• Published 19th Apr 2013
  • 12,550 Views, 1,099 Comments

Mortal - Benman

Twilight Sparkle's friends have lived long and happy lives. Now their time is coming to an end, but Rainbow Dash, at least, will not go gently. Twilight has the power to save her friend's life. Is it worth violating the natural order?

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Prologue: Friendship

The carriage wheels tore up small clumps of sod as they rolled through the cemetery, slowing to a halt before a row of pristine marble tombstones.

The unicorn pulling the carriage shrugged the harness over his rich vermilion coat and, with a heavy sigh, let it fall to the ground. His breath steamed faintly in the autumn air. He ambled to the side of the carriage and opened the door. “We’re here, Mom,” he said.

“Thank you, darling,” came the response from inside. “Help me down, please.”

An elderly white unicorn tottered out of the carriage, leaning heavily on her son as she went. Her withered legs were barely thicker than her horn, except for the swollen joints at knee and shoulder. Her mane was the same arresting violet it had been in her youth, but the chemicals Rarity used to maintain its color and shape had left the hairs thin and brittle. She wore an overcoat and shawl against the cold, all in black.

On her other side, she was supported by an old friend. Fluttershy’s body showed few signs of her age; although her mane had faded to a rose-tinted white, she moved with the grace and power of a mare of forty.

Behind them, a rolled-up blanket and a cloth bundle floated in a nimbus of azure light. Rarity’s magic, at least, was as strong as ever. She leaned on Fluttershy while she telekinetically spread the blanket in front of a tombstone. She made her slow way over, supported by the ponies on both sides, before they gently settled her onto the blanket.

The younger unicorn stood up. “I’ll be at the fountain when you need me.” He turned to go.

“Sunstone.” Fluttershy put a hoof on his shoulder. “It’s so sweet of you to take us out here.”

“I know how much this means to Mom. To both of you. I’m happy to do this.”

“One of my grandfoals should be helping you, at least.”

“I know how busy they are.” It was true enough. Between the apple harvest and preparations for her grandson’s wedding, the rest of her family didn’t have a spare moment between them. Sunstone wiped the sweat from his brow. “Don’t worry about me. I’m not too old to pull a carriage just yet.” He trotted off, leaving the two old friends alone.

They sat in silence. Wilted flowers covered the grave. Above them loomed raw granite inscribed with three apples.

“We should all be here,” said Rarity. “Like it used to be.”

“Pinkie couldn’t stay past the funeral,” said Fluttershy. “The foster stable needs her back in Fillydelphia. Twilight said she was going to talk to Rainbow Dash and try to get her to come. They might show up after all.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Rarity.

Fluttershy draped a wing over Rarity and pulled her close. She felt her friend shivering through the overcoat. “You’re cold. We should get started.”

Rarity nodded. Fluttershy unwrapped the bundle to expose a sapling, its roots clutching a ball of rich soil. That done, she began digging with her forehooves. The earth of Applejack’s grave was still loose. By the time the hole was big enough for the tree, Fluttershy was covered in a sheen of sweat. The sun was low in the sky, and still there was no sign of the others.

They looked at each other. “Maybe we should wait a little longer,” said Fluttershy. “That is, if you want to.”

“No.” Rarity’s voice was firm, but she looked at the ground as she spoke. “If Rainbow and Twilight aren’t here by now, then they’re not coming.”

Fluttershy went to the sapling. “I’ll finish up, then.”

“A moment, if you would.” Rarity levitated a small silver coffer from within her coat. “I’d like to leave this, as well.”

Fluttershy plucked the box from the air and opened it. Within was a cameo in the shape of Applejack’s cutie mark, carved from three almandine jewels set in bronze. Sunlight gleamed from its perfect facets. “It’s beautiful.”

Rarity closed the box with a thought. “I wanted to leave her with something from us. With the spell I put on the box, that should last forever.”

“The tree will last.”

“For a long time, yes,” said Rarity. Fluttershy’s eyes followed the box as Rarity’s magic lowered it into the hole. “Eventually, though… well, Applejack will still be here when the tree is gone.”

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