|The Cold Hand Of Mercy|
The cover art on Equestria Daily
|Date published||May 23, 2012|
This story is told in third person, and is written with a very solemn and melancholic atmosphere. The story follows Fluttershy and her journey throughout the story, while Blanche looks over and acts as a mentor for Fluttershy.
In the story, ponies who have died go to a place called The Ever. In The Ever, they archive their thoughts and feelings in their own plot of personal space. Then they reside in and between these plots of personal space. The Ever is governed by a ruling faction and those in The Ever can make contact with them.
People who discover any secrets of The Ever in mortal life are not allowed to disclose these secrets or else they are given one out of a wide variety of punishments.
Death is a title passed down from one Death to a pony who becomes the next Death. Whilst a pony is Death (s)he cannot make contact physically or verbally with other ponies but can eat, drink, or sleep. The names of the souls Death needs to collect are provided on a constantly updating list. (S)he is also provided a portfolio on each pony detailing their location and sometimes some of their life-story. However, the portfolio provides only as much accuracy as a newspaper article and as such may have false information, or no information at all.
|This section or parts of it may require copy editing for tone as well as in-universe perspective. You can assist by editing it.|
Fluttershy is taking care of a dying bunny she named Hector. The bunny is guaranteed to die and Fluttershy is in a solemn state of mind. All of a sudden, a figure with a black cloak going by the name of Blanche appears and says that it is time for him to take the bunnies soul. Fluttershy is confused and scared about the whole matter but Blanche explains some brief details on his day job and how he is basically Death. Fluttershy hands over the bunny with little resistance.
As it turns out however, Blanche is also here to pass his title and cloak on to Fluttershy. Blanche gives Fluttershy a choice: Become the next Death or die. Fluttershy is quite taken aback and decides to go with becoming the next Death. She is then allowed to say goodbye to her friends as long as she does not tell them about her newfound title. Fluttershy's friends are bewildered at their friend's sudden goodbyes, but they do not pressure her on the matter too much. Fluttershy also has to give up one of the things she holds most dear. The choices for her being: The lives of her friends, her animals, or her pet bunny Angel. She chooses to sacrifice Angel. Then, Fluttershy puts on the cloak, and becomes Death. At the same time, Blanche, finally ascends to The Ever.
Fluttershy thinks her situation is unfair and as it turns out she was correct. Blanche forgot to give her a proper choice between becoming Death or just living the rest of her life as per the rules. He was supposed to ask beforehand whether or not she would like to make a living of collecting the souls of dying organisms. She tells him to try and see her out of her contract, but as it turns out she is going to be stuck with this job for the rest of her now prolonged life.
As Fluttershy's friends are now working to find out what happened to her, Fluttershy makes her first kill on an old pony who claims to be "waiting for death." Fluttershy finally sucks out his soul after constantly asking whether or not he is "sure about this." Blanche, who is now Fluttershy's mentor tells her not to worry about it and that eventually she will get used to the whole process.
Twilight has arranged a meeting with the Princess. According to Blanche, the Princess knows exactly what happened to Fluttershy. Twilight and company talk with Celestia, however Celestia refuses to show any information about Fluttershy besides that she is doing just fine. Twilight therefore decides that the only plausible occurrence was that Fluttershy has become the new Death. Fluttershy on the other hand must make her first filly-kill. The filly is totally ready to die however so she manages to cope.
Fluttershy is still having a very hard time killing ponies so Blanche tells her the sad story of his childhood and how he later became Death. He also talks a little about his predecessor’s life as well. The stories are so sad that Fluttershy feels better about having been somewhat cheated into this whole situation. Fluttershy soon becomes accustomed to taking lives.
Blanche then comes to Fluttershy to tell her that Rainbow Dash recently just crashed herself whilst practicing a new stunt. So Fluttershy has to do the honors of harvesting her friend's soul. Fluttershy refuses to believe this turn of events and Rainbow Dash claims that "It's not her time to go yet." Fluttershy, knowing that it was already too late, does what she has to do, and tries her best to comfort her dying friend. Rainbow then realizes that this petty resistance was useless, apologizes to Fluttershy for the commotion, and manages to look on the bright side being that she got to see Fluttershy again.
At this point in the story Fluttershy must take the souls of all her best friends one after another and all of them seemed to be rather okay with the whole situation since they all had successful lives. Fluttershy meets them in the order of: Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and finally Twilight.
Blanche (far out into the future) finally comes to Fluttershy and says to her that it's about time she retired. She tells him how she has already picked the next Death: Thomas, one of Twilight's nerdy descendants. She also casually reminds him that she actually did it properly and Thomas was totally cool with being the next Death. Fluttershy briefs her new charge on his duties and finally joins her friends in The Ever, and so the Cycle of Death comes full circle.
Blanche is the pony who was Death before Fluttershy. He feels sympathy for Fluttershy, and acts as her mentor throughout the story. He is portrayed as a bit cold-hearted, due to being Death for so long, and doesn't understand why ponies like Fluttershy have such a hard time dealing with death, since he was so used to it. He was always a bitter person who grew up in an orphanage, and he said that whenever another orphan asked if their parents would find them here, he was the one who said no. To become death, Blanche gave up his physical body.
This fanfiction has received generally positive reviews, and been given compliments stating that it has even caused people to shed some tears here and there. As of June 8, 2012, it has a 4-star rating on Equestria Daily.
- Thomas, the next Death, gives up his ability to read written words. It is unknown how he is supposed to read the names and locations of the ponies on his death list.