• Published 7th Sep 2012
  • 21,907 Views, 303 Comments

Mortality Report - Bad Horse

Celestia writes a report to her queen about what she's learned from living among mortals.

  • ...

Your faithful student

While pacing back and forth along the length of the castle's finest guest room, Princess Celestia paused in mid-stride, her attention caught by the full moon. Its pale, steady light, shining in through the open window, was quickly overpowered by the flickering yellow light cast by the candles over the mantel. The candles were burned nearly down to the brass; the moonlight would still be there in the morning.

The castle had been outfitted with electrical lighting years ago—Twilight herself had instigated the change—but candlelight seemed more friendly, more restful, if a little overly portentous. It was mid-summer, but the breeze flowing in was deliciously cool. The sun had not burned quite so hot that day, and Luna was no doubt now standing on top of the south tower, horn to the sky, expending considerable energy to keep the night air at a constant comfortable temperature in defiance of a thousand years of meteorological precedent. They wanted everything to be perfect that night. Perfection was all they had to offer, useless as it was.

Celestia had not stopped to admire her sister's moon in quite some time. It still made butterflies leap in her stomach every time she looked at it and didn't see Luna's image there. But after a thousand years during which every glimpse of the moon was an icy dagger in her heart, she had unconsciously learned to avoid places and times when it was visible, except those horrible moments at dusk and dawn when it had been her duty to attend to it. Now that Luna was back, Celestia was usually fast asleep by now, and rarely saw the moon at its zenith—only on special occasions, like Nightmare Night, or Hearth's Warming Eve, or tonight.

"I think I see what you mean, Twilight," she said softly. "It's hard, for me of all ponies, to look at the moon and see it. See it for itself. But it is beautiful. It's beautiful in the same quiet way Luna is beautiful. Thank you for pointing that out to me."

The purple unicorn in the guest bed continued snoring in quiet, uneven gasps that were painful to listen to. Celestia stepped over to the bed, and the doctor scuttled back from his post to make room for her. She looked across the bed and met the eyes of old Granny Applejack, standing there silently. Rainbow Dash was asleep on her feet, snoring more loudly than Twilight. The last of the original Elements of Harmony had both been keeping watch since yesterday—no, the day before yesterday, now—with only infrequent naps. Celestia leaned in close, until she could feel the tingle of magic emanating from the sleeping unicorn, weak but still there.

"How much longer, doctor?"

The old earth pony looked down at Twilight as he spoke. "One day, maybe two."

How odd, Celestia thought. He didn't look at me. Ponies always look at me when they speak. Always. Is that what being mortal feels like? Like being part of the background?

The doctor was wrong. She had only asked him so that he could feel useful. Celestia could sense precisely her old friend's life-energy. It would not last that long, but it would last at least until morning. Certainly enough time to write one more letter.

She touched her nose softly to Twilight's, which was now gray with age, and then did what she had never dared before—licked the old unicorn's nose and face, like she would have her own foal. The doctor turned away in embarrassment. If Applejack found it strange, she didn't say.

The Queen chose her for this assignment, she had said, because of Celestia's strong motherly instincts. What a cock-up that had turned out to be. Mother of Equestria, her ponies called her, a title that thrilled and stung her.

Celestia went to the enormous mahogany desk she had had installed years ago specially for Twilight's visits. She put away Twilight's modern ballpoint pens, unscrewed the lid from the ink jar, poured a puddle of thick black ink into the inkwell, pulled out her best quill pen and a fresh sheet of her heaviest parchment, dipped the nib in the ink, and began to write.

Dear Queen Titania,

Once again, I find myself watching a dear friend's life burning low, like a candle about to gutter and flicker out. I have never told you this, but I don't think you understand the impropriety of asking me to turn my friends' final moments into reports for you. I take some comfort in knowing that this pony, at least, would be delighted at the prospect of being immortalized (as they say) as a lesson. I would tell her, but she would probably try to struggle out of bed to assist in writing it.

I also take comfort in knowing this will be the last of these loathsome reports I shall write you.

The quill trembled slightly as she wrote these words. The Queen was not accustomed to being addressed so bluntly, especially by one so young as herself. But if she could not throw some plain words at Her Majesty, she could hardly hope to have the courage for the greater defiance she had decided upon. And Celestia was not a pony to waver in her decisions.

The effects of mortality are easy enough to predict from evolutionary psychology. Mortality causes ponies to value the here-and-now above the future, and the dominance of individual over group selection increases the love they show their offspring at the expense of the kindness they show to strangers.

Twilight would have liked that part. Just another little bit of knowledge she would have savored, another little pleasure Celestia could have given her. How much could she could have taught Twilight in one lifetime, if she'd taken her role as teacher more seriously? But her real purpose in taking on the little unicorn hadn't been to teach. She knew that now.

But I did not need to travel light-years and take the form of a pony to tell you that. How do I feel about mortality? Horrified. There's the raw horror of holding someone's hoof at the moment the light goes out. Their head flops to the side, their jaw drops open, and you're suddenly left holding a mocking effigy of your old friend. I have never come to terms with it as they have, like an immigrant who has spent decades in a foreign country, yet never learned the language.

Almost as bad is the horror of watching them twist themselves so as to live with it. Imagine living in a village below a mountain with an ancient dragon who comes down every night and feasts on a villager or two. This has gone on for so long that the villagers have grown used to it. They tell each other that dragons are natural, that those who run or fight or curse the dragon are cowards and fools who cannot die with dignity. They speak of being reunited with their loved ones in the dragon's belly. They write songs and poems about the dragon's beauty, and leave flowers outside its cave to thank it for helping them to appreciate life.

I listen to the obscene excuses they make for death and nod, as if it were wisdom. Who am I to take away their soft lies and give them nothing in return?

Her pen ran dry, and she set it to rest in the second, empty well. Twilight did not expect another life after death, but had made the princess promise to let anypony who found comfort in that idea say what they liked at her funeral. Celestia looked toward Applejack, so solemn and still, and probably the pony Twilight had had in mind. Well, it wouldn't matter now anyway. She dipped the nib again.

I'm giving the wrong impression. Mortality isn't just about death. How does one live in the shadow of death? By not thinking about the future. This is what makes mortals both a joy and a frustration.

If I've learned one thing, it's this: Mortals throw the best parties. I've already written you about my friend who would throw a party at the drop of a hat.

Celestia had never explained how literally true that had been. She remembered standing against one wall in Twilight's library, next to a bookcase, getting slightly dizzy from watching brightly-colored ponies with high blood sugar run and fly about the little room. It was like being trapped inside one of those clear plastic globes with the little colored balls that popped when a foal pushed it across the floor. She'd been trying to teach Twilight to mingle, but Pinkie's parties were not like those in Canterlot. Twilight had gone to bed at midnight like a responsible pony, but Celestia was determined to get this mingling thing down. "Pinkie," she asked when the earth pony finally paused for a few moments between bounces. "Tell me again the purpose of this party?"

"Sure thing, Princess! It's for Jorge!"

"And Jorge is..."

"Oh! You haven't been introduced! Princess Celestia, meet Jorge! Jorge, meet the Princess!" Pinkie thrust her head toward the princess. It was covered with a gaudy, wide-brimmed straw hat, with diamonds woven into the brim and rope tassels all around the edges. "Isn't he splendouriferous? I saw him in the marketplace and I knew right away a hat like that meant only one thing: it meant party! I mean, a lot of things mean party, like 'party' for instance, but Jorge means party! Oh, I forgot you can't see the italics. I'd let you wear him, only you've got that big sharp horn on your head, and I don't think Jorge would like that at all!"

"Probably not," Celestia said. "Pity."

Pinkie bounced off, the hat flopping madly, to introduce Jorge to the other guests. Celestia decided to approach whomever was moving the slowest. This turned out to be Spike, lying on a pillow in one corner with a half-finished pint of ice cream in one claw.

"Spike," Celestia chided. "A whole tub of ice cream? Surely Twilight has explained to you that a dragon's endocrine system is very sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, such as those induced by a large bolus of ice cream."

"Yes she has," Spike had said, "and I have an answer for that."

"You do?"

Spike had burped green flames, and then said something that seemed to sum up the attitude of every pony there. "That's future Spike's problem."

Celestia smiled at the memory. Present Spike was fast asleep, in a cave far away. Future Spike would have quite a few problems when he awoke. She hoped Luna would be able to help him. She'd gone through something similar. Celestia resumed writing.

She lived in the moment, in a way that we immortals can achieve only by either centuries of meditation, or by attending one of her parties. That willful short-sightedness, so much harder for us than for them, is the secret to, as she would say, "getting down." I regret that I cannot adequately explain this crucial concept in a letter.

The downside is obvious. I remember a farmer who called my conservation measures foolish, because the aquifer he drew his water from would never run dry. "Not ever?" I asked him. "Not ever," he said. "Not even in fifty years?" I asked. He snorted and said, "Well, sure, maybe in fifty years."

That was nearly two hundred years ago. In the past hundred, his farm has grown nothing taller or greener than a tumbleweed. I remember a mare who was sensitive to disturbances of any sort, and was constantly nervous because she lived in a noisy, smelly part of the city, but never moved, because it was too much bother. She lived that way for forty years. Ponies who hated their work would stay at it day after day, year after year, rather than take a few weeks to look for something better. That was why I instituted cutie marks. Mortals are like apples, and will thoughtlessly grow wherever they fall unless you give them a good kick.

Celestia shook her head and smiled. Now she was making apple metaphors.

Living with them is like living in that story about the land where children never grow up. I realize this is partly my fault. I protect them from harm, from each other, and from unpleasant truths. They are content to leave the great mysteries alone as long as they imagine I know the answers. I need only look enigmatic and keep my mouth shut.

And this is the part where I can hear you say, in your kind but knowing voice, that I'm the one who hasn't grown up, because I still want everything to be flowers and rainbows, instead of setting my charges on the path of struggle and growth.

"Princess?" Applejack called softly. "I think she's comin' 'round."

Celestia wiped the nib of the pen on a rag, set it in the dry well again, and trotted back over to the bedside. Twilight's eyes were open, just barely. They opened a little more when the princess leaned over the bed, although they still gazed straight up at the ceiling. "Princess?"

"Yes, Twilight?"

The unicorn just smiled a little.

"Are you... afraid, Twilight?"


Celestia blinked, then leaned in closer, as if studying the unicorn for clues. She had an expression rarely seen on her face, of wide-eyed wonder. "Why not?" she asked in a whisper.

Twilight said nothing and kept staring straight ahead, until Celestia thought she might have fallen back asleep. Then she finally said, "Me... not being. Doesn't seem possible. Consciousness. The greatest mystery. A miracle." She shifted on the sheets to look Celestia in the eye. "Why would the world take back its miracles?"

Celestia had an answer, but it was long, technical, inappropriate for deathbed conversations, and the unicorn lying on the bed had helped develop it. So she asked, "Have you found faith, now, Twilight?"

Twilight's lips pulled back into a grin. "Say... a willing suspension of disbelief."

Celestia sighed. "Twilight. I have something very important to tell you."

Twilight's ears perked up.

"The world will go on without you. The world will go on without me. Nopony is that important. You must never forget that."

Across the bed, Applejack, who had been listening with a frown, finally spoke up. "Princess," she said, "you're outta line."

Celestia chuckled. "Out of place, my dear Applejack." She turned back to Twilight. "You think far too highly of me. Whatever reason you had, whatever solace you found in that, you must stop now and see there is no one here except five old ponies."

Twilight nodded seriously. Celestia had never known this sort of lesson to take when given in words, but it was the best she could do now. And just the fact that Celestia would still take the time to give her a lesson seemed to comfort Twilight. The unicorn's eyes slowly shut, and she resumed her uneven, raspy breathing.

"I'm afraid, Twilight," Celestia said.

She leaned over and kissed Twilight on the forehead. Then she returned to the desk, dipped the nib of the pen in the ink, and continued where she had left off.

I know that. I know the thousand years of unbroken peace under my rule is an embarrassment to you, just as it would chagrin an art professor if her student turned in painting after sentimental painting of birds and flowers in a sunny field.

Let me tell you about my friend who is dying tonight.

Her name is Twilight Sparkle. I've mentioned her often in my past several reports. I have formed exactly the sort of deep connection with her that you warned me against. I do not regret it.

She was born with a drive to understand everything, to find what needed doing, and to do it. She would leap into harness for the sheer joy of pulling the plow and getting the work done. She reminded me of you.

I told her to be more selfish, to enjoy life, take a mate, have foals. All the things my duties prevent me from doing myself. She has instead served me—served everypony—selflessly, all her life. For years I've dreaded these last moments, when she would realize that it wasn't worth it, that she had had one short life to live and had wasted it in service to me.

Nothing like that happened. She wasn't bitter. She only wanted to make sure everything was wrapped up before she was gone. That's when I realized you had the wrong pony.

I know you will not grant them immortality. You say they must earn it for themselves. I even understand why, a little. I've read of the disasters in the past. I know my ponies have a lot of growing to do first, and that I must let them "fall down and skin their knees," as you put it. But when the knees to be skinned are entire cities, I lose my resolve. I love my little ponies. And so peace reigns in Equestria, and I prolong their suffering, and my own.

I know you're right—we could build a paradise here, and a better kind of pony, or even other creatures yet undreamed of. The equations don't lie. But I never really saw the appeal.

Then Luna came quietly into the room. Celestia dropped the pen, leapt up, and almost flew across the room to embrace her. "Lulu," she said hoarsely, leaning against her shoulder, "my dear, dear little sister."

Luna's eyes widened and her ears flicked nervously. But she stood firm and returned the embrace. "Oh, Tia. It'll be... I mean, I know this is very hard for you."

Celestia pulled back, and looked steadily at her sister through teary eyes. "Luna," she said, in a calmer voice, "I do love you. You must believe that."

"Why... I believe you, Tia."

"Not just now! You must believe it later. And always. No matter what happens."

Luna laughed nervously. "Now, Tia. You're overwrought. You're not making sense. Just... sit down and finish that letter I saw you writing. I'll be here."

"Yes," Celestia said, frowning in determination. "Yes." She stood staring at Luna for several more seconds before recovering her dignity and returning to the desk and retrieving the pen from the floor where it had fallen. She tried, with little success, to blot out the stain the pen had made when she dropped it on leaping up to meet Luna.

Just this once, I'm going to do the right thing. Not because I've learned to follow the equations, but, as always, because it's what I want to do. I hope it will finally make you a little bit proud of me. And I hope you will be gentle with Twilight, because she has had only a foolish and overly fond teacher who has not taught her the cold ways of the equations.

I'm not writing to report Twilight's death. I'm writing to report my own. I'm very much alive now, and may still be when you read this—but there is no use writing back to anyone but Luna and Twilight.

You may think I've gone native. That I've bought into their lies that "death gives life meaning and purpose." No; I can never unlearn what I have learned. We are the ones who have purpose and meaning. We understand; we plan; we direct the courses of worlds. They have only a few years of blooming, buzzing confusion, and no more purpose than a leaf drifting on a stream. And I have come to realize that I envy them that.

I never wanted to have a purpose. I wanted to have a life.

She thought again of Jigsaw, the travelling musician and storyteller who had always resisted her attempts to tie him down with a court appointment, yet always seemed to show up when she most needed the cheer of his impish grin-and-wink. Such a handsome stallion. The truth was it was so long ago that all she could remember was that he was brown with a white star on his forehead, but in her mind it was a handsome brown and white. Such a lively one. Such a strange one. He loved his music, but no more than he loved many things. It was his excuse to travel Equestria and beyond, meeting everyone, figuring them out, fitting them into some giant puzzle in his head.

How she had wanted him!

She was supposed to be all-powerful and fearsome. But if just once he'd broken through the invisible barrier that surrounded her, taken one step closer than was proper, looked her insolently in the eye, and curled his upper lip at her—if he'd nudged her shoulder and bit her flank—she would have been completely helpless. She wouldn't have been able to resist him then, even if he'd grabbed her from behind by both flanks and mounted her in the middle of the throne room in front of the royal guard and the council of nobleponies.

Celestia felt her face flush, but it was dark in the room, and the others were far away, so she allowed herself to think about it for a few seconds more.

Then it could have been her, for once, in the birthing stable, with the doctors in attendance, and Jigsaw looking on in pride and wonder as she brought his foal into the world, and nudged it until it took its first steps. Celestia imagined a little skewbald filly suckling at her teat, huddling under her wing when the pegasus ponies piled the clouds up into great thunderheads and rolled them across Equestria. Then she would be a real mother, not an honorary one. Someone who had given life to another. Not a foal-thief disguised as a teacher.

She had already come up with a name for the filly: Amaranth. Amaranth had been a filly in Celestia's daydreams for five hundred years now. Of course, it couldn't be. Two immortals was company; three was a powderkeg waiting for a match.

Celestia widened her nostrils angrily. How could Twilight not want that?

She closed her eyes in shame. Twilight was still dying, and here she was being angry at her. This was supposed to be about Equestria, not about her living vicariously through Twilight. What Twilight wanted was her business. If she'd wanted something different, she wouldn't have been Twilight. Celestia was still healthy, and here she was already furious with Twilight for throwing away the sacrifice she was about to make for her. And yet, if Twilight had wanted what Celestia wanted, there would have been no logical reason for making it.

No logical reason.

She continued with the letter:

I could not lie on my death-bed today and ask whether I had served you well. I do not know what will happen when I transfer my power to Twilight, but if I die tonight, I will die cursing you.

I'm terrified of dying. I've seen it happen so many times. There's no such thing as a good death. But I can't be what you want me to be. I don't want to lead anypony towards a glorious future. I can't ask ponies to suffer today to benefit a future they will never see. Perhaps I have gone native. But I think I was that way from the start.

If only one of us can be immortal, it should be Twilight. It will only take me a minute. She understands little now. But she desires a purpose, and has the strength of mind to follow her head rather than her heart. I can solve the equations, but Twilight can trust them. She will do whatever is necessary to lead these ponies to a brighter future. She has true love, which seeks the best for the object of its affections, where I have only sentimentality. I am sure you will find her a better student than I ever was.

For a little while longer, your faithful student,

Princess Celestia

Then she took out a smaller piece of paper, and wrote on it,

My dearest sister,

If you find this letter, please read it, and transmit its contents to our Queen. Show it to Twilight when you judge the time is right. And please forgive me.

All my love, forever,


She lay the two letters side-by-side in the center of the desk, not stacking them as the ink was not yet dry. Then she wiped the nib clean on the rag, replaced the pen in the drawer, and walked slowly towards the other ponies, to ask for a minute alone with her faithful student.


Author's Note:

The paragraph about the dragon is a summary of The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant by Nick Bostrom. Thanks to Antsan, blackpaws, and GhostOfHeraclitus for scolding me for giving up on this story, and to Pre-reader 63.546 for giving an incredibly detailed review.

Comments ( 303 )

The paragraph about the dragon is a summary of The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant by Nick Bostrom. Thanks to Antsan, blackpaws, and GhostOfHeraclitus for scolding me for giving up on this story, and to Pre-reader 63.546 for giving an incredibly detailed review.

Re-reading it now, I see nothing but the awkward parts: The thoughts that meander to the side instead of moving towards the goal, the dubious interpretation of how immortals think, the over-long flashback, the inadequate explanation of Titania's agenda, the odd scene with Luna. I suspect this is one of those stories I'll be embarrassed by ten years from now. But that's future Bad Horse's problem!

I have a completely-different, Twilight-POV story in the "Celestia at Twilight's deathbed" genre in No Regrets.

Why the heck is this a one shot? Please continue this.

Great read. Really makes you feel for Celestia, as immortality is no laughing matter here. Though it's kind of selfish to transfer that gift/curse to Twilight...


1062416 Yes!:pinkiehappy: I did something useful.

By the way: Congratulations for making the Featured Box with a story you thought nobody would read. Seems you underestimated the brony community. :twilightsmile:


What more could be said? I honestly believe adding more to this would destroy it.

Though, of course, it's up to the author in the end... :twilightsmile:

Interesting, i though it will be something other but still very good one shot
In other way its cruel, if Twilight will be immortal she will see same thing like Celestia and i mean outlive your friends and family

Seems like Celestia can't handle losing Twilight and is using logic to convince herself that it isn't completely about her feelings with her suicide note.
There are a few Twilight takes over as a Princess but this interaction and reasoning is the first I could actually see happening in canon.

Ah, I see you added a few paragraphs. They don't do much for me, but they aren't disruptive, so I think it's fine.

One thing though: I don't get the whole "logic - goal in life" dilemma or whatever one should call it.
Wanting something, anything at all, never is a question of logic. Logic isn't made of content or goals, it is made of rules to operate on sentences to decide whether they are true or not. A goal takes the same role as an axiom - calling it *illogical* does not have any meaning at all.
Maybe I misunderstood something? Hm...

A fascinating and unique story that, in its own way, asks more questions than it answers. Who are the Princesses really? What are these equations? Who is the Queen? It won't be answered, of course; this story stands best as a one-shot. However, it is a genuinely thought-provoking bit of writing that addresses the immortal's view of death in a way that I haven't seen done before on this site or even elsewhere (in fact, the only attempt I've seen before is Tolkein's attempt to describe the Elves view of human mortality).

A nice bit of work!

Oh hey, it's Bad Horse. Guess I know what I'll be reading next, since this story is assured success. And I just realized I wasn't watching you yet, time to correct that.

Right in the feels :3
Atleast in the way i'm reading it.

Damn. That ending.

At first I was like "Celestia, what the hell are you doing?". And then she explained her reasons and instead I was like "Celestia, why are you so goddamn right all the time?". I probably don't have to tell you this, but she is! She's totally motherfucking right. At best she's only ever going to understand how the world works, and be so very angry when it isn't fair. But Twilight Sparkle... despite what seems obvious, Twilight Sparkle does have faith, or at least a willing suspension of disbelief. She believes in the people who made things how they are. She believes not just in understanding, but in understanding everything, and being satisfied with the answers.

She's going to be a better student than Celestia ever was.

And then she's going to surpass her teacher... at which point there will probably be hell to pay.

But that's another story.

Ah, I've been waiting for this. It's a lovely affecting piece and it fits my sensibilities.

There isn't going to be a sequel, I know[1], but in my mind there is. It involves certain ponies out to find this Queen Titania with an aim to render manifest their displeasure at the state of affairs she brought about. Violence may be involved.

Oh, and I spy that it is in the featured box. Congratulations!

[1] For the best of reasons. It works best as it is -- sad, ambiguous and tense. More words would dilute it.

Alright. Okay.

*composes self*

I am a strong believer that immortality is a curse. Twilight would have to outlive the rest of her very best friends, which means watching them die. I doubt she could have lived with immortality for very long.

(Think about that sentence very carefully.)

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. :twilightsmile:

It's difficult to do a "letters" story well, yet you've done it here. Too often these letter / diary / journal stories are kneejerk kitsch which can barely contain the plotless manipulation they're about to attempt. It's worse when it's an Alternate Universe tale. Instead you've given us something concrete to hold onto while we see the letter unfold, and the hints you drop about background events are paced and placed perfectly - they fill in just enough backstory to keep us tantalized without taking away from the ongoing narrative. Very, very well done!

I liked this one, and I think you hit the right balance in terms of length. It didn't affect me emotionally as much as some of the other commenters here, but that's probably because it's my headcanon that Twilight could become omnipotent given enough time. And now she has all the time.

I find it interesting that Celestia thinks that Twilight would take the situation better than her; Twilight might be better at achieving emotional distance, but she's spent her life as a mortal Equestrian and she's not so cold as to dismiss the problems highlighted. Or maybe that was the plan all along.

The comparison of mortal coping mechanisms to a malevolent (or perhaps just indifferent) dragon was nice. I've heard a more general version involving people being hit on the head with sticks and manufacturing "benefits" of said head-hitting. The mind can be a silly thing.

Also, it's nice to see Celestia angry. Doesn't happen as often as it should.

Simply magnificent

Dammit Bad Horse! Stop writing all the time, you're stealing all the feature spots!

*fav and a thumbs up*

For this, and this alone, will I forgive Hasbro for not writing Celestia and Luna a more indepth backstory and leaving them as a kind of overpowered off screen ponies. It gives people the oportunity to give them the depth and feeling they truly deserve. Authors are permited to plumb the depths of these characters without having to rewrite official canon or step on anyone's preconcieved ideas. There is so much more an author can do with these two that you can't do with any of the main cast. I do understand that the main focus is on Celestia but you can always try for Luna's reaction when she reads Celestia's little note. I think that would make a great premise for the next one shot story. It could go along the lines of Celestia survives the transfer of her powers to Twilight, and how Twilight comes to terms with her not dieing but becoming Celestia's successor. We all know how Luna would react but it'd be interesting to see how Twilight would respond to not only the idea of being immortal but having to witness her beloved teacher succumb to the death that was meant for her. There could be a little of everything in it. Luna dealing with losing her sister to the sands of time, Twilight having to come to grips with eternity, and Celestia with her new, and short, life. With, of course, doing her best to get knocked up.

You have opened the door to something that could become a work of wonder and love or it could become a parasitical leech, sucking away your limited time on this earth. All you have to do is step through the door and find out. In the mean time have a moustachiod spike. :moustache:

Remember when "awesome" actually meant "inspiring awe"? This is truly awesome.

Transfer immortality to Twilight? Hell naw. :rainbowlaugh: You mad, Twilight? :twilightangry2:

My god... That was... Beautiful. I loved the way you wrote this. It added a depth and mystery to the story. Manly tears were shed right in the middle of class. I don't regret it :twilightsmile:

I can see where immortality would be a curse. But it's one I'd take without a second thought.

And I would do my best to enjoy every second of it. Life would be simpler, when you know, no matter how bad things are now, in 50 - 100 years it'll all blow over.

See, the problem isn't that life is so short. It's the fact that death is so much longer.

>>They speak of being reunited with their loved ones in the dragon's belly.>>

And thus vore is explained. :trollestia:

Looking over Celestia's little despairing letter, I must say that, yes, she is certainly not fit for immortality. Far too emotionally affected.

I've never understood the whole 'living only in the now' thing that people have. My plans always stretch 20-30 years into the future, longer now that I've begun to unwravel biological mysteries that promise life extensions lasting centuries or longer. Almost limitless cellular regeneration IS possible! Little known to most, some organisms on Earth are functionally immortal, their cells able to return to a younger state and start over again. One is a simple jellyfish/polyp. Others are bacteria buried deep within the Earth, which may divide only once every few hundred years.

i suppose I'm simply a hyper-pragmatist when it comes to death. I see it mainly as a primitive holdover from mindless ancestors and a disadvantage to be overcome. Compared to sapient creatures, there's absolutely no point in non-sentient life being immortal. They cannot accumulate knowledge or wisdom, most can barely store a tiny fraction of a human's memory, and they have no capacity to change their world in any meaningful scope. Any other member of their species is more or less the same. An immortal spider would sit motionless in the middle of its web for a trillion years, as immobile as a rock, simply waiting for some fly to wander in and activate its genetically coded instincts. Non-intelligent life is the epitomy of purposelessness, for it cannot even begin to fathom a means by which to ecape its limitations. And when the star about which the mindless denizens of a planet goes nova, they are utterly erased from the universe, leaving nothing to note they ever existed in the first place.

Once a complete mind emerges, then it's time to begin shedding the primitive biology of death. I find a great deal of fascination with the mind, and its capacity to leap far beyond its own limits. If we wished to project some anthropic character to the universe, one might say that the universe has given rise to minds to escape its own fate, whether that be heat death, a big rip, or something we haven't even postulated yet (given we know nothing of dark matter and dark energy, other than theory, and that those two forms of matter make up the bulk of the universe, I feel we have a long way to go to considering the universe's mysteries solved). What animal can look to the future and comprehend such things at such incredible time-scales? And yet, we have done so.

I have found more often than not that the 'here-and-now' arguments Celestia poses on how mortals live are incomplete. Mortals often limit themselves, for the simple fact that they fear understanding. It's too big for them. It terrifies them. I have witnessed this many times when I explain these things in detail. They hide in ignorance because the universe makes them feel so insignificant. They lock themselves in a tiny room of their own construction and tell themselves it's all there is. When taken out, they are like my old cockatiel when I let him out of his cage. Fearful, distrustful of the great world they know nothing of. Like the bird, they quickly clamber back behind their bars where they feel secure.

It is true indeed that 'fear is the mind-killer, the little death', for it precedes the great death. And, biologically, it's actually been demonstrated that severe states of fear trigger excitoxicity that kill neurons. It may be that this is one reason people with severe anxiety are very sickly. Their bodies are literally dying from fear. But that's an aside from the more metaphysical aspects of my little diatribe here.

To put it bluntly, I am more than ready for immortality. I have a universe to explore. I have worlds I wish to mold with my own hands, plans that take eons to complete. And living forever would literally give me all the time in the world.

You. I ike you.

Without heaven, there is no hope. Without a God, there is no purpose. Without an immortal soul, there is no life.

And yet men would rather embrace darkness and oblivion than face the Light.

116/0 and EQD

Putting on RL

1235699 I am an odd one. But then, so are all biologists. I was told at least a little madness was a prerequisite for the job. :pinkiecrazy:

But who can try to grasp the furthest bounds of life, death, time, and space and not go insane? Being ALREADY insane is quite an effective buffer!

I look into the universe and do not curl into a little ball. Instead I smile and think, "My my, what a big playground I have!" :trollestia: (Seriously, we need a Discord emoticon for statements like that! Trollestia just doesn't cover it.)


1235127 Indeed he did!... WE WILL READ ANYTHING!!! ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!

That was beautiful :raritystarry:

I believe strongly that immortality could be a wonderful thing, but that isn't what this story is about. A story that was only a claim that immortality was good or bad would just be propaganda. I chose the topic with the idea of writing propaganda, something to counter the tide of "immortality is a curse" ponyfic, but I wasn't able to. I had to tell a story, about characters, and that meant finding a dramatic situation, then trying to get into their heads and imagine how they would feel about it. They got distracted and didn't stick to the plan. I'm chagrined that so many people read the story as yet more pro-death fiction, but that's okay. This is not a medieval morality play. Or, if it is, it's about the relationship between reason, emotion, and goals, and has no neat conclusion.

1235195 Yes - Celestia is rationalizing. Not that I'm judging her for that. She's also right, if Titania is right; but being right isn't what matters most to her.

1235462 >Instead you've given us something concrete to hold onto while we see the letter unfold,
The scenes about Pinky and Jigsaw? They were originally short summaries. The EqD pre-reader made me expand them, kicking and screaming. It might have been the right thing to do. (This should appear on EqD any time now.) This story was a tricky balance between ideas and emotions. Too little emotion and most people would find it dry; too much emotion and the ideas would be buried. The first draft, finished in June, was just a letter. It was 2000 words, and idea people loved it, and most people (the other 95%) hated it. The second draft was the letter in a longer narrative, about 3000 words. Idea people thought it was a little long, but now 50% of my test readers could finish the story. Now it's 4300 words, and idea people like Antsan find it long, but most people can stand to read it.

1235197 A goal takes the same role as an axiom - calling it *illogical* does not have any meaning at all.
I agree. If you're talking about when Celestia talks about having or not a "logical reason" - I was trying to hint that Celestia was suspecting her real reason was not, at bottom, logical. You can of course have logical reasons given a goal.

I am exceptionally glad that you did not give up on this story. It truly is exceptional.

Also, congratulations on the EQD feature!

1235361 i know this is going to sound stupid but how is that the sweetest line ever

1235762 Well, I wasn't really commenting on that. I didn't see it as a direct 'immortality is a curse' story, more like a commentary on how some cannot mentally handle it. Though I do feel canon Celestia is quite adapted to the mortality of her little ponies.

Most of my comment was based around my idea of the rejection of thinking like a mortal, and an explanation of why most are only willing to think in mortal terms. It doesn't encompass all the concepts involved, but it does for those that relate most directly to this story.

I use a 'fox and grapes' analogy for those fics which are truly 'boo-hoo immortality makes me emo!'. The author in those types of stories is more often than not trying to overcome to overcome a seemingly unreachable desire for immortality by making it sound undesirable. Those fics totally ignore the adaptability of the mind, and the fact that many people are able to live on in spite of losing many family and friends. One has only to think of the Holocaust to truly understand the potency of the human spirit to struggle on in spite of horrendous torment.

And now some trolling, because I have to... Dragon Queen Titania sucks! RAR!! I hate dragons! I shall find a cold iron blade impregnanted with magical super-nova rays and kill the horrid monstrosity! Mammals 4EVAR!! :trollestia:

This was really good! I like how you discussed the Historic Death Meme in a ponyfic, as well as the deconstruction and implications of Celestia's immortality.

I found the parallel to human existence especially compelling. It does seem to be the case that much of life is often lived as a "leaf drifting on a stream".

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Speaking as an "idea person," I can see where you're drawing things out to make it more accessible (the flashback with Pinkie in particular), but I don't think this would've held together if it were just the letter. Without Celestia's interaction with Luna and Twilight, this would be a soliloquy, not a story. That might work to convey your argument, but since you're explicitly trying to do more than that, I'd say the later versions are an improvement.

Nicely done on this one, Bad Horse. I suspect that this has now become my new standard for "Everybody's Old And Dying, Let's Muse For A While On The Nature Of Mortality" oneshots, and goodness knows it's a crowded genre. I'd be nice for Celly if the forecasted power-transference simply stripped her mortality and let her actually live for a while rather than just killing her stone-dead in the Magic Faerie Circle / Lost Horizon style, but as in the case of all regrets: we always have a choice, it's just that sometimes we made it already a long time ago, and it sounds like that's what we're dealing with here.

I really like this story, even though it makes me sad. Very well written, very introspective and very well thought through.

There are good and bad takes on topics; mortality seems to be one that all pony writers come to eventually. This one reminds me, more than any other mortality story I've read, of Asimov's Bicentennial Man for its musings on purpose.

Mmm...not bad. Kind of an odd story. I'm curious why you say "two immortals" though. Are you not counting Cadence for some reason?

I know how she must feel. My OC who is an Ancient from the Stargate Universe who ends up becoming a Nobody from the Kingdom Hearts Universe is immortal and is over 50 million years old and due to being around that long, he has seen friends and family grow old and die while he still lives. Suicide is not an option for he would not die. Celestia and Luna, I feel for you.

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