The day that Harmony died

by Mica

First published

Sunny Starscout struggles to live in a world without Harmony. A world where the magic of friendship can't save you anymore.

Sunny Starscout struggles to live in a world without Harmony. A world where the magic of friendship can't save you anymore.

This story is in Sunny Starscout's first-person POV.

Entered into the MLP Renaissance Contest. If the judges feel this story is not in the spirit of the contest, I can voluntarily withdraw my entry.

This is a work of fiction that contains fairly dark themes. Use your discretion, and make the decision that's best for you. Just so we're clear, Sunny Starscout does NOT die in this story.

Featured 7/14/21 and 7/15/21 :pinkiehappy:

The day that Harmony died

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Sometimes, when I see something that’s wrong with the world, I go and ask the Princess Twilight figurine by my bedside,

“What would Harmony do?”

Equestrian legend says that thousands of years ago there was once a Tree of Harmony, an all-powerful being that restores Harmony to the world. It, in turn, is powered by six Elements of Harmony, held by six ponies known as the Element Bearers.

It is said that in the Final Battle against the Legion of Doom, the six Bearers of Harmony united in Friendship. The Tree responded to their all-powerful Friendship, and channeled its infinite energy through the six Element Bearers, into a giant rainbow laser. Which, aided by the collective Friendship of creatures from Equestria and beyond, vanquished Cozy Glow, Tirek, and Chrysalis once and for all.

No matter how much evil tries to destroy our world, as long as we remember the magic of friendship, Harmony will always be there to set it right. That’s the moral of the story.

Everypony is taught the Equestrian legends as children. Either by their parents as bedtime stories, or at school as part of the elementary school curriculum, or both. The Tree of Harmony, the Elements of Harmony and their bearers, and the fateful battle against the Legion of Doom. Every foal under the age of ten knows about them. We used to take reading quizzes on them at school.

It reminds me of one of my classmates from third grade. He was a savant, and I don’t use that word lightly. His memory was truly photographic in nature. I’d never seen anything like it before. He could remember every single word of every single one of the 222 Equestrian Sagas which comprise the Equestrian Legend of Harmony.

He could recite any narration or quote, straight from memory. “On line 259 of saga 221, Twilight says, ‘But there will always be more to do! Which is why we teach others about the Magic of Friendship! Others who will continue our mission after we are gone! Now I truly understand!’,” he would say, with an impassioned look on his face that would quickly disappear once he finished his sentence.

Later, he took the reading quiz, aced it with flying colors, and never spoke of the stories ever again. Two months later, I asked him, “Don’t you remember those stories? About the Elements of Harmony?”

And he replied with a humph, “Of course I do, Sunny, my memory is photographic. But what’s the point? There’s no reason to remember it anymore. The quiz is over. It’s time to move on.” Last I heard, he graduated high school early, and he went off to the big city to make it big in analytical stock trading.

I don’t why, but that just makes me really sad.

Daddy calls me a dreamer. I guess because unlike all my classmates, I never really grew out of those old Equestrian Sagas. Sure, Daddy was the one who introduced me to the stories, but that’s all they are to him. Stories. Fairy tales. Fantasies. An excuse to put on little toy wings and play tag running through the house, to help his daughter let off a little steam.

Where is the Tree of Harmony, now when we need it the most?

I live in a typical earth pony village in the plains, with small individual homesteads for each of us to grow our own food. See, the flat plains here are good for growing crops. The pegasi live separate from us, high up in the sky in cloud villages. The unicorns live separate from us too, far up in the hills and mountains. I wish I could tell you more about what their homes are like, but that’s all I really know. I’ve never dared to go out and visit them.

It was a clear spring morning, no wind and not a cloud in the sky. A perfect day for rollerblading. Most of the earth pony village I live in is flat, except coming out of my house, there’s a slight downslope where you can pick up a ton of speed. I like to glide down there on my rollerblades, and tilt my head up just a little, so that the surface of the road is out of my vision.

And it almost feels like I’m flying. Even though I don’t have wings.

I’m unusual. I’m the only pony in the village that enjoys sunny days. (Perhaps because it's half of my name.) My next-door neighbor, for example, hates sunny days. She says that the pegasi intentionally make the weather clear and calm, so that it’s perfect flying weather for them to swoop in from the sky and steal our crops.

Last week, she had her lettuce stolen in the night by a pegasus thief. The week before, her potatoes and carrots. It’s happened to all of us at some point. Some earth ponies build garden traps—odor repellants, metal snap traps, even electrified nets. But the pegasi learn to evade these traps with finesse. They come swooping in so fast, I can’t even stop to say hi to them.

And then they take to the skies, carrying what meager items their hooves can carry, and we earth ponies can’t do anything but look up and watch them and our stolen crops get smaller and smaller.

“You know, Sunny, some of those ruffians even dare to come in broad daylight,” my next-door neighbor told me. She’ll talk incessantly to anypony who’ll give her the chance. She’s probably lonely since her husband passed, but still.

“You should’ve seen that winged ruffian yesterday, Sunny. The audacity of that little rascal! She came, she came swooping to the ground, I tell you,”—she mimicked the flying motion with her dirt-stained hoof—“she made a hard left turn for my lettuce, and before I could yell at her to stop, that crop thief snatches four of my best heads of lettuce. Hell, I should’ve gotten my late husband’s crossbow out. I can’t shoot well with these old hooves of mine, but if I could’ve at least clipped the little bastard’s wing—”

“She was probably hungry,” I said. “Can’t grow much up in their cloud homes, can they?”

“Well, what about me!? Half my crop is now gone! How am I going to feed myself? I’ve had enough of half-portions and two meals a day just to get by. These pegasi have no compassion, I tell you. It’s in their nature—they are just one chromosome away from being a birdbrain.”

Pegasi were meant to steal. That’s what my next-door neighbor said. We have the skills to grow crops in the ground. Pegasi don’t. They have wings to escape like a thief. We don’t. So that’s how the natural order works.

We all have our role in the world. Jobs, so to speak. We are earth ponies. Our job is to grow our own food. They are pegasi. Their job is to steal food from us. Our job, in turn, is to stop the pegasi from stealing. Their job, in turn, is to fly away and evade capture. Everypony has a purpose. Each of our unique talents helps us survive in a unique way.

“If that a’int the closest thing to this ‘Harmony’ thing you always go on about, Sunny, I don’t know what,” she told me. Like most ponies in the village, she forgot about the Equestrian Sagas a long time ago. She’s not a dreamer.

I remember I once asked, what would Harmony do? Late at night, when Daddy was fast asleep in the other room, I picked up my Princess Twilight figurine from my bedside shelf, looked deep into its painted eyes, and I whispered to her about the pegasi stealing from the earth ponies. And now the earth ponies now don’t have enough food. And how do we solve it?

And after I asked, a little voice came into my head. The exact voice I heard in my head when I read Princess Twilight’s dialog in the Equestrian Sagas.

“Windigoes,” the voice said. “The Windigoes will keep the Harmony.”

“But there are no Windigoes nowadays,” I said to the figurine. “I’ve read all about them before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in real life. Even though we’ve been living separately for hundreds of years now—earth ponies, pegasi, unicorns.”

A brief pause. Then the voice replied,

“Then if no Windigoes…share. Share from your heart. Share from your heart, and there will always be enough food for everycreature.”

There was this neighbor that I used to really like. He lived about one and a half miles from the town center, the last house along the main road before it heads towards the next earth pony village, five miles away.

He devoted most of his back garden to growing the most exotic fruit trees. His favorite was the cherimoya tree. He had about seven of them, each bearing about thirty fruits.

Cherimoyas are very curious things. Green in color, about the size of an apple, with scales on the outside, almost like a little green dragon. Very cumbersome to eat. You have to spend two hours eating one of the fruits in order to pick out all the giant black seeds from inside. Grossly impractical in terms of nourishment. But absolutely delicious. Trust me.

He was an old widower, with three grown children that had all moved off to live in the big city. He must have been at least forty or fifty years older than me, but not nearly old enough to have possibly lived to see the time of the Tree of Harmony. Nopony alive today is old enough to have seen what it was like, thousands of years ago.

The rest of the village called him a fool. He was a dreamer, like me. Instead of losing touch with the Equestrian Sagas, he became more and more attached to the tales as he got older. I remember the first time I went to his house, to sell Filly Scout Cookies to fund the Town Hall renovations. He paid for three boxes of Thin Mints with a 5-Bit coin, and when I shifted my bag to reach for the pocket to give him change, he noticed the Fluttershy pin on my bag strap.

And when I told him about the legend of the Elements of Harmony, he said to me, “You know, the Equestrian Sagas are all true, dear friend. One hundred percent.”

“They’re not fairy tales?” I remember I said. “But everypony says they are. Even Daddy says they are.”

He smiled. “Dear friend, fairy tales are just stories that come true only if you believe in them.”

I used to rollerblade over to his house once every two weeks, and I’d spend the whole afternoon with him. Most ponies wouldn’t visit him, because he lived so far away, but on my roller blades he was less than 10 minutes from the town center. I suppose he appreciated the company. We’d play some board games, and he’d share some of the harvest from his cherimoya trees.

I don’t remember his name. Which is strange, I know. It must be four years ago since I last saw him. We talked, we laughed, we told stories. We didn’t need to know each others’ name to feel a connection with each other.

I’ll just call him “Old Dreamer.” It’s a unique enough name to have, these days.

Old Dreamer was unique. Instead of repelling the pegasi from his garden, like the rest of the earth ponies, he used to welcome them. He’d give them an allotment of his produce, and in exchange, the pegasi would give him favorable weather over his land, which increased his crop yields by at least 50%.

During my visits, I saw the pegasi that visited Old Dreamer’s garden. Most kept to themselves, they just took their produce and left. Others stopped to say a brief hi. A few of them were very friendly. There was one pegasus, a purple filly about my age (at the time). She thought Old Dreamer’s garden was “PonyGram worthy”, whatever that means, and would always snap pictures of it with her phone camera. “I am so gonna post this. Wait till my friends see this!” I guess gardens are an exotic thing in the pegasus lands.

The other earth ponies in the village didn’t like all the pegasi flocking to Old Dreamer’s garden and casting shadows over our village with their giant wings. Sure, they protested in the streets, they shunned Old Dreamer, called him a whole bunch of names, banned him from town hall meetings.

But most everypony in the village tolerated it. Because it stopped the pegasi from stealing produce from their gardens. You see, the hungry pegasi just all flocked to Old Dreamer’s garden, where they were welcomed with open hooves. And the other earth ponies in the village never had to see the back of a pegasus ever again.

And secretly, I think a lot of ponies in the village admired Old Dreamer. Because wouldn’t it be so cool to talk with and be friends with a pegasus, or a unicorn? Hell, I think so. I’ve always thought that, since I was a foal. And Old Dreamer was doing it! He was doing something that no earth pony had even done since legendary times!

Old Dreamer was no fool! He was a legend! I’m sure everypony in the village thought that, deep down in their hearts, even if none of them would ever dare to admit it, for fear of eternal ridicule.

I think a lot of ponies are dreamers. They just like to lie to themselves and say that they’re not.

I was hopeful. I really was. Even on the days I didn’t go and visit Old Dreamer, I would follow his life through local gossip, almost like a fantasy buckball league.

(I didn’t visit Old Dreamer as much as I could have, mainly because the ponies at school started bullying me for hanging out with a crazy like Old Dreamer. I asked Princess Twilight, what would Harmony do to the bullies? And she told me to “Give them friendship, and they will see your friendship. Be kind. Be generous. Show them friendship.” So I did. And then a few days later, two of the biggest bullies moved to another village 70 miles away, never to be seen again. Another one started sitting with me in the cafeteria. I like to think that Harmony was on my side.)

I rooted for Old Dreamer, in private. I faced my six Element Bearer figurines out of the window, turned in the direction of his homestead. Hoping that the Harmony would channel through the six of them, and straight towards Old Dreamer.

I picked up Princess Twilight off my bedside shelf, and told her all about Old Dreamer and his garden, open to all the pegasi.

“So, what do you think?” I whispered to the little plastic figurine, barely taller than my hoof. “Is it really gonna happen again? Are we finally gonna learn to live together again as one ponykind? Just like it was in your era?”

And I heard her voice speak in my head,

“Yes, Sunny. Of course. Of course. I know so. It shall be so.”

When news spread of Old Dreamer’s garden being a “Pegasi Safe Haven,” his small half-acre plot began to be packed, all hours of the day. His garden began to be stretched to its capacity. Pegasi would line up for hours to get an allotment of one fruit, or one potato, or one head of lettuce. That was all Old Dreamer could afford to give to ensure that every pegasus could have something to eat. Any one of those was hardly enough to feed a pony. But maybe that shows you how desperate some of them were.

The pegasi didn’t let Old Dreamer’s generosity go unrewarded. They gave his land the constant attention of at least one pegasus skilled in weather control. Precisely timed rain, chill, and heat, optimized for the growth of each single plant. They even amplified the sunlight with large prismatic water droplets, in order to boost photosynthetic rate. As much as it pained him, Old Dreamer cut down one of his cherimoya trees, and replaced it with potatoes, which provided much more nourishment per land area.

But there was only so much Old Dreamer could grow on his own little plot of land. By no means could 50% higher yield feed 2000% more pegasi.

I remember he went to the town square one afternoon, and urged us to all open up our gardens to the pegasi. “I no longer have enough food to give them. Please, open up your gardens and give them some of your crops. If you learn to share with them, they will bring you better rains, better harvest.”

He was met with ridicule by the other villagers.

“They’ve stolen our crops countless times. Left our children hungry. These pegasi are criminals,” one earth pony said. “They should be punished, not rewarded!”

“Yeah! You talk so much about Harmony and fairness—well, we oughta spread our electric nets out, haul their little birdbrain asses to court, and put ‘em in jail like any thief should be!”

“Hear hear!”

“What I grow on my measly plot of land is barely enough to feed my family. Why should I give to these criminals who once stole from me?”

“Please, listen to him!” I yelled in support of Old Dreamer. “This is the only way! Remember the Equestrian Sagas! The Windigoes! The Tree of Harmony! And the magic of Friendship!”

“You stay outta this, kid! Enough with your stupid fairy tales! You’re living in the real world now!” The mare’s saliva droplet touched my eyelash.

I was twelve years old. I cried in my room that whole night, hugging tightly my Princess Twilight figurine.

“Remember. Remember. Remember. Remember.” Twilight’s voice chanted that single word through the night, like a sacred mantra.

The earth ponies responded to Old Dreamer’s plea for help by instead building bigger pegasi traps over their personal gardens. The Mayor issued an edict upon the whole village, providing free electric nets for every upstanding earth pony citizen’s garden. Daddy didn't want us to get shunned like Old Dreamer. So, he built bigger traps in our garden too. He told me to go plug in the electric net, but I secretly turned off the fuse downstairs so it wouldn’t work. (Don’t tell him.)

I, for one, let a few pegasi come into our garden, while Daddy wasn’t looking. I could only give them a few carrots before Daddy came outside and asked me, “What are you doing, sweetheart?”

“Just…enjoying the lovely weather, Daddy,” I said.

One of the pegasi I gave carrots to had given to us, in return, a thin stratus cloud over our garden, to shade our delicate greens from the intense sun.

Still, the pegasi continued to stream into Old Dreamer’s garden, and the line of hungry ponies did not shorten. Even a few starving unicorns who didn’t let their pride get the better of them came to the garden. (I suppose magic isn’t edible.)

It got to the point that Old Dreamer sometimes had to turn away hungry ponies, for there were simply no more edible plant matter left to feed anypony. Not even a tomato leaf. In order to feed as many ponies as possible, he allotted less and less food in the garden for his own nourishment. First, a ration of three potatoes a day. Then two. Then one.

I offered Old Dreamer some food from my garden, which kept him nourished enough to deal with all the hungry ponies at his doorstep. I offered to help him at his garden, at least with crowd control or something. But Old Dreamer refused to let me visit him during that time. Perhaps he didn’t want me to see him as a failure. Or maybe he didn’t want me to think that I was going to end up like him when I got to be his age.

“Cherish your youth, dear friend,” he always used to say to me. “And don’t let it slip away from you, like so many others do.”

The last time I saw Old Dreamer was the afternoon before he died. He came over to my house to visit. We ate one last day-old cherimoya that I had originally taken for myself, but gave back to him to share. We ate mostly in silence. Old Dreamer was so exhausted, he could barely sit up straight in his chair to eat his half of the fruit.

“It’s good,” he said. “Very sweet. Sugar.”

“The fruits of your labor always taste sweeter knowing you’ve given to others,” I said, trying to cheer him up. “You taught me that, remember?”

“I suppose I did, but I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. He desperately gnawed the last bits of sugary meat clinging to the last cherimoya seed. After a minute of struggling, he spit the seed out in resignation.

More silence.

“These seeds are so annoying.” That was the last thing I ever heard him say.

I wasn’t worried about him as much as I should have been. His generosity would not go unnoticed, so I thought. Harmony would ensure the kind souls in this world would be duly rewarded.

There was more than enough of everything to go around in the world. More than enough love, more than enough food, more than enough friendship, more than enough joy. I believed that. I believed the fairy tales.

And if I believed in them, they would come true.

I heard the news from the florist, on my way to pick up some more laundry soap. Daddy always makes me run last-minute errands, since I can get around town quicker on rollerblades.

It happened late at night, witnesses said. Two pegasi landed at Old Dreamer’s front door. There was a brief but heated argument, so they told me.

And then slash.

A single slash with the blade-thin edge of their wings. The high velocity air was enough to sever the carotid artery clean. Weak from starvation, Old Dreamer could do little to defend himself.

The pegasi quickly took off, leaving Old Dreamer to expire at his doorstep. Based on the trace evidence, he likely stumbled through his front door, coughing up blood along the way, before finally collapsing in his back garden, where he drew his last breath, his eyelids stuck open and pointed straight up at the night sky.

I rollerbladed back home as fast as I could, the moment I heard the news. I even bladed against gravity, up the hill leading to our house. I remember swooping up the stairs, making a hard left turn into my bedroom door, and snatching Princess Twilight off the bedside shelf.

“Why? Why, Twilight, why?” I asked her, pushing her sharp plastic snout against mine. “WHY, WHY!? WHY!!!”

Silence. The plastic figurine made a weird squeaking noise rubbing against the worn bottom of my hoof.

Clamping the figurine tightly, I tried to conjure up reasons. Some reason to explain it all. Maybe the pegasi that killed him were the ones who Old Dreamer turned away, because there were no more fruits left. And they were mad because they had to leave hungrier than they were before. And they blamed Old Dreamer for that.

Or maybe some of the pegasi got greedy, and began to harass him for more than their allotment of one fruit per pony. And when he refused, they killed him.

Or maybe, maybe, they were so hungry that they even conspired to kill Old Dreamer and eat his own flesh! Or maybe all three of those reasons!

I spent seven days, locked in my room, conjuring up reasons like these. Writing it all down until I ran out of paper. And when I ran out of paper, everything was still the same.

Old Dreamer died.

The village pitied him at best. Mocked at him at worst. They all said he had it coming. He had it coming, treating those thieving pegasi as poor, hungry creatures in need of help.

I remember what the florist said after she told me the news. “Look, I totally get it. I sympathized with him. He had an awful kind heart, trying to feed hungry ponies in need, pegasi or not. Especially the foals. But there’s only so much one pony can give. How can he alone expect to fix all the problems in the world?”

“Then why didn’t you offer to help him!?” I almost shouted. The florist’s own private garden is caged by two layers of electrified nets.

She became hesitant. “Well, I…” she paused. “I have my job to do. I don’t have time for all this dreamy stuff when I have my job to do.” And the conversation quickly fizzled out after that. She went back to refreshing the bouquets of chrysanthemums and lilies in her storefront. Like she does every single spring morning.

Old Dreamer died.

And nothing happened. No “the end,” no moral of the story, no magical rainbow laser beams. I know nothing happened. I stared at my little plastic Princess Twilight figurine for seven whole days, waiting for something to happen. Just a voice to tell me why. At least why. Or even better, a beam of harmonious light that would magically resurrect Old Dreamer from his wrongful death, and bless his garden with a bountiful harvest enough to feed the whole wide world three times over.

None of that happened.

All that happened was that an old fool died. A dead old fool lay lifeless in his backyard.

After Old Dreamer died, Daddy and a few of the stallions with strong stomachs came to take away his body. They buried him in an unmarked grave at the village cemetery. He had no next of kin. His house lay vacant.

By that same afternoon, the pegasi came to ravage the remaining cherimoya trees in his garden. They plucked off every last fruit.

They were thieves. Just like the natural order commanded them to be.

But as the thieving pegasi took to the sky and made their getaway, our next-door neighbor spotted them. You remember, the old mare who talks incessantly to anypony who’ll listen. Well, this time she was ready with her late husband’s crossbow. She struck the wing of the youngest pegasus, straggling behind his older companions. The whole village saw the stallion quickly lose altitude and fall to the ground, his flesh splattering all over the hard pavement of the town square.

Muted cheers could be heard in the village. My next-door neighbor gave herself a pat on the back and smiled. She had done her job.

She had stopped the thief. Just like the natural order commanded her to.

And that was the day that Harmony died.