Discord's Day

by SpinelStride

Who Came Up With This Anyway?

Some days, the sun shines down, the clouds provide welcome moments of shade, the grass is soft underhoof, and the laughter of foals fills the air.

When Discord is around, some days the sun raspberries the entire town of Ponyville, the clouds alternate between dumping bucketloads of overly sugary beverages and sniping cutie marks with malevolent miniature lightning bolts, the grass tries to gnaw on hooves, and the laughter of foals still fills the air because the Cutie Mark Crusaders find the entire thing incredibly hilarious and actively contribute to the chaos.

This was one of those days. It was barely mid-morning and Twilight's horn was already sore. She'd stuck her head into a barrel of water to cool that prodigious magical appendage off after yet again casting her famous Failsafe Spell to clean up one bit or another of Discord's mess, only to find that the barrel was not, in fact, a water barrel, but instead contained pickled eggs. It wasn't even Discord's doing. She'd just been distracted.

And so Twilight Sparkle had gone home to shower and lie down, frustratedly secure in the knowledge that:

A. Discord wasn't going to do anything quite so widespread or malicious as to convince Fluttershy he needed a 'time-out' in statue form. Not enforced by the Elements; more than once they'd seen him sulking overnight in an oversized birdbath on her lawn at her mere insistence that he needed some cool-down time.

B. When she got up, there were going to be at least six new magical messes for her to fix, and Discord would be nowhere in the vicinity to yell at and make him do it.

C. At least her mane wouldn't smell like vinegar anymore.

Even the comfort of her bed was to be denied her, it seemed, as a loud knocking boomed from the front door. She groaned and pulled the pillow over her head, but the rapping continued. In fact, it had developed a beat, backup singers, and record scratching. That left only three individuals it could be. Pinkie was going to be out chasing clouds all day in search of chocolate milk. Vinyl Scratch never got up before noon without an extremely well-paid reason and was not a particular fan of the library anyhow. And so that left only one possibility.

"Discord," Twilight said sharply as she pulled the door open. She couldn't even get a proper rage going today; she had too much of a hornache. "What?"

And of course her deductions were right. He was standing there at her doorstep, an unusually thoughtful expression on his face. "Good morning, Twilight," he said, though without quite his usual verve. "Can't a friendly chaos spirit pay a friend of his a friendly visit like friends?"

"No," she said bluntly. "What do you want?"

He snorted in amusement. "Information, my dear Twilight Sparkle. This is a public library, is it not? A place of learning, erudition..." And he was abruptly adorned in a graduation robe and mortarboard with a beanie propellor on top. "In short, the very sort of thing that you so eagerly seek to share with all these poor unfortunate ponies so very far away from the educational facilities your own privileged family was able to send you to?"

"You're a little old for Cheerilee and a little immature for anything else," she said, and tried to push the door shut.

He held it open with his bear paw and laughed, the robes vanishing as quickly as they'd arrived. "Ah, such wit, such eloquence, such vivacity! Yes, this is indeed just the place I need. In fact, just the mare I need."

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then let it out. Then shook her head. "No. Whatever it is, just, no. I've already got a hornache cleaning up after you today. If you want something, come back tomorrow when you haven't already done something to ruin my day."

He patted her head. Her horn promptly stopped aching. Her eyes opened in surprise and she saw her horn on the wall like a coathook, with her wings hanging from it by a string.

"I think I'm just going to pummel you," she said. It was the first thing that came to her mind. It would be properly scientific. She would find out whether his lone fang was that way naturally or if some other infuriated pony had knocked out the other one.

"Oh, pfaw," he said. With irritating emphasis on the 'p.' "It's not attached so you don't have a hornache anymore, and I can hardly imagine how you sleep with those things on you in the first place. Really, they ought to be held on with velcro so you can take them off on your own."

"Your horns are much more inconveniently positioned for sleeping than mine is," she said, with some small part of her mind paying attention to the conversation and the rest... really starting to enjoy the prospect of tromping on his face with the earth pony vitality that her alicorn ascension had provided her.

"See?" Discord said. "That sharp analytical mind, hard at work! And I think you'll find that answering my question makes us both quite a lot happier."

She essayed a punch from a standing position. Not the most effective form of attack, but she didn't want to take her eyes off of him long enough to turn around and buck. His irksomely sinuous frame waggled out of the way and he laughed. "While laughing merrily across town while you chase me in your present condition might prove a brief amusement," he said, "it hardly answers my real question."

"Fine," she said. And made a mental note to ask Rainbow Dash to teach her kung fu at some point. If she could come up with a way to ask that wouldn't result in her polychromatic friend laughing like a lunatic and clutching her sides at the mere prospect of a purple egghead with a Ponyville-exploding horn wanting to hit things with her hooves.

Discord beamed at her again. "Then my question is this. I am, as you well know, a spirit of chaos. Ponies being discontent and disputatious is in my nature - and, in fact, in my name. And yet I find myself being limited to the merest of trifles, and indeed to mere pranks that leave ponies miffed at me instead of each other. And we both know my impulse control is nearly as poor as your rainbow-rumped little friend. How, then, am I to satisfy my own desires for chaos and dissatisfaction, without going quite so far as to find myself once more ensconced in immobile form by forces not my own? Because, to be quite disgustingly honest, I believe it is only a matter of time before the whim strikes me to do something really... grand and I fail to consider the potential repercussions." He inspected his claws. "Sixteen days, seven hours, two thousand and fifty-eight minutes, and negative forty-three seconds, in fact."

Twilight reflexively converted that into sensible units of time. Argh. He probably did that on purpose. "So you want me to come up with a brand-new way to keep you entertained for the long run in the next seventeen days, seventeen hours, seventeen minutes, and seventeen seconds," she said.

"Exactly!" More beaming from him. "Something better than my backup idea."

She knew it was a terrible idea to ask. She asked. "And that is?"

That smile was getting almost as annoying as seeing her horn and wings on the wall next to him. "Giving the Cutie Mark Crusaders complete access to all of my powers."

"You're even more evil now that you're reformed," she said. She wasn't really paying attention to her mouth. Most of her brain was too busy blanking out thoughts about what would happen under those circumstances. The tree sap alone...

"Oh, no," he said smugly. "I'm giving you fair warning, even coming to you for help, just like a friend, about a problem I have that I oh so dreadfully fear I might not be able to handle on my own. Isn't that what friends do?"

Seventeen days later, the library floor was badly rutted from a pacing alicorn. Her horn and wings had popped back into place when Discord left, and actually her hornache had been gone as well. So she'd been able to think. And think. And think. She'd found out how Celestia was able to manage both sun and moon for a thousand years in the process - a dedicated alicorn, it seemed, was capable of getting by on very, very little sleep. But she had made no progress on the actual question at hand, even after drafting first her friends, then half of Ponyville into working on it.

"Time," she blurted into thin air. Spike had gone to bed, and the wood under her hooves was long since mashed into quiet splinters, so she wasn't pacing loudly anymore. "I need more time. That's it! Time!" She drew in a deep breath, to call out to wake Spike, to have him send an emergency letter to Princess Celestia, to have her send the Starswirl Wing one book at a time to Ponyville at emergency-dragon-breath speeds. She was interrupted.

A bright, multicolored flash of light exploded in the center of the room, a ring racing outward and dissipating harmlessly against the walls. A scroll hovered briefly in midair, then dropped neatly in front of her face. She caught it in her violet glow before it could hit the ground, and pulled it open.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

Give him the attached scroll. Don't make any edits. As best we can tell it took over six hundred iterations to get the loop stable.

Your friend,
Rainbow Dash

Twilight blinked and read the signature again. "... Dash?" she muttered. "What in Celestia's name is going on here?"

Then she unrolled the attached scroll. She read the attached scroll. She stared at the attached scroll. She gaped at the attached scroll. She sputtered, "Really?" at the attached scroll.

A few hours later, she gave Discord the attached scroll. He read it and laughed.

"Are you entirely sure about this, Twilight?" Celestia asked dubiously as they stood on her balcony together, only minutes remaining before the sunrise. "Giving Discord his freedom is one thing, but giving him true free reign? My sister and I had to go through a great many terrible and undignified battles before we freed Equestria from his rule in the first place."

"One day a year," Twilight said. She didn't bother trying to pretend to sound any more confident than she felt. Princess Celestia could see through her in a heartbeat. "I did the math. It checks out."

Celestia looked down at her fellow alicorn. "Twilight, I wasn't aware that there was any math that could provide any answers on a subject like Discord."

Twilight sighed. "I had to adapt some of the more theoretical bits of chaos theory and apply some temporal mechanics to them, then have Pinkie Pie interpret the results."

"Ah. Well then. Good," Celestia said, and lifted her head to look serenely at the horizon.

"Good? What do you mean, good? This is probably a terrible idea and my method is completely speculative and doesn't make any sense at all!" exclaimed Twilight, then clamped her muzzle shut at having burst out at Celestia like that.

"Twilight, in a very long lifespan, I have learned many important lessons. And from the beginning, one of those lessons has always been to never doubt Pinkie Pie when chaos is involved," the elder alicorn said calmly. "It is a lesson that requires relearning periodically."

Twilight cocked her head. "From the beginning? But..."

Celestia's horn lit. The sun lifted over the horizon. Discord's Day began. There was a flash.

Six exhilarated ponies met at Sugarcube Corner that morning to compare notes. Twilight started.

"After the flash, I was back at the library. My horn was gone, but I still had my wings. But for the first time, I actually felt like they belonged to me. It's... I suppose it's the same way using my horn always felt natural. Suddenly I can calculate the airflows in a split second, see everything around me, sum up every last vector down to the butterflies flapping on the flowers, and know exactly what I need to do. And then do it all over again one wingbeat later." She leaned over to hug Rainbow Dash. "I'm sorry I never appreciated your lessons until now."

The rainbow-maned unicorn laughed, and hugged back. "Twilight. Magic. Is. AWESOME. I don't know what you were going on about all the time with books and stuff, this is just cool!" Her head waggled and her horn glowed through a procession of colors. A gap in space opened and displayed a view of a deep green steaming jungle, where a unicorn in a skewed pith helmet was vaulting over a floor covered in lava, her glowing horn deflecting falling boulders. Daring Do caught sight of the portal and waved briefly in midair before she had to use her hooves to catch herself on the protruding wing of a scowling statue. Rainbow Dash let the portal close.

Twilight stared. "That wasn't an illusion, was it? I could feel the heat coming through. You opened a stable tesseract across Equestria with no training whatsoever. You don't even know what a tesseract is, do you?"

Rainbow snickered and her horn glowed, and Twilight yelped as her mane was magically noogied. "Sure I do! It's that thing I just did. But come on, it's all there, just waiting for me to do it. I don't need all those books and scrolls and stuff!"

"Glad you're havin' fun with it, sugarcube," said the other unicorn at the table, reaching up to rub her head. "Ah think Ah got Rarity's. Durn thing keeps tryin' to make the apple trees all fancy."

"Oh, darling, get into the spirit of things!" exclaimed the white-coated earth pony - in full exuberant 'farm' regalia. Down to the droopy drawers. "I never knew just how very primal, how satisfying it can be to work on a farm! I know you're so very protective, but really, do go try to explore your creative side. Aren't I doing simply a smashing job for you?"

Applejack grumbled. Then, more audibly, sighed. "Yeah, sugarcube, you're buckin' like an Apple, all right. Ah jes' don't like it. An' what if Ah make somethin' downright silly? Ah don't know all this frou-frou stuff."

"Well... if you do make something silly, then isn't that sort of all right?" Fluttershy said timidly. The yellow alicorn had a custom crown of her own - a miniature Discord curled into a circle atop her head, grinning out. "I mean, it is meant to be a day for fun for everypony."

The doors opened, and a worried-looking gray unicorn came trotting in, bubbles on her flank and a sniffling little pegasus on her back. "Princess Fluttershy?" the mare asked. "Dinky wants her horn back..."

"Oh, you poor thing," Fluttershy cooed, and dipped her head. Her horn flashed, and Dinky promptly was restored to her normal state. "There we go. All better now?"

The little filly reached up to pat her head with her hoof, then let out a squeal and jumped from her mother's back straight to Fluttershy, clinging to her in a tight hug. "Yay! Thank you, Miss Fluttershy!" she squeaked, and held on tight. Fluttershy gently hugged her in response, and carefully ran a hoof down her back until she felt the fear tension leak out of Dinky's muscles.

"I'm very happy to help," Fluttershy told her, and Dinky and Derpy walked out, the unicorns side by side, Dinky already starting to happily tell Derpy her lessons from Magic Kindergarten to help her mother learn to use her horn.

"I gotta admit," Rainbow Dash said, smiling fondly after the parting pair, "Discord kinda did something cool, didn't he? How'd you come up with the idea for this, Twilight?"

Twilight shifted in her chair. Overhead, Pinkie Pie was chasing balloons. For some reason she'd turned white and blonde when Discord gave her a set of wings. "It was actually you who gave me the idea, Rainbow," she admitted.

Dash tilted her head. "Me? So... umm... Yeah, gonna have to help me out here. I'm tryin' to think of what I did that would look anything like this."

Twilight shook her head. "You didn't inspire me, Rainbow. Literally, you gave me the idea, wrapped up in a scroll, in a burst of time magic."

Rainbow Dash huhed and rubbed her chin. "Time magic? So, like... I went back in time and gave you a scroll? That's pretty awesome. I didn't know unicorns could do that."

Twilight thought about telling Rainbow Dash at long last about her own experiment with time magic. Then decided that no, she still didn't need to have Rainbow Dash inspired to embellish the story into Future Twilight deliberately pranking Past Twilight. "It's very advanced magic. Even with your extremely fast native understanding of how magic works, it's probably going to take you at least a few weeks of study before you can..."

Rainbow Dash vanished. Then reappeared a moment later wearing very old-fashioned EUP combat spellcaster robes. "So that's how Celestia and Luna defeated Sombra way back when," she said cheerfully. "Cool. Also, Celestia says she's glad to know she's got an awesome student like you to look forward to, Twilight."

Twilight dropped her face on the table. "Time travel is incredibly dangerous, complicated, and intricate, Rainbow Dash!" she said without raising her head. "You can't just decide to do it!"

"Sorry, couldn't hear you," her friend replied, after another flash. "Good news! Totally gonna be an annual thing. Everypony looks forward to it. And I just get more awesome every year."

Twilight lifted and then shook her head ruefully. "Of course you do," she said. "Never mind. I think I'm going to go fly some more."

Rarity nodded enthusiastically. "I really do want to try some of those rodeo games, myself! They really are far more entertaining when one has the physique to actually engage in them properly, don't you think?"

Applejack stood up and shrugged stubbornly. "Ah ain't leavin' th' farm. So Ah'm comin' with you, Rarity."

Rarity got up and laughed. "All right, Applejack. At least pretend to cheer for me, won't you? Spikey-Wikey needs someone to cheer by his side." She giggled. "Poor little thing, turned into such a fine stallion but still needs so much sleep. But he ought to be waking up when we get back, don't you think?"

Fluttershy shifted in her seat. "I think I had better stay here so everypony knows where to find me if they're too unhappy," she said softly. "I said I would..."

Pinkie swooped down and set a tiny bowl of ice cream on Fluttershy's head. The Discord crown began to eat it. "I'll stay with you!" she cheerfully called out. "Whooosh! Zoom!" She ran into a red balloon, and the string tangled into her wings. She landed nimbly and shook a hoof at the cause of her landing. "Curse you, Red Barroon!" she declared.

Twilight Sparkle just shook her head and walked out, with Dash following. To Twilight's surprise, they'd hardly gotten around the corner when she felt Dash's magic tug at her tail. She looked over her shoulder.

"Wanna talk about it?" said the unicorn quietly.

Twilight started to reflexively deny that there was anything wrong, then bit her tongue. This was her friend asking. She sighed and dropped her head.

"I'm jealous," she admitted. "I've had to work all my life on my magic, it's my cutie mark, it's my Element - but you've only had magic for a few hours and you're doing spells I never dreamed of, so easily."

Dash smiled and stepped up next to her, giving Twilight a companionable flank-bump. "Well, duh. That's part of the point, isn't it?"

Twilight shook her head. "No it isn't! This is all supposed to be doing some silly chaos for Discord to get it all out of his system and give him something to plan for every year. Everypony's supposed to be amusingly bad at their new bodies, and it's okay because so is everypony else! What else would Discord be willing to do?"

Dash shook her head right back. "Twi, you're thinking about it all wrong! Discord's, like, the worst there is at planning, or we wouldn't have been able to beat him. Remember? He totally told you where the Elements were and how to beat him and stuff. If he was any good at planning, he'd've zapped you into a statue or something and then he'd still be ruling and I'd still think that little puff of vapor was all of Cloudsdale. We can't just give him something to plan all year. We have to give him something to keep him satisfied all year."

"Great, now you're better at logical thinking than me too," Twilight muttered. "Okay, then, you get to be the egghead now. So explain it to me."

Dash grinned cockily. "I did jump into the future there and had a while to talk to myself about it. I make a totally awesome archmage, by the way. It's pretty easy. Everypony is supposed to be jealous. And happy about it. Everypony's better at somepony else's special talent today. Except Fluttershy, I guess. Couldn't you see it? AJ is completely going nuts that Rarity's bucked half the farm in a morning and outdoing her rodeo stuff. You're steaming that I'm super-awesome at magic. The only reason I'm not jealous of those stunts you were pulling off this morning is that I like to watch amazing stunts. And tomorrow we're all gonna wake up and know that somepony else, just for one day, was better at everything we do, and no matter how good we get at the thing we're very best at, next year somepony's gonna do it again. But we're all gonna be looking forward to how awesome we get to be for that day too. Totally awesome for Discord, everypony happy with him, looking forward to him using his powers everywhere, and still having a fat little seed of discontent all year long."

"That's the..." Twilight trailed off. "... Oh, fine. If it didn't work, you wouldn't have sent me the instructions on how to set up the time loop." Her wings were itching to get back into the air, anyhow.

"Attafilly," Dash said cheerfully. "Hey, what happened to the Princesses? You were right with Princess Celestia when the day started."


Two seaponies quietly swam side by side through the cool, calm waters, admiring the brilliance of the coral reef. Nopony knew they were there, nopony knew who they were, nopony had anything for them to do, no crises or adventures called out to them. The only thing they needed was to be sisters together for the day.