• Member Since 26th Mar, 2015
  • offline last seen June 24th

Amber Spark

"Do it with love, do it with passion and never dream small!” - Author, Designer & Creator - Patreon/Ko-Fi


Rainbow Dash and Applejack have cherished the years gone by at one another’s side, but beneath the wear of time, the fuel that is love can turn to ash and smother the flames they hold dear.

Beyond the smoke rising from the cinders, they face an uncertain future. Now, they must come to terms with the harsh truth that, sometimes, love alone isn't enough to keep a marriage burning bright.

Historian’s Note:
Spectrum of Gray occurs about fifteen years after Princess Twilight Sparkle’s ascension.

Cast: Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle & Granny Smith

Entry into the AppleDash "Second Chances" Contest.

Cover Design by Novel Idea
Sweet Apple Acres Background by bronyb34r
Sweet Apple Acres Barn by Jeatz-Axl
Small Cloudiminium: Customized from Screenshot by Novel Idea

Header Designs
Twilight Sparkle Cutie Mark by Intbrony 
Applejack Cutie Mark by BlackGryph0n
Rainbow Dash Cutie Mark by BlackGryph0n
Granny Smith Cutie Mark by The Smiling Pony

Beta Reader & Editor Credits
Ebon Quill: Audio Director & Quest Designer on The Manehattan Project
Little Tinker: Master of Systems at Poniverse & Scripting Engineer on The Manehattan Project
Beltorn: Commenter-at-Large on FimFiction
Cursori: Reader of Many a Pony Word

Special Guest Beta Readers & Editors
Monochromatic - Patron Saint of RariTwi
Oroboro - Expert in Emotional Devastation
Crystal Wishes - One Who Understood
Swan Song - Specialist of Sass and Snark
Corejo - Synopsis Nitpicker Brainstormer

Word Count: 18,000 words
Version: 2.3

Chapters (4)
Comments ( 42 )

I did find something within. Thank you.


As excellent as this was, is it strange I'm more curious about Twilight and Sunset's relationship than the drama between AJ and Rainbow?

Well then call me strange too :pinkiehappy:


Okay, strange.

Beautiful story. It feels real, you captured the true aspects of a relationship, and Granny Smith's story at the end was perfect. Even though AppleDash isn't my favorite ship, I really enjoyed the story.

Well, I do have a few other SunLight stories wandering around here. ^^

Thank you. I can tell you without a doubt that the inspiration for this story was indeed quite real. I'm very happy that I've conveyed that properly. :twilightsmile:


This was beautiful. Excellent story.

Is saying what characters appear in the story in synopsis really necessary? They're the same characters as the characters in the character tags.

I've been meaning to read this, and I was definitely expecting something good. And damn, did I get that!

Thank you very much! :twilightsmile:

A wonderful thing to hear, especially considering what went into this tale. :pinkiesmile:

I think I am going to go hug my wife now...

This is probably one of the best responses I've ever received on a story. Thank you. Thank you so much. More than anything, this told me I conveyed what I hoped to convey.

I really like this. I really want to upvote this but that ending is...too on the nose and too ambiguous at the same time. It's too much of a 'happy ending' when you've already set up the 'second chance' portion. Also, don't the shooting stars represent loved ones who have moved on? One could hypothesize that the second set guarantees that there won't be a second chance because their past selves, together, have 'died.' It kinda makes what Granny Smith said to Twilight worthless.

I did like that you changed perspectives a bit. And the build up is extremely plausible. There aren't a lot of pragmatic stories of 'ever after' that look at the other side or years down the road.

It felt raw and real. Very relatable to some of the things my (2nd) wife and I have been through.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

- 1 Corinthians 13:11

I just realized that every other story I've read by you takes place in some sort of AU, so I've never seen you try to tackle canon characters as-is.


That was an amazing read. Your characterizations of Twilight, Rainbow, and AJ were spot on, and the way they changed over the past 15 years felt realistic and true to their characters. The writing was beautiful and heartfelt and I think this is going to stay with me for a long while.

I recall a discussion I had about these kinds of stories, not sure if it was with you or someone else on the Discord server, and how a lot of sad "they've fallen out of love" stories tend to be pretty generic, to the point where you could slide in any pair of the Mane 6 and the story would still work with some minor tweaks.

This isn't one of those stories.

This is a story that could only be told about AJ and Dash, with Twilight as the supporting protagonist. Their unique struggles, the way their personalities play off each other, the way they deal with adversity, both short-term and long-term. It's clear that you picked the right characters for this story, instead of writing a story and fitting in whatever characters you felt like. It's so rare to see this (I think I've only seen it one other time - I think you know which story I'm talking about), and it shows a remarkable understanding of characterizations.

I haven't had a chance to read many of the contest entries, but this one definitely seems like a very strong contender, and I really hope you win. I think more people need to read this story because it's important.

Stories have power. They shape how we view the world. They educate us on different viewpoints. They give us perspective into how our lives could be and what they could become. And this story teaches us that love isn't always easy, but it's worth fighting for. And I think that's a message that needs to be shared, both for those struggling now and those who think it won't happen to them.

So thank you for sharing this. I know it took a lot out of you, but it is greatly appreciated.

I read. And the world was grey. And there was hope at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel was grey. Therefore, I was grey. But there was hope at the bottom of me. And when I looked up, the world around me was so much brighter. And the hope is still there.

This was brilliant.

Or maybe I accidentally smoked one of the pages and the smoke was grey... And then I wrote some poetry-like-thing...
I can't remember how it goes.

On a more serious note, thank you. It really was beautiful.


I think more people need to read this story because it's important.

Stories have power. They shape how we view the world. They educate us on different viewpoints. They give us perspective into how our lives could be and what they could become. And this story teaches us that love isn't always easy, but it's worth fighting for. And I think that's a message that needs to be shared, both for those struggling now and those who think it won't happen to them.

You know, a recent series of very difficult events occurred to me not so long ago. And some demented part of me went "you know, this will be really good for a story someday." If my knowledge and experiences can allow someone to not make the same mistakes I've made... then I can find some comfort in that.

Love is thrown around a lot these days. To the point where people don't understand it. I know I still don't. I'm still figuring it out every day. Only fools think they know everything. So always be ready to learn. Always.

The secret is to remember to look up once you've reached the bottom of yourself. It's a secret I had to learn the hard way. I spent too long staring at my feet instead of staring at the heavens. Always look up.

Thank you kindly. Your comment means more than I can say.


Always try to look up. And look around.
After all, you can't really see the sun by looking at your shoes.
There's always something to smile about.
Though there will always be tunnels, not all of them are so dark... and you get progressively better at spotting the light at the end.
And sometimes, just sometimes, someone breaks a wall. And brings a flashlight.

Life's way too amazing to look at your feet all the time.

What if I thank you again and we just accept the circle of thanks moves us all? Because,
honestly, I wasn't the one who wrote the story... :twilightsmile:

Sounds like you have plenty of stories in you. I look forward to seeing them. :twilightsmile:

So I just finished reading The Tarnished Crown, which was also a wonderful read, and it's interesting comparing the two stories, especially the tone and the atmosphere.

A couple days ago, Novel asked me whether Tarnished Crown was more or less intense than Spectrum of Gray. I'm reposting my response here because I think it speaks to the power of both stories.

It's hard to compare intensity levels since it's two very different kinds of intensity.
Tarnished Crown is the intensity of the battlefield, that point when everything comes to a boil and emotions are unleashed with deadly effectiveness.
Spectrum of Gray is the tension of the trenches, the quiet hours between the din of battles where you wonder when the next bomb will drop and whether any of you will ever see the light of day again.
Each is beautiful and terrible in its own way.

All in all, it's wonderful how you've managed to write two different stories about two very different pairs of characters exploring two different turning points and conflicts in a relationship, and yet both feel so real. There's a lot of young (and old) people on this site who could stand to learn something for this, or to at least take comfort in knowing that they aren't alone, that there's someone else out there who understands, and sometimes that can make all the difference.

I just have to get to writing again... :twilightsheepish:

Well. That was feels. Can't say I completely understand, but love after first sight is not the only type of decision you have to make every day forever.

I did ask for more stories that happen when the ship is already well on its way. Not exactly what I had in mind, but not unwelcome.

Good story.

"Happily Ever After" isn't a destination. It's a journey that never ends... and a journey that stops and starts going back the moment you think you've made it.

I like that you left AJ and Dash's future unresolved. The ending doesn't matter, not compared to the journey.

You can never have just a single moment that resolves things in relationships. It's an ongoing choice. Every day.

8590501 I wouldn't know, so I'll just have to trust you on that one.

How is this on the Sunlight folder anyway?

Twilight and Sunset have married not long ago and are completely enamoured with each other.
AJ and RD, however, have been together for a long time and, as the story shows, have hit the darkest stage. The contrast forms a subplot of Twilight trying to learn how marriages work.

That was incredible. I can easily see how this won a contest.
There's a lot of... gratitude, admiration and praise swirling in my head - and heart -, that I'd like to somehow convey with words. But I fail, utterly.
You crafted a powerful piece. One that makes one think and reflect.

Thank you.

Part of the goal of this story (aside from telling a very real and personal tale about a hard truth about long-term relationships) was to capture each character exactly as portrayed by the show. It was a hard decision (and a few arguments with my editing team), about using a "country dialect." You'll notice that AJ doesn't have one, but Granny does. I think some folks disagreed with this (and I know plenty who hate dialects no matter what), but I keep to my guns on it being right for the character.

Thank you! I'm glad I did what I set out to do!

You're welcome. Thank you for at least trying. That means the world to me.

Author Interviewer

Oh, this is gonna be good.

Author Interviewer

Did this hurt you to write as much as it hurt me to read? Because damn, son, I'm a wreck right now. ;_;

Author Interviewer

How dare you

They realized that love were a choice. Fallin’ in love is easy. Being in love is hard.

Yes, brilliant, bravo! We need more of this! :D

And did I catch a reference to your newly published story in there...?


How dare you

I've fought some of these battles. I dare because I lived.

Yes, brilliant, bravo! We need more of this! :D

Some days, I feel I could write a hundred novels on that concept... EDIT: Also, thank you. Emotions are always a mess around this story and I spaced on that.

And did I catch a reference to your newly published story in there...?

Other way around, sorta. Shining Oaks Library was inspired/borrowed from the La Da Dee PMV. That library does have a much bigger role in Torch,. So... yes and no. Heh.


Did this hurt you to write as much as it hurt me to read? Because damn, son, I'm a wreck right now. ;_;

Yes, it did. And I write that without any flippancy or comedy.

Magnificently done, especially in how the solution ultimately lies in the couple's hooves. It's not easy for Twilight "Protagonist" Sparkle to accept, but it's still true. This is one crisis she can't resolve. But she can help get those who can in a position to do so. And this is one of the best, wisest Granny Smiths I've ever seen... even if it seems like every mare she knows qualifies as "pretty," and only Celestia doesn't qualify as "little." Seriously, I get the impression she'd happily date any one of them if she were a century younger, Celestia included. :derpytongue2:

In any case, thank you for a heart-wrenching read. I wish I'd looked at this months ago.

It's a difficult thing to come face-to-face with a problem you can solve, especially when it's your closest friends. Twilight honestly couldn't deal with it without the aid of Granny Smith. I honestly read through this and go... did I really write this? How did I manage to get the little I learned into this? It's a humbling thought, honestly.

It's a hard story to write and a hard story to read, even for me. Thanks for taking the time for it.

(As to what happened in Granny's youth and if she actually did one day make a pass at Celestia, I'm afraid even I don't have that kind of clearance).

Love is choosing them every day even when its hard, especially when its hard. Granny Smith can sub for Uncle Iroh anytime and tea does solve everything.

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