A Moment's Hesitation

by FanOfMostEverything

Chapter 1: Reasonable Precautions

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Dear Twilight Sparkle,

The spell contained on the last page of this book is Star Swirl the Bearded's secret unfinished masterpiece. He was never able to get it right, and thus abandoned it. I believe you are the only pony who can understand and rewrite it.

Princess Celestia

Dear Princess Celestia,

I know I've shown a lack of forethought with my magic in the past—the Smarty Pants Incident certainly comes to mind—but even at my worst, I'd be able to tell what a bad idea this is. An unrhyming, unfinished incantation that stumped the greatest wizard of all time? One that, judging by its wording, manipulates cutie marks? I'm sorry, Your Highness, but this seems like a really, really, really bad idea. Right up there with freeing Discord, even if I'm still waiting for another horseshoe to drop with him. At the very least, could you tell me what the spell is meant to do?

Your faithful student,
Twilight Sparkle

Dear Twilight,

I certainly understand your concern. However, I wasn't exaggerating when I said you were the only pony who can understand it. Star Swirl's mind outpaced mine with almost embarrassing frequency, and I'm pleased to say that at times, yours does as well. The Wedding Incident comes to mind.

As such, I have every faith that you will be able to complete this final work of your idol, and turn his final masterpiece into your first. I am sorry that I can't offer anything more concrete. All I can do is ask you to have faith in your friends, much as you do in Fluttershy to keep Discord on his best behavior, such as it is.

Princess Celestia

Dear Princess Luna,

As you may already know, your sister sent me a rather unusual assignment this evening. I have included copies of our correspondence on the matter thus far, but the situation can be summarized thusly:

• Princess Celestia wants me to finish Star Swirl's last spell.
• She doesn't know what the spell is supposed to do.
• She doesn't know what the spell currently does.
• She still wants me to cast it.
• She has explicitly said that I'm smarter than her.

I'm writing to you because, as these highlights illustrate, this is completely insane Princess Celestia's mental state may be compromised. Please confirm that she is not suffering from chaos magic-induced personality inversion, hasn't been replaced by a changeling, or is otherwise non compos mentis. I ask not just for my peace of mind, but for the good of the nation and of the world.

Thank you in advance.

Your friend,
Twilight Sparkle

To the Esteemed Dame Twilight Sparkle, Bearer of the Harmonious Element of Magic, Cleanser of the Nightmare, Bane of Chaos, Wise in the Ways of Changelings, and Hatch-Mother of the Great and Honorable Spike the Brave and Glorious,

Firstly, while your continued refusal to employ the many titles and honorifics you have earned is a commendable display of your humility, We continue to find it excessive. You are a hero thrice over, and any virtue in excess becomes a vice.

Secondly, while We agree with your assessment of Our honored and beloved Sister's latest scheme as dire foolishness of the highest order, We must confess that She was in possession of all of Her facilities when She ensnared you in it.

Alas, We cannot say with certainty what She has in store for you with this final dwœmercraft of the Bearded One. The wisdom of the alicorn is a worldly one, hard-earned through many normal pony lifetimes of experience. Ever were Our two raw intellects outstripped by Star Swirl's, and yea, by yours as well. Again, your humility waxes in excess.

Indeed, We agree with Celestia's choice not to share her suspicions as to the function of this spell, nor shall We share Ours, save to say that We two possess them. Long did We both ponder the text you now possess. Our ancient eyes cannot find the solution, but your young ones may offer a new, better perspective.

To you, Our dear friend, We can only say to exercise the utmost caution. Our Sister never intends harm in Her machinations, but never has that kept them from inflicting it in ways She could not anticipate.

Your friend and sovereign,
Her Royal Highness the Princess Luna Diana Hecate Regina Nox Alicor, Princess of the Night, Avatar of the Moon, &c.

Post Scriptum: As you can likely tell, while We believe We have largely tamed the strange beast that the Equish language has become in Our absence, Our efforts continue in the arena of the written word. How would you say We are doing?

Star Swirl's Unfinished Spell
Progress Report #1
by Twilight Sparkle

Procedure: The experiment was conducted in the Golden Oak Library's subterranean testing facility, inside a standard class-3 warding circle of powdered silver imbued with Faraneigh's Complete Containment, Vacuum Flask's Null Energy Shell, and Panopticon's Perfect Prestidigitatious Prison, all directed inward. Within this controlled environment, the incantation was recited by primary tester Twilight Sparkle, with the effects from without observed by secondary tester Spykoranuvellitar "Spike" Keyfahdon.

Observation: When reciting the incantation within the testing area, the only effects observed were a potent arcane discharge manifesting as blinding quasielectrical energy that arced from the layers of magical shields into the warding circle, reducing it to a molten state by the time the discharge was exhausted. The temperature of the silver by this point was 3,915ºF according to High Farrier's Thermal Probe.

Conclusion: Whatever effect the spell is meant to cause, it could not do so in the contained environment. However, the discharge indicates that the spell has a reality warping quotient of approximately twenty thousand resons per thaum, comparable to the distortions casually employed by Discord, Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony. It is the opinion of this researcher that we cease tampering with things pony was not meant to know, especially since the circumstances of Star Swirl's death remain one of the greatest historical mysteries of all time.

Dear Twilight,

You wrote to Luna, didn't you?

I understand your hesitation, and that you may doubt my judgement after my decision to free Discord. Under any other circumstances, I would welcome this. As I know all too well, I am far from infallible. I have rarely been fortunate enough to have a pony as intelligent as you be willing to question me. However, this is one instance when I must ask you to trust me.

That said, while I ask for your trust, I will not ask for blind faith. What I am about to tell you is incredibly sensitive information. Spike, if you are reading this, please pass it to Twilight. Twilight, if you are reading this aloud, please stop, assuming you haven't already.

Pinkie Pie isn't the only pony who can perceive the future. However, my premonitions are much clearer than a twitchy tail or pinchy knee. I sometimes dream of what is to come, and this allows me to prepare both Equestria and myself for it. This is why I asked you to free Discord, and why I ask you to cast the unfinished spell. This is a matter of incredible importance, Twilight.

Princess Celestia




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