The Equestrian Saga

by Smash Fortune

Prologue: The Apprentice Betrayed

The Equestrian Saga
Prologue: The Apprentice Betrayed
By: Old Toby

With a great cry that rose above the howling winds of the Frozen North, Star Swirl the Bearded slammed his hoof down upon the rock, splitting the cliff side in two. His horn flared with a blazing azure light as he locked eyes with his apprentice turned adversary. “It's not too late! Turn away from this madness!”

The mocking laughter of the chimerical beast was buried beneath the avalanche of rocks and snow as he lazily flew up to the mountain peaks and looked Star Swirl in the eye. Orbs of sickly yellow with a burning red core offered the unicorn nothing but malice. “That you would say that is quite amusing! You took everything from me! You betrayed me! You abandoned me! You took it all, Starswirl! You were supposed to be my friend!”

Memory burned cold in Star Swirl's heart as the recollection of his apprentice falling into insanity and chaos overwhelmed him. Once, in a time that seemed so long ago, his apprentice had been the most gifted creature he had ever met. The natural ease with which he crafted spells and incantations was unheard of. The grace with which he could weave rhymes of power and songs of strength was beyond compare. He could have become the greatest spell-caster in the history of all the known world, if he only had the proper guidance. Instead he had fallen to pride. Star Swirl felt the burning in his heart turn as bitter as the winds of the Frozen North.

“You did this to yourself! Look what you've done to yourself! You're a beast!”

The creature laughed, throwing his arms wide, as if to embrace the raging blizzard surrounding them. His claws clenched into fists as the cacophony of dissonance rang through the snow-capped peaks. “I am transcendent, you fool! Without the limits of flesh or form, I have become a spirit – force of nature! I am eternal!”

His laughter suddenly stopped and he locked eyes once more on his mentor, “I only need a name, dear Star Swirl. Just a name. I suppose its fitting that I should have a new one in this, my new form. I suppose I should thank you for enacting the Rite of Sine Nomine.” His voice was a serpent's hiss and a forked tongue darted from his mouth as he spoke.

Star Swirl stood proud and defiant before the monster. “It was the only way to stop you!”

“Stop me?” For the second time, the beast's laughter shivered through the peaks of the Frozen North. “You've only empowered me all the more, you old fool! Now, with the magic in your heart I'll make a new name for myself! I'll reign supreme over this pitiful land! After all – that's what you always wanted isn't it? For me to be the best!”

“Not like this,” Star Swirl said through gritted teeth. “Not like this.”

The bearded wizard's horn flared again with magic and he blinked from one peak to another, flanking the monster. The instant he appeared, great rocks illuminated in the blue light of his magic began to rise from the valleys and cliffs below. With a grunt of focus, Starswirl cast the stones at his old ally.

With a wave of both claw and paw, the beast transformed the deadly stones into harmless balls of snow that puffed harmlessly off his scaled form. “You're getting weaker by the moment, old man. Surrender now and it'll be so much easier.”

Suddenly the ground beneath Star Swirl became a thick, black tar that began to ooze down into the vast canyon below. The wizard struggled, but found his hooves stuck fast. Unable to move, he looked with pleading golden eyes to his former apprentice. Somewhere, anywhere in those fiery irises he looked for a glimmer of the bond they once shared. If nothing remained, he would plummet to his doom. A single moment passed and Star Swirl closed his eyes, accepting that this was the end.

To his surprise, he felt a furred paw grab the hem of his belled robes and hold him fast. Opening his eyes, he saw a pair of burning red beacons locked on his own soft gold eyes. His apprentice leaned in, offering a whisper carried on the frozen winds. “My dear Star Swirl, in your last moments, I want you to remember this: I am your greatest failure.”

“No!” came a sudden cry that carried like an explosion across the mountain range. Star Swirl's horn exploded with a light as bright as the summer sky. It radiated in a moment to enshroud both master and apprentice, leaving both blinded by magical illumination. Star Swirl suddenly felt his black ichor fall free from his hooves and felt the icy air whipping at him from all sides.

The flickered and died like a star at the rising of the dawn. In another instant, a great cry of defeat filled the sky from horizon to horizon. The mountains themselves trembled and ageless rocks fell to the sound. Star Swirl found himself standing on a dangerously unstable rock – but that was not what made his heart sink. Looking down, he saw the writhing body of his apprentice collapse in a web of black webbing. Mountainsides and boulders fell in his wake and a great cloud of snow and stone rose up from the valley that lay far, far below.

A few moments later, there was only the howling wind and Star Swirl the Bearded was alone. Turning, he began to slowly descend the peaks. He was oblivious to the cold around him and did not notice as the cold sapped the feeling from his hooves. The coldness in his heart was far greater. With his last magical act, he had betrayed the apprentice and friend he had sworn to teach, to protect, to love. Even if these were not his last moments, the beast's final words rang in his mind: “I am your greatest failure.”