Chapter 37: Revision
“You're telling me that Celestia will die? She's killed by the intelligence in the Moon Pool, Seren? But where does he fit into the equation? I hardly know him!” This was heavy news for Twilight, and she still wasn't a hundred percent convinced the Beholders were always correct, but they seemed sincere, and that worried her.
He is a victim of other's mistakes, lead steadily down the path of destruction. But that was long ago. His actions are now his alone, and he needs no additional persuasion from the darkness. He was close to your princesses, and indeed, a dear friend.
“They've never mentioned him to me before, have they?”
No, they haven't. Many efforts have been made to bury the truth, but it will not remain in the shadows forever. The Tyrant's ten eyes glowed, and a shifting, glowing orb was birthed from its brain.
A memory bubble. The one that has plagued me. The vision of Seren's origin.
Twilight stepped forward, once again fascinated with the odd beauty of the memory gate hovering before her. “Can I see it?”
No, the time is not right. The memory bubble does not recognize you as its intended recipient, yet. It awaits your ascension. But now it will be in the right hooves. Be warned, Great Mother. What lies inside is not what you seek. It is not an excuse to hate him, but indeed, a reason to empathize. But without understanding whom you're fighting, your quest will not be just. Take the memory, and it will open to you when the time is right.
“So... how do I pick it up?”
You may condense it into a physical form, if you wish. Ensure it is not damaged.
Twilight probed the orb with her magic. It seemed resistant to her presence, though not hostile. She began applying pressure around its surface, and it yielded slowly. When she had finished, a small golden orb, not larger than a nut, hung in midair. She plucked it out of its stasis and placed it in her saddlebag.
When you believe the time is right, pull at it gently, and the bubble will expand to its natural form.
Twilight bowed. “Thank you, kind sir.”
The gratitude is mine.
“What can I do to prevent Celestia's death?”
Well, that's the paradox. Our foreknowledge tells us she will die. As you have learned, to fight the future can make it happen in the first place. But apathy and inaction can do the same. Continue as you would, and look for loopholes. She will die, yes, but can her soul live on? Regardless, you will lose an ally in your time of need, and most importantly, you must prepare yourself to stand alone. Ah, yes, I almost forgot. I have another memory bubble for you, and for this one, the time is right. Another energy field appeared between them.
This knowledge is not critical to your mission, but may illuminate new paths of thought that can aid you.
“Whose is this?”
The Lord of Chaos.
“Who? You mean Discord?”
Twilight almost jumped out of her skin. Towering over her was the devil himself, so to speak. He seemed mostly disinterested, his eyes missing their usual mischievous gleam.
“Yes, hello, Twilight Sparkle. You're about to see what makes me tick. Celestia's reviewing it right now, as a matter of fact. I have no motivation in allowing you to know my deep dark secrets, though I will admit I'm curious to see how you'll react.” With a yawn, he stepped forward to the memory, reaching into it and rummaging around as if he were searching for an object from a box. He pulled out, holding a frilly pink book labeled 'Diary'.
Discord materialized a glitter pen and flipped to the last page, pausing for a moment before jotting down a few notes. He tapped his pen against the page a few times as if he was thinking, then, finished, he tossed the book back into the bubble and turned back to Twilight, as if expecting something from her.
“So... you're here.”
“Indeed I am, Miss Sparkle.”
They stood, looking at each other for a few moments, the beholders watching the two of them silently.
“I've asked this a couple of times now, Discord.” Twilight's voice was completely neutral, and non-accusatory. “What do you want?”
Discord smiled lightly. “Ah, I've been waiting for this moment. No anger, no inherent distrust. I simply want people to see as I do, whether or not they agree. And now, you'll have the chance to.”
He held out an arm. Twilight, after a moment's hesitation, reached out a hoof. Discord clasped it, and shook it firmly. “Twilight, you and I have a lot more in common than you think. I think you now realize I'm not truly evil. I'm just trying to make my way in the world with what I'm given.”
He released his grasp. “I'm Chaos. Clean, pure, and neutral. I favor nobody but myself. So, if you make an effort and make it worth my while, you might have a friend, when all others have failed.”
He disappeared with a flash.
Twilight smiled softly. As much as she had once despised the trickster, now that he wasn't a threat, she found him amusing.
May I suggest, All-Sight, that you return to your friends so they may review the memory as well?
As we have stated, you may leave whenever you wish. We would love for you to stay, but it will not be the best use of your time.
“What of Lux? Of the time shudder?”
She cannot be saved until the worlds are merged. The voice cut off suddenly, and the Tyrant drew back sharply. Ironically, he had been trying to hide the implications of what he had just said, but his reaction was what made Twilight realize that something was amiss.
“Was that a statement of fact, or a prediction?”
Ever-Seek, I apologize. It was a slip of the synapses. I will answer all you demand, but the less you know, the better.
Twilight nodded. “It was worth a shot. I suppose I'll head back now.” As she condensed the memory, the Tyrant spoke.
Very well. As you go, remember that your actions will decide the fate of this world, and more importantly, they will decide just who you will become. We shall forever watch, All-Sight.
The beholder mages drew around the pensive pony. Kulttripse bowed before her, an odd motion involving his entire body. Twilight bowed in return. “Thank you, all of you. It's nice to find I have some friends.”
Those who live in behalf of the light will find they are never truly alone. But sometimes, you must take the first action.
This world is for the brave and righteous. Or the ambitious.
The world began to warp around her as the mages completed their spell. The lights seemed to be racing away from her while she remained still. Eventually, the lights became so distant she couldn't see them at all. Twilight became aware that she couldn't breathe. Just as she began to panic, her sight was restored and sensation came back to her form. She was standing in the snow, outside once again.
Her friends stood around her, looking at her expectantly. Twilight beamed. “You're all safe!”
Rarity cocked her head. “Why wouldn't we be, dear?”
“I...” Twilight looked around herself. She was back in Stonehill, but all signs of the recent battle were gone. Lux's trapped soul was nowhere to be seen. “I was taken somewhere else, in a different time line. I met these monstrous creatures, but they were extremely helpful and informative. And I met Trixie's reflection. We just fought her, right?”
Applejack shook her head. “We just came into the town about a minute ago. We just asked you what the plan was.”
It took Twilight a moment to take this information in. “But it seemed so real...” Suddenly, light came to her eyes as she remembered. She flung open her saddlebags and retrieved the two small, golden orbs. Pinkie stepped forward, her eyes widening in recognition.
“Memory bubbles? But whose? And why?”
“The memory bubbles belong to Discord and Seren. We need to experience what they have if we want to know how to fight them.”
Rainbow Dash got closer, poking at one of the levitating balls. “Seren?”
“The being in the Moon Pool, the one that fuels their hatred. The creatures told me he would be the one to kill Celestia.”
“So we take him out first?”
“They didn't seem to think it was possible, but we have to try.”
“This isn't going to be a boring history lesson, is it?”
“I don't think so. Let's make sure the area is safe, and then we'll stop for the night and watch these.”
A quick look around confirmed that they were alone. The buildings were just as abandoned as Twilight remembered them, but despite her watchful eyes and paranoia, no undead reared to meet her. As the others built their camp and attempted to build a fire, Twilight wandered further into the city. As she neared the back, she felt a growing sense of dread. She flickered her ears nervously. It wasn't danger, but there was something dark here. The dark, large cave didn't reflect the light from her horn, and made it feel that much larger. Eventually, she found the altar. It was broken and lopsided, and whispering could be heard in the air around it. Something had happened here, and whatever it was, it meant Twilight couldn't contact the beholders, at least not directly. After a minute or two, Twilight had to leave. The dread made her skittish, and she couldn't think straight.
She was relieved to find that the further she walked, the more calm she became. By the time she got back to her friends, who had successfully made a fire, she was already relaxed. The others nodded acknowledgment to her presence, though they were to tired and thoughtful to say anything.
After they had sat for a while, Twilight brought out the condensed memory bubbles.
“Which one are we going to watch first? Seren's?”
“We'll try, but I was told the time wasn't right yet. The memory bubble might reject our presence.”
“But we're allowed to watch Discord's history?”
“Actually, he appeared in person and told me it was alright.”
Fluttershy frowned. “What's he doing here? I thought he was turned to stone.”
“And then we promptly forgot him, as did the rest of Equestria. His mind was pulled here, and because he was strong enough, he rebuilt his body. While he wasn't allowed to return to reality, he could run free in this world. Or at least, that's my theory.”
“Let's get to it. There's no reason to wait. Besides, we need sleep, so we might as well get it over with.”
Twilight nodded to Rainbow. She placed Discord's memory on the ground, and focused her power into it. It grew in size and decreased in density until what had once been a solid returned to its almost gaseous field-state. The field engulfed the fire, making it reflect and refract in a strange yet beautiful way. The snow caught the light and the whole area seemed to glow with a celestial aura.
“Alright, girls, follow my lead.”
Twilight plunged her head into the edge of the bubble, and as her eyesight faded, she saw the others do the same. A voice entered her mind. Discord's. Greetings to any and all who may be listening. My name is Discord. May my story serve as a warning, and may I be forgiven for what I have done.