The Elements of Friendship, Book II: Chaoskampf

by Amras Felagund


Chapter ρ%_TT: Reading Between The Lines

“Miss Twilight Sparkle,” asked Igneous Rock Pie, “perhaps thou could elucidate for us, what is this ‘method of haycarts’?”
“It’s ‘Hayscartes’s Method’, Mr. Pie,” Twilight began with an instinctive correction, “and what it is, is basically a ‘read-between-the-lines’ spell which allows the caster to quickly discern the meaning behind a piece of text by transferring their consciousness into the document itself, to become privy to the subtext.” Her eyes twinkled at the thought. “Imagine… becoming one with a book… I wish I’d learned this spell sooner!”
“So, wait,” interjected Rainbow Dash, raising a hoof and an eyebrow. “If you knew a spell like that, why didn’t you use it on the letters that the Queen sent you in our first adventure?”
“Queen Celestia is a very wise mare; she has been adamant about casting magical barriers on most everything that she pens, to avoid having her thoughts while she was writing them becoming endangered.”
“So, you’re saying that the Queen doesn’t trust you, then?” Limestone said inquisitively.
“What?” Twilight double-taked. “No, Her Majesty trusts me; I’m her most faithful student! I wouldn’t let her down! She just has… a lot on her mind. She’s reigned over Equestria for meggrossia, and she holds far too many thoughts of regret and misery that weigh too heavy on her mind. If somepony were to use Hayscartes’s Method to peruse her writings… that weight would surely crush their mind.”
“Hmm…” said Marble softly, glancing down at the pile of pentagon-shaped books labeled with an assortment of odd markings.
“Something on your mind, little sis?” Pinkie asked in a soft tone.
“Mhm,” Marble nodded slowly, before kneeling down to her twin and whispering indistinctly into Pinkie’s ear. The pink Earth Pony looked up at her younger sister, meeting grayish-violet eyes with her light-cerulean eyes. After a moment, the smaller sister nodded quickly, offering a soft beaming smile.
“What pray tell was on thy mind, Marble?” asked Cloudy Quartz.
“Mmm,” Marble shook her head slowly, hiding her face behind her mane in a distinctly Fluttershyish manner.
Twilight looked at the Pie twins curiously.
“What was on her mind, Pinkie, may I ask?”
“Ohh, uhh… Marble just wanted to know if you, uhh, used your haycarty method to look into fiction books…?”
That was quite plainly a lie; No wonder Pinkie doesn’t bear the Element of Honesty, Twilight thought wryly as she examined the slightly nervous tweak at the edges of Pinkie’s smile and the sporadic saccades of her eyes flitting all about Twilight’s own face. It was quite plain that there was something that the youngest Pies did not want to share with present company.
But Twilight shrewdly decided to not press the matter, and instead to humor Marble and Pinkie.
“Well, you see,” she explained, “books which are copied from the original ungulascript or cornuscript of an author tend to carry the original thoughts which were passing through an author’s mind as they were writing it. And usually when an author is writing a story, their mind dwells on events later on in the narrative, or on ideas which they’d only considered but later scrapped. Additionally, they could be dwelling on personal inspirations for characters, events, or places, and not everypony would want to share that. As such, there’s a bit of a gentlemare’s agreement among those who know this particular method of Hayscartes to not dare touch fiction books with this spell; no need to spoil the story for oneself.”
(“Hmm…” Marble nodded, seemingly satisfied.)
“And also,” Twilight continued, “since the methods of Hayscartes are very old forms of magic, there are a great many safeguard spells that one could cast on a printed document to prevent somepony from sticking their nose in figuratively where it doesn’t belong. But these books far outdate Hayscartes, so I could very well look into what the cultists of Pi thought as they wrote them. My only concern is…”
A pregnant pause followed, swallowing the eleven ponies and dragon cub up in its heavy silence, broken only by the bestial hissing and spitting noises that Spike made every time he glanced at the diamonds on Rarity’s flank, glinting as only bona-fide diamonds could.
Spike, Twilight thought resolutely, her mind on the invisible barrier she had conjured up between her ward and the alabaster Unicorn to keep him off of her and to keep her voice down, what has Discord done to you? I swear, I’ll find the answer, mein Sohn
“Yer… only concern, Twilight?” Applejack’s voice interjected, and Twilight’s ears perked back up at the sound.
The lavender Unicorn flushed embarrassedly.
“Ohh, right. My only concern about using this method of Hayscartes is… it gives you a glimpse into the mindset of the pony who wrote the piece. What was on their mind, what their thought process was, the intensity of their feelings…” A chill passed over her body. “I can only imagine the madness that was passing through the minds of ponies who worshipped Discord, for generation after generation.”
Rainbow Dash’s wings quivered.
“You really think that they’re that bad?”
“I don’t know. I mean, nopony is perfectly mentally stable. There is always a degree of instability in anypony’s mind. And even though it’s clear that their descendants are at the very least functional―”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?!” interjected Limestone, pulling down the lower eyelid of her green eye as she glowered at Twilight.
The lavender Unicorn faltered, “I − you have to understand − I wasn’t insulting you or your family, Miss Limestone. It’s what I just said, that nopony is completely devoid of some strain of chaos or dissonance in their minds. Even my friend Fluttershy…” Twilight glanced at the yellow Pegasus, lilac horns sprouting near her ears flat against her head and a foreleg crossed across the other. “Even Fluttershy…”
“What dost thou mean about a ‘strain of chaos’ in the mind, Miss Sparkle?” asked Cloudy Quartz, staring at Twilight over her half-moon glasses.
“Ever since the Age of Discord,” Twilight explained, “all of ponykind has been struck with a long-lasting psychological trauma. Queen Celestia told me, that most everypony before that era were far more stable than ponies after. And though the world before the establishment of the Diarchy of Equestria was no less dangerous, ponies since the Age of Discord up to the modern day startle far more easily despite our evolving past the ‘every pony for themself’ mentality of the herd. Taraxippoi frighten foals far easier than before; bunyips alarm seafaring ponies with greater frequency; and even our longtime allies the Griffons have become…”
Twilight shook her head vigorously.
“I’m losing my focus. We need to look through these books on the Cult of Pi, and since they are far older than Hayscartes’s method of reading subtext, I should be able to dive into each book, one after the other, learn what wasn’t immediately obvious at a glance. What I have read… leaves a lot of lingering questions.”
“What questions?” asked Fluttershy.
Twilight’s evenly-cut forelock shadowed her eyes.
“I won’t say. Not until I have answers. I will request one thing, though, before I commence.”
“Oooh, what is it, Twilight?” asked Pinkie curiously, tilting her head like an inquisitive pup.
“Make sure nopony disturbs my body.”


Pentagonal books in varying states of weathering sat at the foot of Twilight’s bed. Candles flickered with a magical white flame, doubtlessly cast by a spell of its temporary inhabitant. The cozy space was fine for three or four ponies of the size of much of the Pie family, but for the entirety of the Pie family and almost half a dozen more mares, it became rather close and cramped.
“This book seems to be in the best condition,” said Twilight, looking down at a book at the top of the pile, her dwimmer shimmer placing the book in its own spot separate from the remaining books. “Though, that could easily mean that this was penned by cultists generations after the defeat of Discord, perhaps only a few generations removed from the establishment of this as a rock farm.”
“How do you make that leap from chaos to rocks?” Rainbow Dash asked, arching an eyebrow.
“That’s what I’m going to try to find out,” Twilight answered, before setting her mind down on the strangely-shaped book laid out on her bedsheets. Her tongue curled onto her upper lip, her horn beginning to glow with her pink dwimmer shimmer.
“Pardon, Miss Sparkle,” asked Cloudy Quartz, “but what shall this appear as to us?”
Twilight glanced at the elder mare, making eye contact above the half-moon glasses.
“You’ll see.”
The matrices aligning in her alicorn, Twilight closed her eyes and let the mindset needed for this spell of Hayscartes’s to work enter her.
Dualismus… Körper und Geist… Ich bin nicht mein Körper… Ich bin mein Geist… Und mein Geist wird verlassen…
Twilight Sparkle only knew the theory of this method of this method of perusing written materials, never having been exposed to documents that she could practice it on. So the sensation of her body falling away from her onto the mattress as her awareness drifted into the book that she cast her mind towards, it was a new experience for her.
To those on the outside, however, it merely looked as though a flash of Twilight’s dwimmer shimmer passed from her horn to the book. As soon as the light faded into the pages, Twilight passed out atop the bed, her forelegs falling to either side of the open book.
“Holy tarnation…!” Applejack gasped, rushing to Twilight’s side and placing a hoof on her back. “Twilight, are you…?”
Fluttershy gulped, “Is… is she…?”
The palomino rested her hoof on the lavender Unicorn’s barrel for several seconds, before letting out a soft sigh.
“She’s still breathin’,” she said to the room. “Mighty slowly, though. An’ Ah don’t reckon she’d respond to anything that we do.”
“So, is this that spell she was going on about?” asked Rainbow Dash, peering at the book in front of Twilight. “That spell that lets her go on a fantastic voyage inside a book?” She scoffed. “I know it’s useful and all, but still, what an egghead.”
Pinkie hopped up onto the bed, the pillow flying off and onto the floor. She picked up the book in her forehooves and rifled through the pages with her forelock.
“Oooh, so is Twilight in here somewhere?” she asked loudly. “Am I gonna see a tiny little doodle of Twilight walking around from page to page~?”
“Pinkie Pie, leave that crusty old book alone!” snapped Limestone, stamping a hoof and giving the evil-eye with her green one at her little sister.
“Awww, okay, Limey,” she said woefully, putting the book back down and slinking back to the group… albeit with her head still peering down at the book even as her body traveled much further than it should have allowed, her neck stretching thin like taffy to compensate to allow her eyes to practically glue themselves to the cover.
“Pinkamena,” Igneous Rock said sharply by way of a reprimand.
With a resigned murmur, Pinkie’s head snapped back to her torso, her neck rapidly coiling back to its proper proportions and then some, Pinkie’s head seemingly sinking into her torso for several moments before popping back out with a comical pop! sound.
“So,” Applejack mused with a glance at Twilight’s prone form, “Ah wonder what in Equestria she’s lookin’ into…”


…allowing the thaumaturgical currents to more effectively…
…the greatness of the unyielding…
…for the wonder of the metamorphic…
“What…?” Twilight wondered, looking about. “Is this what it looks like, inside a book…?”
For Twilight’s part, this was really rather not what she thought the inside of a book was going to be through Hayscartes’s method. There were no walls, nor floor or a ceiling, but there were… boundaries, of a sort. And all about her were… objects whose shape and sound she could not perceive.
Even for all of her self-education, there were no words that Twilight Sparkle could call forth to describe the majesty of the scene around her. The experience of this method of Hayscartes was so often spoken of in terms of being experienced rather than described, and Twilight could easily see why. Seeing without eyes, hearing without ears, feeling without flesh, she perceived the very thoughts, colorless and yet distinct, that went into what was written by ages-gone ponies.

It… was very scattered.
This was… not unexpected.
…giving way to that which covers the world…
…holding true to our heritage…
…to be steady, and filled with determination…
The cultish mindset of the members of Pi, that was quite evident in how the pen of the author jumped from thought to thought, from wordless sentence to wordless sentence, evidently preoccupied with the fall of Discord and avenging such apparent blasphemy…!
…moving the stones from field to field, allowing the thaumaturgical currents to more effectively imbue them with enrichment to their minerals…
…holding true to our heritage as rock-farmers, the greatness of the unyielding stone which stands guard over our plantation…
…to be steady, and filled with determination, for the wonder of the metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary…
Twilight hesitated. “Wait, what?” she thought.
Expanding her mind, Twilight brought the thoughts on the page (layer [world {dimension}]) around her into greater organization, and…
“I need to investigate this further,” she thought to herself.
She plunged (flew [galloped {swam}]) through the depths of the page (layer [world {dimension}]), reaching its edge and passing on to the next. She read (perceived [heard {felt}]) every thought that she passed, carefully cataloguing each strand of data she could find and piecing it together with thoughts that she collected beforehoof.
Though the answer was clear after only a few pages (layers [worlds {dimensions}]), Twilight made sure to thoroughly pass through (scour [penetrate {envelop}]) every page in the book. Time passed without meaning, because without a body to grow weary, Twilight Sparkle’s mind remained as sharp and keen as it had ever been.
Finally, Twilight reached the end of the book, the final page (layer [world {dimension}]) apparent to her by being unable to dive deeper into the subtext.
And with a full reckoning of what exactly was going through the minds of the ponies who had drafted this book…
Twilight gave herself a metaphysical face-hoof.


“I’ve brought them along with me,” Maud said flatly, carrying the invisible fields containing Spike and Rarity into the bedroom, ignoring the bestial hisses of Spike and the fierce catcalls of Rarity, setting them in the corner of the room near Twilight’s saddle-bags.
“Are you sure this was a good idea to bring them up here, Pinkie?” asked Rainbow Dash.
The pink pony shrugged with a smile, “The more the merrier, am I right? And maybe that mean old Dizzy’s tricks will wear off on them and we can all listen to Twilight telling us all about what those weirdo cult-of-pie ponies were like…!”
“The book is glowing,” Maud interjected, pointing a worn hoof to the book between Twilight’s forehooves. A pinkish light emanated from the spaces between its pages, giving the impression of the book being printed from light.
Pinkie practically vibrated on the spot, a faint yellowish glow surrounding her.
“Oh boy oh boy oh boy~” she squealed rapidly. “Everypony is here to listen to Twilight teaching all of us all about the weird and wacky ways of my ancient and insane ancestors~~~~~! :D
“That worries me more than anything right now,” pondered Fluttershy, idly rubbing at one of her horns.
The glow from the book’s pages magnified in brightness, but somehow did not hurt the eyes of those gazing on it…
Twilight’s eyes fluttered back open, the glow fading away.
“Back already, sugarcube?” asked Applejack. “Ya can’t have been in there fer more than ten minutes.”
“Well, that experience was certainly… illuminating,” she murmured. “Time must pass more quickly when you’re literally in a book.”
“So what was it like being inside a book, Twilight?” Pinkie interjected, somehow standing upside-down on the underside of the bed’s canopy, pointing down at the cover of the book Twilight had just vacated. “Was it all dingy and musty in there, filled with old-book smell? Were there all kinds of weird words in there that ponies don’t say nowadays except when they want to sound smarter than they really are? Were you walking around all over the pages as a little ink doodle of yourself and I just couldn’t see you because you were on all the wrong pages when I was looking for you?”
“One question at a time, please, Pinkie,” grumbled Twilight, rubbing the spot just below her alicorn. “I’m still trying to acclimate to having limbs again. Migrating my mind and soul into that book… it was a great experience, to become one with a book, but… I didn’t learn very much. This book is too new.”
“What do you mean, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked.
“I mean,” Twilight answered, taking the book in her dwimmer shimmer and setting it on a bedside table, away from the other noteworthy books, “that this book was penned grossenturies after the former Cult of Pi lost its way from what they’d originally believed. It was entirely about the thaumaturgy of rocks and the auspicious arrangement of stones of all sorts. In other words, the cornerstone (no pun intended) of the practices of the Pie family we see here.”
“Hmm…” mumbled Marble, nodding slowly.
“This is so exciting to learn more about my family’s history,” Maud said in a monotone.
“But how do you get from Discord to rocks?” asked Rainbow Dash, cocking an eyebrow. “I dunno, it seems like a pretty big leap to make.”
“I have a thought on that,” Twilight answered, producing a particularly worn book from the pile at the foot of her bed, “which is why I’ll need to confirm it by diving into more books―”
“Wait a second!” Rainbow interjected, her cerise eyes wide. Spike’s attempts to reach Rarity’s diamond-speckled flank halted momentarily for him to look in the direction of the shout, his ear-fins twitching, before he returned to his hissing and clawing at the infuriating invisible barrier.
Twilight sighed, turning her attention to the cerulean Pegasus, “What is it, Rainbow Dash?”
“We got back my Element of Honesty, remember?” She pointed over her shoulder and out of the room. “Why don’t we just use that on these books to tell us what we wanna know?”
The atmosphere of the room thickened as the proposal was processed. Several seconds passed.
Twilight scratched her stubbly chin, “We’ve never used any of the Elements of Harmony independently before. I don’t even know if they can be used separate from one another. And without the Element of Magic as a centralizing force… But still, it could be worth trying. Rainbow Dash, go get your Element of Honesty, okay?”
In a matter of moments, Rainbow Dash stood over the pile of books with her golden-yellow Element, her friends and the Pie family standing behind her.
The cerulean Pegasus thrust out her chest.
“Okay, Element of Honesty!” she said confidently. “Work your magic!”
The citrine lightning-bolt flashed with golden light, and the books levitated upwards with their covers parting, pages fanning out with letters glowing inside…
“It’s working…!” Twilight gasped with a faint disbelief. “Rainbow Dash, you’re a genius!”
No sooner did the words leave her mouth, though, than the books’ glows died and the lot of them fell back to the floor with a series of thump!s.
Rainbow Dash sighed in defeat.
“Well, it was worth a shot.”
Twilight put a hoof on Rainbow Dash’s shoulder, “It was a good idea, though, Rainbow. I couldn’t have thought of it. You must really value your honesty.”
The cerulean Pegasus smirked at the lavender Unicorn, “Well, when you got so many ponies out there who keep things from others, you gotta clear the air a bit with a good bit of upfront truth…-iness,” she finished with an awkward turn to her smile.
The statement left an effect on Twilight Sparkle, though she kept her face the same as before. A thought ran through her mind, It’s a shame that they should think of me as ein Einzelkind… but they can’t know about… him!
Twilight turned her eyes back to the most worn book of Pi of the pile.
“Looks like it’s back to the original plan,” she said, laying the book open on the bedsheets and aligning the matrices in her alicorn for the spell. In moments, she was once more prone on the bed.
Applejack stepped around the bed so that she could look at the lavender Unicorn’s face. There were lines of concern under Twilight’s eyes, and downward turns at the ends of her lips. Her nostrils took slow breaths in and out, seemingly unconscious and automatic with her lack of mind or soul. The dark fur around her muzzle seemed darker still with the dark-sapphire stubble showing through, her dark plump lips standing out starkly against the fur around them…
“Hey uhhh, Applejack, she’s kinda not in there right now.”
Rainbow Dash’s voice snapped Applejack back to her senses. The palomino was less than a hoof’s length from Twilight Sparkle’s face, her own lips still somewhat puckered as she had leaned in for a −
Applejack stood bolt upright from the bed, trying to shake the apple-red flush filling her face. Did she really just try to…?
“Awwwww, I wanted to see Jackie and Twilight making kissie faces, Dashie…!” whined Pinkie Pie, her coat taking on a slightly heliotrope hue.
“Yeah, and Twilight’s not in her body right now, Pinkie,” Rainbow retorted. “That means that Applejack was gonna―”
“Ah got it, Rainbow, Ah was gunna take advantage a’ Twilight’s lack a’ consent an’ all that,” Applejack snapped, pulling her Stetson down over her forelock and eyes, before striding to the back of the room beside Spike and Rarity. “Now if’n anypony needs me, Ah’m gunna be right here, wantin’ ta die.”
The palomino curled up in the corner, her hat hiding her face.
“There, there, Applejack,” Fluttershy said softly, reaching out a dainty little hoof as she approached the apple farmer. “I’m sure that you didn’t mean any harm…”
A sudden weight dropped onto the yellow Pegasus’s back, and the jittery, seemingly perpetually sugar-induced vibrations told her that it could only be one pony.
“Awwwwwwwww you’re such a sweetheart, Fluttershy~! Is it any wonder that I love you just as much as I love Dashie~~❤?”
“You love everypony, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash said with a scowl.
Pinkie bounced down to Rainbow and gave her a peck on the cheek.
“I do, Rainbow Dash, and that’s because love puts a big smile on your face!” Pinkie reared up and stretched her mouth open with her forehooves, revealing a mouth full of large shiny white teeth, each one seemingly larger than they should have been, each row filled with more teeth than should have been in the mouth of a pony…
“Mhm,” smiled Marble, nuzzling against the side of her twin sister’s head.
Rainbow Dash rubbed the spot where Pinkie had kissed her, slightly pink herself.
“Is it just me,” she asked, “or does Pinkie seem a little more… Pinkie than ever?”
“True indeed,” said Cloudy Quartz. “Even the day she acquired her cutie mark, she has behaved with more restraint that I or Igneous have seen for as long as we’ve had her.”
“‘Had her’?” echoed Rainbow Dash, facing the Pie matriarch, who matched her eye-contact curiously. After a moment, the cerulean Pegasus lowered her head slightly. “So, Twilight was right.”
“What do you mean?” Igneous Rock replied, raising his eyebrows and narrowing his eyes.
“Ummm… I kinda sorta maybe told Twilight that you guys adopted me…?” Pinkie said with a sheepish grin.
The five other Pies faced one another with curious expressions, almost fearful…?
The book glowed the color of Twilight’s dwimmer shimmer, and the lavender Unicorn in question rose back up.
“Well, that was certainly closer, but… Applejack? What’s wrong?”
The prone Earth Pony barely budged.
“Leave me alone, Twilight. Ah’m not feelin’ too good right now…”
Twilight paused; what exactly had happened while she had been diving into this second book? She turned to her other friends, towards the Pie family who looked rather tense and nervous, even Pinkie, a slightly flushed Rainbow Dash, and a concerned Fluttershy. Spike was still clawing at the edge of his invisible barrier towards a Rarity who was covering her ears and closing her eyes harshly. Her false eyelashes had fallen off from her left eye now, and her eyeshadow had been smudged off entirely. She looked almost unrecognizable as the mare of Carousel Couture now.
“Perhaps now would not be the best time to discuss thy friend Applejack’s angst,” said Igneous Rock. “Let her cool down. In the meantime, Mrs. Pie & I must confess that we have not been entirely honest.”
“Pinkamena Diane Pie is not our child by the water of my womb,” Cloudy Quartz confessed, a hoof on her chest.
“I figured as much,” Twilight said. “I overheard you bidding Pinkie farewell, on our way to the High Eyries.”
Pinkie’s mother and father met each other’s eyes, looking… afraid? After a few moments, though, this gave way to resolve, and they both nodded at the same time before facing Twilight Sparkle again.
“We found Pinkamena just outside of the farm the day that Marble was born,” Igneous Rock explained. “I was guiding young Maudstone around the rock farm, explaining to her the necessities of the various types of rock around our fields, while Limestone tended to her mother, heavy with the unborn Marble. As the sun set and Maudstone and I were about to return to the homestead, we heard a tremendous crash, as though the sky itself had rent asunder. It had come from the quarry just afore the homestead.
“When Maudstone and I arrived, we found Limestone standing at the edge of the quarry, looking down aghast. Our ancestral Holder’s Boulder had fallen into the quarry, cracking in two. Limestone had always adored it, looked up to it almost more than she did the Queen Herself.”
(“Pa…” grumbled Limestone, suddenly quite mousy as she tried to draw her mane across her face.)
“And, where Holder’s Boulder had fallen from…” Igneous Rock trailed off.
Cloudy Quartz took over, peering through the lenses of her glasses.
“That’s where Mr. Pie found her. A small pink thing, barely tottering along. She must have somehow let loose a great fount of earth magic that sent Holder’s Boulder tumbling.”
Igneous doffed his hat and held it to his chest, peering down to some spot below the floor, perhaps down to the very imperishable flame-ridden core of the planet.
“She must have wandered from a very far place, beyond the Descort Fields,” he continued, voice shaking. “She was nearly dead on her hooves. We simply had to take her in.”
“By the time Mr. Pie had come in, our dear Marble was already quite a ways along. As he brought the small pink filly in, a great twinkle of pink light emanated from the quarry just out the window. As it turned out, Holder’s Boulder was a great geode of pinkamena gemstone. Through the labor pains, I considered the light and the filly that Igneous Rock brought in.”
“And that’s how I got my name~~~!” Pinkie finished with a big bright gleaming smile.
Twilight rubbed her chin, staring out the same window that Cloudy Quartz ostensibly gazed out when she named her adopted daughter.
“That is how it happened, as we remember it,” added Maud, as though it needed any further refutation.
“I don’t doubt any of you; I mean, I’ve seen Earth Pony magic at its greatest, believe me, Maud,” Twilight smirked, recollecting Maud’s lava-bath, “but… there’s something that doesn’t quite add up.”
The Pies visibly tensed up.
Twilight asked, “One thing that came to me as I was diving into that book, was that the Cult of Pi held Holder’s Boulder in great esteem from the moment of the cult’s inception to the moment they lost their focus on worship of Discord. There was something about Holder’s Boulder that was important to Discord that warranted this level of scrutiny.”
Igneous Rock & Cloudy Quartz looked at one another.
“This matter is… something that Mrs. Pie & I are unknowledgeable of,” Igneous said after a long moment. “After all, this is our first time hearing such details about the cult from which our family is descended.”
“We knew only the base details, not the deeper intricacies,” added Cloudy Quartz.
We didn’t know a thing,” Limestone cut in, her nose wrinkled in irritation.
“It was not something you needed to know, Limestone Miriam Pie,” replied her mother crossly, gazing over her glasses. “When you became head of the Pie Family Rock Farm in name and in deed, you would have learned what we knew. But, I suppose now you’ll carry the knowledge with you of where we Pies came from.”
“But what about me and Maud and Marbly, Ma & Pa?” Pinkie asked.
“Maudstone seeks her rocktorate, to bring our farm’s knowledge of the magical properties of rocks out to broader Equestria,” Igneous Rock answered, “Marble will spread the culinary applications of rocks, and thou…”
He stepped forward, and put a hoof on his smallest daughter’s shoulder.
“Thou bearest the Element of Laughter, and helped return our second Queen to us. We had no idea what thou would do with thy life when we brought thou in, and though your mother and I hoped that the life of a rock-farmer would by thy choice, we could not be prouder parents to see that parties and spreading joy are truly the calling most suited to thee.”
Igneous Rock Pie’s stern expression had melted away to one of the warmest and gentlest smiles Twilight Sparkle had ever seen. As stoic as the Pie family seemed, almost comically contrasting against Pinkie’s endless exuberance, it was abundantly clear that all the joyous love Pinkie felt for most everypony was something she learned from the ponies who took her in. Wherever her bizarre abilities stemmed from, she had the emotional grounding to do good by her fellow pony.
“Umm, Twilight… are you… crying?”
Blinking at Fluttershy’s voice, Twilight felt something warm running down her muzzle, from her right eye, then her left. Flushing embarrassedly, the lavender Unicorn wiped them away on a foreleg.
“Sorry, I… just was overcome. I haven’t had a family in years.”
Cloudy Quartz’s eyes shined with sympathy.
“Thou poor dear… Had we known, we would have offered thee greater accommodations.”
“That’s not necessary, Mrs. Pie,” Twilight said, waving a hoof through the air. “My comfort isn’t important right now; what’s important is to go through these books and to piece together a rough timeline of the Cult of Pi.
“This second book I’ve dived into,” she took it in her dwimmer shimmer and put it atop the first one she set aside, “it seems to have held a general view of the belief of the Pi cultists, albeit from the latter end of the life-cycle of the cult. Most of the discussions of beliefs and tenets seem hazy and based off of writings that were outdated and badly faded even then. There was an awful lot of thoughts regarding ‘We will one day all turn into earth and rocks’, which I presume to be an allusion to Discord having been turned into a statue. There was also a great deal of ponderance on ‘faces as grey as the rocks around us’, which… seems to be a reference to something from an older version of the cult.”
Twilight picked up half of the remaining books to be perused in her dwimmer shimmer, appraising them both externally from how well-kept they were from the grossenturies, possibly even meggrossia, of neglect and lack of care, and from within using a basic detection spell. After a few moments, Twilight Sparkle settled down all but one, leaving the most worn book in her pink magical aura.
“This book here seems to carry the greatest level of thoughts on it,” she stated, “like many ponies over the years have pored over it and ruminated on its contents. That would keep those words and the subtext alive. This should shine a much brighter spotlight into the past of this homestead, and give us a greater understanding of what exactly we can expect of the Cult of Pi’s knowledge of Discord.”
“But, shouldn’t we really be looking for the Elements of Harmony, Twilight?” interjected Rainbow Dash. “I mean, they’re what we really need to put down Discord, aren’t they?”
“Rainbow Dash,” Twilight said sharply, snapping the book shut in an irritated fashion, “the more knowledge that we have about Discord, the more power that we have over him. He is a great black box, the greatest of them all, and knowledge of his reign is scant and contradictory. The more we can understand him, the more of a chance we can fight long enough to find the Elements.”
“Ah dunno, Twi,” Applejack cut in, rubbing behind her neck. “Ah kinda feel like Queen Celestia gave us some pretty clear instructions. The Elements a’ Harmony gotta come first, Ah think.”
“Well then, let’s hear it, everypony,” Twilight snapped, cocking an eyebrow about the room. “Does anypony have any bright ideas as to where we may find the other four Elements? Does anypony else have a brainstorm about Discord’s riddle to us?”
The band of Twilight’s friends and the Pie family glanced back and forth at one another in uncertainty.
“Well, it’s about time that little ruffian saw fit to leave be what is rightfully mine,” grumbled Rarity, cutting into the silence.
Spike seemed like he had finally expended all his energy to try and reach Rarity’s diamond-spotted flank and settled down to rest, his head on his hands and his nictitating membranes sliding over his eyes. The grungy Unicorn crossed her forelegs in front of her as though to shield her belly from him, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
“Umm, Rarity…?” Fluttershy said cautiously.
“What is it now, Fluttershy?” Rarity growled. “I am very busy doing nothing, so if you don’t mind, I would be more than happy for you to not waste my time with inane discussion.”
“I believe that what Fluttershy was going to say,” snarled the voice of the other Fluttershy, the yellow Pegasus once more being seized up by a more aggressive body language, “was to ask if you and that silly little drake were gonna be nice to each other again, but I guess you’re just gonna bite everypony’s heads off!”
“You’re one to talk, you know!” snapped Limestone, stomping her hoof in the other Fluttershy’s direction.
The other Fluttershy whirled in the eldest Pie daughter’s direction.
“And what do you know? You just sit here on your pile of rocks and sneer at anypony who gives you a bad vibe! Even Fluttershy, and she’s such a sweet little… little…”
The assertive demeanor of the other Fluttershy melted away, her narrow pupils dilating and her posture becoming more timid. The yellow Pegasus backpedaled from Limestone in astonishment at how close she found herself to her.
“Oh my… I’m terribly sorry for whatever she said. I don’t… like it when she does this…”
“Are you kidding me?” Limestone was, to everypony’s surprise, actually grinning. “You were standing up for yourself! Or, I mean, a part of you was standing up for you. What in the name of granite could possibly be so bad about that?”
“Well, my Mom and Dad always told me that it was wrong for me to call too much attention to myself by coming to my own defense, or by contradicting them, or by being too loud…”
“And, what exactly were your parents’ standards for being too loud?”
Fluttershy put a hoof to her mouth.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Was I being too loud?”
Limestone put a hoof to her forehead, growling, “Goodness garnet, you little…” She took a deep breath and met Fluttershy’s eyes. “Look. Just because they’re your parents means that what they have to say is right.”
“But, how do I know what is or isn’t right if not from Mom and Dad?” asked Fluttershy.
“You can just feel it in your heart~!” piped in Pinkie Pie, standing on her forehooves as she pressed her cheek to Fluttershy’s. (Somehow, despite the fact that she was far shorter than the yellow Pegasus…)
“Ah think we’re gettin’ a mite sidetracked, everypony,” Applejack said sharply. “We really oughta collect Twilight up an’ put our heads together ‘bout the Elements of Harmony agai―”
The reason for the palomino cutting herself off became immediately apparent. In hindsight, it should have been obvious when Twilight had not joined in the conversation for a good while. Applejack and Rainbow Dash both brought hooves to their respective foreheads, Fluttershy put a hoof to her chest, Rarity rested herself nonchalantly against the side of her invisible barrier and rested her head on a hoof, and Pinkie peered curiously down on the lavender Unicorn.
While everypony was distracted talking, Twilight Sparkle had dived into the book.
Suddenly, Pinkie Pie began to vibrate intensely. But it was not as though she was overcome with a severe case of the shivers. It was as though every bone in her body had disappeared at the same time as the giant claw of an invisible dragon was shaking her in place.
“What in the world is happenin’, Pinkie?” Applejack asked with wide eyes.
“Is Pinkie having some kinda seizure?” Rainbow Dash said worriedly.
“It’s her P-P-Pinkie S-Sense.”
The quiet, stuttering voice carried through the room with the gravity of a clap of thunder, if only because of the one who spoke it. All eyes in the room turned towards the meekest of the Pies, Marble. For it was her that spoke.
“It’s one of P-Pinkie’s most r-r-rare P-P-Pinkie S-Sensations,” Marble explained. ”When sh-she vibrates like th-this, it means that s-s-something b-b-big is c-c-coming.”
Marble flicked her head just enough to shift her forelock away from her covered eye.
“We c-call it her d-d-d-doozy.”


…Greyfaces…
…seventy-three…
…the Hodge and the Podge…
…from Sweetmorn to Setting Orange…
If she still had eyelids (or even eyes) in this nonphysical state, Twilight Sparkle would have blinked in bemusement at the thoughts that she could read (perceive [hear {feel}]). With her personal perception of time sped up because of the lack of encumberment of a physical form, she tried to consider how each of these fit together.
“But how?” she wondered. “This is absolute insanity! None of these trains of thoughts seem to meld together at all! It’s even worse than Pinkie Pie…!”
She was struck by an epiphany, and it came to her in the form of four words flitting into her mind’s eye as though they had been conjured for the hearing-impaired: Think like Pinkie Pie.
”Alright then,” Twilight thought, feeling a swelling in her sense of purpose that was roughly equivalent to the act of taking in a long, deep breath. “Keep it together, Twilight Sparkle. Pinkie Pie’s mindset is not impossible to fathom. She just thinks so fast that her train of thought is already three subjects ahead of everypony else on the same idea. And relatedly, she’s also got a strong penchant for thinking outside the box and reaching unconventional solutions.
“So, let’s try to make sense of this.”


“The… ‘doozy’?” asked Fluttershy, her cyan eyes wide with fright. “What does that mean…?”
Marble seemed to realize that she had been speaking aloud, because her eyes locked down on her muzzle with the alarm that one saw on Fluttershy when she was caught singing in public, which didn’t seem to be too far a stretch given the similarities between the two mares. With a quick flick of her head, Marble’s forelock completely covered her face, muzzle and all.
“Uhhh, I don’t think we’re gonna get anything else out of this mare, Flutters,” commented Rainbow Dash.
“Still, Ah’m kinda surprised that it was yer little sister what spoke up about that, Pinkie,” Applejack remarked to Pinkie.
“Ma-a-a-arble ca-a-an be-e pr-e-e-e-etty-y-y cha-a-a-tt-y-y-y wh-e-e-en sh-e-e-e w-a-a-ants to-o-o b-e-e-e-e…!” Pinkie commented through wild shaking teeth.
“What dost thou supposeth this particular ‘doozy’ is going to be, Mrs. Pie?” Igneous Rock asked, concernedly gazing at his second-youngest daughter’s boneless vibrations.
“I cannot say, Mr. Pie,” replied Cloudy Quartz.
“But what exactly is a doozy?” Applejack pressed impatiently.
“Pinkie Sense’s ‘doozy’,” Maud began, “is when Pinkie Pie senses a major shift in dynamics either personally, locally, or globally. She was overcome with the doozy just before she returned to Ponyville for the Summer Sun Celebration, and she told us through a letter that the doozy jitters stopped just as she caught sight of a purple Unicorn flying into Ponyville in a chariot.”
Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash met each other’s eyes significantly. The arrival of Twilight Sparkle in their lives was most certainly a major change to all sorts of dynamics, and not just the dynamics of their friendships or of Ponyville. Her presence set in motion the decay of the animosity between Applejack and Rarity, the overpowering sense of Pinkie Pie’s enthusiastic personality to Fluttershy… the list could go on about her effects on each of them personally. And then there was the notion of the six of them being the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony who laid NightMare Moon low…!
A light groaning arose from the bed where Twilight Sparkle lay beside her Cult of Pi book of choosing.
“Ughhh, my head…” she murmured with a cloven hoof at the base of her horn.
“Well, it’s mighty fine a’ you to finally join us again, sugarcube,” grumbled Applejack, sap-green eyes narrowed at the lavender Unicorn.
Twilight blinked.
“I’m terribly sorry, Applejack, but I just couldn’t help myself. These books have gone unread for a very long time, and I had to know what the Cult of Pi knows about Discord!”
“With all due respect, Twilight, what could that possibly do fer us?”
“It could give us a clue as to how Discord’s mind works, so that we know how to work out his riddle!”
“Are you sure about that, Purple Smart?” Rainbow Dash cut in. “Or do you just really want to read some books?”
“I…” Twilight couldn’t respond. It would be foalish to deny that she really wanted to look into these books that had never been seen or read by scholars or bibliophiles. And while she was aware that there were a great many books out there that carried curses just from reading them, she knew that it was not the fault of the book itself but of the one who placed the curse to begin with. And though these books were not cursed, they did carry the thoughts of mad ponies who revered and worshipped a figure of great terror.
In the end, all Twilight could do was sigh.
“I can’t honestly deny that, Rainbow Dash, Applejack,” she answered, looking between her two friends. “But still, I have come to a greater understanding of what sort of ponies would revere Discord, and I have to say, it’s no small miracle that the Pie family is as mentally stable as they are.”
As she looked out across the Pie family, she quirked an eyebrow up at Pinkie Pie’s simultaneously violent and cartoonish trembling.
“Is… something wrong with Pinkie?” she asked, a trace of concern rising up in her heart and her voice.
“She’s sensing a doozy,” Limestone replied shortly.
“A what?”
“It’s part of her Pinkie Sense,” Fluttershy said.
“She sensed a doozy just before you came to Ponyville, apparently,” added Rainbow Dash.
Applejack paused, “If Ah had ta guess, it’s sumthin’ ta do with sumthin’ you’ll find in these books, Twilight. An’ Ah don’t know if it’s gonna be a good doozy or a bad doozy. Ah mean, you were a good doozy in our lives, one a’ the best that Ah could imagine.”
“We need to know what these books can tell us about Discord’s thought process from the ones who worshipped him,” Twilight pressed.
“Ah know, but… maybe we’re better off not knowin’ how they think. It could hurt us.” Green eyes met purple eyes. “It could hurt you.”
Twilight felt herself reaching out to the palomino mare. “Applejack…”
“Were thou not about to share what thou learned, Miss Twilight Sparkle?” asked Cloudy Quartz.
The lavender Unicorn blinked, finding that she and Applejack were nearly hoof-to-hoof. Blushing, Twilight averted her eyes from the palomino’s and cleared her throat.
“Well then, I… think I should share this while it’s still fresh on my mind.”
And so Twilight began to explain the nature of the Cult of Pi:
Putting together everything the best I can, the Cult of Pi seems to have been established here at the edge of the Descort Fields by a pony by the name of Holder Cobblestone, or at least the closest modern translation of such. Ostensibly not the same Holder Cobblestone as you in the Pie family revere so; from what I can piece together, it was not an uncommon name in the Cult as it gradually became more and more of a family. The founding of the Cult is listed as being ‘eighty-seven’ years after Discord descended from beyond the Firmament. The name of ‘Pi’ came from their belief in π being divisible by five, which they referred to as a letter.
This Cult completely rejected everything that came from the United Tribes of Equestria, even those that we take for granted. Even the way that we commonly tell time was rejected, as they made use of their own calendarial and counting systems. Their weeks consisted of only five days: Sweetmorn, Boomtime, Pungenday, Prickle-Prickle, and Setting Orange. They had only five months a year each called Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy, and The Aftermath. Evidently, each of these months were only ‘seventy-three’ days long. Whatever that means, I couldn’t tell, as whoever wrote this book wasn’t even thinking by our counting system as they penned it. Their counting of years began with the arrival of Discord in Equestria from the Far Beyond, listed as YOLD, for Year of Our Lord Discord.
The symbol chosen by the Cult of Pi was called the Sacred Cow. Not actually a cow, because it was spelled C-H-A-O. It resembled a tàijítú, or a yīn-yáng as some of you would think of it, except that the two halves were usually depicted as empty rather than as complementary colors, and the symbols in either half were a pentagon and a golden apple. The reason for the pentagon in the Sacred Chao was because of their bizarre belief that the number five was undeniably sacred and important. The proofs I encountered were either nonsensical or entirely tautological, like that two plus three equals five.
Of course, the Cult of Pi evidently held neighsayers in great disdain, referring to them as Greyfaces, for treating life so seriously that their faces became as grey as storm-clouds. Chief among these Greyfaces were the so-called Recalcitrants, lead by figures they only refer to as ‘the Feral’ and ‘the Deceitful’. Based off the way the author thinks of them, I can only assume that these are references to Queens Celestia and Selena before they became Equestria’s queens. There seems to be some degree of demonization regarding them, as the descriptions of the Queens are far too fanciful and obviously non-equine to reflect on them accurately.
The Cult did not fade with the defeat of Discord, but rather stepped up in intensity. They swore that the Recalcitrants, led by the usurping Queens, would pay for their blasphemy by being turned to stone themselves upon Discord’s de-petrification. By the sounds of it, they brought others to the Descort Fields forcefully, although there were no real problems to my understanding with romantic relations between close family members in the ranks of Pi. They made no distinction between pony races when bringing them into the fold, even welcoming in Bat Ponies when they were created by Queen Selena, though there was a bit of a learning curve regarding them because of the cultural differences of how Bat Ponies write.
“Wait,” Rainbow Dash interrupted. “How do Bat Ponies write different than the rest of us?”
Twilight felt bile rising in her throat at being interrupted.
“Well, for starters,” she said acidly, working to cool her tone as she continued, “I have it on Queen Selena’s word that the Bat Ponies were raised in isolation for grossenturies as she sought to create the perfect nocturnal race. They learned only by the light of the night, and grew to revere the Moon. As such, when they learned to write, they demonstrated a preference for starting their writings at the bottom of the page and working their way up, so that when they read it back, it would involve gradually looking up towards the Moon in the sky.”
“That sounds wonderful…!” Fluttershy sighed.
“So, what happened to the Cult of Pi after the Bat Ponies, Twilight?” asked Rainbow Dash, in a tone that suggested that she had nothing whatsoever to do with the interruption.
Deciding not to press any arguments, Twilight continued:
Now, the rest of what I’ve found is mostly from the previous two books that I’d dived into. The details about Bat Ponies joining the Cult of Pi was a mere addendum in the book, added on several generations later by a different pony. And by then, mere grossenturies before NightMare Moon, the Cult of Pi was already starting to lose its original sense of purpose. Their belief in the enemies of Discord being turned to stone began to metamorphosize into a reverence of stones themselves, possibly connected to the boulder that Holder Cobblestone dedicated at the heart of his Cult. As you can well imagine, the membership of Pi diminished, shrinking from several families to just one, and the worship of Discord and everything he stood for faded away from memory. That, is how Pi became Pie.
The room was filled with a heavy wonder, as though Twilight’s monologue had given birth to a specter of the Cult of Pi and given view of something old and wild to those rooted in the present.
With her monologue finished, Twilight spoke more casually, “One thing that came to me as I was diving into that book, was that when Discord was defeated, he’d lost his right forelimb.”
“He lost…?” gasped Fluttershy, a hoof flying to her mouth.
“Yes,” answered Twilight. “So we know that at least one part of Discord’s stories matches up with reality. Whatever it was, it’s not the lion’s paw that he has there now. But it did drift into the nearest object unaffected by the chaos around the Descort Fields: a gigantic egg-shaped boulder. The selfsame boulder that was consecrated by Holder Cobblestone.”
Pinkie’s family looked like they were starting to sweat a little.
“So, what I have to ask is: Mr. Pie, Mrs. Pie, was there something in Holder’s Boulder after it cracked in two?”
The addressed couple looked to each other intently. Twilight was still not great at reading ponies, but if she had to guess, it was that the pair of them wanted to be very deliberate in how they answered her question, as though not to create too much misunderstanding.
Well?” she said impatiently.
Igneous Rock & Cloudy Quartz faced Twilight with slightly cross expressions, though checked by a degree of understanding on their mature faces.
“There… was something inside of Holder’s Boulder as it cracked open,” Igneous Rock began haltingly. “Apart from the pinkamena geode, as thou can imagine. It… took a good while to take shape as it beheld myself, Mrs. Pie, and our daughters.”
“And as it did,” Cloudy Quartz continued, gazing over the rims of her glasses at Twilight, “it took the form of… a rather sizeable rock.”
Twilight blinked.
“What.”
“It lies dormant now,” Igneous Rock said, “and we trust Maudstone to take care of it now.”
“It’s exactly as hard as it looks,” Maud added, holding Boulder out on a forehoof.
Twilight boggled slightly at the prospect; did Discord’s missing right foreleg seriously become somepony’s pet rock?
Maud blinked slowly, before turning her eyes down onto Boulder.
“No. Bad Boulder.”
“Heheh,” Twilight felt an unstable laugh burble out of her chest. “Ooooook then! I have no idea what I expected; making sense? Fine, Discord’s hoof is a pet rock now. Wonderful. Just great. The world makes perfect sense now!”
“Well, Ah reckon it makes sense, in a kinda-makin’-no-sense-at-all kinda way,” Applejack said slowly. “Ah mean, it makes no sense, so it makes sense fer Discord, right?”
“But, it literally makes no sense, Applejack!” Twilight shouted. “It just…”
The thought went through Twilight’s head again, and this time the prospect of Discord’s non-sense made altogether more sense in this degree. Still, it seemed unabashedly hazardous to carry around such a deceptively powerful magical object so casually.
“Aren’t you afraid it’ll… do something?” she asked Maud.
“I stop feeding him when he’s bad,” the Earth Pony replied.
“Okay…? You seem awful confident that he’ll behave. I… guess I’ll trust your judgment.”
Twilight thought that she could see a miniscule twitch at the corner of Maud’s mouth, too tiny to be spotted by almost anypony else. Was that how she smiled…?
“So,” Twilight said with an air of finality, “that seems to be everything that can be perused about the Cult of Pi, regarding the way that they thought of things. And really, with all due respect, it’s easy to see where Pinkie gets her outside-the-box thinking from.”
“Awwww, thank you, Twilight~” Pinkie said brightly.
“Ah suppose we could call this a day, then, Twilight?” asked Applejack.
Twilight nodded.
“Yes indeed.”
The sky had darkened considerably since she had started these treks into the books, and Twilight Sparkle admittedly felt a bit ready to lay down and rest her mind.
Marble kneeled down and whispered into her mother’s ear. Cloudy Quartz turned to the ponies serving her as an audience in Twilight’s guest room.
“Marble tells me that she will be preparing charoite-changas for dinner tonight, enough for everypony,” she said in a gentle tone.
“Mhm,” said Marble with a soft smile.
“Make sure to include cherry filling in mine, Marble~~❤” squealed Pinkie, pronking in place by her younger twin.
“Ah’m feelin’ a bit peckish mahself,” Applejack added.
“I just hope you got more of that whaddyacallit tonic to make your rock foods easier to digest,” Rainbow Dash said lowly.
“Me too,” Fluttershy agreed.
“Just… go on without me,” Twilight said with a wave of her hoof. “I think I need a little while to rest from all that book-diving. I don’t think that ponies were meant to use Hayscartes’s method quite so heavily.”
Pinkie’s family left the room behind them, followed by most of Twilight’s band of friends. Applejack cast a glance behind her at the lavender Unicorn, the pair meeting eyes for a moment before the palomino continued out.
Twilight turned her attention to the pair of invisible cubes that contained Spike and Rarity, weaving the spell in her mind to dissolve the enchantment around Rarity’s cube. The grungy Unicorn immediately stood to her full height, barely a hoof over Twilight’s height, and glowered deeply.
Where did you hide my babies?” she snarled, baring her teeth and snorting as she pawed at the floor.
Twilight traced the floor nervously with a hoof, “Well, you see, they were kind of unsanitary for the inside of this house, tracking around dirt that could get in the air and make somepony choke―”
“They were diamonds, my babies!”
“Rarity, you’re not in your right mind, you can’t possibly think those stones were―”
“They were more than stones!” Rarity bellowed, charging at Twilight, lowering her head to point her horn straight at Twilight’s neck…
Thinking fast, Twilight cast a sleep-inducing spell on Rarity and dodged to the side. The formerly alabaster Unicorn slowed to a canter, than a trot, before slowly bowing her head and falling asleep standing on the spot.
Taking her friend up in her dwimmer shimmer, Twilight carried Rarity to her guest room down the hall and laying her gingerly in the bed, pulling the covers over her.
Returning to her own room, Twilight considered lifting the barrier around the slumbering Spike as well, but hesitated. She had no way of knowing if the spell over his mind would go away just from Rarity’s diamonds being out of his line-of-sight, or if Spike would wake up in the middle of the night and maul her in her sleep. As it was, Twilight decided to expand the barrier around him to give him more room to move.
I’m sorry, Spike, she thought morosely, her ears falling limp. I just wish I knew more, so that I could do something more than… this.
One of her ears flicked. She had not yet dived into every book on the Cult of Pi. Maybe one of them held knowledge about how Discord’s magic worked…
In a matter of minutes, Twilight was weighing one book or the other, trying to determine which one seemed most likely to provide the answers she was looking for. And there were many.
What allowed Discord to subvert the fortress of one’s mind and turn them into the opposite sort of pony from what they normally were?
Where had Discord come from before he descended to Equestria?
How had the Queens of Equestria created the Elements of Harmony to defeat Discord the first time?
And why had it taken them so long to rise up against Discord to begin with if they were already so old by the time he’d been defeated?
A probing feeling emanated from one of the books. Tellingly to Twilight, it was one of the first ones she’d shown to her friends, one that she had not dived into yet, that described the two ‘Feral’ and ‘Deceitful’ figures at the head of the Recalcitrants. It was old, though; many pages were already slipping out of the binding. Placing the remaining books down on the floor, Twilight set the relevant book down gently down on the bed, and set herself in the mentality that would enable her to read between the lines.


…the Deceitful, as many faces as the Moon...
…the Feral, fury burning bright as the Sun…
…the glory of the fear they had sewn…
…betrayal…
…usurpers…
…fallen from grace…
Twilight found herself alarmed at the multitude of thoughts swirling in this book. So many of them were fractured, as though the author’s mind was constantly being torn one way or the other as they scribed. Expanding her consciousness, Twilight began to draw together the disparate lines of thought, trying to put together a picture from the mad thoughts of the Pi cultist.





“No…”
The thoughts were laid bare before her. They spoke the plain truth, utterly unblemished by subjectivity and too internally consistent to be the fault of misinformation or misdirection.
But the revelation….
It just could not be true.
It couldn’t!


“Mmmm!” Applejack beamed. “Ah gotta say, Pinkie, Ah was skeptical about this ‘cherry-charoite-changa’ idea a’ yers, but it really hits the spot, it does!”
“I know, right~?” Pinkie grinned. The doozy shakes had died down, but she could still feel a faint quiver down her spine that told her that it was close upon them. “I also make a rock-free variety for parties that don’t have rocks on the menu! Although, I wonder if it should be called a chimicherry or a cherrychanga…?” She gasped “Ohh, I know! Chimicherrychanga!”
Fluttershy and Marble laughed softly at Pinkie’s remark… before realizing that either one was not the only one laughing and blushing shyly while looking away in fright.
Rainbow Dash let out a raucous laugh and pounded a hoof on the table, “Oh Fluttershy, you’re a hoot when you get so flustered!”
Limestone glowered across the table at the cerulean Pegasus, before turning to Applejack, “Is she always like that?”
Applejack opened her mouth to answer, but a shuffling sound carried from upstairs, as somepony evidently stumbled down the upstairs corridor and towards the stairs. The conversation and dining slowly died as eyes and ears turned towards the commotion. Just as they began to question themselves as to which of the two mares was stumbling about, the sound of somepony falling down the steps reached them, followed by a cry of pain and a low swear in Germane.
It was Twilight.
Applejack bolted from her spot at the table, followed quickly by Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy. The rest of the Pie family took up the rear at their own paces, worried for their house guest.
“Twilight, you alright?” asked Applejack, approaching the bottom of the stairs.
Luckily, Twilight had fallen down less than half of the staircase, and only seemed to be bumped and bruised a little. What worried Applejack more, however, was the way Twilight was carrying herself. Her mane and skirt had become quite frazzled, her tail swishing in agitation. Her pupils were shrunken, and her legs were slack. The lavender Unicorn’s face spoke to her mindset; she was breathing heavy, and she bore the look of a mare who’d received the most ill of news.
“Twilight?” Applejack asked again, as Twilight seemed to have not heard her. “Sugarcube?”
“Applejack…”
Twilight said her name, but didn’t seem to register the palomino right in front of her. It was like she was in another place entirely.
“Applejack…” the lavender Unicorn said again. “It can’t be true. Tell me… Tell me that it isn’t true.”
‘What isn’t true, Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked worriedly, flapping down to the stairs to meet Twilight at eye-level.
“You don’t know…” Twilight shook her head. “Of course you don’t know. Nopony knows. But, who would believe it if you told them? They’re not even ponies… I almost don’t believe it myself.”
“Believe what, Twilight?” asked Fluttershy. “And who is it that aren’t ponies?”
“It’s the doozy… it’s the biggest doozy anypony could imagine. It has to be the doozy. What could be doozier than this?”
“I don’t know, Twilight; I don’t know the doozies as they come, just that they’re coming,” Pinkie answered, her jubilation abandoned for a more subtle sympathy.
Twilight closed her eyes, putting a hoof to her forehead.
“It’s too insane to be true, but this is Discord we’re talking about here. He brings insanity with him wherever he goes. It’s… too insane. It’s too crazy. I don’t want to believe it. I don’t want to believe that Discord is the father of Queens Celestia and Selena!”


YUS JHJQG FI IVGTRWQ GGUJNR KKJZGVOARG NLIR

OJ KTCS RQI YCMH MNJV VMEWMHQRR RQI QWVG

YUS JXS NBU PTBB SRWA CLW KECD WZEAFLQ

GC CHFIS ROQ BT CLKR HF IWRSQH FAR KR GBWC