• Published 26th Nov 2012
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Letters From a Friend at the End of the World - alexmagnet

Twilight receives a letter from Trixie one day, but it raises more questions than it answers.

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13 — Revelations

Chapter 13:

Trixie stood, cape flapping in the ethereal wind, and phantom snow blowing about her face, looking out over the endless whitewashed landscape before her. The sky was shrouded by gray clouds, the sun’s rays fighting to be seen. In front of her she saw nothing but endless flatlands blanketed in snow, but behind her was a vast mountain range. Black rock jutted from the snow-covered land like evil spikes. Capped white, and impossibly sheer, they formed an obsidian wall that left her with only one way to go. She turned back to face the abyssal white void.

“The End of the World?” she said, confused. “I don’t understand. What do you mean, the End? What’s going on?”

“This,” the deep, rumbling voice answered, “is the End. It is the end, and the beginning, of all things simultaneously. It is where your world meets the next, Beholder, where birth and death are one in the same, where time and space cease to matter. This place acts as the bridge between the real and the ethereal. It is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

“Am I dreaming? Is any of this real?” Trixie called out into the sky.

“What you see before you is only an illusion, Beholder. This is the power of the Dragon’s Eye,” the voice rumbled in answer. “You have been given a great gift. The Eye does not deign to grant all who gaze into it the same liberty. Your hopes, your dreams, your future, your destiny, all has been laid out before you, Beholder. You exist in a world where fate controls your every action; you are bound to it from the time you are born to the moment of your passing. Your fate will dictate everything you do, and everything that will ever happen to you, Beholder. It is an immutable truth of the world you inhabit; your life, your choices, your actions and inactions, your every thought and idea, are a product of your fate, your destiny.”

Trixie gazed up at the sky, staring into the cloudy abyss. “I am no one’s slave!” she yelled. “My actions and my life are my own.”

“We are all slaves to fate, Beholder. Its will makes playthings of us all.”

Trixie’s hoof moved unconsciously to the brooch fastened to her cloak. She looked down at it. “I don’t believe that. I won’t believe that.”

“What you believe is irrelevant, Beholder. What is true and what is not is not simply changed by what you believe. Your destiny has been a part of this world since before you were. All are subject to fate, and all must obey its will. Even the Princesses of the Sun and Moon call fate master. Even the spirit of disharmony, Discord, is ruled by his destiny. None can escape its infinite grasp.”

Her lips pursed and her eyes narrowed. “Was it fate that brought me here, then? Was it my destiny to meet that mare and drink that potion? Was it my fate to be humiliated by that insufferable unicorn? Was it my destiny to be ostracized and laughed at? Everything I’ve ever done, all of this,” she held her hooves out, shaking them, “was supposed to happen?”

“Yes,” the voice said simply. “You have been brought here because of your actions which are a product of your fate. Ergo, your fate is the reason you are here now.”

“But why?” she asked, looking up into the clouds. “Why has fate brought me here only to tell me that nothing I do matters because it was already decided for me, then? What purpose does that serve? If my fate has already been decided, then why go to the trouble of showing my me fate?” She stomped her hoof on the ground angrily. “It was my choices that brought me here! If I had chosen differently, then I wouldn’t be here now. How can you say that what I choose doesn’t matter because it is all part of my destiny?” Her face hardened. “I am my own master.”

“It is true that your choices were predetermined, as is your fate, but they are far from inconsequential. Your actions and your decisions, as a product of your preordained fate, are necessary for the completion of your destiny. As such, you have unknowingly been following a path that was already laid out before you were ever born. A path, Beholder, that you have walked your entire life, and has led you, inexorably, here.”

Trixie gazed out over the frozen wasteland, watching as snow swirled about furiously. She was silent for a few minutes, thinking to herself. “You said that the Eye would show me my destiny. Is this my destiny?” She gazed upwards. “Is it my destiny to come to the End of the World?”

“All come to the End before their time is done. It is the End. The End that everything must face at some point.”

“Then my destiny is the same as everyone elses? I know that everyone dies at some point. Why show me this? Why tell me something I already know?”

“For most, only their spirit reaches the End. For all life must come to an end, even the ones you call immortal, are bound to this same fate. Though, their time will come when the world’s time has come. But you are different from most, Beholder. You have been given an extraordinary opportunity.”

Trixie’s ears perked up. “What do you mean?”

“Fate rules all, and it dictates the actions of every being. Everything is predetermined and every outcome of every event of every second was destined to happen. Amongst the multitude of possibilities for every action, one has already been decided upon by fate, and there is no power that can change that. But you, Beholder, are being given a chance to choose your destiny. Most only see the End at their end, but you will see it long before your time is done.”

“Wait, I don’t understand. What does this all mean?”

“You asked if it was your destiny to face the End. It is, but not in the same way that most face it. You will journey here while you are still flesh and blood and you will face the End, and its guardian. That much has already been decided. What hasn’t been decided, is what happens once have faced the End. That has been left for you to choose.”

Trixie rubbed her temple. “But what was all that about fate and destiny? You went on and on about how everything is already decided, which I still don’t believe, but now you’re saying that I get to choose? Why?”

“Because that is your destiny.”

“It’s my destiny... to choose my own destiny?”

“It is a rare opportunity, Beholder, one granted to a very small number of individuals. You are being shown the pathway of your destiny, so that you may choose where it leads you. You may become the most powerful unicorn of your age, or you may die alone, frozen in the snow, but whatever happens will be entirely based upon your choices, choices that may shape the fate of many others as well.”

At the words ‘most powerful’, Trixie’s eyes widened and her mind began to race. So lost in her own thoughts she was, that she didn’t hear the rest of his speech. Most powerful unicorn, hmm? Yes, this is perfect. That impudent foal Twilight won’t be able to match me once I’ve become the most powerful unicorn of all time.

“Power alone does not make one better than another. In its basest form, power is simply the ability to act when necessary. Being more skilled in the magical arts, or being physically stronger than another is meaningless. Power for the sake of power is the same as weakness.”

Trixie ignored the voice, still wrapped up in her own thoughts. After a time, she was able to collect herself and ask plainly, “So what do I need to do?”

“The End lies at the edge of the world, forming a path that bridges your world and the next. It exists in the farthest plane of existence, and it is beyond the mountains you see behind you.”

Trixie looked over her shoulder at the black mountains poking out of the ground. She eyed them warily. “I need to cross those?”

“The Onyx Mountains form a barrier around the End, protecting it from unnecessary interference. They are among the tallest and the steepest mountains in your world, and they have claimed many lives, but you will cross them, that much has been decided, and you will not be the first to do so. You will meet another on your journey that will help you pass the impassable, and with their help you will reach the End. But from then on, what happens is up to you. You will become the master of your destiny, Beholder.”

Trixie looked back to the sky. “You said something about a ‘guardian’ before. What did you mean?”

“In addition to the Onyx Mountains, the End is protected by the Shepherd. He is the custodian of the gateway that leads into the next world, and it is he that you must face once you have reached the End.”

“Are you saying that I have to fight him?” asked Trixie, eyebrow raised.

“What happens when you meet him remains to be seen, Beholder. What you choose to do will decide your future, and shape your destiny, and you must be the one to walk that path for yourself.”

Trixie lowered her head, thinking. “How will I know when I’ve reached the End?” she asked. “And for that matter, how do I get there in the first place? It must be to the north if all this snow is here, but I don’t know where exactly.”

“That is for you to discover by yourself. You were only brought here to be shown the end of your path, not the full length. You will know the End when you reach it, though. Once you have passed the mountains, you will find it, and the Shepherd, waiting for you.”

“You said that this was the End of the World when I first saw the snow and mountains, but I don’t see anything that looks like a gateway, or any kind of guardian.” She held out her hooves. “Where are they?”

“The Gate and the Shepherd will be revealed to you once you have passed the mountains; until then, they will remain unseen. Few have ever ventured beyond the Onyx, and fewer still have ever seen the Gate. The sanctity of the End demands that only a small number of individuals be allowed to see it. There was a time when it was less guarded, and all creatures, from the oldest dragon to the smallest foal, knew of its existence, but much has happened since then. Now few know of the Gate’s existence, and an even smaller number of those know how to reach it, but you will reach it, Beholder. It is your destiny.”

Trixie’s eyes hardened into thin slits. She looked up through the swirling snow. “You keep saying that it’s my destiny to do this, and I’m fated to do that. What if I choose to do nothing? I know what I’m supposed to do now, so what if I do something different?” Her hoof moved unconsciously to her brooch, stroking it. “What if I choose not to do what I’m supposed to do?”

The clouds rumbled and she heard the voice’s low rumble echo through her mind. “You will reach the End, Beholder; it is inevitable. You may think you are defying your fate, for a time, but until your destiny is fulfilled, you will always walk the path that has been laid for you. Most walk that path their entire lives, Beholder. You are in the company of the few who have been given a choice, and it is good company.”

Her brow furrowed. “Who else was given a choice? Did they all see the same thing as me?” She gazed skyward. “Was it you who told them about all of this? About their fate and their destiny? About their choice?”

“In time, you may come to find the answers to those questions, Beholder, but this is not that time. As it is, your time here is drawing to a close. Soon, you will reawaken and then your true journey will begin.”

Now that the voice mentioned it, Trixie had begun to notice that the white landscape was growing even whiter. The snow blurred imperceptibly with the clouds and the mountains faded out of view.

She looked up one last time, shouting into the sky. “Wait! But I still have more questions!”

“None that need answering right now,” was the simple answer she received in return.

The voice was becoming muffled as Trixie’s vision blanked. She saw nothing besides white nothingness, but she could still barely hear the rumbling voice. “Who are you?” she called out, her mind going blank.

“Names are meaningless, and forgettable, Beholder. I have been called many over the years, but none of them any more significant than the last. I simply am.”

“But what do I call you?” she shouted through the emptiness.

“You don’t.”

Whiteness surrounded her, then faded into black as she slowly woke. She could feel cold wood against her back, and smell sulphur. She was vaguely aware of something looming over her. One eye cracked open, revealing a dimly lit room and a mare with a knotted gray mane and one cruel mechanical leg leaning over her, the metal hoof extended in offering. The mare wore a sly grin, and a knowing look in her eyes that suited her quite well. The hood of her tattered cloak was pulled back, allowing Trixie to see her strangely beautiful face fully.

Trixie reached up, grasping the metal claw. She felt the metallic coldness against her skin, and it made her shiver inwardly, but she took care not to show any outward signs of discomfort. As she pulled herself up, the mare gave Trixie a shrewd smile, saying: “Welcome back to the real world, Trixie Lulamoon.”

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