• Published 20th Mar 2017
  • 1,015 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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V. The Last Visit

***

Star Swirl didn’t bother to turn around when the sound of an opening portal filled his workspace once again. He just smiled as he inked another diagram of a spellcircle into his notes.

“Took you long enough, Celestia,” he said as he heard steps behind him.

“H-hello?” asked an unfamiliar, accented voice. “Mister Star Swirl?”

Star Swirl’s ears perked up at the intruder’s voice, and in an instant he prepared himself for the worst. He spun around, horn at the ready, only to find his jaw wide open at the sight before him.

A young lavender alicorn stood there in his study. Her eyes were wide with fascination, and her lips were slightly parted in an expression of awe.

“Who are you?” he asked as soon as the wheels in his brain were once more capable of motion. “Why are you an alicorn? Where did you find the timestone?”

“I am sorry,” said the girl, shaking her head in confusion. Her accent made her words seem chirpy and bird-like. “I am sorry; I am sorry. My High Unicornian is not very good. I only can practice it with Celestia and Luna sometimes.”

“You know Celestia?” Star Swirl’s eyes widened when another realization hit him. “You know Luna? She is well?”

The young mare beamed at his words and nodded. “Yes! Yes! They are both well, and they are happy. They told me about the timestone, and they wanted me to meet you.”

A thought seemed to cross the alicorn’s mind. She struck her face with her hoof in embarrassment, and then reached out with it.

“I’m sorry again, I forgot to introduce myself,” she said, cheerily. “I am Twilight Sparkle, and I am the Princess of Friendship of Equestria.”

“Twilight Sparkle,” said Star Swirl as he took her hoof and shook it. “May I ask how old you are?”

“Of course!” she said. “I am twenty and one, and it has been two years since I ascended.”

“You ascended,” asked Star Swirl, incredulously, “when you were nineteen? Even Celestia was almost a full decade older when she earned her wings.”

Twilight Sparkle blushed with embarrassment.

“Yes, I did. But it was with your help,” she said. “I have been a big… what is the word… admirer of your work for a long time. And two years ago, Celestia gave me your notebook. It had a big uncompleted spell in it, and when I solved it I learned enough about Magic and Harmony to become an alicorn.”

“My spellbook?” Star Swirl would not have believed what he was hearing if it were not being told in front of him at that very moment. “You ascended with one of my spells? Which one? Which one, girl?”

“The Destiny Spell,” she said. “When I realized that Friendship was an immutable part of everypony’s destiny, I solved it. And I Grew because of it.”

“Incredible,” Star Swirl breathed. “Could entertain an old stallion for one last question?”

“Of course!” Twilight smiled from ear to ear.

“How long…” said Star Swirl, “How long did it take you to figure it out.”

Twilight tilted her head in thought.

“Two days,” she said. “Oh, but it was evening. So a night and then a day, I suppose. About twenty-four hours, minus my sleep.”

“Twenty-four hours…” Star Swirl stared at the floor for a minute.

“Mister Star Swirl,” asked Twilight politely after some time had passed. “Do you mind if I ask you a question as well?”

“Of course not, child,” said Star Swirl, straightening himself and dusting off his mind. “Do fire away.”

“How did you make the timestone?” she asked a foal’s curiosity in her eyes. “And how did you make this pocket universe?”

“This pocketspace, I did not make,” he admitted. “I found it between the dream realm and our own, and it suited my needs very nicely. As for the stone, I forged it during a heavenly alignment. I set it as the anchor between our world and this place.”

“Can… Can we make another?” she asked, tentatively.

Star Swirl smiled knowingly. “It shattered when you used it, didn’t it?”

Twilight nodded, sadly. “I tried to hold it together during the spell, but it was already too weak from before.”

“Do not fret,” said Star Swirl. “It was only ever made for five. And, no, I don’t think you’ll be able to craft another. The next full alignment of the stars isn’t due for another twelve thousand years. By then, without an anchor, this pocketspace will have drifted too far from your world to be tethered again.”

“But now, you will be alone,” she said. Her hooves stomped in helpless frustration. “Can I take you home with me?”

“Little girl,” Star Swirl said chuckling, “did Celestia and Luna not tell you how this spell worked? Only my mind was sent to this place, and the first thing I did here was to craft myself a this body from the dream-aether. My heart stopped beating fourteen hundred years ago. My bones have rotted to nothing by now.”

Twilight’s brow scrunched up in thought, and she chewed her lip. Finally, she shrugged and sat down.

“Then I will stay,” she said. “And keep you company. Nopony should be alone.”

“Are… Are you serious?” asked Star Swirl. “What about your life, my Princess? What of your friends and family and nation?”

“My friends have each other,” she said, “And my family does too. You have no one. My nation has three other princesses. And as for my life, I have an endless supply of it.” Twilight nodded resolutely. “I will spend thirty days here, to keep you company as long as I can. Thirty years will go by at home, but my friends will all still be there waiting for me when I return.”

She wiggled in her seat on the floor, as a show of determination.

“No,” said Star Swirl, giving her a deadpan glare. “That is a foolish sentiment. Thirty days will mean nothing in the long run.”

“It will mean something to you, who will otherwise have nothing,” said Twilight. “And who can say? Perhaps in thirty years, Celestia and Luna will find a way to keep the door between our worlds open for longer. And I will have a great chance to practice speaking Unicornian too.”

“You are as stubborn as Celestia was when she was your age,” said Star Swirl. “I suppose I shall have to force you out, then.”

Twilight smiled smugly. “I am almost as powerful as Celestia, and I have much more magical fitness. You don’t stand a chance.”

“Not in a fair fight, I don’t,” said Star Swirl.

Before Twilight could process what he said, Star Swirl willed a heavy band of pure nullstone into existence around Twilight’s horn. There was no flash of magic and no time to react. Star Swirl saw the panic in her eyes for just a moment before picking up the alicorn, nullring and all, in a levitation cloud.

“Wait!” she yelled. Her horn gave out a muffled glow underneath the ring.

Even now, Star Swirl could see her powering through the magic eating crystal around her horn with pure force. But it would even take Celestia a few seconds to overload this much nullstone, and Twilight had said that she was only almost as strong as Celestia.

“Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle. It was a pleasure to meet you,” he said.

Without waiting for a reply, he tossed her through the space-time chasm, and it closed behind her for the final time.

When she was gone, Star Swirl looked around his empty, quiet laboratory. He walked to his desk and flipped through the loose leaves of paper idly until he came to the one he was looking for.

On a stack of papers as thick as his hoof was round, there was a mangled mess of crossed-out equations and re-written incantations. A copy of his incomplete Destiny Spell. He gazed at it fondly.

“A girl,” he said “figured this out. A nineteen year old girl figured this out in a day.”

Smiling, he shook his head and magically raised the temperature of the wad of paper to the burning point. The fire quickly caught and engulfed the pages, leaving acrid smoke and dusty ash.

“Isn’t that just the damndest thing?”

***

Comments ( 14 )

An excellent story, and one that I enjoyed reading. I wish we could see something that happens after starswirl kicks Twilight out. But at the same time this ending is done rather well, with his introspective last line.

8037164
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

Quite a few fascinating ideas here, from the details of Starswirl's sanctum to the source of the thousand-year prophecy. Don't think I 've ever seen that take on it before. The ending is bittersweet, but more the latter than the former. In all, a lovely historical clip show. Thank you for it, and best of luck in the judging.

8037750
Thank you! And good luck with judging; you've certainly got a fair bit of work cut out for you.

Maybe I'm biased but to me it seems like this is almost a really dark ending unless Starswirl has some way out, eventually. Otherwise, well, he's literally consigned himself to an eternity imprisoned alone. Eventually...yea.

Otherwise, I quite liked this.

8039715
Thanks for the comments!

Hm... it was definitely supposed to be a bit depressing but not outright dark. I might tone it done a bit with an edit, but for now I don't think it'd be fair to change anything until the contest is over. Appreciate the feedback, though!

8039715
That was my first reaction as well. But I'd hope that the pocketspace would only have drifted too far based on what Starswirl initially calculated when he first created the stone. Twelve millennia of research made it an easy matter for the alicorns to find the space again, and then to craft a new artifact that would both allow for visitation as well as allow Starswirl occasional glimpses and messaging with the outside world.

8043403 That sounds awesome and I am headcanoning it as my new ending

:pinkiesad2: You will be missed starswirl. Enjoy your pocket space... Forever :raritycry::fluttershbad:

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Now Reviews #108.

My review can be found here.

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8102406
Ha! Wow, I actually laughed out loud. I have no earthly clue how I didn't see that (actually, I do, and it's called sleep deprivation), but that's just how the math worked out in my head. I kinda want to edit it away, but I also kinda don't. :P

8102410
no, u.

A great story, even if it ends on a bittersweet or even sad note. I wonder if Twilight ever managed to figure out a way to keep him company again or even get him back to Equestria somehow.
Edit:
I'm totally not asking for a sequel to get you writing again.

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