Día de los Muertos

by Gabriel LaVedier


“I got it! I got it!” Pinkie cried cheerfully, running into the library with a paper bag on her back. It was several months after that fateful Nightmare Night. Things had changed quickly, almost the very next day. Canterlot and the Colonial authorities had sent out scholars, researchers, and both the Minister of Inter-Sentient Affairs and the Minister of Community Relations. “They said they were holding a copy because they knew I'd come for it.”
“Pinkie, you mean you actually went out and bought it?” Twilight looked up from her book, surrounded by stacks of others. She had fielded all kinds of questions about how she had cared for Larkspur's cornuscript and about the circumstances of its discovery. She had been in her element, delivering all the answers with just the right mix of smugness and humility.
“It's so nice, I just had to have it,” Pinkie said, pulling a book from out of the paper bag. It was slightly larger than a regular novel, as far as dimensions went, though it was smaller than the usual examples of what it seemed to be, which was a coffee table book. The cover read, 'On the Subject of Diamond Dogs: The first scholarly study of our subterranean citizens.' “The pictures are all beautiful and they even translate what was written down.”
“I was hardly surprised they published it as a popular piece. It's not just a fascinating bit of history for those of us above ground. Because details were often left out this provides the Colony with a first-hoof account of the congressional composition, styles, projects that were never recorded... a window into a distant time,” Twilight said.
“Yea, and Larkspur was a really great artist,” Pinkie said, flipping through the pages happily. She had been questioned by the researchers too. She was the one that actually found the hollow containing the book. They didn't get much out of her other than cake and a repetition of what Twilight had said.
“But Pinkie, the real thing is going to be here next week,” Twilight noted. The book, after getting months of close scrutiny and being scanned for archiving and the production of things like the coffee table version, was sent to the Grand Royal Museum of Equestrian History in Canterlot for display, to then be sent around the principality for display in other museums and universities. It was coming to the relatively modest Ponyville library because it had, in a sense, been written in the town.
“You can't touch that one. It's a... what did that mare call it? 'An important and precious Equestrian cultural artifact.' I think that means it's gotta stay behind glass,” Pinkie said, continuing to flip through the book.
“And by 'that mare' I presume you mean the Minister of Community Relations?” Twilight asked.
“That's the one. She seemed nice, and her wife was really, really pretty. I didn't know Diamond Dogs could be purple,” Pinkie said.
“They come in every color gems, metals and minerals come, with the far ends of the visible spectrum being rarer than the center, with some having a few tones, like, well, Heliotrope, as seen in that very book,” Twilight sad.
“The back of the books is talking about the movie they're planning on making,” Pinkie said, having reached the back cover's dust jacket flap.
“I've seen the location scouts. They want to film in the Everfree and the gem fields. You'd think they'd avoid both places, there's a stream of tourists,” Twilight said with a shake of her head.
“Tourists? Are you speaking of the new statue?” Rarity asked. She had just stepped in the front door, along with Fluttershy, Applejack and Rainbow Dash. All four of them had paper bags from the same store as Pinkie.
“I see you got your copies too,” Twilight said with a laugh. “No, I was talking about the site of Heliotrope's former grave and the joint one he and Larkspur share. But that statue's probably going to be just as popular.”
“Our most ingenious mayor has, naturally, begun the concoction of a method of delivering tourism bits and high praise to Ponyville. She is one civil servant who does love to keep the town well-regarded,” Rarity said.
“She's started a legend that any interspecies couple that gets their picture taken with the statue will have a long and happy relationship,” Fluttershy said softly.
“It's a brand new statue, how can she know that? And besides, most interspecies couples are undertaking their relationship with a pre-understood seriousness and dedication in the face of a manifest difference. Of course they're likely to stay together,” Twilight noted.
“Oh it's just a harmless bit of fun to increase the profile of the town. As I said, she does love this town, that's why we elect her,” Rarity laughed.
“It ain't a bad place fer any couple. It's a right beautiful statue,” Applejack said.
“I agree. They had some good material to work from. The sketches in Larkspur's work effectively constituted the necessary drawings for the production of a full body statue. There was less available for her, but a few paintings and descriptions were uncovered, being that she was a noblemare. The sculptors did a good job putting it together. I thought it was a nice touch that they actually incorporated the stone hyacinth and the real one,” Twilight said, closing her book and moving over to be with her friends.
“Why don't I get a statue for doing all that work?” Rainbow Dash grumped, pulling out her book and flipping through it to the dedication page. “Sure, I got my name here at the front but I had to dig up a bunch of dead bodies.”
“Two, it was two dead bodies and ah helped ya,” Applejack noted, giving Dash a light shove. “'Sides, if Twilight's right that's what yer supposed ta do if yer like Darin' Do.”
“The Daring Do books have been lying to my face behind my back from the very beginning,” Dash said with a slam of her hoof. “Sure I got chased by a stone-covered Diamond Dog ghost and got fire tossed at me by an evil pony spirit but where was the vine swinging, the death traps and the exotic location? I didn't even get to pick up a priceless ancient artifact.”
“Larkspur's cornuscript is fairly priceless...” Twilight said.
“But we found that one!” Pinkie interrupted. “You, um, found the bones. That's pretty priceless too.”
“Alright, I found the bones of a murder victim and helped to solve a crime that's been hidden for centuries. But the author needs to go back into the Daring Do series and put in a few chapters of Daring digging in the sun, brushing off everything that looks like a bone and having to deal with loads of questions from government ministers.”
“It weren't that bad, sugarcube. The Colonial authorities jes wanted ta make sure we'd been treatin' Heliotrope's bones with the respect they deserved. At least they ain't gonna make us dig 'em up again,” Applejack said with a chuckle.
“But why not? Oh! I don't mean to say I think we should disturb Larkspur and Heliotrope again, since they seemed to be so happy together but... shouldn't they have taken Heliotrope to The Beneath?” Fluttershy asked.
“It's exactly because Heliotrope and Larkspur are together that they're leaving him,” Twilight answered. “He was buried by Larkspur, which fit with local traditions. He probably would have requested it. And since he ended up with her, he was obviously supposed to stay with her.”
“Everyone got what they deserved. Ah even heard they stuck it ta that nasty father a-hers,” Applejack said.
“It's true. Princess Celestia informed me about it. He held his title to the end and was buried in accordance with his rank. It was determined he was unworthy of that title at the time, for a variety of reasons. He was posthumously stripped of his rank and his grave moved to an undisclosed location for exiles and general heretics,” Twilight said.
“Serves him right, the brute!” Rarity said firmly.
“His title was transferred to Larkspur, as would have been the appropriate action at the time. For all the good it does her now, she's properly Baroness Larkspur. I guess it's best to do good things, even late,” Twilight said with a shrug.
“I had heard they were even going to marry them! Have some big ceremony and a wedding for them even though they've been dead for a long time,” Pinkie said, tapping thoughtfully on her chin. “I've never thrown a wedding reception for a dead pony/Dog pair. That would have been fun. And cute. They were going to get married anyway, it was obvious.”
“Given the tender descriptions in the work, you're probably right,” Twilight said. “And it would mean that Heliotrope would be installed Baron Heliotrope, retroactively the first noble Diamond Dog.”
“Speaking of weddings, guess who has had a venue change for theirs,” Rarity said.
“Doctor Soft Heart and Labradorite,” Dash said with a huff. “I know that because she put in a rush order for clear skies over the statue, and I didn't even get invited.”
“Ya certainly didn't. But ah did and yer mah plus-one,” Applejack said with a smug look. “Glad ah took all them cotillion classes. Now ah know how ta lead a proper dance.”
“Wait a minute, how did you get an invite? And what do you mean 'lead'?” Dash asked, incredulous.
“Surprised the hay outta me too. Turns out th' doc wanted ta invite us because of what happened ta Winona, Gummy, Angel an' Opal. And fer solvin' that old mystery and showin' Dogs 'n' ponies've been fallin' in love right from the start. She knew ah'd be takin' ya; saves on invitations if she just says plus one and knows who it'll be,” Applejack said, giving Dash a kiss on the snout. “And as fer leadin', yer mah plus-one. Ah'll be leadin' ya all over the dance floor.”
“That is how it works, Dash,” Twilight said, giving Pinkie a squeeze. “I'm Pinkie's plus-one, and I don't mind at all that she'll be the one leading the dance. Just... as long as it's not the Pony Pokey.”
“It's the Chicken Dance,” Pinkie said with a nod. “I wanted to do the Piggie Dance but I thought I'd save that for the Cake twins' birthday.”
“I think we'll be getting in some supplemental learning. I don't know how to do a chicken dance. And I'll have to teach you the proper formal steps for the spotlight dances,” Twilight said, rubbing snouts with Pinkie.
“It ain't so bad, Pinkie, it's jes the dancin', ya ain't gotta be trained how ta sit down, be quiet an' use the right fork,” Applejack said, bitterness creeping into her voice.
“You really don't want to be a deb, do you?” Dash asked.
“Not even if ah had the chance,” Applejack said firmly. “But at least ah can be cultured at events like this. And ah know how ta get around Granny's fancy table, and ah can help ya when ya start ta go under.”
“Where do you even keep all that silverware? Is there a vault in your house?” Dash asked with some exasperation.
“It's a perfectly lovely day, and we all have a brand new book. What say we sit under the statue of author and subject and give it a look?” Rarity asked, using magic to open the door.
Following agreeable mumbles and nods the six mares took off from the library and wound their way through the streets of Ponyville. They arrived at a small park-like space near the edge of town leading out in the direction of the gem fields. On a stepped pedestal there stood the new statue.
Both Heliotrope and Larkspur had been carefully rendered, according to the best information available to the sculptors. Both were clad in stone versions of period-appropriate attire, Heliotrope with his rough vest and crude collar, Larkspur in a more formal dress. They were locked in a sideways embrace, heads pressed together while they looked out with love on the scene before them. The magic hyacinth had been sealed in a glass globe and carefully melted into position behind Heliotrope's ear, while the stone version of the same was held in Larkspur's free foreleg.
The benches around the statue were all occupied by ponies and others who had a similar idea about what to do with the day. The six mares spread themselves out through the area, as couples, and settled down on available grassy spaces. They then cracked the books and began to look through them, with Pinkie and Twilight sharing her copy.
While they shared, Twilight idly scribbled out a note, inspired by her vision of the statue.
Dear Princess Celestia,

Time has passed since the events of that night, and now I finally have time to see the fruits of solving the mystery come about. There is much joy here, and the Principality is celebrating the ancient love, even though they once knew nothing at all about it.
Learning made it so, but learning also helped my dear friend Rarity. As a filly she was frightened by the Fiend, and that fear lingered into her adult years. But she was not scared of the Fiend, she was scared of his mystery, the unknown nature that was part of him being simply a mysterious figure.
When Rarity learned what he was, what he had done, she wasn't afraid anymore. She was angry, and with good reason. Knowing what he was destroyed her fear and gave her the courage to confront the stallion and take him to task for the terrible things he had done.
Fearing the unknown is very natural, but that doesn't mean it's right. We learned that lesson many times over, personally and nationally. About Zecora here in Ponyville, about buffalo in Appleoosa, about Changelings after the invasion... about Diamond Dogs, such that now we're planning a wedding that would have been the ideal of the two folks by whose statue I currently sit. Learning changed minds, and hearts.
Baron August was worried about his daughter leaving, but there was also the fear of a being he didn't understand. Larkspur understood. Had she taught him... there could have been a long line of noble Dog-sired folks. Ponyville wouldn't exist but that would be fine. Lives would have been created, not destroyed.
To learn is to erase fear. Fear of unknown cultures, unknown sapient species, unknown figures, just the unknown in general. Erasing fear makes life more harmonious. Learn... and laugh. Laughter removes fear too. They're reciprocal. A beautiful and harmonious thing.

Your faithful former student,
Twilight Sparkle