My Little Pony - Hospice X Pt. 1

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By Cuddlepug   |   
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10 Months, 2 Days (ibid.)

"It all looks so beautiful."
"Sir, you flatter me too much."

There was no compliment that I could give that would be deemed 'too much' when this unicorn was concerned. Her voice was a comforting symphony to me. It sounds abstract to say that, but the natural rhythm of the world had always proven itself to be of great interest to me. Music, or indeed particular pitches and tones, had forever been a great indicator of how I would come to feel about somepony. An oafish-sounding ruffian-pony would receive little of my time and less of my patience; a savvy-businesspony of a crystalline complexion and voice would leave me feeling cold and resentful. When this unicorn spoke, however, her dialect and diction denoted something incredible to me; it was a voice that one could fall in love with, and a soothing rhythm if ever I heard one.

It must sound ridiculous to the untrained ear that I would spend such a long time fascinating myself with the dalliance of the unicorn's voice. I partially blame my romantic aspirations, and otherwise view my obsessions as having been influenced by the great writer-ponies that had so nibbled away at my own linguistic form. Sentimentality often eluded me quite consciously, and it was nothing short of perplexing that I had crossed such stimulating paths with this delicate mare, especially as my intentions in being within Ponyville had never initially involved this purple-maned object of desire. I still, to this day, ask myself why I had chosen to make it my familiar locale. To rationalize, my main reason for going to Ponyville in the first place was in order to escape pretty much everywhere else. In Equestria, when you want to lose yourself, there are three destinations that one can seek: the outer shanty towns, Manehattan and Ponyville.

Those shanty towns are as unappealing as they sound; the locals are cowpokes and bandits and other unsavoury types. That was a world for country-folk, and certainly not for one as refined as me. I was born in Manehattan, albeit the Cheapside, but it did not take me long to get out of there. To most, I am a Trottingham pony; the sort of pony who stands by his convictions and carries himself with grace and humility. We may not be the most emotional of ponies in Trottingham – our hubris and stiff upper-lip is world-famous - but we make up for our stoicism through our dependability and rugged constitutions. If ever a pony is in need, they go to Trottingham. Which, as I say, is a far more desirable location than the shanty towns of the outer-realm, and one would have to be mad to try and find solitude among the tumbleweed. After all, if one wishes to desert, going to a deserted place is a rather foolish conception of wit; indeed, it is the equivalent of drawing a red mark on an otherwise blank sheet and asking somepony to locate the irregular spot. Truly, if one wishes to escape, they must go somewhere populated, else they stick out like a sore hoof.

Which brings me to the second location for leaving Equestria behind; Manehattan. For obvious reasons it may seem odd to attempt to escape by going to one of the largest cities in Equestria – Canterlot finds itself in the same situation – and yet, given my previous reasoning, it is, in fact, the perfect place to lose oneself. After all, who would find a pony among a crowd of thousands, and what pony would waste their time looking for one in such a tempestuous mass?  In Manehattan, one could disappear behind a group of clerk-ponies and stay there out of sight for days, sheltered beneath the incessant waffling that so aptly leaves their serpentine tongues. For, you see, this is why Manehattan is not a place that I would personally choose to escape to, for the population, although vast, are vacuous and prone to thriving upon nature's most illicit inhibitions. Manehattan must be the only city in Equestria where one can speak with the native population for hours on end and actually lose information from the brain; it leaks out, as if their very words make the listener less intelligent by the second. This is no doubt due to their ruthless obsession with gossip.

It is not all bad in Manehattan; of note is an old companion of mine by the name of Gazette who works for a very specific branch of the Manehattan Media – he is a journalist for the Rococo Report - that would never print lies and resort to shaming others. They are a satirical paper run by wits, and Gazette had made his name in attacking preconceived notions about the secondary monarch, Princess Luna, disguised as a pornographic series of lithographs but in fact consisting of anything but. It was a humourous article of witticism beyond the common rabble, which is arguably why it had become so popular; so many had stumbled into the obvious pitfall of believing it to be a true account of saucy bedroom-shenanigans. If they had requested a refund, Gazette would likely have made more money and fame by writing a mocking retort about how they should have known better than to sexualise royalty. For him, no story was too risqué and burlesque to print.

Alas, the Rococo Report makes up very little of the Manehattanite community, among which are the most lamentable ponies imaginable. Old Manehattan, my unfortunate birthplace, remains a disgusting hovel, abandoned by contemporary regulations for sanitation and not only allowed to stagnate, but actively encouraged to do so through shameful neglect. In its natural state of poverty, those living within its confides are stunted by an understandably myopic world-view; that everything outside of their immediate sphere of influence is in a similar state of disarray, and thus making a conscious effort to improve conditions would be a worthless exercise. There are no physical barriers between Old Manehattan and the Manehattan published in the papers; the gravity pulling one back into its murky depths is a social constraint rather than a preventative wall. I found the strength to leave; others should as well, or else they should avoid complaining about their dire condition for fear of hypocrisy.

Those of the greater city are no better, for although they have wealth, they have not been educated in how to spend it wisely. When one has money, the correct thing to do is to use it sparingly, when one finds the immediate need. 'Expenditure when necessary' should be the manifesto of the wealthy elite, and yet one cannot walk the streets of Manehattan without being trampled by a portly stallion, an entertainer of many mistresses, who has fallen foul to the meat-market hooves of gluttony, vomiting onto his lady's diamond-encrusted dress due to his over-indulgence. And she, no better, would have thousands of perfumes on hoof to spray herself with to rid her of his repugnant odour, and a cleaning apparatus in her petticoat that could remove any stain within moments. The root cause of it all is, of course, living by excess.

So no, Manehattan is not a place that I could find my escape without wishing to kill myself in the process. Which, naturally, leaves me with only one option; Ponyville, the small hamlet prone to lazy evenings and even lazier nights. Very little is written about Ponyville; the locals are regarded as being neighbourly and inoffensive, yet lacking in refinement. They do not acknowledge fashion in Ponyville; they wear what they can find, and more often than not nothing at all, which is seen as being grossly uncouth to outsiders. The first time that I saw a bare pony in Ponyville I found myself strangely appalled, and yet the bestial side of me wished to know more about their ways and to bask in their celebratory nakedness. Modesty is not a word in the Ponyvillian vocabulary, or, at least, that is what I had come to believe prior to meeting the unicorn standing before me.

She was a lyrical sort and certainly not a typical resident of Ponyville; she seemed to subconsciously emulate the social elite without adhering to their flaws. I found her uniqueness to be spellbinding, especially as she was an inarguable beauty. Although she carried herself with the poise and eloquence of a cultured pony, she had not yet been tainted by the outside world. And that was, hoof on heart, why I likely found myself becoming so interested in her. There is an innate beauty in seeing somepony as wonderful as her having not yet succumbed to realising how wonderful they are. There is a humble innocence to it that is lacking elsewhere. By walking the streets of Manehattan or Canterlot, you could find ponies as beautiful as this one; but beneath the exterior would beat a heart that palpitated only to the rhythm of a bank statement and a flank that had been mounted by countless stallions. This mare, as far as I could deduce, had not yet been punished in such a way, and I was thankful for this.

The unicorn had a scent, or rather, a fragrance that clung to my body the longer I remained in her presence. It wasn't from a bottle, but rather a natural aroma recalling the sweetness of honey and the nostalgic subtlety of a book-pressed lotus leaf. Her mane had been curled, and yet I saw no curling device in the room, and of greater importance was that she did not stop every minute or two to reflect on her reflection. Rather, her work took priority – I had been told this much from Twilight Sparkle and her friends – and she was the most devoted artisan that I had ever laid eyes upon. A mere glance around her home would unveil secrets of the most wonderful variety: lovely patterned dresses woven with silk and lace; scarves of maroon and earthy greens that would embrace one's neck in a most delightful way; and, most impressively, luxury items of topaz and opal and baby-blue sapphires. I could not contemplate what may have been in the back-room, for the shop floor was already a veritable paradise. To those that would pooh-pooh Ponyville, I say away with them! The fashion in the town, even if it was exclusive to this one location, remained the most regal and ornate that I could have imagined.

Beauty and style, this pony had, and she was blissfully unaware of it. I gave my name and she liked it as much as I would have expected; it was not the sort of title that one would normally hear within Ponyville. I had heard her name from Twilight Sparkle, but I did not consider it to be real until she uttered it herself at the end of our lengthy conversation.


That name changed everything for me. The pony that I would become after having heard it may not have been the same pony that had received it, but I am not afraid to admit that I was changed irreversibly in the wake of that encounter. My escapism became linked to her own; I had sensed a lamentation in her voice that was just dying to break free to a pony who was willing to listen. And although time and investment may have been required to learn of the true intricacies of this pony, the simple fact of the matter was that she was worth committing to. In this life, there is nothing of greater importance than loving those that deserve to be loved. In that moment, within the old converted loom with the creaky floorboard at the top of the stairs, it dawned upon me that it would be a mistake to allow her to become just another face in the crowd. If I had left Ponyville after that chance encounter, I would regret it; for no such unicorn had ever left an impression such as that upon me, and I was of the belief that never would another since.

As changing as beliefs may be, I don't regret the change that she invoked in me.

For a brief few months we were undeniably happy, images of which now comprise my memory.

0 Months, 27 Days

It's difficult to give a fuck when you don't give a fuck, I've found. I was in trouble again with the staff of the hospice, and as much as I would like to say that I cared, I truly didn't. Taking Rarity out into the grassy meadow a few days ago still hadn't blown over; apparently I had deprived her of necessary sustenance and now she was all the weaker for it. For the last couple of days they had been thoroughly reluctant to even let me see her, perceiving me to be some sort of antagonist in Rarity's tragedy, although they really couldn't keep me from showing up at the doors and making my way through to her bedside. The security pony didn't understand what we were going through. Had he ever lost anypony? Had he ever hurt anypony? Sure, he may have thrown a few choice ponies out of that place during his shift, but had he ever, truly, hurt another pony? I did not believe so.

The doctor was back in business, throwing his weight around again until Rarity regained consciousness, during which time he would take his leave of the room, only wishing to associate with her when she was dying and thus when his job demanded it. Her words to me were becoming harder to really make sense of; I'd never seen her this inarticulate and weak. Opening her eyes had become a strain, so much so that the blinds were now permanently closed and the only real light came from the monitor that checked her heart rate. It was still running at a steady pace – a prolonged wire of digital green that encoded her life achievements within a machine.

Rarity could tell that I was still there by my warmth. Her body was always cold now. I think it was probably due to her loss of weight and body fat, but possibly due to the thinning of her blood from the various toxins being pumped into her body. The blankets and sheets within the hospice weren't enough to keep her warm now. Even going to our boutique and finding the biggest wool duvet that I could find hadn't helped; she complained that the cold came from within, and so no amount of layers could help her. She needed warmth inside of her, but she was too fragile to take anything that I could offer.

Mealtimes were a cruel joke, as she lacked the strength to eat without extensive supervision, which she clearly detested as it embarrassed her to be fed like an infant. So quick had her descent into destruction been; not two weeks ago we had been eating carrot cake together and she had spoken of a hungry appetite returning to her. She had been recovering, but now she was worse than ever. Her lips were coated in a crusted layer of dead skin, the likes of which had cracked and bled. Her body had become so frail that it pained her to sit up in her bed, and the rusted banshee-cry of the mechanism itself was enough to make her whinny in fear. She had a scent, still, but it was a bad one; a grotesque combination of sweat, tears and blood, garnished with whatever fluid passed through her. The greatest offender, however, was her inability to open wide those once-beautiful blue orbs, that had always punctuated her every action and given meaning to her madness. In the dark she could still find the strength to do so, sometimes, but these occasions were becoming less frequent.

I believed that Rarity was sleeping. She was doing that a lot now; a lack of consciousness made the pain go away for a while. I guess having your eyes closed for a long period of time helps in the sleeping process. What's the point in even waking if you're in the dark when you do? But immunity through sleep was only a passive remedy, for nightmares had begun to plague my fair Rarity. She had never been one to experience malicious sleep, but she now awoke in cold sweats that demanded that she weep. And through those tears poured countless fears, none of which could be quantified by her tongue. Her lyricism was failing her. Everything felt wrong.

I decided to get some food and water, for I still had the ability to eat. I had not caught Rarity's infection, and my stomach had resisted the untimely process of corrosion. I sat up, but Rarity's hoof gripped onto mine. She was awake after all, or just responding to base instinct; whatever the cause, I could not leave now.

"I didn't know you were awake," I said.

"...You didn't ask..."

I suppose I didn't ask that time because there would have been nothing to respond with should she have been awake. Asking if somepony is awake requires a follow-up question, but conversation had now become arbitrary and horrible. A question asked without interest in an answer given is a gesture ultimately devoid of value.

"Do you want some water?"


I looked around for the jug. It was on the other side of her bed. I attempted to get up to walk around to it, but she refused to let go of my hoof, only gripping tighter.

"If you want some water, you're going to have to let go."

"...Then leave it."

I fell back down into the small chair and felt her hoof relax. There was no danger of her losing me now. I remained with my hoof there for a few minutes, feeling a tickling sensation against the tip. It was the white band around Rarity's hoof; she had been given it the day that she had arrived at the institution. Now it had fallen down her leg and hoof to touch against my own; no doubt her hooves had thinned in harmony with her body and blood, and the band to signify her time here was nearly falling off. The band itself signalled that she was a dying patient, and carried various symbols upon it that formed an exclusive medical identity for her. I also had to wear one of  those bands, but only during visiting hours. Mine was slightly different; it had a similar digit code but lacked the impending eulogy above it that read 'Emergency'. I guess I still had some time left before the hospice would claim me.

Time continued to stagnate and I knew that Rarity was asleep, for she was making a disgruntled breathing noise that implied that she was snoring with a painfully parched throat. Still, I could not let go of her hoof for fear of waking her, so I remained there as I was in a static position, becoming part of the furniture that Rarity could use. A while later the door opened and the doctor came in; he performed his usual routine of checking if Rarity was dead or just asleep and then turning to leave after finding out her heart was still in beat. He must have timed his comings and goings with utter consistency, for too often did he enter when Rarity was out of consciousness so that he could slack off from helping her. This time, however, he didn't leave, instead looking towards me.

"You should go home," he said. "It's been two days since you've slept. I think that Rarity will still be here tomorrow."

"You think," I responded fiercely. "You don't know anything."

"I know that her condition is worsening," he replied childishly. He paused for a moment. "-You should rest while you can," I heard him say, not quite understanding the meaning of his words.

"What are you talking about?"

He sighed and approached me, pulling up a second chair from against the wall. He sat opposite me, closer than I would have liked. His eyes seemed bloodshot and he did not appear anywhere near as well-kept as he usually did. There was a deranged look in his eye, as if he had also been avoiding sleep for some time. No doubt he was trying to appear just as worried about Rarity as I was.

"I don't know what to tell you," he said earnestly. "We're just...counting down the days now."



Days seemed awfully short! I had not slept in two days, as the doctor had rightfully pointed out, and the time had drifted by without any substantial acknowledgement on my part. Days were short and meaningless; they were for sleeping through and barely recalling!

"You can't be serious," I said bitterly. The doctor shook his head, looking down to the ground beneath my hooves. "-Look at her," he said woefully. "There's not much time left."

"Two weeks ago you said you had no idea how long Rarity had left!" I spat, a familiar lump thrusting against the inside of my throat. "You can't now tell me that our time is almost up! We haven't had time to prepare!"

I saw a trickle of a tear leak down the doctor's cheek. "The hospice is preparation," he said, shaking his head. "It is where all good ponies go to die."

Something odd happened then.

The doctor began to cry.

He cried in a way that I had never associated with stallions. His tears, rather than retreating, openly fell with increasing longevity, smattering against his hooves as he buried his head between them. I did not know how to respond to him, but found myself intoxicated and less judgemental towards him during the ordeal.

"How do you watch your loved one die before you?" he asked me bluntly. It seemed so surreal to have the doctor seeking advice from the patient; I had none of the expensive education that he had received under my belt. I was unsure how to respond to him, but I knew that soon my tears would be falling, answering the desperate rhythm of his own calling. "I have never felt the loss of a loved one," he continued, "but if I was to lose my young colt or my wife, then I would just..."

"-You would cease to function," I said, and I watched as the doctor nodded in time with my words. "You would feel as if nothing else mattered."

"Do you feel that way?" he questioned me. If this was all just some elaborate test, then I was falling for his ignoble module.

"...I do..." I found myself mouthing. "I have no idea what I'm going to do when this is all over. I can't even begin to predict what will happen next."

"Do you think that you'll be able to live with yourself?"

I thought upon his words rather awkwardly, for they carried greater meaning to me than the doctor could have known. I closed my eyes tightly to restrict the visible leak from within. Instead, they sought to drown my sockets. "After this, I don't think what remains will be considered living."

This doctor knew now of my greatest weaknesses. But, like I said, it's difficult – nay, almost impossible – to give a fuck when you just don't. And hell, maybe I deserved somepony to talk to about all of this. Whatever this doctor was going through, he could not entirely relate; and yet, by taking a moment to put myself in his hooves, I felt as if I could see the world from his depressing angle. In his job, he must have seen the death of many; not only those within the hospice who wore bands of burial, but also those in hospitals who may have been getting better, only to fall foul of fortune. Being surrounded by death, one would think, would immunise a pony, and yet, perhaps from time to time, genuine emotion managed to get through. By the looseness of his emotion, this doctor was clearly not of Trottingham; but, as I sat there with him, crying and snivelling before our sleeping Rarity, I could not help but acknowledge that neither was I.

"I've seen ponies die," he said. "Some deserved it, most did not. Seeing you here with Rarity just makes me realise how much you care for her. You have invested, even in the absence of hope."

"There was hope when we met," I insisted to him. "An absence of hope is the source of neglect."

"And you could never neglect her," he replied softly. "I have seen the way that you show her love and respect."

He took a deep breath, drying old tears away with his hooves. "How did the both of you meet?" he questioned me. It was a long time ago that such a life-changing event had transpired, and yet I recalled the memory vividly, as I could with accounts of many of our earlier days together. I did not know why I had chosen to remain engaged in conversation with this doctor, but his presence somehow appeared as less of a threat to me than ever before during that interim.

"Did Rarity not tell you this already?"

"She did," he said, "but her recollection may differ from your own."

The thought that Rarity could feel differently about the grace of our meeting was all but fleeting.

"I was in Ponyville for no real reason, really," I found myself saying. If it was weakness to give in to this stranger, then I was understandably of ill-health that day. "I had no intention of staying but I stumbled upon Rarity by my own volition."

"Did you know any of the locals?"

"Not really," came my admission. "I thought I did, but it turns out that I was incorrect."

"What happened next?"

"Rarity and I spoke at length, I must say. She seemed inspired by my interest in her. She told me about her desires to become famous and her brief flirtations with popularity in the past. As undesirable as some of those attempts had been, she believed things would be different next time; that judgement would be reserved and that the claws of criticism would be put away." I found myself smiling as I spoke of our bonding. "She had great aspirations that she set in rhyme: her motto was a dream of shining and of making others shine. Her generosity floored me."

"Her good nature is, indeed, a rarity."

I put my head back upon the chair and chuckled a little to myself. "She had this order that she needed to fill," I continued. "It was for some local enterprise, nothing at all important, and yet she couldn't bring herself to fall behind on it. She shooed me away as I browsed her collection, purely so that she could devote her time to her calling. She worked to a tight schedule. Time was always so important to her. But before I left, she gave me her name. To me it sounded like a natural marriage with fame."

"You predicted good things for her?"

"I wanted her to realise her potential," I sighed. "-But to do that, I've done terrible things. Through my good intentions, I have cheated and lied."

"It is not my place to judge you," the doctor replied. "We've all made mistakes."

"Meeting Rarity was no mistake," I confirmed to myself. "It was my greatest accomplishment.  And when I returned to her boutique the second day, and the third and the fourth, she soon realised that we belonged in each other's company. I worked for her, and we became fast friends; I helped introduce her to the ponies that would become her mentors. We moved in together, and we become closer still. And when her health began to show cracks, I did my best to protect her from herself."

I squeezed her hoof, finding the tears returning. I looked to the doctor once again; he had been listening intently to my words and appeared humbled by our tale. But as I began to cry once more, and Rarity's hoof pressed back against my own, I realised that our earliest memory together was a lifetime in the past; a series of perfect visions that were fading fast.

"What will happen?" I found myself asking suddenly, my lip trembling. It was such a stupid question and utterly out of context with our previous discussion, but it was one that I had to ask. "-How will she die?"

The doctor rubbed his hoof across his face, drying his bulbous eyes of tears. Perhaps he had realised once again that he was still a professional, and that his duty to other ponies was as an informant rather than an emphatic companion. As pained as he was to explain it, he owed me that much. "-You are asking me to describe it?" he questioned, and I nodded slowly.

"You said that the hospice is a place to prepare," I spluttered. "I have spent a long time denying the truth, but very little preparing for it."

He took a deep breath, looking towards Rarity. I wondered if she was still asleep. It would not be right to discuss this with her present. The doctor placed a hoof on her side and whispered her name, but she did not respond to him. He took that as the evidence that he required and spoke, his voice cracking on almost every note.

"Given her condition, Rarity's body will, in the simplest of terms, begin to shut down," he said, sounding as if he was reading from some monotonous list. "Her lungs will seize up, making breathing difficult. Her heart will ache and strain and fail. Her brain will be unable to communicate with her organs..." He took a deep breath. "Then she'll die."

"Will it be painful?"

"We'll do what we can to help her with the pain," he said. "Medicine and anaesthetic."

"Will she know that it's happening?"

"Yes," he said gravely. "She'll know."

Counting down time to an inevitable conclusion is far more difficult when such an end is described in such graphic terms. I am not afraid to say that I wept then more than ever before and for some time after, and I wanted to vomit, but my stomach was empty and I had nothing to wretch on. The doctor remained there with me for the entire time, saying nothing but somehow helping me. I guess it was just his presence; having him there somehow made things easier. I sniffed, my hoof still numb from holding tightly onto Rarity. The doctor walked to the other side of the table and poured us both out glasses of water from the larger jug. He manoeuvred a glass into my free hoof and I drank it down, burying my muzzle into the cup until my face almost became stuck inside it. When I finished he poured me out another glass, and then a third, which was enough to quench my thirst.

"You're welcome to go and check on other patients," I said after some time had passed. "I'm looking after Rarity just fine now." My momentary weakness in the company of the doctor was something I could overcome with time.

"Actually, I finished work almost two hours ago," he said, glancing at the watch on his hoof. He had his own band above it, just like Rarity and I. I found myself strangely impressed, although I didn't tell him so; he probably knew it already. He looked back towards Rarity and gave a little smile, standing up from the chair. "Will you be getting any sleep tonight?" he questioned me, but I shook my head. "-Not tonight," I replied. "I can't bring myself to."

He didn't pressure me to sleep. He just nodded in an understanding manner and walked towards the door. "You're both lucky to have one another," he said. "Never forget what she means to you."

"Thank you, doctor," I said to him earnestly for helping a pony in need; from then on I would remember his name as Tawleed.

He left the room on his trip home, closing the door softly as he went. I respected him more, for some reason, and yet I still found myself viewing him with scorn; for he had a wife and a colt – a family – and I had a decaying unicorn. When he left, the form beside me stirred. Of everything that Tawleed and I had discussed, she had been a witness to every word.

There was no chance left for Rarity to shine.

Now she would break and rip and tear.

And I'd be the first in line.
© 2012 - 2020 Cuddlepug
# I

The first 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.

Now with its own soundtrack in-the-making found here: [link]

Artwork courtesy of *polar59
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Jundigon's avatar
JundigonStudent Writer
The finale of this fine narrative is upon us!

With the first portion of this installment, we get a scene from early on in the timeline of this story. A semi-lighthearted tale of how our beloved narrator essentially sees others. At least, how he saw others before he drifted into a torrential downpour of negativity. Reserved, introverted, and rather quiet, our narrator simply had natural reservations about most ponies. He liked privacy and respectful distance, and certainly wasn't anywhere near as harsh as he ended up becoming toward the end.

The way he gives descriptions about the locations around Equestria are rather understandable to me, and it's fun analyzing how he arrives at his own conclusions. In particular, his opinion and description of Manehattan strikes me as being, as per usual, blatantly honest about this feelings, and in this instance, I can really see where he's coming from. I myself like the idea of the city, but anywhere where people hinge too much on gossip makes it devolve into a sad state of superficiality. I'm a great lover of speculation, but I make a very clear distinction between that and gossip.

Our protagonist, given the way this narrative is presented, becomes somewhat funny in this first section. His mention that there are some exceptions to the drivel of Manehattan residents--that of his 'good friend' Gazette and The Rococo Report--made me smile with the thought of how ironic that sentence was. If he had spent anymore time upon reflecting about the pony whom he would eventually assault with a tray, I would have thought the narrator hilarious.

He also touches upon another interesting topic about the wealthy. For him, it would seem that he'd have much more respect for them if they actually managed their finances better. To be honest, I rather agree with narrator on this topic. To make a simple act of purchasing something is a subject on its own, but to make said purchase for the sole purpose of its own sake goes far beyond the concept of triviality and into the idiotic. For example, to say that I wanted a top-of-line luxury automobile because of its advanced technological sophistication, including an ability to detect and alert the driver of possible collisions, thus decreasing the risk of bringing harm to myself, or my family, is one thing on its own; aesthetic appeal can easily be debated down to personal taste and opinion. However, it is of a whole other caliber to say that I wanted to purchase a top-of-the-line luxury automobile just because of its aesthetic appeal, not pay much mind to the ability of the automobile to perform, and because it was expected of me to make said purchase because it just that: it's expected of my higher-inclined society, and I must be uniform with their standards.

Now, however, we see our narrator begin to change--a change that will eventually cause him to spiral down into a rather deep pit of despair. His perception of Rarity is one that really began as an intense fascination; a curiosity that had been piqued, and thus, needed answering to. The interaction he initially had with her was, for him, truly unique and special, as it portrayed the young fashion designer as the best of two worlds. On the one hoof, she was sophisticated and well-mannered. But, on the other hoof, she was kind, sweet, honest and generous, unlike most people in high society. Which, as the narrator seems to admit, it's not to say that all members of high-society are that way, but it's generally become expected of them to become that way. As I said in my above automobile purchase, many simply become molded by their society so that they may act within it for its own sake, not because they genuinely wish to. This has long been one of my biggest criticisms of society. It's one thing to act reasonably within it, which I believe one should, but that doesn't mean one ought to be a mindless robot that sacrifices their own freedom of expression and individuality to do so. A healthy balance of the two is sorely needed in this day and age.

Also, in the end of this section, we get a real sense of the narrator's feelings. The reveal of said feelings had been steadily building, but now it's coming to light with admissions by the narrator that he regrets nothing. To be sure, him being totally okay with the life-changing encounter and not regretting any of it is an exceptionally powerful mental doctrine, and like all good Romance tales that feature a similar resolve, it's one that I can, at the very least, respect within context.

Moving to the second and longer section of the two during this installment, it's like a light was switched off. I suppose another analogy might be that it's like a roller coaster coming to the end of the ride. One loves the exhilaration of the ride, and the sensations that it brings, but one can see where it ends, and one cannot help but dread that moment. We all wish good things could last forever, but alas, life has never been that kind, and it's not going to start now.

The jarring entry into the second section was abrupt and gritty, but I enjoyed it as an excellent twist of mood, and by extension, the audience's emotions are shifted as well. I believe that the narrator has finally started to really let the audience in, and by that, I mean that he's evermore upfront about his mentality. His opening statement about simply not caring is perhaps one of the most blunt statements he's ever made, right along with his scornful opinions about sex. His direct, in-your-face attitude to the audience is part of why, I think, the audience can't help but both like and dislike the narrator at the same time. It's hard to 'like' the protagonist when he's so hurtful and negative, but at the same time, you can't help but appreciate his honesty in being so direct with his opinions. For me, this is one of the times I, in all honesty, agree with the narrator while he's been drowning in his own negativity. In all seriousness, if one cannot bring themselves to care, how are they to? Apathy is, on the moral scale, a sad state to resign to, but as a cold realist, I'm one to admit that it's just how people operate at times, and to be sure, it's not always a bad thing.

This section is by far an incredibly emotional scene and one that really brings home a lot of feelings and philosophies about life. Rarity becoming extremely clingy to the narrator gives off the feeling that Rarity is now becoming very fearful about dieing. The maturity that she had established earlier has all but disappeared completely. Even when the narrator would be away for scarcely a few seconds to get Rarity a glass of water, which she could have greatly benefited from, she refused to let him go. The amount of dependence and longing on Rarity's part made me rather emotional, as it could be said that she now no longer cares at all about whether or not to acknowledge the narrator's feelings for her, and instead just desperately need somepony to hold and be with.

The rest of the scene with Dr. Tawleed made me enjoy it even more, as it became even more emotional. Dr. Tawleed becoming emotional, in all honesty, surprised me, which got me to appreciate his character all the more. A doctor who has to constantly deal with dreadfully sick patients and many of whom pass on has got to be one of the most conflicted occupations in the world. You are expected to be emotionless, objective and realistic during situations that are anything but. The pain, the tears, the cacophony of hysterical loved ones desperate for a miracle, all needing to be dealt with by the professional who is to act like a rock and to encourage final closure. To see Dr. Tawleed become emotional takes that pristine, clean idea of what a doctor is and shatters it into pieces, which is probably why it caught the narrator's attention.

The doctor's description of the final moments for Rarity were incredible. When partaking in a well-crafted, emotional story such as this that has medical drama, it is dialogue like this that gets the audience to start crying, which is not surprising at all. We as emotional creatures have a natural inability to just be objective in a situation such as this. The description was cold, empty, harsh, dead and shattering. We do not wish to acknowledge the facts when we are emotional, but the narrator was correct in that he did have a right to know how it would end, and Dr. Tawleed was right to give it to him.

The emotional connection they ended up sharing was, for me, one of the best scenes in the book, as the narrator is nearing the end of, to use just a word, himself. What I mean by that, is that the pony he used to be has all but shattered completely. He has come to admit that he has changed a great deal, as evidenced by how in the first section, he identified himself as being of a specific kind of person; that of the norm for Trottingham. But, by the end, he states that he is not truly of that persuasion. He is lost, and he probably no longer knows just who he is anymore. He, like most people, love having control. But, now control is not an option, so what has he got but uncertainty and the expectation of loss? It's too much for him to deal with.

With that, though, we finally get to see a truly emotional side of him again once more, perhaps a fragment of the person he used to be. The doctor managed to break his outer negativity and reveal a scared, crying individual who has no idea what to do. The fact that he now recognizes and remembers the doctor's name is very, very powerful and is a true testament to the ability of Dr. Tawleed's character to help others, and the narrator actually admits (though probably to his chagrin) that it was comforting for the doctor to be there with him. Despite him being jealous of the doctor for having a wife and family, he now has come to terms with the fact that he is only there to help, not harm. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrator realizing that.

I can't wait to read the final bit of the narrative! Excellent! :D
Cuddlepug's avatar
What a considerable reply! That has to be your biggest yet! Now to delve into your comments...

I thought that it would be fitting in this final chapter to go right back to the very beginning, explaining in more detail the narrator's first meeting with Rarity. Of course, this serves to show just how much the narrator has changed across the course of his journey. I like you opinions on the narrator to begin with; reserved and quiet, and as a social observer. Certainly, his opinion on those surrounding him, and of Manehattan society, is of great importance, as it in-not-so-many-words shows that he was never truly the type to fit in with society. This arguably helps to explain why he behaves towards others as he does.

The Rococo Report is clearly nothing like what the narrator imagined at this early stage, showing that he has very little awareness of what it is that Gazette actually does. The narrator is certainly funny at terms, but his humour tends to be of the dark variety; the amusement stems from his inability to grasp certain concepts, or to tell us things that we know are incorrect. It's his weakness that we ultimately find funny. His opinions on wealth are also interesting, as they aren't as easy to grasp as simply, 'The narrator dislikes the wealthy'. After all, the narrator himself is wealthy; he never struggles for money, he has inherited an enormous property and he seems to be able to buy enormously expensive gifts for Rarity. Evidently, then, it is the concept of wealth and how it is spent for undesirable means that irritates him. Although, is it really that different if a Manehattan mare spends money on making herself look pretty to if he buys Rarity a sapphire tiara?

It's humbling that the narrator seems to accept that meeting Rarity isn't something that he regrets; in the very first chapter, he began with the query as to if the nightmare was worth the memories that they wove. The statements that you have picked up on suggests that he has experienced a degree of resolve since the very beginning.

As for the second part, I like the idea that the narrator is finally letting us in. His apathy is justified, even if we want to see him rise up and continue fighting; that he is defeated resonates with us an audience. The jarring language, especially in comparison to the formal first part, suggests that he has experienced a descent from all angles. I'm glad that you picked up on some of the moral philosophical points made here; seeing Rarity clinging to the narrator makes for a complete change in their relationship dynamic, but even then there are greater points to be made here. Rather than taking water, which would provide nourishment and life, she chooses instead to cling to the narrator, suggesting that he is a destructive force aiding in her demise. It is because of him that she doesn't drink in that example, which carries dark connotations.

Tawleed's breakdown is certainly an interesting point; it's hard to see why Rarity in particular invokes this sort of reaction from him. While we aren't sure if he always responds this way with dying patients, it's more than likely that he doesn't; if he broke down whenever a patient died, he would be unlikely to remain in the profession. And so, the fact that Rarity has such a profound effect on him as well creates a natural parallel with the narrator, explaining, perhaps, why the narrator bonds with him by the end of the chapter. Tawleed's descriptions of Rarity's death were certainly very emotional for me to write; I'm glad that you chose to pick up on them. The juxtaposition of such methodical listing of her death contrasts so heavily with the language otherwise uttered between Tawleed and the narrator in this chapter. It's where both we, and the narrator himself, finally receive that closure that she won't be pulling through. I'm also incredibly glad that you linked this to the identity theme; that he at first considers himself a Trottingham pony, and that by the end he puts himself on the same level as Tawleed and thwarts his own self-imposed identity. If he's not a Trottingham pony, capable of shrugging things off, what is he, exactly? Such questions are raised.

That the narrator ends up appreciating Tawleed is important, especially as Tawleed stayed back late even after his shift had ended to help the narrator, which is exactly what he did for Rarity. This really emphasises the idea that both the narrator and Rarity are patients in all of this; all those that come into contact with Rarity seem to be affected in a profound way.

Thanks for such an enormous comment, and I really can't wait to see what you have to say about the final segment.
Jundigon's avatar
JundigonStudent Writer
You're quite welcome for the reply. I figured that the finale deserved a large review, so I'm making sure I really delve into the chapter for this one. :D

You're talk about the narrator and his feelings about the wealthy, while ending up buying Rarity an expensive tiara, suggests that the narrator might not be telling us totally upfront his true views, or that it might suggest a little bit of hypocrisy, both of which I find interesting and can agree on. To be sure, our narrator, while upfront, still doesn't like to admit everything. Then again, why should he? He's more fun that way. :)

Your point about Rarity and the narrator during the second part really got me to thinking. I can completely see the possibilities, and the inherent pessimist in me likes to entertain this very dark and lonesome potential. This story is quite the polarizing tale, of both light and dark, and I must say that I greatly enjoy the contrast.

It truly is a bit of a mystery as to why Dr. Tawleed would have an emotional experience over Rarity's condition, as it could easily be argued that he's seen the same stuff before. You are correct in saying that if he had gotten emotional over every patient, it is doubtful he would continue being a doctor; his own health being reason enough to leave.

Perhaps it could be argued that from the doctor's perspective, he can see what Rarity's worsening condition is doing to the narrator. The narrator is growing angrier and angrier all the time, because he hasn't had closure. In doing so, the doctor sees that the narrator is in trouble, too. Your point about the narrator and Rarity both being patients in this situation makes me really entertain the idea that the doctor sees the narrator's anger as being just as bad as Rarity slipping away. On a level playing field, the conflicts with Rarity and the narrator is like mutually-assured destruction and that both ponies are slipping away. This might be the thing that drives Tawleed to become emotional, but it also might seem like he took advantage of the situation to help the narrator. He knows he can't save Rarity, but maybe by causing the narrator to open up and break his destructive, self-defeating shell, maybe the narrator can be saved.

I can't wait to read the final installment. I'll be sure to get to it very soon! :D
Cuddlepug's avatar
The narrator can be considered a walking hypocrite, certainly, and I wouldn't be surprised if he deliberately keeps information from us for the rest of his days. It's okay when he buys things for Rarity to glamour her up, but when other ponies do it it's frowned upon. Certainly, he is flawed in his perceptions. Tawleed will be seen again in the future as well, and so we will gradually learn more about his complicated character. Suffice to say, like all of the key characters in the narrative, he was certainly affected by Rarity. I look forward to your final musings!
TurkeySM's avatar
TurkeySMHobbyist Writer
Oh cudpug, I'm so sorry for being late again! And almost a week this time! Oh dear, what is the matter with me?! Well, I'm here now, so I shall get to it!

I'm going to be blunt here rather than talk all pretty and stuff: This installment was beautiful. Extremely so to the point that I won't waste any more time on the general things and dig right into the details!

Hmm...let's see, where should I begin? Ah yes, at the beginning of course!
I find that the 10 Months, 2 Days section was put in place just for the sake of introducing some context and setting up the parallels and ironies and contradictions for the 0 Months, 27 Days section. This is not a bad thing of course! On the contrary, I find it to be very enjoyable when comparing the two sections. Not much to comment on regarding the context except for that humorous bit about Gazette and the Rococo Report. The cruel irony that chronologically follows such words is a very enjoyable tidbit for when the reader knows the contradicting truth. I concede that I might be missing any other interesting things you're doing in establishing the context, so feel free to fill me in on any other cool and/or meaningful things you wrote.
Actually, I can also say that the Ponyville "nakedness" was also quite amusing as it does seem to be true that only Ponyville ponies don't wear clothes as compared to Appleloosans or Canterlot ponies.
Anyway, I must go on to the parallels/ironies/contradictions that I found so wonderful when comparing the two sections of this installment:
The first and most obvious one is Rarity. She is described which much grace and beauty in the first half, then the second half follows up with the image of a dying Rarity looking more and more like a skeleton. The mention of her lyricism beaming and failing in the first and second halves respectively was a good attachment to these descriptions. That was some really good wording and imagery in my opinion, especially when both descriptions contrast so well against each other.
The second is the whole Trottingham notion. The narrator says he is most certainly of Trottingham in the first half, but then admits that, in his weeping state, he is not a Trottingham pony just as Dr. Tawleed isn't. Again, contradictory wording is something I greatly find pleasure in.
The third is the sense of time. The narrator mentions at the end of the first half that the happy months he spent with Rarity were brief, and then in the second half he says that the first memory he had with her was a lifetime ago. This change in the narrator's description of time was certainly intriguing to me.
The fourth and last is the narrator's disposition. The effects of the events on the narrator in the form of character development are very noticeable at this point, especially with the two halves being the beginning and the end chronologically. He's rather uppity and, as he puts it, romantic regarding his descriptions and meeting with Rarity, but by the last winding days he's inelegant and breaking apart. The way he regards Rarity as a most wonderful pony in the first half and then describing her as a decaying unicorn in the latter half also highlights the deterioration of his relationship with her. This gradual change in wording was very well done, and I say again that the narrator is still the masterpiece of this work, at least in my own lowly regard.
I also enjoyed the transition from the first half to the second. The narrator's graceful wording at the end of the 10 Months, 2 Days section smashing itself into the curses at the beginning of the 0 Months, 27 Days section was quite jarring...in a good way of course. This, um, "jarringness" also fits the whole decaying relationship that crumbled slowly throughout the chronological run of the story.
And now I move on completely to the 0 Months, 27 Days section. I think this will be much shorter since I already went over some things in the comparison part. Let's see, I have to say that the conversation between the narrator and Tawleed was the highlight of the section. It's very nice to see that the narrator is starting to get along with Tawleed; the tears the two shared served well in creating a very touching moment. The fact that the narrator remembers his name now is also wonderful. I noticed that the narrator refers to Rarity as "our Rarity" for a moment, and I found that to be of utmost importance, seeing how he lets that possessive part of himself go for just a moment. It seems that the power of friendship, or at least shared sorrow, is very effective in overcoming such a personality flaw. I have to say here that you've written Tawleed very well throughout this story; he's such a good pony despite the narrator's attempts to demonize him. He is, in a sense, the one wholesome character in a sea of negative, bad-intentioned, and/or conflicted characters. He's also very much the complete opposite of Mr. Cross with his honest, good intentions opposing Mr. Cross' vile, selfish desires. He's also the opposite of the narrator in that sense, and yet he shares this tender common ground with the narrator that is the grieving over Rarity. Such writing and characterizations must be commended, and I truly do commend you for your good work. Hmm...besides Tawleed and the narrator's interactions with him, the second half also had another particular moment that I found very interesting. You actually describe the picture that always accompanies the individual installments of the story. I found that to be...very deep for some reason. It feels like some meta-technique that really grasps the reader, as the description of the hospital band is perhaps what the reader, or myself in this case, was waiting for all this time. Very well done I must say again.
Hmm...I think that's it. I certainly wonder how Rarity will "break and rip and tear" the narrator, but that's for the next installment I'm sure.
I say here after the very long (I apologize if I'm blabbering at this point) review that this first part of the tenth installment is succeeding very well, perhaps beyond my expectations. Mmm...maybe not beyond; I always expected that you would end this story with superbly written beauty. I'm sure that you will end this tenth installment as well as the entire story with extreme justice, and I know that the story that follows will be perhaps even better.

Until next time, which will probably be rather soon since I've been so late with this review. I apologize again! Oh, and of course, I'm always open for updates regarding the visual novel. I apologize here again if I'm being very pushy regarding that as well. Oh, it seems I'm just filled with apologies today...
Cuddlepug's avatar
Don't worry, buddy! I'm glad that you took the time to write such an enormous reply! This might be your biggest one yet! For a post that you sounded as if you didn't have much time to write, you sure ended up coming out with a lot. I thank you deeply for it.

Onto your points:

The first part has always been planned out as being included here. The idea was that in the first chapter we heard the narrator talking about meeting Rarity, but given us very little information at all about what happened during their conversation; only that he was rushed off when she had to return to her work, and that she said her name at the end of their conversation. There are, however, natural parallels with the second part of this chapter as well, which you've picked up on. You asked me to fill you in on any other interesting things in 10 Months, 2 Days:

I think that the excerpt gives some necessary context behind the narrator. For the first time, we learn that he's been trying to escape himself, although we still don't know what it was that he was exactly running from. However, by piecing together other information from the entire narrative so far, we can deduce that it must have something to do with his ties to the Morgans Estate. We also to some extent learn that he despises Old Manehattan, and that even from the very beginning he has some form of objection against liberal sex. On top of this, the final paragraph really hammers home the change that Rarity made in the narrator.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the contrasting imagery surrounding Rarity between the two parts. Her fragrance has been mentioned in the very first chapter, and by the time she's in hospital it has become something that revolts the narrator. I'm really glad that you also picked up on the Trottingham parallel! That was one of my favourite parts of the chapter. It says so much that at the beginning he associated himself with Trottingham and the various stereotypes that surround residents of that town - a lack of emotion being one of them - and yet by the end he can't respectfully say that he is still a Trottingham pony due to the extreme gravity of his emotional state. This throws his very identity into limbo, as he realises that he's not the pony that he thought he was, opening up a lot of additional avenues that I won't delve into, but we can naturally see as being clear.

Time has always been a universal theme throughout the narrative: the very structure of it as a chronological piece really emphasises this. It is certainly contradictory that at the beginning he mentions the happy memories, but that by the end of the second part these memories are drifting away. Still, it should be noted that when talking to Tawleed he can still recall his meeting with Rarity vividly. That said, the conversation with Tawleed in relation to this is interesting, as Tawleed now has information that the narrator does not - he has spoken to Rarity off-screen about how she met the narrator, which may have yielded an entirely different sort of response. This shifts the power into Tawleed's hooves, to an extent.

On the subject of the narrator again, before delving further into Tawleed's character (I get the feeling that you like him a fair bit), the narrator has certainly experienced an enormous change, both in himself and in his views towards Rarity. I'm really glad that you still consider him to be a character of great worth and intrigue. The bluntness of his language at the beginning of 0 Months, 27 Days certainly jars quite formidably with the first part, so I'm glad that you liked that.

Now, moving onto Tawleed. I'm glad that you appreciate him as being a source of light in dark times and the only definitive 'good' character within the narrative. We've been gradually learning more about him - that he has a family; that death still gets to him - but despite the narrator's attacks, he's proven that he's always trying to do the right thing and willing to stay after hours. The fact that he stayed long after his shift to talk to the narrator creates a natural parallel with the previous chapter, where he did the same for Rarity, and sort of suggests that the narrator is as much of a patient as Rarity is. The narrator still dislikes Tawleed on the surface, but there's this feeling by the end of this part that he doesn't hate Tawleed at all, and is instead rather jealous of him, which is really what his problem with Tawleed has always been. From the very beginning he's been jealous of the attention that Tawleed has invested in Rarity and how she has always responded to him with fluttering eyelashes and the like, and the way in which the narrator in this chapter finally compared what he has (a decaying unicorn) with what Tawleed has (a wife and a colt) emphasises this jealousy without explicitly saying it. It brings a sense of resolve to the narrator.

'Our Rarity' was most certainly deliberate, so well done for picking up on that. By this point, the narrator seems to have accepted that Tawleed and him are in this together, looking after Rarity as a combined entity. Mr. Cross is, as you say, the polar opposite to Tawleed, which is a disjointed relationship that may be coming up again in the future, so keep a look out for that!

Lastly, the description of the picture is sort of a direct nod to the audience, and is one of my favourite parts of the entire Hospice narrative so far. I've been leaving the physical description of what we can actually visualise in the picture until the final chapter to really allow us to see the true importance of it. I'm really happy that you picked up on that and had some degree of emotional resonance with it. The idea of bands being kept on and taken off will be present throughout this final chapter, so that's something else to keep an eye on.

If I'm exceeding your expectations at this point, I'm truly honoured; you've always been an incredibly honest person and I absolutely respect any opinion that you provide. I'm beyond humbled that I've managed to make something that you, and so many other people, have invested time and effort in. Your comments are among the best and most encouraging that I have ever received. I pray that whatever comes next will be just as appealing to you.

On a final note, the visual novel is going well. If you haven't already, give the Gentlecolt Collaborations link on Facebook a 'Like' to keep up-to-date with anything we stick up. For now it's just a matter of getting it all together with the team (there's over twenty of us involved now). You'll have to look out for Rarity's parts especially and see if you can tell it's me writing them based on what you've seen of her characterisation in Hospice. Take care, buddy, and I look forward to your future comments!
TurkeySM's avatar
TurkeySMHobbyist Writer
I thank you for your reply and for your leniency regarding my tardiness in commenting. The detail you put into your responses is always greatly appreciated.

Now onto what you've said:
Thanks for filling in the blank spots for me regarding the 10 Months, 2 Days part. I had indeed forgotten about the Morgans Estate, and with renewed memory I can see how that might link to this section. The liberal sex notion was also rather surprising to me. I never really did notice that when I read this installment.

I'm glad you were happy with my noticing the Trottingham parallel! I too found that to be a very good part in regards to the narrator's character.
You do remind me of the importance of time not just for this installment, but for the entire story. It is indeed one of the most prevalent themes if one just focuses his or her attention while reading the story.

I'm also happy that you find my praises regarding the narrator himself of good use to you! I'm perhaps even happier that you noticed my fondness of Dr. Tawleed! He is indeed a good character that stands out among his crowd of fellow ponies in terms of kindness and empathy.

I'm pleased that I was correct in thinking that the description of the hospice bands was a nod to the audience. I'm grateful that you're happy that the description means something to me as well. I will surely look out for the bands in the final installment!

You flatter me very much at the end of your reply. I feel that part of these conversations are nothing more than praising each other as best we can to humble ourselves into piles of happy, mushy goop. And this pile of happy, mushy goop must say that he is very humbled by your praises and your calling him an incredibly honest person. I do hope that I'm being as honest as possible; I don't really provide any blunt criticism because I can find nothing to criticize! I also thank you very much for the fact that you respect my opinion; that really does mean a lot to me. The way you refer to my comments as the best and most encouraging you've ever received is also very humbling, and I admit that it makes me rather giddy as well oddly enough.
Fear not, I'm very sure that whatever you write after this will be just as good if not better! Your prayers will be answered in some form I assure you.

And yes, I just liked the Gentlecolt Collaborations page on Facebook! I'll be eager to see what lies in store there! At the very least I'll know that the Rarity part of the game will be good.
Cuddlepug's avatar
I think that the Morgans Estate certainly remains an important tool in the narrative. The narrator, through the Estate and the aunt that owned it, inherited his wealth, which causes a lot of the behaviour that he tries to outwardly portray to be mediated by wealth and authority. And yet, because he only inherited the wealth, but isn't actually of noble stock, he struggles to really adapt to the aristocratic society that he tries to emulate. Mr. Cross' ability at the Symphony of Seven Paladins to assess the narrator as being not worthy of Rarity suggests that the origin of birth is a prevalent theme within the narrative, as is social class.

Sex, on the other hand, is hinted it a lot throughout the narrative as a whole. There are ambiguous parts that suggest that the narrator sleeps with Rarity, or at least has a desire to do so; one such example is when he woke up one morning lying beside her in bed. However, conversely, the narrator also greatly dislikes the notion of sex - he is constantly disgusted by others wishing to sleep with Rarity and, like the choice parapraph in Chapter IX, he sometimes goes completely overboard in his perception of others. Another reading with enough evidence in the text to support it is that Rarity has throughout the narrative been sleeping around; there are certainly noticeable bits and pieces that link her to both Mr. Orange and Mr. Cross in this way.

I won't dwell much further on the concept of time or Tawleed at this stage. Tawleed is a moral compass within the narrative; his ability to always point ponies in the right direction makes him the character with the least obvious flaws.

It's nice that these conversations are peppered with mutual compliments for one another. As a writer, there's nothing better than feeling that your work is appreciated. I was very fortunate to get on Equestria Daily and earn some fantastic fans; I hope that with the coming tales, even more people will find something of worth in my writing. Thank you, as always, for your humbling comments - in regards to Gentlecolt Collaborations as well - and the effort and devotion that you put into the narrative - I read that you listened to The Antler's Hospice, which further proves your investment. Take care!
doctordapples's avatar
I'm not sure there's a lot more for me to say that I haven't already said, but its been a great ride. I was actually surprised for there to be some amount of redemption for the narrator, though I'm dubious about him getting away with his crimes.
Cuddlepug's avatar
Thanks for that! I wouldn't be too dubious about him getting away with his crimes - there's definitely something in the way of closure coming up!
FredAFKTH's avatar
FredAFKTHStudent General Artist
When I started reading, I thought the emphasis upon the first meeting was a bit long, nevertheless, I think it was made out to exploit the enourmous contrast of the characters and situations during the story.

And here I am, once again, questioning myself the same things the doctor asked the protagonist.
"How do you watch your loved one die before you?"
27 days, that's all that's left for Rarity. But, what after that? Whall will the narrator do? What CAN he do? These are the questions that make a reader look forward to the next chapter.

"As changing as beliefs may be, I don't regret the change that she invoked in me."
This is perhaps one of the best lines, when you look at all the story in retrospect. That despite all the fights, all the suffering, all the mistakes, he doesn't regret anything of it. And I think it's something all of us can apply to our own lifes. Never regret what you did, learn from it.

I love this story, and will undoubtedly read it again when it is all finished. You're a great author, and definitely my favourite fanfic writer. Thanks for all the wonderfull moments you're given me with this story.

And also, happy Valentine's day (or Hearts and Hoove's Day)l
Cuddlepug's avatar
With the first part of the chapter, you'll notice that it's not very long at all in comparison to many of the later entries. We're looking at around 11 paragraphs, which is comparatively short. What happens, however, is that the bloated language and singular focus makes it feel longer, which is wholly intentional, as you have picked up. Notice how the narrator spends very little time during his meeting with Rarity talking about meeting her, but instead unfairly balances his discussion to be about himself and his perspectives on Manehattan, Ponyville and the shanty towns. This really emphasises how he is selfish at the beginning, adding greater credence to the later changes that overcome him.

Finding out what the narrator will do next is a valid question. There is certainly a future awaiting him, but what this future will involve and how he will handle life after Rarity is a mystery that we will have to solve. For specific lines, there are many allusions throughout this chapter to previous chapters; if you go and read the prologue part of 'Chapter I' again, you'll notice a lot of similar wording coming up. One of the most noticeable is Rarity's dream of shining and of making other's shine. It's foreboding imagery that has been present from the very beginning and is finally beginning to peek through again.

"As changing as beliefs may be, I don't regret the change that she invoked in me."

There are examples throughout the entire text that can be extracted and put into a wider context. This line, as you observe, is one of those. The first part (changing beliefs) suggests that the narrator's perspectives can change, as they gradually do; and, the second part (I don't regret the change) suggests that after all of this is over, the narrator is still left with enough of a positive memory of it to view it as an ultimately beneficial situation.

Now, the compliments! I love hearing that you love the story, and I hope that in reading it through a second time, you'll continue to pick out new comparisons and hidden allusions in lines and draw from the text additional themes and possible readings. Hearing you call me a great author gives me a serious morale boost, so I thank you very much for that. Being your favourite pony writer is the icing on the cake. I hope that in my future pony-writing I can provide you with just as much investment, intrigue and interest.

I hope that you had a good Valentine's day yourself, and I look forward to reading your opinions on what comes next in the narrative!
FredAFKTH's avatar
FredAFKTHStudent General Artist
Thanks for the reply. Seeing that I can pickup on most details of your story really makes me feel I can be a better critics writer (I enlisted myself as my school's critics writer for events and other content recently).

So, I have a question. When it's all over, will you let me try to write two reviews?

One would be looking at it as a fan fic, the other one, looking more into the psychological part of it.

Of course, if with permission granted, it'll take some time for the second review, as I'd like to read it again in the original format it's been written, and again in another way, putting every date one after another as it would have happened.
Cuddlepug's avatar
Ah! Writing critiques is excellent! When I'm not writing Hospice I'm a senior writer for a popular webzine/magazine that I write/publish reviews and articles for. So, naturally, I'm very familiar with the process of reviewing. It's definitely rewarding to get your opinion out there! Good luck with being the critic for your school - I wish I had been given opportunities like that at my school.

As for writing reviews, I would be incredibly honoured if you would take the time to write the two reviews. The first, looking at Hospice as a fanfiction, would be interesting, as I don't read them myself, so I'll be interested to see how you view this narrative in relation to others within the fandom. The psychological review would be excellent, as I'm incredibly interested to see all the different allusions, references and parallels that you can draw from the metaphorical style of Hospice.

You have permission, certainly! Take as long as you like writing them. It'll be fantastic for me, after finishing Hospice, to read your reviews about it after the core narrative comes to an end. Thanks so much!
FredAFKTH's avatar
FredAFKTHStudent General Artist
Thanks a lot! And also, thanks for the support.
Saint-Walker's avatar
The protagonists progression from a jaded intellectual/social high flyer to despairing partner was very moving, it shows how invested he's become in Rarity and how as she's dying, it's killing him as well. Like real people would break down to their most personal emotions when seeing someone they care about waste away, very moving, looking forward to the final part and how this will all end
Cuddlepug's avatar
Yes! It's excellent that you picked up on the jaded intellectual from the beginning. We previously know very little about the narrator's earlier days, and it's interesting that we finally get to see how he met Rarity and what he was like back then. And, as you can see, he was a very different pony - as he himself acknowledges by suggesting that she created a change in him after their meeting - to the pony that we see later in the narrative. Thanks for the comment and taking the time to read!
GrayFox2510's avatar
I knew it. Earlier today I felt something, and I knew this had updated (I call it dumb luck... or the force, take your pick). Took me a while to finish because I was a bit busy but...
I really liked the way the protagonist evolved in this one. The 2nd scene was quite powerful and it hurts being so near to closure but still so far away.
And it's obvious how it will end, and it kills me, but pretty much every part of me is shouting for it to not end that way. Curse you. Curse you I said. x_X (Well, I'm not really cursing you...)

Will part 2 be the end, or is this chapter going to be longer than that? 'cause the wait is killing me.
Cuddlepug's avatar
Hrm, a divine revelation or something? It's rather interesting indeed that you 'felt' that the narrative had been updated. I'd certainly like to know if that happens again with any later installments written by me. If Hospice truly touches you in the way that it seems to, then I'm very humbled that I've been involved in something that special to you.

As for your comments on the narrative itself, closure is certainly important and helps to build tension; in this case, we know what will happen, to an extent, and I have made no attempt to hide that. In fact, I've actively made it known from the very beginning what will happen at the end of the narrative - simply by the premise of The Antler's influential album that inspires the tale - and so, instead, the interest seems to be coming from seeing how this inevitable conclusion is brought about. I hope that the ending is worthy of the time that you have invested into this tale.

As for the structure of the ending, the intention is to make it two parts, but I'm happy to extend it if the narrative requires it. There's certainly a lot of text coming, whether it's in one more part or two.
Wrestlemaniac829's avatar
Wrestlemaniac829Student Writer
God it's so heartbreaking, you know exactly what's going to happen and yet your inner self is shouting out no, this can't end this way it just can't! Anyone who has listened to that album would know how it all ends, even before you read this from start to finish. Sometimes you think there's going to be twist at the end but then you suddenly realize there are some stories that just don't have a twist and that a story such as this must take it's course.

It's going to a tragic ending for this story, but indeed this was an MLP fanfic unlike any most fans have ever read before. I guess in a way that's what I seem to like about this. Like watching an opera, even if they end in a tragedy the story itself is beautiful enough that you forget it's going to end on a sad note. All we can do is wait till the next chapter.
Cuddlepug's avatar
Thanks for the comment, buddy! I'm really grateful that you took the time to read up to this point. I think that a degree of closure is needed in any situation, and the way that the narrative has twisted and turned in the past, but ultimately as a prevailing sense of certainty to how it concludes, is representative of life in general. The one thing certain in life is death, naturally, and so the way that the narrative has its obvious conclusion in regards to Rarity seems symptomatic with this. That you call the narrative heartbreaking is wonderful news for me, as that is partway the sort of atmosphere that Hospice is designed to create.

Secondly, I've never read another fanfiction, so I have no idea if Hospice follows typical narrative tropes. However, I'll take your word for it that the fiction is original and unlike anything else in the fandom: this makes me incredibly happy, as I've always enjoyed trying out new things. The tragedy of the piece will hopefully not disappoint when we finally find out what will happen to these two characters!
Wrestlemaniac829's avatar
Wrestlemaniac829Student Writer
I look forward to it.
DeftCrow's avatar
What I specifically notice in this chapter is how the personality(ponality?) of the narrator becomes evident in the language he is using. Word length average is noticeably different, with intermediate-length semi-sophisticated words degenerating into short and curt blurtouts. Change in attitude towards the Doctor as his misinterpretation lifts off.

The bolded date line feels like a rift between two time-space instances, both thematically and visually. Very effective use of strong language, as the letter k almost feel like spikes puncturing through fabrics of happy memories.

Or maybe I'm just a huge sucker of unreliable narrators.
Cuddlepug's avatar
There's definitely a deliberate change in language and style between the two parts of this chapter. The language used is reflective of the character that the narrator presents himself as, and the brief intervals of harsh language in the second part serve to add a destructive element to the narrator's character. There are several references to memories as a theme in this chapter, so I like the idea of spikes puncturing happy memories through word-choice. Thanks for commenting, as always!
anonymous's avatar
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