• Published 21st Jul 2013
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Star Swirl's Final Hour - Stygian359

A story detailing what occurred to the ancient master of all magic after his great sacrifice... may he be remembered always.

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A Staff Bequest of Magic

Chapter Five: A Staff Bequest of Magic

From the test of hopelessness they moved on and entered a walkway leading out across the towering walls, their path led only in one direction so they took it, traveling along the battlements with a calm air considering all that had happened so far. Though the pristine condition of the wall surprised him the intricate carvings along its side pleased him far more, they did not depict battles but instead journeys.

On the floor he walked great ships sailing tumultuous oceans were shown in an array of hardship and toil yet no symbolism of death could be seen, only danger and great risk. Which when one thought about it was the greatest element of any adventure and he had been on many an adventure in his many years of life.

As he walked he considered what he knew, if this was the Void then his soul was in trouble, this wasn't the Eponian Fields where all those who wielded magic would face their memories and be judged by them... no this was a place where one's very destiny was challenged. It meant that somehow he had circumvented fate and caused a potential rift in the fabric of reality.

Was he not meant to defeat the Balrog? Even though destiny had written that he would die by its hands? From what he could remember he had most certainly died, that fall no one could have survived especially caught as he was upon a tendril of flame that had wrapped around his hoof.

Even now it felt numb but no scar lined it, no burn or singed hair. He shook his head, this was all very confusing... but at least he had his hat back! He never felt truly right without it. To him his hat was an old companion, it had been all over the world with him on every one of his adventures and now that it was upon his head once more, he felt comforted.

That's not to say he considered it a security blanket, not at all...

What could he say, he liked it, sure many had mocked him for it as well as the magic bells that chimed only when he wanted them too, as a foal he had always dreamed of preforming for ponies with his magic, traveling far and wide and bringing pleasure to all with illusions and great displays of light and power.

But destiny had called him for far much more, something he had always regretted though he had no power over.

"So what next?" He asked of his guide.

"You want to know?" She seemed surprised, her voice vexed somewhat.

"It's alright." It smiled. "I'm over that hopeless stage already, no need to fret."

"I wasn't fretting." She blushed, causing him to smile again. With a touch of annoyance she continued. "I'm just a little shocked to see you actively walking towards your judgement!"

"You think I will fail the final trail?" Star Swirl asked, arching his brows.

Sapphire sighed. "I am here merely to guide you on your path."

"Is that why you called out to me when you thought I was falling to my death?" He grinned, her blush deepened. "Go on... admit it, you like me! I can't blame you, I'm a likable fellow."

"We're here." She answered without much passion, glad to be spared this conversation any further.

They both looked to the tower, it wasn't a very pretty tower considering the intricacy of the walls and the previous halls they had seen. Star Swirl looked up at the looming structure with pursed lips, a stray hoof pulling gently at his beard as if by habit. Even this high up on the wall they could not see its end, though that wasn't a surprise anymore given the fact they were in the Void.

The stone work was bland at best, not the highly polished nature of every other structure so far. The bricks were plain and a dark mucky reddish hue that gave it the appearance that it had been washed in blood. It smelt bad too, like something really old and unpleasant.

"Well." Star Swirl nodded. "It does indeed look ominous."

"I... agree." She stated.

The door that would allow them access was entirely of iron but imprinted on its surface was the symbol of the Everlasting Flame, which though sounds cool and fantastic actually really wasn't, just a simple flame motif with a tiny infinity symbol at its base. Star Swirl made a popping sound with his lips. "Well! No rest for the wicked!"

"Star Swirl..." She began but hesitated.

"Yes my dear Sapphire?" He turned on her a smile.

She froze even more as he spoke her name, seeming to close in on herself if that was at all possible. "This will be your hardest trial yet."

Star Swirl nodded, he understood, she was worried about him. For whatever reason though he wanted to put her mind at ease, he would need her if he was to pull through this mess in one piece. "I'm not afraid." He gave her his most encouraging grin. "I have you here to look after me and keep me on the right path."

"I..." She sighed. "Just be careful."

He shook his head and chuckled. "For someone who forced an old man to climb a wall you certainly have an odd understanding of the word careful." She did not respond, only bobbed in understanding. He shrugged and faced the door, lifting a hoof and touching the oddly hot surface.

The door slid open, revealing stairs angling upwards. It was to be expected and so he moved without hesitation to comply, the last thing he wanted was to be pushed up a flight of stairs!

The journey up took a long while yet at its end he felt no breathlessness, once again considering just how different this world was to his own. He was just glad to see the end of the bleak stairway but less happy about the tower top that he emerged into.

Sapphire hovered in beside him, she seemed afraid of something and that Star Swirl did not like. But what worried him more were three points which he could easily add together to spell one thing... Trap!

The tower top or as he would describe it as, the arena, spread out before them in a great circle open to the sky. Its flooring was solid and the ramparts that surrounded it tall and thick. Once he stepped out from the stairs he knew he would be trapped in there with no way to escape.

Point number two was the ever more obvious bait that had been left in the center of the room to tempt him outside. Standing straight and without flaw was his staff, and oh was it not the perfect bait to catch him, he needed it so there was no going back... however at least he knew it was a trap so he wouldn't go blundering in without thought.

Finally, and the thing that struck him most, the smell... he had smelt sulfur many times before but never had it been so powerful as when he had faced his immortal enemy.

Star Swirl gave a tiny sigh and looked to Sapphire. "Well... this is it, I guess this is where I meet destiny."

"Star..." Sapphire whispered in turn.

"Its alright." He reached out a hoof and gently touched at where he perceived her cheek to be. "I knew it would come to this eventually, it is something left unresolved and Fate cannot allow me to escape from it.

"It isn't fair..."

"Fate may say I am destined to fail." Star Swirl grinned a cheerful grin, his bright yellow eyes flashing. "But it never said I couldn't cause some damage first!"

"You intend to fight it?" She asked though she knew the answer already.

"Last time..." He began. "Last time I met with this creature I could not fight it, instead I forced it back so as my companions could escape and continue on their journey to save our peoples... but now I have little choice, it must be done, I must face my fear and I must do so without hesitation."

He looked to her then, his eyes serious and his expression becoming the same.

"Will you watch over me Sapphire?" He asked. "Will you play witness to my final battle?"


He nodded. "Thank you." She did not have to answer for both knew anyway, however he was gladdened by the fact she was here, though only a creation of his own mind he could think of no one better to have by his side. Sure it wasn't the real Sapphire, though it had her voice and mannerisms... but it was close enough for him and that's all that mattered.

He walked out towards his staff with confidence, though fear threatened to break him it did not, he had one last duty to fulfill.

Finally he reached his third true companion, the staff he had carried since he had completed his apprenticeship at the Ancient Tower of Magic before it fell to the dark magics of an ancient enemy. It was long and made of wood but its surface had been turned the color of gold as his magic had filled it time and time again.

There was no mistaking it, this was his staff, no trick, no illusion. He could feel the power inside it, this last link to the magic he had always had access to before. He lifted a hoof to touch it.

The tower boomed as the massive Balrog landed fully upon its roof and in all honesty this would have been the end for Star Swirl the Great had it not been for one fact.

Star Swirl had seen it coming.

He had no idea why all his major foes had chosen to fall in from above, perhaps they imagined it looked good, perhaps it was out of a desire to end the battle quickly. Either way the sudden burst of flames and the roar like growl was indeed an impressive display. Yet Star Swirl had already leapt forward, once again belying his age with well timed acrobatics. He landed on three legs, the fourth, a foreleg holding tightly onto his staff.

The Balrog leaned down to stare the ancient wizard in the eyes, which was a mistake for Star Swirl did not hesitate to smite its snout with his staff. He channeled the magic inside it and allowed it to bring power to his blow, the beast reeled back in shock and pain.

Star Swirl did not stop, moving in quickly to strike at it's right knee. The monster roared in pain as the staff hit his leg, causing wider and deeper cracks to form in its surface. By now the smoke coiling from the Balrog had turned the sky black, the only light provided was that of Star Swirl's magic which surrounded him in a golden nimbus and the cruel hungry flames of the demon the wizard fought.

The creature lifted its undamaged leg and stomped upon the stone beneath them, the old wizard was thrown from his hooves and barely managed to roll out of the way as it attempted to crush him with the same talloned foot. He was thrown clear somewhat and was able to aim his staff at the beast, sending a shower of blinding light directly into its face.

With a spit of lava which flew in all directions it gave a great bellow.

The lava fell harmlessly off his field but even so he knew he could not take many blows before this monster dealt with him permanently, not acting on desperation however Star Swirl began to circle the monster, swatting the Balrog's tail as he did.

The Balrog was none too happy about that, its pain filled shriek was enough to inform the wizard that he had found its weak spot. Yet he did not act on it right away, bolting under its legs and to its front so as to fire another burst of light. The Balrog snarled and swiped its claw, making contact with Star Swirl's shield and sending the old stallion flying back into a wall.

Thankfully his bubble protected him from most of the impact allowing him the time to run forward and slide beneath the beasts legs. Swinging his staff once more he brought out another distorted cry of agony though this triumph was short lived.

The monster had anticipated this and had reached down a claw to grab the wizard. As it lifted Star Swirl its eyes flashed with triumph and a purr of satisfaction rumbled through the stones beneath it. It brought the wizard to its mouth, intending to bits his head off in punishment for the trouble he had cause it.

He felt crushed by its claw and could already feel its terrible molten breath awaiting him, he could see the glee in its eyes and the anticipation in its widening grin. It had won this battle that Star Swirl couldn't deny, he did not have the strength left to do much more... he was too old...

But he would be damned if he didn't take this thing with him!

With a grimace of pain and defiance he aimed his staff for one last shot and released the pent up magic inside.

The beast screamed so shrilly the tower's top imploded, the Balrog staggered back and toppled over the edge of the wall surrounding them, the two fell into the murky silence below, a roar their only proof of passage as they vanished into the fog below.

Sapphire felt a great and horrible worry form inside her being and flew after them. "Star Swirl!!!"

Author's Note:


Quick! Next Chapter Quick!!!

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