• Published 26th Jan 2012
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The Wizzard and the Pony - Parchment_Scroll



While his apprentice deals with the leaders of Unicornia, Starswirl the Bearded explores...

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Chapter 15: Solar Eclipse

The Wizzard and the Pony

To those who had never seen the Ice Giants before, they looked somewhat diminuitive. It seemed, at first, a bit of an anticlimax for the world to come to an end at the hands of such tiny "giants".

Conina and Nijel, on the other hand, knew better. The thing about the Ice Giants was that they were not only enormous, but treated the entire Disc with a callous disregard that completely disregarded concepts such as good or evil. The reason they looked small from a distance, apart from perspective, was that the glaciers they rode were orders of magnitude larger than they.

"What do we do?" Conina said, a white-knuckle grip on her cuticle knife's hilt belying her otherwise calm manner.

"Run?" offered Rincewind.

"Honestly, Rincewind, that's your answer to everything."

"It hasn't failed me so far."

Conina eyed him. "Are you sure?"

"I'm alive, aren't I?" When nobody answered, Rincewind looked around. "Aren't I?" he asked a bit more desperately.

"Has anything like this ever happened before?" asked Star Swirl.

"Ook," said the Librarian.

"Actually," Nijel said, "yes. Once."

"Eek?"

"Well, how did you deal with it then?" Star Swirl said, latching onto a sliver of hope.

"Excuse me," Rincewind put in, "but there is already a question that needs resolving. Am I, or am I not, still alive?"

"Of all the bloody..." Conina whirled on Rincewind, brandishing her cuticle knife in his face. "YES! And if you would care to remain that way, then kindly focus on the problem at hand!"

"Right, then," Rincewind said. "In that case, what's wrong with running, then?"

"Where would we run to?"

Rincewind rolled his eyes. "Never worry about 'to'. 'To' takes care of itself. The important part is 'from'."

Celestia and Luna watched this exchange with a mixture of horror and fascination. Were they really having this argument now? Now, at what could be the end of the world?

"Fine, then," Conina said. "What would we run from?"

"Well," said Rincewind, "for starters, how about that?" He gestured at the slowly advancing walls of ice and their terrible riders.

"That," said Conina, "is going to be everywhere if something isn't done."

"Running is something," said Rincewind.

"I give up," the barbarian hairdresser said.

"Does that mean we're running?" Rincewind asked hopefully.

"Not 'we'," Conina said. "Do as you like. I'm staying here."

"Going to make a stand, then?" Star Swirl said.

"For all the good it'll do," Nijel said.

"What happened last time?"

"I'm not really sure," Nijel said, then turned to Conina. "You?"

"Not really," she admitted. "There we were, about to be ground underneath a massive glacier one moment, then there was a hot wind and some kind of argument, and then the Ice Giants were gone, and everything was fine."

"Ook," said the Librarian.

"Well, then," said Rincewind with more than a slight touch of panic coloring his voice, "that's just fine then! If the Gods took care of it last time, they'll take care of it this time as well, won't they?"

"Assuming they're not still frozen," Star Swirl rebutted. "The more fractious somepony is, the longer the freeze can last after the Windigoes have been banished."

"Wait," put in Celestia. "What do we need, really? Divine intervention? Or just enough heat to drive them back?"

Rincewind frowned. "The latter, I suppose," he admitted. "Though how we're to get it without the former is quite another matter."

"I have an idea," Celestia said.

* * * * *

"I'm really not sure about this," Rincewind said as Celestia and Luna began their preparations. "Do you have any idea what you're about to attempt?"

"It should be a simple enough matter," the larger equine said. "Star Swirl says that unicorns do it all the time where he comes from."

"Unicorns," Rincewind said. "Plural."

"Well," Celestia said, "there are three of us. That's plural. I'm sure we can do it."

"How sure?"

Celestia didn't answer. She merely turned her attention up to the sky.

Rincewind turned his attention to Luna, who was listening raptly as Star Swirl explained magical concepts to her. Rincewind frowned. The things Star Swirl was saying contradicted nearly everything (admittedly not very much) he'd learned in his time as a student at Unseen University.

"Are you sure you can do this?" he asked them.

"Erm," said Star Swirl. "I'm quite sure I can't."

"Then why are we...?"

"These two fine mares," Star Swirl said, gesturing at Celestia and Luna, "are convinced that whether or not they can, it is worth a try."

"What, exactly, are they doing?"

"Well," said Star Swirl, "sunlight behaves differently here than what I'm used to."

"How so?"

"It seems... fluid."*

Rincewind frowned. "And this is relevant because...?"

"I hate to interrupt," Conina said, "but if you have a plan, now would be an excellent time to enact it." She gestured at the encroaching glaciers, which now loomed over the city of Ankh-Morpork in a way that indicated they wouldn't wait for the city to pick up and move before continuing.

"Right," Celestia said, closing her eyes. "Luna?"

The two alicorns stood side by side on the University grounds, eyes closed in concentration. Celestia's horn was enveloped in a golden glow that filled the courtyard like sunlight, while Luna's own horn glowed with a deep blue colour that caused all of the shadows to stand out.

Rincewind found himself basking in their magic, in the way it seemed to make everything around them more vital. Horsery.

The sun halted its movement across the sky, then slowly moved back up towards its apogee. He stared up at it, wincing, then back at Celestia, who was gritting her teeth. Almost against his will, his eyes tracked over to Luna, who was clearly concentrating as hard as her elder sister.

At first, the result of that concentration wasn't apparent. Was she helping Celestia to move the sun? After a stressful minute of waiting, the fruits of her labours became apparent: the moon, in direct contradiction to all laws of magic and nature that Rincewind was aware of, was being dragged above the horizons and across the sky as though against its will.**

He looked with dawning horror as the sun held at apogee and the moon, with terrifying relentlessness, climbed ever higher. Having never seen -- or even heard of*** -- a solar eclipse before, Rincewind was convinced the two celestial objects were about to collide.

* It is an observed phenomenon that on worlds with a high concentration of magic, such as the Disc, that sunlight literally pours over the landscape, collecting in pools and spilling over mountains.
** This was, in fact, quite the case. Luna would later comment that moving the moon in Equestria was a fair sight easier than some more recalcitrant orbs she could name.
*** It is not quite fair to state that such an event was completely unheard of on the Disc. The fact was, however, that the orbits of the sun and moon were quite complicated enough without having to coordinate schedules, thank you very much.

After a minute of sustained eclipse, Rincewind dared to uncurl from the protective ball he'd folded himself into. "Is... is it my imagination," he said, "or is it actually getting colder?"

"It's definitely not your imagination," Nijel complained. "But would you look at that?" He gestured expansively at the phenomenon above them.

"Bloody hell," Conina said. "I don't think I've ever seen something that beautiful..."

Rincewind looked overhead. As the light of the sun fell down towards the Disc, it hit the moon and splattered across the sky, flaring out in all directions as spears of light before raining down on the Disc below.

Celestia opened one eye. "Luna," she said through gritted teeth.

"Yes, sister," the smaller alicorn said, and the aura around her horn flared. The moon pulsed blue, and that pulse spread out from the orb, gathering the spilled light to itself. As her magic collected sunlight, the world began to darken even further.

"What are you doing?!" Rincewind stared back and forth between the ponies. "That's our sunlight! We need that!"

"Of course," Star Swirl said. "We need as much of it as we can get. All at once."

"Now?" Luna asked, now sweating profusely at the exertion of maintaining two massively powerful spells at great remove.

"Not yet," Star Swirl said. "A bit longer. You've got the amniomorphic shield, but it needs to be full before we move on to the next part."

Luna grunted her acknowledgement. "Sister," she said, "I don't suppose you could speed things up on your end?"

"I'm trying, Luna," Celestia replied. "This sun doesn't like being touched. It's been left to its own devices for as long as it can remember. I think I've..." There was a brilliant flash of light from behind the moon that washed the entire city in blue-tinted light. "Got it!"

"Now!" shouted Star Swirl, but Luna needed no encouragement. She could feel her shield buckling under the weight of all that sunlight, and dropped it at once, yanking the moon out of the way with perhaps more force than was required.

Rincewind watched in awe as tonnes of sunlight didn't so much pour over the city as they washed over it in massive cascades. Waves of light towered over the glaciers like tsunamis, and then everything was awash in blinding golden light.