On Death And Dying

by questionmark

What The Dying Have To Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy, and Their Own Families


Stories of disasters and near world ending tragedies had long since been told again and again to all unknowing ponies and creatures alike in Equestria or even regularly repeated a few times over for others who knew the stories front to back as it was in the case that they ever forgot the core of the message, to keep it fresh on their mind and just as present in their life as the wind on their fur or sunlight in their eyes, as was all of Equestria’s bittersweet tradition. Woven into the culture of ponykind at large was the flightiness typically blamed on what evolutionists claimed was the former nature of wild equines as prey animals lending itself well to the intrigue and sickly delight of retold terrors, but more so than that, especially in recent times, was the devotion to hope and love that all ponies carried as well as their hearts in their chests.

It became deathly important to repeat these lessons to any creature who might think to forget the value in friendship, and everything that meant, the core tenants of this simple truth of their reality. The consequences of ever going astray from love, hope, and magic were well known, and Stardrop hoped they were ever present in everyone’s minds- he couldn’t even imagine treating devotion so flippantly after hearing all of the tales of ponies overtaken by malevolent forces, thrown from their happy lives into torment in service of monsters he’d hope to never cross and believed his wariness to protect him from.

But as terrors had been told again and again, Stardrop thought he knew what it would look like if they ever rolled around in his time, as unlikely as that was with the wondrous infrastructure put into place by Princess Twilight Sparkle to continue to boost and maintain everyone’s morale. When the next bad thing would happen, it would be clear, immediately evident- certainly just like the dozen disasters before it. Dark cloud filled skies only barely obfuscating the dark red or blue behind, monsters running amok causing property damage and distress, and of course the integral Bad Guy of the month making themselves known and listing their demands and gimmick clearly before being pulverized by the ponies beloved protectors.

So when all the princesses and most of their families disappeared, no one really knew what to make of it at first.

Of course, there was the panic at a loss of important figures within the ponies government and mythology, with many tasked to protect them thrown through a loop at what could have possibly happened. Nothing around them seemed broken, really, it wasn’t as if they’d been attacked and dispatched in the night, and those just at the edge of these figure’s circles having socialized with them just recently made note that it wasn’t as if they had planned anything and had left to some business on their own accord. They had gone into their beds, and the next day, they were simply not there, the rest of their room seemingly untouched as if whatever venture they had gone on needed no preparation.

With no immediate answer to the question of what had happened, and with no real guidance with everypony of importance gone without a trace, nopony made any move to do anything at all.

This was not how the story went. When something bad happened, there would be a clear source, or at least a good direction to follow. And then the designated hero would pursue whatever terror beguiled them this time around, and it would be overpowered by the unparalleled strength of pure magic, courage, and friendship, to defend the rest of the generally defenseless pony masses and ensure their safety, and then the whole thing would be forgotten about in a few days, or a week at most, except recounted again and again in recollections that made them sound more like fables or grander than life statues and stained glass murals, to make sure the message stuck; friendship would save us again and again, every new story assured.

As this was a constant fact of everypony’s reality, as it had been for years now with proof to back it up, after the initial panic in the first day and shuffling of responsibilities, it was assumed by all that the problem would surely sort itself out eventually. Yes, these terrors would always be rocky as they began, and though it was strange that the conflict wasn’t exactly immediately evident as it should have been, it was sure to come to light eventually, as all conflict did in Equestria.

Except it did not.

Days passed, and then days became weeks, and weeks without proper authority was simply not acceptable. Business had been halted the first few days out of fear- what if whatever got Twilight set itself on the unassuming masses roving the streets next?- but Equestria could not stop for perhaps months if this thing didn’t wrap itself up soon enough. So ponies began to return to their usual routines- anyways, it wasn’t as if the princesses and their families did absolutely everything, they did a well enough job at delegating their work such that enough ponies knew the general gist of how to run things without them to keep society functioning- though there were noted differences in this facsimile of normal life before this event.

Namely the fear, the grief. The loss in the literal sense of having nowhere to go.


What could have taken the princesses and their friends and loved ones? The pinnacles of power within Equestrian society, these monuments to what pony society was built on, survived by? As the weeks crawled by, ponies began to throw around their theories. It had to be some monster, or some exceptionally evil pony to have a chance against them. It didn’t make sense that they hadn’t shown themselves yet, no, but that would be part of the plan, wasn’t it? To get the ponies riled up? Perhaps some sort of a hate changeling- and the only way it would be beaten would be by continuing life as normal, unruffled, unmoved, not falling prey to fear and whatever nefarious force was plotting their demise- simply do not play into their hooves, do not let the fear consume you like they want. And whenever ponies told that to Stardrop, they always had that wild look in their wide eyes that forced Stardrop to simply nod in response.

Stardrop couldn’t exactly blame ponies for making up their own answers to this conundrum- he really wasn’t sure what to think exactly, because no pony in authority was telling him what to think. Mostly he woke up every day wondering where their new hero was- wasn’t this the way with Twilight? Maybe this was the Canterlot wedding, but now Celestia was Twilight, battered into the ground and nearly drained of her magic, and an unseen new powerful pony would come down and save them, just as she had then. But he wasn’t one to jump to conclusions like his peers would, he preferred to wait and see and listen to how things would end up. Because they would surely end up well, no doubt about it.

Apparently, not many others felt that way.

“Where do you think they are, Stardrop?” Pearl Light asked him suddenly as they tended to their assigned clouds. Lots of sunny weather had been forecast, ignoring what would have been appreciated rain. Weather managers said everyone needed a little bit of joy, and the thought of raining on everyone’s parades seemed out of the question.

Stardrop shrugged, knowing immediately, though the conversation was sudden, who she was referring to. “Dealing with a friendship problem, I assume. And they’ll be back when it’s over. I mean… We probably won’t even feel it. Whatever the problem is. It’s far away, that’s why we haven’t found them yet. So it won’t get to us.” The feeble defenses stacked upon each other.

“I just worry,” Pearl Light said, quite unnecessarily, “about what it might be, what it all means.” She wasn’t looking at him, over-kneading the cloud she was attending to instead of simply letting it dissipate or moving it away.

“There’s nothing to worry about, Pearl…,” He said, his voice growing tense as it seemed Pearl Light was beginning to become agitated.

“I worry, because I heard a lot of stories about, like, the Crystal Kingdom,” she, herself, was a crystal pegasus, but Stardrop knew they rarely liked to refer to themselves when not in the Crystal Kingdom itself, given the trauma this specific story would entail, “and without the Princesses, everypony will get afraid, and they’ll stop hoping and loving, and what happens to the Crystal Heart? If they don’t believe in the Princesses, it loses its magic, and then the snow comes in, and…” She was quickly growing frantic, so Stardrop abandoned his cloud to pat her shoulder as she leaned into her cloud, weeping listlessly. “I’m scared for everyone. We don’t know what to do without the Princesses.” Though she struggled to compose herself in any measure, every word she said then was pointed, forced through her throat though it threatened collapse, as she had to voice her fear lest it eat her up inside.

“What are you two talking about?” Aqua Snow, similarly on assignment with the two of them but tending to keep her distance such that she had wandered, was flying towards them now, seeming more quizzical and perhaps even bemused then empathetic. Stardrop wasn’t sure what to say and how much he was supposed to admit about Pearl Light’s condition, but evidently Pearl Light would let it be known herself.

“The Princesses! The Princesses, obviously! How could we be talking about anything but the Princesses!” She wailed, and Stardrop was afraid she’d make a scene with that caterwauling. Sounds tended to travel in the open air if the clouds or wind didn’t eat them up first.

“... Oh. Well, I wouldn’t think there’d be much to talk about, given that they’re not visible enough to be doing anything notable…,” Aqua Snow said dryly, almost as if it were a joke. Stardrop briefly was aghast. The gall! The absolute audacity to treat this as humorous- and surely ponies had in this time to lighten the loads on themselves, but Pearl Light was here crying in front of her, and crying even harder now.

“Aqua Snow, please be kind when Pearl Light’s having a hard time,” Stardrop said hesitantly, one hoof on Pearl’s shoulder and another pointing at Aqua for emphasis. Though he was uncomfortable trying to figure out how to act in this scenario, he knew Fluttershy’s words were tried and true right now. Aqua snorted, flipping her hair.

“You’re not my mom,” Aqua said indignantly. “And she has to get over this now, because they’re not coming back.” That certainly did not help in making Pearl feel any better, and she was in hysterics at this point.

“You need to have hope,” Stardrop said earnestly. “And believe in them. It’s just like they’ve said and shown time and time again, you need to have hope.”

Suddenly, Aqua Snow seemed to fly into a rage, swiftly going from bemused and disrespectful to outright enraged, unintentionally flying above Stardrop such that he had to angle up to look at her with her quick her wingbeats subconsciously became. “Oh, right. You know who said all that, who made you think that? Huh? Princess Twilight Sparkle and her friends. And now they’re GONE, what good belief did for them. Your hope when they were alive didn’t stop them from disappearing, and announcing it tenfold now with no evidence they’re still alive isn’t going to bring them back, so shut it with this pious nonsense, all these useless words. Get OVER it.” Apparently frustrated to the point of violence and realizing she had drifted, she waffled for a moment, hooves churning air, before aiming herself at the cloud Pearl Light was crying into, doing a classic kick to break it apart. Predictably, since Pearl Light’s weeping fit left her with concerns more weighty than focusing on flying, for a few moments she fell. Pegasi had it well ingrained in them to eventually open their wings in free fall and right themselves…

But Pearl Light never really righted herself.


He heard the celestial zealots and eccentric scientists up in Canterlot were trying to make their own new divine ruler before the whole region went quiet.


There were theories that without the holders of magic, the ponies would no longer have magic of their own. If the elements were the cores of friendship, and friendship was magic as perceived by the ponies, either whatever had taken them out had taken out the entirety of what they represented as well, or the elements manifestation was more literal than abstracted in that they genuinely upheld their values and were no longer able to, and thus Equestria would fall into ruin without such simple concepts such as kindness or generosity being absorbed by the masses.

Of course, that was just a theory.

And though Stardrop hated to theorized, hated to spiral out into fear that felt useless if they saw no end to this disaster, he couldn’t help but continue thinking about the sky.

It was normal for a pegasus to think highly of the sky. In their princess blessed domain, above all of the other ponies and closer to the deities than they could ever hope to get- and the unicorns in Canterlot certainly tried to get up into that vast stretch!- and here they could be free. There were no obstacles, no trees or buildings in the way, and aside from the few and far between roc attacks, no real predators, no fear. Only reverence for the beauty that surrounded them, that spawned them. The pegasi turned out to be quite faithful folk, Stardrop only realized as it all fell apart.

It was a common nightmare of all pegasi to become unable to fly. It was instinctual, as natural as walking, and perhaps even more necessary than that. He’d wager most pegasi would lose their eyes or ears before they lost their wings, because they could survive without their sight or hearing, and doubted any pegasi would be able to cope well without their wings, without being able to breathe in the sky with such pegasi specific intimacy.

It was their magic that kept them afloat, that kept their buildings cobbled together in the sky, that kept them from freefall every time they touched cloud, that kept them suspended where they belonged. The wings could not naturally hold a pony in the air, it was their magic that let them hover.

More and more pegasi were moving down to Ponyville or Canterlot, leaving their former beloved homes, at this point finding no reason to remain.


In a dream Stardrop saw himself in a boundless dark void chasing butterflies with wings that rippled like the refracted light onto dew drops in the air and in his pursuit he fell into a ravine of dark thorny vines, pulsing as if alive, grabbing him as he descended and tearing him to pieces before he even met the ground. Limb from limb, fiber from fiber, until the scraps were unrecognizable as pony or against the darkness that now engulfed him, like a cloud kicked apart, nothing but dew to collect again in a new form, and such the cycle began anew.

He woke up and went to work like usual. A few more of his coworkers had quit or otherwise taken breaks amounting to weeks or months in time, hesitantly saying they’d return once things got better, whatever that meant, generally expressing in quick goodbyes that they were too afraid to remain on clouds, and that they felt their job was not necessary at the moment. If the princesses really were not necessary anymore and nature would run its course, then they supposed it could take the weather as well. It could hardly get worse at this point, no one would miss the weather.

Of course, given ponies were rapidly beginning to care less and less about things and submitting themselves to this strange new beast, nature, Stardrop attended to his job less and less. He showed up at every shift, mind you, but spent large portions of time just watching the clouds drift on soft winds he knew no pegasi were making.

Mostly, he angled for shifts at night, and he would browse until finding a good enough cloud to rest upon. He’d lay on his belly and stare up at the sky as it got dark, the only remaining pinpricks of light being the stars. He remembered tales that had long since become obsolete describing them as Luna’s old homage to her sister in her domain, a loving display that Celestia had not returned in her time, which had fueled Luna’s eventual spiral into Nightmare Moon and thus served as constant reminders to Celestia during her poor sister’s imprisonment that her sister had done her best to love her, and she had failed to cross the gap between them.

Such stories used to fill him with pride- oh, how novel, all of the suffering and pain and punishment and assorted tragedies ponykind had been through, and how wondrous and strong we had all been to see it through, to see it to it’s happy end, to be able to repeat the stories with their lessons appended to educate those who may forget what truly matters, the importance of friendship in the face of darkness and the unfathomable anguish that would befall anyone who lost their way.

But now he could see nothing of Luna’s night sky or Celestia’s shining stars, and he could not feel Luna’s desperate rage at being forgotten by the pony she loved the most or Celestia’s weighty guilt for the mistakes she had made and the worst one yet as it was all she could do to fix it then. All he saw was a dark expanse, and little white dots that he was told were gas and nothing more, nothing less, doubling and tripling as his glassy eyes wet with tears.