• Published 15th Nov 2014
  • 3,894 Views, 712 Comments

Journey's End - GentlemanJ



As the darkness in the west reveals itself, Marshal Graves is called to fight once more.

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Finale

Finale

Ears ringing.

Head pounding.

Painful signs. But signs of life.

Groaning like a wounded bull, Ironside pushed himself to his feet and gave his head a slow, deliberate shake to clear the cobwebs sticking to his mind. Soon, clarity of vision returned and looking up, the general saw that the pavilion was in shambles. Dust hung thick in the air, magical instruments sparked and sputtered, and any semblance of order that once filled the space lay as shattered as the various now useless displays. But that was just equipment. It was the people that really mattered.

Peering through the musty haze, Ironside could vaguely make out the form of Lieutenant Sonar clambering to his feet, so the general instead heaved his aching body up so he could turn attentions towards the two who needed it the most. Out cold, but still breathing, Luna be praised, Shining Armor and Princess Cadance lay on the floor, still safely held in each other's embrace as the full magnitude of their efforts rendered them catatonic. Honestly, Ironside had no idea how the two had pulled it off, not even with the help of what the army had remaining, but they'd done it. The barrier had stood right till it needed to fall, and the ensuing vacuum of fresh air to smoldering embers?

Fireworks of the most explosive variety.

"Lieu-" Ironside coughed to clear the dust from his lungs, "Lieutenant, anything still working?"

"Not a blasted thing," he replied. "Whole system's fried beyond repair. We're on basic senses now.

Just as well, Ironside thought to himself. At this point, knowing anything really didn't matter. Their last ace had been played, the entire army was in chaos, and all Nul's abominations had to do was march in to clean up what mess remained.

Unless, of course, they'd delayed for long enough.

So with ears strained and eyes peeled, Ironside stared into the haze of dust and smoke that filled the valley in hopes of determining the nature of the battlefield.

Nothing.

He couldn't see or hear a thing. Not a rumble, not a shake, not a single, solitary screech of those thrice-cursed abominations disturbed the frosty air. All in all, it was a deplorably sorry state of intel to be in during the middle of a war.

...Unless...

...Unless...

*****

The darkness went mad.

The girls didn’t know what happened. One moment, they were struggling tooth and nail with the demon from the pit, and the next moment, they just… weren’t. The beast was still there of course, still the same foreboding specter of destruction as always, but it was… scattered. No longer was that all-devouring power brought to bear against them as the darkness simply writhed and thrashed, flailing about with force and fury, but no focus whatsoever.

In a mad rush, all six pulled back and returned attention to the breach. No longer working to stave off the darkness, they all set out with single mind to work at repairing the weave. A thousand connections were made, then a hundred thousand as they worked faster and faster to reknit the frayed seal piece by minute piece until…

Wearily, Twilight opened her bleary eyes and looked up. And there, shining twice as bright as before like the summer sun in all of its noonday splendor, stood the cage.

Whole.

Unblemished.

Perfect.

...

They'd... they'd actually had done it.

They'd actually gone and sealed away Nul.

“Best. Day. EVER!!!” Rainbow Dash cried out as she picked up Pinkie Pie in the tightest hug to ever be hugged. Or was it Pinkie who picked her up? There was so much laughing and hugging between the two, it was really hard to say, especially when a squealing Fluttershy threw herself wholeheartedly into the squishy mix.

“I can’t believe it,” Applejack breathed as she looked up in wonder at the glittering orb, her hat held in hand with open reverence. “We did it. We actually did it...”

“Of course,” Twilight grinned as she seized her friend up in a big hug of her own. “Was there ever any doubt?”

Of course not. So with reverence passed, Applejack split into the hugest smile this side of Appleoosa’s Pie Day Festival and returned the hug with a liberal applications of laughing and hair mussing on all sides as the two groups soon melded together into one big, giggle ball of fluffy, hugging goodness. It was like so that five girls rejoiced at what could be considered as a pretty big accomplishment for their young lives.

Five. Not Six.

“Girls?” Rarity called out with nervous smile on her face. “Has anyone seen Graves?”

“Not yet,” Fluttershy replied from the midst of the affectionate muddle, “but I’m sure he’s fine.”

“Of course he is,” Rainbow Dash hooted. “He always is. I don’t think that guy’d die even if you killed him.”

“Not the exact words I would have chosen,” Twilight frowned as she saw Rarity’s face grow a bit paler, “but I share the sentiment. Graves is tough. He’s gonna be okay.”

“I suppose,” the pretty seamstress answered with a small smile. “But really, I can’t help but feel that he might be in trouble.”

“Usually am,” a low, gravelly voice rumbled out. “That’s how I roll.”

Dropping from the sky and landing on one knee like a battered angel from the heavens came the very familiar figure of a man in a long brown coat and a broad, flat-brimmed hat. Rarity didn’t waste time with words. She just ran, colliding headlong into him as she pulled him into a tight, rib creaking embrace. Part of her knew it probably hurt him, but part of her also thought he deserved it. He should get that much at least for making her worry like that.

“Well, it’s about time,” Rarity huffed, quickly dabbing at her eyes as she pulled away to smile up at the marshal. “I was about to think that–”

If she’d been pale before, she was deathly white now.

“So… not in the best of shape,” he grinned. “Guess you can tell.”

She saw it all. The bloody gash across his right eye. The rips and tears and caustic burns across his body from collisions with the destructive mist. The tattered remnants of his shirt, less on his chest than on the various bandages strewn across his ravaged form. The right arm that dangled limply with sleeve completely blown away to reveal bandages from elbow down already stained a deep crimson hue.

It was a sight to make a stone weep, and Rarity was certainly no stone.

“You… you wool-headed, fool of a man!” she cried, tears welling up in earnest as she fumbled for the pouch at her side to remove the healing gems. “I knew you’d go and do something completely bone-headed! You always do! Well, I’ll just have to–”

“Later,” Graves said softly as he pressed a calloused hand over hers. “Right now, we need to move."

Move? Why? Hadn’t they just won? Hadn’t they just sealed away the principal darkness in an unbreakable cage? Why would they… need… too…

That’s when they saw it. The shadows.

Yes, they had sealed Nul away, but only him. Not his pets. Even now, there were still hundreds of those leering beasts still circling about, buds of darkness snipped off from from the vine with any reason shared from their master now gone and reduced to nothing more than slavering hunger shambling about. Hunger that was slowly shambling right their way.

“Everybody, get your boom tubes out,” Graves called with spell rifle charged in left hand. “They take some time to get working and I want us out five minutes ago.”

Instantly, the girls sprang to action. Right thumbs pressed to left wrists, the same magic ink that had housed their Elements came to life and coalesced into thin, glass tubes that contained swirling andromedas inside. Those delicate little tubes held their lifelines, the most powerful teleportation spells known to man and the only sure ways of ever leaving this infernal pit alive.

“Pop and go,” Graves called out. “We’re burning daylight.”

Rainbow Dash and Pinkie smashed theirs with glee and were instantly enveloped in orbs of rippling light. Applejack and Twilight followed suit, albeit with much more level-headed motions and Fluttershy squeaked as she lightly tossed hers to the floor. Rarity was about to follow suit, but paused as she saw the made no motion for his own.

“Graves?” she called. “Hurry up, or you’ll be late.”

“Need to watch the retreat,” he called, back turned towards her as he kept watch out for the oncoming shadows. “Once you're safely started, I’ll come and catch up later.”

“But–”

“Hey, trust me. I know what I'm doing.”

Rarity nodded. If the marshal was confident in his work, then that was good enough for her. So without further thought, she raised the vial up and hurled it to the floor. There. Just like her friends, Rarity was now safely encased in their cocoons of rippling light, barriers of magic strong enough to take a dragon’s breath full on without…

...

… pause.

Wait a moment. If the barriers were so strong, then why was Graves concerned? Why did he need to stand guard?

“Um… Big G?” Pinkie Pie grinned, a bit hesitantly as oddness beyond even her ways settled in. “You know you can hurry up and join us, right?”

“Yeah, quit playing around,” Rainbow Dash laughed. “We know you like the dramatic exit and all, but really, now’s not the time.”

They spoke, but Graves said nothing. He simply stood, backs toward them with his eyes watching as the shadows approached.

“Graves, seriously, cut it out,” Applejack began, taking the tone she reserved for when Apple Bloom was being especially silly. “You need to get yer caboose in gear and get yer fancy magic shindig cracking afore I really start to lose my cool.”

“Please, Mr. Graves,” Fluttershy urged with rapidly mounting angst, “can you just, ooh... can you just hurry the buck up so we can all go home now, please?"

“… No. He can't.”

All eyes turned to Twilight, who looked on at Graves with eyes gone wide with a horror to match anything they'd seen today, likely at anything she would would ever see hence. Only at those words did Graves finally turn around, a guilty smile coming to crookedly upturned lips as he lifted up a bloody hand to show them his boom tube.

What was left of it, anyway. All he held now was an empty, shattered vial.

“I… I don’t understand,” Rarity said, a smile playing across her rosy lips. This must be a joke. It had to be. A cruel, completely inappropriate, and ill-timed joke. There couldn’t be any other explanation.

But there was.

“You used it already, didn’t you?” Twilight answered as the pieces of that ugly truth fell into place. “Right at the end, there was a sudden spike in power that disrupted Nul’s mind. You didn’t have enough punch on your own, so you used your tube to make it up.”

“Always were a smart one,” Graves grinned. “Nailed it right on the head.”

“But there’s still some left right? There’s still enough juice left to get you back home, right? Right?” Rainbow Dash smiled, an expression usually so strong and confident now quickly weakening as cancerous worry ate away more of its strength with each passing instant. When the marshal made no reply, she looked around to her friends, desperate to find some word, some look of affirmation to give second wind to her quailing hopes. But everyone, even she herself, could see that the marshal held little more than ordinary glass in hand as every drop of magic had been spent long ago.

“Well, that’s okay,” Pinkie grinned, stepping up to find the bright side where none else could. “We can just… share, right? These little doodads are so explosively amazing, I’m sure one can take on an extra passenger.”

“Wouldn’t work,” Twilight repeated, almost an automoton of cold, relentless truth. “Even if we could undo these barriers to get him inside before they went off, teleportation’s hard enough as it is, and has to be calibrated precisely or else you'd get catastrophic results. Add on the interference from being in what I assume is a partially separate dimension at the center of the earth, and... and..." Words fell off as even Twilight Sparkle, the most brilliant of them all, felt her mind grind to a halt.

“But... but we have to try!” Fluttershy gasped as she fought to keep panic from her voice and failed miserably. “Mr. Graves needs our help! We have to at least give it a–”

“You tricked us,” Rarity gaped. Sapphire eyes met gunmetal grey. “You knew this was how we’d act. You knew we’d try and accommodate you, so you made us activate the tubes and their magical barriers. You weren’t trying to keep the monsters out. You were trying to keep us in.”

“Guilty as charged," Grave replied.

And once more, the marshal grinned.

...

Okay, that? That just wasn't cool.

Emotions erupted, fully, completely, and without reservation. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash bounced around in their cages, literally hurling their bodies against the barriers of light in rage and desperation and borderline panic. Applejack pounded away, kicking for all she was worth as muscles trained from years of labor straining to find some breach in the shell. Twilight, despite knowing full well the truth of her own words, flung any and every magical spell in her arsenal forward with blind hopes of proving herself wrong. But the magic held fast, even as it hummed faster and faster and slowly began to lift the girls from the ground.

“You jerk!” Pinkie Pie screeched as her own sphere of light increased in volume. “You big, jerky, jerk-face, jerk-butt… jerk!”

“When I get my hands on you,” Rainbow Dash cried, “I’m gonna kick your ass so hard, you’re gonna kiss the mare in the moon!”

“Looking forward to it,” Graves chuckled. “But I’m gonna have to take a rain check.”

Had he fought back, broken down, lashed out, done something, the girls could have stayed angry. They could have continued raging at him for making such a stupid choice. But the way he stood there, grinning away like a buffoon with a ticket to the county fair, made it absolutely impossible. And so, one by one, they gave up. Legs gave way, tears began to stream, and the girls one by one surrendered to fate as the marshal looked on and smiled.

All save one. All save the violet-haired beauty who still stood tall.

“Graves,” she said softly, her face remarkably calm and smooth as she reached out to touch the shell before her. “You’re not a liar, are you?”

“Never thought I was,” he shrugged. “Why?”

“Because you said…” Rarity paused and swallowed, working to clear the lump in her throat. “You said that you’d… catch up later. Were those words truth? Or lies?”

“Well...” Graves murmured as he reached up to scratch his blood-matted hair, "guess that depends."

“Depends?" she asked. "On what?”

“On what you say next.”

For the first time, the marshal’s smile cracked and the uncertainty beneath came through.

“I once said you made my life worth living,” he began, his words coming out at an awkward stumble as his lack of eloquence collided with mounting urgency. “Problem is, that’s a one way street. I need to know if you're up for the job.”

Eyebrows arched above sapphire eyes in surprise.

“I’ve fought a long time,” Graves pressed on, his mouth probably now moving faster than his mind as feet propelled him forward, almost like they were trying to help propel his thoughts. “Really long. Always had something worth dying for. Never had nothing to live for. ‘Course, you changed it so now I have a reason to come home. I mean, not your home, that’d be weird, but a reason to make it back, you know? Got stuff I’m looking forward to, like talking more about books and playing with Sweetie Belle, and kissing you, and… wait, did I say that? I mean, it’s true, I really do like that, but that’s not the only thing, so, uh… buck it, what was I saying?”

“You’re asking me to wait?” Rarity finished, eyes perfect sapphire disks as she gaped in disbelief. “You’re actually asking me to wait for you to come back home?”

A grin, part relieved, part nervous, and all guilt came to the marshal’s face.

“People need a reason to fight. It ain't fair, I know, but could you... I mean, would you... b–”

The dam finally broke.

“Of course I will, you twice-addled buffoon!” Rarity shrieked as each and every tear she’d been fighting back burst forth all at once. “Why would you even need to ask such a thing? Did you honestly think I’d give up on you so easily after all the work I put in to finally make you mine? Are you really that dense, you rock-headed, brainless, idiotic fool?!”

And despite the savagery of her words, Graves really couldn't help but smile. He’d lost so much. His family, his comrades, his dreams, three times over had the marshal learned that the taste of happiness quickly came followed by bitter gall. Graves knew the pain of loss, and probably better than anyone, but even with all he'd gone through, there was still one pain that not even he could quite yet comprehend.

And that?

That was the pain of waiting.

Everything he'd lost was gone, forever out of reach and with no hopes of gaining it back while he still drew breath. But though it had hurt like having his soul ripped apart piece by piece, at least he had known it was done. With Rarity's help, he'd been able to put his life back together. He'd been able to rebuild because he'd been able to move on.

But what about Rarity? Should Graves fall, his journey would be over, but what about Rarity’s suffering? It would only be the beginning. If he died down here, in this fathomless pit where the light of day would never touch, who would know? Nobody, and because nobody would know, Rarity would have to wait. Until she could lay him to rest herself, the woman he loved more than life itself would be condemned to hope against any and every impossible odd that one day, happiness might somehow return. She would live life with a gaping wound that could never really heal.

And despite the outright selfishness and the obscene cruelty of his request, Graves had asked anyway. Because of the hundreds of millions in the world across all of time and history, Rarity was the only one he could ask. He needed an anchor, and only one woman would ever do.

So, even though her words were some of the harshest she’d ever spoken, they were also the most comforting. Those words let him know that even when he was alone once more, he had somewhere he was expected to be. She gave him a reason to fight, and really, what more could a marshal ever want?

“Oy! Knucklehead!” Rainbow Dash called out through her own veil of tears. “When you get back, you owe me all the cider I can drink, got it?”

“Yeah, and cupcakes!” Pinkie Pie bawled. “At least, like, fifty billion of then because when you’re as big a jerk as–”

Words cut off as with a blinding flash, the orbs imploded and disappeared without a trace.

“Mr. Graves, you have to hurry, alright?” Fluttershy called out in panicked desperation. “Angel gets lonely really easily and he really likes sitting on your hat!”

“And Big Macintosh can’t handle all the heavy liftin’ by himself,” Applejack joined in. “After all, who’s gonna help him blow out more stumps when clearin’ season comes?”

“I know you’ve been teaching Spike how to fight,” Twilight confessed through her own now tear-soaked face. “I personally don’t approve, but since you started, you have to come back and finish the job, you hear?”

“Roger that ma’am,” Graves saluted, even managing a quick smile just before three more spheres of light vanished. That left only two, the soldier and the beauty in the bottom of the pit. Alone. Together.

But not for long.

“You sure you want to do this?” Graves asked as he reached up to touch the barrier of light. “I might be a while.”

“So what else is new,” Rarity sniffed as she furiously scrubbed the tears away from her eyes. “But I suppose I can spare you some time?”

“Some?” Graves grinned. “Don’t sound like much to me.”

“Perhaps,” Rarity smiled, “but one only has so many lifetimes to wait, you know?” And here, she raised her own hand, pressing it to the swirling light where his calloused palm lay. It was thin, the light, so thin that a hair would have seemed a mountain range in comparison. But it was there and that was enough. Enough to keep them apart till the very end.

“I will come back to you, Rarity,” Graves repeated, his voice growing rough as he forced out the words. “I promise. Someday, I will be back.”

“Of course you will, my dear Graves,” the young beauty laughed as tears welled up once more. “After all, you belong to me. Till death do us part and beyond. Now and forever more.”

Graves smiled, not a smile of acceptance or one of defeat, or even one of confidence to soothe the heart of the one who needed it most. No, for the first time, Rarity saw Graves smile in happiness as in that simple, sublime moment, he had everything he could ever want.

“Ah, yeah, one last thing,” he chuckled.

“Oh?” she repeated with eyebrow arched. “What’s that?”

And with that smile, with silver eyes twinkling like the brightest stars with more warmth and joy than Rarity ever thought possible, Graves simply said,

“I love you.”

Then light flashed and she was gone.

*****

For a moment, Graves stood there, the faint impression of the glowing sphere still tingling on his palm. Only a moment though. Only a moment.

Turning around, Graves saw the shadows just as they saw him. As one, hundreds of leering demons converged on his little plot of land, practically scrambling over each other to have a taste of his flesh.

Graves considered the situation. Right hand all but useless, severe internal bleeding, blinded in one eye, crippled and lamed twice over on one leg, an improperly set shoulder dislocation reducing mobility, and a million other injuries he didn’t have time to name. His mana was drained, his strength exhausted, and even standing there took nearly all of his will to accomplish.

It’d be hard. But then again, when was it not?

Slowly, the marshal reached down and tore a final strip of cloth from his shirt as he curled his useless, right-hand fingers around his knife hilt, only pausing to give the glittering ring of swirling gold and silver a last, appreciative smile before binding the grip shut. Then, with task completed, Graves looked back up at the oncoming shadow horde, took a deep breath, and...

“Alright, you pus-sucking maggots, here’s the deal!” he called out, his baritone voice ringing through the depths of the pit with clear, hardened resolve. “I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I’m late for a date with a very pretty lady who doesn’t like to be kept waiting. So right now, I suggest you step off to one side and leave me be before I start explaining just why they call me the Ghost of Thunder. Got it?”

The shadows howled as they poured on speed.

“Okay then,” he smiled as he tugged his broad, flat-brimmed hat low over silver grey eyes. “Let’s do this.”

So with blade in one hand and rifle in the other, with the desire not to fight and die, but to fight and live, the lone marshal with eyes of gunmetal grey leaped from the stone and into battle once more.

**********

The End

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Comments ( 106 )

ah man, its complete but your such a tease

Ooooh boy....there's gonna be a backlash for this one...
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Oh you son of a bitch! How the hell could you end it like this?

Now we'll never know. I hate you and I love you for it! But... even as tough as Graves is, there is no way he can get out of there in his current state.

This... this is worse than Mass Effect 3's ending!

Day grows cold and dusk draws near,
The winding path no more shall bend.
Sunlight takes its its final rest,

Sounds like that Doctor Who "Good men go to war" poem.

Or it just reminds me of it.

--SYA, The Horse

Boo. Seriously, you just lost me with this gigantic cock tease. Either kill him or let him come home. With no epilogue to come, this is just a shitty way of ending the series out. This doesn't feel like an organic, natural way to draw the series and the character to a close. This is pure sequel bait, like when the bad guy twitches his hand at the end of the horror movie... only you have implicitly stated that there will be no sequel. It's a cock tease.

We just went on this epic journey of self-discovery, redemption, pain, and suffering. We saw Graves transform from the taciturn, cold-hearted soldier into the better man he is. There is nowhere else for him to go, no other hill he has to climb. His character arc is complete in the most awesome of ways! All that's left is for him to either die saving the world, or go home with the love of his life for a "Happily Ever After"... and yet you leave it on this note, as if we needed any more proof that he's a bad-ass. For God's sake, he saved the world, got the girl, he kicked the "Devil's" ass! What other possible way would there need to be for him to get a more bad-ass ending?

People can down vote this comment all they damn want, but this was a bullshit ending. Yes, I'm pissed off. One of my absolute favorite alternate universe stories in this fandom—one that did the near-impossible and made humanized Mane Six fall in love with an OC and still made me love it by being engaging, gripping, and a blast to read—just ended on the cheesiest, most unneeded note it possibly could. It's hardly even an "ending." You've just decided to stop writing it.

For all my opinion matters—after all, I'm just some asshole on the internet whose word holds about a much weight as a runway model on purge night—unless there is an epilogue, this is a bullshit way to close off an amazing series.

Wait does that mean your officially done with this series?

Why did I see this coming...

I HATE endings like these.

Can Discord get anywhere near that thing now that its sealed, or would he be tempted to distort it just once more?

After all, that ring not ony twists luck..

After all, it only needs an Epilog to make it complete.

An Epilog with two words.

I'm Back. :raritystarry:

Great final chapter to a great series of stories. Looking forward to the just as great epilogue.

I suspect I may be in the minority but I find this kind of a fitting end to Graves' story. Frankly I've been expecting it for a while and....I'm okay with it. It's certainly bitter but really, how else was his story going to end? Graves has always been about duty, right to the end.

It took me a long time to appreciate this series. graves was not one of the characters that I had grown to love so much that that I sought out more about them. He took the spotlight from my favorite girls and I hated him for it. But as I continued and allowed my self to enjoy this character and rejoice with him in his victories and cry with him in his sorrows, I accepted him.

This ending makes it all not worth it. Characters deserve closure, good or bad. To take the easy way out and write an ending like this diminishes your characters in ways that I can't begin to explain. It cheapens the experiences they, and we, have. It shows a complete and utter lack of courage on your part to finish what you began. You took the easy way out and I award you no points.

So very disappointed.

Damnit!!! Loveitandhateitatthesametime!!!! Reallywantanepilogue!!! I want closure!!!!

Well, while I really would like closure and a happily ever after, this ending does fit with the message. There always seems to be another battle that Graves has to fight. But now his motivation has changed. He no longer fights to die, But fights to live.

One journey ended, and a new one begun.

Glad to have been along for the ride!

(Seriously, please do an epilogue or even a "Every ending is just a new beginning in disguise" chapter... I really want the mega happy ending!:raritydespair:)

Oh! The plot is STILL twisting! :pinkiegasp:

How's he gonna get out of this? Even with Discord's help? Which I'm assuming he used... but... so inconclusive... :pinkiecrazy:

"b–" What was that next word?

GentlemanJ, I hate you. I love you, but I hate you.

And this is both worst ending imaginable and maybe the best.

Graves be willing to sacrifice himself to accomplish a task and charging into battle against impossible odds is nothing new. He's been doing all of that since before the first story in the series. This time, though, he's not aiming to just to win and get the job done, but to survive, because he has something worth living for. It actually makes a lot of sense and is a pretty natural way to end the Journey.

I'm tired and probably not getting my point across all that well, so I'll stop making a fool of myself trying. Seriously though, I'm not sure I've ever seen what should be such a disappointing ending that still managed to seem right.

Besides, we all know that the Ghost of Thunder's gonna make it, don't we?

You have just lost the right to finish this storyline. I expect a first draft for an epilogue by the end of the month, but first, I want you to write out "I will not write cliffhanger endings to the end of series" 200 times. You're a great big excellent writer and a giant meanie. Good story though. It's just not finished. :pinkiehappy:

You magnificent bastard, that was a fitting end to this, yet also somewhat disappointing.

I find it fitting because Graves put the mission, and his loved ones, above himself to save everything and knew what it would cost to win. He understood the importance of his move and perfectly willing to accept it without second thoughts. And because he did what he did, everyone else is guaranteed a bright future. Now he has one last true fight ahead of him if he wants to complete his latest objective, which is to make it home to Rarity and finally live in peace. Perfect way to end this in that regard.

However, I was also disappointed about the overall end as well. I really wanted to see him return home and fulfill his wishes to go and be a normal person for once. It saddens me that he may in fact never come to see it happen. But as a soldier myself, I understand that not all of us get to go home when the fighting is done. There will always be a gaping hole where someone once filled it, and I hate the thought that Rarity may have to wait until death to be reunited with Graves. But this is how you chose to end it, and I cannot change that.

Should you, in fact, write a sequel to this, I would be more than pleased and perhaps comforted in the fact that this universe does have a happy ending for this wonderfully crafted couple. If not, I guess we will have to see what other authors do with their own takes at this, given they have your blessing.

Sincerely and respectfully,

OSB

...Well, that happened.


I'm rather disappointed.

I'd like to thank you for putting out one of my favorites series on this site. It's been a real pleasure to read, marred only by the knowledge that there won't be more.

I don't what you're going to do after this, in terms of your writing, but rest assured that you'll always have a reader for anything you choose to post here.

I......I.......I.......WHAT?! ......a worthy ending...

....Sa what now?
I want to write more but I am literally stuttering and can't think of a coherent thought. I will say that this was a ride and it was awesome.

Also by chance, was Discords tooth ever used? I'm not bringing it up for a way Graves could get out of this situation but was it ever used? Cause Discord pulled it, gave it to Graves and I don't think it's brought up again. I think.

We loves it, the ending was perfect.

No, we hates it. The ending was horrible.

The ending leaves a lot to imagine, but it seems good. Still, I would like to see at least something to tie up this loose end. It's a cliffhanger and those leave a lot of openings.

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That can't be it! We've been waiting for this moment for about two years! You can't just say: make it yourselves. I refuse to believe that I just read this! I've been following this series ever since I saw it on EQD and have been waiting for this very moment! You've still got two more chapters, fix this shit! Until you give us an actual ending I'll pretend you didn't say that this is done.

5750075 At first I wanted to refute, but honestly, I agree. Say what you will about ME 3, at least it gave some closure. Sure, it just took all of your desisions and jettisoned them out of an airlock, letting Starchild piss on them as the sped off, but at least it gave some closure. Everyone's shit got resolved. This really feels like we should be waiting for an epilogue or two.

5750157
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Damn, that was one hell of a ride...

Good sir I applaud you.:pinkiehappy::heart:

I'd ask if there was an epilogue, but everything has been wrapped up so neatly that one would just ruin it.

Well done.

It's here!
It's here!
It's here!
It's here!
And I'm not sure whether to be sad or happy about it!

I am torn about this ending. This was not the ending I wanted. I wanted Graves to go back to Ponyville with Rarity in his arms. Maybe a glimpse into their future: marriage, children, who knows. However, this is the most fitting ending even if it was not the one I wanted. Graves's fight will never end. He will fight, live, come back to Rarity and repeat the process. He is a soldier. A warrior and a champion of justice who's crusade has no real closure. Who knows he could honestly die on one of his adventures and leave Rarity alone. I had been silently hoping that this wasn't the true ending regardless of what it was. That this was the end of the Journey but there was still much more to Graves's story than that. Overall upon seeing the words The End I feel empty but I can't tell if it is from the ending or because it is the end to one of my favorite stories and has left a gaping hole in my reading material. It feels like saying goodbye to a friend that you will probably never see again.

I wish it to continue I would give money to see Graves's story continue in some fashion and for you to keep writing. But all great things must come to an end. No matter how much we don't want it to. Bravo Gentleman J bravo. I will miss your writing.

Reminds me of the rather rushed ending of Angel, "Not Fade Away".

Angel: Personally I want to slay the dragon (pause) Well, let's go to work.

Still, it's fitting that the Journey ends with Graves doing what he's done all his life: fighting against impossible odds. Except this time, he's got somewhere...someone...waiting for him.

I also like how Discord's luck ring made helped save the day. All this started because of the tiny but crucial breach he made in Null's prison. It's fitting that the tiny bit of aid he gives helped fix it.

I do hope there's an epilogue of sorts with the other characters and their reactions to the victory, and what it cost. And the ending would be the same as the beginning: a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a dirty old coat making his way into Ponyville.

I'm afraid I have to agree with Jake The Army Guy here, this feels like an ending that is setting up a sequel but this is a finale. So it just feels empty and unsatisfying to me:applejackunsure:. Is there any reason you decided to leave it open ended J?

Not cool, J, not cool.

5751056 It was subtle but it did help Graves in some key bits.

5751293 Oh, don't get me wrong, I liked the ending, especially with the Director's Cut DLC. Also, depending on your Galaxy At War state, EMS, and actual choice depends on the damage sustained to the relays.

I've never been a fan of stories that end with the ultimate fate of the main character open. Yes, Graves saved the world and saved the girls but you've really invested us in him as opposed to his quest. If the only thing that we cared about was him succeeding in his goals and if there wasn't the solid Grarity ship, then his ultimate fate being a mystery would be okay. It might even feed into and reinforce the legend (as it does with Rainbow Dash in Fallout: Equestria). As it is, this is a disappointing final scene cop-out that didn't really need to be there.

Sorry about that.

5752151 5751763 5751293 5750895 5750647 5750521 5750243 5750157 5750075
To everyone on this list:

You are readers who've supported me for a long time, yet are incredibly unhappy with The Journey's conclusion. While I understand everything you all have said (except for the part about taking the easy way out - I definitely wouldn't call anything I've done easy), I do want you all to understand the purpose of the ending. If you would like to talk, I'm more than willing, whether it be here in the comments or in a a blog post, whichever one is easier. Please let me know.

Sincerely,
GentlemanJ

Whoo! It's over, what a great story! Or great stories should I say. I am wondering if there's gonna be a spiritual successor or an epilogue that looks at the future of Equestria or something. Anyway, I loved the way you ended the story. I can personally say that it was a well thought out scene, and it made for a great ending.
...
That doesn't mean the softie in me isn't upset though. *Tears up* YOU LEFT HIM THERE?! YOU LEFT HIM THERE AND WE ARE TO GUESS IF HE LIVES OR NOT?! OH GOD I HATE/LOVE YOU!!! I AM EXPERIENCING ALL KINDS OF CONFLICTING EMOTIONS.

...*Sniff*
...
...*Ahem*
"11/10 Would get feels again."
-Valvatorez-

So yeah, great story! Good (BAD! IT WA- SHUT UP IT WAS GOOD!) ending! Looking forward to what you're gonna do now that this is finished!
~Valvatorez

5752449
An Author's Notes or even a postlude AN-only chapter is probably the best way; that way everyone sees it.

5752449

Okay, now that I've calmed down a bit...

It just feels... well, pointless. Like 5751596 said, the draw of this series wasn't in the physical journey. This wasn't some epic quest like the Austraeoh series. This was a very focused, character-centric series. The entire point was to watch Graves, see him change. To watch the girls and the power of friendship and harmony work into his heart and change him for the better. And it did! His growth was among the more natural, dare I say organic that I've seen on this site!

Now, I fully understand your want to leave it on an "And so, the adventure continues..." note, as I would love to see that. But this? This is an inorganic way of doing it. He literally crossed every single hurdle he needed to, met every goal, broke through every gate... and there, at the last possible second, you throw in some curve ball just because reasons. A better way of doing it would have been an epilogue of several months/years later. We don't have to see him all happy, like with a wife/kids/dog/white picket fence, but maybe just cleaning his gun on the table while rarity hums to herself in the other room. Then, someone barges into the boutique and says that some Lovecraftian horror is threatening all life on Earth. Graves sighs, puts his spell gun back together, does the whole thing of giving Rarity a kiss, throwing back an "I love you" and a wink before he leaves, and then roll credits. I know, I know, I didn't want to make this sound like I'm some armchair quarterback, but that's just my opinion, and opinions are like assholes: everyone has one, and they all stink.

As it is? There's just too many things left unanswered. What happened on the big battlefield? You even said that not all of Nul's creatures were banished with him, so we can assume there are still more, but you didn't even let Ironside finish his damn thought. What happened to Cadance and Shining? Such heavy spellcasting couldn't have been healthy for a woman as pregnant as she was. What about the Sisters? How do they react? Like I said, the story isn't "over." You just decided to, I hesitate to say it, but arbitrarily stop the story here, screw all the bullcrap, you can figure it out on your damn own! Once more, I don't want to say it, mainly because it sounds very mean, but this ending is almost cowardly. Almost reminds me of Fallout:Equestria, where Kkat didn't have the guts to give a good or bad ending, so left it with this vague, half-assed scenario where sure, Littlepip is gone, but she can still have sexy time with her girlfriend!

Or a better example would be The Night That Never Ended, by brony Cray. An epic story of dark adventure that was dead for nearly three years. Then, out of the blue, Cray posts two chapters that end it on the most pointless, anticlimactic note possible that just reeked of "Screw it, jsut finish the damn thing so I can move on with my life." If I didn't know better, I would say that this was you very suddenly getting tired of the characters, and just posting something.

Don't misunderstand: I still love this series! It remains one of my favorite AU stories. But it jsut edned on such a pathetic, impotent note, and it didn't have to other than the simple fact that you felt like it. I hope you understand my disappointment. :twilightsheepish:

5752583 I understand most of your feelings pretty well, and as such, I want to probe deeper with questions that, if they sound harsh, are only intended to be exploratory. :twilightsmile:

Honestly I'm a little confused about some things. For example, the arbitrariness note - would you really prefer that after Graves and Rarity say farewell, that I spend another two chapters talking about cleanup and reconstruction? As you said, this wasn't some epic quest, but a character-focused series starring two in particular. Why would the ending have anything but them?

Also, I believe you're mistaken on something: this story was not supposed to have an "And so, the adventure continues..." vibe as you put it. Everything, even the title, clearly indicates that this is an end, though you seem to think it a cowardly ending, which actually confuses me quite a bit. Why is it cowardly? People hate these sorts of endings, which is why Hollywood always has good guys win, bad guys lose, and all is well. Wouldn't the opposite, in me writing a "and they lived happily ever after" ending be more cowardly? Or is it that you find it cowardly that I left Graves alive? Would killing off Graves be a braver ending for you because it's more definite?

If that is the case, then I ask you - what do you make of Graves and Rarity's final exchange?

And also, do you get the feel that I was tired of Rarity and Graves? Does this ending give you that vibe?

For my money, the real end of the story happened a few chapters ago- it's Graves' day at the beach with Rarity and the girls. That's his destination after this little scuffle with the shadows is done.

We don't really need to see the fine details of exactly how Graves will make it through, we know he will-that's the definition of Graves, after all.

I think you ended it masterfully, GentlemanJ. Well done.

5752449 I'd say a blog would be better. I mean, it is story related comments, but we don't want to make it too crowded here, right?

I looked back over my favourited stories, and yours were some of the first. I remember reading right from the beginning of this great journey to I believe a point in Return To The Gala in near enough one sitting, and even tough I know what it comes to, I'd gladly read it all again.

5752618

People hate these sorts of endings, which is why Hollywood always has good guys win, bad guys lose, and all is well.

Yes, we do hate these endings, because they're not endings. Like I said, this feels incomplete.

I would say people hate happy endings when it is unearned. When the universe itself bends over backwards to give the characters ever thing they could possibly need or want, leaving us with some June Cleaver Paradise that feels disingenuous. Or when it goes overboard, like Return of The King, where the movie spent nearly half an hour laying out how every single thing in existence is all hunky-dory.

This? You can't look me in the eye and say that over everything they went through over not just this story, but the entire damn series, Graves and Rarity haven't earned their happy ending. They deserve their happily ever after in nearly every sense of the word.

If that is the case, then I ask you - what do you make of Graves and Rarity's final exchange?

Building on the previous note, I will admit that it was a very pitch-perfect conversation for them to have... in the middle of a story. In fact, I think they did have this conversation, didn't they? Forgive my bad memory, but didn't they have this conversation just shortly before or after they went to, er, "Hell?" Not in as many words, but basically, "I'm coming back/not leaving, because you give me a reason to/not to?" Maybe not then, but I swear I remember them saying something to that effect. The only thing that really was new was the "I love you" from Graves.

It's cowardly in that it is neither happy nor sad. There is no resolution in either direction. If "Happy" means them together at last after all is said and done, and "Sad" means Graves dies or is lost, then neither one happened. This is some third way of doing it, and while I am not downright accusing you of it, I can't help but feel like this is the case.

would you really prefer that after Graves and Rarity say farewell, that I spend another two chapters talking about cleanup and reconstruction?

You're right. Graves and Rarity should absolutely have the final word. And yes, the way this is presented, there is no organic way to go back and answer all those questions.

Which is kind of my point. "Arbitrary" may have been the wrong word. I think "abrupt" was what I was looking for. This ending feels perfect... if there was an epilogue. Even if it was something simple as answering those questions, and then ending with Rarity still holding the torch, holding on to hope, no, holding on to the certainty that Graves is coming home. Yeah, she is here, but it still leaves things so sharply cut off that it feels incomplete. For as much as the series as a whole focused on Rarity and Graves, you still had so many other players in this story that it feels a bit cheap to not give them proper closure.

That's where my comment about you "being sick of Graves and Rarity" comes from. I am willing to amend my previous comments of "cowardly." You're right, ending it like this took guts... but it was unnecessary. Yeah, you would have taken flack for ending it happy or sad, but that doesn't make going the third route that will piss off even more people a satisfying ending.

5752618 I think the best question to ask in this situation is this. Are you satisfied with this ending? As an author, you are granted the creative license to do anything at anytime. It is your right, I think what Jake is saying, though is, if you were the reader, would you feel fulfilled with this?

Movies as a storytelling medium has been suggested as an example, so looking from the perspective of movie goers, lets say this. I went to watch a new movie that came out, Loved every part of it, despite it being one of those crazy three hour long behemoths. Finally the time has come the true climax hits, will the hero live or die.....and roll credits.

I would be sitting in my seat for maybe several minutes, just trying to wrap my brain around it. I would most likely go to bitterness and resentment, maybe going so far as to request a refund. Reviews of the movie would greatly express the ending, completely forgoing how amazing the other 99 percent is. The internet blasts it, though not for saying much since the internet blasts everything regardless, so it would be up to the sales of the movie. It made a huge amount in the first day, but every day after was minuscule at best. The word gets around from people who would recommend to not watch that movie, that it was a waste of time, even though the other 99% was great.

Because people crave closure in their lives. At a base level, we all want to see things resolve. We need the anticlimax to wind us down and make us go wow, that was great. Anticlimax's are as necessary as a beginning. they are the breaks at the end of a roller coaster that let the readers get off the ride, rather than ejecting them from the top of a peak. that 1% is our cushion that lets us go through the relaxation period to reminiscence about the story in general and absorb the purpose of its existence.

If even the slightest bit was altered it could have worked. If graves were left there in that cavern by himself to travel back unhindered, it would have been perfect. Simply because he was rushing into one more battle through another climax into the mix, which would have been fine had you not made it clear that there would be no more continuations. You completely forwent the anticlimax for the purpose of a cliffhanger ending, which at the base of our core we resent. We tolerate it when there is more to come, but when there isn't it is the worst thing you can do to a reader. I refuse to be one of the jerks who goes to the movie theater manager and demands his money back for wasted time, but I truly am leaving unfulfilled.

*Blinks* You serious? How can this be it? At least give an ending where a few months passed and he limps back to Rarity saying:
"I'm back..."

This? I don't know... as much as I hate to say it it feels like the Mass Effect 3 ending...

Dammmn..... Interesting ending although i got conflicted emotions about it, but it's your work . Soooo anyway wonderful story I really enjoy all of them and I look forward for any new series/saga/story from you :pinkiehappy: hopefully one about Graves je. Keep up the good work :raritywink:

5752618 I think a blog post would be the best way to express why you choose this ending. On other note I don't think there is much to say that Jake The Army Guy and blowngasket haven't said already, I basically share their opinion especially blowngasket. But for what I have to say up until the ending this was easily the best in the series and was primed to take a spot on my HM list if not possibly my top 10 but the ending kinda blew it. You might consider an epilogue to tie up the story archs of the other characters in this story (maybe even Graves if you so choose but considering how you ended it I find that unlikely) but ONLY if you feel up to it. As unsatisfying as the ending was I'd rather you didn't force out/rush an epilogue. Anyways regardless of what you do know that I'll still be here for what ever you decide to write in the future :pinkiesmile:.

I'm honestly not sure why this ending is so controversial. It's a textbook Bolivian Army Ending. I'll admit I wanted to see a happy ending too, but deep down I knew that wasn't how the story was going to end. Honestly, I was expecting an even more depressing ending.

The ending sort of highlights Graves' character growth. The Graves at the very beginning of the series would have been satisfied with just saving the world and the girls. The Graves at the end? He's going to fight tooth and nail to return to the new life he's made for himself. He's not doing this out of duty or some messed up bout of survivor's guilt. He's doing this because he has people waiting for him. There's no way he can let himself die knowing that he still needs to buy Rainbow Dash a barrel of cider, stuff Pinkie with cupcakes, cook more steaks in an appropriately manly fashion with Big Macintosh, teach Angel Bunny some manners, teach Spike more moves, and catch up on all of the Little Sister Time he owes Sweetie Belle. And there's absolutely no way he can miss his date with Rarity. Especially since her dad would kill him.

It's not like he's alone either. He's still got luck on his side. Or rather, he has it on his finger.

5753030

I think that's part of the problem. We know Graves is gonna make it out alive! Hell, this isn't even near the top of the list of bad shit he's survived! It's no question that he's gonna kick ass, take names, and make it home safe!

So why didn't Gentleman J just show it?

Thank you so much for taking us on this amazing journey It's been quite the experience following the chronicles of graves and I've enjoyed every second of it.

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