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4 Months, 11 Days (Ibid.)

I was alone within the most private of all places. I had always been curious as to what may have existed behind that door, and finally the knowledge was mine for the taking; Rarity had allowed me into her Inspiration Room. She was still cleaning herself up in the bathroom, but I imagined that she would be quick – it was a bold move indeed to let me into the room without supervision, and I did not believe that she would allow me to have free-access to roam for long. For a little while, however, the interior of her world was mine to gaze upon, as long as I restrained myself from touching anything. Thankfully, I had received no warning about looking upon her great trove of treasured possessions, and I found myself doing just that.

It was truly mesmerising how organised chaos could be perceived. To me, the room was the direct antithesis to Rarity's normal argument of cleanliness; here she allowed materials to fall with reckless abandon, pooling in masses on the carpeted flooring. There were machines dotted about in no particular order; some for sewing, others for embroidering, and some devices that were entirely foreign to me. The machines were complicated and used only by those of a dexterous hoof. Comparatively, I knew very little of the textile trade. Quite amusing, given my state of employment for the last half a year or so. Nevertheless, one skill that I did possess – and had, in my mind, always possessed - was the ability to identify a true treasure worth protecting. Rarity's Inspiration Room, although distinctly disorganised, was the sort of haven where she could truly express herself without fear of external judgement, which indeed made it a place of unparalleled significance. I mused as I stood there in appreciative wonder, contemplating if I was the only pony other than herself that had ever entered such a place; and, although I may have been incorrect, it was an assumption that I felt comfort in entertaining.

I did not know where to begin, but found myself approaching a desk that had various charts and papers splayed out upon it. Rarity had been drawing out sketches of her various creations; I did not recognise what I saw as anything that had been available on the shop floor, and thus assumed that it formed part of a special order. There were other items on the desk – a small trinket box; a miniature potted plant – but I was drawn to a letter instead, for it was the only thing on the desk not in a state of disarray. It had been neatly placed in the center. I looked towards the window, as it was darker in that room than I would have assumed during the early morning; there was a blind, but by the looks of things it seemed to have been closed for some time – there was a thin coating of dust upon it - and I had read in the Guide to Baroque Attire that dresses could shrink in the sun. It was a bizarre notion, but I thought it best to avoid opening the blinds; for Rarity had clearly kept it shut by her own accord, and to do so would ruin the elusiveness of the room and open it up to external eyes.

Instead, I moved a hoof towards a lamp on the desk. It was an interesting sort of lamp that struck me as being particularly odd, as it was a dated contraption; it was very similar to the devices that had once been present at my estate in Trottingham, but I had replaced after being warned that they were commonly regarded as being a fire hazard. Oil lamps were dangerous, as the substance fuelling them was in itself highly flammable; a poor choice when lighting a flame. It seemed unusual for Rarity to have such an old and unsafe source of light in her most prized room, and I decided it would be best to let her know when the timing was right. Warning her might just one day save her life. It would, certainly, save her dresses from the potential fire that could start.

Having no other option of shedding light on the letter, however, I twisted the fragile dial on the outside of the lamp and allowed the oil to drip. I manoeuvred the filament within and flicked the small switch that created the necessary spark. It took a few attempts, but soon a healthy glow surrounded me, the heat from within pulsing comfortingly. I glanced over the letter: it had been written by Mr. Orange, as the signature at the bottom inferred. I read the first sentence or two, which amounted to a giant formality that provided little revelatory information. Before I had the chance to delve further, however, the knob of the door twisted behind me, and I knew that Rarity would be entering. I stood up to face her, turning towards the delightful mare. She had cleaned herself up – her hooves were no longer muddy – and she had decided to dress up for the occasion. Her dress was a dark-blue act of reserved extravagance; the sort that other ponies could in no way hope to wear without seeming garish, but one that inarguably suited Rarity. She looked at me timidly enough, brushing her front hoof back and forwards against the carpet.

" do you like it?" she questioned me, her voice aching. I struggled to deduce if she was talking about her dress or the room itself. I resigned myself to the latter, looking around the room once again and taking in my immediate surroundings. It was still dark, but upon reflection I could see more of value within that room than upon her entire shop floor down below. "It's incredible," I answered in wide-eyed envy, doing my best to absorb everything for her sake. She smiled and raised a hoof to the wall, pressing a small button that had eluded me; the room lit up with a series of multi-coloured glass lights dotted about, rendering the oil lamp somewhat obsolete.

"Why not just use the light switch?" she grinned, hinting towards the oil lamp. I chuckled and turned the dial down, extinguishing the flame to the best of my ability. She watched my actions studiously, making sure that I correctly put the flame out. When she was satisfied she penetrated me with her seductive blue orbs. "I am very glad that you like my inspiration room," she said, taking a step towards me. She seemed oddly awkward in how she was carrying herself. "It is important to me that you like it."

"I do," I responded, gulping a little. There was suddenly a different mood between us both; it was as if she was hesitant to ask me something. She shuffled a little closer and I smiled, deciding to make the job easier for her. "Why not show me around?"

Well, she was incredibly elated that I had requested that. She took me by the hoof and pointed out all of the different styles of dress and materials that she had used. It was more than I could possibly understand and retain, but I did my best to nod along with her words and comment when it seemed appropriate to do so. "-Using gems in dresses is difficult," she said as she directed my gaze to a special gown laced with emeralds. "It can be difficult to incorporate them into a design without making the finished product look overly garish." I smiled, reaching out to touch the material. She batted my hoof away with her own, scolding me with a shake of her head. "Remember, you aren't to touch anything in here," she warned. "I am most certainly serious." I was concerned that it was something that I had done, but, as usual, she picked up on my sensitivity towards her comment and gave a little sigh. "It is nothing personal," she said, "I just have very specific rules that must be enforced. You know this of me by now."

It was true that I did know of Rarity's rules. She prided herself in the great clarity of such personal laws, and she broke them sparingly. She was to be adored and, at the same time, respected; but, on occasion, it was possible to find frustration in her meticulousness. Of course, it was not a quality that I could come to despise about her; the rules that she followed governed her every conscious movement and shaped the refined pony that she was. If she would lose her fortitude in enforcing such rules I would fail to give her the immense respect that she deserved; her perfect nature required perfection in every area relating to her.

"I do know it," I said, "and I apologise for breaking the rules."

I would be punished, one day. She spent a great deal of time showing me around the room, and I feared that she would run out of things to say. However, by the time she eventually declared her tour as over, it was lunch time and beyond as my stomach dictated. She took a seat at the desk and I upon the floor, looking up at her as we continued our conversation.

"You have a lot of designs here that I haven't seen," I said. "Are they prototypes?"

She shook her head, resting it against the back of the chair. "No, but most of them will be in circulation eventually. I am on the verge of signing contracts that prevent me from selling them in Ponyville."

"Who has instigated such contractual obligations?"

"The ponies that want to buy my talent," she said, sighing a little. I watched as her eyes closed, although there was no danger of her falling asleep.

"What's wrong?" I questioned.

"It is this business with Mr. Cross and Mr. Orange," she admitted. "I am struggling to reach a decision pertaining to them both."

"This is about who to work for, right?"

"To work with," she corrected me, raising an indignant hoof. "I would be working with them, not for them."

"I apologise."

"That is indeed the problem," she continued. "I cannot decide. My heart and mind want different things."

I blinked, sitting up a little. "What does your mind keep telling you?"

"To work for Mr. Orange," she mouthed. "It would be better for my career. Mass-production is an integral part of mass-popularity."

"Well, you wanted to be famous, didn't you?" I queried. She took a moment to respond with little more than a nod. "So what's the problem?"

"My heart."

"Your heart is telling you something else?"

"My heart is telling me that it would be a bad idea. My heart beats faster and puts me into a cold sweat when I hear of Mr. Orange's methods. My heart quivers when I think of other ponies replicating my designs. My heart is worried for the future."

I stood and approached her. There was a rule in place in the Inspiration Room, but it was a rule that I was not willing to follow any longer. I reached a hoof out to touch her, stroking it through her mane. She tensed but for a fleeting second, relaxing to my actions almost instantly, allowing me to smoothly brush her back. Given the contented sigh that followed, I deduced that I had successfully found the special point once again that relaxed her.

"What is your heart telling you, Rarity?" I whispered into her ear. She shuddered a little, pulling closer to my touch.

"I am not sure what to do," she spoke. "I am scared that either choice will ultimately be a bad one."

"Fearing the future is natural," I said. "Part of the future is acknowledging the mistakes that we will undoubtedly make. It doesn't matter which you choose, or if you decide to avoid signing any contract whatsoever."

"Why?" she asked, opening a single worried blue eye, watching me intently. I looked down upon her, standing beside her delicate form as the protecting guardian that I would always be.

"You have all the time in the world to make your decision," I explained. "If you make a mistake, it can be undone through time. The only way to succeed is to learn from the mistakes that you make."

"But what if I cannot afford to make this mistake?" she whimpered. "What if I only have one chance?"

I lowered my head to brush against her own. "If that's the case, then the most important thing, Rarity, is to remember the mantra of survival."

"Which is?"

"Life goes on."

A felt a tear roll from her cheek, for it brushed against my own. I gathered it up and used a free hoof to lightly draw circles upon her back. She exhaled deeply, turning towards the letter.

"Mr. Orange is requesting an immediate response," Rarity said. "I have been given a short amount of time to decide what I wish to do."

"Time is irrelevant," I said, glancing at the letter that was causing Rarity so much trouble. "Just this once, why not do what feels natural?"

"What is natural any more?" she questioned quizzically. "The lines have become blurred before me."

I placed a hoof on the letter, applying weight. She watched my actions with curious eyes, eager to see what I would do next. I placed my second hoof upon the letter and pulled them apart slowly, causing a tear to form at the top. She squealed a little, puffing out her bottom lip. "Do you want me to stop?" I asked, but she moved her head from side to side very slowly. I continued to pull both parts of the letter apart until there were two distinct strands. Beneath her desk was a small, otherwise empty bin which I dropped the pieces into. She watched them fall, closing her eyes tightly as they touched the base.

"That gives you a bit longer to think, doesn't it?"

"Yes..." she gulped, clearing her throat of uncleanliness. "He will be angry with me..."

"Anypony who would deprive you of time to evaluate your options and force you into making an incorrect decision doesn't deserve to remain in contact with you."

"What if he sends another?"

"There's nothing stopping you from doing the same thing."

She nodded slightly. "Would you do me a small favour?" she questioned. "Could you turn the lights off, please?"

I approached the door and did as she requested. The room sank into darkness, and she brought the oil lamp to life again to give her the modicum of light that she required from where she was perched. It was a dim glow with a minimal radius, but when I returned to sit at her side, it was wide enough for us both to sit within.

"I prefer working in the dark," she mouthed. "It allows me to think without distraction."

I nodded.

"Life goes on..." she mused to herself, and I frowned a little. "What did you say?"

"I was just coming to terms with what you said," she explained. "That no matter what happens, life will continue to go on. Ponies come and go, but at the end of it all, life continues its course, even when we ourselves are gone."

"That's right."

"This is an important decision for me," she said, turning to face me with absolute tenacity. Her eyes were penetrating. "I cannot put it off forever. I do not have the time that you have spoken of. I shall be making my choice, and I will be sticking to it."

I felt during that moment that something in Rarity had changed. Rather than her indecisiveness having deceived her, I had the impression put upon me that she had somehow made some form of resolve. Whether it was my words that caused it was difficult to establish, although often it was my voice that gave her own meaning. She had concerned me with her own concerns, but her insistence on denying the sins of procrastination any longer spoke volumes about her state of mind. To follow the heart is entirely wise, for the palpitation of truth is the grandest prize; and had I been the loving force that I claim to be, I would have put her out of her misery. But to give in now was her utmost frustration, for a charmed heart is prone to abortion; to dim the shine would betray the mind, and so to pursue her dream she was hopelessly resigned. Now that every choice in life has its price, her own decision would be her greatest sacrifice.

"I did not yet tell you why I call it my inspiration room," she said, breaking the morose tension that she had created. "It is because within this room I keep anything that inspires me."

"Like what?" I asked matter-of-factly, understanding that there was some revelation that she wished to impart. She paused for a moment and let out a deep breath.

"-Things that remind me of happy times," she said. "And a book of ideas like no other." She directed my eyes towards an unassuming tome among many larger, grander books. It was old, but well-read; the pages had been dampened with a faint yellow crust, but the words were of absolute importance. "This book was written many years ago by a relatively unknown pony," she explained, opening the pages and breathing in their spicy musk. "I have used it since I was little, making notes and annotations around the outside of my dreams. The author left blank pages at the back, but I quickly filled them in. Now I write around the borders and edges of the pages. It is where I keep my greatest ideas."

I looked upon a single page of the book, for Rarity was understandably possessive of it. It was, as she had implied, adorned with her own ideas for designs, all of which blew my mind, for none were available to ponies upon any market that I knew of, and each suggestion was the pure product of unadulterated inspiration. Such was the magnitude of what I saw, that she closed the book rather sharply, slotting it away once more. "Mr. Orange may have some sketches," she said softly, "but he will never have the mind that created them, even should I come to work with him. These ideas must stay here forever. And, should I lose sight of them, I entrust them to you." Her faith in me was well-decided, for I imprinted the location of the book on my mind, and said no more about it for a while, as I saw that Rarity was ready to show me more of the secrets of her room, and, at that moment in time, I had not yet understood the significance of the text, for my thoughts were directed towards other things.

She reached a hoof under the desk, using her magic to levitate a key towards her that had been looped around a nail on the wall. It was dark, but her magic kept everything suitably visible. She clicked the key into a deep drawer beneath the desk, opening it and digging her hoof inside. "Here is the issue of The Rococo Report that first featured me," she fumbled, "and tickets to the Symphony of Seven Paladins."

I had had no idea that she had kept all of these items. It was more than I had in my possession to remind me of her. She smiled when her hoof touched something in particular, bringing out a small box. It was familiar to me; a black casket with 'The Glass House' written upon it. I had thought that she had entirely forgotten about my gift to her on her birthday. In actuality, it seemed, she had been preserving it here the entire time. "I adore the sapphire tiara," she gulped. "I apologise if I have not shown you my true gratitude. I truly believe that it is too special to be worn. But it inspires me. Knowing that it is here, right beneath my eyes, reminds me of the effort that you went to in purchasing it for me."

I blinked as she opened the box, revealing that it was indeed the tiara that I had bought for her. "Forever it will remain with me here," she said, lifting her hoof to her heart. "Ever since you bought it for me my work has improved immeasurably, and all of the contacts that I have made have found immense satisfaction in it. I owe that to you."

I was somewhat speechless, for I had feared that my gift had been overshadowed by others. It had been wrong of me to doubt Rarity; she knew what was important and what truly mattered.

"It gets me thinking," she continued. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here now as I am." My eyes darted towards her, suddenly quite worried. The Rarity before me was beautiful but tired; she retained her natural flare, but she was working beyond her capacity. "I owe you everything to be here now," she said. "I would not change a thing."

And perhaps Rarity was in a state of chaos at that moment, but as she always insisted, chaos could be organised, and her maligned line of work would only be temporary. Everything that had happened was my doing, but it was because of me that Rarity's name was on the map. Ponies from far and wide now knew of her; the current state of affairs was a natural sacrifice that had to be made. "Thank you for spending this time with me," she sighed, but I knew that she was not speaking only of this day; I smiled graciously, for it was no great feat of charity by me that I had made such an investment.

She watched me for a moment too long. She had caught herself off guard and turned to her desk once more. "I have some things to finish," she explained. "Would you be so kind as to open up the shop?" She twisted the dial on the lamp to set the light into rhythm once again.

It may have been a fleeting moment, and the chance of me entering such a place again was scarce. Already I sensed that she wanted me gone, but not out of hatred. I turned to leave, elated that she had treasured memories regarding us both. Should I ever have doubted that she cared for me, I now knew exactly where to look.

"Be careful with that lamp," I said as I approached the door. "Those things can be dangerous when lit. Entire buildings can go up in flame."

"Thank you," she replied dubiously. I turned on the main system of lights, forcing her to turn off the dated contraption. She seemed to oblige this. "In a few days we'll go on our trip together," she smiled as I slipped through the doorway, leaving her Inspiration Room behind. "Just you and me."

Just me and her. As happy as could be.

0 Months, 22 Days

"Please...stop crying."


If only we could govern our actions in such simple terms. To stop doing something – to cease to engage in a particular practice – is often a lot more difficult than it seems. We become addicted to certain rituals and practices that prevent us from backing out. I had read that this was explained in psychological terms through Models of Investment. When we are neutral towards something, we have the objective ability to either commit or to withdraw. There is no bias one way or the other; and when we encounter others, we can choose to let a meeting last a minute or an hour through conscious decisions that we have control over. If we choose to withdraw, life goes on much as it would in a separate course of actions; further events transpire and other ponies enter our lives. We can choose to associate with them and invest, or, as in the previous example, we can go on without concerning ourselves. However, if we choose to invest, then we move further up upon this Model of Investment. As we ascend higher, our ability to withdraw becomes stunted. It is far more difficult to walk out of something that one has invested greatly in; the consequences are too grave and colossal. Some choose, therefore, to avoid investing, as it prevents the inevitable backlash when investment fails. I had always viewed these types to be callous, but it turns out that Detachment and Wisdom are not too far apart from each other.

This model can be applied to almost any situation, although it works especially well for relationships where commitment and investment can be measured in how we feel about others. However, this is not to say that it is an exclusively relationship-based model. It is, in many cases, an applied business model as well. If we invest financially, or in terms of time and effort, in a particular business or career choice, then it becomes almost impossible to back out the further in one falls. Helping hooves may be outstretched from time to time in an attempt to help, but those ponies that are unable to stop even when they are urged to do so are proud and unable to accept advice. No matter how much we try and save them, some ponies don't want to be saved. No matter how much it hurts those around them, some ponies continue regardless. They cannot stop, and they never will stop. Not until there is nothing left.

This home is bereft. Every night I follow the same ritual. I go in, I sit, and I walk out. All the while I contemplate where exactly I exist on the Model of Investment. I first thought that I was quite high up, and for a brief while I believed that I had fallen down immeasurably. Recently I was on the rise again, until I walked out. Her words were spoken with such disdain earlier that day. She had said, "So go," in the fiercest refrain. It was painful to be in there when she was like that. But things had calmed now. The calm before the storm, I perceived it to be. I knew what would happen to Rarity. She was a ghost in a machine with a battery in her leg, impaled on an iron grate of shrapnel disguised as a bed. And I remember that last night vividly, for it was horrific and terrifying, and after it passed she was dead.

It was late, as I saw it, for the street lamps had been switched on. I had checked myself out and torn the band off of my hoof, for it was customary to do so and no longer appropriate for me to stay at the hospice. The machines had scared me away. I had gone back to Ponyville to check on the shop. All was fine as I saw it: no letters and no slices of birthday cake. But it was all so pale and alone. I had walked up the stairway slowly, shivering as I stepped upon the top floorboard. I must have been floating, for the first time to my knowledge it did not howl. I entered the Inspiration Room. It had not been used for some time. I approached the oil lamp, flicking at the dial. It would have been so easy to burn the place to the ground. I caressed it with my hoof until it burst into light, but my better judgement caused me to keep the flame at a reasonable size. I knew exactly where she kept the key, now, and I slipped it into the lock of the desk without trouble. I spent a while in the relative darkness, touching the various items in the drawer. It was a collection of memories. I felt the smoothness of the cover of The Rococo Report issue that had started it all. I lifted it to the desk and observed the front cover. There was a faceless being. It was unnerving. I flicked through and settled on the article regarding Rarity.

"Ponyville is home to lots of rural charm, but none is more charming than a small, unassuming building called Carousel Boutique. Within the four walls of this converted loom, one might stumble upon the humble beauty known as Rarity."

How outdated this edition now was. How their opinions had changed in less than a year. I continued.

"Who is Rarity, I hear you ask? Rarity is a generous and loving pony, who embraces friendship as much as fashion. She always has time for her friends, as close sources inform me. She spends much of her free time dressing to impress and fashioning wonderful dresses and scarves for her closest companions. There is no challenge too great for Rarity, and her talents are multi-faceted; she has a love for the arts, enjoying attending festivals and musicals, and is a talented singer. She is also incredibly close to her family, especially her younger sister, who both share a bond that holds no secrets. More-so, however, are her personal creations, with her dazzling dresses of ornate extravagance being utterly without peer. Have you ever heard of the saying that no two snowflakes are alike? If not, I tell you now that it is scientifically proven to be the case, and Miss Rarity's excellent works prove that originality prospers in Ponyville right now; you have honestly seen nothing like what awaits you there. Woven together like an artisan spider fashioning its web, there is a magic at work in these creations that has made Rarity of Ponyville the next big thing. Rarity's Radiant Rambunctiousness – the latter word coined by me; use it and you shall be sued – can be experienced by any pony with any sense of fashion and style. But don't just take my word for it! Go to Ponyville today, immediately, post-haste, and see what I mean. Bring bits; you won't be leaving without ponying up some cash and showering her with it.

Miss Rarity's designs on the Gazette-o-meter score an incredible *****/***** - SMOKING HOT!"

I turned up the oil lamp a little higher. The days spoken of in the article of many months ago now had faded into obscurity. Gazette's powerful prose had been suitably objective back then; how awful that he now wrote at the behest of one most lamentable. To think that I had purchased a gift for Rarity – the sapphire tiara in the drawer beneath my nose – from that foul Mr. Cross. He was the house that catered to the glass, and whatever sucker had made that tiara, it wasn't Rarity. Just looking at the box with the thick silver lettering made me nauseous, for there was nothing that I despised more than thinking of the stallion behind it. He was suffering, as the newspapers dictated, but he barely knew what suffering was; his daughter would be the one to pay for his crimes, haunted as she was by the ghost of her mare-mother.

There were newer items in the depths of that drawer: trains ticket stubs bound for Manehattan and a little diary, the last entry of which had a large tick drawn inside it beside the comment, 'All the way and back again'. For the longest time I had been curious about the white stick with the sweet aroma. I still could not pinpoint its relevance, for it was an event that I no longer had any memory of. Rarity had kept these items because, to her, they had a greater meaning. Now that she was without them it pained me, but she had not requested them, even when I had suggested it. She wanted them to stay within the old converted loom, alongside her special book, which she frequently inquired about the safety of. Treasured relics, she had said, were best left in captivity.

I missed her as I fumbled through our memories. Something compelled me to return to the hospice, for even then I knew that that night was significant. I never usually made two trips, but I guess you could say that I felt that something bizarre had overcome me that night. I am not one to believe in the supernatural, but I do now believe in at least minor forces that guide us to be at the right place at the right time. And time that night wanted me to be back at the hospice. It is a difficult notion to comprehend, and I in no way assume the role of divine providence. Neither do I truly believe that a message had been sent to me by a greater being. It was as if Rarity and I had our rhythm, two beats for two white bands, and that during that night the rhythm was inconsistent. I positioned the items back in the desk drawer, locking it tightly and placing the key back where it belonged. I wrapped myself up and departed for the hospice. I found myself running towards an empty hallway. The night-shift receptionist seemed curious that I had reappeared. She branded me with the white seal of visitation. It was almost entirely blank.

Rarity's room was empty, save for the magic-less unicorn fighting for air.

She was barely awake, but stirred as soon as I entered. "...You came back..." she said, gulping in disbelief. I stood there in the shaking doorway. "Stop crying," she added in an exhausted voice. "Don't...make me...send you away again."

I approached her, I sat, and I wiped my tears away.

I gripped her hoof tightly.

"You can't stop me from being here any more than you can stop me from crying," I stuttered. "We made it this far, Rarity. We can keep going."

She had survived longer than the doctors had predicted. There was no end in sight.

" tired..." she spoke in a whisper, shaking her head slowly. "I am tired of...waking to the sound of dirt. I am asphyxiated by the pain in my throat brought about by suffocation. I...detest the emptiness in my stomach and the numbing of my hooves. I am nothing of what I once was..."


"-And makes me follow your example. It...reminds me too vividly of what awaits me. When you cry, your tears become my own...but while you recover, my pain is set in stone. Please...stop crying. For my sake..."

"I can't," I said, trying my best to hold back those despised tears. "I can't stop what comes naturally."

" should not be here...for the end."

"I can't stop what comes naturally," I repeated, "and what comes naturally to me is protecting you."

"The only thing...that I need protecting from..." she mouthed. "-Is you..."

Her words were vengeful.

"I am here...because of you..." she gasped. "I am here said...I should follow my dreams. You promised me the world but gave me...only death."

I shook my head. "I didn't promise you anything!"

"If I had...not taken your advice..."

"You would be a pony with no name."

"I am a...pony with no name."

There were two ponies within that room who knew that I was the one to blame.

"What have...I got to show for anything?" she grunted. "I have...nothing. I have nothing left."

Her pillow was drenched as she tried to sit, staring directly into my eyes with her penetrative imposition. "You...took it all. My Ponyville. My friends and is all gone...and so will you be soon..."

"You don't mean that."

"" she cried, her body shaking uncontrollably. " have to leave me now."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"I...decided...that tonight would be my last..." she wept. "I was...ready to die. You weren't...supposed to come back."

"Rarity!" I shouted. "You can't give up on life!"

"...I have already given up on life...for it has given up on me..." she panted. "I knew...that if I closed my eyes and the morning I would have found peace. But you...want me to...suffer and prolong my...pain." She was aching to speak such words now. The pain was excruciating, so I had been told by Tawleed, and it was numbed only partially by all of the drugs that he could stuff down her throat.

"I want to prolong your life..." I explained.

"My life is now worthless..." she argued. "You...have to let me go..."

But it was an impossible request. To let go of her hoof was to allow her to die. I could not possibly allow it to happen; I would be murdering the pony that I loved. It was true that I was in love with her, and that I had been for many months; I was here now out of love and adoration, not out of spite and obsession. My bottom lip trembled. She was pulling away from me, weakly making her hoof retreat. I gripped tighter, hurting her. There was no more time to keep my teeth behind my tongue.

"Rarity...I..." I growled with determination, my breath clinging to her face.



"Don't...say it..."

"I lov-"


Her tears exploded from her weak blue orbs. She wailed and howled, lifting her free hoof up to catch the tears as they fell. "You cannot...say it..." she said aggressively - desperately - with new power in her voice. "Do you think that I do not already know?"


"You cannot say it," she repeated, gagging on her words. "It is too hard to hear it and to respond. I cannot do it to myself or to you. I cannot."

She was more frightened then than I had ever seen before.

"It isn't fair..." she wept. "It isn't fair for us to end like that. Our story...isn't ever going to be...what you want it to be. There happy ending. And if you...say those words...we have lived...a tragedy."

She moved her hoof up to my face. She touched my cheek softly. Her hooves were numb and weak and thin, but her touch was still her own. I knew that behind it, for the first time since I could remember, was the real Rarity.

"I cannot...tarnish making it so. As things are now....we are two ponies...who met at a terminal...from which we would embark to greater places. We made one another shine in our own special way. Equestria...may not remember us when I am gone...but you will live on. And I...will die happy, forever in your memory."


"That is just how it has to be."

Her hoof touched my mouth. She stopped me from saying any other words. What she had said was a thin veil of sense and reason among a chaotic series of months, and as much as I wished to object, the strength to do so no longer existed within me. I released my firm grip on her hoof, but she kept it there now without force.

"Don't be...sad..." she said. "Don't...dwell on the past. What is done. The past cannot catch up to us now."

"Letting you go is the hardest thing that I will ever have to do," I said. "Everything will be meaningless and empty without you. I can't go back to the boutique knowing that I won't see your face every time I hear the bell ring...or have you sneak around the back and surprise me...or hear the comforting sound of the floorboard at the top of the stairs to tell me that you're awake."

"Darling," she said, her voice fit to break. "You haven't heard those sounds...for months now. Your memories are confused. The present day...has been like this for as long as I can remember."

"Think back," the unicorn whispered. "Are things...really as good as you remember them to be? You recall the best memories...but it was not always so."

Perhaps demonising herself was the only way that she felt that she could ascertain the balance in our relationship once more. Maybe she just wanted to soften the blow.

"Every relationship that comes to an end, no matter what the circumstance, has its reasons," Rarity then spoke, deep in thought. "As much as we may regret the divorce, every decision is made by a benevolent force...and every outcome is mediated by everything before it...and every ending starts a new beginning...I am sure of it."

"Where did you hear that?"

"I learnt it over these past few months," she responded. "Death is not the end...but the natural terminal where we wait to board."

"And what comes after?"

"I don't know," Rarity whispered, closing her eyes for the last time. "But whatever it is, I await it. You'll live on, and so will I. We'll meet again in some shape or's true." She paused. "Because you need me. And I...need you."

If it could have ended there, I would have captured that moment forever.

Maybe we would meet again in a new life, under different circumstances. Perhaps our end was the beginning of something else. But as I sat there with her, tracing lines of fortune across her hoof, I found myself wanting nothing more than to go with her. For the future is defined by uncertainty, and this extends to death as much as life. The greatest mystery is what lies beyond the unknown, in territory uncharted by mortal minds. Rarity was my special little pony, the likes of whom I adored and required. But as she lay there in her dying days, my faith in us expired. It had all been a dream; a dream that was crashing apart. And Rarity's pain existed between us both and the slowing of her heart. I tugged at her mane and bit into her skin, and cried my tears of missing her upon her ivory form. I heard the machine channel a beep, and another and one more. She lifted herself very slightly and hinted at her pillow. Beneath it was the note that she had written weeks before. She fell against me in defeat and the note floated to my hoof. Her last breathless words were that I read it just this once. Her body had had enough.

Doctors and nurses eulogized our tale on that day. I will not say that Dr. Tawleed did anything other than his most professional of duties; but his tears were real, and I knew that he loved her fiercely. He spoke a different language to me, one that I could not understand as I watched from the front-lines. It was a language of appliances and tools, medicines and machines. He nailed a mask across her face, which forced air down into her lungs. The machine was fit to explode, its cryptic message accelerating, speeding, racing, repeating. Tawleed continued when the others had given up, pressing her chest and screaming words of frustration; and I joined in, for our combined efforts would be enough to save her.

But the patient died before my eyes, and there's little more that I can say on that. Her hoof refused to let go, even when her white band had forsaken her and fallen to the floor. And when her body fell cold and I lost my mind, and cried inside her beneath the single-note siren-song, her hoof still remained there, reaching out to me, enticing me to a place that I could not yet follow. The terminal was vacant, with hundreds of seats for Rarity and me. And she would be smiling, always watching from those deep blue orbs, sailing ships with masts so tall.

Young meetings, early in the youth of it all.



Recovery is an impossible demand. Some things are too important to overcome. Grieving for a loved one is not a stage that we go through, but a channel that carves itself into our hearts and minds. And although this channel can be filled, it never truly caves in. But let it be known that this was all a nightmare that I chose, and the weight of the damage that I carry with me is now the cross that I willingly bear. The day that I had heard the bell chime in the old loom for the first time, I brought it upon myself to face the burdens that we wove. I have been left with these burdens, but none are so grave as to make me regret what the both of us had together inside one another.

Love comes in many different forms, but as a beautiful unicorn once told me, true love is best left unsaid; it is the prolonged force that keeps us bound together and grounds our hooves in place. To be devoted to another is not the result of a particular combination of perfumed words, but the state of absolute being that we acquire when we find a commitment worth committing to. To this day, regardless of what I may come to tell you happened next, I never once allowed Rarity to leave my thoughts. When she strayed I feared and prayed, and only when she came back could I think, for her permanent mark on my world had been made with the darkest of ink.

Her ink had been used to write me a letter. She had to wait until the very end before I could see it, for it contained information that she would have been unable to approach. I shall say little about it, for it is not for the consumption of any ears other than my own. It revealed what she really thought of me – things that she had told the doctor when I had been absent – and it sought to leave me with the closure that I required during the healing process. It is of absolute importance that the letter was written evidence that Carousel Boutique now belonged to me, as well as everything that she had left behind. I had been chosen as her successor, and the old loom would linger on in my name.

Almost ten months had passed since we first met, and losing her was my heaviest-paid debt. But to those that think I was counting down to the death of my beloved, let it be known; to do so would make our narrative into a tragedy, and that was the last thing desired by my Rarity. It took me until the end to understand, but she had had no desire to make our tale a lover's demise. Her intention, out of perfection, was always to remember me for the good inside, and I, in her, saw her beauty amplified. For I was the pony that believed in dreams, and reached a hoof of guidance out to her; and she was the eager artist, desperate to please who never dared stop and fall. Let this be a lesson to all; to categorise ourselves as lovers is a coward's way of describing the weight and brevity of our feelings. We were something beyond a practice, and required one another. Our marriage of existence belied the title of 'lover'.

What I am now counting down to - what I was always, truly, waiting for - you may never know, but fruitless optimism decided the date that I set for us. Rarity was never to live to the end, but maybe I foolishly thought that if I went back and re-told the tale of our fortunes, I would have the power to grant her new life and stop what happened. I would have saved her if I could, but no matter what I gave and what actions I took, no investment was great enough to help her. When I tell this story again, I will seek to extend the date once more, for seeing our relationship on a page of increasing words somehow makes it seem as if we were together for a lifetime. But the age that I am now is not too different from that under which I first met her; and that I have already lost knowledge of her fragrance proves that I will forget her.

Life is a mystery, and without Rarity, I am left as a wanderer. The date by which I incited from the start may be one that I myself never reach; to set ourselves targets is to overachieve, and this is what took her from me, so I am resigned to believe. Contentment comes from finding order in chaos, wherever it may be; and true love exists without financial necessity. Whatever choices that I now come to make, do not judge me too severely; for I never contended to be anything but a pony with the time to give. For the ethos of life is to love and care, and through devotion and investment our story I share. I leave you now on a final thought, one that I pray you all observe. Rarity would have wanted it; it is what we both deserve.

As I once said to an old friend, now a pony with no name:

"Sometimes, just being there for somepony – giving without the necessity of getting something back – is worth more than money and fame."

Thus ends Hospice.

You may now remove your bands.
# II

The final part of the final chapter of a large series detailing both the formation and eventual deformation of a strong relationship between Rarity and a kind stranger with the time to give to her. The story focuses on Rarity's fashion career, her rapidly deteriorating lifestyle and the difficulty of looking after a loved one in poor health. This chapter has been divided into separate sections due to its length.

A large inspiration for this story comes from the album Hospice, by The Antlers. I recommend everyone go and listen to that album - it is an incredibly touching concept, and the above artwork is modeled on the album cover.

Artwork courtesy of *polar59

Take care of yourselves, each and every one of you.
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orphanfrequently Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2015
Hello from the past! This was a story unlike anything I had ever read. In fiction, codependency is usually explored in terms of villainy, addiction, or severe emotional/mental problems, but here as a product of passion it becomes so much more real. The narrator basically explains to us in so many, many, words how his life up to this point was set up to see Rarity as the pinnacle of beauty and a redemption of high culture he had become so disgusted with. In turn, Rarity appreciates that his devotion can withstand rejection, and that someone with a hoof both in and out of high society understands her vision so completely. You did a wonderful job of translating the obsessive personality we see on the show to somepony who can manipulate and be manipulated. She may be taking advantage of the narrator, but, as it turns out is was all for naught, we can't say the narrator's presence was a net positive, even in the short term.

The narration of this story was very rewarding to figure out. I was initially put off by the formal and meandering tone. It seemed like you were just dragging things out to show the narrator was new in town and very up tight. Indeed, I don't even feel bad about this assumption, because that's usually what authors do when they affect this tone. But when the later time skips show how moved he is by Rarity and all the experiences they have together, the story really shines. I just saw that the wordcount is only 65k. I am usually very good at estimating wordcounts after the fact and would have sworn this was 150-200k. The density of emotions here is immense and making sense of it all by the end is an experience unto itself. As the reader starts to learn not to take things at face value because of the obvious lies, the little lies become more obvious. Rarity thanking the narrator for ripping up the letter suddenly puts his "earlier" actions in a different light. She may not even be angry if she had caught him doing it after that. For all we know, she may have "wished mr cross was dead" and gave the narrator a meaningful look before he traveled. Trying to figure out who is lying to whom and if they are doing so on purpose is delightful (I may just be impatient for season 2 of Serial podcast, though). The ambiguity in this fic works really well and does not feel forced. Rarity travels for reasons she won't tell, but doesn't really ask why the narrator traveled. Her friends disappear out of her life, and we don't really ask why because we understand, through the narrator, what is important to her, and I almost believe him more than a fly on the wall. 

Reading the comments on DA by yourself and others have been very helpful. You repeatedly claim that a big part of the fic is a critique on high fashion, wealth, and sexualization, and although those aspect of the fic are all very important and are a service to the narrative, it is extremely difficult to make any concrete conclusions from the fic considering the narrator has such an extremely unhealthy view of all three topics. Although he made a sincere effort to learn, we never hear him speak passionately about fashion the way he does about many other things. He dislikes the wealth of others for many reasons, but considering that we never see him think positively about any wealthy person, we don't know much from that. I don't quite understand why he had a falling out with his family. It sounds like it's because he didn't want to share the wealth, but I don't understand how he got the money and not his parents or siblings, so I'm at a loss. Also, they totally did something sexual when they woke up all hot and sweaty, but it's clear Rarity made it clear that it wasn't emotional, which might explain why the narrator is so particular when they claim they hadn't "made love". Normally, it's fine to be friends with benefits, but in this relationship, you can imagine many other darker factors coming into play, like Rarity stringing him along, or the narrator becoming angry that he does so much for her. It was this line of thinking that made me realize how much is open to interpretation, especially when it comes to Rarity's illness. You can make a case for rarity slowly poisoning herself, or the narrator slowly poisoning her, or idolizing her unhealthy habits and encouraging her, and they all make a lot of sense.

I'm going to ignore your comments on critiquing fandom, because honestly we probably agree on a lot it, but I just don't think it's a big deal or anything to get worked up over. The one thing I really really hope you respond to this comment and answer me about is Spike. Spike does not appear in this story at all. I don't think I saw him mentioned in any comment. Spike is almost a prototypical version of the narrator in some chapters. He is devoted, blind, naive, although a child so not duplicitous or corrupt. You can handwave away sweetie belle, (you can easily imagine her being at the boutique briefly and the narrator not mentioning it), but it is very strange that Spike is never seen. When I realized this in chapter 9 I actually got really unnerved like I was reading a horror novel. Reading this as a critique of Spike's character, or a large part of it, make a creepy amount of sense. Spike loves coming over to help rarity, and if you take this story at face value, it almost seems like an alternate universe where Spike doesn't exist and his place is taken over by someone who can (arguably) bring about the worst in rarity, or at least her destruction. 

On a side note, I was blown away to see that you are still active in the fandom considering you last logged into fimfiction three years ago. I found it very weird your season 5 reviews doesn't include canterlot boutique even though when he enters the inspiration room he actually talks about rarity's rules and uses the word clarity immediately after. This fic feels like it was written yesterday.  I want to read OCE to see your view of the world from a more objective perspective, but I don't know if I can bring myself to read an unfinished fic. Curiosity will probably get the better of me soon.
chupathingy98 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Saw this over a year ago, and finally got around to reading it.

This is art.

You have managed to create one of the best fan fictions I have ever read; your writing skill is nothing short of amazing, it reads more like an adult novel than a fan fiction, and it's a good story to boot. The narrator's decline along with Rarity's is just tragic to watch, and Rarity's spite towards him while in hospice provides for some incredibly emotional dialogue, to to the point where was I was cringing at her vitriol and was about to start sobbing during the last scene, right before her death. The whole thing is masterfully crafted, and one of the most heartfelt things I've ever read.

I'd like to tip my hat to you, and I apologize in advance for the rambling I just did. You've woven an excellent tale, and you should be proud of it.

Now, to contemplate on the white bands...
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013
Thanks for the feedback. It's always a nice surprise when people stumble across these old pieces. It sounds as if this story had some sort of a profound effect on you. Thanks for taking the time to read it and to comment.

I don't know if this is how you read it, but for future reference here's the entire story in .pdf format:…
chupathingy98 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Eh, I actually read it in those .txt files you get off FimFiction. Speaking of which, any chance you'd upload the Orange Cross on that site?
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013
The story is incomplete, so I'd hesitate to do so.
chupathingy98 Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Welp, guess I'll wait.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013
It's unlikely that I'll be finishing it, but I appreciate your interest.
HalcyonNoctem Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I found this by chance..and began to read; interested in seeing where this went. Needless to say that I am choked up, and wiping away tears; the lump in my throat is painful, but I don't regret it. I don't get moments like this too often, but when I do, it relieves a lot of pent up stress, and emotions in the end. This story, in my opinion, was very beautifully written and I could imagine every detail like a movie playing in my mind. I will be watching you, and reading more of your work. I thank you.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2013
Thanks, friend. I appreciate your feedback on this (rather old) piece of work. I actually started Hospice because one of my friends was complaining about how difficult it was to get a fanfiction onto Equestria Daily. I don't generally have an interest in fanfiction, but I wondered if what he was saying was correct. I set about writing this story to get it onto that site in order to see if he was right, and it got accepted the next day, so I assume it isn't all that difficult. While there are quite a few passages within this story that I now roll my eyes at, I'm glad you found it to be an enjoyable (if cathartic) experience. I'm glad you took the time to write this message. I would also like to thank you sincerely for the 600 points you donated to me.

If you are interested, there is a spiritual sequel to Hospice that got up to chapter 16 before I stuck it on hiatus. I should be resuming it again one day, but if you're interested in reading more work from me, there is that: [link]

In addition, if you're interested in creative writing, some of these might take your fancy: [link]

Take care, friend.
HalcyonNoctem Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You are quite welcome for the points. You have a gift with writing. You keep the reader entertained, on the edge, and looking for more; waiting and dreading for that closure; not wanting it to end, but to continue and keep them wrapped around the stories imaginary finger. I sent the link to your story to a few friends to read, I do hope that was alright. I know they would feel the same as I did about it. I will def check out the sequel.

Take care as well sweetie.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2013
Thanks for showing it to others. I believe that the .pdf is probably the best way to read it, rather than here on DeviantArt: [link]

The sequel is rather different from a thematic standpoint (dealing more with corruption and the manipulation of children, among other things) as I had no desire to write the same story twice. Hospice is very much the emotional fulcrum of what I have written.

Take care.
grievousfan Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
This story has riveted my attention for the past six hours or so, and I can say with full confidence it's the only MLP fanfiction I've read so far that has made me shed tears. I just love the whole progression of the story; how it doesn't flow chronologically but skips around in time to show what's relevant, in the order that it's relevant (also how some lines allude to previous sections: "he would walk through fire for her", after the whole thing with Mr. Cross's burning house).

Just awesome~:heart::+fav:
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013
Thanks for the feedback, friend. I wasn't aware people were still reading this! I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's a sequel that serves as the aftermath of the events here: [link]

It adds a bit more context to the fire you mentioned. It's currently on hiatus, but I'll be resuming it again in the future. While it follows a more traditional structure, it also follows multiple point-of-views.

Thanks for the kind words.
TheWrongestTrousers Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Welp, shit dude. I read it over the course of 2 days and this is absolutely depressing and a lot of this is very familiar. Like I'd said, it hits really close to home, for me... I'd lost someone close to me. Three days until it has been three years.

Sorry, in advance, about super sad story of my own shit.

Similarly, I'd spent a lot of time in the hospital hoping that they'd be able to leave and everything would go back to normal, never really preparing... though the somber mood kept eating away proving me otherwise. Though, the years before that, when we learned of what illness she had, she'd tell us (my brothers, sister, father and myself) that she'd not want us to be sad. Impossible to prevent, but we did our best to not lose ourselves, afterwards, as much as some of us wanted... especially myself. I remember that I regretted a single joke I'd said to her on New Year's 2010. She'd said "Happy New Years!" I decided to correct her with a chuckle, "Happy New Decade!" I was wrong.

It's strange, I might be recalling incorrectly as the days kinda blended together, but I think on the final day we had a really huge storm. Rain was going sideways, lots of lightning... it was like the world was preparing for the loss, as everything kinda spiraled out of control. We told her, in her unconscious state, about how we'd witnessed a lightning bolt forming an 'X' with a rainbow.

The only thing we can do, once a loved one passes on, is to preserve their memory as best as we can, but also managing to keep our sanity.

Thanks for this man, it opened up old memories that were eating away at me. I've been hating these past 3 years, lots stacking up against this decade. But I'm remembering things I that hurt, regardless of the story, but now remember with happiness... old stories, lessons, things she did... I think I can laugh and not fall into a pit of misery, more, now.

Somehow, although a depressing story, it being relatable to me has helped me.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013
This story definitely seems to resonate with your situation. What you wrote there is almost like a preface to the story, as it's deeply personal. Interesting that you had the 'pathetic fallacy' thing going on, with the storm matching the situation. I'm glad you like the story - quite a few people have told me they've been moved by it on the various sites where it was posted. A handful of people said that the story upset them, but quite a few seem to find it cathartic, and few seem to view the ending as being wholly 'bad'. I'm glad you read it, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Most of all, I'm glad it impacted upon you.

There is a sequel that's currently up to chapter 16, although it's a lot less philosophical and more based around a core storyline. It's not at all necessary to read it, but if you like the narrator's cynical attitude you may get a kick out of it. I'm glad you were able to share your story with me. Take care!
TheWrongestTrousers Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yeah, it's very familiar. The character reactions are very much the similar that my family'd experienced. The time after, the storm seemed to perfectly align with that situation.

Wholly bad ending? I don't know, I mean, yeah the guy lost the person he accidentally bumped into and fell in love with, at first sight; but it was still there was still something to take away from all of it, a lesson to have learned. Briefly, at first, it had impacted me negatively. I mentioned I was reminded of things I'd forgotten... it brought both the good and bad. But, after that, it affected me more positively, looking at how the character took it all. Again, this is a pretty rad story, and it is absolutely a fantastic read.

There's a sequel, now? That the "OCE" one? Welp, gotta read that one, now... but I got to savor it, because I hooked that Hospice IV right into my brain over the course of 2 days and wish I had let it settle in, more. And no problem, I guess, I've got the worst stories! No, you take luck.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
I think one of the most humbling comments I received about the story was one guy who said that he had been neglecting his girlfriend, and, after reading it, he realised he hadn't been appreciating her anywhere near as much as he should have. He told me he was going to make much greater efforts to show her that he cared about her. Two months later he contacted me to tell me that he had proposed to her and she had said yes, and he thanked the story for it. So, as you say, there are positive feelings to take from the narrative.

OCE is the sequel, yeah. It's a spiritual sequel as much as a narrative sequel, as I didn't want to explore the exact same things documented in Hospice again. OCE is much darker and harder to read, although it follows a more 'typical' structure. It's not even finished yet, so you might want to hold off until it is. That's your call.

There's something of an ambient soundtrack to Hospice here as well:


I never got around to uploading it all, but it's 18 tracks long and features a variety of experimental soundscapes.
TheWrongestTrousers Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Damn, now that's what I like to hear. As cheesy as the line goes, you always gotta look on the bright side of things. It just won't do anyone any good if they're in a constant depressive state. Hearing that kinda story is pretty awesome, it's living proof of it.

Spiritual sequel, huh? I gotcha. Well, I can imagine it being harder to read, considering it is darker (probably needs more light). HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA D : <. Ah, I see, unless I take it super slowly, to the point where it'll finish the moment I time it. Though, I can't really do that, since I don't know when you update it.

On the topic of the Hospice OST: Whoa, these are absolutely fantastic. Reminds me of some Silent Hill, which is to say that I love it. You should get around to uploading the rest, because this is amazing, dude.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013
I don't update OCE all that often at the moment, but I plan on doing so again in the future. In the meantime, you may remember a few characters from Hospice. OCE follows a lot of these characters more closely. It's from the perspective of six point-of-views (sounds complicated, but it's easy to tell which chapter follows which character). The POVs are the Hospice narrator, Mr. Cross, Mr. Orange, Clemency (Mr. Cross' mistress from the train), Farleigh Cross (Mr. Cross' daughter; she was in the fire and tried to save her mum) and then a guy working for Mr. Orange.

You can see a few of them here:

Clemency: [link]

Mr. Cross: [link]

Farleigh: [link]

I'd say that the story is darker than Hospice but not as emotional. There's no great story of falling in love and losing someone in OCE. Instead, it's about corruption of youth, political division, social inequality, sexual dominance, the rise of the criminal class, and a few other things for good measure. If it interests you, you may wish to read it as I upload, or, as I say, wait until I finish it (that might be quite a while, though, as I'm not even halfway through writing it - it's longer than Hospice).

As for the OST, I gave a more detailed response in my note, but I'm glad you like it. I'll make an effort to upload the others.
TheWrongestTrousers Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Huh, that's pretty interesting, I was interested in learning more of the other characters from Hospice, since we only just get bits and pieces of 'em, from another person's perspective.

That Mr. Cross illustration looks almost exactly how I thought he'd look.

I'll definitely check it out. I'll start reading it when you start uploading again, in hopes that it'll keep consistency with the uploads. Either way, sounds like I better bring my mace before I start goin' down that alley. NO, I meant the pepperspray, why would I bring a battle mace (hides broadsword in pants' backpocket.) ~60 parts, huh? Sounds like a story for the ages!

You done better start uploading that, I'd pay for it, if I could.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013
I think the chapters will be closer to about 40, but yeah. The artist captured Cross particularly well. I'll aim to try and make 2013 a more product year for chapters. I should have more time shortly, so that always helps. I appreciate your praise and enthusiasm!
(1 Reply)
BeeAre Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012   Writer
The soundtrack was intriguing, only finding on the last chapter, and slowing down my reading pace to let it play out over that single chapter. Did you compose it?

I am hesitant, really, to continue with the single idea that dipped me out of the lovely pain. I offer you one mote of critique. I submit one note of dissonance: in the theme of speaking (verses; <--choose one--> vs. ) not speaking. Science tells us that communication is not verbal or even technically lingual, at least by the numbers.

It does tell us about choice, and judgment. Emotion, too. Nothing to complain thereabout. The nature of your lyrical presence is rooted in words that are often referred to as the flotsam of a dead language, and the root of the Romances. Hence the use of the root quanta, measurement, or choice. Quantum uncertainty. Poetry in raw, described value, subjective and yet objective, covering every iteration in an observed system. God unspoken. And other things people have discussed better than me.

But if anypony can be forgiven, it is in a moment of grief. Did you cry when you made her die? And her tortured guardian. Would there ever be a place or saving grace to know he had a name? If there is one in your head, leave it without shame, or blame, and all of us will do the same.

All other notes I must quantify in my previous, and only other response--with an apology if the approach I had earlier was... vulgar, blowhard, or insulting. I assure you that your skills, as noted previously, are sublime. The recurring rhyme, the seduction symbolism, the relationship of movement using trains, all very poetic. And yes, even the more obscure allusions. "An audience in mind"? More like in mind an audience; I say this with utmost respect.

It's why I want to know if you'd want to handle a team.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012
Does the position pay?
Meowtrilizer Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2012  Student Filmographer
I read this for over a couple months now, and It felt as if the story was passing as each day went. Great story :D
General-Che-Young Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I cannot help it; I cried. The last chapter is a brilliant and moving end to a fanfiction that transcends beyond the standard good. The lessons learned and the trials the narrator faced place this tale into a category reserved for the things human doesn't deserve. My words cannot do this justice, and neither will I be able to thank you enough for being an inspiration to me and other aspiring writers.
There are few stories that stick around with me, but this one is undoubtedly one of them.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2012
A category of things that humans do not deserve, huh? Well, that's just gone and made my day all over again! Seeing comments like this genuinely move me; it's a combination of seeing individuals who not only take the time to read something that I've written and absorb its themes, but also apply that effort into a wonderful comment that I will always be able to look upon with pride. Thank you very much. If the story has inspired you in any way, I am incredibly humbled and wish you all the best with your own writing. Take care, and thank you once more for your kind words and your investment in the narrative.
Kittamaru Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2012
I read the first chapter... and the last. I do not know if I can bring myself to read the rest... not because of the story, but because of a loss in my own life that this story brings to the very front of my heart.

I lost my Grandfather two years ago... he was my best friend... and in many ways my father, as my own father was useless and a drunkard. I still feel the weight of this loss every day... but your ending puts a beautiful touch on it - to not lament the loss of a loved one, but to celebrate the best times had together.

One day I will be able to read this, I'm sure... but I just wanted to thank you for your message...
Tridus Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2012
And I want to thank you for posting this comment, because I was afraid that I was the only one who could only read part of it. It's easier not being alone, even if I don't know anything about you at all. :)

I do hope to read the middle one day, but it manages to hit a very vulnerable place and it's hard to keep reading for very long.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2012
If the story had that much of an emotional resonance with you then I'm glad that you could draw something from it. Even if you couldn't bring yourself to read the rest, it's brave of you to have read the ending. Chapter X is certainly the most graphic account of her ultimate demise, and so you did well to get through it. I'm glad that you could draw a hopeful atmosphere from the ending, and I appreciate the effort you went to in writing this comment. Take care, and best of luck to you.
Jundigon Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2012  Student Writer
The short version of this review can be nicely summed up in one word: Powerhouse.

The longer version, however, would probably go as follows . . .

The first half of this installment, "4 Months, 11 Days," is a very intimate scene, and is perhaps one of the most romantic scenes in the story. To be sure, the narrator going into the fabled and mysterious Inspiration Room for the first time with Rarity's permission already strikes the audience as meaningful, considering her very strict and generally unwavering rules. Quiet and wishing for it to retain its sense of mystery, he merely lights an old oil lamp to illuminate the place, and even then, it was so he could read the letter Mr. Orange had sent to Rarity. We're still not sure just what Mr. Orange's intentions are with Rarity—and it’s doubtful we ever will fully--but I like to entertain the notion that he still never meant harm, just business. After all, if one is to be the rival of somepony like Mr. Cross, being rather promiscuous or frivolous isn't exactly the best way to go about it.

The narrator thinking about warning Rarity as to the dangers of keeping the old oil lamp was quite ironic, and given that the audience knows what's going to happen in the end, it's also rather sad. How innocent and relatively pure our beloved narrator was back then, and to think of where he ended up is a thought that I'm sure few ponies like to do. To entertain the thought of this romance, given what we know, one would probably have liked it to end in a manner such as that, so it wouldn't have been so drawn-out and painful. Alas, though, it would seem like life doesn't wish to be that kind. It certainly wasn't in the last chapter, and what is to stop it from being just as cruel now?

With Rarity entering the scene and acting somewhat coy upon just entering the room and asking the narrator's opinion of her Inspiration Room, I must confess I was pleasantly surprised by her actions. Granted, there were a number of moments where she acted differently with the narrator that wasn't to be naturally expected, such as when he ended up sleeping in the same bed as her. However, it was delightful to see the young unicorn being rather shy and sweet in this particular scene. With the way this narrative is presented, it became rather powerful, given that the audience knows what's going to happen in the final segment.

Within that, the scene becomes even more so a look back at the sweet, gentle Rarity that was all-too happy to talk about her interests, her passions, and to share her imagination and happiness with the world. To be in such a creative and colorful space must be something truly unique. Our beloved narrator must have really took it upon himself immense pride to be with Rarity at the time. Actually, it's firmly evidenced that he did, such as when he was musing with himself the entertaining idea that he was the only one ever allowed to look upon Rarity's most prized and secret room. It's a wonderful notion, in my opinion, as the whole concept of blissful wonder carries with it such an immense satisfaction to the person wondering.

When the narrator apologizes to Rarity, it's of a really interesting note that he thinks to himself that one day he'd be punished. One ends up entertaining the thought that Rarity being taken from him was the 'punishment' he was thinking about. Certainly, there's no way he could have known of the tragedy that would befall the mare he loved, but it's still a rather sad thought to muse about. From the beginning, the narrator can't help but think negatively on himself when Rarity isn't pleased. It's this self-doubt that makes the audience wish for the narrator to end up happy during this finale. But, of course, the truth rips and tears the audience even harder because of this wish.

The encouragement the narrator gives to Rarity regarding the future is, as with the musings about the oil lamp, ironic. It's always an interesting concept to talk about, the future. What the narrator was describing was what I'm sure most of us do normally. There is always time to fix the mistakes that we have made, and we'll be able to create a brighter future for ourselves. Of course, that's the thought we always have when we have no idea of how long we have left before moving on in this world.

For Rarity, it could certainly be said that coming to terms with what the narrator had said and making a resolve to the mantra, 'Life Moves On,' is her starting to come to grips that she is ill, which our beloved narrator has yet to be made aware of. Of course, ignorance is, indeed, bliss, but for our lovely unicorn, she is unable to afford such an amazing luxury. To us in the audience, this is perhaps one of the earliest dates, in the chronological timeline of things, that she admits to knowing something about her ailment. To turn back time like this and to see her once again in her radiant happiness is extremely comforting, but merely a calm before the storm.

At the point where Rarity reveals the items that signified her time with the narrator, you instantly feel a rush of emotion. Not only is it very romantic and sentimental, but it proves that the narrator truly means something to Rarity, and at the time, it was something he was very much hoping for. His love for the unicorn cried for some sort of infallible proof that he was worthy of her attention and that he deserved said attention. It wasn't enough to work in her boutique, or even to live in it with her, although he naturally loved the gestures all the same. But, he had always been nervous that Rarity didn't really care for him, as evidenced by the fact that he considered the sapphire tiara he purchased for her useless and that Rarity didn't care for it. But, with the reveal of the same tiara in her Inspiration Room, Rarity reveals that she actually treasured the gift very much. So much, in fact, that she considered it too much to wear, and that she always wanted it just underneath her as she worked, as a constant reminder of the narrator.

This gesture is richly romantic, and I found it to be a extremely touching scene. To add even more to the weight of the scene, Rarity also entrusts the narrator with the location of her best-kept, most lavish, lovely and lush designs that had been the product of pure, unadulterated inspiration, that no pony could hope to copy on their own. That gesture speaks volumes. We as the audience have, in general, come to love the positive, romantic moments between these two, and become disheartened at the negative, hostile moments. The beauty in this moment really shines through, as we now understand what is to unfortunately come. As such, we come to appreciate this last moment even more.

The last segment of this stirring narrative, "0 Months, 22 Days," is by far the most roller-coaster of a ride as we can expect from this tale. An audience member that hasn't properly prepared will, I daresay, find themselves being torn every which way and likely suffer whiplash from the high-strung emotions that go flying throughout the end. It is, plain and simple, the end of Hospice.

Our beloved narrator opens up innocently enough by being, well, not so innocent. This is to mean, he wasn't exactly going to try and sugarcoat his opening thoughts. To be perfectly honest, I probably would have been shocked if he did, as that would have suggested he had already lost his mind and that Rarity had already died. "Too easy of an ending to make," my arrogant opinion would decree. It would also continue by saying, "We as an audience have come to expect nothing but harsh reality toward the end, so why would you start being lighthearted now?"

It is at this point that we start picking up certain points in the narrative that rhyme, which turns the scene into a rather grief-filled and depressing poem. Of course, that just serves to make the narrative more interesting and more lovely to read. The juxtaposition of the poetic wordplay with the shrill, biting emotions at play in this section creates an amazing contrast that is both ironic and wonderful, because it works.

It is at the beginning of this section we see our narrator return to the Inspiration Room after apparently being turned away by Rarity, who doesn't want him to be near her. In doing so, he ends up reading the original article in The Rococo Report that had launched Rarity's initial big-top career in fashion. It has become a rather fractured article to the narrator; what used to be positive and uplifting and true, now only seems to mock the current situation that has devolved into being negative, depressing and false. By false, I mean that the narrator still doesn't want to come to absolute terms with what is about to transpire, and honestly, who can blame him?

We see that the spider motif makes a final return in this narrative through the article, and makes one think if Rarity had subconsciously begun to appreciate spiders due to what she had read in the original report? Either way, it's still incredibly symbolic of both our lovely unicorn, and a parallel to the story itself. It's funny to note how such ideas could even come full circle, with the narrator being the one to contact Gazette and having him print the article in the first place.

Mr. Cross is mentioned again in the section, which serves to remind us yet again of how much the narrator could care less about the pony. While it would appear like he does feel some guilt over the pain he has caused the Cross' daughter, Farleigh, he certainly has no remorse whatsoever towards Mr. Cross himself. It might be worth noting that one might use this opportunity to ask themselves a question: just what has the narrator done? It allows us to prepare for the final end of this narrative by assessing the narrator's actions thus far, and begin the process of passing final judgement on his character. He's certainly done a lot, that much is certain, but the way we categorize them into whether or not they were moral is going to be a lengthy process in and of itself.

But, before we can even hope to analyze this character, we need to have one, final scene that's charged to the brim with conflict and emotion. Our narrator returns to the hospice to find Rarity as barely an empty shadow of her former self. It is incredibly sobering to see the unicorn like this, who was always described as fragile and petite to begin with. The fact that the narrator states that the room was otherwise empty and that Rarity no longer had the energy to perform magic creates an even more dry, weak and haunting atmosphere. Rarity is at her absolute most vulnerable in this state, and with the way she reacts to the narrator's presence, it seems like he just made it worse.

The unicorn demands that the narrator stop crying, going on to listing a number of pains, fears and detested symptoms that she is now experiencing in her weakened state. She doesn't want to see the narrator cry, for it only serves to make her realize with disgusting clarity of her imminent departure from this world, and that she cannot help but cry as well. She continues to essentially berate the narrator and tries to get him to leave, but he refuses. It's somewhat difficult to say just what Rarity is trying to do. It's possible that she hates the narrator for driving her to die, which is certainly how the narrator himself feels. But, at the same time, could it be that the narrator has become so negative that he's only hearing what he 'wants' to hear? Alternatively, it could be argued Rarity is in so much dismay at the idea of the narrator seeing her waste away completely, she wants to force him away so he isn't present to see her final, excruciating moments. Of course, our narrator isn't going to listen to one word of that.

Something that I think is interesting to note, however, is how Rarity says to the narrator that her friends, family and work were all gone, and that he would be, too. Is this to imply that the narrator is going to be completely crushed by the loss and cease to function normally? A number of possibilities exist to this rather chilling line of dialogue, everything from one end of the polar spectrum, such as meaning actual malice, to the other end, such as trying desperately to push the narrator away so he doesn't have to see her die. It's uncertain, so that makes it interesting to guess.

The back and forth conflict comes to a head when the narrator tries to actually, physically, say to Rarity that he loves her, but is stopped when Rarity breaks down and vehemently tells the narrator to not say it. To say it would be to condemn their story to that of a tragic love. If it remains unspoken, it is different, and she can pass on in peace. That there is no happy ending makes it so that Rarity wishes to end their story as a hopeful one, one that tells of, to use her words, 'two ponies who met at a terminal from which they would embark to great places.' It seems like she's trying to force the narrator to have closure, while at the same time allowing things to end within her own preferred terms; not as a tragedy, but as a bright adventure born from romance. The old Rarity is shown for one last time, and the audience, at this point, probably becomes more emotional than ever because of it. She summons up the last of her strength to remind the narrator of both the good, and the bad of their relationship. But, ultimately, it's what she says in the end that hits the narrator, and the audience, hard.

And thus, our narrator begins his grieving as our unicorn finally passes on from the plane of the living. Summed up in several poetic paragraphs, we get a final message that is both ice cold in its description of Rarity, but also a comforting warmth of what we have to hope for. Or, rather, what the narrator has to hope for. Even in this time of darkness and loss, there is an ever-present pinprick of light, and by the powers that be, may he continue to walk towards that pinprick so that he may end up next to his beloved during the ultimate finale of this symphonic tale, ready to begin the overture of another masterpiece.

To end this tale, we have a short epilogue that cleans up a bit for the audience about our beloved narrator. It's difficult to fully ascertain how or what he's feeling, but we, like he, are given some closure. The note that Rarity had written for him revealed in writing her true feelings for the narrator, and while I'm sure many are curious as to what it exactly said, it's good that it wasn't fully revealed. It still means that there is plenty of mystery left in this tale told by somepony who, at least for me, isn't easy to form a strong opinion one way or the other. On the one hoof, I can't say I approve of his maliciousness towards the end, nor do I think that his hypocrisy did him any favors. But, on the other hoof, he was his own character, who fell in love, and regrets nothing whatsoever. Despite his flaws, it's hard to not at least respect his iron-clad resolve to not be ashamed for what he did. He takes up Rarity's description of herself as a pony with no name, but just how true is that? Not only did she achieve fame before her severely untimely death, but he will always remember her, as will her friends and family. To be a pony with no name is to not be remembered by anypony at all. This, suffice it to say, is not the case.

The narrator has chosen to carry on Rarity's name and memory, largely in the form of tales such as this one, where it shall be proven that she wasn't, as she said, a pony with no name. The narrator is slowly giving himself a ground to once again trot on. It'll be slow, as he himself says that he has become a wanderer because of the loss of his beloved, but he has since taken up still more resolves, which makes the audience still feel hope for him. This is evidenced by him taking up Rarity's stance that their story wasn't a tragic romance, and that it was instead merely one adventure in the grand scheme of life. Most powerful, to challenge the very genre the story would be placed in, and it certainly is quite thought-provoking. May our beloved narrator find peace.

Hospice is a story that is formatted incredibly well. The characters are very complex, and nothing is truly set in stone. The level of mystery that remains throughout the entire course of the narrative makes it so that the audience is kept in wonder and make them continually speculate to the very end, and even then, not everything is answered. I had a most wonderful time reading this riveting tale of romance, mystery and philosophy. I am very much glad I read it, and I highly recommend it to anypony who likes an emotional tale starring colorful ponies.

A job done most excellently well!
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2012
Most likely the biggest response that I have ever received! I thank you for such an extensive reply! To pick up on some of more significant points raised:

While it's certainly significant that the narrator enters Rarity's Inspiration Room, as you say, we are unsure of what the contents of the letter from Mr. Orange really equates to. While there's a lot of ambiguity surrounding the relationship between Rarity and Mr. Orange - we never see any direct communication between them both - it would be interesting to find out just what exactly transpired between them both.

Seeing Rarity in a shy situation opened up a different side to her complex persona; certainly, she was asking the narrator what he thought of her appearance as much as what he made of the Inspiration Room. It's interesting that Rarity dressed up for this particular event. Clearly, she wanted to make his entrance as momentous of an occasion as possible. Another reader has pointed out the potential reading from a sexual perspective; the idea has been raised that his entrance into her Inspiration Room could equate to his penetrative entrance inside of her (the word penetration, or a variant of, appears several times in that passage) and that the tearing of the letter could symbolise Rarity's virginity. I can certainly see this reading as having textual support, especially given lines such as this:

When she was satisfied she penetrated me with her seductive blue orbs

The use of 'satisfied' and 'penetrated' in the same sentence as 'seductive' carries strong connotations.

From a chronological perspective, this is one of the earliest points in the narrative where Rarity shows an awareness that time is running out. Perhaps the biggest revelation in this chapter is, as you say, that the narrator receives closure that Rarity does indeed care for him. The presence of the tiara and the many tokens that Rarity has kept to remind her of the narrator prove that she does value him, even if she can't always express it. There's a universal theme throughout Hospice that suggests that words can't equate to actions, and that 'perfumed' words can't carry the weight of true love. That Rarity doesn't explicitly say how she feels, but instead uses specific items that trigger happy memories, is rather symbolic indeed. Finally, the tome of Rarity's designs is a literal book, but it also has various other meanings that can be speculated over. Its significance will one day be revealed, thankfully!

Now for the second half of this passage. Lyrical wordplay has forever existed within Hospice, but it's definitely most apparent in this final chapter. There are entire paragraphs written with a specific iambic meter and prolific enjambment, blurring the lines at time between prose and poetry. Certain parts of this final chapter could be extracted and put into poetic format. For example:

For the future is defined by uncertainty,
and this extends to death as much as life.
The greatest mystery is what lies beyond the unknown,
in territory uncharted by mortal minds.
Rarity was my special little pony,
the likes of whom I adored and required.
But as she lay there in her dying days,
my faith in us expired.
It had all been a dream;
a dream that was crashing apart.
And Rarity's pain existed between us both
and the slowing of her heart.
I tugged at her mane and bit into her skin,
and cried my tears of missing her upon her ivory form.
I heard the machine channel a beep, and another
and one more. She lifted herself very slightly
and hinted at her pillow. Beneath it was the note
that she had written weeks before.
She fell against me in defeat and the note floated to my hoof.
Her last breathless words were that I read it just this once.
Her body had had enough.

The use of Gazette's article again is interesting, as we have seen the article before, but have previously only heard snippets from it. In the very first chapter the narrator read the article to Rarity and told us a few specific lines from it. Now that we can see it for ourselves, we can see how 'objective' Gazette really is after doing the narrator this favour.

In terms of evaluating at this point what the narrator has personally done, he deliberately reflects on Mr. Cross and Farleigh for a short while in this chapter so that we can weigh up his sins at the very end. His acknowledgement of his crime, but also his insistence that it's Mr. Cross who is ultimately to blame, puts us in the position of literary magistrate; do we sentence him, as Rarity has been, or do we feel that his actions are justified and defensible? That it is said in the passage that Rarity will administer some form of punishment puts us on the same judicial level as her.

In terms of how Rarity behaves here, it is indeed tricky to quite work out what she's trying to do. She tells us that she was ready to die that night, and that she didn't want the narrator to be there. From this we can infer that she likely orchestrated an argument to get him to leave, so that she wouldn't have to die in front of him. She's a very prideful character, and it's only at the very end that she truly embraces the narrator's presence.

"My friends and is all gone...and so will you be soon..."

This line is certainly interesting, and I'm glad that you picked up on it. It relates to the first segment, wherein The Rococo Report article suggests that she is close to her family and her friends, and yet at this stage she is completely without them. Throughout this entire ordeal, Rarity's friends and family have been almost entirely absent; while Twilight the others were present for a while near the beginning, they have faded out of the narrative entirely by this stage. It's also important to note that Rarity never tells her family of her situation; is this pride, or something else?

Rarity's last official line of dialogue summarizes her feelings nicely. Even though she doesn't allow the narrator to say those words, she does deliver the poetic couplet of:

We'll meet again in some shape or's true." She paused. "Because you need me. And I...need you."

This speaks volumes about her final thoughts on the narrator, granting him the closure that he ultimately required. I do agree with the pinprick of light that you speak of; I have had people say that the ending made them cry, and although this is the intention, I don't consider them to be tears of despair. After all, we knew from the very beginning what was going to happen, and so it's not as if we have been taken by surprise. Rather, I find the ending to be closure to us as an audience, allowing us to contemplate issues of love, life and death. Personally, I leave Hospice feeling satisfied and melancholy rather than depressed. It really depends on what you choose to take from the narrative; in its most literal sense, Hospice is a series of moral perspectives and social observations tied into a narrative. Which of these perspective we choose to extract is dependent on us as readers.

'The pony with no name' quote has numerous readings and is a common trait throughout Hospice. Throughout the narrative there are frequent examples of ponies with no name. The narrator has never been given a name; in this chapter, both Rarity and Gazette are described as ponies with no name. Furthermore, until the very last chapter the narrator was unable to remember Dr. Tawleed's name. We never learn of Mr. Orange's first name, and, indeed, the family that we learn the most about is, interestingly, the Cross family; we can name the father, the daughter and the wife of this family unit, and yet we cannot name a single one of the narrator's relatives. This ties into the greater theme of identity throughout Hospice.

Ultimately, challenging the genre that people would logically associate with Hospice - romance, tragedy etc. - emphasises the unique nature of the text. Your review and constant feedback has been most appreciated. I have not only thoroughly enjoyed writing Hospice - thank you for calling it a masterpiece - but I have made some good friends during the process. It has been an entirely beneficial turn of events, and I am very fortunate to have earned a degree of popularity from writing this.

Keep a look-out, because what happens next will be documented in my next big project. Take care, and thank you once again!
Jundigon Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2012  Student Writer
You are quite welcome for the reviews, I was happy to give them. Your prose is a delight to read, and the ideas you place in your stories are very philosophical and I enjoy reading such works. :)

I find it interesting the point you raised about the whole 'pony with no name' concept. I can see it now as a much larger literary device than I initially thought, and I think it's fun to think about just what it means for the narrator. To say it's the narrator having an identity crisis is just a surface issue for me; I find it intriguing to think about wider implications of that. :)

I agree that when the audience cries at the end, it's not out of despair. Rather, I see it as a release because we've had closure. Not to mention, the richly romantic line that made up Rarity's final words makes us hope for the narrator, and I honestly love the analogy that Rarity herself used to describe the events that transpired; that of two ponies meeting at a terminal whom would embark on a journey. It has plenty of flavor for me.

I absolutely cannot wait to see the next thing you write, which I hazard to guess will be the follow-up to this piece. Good luck in your writing! :D
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2012
Terminals and trains make up a certain theme of the narrative, insofar as the cities that they visit are always divided by them and they spend a lot of time going back and forth. Your praise is always much-appreciated, and I'm very glad that you've commented with such devotion throughout. The next project that I work on will indeed be the follow-up to Hospice, and in the meantime my plan is to advertise Hospice to more people - I'm having an interview with Pony Vault and the narrative is going to start showing up in places outside of DA as well. I'd like to have as many people awaiting the sequel as possible before starting, mainly to satisfy my own ego!
Jundigon Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2012  Student Writer
Awesome, I hope your advertising goes well! People should really give your work a shot, it has a lot of flavor and thought behind it. :D
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012
Cool game/song. Care to explain?
CaptainPrower Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012
Hospice felt more like I was watching a movie than reading something.
Since the MGS games feel much the same way, I thought the two had a similarity.
This song plays during MGS3's ending. It's really hard to explain, so you should probably just look it up yourself.
I thought it fit this, because the synth violin makes it ideal for a death scene, and the little jazzy part toward the end is well suited for a city mare like Rarity.
Basically, if Hospice were a movie, this would play at the very end and into the credits (which would show Rarity's funeral in the background)
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012
That's a rather profound statement, and it's very interesting to me that Hospice reminded you of a particular musical cue. The narrative was inspired by a specific suite of music, and so it's excellent that music is one of the things that you took away from it. I have listened to the track several times now; the sparse and beautiful arrangement does indeed work nicely with Rarity's end. I would have loved to have made Hospice into a work of cinema - if it felt like a movie more than words on a page, that's an enormous compliment to me.

Thanks a lot!
CaptainPrower Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012
Not just that song in paticular; I could come up with enough songs to make a whole soundtrack for this!
I just have one little question, though.
Have you ever considered a sequel?
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012
If you fancy putting together a soundtrack then be my guest! I'm working on an original soundtrack for Hospice myself - you can find a link to the playlist so far here if it so interests you: [link]

It's interesting that you mention a sequel. There is indeed a spiritual successor in the works. It's a sequel and follow-up, and it seeks to explain what happens next. While it'll still be possible to read Hospice as a singular work, and the sequel as well can be read on its own, both will have plenty of links to one another.
CaptainPrower Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012
That's some nice music!
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012
Thanks! Occasionally samples are used within the tracks, but mostly it's original compositions. Thanks for the watch as well! I have one other written pony-project lined up before the sequel to Hospice, but I do expect to start the follow-up by April.
(1 Reply)
TASassassin167 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Truly a masterpiece, my friend ive held my comments until i finished this story but now i must speak up.
You are a talented person capable of bringing out the best and worst of a character and laying it out to be seen.
You have captured Rarity in a light that i havent seen any fanfic writer manage, i can only thank you for this story you do her character justice.

The narrator was a brilliant character, just as flawed as a man can be. Hes reactions to every situation are just so believable and natural that despite his moments of possessiveness and at time unwarranted angst you cant hate him because you have to ask yourself "how would you feel?".

And Rarity....i honestly can't form a comment on her here because she is my favorite of the mane 6 and whenever i think about her character in this story as a whole and everything thats happened, my throat drys and my eyes well up.

Because I'm more of a reader then a movie watcher it's easy for me to be gripped by good works and when i already like a character prior it makes it that much easier to become attached to them. I knew what was going to happen from the time I read the , yet you my friend have presented this mature story so excellently that i was sucked in and followed to the end, and even though I knew I was reading what would essentially be a countdown to her demise it didnt lessen the impact of the parts where she was weak and on here last few weeks....

I cant provide critical review or anything like that...but i can give you a bow and a teary eyed clap for doing such a favor to Rarity.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
I'm very glad that you've taken the time to read all the way through the narrative. It's a rather lengthy tale, and I thank you for the many compliments. It is enormous praise to hear that I captured Rarity in a way that you haven't before seen; while she plays a secondary role to the narrator in the narrative, she is of immense importance. While it's possible to hate the narrator for his obsessive behaviour, as you say, it is also very possible to put yourself in his position and relate to how he acts. He is a flawed character, but mankind itself is certainly a flawed species, and, at least in his mind, he behaves in Rarity's best interests.

As for Rarity herself, that you experience an emotional resonance with how she is treated in Hospice is excellent. She is a respectable character with a great deal of creative scope, and her descent into darkness is a tragic event. I'm also glad that knowing what the ending was going to be from the very beginning didn't lessen the narrative for you - it's no great secret, given the nature of the title of the narrative, what will happen at the end. Instead, the intrigue comes from how the characters interact and affect one another. Once again, thank you for taking the time to invest in Hospice and for writing such a wonderful comment.
Nanahuatli Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
You have very critical and knowledgeable watchers and friends, it seems, and I don't think I could write you a thoughtful review that didn't sound stupid and shallow in comparison. Instead, my heartfelt applause goes to you. I hope I get to read more of your work soon.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
A lot of the people commenting are good friends of mine who have been around since the beginning of the narrative. Their comments are excellent, but I would definitely be interested in hearing any sort of feedback that you would be willing to give. Thanks for your comment - I'm glad that you enjoyed Hospice, and my next project should be starting soonish!
Nanahuatli Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2012
Well, for one, I loved the unreliable narrator. It was easy to see that this pony's judgements of the others were affected by his possessiveness of Rarity and were becoming more and more warped as his world was getting more restricted to her. Rarity was also interesting, she had a multidimensional personality. She reminded me of some "legendary" women like Marilyn Monroe and others said to drive men crazy by being capricious, yet lovely and enchanting. There's an aura of mystery about her and about her relationship with the unnamed stallion. I liked that as well.
The anachronical order in which the story was told was an interesting touch. I liked that, but at times it was confusing because I wasn't always aware at what point of their relationship certain things happened. A second read-through should solve that, I guess. And the final explanation on the countdown was brilliant.
It was overall a very emotional work, and I think that's its best characteristic. It's also thought-provoking, partly because the main colt's obsession is common among real people.
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2012
I'm glad that you enjoyed the narrator and Rarity; it's interesting to see you describe Rarity as a Marilyn Monroe sort of character. I can certainly see the loving and enchanting side to her in the narrative, but she also does demonstrate that sexual side that men seem to crave. The chronology does jump around, but on repeated readings it shouldn't be too hard to deduce what stage their relationship is at. Around the 4 Months mark is arguably the most significant, as that's the month where Rarity learns of her illness and that she and the narrator start becoming closer. I'm also glad that you enjoyed the ending and the resolution of the countdown, as well as the way in which the text can be applied to real relationships. Thank you for taking the time to read it!
Saint-Walker Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012
Wonderful ending, somewhat sad but not in the crying your eyes out way, more like the way the protagonist accepted the inevitability of fate, that no matter how special Rarity was to him and what they went through, he will forget her, he will move on and she will become just a memory. That kind of sadness is something far worse, it is inevitable, it's the curse of those left behind after death, you move on and the person you valued and loved and appreciated fades and you despsie yourself for allowing it, even though there's nothing you can do to stop it. It makes it and the protagonist more real and it's a far better story for it, well done. Personally I'd avoid a sequel, it's perfect as it is
Cuddlepug Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012
Overcoming the death of a loved one is always difficult, but the important thing is that, as you have said, eventually it is in mankind to move on. You do hate yourself for letting go, but in the end it's the only way that life can go on. I'm glad that you enjoyed the narrative, and don't worry - the 'sequel' will merely be re-using some of the characters of Hospice and expanding on certain things. Hospice itself will have little relation to the sequel, and can still be read on its own.
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February 29, 2012
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