Star Swirl was sitting in his cottage, looking over the scrolls that lay scattered across his desk. He knew that he was going to have to give Clover his teachings, all of them.
‘Is she ready?’ He thought in his head. ‘Will they accept her as my apprentice?’ He looked up, showing his full self to the leader of the Unicorns, Princess Platinum. His white coat shined in the sunlight and created a feeling of magic around him, not that his name alone wouldn’t. Who hadn’t heard of Star Swirl the Bearded?
“Have you made your decision Star Swirl?” the Princess asked. “Have you decided who will be your new student out of the stallions here?”
Star Swirl looked at each and every stallion that was standing in a line in front of him, his tired eyes assessing their wants, needs, yearnings, and willingness to learn, not just from him but also themselves.
He sighed, and in a deep, scratchy voice that rang out like bells in a period of silence, “I have decided that none of them are adequate for learning under me. There is only one that I can teach.” He bowed his head and started turn, but stopped when the reality hit the young ones.
The stamps of hooves from the young stallions cut him off. One even dared to speak up to him, “WHY?” the young and foolish pony was furious at Star Swirl. “I am the best Stallion Unicorn in our kingdom. What prohibits me fro-“
Star Swirl reared back and fire lit in his eyes, literally and he hit the ground with such ferocity that the wood floor beneath him cracked. “ You are right. But you have forgotten one thing.” He leaned in, “Stallions aren’t the only breed of PONY! Because you lack the willingness to learn from me and ALSO yourself I cannot teach you, you would doubt yourself at the first lesson.” He turned to Princess platinum and extinguished the fire and slowed his breathing, “Bring me Clover.”
Now it was the Princess’s turn to gasp and talk back. “Why? Surely she isn’t the one you mentioned.”
“Do you doubt my knowledge in the subject?” Star Swirl asked calmly.
“Do you want me to have an apprentice again?”
"You know very well that Clover is the one that is going to be able to stay with my training. I've been to the castle just to watch her magic for pony's sake! I know that you don't want to loose your 'prized' servant but which do you want more? An apprentice for me or a servant for you?" He turned and swished his cape in a dismissive manor and went back to his study.
Still in plain sight he let out an exaggerated sigh, the stallions left but Princess Platinum stayed.
"Star Swirl, we need to talk."
He turned to face her, "About what? Your hurt pride?" He snorted, "It's a real wonder why the three races can't come up to an agreement at the councils, you probably just whine about us."
The Princess wasn't hurt by these comments. "Next time we are in a crowd together, make sure that you at least show a little respect. I can't let you talk to me that way in public; now in private, you have the right to speak to me as you wish. In public, it's a different case." She turned and started to walk out but stopped in the threshold of the doorway. "I would be expecting Clover in about an hour and 10 minutes." She then left.
Star Swirl loosened some tension in his shoulders, he hadn’t yelled at anyone in years but when the stallion spoke against his decision, he couldn’t help it. He grabbed his scrolls and started to organize them again, he needed to get this off of his mind. It would take about an hour for all of the scrolls to go back to their designated spaces in the shelves, and that was just the beginning spells. Underneath the house was a cave-like space where all of his advanced spells were, ranging from the age spell that his grandfather had made, to his time spell, sending someone back in time for 10 seconds. When he was done with organizing the scrolls he looked up, the room was spotless. He smiled, he loved his organization, and then he went into the kitchen and decided to get something to eat before Clover came to his house.
When he just gotten out the pot and gotten water from his storage there was a knock at the door that broke the silence. He smiled slightly but then returned his expression to his I-am-an-old-wizard-respect-me-or-else face. When he opened the door he was welcomed but clover, a peasant who wore only a sack as clothes. It took only that for him to drop his expression and guard and immediately welcome her inside. She looked happy that the warmth of the summer day was canceled by the coolness of the inside.
“Thank you.” She said in a small voice, and dropped the bag that she was carrying on her back on the table nearest to her.
When it hit the table the contents spilled out, a small painting of her parents, and the few necessities that a peasant needed. She quickly swopped down and grabbed them and returned them to their place. “Sorry.” She said in a smaller voice than before.
“It’s fine, young mare. Now, how about some lunch?” He turned and walked into the kitchen to finish preparing the food while she traveled behind him.
Clover was young, younger than the stallions that were here earlier but she was far wiser than any of those boys could’ve even dreamed of. All of the stallions that were there earlier had no idea of what it meant to have a house condemned, or to be living off of the work that you do. They had never worked a day in their life and expected to be accepted by someone who would work them into the ground.
Clover, on the other hand, served Princess Platinum. She was the one who would do all of the labor that the princess didn’t want to; which was just about everything. She knew what a 9 to 5 schedule was and worked a 5 to 9 schedule instead. Star Swirl knew that she would be willing to do anything to change her fate, her stars. And he was convinced that she would return to the Princess as strong, if not stronger, than he himself.
He smiled at this thought and began to hum a tune that was stuck in his head; it wasn’t a song but still catchy in his mind.
“Can I help?” Clover asked, in a bit more confident voice, but still nervous about the fact that she was in the presence of the most powerful magician in time.
“Yes, actually, can you take the plates and bowls and set them on the table?” He said, in a matter of fact style tone.
She smiled, “Okay.” She started to grab them with her hoofs to slide them onto her back but was stopped by her new mentor.
“With magic please.” He asked and grinned.
She backed up and closed her eyes and focused on the plates, beckoning them to let her pick them up with her mind. A glow glazed the plates and them started to come to her, she then tried to redirect them towards the table. The glaze sputtered and the connection was cut off. They fell and for a treacherous moment she thought the plates would break against the floor. Then her teacher grabbed the plates and set them on the table.
“Try the silverware.” He said with a soft smile on his face.
“Where are they? I don’t know the layout of this house.”
“The drawer below where the plates were.” He said and went to the pot of boiling water. He put in some cabbage and mixed vegetables that he had picked from his garden earlier.
There was soft pattering against the table and a soft ‘yes’ from Clover. Star Swirl smiled but didn’t say anything to her. He stepped from the stove and turned to see Clover sitting at the table waiting patiently for him to finish the food and bring the servings to the table.
“Since you work at the castle I would imagine that you know how to handle silverware properly.” The old wizard asked, with a fake inquisitive expression.
“Yes. I was taught when I was young and first started to work there.” She picked up the fork and knife properly, “See.” She beamed with pride over the practiced form.
The wizard was growing fond of this mare, and it hadn’t even been half an hour. “Good job. After the meal, we will start to work on the first lesson.”
Star Swirl stopped humming his tune and got the pot, illuminating it with a white glow from his magic. He poured out the soup into a bowl for each of them, he also had some extra, just in case Clover wanted more.
When the soup entered into Clover’s bowl she gasped, “That’s a lot of food! This is all for me?”
“Yes, of course. I even have more if you want.” The wizard said, with a disgruntled look. He’d need to talk to the Princess about that.
She smiled and started to eat to her hearts content. She finished the entire bowl before Star Swirl had finished half of his. He poured her more and she ate more. This continued for about an hour and only came to a stop when the parsnips had run out.
Clover sat next to the table with a full stomach, retelling the tales that the Princess would tell her to her mentor. Star Swirl would listen and laugh when it was funny, but most of all.
He decided to cancel that day’s lesson. It could wait another day, now he would just enjoy the company of this strange but enjoyable mare that was no longer viewed as a student. He viewed Clover as something more than that; he viewed her as a daughter. She would learn everything that he could possibly teach her; he was going to teach and learn from her whenever he could.
The two of them talked until the sun set; having a healthy conversation Clover didn’t even realize that it was nighttime until a light bug flew in through an open window.
“Let me show you your room, I hope that you like it.” He got up and went around to help Clover get up. When she was up he walked out of the kitchen and into the study, which used to be the living area but since he was living alone, it was the study. It was littered with shelves that were all full of scrolls. When the little mare saw this she gasped, the information that could be detained from these scrolls were limitless in her mind. Really it was going to be minds of both the timeworn wizard and the young mare in that house that would make things in the empire limitless.
“Here we are.” Star Swirl said, opening the door to his daughter’s old room. When the sight was confirmed in his brain that they had moved out and left forever, he was brought to his knees.
“Star Swirl.” Clover exclaimed, “Are you okay?” She bent down and helped up her teacher.
Tears were running down his cheeks like rivers, he hadn’t been prepared for their departure. “She just up and left the house, not letting me try and dissuade her out of it. I-I-I” In his head he thought that he sounded like a babbling baby, but in reality he was just a father wanting to see his daughter again. He had to tell someone though, he'd kept it contained for all this time, it was going to explode out of his chest if not right at this moment he spoke of it.
“It’s okay.” She closed the door with magic, “I don’t have to stay in that room.”
Star Swirl couldn’t form the words he needed to say; he was stricken with sorrow and grief. “The last thing that I said to her was in anger. She had said that she never asked to be the daughter of a wizard, a stallion that had no idea what it meant to love someone.” With that last quote he felt shamed and drooped his head low, the tears slowing down.
“Star Swirl, what’s past is past.” Clover said. Her mentor looked up; hope slowly beckoning into his eyes. “You weren’t as wise as you are now. It was a mistake, try and talk to her again. How long has it been since you last spoke to her?”
The stallion looked down again, his emotions playing tricks on him. “It’s been…70 years.”
Clover looked at him in shock, “70 years!" she asked in disbelief. "Why haven’t you talked to her?” She said in frustration, she'd expect a wizard to know when enough time had past.
“Well, we argued the night that she left, as you know. Words were exchanged that weren’t entirely true but taken that way. I stormed off to my room and she ended up leaving hers. The next day, I woke up and she was gone, with no note to say where she had gone, who she was with, if she’d return. She just left.” The tears started coming again. In the moonlight they looked like jewels that were glistening in their first exposer to light, out of the ground.
“We’ll for now, you need sleep, and so do I.” Clover said, “I can sleep on the living room floor. Are you able to make it to your room?”
Through sniffling the wizard spoke one word. “Yes.”
Then we went into his room and prepared the night of sleep, he hoped. But deep in his mind he knew that it would be full of regret and sorrow and wishing to go back. To go back to right his wrong, but it was too late, and his time spell wouldn’t allow him enough time.
Clover was prepared the night sleep that she needed; her body would most likely wake her up and the usual time of right before sunrise. This was going to be an interesting partnership between the two of them, and they would be together through the upcoming storm that was brewing on the horizon. But for now, the trials of the past were the only things in both of the minds in that cottage that night.
Star Swirl lay in bed, the night shifting around him; he did not know why he had opened up to Clover, the one thing that he had never told anyone was just said to her. Not even the Princess knew about this, he had never breathed a word of this experience to anypony. The night was beautiful; the stars were in the sky, preforming their dance that only he knew he could see. The constellations would run to each other, grab hands and dance. The shifting and swinging would normally lull him to sleep but this night, a scab had been removed violently and he wasn’t prepared for it.
He then heard the tune that they were dancing to; a simple company of stringed instruments called lyres was playing a joyful tune. He smiled, the vibrant sound rang out in his ears; the strings would start soft, then they would gather speed and slow. The dancing stars would mimic the speed of the song, slow then fast, slow then fast. Violins that stayed in the background, providing the setting a romantic touch, then joined the lyres in their upbeat sound. Then the star people aligned in the sky and took a bow, switched partners and repeated the dance.
Looking into that same sky was his new apprentice, seeing the same thing. Hearing different music though, Clover’s was a slow song, one that required an orchestra to make possible. The deep cellos provided a foundation for the other instruments to dance upon, then the violas would skip on that foundation, swooping high and going low then in the middle; at that moment the flutes would join and play sharp notes like rain falling against a walkway. Leaving a mark on the music, the flutes would then join the dance, which was now slower than before but just as beautiful. The piccolos would join but then blend in without hesitation. Then tubas would come, creating a vibration that could almost be felt by the little dreamer that was looking out the window at a gorgeous dance. The stars would finish the dance, bow and then return to their designated place in the sky.
Star Swirl was sad when the dance ended, it was the same every night, 3 or 4 partner switches then the dance would end. Every night, the stars would take on different shapes of ponies, but they had one thing in common; they were all unicorns. There was never a pegasi or an earth pony, just unicorns. When he knew that this would be a sleepless night he decided to go out to the porch and sit and think. On his way out to the porch he remembered to grab a blank scroll and a feather pen, just in case something came to him. He went out and sat down, letting the cool night air swell around him; this was when he thought best. When something was plaguing his mind and wouldn’t let him sleep, he’d go outside and write down the spells that came to him.
The wind was whistling around his ears, tickling his beard and entertaining his mind when he heard the creaking noise that came from the house. He was instantly alert; ready for anything he already had spells swirling around his mind ready for use. The door opened slowly and Clover came out.
“Can’t sleep?” She asked him.
The old warrior laughed, “Yes, I can’t sleep tonight. Care to sit with me? We can discuss some of my more recent ideas.” He said in a tempting voice.
Now it was Clover’s turn to laugh, “Sure.”
“Well, I will do my best not to bored you.” Star Swirl said. “Now, where do you want to start?”
“What were you like as a child?”
The longwinded wizard looked at his student, slightly shocked that she would ask him that. “Well,” He sputtered, “I guess you could say I was never really normal. I was one of the smartest ponies in my generation. I could recite spells with ease and take tests like they were nothing. When I was about to graduate from school I devoted my life to magic; it was what I knew I was destined to do. When I got out of school, I made my first spell; something that has grown into what is now know as the levitation spell.”
“You made that spell?” Clover asked in disbelief, “Everypony knows that spell now! You must be really old.” She put a hoof against her chin, “How old are you?” She inquired.
“I am 118 years old right now. But I know that I am going to live a long, long time.” He said matter-of-factly.
“How can you be sure?”
“When a pony devotes their life to something as big as magic, and follows it, they are blessed with extremely long life. There is only one other thing that grants this, that is ruling the land. In some cases Princess will rule forever until they are either killed in battle or defeated by another pony in a magic duel. The ladder rarely happens and is only seen once in history. I am most likely going to live for about a thousand years.” He got up and looked at the stars, “Through all of this though, I am going to constantly write down the spells that I hear and make sure that they are perfected and then given to the pony community.”
“Wow.” Awestruck and realizing the impact that this one pony has had on her world finally hitting Clover was enough to rack a million and a half questions in her head. She knew better than to ask him them all in one night though; she, instead, picked three that she would ask each day. Starting tonight. “What is your cutie mark?”
He shifted his gaze off of the stars and looked Clover in the eyes, “Why don’t you see for yourself.” He said and grinned. He pulled back his cape and revealed a swirling grey line, on it were stars that were grey, like the tip of his beard.
“What does it represent?” Clover asked, but then regretted it; a question that could’ve waited until morning, but now was costing her one of her three precious questions.
“It represents that I am who I say I am Star Swirl the Bearded. I have not gone by my real name since I was employed by my father to make magic. At that time I was just Star Swirl, when I got my beard when I was older and ran the magic company myself I added the bearded part.” The stallion explained.
“Wow. I have just one more question. Why change your name?” Any curious pony would wonder that.
“Because Shining Star doesn’t sound as good as Star Swirl. And, truth be told, I didn’t get the idea all by myself; my father suggested that I changed it because anytime a spell of mine was sold it would go under my name. It would be sold as spell name by Shining Star, he thought it would bring better sales if it said spell name by Star Swirl. The sales proved it too, they increased once my name was changed.”
“Was it worth it?” Clover asked.
He paused and thought long and hard about this. “Well kiddo, guess what you just did.”
Confused she asked, “What?”
“A question that I don’t know the answer too. I can honestly say that I like my name, both of them; but once I worked for the Princess it was really official for me. Shining Star was no more. Only Star Swirl would make her spells, only Star Swirl would take care of her magical needs.” He sighed, and shifted his gaze to the stars. “I guess I can say it both was and wasn’t worth changing.”
He looked down at her, “Do you ever wonder about the stars?”
Clover looked up and grinned, “Yes. I often do."
The next morning Clover woke up to the smell of breakfast being made; Star Swirl was in the kitchen, up bright and early as usual. He looked over from his cooking when he heard her stir from the sleep that she most definitely needed.
“Oh, sorry, did I wake you?” He said, with the spoon still stirring behind him.
“No,” Clover said, “I just smelled breakfast and my mind did the rest.” She beamed at him. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, I did. I was starting to get concerned for you though.” The teacher said.
“What? Why?” Clover asked. She couldn’t think of any reason that he should be concerned for her. Was there?
“You slept through an entire day.” The wizard said matter-of-factly and turned around to make sure that nothing was burning. Then he moved on from the subject of Clover’s sleeping patterns, “I’m trying something new for this mornings meal. I hear that it’s called oatmeal. It’s from the Earth Ponies, they say that it’s called a ‘soul food’.”
“Wait.” Clover spoke, “If it’s from the Earth Ponies, I don’t want it.” Hostility was in her voice and hatred in her heart. She’d grown up hearing about the stubbornness of those ponies, from her parents mostly.
Star Swirl stamped his hoof. “Confound me! Why can’t people look past the idiotic rumors of their race? Even more so, save me from the hard headedness of the Unicorns!” He turned away but then turned back even faster. “Why do you have reason to hate them? What has an Earth Pony even done to you? My god, have you even seen one of their race?” He exasperated.
Clover was shocked at the defense of a race that was so hated. No pony like the Earth Ponies other than the Earth Ponies. She might have to tell the Princess about that; she probably knew already, though. Clover was about to say again that she didn’t want the oatmeal but then her stomach growled and she realized 2 things. It didn’t matter that the food was from the Earth Ponies and secondly, she did in fact sleep through an entire day.
“Okay, I’ll try it.” She said begrudgingly, but thankfully accepted the meal.
Star Swirl smiled under his beard, he had planned this. He knew as soon as she would wake up he should make the oatmeal so she would have to eat it. He needed to weed out the hatred that she born in. Just something as simple as this would start it and he had plans to make sure that the racism was weeded out.
After Clover was done with eating her breakfast she decided that it would be best to say her questions now, there was a lot on her mind and she wanted to find out some things.
“Why do you not hate the Earth Ponies?”
The wizard turned and smiled, and answered the way any mentor would, “Why do you?”
Clover was shocked at this, “Well… I-I um.” She looked at the ground, something she did when she didn’t know the answer when she thought that it was so obvious at first. “I don’t know.” She said and gained a high interest in the floorboards.
Star Swirl looked at his student, and grinned, “Congratulations Clover. You just learned your first lesson. Being able to say those 3 words. That is the greatest lesson that I can possibly teach you, anypony for that matter. You see the pride that is in many ponies is the first thing that I need to weed out of my students. If you can’t admit that you’r-“
“How many students have you had before me?” Clover interrupted.
“I have had 3 before; all of them failed my final test. If they had passed then they would’ve taken over another section of my spell creating. Until then, I do everything.” He paused, waiting for a question, then continued. “If you can’t admit that you’re wrong when you are, then you will not be able to see the difference between a spell that could blow up a building and one that can assist in it. You will be to proud to see the tiny flaws and notice the small details that could alter ponies lives.” He turned and grabbed the bowls and carried them to the sink where water was running. “After I finish the dishes then we can continue to work on the lessons.”
Throughout the rest of the day, the two of them were practicing the ability to levitate multiple objects at once. Clover was able to consistently pick up one object at once, but when another was introduced, they would fall all the time. That is until the sun was setting and she was on her last attempt, and she picked up a rock and a pinecone, both about the size of a baseball. Needless to say, she was beaming with pride and radiating with a new type of confidence, Star Swirl had taken her in, and this was one of the first times that she knew she had done something to please him.
He looked at her as they were walking back, “Why were you really up last night?”
“I wanted to tell you then, but I didn’t think that you would believe me; since I was a filly, I have seen the stars do a dance. They dance to music that I hear in my head,” She looked at the ground, “I know it sounds silly but it’s the truth. Whenever I can’t sleep I just look at the stars; when they finish their dance though, I always feel that they are waiting for me to write down what they do. So last night I did, and I was coming out to hide it because it sounded absolutely ridiculous.”
Star Swirl chuckled, “Well, it will please you to know that I see that very same thing; I see the stars do their dance.”
Clover was stunned at first, but then realized that everyone probably saw their own things that others couldn’t. Pensively she walked beside her mentor and thought about the other things were normal to her, but could be different for others. She was so lost in thought at recollecting her dreams and debating on things likewise that she didn’t even notice the stairs leading up to the porch and tripped over the first one.
She hit ground with a THUNK and let a gasp, unprepared for the steps and quickly got up and blushed at her clumsiness. She tried opening the door with her magic, and to her surprise it creaked open almost half way but stopped after that.
She glanced at Star Swirl, beaming with pride, “Did you see that?” She asked.
He smiled, “Yes I did.” He opened it the rest of the way and let himself in.
“I might be able to open it on my own in a day or two! That will be amazing!!” Clover was so happy in fact that she didn’t notice any of the bad the rest of that day everything was going great. That night, the stars didn’t dance, or at least Clover didn’t notice it because she was busy levitating the books that were around her until the early morning. She was going to be happy here, she had always loved learning and wanted to be able to go back to her Princess and show her the things that she had learned. She was determined to learn as much as she could as fast as she could; she was determined to stay Star Swirl’s apprentice.
It was 2 and a half weeks later that the fantastic moment happened in Clover’s life, she got her Cutie Mark. It was a beautiful hue of green that fitted her white coat and green eyes. The look on her teachers face was priceless; being with his student immediately after she got her Cutie Mark was a moment to remember.
She was in a patch of clovers, waiting for Star Swirl to get back to his home from his garden and was trying out her ability to speed up the growing process of the clovers. She focused on channeling her will for them to grow as she clasped a section of grass in her green hued glowing magic; there was a rush of wind and a slight shifting of the earth near her when she opened her eyes.
There in front of her was a single fully grown clover. She gasped and her eyes widened as she began to process what had just happened. She made those plants accelerate on the path of life. She grinned widely but then it shrunk back down to the normal size of it surrounding plants. This didn’t dampen her spirit though, she was thrilled beyond all reason; she had just sent a clover forward in the life process. While it wasn’t enough for it to sustain that life, she had hope! Beaming ear to ear she got up from the ground and picked the clover that she’d affected; this was the sign of progress. She laughed and the clover slipped out of her mouth. Gasping she turned quickly to try and get it but it had already fallen into the reach of it’s kin. She was about to turn back to look ahead and attempt the spell but caught something out of the corner of her eye.
Her Cutie Mark! She looked back again and saw it; the beautiful mark of her maturity, she was now able to have something that she’d been craving a long time. Her mark, her identity, her purpose in life. It was a clover surrounded green-shaped stars; the stars obviously represented magic but what did the clover mean? Was she to understand the art of growing things? Like an Earth Pony? Or, was she to make spells that could make people lucky?
Just at this moment she heard a basket hit the ground; whipping around, she readied a basic protection spell and then she saw who it was. Her teacher had come back from his garden.
“Star Swirl! I did it! I did it!”
“You got your Cutie Mark.” He said and smiled. “Do you know what each leaf represents on a clover?”
The student shook her head, “No, I don’t know.” ‘It’s a pity’, she thought, ‘I don’t know what my namesake represents.’
“Well, I’ll tell you; the 3 leafs represent faith, hope, and love. Yours is a 4 leaf, the 4th obviously represents luck.” He looked of towards the rising sunlight and then looked back down to his faithful student. “Come. We can get back to the house and start to work on your growing abilities.”
He turned and started the journey back to the cabin; whilst they were walking a fog descended on their land, cluing that today would be a practice inside. Star Swirl always said, if you can’t see what your magic is doing that don’t do magic at all.
The fog that was gathering near the mountainside was bothering Princess Platinum. She frowned and looked up to see if there was a suspecting Pegasus that was playing a trick on her. She saw no such thing though, just clouds and bits of sunshine breaking through the sky. She shifted her gaze towards the town that the castle overlooked, imagining what new spells her servant could do. She hadn’t seen Clover in almost a month and was sure that Star Swirl was going to contact her soon. This was just going to the basics section of her study, nothing too challenging.
She gasped and said aloud, “What if she can’t do the beginners process?”
The royal princess ran out of her chambers, “Guards! Get me a carriage, I need to see Clover now!” The guards were startled, they were normally not ordered to do things like order up a carriage, but their training kicked in and they responded with a measly, “Yes ma’am.”
Within the hour she was arriving on Star Swirls’ property and banging on the door with her hoof so loudly that she didn’t hear the old wizard shout that it was unlocked. When the beating continued Clover opened the door with her magic and the Princess almost punched her square on the muzzle.
“Oh.” Platinum stepped in, “Sorry dear.”
“What in the world are you doing here?” The wizard asked. “I told you that I would send for you when she was ready!” He stamped his hoof on the floorboards, sighed, and calmed his emotions. “I apologize for the outburst Princess.” He stepped back and breathed deeply. “What can I help you with?”
“Give me an update on where Clover is on the beginners process of the magic program.” The royal commanded.
Through his beard, Star Swirl replied, “I will send you that when I am ready.”
The Princess lit a fire in her eyes and anger seeped from every pore; the longwinded wizard chuckled. Confusion fell over the princess faster than the anger had come to her.
“Why are you laughing?” She asked him.
Clover spoke up, “I finished the beginners almost a week ago. I’ve been working on intermediate and experienced for this last week.”
Platinum’s jaw dropped and the 2 others in the room erupted in laughter. Clover then remembered that Princess Platinum hadn’t seen her Cutie Mark.
“Hey, Princess,” Platinum closed her jaw and straightened up. “Look! I got my Cutie Mark!” Clover squealed in excitement.
The princess nodded and moved towards the door. “I’ll check up again in a month. Hopefully she hasn’t grown stronger than myself at that point.”
Star Swirl chuckled, “She just might be.”
The princess nodded, still in a daze. She hadn’t finished the beginners’ course until 2 months after she started. This was crazy, a month! That hadn’t been done as far as she knew since Star Swirl himself.
Maybe that little mare is something special.
Almost 2 days after Clover got her Cutie Mark, there was a pounding at the door. Her mentor went to see who it was and walked out of the kitchen while they were eating breakfast. Normally, ponies would walk into the home of a neighbor or a friend, Star Swirl was different though. Everyone knocked. No pony would walk into the house of the most powerful wizard in the land. So he had to check every time that there was a knock.
He opened the door and was confronted by a soldier, panting and pupils dilated with sweat dripping down his face. “Sir,” He bowed out of reverence for the wizard “I was told,” pant, “to come and get you” pant, “immediately” pant, “by the Commander” pant, “of our army.”
“Calm down, I’d like to hear what you say but between your panting I can only guess. Come in and sit down.” He moved his body out of the way of the door so the stallion could come in.
After a few drinks of water and a break from the running, the guard was able to tell the wizard what was happening.
“Sir, I was told that there is an Ursa Minor on the loose in our lands. Commander Night Flame sent me to get you.” The soldier stood and saluted the ancient stallion sitting in front of him with a concerned look on his face. “He said that you should send the beast out of Kingdom and let it toil somewhere else.”
Star Swirl nodded and the guard snorted, “Send it to the Earth Ponies; they deserve it for making food but charging us with raising the sun and moon.” After this snide remark he left and ran back to his post at the Fort 2 miles outside of the castle walls.
The old pony slowly got up from his spot, remembering that he had a spell just for a case like this, to send something the other way. ‘I could just set a protective shield around the Unicorn Kingdom.’ He thought to himself. Then he remembered that the commander commanded him to put it elsewhere, not protect the kingdom. He might take an offense to his spell, but the Earth Ponies don’t deserve that thing! He sighed, hating the animosity that his kin had with a peaceful race like the Earth Ponies.
“You shouldn’t send it to them.” Clover spoke up. Her teacher turned to face her.
“I know this. They didn’t do anything wrong to get this; the only reason that they want us to raise the sun and moon is because no pony else can.” He frowned, “But what can I do aside from just that?”
Clover looked at the ground, almost too scared to share her idea. She breathed deeply, gathering all the courage that she could muster and spoke quickly; otherwise she would second-guess herself. “You should make a spell that lulls it to sleep and then carry it back to its cave with your levitation spell. You can use your memory spell to know where it lives.”
“That. Is.” The spell maker began.
Clover prepared herself. Ready for whatever was to come from her absurd idea.
“Brilliant.” He finished. “We must go, now, so that we can get to it before the Unicorn feel like they need to attack because I decided not to come.”
He immediately turned and ran out of the door, with Clover trying to catch up to him.
“When we get there,” Star Swirl began to explain, “We are going to need to be prepared for almost anything; this Ursa is most likely mad, and we need to be able to defend ourselves. You are going to be behind me, the entire time that this thing is awake and moving.”
“Okay!” Clover shouted out to him.
It was almost 13 minutes before they got to see the Ursa in its entirety; its roaring and pounding of the ground was noticeable from a distance. When they crested over the hill that was separating them from the beast that was terrorizing the kingdom, the 2 equines couldn’t help but gasp. This towering beast stood almost 25 feet tall when it reared on its hind legs; in a normally position on all fours, it was almost 10 feet tall. Its teeth were dripping from the salivating thoughts of destruction.
“Good gods.” Star Swirl said under his breath in shock and astonishment at this being. Galloping onward, he prepared a spell that would protect him from any loose swipes of the Ursa. Anything hard and aimed though, well, to put it simply, not even Star Swirl could protect himself against that.
He heard Clover whimper slightly behind him and he turned, “Go back to the top of that hill. No matter what happens, Clover, stay put. If the Ursa is able to beat me, yell at the guards and run back to fort.”
Clover was shaking, the fear of the situation fully hitting her and not holding anything back. As she galloped back to the hill, tears welled up; she had faith in her teacher, but this? This was an Ursa Minor, a destroyer of cities.
As she reached the peak, a loud whooshing sound filled her ears and she snapped her head around just in time to see the golden smoke rise from where her mentor had been standing. Then behind the hulking mass of energy, he appeared and cast a spell so fast that the original smoke was still drifting. His cast was powerful, swift and poise; Star Swirl meant to put it to sleep. Abruptly, a flash of light filled the air and Clover had to look away for the sake of her eyesight. She looked back and saw that the Minor was falling forward, onto the smoke that sat low to the ground now; Star Swirl was staring ahead though, locked in place. For a moment the student was concerned but then remembered that he was to look through the memories of the Ursa to find where it lived. The Minor fell and shook the Earth so hard that you could see a small ripple, peeling away from its epicenter that was covered by the blue bear.
After 30 seconds Star Swirl shook his head and then gripped the bear with magic, the magic started out with the feet, then slowly enveloping the Ursa like a golden shell molding over its body. Then, he began to pick it up. The beast was so big that it required most of Star’s strength; forcing him to put as much physical might into picking it up. As he began to pick it up, there was a crackling and a swirling formation circled around the wizard’s horn. The golden hued shape then wreathed the Ursa Minor and in a flash of light, and a dramatic closing of the now hurricane shaped formation, was gone.
The longwinded stallion in the center of the plain then fell to the ground, exhausted and out of practice for the spells that he had decided to use. Clover immediately ran to her mentor, wanting to make sure that he was unharmed; when she got to him, only one word was coming out of his mouth.
“Clover.” Better ever breath he took. “Clover.” His eyelids were fluttering open and closed faster than a blink. “Clover.”
Her name hung in the air like tree sap sticks to hair, thick and noticeable. He was alive, but no one could know how much damage was done to his mind because of how strong the spells he casted was; he hadn’t practiced those spells in years and when put to the test against an Ursa Minor, it might’ve damaged the very mind that spawned those spells.
Clover then called out to the soldiers that were still standing on the hill, just noticing that the wizard wasn’t getting up. The stallions came sprinting down the hill, all but one who was calling out to the fort to get a medical unicorn down there. All the while, in Star Swirl’s mind, he was in a place of comfort and resting. He only heard Clovers voice, suggesting the idea that just saved 2 kingdoms. She was so clever, clever.
“Clover the Clever. Clever.” Star Swirl muttered and then fell unconscious on the plain outside of the Unicorn Kindom.
“Star Swirl! No!” She jumped up from her spot on the floor of the hospital room, on top of the carpet in the center of the room. She’d had a nightmare, a cold sinister ending to the fight on the plains about 5 hours beforehand. She looked out the window opposite of her and found that no light was shining; letting her eyes adjust to the darkness; she began to take apart what was real and what wasn’t.
She knew that she had said clever before he passed out but had he said that it was her fault? Was she to blame for this incident that could possibly end the greatest mind in the land? Shedding a tear, she was confident that he didn’t, but… without him to reassure her, she couldn’t know for certain.
She now began to see the room she was in, a largish area with a bed and a bell beside it, to call for a nurse. There was a table on the opposite side of the bed from her, on it was a portrait of his father; she picked it up from her teacher’s house so that he could see it when he woke up. There was something about his father that never really sat well with Clover, just a small thing that Star Swirl had brought up in previous lessons.
“My father, he was never really the pony to encourage.” Began Star Swirl, almost 2 months before. “He would try to lead by example, which didn’t leave a lot of room for encouragement. Believe it or not, I would’ve rather been told, ‘good job! Now, lets try and fix the little rough edges on the spell,’ rather than, ‘Look at what I’ve done with it, I’ve made this spell last 4 days instead of 4 hours. It’s like this…”
The reason for Clovers distaste of this side of his father was because it reminded her too much of her father. She’d never really loved her father; there was reverence, but never love. She’d grown up to fear him because of his ability to craft magical items and enchant things that were brought to him; he’d ask a reasonable amount of money and give good quality products in return. Clover’s father never really knew how to love; he’d say it, but he loved Clover too much to let her be a kid who made mistakes.
A doctor came in and paused in the doorway, noticing the littler pony that was now standing up in the room.
He cleared his throat and began, “We need the room for the remained of the day. We are going to be working on making sure that he keeps his mind and also do our best to see if there was any other damage than to the head.”
“But I need to be there when he wakes up!” She shouted in protest.
The doctor got down on his knees so he could be eye level with the young mare. “We will get you if he wakes up, but for now, we need this room for the rest of the night. There are chairs and mats out in the lobby that you can sleep on.”
Clover hung her head; she was tired from all the dreaming that she had before she woke up, the horrid thoughts just sent shivers down her spine.
“You promise you will.” She asked the doctor.
He nodded then gestured towards the window in the door and 3 nurses came in.
“Okay.” She said and walked out of the room.
In the lobby there wasn’t really anyone who was there, the hospital was in a fort after all. She looked at the reception desk and saw that there was a pony who was writing something down on a notepad somewhat frantically.
Confused, Clover walked over and the receptionist quickly thrust down the quill, “Yes?” She asked with suspicion.
“I was wondering what you were writing.” Clover winced, she asked before she thought about it. “I-I mean- uh, wha-“
“Mind your own business little filly.” She said and pushed her away with magic.
“Fine.” Clover muttered under her breath.
The rest of the night she was either awake or wanting to be. She first drifted off and was shocked to find herself back on the battleground where Star Swirl fell. She turned and saw the Ursa staring down at her, saliva dripping from its teeth. She screamed but no sound came out, nothing, just the roaring of the bear and the air rushing out of the way of the paw coming to crush her. Clover couldn’t move, only wait for the incoming plow that would end her and get her out of the dream.
Suddenly, a figure sprang from behind her and shot a beam of energy at the paw; connecting, the paw veered off away from her and the figure shot another 3 beams into the beasts roaring mouth. Turning, the figure showed itself to Clover and it was Star Swirl, of course.
“Oh,” She sighed in relief, he was okay. “Thank yo-“ she cut herself off and stared at the face of her defender in horror.
His face was slowly distorting, shifting and sliding off of the skull, his eyes became liquid and slid out of their eye sockets. The skin was almost completely off and it began to show the whiteness of bone. Clover shrieked and attempted to turn away but couldn’t. Fire suddenly jutted out his skull and burned her face, but still unable to turn away, she screamed on. The heat was so intense, why didn’t it wake her from this dream? She was crying now, unable to do anything but cry and screech in trepidation She was grabbed on her shoulder and turned to see a wall of white and was only scared further.
She saw the fire still in the white and was terrified and was shaking so violently that she didn’t realize she was out of the dream.
“Clover!” The voice sounded far off, “CLOVER!” It was closer now, but still lost in the inferno that was her mentor’s appearance.
“CLOVER!” The doctor was shaking her violently so that she could wake up.
She gasped, embracing reality instead of the nightmare that she just had.
“Clover, are you alright?” The doctor asked. “You opened your eyes but then started to gasp and shriek and yell and push away from me.”
Gasping, she replied with, “Yes.” Breathing a sigh of relief she looked back at the doctor, “What is it?”
He backed up a little bit to give her some room. “I said I would get you when Star Swirl woke up, well he’s up. You can go back into the room if you want.” He began to walk away but paused before he went down the corridor. “By the way, his mind wasn’t damaged at all.” He smiled and continued down the hall.
Star Swirl was lying in bed looking out of the window; yearning to leave the hospital and go back to making magic. He sighed heavily; he had seen some unsettling images in his sleep, ones that he was ready to forget.
“Star Swirl!” He turned and smiled widely.
“Hello Clover!” He got out of bed and went to hug her, he was glad that she was safe.
“How are you?” She asked him, anxious to know if anything had happened whilst he was asleep.
The smile on his face was wiped away, “I saw things that I am beyond ready to forget.” He shook his head and put a smile on again. “I am feeling better though. How was your stay?”
Clover grew serious as well and put her head down, not wanting to let him know.
“Never mind that.” Star Swirl began. “We need to leave soon, I have many new ideas that I can give to the world involving protection.” He looked past Clover, “Ah, doctor.” Clover turned around and saw the doctor holding a clipboard with some papers on it. “Thank you for everything that you’ve done.”
She addressed the doctor, “Can we go now?”
He chuckled, “Yes, yes you can.” He then began to make sure that Star Swirl knew everything that he needed to do for the next month.
“I want you to lay off of spell casting; even if that means not teaching this filly here, I don’t want you to cast any spells this month. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and make sure that you are getting healthy food intake.” He looked down at a clipboard and asked Star Swirl to make his mark so he could go. After that, they were off to home.
During the journey, Star Swirl was silent; debating something in his mind, he was very pensive and wanted to make sure that Clover would be fine. He was constantly reassuring himself the fact that she would be fine.
When the 2 ponies got back to the cabin, Star Swirl began, “Clover, I won’t be able to teach you this next month.” He paused. “I feel that I shouldn’t keep you here during that time; if you aren’t learning anything then I don’t believe that you should be here.”
Clover couldn’t speak, she was shocked and dumbfounded at this, and “I-I can read the scrolls and ask you what they mean if I need help. I can just stay and help you remember what you need to do or be here and comfort you.” She didn’t want to leave, not in a million eons would she ever want to leave this cabin.
Star Swirl shook his head, “The Princess said that she wanted monthly reports on what you were doing and how you were progressing; if she doesn’t get that then she gets angry and visits me, whom I obviously don’t want to visit me. I am going to send you back to the castle; in a month return here and we shall resume your training.” He turned and went into his room.
The tear were rushing in Clover’s eyes before she could stop them, pooling at her eyelids and burning her cheeks as they slid down her face and neck. Quickly, she gathered her things and crammed them into the same bag that she arrived with; without noticing it, she went into her room and threw in some parchment and quills with the painting of her mother and father.
As she was walking out of the door, she was shaking and then began to write on parchment. After about 5 minutes of frivolous writing, she set the letter on the table and slammed the door behind as she left. Outside, she was reintroduced to the gargantuan world, not knowing what to do she just did what her mentor last commanded her to do. Go back to the castle.
Back at the cabin, Star Swirl was still lying in bed; he was thinking about what he had taught her and weather she would be ready for the incoming storm. In his dreams, which he was sure were visions, he saw a great dark cloud encircling the land. He heard yelling and shouts of hatred. Then, in the blink of an eye, the land was 10 feet deep in snow and nothing would grow at all. He looked up into the sky and saw creatures that hadn’t been named yet, but they had eyes that glowed white and were in the center of the massive cloud and spinning round and round, causing this tormenting snowstorm.
“I pray that the princess and all of her company will be safe.” He spoke and then drifted off to sleep. In his hoof was parchment and he had read it again and again trying to make sense of it, but not even he could make sense of something as tragic as this.
I have learned many things in your company; you have taught me how to levitate objects, speed up the growing process (even though I am still working on that.) you’ve given me confidence that I could never have gotten on my own. You have done so many things for me and I have not been able to do anything in return; this letter that you are reading, it will be my last to you. You’ve done SO much for me and I can’t do anything for you; all that I’ve done is put you in a coma and pout around whenever I couldn’t get something on the first try.
I hope that you can understand this and maybe in time I can come back to finish my studies.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.
It was a very long time before Star Swirl saw Clover again. She had gone back to Princess Platinum and was fulfilling her duties as a servant, but she could be so much more that that and the wizard knew it. The land had been attacked by the Wendigos and the 3 races had plunged into having to find a new land. The Princess had come back with Clover to bring her peoples back to Equestria but decided to stay a little longer, wanting to remember everything that she had before. The only reason that he saw her after the ursa was because the princess was dying; he was going to have to go to the castle in Equestria to crown the new princesses, Platinum’s 2 heirs, Celestia and Luna who were Alicorns. They were a new race that had emerged when the peace had been made; the magic that the Wendigos had brought didn’t just disappear, they went into the heirs and made them sprout wings and gave them strength like the Earth Ponies. They were the rulers-to-be and every princess that would follow would be Alicorn as well, transformed into it by the power of the ruler at the time.
“A storm is brewing in the east.” The old pony said, anxious to get his final visit done, across from him was the doctor in his home, making sure that the last effects of the Ursa fight was gone and he was able to do mundane, normal tasks just fine.
“You don’t know that for sure, the pegasi didn't promise another rain because of the downpour yesterday.” The doctor replied, not looking up from his clipboard. “Now, Star Swirl, would you please levitate the ball.”
The patient groaned, he had learned to hate that ball. Every 3 days it would skulk into his home and he would be forced to lift it, throw it, grow it, shrink it, heat it up, and even make it cold as ice. He hated this ball.
“Fine, and the wind is coming from the opposite direction of the storm that is heading toward us for tomorrow, but because of the size that storm would be, the pegasi will make it rain both days lightly.” He then gripped the ball and put it at eye level, then turned and said to his ‘helper’, “Now what?”
“You know.” He said, peering his eyes just over the edge of the wooden slab.
Star Swirl grunted and quickly completed the tasks that he knew had to be done so that this insolent pony would leave his house for good this time.
As he finished the tasks the doctor equine chuckled, “Well done, you have fully recover-”
“I knew this a month ago!” Star Swirl snapped, “And if you had listened to me, I wouldn't have had to deal with you for another 11 visits! You have my permission to leave.” He threw open the door from the living area and took the pony’s baggage and set it on the porch, where the wind was sifting through the papers and attempting to steal them for itself.
The doctor quickly left and didn't even say goodbye, he knew better than that. No, he just left Star Swirl to his empty home, yearning for something more to happen than medical checkups and the occasional gardening. This was the life that Equestria’s greatest wizard was brought to, a gardening, traumatized pony that could only have his scrolls for comfort.
Clover had a love-hate relationship with serving. She liked it because she only actually served for about 5 hours of the day, but that was 5 hours wasted in her mind. Not a single day passed where she didn't think about Star Swirl, her mentor who had taught her everything she knew about magic. In a space that was sanctioned off in her heart, she still wanted to be in that cottage with him, learning what he knew, she was his apprentice for pony sake! The day that she stumbled into the chambers of her ruler and discovered her unconscious was a day that she would never forget, despite her not really liking the princess.
“Princess!” Clover shouted when she saw what was her ruler.
Her highness had no response, just a grumbling sound coming from the back of her throat. Her eyes were tearing and she had broken out in sweat; Clover didn't know how to react to this, so she just shouted at the guard outside to get the medical pony inside the room as quickly as possible.
The medic had nothing that could help defeat the sickness, only soothe the rulers passing. The guards put her back onto the bed and began to leave, Clover stopped them.
“Go get Star Swirl the Bearded.” She urged them, “He could know a spell to save Princess Platinum, tell him the Princess is dying.
They nodded and went out of the castle, heading down the hillside to get the powerful wizard that was doing nothing in his cottage at the moment.
Clover returned to the bedside of the dying ruler, then the princess looked up at Clover and smiled, “I knew-” She coughed, “you would be-” Cough, “a smart girl. When he gets here, be sure to let him know everything, the sweat, coughing, blacking out, everything. He will know what to do. I want to be known as the one who was part of making the peace. My daughters are to be the new rulers, their father is gone now, otherwise it would have gone to him. They are to rule Equestria aren't they?” She asked Clover
“Yes. They will rule for eons, never failing to show friendship to the nations that they find.” Clover replied, beginning to cry.
“Great” She paused, taking her final breath, “Rulers. She then sputtered, blood staining her white coat and the sheets of her bed.
Everything was eerily still at Star Swirl’s house, the moment that the Princess passed; he immediately knew what had happened. When the guards came to his door he opened it and ran out with bags on his back and informed them of the tragedy. They were shocked, not knowing what to say to the wizard, but he urged them back to the castle, there was much to do.
When he returned to the castle, he saw a swarming group of ponies outside of the door of the late princess’s chambers.
He raised his voice and made them all move out of the way, as he was walking in he spotted the two sisters in the crowd, “Let the heirs come with me, they must see their mother.”
They came, slowly, but they entered the room. They were both trained by him, in the ways of magic, but they were potentially more powerful than even he. The Alicorn magic was strong enough for him to notice it in them. He would have to completely relearn magic for something as powerful as this; he couldn't teach them how to use it, only to control it. But right now, they were missing their mother.
“What happened?” Luna asked, her voice breaking slightly as she tried to hide the welling up in her eyes.
“Mom’s gone.” Celestia replied, letting the liquid from her eyes drop to the floor.
Luna began to sob, choking on breaths and letting out sharp exhales. Head hanging low, her mane drooped to the floor and sagged behind her. Clover still hadn't left Princess Platinum’s bedside, waiting for her mentor to return to her.
“Star Swirl.” She began, “There is something important I need to discuss with you and the Sisters.” She told them everything, her last wish and what things sapped her life away from her.
Celestia was the first to respond after this, “Let us bury her.” She said.
“Guards, come in.” Luna instructed.
They entered, knowing what their duties were, the burying ritual then commenced. They put the deceased royalty on their backs and carried her out of the room towards the catacombs, underneath the castle. When she was laid in the section for her, they wrapped in linen that was blessed by Star Swirl to let whomever was wrapped in it not decay. The Wizard then put a spell on the tomb that protected it from collapsing so that the body would be safe.
The next day the sisters began their journey to Equestria, with their entire race following. All of the unicorns had prepared for this exodus and they followed without question. They remembered the speech that the sisters gave to convince them that this was for the best.
“Unicorns! We stand before you to let you know, on this grave day, our mother has died. Princess Platinum is no more. We now ask that you follow us, as you would have followed our mother, to this new land. It will be better than the life that you have lived. There is no more strife with the other races. There is harmony and friendship to go around like the wheat during the harvest.” Luna began her section. “The night shall be my time, my dominion. I will treat all that happens there as if it was in the glorious light of the day. All who dream will be under my protection. I shall raise and lower the moon, and guard the land as the land sleeps.” Celestia began. “And I shall be the light of day. As eldest daughter I will be raising the sun, and lowering it for the night to come so you all may be able to rest in peace. All who are active during this time I will guard and listen to.” My sister and I will rule with equal power, though, and I assure you that we are more than capable to do this.” They said together, “Together this ruling will last eons and shall never bring you sadness or hatred or anger. We will rule the night and day justly and never fail to serve you. Now, let us go to our new land and begin reforging our rich culture and bring with us peace for the races."
They then began to walk with their ponies, wanting to make sure that they were still welcome among them. During the walk they were able to forge the laws of the land, no stealing, no murder, land would be plotted for each city and the mayor would give out the land equally or as needed for space and use of land. Everything here would go peacefully and never hasty, unless war came or they needed to liberate a new race from a tyrant. They would have a standing army that would be kept in the capital, still to be named, and would be able to send out in an hour. There would be guards in the capital but everywhere else they should be able to fare for themselves, they had made no enemies at the moment.
When they came to Equestria, they discovered something, something that sent them back to their old land.
They found something horrifying. Something that was skewed, something that was crazy. Something so great, Star Swirl needed to help the sisters in defeating him.
As new rulers, the two sisters had absolutely no idea what to do in the situation at hand. They had an enemy that they had never encountered before and had no experience in military strategy or in complex magic battles. So, needless to say, they sought out help for the upcoming battle. Help meaning Star Swirl the Bearded of course.
They burst into the library chambers, where the old pony would be. As the doors swung open they saw him pouring over a scroll that looked older than time itself. He glanced up and began to explain.
“We are going to need an ancient magic for this battle,” He said in a rushed pace, “one that our enemy might already know about.”
“What is it we shall be searching for?” Luna asked, perplexed.
“It is not one thing that we are going to be gathering, more specifically it is six items. The Elements of Harmony. The first five are easy enough to get, the sixth is going to prove to be a little more difficult.”
“Why is that?” The Princess of the Sun asked.
“The sixth is the most elusive because of what it represents, magic. The first five are on a tree that is described in the book Gammel, which is old Unicorn for ancient. It is described that the tree resides in a valley that is hidden from view of those who are dark in heart. It can only be found by those who are true and represent the elements themselves. Not even I have found this valley, that is what concerns me. I have recited every searching spell know to pony kind and have not found it, so I have no lead for you. The only thing that I can give you to benefit your highnesses in the search is the book, Gammel.”
The princesses looked at a book that was open to a page depicting exactly what had just been said to them, six elements that are all in a tree that was archaic. It had no map, nothing that could hint at the surrounding area, just a tree in a valley.
“What should we do once we get the elements? Do they form a weapon of some kind?”
“It is said in Gammel that the elements can be weilded as a weapon to put down any villain that you might be able to face. It shows you how to use it, but be wary, though; this book is full of old spells and cantrips that have not been spoken in hundreds of years, their meanings lost or forgotten. Do not recite them, only search for anything that can point towards the vale.” The wizard explained.
“What is the thing we are looking for?” Celestia asked.
“Yes, what is the name for this?” Luna repeated.
“It is the Tree of Harmony. Very little is known of it, as you may have guessed, but you should proceed with utmost caution. No pony has found it and lived to tell the tale in centuries.” Star Swirl urged.
“We will be Grey Beard, but for now we need you to do us a favor.” The Princess of the Night spoke.
“What is it that I can assist you with?” He asked, intrigued at his new nickname.
“It’s Clover.” Celestia said. “She wants you to continue training her, here at the castle. Until we return you are to be training her everyday in the magic that you know, is that clear?”
“She has great potential,” Began Luna. “You should have patience with her, unlike the doctor that checked on you whilst you were recovering.”
The mentor grunted, “As the princesses request.”
But he was happy inside.
When the knock came on Clover’s door, the last thing that she expected was to see a guard in full armor.
“What is it?” She asked the metal clad pony.
“Your presence is requested in the library, the magic wing.” He said and then trotted off to the break room.
At this point, Clover was relatively sure that it was Star Swirl who had requested her presence, but she wouldn’t be sure until she got to the magic wing of the library. The Castle Library was one of the largest collection of books seen in the Unicorn lands, it was something that she had personally requested that Princess Platinum make. Being in the library reminded Clover of her, the times when they had been in the rooms together, learning about the history that made them who they are, well, were for the Princess. The magic wing was the second largest wing in the athenaeum, next to the history section; the magic section had an estimated ten thousand scrolls or books on magic, the history of magic, or magical spells in general. It had 57 floor-to-ceiling shelves for holding these books and had one hundred tables and around 500 chairs surrounding those tables; there were 3 minor wings inside the Magic Section of the library, one for Historical magicians and spells, another for the history of magic and magicians, and the other was for magical spells and practicing said spells.
The third minor wing was the largest; it included a section that was sealed off just for learning and training in spellcasting. In this section there were 5 ponies, 2 of which were the guards that made sure that everything was safe in that section of the wing, the other three looked to be friends that were preparing for some sort of magical duel that was dimmed down, another courtesy of this section. If any sort of fighting magic was detected then the blows dealt by the magic was lessened, so that it wouldn’t damage the target or the arena for practicing.
In this case, it looked as if the ponies were setting up for a battle with low visibility and would have to improve their eyesight and be able to send a bolt of magic at the other two ponies while dodging their blows. It occurred to Clover that this might be resembling a form of training that the Unicorn fighting ponies would use, learning to fight in condition they weren’t used too. She quickly moved on, wanting to find who had sent her a request swifty.
She went to the second wing, searching through the shelves and tables, noting what books were where so if she wanted to come back after the meeting then she could enjoy reading the history of magic. She delved deep into the dimly lit areas, searching harder and harder for the pony who requested to see her.
“Why would somepony be back here?” she asked herself, noticing the cobwebs indicating that there hadn’t been any activity here for some time.
“Maybe because I’ve been behind you the whole time.” Said a voice that was all too familiar to her.
“Star Swirl!” She said as she turned around and gave the old colt a hug.
“Ha ha!” He laughed. “It’s great to see you again, but before we converse, lets get some light here.”
With a gesture he lit a dozen candles near them, brightening the table that was before them and the scrolls that were around them.
“Now,” He began, “how have you been?”
She smiled, so glad to be back with her teacher, “I’ve been good, since the Platinum’s death, I haven’t done much. The two sisters seem to be able to take care of themselves so they let me do what I want around here.” She paused, deciding on her next words, “I haven’t been here since she died though.”
“Why, if I may ask?”
She gave a solemn look around, “This was all my idea, every single shelf, book, table, chair, everything was all my idea and design. When The Winter came, the library was finished but it didn’t have all of the books in it, and when Princess Platinum told me that we might be leaving to a new land, I didn’t want to leave these halls empty. I almost decided to stay behind, but then Discord happened; I still can’t believe that we came back, we had a new land and it was taken from us by him.”
“Well, if the princesses succeed in the task that I have told them about, then they will be able to defeat him, I’m sure of it.” He looked down, “Do you wish to continue studying under me?”
Clover thought about this for a moment, of course she wanted to continue with him, but she still felt like she needed to serve the rulers.
Star Swirl downcast his gaze, “I understand if you don’t want to continue.” He got up.
“Wait.” She looked him in the eyes, “I want to continue learning, but I feel that I need to serve the princesses as well.”
He smiled, “Well, they are off trying to find one of the oldest magical weapons known to Unicorns, in the meantime, how about we begin.”
“I’d like that.” Clover said.
While the princesses were out finding the Elements of Harmony, Star Swirl was told to appoint someone to rule in their absence; after meeting with the council 3 days after their highnesses left they were able to appoint a short term ruler, a council member by the name of Shimmering Heart. After he took the vow he was known as the active ruler of Equestria until the Princesses came back home to bring to the land of Equestria. Until then, Star Swirl would be doing what he was told to do by the Sisters, teach Clover how to use magic better.
“Now, remind me again what I have to do.” Clover said.
“Focus on lifting the shelves, then think of shrinking them inside your head, find this image and then apply to the bookshelf in real life.”
“And you say that this is the beginning of my advanced training?” The student asked.
“Yes, in a way, this is the start of learning age spells, which is only for the more advanced unicorns. As of now, there are only 4 unicorns in the land who know how to perform these advanced techniques, myself included. The others are my father, and 2 of the council chamberponys, now focus!”
Clover did as she was told, focusing on shrinking the shelf down to the size of the table that was in front of her by forced her magic to begin pressing on the wood, while restoring the fracturing wood beneath the force. Then, to her own amazement, the wood shattered into hundreds of splinters.
“Darn it!” Clover exploded.
“That was exceptional, brilliantly done!”Star Swirl cheered.
“What do you mean, I shrunk it maybe a foot, but aside from that it just broke.”
“Exactly it! You brought it down a foot in size!”
Clover had never seen her teacher this excited before; it concerned her, just a little.
“How old are you today?” Greybeard asked his student.
Before she could ask why, Star Swirl laughed out loud. “Do you know how old I was when I first did this spell?”
Clover muttered under her breath, “Does anyone but you.”
“Yes, others do know, my father and mother for one. Also the late Princess Platinum knew, anyway, that is beside the point, I was 15 when I first did this. The result was exactly the same but I drove it down to the size of a cabinet, maybe three feet more that what you did.” He was beaming with pride, not at his performance, but hers.
Clover sighed, “I still don’t understand the spell though! Imagine if that had been a pony!”
The wizard dropped his smile, “Watch your tone Clover, I may be giving you praise but I am still able to teach when I do say, and in ways that I choose.” He grinned again, “When performing an age spell, you isolate the area around the target and then use a time spell to send them forward in time while keeping them here, at the timespan the spell is taking place. Because you were trying to shrink the shelf, you were pressing it downward, in on itself, but at the same time you were fixing the splintering wood. Your mistake was not that you weren’t able to conjure up the magic to do it, but that you focused too much on pressing inward and not enough on fixing it.”
“Ohhhhhh, I get it now.” remarked Clover, “There’s a balance.”
“Yes, when you have to use multiple spells at the same time there is a very delicate balance that need to be practiced tirelessly before one can actually attempt it in it’s entirety. When I first tried doing an age spell, I ended up sending my mothers calla lilies forward in time because I let a lapse in my isolation area. If you let one spell outweigh the others then it will become the main purpose; we use multiple spells of equal balance to make new ones.”
Clover nodded, understanding what her mentor was saying, “I wonder what your mother thought of that.”
They both burst out laughing. The exertion of energy that Clover used on the spell caught up with her and she felt extremely tired and hungry, all of a sudden.
“Can we get something to eat?”
Star Swirl smiled, knowing why, “Sure. How does a grass burger with hay bacon strips sound?”
His apprentice licked her lips, “That sound delicious. Lets go.”
They walked all the way to the castles kitchen and when they got there, said what they wanted and waited for the food to get prepared. While they were waiting, Clover got some orange juice to drink and Star Swirl just had water.
“Do you want to talk about what happened when you were with the princess in the new land? I still haven’t heard much about it from you, and I would like to know what happened from your view.”
Finishing her first glass, Clover didn’t have anything else to do, so she told him what happened.
“At first, when it was just me and Princess Platinum, we were bickering a lot. I didn’t like that I had to carry her across streams anytime we came across one, and all because she didn’t want to show up to the new looking like she was something she wasn’t. We both said things that we regret, but I never got the chance to honestly apologize, and now that she’s gone, I never will. After we had found the new land, all that she could focus on was the minerals, diamonds, rubies, emeralds it was all there there were also fluffy white clouds and green trees and grass everywhere. I loved the new land as much as Princess Platinum, if not more because there were more things that I liked about it. Anyway, after we had planted the flag, we noticed that the pegasi and earth ponies were there too, this cause a fuss between the leaders, just like the council meetings that I told you about. They couldn’t be within eyesight of each other and not begin talking poorly about the other. Eventually the Wendigos followed the arguing back to the new land and we were forced into a cave, then the entryway shut, leaving us trapped in the sanctuary that we hopped the cave would be.
“When we got in there, the leader insisted that we split the area inside the cave to separate the races, while the leaders assistants, me, Smart Cookie and Private Pansy, wanted to just share the cave, regardless of how much ‘land’ was our or theirs. Well, ignoring our opinions, the leaders instructed us to divvy up the land, so we did, then the arguments broke out. Somehow, from our arguing, the Wendigos made it inside our cave and began to freeze the land and all who stood on it. The leaders were too busy fighting to notice but the assistants noticed and immediately went to the center of the cave and began to talk. We each began to realize that we didn’t hate each other, in fact most of us didn’t like our leaders more than these ponies we had just met. It was like what you said to me when I first started working with you in magic, I had no reason to hate the earth ponies or the pegasi, I just had my head full of rumors and was brought up as a child to hate them. When I actually got to sit down and talk with them, I found out that they were no different than a unicorn; I really enjoyed talking with them and getting to know them. When the ice started to take us over too, we admitted that we didn’t hate each other, like our leaders, but we actually liked one another. Then, I felt a surge of a powerful magic and I was able to stop the Wendigos from casing us over with ice. When the feeling passed, I was laying on the ground and there was a fiery heart above us, warming the cave and melting the hearts of ice of our leaders.
“All throughout the night we were able to talk and laugh and become friends, and when the night passed, the leaders were getting along too, it was a miracle. And outside, in the new land, there wasn’t snow anymore. Together we were able to design a flag for all of the races, and we decided on rulers, Princess Platinum told everyone about her children and how they were able to represent all of the races, they could fly like the pegasi, could use magic like the unicorns, and knew the value of hard work and rewarded it like the earth ponies. Everyone agreed to this and then we came back to prepare to move to the new land. That’s when I came back and everything went downhill; the princess got sick, she died.” Clover stopped, looking to catch her breath from all the storytelling that she had just done.
“But aren't things going back up?” said a voice beside them.
They glance over and saw the chief, he had finished their food a while ago but came to listen. “Sorry for interrupting if you had more to say.” He said, “Here’s your food.”
“Thank you!” Called out Clover and she went back into the kitchen.
“What was it like there?” Asked Star Swirl, wanting to see it in his mind.
“Beautiful, the sun was shining brilliantly, the grass was soft to the touch, the clouds were soft and let out gentle rain and it was so very peaceful. But then Discord happened.”
“Don’t worry about him, he will be taken care of. Now, do you want to eat so that we can get back to practice?”
Clover looked down at her food and smiled, “Sure.”
“The princesses are back!” Herald one of the centuries that was watching for their return; as soon as word spread throughout the city they were properly welcomed by the entirety ponydom, Unicorns, Earth Ponies, Pegasi alike.
“Make way for the Castle Wizard!” Star Swirl’s guard shouted so that he and Clover might be able to be the first to meet Princess Celestia and Luna. Their outward appearance was showing that they had just gone through the thickest area in Equestria but the smiles on their faces let everypony know that it was a victorious and glorious day.
As they approached they took flight and pulled the Elements of Harmony out of their bags and circled them around each other. The rainbow of colors then restored their traveling scars and relieved them of weariness.
They grinned and shouted as one, “Come, ponies of all races, come to your new land!”
Clover stood at Star Swirl’s side, knowing that their time was almost up; she didn’t want to leave, but the mare knew that she had to. Tears gathering in her eyes she spoke to her mentor, in a shaky nearly terrified voice, “I don’t want to go Star Swirl. Why do I have to leave you here?”
The wizard looked solemnly down at his student, “I have taught you all that I can, but magic is so much more that. Magic is infinite and can never be fully understood; when you go to the new land you are going to be the new magic advisor for the two sisters. Advise them well and make sure that I won’t be forgotten.”
He turned and began to walk away towards the hills of the old Unicorn Kingdom, but Clover called out to him, “Star Swirl!”
He turned, “Keep a close on the stars Clover the Clever, never forget the dancing and know that I look upon the same stars as you do.”
The old wizard then walked off, never to be seen again. Throughout the years his library was transferred to the Canterlot archives and a Star Swirl the Bearded wing was dedicated to him on the 1st day of March. His works were immortalized and his teachings were taught throughout Equestria. and his final wish was given to him, he was never forgotten