It was funny. You’d think being locked inside a statue would be a pretty stagnant thing. That nothing about it would change over the years. But that wasn’t the case at all. With each stoning, Discord’s mental torment grew and grew. First his mind was filled with anguish over Celestia’s betrayal. Then he kicked himself for eighty years over his (slight!) arrogance whilst dealing with Twilight Sparkle. Now, all he spent his days doing was thinking about Celestia’s latest act of unspeakable
cruelty towards him.
The first stoning wasn’t even that bad in comparison. At least they had a legitimate reason to want him gone! He had barely been out forty-five minutes last time before her little harmonious delta force showed up. And now, the kicker was that he wasn’t even doing anything! In fact, he was trying to help Celestia, his ulterior motives for helping her notwithstanding, of course. He had to wonder if anything he had told her stuck. If anything she saw when he showed her a world without his chaos meant anything to her, besides his overt “everything happens the way it does for a reason” aesop. No, she clung to her past grudges until the last, buying her time until the Elements showed up to put him down without question, without remorse, without even seeing what he was doing. He had given her a chance at friendship. He tried to educate her. And she spat in his face. No more second chances. No more playing around. She had forced it on him and he had no other choice. The next time he broke out, he was going to stay out. He was going to have to go down a road he hadn’t set foot on since the day his father died: the road of destructive chaos.
There was something distinct about the surrounding world this time, though. The comparative peacefulness and order of Equestria seemed to fade away. It was almost as if the everyday chaos was increasing tenfold annually. The Gala was ruined (a recurring theme he had noticed over the centuries,) crime in Canterlot was running amok, and there was general disorder and disharmony amongst ponies everywhere. It was almost like something wanted him out. But as far as he knew, the Elements were still alive and well, as the cracking in his feet hadn’t begun yet. He was still going to be in there for a while.
Although the bouts of chaos only lasted for the first decade or so of this interment, they still, somehow, gave him a small portion of his powers back. Granted, what he had wasn’t nearly enough to do anything significant, but it was enough to disturb the sudden placidity of Equestria. He found that with great effort and focus, he could actually project a small, astral portion of his being out into the world. Beyond this, however he could do little. He was blind as a bat in this ghostly form, invisible, and what powers he had gotten back were spent getting him out, after which he could only hold the spell for about an hour or so. All the benefit he got from these little escapes was a bi-monthly stroll to the edge of the garden.
It was during one such outing that he discovered a solitary gardener, peacefully sleeping underneath a shady tree. After happening on him, Discord stopped for a moment. What could he do? His ethereal self surely couldn’t play any pranks on the smug little slacker. “Ugh,” he said to himself. “What’s the point of being free if I can’t-“
“I love lemon puddin’,” murmured the lazy pony, who now was starting to let drool slip out the side of his unconscious face.
Discord was partially repulsed by the slobber, but more so the fact that he was in the presence of a pony who just claimed to love lemon pudding! Clearly the most inferior of all pudding flavors! Everypony knew that chocolate was the best! That’s why he’d never made any lemon pudding mudslides. Nopony in their right mind would ever favor lemons over chocolate. “Hmmm. Their right minds…”
“Why does this have to be so tight a fit?!” he grunted as he tried to squeeze his ghostly foot into the ponies ear. The gardener, who was still sleeping like a foal, didn’t feel a thing. After a fair bit of stumbling, tripping over his own tail, and overcoming certain claustrophobic tendencies that he never knew he had, Discord finally made his way into the gardener’s ear. He shrunk himself down to miniscule size and went on to walk leisurely deeper into the grand hallway that was his tired friend’s aural canal.
After a few minutes of walking, he finally made it to the end of the hallway, which was covered by a thin white layer of wallpaper. “Now if I’m right,” he said as he approached the white wall, clutching a portion of it, “what I’m looking for should be behind…HERE!” The wallpaper fell away to reveal what he had been looking for. He had made it into the gardener’s dreams.
As he journeyed about the dreamscape, he came to the disturbing realization as to just how much this stallion loved lemon pudding. The earth was made out of hardened lemon pudding. The sky was the same sickening shade of yellow. And when he finally found the guy, he was diving from a thick, golden, lemon-y waterfall, right into a pool of the stuff. Discord raised his eyebrow at the sheer strangeness of the scene, not sure what to make of such a bizarre pony. When he took another look around, and saw how much chaos he was surrounded by, he applauded. It had been quite some time since he had seen such quality craziness.
Unfortunately, the gardener had no such appreciation for Discord. Alerted to his guest, he literally flew out of the pool (a feat Discord would’ve considered impressively chaotic for an earth pony, had it not been a dream,) and started running and screaming at the top of his lungs “IT’S THE STATUE MONSTER HERE TO EAT MY LIVER! EEEEEK” And in a few short moments, he awoke and Discord was expelled from his head and sucked back into his statue to rejoin his physical body. After putting the strange gardener, whom Discord quickly discerned was odd even by his own standards, out of sight and out of mind, he figured out exactly what he was going to do next with his new dream-walking prowess.
And then he waited. Marking his mental calendar with each passing month, year and decade that went by. Surely enough, the feeling in his foot returned to him once again, like an old friend. Over the course of the next year, the fissures in the stone gradually went up the length of his body, as methodically as they had in the past.
Then, the big day finally came when the cracks were so deep and so many as to ensure that he’d be free in twenty-four hours. But instead of waiting with the anticipation of a school filly on Hearth Warming’s Eve, he gave himself one last out of body experience. He allowed his spirit to float up towards the castle, slipping past the guards, phasing through the gates, and weaving in and out of the hallowed halls. As he traversed the palace, he couldn’t help but see the places he and Celestia played as children. He still knew every inch of the place by heart “Stay the course, Discord,” he thought out loud. “You know why you’re here.”
After little more than a few minutes of travel, he finally made it to the ivory door that lead to Celestia’s bed chambers. Even though he walked through it with ease, he found that the room was far too dark to see anything. Realizing that he didn’t have time to enter her dreams like he had with the gardener, he gave a quick snap, and he instantly found himself just beyond the whit wall. He was beholden to a beautiful green field with rolling hillsides. The hills themselves were covered in the most fragrant smelling flowers known to ponykind, whose beautiful colors were reflected divinely by the radiant sunlight above. “Is it too late to go back to the pudding guy?” Discord groaned to himself in disgust.
As he was walking through the fields he heard a soft voice call out from behind a hill. “Oh, you spoil me!” Upon hearing this, Discord flung himself behind the mound, ready to spring up and surprise her at any moment.
When he felt the time was right, he popped his head out from behind his hiding place and with a smug expression on his face said, “Hello.” Celestia looked up from her picnic with an alabaster stallion, which promptly disappeared. He looked at her for a long time afterwards before finally muttering, “Well, that sure was awkward.”
After this, Celestia seemed to lighten her mood, even going so far as to chuckle a bit. “Alright brain,” she said as if she had just been pranked. “I’ll cave. Why am I dreaming about Discord?”
He raised his eyebrow. “Dreaming?” he asked condescendingly. “Sorry to disappoint, Celestia, but you’re talking to the genuine article!” As he said this, he snapped his fingers and conjured a reclined lawn chair to rest his back on. She only looked half was shocked as he thought she would. “What’s the matter? Didn’t think I’d be back so soon?” he asked her with a feigned concern.
She waved her hoof in dismissal. “No, no. I knew you’d be back soon. I just never expected you to start invading my dreams.”
Discord grinned and snapped up a fedora and a striped sweater. “You were expecting who then, Filly Kruger?” Celestia wore an expression of unjustified playfulness. If only she knew what he was about to tell her. He snapped the clothing articles off his body and got right back to business.“You do realize why I’m here, right?”
“To accept my friendship?” she asked him humbly.
Discord was shocked by the audacity. How dare she mock him so! She was making the same offer he gave to her before she betrayed him. “I don’t know if you’re just being arrogant, or if all these years haven’t been as kind to your memory as they have been to mine. Do you remember what happened the last time I broke out? Or do you want a refresher course?”
Celestia looked down at the bright green grass with shame and started kicking the dirt around with her hooves. She had the appearance of a filly apologizing to her parents for being disobedient. “I’m truly sorry about that,” she stuttered out when she finally raised her head. I was too wrapped up in what you were showing me to remember that I called the Elements. I didn’t think they’d get to Canterlot so soon, and-,”
“Save it, Princess. We both know what you did that day. You knew full well that I wouldn’t be stupid enough to be beaten again, so you waited. You lured me into trusting you, baited me with kindness. And when you saw your little ponies burst in behind me…well you just jumped for joy on the inside didn’t you?” Although I must admit, you did put on a convincing act during those last couple of seconds. Well done. Top shelf deceit.” He applauded softly.
“I was being sincere, Discord! I was granting you your freedom when the Elements came in! Do you know what I did to the ponies who did that? I stripped them of their titles as Bearers! They weren’t allowed anywhere near the castle again!”
By this point, Discord had already lain back down on his chair, resting his head on his arm, while half listening to what she was telling him. “Wow,” he said after taking a deep breath. “That was a lot to take in.”
She calmed down. “So…you’re happy?”
He smirked. “Oh yes, I’m so very happy. It always does my heart good to see somepony commit themselves to a lie like that, and that was an amazing performance! How many times did you practice that in front of your mirror? 400? 500?”
She sighed with exasperation. “That wasn’t an act, Discord. I’m really-,”
“I really do hate to change the subject,” he said, lying through his teeth as he felt nothing turning the conversation from her lies, “but do you know why I showed you what I did that day? The last time I broke free?”
She shrugged with confusion. ‘You told me what it was for. To show me that everything that happens for a reason.”
He shook his head and waved his hands. “No, no, no. Not that. I mean the message that I didn’t beat you over the head with.” She stood there, slack jawed and bewildered by what he just told her. “Hmph. Some thought you’ve put into it since. The thing is, Celestia, in the grand scheme of things, we need each other. Both of our existences have been dedicated to the destruction of all the other stands for. And even in the times before that we were…” he hesitated. “Anyways, the point is, you need me. You need my chaos. Without it, you’re nothing, you have no purpose. You need me to define you just as harmony needs chaos to define itself. And you’ve tried to repeatedly destroy me. Even when I come to you, offering up renewed friendship. Offering to give up my chaos, the thing that makes me who I am, to make it work.”
Celestia tried one last time. “Discord. Please. I’m not trying to trick you. Just listen. I want to make my peace.”
“I’m sure you do,” he snarked as he tapered off towards the alabaster wall. “Just like I did. We can discuss the finer points of the matter when I see you in person tomorrow.” Just as he reached out to touch the wall, he heard her utter one more, prophetic sentence.
“You won’t like what you find when you wake up tomorrow.”
He turned around to look her in the eye.
“Neither will you,” he said coldly before blinking out of the dream and back into his prison to wait for the next morning.