• Published 20th Mar 2017
  • 1,016 Views, 18 Comments

The Timestone - Bachiavellian



Star Swirl has found a way to keep touch with the Princesses even as the centuries go by. Its only cost was his life.

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I. The First Visit

***

Star Swirl always thought it was one of the universe’s oddest coincidences that tearing a hole into spacetime sounded exactly like a silk robe ripping along its seams. Technically speaking, there was actually no sound since no air particles actually moved. It was the spaces between them that undulated obscenely as distance itself rippled away from the silvery gash in the air next to Star Swirl.

The old wizard's lip curled downward at the sight.

“What in Father Time’s great stinking beard are you doing here already?” he asked as Celestia stepped into his plane. “It’s only been two days for me. How long has it been outside?”

Celestia took just a moment too long to reply, and her eyes were wide as she took in the sight of Star Swirl within a space identical to his laboratory in the outside world.

Star Swirl jabbed a hoof in front of Celestia’s eyes and waved it insistently. “Focus, Tia!”

“Oh, sorry,” she said, blinking. “It’s just that I haven’t seen the lab like this in a year.”

Star Swirl sputtered at her words.

“A year?” he managed, to wring the words from his disbelieving mouth. “A singular, solitary year?”

“No, no, no!” said Celestia, as she shook her head. The girl spoke with an uncharacteristically muddled voice . “It’s been two years. I simply wouldn’t let them clean the lab for the first one.”

“Two years?!” Star Swirl struggled to convey the sheer magnitude of his shock with mere words. His forehooves flew up into his now-mangled mane. “You’ve spent one of the stone’s five charges two years after I departed? Will you spend the next one and the next so flippantly? Will I be used up in ten years’ time?”

A spark of familiar fire flashed in Celestia’s eyes. “Oh, stow it, you miserable old sod!” she snapped. “I used the stone because it is important—of course I wouldn’t waste it!”

“Important you say?” He wagged his hoof in front of Celestia’s face again. “Unicornia had damned well be at war with Pegasopolis, girl!”

“It’s practically at war with us,” she retorted. The young alicorn took deep breaths to calm herself. “After you…”—she paused, ever so slightly—“left us, the nobility has only gotten worse. Princess Silversong in particular makes it a point to oppose me and Luna every time the tribal leaders convene.”

“Celestia, Celestia,” Star Swirl muttered as he firmly applied a hoof to his temple. “Did I not tell you to expect this?”

“You told me to expect her to act like her mother,” said Celestia. “Platinum was never so bullheaded.”

“She was when she was Silversong’s age, before experience humbled her.” Star Swirl groaned with frustration. “Have you not learned a thing under my tutelage?”

“I learned plenty,” Celestia growled.

“Clearly not enough if you came crying back to me so soon,” Star Swirl huffed. “My continued existence is in your hooves, and you have squandered our first visit away on a—”

Celestia interrupted him with a cry of frustration and a stomp.

“You imposible old fool,” she said, “I used the stone because I was worried sick.”

“A little political posturing upsets you?” Star Swirl asked. “If that’s the case, we can kiss away any hope of establishing a unified governing—”

“I was worried about you, you stubborn mule!”

Star Swirl blinked and then shut his still-open mouth.

It wasn’t very often that something would catch him completely off-guard. Rarer still were the moments that made him feel downright silly. But Star Swirl was nothing if not adaptable, so he attempted to take it in stride.

“Oh,” he said. He worked his mouth a couple of times, soundlessly before insightfully adding, “Oh I see, now.”

“Two years I spent, unsure if the spell had even worked,” Celestia said. “I’ve pulled out clumps of my mane wondering if I would never hear your voice again. And now, the best you can give me is an ‘Oh, I see’?”

“Well, um, I didn’t… or I couldn’t… ” Star Swirl trailed off, entirely unsure if there was a way to end that sentence without making things even worse.

He mumbled for a few seconds longer before a big, toothy smile stretched across Celestia’s face, and she laughed. It was a light and airy and beautiful sound that made somehow made Star Swirl feel even more embarrassed.

“All this time,” she said when she could speak again, “and I should not have been worried at all. It really is you, isn’t it?”

“Well, I suppose I’d have to be me,” he harrumphed. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be dealing with you so pleasantly.”

“Oh, you old grump,” said Celestia as the last of her giggles left her.

Before Star Swirl could react, the alicorn closed the distance between them with a few steps and swept up the little old wizard into a full-winged hug.

“I’ve missed you,” she said.

“You’re too sentimental for your own good, girl,” said Star Swirl. After he deemed that an appropriate amount of time had passed, he wiggled himself free. “We ought to get back to the issue at hand.”

“Yes,” said Celestia, nodding. “I’d appreciate your thoughts on handling Silversong.”

“I think it’s rather straightforward.” Star Swirl shrugged. “Truthfully, I suspect she has no idea what she’s doing; the newly crowned rarely do. For now, I think it’d be wise to avoid any sort of compromise with her. You’ll only make her think that she owns you. The same thing used to happen between Platinum and Clover.”

“If I am not to compromise, how am I supposed to have anything done?” Celestia sighed. “As the leader of a Tribe, she still holds a lot more say than I do. Luna and I may hold seats at the Council, but we do not govern nations.”

“That’s what we’re trying to change, now, aren’t we?” said Star Swirl. “But the solution is apparent. Simply let her make her mistakes.”

Celestia frowned at this advice, to which Star Swirl rolled his eyes. How in-character of her.

“So long as she doesn’t run the Equestria to famine or to war,” he said, cutting off the thought that he knew was forming in Celestia’s mind, “it will be worth it. If she is anything like her mother, being humbled will make a quick learner out of her. You’ll win her over by being right.”

It took her a few more seconds of thought, but Celestia eventually nodded and said, “I think we can do that.”

“Good,” said Star Swirl, “Because it’s about time you went back. If it’s been two years for you already, then the time dilation in this pocket is much more pronounced than we expected.”

“Okay,” said Celestia. She fidgeted with her hooves. “Do you need anything? From outside? I can bring it next time.”

“No, Tia, you need not worry about me.”

“But are you sure?” she asked.

Star Swirl rolled his eyes. Without a modicum of effort, he willed a telescope on a tripod into existence next to him. It appeared with neither the sound nor light of magic.

Celestia almost fell over in surprise.

“Celestia,” he said, “I am sitting in a pocket reality composed purely of dream aether. Every particle of this dimension begs to be given form. Anything I could possibly need, I could create in a moment.”

“But... Why a telescope?” asked Celestia as she studied the device. She reached out with a hoof and felt its solidness. “There’s nothing to look at here.”

“It’s the last thing from my lab that I hadn’t recreated yet.” He peered out the window at the formless darkness outside. “I’ll probably get rid of it to save space, soon.” He turned back to Celestia. “But you, need to stop tarrying and leave already.”

“Yes, yes I do.” Celestia walked to the breach, and its shimmering light danced across her features as she neared it. “See you soon?” she asked.

“Not too soon,” Star Swirl huffed.

With a flash of light and a great ripping sound, the alicorn and the tear both disappeared.

***