Epilogue

by TyphlUpgrade

First published

Twilight's come to terms with the realities of immortality. It's been centuries since then, and it hasn't gotten any easier.

The nation of Equestria is no more.

It hasn't "been" for centuries. The great cities of Equestria are empty husks of their former selves, their only residents being the rats. What's left of the Equestrian people is scattered, isolated, and generally disagreeable.

And Celestia is gone.

Twilight and Spike witnessed this all, of the downfall of Equestria, and they've never quite recovered.

(My eternal gratitude to Pizza Pony for the cover. You can find their DeviantArt here: --> https://www.deviantart.com/provolonepone)

Chapter I

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Twilight was in her element.

Nose deep in a book, curled up in a nice chair in a secluded library. She had a small pile of works stacked up on the corner of the desk. From experience, factoring in her average words per minute, she knew that the pile could last her for hours. That thought alone was enough to put a smile on her lips, though her eyes never left the page she was on.

It wasn’t that the alicorn couldn’t find enjoyment in other things, or other people for that matter. She might once have been a reclusive bookworm, snapping at anyone that might interrupt her studies, but she had long moved past that stage of her life, and she was proud to admit it.

It was just that old habits died hard. When Twilight needed to lose herself, she naturally gravitated away from people and towards the environment of study she had become accustomed to over the years.

In such a place, Twilight could almost forget that the library around her had not seen another pony but her in centuries, and that the rain outside was leaking through a large hole in the roof into a brackish puddle on the floor below.

The library had been rotting when she found it. Nestled between two other, equally dilapidated buildings, the library was a dignified establishment, decorated with stone pillars and vaguely plant-like engravings. The effect was diminished somewhat by the fact that half the roof had caved in directly on top of the front door, and the concrete had turned a distinctly undignified shade, the color of grime.

When she finally had removed the half ton of concrete from in front of the door, to her dismay she found that the books inside had fared little better. Most had succumbed to mold or nesting insects. It was a stroke of luck that she had happened upon as many readable books as she did, whose preservation spells had remained mercifully intact over the years.

She had searched the library for three hours, and all she had to show for it was a hoofful of books. They weren’t even ones she liked.

The words on the page in front of her began to blur. She shut the book with a frustrated grunt, ruffling her wings in annoyance.

“Ugh. The one time in a decade I find something intact enough to read, and I have to go and get myself too worked up to enjoy it.” Sighing, Twilight cast her magic out over the books, floating them into her saddlebags.

As she latched her bags closed, Twilight attempted to clear her head with a vigorous shake, putting on what she hoped was a determined expression. “No, no, no,” she began to mutter to herself. “You always do this. Remember, practice gratefulness. I’m… grateful that I actually managed to find anything at all here. No more pessimism.”

She took a deep breath, focusing on how it felt when the air filled her lungs.

“…Really, it’s a small miracle that any books survived at all. The last time someone came to renew the preservation spells on these was probably before the Exodus.” She managed a small smile. “Right, feeling better, I think. Placebo effect or not. Thank you, Sturdy Limb’s Guide to Meditation and Self Harmony.

Twilight stood from her chair, walking down the stairs, towards the front door. With every step, her mood lifted just a bit more.

She was almost at the door when she heard a thump behind her.

Twilight turned to see a book fallen in the center of the room, two meters from the nearest bookshelf. She stared confused at it for a few seconds. In buildings like the dilapidated library, things fell often. It was the nature of such buildings for things to fall at random, and seemingly arbitrarily, when some support structure somewhere decided that it was no longer going to fulfill its duty. But if the book were too far to fall from the bookshelf, then where...?

She looked up just in time to see a blur of movement disappear behind a railing above.

“Hello? Is someone there?” Her horn ignited, letting the magic illuminate the library with a dim magenta glow. She began to back trace her steps, up the stairs and to the upper floor where she had seen the movement.

Despite herself, her heart began to pound against her chest. The movement, the felling of the book, both could easily be attributed to some wild animal or another, though Twilight could have sworn that the blur was much bigger than any rat she knew. She wasn’t afraid of rats, in any case.

No, what excited her was the possibility that it could be another pony, as unlikely as that would be. She had not seen another pony in…well, she didn’t like to think about it. Such trains of thought inevitably led to dark places, and Twilight had resolved not to think about any of them. It was better for her mental health.

It would suffice to say that it had been a very, very long time. Twilight wasn’t lonely. She had Spike to keep her company. But… Celestia damn her if she wasn’t the Princess of Friendship, who wasn’t going to take the first opportunity in years to make friends.

So lost was Twilight in her thoughts, she almost missed the small yelp of alarm in the distance, or the sickening snap that followed.

“Oh, Celestia.” Before she knew it, she was running towards where the sound had come from, cursing every time she stumbled over the debris scattered across the ground. Her heart began to pound harder, and it became a deafening roar in her ears by the time she came across who she was looking for.

A filly was lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs, an emergency exit just meters away. The first thing Twilight noticed was that her coat was a sickly pale, which shone fiercely in the light of her horn. It was bright enough for her to notice even in the dim light.

She noticed soon after that the filly’s foreleg was bent, at a horrific angle.

She leapt down the stairs without thinking, wings flaring outwards to slow her descent. Twilight ran to the filly’s side, kneeling down to frantically look her over. “Oh my Celestia—I’m so sorry—are you okay—why are—don’t be stupid Twilight she’s obviously hurt!” Her first words came out in a panicked jumble. “No, Twilight, stop panicking. Panic later, fear first. No—I mean—” Twilight stopped when she met the filly’s eyes. They were a mesmerizing green, like freshly cut emeralds, and at that moment they were also filled with fear.

Not pain, from the broken leg the filly was harboring, but fear. It was the look that a child gave to their parents when they were being scolded and they didn’t yet know what their punishment was going to be.

She was afraid of Twilight, and that sobered her up more than anything.

The alicorn took a step back. “I’m…I’m sorry. I’m going to go get help, okay? Don’t move that leg, or else you might make it worse.”

She paused, struggling to think of something comforting to say. “…I’m not going to hurt you. Just…hang in there, alright?”

When she received no response, Twilight sighed, and filed the issue away for later. For this next part, she needed to focus. No room for dwelling on such things.

It was a spell she had cast thousands of times. She let her eyes close, seeing her target in the backs of her eyelids. Even with her eyes closed, she could feel her horn glowing, from the building pressure of the mana. In an instant, as the pressure crescendoed, she felt a sharp yank at the core of her being, followed by a loud crack and a flash of light.

***

In less than a second, she opened her eyes again to find herself at the entrance to a hospital.

Unlike the library, the hospital had made no efforts towards elegance. It was designed for functionality and nothing else, and even that was questionable. The hospital was built into a larger brick complex, which made up the other side of the alleyway. The alleyway itself branched off of a nameless side street, the only other notable feature aside from the hospital being a dead end. The only indication that there was a hospital here, or even a facility of any sort here at all, was the rusted door and the small, faded sign above it that read “Distant Shores General Medical Center.”

Twilight gave the door a quick tug, accidentally ripping it straight out of its frame and into the wall opposite, landing in a bundle of wild grasses which had sprouted from the cracks in the asphalt.

“I suppose that’s one way to save time.” She said to herself, as she walked into the Medical Center.

Twilight lit her horn, letting the familiar inside come into view. It was just as pathetic and utilitarian as the outside, white paint and white linoleum flooring.

Twilight didn’t know why the Medical Center was in such a sorry state. She had theorized before that it might have been some sort of freak accident, maybe a misplaced zero on a government budget sheet that the Medical Center had never quite recovered from. That, or it was a victim of embezzling.

Whatever the case was, it had two redeeming factors. One, it had medical supplies, and two, it was never frequented. Most of the other hospitals had been ransacked of their supplies long ago, but the Medical Center was so pathetic and unassuming as to have been overlooked by centuries of scavengers. Except for her.

It was perfect.

Twilight opened the door behind the receptionist’s desk, labeled “EMPLOYEES ONLY” in large, authoritarian letters. Immediately, she was greeted by the overwhelming stench of mold in the air. She attempted to breathe through her mouth, but then she ended up tasting the air, and that was much worse. Shining her light upwards revealed a blackish splotch where the water damage had marked the ceiling.

“That wasn’t there before.” The alicorn giggled nervously, the breath in her chest constricting uncomfortably. Examining the rows of shelves only validated her fears. Many of the shelves had been consumed by rust, some going so far as to collapse under their own weight. The supplies the shelves had held seemed to suffer something of the same fate, turning some shade of muck from the pristine sterile white they once had been.

As her search continued, however, she found that her first glance had been deceptive: while much of the storage room’s stock had been completely destroyed by the water, there was a significant portion which had been protected by the plastic packaging they were contained in.

Still, it was by no means what Twilight had been expecting. When Twilight had been here last, looking for anti-inflammatories for Spike, the storage room had been pristine. Everything exactly as it had been before the Exodus. What she was met with now made her wonder just how long it had been, exactly, since she had last visited.

Twilight picked up a few bottles of something she vaguely remembered as painkillers, some antiseptic fluid, and a packet of medical grade plaster. Her heart jolted uncomfortably when she realized that she had found no usable bandages. She felt the panic start to set in again.

“No, Twilight!” The room resounded with a loud smack, and Twilight ended with a growing red mark on her right cheek. “Don’t waste time, don’t think, just go!” She cast the teleport spell before she had time to decide otherwise. In a flash, she was gone, leaving the storage room and the Medical Center to rot in silence.

***

Twilight reappeared in the library, and, to her relief, saw that the pale filly was still where she had left her. The filly instantly snapped to attention, eyes wide and locked onto the alicorn. The sight was enough to clear any other thoughts from Twilight’s head.

“Um…hi there.” Twilight gave a little wave.

The silence spoke volumes.

Twilight took a step towards the pale filly. She flinched away.

“I’m just going to help you, alright?" Twilight sighed. "I’m going to say it again: I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not even going to ask why you were in the library. I just want to fix up that leg of yours. Does that sound okay?” She said calmly. Twilight realized that she didn’t even know if the filly understood Equestrian, but she hoped that her tone was enough to convey the message.

The filly didn’t appear any less afraid, but she did give a small, almost imperceptible nod. It was progress. And Twilight knew that she understood Equestrian, now!

Twilight smiled gratefully at the filly, approaching to kneel down by her side.

More composed, Twilight was able to more properly take in the filly that she had resolved to care for. She had missed the warmly colored mane that the filly had. It was quite a pretty shade, the color of honey, even if it was matted with sweat.

She had also missed just how young the filly was. If an adult pony was still eighteen years old, then the filly in front of her couldn’t be more than twelve. Too young to have a cutie mark, even. Which raised the question of what she was doing here alone in the first place. Twilight said she wouldn’t ask, though…

A question for another time, perhaps. There were plenty of other things to ask. Twilight figured some small talk couldn’t hurt. It might help relieve the atmosphere a bit, and she would get to satiate some of her curiosity while she was at it.

She spoke as she was taking the medical supplies out of her saddlebags. “Do you have a name? My name is Twilight Sparkle. But you can just call me Twilight.”

The filly’s lips moved, but no sound came out.

“I’m sorry?” Twilight leaned closer.

The filly grimaced, took a deep breath, and tried again. “Fate.” It was still barely audible, but Twilight definitely heard it.

That’s a rather grim name, isn’t it, she thought. Naming your child after deterministic philosophy. Though I suppose it makes sense, culturally. I remember naming conventions having a lot more…positivity, which I can imagine ponies nowadays don’t have a lot of.

“That’s a lovely name.” she said.

Twilight’s stomach dropped when she took out the bottle of antiseptic, and all pretenses of small talk disappeared from her mind. She hadn’t worried about her own wounds in centuries, but Twilight remembered how much it hurt when she had to disinfect one.

Twilight looked at the bent foreleg of the filly. It wasn’t pretty. The bone had punctured skin. She was not only going to have to disinfect the wound, but set the bone in the proper position, too. Both of which were not going to be easily ignored. The plaster would also have to set, and writhing in pain was really not conducive to the success of that sort of thing.

The questions were going to have to wait.

“Um, Fate? That’s your name, right?”

“…Yes.”

“Fate, I’m really, really sorry for this.”

A bolt of arcane energy shot out at the pale filly, and she went out like a light.

Chapter II

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After the anesthetic spell had gone into effect, it had been easy enough to tend to the filly’s broken leg, with the exception of when Twilight had to figure out what to use in place of bandages.

She wasn’t going to miss the index of Arcanodynamics 101. Those forty-three pages had gone to a good cause, and an index was unnecessary when Twilight knew where every relevant term was located anyways.

Knowing these things didn’t stop her from wincing every time she saw the cast on Fate’s leg. She could still make out the text under the plaster.

By the time Twilight had finished with that whole ordeal and left the library, the sun had already begun to set. The rain had subsided in that same time, leaving the skies clear and the warmth of sunset unhindered to spread across the sky.

The birds were beginning to come out again, letting their songs be heard so easily in the absence of the droning of the rain, spreading their wings and soaring around the ruined skyscrapers above in lazy spirals. The ponies might have been gone, but the city was still very much alive.

Twilight didn’t often fly. She was no Rainbow Dash, and most days the alicorn was perfectly content to stay earthbound, where she was free from the worry of losing control and being reacquainted with gravity’s usual effects. Yet, at the sight of the birds in the sky, Twilight found herself aching to spread her own wings, to let them carry her into the free air, to feel the currents between their feathers. For one sinful moment, she imagined herself flying into that sunset and never returning, chasing after the sun, forever basking in the warmth of the almost-evening.

She felt the weight shift on her back and remembered that Fate was still there.

Twilight quickly dismissed the fantasy, though a part of her resisted more than she was comfortable with. There was no way Twilight was going to fly when she had Fate with her. What if she dropped her? What if the filly woke up and had a heart attack from the stress of being exposed to flight for the first time? The very thought of flight right now…reprehensible.

Twilight tore her gaze away from the birds above, keeping her eyes firmly on the street below her hooves as she made her way through the city. As she walked further, the buildings around her became smaller. Concrete gave way to the more traditional construction materials of brick, mortar, and wood. Subsequently, the farther Twilight got from the center of the city, the further the city fell into disrepair. The weaker, squatter buildings could not withstand the forces of nature, and most found themselves consumed by various intensities of overgrowth, if their foundations hadn’t already collapsed entirely. Relentlessly, the trees spread themselves, their roots slithering through the road like wriggling parasites, their trunks bursting out of roofs. The foliage grew thicker and thicker until there were no buildings left to speak of, thusly demarcating the point where Twilight had left the city and entered the wilderness proper.

Twilight continued to walk, long after the sun had set, before Fate finally spoke up.

“Where are you taking me?”

“Wh-huh?!” Twilight’s voice shot up two pitches. She turned her head in Fate’s direction and nearly walked headfirst into a tree when she wasn’t looking. Flustered, Twilight asked, “Fate—How long have you been awake for?”

“I think the sun was still up when I woke up. Where are you taking me?”

“Well—you know—Just past there. Out here.” Twilight exhaled sharply. “There’s a clearing where I’ve been staying. I couldn’t stay in the library all day and I wasn’t going to just leave you there alone either, so I’m bringing you there. If you’ve got a problem with that, I’m sorry. Can you give me a little more warning next time you decide to speak up?”

“What are you going to do with me there?” Fate said, not acknowledging Twilight’s request whatsoever.

Twilight cocked an eyebrow at the filly, her curiosity overtaking her irritation. “What do you think I’m going to do with you there?”

Fate hesitated. “I-I don’t know. I’ve never been with an Outsider before. I’m not even supposed to talk to them.”

“An Outsider?”

“Anypony who isn’t my mom, my dad, or my brothers is an Outsider. ‘A pony you know, good to go. A pony who’s strange, run far away.’” She recited the mantra as if she had done it many times before. “Most Outsiders just get angry and yell at us, but then we go away, and they leave us alone. You aren’t anything like that, though.”

“I can promise you, Fate, that I have no ill intent in giving you free medical care.” She looked upwards and saw that the moon had just barely moved past its apex. “It’s too late to be doing much else. I think I’ll just have you stay with us for the night. You can show me where your family lives in the morning, and I can bring you back then.”

“I don’t know where my family is, Twilight.”

“In that case, we can probably just go to your house or whatever you live in and wait for them to come back home. If they’re not back already. Nothing to be concerned about.”

“It’s not that easy.” She muttered the last part as an aside. “It’s been a…really long time since I last saw them.”

Twilight frowned. “How long is a long time?”

The filly helplessly shrugged and said nothing more after that, falling once more into a morose silence. Twilight didn’t push it.

The two emerged from the forest into a meadow. Given the aggressiveness which the forest had displayed in spreading, the willingness which it parted for the space was nearly inexplicable, the size of the space equally as baffling. The meadow stretched far enough in all directions to be able to comfortably stroll around, hills gently rolling across its diameter.

It was certainly a pleasant place, but Twilight had primarily chosen to reside in the meadow because it was big, and it was open. Spike was no longer the baby-gaited dragon assistant she had known for her early adulthood, and he needed the room if he was going to be comfortable.

Spike was resting in the center of the meadow at that moment. A campfire flickered dimly by his side, casting shadows across his broad features as he stared into it. His chest heaved with each breath, drawn roughly into his lungs as if each were his last. His silhouette seemed to ebb and flow with the movement of the flames.

“Hey, Spike. How are you feeling?” Twilight greeted the dragon as she approached, throwing into the campfire a few choice pieces of wood she had picked up in the forest.

“Stale.” He rasped, in a deep rumbling baritone that Twilight could feel in her chest.

“Is that…better than before?”

Spike gave a wheezy chuckle, nearly snuffing out the campfire as he did so. “The same. Did you bring the painkillers?”

The bottle from the hospital rattled as Twilight took it out of her saddlebags. Spike reached a trembling claw towards it, but the alicorn yanked it away. “Just for the record, I only got these for you because I had to be at the hospital anyways. You don’t really need these.”

“No, but I also don’t need to feel my organs slowly deteriorating. I’m already dying. A few doses of whatever is in that bottle isn’t going to make things worse.”

“Don’t be melodramatic. You’re not dying, Spike. I’ve done the diagnostic spells. You just need more rest.” Twilight stated, with steel in her voice that surprised even her. Though, it really shouldn’t have. It was true, after all, and the sternness that Twilight put through her voice was simply reaffirming the reality to Spike with the proper amount of force.

She floated the bottle over to Spike anyway. In his claw, the bottle seemed barely larger than a thimble, and it seemed even smaller when he dumped the entirety of the contents into his mouth, which opened to thrice Twilight’s height. He swallowed it all in a single gulp.

Twilight’s expression softened. She moved a comforting hoof down his side, trying to ignore the cracked purple scales that had never healed, or the dust between them that never seemed to scrub off. “…So, are you feeling better now?”

“Give it a few minutes, Twi. Weren’t you the one who always told me to be patient?” He chortled, which sounded of grinding cobblestones. “While we’re waiting: who’s that on your back?”

Twilight dragged a hoof across her face when she realized that she had forgotten Fate, again. She offered a slew of profuse apologies to Fate, who was still on her back.

Twilight eventually gave up on apologies once she felt her throat going raw. “—introductions, yes. I… suppose I should start on those. Spike, this is Fate. She’s a filly—yes, a filly, a real pony, not an animal—that I found in the library. She broke her leg when I met her, so I decided to let her stay with us until we find her parents. She may be an orphan. Erm, sorry, not my place to say.

“Fate, this is Spike. He’s my…” He’s my what? My number one assistant? My best friend? My adoptive son? “…number one son.” She recovered from the stumble before any expletives could follow. “Err—my only son, actually. I hope you two are delighted to meet each other.”

“Fate.” Spike paused, mulling over the name in his head. “Rather grim name. Is she always that pale?”

Twilight turned to look at Fate, who was still on her back. The filly’s whole body had gone statuesque, and her pale coat had lightened several shades. Her golden mane resembled wheat especially well in that moment, with the way Fate had composed herself like a plant.

“Twilight… you did warn her about me, didn’t you?”

The alicorn turned back to Spike, cocking her head. “No, of course not. Is that a problem?”

“If I were younger,” Spike pressed his index talon into his chest to emphasize, “I wouldn’t appreciate being introduced to a dragon the size of a house without warning.”

“Spike, you are a dragon.” Twilight deadpanned.

“Yes, but I appreciate not being eaten or roasted alive as much as the next pony over. Speaking of which, have you even gotten the poor thing anything to eat?”

Twilight stifled a sigh, remembering exactly why her friends never asked her to babysit. “I can fix that.” She assured him.

It took well over an hour for Twilight to make good on her promise. Rummaging through her saddlebags had yielded nothing but a small packet of saltine crackers, which at that point had been smashed into unappetizing bits resembling flakes of paint. She didn’t need the glare from Spike to motivate her to find something better.

After consulting a guide to edible plants that she had procured from the library (Why were acorns poisonous? Weren’t they just oversized nuts?), Twilight had managed to gather enough wildflowers and berries to just barely constitute a meal, which Fate eagerly dug into nonetheless, her previous fears forgotten at the sight of food. It was probably better than whatever she had been eating in the city.

Fate gave her thanks to Twilight for the meal, though she still avoided looking at Spike whenever possible, stealing glances when she thought he wouldn’t notice. She fell asleep soon afterwards, the events of the day finally taking their toll on her.

“So, she’s an orphan?” Spike rumbled.

Twilight shook her head. “I don’t know, Spike. She was alone when I found her, and she claims she hasn’t seen her parents for a long while. What that tells me, I can’t say. I have my theories, is all.”

“Hmph.” The dragon poked the campfire with a talon, sending embers drifting upwards, into the night. “Let’s say she is, then. Say we can’t find her parents. What then?”

Twilight opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. Her first instinct was to say that Fate could stay with them indefinitely, but given that she had nearly brained the filly with the arcane equivalent of a brick when deciding how to anesthetize her, Twilight wasn’t so sure she was equipped for the task.

Leaving Fate with another family only raised more concerns. Primarily, finding one. It had taken centuries for Twilight to find a single pony in all of Equestria. Where was she going to find a whole family?

In the end, Twilight couldn’t give a straight answer. “I guess we’ll figure it out as we go.”

Spike sighed, his brow furrowing into a solid line. “Just don’t get too attached.”

Twilight’s tail lashed in annoyance behind her. “The first pony you see in years, other than me, and that’s all you have to say about the matter?”

Spike’s eyes met hers, his pupils narrowed to slits. “Maybe I know what’ll happen to you if she dies. Am I the only one who remembers what happened after Ponyville?”

Twilight spotted the sleeping form of Fate in the corner of her eye, the sight being the only thing that prevented her from raising her voice. “Maybe I feel like we’re capable of preventing that outcome, if we’re diligent. What would you have us do? Just abandon her?”

“Yes. I would. You’re not obligated to help her, Twilight.”

“Of course I’m obligated to help her, Spike!” She stamped a hoof into the ground. “Morally obligated. We have a responsibility, here. Hundreds of years of sitting around, accomplishing nothing, and as soon as we finally get the chance to help somepony for once, you would just throw that all away?”

The dragon waited for a coughing fit to wash over him before responding. “My priorities lie with you, Twilight. Not for some kid you just met. She’s been living in that city alone for who knows how long.” Spike growled. “First pony she’s probably seen in years, and the first thing she does is break her leg. Way I see it, that kid’s just one bad day away from falling over dead. It’ll be less painful if you leave it now.”

“I can’t believe you, Spike.” Twilight felt her knees fail, felt herself collapse onto the grass. “Sickly or not, she’s alive now. If she would have died in that city alone, doesn’t that mean that she has a chance to live now that she’s with us? Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

“No, it doesn’t. Not when I know what this is going to do to you. You’ll be devastated no matter how this goes. She won’t be around forever, Twilight. Even if you somehow, miraculously save this filly, one day, she’ll be gone.” He hung his head lower. “One day, I’ll be gone too. Who’s going to tell you to care for yourself when I’m gone? You need to start considering your wellbeing.”

“Spike, I told you, you’re not dying. You’re going to live forever. I’ll find a way. You know I will.” The words sounded silly even in Twilight’s head, but she said them anyways.

He broke away from Twilight’s glare, returning his gaze back into the dwindling campfire, which was barely more than glowing charcoal. Twilight found herself panting and took the opportunity to catch her breath.

The meadow was completely silent, save for the combined breathing of the two, mother and son. One in desperate gulps, as if she were drowning. The other, like the last gasps of a bellows. Not even the grass swayed.

Spike finally responded. “I’m just worried for you, Twi. If this is really what you want…” He rolled the words over on his tongue before whispering, “…I’ll respect your decision. Just… be sure.”

Her breath finally steadied enough for her to talk. “I’m sure, Spike.”

The last of the embers in the campfire faded, and Spike’s entire body seemed to sag. His bones protested loudly as he relaxed his body on the grass. “G-good night, Twi.” He weakly intoned.

“Good night, Spike.” Twilight said.

Twilight watched Spike as he drifted off into unconsciousness, leaving her alone in the darkness. She moved her gaze upwards. It was a clear night. The space above the meadow swirled with stars, the full moon bathing it all in white light. Twilight’s wings began to ache once more. She looked down at the sleeping forms around her and felt only a twisting in her stomach.

One flap. Another. Her hooves left the ground.