Merely a Mare, Epilogue: Trust

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EbonMane's avatar

Literature Text

Dear Princess Celestia,

Recently, I learned a very important lesson about friendship, and love, and all life. I learned about a treasure that is easy to break, difficult to repair, and infinitely precious. I learned about a gift that most ponies give warily, if at all; nothing else has such power to hurt its giver when rejected or neglected or misused.

I learned about trust.

Trust is powerful. It can blind a pony to doubts, and allow them to act with absolute clarity of purpose. When a pony puts a piece of their fate in another's hooves, those two ponies are bound together by a thread both subtle and powerful. The bonds of trust between parents and their children, between rulers and their subjects, between goddesses and their devotees, these are the things that hold societies together. Smaller in scope but no less important is the trust between friends, which lets us share our worries and fears, our hopes and dreams, and the secrets of our innermost selves. With these connections to those we depend on, and to those that depend on us, we do not have to face life alone. A pony that cannot trust is cut off from others in a way that no physical isolation could ever match.

Trust is dangerous. It numbs the part of us that doubts: the part that is cautious when a pony is driven to rush in, the part that seeks understanding when a pony only wants to condemn, the part that holds back when a pony prepares to lash out. When I trusted too much in my own assumptions, my own perspective, I lost sight of the larger picture. I judged other ponies and their motives poorly, and I acted because I was afraid of my ignorance when I should have waited until I was assured of my knowledge. When a pony trusts too quickly or unwisely, they build their life on a foundation of sand, and risk it falling to pieces at the first brush with reality.

Trust is beautiful. It can quell our fears and make us feel safe. It can silence our doubts, and give us the confidence we need to succeed. It can shatter our suspicion, and leave us with the innocence required for love. Trust can bring two very different ponies together and inspire them to open their hearts to each other. A lack of trust can open an insurmountable gulf between two ponies that love each other very dearly. The deepest of connections can only be made with those we trust.

I have learned my lesson. I will be wise with my trust. I will recognize it as a kindness, and give it generously and joyfully. I will be loyal to those I trust, and to those who trust me. Above all, I will be worth trusting, and seek out others who also deserve that confidence. I will be proud to call such ponies my friends.

Just as I am proud to call you my friend, princess.

-Your once again faithful student,

Heavens Sparkle
If the show can use heavy-handed letters to Celestia, so can I. Besides, it was a great opportunity to get one last subverted expectation in.

Many thanks to my editor, :iconsosweetntasty:, for helping me on these last few updates.

I'm opening critique here for anyone that wants to leave a critique of Merely a Mare as a whole.
© 2012 - 2021 EbonMane
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Nosnibormada's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star-half::star-empty: Impact

I've been reading this fic for the past few days now, and I thought I'd just leave my thoughts here. I'll start by saying that I was drawn to it because ScyStorm (who I'm sure you know of) said it was his favourite fanfic of all time. I can understand why he'd think that, since this story is of a remarkably high standard. Indeed, I'm tempted to call it the best written fanfic that I've had the pleasure of reading. Every single sentence is understandable, descriptive and thoroughly enjoyable to read. You deserve merit for that.

Oddly enough the shortcoming of the fic, in my opinion, is the pacing. The tensions between Twilight and Celestia, however strong they may have been, felt rather sudden and lost somewhat more of the impact that they could have perhaps had. The same is true of the introduction of Ever Free (I'll just use his villain name for the sake of context) and perhaps even, to a lesser extent, the shipping between Luna and Applejack. Don't be put off by the three and a half stars I've given to the impact section, by giving that I simply mean 'not bad, but room for improvement'.

Ultimately though, I'd say that the real strong point to this story is that it really explores the idea of being an immortal goddess. Whilst it is a widely accepted fanon in most FiM fics the actual concept of immortality and omnipotence is rarely explored in said works. At the beginning of the story I saw Celestia and Luna as being just what they appear to be in the show, just two ponies who also happen to be rulers of Equestria. By the end, they were much more to me. They had gone through many hardships during their eternal lives and had learned more and more all the while until they finally became the wise and caring characters that they were by the time we got to the present of the story. It made those two appear even more human to me, that they weren't born/created (however they came about) as the mature characters that they are. They had to earn that maturity and wisdom through their own experiences and mistakes, just as much as anyone else does.

Whilst this critique may be somewhat rambling and disjointed (it's the first one I've ever written), this fic is anything but. It holds its own as a story and even as a slight piece of philosophy. Perfection, if you ask me, is impossible to achieve. What is achievable though, is damn near perfection. And if it weren't for the issue with pacing affecting the impact of the plot then this would be one of the damn near perfect fics that I've read. But kudos all the same for creating a completely unique work of art.
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

EbonMane, I am at a loss for words. That was beautiful. I had only started reading this story during the Fifth interlude, when it showed up on EQD, because there I wasn't reading enough fanfiction, and wanted a shipping story under my reader's belt, if just to compare to others that I might have come across. I must admit, from the prologue, this story had lost a few originality points for me, simply because the whole 'Luna's quest for friends' premise seemed done-to-death, or at least in my eyes. Originality 4.5

Chapter 1, I was hooked. Everything seemed so perfect, in the most corrupted sense of the word. The arguments, the expulsion of pent up feelings, everything felt so natural. But it was different. From then on, I was hooked. This became on of my A-list Fics, alongside Blood is thicker than Friendship, It takes a Village and Irreplaceable(whose author has been having real life troubles, and has been on hiatus for a while now). Vision 5.0

The one problem I had in this entire universe you had constructed was the conflict between P. Cellestia and Twilight. I didn't see it. It wasn't referenced strongly enough in the earlier chapters for me to get it. As a result, in the later chapters (4, I think...) the really tear-jerking letter rehearsal/burning scene had less of an impact, and more of a jab. In a painful, yet tragic way., all the same. Lost 0.5 Tech. points there.

But I'm just nitpicking now. As a whole, this was a beautiful Story (calling this a fan-fic would not do it justice)about friends, growing up, trust and Love. It was a lesson in so much more than that though.

It taught us that there is no right or wrong in some situations, there is only what happens next. It taught us that we are all people, and that we may act like whatever we want to, and not everyone will change their opinions accordingly. If a man acts like a monkey, he is judged as a man, and not as a monkey. he is judged not by the way he acts, but rather by the way he doesn't act.

It taught us most importantly that it is never too late. Opportunity to reconcile, or even to find Love never leaves us, no matter how long we wait, or what our outlook on life is. We mustn't be afraid to take chances, for no-one, alicorn or otherwise, knows what the future will hold. We mustn't judge a book by its cover, for we may well be the author.

Readers, editors and curious onlookers alike, gather what you will from this series, but know this, it was written to teach us. Reflect upon your lives as you read this masterpiece for yourselves. Goodnight, everypony!
Aenyrhika's avatar
This is amazing. Congrats on an exciting, breathtaking story! May you make many as successful as this one, if not even more so.
AnnamDuor's avatar
This is my top 3 best fic of my little pony I had ever read, and that's counting the TimerLords and Terror, Doctor Whooves Series, (My)stara adventure friendship.

It's not because it's extremely well done and had almost to none orthographic errors and it flows like cold water in a hot day. It's because it was the first and only fic that managed to treat both of the princess as the god-like beings that they are but at the same time subverting the grim-dark nonsense that keeps coming in those fics.

It's still MLP verse, with it's sugary verse. It's feels so deep without becoming embroiled in itself; it's sad and complex without loosing it's natural innocence and the romance parts grew so natural and so subtle

But above all else, is your representation of power and faults that can come of each of the characters; of what they are, their own problems from the mightiest gods to the humble mortals without becoming heavy handed, even the last letter.

For me, this is the best shipping/luna centric fic in the entire MLP verse and I hope I can read other of your works someday, perhaps even in a bound book in my favorite library.
ItsTheWhinyGuys's avatar
Wow, that signature totally threw me for a loop. I had to go back and re-read that letter after that. Well played.

Anywho, to comment on the entire story: it was good. I had my doubts about the whole "Celestia and Luna created the pony race" angle at first, but it worked. Overall, I liked reading this.

Oh, and the Applejack/Luna moments were tender and cute. :)
Shadow2099's avatar
I reallly dont know what to say about this story. I just got finished with it and saw the critique post by stephan989 and he pretty much says all there is to say and in a much better fashion than i ever could. Im just not that smart or observant. My opinion is that this story was.......interesting. I would not say it is one of the best stories io have ever read nor is it really in a genre i like but that doesnt change the fact that it was a well-written story and certainly a very good one overall. In short, not really my kind of story but still a pretty good story overall.
dwreanpony's avatar
funny, i thought it was twilight writting it. i guess its a different sparkle
Eltrueno's avatar
I too was not expecting Heavens Sparkle, and I was like noooo it can't end, but you truly just made the whole ending perfect by adding in the Heavens Sparkle part. I can't hope for more. Nothing can be better. Honestly, it is so amazing that if you just changed that second to last word to Twilight, it would ruin the ending. It is just so amazing that you chose to end it like that. Bravo. Now time to read Past Sins. You know what would make it even better? It's own soundtrack.
madman12000's avatar
Totally did not see that coming - beautiful way to wrap up the story. I do hope Twi gets to spend some time with her many Greats-Grandfather... although, this letter may have been written well after her mortal passing, if Heaven's last words to Celestia meant anything...
Deviatealittle's avatar
Damn, was NOT expecting "Heavens Sparkle". That's quite the way to end it.

Man alive, what a story... If you excel nowhere else with this story, Ebon, you at least excel above and beyond in the ability to make me ruminate for many a long, weary hour in the night about the most abstract of thoughts and concepts, and the deepest of inquiries into the very nature of this thing we call existence...

The fact that you do this through magical miniature pastel colored candy coated equines from the magical storybook land of Equestria as seen on TV is one of those ruminations I am continuously baffled by. :greetings:

Great story, and I can't wait to see more from you.
sqarishoctagon's avatar
I'll have you know that I sat here and read this entire story in one day, and it was absolutely worth it! Very well done with every part. I truly enjoyed every part of this story. Excellent work!

~ I'm not writing a critique because stephan989 pretty much nailed everything.
mlpMaconMixx's avatar
Well, finally it comes to an end. What a fantastic story! As for the ending, heavy-handed suggests that the letter in some way adds a meaning to the story that isn't there in the tale itself. I wouldn't be that harsh. I think it does a great job of bringing out the meaning in the story, as it really did affect most of the characters, especially Luna, Rainbow Dash, Twilight, Applejack, and Ever Free. And some of the wordings you used were spectacular. I could see them being relevant ways of explaining trust in any circumstance, not just an MLP fanfic.

Thank you for this great experience. MaM has been one of my favorite fanfics since it started many long months ago. I really appreciate all the hard work you've put into it, and I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future.
chinlamp's avatar
I don't think I need to write a critique, I did a mini one for almost every chapter as it went on (although the last few chapters I was definitely late to the party on XD), so you should just go back to each chapter and see what I said (assuming my opinion on these hasn't been more than a blathering waste of time and annoyance to read, I tend to do that, going off on tangents, then going back and editing my comments and moving sentences around, sometimes the things I post become jumbled messes that people fail to understand as they read them and ok I'll stop now)

Also, as many have said above, well done on the twist there. I was expecting Twilight and got Heavens. Well done.
grayma1k's avatar
So very true.
Thanks for it and for the whole thing, as it is good indeed.
And has been interesting to read.
EbonMane's avatar
And thank you for reading.
Did anyone actually read my Long-ass critique? Because if so, then that's awesome. If not, it's there for you guys. Still love the Story, Ebon Mane. Later.
EbonMane's avatar
I certainly read your long-ass critique. Thank you for it and thank you for reading.
Talryk's avatar
Long? By Luna, it isn't long. It is adequate and appropriate. It offers praise where it is due, criticism where it is felt needed, and in itself is well written. So thank you for taking your time to write it out, and thank *you*, Ebon Mane, for writing such a wonderful and touching piece. I wish I had more words to express just how happy it made me to read it.
EbonMane's avatar
I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading.
Hazzdawg's avatar
I wish I had studied more literature in order to better explain why I think Merely a Mare is so amazing. From the chapter / interlude format, to the original story, to our Pink Pony's Perfectly Preposterous alliteration, this was so much fun to read. I love how you delved into the darker side of immortality and described the sister's evolution from ambivalent Goddesses to caring monarchs. Not to mention how you wrote within the personality constraints of the mane 6 to support different aspects of Luna's personality and current situation without becoming cliche. I'm guessing you had fun writing for Pinkie and Zecora! I found the Captain's dialogue particularly touching, you really have looked at this from every angle and brought this tale to life. Just... wow. Thank you for sharing!
mlpMaconMixx's avatar
You loved the Captain's dialogue, too? Oh gosh, that one has really stuck with me! There are some really great lines in this story, and lots of things I won't forget. :)
EbonMane's avatar
Thanks for the compliments and thank you for reading.
Kirkwood89's avatar
I too read it thinking it was Twilight. Well played. I just read the entire story and I must admit I loved it. You actually made me tear up twice too. Well done.
EbonMane's avatar
I just had to get one last surprise in. Thanks for reading.
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