Twilight lay in the library’s basement, feeling like her head was going to explode. Celestia had brought the petrified Discord to her and her friends, asking them to help redeem Discord. Twilight hadn’t believed it: reform Discord? The Spirit of Chaos? The being who had messed with Equestria and the minds of her and her friends, all for a laugh? Twilight’s first impulse was to scream ‘Are you crazy?’ but she quickly beat that thought back, telling herself that the princess had to know what she was doing. There was no way she’d release Discord without any kind of backup plan.
But then there was Celestia’s reason for this: she had a feeling Discord would be useful to them. Really? A feeling? That was it? No impending crisis that would require magic as powerful as Discord’s to combat? Not even Celestia considering that Discord deserved a chance to prove if he was truly evil or not? Just a feeling that he’d be useful for some vague event that Celestia didn’t bother to further elaborate on and may not even happen?
Again, Twilight had bitten back these questions, once again telling herself that Celestia knew what she was doing, but her doubts continued to plague her. Fluttershy had volunteered to keep Discord in her home and who knew what he was doing to her.
It was all too much. Twilight pried up the loose floorboards and grabbed the first bottle she could reach. It had been difficult, learning to drink; so many had burned in her throat, she got dizzy, she threw up, she fainted…
But slowly and surely she got more and more used to it. It actually grew to be comforting, the way the alcohol seemed to just wash everything away. Twilight just prayed Spike never found out…
Spike had known Twilight all his life and he had learned to pick up on when Twilight was freaking out. But now, things seemed to be escalating ever since the Crystal Empire and Twilight seemed to be getting worse and worse. Spike had no idea how he could help Twilight which was not at all helped by her constant denial that anything was wrong. Speaking of which, he hadn’t seen her for hours. Spike got up to look for her and saw light coming from the basement door. Slowly, he approached it and looked inside.
Twilight had stripped to her underwear and was doing something that looked like a combination of dancing and karate moves, like she was listening to some strange music. Suddenly, she whipped around and punched the wall. Twilight collapsed to the ground and looked at her bleeding hand like she had no idea what it was doing. She rubbed the bloody hand over her face, grabbed a nearby bottle and poured its contents over her open mouth before lying down, sobbing.
Spike slowly and quietly closed the basement door and went up to their room. He climbed into his basket and stared at the wall for a long time. It was even longer before he finally fell asleep.
After Spike left, Twilight began crawling around on the floor, trying to find a bottle that wasn’t empty.
“My, my, my, Twilight. Just look at yourself.”
Twilight blinked and turned around. There was Discord, the smuggest of looks on his face.
“What do you want?” was what she wanted to say but what came out was “Vah duh fug duh yuu won?”
“Oh, nothing. Just wanted to chat with everyone’s favorite unicorn.” Discord said. “Although I must say, I’m shocked. Half naked, blood on your face, blind drunk-my goodness, Twilight, what would your loved ones say if they could see you?”
Twilight wanted to argue, but the liquor was making it so hard to think.
“Ah…Ah kin quit enny time Ah wan.”
“That’s what they all say.”
“Luhk, shut up! Yuu haff no ahdea vat itsh like ta be me.”
“I’m certain. But as much I’d love to decipher your drunk ramblings, I’ll just get right to the heart of the matter.”
Discord reached down and his hand went inside Twilight’s skull. His face bunched up in concentration as he looked through Twilight’s thoughts.
“Hmm…my, my, my, you have been through quite the mental hell, haven’t you, Twilight? No wonder you’ve taken to drinking, trying to silence the screaming in your head.”
Twilight roughly pulled away from him.
“Get out ma head! Yur not gonna du any uh yer mind thingies…” She angrily slurred.
“At this rate, Twilight, I won’t have to do anything. You and Celestia will have completely destroyed you, mind and body.” Discord said with an evil smirk.
Twilight wanted to say or do something but it was then that she finally blacked out.
The next morning, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Rarity were at Twilight’s door, waiting for her. Applejack was knocking for a third time.
“This ain’t like them to take this long to answer.” She said. The others nodded.
Finally, the door opened a crack and Spike peeked out.
“Oh, it’s you guys.”
“Hey, Spike. Where’s Twilight?” Rainbow asked.
“Oh, uh…I’ll go get her.” Spike said uncomfortably.
He ducked back inside and came back, leading her to the door.
Everyone reeled back in shock. Twilight’s mane was barely combed, her eyes were red with deep bags, her clothes were dirty and wrinkled and she only looked partially aware of her surroundings.
“Whoa, Twilight, are you okay?” Pinkie Pie asked.
“I’m fine.” She muttered.
“Twilight, you look like death warmed over.” Rainbow Dash commented.
“I’m fine.” Twilight repeated as she stumbled out her door. Her feet hit each other and she crashed into Applejack, who got a good whiff of her.
“Land sakes, Twilight! Ya smell like an open bar and worse! Have ya bathed recently?”
“Dunno. Maybe. I dunno. Let’s go. Gotta make sure Discord hasn’t eaten Fluttershy or anything…” Twilight monotoned as she tried to keep walking.
“Fluttershy can handle herself.” Applejack said as she pushed Twilight back inside and into a chair while Dash and Pinkie carried in Rarity, who’d fainted upon seeing Twilight. “Right now, you seem to be the one with a bigger problem.”
As Rainbow set Rarity on the couch, her hoof struck an empty bottle. She picked it up and looked at the label, identifying it as whiskey.
"Twilight, when did you start drinking this stuff?"
"It's nothing, just a little drinking."
“Twilight, this isn’t just drinking! This is heavy stuff! Like the kind you drink at parties, not every single day!” She exclaimed.
“I told you, it’s nothing! I’m fine!”
“No, it’s not nothing and you’re not fine! What’s going on, Twilight? You prided yourself on looking studious but now you’re becoming…this! And we are not leaving until you tell us what’s going on!” Dash said stubbornly.
“It’s…it’s just that…things have been getting really hard lately…” Twilight reluctantly admitted. “And I just thought…this could help me…forget for a little while.”
“Is this about the Crystal Empire and Discord?” Applejack asked. “Twilight, if these things are driving you to drink like this, we’ve got to tell the princess and let her know…”
“No! Don’t tell her! Not her! Anyone but her! Please!” Twilight shrieked, falling to her knees and clinging to Applejack, her screams turning into sobs.
Shocked, Applejack, Dash and Pinkie turned to Spike, who’d been standing in the corner.
“Spike…?” Pinkie asked.
“It’s…it’s like she’s a different person.” Spike said, running his hand over his head. “She barely does anything except hiding herself away and drinking incessantly. I don’t know what to do.”
The three looked at each other grimly.
“Okay, okay, not her, but we’ve got to tell somebody, Twilight! We’re not going to let you do this to yourself.” Applejack said, helping Twilight to her feet.
“You two stay with Rarity and Spike and then go over to Fluttershy’s. I’ll handle Twilight.”
Applejack placed several of the empty bottles on the table in front of Mac and Granny. She had given the library a thorough search and found Twilight’s secret liquor supply. There’d been enough to supply New Year’s parties for the entire town hidden in the basement. After that, she’d taken Twilight and Spike home with her, put Twilight to bed, left Spike with Apple Bloom and called in Big Macintosh and Granny Smith to talk with them about Twilight.
“These were just a few that Ah found.” Applejack said, indicating the bottles. “She’s been livin’ in her basement, judging by how many of those were down there. It’s…it’s astoundin’. Ah know Twilight has a lot on her plate but this? Who in Equestria would do this to themselves?”
Granny took one of the bottles and looked at it somberly.
“This brand here was mah pappy’s favorite, even though it ended up killin’ him. When we buried him, the stuff had turned his liver into a pickled herring. And a cousin of mine, his orchard was hit by a locust swarm. It never recovered and his farm was seized by the bank. Crawled into a bottle and only came out long enough to leave himself swingin’ from the rafters of his barn. Mah point is this stuff is pure poison if ya let it control ya and Ah’m sorry ta say that yer friend is already headin’ down that path. Ya gotta do somethin’, AJ, before it’s too late.”
“Don’t worry, Granny, Ah intend to do somethin’ about it. We’ll keep Twilight here for a while and make sure she sobers up. Ah gotta remind her that she’s got friends here and that she can talk ta us instead of trying to get herself blind drunk.”
Big Macintosh just sat there in quiet disbelief. He couldn’t believe that Twilight would go to such extremes. He knew she had problems but he had clearly underestimated them. The only way to help her was to get to the root of her problems, which he knew would take time, not to mention helping her kick her growing alcohol addiction. It tortured him inside at the thought of Twilight doing such things to herself. Didn’t she know there were those who loved her? Didn’t she know that he…
His thoughts were interrupted by Applejack looking out the window and yelling “What in Sam Hill is that flood out there?”