• Published 12th Oct 2013
  • 15,254 Views, 825 Comments

Three Wishes: The Cutie Mark Crusaders Before They Changed The World - Xepher



The Crusaders learn that they aren't like other ponies. As they uncover the secrets of their origins, the trio grow closer than ever, discovering not only their unique nature, but the incredible power that comes with it as well.

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Epilogue: The Magic of Friendship

Epilogue: The Magic of Friendship

Dear Princess Celestia,

Sweetie Belle, Rarity's sister and the third of the golem fillies, finally got her cutie mark. When she and the other two initially came to explain it to me, I admit I freaked out just a bit, as Scootaloo made it sound like Sweetie had received her mark simply for not murdering a pair of bullies from their school. After getting further details directly from Sweetie Belle though, I believe her talent is not nearly so morbid.

After initially discovering the latent magic in the three fillies, it seemed obvious to me that they each represented their respective tribes in an almost symbolic way. As their talents manifested, this seemed even more clear. Scootaloo found that her talent led her to be—among other things—the fastest pegasus on record. Apple Bloom, in the earth pony tradition, grew a tree larger than has been seen in hundreds of years, and appears to have a powerful connection with lifeforce itself. As such, the fear I confided to you around the campfire that night was mostly because I know how powerful unicorn magic can be, and I feared Sweetie Belle—her veins literally coursing with that magic—would certainly manifest a talent for it as well. That combined power was very frightening to even contemplate.

But a most curious and amazing thing has happened. While there is no doubt that Sweetie Belle's ability with unicorn magic is great—perhaps even greater than my own was before I got my wings—I think her true talent is not in unicorn magic, but rather, the magic of friendship itself, something I've learned in recent years to be even more powerful.

I know that may sound ridiculous, but I think it's true. She's explained to me how she got her mark for singing to three timberwolves, and in her own words, "apologizing" to them for the one she had killed. Her friends corroborate this statement, amending that she was actually playing with the three as though they were "family pets." On top of that, I've also heard from Rarity and Applejack both that Sweetie has led her friends to make friends with the bullies I mentioned earlier, even inviting them to join their club.

That said, her mark itself is certainly odd, even though it seems to back up her story. It consists of three musical notes in front of a wolf's paw print. I've attached a sketch of it for you. As you'll recall from my letter last week, the filly herself has somehow transformed her previously injured leg into a metallic canine paw as well.

Many ponies in town find her and her metallic limb an odd sight to say the least, but it's certainly not doing any harm. Sweetie herself insists it's a sort of memento of the wolf she was forced to slay, and talking with her, she seems like a perfectly well adjusted and normal filly in every other way, despite the odd appendage.

The other members of the trio likewise seem to have embraced their new abilities quite well. Scootaloo, as I mentioned, easily out-flies any pegasus around, yet when she's not racing—or talking about the physics of racing—she, too, seems just like any other filly her age. Rainbow Dash continues to give her lessons in stunt flying, and I think it's great for both of them to spend time together as sisters. Of course, Scootaloo herself has a lot to teach, and both Dash and I have been spending time learning her strange techniques for supersonic flight and wingless hovering. I find it fascinating, both on a personal level, as well as academically. Tell Luna that I hope to one day fly up to her realm myself, and see the sky as it's meant to be seen.

Applejack's sister, Apple Bloom, is doing great as well. I owe her more than I can ever say, and I still get choked up when I think about what almost happened. The thought that I could've lost one of my best friends, save for that amazing little filly... Words aren't enough, but I can think of no way to repay her. I'm sure I'm not alone in my thoughts either. All of my friends feel that we owe everything to Apple Bloom for saving Applejack when none of us could.

I hope, now that all three seem to have received their cutie marks and realized their potential, we won't be in for anymore surprises for a while. Those three are still going to be a powerful force in the world, regardless, but I think I can rest a bit easier knowing we at least have some handle on what to expect now. As much as I love seeing new magic, it was getting a bit tiring, having to recalibrate my definition of impossible on a weekly basis.

Anyway, I hope you've been able to make progress with the Caribou. I hear that Gunnar enjoyed his impromptu visit to Ponyville, so maybe that will help with negotiations. If not, you could always threaten to send the Cutie Mark Crusaders his way if he doesn't agree to your terms. Just kidding, Celestia!

Lastly, looking at these fillies and their situation, and especially Sweetie Belle, I can't help but find parallels in my own life. Here's another young unicorn, finding she has an incredible talent for magic, and doing incredible things with it. Yet, unlike me, she seems to have skipped the decade of lonely study, and leapt directly into the literal magic of friendship. I foresee only good things for her in the future because of it, though I confess, there is a small part of me that might be a bit jealous. I can only imagine where I might be now, had I started my life with good friends beside me like she has, rather than waiting until moving to Ponyville to find them. Ah, but if wishes were fishes...

I can't go back in time and change things—and you know I've tried—but in all seriousness, I really am so happy to be where I am. I know I've said this many times over the past few years, but thank you so much for insisting I come here to make friends in Ponyville. My life is infinitely better because of it. Since moving here, I have seen so much, learned so much, and enjoyed so much that I fear I'll never be able to remember it all. Even in times like these, where I feel I'm barely on the sidelines at best, so many amazing things happen here, things I count myself lucky to be even the smallest part of. These three fillies, literally three wishes come true, are just the latest part of it.

Your friend, and always faithful student,
—Twilight Sparkle

----

"Hey, girls?"

"Yeah, Sweetie?" Apple Bloom said.

"I was just thinking about how we all have those same stars on our cutie marks."

"Yeah. We're Stellar Sisters!" Scootaloo chimed in.

"Right, but we said that's kind of like Twilight Sparkle's mark, how her own stars represent the other Elements of Harmony."

"Okay, so?"

"Well, I was thinking maybe we're kinda like that as well."

"In what way, Sweetie?" Apple Bloom said, not sure where this was going.

"You know how the Elements can combine their powers, and they're even more amazing when they do?"

Scootaloo connected the dots first. "Are you girls thinking what I'm thinking?"

A grin slowly spread across all three faces as they prepared for their three way hoof bump and signature rallying cry.

The world would never be the same.

Author's Note:

And that, as they say, is that! Thank you all so much for reading, commenting, liking, favoriting, and sharing this story. A writer without an audience is not a happy beast, but I'm now happier than I ever would've thought possible back when I began work on this story. I hope you all enjoyed the ride! I know I sure did. :twilightsmile:

As promised, here's the alternate cover art I almost used. I like to think this would perhaps be the cover of the European edition if this story were a book.

Update: There's now a (mostly) standalone Christmas Special set between this and the sequel. Cinder Claws: The Caribou Legend Of Kol-Klor

Oh right, and did I mention there's a sequel? :trollestia:

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Comments ( 160 )

Wait... The stars...

...

You clever bastard.

~Skeeter The Lurker

This story was so satisfying.
I looked at the number of chapters and said, "It's been that many? But it barely feels like it's gotten started." Of course, it is about them before they changed the world. :twilightsmile:

Well.

I can honestly say that, when I first found this story, I had no idea it would be anything like this.

Thank you. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tale with us. You've got a favorite for the sequel in the bag.

I.....NEED.........SEQUEL!!!!!!!! :flutterrage:
Also, excellent fic! I love the character development in Sweetie Belle. She is truly a sweet filly with a heart of gold (literally? :unsuresweetie:) Anyway, I loved it!!!!!!!:raritystarry: :twilightsheepish: :ajsmug: :pinkiehappy: :yay: :rainbowwild:

I'm throwing money at the screen but nothing's happening!

:rainbowlaugh:
This ending is awesome!

*slow golf clap of approval and respect* you sir have earned yourself 17 moustaches, a scootangel, an applebloom that's about to cry tears of pride, and a sweetie belle that's unsure if this is enough praise for so awesome an author.
:unsuresweetie::scootangel::applecry::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache:

3528551 Music is a language never spoken, always heard, and lived, when an ear and soul is given to such. Loved, cared, it will speak through generations, and can breach the boundaries of the cosmos.

First off, thank you all the compliments, and for sticking with me on this weird tale. Knowing that people enjoy it is what makes writing fanfic worthwhile.

3527542 :ajsmug:

3527621 I'm surprised myself sometimes. This started off as a short story idea a few months ago that I thought I'd dash out in a weekend. Now I have notes for the sequel that could qualify as a short story themselves.

3527640 I had no idea it would be anything like this either. :pinkiecrazy:

3527739 There IS sequel! I think you found it already, but if not, know that the prologue is pretty crazy, but the main story should hopefully live up to the first one here.

3527805 Heh, if only it were that easy to make a living as an author.

3527842>>3528048>>3528162 :twilightblush: Seriously though, thanks!

3528551
Of course, but now I have to wait weekly for you to update the sequel now,

I applaud you and your writing, sir, and eagerly move onto the sequel. :moustache:

:pinkiegasp: Oh my god, this was an exciting adventure, wasn't it? Well I loved it! But the picture of Sweetie's claw, is just too much. :heart::heart::heart::raritystarry:

DUDE YOU HAD TWO CHAPTERS AND FINISHED THIS IN LIKE A MONTH!!! YOU ARE ROYAL LOYAL AND HONORABLE!!!!! :ajsleepy: *pretend she's bowing*

Loved it. Most precious golems ever. :heart:

I do wonder, though, "If wishes were fishes..." ...they could feed them to Opalescence and Winona, I guess?

You make em sound like djinn.

3497473 well crap. That would actually explain all the trouble they cause...

As much as I love seeing new magic, it was getting a bit tiring, having to recalibrate my definition of impossible on a weekly basis.

"uhh.... Twi, I hate to do this to you but don't consider yourself done just yet." *cracks knuckles* "you've yet to meet me." *snaps fingers and appears in equestria* :pinkiehappy:

also

P.S. I was just thinking about how all three of their marks share the same two stars. It's curiously similar to how my own mark has stars representing the five other elements. It couldn't be possible that... No, never mind. It's late and I should just go to bed.

I lol'ed :rainbowlaugh:

I also Bestow upon you a Twilight Special #25 :moustache:, or a few:moustache::moustache::moustache:

Man this is one heck of a good, no, downright beautifully crafted stories I have ever red, Hasbro, you better make this a movie or episodes, I don't care which one but you better, because if you don't, I will come over and tell you to do it, no offense :D Also, I hope i can use with my stories I'm planning to make :D if i can thank you very much, otherwise, make the sequel as good as this one :D

:flutterrage:MUST WRITE MORE! You have a gift, dearest writer. You should be a pro. :ajsmug:

This was an awesome story I love oh btw, can i use this for one of my stories, if so thanks I really appriciate it, Hasbro you had better make a movie or a five or more part episode about this because if you don't I will be mad, I mean come on this may end being a good developmental episode for the Cutie Mark Crusaders and for them to have the cuties marks given to them in this story :D

This was awesome, and I can't wait for the sequel!

This was a really good story. I sort of figured out the initial "shocker" a bit early, but to be honest I'm pretty sure you intended that; overall, the way things unfolded and characters developed was really great to watch, even if at times it did feel like we'd gone a bit farther than necessary.

Please, more Please.

Feo Review!

The good:

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, and to some extent Apple Bloom. I don't think I can understate how good a job you did with them--Scootaloo's growth through research and discipline, Apple Bloom's growth through loyalty and willpower, and Sweetie Belle's growth through sheer understanding. Each presents a different idea of what "power" is and what can be done with it, and each is surprisingly relatable even as they grow beyond the ponies around them.

The questions asked and answered. What do you do when you can do anything you possibly want? In almost all stories, the answer is a desperate return to the way things were. A villain has conquered the world? He surrenders so he can conquer it again! A hero has defeated evil? He purposely molds an even greater evil to defeat! In a way, I guess you could say Sweetie Belle did the same, but she put a very different spin on it, and you've actually made me think a bit.

The bad:

Applebloom's chapter feels way too sudden. The giant timberwolf is a threat out of nowhere. Ponies actually fighting for their lives feels like something from a faster-paced, less thoughtful fic. Even Applebloom's display of magical power feels a tad unearned--Scootaloo studied her butt off for her magical display, and Applebloom gets it just by wishing really hard? (You said that you thought up that part first, and that might explain the problems with it--it's often the scenes you're most devoted to that you keep as they are when there are flaws that need to be addressed.)

In general, it doesn't feel like the same fic after chapter 6. Chapters 1-3 are a very cozy and intimate story about love and acceptance. Even when Scootaloo goes to space, it's tied up in her friendship with Dash. But Applebloom starts to feel like some kind of goddess-in-training, albeit a very childish and innocent one, and Sweetie Belle doesn't even feel like the same species as the other ponies. You started with a story about people who aren't normal being accepted despite their differences, and ended with a story about people becoming so different they no longer quite fit, and I'm not sure it all comes together.

The verdict: When I read the first two chapters, I thought I was going to end up faving this. But chapters 6 and 7 left a bad taste in my mouth, and I don't entirely know what to make of what came after. I still gave it a like, though, and I look forward to reading your next story.

Edit: Just read the comments on your next story. It sounds like the entire story is gonna be chapter 6 all over again. I'll just wait for the one after that.

3528864 Heh.

3528954 Thank you!

3529474 Thank you! Most of this story was written before I started publishing, but it was written in about five weeks total.

3529091 Thanks! It took a bit to try and draw it, as I kept trying to add too much detail, making it look out of place. That, and there weren't exactly stock images around to work off of. :pinkiehappy:

3529629 Glad you liked it! My prereaders questioned the validity of that saying in vegetarian pony land too, but the version I've heard is "If wishes were fishes, the sea would be full." In my head, it's not about eating fish, just that you could literally fill the ocean with unfulfilled wishes about the past.

3529640 Well, golems and djinn do often go together. And they are in control of elemental magics in a way, so not an entirely off comparison.

3530011 Thanks, always need more mustaches! Glad the ending had the funny punch I hoped for.

3531312 Thank you very much! It's been said that to become a truly good writer, you have to write at least a million words of less-than-stellar stuff to get it out of your system, and really hone the craft. Writing pony is a great way to get that practice, and one couldn't ask for better fans than here!

3533860 3531339 Thanks, and just in case you missed it, the sequel is up and published already.

3533817 Glad you enjoyed it, and yeah, you can never surprise everyone. If at least a few people don't see what's coming, then odds are you wrote it wrong. Surprising/shocking things should have stuff leading to them that makes sense, otherwise it's just deus ex machina.

3531318 Thanks for the kind words. I'm a little unclear on the second part you're asking though. Are you asking if you can use these characters in a story of your own? Or are you trying to write some sort of spin-off? Either way, I can hardly say no. This fandom is all about sharing. I would just ask that you make it clear that you borrowed 'em from me/this story, and that you don't do anything dirty/mature with 'em like clopfic. That said, if you're trying to use the world I've built as well, you might want to wait a few chapters into the sequel, as it's going to be fleshed out a bit more.

Guess I didn't ask it so well then, haha, anyway what I was trying to ask is if I can use the story's time for one of my books and considering your answer I can say YAY :pinkiehappy: thanks, and please keep up the good story :twilightsmile:

Also, gross, I hate clopfics, who even thought of that idea with this show?!?:facehoof:

3535412 First off, thank you very much for the detailed review. I'm always happy to hear from readers with well thought out opinions, regardless of their eventual verdict on it. To be honest, I can't offer too much in the way of defense. The only exception was that perhaps I didn't make it clear enough that it was AB's love for her sister (not raw ability) that let her do what she did. As mentioned later, she could just grow some small trees and flowers and such when she went back to school. Regardless, my own fault if I didn't emphasize that enough.

The rest of what you said is pretty much spot on. The story was meant to accelerate, and in the same way that the Crusader's lives aren't the same after chapter six, neither is the story. I was attempting to write a tale that shows both the personal/intimate, and the epic. The idea was to give a glimpse into the relatively normal lives of characters that later become quite powerful and different. I wanted to show how they're still the same on the inside, and that's what really matters. The powers they have aren't the story, what they do with them is. Again though, my fault if that wasn't shown clearly in the way it was written though.

I understand why you're reluctant to try the sequel. The prologue is definitely a crazy, fast paced, power-filled trip. It's meant to serve as the hook... like that first bit of a TV show that then cuts back to "39 hours prior..." and builds the proper slow story from there. I'm going to be trying to do that, starting with the action, but rolling back to slower paced, more intimate character development. No worries if I can't change your mind, but if you were to consider giving it a chance, I'd say wait for a few more chapters to come out, and perhaps scan those to see if my craziness is swinging back toward the style you prefer.

Anyway, thanks again for reading, and for the review!

3539927 Heh, cheating! Though I really shouldn't complain about spoilers leaking when it was because the sequel spent almost all of the weekend at the top of the feature box. :pinkiegasp:

3539865
I can't recommend it highly enough; it's one of the best adventure fics I've read, with extraordinary characterization of Rainbow and Twilight. And it has several of the single most powerful moments I've seen anywhere.

Was that particular paragraph a reference to anything in particular, or just general humor at Twilight actually entertaining the notion?

I wonder if Lauren Faust ever reads our fanfics? If she does I hope she gets the directors to do this story as a season 4 episode or movie, that would be awesome:twilightsmile:

3540015 Not a reference at all. Just running the show in my head while writing, that's how I figured Twilight might actually think about it. When I realized it was kinda funny, it made the cut and onto the page.

3540175 I'm not sure she's directly involved with MLP anymore. Also, most writers involved on commercial projects are contractually forbidden from reading fan fiction, so that if they actually do something similar (even by accident), they can't be sued for "stealing ideas." That said, I'm still pleased you think so highly of it.

Right, a longer comment like I promised.

First of all, I love the way you designed their cutie marks. I mean you got their basic talents down as seen in the show, but the way you made the CMC discover their talents was very unique and original! This story is clearly one of epic proportions, and judging by the title of your sequel, this one was only the beginning. Well of course it was evident from the title of this one too, but you know what I mean.

Secondly, I think you got their character personalities down pretty well. Of course you would have to change Scootaloo a little bit for the reading part, but the way you do it seems so natural it makes sense for her character. As for Sweetie Belle, beautiful! Just beautiful! I can totally see her as a peace maker. Finally, Apple Bloom, you have her down to a T. She clearly has apple family blood in her veins, even if her blood is mostly mud and all.

Last but not least, the overall plot. Well I don't think I can say much about it until I read more of your sequel, but you have an excellent start right here.

And as a prize, you get a Happy Pinkie Pie! :pinkiehappy:

3539893 You inspired me. I've always wanted to make a Sweetie Bot story, and this is by far the best version of Sweetie Bot I've ever seen.

You realize that now I must surpass your epicness, right? :rainbowdetermined2:

How could I express how much I loved this fic?

Hm... let's start with a like/fav.

Then... *puts sequel at the top of his read later list*

Okay, let me give you a more detailed critique, because that's what a writer can truly benefit from:

What I disliked:
- Applejack telling about how Applebloom was born. It was sooooo long. Maybe I feel like this, because Applejack is my least favorite of the mane 6 and I don't really care about Applejack's feelings. Judge it yourself. If it's because of my lack of love towards Applejack, then don't worry, you can't please everyone.
- Scootaloo is kinda weak. You gave her the first burst, making her truly awesome, then you topped that awesomeness two times by so much, that now Scootaloo is nothing else, but somepony who can fly faster than anypony else. Applebloom can raise the dead and make a forest around herself by sheer willpower. Sweetie Belle is the strongest unicorn in Equestria, can slow down time, kill a gigantic timberwolf in a second without effort and almost indestructible. This imbalance was clearly shown at the giant timberwolf battle where Scootaloo could practically do nothing but making Sweetie Belle extra work, because Sweetie also had to protect Scootaloo. I hope you empower her in the sequel.
- Lack of Rarity-Sweetie Belle interaction after Sweetie got her cutie mark or after she decided to have a paw instead of a hoof. I really missed a good sister-sister deep talk about those things.


What I loved so much that I feel it raises this fic above others:
- You made an awesome adventure fic... without any real villain! Yes, there was that big timberwolf and there were DT and SS, but they were not real "big villains, threatening our heroes from the first chapter to the last".
- Sweetie Belle representing true meekness. Meekness is not about being weaker and shy, no. Meekness is about being stronger, yet not abusing your powers. She understood that, and she got her cutie mark for it. Beautiful :pinkiesad2:
- The details at the way of how Scootaloo flied. So much physics, it makes that part much deeper and worthy to read than "Scootaloo learnt physics, then she was faster than RD, the end".
- "When Love Said No" The climax of your story, the chapter with what you earned the favorite. Apple Bloom denying death itself. So elemental, so epic. Can't describe.
- You made the CMC incredibly strong, yet it didn't feel like "ah, now they can do anything, who cares", because you instead concentrated on their hearts as a source for plot.

3539852 *finishes story* Wow, I didn't expect them to suddenly transform into Smurfs and end up doing a really screechy and aggravating version of "Oklahoma" on Broadway!

majhost.com/gallery/crueelock/COMICS/KLONE-COMICZ/ISSUE-3/whatatwist.png

:trollestia::trollestia::trollestia::trollestia:

3539681
Gallopin' Gravy, I did miss that! :applejackconfused:

silly of me, not hitting that follow button before... :twilightsheepish:

3539647 that's what i (will) do when i write. rough drafts are more helpful than some think

3539972
you are going to love this story my friend

3539876 Darn! You're missing out on a lot of major references :D

3539681 Djinn are made of soulfire, the way humans are made from clay... the originals were.

3541083 Thank you very much for the detailed review. As you said, know what worked and what didn't is the only way to improve.

AJ's story being slow... yeah, you're not the first to say that. In retrospect, I think you're right. It's hard to get the pacing correct at the start of the story, as there's no point of comparison yet. I should've just been more liberal with the editing knife later, but I was reluctant to cut too much. Likewise having more Rarity/Sweetie interaction would've been good. Unfortunately, I was trying to keep the pace up at that point (to avoid the AJ thing again) so I left it off stage. Could've balanced those two better and done it right, something I'll try to pay more attention to in the future.

As for Scootaloo being "weak" well... Don't get me wrong, I can see where you're coming from, and in that battle, yeah, she was certainly not able to do much. But talents/powers have specific uses, and not all of those are combat. That said, I probably didn't show up Scootaloo's ability as much because to me it was obviously overpowered--she's basically The Last Airbender--So I spent the time instead showing how something subtle like "growing things" could turn out impressive. I'll definitely take your comments to heart though as I work on the sequel, and make sure she gets her day in the sun (no pun intended.)

3549647 Thank you! Plenty of people felt that way about Apple Bloom's big scene, and were likewise excited for Scootaloo, but I'm glad to hear it worked as intended for Sweetie Belle as well.

3554467

I was directly referencing naming a giant world tree a totally off the wall name like "Rupert".

Basically in ToS, you spend the second half of the game running around trying to fix the world, which was broken thousands of years ago in a massive war that killed the Great Kharlan Tree, which was the souce of all mana and thus all life. At the very end of the game you plant the last remaining seed from the previous tree and awaken it, causing it to burst into life. Lloyd, the player character and quite possibly the dumbest RPG protagonist of all time, then decides to name the tree, but the game ends the cutscene before we find out what he named it. However, in the manga series, that scene ends with him naming the tree "Gonzales".

3554638 Oh, my bad then. Obviously I haven't played the game, so didn't understand your meaning. The actual idea to name it "Rupert" (or name it at all) just sprung up in my head about three in the morning when I was trying to fall asleep. The phrase "Rupert, The World Tree" just came to mind out of the blue, and I loved the idea enough to leap out of bed and go write it down before I forgot.

That said, the next day, the idea of giving an important thing a stupid name definitely reminded me of Titan AE, where he names an entire new planet "Bob" and the conversation itself, about how it's a dumb name... borrows heavily from that scene.

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