Star Swirl's Final Hour

by Stygian359


A Soul That Is Redeemed

Chapter Six: A Soul That is Redeemed

The fall seemed eternal but even so both knew it would come to an end eventually. As both foes rained blows upon the other the inevitable end drew ever closer and neither would escape its cruel fate. They were bound now, in this conflict of theirs that Destiny had written for them, yet they still did not hesitate in their goal to kill the other.

One fought with all the emotions it had and none more dominant than rage! Every spurt of flame, every explosion of fire a sign of its growing lack of control, every action displayed its terrible fury as it attempted to vent upon its enemy all the hate it had. The other, much smaller but emblazoned just as brightly in a golden light revealed nothing but a grim determination to succeed.

Star Swirl had nothing left now, his life and his past were meaningless in the face of his imminent doom. Yet he did not care, for even so he knew this battle was for something, he would not die forgotten or lost amongst the dark as he had always feared. As he threw his rightfully reclaimed power in bursts of energy and strikes of his staff he came to understand the truth of Fate's words.

He was indeed lost to the dark, he had fallen into it when the Balrog had dragged him from the bridge, he would fall by its hand but he would not be the only one to suffer that end. For by his hoof he would deliver onto his nemesis all the pain and fury he himself had gained and bottled up over the many centuries of his life.

It had grown in him all these years and even now it did not control him, instead it only fed the fires of his magic, tearing away at the defenses of this monster that he had feared for so many years. Did he fear it now? He could not say he didn't but even so that fear was dwindling, if he was going to die here he would do so with pride, acceptance and with the conviction that he gave it his all!

This creature had always been there, haunting his sleep and distracting him from his studies... now that all seemed so foolish, he knew of course that it was only natural for him to feel such dread but it had all been unnecessary. Though many realized this all too late in their lives to change anything.

It was below him now, he angled himself downward and flew past it, on the way firing bolts of energy from his horn and delivering a glancing blow to its face with his staff. The Balrog retaliated by swinging its arms in a wide circle, catching the wizened stallion and throwing him outward.

Star Swirl shook his head to clear the blinding spots that flashed in his eyes, yes his barrier protected him from the majority of the damage but it did little to prevent the inferno from fazing his vision. Yet he pressed on, angling once more but this time diagonally to meet his enemy further down.

Balrog was flailing somewhat, unable to find purchase on the wall beside it and instead carving great gashes in the rocky surface. Star Swirl struck to its side, driving the butt of his spear into its waist. Rock-flesh exploded outwards showering the wizard's barrier with shrapnel, the beast roared.

Star Swirl considered his options and drifted away again with intent on repeating the action. The ground was nearing ever closer now, only a short amount of time remained before it all became pointless, he would have to move quickly.

He channeled everything he had into one last attack, keeping only enough to sustain his shield for the time needed to deliver his power into the heart of his foe. His eyes locked to its chest and he swung himself towards it once more.

The beast screamed as its chest erupted, great streams of lava spreading outwards in a wide arc as it began to spin without control. Star Swirl had driven the point of his staff directly into it's heart, causing untold damage... but it wasn't enough.

Crawling along its body, pressed to it through sheer force of their terminal velocity he moved in for the kill. The Balrog, too preoccupied with its agony and fear could do nothing to stop the great and powerful wizard as he slowly made his way towards its head.

He forced himself around its side and onto its back, reaching up until he clung upon a shoulder. Lifting his staff he smashed it against the demon, repeating the action over and over again. Its rocky head began to crack violently and it shrieked at such a pitch it would have defended Star Swirl were it not for the wind tearing the noise away before it could even reach his ears.

Star Swirl the Bearded some called him...

He snorted and lowered his barrier, it hardly mattered now, with a last surge of power he delivered his final blow.

The ground below finally reached them and even though the Balrog attempted to claw once more against the tower it could not, the beast rolled from the impact of Star Swirls final strike and careened down into the ground. The snowy white sand beneath them exploded in a wide circle, the collision created a massive crater that ground deep into the chalky earth.

***

She flew after them as best she could, the roar of their conflict an apt guide, she was worried even though deep down she knew what was to occur no matter how much she wished otherwise. But she couldn't help but hope, she had not told him the truth... yet she wished she had.

All those years ago... during that rainy day when they had stood facing each other awkwardly, unable to speak...

They had both chosen their paths and sadly there was no way to undo the choices they had made... even if in her heart she wanted nothing more than to just return to that night and wrap her forelegs around his neck.. tell him how she really felt... The noise ahead of her stopped in an almighty boom.

She didn't stop moving though she did feel a silent creeping dread fill her very core. When she finally flew into the scene below it was with shock and awe.

What had been serene and undisturbed by any life form since time began had been rent asunder, a crater of some proportion scarred the white ground, tainted by large black streaks where flame had been put out. The mangled corpse of the Balrog, one of the single most greatest and most feared beings in the world, lay vanquished and ruins.

It body was in pieces but the majority of it was centered inside the crater itself, a broken crushed tumble of molten stone slowly turning to embers. She scanned the area, searching for any sign, any clue as to what had happened to the ancient wizard. Yet she found nothing, not any small disturbance, not a smear of blood that could explain his disappearance.

She called out though deep down inside she did not expect an answer. "Star Swirl!" Her voice rang with true concern. "Star Swirl please!"

"Sapphire?" A croak replied.

She was there in a moment, tearing through the air possessed by her emotions. The orb sought him out through the still falling dust that choked the air. She found him nearby the crater but hidden in amongst the darker shades of the black tower he now leaned against.

"Swirly!" She gasped with happiness, reflected in the pulsating glow of her inner light.

"Swirly?" He chuckled weakly. "Nopony's called me that since..." He paused, his expression becoming wistful. "Well to be honest more years than I can remember."

"Oh Swirly." Sapphire murmured, taking in his weak appearance and the blood trickling from the corner of his mouth.

"I wish you were more than a figment of my imagination Sapphire..." He sighed mournfully. "I would do anything to tell you how I truly feel."

"Then tell me." She pleaded, though gently.

He nodded slowly, his eyes distant, he was falling fast now, faster than when he had begun his descent from above. "I'm sorry Sapphire Rain... I'm sorry I chose magic over you... Its the single greatest regret I have..."

"Swirly..."

"I spent so many years just wondering what it would have been like." He continued, attempting to hold back the tears but managing only to hold back his sobs. "I wanted to tell you... that I love you, even now, nopony could ever take your place."

"..."

"I have lived many lifetimes... an unfair amount of years to force on anypony." He added with a wry expression. "When word reached me that you had died it broke me... for ten years I gave up on life and just... rotted." He shook his head. "Even now... with everything I have ever done I know that If I could go back I would... and damn the world and our people... it was you I wanted..."

"Swirly I..."

"I love you Sapphire Rain." He interrupted her. "I've been so alone for so long... even with my apprentice Clover... and now she will carry the same curse with her, always reaching for more knowledge and never seeking out love... if only I could tell her, tell her to ignore my advice and seek her heart wherever it lay waiting."

"..."

"It wasn't worth it Rainy." He whispered. "It wasn't worth it to live without you..." His breath came in sharp and heavy, his heart was slowing, he had lost far too much blood to remain alive. "My one regret... I never told you... how much you meant to me..."

***

She watched as his life left him, as his body slowly began to turn to dust... time had no meaning here, had no rules or form, here anything could happen including the sudden disintegration of the most powerful magic user of this age. She shook her head and returned to the source of all things, the place where she had come from. It didn't matter anymore, she cast aside the guise she had been forced to take and took on one more natural to her.

She had one last task before she could finally be released from her purgatory, before she could forgive herself for the crime she had committed so long ago. No matter how honest a mistake could be if it truly troubled the soul none could escape this prison of their own making...

It seemed Swirl had finally come to terms with his own regrets, for the crime he blamed himself for... he had done so quickly too, proving once again how much more mature he could be than she. She knew now why after so many years she had been trapped there, she could not escape her own regret and because of that the turmoil in her being had chained her to the Void until it was resolved.

Now she would get the chance, to admit her own failing.

She found him of course in the chamber, where ran the river of souls that carried all back into life. Rebirth was something few believed in but it was true, at least for pony kind. He was different here though that was hardly a surprise, his features unmarked by age and his beard that honest black it had been when she had first met him. He still wore his hat and his cape but then she still wore her midnight black gown.

He seemed so roguish, waiting for her as he was, when his eyes met hers they filled with a bright merriment she could never shake from her memories, the sight made her feel weak. He stood proud, young and tall, as he had even as an old stallion. Though his expression was sharper, less distracted... she had his full attention.

"Rainy," He gave her a nod.

She ran, unable to control herself any longer nor willing to give up this opportunity, she threw herself at him and wrapped her forelegs around his neck, planting a kiss that sent shivers down both their spines. "Oh Swirly!" She cried softly as she broke the kiss. "I wish... I wish..."

"I know." He whispered into her ear, enveloping her in a hug that made her feel warm and safe. "I have always known."

"I love you." She sobbed. "I always loved you!"

"I love you too..." He responded, with an equal amount of emotion in his voice.

They were consumed by their tears and they fell into a heap, wrapped in each others embrace with abandon. Neither cared that perhaps the universe may have a time limit... truth be told it could spare a few minutes. Though that wouldn't have registered in their minds at that point, to damn with the universe! All that mattered was the here and now, in this place with a swirling pool of bright multi-hued lights that resembled a rainbow but was in fact the souls of all those who passed beyond.

The well of souls...

She had pressed her face into his shoulder and he into her mane, it didn't matter anymore, they were together again after so many years of regrets. Their hearts soared and their hearts broke and nothing would ever silence those feelings again, nothing!

***

Some time had passed for them but if it had for the universe itself nothing showed, they merely sat beside each other, forelegs wrapped around the other. They watched the endless harmonious pool as it continued to swirl eternally in its duty to restore life to the souls who had lost it.

They spent the time in silence, unable to speak but even so they shared so much just by proximity. He had her, he finally had her even if he had to die it was worth it just for these moments, just to feel that fragile emotion that had been fleeting far too long.

He loved of course, those few he considered friends... his apprentice especially... but he had not loved as a stallion would love a mare, especially the mare of his dreams and it had forever made him distant to others. Leaning with her head against his shoulder the sorceress had a smile on her face, one that was finally relieved of the cold frown she had always put up as a front.

Now she was every bit the unicorn he remembered, every bit the mare he had fallen in love with so long ago. They had been young then, foolish... but now they were older and wiser and knew better than to question such a simple thing as the heart.

But both knew this could not last much longer,

She was the first to rise to her hooves, though she did so unwillingly. It was a compulsion now, they needed to return to the well or they would dissipate and cease to be. She had spent too long waiting for him to set her free and he had expended too much of his life force to do so.

They needed to be renewed and only one thing could do that.

He looked up to her with a knowing smile, though it was touched with a sadness. "Smile my love." She gave to him an expression of pure warmth. "This is not over."

"Is it not?" The young stallion chuckled mirthlessly. "How much longer must I live before we meet again."

She did not answer, only waited for him to stand beside her so they would return together. Stretching his aching muscles he moved to do so and the two went together to fulfill the final part of their trial.

"So... what was the verdict?" He asked as they walked.

"Verdict?" She frowned.

"You said I was here to be judged." He reminded her. "I was just interested to know the results."

She smiled. "You did well... enough."

"And you call me the rogue." He laughed, then turned on her an expression of wonder. "Tell me something..."

"Alright." She motioned for him to continue.

"You were always known for being the greatest seer of our age... I'm wondering, did my apprentice succeed?"

She nodded to his question, feeling it safe to answer now. "She and her companions have only just left the mountains."

"How long were they trapped down there!?" He was shocked.

"An hour." She responded with a shrug.

"An hour!?" He was stunned.

"Time is different here." She answered simply.

"I see." His expression became flat and they were consumed in silence.

Finally she felt moved to voice the fact he had not pressed further. "Why do you not ask?"

"I trust Clover will succeed," He grinned. "She's smarter than I am, better too, she's destined for greatness that one."

"I see." She smirked. "Such confidence in your apprentice is inspiring."

"Jest all you wish my dearest." He sighed. "It is a shame your never met her."

She nodded, anyone that could capture his attention enough to be considered his student was pony enough for her to respect but she could not help but poke fun at the old fool, besides, he was cute when he became defensive. They reached the edge of the pool, their slow pace unable to prevent the inevitable end from taking place.

"Here we go." She motioned.

They moved into the pool, as the souls washed over his hooves he felt the whispers of a thousand voices touch his mind, none however spoke anything malevolent, they were just the whispers of hopes and dreams carrying on into their next lives. He felt wonder at that, how many dreams were shared in this manner? Freely and without hesitation?

Finally he turned to the mare he had sought for so long and would now have to give up again. She was truly beautiful, tall and graceful, large luminous ruby eyes looked into his tired golden orbs. A mane of dark blue cascaded down and fell across one shoulder, a pale light blue coat as silky and as smooth as he remembered filling him with desires he had not felt in an eternity.

"Tell me, oh great seeress of futures untold." He began, his voice intoning though with humor the memories of statements made long ago. "You predicted my death... now predict my life."

She beamed at him, from the moment he had snorted at her prophesy so long ago she had put a wall between them, now that wall was gone... though she would get him back for the mocking nature he still displayed. She moved in close and hugged him, resting a head upon his shoulder once more.

"Ooh... what do I see indeed?" She sighed happily, her solid mass slowly becoming transparent as flakes of light began to fall from her into the pool below. .

"Will I be a stallion of kind heart?" He asked, a similar happening occurring to his own body.

"You have been male thrice now in a row." She responded. "Time for a switch."

"Switch!?" He froze. "I will be a mare!?"

"A pretty little mare too!" She responded mockingly.

"Oh how cruel you are temptress." He chuckled lightly. "What will my name be?"

"Hmm..." She considered the question... it couldn't hurt to tell him she supposed, he would only forget anyway. "Trixie." She answered. "Trixie Lulamoon."

"Trixie huh?" He thought about it, it didn't sound too bad. "It fits I guess..." He pondered some more, framing his next and most important question yet. "Will we meet again?"

"Perhaps." She responded mischievously.

"How will I find you?" His voice was now hollow, faint.

"That's simple." She answered, her own voice fading the same way. Pulling away a bit to look him in his golden eyes she answered. "Seek out the Six Pointed Star."

The End