96w, 5dFollowers of Discord
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What am I doing wrong?
Discord slunk though the stones of the rock farm he had chosen as a trap. It was abandoned and bleak, save for an earth pony family (the dourest he’d ever seen, dressed in drab and coated the same) whom he’d left tied and gagged to a large rock in plain sight.
The bait was there.
He’d sensed the tracking magic and had purposely lit it; his pursuers knew where he was.
He’d even come up with a clever plan to deal with his attackers: a cloud of laughing gas. The combined magic of nine dentist unicorns gave him the ability to produce a great deal of it at once. While he hated lowering himself to such a base level to get a laugh, he’d been completely unable to think of a funny trap or trial.
In fact, it had been days since he’d thought of a gag.
The foal and stallion on the cloud? Cruel, yes. Surprising, yes. Funny? No. Effective? Yes. It helped progress his plans towards his goals, but it just wasn’t right. Other incidents further disturbed him. Repeatedly teleporting ponies around to disorient them in a maze? A technical feat, but it lacked … pizazz. Teleporting pizzas onto ponies until they nearly drowned in sauce and cheese? Well, pizazz was there, but there was no elegance to it. And that ghastly affair with the unicorn—he shuddered. He’d never do that again.
He’d wasted a talented unicorn’s magic, and it hadn’t even had a chance of making anypony laugh because he’d had to hypnotize the crowd!
As he munched down on the stale bread in the family’s kitchen, he glanced outside. The ponies were still there. He was growing angry. It was bad enough that they’d emagiculated him—Oh! there was a funny word! He’d have to remember it—but to ignore him? He was still a threat!
Hadn’t he proved that when he’d taken down the Wonderbolts, one of Celestia’s most valuable military forces? Twitching the wings he’d taken from that one pegasus in trade for a pie and for sparing the lives of his compatriots—Soarin, that was his name—Discord nodded his head.
He was still a threat. He was still dangerous. He was still playing in the big leagues.
He took another bite of moldy bread and stared out the dirty window at the bound earth ponies.
“Okay, let’s do this!”
“Checklist, check!” said Spike excitedly, racing around Twilight’s and his room in Canterlot. He, as usual, was in charge of the checklist. It had been a rough couple of days for the little lizard—his worry for Twilight had beaten him down quite a bit—but as they settled back into their study pattern, he felt a world’s worth of worries whisk away. “Tea and cookies, check!”
“Ruby jam and mercury-flavored soda, check,” Twilight said with a smile, looking to the pile of Spike’s favorite snacks.
“Relaxing music, check!”
“Excessive preparedness, check!”
In unison the two plopped down on their floor pillows in front of the warm fire, took a sip of their drinks, and began to read as Spike flipped the book to its first page.
An Egghead’s Guide to Comedy
A Practical and Logical Guide to the Theory, Mechanics, and Creation of Laughter via the Stimulus-Response Process
Chapter One—The Short Game and the Long Game
In comedy, be it a stand up performance, humorous theater production, or simply telling a friend a funny story, one must plan two different strategies. The main effort, the Long Game, will herein be referred to as the Joke. The Joke’s goal is to build to a major laugh via the creation of suspense and interest …
“Spike asleep, check,” whispered Twilight Sparkle, gingerly tugging Spike’s blanket over him. On cue, the dragon had fallen asleep, as he always did when they read together. She checked to make sure his snores would not light the pillow on fire and pulled the book closer to her.
The Short Game, henceforth referred to as the Gag, is used at intervals within the joke to aid in pacing and break apart the joke to prevent it from becoming tedious. A gag should not be complex—a pun, a slapstick accident, a silly reaction, any of these are acceptable. They exist to aid the Joke.
Example with Notations:
My friend and I are trotting down the road one day, and we find this apple pie just lying there. Now, my friend, who will remain nameless, is a way more honest pony than I am. Also, his name is Falling Anvil. So, anyways, here’s this pie …
At that point, the page ended, and Twilight turned it.
She was struck in the face by a spring-loaded apple pie.
It took several seconds of blinking for her to clear her eyes and accept that she had, in fact, just been struck by a pie. It wasn’t until her eyes fell on the next page that she understood why.
Sentence One: This sentence sets the stage so the audience can imagine the setting. It also makes the audience think the joke is simply a story when it is in fact physical comedy.
Sentence Two: By casting a nameless pony and claiming they are more honest, the teller builds the audience’s understanding of both the nameless pony and the teller.
Sentence Three: When the teller tells their friend’s name, they reference the earlier claim of being dishonest by proving themselves willing to deceive. This gag is in the center of the joke to meter out the story and draw the audience into the narrative so they emphasize with the characters, and therefore, invest more attention in the events.
Sentence Four: This sentence cuts off, building suspense.
Page Turn: When the audience is unexpectedly hit by a pie, this shocks them out of the state of mind they were in and allows those observing the event to laugh.
Twilight glanced to Spike. He was still asleep. With a smirk and a sigh she rose to go wash her face—this book was going to be a tough read.
Discord was literally tearing the rock farmers’ home apart, having chucked two dressers and a cabinet though the walls of the farmhouse with telekinesis. He was bored beyond belief and was desperately searching for something—anything!—to pass the time with.
“Not even a doll?” The draconequus was in shock as he finished dismantling the foals’ rooms. He then checked and chucked their parents’ rooms through a wall, finding nothing entertaining there as well. Returning to the living room, he found there were no books, magazines, musical instruments or devices, or other such necessities for mental stimulation.
Storming outside, he made way to the menaced family, seeking words.
“Okay, what the hay is wrong with you ponies?” he roared into their faces. The gagged foals began to cry, the mare glared at him hatefully, and the stallion struggled uselessly.
“No toys for the little ones? No books? Not even something droll and dry, like an almanac? What is wrong with you all—did your little earth pony brains shrivel up?”
He felt a ping of magic.
“Hold on, I have to take this,” he said with a sigh, turning from the ponies. He scanned the horizon; no heroes in sight. He focused on the magic again; it was the tracking spell, but its source was farther away than before. In fact, it was where he had been that morning, near Stalliongrad!
Had they simply not sensed his trap? That would explain why they didn’t try to stop him here. Quite well, actually: ponies never abandoned those in need. With a deep breath, he focused and teleported, looking to crack a few skulls for making him wait.
“Here I am, my tiny little ponies!” he roared as the cobbled highway and cheery forests from earlier swam into view, granting him blessed relief from the trapped farmers and their detestable dirt. He looked around; there was nopony in sight. There were tracks heading towards the town he’d struck earlier; the ex-unicorns had likely returned home after the spell had worn off.
The doll’s remains were gone.
Casting a spell to make himself appear to be a pegasus, he took to the air on his stolen wings. A quick check of the woods revealed nopony’s presence, and as he flew farther and farther, he found himself unable to find the tracking magic’s source. The town caught his eye—and then a rainbow streak flew from it.
He’d done quite a number on the mare. Taking a pegaus’s wings away was a rather crushing blow—and then, he’d tried to hammer her into uselessness with further magical mayhem. She was supposed to be the lynch-pin of his plan: the most loyal pony would be the one that the Elements of Harmony were least prepared to lose. She’d vanish, and they wouldn’t want to find her. It had almost worked, too, when Twilight Sparkle had tried to have her familiar use Dash’s element.
But she’d shown up. And ruined Discord’s plans. There were ponies in the world that he hated more—Celestia and Luna popped to mind, but vanished as he imagined himself throttling Twilight Sparkle—but they were few and far between.
He decided he was going to enjoy this a lot more than was healthy.
He dropped the illusion immediately. He didn’t care if she saw him coming. He had too much magic for even the fastest pegasus to deal with—ah, stop. Overconfidence, that had been his downfall last time. He needed to start stacking things in his favor.
He launched a fireball at the village below.
“Why hello, Rainbow Dork!” he shouted, flapping through the clouds. As predicted, the pegasus flew though the fire and blasted it apart. He launched five more. “Lovely weather, isn’t it?”
She didn’t say anything, simply battering apart his spells as she flew closer. She was paying for saving the town; each time she destroyed a spell, sparks caught upon her, burning into her coat, mane, and wings. She was smoldering slightly as she dove through a cloud to extinguish herself.
With some amusement, Discord noted she had a mace clenched in her mouth.
A mace. How perfect a metaphor for the pegasi—blunt and useless outside of war. Celestia had given them control of the weather because they weren’t needed for anything else, and the years of peace had not been kind. They compromised most of the Royal Guard, but hadn’t even put up a half-hearted fight against him.
He waited until she was within striking distance to teleport inside a nearby cloud.
He immediately turned himself invisible and went silent. He sensed her flying around, then screaming in rage. Good. His plan was working; he was going to simply whittle her down until her allies came out to help her. Once he knew what he was dealing with, he’d teleport a long ways away and then form a better plan—unless it was only a pony or two, in which case he’d simply hit them as well.
Wishing he could whip the cloud into a dollop of ice cream like in the old days, he teleported back out of the cloud to continue his attacking.
“I must say, Rainbow Dash, I’m shocked to see you here!” he said as he blasted her with a bolt of lightning.
She either let out a groan from pain or from the lameness of his joke before pressing the attack again.
Twilight Sparkle let out a long breath and kicked off her shoes.
The Gala Ballroom was empty. She’d gotten Princess Celestia’s okay before she’d used it, but it was simply the best room for what she was going to try. It wouldn’t be needed for several months in the event it needed repair, it was far from the rest of the castle, and it made sense to dance in the dance hall.
“And a one-two-three!” she stated to the air, shuffling her feet.
She paused, slapped herself in the face, and turned on the record player she’d brought. This time, there would actually be music to dance to.
“And a one-two-three!”
Twilight Sparkle’s dancing had been described as both “tragic” and “epic” by her friends, but both terms had been said with laughter in their voices. As she began to tap over the floor, she hoped her scheme worked. The Egghead’s Guide had said that bad dancing was always funny, and she’d remembered the strange dance Discord had done in the stained glass window.
The stained glass windows burst to life, dragons and ponies dancing in place. She focused on the tapestries, which showed famous ponies and events. They came to life as well. With a staccato set of hoof-taps, she set to something a little bigger than a Come-To-Life spell, several conjurations which she thought were appropriate to the situation.
As balloons began to fall from midair and the chandeliers began to light in pulsing club colors, she couldn’t help but let out a whoop, rearing onto her back legs as she let out a cry of victory.
A moment later, she felt her hindhooves fall from the floor, and she tumbled to the ceiling.
“… okay, celebrated too soon,” she sighed as her magics continued above—no, below her. She focused on one of the sayings her magic teachers had drilled into her: “Repeat after me: do not celebrate victory until you’ve finished everything you needed to do or your life will be one long stream of headaches.”
Rainbow Dash was struck with a tornado and thrown off course. Her body ached as she flapped her sizzling, ash-covered wings to regain control of herself.
“—and once again!” cackled Discord, launching another one at her as he peeked out of a cloud.
Cursing into the handle of the mace, she broke left and plummeted below the cloud line. She was in bad shape—she’d been electrocuted, charred, laughing-gassed, tarred, electrocuted again, covered in thorny flowers, and electrocuted. Again. But she’d signed up for this; she was the lynch-pin in her friends’ plans.
Looking up, she saw Discord had chosen to stay in his clouds.
“Fluttershy! I really need some help!” she shouted, turning back and speeding upwards. A brick wall appeared and crumbled as it fell, forcing her to dodge and lose most of her speed. The yellow pegasus appeared in the corner of her eyes just as a brick caught her attention—it was time to spring their trap.
She let the brick hit her in head and pretended to be knocked out, going limp, dropping the mace, and plummeting toward the ground.
Her eyes were shut, but she knew Fluttershy was racing towards her … and so was Discord, cackling as the wings she’d known he would have beat. In her seemingly vulnerable state, and with Fluttershy’s unthreatening nature, Applejack had predicted that Discord would press the attack.
“Dash!” shouted Fluttershy, bucking the mace to her. She reared and caught it, flapping to face Discord, who looked surprised. A moment before, he’d been confident in his attack. Now, he tried to switch back to his old strategy of teleporting away.
But now he was close enough to the ground that Rarity was able to block his spell.
When Rainbow Dash flicked her neck and the mace compacted Discord’s face, it let out the most pleasing ‘wham’ that anypony had ever heard.
Then the wings on Discord’s back vanished.
Discord struck the ground hard. In an instant he recovered, but it wasn’t fast enough—Applejack’s lasso had gone around him and bound his limbs. He tried to teleport again; Rainbow Dash heard Rarity, hidden in the nearby foliage, cry out with exertion.
“Dashie! She can’t hold him here much longer!” shouted Applejack, tying off her rope around a tree.
“And when you hit him, he lost some of the magic he stole!” shouted Pinkie Pie, bouncing into view. “Keep hitting him!”
Rainbow Dash didn’t know how she found the energy she did, but as she spotted the panic on Discord’s face as he noticed her rearing up with the mace, she resolved to put it to good use.