In my many years, I have made many mistakes. I have damned souls, destroyed livelihoods, summoned up horrible monsters. But at the same time, I always atoned for my mistakes.
The Everfree was no different.
Many ponies are convinced the Everfree always existed. Even the histories would agree with that, despite the contradiction in the existence of the Castle of the Royal Sisters. Why would the Princesses build the Castle in the middle of the Everfree?
They did not.
It was a foolish mistake, in my—at the time—old age. Princess Luna had transformed into Nightmare Moon, been banished by Celestia’s use of the Elements of Harmony. I, seeing the pain in my Princess’s eyes every time I beheld her, wanted to undo what had happened. I wanted to fix time itself. And so, I spent many years, deep in research, crafting spells, seeking to create a spell to allow me to travel through time.
Time magic already existed, of course. It was possible for powerful mages to halt the passage of time in a small area for a brief moment or two, freeze an opponent in their tracks and place traps to slay them while they were frozen. I was already able to manipulate the passage of time by speeding it, to accelerate the growth of a tree or a pot of flowers, making them grow to full adulthood in an instant for everything else. Such magic was always so draining, and at first I did not think I could succeed.
But slowly, my research advanced. With the Elements themselves nearby, allowing me to harness more powerful magics than I would have been able to on my own, I crafted a spell that enabled a short, momentary journey through time, for up to two weeks into the past. Perhaps if I had been careful in my experiments, I would have realized then that the universe does not suffer fools lightly, and that any time travel attempt would inevitably result in a loop of time.
But not every loop is the same.
With the spell in hoof I used it to craft a much more powerful version, one that was supposed to bridge the gap between the current year, and many years before Princess Luna was ever possessed to war with her sister. Even then I did not understand why Princess Luna had turned, but I had hoped that I could, somehow, give myself enough time to discover the causes by traveling further backwards in time.
But when I harnessed the spell to my devices and drew power, the effects caused a chain reaction. Time itself warped and twisted in ways I still do not understand even today, pulling in parts of the world from long before the pony race existed, twisting the very fabric of time to create a forest that refused all magical attempts to control it, summoning it not only into the present day, but into every day, of all of history. The Everfree is uncontrollable because its very nature corrupts all magic.
In the process of trying to save her sister, I had destroyed Princess Celestia’s home, and killed everyone in the castle save for her and myself, as well as every town and settlement within ten miles. She barely survived—I was forced to nurse her for months in the small mountain city of Canterlot before she was healthy enough to do more than keep the Sun and the Moon rising on schedule. When she awoke, she didn’t even understand what had happened. She believed the capital of Equestria had lied within the Everfree and that it was suddenly no longer tameable, and did not understand when I tried to explain to her the Everfree had only just begun to exist. Only I was able to see through the veil of time.
As for why, I did not understand for many years, until I began to notice the most unusual of phenomena. While busying myself with my morning toilet, I happened to glance in the mirror and noticed a few of my usual wrinkles missing. I had begun to age backwards.
No time loop is the same. When Princess Celestia’s most recent student found one of the old scrolls transcribed with my less functional spell in the Canterlot archives, she created a time loop where the time travel was necessary to make the time travel possible in the first place. I had created two time loops, one for the Everfree, and one for myself.
I write these words now with the youngest of hooves, as I am barely more than a foal. Princess Celestia believes I am long dead—it is better this way, for I have been able to stay out of history and observe it silently, interfering only to save lives when I could, writing histories and knowledge under pen names. This is my penance for what I have done. I killed so many, destroyed the capital, and nearly ended Equestria itself in my foolish attempt to save Celestia’s sister—all the more foolish when I observed Twilight Sparkle do what I could not.
So it is for you, Twilight Sparkle, that I write this. You remind me so much of myself in my original childhood, all those centuries ago. You are the most powerful unicorn of your age. I do not desire for you to repeat the sorts of mistakes I have made, in my long life. It is my hope you can take to heart this and the many other lessons lying within my many writings. I pass them onto you. May you learn from them.
And please tell the Princesses…I am sorry.
This was a really interesting idea for the creation of the Everfree Forest, and does a good job explaining why it can’t be controlled like the rest of the world. I especially liked how only Starswirl knew it had only recently begun to exist, and everypony else just thought it had always been there, since to them it had. His regret in the end is really powerful too. This is a wonderful story!