Three fillies ran beneath an overcast sky, their laughter echoing out ahead of them, accompanied by the pitter-patter of their hooves and the hubbub of the town.
“We’re going to be in so much trouble if she finds out,” Apple Bloom said as she cast a smile over her shoulder, grinning brightly at the two fillies behind her. The little earth pony looked ahead once more, then skidded into an alleyway.
“Well, we put the cheese back in the right place,” Sweetie Belle said, voice cracking as she too dived into the back alley. “At least, I think it was the right place...”
Scootaloo was right on Sweetie’s tail. “Aww, don’t worry, they’ll never find out. Plus, now we know for sure that we’re not copyright lawyers.”
The three slowed to a halt within the tight alley, the smell of dung and discarded trash suffocating the air as it baked in the late afternoon’s sun. “So,” Apple Bloom said, panting even as she cringed. “Where to next?”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo shared a look, the unicorn sweating and panting while her winged companion stared ahead, unfazed. “Maybe we could go back to my place? Rarity taught me how to make iced tea. It was pretty good last time I made it. Although... the three first times were...”
The group moved forwards, galloping out of the tight alley and into the quaint little Ponyville street. There, they ran around carts and bemused townsponies, all the while heading downhill and towards Sweetie Belle’s home. Above, the already overcast skies were beginning to close, a few pegasi bolting up to rectify the issue.
They didn’t care, though; there was iced tea on the line. Houses passed on either side in a blur as the excited threesome charged along, giggling and laughing at the sheer joy of living and having friends. Ahead loomed the Belle household, a thatch-roofed building seated beside the calm Ponyville river, its simple yet majestic form sticking out of the town’s side as the fillies raced to it.
The front door opened with nary a creak and instantly, the three trotted into the house and up a staircase, trailing behind them three sets of muddy hoofprints on the varnished wood floor.
Missus Belle watched them scoot by, her brows cinched together as she raised her ladle and barked, “Where do you fillies think you’re going?”
All three froze halfway up the steps. Sweetie Belle was suddenly elected de facto leader, selected by her peers with a unanimous vote of fearful stares. “Um, well, Mom. We’re just going to my room for a bit to... you know,” she began, smiling dumbly at the mare below while rubbing a hoof against the nape of her neck, “just to play and stuff.”
“Uh-huh,” the mare said, less-than-convinced. “Last time you said that, I found the lawn mower in the pantry.” She lifted the wooden spoon and waved it their way menacingly, only a tiny wisp of a smile adorning the corner of her lips. “I’m baking cupcakes. If you’re all really well behaved... I might consider giving you one... maybe.”
“All right Mom! Thanks,” she called down before bolting up the steps, her friends following, singing out a chorus of “Thanks Missus Belle”s before they climbed up with a cacophony of thumping steps.
Rushing through the upper floor, the three skidded around the hall and dove into Sweetie Belle’s room. They giggled and hopped about, even as the scene outside their window took a turn for the worse.
“So, what should we do next?” Sweetie Belle asked as she skipped over to her toy racks and tore out paper and pencils, tossing them towards the centre of the room.
Apple Bloom grabbed the sheets and laid them out in a rough square before grabbing one of the pencils with her mouth and chewing on its end. “I don’t know. We tried firefighters, enter... enter-pre-ners and princesses this week. What’s left?”
“Oh!” Sweetie Belle chimed. “We could try becoming omniscient overlords again!”
Both Scootaloo and Apple Bloom groaned. “Trust me, Sweetie,” Scootaloo said with as grouchy a voice as she could manage. “You wouldn’t like it.”
The window to her room clattered and banged behind them as it was battered by fierce winds. Scootaloo headed to the glass, eyes focused up towards the ever-darkening sky. Below, on the streets of Ponyville, mares and stallions were looking up and shielding their eyes, even as carts and tarps began to move about.
“I’ll turn the light on,” Apple Bloom said as she abandoned her post and trotted over to flick the lights. “Huh, maybe we could become professional light bulb changers?”
“Nuh-uh... how about wizard warriors? Or painters? Or wizard-warrior painters?” Scootaloo grabbed a pen, waving it around like a brush or wand.
“Well, that’s not fair. Only you’ll get to play...” said Apple Bloom as she returned to the room’s centre, now bathed in a soft electric light.
The unicorn filly nodded to herself and scratched her chin. “Okay. We tried musicians and actresses. And tax evasion”—she rolled her eyes—”We all know how well that went. What about Discord? He gave us cutie marks, except for Scootaloo. He just stared at her.”
“Hmm, whelp, we tried everything we could on the farm, until AJ said that if she saw us three there again she’d hogtie us out....” The lights flickered and the three looked up. “A-and we can’t go to the boutique.”
“What do you think, Scootaloo?” Sweetie Belle asked.
The winged filly turned around, shrugging as she looked back at her singular friend. She blinked, looking around the room once more, as her ears perked and her mane stood on end. “Where’s Apple Bloom?” she asked.
The lights flickered again while Sweetie Belle looked at where her earth pony friend was moments ago. “Um... Apple Bloom?” she began before spinning in a tight circle. “Apple Bloom, it’s not funny! Come on.”
Outside, the dark stormy sky roiled and cast deep, jagged bolts of soundless lightning across the sky. Senses on high alert to the sound of Sweetie Belle thumping around the room, Scootaloo headed to the window and looked out. Ponies were rushing for cover as torrential rain fell. But something was amiss.
There were less of them, and every time the light waned, or the sky sparked and flashed, another pony would fade away.
Scootaloo's ears perked at the sudden silence.
Turning, she faced an empty room.
She had time to contemplate as she walked down the street.
There was Sugarcube Corner, its magnificent storefront graced and bathed in fresh sunlight, beckoning to her sense of adventure and the childish notion that sweets were the greatest thing to be bestowed upon young ponykind.
To her left was the Town Hall, the massive and impressively tall building, a place of wonderment and fear, one that her friends—if she could still call them such—would avoid. It was, after all, a place for grown-up ponies.
She barked a laugh at the thought. Grown up, as if a few dozen measly years meant anything in the grand scheme of things. The laugh returned to her, echoing off of lonely walls and silent streets.
Her tiny hooves struck at a puddle—one of many—and sent up a wave of slushy water that would have drenched a lesser creature. On her whim, the formless wave of water rushed away from her gentle orange coat, crashing against the ground with the full force of a battering ram. The pavement remained scarred as she moved on, unfazed.
She had waited through the rain the night before, staring out the window as the sad, dreary drizzle threatened to turn into a storm at any moment, or so one would have thought, seeing the powerful beams of electric light spark though the clouds above. Slashes of water and walloping drops hard enough to make the stoutest stallion wince fell, assaulting Ponyville and the collection of thatched roofs that protected their homes.
Scootaloo had seen it all, sensed it all. The macabre impression that somepony, or something, was watching overhead. The tingle of her mane standing on end, like watching Rainbow Dash race through the sky on a beautiful day, only dangerous. He came and plucked them away, sending them to his place beyond places and to his land of chaos and sickening amusement.
Then the invitation had arrived.
In his typical fashion, it came as a letter: White envelope, bright page covered in dark scrollwork, black message. Addressed to one Scootaloo, Destroyer of Worlds.
It would lead to a confrontation, she knew, as she stepped out of the town’s boundaries and into the meadows of grass beyond. Trees and brush replaced homes and businesses as she forged ahead, mindful of her single goal, her only purpose.
Sure, she didn’t deserve the treatment she had received: the kindness of the town, the friendship of those blank-flanked fillies, the simple peace that reigned across that fair land of Equestria. Who was she to hide amongst them all, pretending to be none other than an innocent filly, straying so close to the Elements of Harmony without a care?
She had been stupid! Her hoof punched out, tapping a tree even as she grumbled beneath her breath and moved along the path. She had everything, and now, with one careless mistake, it might well be lost.
Behind her, the tree she impacted bent, its branches squealing in a pitiful protest as the entire construct pulled into itself, rotting while gangrenous growths and cancerous tumors spread across its surface.
The forest gave way to a clearing. An open field, surrounded by a ring of thick, noble trees. A stream ran through its centre, water lapping over smooth stone, creating a tranquil sound that carried across the meadow. Flowers of every sort decorated the field, in patches or alone, petals gazing up at the wonders of the sun with a unique admiration.
There, in the centre, was a throne: a mass of ruby-studded obsidian, glowing blood-red from within its rocky core. On it was the host.
Discord smiled at her, griffon’s claw and lion’s paw meeting together as he slumped into his throne. “Why, hello there,” he said, his charming voice carrying to her little ears.
Scootaloo marched on with her head low and her senses perked. Her tail swung dejectedly, and she fluttered out her wings only to fold them back, as if preparing for an imminent flight.
A hundred yards from the monstrous draconequus, she sat. “Hi, Discord,” she said with her raspy, childish voice.
“You know,” he began, touching a long claw to his lower lip. “I’ve been wanting to meet you for quite a while. After all, I owe you a great debt.” The creature slid to the throne’s side and snapped his sharp fingers, prompting a silver platter with golden goblets to appear, accompanied by a bottle of deep, crimson wine. “Would you care for a drink?”
The bottle floated itself over, pouring a generous amount in both goblets. “I’d usually abstain from offering liquor to a minor—although, it can be quite interesting, not to mention amusing—but at your age such a remark would be insulting, wouldn’t it?”
The goblet floated over to her, crossing the terrain in a single smooth motion until it reached the filly’s side. With a glance of her violet eye, the goblet of pure gold turned to rust, then faded away in a trail of dust. The liquid floated by, an orb supported by nothing but her whim, and on that very whim the wine boiled, shivering as it turned into superheated vapour in front of their very eyes.*
She released her gasp on the liquid-turned-steam, unleashing a concussive blast of pressure as the orb expanded and dissipated into a fine mist. “No thanks, I’m not thirsty,” the filly said, shifting her weight on the spot.
He hummed. “Perhaps we can skip the pleasantries then?” One of his bushy eyebrows rose up an inch.
“Yeah, that sounds cool.”
His appendages slapped together with glee. “Brilliant! So, how about we start with this: thank you.” The creature stood with a flourish, his entire serpentine body bending forward as he bowed to her. “Without your less-than-timely appearance, I would never have been freed from that stone prison. That day that you came to my standing tomb, along with your little classmates, was a true joy to me.”
She scowled at him, her tiny forehead creasing as she frowned. “Trust me, it wasn’t on purpose,” she growled, momentarily baring her teeth at him. She remembered that day, not so terribly long ago. A visit to Canterlot, one she simply could not pass up, and an opportunity to spend time with friends.They had been arguing playfully in the garden of the statues when she felt something, an inkling of a malevolent and chaotic creature, one feeding off her own power. Now, there he was.
“Oh, it may not have been, but that doesn’t mean I should be so unkind as to not give thanks for your kind gesture!” He straightened, standing up to his full and very impressive height, his paw reaching out to stroke his long goatee.
He smiled at her, more feral than pleasant as he went on, “You’re quite impressive, for something that looks like an inept filly. I mean, even dear little Celestia looks homely and has that dart on her forehead. But you, you chose to look like that.”
“I like the way I look,” she growled, resuming her tiny, ineffective glare at the giant. “Why did you invite me here, Discord?” With a firm thump that resounded through the clearing, she took a step forward. “And what did you do to my friends?”
“Friends? Hmm, you mean the little ponies that were frolicking about? Why, I got rid of them... but don’t worry, I can bring them all back... the rest too.” He smiled at her, his one long tooth glinting in the sunlight. “If I want to.”
Her wings stood erect on her back, flaring out. “Just bring my friends back, then leave.”
He sighed, slumping into his throne. “Friends this, friends that. Will you get over that business and take this seriously? Sheesh, and I thought that I was the silly one.” Discord shook his head, the black mane behind it swishing from side to side. “No. We have much to discuss first.”
Scootaloo paused, mind racing to a few distinct possibilities. “What?”
A strong gale blew by, picking up water, leaves and tufts of grass as it pulled in towards Discord. With another snap of his fingers, the objects formed a ball, one vaguely shaped like Equestria. “Well, you see, there’s a bit of a status quo, if you will. An equality and balance to Equestria.” He juggled the miniature planet, rotating it on the tip of his claw. “It’s a rather fine thing, and when it’s kept in check, everything is nice and harmonious... and so dreadfully dull.” He closed his lion’s paw, and the planet crushed itself into a tiny misshapen lump. “What I want, little Scootaloo, is a partner.”
“No thanks, I already have friends.”
“You just don’t get it, do you? The status quo’s too strong! When’s the last time somepony a little evil showed up? Chrysalis? She had a decent idea, but it was ultimately a failure. Sombra? A thousand-year-old fool. Nightmare Moon?” He barked a laugh. “She had no vision!” He pointed a long claw at her. “But you, you’re wise, and shrewd. You hid amongst the ponies for so long and know them so well. Taking over wouldn’t even be a chore for you—pardon the pun.”
“No, I won’t do it. I don’t want to do any of that weird stuff you’re into. I just want to be left alone, and live peacefully. All right?”
“Live peacefully? How could you ever want that? It’s so droll! And do you really think that it’ll work? Honestly, your little friends will grow up, then get their marks and go on with their lives. What will you do? Make yourself a little taller? Paint your flank? Please, child, there’s no future for something like you here.”
“Not while you’re around.”
He hummed, as if contemplating a plan he had not concocted before. The ruse was weak. “Maybe I could return your friends to you, and that quaint little town, if you, in whatever form you choose, decided to help me defeat Celestia.”
“You’re blackmailing me?” she said, voice cracking.
“Oh no no, such a dreary word, blackmail. No, I’m just encouraging you to do the right thing. Forcefully.” He smiled at her sheepishly, raising both arms as he shrugged. “It’s not so bad. Think of all the interesting things you’d get as ruler.” His smile faded as quickly as it had appeared. “Although, you will have to do something about that form. Maybe grow a horn... and some laser beam eyes.”
She waited, facing the actions she could take, and the consequences thereof. She could take his offer, and, with ease, destroy the hierarchy that had ruled over Equestria for a thousand suns, becoming a god to the common ponies.
However with that came dire side effects, notably Discord as ruler, a creature so fickle that he was willing to go against his own thoughts mere moments after having them.
Yet, he could plot and plan like the best of them, she realised. He was here, after all, freeing himself from his stone prison with a faint whisper of Scootaloo’s power, convincing the Princess that he was ‘reformed’, tracking her down and setting up an elaborate trap.
What did she have on the other side of the figurative coin? Defeating Discord? Or hiding from him? Losing her friends, or perhaps having only a shadow of them, a glimpse? And in the end, the cruel persona of chaos would come back. He couldn’t afford to have her roaming free when he wanted power.
He would stab her in the back, eventually.
“I’m sorry Discord. It won’t work. It can’t,” she said, shaking her head from side to side even as she cast her eyes to the ground. Almost shyly, she continued, “Give me back what’s mine, and leave. Or else our blood will mar this land.
She looked up. For a moment, they locked eyes.
Old eyes, ageless and powerful, glared at one another, misshapen yellow orbs piercing into violent violet slits.
Butterflies roamed the air, fluttering along with the currents. The flowers gently turned at a snail’s pace, following the bright sun above, while critters, some small, some minuscule, skipped from one blade of grass to another.
A smooth song of wind filled the air around them, carrying forth the thin aroma of nature, life, and the freshly-growing woods beyond. The water of the stream lapped against the banks, spraying arcs into the air.
Discord was the first to move.
With nary a whisper, his throne was abandoned. The image of the draconequus in his seat was burned in the filly’s mind even as a thunderous zap sounded out behind her.
She moved. Tucking in her wings, she rolled onto her side over the luscious grass, flowers trampled beneath her. Mane standing on end, Scootaloo stared as the place she had been moments ago was obliterated. Dirt and tufts of earth rose into the air in a thick plume even as a powerful roar rocked the ground.
“Ah, I was hoping to end it quickly,” Discord whined as the dust settled to reveal him standing in the small crater. He towered above the cowering filly. “This might be fun after all.”
Wide-eyed, Scootaloo bolted ahead. Her hooves thumped madly against the soggy ground as she surged onwards, looking over her shoulder the entire time.
“Oh, yes, do run.” Discord snapped his fingers, and something ahead of her creaked and cracked.
Shifting her gaze ahead, Scootaloo gasped as a tree marched out of the woods. Its leafy, branched-out body shook the entire meadow as its gnarled roots-turned-legs dragged it forwards.
Raising its branches, the tree bellowed an unearthly screech. An army of red-eyed crows took to the air, shooting up like the deadly black projectiles they had become. The filly cringed as she shifted her footing and changed her trajectory, narrowly avoiding the first volley of the cruel birds.
Still galloping like mad, she slowly spun around the constantly moving tree. Sweat poured down her coat and mane, coating her with a sheen that chilled her to the bone even as she panted for all she was worth.
Discord had faded from her sight once more, leaving her to battle against the gigantic forest being and its army of puppet-like crows. She was behind it now, the wooden creature turning with a slow but deadly gait.
There was no time for this. Her friends, the very ponies she loved the most, were at risk, and if she failed...
“You know, Ponyville has had some unfortunate happenings in its past. Or so Fluttershy has told me, the darling.” Discord’s voice filled the air, coming from nowhere and everywhere at once.
She shrugged it off and began to run once more, the thumping of her tiny hooves directing her to the murderous tree. Gently, her wings unfolded, hundreds of delicate feathers caressing the wind with the softest of touches.
Scootaloo jumped, gravity immediately pulling her back down into a sharp curve. She landed on all fours a short distance from the tree’s base. With a grunt she pushed upwards, muscles burning as as she ripped through the air with a single, fell swoop. “You won’t succeed,” came Discord’s whisper.
“Shut up!” she screeched as she twisted through the air and avoided the slow, lumbering branches of the colossal being.
All four of her hooves tapped at the rough bark, leaving an equal amount of tiny prints before she flipped over backwards and came gliding back to the ground below. She landed in a gallop, running along even as the crows returned for more.
Behind her, the colossal beast creaked, its leaves browning and dying while its bark became brittle and began to snap apart. A deafening roar was followed by the cracking of branches as it fell to the ground, its wooden form rotting to ash and disintegrating to nothingness.
The filly had no time to celebrate; the crows were right above her, diving for more. She stopped, tearing four deep gouges into the soggy ground as she came to a lurching stop. Violet eyes fixed onto the cloud of black death rushing to her. And she smiled.
With a breathless whisper in an old, dead tongue, Scootaloo commanded the grass to obey her. The blades shot upwards, solid green, double-edged spears creating a wall between the crows and the filly. The birds were torn apart, wings slicing off and last caws choking off as the pitiful creatures flew through the field of swords.
Scootaloo sighed, releasing control on the grass, allowing it to recede to its normal state. In front of her, spread out in an uneven cone, was a field of grass and bone and wings and feathers. “Beautiful!” he said.
“Disgusting,” she spat back, her gaze searching for, and then finding, him.
He laughed, floating above a hundred standing trees and beneath a massive cloud of red-eyed birds. “You say that, but I saw that wispy smile of yours! Isn’t it fun, to use the abilities you have? To be so recklessly powerful?”
“You want to see reckless power? I’ll show you some. Give me back my friends!” she shouted, the very air in front of her rending and tearing apart.
Discord brushed the blow away, allowing it to flutter weakly through the sky. “Oh, you sad, sad little thing. And here I thought that you were a legendary beast. Something strong, worthy of fighting by my side. But you’re just a little filly. You’ll never see those friends of yours again.”
The azure sky above them darkened noticeably as the little, puffy white clouds expanded to become dark monoliths that filled with roiling beams of electric light. The wind froze, ceasing completely as the air became stale and heavy.
Scootaloo stood, a field of dead crows to her left, the rotting corpse of a tree to her right. Her eyes glowed a fierce green, and for a moment, Discord’s breath came in as a rasp. The very air tasted of static power as they stared each other down. “Don’t. Touch. My. Friends,” she seethed.
Discord bellowed, the roar making the air itself protest as the being rushed forwards. Behind him, a spear-headed formation of birds formed up into a cloud of sharp beaks and razor-tipped talons that fluctuated and wove through the air behind the draconequus.
On her end, the filly was alone, wings splayed out behind her as she galloped along the river’s edge. Her own scream, childish and weak, was drowned out by the monster’s terrible shout, yet something of her howl carried an earthy tone. And for a mere moment, Discord wondered at the bravery—or perhaps the foolhardiness—of the lone creature charging him and his army.
Scootaloo’s lips twisted into a sardonic smile as the distance shortened. Discord matched her grin as he pushed towards her, head low and his entire body trailing out behind him, snaking through the sky.
She jumped, wings extending, then growing in size as she flapped down with enough force to send a wave of air across the meadow behind her. Discord blinked at her before she climbed above him and spun, the fur on the back of her coat skimming a mere hairsbreadth away from his own shaggy back and scaly tail.
The creature twisted around, tail and claws and talons whipping to grasp at the filly, but catching only air as she zoomed ahead. “What are you doing now, I wonder?” he thought aloud as he followed her trajectory towards his army.
The crows formed a wall above her, blotting out the sun with their dark feathers and cruel beaks. Below, the tall evergreens and imposing oaks swayed as they looked up and tried to hit her in vain with their long, rough branches.
Out of the sea of green stood a single sequoia.
The tree stood a hundred hoof-lengths above the rest. Its gnarled branches swayed from side to side with enough force to topple a house, despite their sheer size. The filly gulped audibly, then pushed on. The wooden beast was as thick as a dozen stallions standing abreast, a thickness entirely composed of tough bark and hardwood.
With a bend of her feathers, the filly circumvented the sequoia, violet eyes glowing and filling up the darkness of the overcast sky. “You will kneel to me!” she screamed before veering off and banking towards the crows above.
The ground below—one that moments ago had belonged to a virgin meadow and was now a mess of deep gouges and bitter marks—quaked. The earth bulged with great mounds that released foul, sickening gases which plumed into the air, rotting the leaves off the trees it touched.
She twisted in the air, glaring, slit-shaped eyes meeting Discord’s faraway form. “Last chance, Discord. Give me my friends back. Or else.”
He flipped around, floating longingly through the air as his entire body rocked with laughter. “Or else, what?”
The ground burst below her, and a long, green form came rushing out, taller even than the tallest of the trees as it wrapped its scaly length around the sequoia. On the tentacle were suckers, holes filled with a rim of spinning teeth that screamed as the thing—for no other word could explain it—bit into the tree, ripping holes and gashes through the material.
The sequoia bellowed even as the tentacle bore its fighting form down with a concussive crash. As Scootaloo watched, a dozen more pierced through the ground, swallowing up the smaller trees by the dozen.
“That’s rather impressive,” Discord said, an ounce of worry sneaking into his voice, despite his would-be confidence.
His army of trees fought back, pounding at the tentacles with sharp-tipped branches even while the long appendages shifted about and crushed the trees. Meanwhile, the formation of avians began to race down and towards Scootaloo as the filly floated by, unmoving. “I’ll show you better, Discord!” she yelled.
Twisting around, the young mare looked up and opened her eyes wide. With a fizzle and a snap, a beam of ultraviolet light surged upwards. The forms of crows, bathed in the harsh light, froze for a moment before disintegrating to nothingness. She swept her head around, burning the winged creatures by the score before groaning in frustration. There were still more coming, a seemingly unending stream of them.
With a powerful stroke of her wings, the filly pulsed up, giving the dark-clouded sky above a firm glare as she rocketed upwards and narrowly avoided the cawing army that spun around to get her. She kept moving, a veritable storm of red eyes on black trailing after her as she slowly gained speed, height and momentum.
One hoof protecting her face, she tore through the clouds and continued to move, beating her wings at a mad pace as she fought against the hold of gravity.
Silence stretched out around her as the cawing of her enemies and the massive thumps of the trees became a distant sound behind her. The crows abandoned the chase or fell prey to the ever-thinning atmosphere.
Around her stretched out the horizon. Equestria’s shape was clearly seen as a curvature of the world, while the strongest stars flashed through the dazzling and warming light of Celestia’s sun. Below, the place of her monumental battle was but a circle of misshapen clouds with the occasional burst of of lightning. The wind played with her mane and splayed it out behind her, its fluttering the only sound she could capture.
Her future was down there.
Her friends were waiting.
With a twist, the mare faced the ground and beat her wings as she placed both hooves in front of her in a way she’d seen Rainbow Dash do so many times before.
“What are you doing now?” Discord asked in her mind.
Scootaloo shouted back, her own mind voicing its opinion. “I’m destroying you.”
A cone formed at her hooftips: white, but inconsistent as long trails of vapour burned out of it and hugged along her frame. The very air began to split, whistling in protest as she rushed ever faster towards the ground below. “Eat a sonic, bitch.”
A hole appeared in the sky, not with a massive boom, nor with a polychromatic ring, but with a roar that spread out like a wall, tearing through the air in a second. At its point of origin was a black sphere, one that pulsed a wicked violet followed by a deep orange before growing.
Out of the portal came a ring of ragged teeth, rotting and feasting as great gobs of caustic saliva came pouring out. It screamed with the sound of a thousand thousand souls, gnashing their teeth in a torrent of never-ending anger and pain and suffering.
Long, slimy tongues slipped out of the mouth and shot to the ground below by the hundreds, tearing the tree army from the ground and swallowing them whole. The thing sucked in the air, pulling up every bird within a mile into its destructive grasp.
Discord beat his motley wings and tried desperately to get back to the ground as the monstrosity pulled him in. With a roar of defiance, the draconequus zapped out of the air and reappeared on the ground, right where his army stood mere moments ago.
“Oh, now you’re asking for it,” he grunted.
He began to glow. A tiny light slivered out of him and expanded to touch everything, almost softly, the field, the meadow, the river, then Scootaloo’s tentacles. The sky was next as the quiet glow travelled on. In the centre of it all, Discord was lifted up, his body surrounded by another cocoon, a shield against his own ability.
Everything ceased to exist.
The gigantic trees faded to nothingness with nary a protest. The floating ring pulsed one last purple glow then shut itself. The mass of nothingness traveled up and around, encompassing everything in sight and beyond.
Just as it had begun, the pure chaos, the entropy, faded.
Discord stood in the centre of where the glow had originated. He was panting madly as his eyes rolled back and gravity took hold of the region once more. He fell, all the way to the very epicentre of the crater he had made, one with smooth edges, as large as a mountain and then some.
With an earth-shattering thump, the creature crashed into the ground and lay there. His breath came in short gasps as tears slipped from his eyes, unbidden.
Moments passed, and then he pulled himself to a sitting position, watching the devastation with an odd sort of detachment. “Ha. So it took that to remove her... she was stronger than I had thought. Much, much stronger,” he panted.
“Give me back my friends,” said not one voice, but a legion’s.
Turning, Discord looked, and it was his downfall.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders ran across town, all three laughing and giggling at yet another hijink. “C’mon, we need to hide!” Sweetie Belle pleaded.
“There, guys!” Apple Bloom said, pointing to a bin beside a cart, one selling genuine Sweet Apple Acres apples.
With three hops, the fillies jumped in, Scootaloo’s hindlegs catching on the bin’s edge and sending her to the deepend head-first. “Owie,” she whined from the bottom.
Her friends giggled, then stifled their laughter as a familiar skipping-step came prancing by. They stilled, eyes wide as a deer’s as they waited for Pinkie to move on. A minute passed, then another, before Scootaloo piped up from the bottom of her less-than comfortable position. “Is Pinkie gone?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Sweetie Belle hushed back.
Something thumped against the box, and once more, they froze.
“I’m telling you, Applejack, it’s Thursday,” said Twilight’s familiar voice. “All my calendars say so.”
Another mare huffed, then leaned against the box, making the whole structure creek. “Ah’m telling you, Twi. Ah know my crops and Ah know my trees. They weren’t watered yesterday, and some o’ them apples I left out are a mite rotten on the side. We lost a day.”
Twilight scoffed. “Applejack, how can you lose a day?”
“Well, Ah don’t know. How ‘bout you explain it, you’re the mathermatician.”
The bookworm sighed. “Well, let my fancy mathematics assure you: we didn’t lose a day. It’s Thursday, not Friday. Although, if you want me to write a letter to Canterlot about it, I’ll be more than happy to do so.”
Applejack pushed away from the bow and the three fillies. “Ah’d be mighty happy ‘bout that, Twi.”
They moved away, and the fillies let out a collective sigh of relief. A black form appeared above them, one topped by by a curly pink mane. “I found you!”
The three screamed, but in the back of Scootaloo’s mind, she smiled.