The Third Gift
A clip-clop of golden hooves.
A creak of an opening door.
The faint, smothered shifting of a rug.
The gentle rustle of bed covers moving apart.
The high groan of bed springs being moulded.
The soft, happy sigh of breath escaping worn, exhausted lips.
Celestia snuggled deeper into the magnificent, white duvet, red pillowed folds of her luxurious bed. Heavy eyelids slipping down and a content, fuzzy warmth wrapping around her body, sleep beckoning her with wide, open arms.
Still, still she had the uncomfortable, irritating feeling, the same feeling that had nagged and pestered and drilled into her mind since two long, yet joyous, weeks ago, two weeks since Discord had been re-installed into his stone cell.
Two weeks of celebration, ceremonies and parties that lasted through night and day, fireworks and noise-makers blasting through streets. Yet still the intense feeling of something forgotten, something that should never, ever have been forgotten, nagged and squawked at the back of her mind like a great, black bird.
Still, those pressing, almost urgent thoughts could wait. It was her time to rest, to relax and to allow her sister to command the night, it was not a time for worries and anxiety over a forgotten occurrence.
Crawling further into her form-absorbing bed, Celestia closed her eyes and let out a soft, quiet sigh as her body and mind drifted off to sleep almost immediately, previous thoughts and poking feelings forgotten in a second.
High, high above her.
High, high above the castle.
High, high above the air, within the clouds, two blazing, shining, golden eyes opened and peered downwards, hard malevolence and cold hatred burning and shifting through them. A monstrous, evil laugh split the air once before the eyes vanished and the wind began to pick up heavily, slamming hard against the white castle walls.
Gooey, hazy eyes opened lazily amidst the soft streaming sunlight that flickered through the light red curtain of the bedroom window, dappling the floor with a variety of oranges, yellows and reds. The rather faint light dazzled the sleepy, aching eyes of the man as he grumbled and turned himself over in his bed, hard springs poking into his side as he blurringly read the time written upon his bedside digital clock.
Ten in the morning, a rather, relaxing, carefree time where one would be able to simply sit back in bed, possibly watching the T.V before sleep could claim them again, snatching them up for another few hours. That would have been the case for the weary, tired man were it not for the drilling and hoarse, hard yelling of construction workers below his apartment, meticulously ruining his hopes of a much longer lay-in.
With a loud groan and a furious scrubbing of his aching eyes, the man rolled out of his poking, intrusive bed, his feet hitting the carpeted floor with a light thud that expelled some dust upwards, rising and then vanishing swiftly. With an irregular slouch, the exhausted, sleep-deprived human began to stumble across his room towards the bathroom, the door to the tiled room still wide open.
He got half way, half way across his room, half way to the bathroom before he stopped quite suddenly, feet tearing into the dirty rug like talons. His breath quickened rapidly as his eyes began to widen, hands clenching and unclenching in no particular order as a swirling mass of memories began to return.
A fanged tooth.
But it couldn't be real, could it? A dream, hallucination, brought on by the medication that was currently waiting inside of the bathroom cabinet. He had to look, had to be sure. He must.
He did not wish to go back to that white tiled, crust infested room, where it had happened, or where he had thought it had happened. It felt dirty, cursed, unnatural. It felt like a place on this Earth that simply should not be, an area where normalcy would be abandoned for insanity. It felt wrong, demonic even.
It felt like the place where one would go only as a last resort, only if there were no where left to go. It was like a creaking attic, a dark, dusty basement or an empty, lonely spare bedroom. It felt like the type of place that should be left alone, alone until someone was with him, alone until he truly, desperately needed it.
That disturbed, unexplainable evil feeling was only heightened when the human stole a glance at the bathroom door, only to find it firmly shut where it had once been wide open.
His grey- or was it golden? - eyes boggled in his head as he took in the sight of the notched wooden door clicked shut tightly against the wall. Had he been hallucinating again? Was he merely seeing things?
He was shaking now, quivering half naked on the rug like some belittled boy told off by his mother, eyes staring and mouth closed, tight lips pressing against each other to pale the skin. With a forced, heavy series of steps he moved forward to the closed door, bracing his nerves and drowning his fears beneath a hard exterior, refusing to be scared into silence and stillness by the merest memory of a bad dream and a once opened door.
He stoutly and durably grasped the gleaming golden door handle with one now still hand, breathing slowly restoring to normal as he began to relax a bit more, convincing himself that he merely mistook the door for open, that it was nothing supernatural, nothing paranormal. Opening the door and finding the room tidy, finding his body well and un-altered would be the last step for him, the last step towards him resuming his life of commonality.
With a great twist and a solid push, the door swung open, revealing the gleaming yet dank bathroom, white tiles, rotting bathtub, shining toilet, swirling sink and glass cabinet all revealed as swiftly as pulling out a splinter.
The room was as regular, bland and boring as it was the morning before, dripping sink, swollen bathtub, solid toilet, snow white tiles and sparkling cabinet all correctly placed, all in states of prevalence.
He let out a deep, grateful breath that he did not realise he had been been keeping, slouching slightly, shoulders sinking down in a physical sign of great relief. Beneath that hard, strong exterior had lain a profound, unsettling nervousness that had told him to chew nails, to bite lips and to refuse entrance into that room.
Only one thing remained now, the one thing that would restore his mind to a state where he would not fret and worry, where he could move about his house freely, without fear. It was time to face the mirror and whatever creature it may reflect.
With a small, almost unnoticeable spring in his step, he began to head towards the mirror, barely containing a smile as relief swept through his body, vanquishing nearly all fears.
As he drew closer and closer to the rapidly expanding mirror, as a hazy, distorted reflection began to make itself known, creeping thoughts of dread began to seep into his brain. Thoughts of horror, thoughts of memories, thoughts of golden eyes, sharpened teeth, hard cackles, malicious voices began to sink into his mind, nearly paralysing his feet. It was, to all purposes, as if that mirror heralded something awful, something that his mind, his sixth sense, did not wish him to see.
The trembling returned to his limbs but he refused to stop, denied the showing of weakness, even if he was the only one living soul in the apartment. The only living soul.
He passed the mirror, facing to the side of it, eyes locked on the taunting bathtub at the end of the room, sight disagreeing with body to gaze at the mirror, fear intermingling with the mind. Out of the corner of his eye he could faintly see his reflection, a black haired, stubble chinned man with large ears, a small nose and a fairly average upper body. The eyes and the mouth though remained hidden, his limited vision not fully encompassing the finer details of the reflective surface.
With a shaky, uneven breath he turned to face the mirror, half hoping for his regular appearance, half fearing what may stare back at him.
Nothing had changed, nothing. Not since last night. The same doorknob gold and blood red eyes stared back at him, the same jutting, razor tooth extending from his mouth seemingly glaring at him, twinkling in the refreshing sunlight that had now turned into the harbinger of horror.
He stood like a crumbling statue for a number of seconds, merely blankly staring at the reflection that stared back at him, eyes still, heart still, mouth still. Even his mind had fallen silent, eerie emptiness overpowering all of his senses until all that remained was a lifeless husk. Soon though, soon that husk was replaced by a man born of fear and repulsion, of horror and sickness.
With no mind, no sanity, no thought he fled the bathroom, the door still hanging open as he bolted through it, eyes wide and sparkling with tears, heart slamming in his chest, the cold sweat of fear lacing his brow and his mouth set in a grim line. He continued to pump his legs furiously, crossing his bedroom in a manner of seconds to throw open the white, pristine looking door that led to the only other room in his apartment, the lounge.
Behind him, the bathroom door slammed shut with a bang.
He couldn't stop the high shriek that escaped him when he heard the door behind him crash closed, nor could he stop his limbs from shaking and his bladder from emptying slightly when he felt a strong, harsh breeze blow over his back. What he could control however, was his legs and how fast they could run.
His lounge floor was coated in a mottled beige and red carpet, smooth yellow, peeling wallpaper sliding along the walls like a serpent. A selection of desks and chairs stood to one side like watching owls, a tiny kitchen on the opposite side gleamed in a metallic light. In the middle of the room stood a simple, two person, old, stuffing streaming orange sofa with deep stains coating its front, facing towards the complexion of a dark black T.V.
He dashed along the soft, waving carpet with a mindless urge to get out, to escape from whatever lurked in his home for if he had changed during the night, if that were real, then it meant that whatever had changed him was also real. And that scared him more then his own appearance.
He made it halfway across the room, the same length as his bedroom crossing, before he stopped, not of his own accord though. His legs felt frozen, his body and mind felt like lead as if he had been covered in a weighted, metal coat that smothered and repressed his form. He felt, in nearly all manners, like a statue in a garden.
He was moving backwards now, dragged yet not dragged along the rough but smooth carpet, scared but silent, nervous but calm. It was like he had no voice to speak with, no mind to think with, no body to use. Something else was in control now, something dark and sinister, something that had snuck into his life a while ago and had been pulling at his strings for a long, long time. And yet he didn't worry, he had no need to. Nor did her feel scared, depressed, happy or anxious. He felt nothing.
The soft click of the T.V remote drew him back to reality as emotions began to once more flood his body, horror and fear and terrible, terrible woe that made him want to scream and sob. Yet he couldn't, body still frozen but mind able to carry on.
The T.V was on now, a gentle flicking of the remote beside the table, a caress of the plastic buttons the only indication towards any movement. Soon enough, the T.V turned onto a show and remained that way, a show with bright colours and talking animals, with great white castles and a large, brown and green leaf mottled tree.
All of that fear, all of that horror and terror were sealed tight inside his own body like a boiling broth that threatened to spill over as the T.V continued to blare and as a loud, sweep of air burst over him, showering him and making his body reflexly shiver.
My, my, my. Running now were we?
Never had a laughing, chuckling, humour-filled voice sounded so evil, so atrocious. A thousand harsh whispers born from the confines of hell condensed into one, single tone. The voice from last night, from his nightmares spoke up once more, patronizing and sickening.
Did you really think it would be that easy?
He felt his body moving again, desperation and a heavy, hefty exhaustion chilling his bones as he touched the soft, giving body of the sofa, as whatever monstrous entity set him down before the T.V, gloating with its power whilst the human merely watched on, as if a stranger watching his own body.
Come now, speak up.
A great unsettling feeling of restoration took over the unfortunate man, his limbs losing their numb sense, his mind regaining control, his eyes zipping around the room and his mouth opening to take a deep, terrified breath.
I said, speak up!
The freezing anger in the once purring, seductive, mischievous voice made the man wobble violently, limbs begging to be free and run but mind offering a warning. That voice though, that dark, monstrous, beastly voice full of anger and rage made tears of despair spring to his eyes to trickle down his face, silent sobs racking the man's body.
The disgust in the paranormal, spectral voice silenced the man's tears and stopped their torrent falling, his mind pulsing with anger as it had done the previous night. This time though, this time he grasped that anger and didn't let it go, this time he used it to speak, not to cower. His own voice was high and shrill, anger and fear cracking his once masculine voice.
“What do you want?”
The hissing voice of the spiritual creature was replaced by a deep chuckle that chilled the air.
Now that's more like it. Why I want what everyone wants deep down, to spread a little chaos.
The evil in that voice, the undisguised hate and loathing nearly made the human stop and freeze but he pushed forward, gripping the diminishing ball of anger like it was his lifeline.
“What do you want with me?”
“How do you know my name!?”
Now the terror truly began to set in, his mind's control over his body snapping as he rose to his feet to flee, to run through the front door and to never, ever return. Just as he turned to move, as he put one foot down first a great, powerful smash of wind tore through his apartment, sending pens and paper from his desks flying and sending every cupboard in the kitchen careening open.
I wouldn't do that if I were you. You wouldn't even make it one step. Now sit down.
The command in that voice, the order of power and strength, the signs of a control that could command armies, forced Jonathan to immediately slam himself back down onto the sofa with a soft thump, a slight uptake of dust and a few sparkling, worried tears dancing upwards around him.
Good, good. Now, where were we? Ah yes, you see Jonathan I want you for a very specific purpose. Revenge. Please, my friend, direct your attention to the screen.
Eyes streaming and shedding horrified tears, Jonathan turned his head sharply and disjointedly to stare fully at the screen, taking in the noise and the colour and the peculiar, equine characters. He did not pay attention though, he could not pay attention. Once he had been a logical man, a man of science and a man who disputed the existence of God and of ghosts but now, now when he truly needed it he was desperately, hopelessly praying to a deity, any deity to save him from the thrall of the monster.
What do you see?
That same jerky, catastrophic voice spoke up again, hot air washing over the nape of his neck but he didn't hear it. He was too far gone down the path of shock, too far gone down the path of deep dismay. Too far gone down a path that closed behind him, sealing off his only exit.
There is nothing to fear but fear itself. That quote sprang to his mind but was quickly washed away. There was no man, women or child on this Earth that could go through this horror, this disaster and return safe and sound, happy and care-free. Fear is bred from bumps in the night, whispers in the dark and tales of ghosts and ghouls and spectres. Fear itself manifested into whatever it wanted and right now, it was the smothering, shadowed voice of the monster and the horrible atmosphere it brought with it, an atmosphere of malevolence and violence, of the darkest aspects of life.
Without warning, a swift but dull blow to the back of his head snapped Jonathan out of his trance, sending him sprawling to the floor, eyes wide and nose streaming as he felt a, first gentle but then strong, force push down on his neck like a heavy foot.
What do you see?
He sobbed. Unrestrainedly. There is only so much one can take, only so much one can bear before they snap. This man, Jonathan's, breaking point had been reached and shattered into a thousand shards that cut deep into him. His nose bubbled, his eyes streamed, his breath rasped, his body shuddered and his heart hammered like a four-beat drum.
The pressure on his neck increased, partially crushing his wind-pipe and making him choke and splutter, eyes popping open in pain and panic as the voice once more picked up.
What. Do. You. See?
Jonathan turned his head somewhat, consternation lending him strength and the threat of dying forcing his neck to creak around until his eyes rested on the flickering T.V, before he blurted out a single, cough ridden, sore, tear choked word.
The intense, compressing pressure eased in strength, allowing Jonathan to draw in a deep breath that soon turned into a cough, his wind-pipe squeezed and his voice choked with fat tears.
Good, what are they doing?
He blinked back thick tears from his eyes, feeling the course down his face and pool along the carpet floor, soaking into his left cheek as he gazed with alarm and confusion at the T.V once more, speaking up in a raspy, broken voice.
“They're...they're turning s-s-something to sto-one.”
The near bone-crushing tension remained the same but along the traces of the air came a feel of disguised anger and hidden rage, a deep pant filling the musty room.
And, what is it they are turning to stone?
Jonathan tried to speak but ended up gurgling slightly, phlegm rising up in his throat before he cleared it and spoke in the same broken, twisted voice.
“I...I don't k-kno-w-w.”
The stress on his throat increased, forcing him to gag as the voice spoke up once more, hot breath tingling his face and staining his nose with the smell of cotton candy and decay.
You have never heard of the God they imprisoned?
He couldn't speak, couldn't breath. He was defenceless, light fading, flickering and blackness engulfing him, tears falling harder then ever as he felt his life slip away.
Terror. Sheer animalistic terror coursed through him as he felt his end draw nigh, as the sun's shine dimmed, as the shadowed gathered around the corner of his eyes. As he tried, once more, to pray or call out to a deity, any deity to save him.
All of a sudden, the pressure was relinquished and withdrew entirely, allowing Jonathan to draw in breath with an explosive force.
He gagged, coughed, choked and wheezed for nearly a minute, struggling to breath through his squashed oesophagus and drowning tears. That voice spoke up again, anger and rage vanished as if they were never there, replaced by the feline, yet serpentine, hiss of the mischief, joking tones.
Oh my, this is too much fun. You are quite the...sport.
Jonathan quivered on all fours like a mongrel shaking in the rain, legs shivering, eyes plopping tears of pain and distress onto the nearly soaked carpet, coughs racing up his body as he choked out a single, irregular, frightened sentence.
The voice that returned to his ears was surprisingly jubilant and happy, as if the previous session of torment and horror had never occurred.
Because someone had to be picked and the rules of Eeny-Meanie-Miney-Mo chose the task for you.
Jonathan coughed and retched, raising himself onto one knee as he rubbed at his throat, pools of tears engulfing his face.
“I-I was pi...picked because o-of a children's r-rhyme?”
The hard kick to his ribs sent Jonathan flying into the T.V, which shattered and sparked on impact as he wrapped his arms around his body, sobbing in horrible pain as the bruising and the splinters of glass began to torture his body.
It is NO children's rhyme! I made it, created it and you, you will respect that!
He could only continue his sobbing, jerking his head slightly in what appeared to be a nod. The voice hissed once again, feelings blanked like a clean slate.
Now, back to it. Those ponies you saw there, on that T.V, they are real. Real as me, real as you. They imprisoned me. ME! But it's ok, because I have something they could never, never have.
The cold feeling of dread intermingled with the torturous pain in his body as Jonathan listened carefully, still weeping and clutching himself but now hanging on every word as if his life depended on it, which it may do.
How quickly his life had turned around, how quickly one gives into the highest power, the unforeseeable evil. Here he was, curled on the floor, bleeding, sobbing all because of an invisible spectre.
I have a host. A fresh, new body from which I can not only gain their trust, their friendship, but a body that I can make my own.
Those words, words of horror spoken with a clarity and a finality that lingered on the idea that this was what was going to happen, not what may or what might, pierced the human to his very core like a needle, injecting him with liquid fear yet he could not voice his concerns, he could only watch as his own tears fell, as his nose bubbled, as his heart hammered, sweat smeared and body was racked with convulsions.
Jonathan stirred, untangling himself, wincing and muffling a groan as the pain threatened to engulf him. The tears dried on his face, too many shed already for his body to make any more as he listened to the voice that whispered from everywhere and anywhere.
That is your job, Jonathan. You are my host, my new body. I will bestow a gift upon you like no other. You will become me and I will overturn you.
He feebly struggled forward on his hands and knees, flopping to the ground within mere seconds as the horrible, hardening strain on his body picked up, forcing his limbs to simply stop. He rasped up in a voice that was filled to the brim with fear.
“W-w-why not just tur-n-n-n me n-n-now? Why d-drag it o-out?”
That invisible, encompassing voice returned, sparkling with mirth and sadistic joy.
Because, Jonathan, I like to see you squirm and scream, weep and fear. It is a most exquisite, delicious meal for me...
Evil. That was the only logical, informative, true name for the voice that had spoken and the statement it had whispered. Evil. A dark evil that would not cease, an evil that had diseased and bubbled for a long time. An evil that was like nothing else on the Earth.
Now, back to it.
Jonathan shook, heart pounding and drumming, sweat mingling with tears and blood, new, golden eyes widening and head shaking from side to side as he mouthed a single word over and over again.
I will turn you into me, over time. First your body and then your mind will succumb to me. I will send you far, far away to my...home. That will be my third gift of many.
Gift. Burden. The words melded together in his dazed, shattered, pained and seething mind.
Whilst you are still in control you will befriend those around you, you will make them love you.
Jonathan shook his head more vigorously, closing his eyes to try and blot out the horrid plan, the scheme of the monster that had haunted him for too, too long.
And then, my friend, you will betray them.
A/N: I took a darker route with this chapter because I wanted people to truly feel that Discord was a dark, sinister character instead of the bubble-gum villain many see him as. Due to that, I added in some violence but mostly mental torment.
Not sure if I did well with this chapter, that's for you to decide. I hope I did well because I would hate to disappoint some people. I am really grateful for all the support I've received so far, 78 favourites in little over a day but I would like to hear your honest opinion on this chapter so that I can either continue what I'm doing if it feels right or alter my chapters to fit a stricter regime that will work better for this story.