"Celestia, so good of you to join us, your student was just introducing me to her lovely friends." Weaver drawled.
Twilight was shocked, Celestia was here? She hadn't prepared for a meeting with her at all! Surely this had to be some kind of trick. But sure enough, stepping out from within the maze of books was indeed the ruler of Equestria herself causing all present, sans Weaver, to drop to their knees in respect.
"Princess! What are you doing here?" Twilight exclaimed.
"Hello, my little ponies." Celestia greeted them. "I just thought I'd stop by to visit my old friend, Weaver. This is a surprise, I wasn't expecting that I'd run into you here for a while."
"So yer really friends with 'im? He keeps insistin' that yer not." Applejack said.
"Oh don't listen to him, he's just a grumpy old bird in need of a few friends. If I didn't visit him regularly he'd just sit here with nopony for company but his books." she went on.
"And by the Great Schemer I'd be grateful for it." Weaver quipped, inciting a giggle from Celestia.
"Oh come now, Weaver. I happen to know you love my company." she said, playfully bumping him as she came along side him. "Why else would you go to the trouble of looking so nice when I come to visit you?"
"My dearest princess," Rarity began, "I'm not sure if you're seeing the same thing we are - he is a multitude of things, to be sure, but good looking simply is not one of them."
"Ah, once again I neglect my manners, I've yet to change out of my lounging attire." Weaver lifted his staff and banged it against the floor and with a crackling magical discharge he was enveloped in a writhing violet energy. Once the energy dissipated and the ponies were able to see again they gasped at what they saw.
Gone was the old Weaver, hunched under the weight of countless ages. In his place stood a proud young raven clad in a magnificent robe of the deepest blue, with glossy feathers the color of midnight. His wings were stretched to their full span and were once again fully covered in feathers. His robe was adorned with golden ornaments, he wore gleaming bracers studded with nine sapphires each, and a golden crown embedded with a single sapphire carved in the likeness of a staring eye.
"Ah, much better." he said in a rejuvenated, youthful voice.
"Much better, indeed." Celestia agreed, playfully bumping him again. "I'll never understand why you insist on reverting to an ancient chicken the instant I leave."
"Petulant child." muttered the now youthful raven. Celestia simply responded by sticking her tongue out at him.
Twilight was puzzled by informal and decidedly unprincess-like behavior which Celestia was currently engaged in. She was acting like a school filly around a crush... or a student playfully harassing an old teacher.
Twilight's eyes went wide.
"Um, princess? Exactly how long have you known Weaver?"
"Well I couldn't tell you exactly, it's been too long to keep track of, but I've known Weaver here for almost my entire life."
"Your entire life?!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, "So this bird-brain is almost as old as you are?"
"Oh heavens, no." Celestia said, "He's far older than I am. Weaver here was ancient even when Luna and I met him first."
The six ponies felt their jaws drop at Celestia's statement. He was that much older than the princesses? It was an almost inconceivable notion to the ponies.
"Just how old are you? Where did you come from?" Twilight asked in awe.
Celestia sighed at her student's question. "Luna and I have been trying to get him to tell us that story for as long as we've known him, but he seems to take some kind of enjoyment in keeping us in the dark. I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you."
"Just because I'm sure it will irritate you to no end, I think I'll tell them." Weaver said, smirking. "Little ponies, I was ancient before Equestria was young. I am roughly ten thousand years old. As to where I am from, I'm from the Inevitable City."
The six ponies gasped, even Celestia looked taken aback by his revelation.
"Oh wow! You must have had more parties than anyone else ever!" Pinkie exclaimed.
"Ten thousand years?" Twilight asked in disbelief. "So... that means you're even older than Equestria. What was it like before the land was settled?"
Weaver laughed at her question. "Miss Sparkle, do you truly believe that Equestria is the first kingdom to rule these lands?"
"What do you mean? There were others?" she asked.
"Of course. Long before the settling of this land by the ponies, this land was ruled by the Four Kingdoms of Chaos. I daresay it was quite a different place from this land of peace and tolerance. We had no singular ruler, instead we were ruled by The Ruinous Powers. They were the four Gods of Chaos who ruled from their kingdoms in The Warp, an immaterial plane that exists parallel to ours from where we drew our great power.
"First and oldest of the gods was the War God, Khorne. He was the god of conflict, martial prowess, honor, and competition."
At this Rainbow Dash and Applejack both perked up.
"Of his subjects he demanded that they be strong, honest, loyal, competitive, and above all, that they win."
Rainbow Dash and Applejack were totally enthralled by this point.
"His kingdom was the largest and boasted the most powerful military in the entire world. The capital of his kingdom was a city called Citadel that was host to great games where the world's greatest warriors and athletes came to compete with one another for honor, glory, and the favor of their god.
"While the kingdom was united in its dedication to Khorne, it was directly ruled by his personal champion whom he chose from the best of the best of his subjects. His champion became his avatar, his voice in this world and was elevated above his mortal existence and remade in Khorne's image. Reborn as a mighty Daemon Prince called a Bloodthirster he would shed all remnants of his former life and take up the name Skull Taker, and he would rule as Khorne's will until another came along and either slew him in battle or beat him in competition."
Applejack and Rainbow Dash sat in rapt fascination, fantasizing about such wonderful paradise where they would surely be respected for their great skill.
"Second of the gods was Nurgle. He was the god of the downtrodden, the sick, and the unloved. He thrived on the despair of those who had given up in this world."
"Oh my, how terrible!" Fluttershy exclaimed.
"Ah, but let me finish, Miss Fluttershy, you may yet find him to be your favorite of the four. As I said, he thrived and fed off of the despair and suffering of the sick, the downtrodden, and the unloved. He fed upon it and then repaid their helplessness tenfold with unconditional and incomparable love.
"You see, Nurgle cared not for your past deeds, your appearance, or your imperfections for he loved everything and everyone equally and without judgment. He was often referred to by his followers as Grandfather Nurgle for his paternal manner."
At this Fluttershy herself perked up, finding that Weaver's words had rung true: this surely would be her favorite.
"He and his servants in the Warp took on the appearance of bloated, sickly, and misshapen beings to symbolize for his subjects in the material world that he loved all regardless. And while his servants may have been the most terrible and frightening to behold, kinder and more loving creatures one could not find in this world or in the Warp.
"The capital of his kingdom was simply The Garden of Nurgle, a large shantytown in the marshlands where the downtrodden of the world came to live in a paradise of love and tolerance."
"The representative of Nurgle's will in our world was the most generous and loving soul in his kingdom, like Khorne he bestowed upon his champion the gift of daemonhood, remaking them as Daemon Prince called a Great Unclean One, and he would take up the name of Tallyman and rule from The Garden until he passed on his mantle and went to join Grandfather Nurgle in The Warp."
Fluttershy became lost in this tale of love and kindness, she believed she would have fit right in with this deity.
"Third and youngest of the Pantheon was Slaanesh, who was neither male nor female, but rather the essence of beauty, perfection, and joy."
Pinkie Pie and Rarity paid extra attention as the story piqued their interests.
"Slaanesh cared nothing for Khorne's silly competitions or of Nurgle's blind love, for only those who truly knew how to enjoy the pleasures life has to offer were allowed within the kingdom of excess. Those who populated the kingdom of Slaanesh were truly the most diverse of all of the kingdoms, while they were united in a purpose, the way they went about it took on many forms.
"All throughout the kingdom one would find the restaurants were of a quality that would make even the finest eatery in Canterlot appear as little more than a cockroach infested dump. Stores would sell dresses that would make even the most fashionable mare at the Grand Galloping Gala feel as though she were wearing little more than rags in comparison. And celebrations would go on for weeks at a time and it was not uncommon to wake up with several days of memory loss."
Rarity was absolutely enchanted by such a paradise and even Pinkie Pie silently hung on every word with rapt attention.
"The capital of Slaanesh's paradise was known as the Crown of the World, for the entire city was made entirely from the most perfectly cut gemstones. The very streets themselves were paved with diamonds. And the ruler of the kingdom was the one who most embodied Slaanesh's ideals of excess, they would have the finest taste, be the most beautiful of all Slaanesh's subjects, and could enjoy the kingdom's revelries for longer than any other.
"Slaanesh would reward such beings with the gift of unrivaled perfection, they would be remade into the most beautiful being in all of the material world. To look upon such perfection would enthrall one to the point of blindness. This champion of excess was called a Keeper of Secrets, and unlike the champions of other gods who took up the name of their predecessor, the Keepers of Secrets abandoned their names altogether, for no word would ever possibly be sufficient to name a being of such perfection. And there they ruled from The Crown of the World until such a time came as they tired of mortal delights and ascended to The Warp to see what new things there may be to experience.
"And finally, last and greatest of the gods was my own master, the Raven God, Tzeentch. The Changer of Ways and the Master of Magic. He was the greatest by far for without him magic would never have existed."
Here Weaver looked pointedly at Twilight.
"Tzeentch's was a kingdom of knowledge. He required that his subjects be scholars beyond compare, masters of the scientific and the arcane. His was a paradise for the learned of the world. The cities of his kingdom were universities that stretched for miles, the quality of which would put any university in Canterlot to shame."
Twilight's eyes widened as she imagined an entire kingdom of people who shared her ideals, intellectuals she could actually hold intelligent conversations with. She loved her friends dearly, but sometimes wished there were more ponies like her around.
"The capital of Tzeentch's kingdom was the Inevitable City. It was built in an area where the veil between the Materium and the Warp was at it's thinnest and was a perfect blend of architecture and magic. The city itself lived, it changed its own layout constantly, never content with a singular form. And the master of this place was the greatest scholar and the most powerful magician. He was bestowed daemonhood and given a mind that could perceive the universe in ways that would drive a mortal to madness."
Twilight suspected where Weaver was going with this, and his next words confirmed it for her.
"The Changer of Ways made his champion into a being of pure magic and intellect, a Lord of Change who was allowed to keep their previous name, but would officially take up the name of Fate Weaver. The mantle of champion was passed on not when he was surpassed in intellect, for as a daemon that could never happen, nor even at the discretion of the champion, but rather according to Tzeentch's passing whims. It was not unknown for Tzeentch to pull a Lord of Change into the warp to join him the instant he was conceived."
When Fate Weaver ceased speaking the assembled ponies looked at him in awe.
"Mr. Weaver? You said that without Tzeentch magic wouldn't exist, what do you mean?" Twilight asked. Weaver smiled and continued his tale.
"A tale was told of a time long before I was born when Tzeentch ruled all the Warp and the Materium unopposed with his great crystal staff. The other gods cowered in their corners of the Immaterium as Tzeentch used all of creation as his plaything. But a time came when the gods banded together in opposition of my master and together waged war upon Tzeentch. The very essence of the Warp shook with their fury as eventually the three gods battled Tzeentch to a stalemate which was quickly tipping in favor of the three.
"Tzeentch, seeing his impending defeat, hatched a great scheme. He appeared before the three other gods and, in an act of surrender, shattered his crystal staff, the source of his great power. The pieces of his staff diffused into the currents of the Warp and each shard became a spell.
"Shortly after the truce between the gods, my master sent out a minion to catalogue all of the new spells so that in the future he might call the shards back to him and reform his crystal staff for the final battle."
"Wait, so you mean to say that if somepony knew all the spells in the world, they'd have this bird guy's staff?" Rainbow Dash interjected.
"That is the theory, yes." confirmed Weaver, "The only problem with that is that there are an infinite number of spells, it would be impossible for a mortal to know all of them."
"And what was that about a final battle?" Twilight asked.
"Well you see, the gods of Chaos were exactly that, Chaos. They could never coexist with one another and so were constantly moving against each other, trying to gain dominance. It was something called The Great Game, and the beauty was that one god could never win, and so it would go on for eternity. Or so we all thought.
"There were no more bitter rivals to be found than Khorne and Slaanesh. Khorne despised Slaanesh's pointless decadence and Slaanesh likewise hated Khorne's unrefined brutality. As such it was not uncommon for the two to personally fight. Their brawls would shake the foundations of the Warp, occasionally driving some warp attuned mortals insane.
"It was one such battle that set in motion the end of everything I knew. Tzeentch would take to whispering in Slaanesh's ear, riling it up and enflaming its hatred of the War God while at the same time inflating its ego, making it overestimate itself. It wasn't long before the two did battle once again.
"This battle was unlike any other before it. The battle tore open innumerable warp rifts and the raw stuff of the Warp bled into our world, corrupting and twisting the landscape and the wildlife. Soon the battle reached its climax and Khorne readied his great axe for his mightiest blow yet. Tzeentch had been whispering in Slaanesh's ear for so long that the god fervently believed that destiny itself was on its side and did not worry as the axe began to fall, believing some event would occur that would perhaps deflect the blow and ensure its victory.
"Such was the confidence with which Slaanesh faced the falling axe that even Khorne himself believed his blow would not fell his fellow god. Hoping to lessen the effect of whatever trick Slaanesh had in store, Khorne poured his very essence into his blow.
"The blow connected and the confidence of Slaanesh proved unfounded as the axe of the War god tore Slaanesh asunder and scattered him to the ends of the Warp."
At this Rarity and Pinkie Pie looked aghast, as though their favorite character in a novel had just been killed off.
"The death scream of Slaanesh echoed throughout the Warp and, thanks to the multitude of rifts caused by the battle, poured into the Materium. When The Keeper of Secrets, the being in the Materium most closely attuned with Slaanesh, was struck by the scream it detonated with a force nearly equivalent to that of the sun. The Crown of the World shattered in the explosion."
"Oh how horrible!" Rarity cried, "Such a magnificent creation destroyed without so much as a thought!"
"It's not as bad as you might think, Miss Rarity." Weaver said, "Why do you think it is that whenever you search for gems they come out of the ground already perfectly cut?"
Rarity was taken aback by the implication. "Do you mean to tell me that the gems I use in my dresses are..."
"Fragments of the Crown of the World, yes." Weaver finished. "But now where was I? Ah yes. The death scream of Slaanesh shattered The Crown of the World and killed every being who followed Slaanesh. Millions died in an instant, an entire culture dedicated to perfection wiped out in the time it took to blink.
"The debris from the city rained down for hundreds of miles in all directions, some pieces the size of buildings. Unfortunately, the marshland making up The Garden of Nurgle was only about a hundred miles from the city, debris fell down on it like hail, destroying most of it and killing a huge percentage of the population.
"Nurgle felt the deaths of each of his children acutely and knew who was to blame for every death. He directed his fury towards the still shocked Khorne and the Warp echoed with fury as the Master of Death marched on the God of War.
"In the Materium the followers of Nurgle did likewise. The charismatic and widely loved Tallyman gathered up a following and marched on Citadel. The military of Khorne was the most well trained in the world, but the almost zealous fervor Tallyman instilled in his followers more than made up for any difference in skill. Eventually Tallyman and Skull Taker faced each other in battle in a mimicry of their masters within the Warp.
"In the Warp Nurgle rained blow after blow upon Khorne's brass armor, each with a force to shatter stars. Khorne gave back as good as he got, but the pestilent mound of flesh that was Nurgle refused to be destroyed.
"Meanwhile my master observed, looking for the perfect opportunity, waiting for all eyes to be on the cataclysmic battle taking place. And as he foresaw, after an eternity of work his minion returned.
"Tzeentch called to him all the fragments of his crystal staff and reformed it. Once again The Changer of Ways held creation in the palm of his hand, and with the only ones that could stop him dead or at each other's throats, he would finally be the victor in The Great Game. Tzeentch used his staff to obliterate the warring gods.
"As with Slaanesh, the death screams of the two gods killed off their followers and poured into reality. Though the world was already weakened from the aftermath of Slaanesh's defeat, it managed to just barely hold together under the assault of the death rattles of two gods.
"With my daemon eyes I had stared into the Warp as my master used his staff to obliterate Khorne and Nurgle, it was the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed. I was filled with such pride when he won I didn't even care that my powers had gone when he reformed his staff, I would have given them a thousand times over to help him achieve his goals, after all it was my master that had been victorious, my master who now held all of creation in his hands, my master who's scheme had finally culminated in victory.
"I felt my master's pride, I felt his elation, but I felt something else, something I had not expected. Fear, sorrow, regret... hope for the future. I had no idea what to make of it, but then it all made sense.
"My master had won. It had worked. It was done. His ultimate scheme was finished and his goal was accomplished. He no longer had purpose, for what is a god of scheming without anything to scheme? Soon he would cease to exist and everything I had ever known would end. But he had not died yet, that meant there was a plan yet unfinished, my hope was renewed.
"But while I looked on with my daemonic eyes I saw what his last plan was. For as long as he held his crystal staff the world would forever be without magic. I watched in horror as he gripped his staff in his hands and waited. He looked upon his staff for just a moment and he looked upon it forever, for time flows strangely in the Warp, and I experienced the whole of eternity with him as he held it.
"Then I felt his presence within me, he was going to speak to me, I was honored that I was the one he deemed worthy of his last words, but instead of waiting for him to speak I begged him not to do it, I could endure without magic so long as he existed. He would have none of it though. He instructed me to return to my library and guard over the knowledge it contained. He told me to endure, to survive, to keep the knowledge alive, saying that as long as the knowledge lived on there would be hope for the world. I was confused but obeyed and returned home to my library and waited for the inevitable.
"Once again Tzeentch shattered his crystal staff, and the rifts caused by the earlier battle between Khorne and Slaanesh allowed the fragments to enter the Materium and take root here rather than dissolving back into the warp.
"And with that Tzeentch no longer had a purpose, there was a brilliant flash in the Warp and he was gone. The aftermath of his death caused the already paper thin veil between the Inevitable City and the Warp to disintegrate. With a brilliant explosion of Warp energy the Inevitable City was dragged screaming into the Warp. The distance between my library and the city spared me the worst of it, but the surrounding land was flooded with the raw stuff of the Warp. The death of yet another god, regardless of how peaceful it was, was too taxing on the world and the rifts tore open yet wider and the Warp poured into reality.
"As I watched the results of my master's final plan taking shape, I pondered on how I could still exist without my god, the nearest I could guess was that his death had been willing, so there had been no death scream to obliterate me. Then I looked to the future. The Lords of Change were blessed by Tzeentch with prophetic sight and what I saw both frightened and pleased me. Such beautiful change, yet I feared it. With so much of the warp bleeding into the Materium, this world would gain the magical qualities of the Warp, but retain the stability of the material world. Mortal races would no longer need to reach into the Warp for power, it was likely the Warp would be forgotten altogether.
"And so I endure, I stand vigil over the knowledge of my time and I teach those who come seeking knowledge. Just as my master intended. Just as planned."