Twilight, are you dead?”

Twilight still didn’t respond. Starlight poked her a few more times. Still no response. Starlight’s eyes widened.

“Oh, right! I knew I forgot to check for something.” She grabbed Twilight’s foreleg and placed her hoof on Twilight’s wrist. No pulse.

Oh yeah, she’s super dead, Starlight thought. Welp, time to fix this. She lifted Twilight’s confirmed-dead body in her magic and walked through the castle to the library.

She came across Spike, who was currently dusting a statue.

“Hey, Spike,” Starlight said.

Spike paused his dusting. “Hey, Starlight!” he said. “Aren’t you supposed to be helping Twilight with something?”

“Yeah, but I accidentally killed her and now I’m going to bring her back to life.”

“Oh, okay, I guess call me if you need―”

Spike dropped his feather duster and slowly turned to face Starlight. “You what!?

He chased her down, his eyes never leaving Twilight’s limp body. “Oh no, oh no, oh no…” he repeated as his eyes watered.

Starlight chuckled. “Spike, it’ll be fine. I’ll have her un-dead in no time.” Starlight’s eyes wandered. “Um, I mean not dead, not undead.” She tittered.

Spike scurried up to where Starlight was, tears sliding down his face. “H-how could you kill Twilight? With a relish fork?”

“Oh, is that what that’s called? And here I was calling it a two-pronged fun fork this entire―”


Starlight stopped and turned to face Spike. He was really laying on the waterworks thick. She bent down and touched Spike’s cheek. “Spike. You don’t have to cry.” Starlight smiled. “I’m going to resurrect Twilight, and we’ll all be laughing about this tomorrow.”

Spike looked into Starlight’s eyes and sniffed. “I-I don’t think that’s―”

Starlight covered Spike’s lips with her hoof as she magicked the tears off of his face, then smiled. “It’ll be fine. I’ll have this worked out in a jiffy.”

Spike whimpered a bit, new tears coming in to replace the old ones. “W-what should I tell Celestia?”

Starlight straightened herself, put a hoof to her chin, and gnarred. “Oh yeah… um… tell her to meet us in the library. Now go do something fun. I know how icky dead bodies are.”

Spike slowly nodded and scampered away. With that, Starlight headed towards the library with Twilight’s dead corpse.

Upon reaching the library, Starlight unceremoniously dumped Twilight’s body onto a table face-up and slowly worked the relish fork out of her skull. The blood wasn’t really coming out as fast anymore, due to Twilight’s heart being stopped on account of her being dead. Starlight tapped her chin and looked around the library.

First order of business… ah, yes!

A teal glow surrounded Starlight as she levitated towards the Medical section of the library, grabbed a book, then floated to Twilight. She flipped through the pages.

“Okay… let’s see… here it is!” Starlight grinned. “A regeneration spell!”

Starlight landed, presuming she was going to need a bit more juice than usual for this spell. Her horn glowed, then Twilight glowed as the side of her head patched itself up.

Starlight licked her lips. “Well, that’s good. Twilight, you can wake up now!”

Twilight didn’t heed her request, because she was still dead. Starlight grunted.

“Are you still dead?”

Twilight didn’t respond. Starlight clenched her jaw and cast the regeneration spell again, using a bit more of that juice she predicted she’d need. Twilight’s stubbornly dead body lit up like a Hearth’s Warming tree, the display dimming the ambient light in the area as Starlight pumped more and more magic into it, her brow furrowed. Eventually Starlight realized this wasn’t exactly working because Twilight was staying dead despite her best efforts.

So she put in a better effort and jammed as much magic into Twilight’s aggressively dead body as she could muster. Groans and whines escaped from Starlight’s throat as her jaw thrummed with a dull pain from all of that clenching she was doing with it. All of the luminosity in the library vanished as Twilight’s cadaver shone like the sun itself, the relish fork also vibrating from the force of the spell. But despite all of the whining and groaning and fork-vibrating and inconceivable amounts of arcane energy flowing through her, Twilight remained combatively dead.

Starlight abruptly ceased the spell, and the light Twilight’s riotously dead body had stolen returned to the room.

“Oh, come on!” she said as she threw her hooves into the air, “That should have totally worked!”

She panted as she massaged the pain out of her jaw and looked around the library. “Well, it’s not like something in here can’t revive her. Just gotta keep looking. Okay…” She grasped several books in her magic and floated them over to the table. “These should be a good start. Now for quill and paper…”

She grasped paper, a quill, several inkwells, sat down, and got to work on creating a resurrection spell. Starlight’s mouth curved into a confident snarl as she flipped through ancient tomes and took energetic notes.

She’s not going to be dead for very long if I have anything to say about it.

Starlight yawned. Creating a resurrection spell was hard work. Or at least creating what she thought was a resurrection spell. She looked over to Twilight’s body, hoping she wasn’t dead.

She was still very, very dead.

Starlight inhaled deeply and rubbed her face. When she pulled her hooves away, who else but Princess Celestia would show up, whose face bore an unreadable expression.

“Hello, Starlight,” she said, “I understand you murdered my former student.”

Starlight let out a nervous chortle. “Well, actually it’d be more along the lines of manslaughter, but hello to you too!” She clapped her hooves together. “That’s a weird word, by the way. Manslaughter. You know, in between ‘math-is-hurting-my-brain-breaks’ I’ve been researching the etymology of that word, and it turns out that the root word is mane, as in ‘killed by a pony mane’, and it’s actually an ingenious lexical trick. Personally, I’d prefer to call it maneslaughter, but that’s just―”

“I should arrest you right now.”

Starlight rubbed her forehead and felt a thin sheen of sweat. She gulped. “But you’re not because I promised to fix it.”

Celestia growled. “You cannot fix death with science.”

“Well, Princess Celestia,” Starlight said as she wagged a hoof at her, “they also said you can only time-travel in a closed loop, but who proved them wrong?”

“You did.” Celestia narrowed her eyes. “And you almost destroyed the world in the process.”

Details.” Starlight sucked her teeth. “Well, anyway, I think I’m on the right track.” Starlight hovered her notes over to Celestia, who paged through them. “I’m just working on finding the energy source.”

“Hmm.” Having finished leafing through them, Celestia handed the mass of equations back over to Starlight. “I can’t say you’re not on the wrong track… but you’re right. The method you’re using now would require dissolving all of existence to power the revivification spell.”

Starlight bit her cheek. “Yeah… I’m aiming for reducing the energy input to destroying an alternate universe.” Starlight smiled wide-eyed at Celestia. “Do we have any spare alternate universes lying around?”

Celestia shook her head. “None without life.”

“Well, then,” Starlight said as she looked around. “I guess I’ll have to work on this some more, then.” Starlight dipped the quill into the inkwell and continued writing.

“I will give you until dawn,” Celestia said as she sat down. “If you don’t have a solution by then, I will personally see to it that you’re sent to prison.”

“Good thing I’m going to solve for death, then, right?” Starlight said, the strokes of the quill puncturing the silence. “By the way, you don’t seem too hung up over Twilight’s temporary passing.” The corners of her mouth drooped slightly. “You should have seen Spike. This really messed him up.”

Celestia sighed. “I’ve had a lot of practice grieving in my long life.”

“That makes sense… hmm, there’s a lot of imaginary numbers in this.”

“Because what you’re trying to do is imaginary,” Celestia said.

Starlight grunted “No it isn’t. I can do―” she said before she looked up at Celestia and smirked. “Was that a joke?”

“Gallows humor.” Celestia exhaled.

Starlight wagged her quill at Celestia. “You’re a funny mare, you know that?”

Starlight could barely keep her eyes open. The equations she had written seemed to blur into one big mass of black if she didn’t focus. She turned her head to face Celestia, who presented as regal as ever, then looked back at her math. “Okay.” Starlight sighed. “I’ve managed to reduce the energy required to all life on Earth, but I think I can get it down to all plant life on Earth if I have more time.” Starlight held the piece of paper up in the air. “But I think that’s the best I can do.”

Celestia hummed. “I suppose you’ve failed, then.” Celestia’s horn glowed. “The sun must rise.”

Starlight narrowed her gaze and illuminated her own horn. “No,” she growled.

“No, it mustn’t,” she repeated.

Celestia’s and Starlight’s eyes locked themselves in battle as Celestia’s face tightened. “Are you…”

“Yes,” Starlight said, visible beads of sweat forming all over her body as her face grew rigid. “You said I have until sunrise to revive Twilight.” She stared down Celestia, her body shivering from strain. “So I’m delaying the sunrise.”

“You do realize that there are several flaws in this plan, all of which relate to the gross power imbalance between us.” A vein bulged in Starlight’s neck. “Tell me this, Starlight. Why do you want to save Twilight even though she’s clearly past the point of no return? To avoid the consequences?” Starlight shook her head. “Perhaps out of personal pride, to be the mage who twice did the impossible?” Starlight shook her head again.

Daylight started to peek out until Starlight gritted her teeth and it disappeared past the horizon.

“Starlight,” Celestia said as her left eye intermittently twitched, “you’re going to die if you keep this up, or at the very least lose your magic. I’ll ask you again: why do you wish to save Twilight when she can’t be saved?”

“Because she already did the same for me.” Starlight started hyperventilating. “And I’d like to return the favor, even if it requires defying the heavens and splitting them in half.” She growled again and bared her teeth, trembling all the while. “And I’ll keep trying, even though you’ve been sitting in the corner doing nothing.”

“I wasn’t aware that the great Starlight Glimmer who broke time itself wanted my assistance.” Celestia smiled. “You never asked.”

Starlight’s eyes widened as every muscle in her body released itself. “…W-what?”

Celestia released her magic as well. The sun still did not rise. “I said if you wanted help, you should have asked.”

Starlight pursed her lips and looked away. Then, not to look a gift pony in the mouth, she faced Celestia. “Could you help me revive Twilight?”

A golden glow surrounded several books in a section that Starlight hadn’t thought to search and placed them on the table. Starlight approached the table and flipped through one of the books. “This is… this is a book about the Elysian Fields.” Starlight looked at Celestia. “This isn’t science.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, it cannot be measured and falsified through Earthly means, but neither can friendship and love, and I’m almost certain that those exist.”

Starlight picked up another book and leafed through it. “This… okay, I think I can whip something up in an hour.” She glanced at Celestia. “You know, I’m pretty sure what you did to me just now is considered torture.”

Celestia grinned again. “I had faith that you’d come around. Something else that also can’t be measured.”

“What,” Starlight asked, burying herself in another book, “faith, or me coming around?”

Celestia snorted. “Both.”

“There you are again with the jokes.” Starlight set the book down and drew up a few equations. “Okay, I think I’ve come up with a new plan.” She handed the papers to Celestia, who read through them. “So, Plan B is: I’ve come up with two spells. One, a spell that should temporarily kill me and allow me to access the Elysian Fields to fish Twilight’s spirit out, and then there’s a counterspell that should reverse the temporary death spell.” Starlight clapped her hooves together. “I can cast the first one on myself with a mirror, but I’m going to need you to cast the second one on me on account of my being dead.”

Celestia scanned through the pages. “Two things: one, you’re insane.”

“You sound like my mother,” Starlight said with a blush.

“And two,” Celestia said as she set the papers on the table, “you’re making a lot of assumptions here, about spirits and such.”

Starlight pointed at Celestia. “You’re the one who said faith can’t be measured.”

Celestia nodded. “But I will be glad to assist you with both spells.”

“Alright!” Starlight rubbed her hooves together. “Let me know when you’re―”

A cerulean blast escaped from Celestia’s horn and struck Starlight, whose body crumpled upon contact with the spell.

That felt amazing, Celestia thought. She then picked up the papers again and read them. Ten minutes. Okay.

Celestia stared at Starlight’s body. Her heart’s in the right place, but she does seem to have a high opinion of herself. I suppose it can’t be helped, considering what she’s accomplished.

She then heard footsteps, turning her head to see Spike rubbing his eyes and yawning. “I… just came to see how Starlight was doing on fixing Twilight.” When he finished rubbing his eyes, he laid them on Starlight’s somewhat-dead body whereupon they widened to the size of saucers. “What happened to Starlight?

Celestia rubbed Spike’s back. “Don’t worry, Spike, it’s only temporary. She’s just storming the gates of the afterlife to pull Twilight’s spirit back into this realm.”

What?” Spike shouted. ”Is she insane?

“With the tools I gave her, I expected her to create a rift between our world and the next. I certainly didn’t expect her to deduce that the best course of action was risk her own life to save Twilight.” A wry grin appeared on Celestia’s muzzle. “I suppose the magic of friendship presents itself differently in every individual,” she mused.

Spike nodded at Celestia. “I-I guess.” He looked at Twilight, who was still very dead, and Starlight, who was only mostly dead, then shivered. “I don’t like being surrounded by dead bodies, though.”

“No one does, Spike.”

Celestia looked outside. “Okay, it’s been ten minutes. Let’s see if this worked.” Celestia shot out a gout of crimson magic at Starlight, whose eyes popped open as she sat bolt upright and wheezed heavily, a small spark hovering in her horngrasp.

“Wow,” Starlight said breathily as she heaved herself up, “that was a trip. I don’t think I’m allowed back, though. They weren’t―” she stumbled drunkenly over to Twilight’s body “―they weren’t very happy to see me, to say the least.” She touched the spark to Twilight, then collapsed onto the floor. “But that seraph still had what was coming to him…” she said before she passed out and started snoring.

The spark entered Twilight as it surrounded her with a silver shimmer. Her chest expanded and contracted, then her eyes fluttered. Twilight sighed, at which Spike made a sound of delight, jumped up onto the table, and hugged Twilight.

Twilight smiled weakly. “Hi, Spike. You’re awfully excited to see me right now.” She sat up and looked around. “…wait a second. Why am I in the library?” She looked out the window. “And why is it dark outside?” She looked on the table. “Why am I surrounded by equations?” She spotted the relish fork. “Who put that relish fork there?

Celestia chuckled as she raised the sun above the horizon. “Good morning, Twilight.”