Picture-Book Story: "Happily Ever After"
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived three mighty heroes. Their bravery, wisdom, and kindness forged a single new nation out of what once was three disparate and feuding tribes.
Together, the three of them ruled over their ponies, and great prosperity spread throughout the land. The three wise rulers preached their gospel of harmony to one and all, and they protected their land from all who would threaten it.
But then came the day an enemy arrived who was far more powerful than any Equestria had faced. The Equestrian rulers rushed to face him and fought bravely to save their ponies from the wrath of this new menace. In the end, they drove Discord away …
… but not before paying a very steep price.
A grieving Equestria turned to its former tribes’ leaders, who themselves were grieving most of all. They knew they were not even half the ponies of those who had fallen, and they knew how badly they had failed their tribes before the Great Unification.
How could they lead the nation in such difficult times?
But they knew they had to try. For now that the three original rulers were gone, the ponies began bickering and feuding once again. The young nation began to fragment into its three constituent tribes, and Platinum, Hurricane, and Puddinghead watched with aching hearts and confused minds.
The dragons to the Southlands told tales of a mystical treasure to be found within the deepest, darkest forest that lay within Equestria’s borders. The one to find the treasure, said the dragon tales, would be rewarded with wisdom beyond all years and imagination.
However, cautioned the stories, such reward would not come without its price.
The new leaders of Equestria knew that, if they were to be able to do right by their peoples, they must find the treasure. They must become greater and wiser than they were.
For days and weeks, the trio traveled, until they came to that dark and mysterious wood. Once enveloped in its evil embrace, they faced many challenges and foes until at last they found …
… the treasure that the dragons’ tales had promised.
“Welcome, young ones,” said the Tree in a booming voice, and the three ponies reared back in surprise. “Why are you here, and what do you seek?”
After nervous glances between the three, Platinum took a step forward. “O, Mighty Tree,” the former princess began, bowing low, “we are here to learn how we might serve those who look to us for guidance, for wisdom, and for protection.”
“Is this so?” said the Tree.
Hurricane stepped forward next, bowing in her turn. “Great Tree, I am a warrior. For these many years, I have waged war, and I have waged it well. But now my ponies need peace, and peace I must learn how to bring to them.”
“And what of you,” asked the Tree, “you without horn or wing? Do you say as your companions?”
“Please, Magic Tree,” said Puddinghead, her voice breaking as she too stepped forward. “I have been selfish for so long, and I have refused to listen to anyone about anything. I desire to learn how to bring our ponies together in peace and harmony. I want to help my ponies to love one another as Smart Cookie, Pansy, and Clover loved us all.”
“I will grant what you seek,” said the Tree, its voice shimmering in approving tones. “But you must know this–there is a cost. You will suffer, for a thousand years and a thousand years more. You will know great loss and great pain, and you will never be free of this curse.”
The three ponies glanced amongst one another, but none spoke.
“Do you still wish to accept my gift, young ones?”
“Yes,” said Hurricane, Puddinghead, and Platinum, their voices ringing out in unison.
“Very well,” said the Tree, and just like that …
… a blinding, scorching light filled the cave.
So intense was the light and its heat that the ponies could not stand its brilliant glare, and they closed their eyes against it. One by one they dropped to the cavern floor, as consciousness fled them.
When they finally awoke, they found that the Tree had gone silent and dim. And when they looked at one another and at themselves, they found …
… that they, too, had changed.
They found that their ponies did not recognize them upon their return and that they worshipped them, the three alicorns, as goddesses. And so they took new names for themselves, the better to put the past behind them and bring Equestria into the future, but they never forgot who they were. They never forgot all that they had done.
Puddinghead never forgot the arrogant and dismissive chancellor that she once had been. Nor did she ever forget the importance of thinking of others and listening to them, of bringing ponies together instead of pushing ponies away.
Hurricane never forgot the brash and heartless bully that she once was. Nor did she ever forget the importance of using her strength and her power to protect–instead of hurt–the weakest, the youngest, and the most vulnerable of her subjects.
And Platinum, once so quick to take rather than to give, devoted herself to a life of serving her nation and all of its ponies, both young and old, big and small. She loved all, giving generously and recklessly of herself, and all loved her in return.
And though the Tree had spoken true–there were many moments of great pain …
… of great suffering …
… and of great strife, ultimately, in the end they lived …
… happily …
… ever …