Chapter Three: A Cape of Memories
"Her name is Sapphire Rain"
"What!?" He demanded of his mind as the orb lowered and flashed before his eyes distracting him, he turned his angry attention to it once more. "What do you want now!?"
"Are you mad at me?" It asked almost mournfully.
"Yes I am!" He snapped. "You brought me here! How did I even cast you if I have no magic?"
"Well..." It blushed awkwardly as if it had cheeks, two ovals in its surface taking on a more pinkish hue. "...to be honest you didn't, you only believed you did."
He nodded slowly, as if understanding the words it had spoken. "What the hell does that mean?"
The orb bobbed and sighed. "Look... I don't know okay, I was only created a few months ago when you arrived."
"Months!!!" Star Swirl exclaimed... oh right that's obvious. He looked to the orb with utter shock. "I've been walking for months!?"
"Several." The orb bobbed. "You had quite the tale to tell."
He frowned, this wasn't good news at all. "What about my companions... what has happened to them?"
"I don't know." It shrugged... or as best it could without shoulders... truth be told it looked a little awkward but he got the general idea.
Swirl gave a growl. "Well... what now?" He asked dejectedly.
"Now?" It spun to face the fortress nearby. "Now we must go there."
"No thank you." Star Swirl replied. "Not happening."
"You really are grouchy aren't you." The orb muttered.
"Less of your cheek!" He shot back with a snarl. "I'm known to be friendly and pleasant."
"Then why are you being so aggressive?" She asked, he tacked the word she on, it did speak in a female voice and it seemed to fit.
"I don't... know..." He answered honestly. "I do feel strange I cannot deny that."
"I think something left you along with your hat." The orb suggested.
Star Swirl groaned deeply. "This is going to be one of those quests where I have to retrieve things in order to rebuild myself isn't it."
She bobbed in answer.
"Sigh." He declared. "Well I'm too old for those kind of quests, so no thank you."
"I really think you should." The orb attempted. "If you don't..."
"You will what?" He growled with warning. "Are you threatening me?"
"Warning you actually."
Star Swirl snorted, resolved to think of her as a she... all this 'the orb' rubbish getting on his nerves. "Nothing you can say or do will make me go through with this nonsense!"
The air struck him so suddenly he found himself bowled over, he rolled across the chalky ground gagging slightly as his cape caught around his neck. He quickly righted himself and planted his hooves firmly on the ground, meaning to face the gale head on, however it overpowered him and he flew back.
He swore as he felt slowly his cape beginning to slip over his head.
After the wind subsided the orb floated over to hover above the wizard, who now lay in one of the most awkward positions ever, on his neck bent right over until his hind legs stood before his shoulders. The orb tried not to laugh but failed. "Hey!" Star Swirl complained, rolling with some cracks in the bones back into a stand. "That wasn't funny!"
"Yes it was!" She laughed.
"What was?" He asked suddenly, very confused.
"You landed ass over head!" He found her laughter very contagious.
"Yeah..." He smirked. "What was funny again?"
The laughter died pretty quickly and the orb took note of a very blank looking pony before her. "Are you alright?"
"Who is alright?" Star Swirl asked.
Star Swirl blinked. "What was the question again?"
"Are you okay?" She asked louder this time.
"Am I what?"
"You see!" She burst suddenly. "This is what happens when you resist! You've lost your short term memory!"
He began by returning with anger of his own but it quickly dissipated into confusion. "My what lost my short term... whatever it was that you... where am I again?"
"Your cape took with it your memories." She sighed, looking around with an efficiency matched only by the boring kind of book keeper who kept them all in alphabetical order and freaked out if she found a B in the C section. With her amazing sight (though she had no eyes, explain that one!) she scanned the small rocky hill, sure to mortals it looked like a mountain but the truth was far different, everything here was an illusion. Above on a section of broken wall near the massive gate was the cape, billowing snagged upon the rock.
"There I see it!" She declared.
"See what?" He responded.
"Oh shush!" She snapped. "And come on, you're useless until we get your memories fixed!"
The journey seemed long to Star Swirl, or would have if he remembered any of it, instead all he knew was that he just stopped walking and almost crashed into a blue ball... now all he remembers is that there is some strange blue ball in front of him...
"We are here." It stated.
"You can talk!?" Star Swirl exclaimed.
"Yes I can talk!" She growled at him. "This way!"
She led him around the outcrop, towards where the cape fluttered in the wind, she looked up at it, it was quite high. "Alright, you'll have to climb up there and get it."
Star Swirl squinted in the direction of the wall, as she was unable to point it made following her sight."Get what?... Hey! You can talk!"
"Yes dear." She sighed.
"Who goes there!" A heavy voice without moisture rumbled.
The two looked at the source of the noise, where clinging to the wall with its taloned feet and claws hung a gargoyle of some size. Star Swirl remarked upon its design, it has been crafted very well he had to admit, it looked akin to a teenage dragon but with wide twisted horns either side of its head. "It looks almost real." Star Swirl spoke to whoever it was... that was beside him?
"I am the guardian of this wall!" The gargoyle exploded angrily. "Protector of this weakness in the fortress's defenses, explain yourselves or suffer a fate worse than death!"
"You mean singing!?" Star Swirl grimaced. "I hate it when people... do... wow, that's a nice gargoyle!"
"Who are you!" It snarled dangerously.
Star Swirl frowned, some instinct taking control. "I am Beard the Swirl Starl!" He declared. "Lord of the huge-ama-flips and the all... magic whatsit... with... with scary magic! Wooo!" He waved his fore legs in a ghostly fashion and failed to impress the Gargoyle before them.
"Who are you again?" It asked, this time less angrily more wearily.
"I am... erm..." Swirl paused, his mind a blank and his expression stupid. "I'm hungry." He answered finally... and perhaps hopefully, it had been a while since he had eaten... something... that he was... talking about...
"His name is Star Swirl the Great!" The orb flared a bright red and flew directly before the face of the large stone creature with pitiless eyes. "The most powerful wizard in the world!"
"I am!?" Star Swirl's eyes widened in shock.
"He is!?" The gargoyle smiled with mirth.
"And how do you know this?" The stone entity challenged.
"He told me!" The orb answered triumphantly.
The gargoyle nodded solemnly, seeming to believe her. However his act was broken as he exploded into laughter, if he had tear ducts he would be leaking humorous tears. The laugh was long and hearty, if anything he seemed to really be enjoying himself.
"You must be joking!" The gargoyle responded without belief.
"I can prove it!" The orb returned. "You see that cape up there!"
The gargoyle looked, indeed he could see the cape. "I do... what of it?"
"If you let us retrieve that he'll be able to give you all the proof you want!"
The gargoyle eyes her suspiciously but soon nodded, he was bored what could he say, after all he had spent the last thirty eight eternities alone on a wall in the middle of nothing. "Sure why not, the laugh I will receive alone will be worth it."
The rob gave a sharp nod, which was barely noticed, it was a very shiny orb so it was hard to tell when it spun. "Star Swirl!"
There was a moments silence until the old man realized the attention was on him. "What!?" He demanded irritably.
"Up there, on the wall, fetch the cape."
"Fetch the what now?"
"The cape!" She exploded, quite enough with all this already.
"The flappy thing?" He attempted.
"Yes the flappy thing!" She snapped.
"Okay!" He growled. "All you had to say was the... the..."
"Flappy thing?" The gargoyle suggested.
"Yes..."Star Swirl gave a nod but then frowned. "Very nice... what about it again?"
"Go up there and get it!" The orb commanded.
"Alright keep your... shine on?" He blinked, then moved towards the fractured brickwork.
They watched as the wizened old grey unicorn began to slowly drag his way up the rock, his white beard catching on his grip a couple times almost causing him to fall.
"He's going to fall." The gargoyle smirked. "Mark my word, he will."
"Right now I don't care." She muttered.
"I found it!" Star Swirl declared triumphantly.
The orb blushed and the Gargoyle chuckled. "That's a rock... you're trying to reach your cape remember?" She groaned.
"The what!?" He yelled down.
"The Cape!!!" She burst.
"Where's the cape?"
"You don't have arms you know..." The gargoyle pointed out. "You're only making him more confused."
"Be quiet you!" She warned, then turned her attention back to the old wizard. "what are you doing now!?"
"Looking at my nape." Star Swirl answered.
"My nape!!!" Star Swirl answered angrily. "You told me to look at my nape!"
"What nape do you mean!?"
"That's what I'm trying to figure out!"
"Just get your cape already!"
"What about my... thing you wanted me to... where am I?"
"Get Your Cape Now!" She yelled at him.
"Alright!" He whined in complaint. "No need to shout at me I'm only here."
"This is quite amusing!" The Gargoyle clapped his stone hands. "Are you a stage act or something?"
The orb turned a look on the stone creature that would speak levels if it had a face. However it did not, so the promise of untold wraths was totally missed. "I'm warning you." She warned it.
"I got it!" Star Swirl yelled, his voice growing nearer.
The old pony struck the ground before them, in his haste to celebrate he had let go of the rocky surface to punch a hoof into the air, in doing so he also plummeted to the ground below, which he met heavily with the cape wrapped around his fore hoof, which as the dust settled came to lay over him protectively.
"Oh dear..." The orb groaned.
"Hah!" The gargoyle snorted. "I saw that coming! Fail!"
"We're not an act!" The orb flared again.
"Hey!" Star Swirl interrupted, looking out from a gap he created by lifting the fabric of his cape from his face with his free hoof. "I got it Miss... Scary Orb Lady."
"I have a name..." She muttered ever so quietly.
"You do?" The gargoyle asked with surprise.
"Come Star Swirl!" She commanded, ignoring the gargoyle with a profound skill. "We must be inside the fortress before the gates are locked!"
Star Swirl moved to stand, he didn't know exactly why he did but he did so anyway, as if on autopilot the voice of the glowing blue ball seemed to have some power over him. As he passed he took note of the large statue before him. "Hmm... looks almost real."
"I am." The gargoyle answered.
"You are what now?" Star Swirl frowned in confusion.
"Just go follow that thing before it comes back." The gargoyle muttered moving to occupy the cracked surface of the wall once more. Star Swirl nodded, again confused.
"Star Swirl!" Her voice called to him, he followed, rushing to catch up but not knowing why.