Edited by OmGeeFace
Twilight's happy hoofsteps echoed around the stone hallway. In front of her floated her schedule. She'd read it many times, but for some reason she always felt compelled to read and re-read it before and after each class to make sure she was going to the right place.
She'd already attended Alchemy II and Magical Creature Studies. Next was Introduction to Alteration, but she was more excited for Ancient Text and Scroll Studies. She had heard that few ponies took the class, and she was looking forward to a smaller class size.
"Still have to get through Alteration and lunch still," she said to herself. "But hey! Alteration sounds really interesting-"
As she was tucking the little piece of parchment into her saddlebag with a small orb of pink magic, she noticed some of the other students loitering in the hall were scowling at her. When they saw her look at them, they would look away, mutter, and giggle to each other while glancing back at her. Twilight didn't think too much of it. She just kept trotting to her next class, knowing that it was just silly schoolpony nonsense.
Eventually she found a classroom labeled 3E 433; third floor in the E wing, four hundredth, thirty-third room. This was the room that the Alteration class was supposed to be in. Twilight pushed open the door, walked into the empty room and suddenly froze.
There was some kind of creature sitting at the teacher's desk. No, not sitting. Floating. It was floating midair, leaning back in a relaxed position like it was in an invisible reclining chair. The floating wasn't what was shocked Twilight, though. It was the fact that the creature wasn't just one creature, it was several.
Its head looked like a pony, but mismatched horns sprouted from between its ears and a single sharp tooth stuck out from under its lip. The body was long and serpentine like that of a dragon or serpent, but feathery and rusty red with mismatched wings sprouting from its back. Every limb was different. A giant paw and eagle claw in front, a hoof and a reptilian foot in back. The creature's tail was long and scaly like a snake but it had spines like a dragon and an odd tuft of white fur at the tip. Even its scarlet irises were different sizes.
Twilight processed all of this, and then she realized too late the open book in the creature's left paw and the white collar and green plaid bow tie around its neck.
The crimson irises slid from the pages and fixed themselves on Twilight, causing her to jump slightly in surprise.
"Are you going to sit down?" it said, scowling.
Twilight realized she was gaping widely and snapped her mouth shut. Turning her head towards the seats, she realized that almost every previously empty seat had been filled, and that everypony was looking at her and sniggering. How long had she been staring? Blushing in embarrassment, she scuttled over to an empty seat in the front, trying in vain to make her flattened ears stand upright.
"My name is Discord, I'm your professor, and this is Alteration. Get out your textbooks," he said in an exasperated tone.
Twilight's ears pricked in interest. All the other professors so far had been very courteous, and it was obvious that they enjoyed the topic they were teaching. Discord, however, seemed to lack interest completely. She decided not to waste any more time and opened her bag in search of her textbook. As usual her saddlebag was bursting with books, but none of them were the Alteration textbook.
Twilight's horn illuminated with it's usual pink aura and one of the books lifted out of the bag. Seeing that its absence did not reveal the Alteration book, she lifted another. She kept doing this until almost everything in her bag was floating around her head, and she finally found the small textbook tucked into the very bottom of the bag.
"What do you think you're doing, Purple?" Twilight shot her head up to find Discord looking at her unkindly. "Three hours of detention should do."
"What!?" Twilight burst out in shock. She'd never been in trouble in her life. "I-I-For what?"
"I don't appreciate show-offs."
Twilight realized all the items from her bag were still floating around her in a cloud of pink magic. "Oh-" she stammered in panic. "This-this-I didn't mean-I mean-This is just-I'm just-"
"What's the matter, Scholarship?" said a mare's voice from behind her. "Too goody four-shoes for detention?"
Twilight heard cruel giggling behind her, and her eyebrows knit together in annoyance.
Discord continued to float before his class. He watched the exchange then quickly recalculated the situation in his mind.
He said, "I think you'll be taking that detention instead, Ruby Spice." The mare's laughter died and was replaced with an annoyed scowl.
"What kind of name is that anyway, Ruby Spice?" he continued. "It makes you sound like a stripper."
The ponies of the classroom began to giggle at the mare's expense, and she responded with a sharp "hmpf," sticking her nose into the air. Twilight Sparkle didn't see what was so funny. She just took the opportunity to tuck everything back into her bag and open the Alteration textbook on her desk without being noticed.
"Are your books out yet?" Discord said.
The whole class was struck silent as they clambered to get out their books. There was a sudden creaking noise, followed by a loud snap and a yelp of surprise. Discord's mouth crooked into a smile.
"You found the desk I broke, good job Mr. Goldpenny." A colt with a golden coat laid in a pile of wood that had previously been his desk. Without waiting, Discord continued.
"Read the introduction and take notes if you want, I don't care."
He returned to his place above the desk. Twilight watched him open his book again. He suddenly looked at her and cocked an eyebrow, and she quickly opened her book and began to read.
The room had been so quiet for the past hour and a half that, when it rang, the bell made everypony almost jump right out of their skin. The students groggily got up from their seats and made their way out the door. More than a few of them had fallen asleep and spent a moment gathering their senses before abandoning their desks.
Twilight was the last to leave. She'd finished the introduction and continued into the first chapter just to pass the time. Her desk was so littered with notes that it hardly seemed to be made of wood anymore. Consequently, it took her much longer to pack up and leave.
As Twilight levitated all the paper neatly into her saddlebag, she tried to ignore the piercing crimson eyes watching her from over his book. It was starting to annoy her.
Slipping the bag over her shoulders she finally turned and said, "I wasn't showing off."
Discord lowered his book and raised an eyebrow at her. "Pardon?"
"I wasn't showing off...sir. I was just trying to find my book."
"You must be Celestia's apprentice. The new prodigy." He said the words like they tasted terrible on his tongue.
"Yes," she replied sternly. She wasn't going to let his sarcasm get to her. "My name is Twilight Sparkle, and I wasn't showing off. I was trying to find my textbook."
"You do that all the time?" He said
"Well...yeah I look at books all the time," Twilight replied.
"No," he motioned to her bag. "Levitate so many objects at one time."
"Oh...yes. I guess I do, sir."
"Hm." He looked back to his book. "Class is over."
"I'm looking forward to the rest of the year," Twilight said hopefully. Discord sighed in annoyance and rolled his eyes. She ignored it. "I've never studied Alteration magic in depth before."
"That's nice," he said, not looking away from the pages.
"Before I go, I just want to say..." She paused. When he did not look up, she continued. "You didn't turn a page in that book once the entire class."
He merely blinked in response. Twilight smiled, bid him good day, and trotted out the door and down the hall. Discord shut the book in his paw and chuckled quietly.
"What can I say? I hate reading. It's so boring."
Twilight sat in the cafeteria, deaf to the rumbling echoes of the students as they ate. Lying open next to her plate of daisy daffodil salad was her Magical Creature Studies textbook, Magical Creatures of Equestria. She was currently flipping through the section about hybrid animals like the Cockatrice or Manticore, but she'd been able to find nothing even close to what Professor Discord could be.
She couldn't just ask him; 'What are you' isn't exactly a polite question to ask somepony. She closed the book with a "hmf," gathered all her things from the otherwise uninhabited lunch table and abandoned her plate of salad. She had plenty of time before lunchtime ended. After a few minutes of trotting through the halls she found Professor Starling's office and knocked gently on the door.
"Come in," rang the playful voice of the Magical Creatures Studies professor. Twilight pushed open the door and was greeted with the green mare's warm and welcoming smile.
"Well if it isn't Ms. Twilight Sparkle! Come in!"
"I'm surprised you remember me," Twilight replied. "We only met just this morning."
"Oh, everypony knows who you are, Twilight. There hasn't been a unicorn awarded with that scholarship in over thirty years. You must be quite the prodigy."
"A prodigy...." Twilight remembered Discord using the same word.
"Oh, I don't mean to pressure you or anything, dear," Starling said.
"I'm not worried about impressing anypony. I just want to learn about magic."
Starling smiled. "That's very admirable, Twilight. I love that about you. Have you come to me in search of some knowledge?"
"Yes. I had sort of an odd question, actually."
"Fire away," Starling extended her hoof as if she were accepting a gift.
"Well...I arrived at Alteration class today and-"
"Stop right there," Starling interrupted. "You're wondering what Professor Discord is, aren't you?"
Twilight blinked in surprise. "Yes. How did you know?"
"He isn't exactly the most inconspicuous creature on campus. Nopony really likes him, either."
Twilight angled her ears in interest."Really? Why's that?"
"He's a bit of a troublemaker. He likes to trouble students with detentions, extra homework, pranks, that sort of thing."
Twilight nodded. "I know what you mean. Today in class one of the student's desks broke into a dozen pieces as he was sitting in it."
"Really? The old sod's losing his touch. He did the same thing a few times last year. As for what he is, all I know is that he's what's called a Draconequus."
"Draconequus?" Twilight tilted her head at the unfamiliar word.
"That's right. Unfortunately I know nothing about Draconequues other than the name." Starling's head bowed a little, as if she was ashamed of her small ignorance.
"I see," Twilight said. "What about Discord? How long has he been teaching here?"
"A long time," Starling sighed. "He was here long before I started. Before any of us started, actually. He's not really the sharing type, though. Nopony knows anything about him. Only that he's an annoying sod."
Twilight smiled. She thought it only polite to ask, "And what about you, Professor Starling? What got you so interested in studying magical creatures?"
"Well," the mare said proudly. "Ever since I was a little filly growing up in Trottingham I've loved animals. I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. But one day I realized that magical creatures were my real passion. My cutie mark appeared," She momentarily displayed the red dragon wing and tail on her green flank, "and I knew that I wanted to study all sorts of creatures. Dragons, Manticores, Sirens, anything and everything!"
Starling's chocolate eyes sparkled with excitement, and Twilight inwardly admired the professor for it. She wondered why Discord had such a lack of passion in his teaching. Not that it mattered much; Twilight had always been able to learn things perfectly fine through books alone. This was just an interesting detail that sparked her curiosity.
Later that day, Twilight sat on the bed in her room, books and papers carpeting the floor and blanketing the sheets. She'd come to her dorm room right after her last class and strewn out every bit of material she'd received, every bit of homework she had been assigned, and every book and scroll she had to fill in the spaces between. She was simply buzzing with joy. She knew any other pony would sneer at the mass of homework about her room, but Twilight loved it.
After working her way through a few chapters the Magical Creatures and Alchemy books, she moved on to Alteration and was immediately seized once again by curiosity. She nearly opened her Magical Creatures book again, but she knew there was nothing to be found there.
"Hmm...It looks like I have a little research project," she muttered to herself.
From the deepest recesses of the space beneath the carpet of parchment Twilight drew out one of many empty notebooks. This one was a research journal that she had bought back home to add to her ever growing pile of 'I'll use these someday' notebooks. She opened to the first page and wrote proudly on the first line, Discord. Below that she wrote the only things she knew about him: the word Draconequus, and a short description of his appearance.
"Right," she said. "I'll visit the library tomorrow to see what I can find."