• Published 21st Aug 2012
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The Count of Gem Grotto - Matthais Unidostres



A parody of "The Count of Monte Cristo" starring Spike

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Chapter Three: Stages Five Through Seven of Grief

The Count of Gem Grotto

I looked at the mare before me, and I started to wonder if I was too late. She looked even worse than that time her friendship report was tardy, and trust me, that was saying something. But there was no way I could back down now, now that she was right in front of me. Besides, I had a plan, and there was no way I'd let an obstacle like the most powerful unicorn in Equestria on the brink of insanity get in my way. It's time I brought her stupid, self-destructive grief to an end!

"Look at yourself, Element of Magic. You're a pathetic wreak!" I said, staring Twilight right in the eye.

"I don't give two bits about what I look like! And you have no right to go around destroying my force-field!" Twilight shouted back.

"It was for your own good, Element of Magic! How could you possibly be true to your element when you are locked up in a cage of your own design!" I countered.

"Quiet! You have no right to talk to me that way!" Twilight shouted back, her eyes blazing like fire balls.

"Oh yes I do, Element of Magic! As a living being who lives in the land of Equestria, which was founded on the principles of Harmony and Friendship, it is imperative for me to do all I can to make sure the bearers of the Elements of Harmony continue to posses the Magic of Friendship, and it is clear to me that you have almost lost that magic!"

"Shut up! You don't what I've been through! How I've felt! You could never understand! And stop calling me 'Element of Magic!' I have a name!"

I abruptly halted my angry "to the point" demeanor. I leaned on my staff, letting my body relax, and slowly shook my head, "Hmmm, how sad. You do not even wish to be referred to by that prestigious title. Very well, you no longer deserve it, nor are you worthy of it!"

Twilight grabbed her head with her front hooves, rubbing at her skull as if attempting to reach her brain. "Stop talking! STOP TALKING!!!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANYMORE OF YOUR UPSETTING TALK!!"

But I did not stop. I needed to continue to complete my glorious plan. "Maybe I ought to call you Twilight Tragedy? That certainly fits you better."

Twilight lifted herself on her hind legs as her horn began to spark and glow violently. "Disappear! Disappear! DISAPPEAR INTO OBLIVIO-!"

"KAAN!" I shouted while performing a complex hand motion.

Twilight's horn was snuffed out like a candle.

The purple unicorn gently lowered herself back down to standing on all four hooves. Her eyes seemed slightly asleep, almost drugged. She quickly shook off the feeling, becoming a little more alert in her facial features.

"Wha- what was-?" she stammered.

"Just a little something to calm you down," I said in a civil tone, almost conversationally. I motioned to the town around us with my staff and said, "I assume that before discovering the Magic of Friendship, you did not desire coming here from Canterlot, where you were free to just study magic all alone. Tell me, what was Spike's opinion on the matter?"

Now, if I had tried this a minute or two earlier, I'd in all likelihood be dead. However, thanks to the spell I cast, Twilight was a level at peace where she could open up about this, which is just what I needed her to do.

She sighed and shuddered, and slowly spoke as if in a daze, "He wanted me to make friends. He did. Trying to get me to meet ponies in Canterlot. He wanted us to go to Moondancer's party, and others before that. He completely agreed with Celestia's advice for me to make friends, and that ended up helping save Equestria, more than once!"

I slammed my staff into the ground in frustration, causing her to look up at me in surprise.

"No, no, NO!" I shouted, "Do you honestly believe friendship is just a power source used to take down super villains! Don't you realize that Spike wanted you to make friends so that you could be happy? Don't you remember all the joy and laughter you felt just be being with your closest friends?"

Twilight nodded slowly, "Yeah. . .yeah!"

"But now look at you!" I said, pointing my staff at her face, causing her to jump, "You lock yourself away. And why? Because Spike is gone. But don't you see? You're slapping him in the face! He finally got to see you make some friends, be sociable, not a be a grumpy shut-in he had to deal with for months back in Canterlot! And when something out of his control and your control happens, what do you do? You go down even lower than where you started! Shame on you!"

Twilight opened her mouth to speak, but, by Celestia, I wasn't done. I was on a roll!

"And it's not just Spike's memory your disrespecting! You're smothering the very Spark you felt on that fateful day. The Magic of Friendship!" I then pointed dramatically with my emerald tipped staff to Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy, who were gathered a few feet away, looking on in shock, "Look at them! Look at your friends! Don't you see what you're doing to them! Pinkie Pie, who desperately wants to help make things better and put a smile back on the faces turned to frowning by the unfortunate event. But how can she when you're not cooperating! So when she smiles, she knows her smile is in vain when it comes to recovering from this disaster. Rainbow Dash, who is full of frustration and irrational anger! She needs somepony logical to put it all into perspective so she can't stop blaming herself, and that somepony is you, Element of Magic! And yet you abandoned her along with everypony else! Fluttershy, so timid that she can't handle seeing once happy ponies descend into depression! You didn't do anything to help save Rarity, her closest friend, from shutting herself in. You merely shut yourself in too, adding to her stress, and causing her to drown her sorrows in sweets. And believe me, that is not a pleasant practice. I should know, I did it myself one time. I fought my grief with donuts. But it got me nowhere, and hot chocolate will get Fluttershy nowhere! Oh, and let's not forget Applejack, who has to work her flank off trying to be the team mom because you left and let the group just fall apart! She can't bear all of this on her shoulders! It's too much stress on her! They need you, Element of Magic! You're the Spark, the Element that ignites the other five Elements. They need you, Twilight Sparkle! Are you going to let them down? Celestia down? Yourself down? Answer me! Is the Magic of Friendship dead? Answer me!

As I ranted and raved, I could see that it was all getting through to Twilight. Tears were literally flowing down her face as the gravity of what she had become and what she had been doing dawned on her. She began to sob brokenly, lifting her eyes to the heavens, and she whimpered, "Oh. . .oh. . .oh I'm sorry Spike!"

Twilight's horn glowed and she teleported from where she stood to where she should have been all this time. She jumped the couple of inches between her and her friends, attempting to capture them all in one big hug.

"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" she sobbed as they comforted her. Even Rainbow Dash moved in close to softly pat her on the back.

Twilight took a few minutes to calm down. She then tried her best to wipe away the grime and tear stains on her face with a handkerchief she magicked out of thin air. She blew her nose softly and said, "I should have been there for you girls. Sure, I knew Spike longer and better, but he was your friend too, and the way I was acting must have affected you all as well. Not mention what Rarity is going through."

Applejack put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder, "It's alright Sugarcube. Now we can finally get through this together."

"I just wonder why Celestia couldn't get you to come out, but he could," Rainbow Dash remarked, pointing towards me.

"Technique, I guess," Twilight said as she approached me, looking my black scaly body up and down, "Celestia listened and was understanding and talked gently to me, and when I didn't seem to want to listen or appeared inconsolable, she just figured I needed more time. But she was wrong. I didn't need time, I needed tough love. I needed to face the cold, hard reality of the situation, and conquer my own personal demons."

Twilight stopped in front of me and asked, "Who are you?"

I bowed, "The Count of Gem Grotto, but you may simply call me the Count."

"Why did you go to such great lengths to help me?"

I held my walking stick across my chest in earnest and said, "I heard tales of how the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony performed heroic deeds throughout Equestria. I deeply desired to meet them in person. But when I saw them in such disarray, I couldn't just standby and do nothing. So I did whatever I could to salvage your friendship and save its magic. As a citizen of Equestria, it was my duty."

Twilight looked surprised, "Citizen of Equestria? But you're a dragon."

I chuckled and held up my staff, "A civilized dragon, thank you very much! But enough about me! I believe you all should be heading into the Library to work out a plan to help The Element of Generosity!"

Twilight smacked a hoof to her fore-head, "Of course! Rarity! Come on girls! We have to-."

Twilight was interrupted when Fluttershy let out a loud moan of pain, "Oooohhhhhh! My head! My stomach!"

Rainbow Dash quickly flew over to the yellow pegasus' side, just in time to catch her a she fell over. "Oh no! Fluttershy's having a sugar crash!" she said in fear.

Twilight used her magic to levitate the pegasus and carried her in the direction of the Library. "Come on, let's get her inside. I'll fix her an ice pack, get her some water to drink, maybe some aspirin. . ."

As the five ponies entered the Library, I nodded, "Good. Sugar crashes aren't fatal, she'll be fine. This just gives me more time to complete part two of my plan." I then turned towards the Carousel Boutique, "One down, one more to go!"


Time was of the essence, so I simply let myself into the boutique. Luckily, the door wasn't locked, even though the windows were all boarded up for some reason. The cat flap wasn't boarded up, and there were a pair of empty bowls on the other side of it. I suppose Rarity still feeds and waters Opalescence, but now lets her roam around Ponyville. I guessTwilight miust have done something similar for Owlicious and Peewee. The room was so dusty, and cobwebs covered nearly everything in the room. How on earth did things get so rundown so quickly? Did Rarity just set all of this up for effect or something, because I was sure there is no way in Tartarus that her bedroom would be this dirty!

Well, after passing a few dusty, half-dressed pony-mannequins, I walked up to stairs towards Rarity's bedroom. I felt no need to look around further. I had a job to do, and it had to be done quickly. Therefore, I knew what I had to do when I reached the locked door. Rarity would never open it in her current state, especially to some strange dragon she doesn't know, or should I say, recognize. In addition, it would be foolish and a waste of energy to try to talk to her through the door, not to mention ineffective in comparison to a face to face conversation. So, there was only one option available to me.

BANG!!!

I kicked the door with all my dragon might, breaking the lock and throwing the door wide open. I strode into the room with purpose, filled with self-loathing for barging into a lady's quarters unannounced. However, I continued to remind myself that this was all for her own good.

I could see my lady lying on her bed, dressed in her fine expensive bath-robe, which she normally wore during spa dates. . . and drama-queen nervous breakdowns. Her face was first pale with shock, and then turned red with rage. Believe me, you do not want to be around Rarity when she is angry, especially if you're the one who made her angry. Although she is the very meaning of pretty, her rage is not pretty.

"You boor!" she shrieked as she sat up in bed, shaking with anger, "How dare you barge into a lady's room! You sick monster! Don't you even now what I've been through the last couple of days? No! Of course you haven't! I've been sad, angry, frustrated, depressed, traumatized, and hurt all at the same time, all while wallowing in pity! And I'm not even sure if ponies are supposed to wallow in pity! And right now, I'm going to let it all out, by tearing you limb from limb!"

See. Not pretty.

Rarity's magic flared up as various object around the room; pillows, boxes, sewing needles, spools of thread, writing utensils, chairs, chests, etc.; began levitating, all ready to be thrown at me.

Remembering the other spell I memorized for my plan, I shouted, "ZAN HAAL VIIK!"

All of the items were thrown out of Rarity's magical grip and landed harmlessly against the walls.

Using Rarity's shock as my opening, I pointed my staff at her and said, "How can you be so selfish, Element of Generosity?"

I had to bite my tongue to hold back the feelings I felt when I saw Rarity's hurt expression.

"Me? Being selfish! I had some one very important to me get taken away!" she replied.

"So did Twilight Sparkle, and I showed her the light!" I replied, "Don't you see! By doing this, you're turning your back on your friends, and hurting them!"

"But what about me?" she whined, throwing a hoof over her face while leaning back on her bed. "I am so brooooooken!" she sobbed, tears flowing like rivers down her cheeks.

My heart felt like it would burst. It hurt me so much to see her cry, and yet the only way to stop this was to press on straight though the most difficult of paths.

I took a deep breath and continued, "This baby dragon, the one named Spike, what did he ever do for you?"

"He would do anything!" Rarity exclaimed, sitting up again and throwing her front legs open wide for emphasis. "No matter how dirty, tiring, difficult, or laborious the task, he would do it! He would do anything for me! He was the perfect gentleman! The sweetest, most generous dragon in all of Equestria!"

"Did he do so much for you because he was 'the sweetest, most generous dragon in all of Equestria' as you say, or perhaps he may have had feelings for you. I'd say the later, the way you described how self sacrificial he was for especially you," I said smoothly, doing my best to appear only vaguely interested.

"Of course he loved me," Rarity said in a whimpering tone, her hooves trashing patterns in her quilt, "It was obvious. Just so obvious. . ."

"Did you love him?" I asked, silently begging my rapidly and rising heart rate and body temperature to return to their normal levels.

"I cannot answer that!" Rarity shouted, jumping off of the bed and landing on the floor in front of me. "As Celestia as my witness, I will never answer that question for another living soul as long as I live!"

I couldn't break my guise. I wanted to, more than anything. But my plan would end in a more glorious ending for us if I would just postpone our joyous reunion for a time. So, I continued my emotionally and mentally probing dialogue.

"Hmm. . .well, I'd say he'd do anything to make you happy, and I'd be right. . .right?"

Rarity nodded resolutely.

"Well, you are the opposite of happy right now, I presume?"

"Look at me. Do I look happy?" she replied bitterly.

I shook my head and closed my eyes, "How terrible. Can you not see it? Do you not understand? If his passing brought such turmoil to you, then do you know what Spike would logically think if he could see you now?"

I could tell by her face that the sudden realization hit her like a score of Toms.

"No. . ." she whispered.

"Spike would think, 'Oh Celestia! Look what I did to Rarity! Look how sad I made her! Look at her life which I have ruined! What have I done! If only she had never met me! If only-'."

"STOP IT! STOP IT!" she screamed as she fell to the ground, covering her head with her hooves. "Oh Spike! Oh my dear Spikey Wikey! If you can hear me, please listen! Don't blame yourself for this! It's my fault for being such a drama queen, and for not telling you the things I wish I had told you! It's just so hard for me to move on! Please understand! Please!"

She then totally broke down into a sobbing fit, right at my foot claws. Well, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to let some of my yearning out. So, I go down on all fours, and gently caressed her beautiful purple ribbon of mane. It was slightly messed up from her days of depression, but still beautiful in my eyes.

"Shh, shh, shhh! It's okay my lady. He heard you, I know he heard you. Loved ones never truly leave us, you know," I said softly as I gave her gentle pats on the back.

We stayed like that for a couple of minutes, and eventually, the tears stopped. My lady sniffed and shook the cobwebs out of her head. "Thank you. Thank you so much. . ." she whispered.

I nodded, and got back onto my legs with my staff. "You're welcome," I replied, but I wasn't done just yet. "There are seven stages of grief, my lady. Shock & denial, pain & guilt, anger & bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction & working through, and acceptance & hope. You've been on stage 4 for a while, and some ponies can stay on that stage, or any of the other stages, for a very long time. Spike desire is for you to get through stages five, six, and seven as quickly as possible, so you can start living again. But to do that, you must not be so selfish with your emotions."

Rarity looked confused, so I explained:

"Just like how Twilight locking herself away hurt your friends, so is your exiling yourself in this room. Don't you think your friends care about you? Don't you think the fact that they aren't able to help you, because you won't let them, is hurting them. Listen closely my lady. . ."

I explained how each of her friends were doing, similar to how I did it with Twilight, only with a bit more detail. Rarity looked very concerned when I talked about Fluttershy, even though I didn't tell her that the pegasus had just recently suffered from a sugar crash.

"Oh dear, you are right, you are so right!" she said breathlessly, "What have I been doing? I could never recover from. . .that alone. I need my friends help to reconstruct my life. It's all so clear now!" She then whipped off her bath-robe and struck a dramatic pose, "As Celestia as my witness, I - WILL - LIVE!"

She used her magic grab my staff out of my hand, and then began to gently nudge me toward the door.

"But, before I reenter the outside world," she said with an air of efficiency, "I must get back into the activities of my normal. Ergo, I must return to performing my life's purpose! Ergo, I must create beautiful things! Ergo, I must return to making fabulous fashions! Ergo, I shall now make you an ensemble- no! a new wardrobe as thanks for bringing me back to life!" Her eyes seemed to sparkle with gusto as she spoke with great excitement in her voice.

I chuckled nervously as I was guided down the stairs by the now lively mare, "Well, it's actually kind of funny. I came here hoping that the Rarity, well known for the dresses that she made for Hoity Toity, Fancypants, and Sapphire Shores, could make clothes for me. But, well, you were down so low, and you're still recovering, and-."

"Nonsense! I must return to me greatest passion in life right away if I want to feel like my old self again!"

Rarity led me down into the abandoned room. With a flash of her horn, the lights were turned back on. She shook her head, "Oh dear me! So dusty and dirty-."

"FUS!" I said.

A ring of force shot out, with me as its center point. It was weak, almost like wind, but that's how I wanted it to be. It caused Rarity to jump a bit, but you could really see its effects as it pushed all of the dust and cobwebs into the corners of the walls for easy clean up and disposal later.

Rarity was nearly at a loss for words, "My goodness! That was- oh goodness me! You are full of surprises! Please, tell me your name!"

I bowed elegantly, "I am the Count of Gem Grotto, my lady."

Rarity's face was the very picture of glee, "Oooh! A Count! Well, goodness gracious me! Imagine! Creating a wardrobe for a Count! Well, sir, please, what style of clothing would you prefer? Ooh! I could just imagine the colors that would go beautifully with those black scales!"

I just had to laugh. Rarity was back.


Suits or tuxedos were never my thing. I remember one such outfit which I certainly did not like, which came with this awful hat. I can't believe it was Rarity of all mares who made that! Sure, I did wear a tux for the Grand Galloping Gala, but I'd rather not talk about that disaster.

Anyway, I was more partial to the cloak. I recall Rarity making a line of them a few months ago. Anyway, we first chose a very earthy red color, witch went well with my earthy green underbelly. We chose ruby fasteners, which really stood out in comparison. We then chose a mossy green color for a second cloak, which complemented my dark colors perfectly. We gave emerald fasteners to that one. After some talk of each of our goals and missions in life, in which I only gave vague answers involving being at the top in Canterlot, I asked Rarity to commission me something a little. . . special.

I felt that, being a dragon, I should command an air of power and strength to those around me. The answer came to me in one word: armor. Not real armor, for it would get too bulky, heavy, and unnecessary for the circumstances I planned on wearing it in. I desired a mock "breastplate" made of something light a stiff, covered in smooth fabric that would be somewhat glossy. This would be fastened around my middle by a thin belt, and the tip of the top of each side of the "breastplate" would have a metal fastener, both of which would be connected to long flowing cape of crimson red. With such an outfit, I surely would be The Count of Gem Grotto!

After I finished the description, I made sure to say that for such an outfit I would pay handsomely. Rarity quickly declined the offer, reminding me that she bore the Element of Generosity for a reason, and that getting a new lease on life, as well as creating such a marvelous design for a Count, would be reward enough. Also, she said that with the new zest she was feeling, she could make creations that would make her more bits than ever before.


A couple of hours had passed since I entered the Carousel Boutique, making it about 4 in the afternoon. As I was trying on my "Dragon Armor," the front door was flung wide open.

"Rarity?!" five familiar voices asked incredulously.

I certainly enjoyed watching the hugging and laughing. It made me truly feel that my work here was done, and that I could finally move on to climbing the ladder that would lead to my vengeance and reunion. With their friendships restored and their hearts finally ready to let go and move on, I was finally free to follow the path Inciendio laid out for me.

I told the group that this should be their time to reconcile and talk about everything that's happened. I explained how necessary it was for them to move on. They all agreed, so after I promised not to leave without receiving a proper send-off from them, I let myself out while carefully carrying the other two cloaks in their garment bags.

It was about time the Count of Gem Grotto finally made a name for himself in Equestria.

And Ponyville is going to be his test bed.

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