What To Do Now?
Statice groaned in exhaustion as he popped into Hoofington. This was one of the earliest towns that he visited, as well as one the earliest to kick him out. He had gotten into a bar brawl when a few jerks started insulting him. By the time the royal guards showed up, Statice had already beaten them down. Unfortunately, this caused them to think that he had assaulted those jerks in the first place. The process had repeated itself several times on every occasion on which Statice moved to another town.
“Irony is a harsh mistress,” Statice sighed as he placed Piercing Gaze against a tree and activated his Archive, making sure that one of his eyes was pointed at the unconscious griffin to make sure he won’t wake up and attack him. His statement was correct in that Ponyville had no jerks that bothered him. Everypony was nice and Statice was only going to leave more out of fear of being discovered by the Elements of Harmony than causing enough trouble to warrant being kicked out. He didn’t expect an enemy from the past to track him down and blow his cover.
“Stupid Piercing Gaze,” Statice angrily muttered as he picked the perfect destination in the magical map to escape. Focusing his magic, he selected Winsome Falls as his next destination. He was gone in a flash, leaving behind the unconscious body of the griffin.
Hours passed before Piercing Gaze woke up. His injuries and his exhaustion made recovering consciousness a living nightmare. Carefully, he placed the palms of his talons over his eyes to feel them.
“I’m awake,” he concluded. One of the worst parts of being blind at the beginning was the difficulty of knowing if one had the eyes opened or closed upon waking up. The pain of attempting to see with his blind eyes was easily confused with the heaviness of one’s eyelids upon awakening.
“Where the heck are my shades?” Piercing Gaze angrily questioned as he touched the area around his eyes and felt the lack of shades around them. He wasn’t a shades griffin at first, but upon being blinded he found the need to use them. He couldn’t allow himself to be seen without his shades.
Gritting his teeth, he closed his eyes and started pawing around. His shades had to be there somewhere. He spent a couple of awkward minutes walking in circles in an attempt to hide his eyewear until he stopped. He smelled something. It was a very familiar scent that he memorized over time.
“Statice,” Piercing Gaze growled. He remembered the fight that he had with the unicorn. He had grown strong from the cub that he chased. He actually beat him in a fight on his own skill. A sense of frustration grew inside Piercing Gaze as he recalled his defeat against the unicorn.
“Darn it!” the griffin angrily formed a fist with his talon and slammed it into a tree that was standing close to him. His mind flashed back to that last blow. The electricity surged across his body, a familiar sensation of getting hit by lightning made from the storms fabricated by his clan. In hindsight, his shades went flying out of his face after the electricity blasted him out of Statice. It was probable that the unicorn had either destroyed them out of spite or that he had stolen them as a trophy.
“First he takes my light and now he takes my shades,” Piercing Gaze muttered dangerously as he clawed at a tree with his talons. “I am going to make him regret winning that fight.”
I did not travel this far to lose! You can beat me all you want! I will not stop fighting until I’m the last one standing!
His sense of smell felt the air around him. It smelled different from the forest on which he fought Statice. The scent was more akin to a natural forest, a cleaner and safer one to be exact. He cocked his head upwards and smelled the stench of Statice’s magic. He heard a town of ponies nearby, not enough to see them but close enough to recognize their presence and vicinity.
“That little punk took me out of the forest on which we fought and dumped me somewhere else,” Piercing Gaze concluded from the information he gathered. The conclusion infuriated him. How dare that cub to treat him like garbage?
I’m through letting him get the best of me!
He followed the scent as best as he could. It was a small track, but it was pointed at the sky. He was still covered in magic residues from the fight with Statice. He could use that stench of magic to familiarize himself with the trail.
“I’m going to beat you this time, Statice!” Piercing Gaze kicked off and flew into the air. “I’ve been waiting long enough to catch you. I won’t wait anymore!”
It had been hours after Statice dumped Piercing Gaze in Hoofington and then moved to Winsome Falls, and yet he still felt exhausted for the whole ordeal. The fight had taken its toll on him. His physical and magical resistance had both been drained from fighting such a seasoned combatant. Even now, he could barely heal his injuries or use Hammerspace to bring a gem with stored magic to recover his power.
“Stupid Piercing Gaze,” Statice muttered angrily. It was his first time on which he left on his own terms... and now he was back to square zero because of some arrogant jerk thinking that he didn’t deserve what happened to him.
“It’s quite rare to see you like this,” Discord’s face covered the sky as the draconequus stood above him.
“Did the girls get mad at you?” Statice asked, not wanting to make idle chitchat after such an event.
“I vanished as soon as the fight was over,” Discord shrugged his shoulders. Despite the nonchalant gesture, his face showed that he feared for a future confrontation with the Elements of Harmony.
“You didn’t tell them anything about me, right?” Statice narrowed his eyes at Discord. “I hate to pull this card, but your promised me that you were keeping it a secret from others.”
“They understood,” Discord reassured him with a placating paw. “Although, I must tell you that they are not too pleased with me making a Pinkie Promise with you.”
“Thank the stars for Pinkie Pie being insane about such things,” Statice sighed in relief at having his past belonging only to himself.
“So, you left your little problem in Hoofington?” Discord stroked his bear as he sat next to Statice. “And now you are resting on Winsome Falls, I see.”
Statice groaned. “I was going to leave him at the desert in Appleloosa, but Applejack didn’t want Piercing Gaze close to her cousin’s home,” Statice stood up to look at Discord firmly.
“Why not choose the Badlands?” Discord asked curiously. “Their deserts are far worse than the one you found in Appleloosa.”
“You really think I am that stupid to go to a place known as the Badlands?” Statice gave him a deadpan look.
Considering the places where you’ve been…can you really blame him?
“Couldn’t you leave him at Hammerspace?” Discord asked, finding the idea of locking somepony inside such dimension as quite an excellent prison.
“Hammerspace is infinite, Discord,” Statice sighed. “I’m not sure on where he is going to be the next time I use Hammerspace after locking him there. Can you imagine having me look for a snack there only to find a vengeful griffin leaping at me as soon as I open the portal?”
Discord chuckled at the imagery. “Good point,” he placed his hands behind his back and rested besides Statice. “Can you tell me why did you choose this place, Statice? I’ll admit that Winsome Falls is a beautiful place, but it’s more of an attraction than a living settlement.”
“I’m fighting Piercing Gaze here,” Statice admitted.
“You’re fighting him again?” Discord stood up, shocked by the revelation.
Once again, this place is too beautiful. It’s not fit to be a fighting location.
“He’s going to come back to get revenge on me,” Statice nodded his head. “As long as he is after me, I won’t be able to settle in any town. I have to defeat him for good if I want him to leave me alone.”
“How do you plan on defeating him for good?” Discord raised an eyebrow at Statice. He didn’t like the term that the unicorn mentioned. In this kind of situations, “for good” actually had very bad implications for the losing party, which he was sure were not going to put him in the good graces of the majority of Equestria if that was the case.
“I have no idea,” Statice looked uneasy. “Normally I just leave my opponents to their fates in a dangerous situation so that I won’t get my hooves dirty, but something tells me that I am not allowed to do that on Equestria.”
At least he has the decency of admitting it. Still, since I’m friend, I guess I should support his point of view.
“That’s the worst plan I ever heard,” Discord deadpanned.
“Well, excuse me, but I don’t have magical trinkets that send your enemies to the moon or seal them in stone for a thousand years,” Statice glared at Discord.
“How about you let the authorities of Equestria deal with Piercing Gaze?” Discord proposed as he disguised himself as a cop. “I’m pretty sure the princesses and I can make a perfect prison for Piercing Gaze.”
“How do you suggest that they will help me?” Statice asked as he looked at the draconequus suspiciously. “I don’t think that they’ll want to assist me after my last encounter with them.”
“I’ll bring them Piercing Gaze once you’re through with him,” Discord reassured as he lifted a badge with his face on it. “That way, you won’t have to get into more troubles than you already have.”
“Nice,” Statice smiled. As much as he mistrusted the quality of the prisons in Equestria, having escaped multiple ones in his life, he was sure that one made by the Spirit of Disharmony would be impossible to escape.
“You’re welcome, Statice,” Discord ruffled the unicorn’s mane. “Now then, what are you going to do about Piercing Gaze in your rematch?”
“First, I am going to recover my strength,” Statice pointed at his bruised body. “I can’t fight at my best with these bruises and lack of magical juice.”
“Would you like to have another period of hibernation?” Discord asked teasingly.
“I want to recover for a fight,” Statice frowned at him for his bad joke. “I don’t want to sleep through it as a sitting duck.”
Besides, I will never do another hibernation with you around. The last thing I need is for your jokes to turn Piercing Gaze into my last wake up call because I ended up oversleeping again.
“You got any strategies?” Discord asked as he started to shadowbox, wearing some yellow shorts and boxing gloves with Fluttershy’s cutie mark on them.
“Improvise,” Statice muttered. “I’ll think of something. I assume that he will take a couple of days to get here. For the time being, I plan on sleeping to recover my magic. One bout of sleep will give me enough magic to open Hammerspace and retrieve one of my gems to recharge my magic.”
“Nice plan,” Discord was now dressed as a general, using some map of Winsome Falls and poorly made dolls of Statice and Piercing Gaze to make a mock strategy.
“Thanks,” Statice yawned. “I have to go to sleep.”
Or maybe faint from exhaustion…whichever happens first.
Closing his eyes, the unicorn fell asleep, letting his exhaustion easily drift him into unconsciousness. Seeing the green pony resting, Discord sighed as he disappeared with a snap of his fingers. He was going to have to do a lot of explaining to the girls and something told him that it was also going to affect Statice eventually.
The next day at Canterlot, Twilight had informed Celestia and Luna everything that had happened. She told them about the arrival of Aster, being attacked by Piercing Gaze, and then being revealed to be Statice. Both princesses were shocked to find out that Twilight’s new friend was the same prisoner that had eluded their watch months ago. The fact that Discord had helped him in his escape and in hiding did nothing better to assuage them.
“What exactly do you mean by hibernation, Twilight?” Celestia looked at Twilight with intrigue. “You said that he used a spell to put himself to sleep.”
“It is apparently some sort of spell that mimics the effects of hibernation,” the purple alicorn frowned as she gave what little details she learned about it. “I’m not sure what was the purpose of such a spell though.”
“Indeed,” Luna frowned. “Hibernation is nothing more than a prolonged dream. I should have been able to see his dreams over such a time and find his hiding spot before he had the chance of awakening.”
“Maybe he used a version of hibernation on which he doesn't dream,” Twilight suggested. To be honest, she was not sure if it was possible for ponies to dream during hibernation as they didn’t take it in the first place. It was more of an educated guess to be exact. Great, now she felt the need to study that spell.
“Be that as it may, it still doesn't explain my inability to see his dreams after he woke up from hibernation,” Luna frowned angrily, finding the stallion’s ability to escape her dream realm to be irritating.
“Maybe Discord knows about it,” Celestia suggested. “He sounds like he spent a lot of time with Statice. Maybe he found something about…”
“He cannot dream because he lost the ability years ago,” Discord’s voice answered, followed by a finger snap. Surprisingly enough, he looked somewhat depressed and guilty as he avoided eye contact with all three princesses.
“What do you mean that he cannot dream?” Luna asked, feeling more irritated at her inability to find Statice than at the draconequus for finding out Statice’s location and not telling her about it.
“Apparently, his job was so horrible that he was given a potion to prevent him from dreaming every day from back when he was a foal with the effects still apparent on his recent arrival to Equestria” Discord answered awkwardly, feeling disgusted with the answer even after hearing it before from Statice. The reactions that he got from the three princesses were just what he expected.
“That’s horrible!” Twilight shrieked. “How can a pony live without dreaming for so long? That doesn’t sound right!”
“It isn’t right, Twilight Sparkle!” Luna declared angrily, showing the same ire that Discord had anticipated that she was going to have after finding out the truth. “Everypony has the right to dream. It shouldn’t be taken away from anypony, much less a foal! Who did such a barbarity to him?”
Called it! I knew Luna was going to react like this.
Discord shrugged his shoulders. “I am not sure exactly,” Discord shrugged his shoulders. “His master gave it to him to cope with the nature of his job. He couldn’t give Statice the right to dream when he was going to have nightmares.”
Celestia felt her stomach twist. “What kind of horrible life did Statice have to live if he needed to avoid dreaming to spare himself the nightmares?” she reluctantly asked, feeling that she was not going to like the answer.
“That’s as far as I can tell you three about his past,” Discord shook his head. “I can tell you how he got to Ponyville and became Aster, but I promised him not to tell about his past.”
“I guess that’s probably for the best,” Celestia asked, preferring to focus on the present. “Do you know anything about Statice’s whereabouts, Discord?”
“He is at Winsome Falls,” Discord snapped his fingers to materialize a memory of him talking with Statice. “Feel free to check the veracity of my memory if you don’t believe me.”
“I must certainly will!” Luna decreed before Celestia had the chance of saying anything. “You already did a lot to help the criminal. I will not trust your words until I see that they are true.”
Focusing her magic, the Princess of the Night turned into mist and entered into the memory. One of the advantages of guarding the dreams of Equestria was that Luna often interacted with memories that influenced her subjects in the past and present. She was capable of finding full memories when her ponies only had fragments of them, allowing her to give them a new perspective.
“It’s time to see if you are really telling the truth, Discord,” Luna whispered as she dwelled deeper into the memory.
Back inside the castle, Celestia and Twilight were checking on Discord’s memory, which now had a blue background on it. Both princesses were staring at the image while Discord stood with a straight face. It was quite a rare sight to see those three focusing in the same room.
“What is Princess Luna doing there?” Twilight looked at her former mentor with curiosity and wonder.
“Dreams are abstract, Twilight Sparkle,” Celestia explained as she recalled her conversations with Luna. “More often than not, they are made of fragmented memories, biased thoughts, and inflicted perspectives. What Luna used was a spell that will allow her to see if a dream is made from a complete memory. If the image breaks apart, the memory will be a fake. Similarly, if the image stays the same, the memory is true.”
Twilight felt interested, wanting to know more about the mechanic behind the spell, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Luna. Much to her surprise, Luna looked stunned, staring at Discord with disbelief.
“I can’t believe it,” Luna looked at the draconequus with surprise. “All of that memory was true. You really do consider Statice a friend.”
“If I didn’t, do you think I will not be so serious right now?” Discord asked as he closed his hands into fists and put them on his hips.
“But how did you grow so close to each other?” Luna asked, still surprised at Discord’s loyalty to a criminal.
“He was interesting!” Discord shot his hands to the side exasperatedly. “I was young and chaotic! As glad as I was to be out of my stone prison and have a friend in Fluttershy, it was frustrating to have to sit tight under threat of petrification if I acted out on my own. After hearing about how Statice made Twilight lose control, I felt the need to meet him. I visited him on his cell, we talked, and then we clicked. And that’s how we became friends with each other.”
“Did you have a hand in helping on his escape?” Twilight asked, wanting to get rid of the itchy need on how the green unicorn escaped a prison that had been reinforced by Luna’s magic.
“Not really,” Discord shook his head. “I had no part in his escape. I just stood there and watched it all happen in the background. I only came to visit him after the incident with my Plunderseeds.”
“What happened with the Plunderseeds?” Twilight raised an eyebrow at Discord, not noticing Celestia and Luna shuddering behind her as a result of the question and the memory that came from it.
“Statice was hibernating in the caverns on which Cadence was trapped, and he became the first victim of my Plunderseeds as they traveled to Canterlot,” Discord rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. “The vines captured Statice and disrupted the spell that he placed on himself. He was asleep for months instead of days or weeks as he had expected.”
“You kept him hibernating for months?” Twilight asked in horror.
“I made sure that he was okay!” Discord turned into a doctor as he gave a plushy with Statice’s face a lollipop. “I kept watching out for him as much as I could. I was even there when he woke up.”
And it’s not like I wanted him to be attacked in the first place. It just happened…by accident…I think…that’s just chaos magic.
“What happened when he woke up?” Twilight asked, as she realized that Discord was getting closer to the Aster part.
“I told him what he missed during his nap and then took him to the Everfree Forest to find a place to stay,” Discord recalled the events carefully.
“Why would you bring him there?” Twilight irately asked. “The Everfree Forest is very dangerous!”
“It’s not dangerous for your Zecora friend,” Discord huffed angrily. “And that doesn’t stop the Crusaders from going there. It doesn’t stop you from going to the castle there as well. Why should it be troublesome to Statice?”
Seriously, what is it with everypony whining about how dangerous the Everfree Forest is when they pretty much go there every week or so without a care in the world?
“He does make a point, Twilight,” Celestia reluctantly agreed with Discord before fixing him up with a glare. “But be that as it may, it was still a bad idea to suggest the Everfree Forest as a perfect place to live, considering the fact that he is not a natural born citizen of Equestria.”
Discord snorted. “He’s been through worse, Celestia,” the draconequus crossed his arms with a pout. “He has endured much worse than a couple of manticores and cockatrice stone vision.”
“Can we please focus on Statice’s trail?” Twilight asked, more disturbed than demanding as Discord gave more clues on the green unicorn’s dark past.
“Anyway, after saving the Crusaders, Statice made his own home base underground as a temporary settlement,” Discord looked at Twilight, remembering that he still owed her the truth. “He met the Crusaders every once in a while and even taught Sweetie Belle a thing or two about levitating.”
“So that’s why Sweetie Belle was more interested in levitation,” Twilight frowned pensively as she remembered how much Rarity’s sister progressed with her magic.
“Statice got bored of hiding, so he decided to learn how to make friends in order to start a life in Equestria,” Discord summarized Statice’s motivations to the Aster scene. He was not fond of recapitulation and, as much as he thought that Statice’s humiliating defeat against Zecora was funny, he was not going to make the situation worse for him if he could help it.
I don’t think that mentioning him fighting Zecora is going to help on his public image…even if the whole fight consisted of him getting beat up. Besides, it's not a vital part of the story. You can literally skip that part and still move on with the plot. Nopony likes fillers anyway.
“That’s where you help him trick us with Aster?” Twilight gave Discord a glare upon reaching that part. This was the sorest point in the whole situation. It hurt to find out that Aster was Statice just as much as it hurt to have Discord help him out.
“Statice is a master of disguise, Twilight,” Discord sighed. “He used some kind of spell to absorb a cloud to become a pegasus. I only just gave him a cloud. Even if I had refused, he could have turned into an earth pony if he had meant it.”
“He can turn into an earth pony as well?” Twilight asked in surprise.
“Yes,” Discord looked at both sides nervously. “But you figured that part out on your own. Don’t tell Statice that I told you that.”
The draconequus spoke faster than usual. He looked nervous. The three princesses stared at him in shock. The only time he was that concerned about the approval of somepony else was with Fluttershy.
“You really think that Statice is your friend, Discord?” Twilight asked.
I might as well let it all out.
“It’s like the same thing that happened with Tirek,” Discord took a deep breath, remembering how much it hurt to betray the ponies that trusted him and how much it hurt to be on the receiving end of treachery from Tirek. To make matters worse, getting betrayed by Tirek made betraying Fluttershy in vain, his greatest humiliation as a trickster and his greatest shame as a friend.
“How is your friendship with Statice similar with Tirek?” Twilight asked. As angry as she was with Discord, he was still her friend. If she was going to forgive him for hiding Statice, she needed to understand why he saw him as a friend.
“Do you have any idea on how it feels to be friends with somepony when the basis of your friendship is the fear of being turned into stone?” Discord glared at the three princesses. For a second, Celestia, Luna, and Twilight took a step back as they remembered how powerful Discord was and how dangerous he could be when he was properly motivated to fight. Their fear disappeared as he looked at them with exhaustion on his face, as if he was too beaten to do anything to them.
“It’s not comforting at all. If it weren’t for Fluttershy genuinely trying to redeem me, I’d conquer Equestria as soon as I had the chance. But her friendship turned out to be more meaningful than I expected, so I still kept myself in check back when you lost the Elements of Harmony and were no longer capable of defeating me. Capturing Tirek was the best assignment of my life because I got to use my chaos powers for something. Naturally, I defeated him…but then I let myself be convinced by his silver tongue.”
Discord momentarily got angry and let his tongue out, which was now colored silver. It even gave a little sparkle at the surface. The three princesses grimaced in disgust before the draconequus put the tongue back into his mouth.
“He was right. I used to be the ruler of Equestria. Not even Celestia and Luna were capable of beating me. So why did I let myself be under their hooves when they no longer had the tools to defeat me? It was then that Tirek offered me the chance of a lifetime: a friend that accepted me for who I was and who would never try to change me. As luck turned out, it was too good to be true.”
He cringed as he remembered the unpleasant sensation of having his magic forcefully drained by Tirek. It wasn’t like the Elements of Harmony, which contained it inside his body and at least gave him the ability to use it inside his mind to make his confinement a little bit bearable. It was a sense of weakness that left him incapable of doing anything as he was rendered powerless. In that moment, he saw why Celestia wanted Tirek to be sent back to Tartarus immediately.
“What does Statice have to do with Tirek?” Twilight asked, feeling curious about why Discord would compare Statice with such a monster.
“He accepts me for who I am, except that he is too pure of heart to betray me,” Discord answered, closing his eyes as he remembered Statice’s past. “That stallion has seen betrayal thousands of times, but he has never been on the giving end of it.”
Once again, Discord’s words caused the three princesses to visually cringe. What kind of life did Statice live if he had been betrayed that many times?
“Does Piercing Gaze have anything to do with those betrayals?” Twilight asked, feeling that a betrayal may have started the rivalry between Statice and the griffin
“No,” Discord shook his head. “I’m pretty sure that he didn’t know Statice when he tried to foalnap him during his apprentice years.”
“Foalnap?” the three princesses asked in shock.
“Yes,” Discord nodded his head. “It turns out that Statice’s master was very infamous outside of Equestria. Piercing Gaze had attempted to foalnap Statice to get leverage on him. Unfortunately, the little rascal turned out to be too much of a problem for him. Things got a little ugly and here they are years later.”
“What exactly did Statice do to him, Discord?” Twilight asked him. “If Statice was indeed a victim of foalnap, chances are that he must have escaped and done something to get on Piercing Gaze’s bad side.”
“He did escape,” Discord answered uneasily. “Piercing Gaze tried to capture him again… but, during the crossfire, he got blinded by Statice?”
“Statice blinded him?” Twilight asked with horror. Behind her, Celestia and Luna looked just as horrified as their fellow princess. In all of their knowledge and experience, they never heard of a spell that caused blindness. Not even Discord had done such a thing to anypony, even when he probably had the power to do so.
“Yeah,” Discord rubbed the back of his head. “I think I mentioned that when I commented on the fight. It was more of heat of the thrill moment. Statice panicked and threw a magic blast on Piercing Gaze’s face and then he crashed into a building that fell on him.”
Despite his best efforts to censor what happened, Discord’s answer once again horrified the three princesses. They looked at him with disbelief written all over their faces, as if they were refusing to believe what he told them.
I think I should have kept that part to myself.
“No wonder Piercing Gaze is after Statice,” Twilight shook her head, trying to erase the images that her mind was processing. She always imagined scenarios as a tool to plan her next move or to imagine scenes of the past that may affect her in the present. Right now, she wished she never asked Shining Armor to teach her that skill.
“Where is Piercing Gaze, Discord?” Celestia asked sternly. “If the information you gave us is true, we cannot allow him and Statice to meet each other.”
“I heard that Statice was dropping Piercing Gaze in Appleloosa,” Twilight recalled, remembering how indignant Applejack reacted when he mentioned the possibility of leaving the gryphon in the desert next to the town. She had to spend an entire hour of yelling back and forth to convince Applejack that Statice probably did not leave Piercing Gaze in Appleloosa in order to prevent her from leaving Ponyville to check on Braeburn.
“He left Piercing Gaze in Hoofington and then he went to Winsome Falls, as you saw in my memory, to prepare for his final showdown with him,” Discord answered as he once again displayed the memory to further state his point.
“Excellent,” Celestia nodded her head. “I can send some of my royal guards to any town or city that is between Hoofington and Winsome Falls in order to intercept Piercing Gaze.”
“If it doesn’t bother you, I would like for me and my friends to go to Winsome Falls to deal with Statice,” Twilight politely asked her mentor as she looked at her in the eyes. “It may be personal for Statice to fight Piercing Gaze, but this issue is also personal as Aster was our friend and he lied to us all the time. I deserve an explanation from him as much as my friends do.”
Celestia and Luna exchanged glances. It was clear that the older of the two was reluctant of such course of action, recalling how short tempered Twilight was with Statice during the trial, but a nod from her younger sister let her know that this confrontation was as unavoidable as it was necessary.
“Very well,” Celestia nodded at her former student. “You and your friends may go after Statice, Princess Twilight. Just be careful.”
And let this be an important lesson in the Magic of Friendship. I know you won’t disappoint. You always find a way to make the best of your trials.
“Thank you, Princess Celestia,” Twilight nuzzled Celestia, who reciprocated the gesture. She then turned to Discord to look at him uneasily.
“Is there something wrong, Twilight?” Discord asked, not liking the look on her face. As much as he didn’t like having her angry at him, that sad facial expression promised Discord a lot of grief coming at him.
Please, just give some random friendship speech. I’d do anything if you just give a friendship speech and let me be on my merry way.
“Can you bring us to Winsome Falls, Discord?” Twilight asked. “I can go with my friends there on my own, but the journey will be long and will take time.”
“I can,” Discord nodded his head before adopting a serious frown. “But that’s as far as I can help you with Statice. I am not capturing him or convincing him to give up.”
Hearing this annoyed Twilight to no end. “And why are you not helping us with that part?” Twilight demanded angrily. “In case you forgot, Statice tends to resist arrest. Your assistance will definitely help us prevent his escape.”
“I know that, Twilight” Discord snorted. “But he is as much of a friend to me as I am to you. Besides, contrary to you and Fluttershy, let’s just say that he has higher standards for being a friend.”
“What do you mean by high standards?” Twilight asked with a raised eyebrow.
Discord rolled his eyes at her. “Try to picture one of your imaginary friends that will suddenly turn on you just for a tiny mistake in one of your paranoid breakdowns and put it on a pony with trust issues after facing betrayal too many times to count. That’s how high Statice’s standards are…well that and the fact that they are realistic.”
“Hey,” Twilight glared at Discord. “I’m not paranoid.”
Discord snorted. “Oh, please, you cannot deceive me, Twilight. You still have that habit. You just keep it under better control. Believe me. I have a chaotic sixth sense that allows me to see the personality flaws of anypony. It’s still there, only less evident.”
“Fine,” Twilight gritted her teeth, not willing to let Discord speak about her flaws as a pony. “Just bring me and my friends to Winsome Falls and we will take it from there.”
“As long as you come up with an excuse on how you found, Statice,” Discord nodded his head and crossed his arms.
“You want us to lie to him?” Twilight raised an eyebrow at him. “That is not going to make Statice happy.”
“Neither is the truth of me helping you to capture him,” Discord angrily looked at the ceiling, unwilling to let the Princess of Friendship convince him to tell him the truth. “I just said that Statice has high standards for me. If I fall down those standards, I’m no longer my friend.”
“Be that as it may, he deserves the truth,” Twilight clarified. “And I am not going to lie to him about it if he asks me.”
Why that little…!
“Just gather your friends,” Discord growled irritably. “I don’t think that I need advice about this fear coming from Twilight ‘Everypony Is Going to Be Disappointed with Me’ Sparkle. Just do as I say and I’ll take you to Winsome Falls.”
“FINE!” Twilight yelled in frustration.
“FINE!” Discord snapped back.
The purple alicorn got out of the throne room, leaving Discord inside with the other two princesses. The conversation was quick to turn awkward with the three of them as they stood in place and said nothing.
“I think that you should apologize to Twilight after this, Discord,” Celestia broke the silence after a few seconds of it.
“I'm already apologizing by helping her reach Statice,” Discord pouted at the ceiling. “If you expect me to help her with the capture, then I am going to decline. I still want Statice to be my friend.”
“Don’t you think that you are being greedy, Discord?” Luna asked with a raised eyebrow. “You already tried to be friends with a villain once and things didn’t turn out to be great for you.”
“I was greedy for helping Tirek conquer Equestria only,” Discord placed his hands on his hips angrily. “I don’t get anything from helping Statice, not even at his worst. I only decided to stay neutral and just hang out between the two of them.”
“You do realize that you’re going to have to make the choice between the two of them, right?” Celestia asked worryingly. “You cannot be friends with Statice or the Elements of Harmony at the same time if they are in conflict with each other.”
When is this interrogation going to end?
“I’ll find a way to make it work,” Discord stubbornly replied. “If Fluttershy did it with me then why not I can do it with Statice?”
“Fluttershy at least tries to remain true to herself as she is to you,” Luna glared at him disapprovingly. “You can’t be a friend to anypony if you let them walk over you.”
“This conversation is over!” Discord declared, vanishing with a finger snap.
“This conversation is not over, right?” Luna asked Celestia as she turned her head to look at her. In response, the elder princess shook her head.
“No, Luna, knowing Discord, this conversation is far from over.”
It was later in the afternoon that Discord teleported the Element Bearers and Spike to Winsome Falls. With the group there, the draconequus spoke in whispers to talk to them.
“Okay,” Discord began. “This is as far as I can get you. Statice will probably find us later on so I am going to leave.”
Knowing him, he’ll probably know that they’re here right now. I better leave before he finds me.
“Don’t tell me that you're scared of getting scolded?” Rainbow Dash snorted at the draconequus. “You’re one of the strongest ponies…well, magic beings, of Equestria.”
“It’s complicated,” Discord rubbed his arm self-consciously. “Look, I am not used to doing this whole friendship thing. I…”
“You should try to talk to Statice,” Fluttershy suggested. “Maybe he will listen if you give him the chance of hearing your opinion.”
“Statice is complicated,” Discord rubbed the back of his head. “And coming from the Spirit of Disharmony, that’s quite a statement.”
“So am I and I still get lots of friends!” Pinkie Pie hopped next to Discord. “Many ponies always tell me that I am complicated so I think that you can understand Statice if you try.”
If only you knew the type of stuff he did, Pinkie. Discord shook his head as he looked down at the hopping mare.
“Besides, Ah don’t think that any lie we throw at Statice is gonna work on him,” Applejack joined in the conversation. “He’s bound to find out the truth sooner or later anyway.”
“I gotta go,” Discord hurryingly snapped his fingers and disappeared.
“That draconequus has some issues,” Spike stared at the spot on which Discord used to stand a few seconds ago.
“Everypony has issues, Spike,” Rarity tactfully reprimanded Spike. “Some ponies just happen to have more issues to work out than others.”
“We can talk about Discord later,” Twilight called out at her friends. “Statice may be near us at any second. We have to find him before he finds us. We need to form a plan if we are to deal with him.”
Okay, I didn’t make a plan since I was too busy finding out about Statice’s past. But maybe I can work something out with my friends. We always manage to come up with something at the last second’s notice.
The six mares and the baby dragon huddled together in a circle. As they started talking strategies, bordering on capturing Statice by force or using a more diplomatic approach, the grass underneath their hooves had some sort of greener color.
“Forget about this!” Rainbow Dash angrily declared. “I am going to the sky and see if I can see him from above. Once I see him, I’ll get him.”
The brash pegasus flapped her wings to take off the land. Much to her surprise, she remained in the ground, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed with her friends.
“Shouldn’t you be up by now, Dashie?” Pinkie Pie asked innocently.
“I should be, but I can’t fly for some reason,” Rainbow Dash grew frustrated as she attempted to fly, but found herself stuck to the ground. “Try to have Twilight and Fluttershy fly and you’ll see it.”
Twilight and Fluttershy did as Rainbow Dash told them. Much to their shock, they were in the same condition as Rainbow Dash. They couldn’t fly regardless of how hard they flapped their wings.
“Is it just me or the sky is farther away from us than it was a minute ago?” Pinkie Pie scrunched her face with narrowed eyes as she looked at the sky.
“Not now, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash was beating her wings at full speed, growing more irate as she was still bound to the ground.
“I have to agree with Pinkie Pie on this one,” Spike looked above and then gulped as he lowered his head to the group. “And I also like to point out that you girls are getting smaller by the second! Wait! You’re now getting larger now!”
At Spike’s yell, the girls looked at him and found that he was sinking into the ground. His head was the only thing visible of him. As the girls screamed at the talking head, they screamed more when they saw that they were sinking.
“It’s quicksand!” Rarity shrieked. “We’re standing in quicksand!”
“But we’re not even on a desert!” Rainbow Dash protested, having read enough quicksand scenes in Daring Do to know that they grew in deserts and jungles.
“It’s the Quicksand Spell that Statice used on me!” Applejack cried out in surprise and anger, remembering how he got her trapped underground in their first meeting.
“I’ll teleport us out of here!” Twilight declared as their heads became the only thing visible of them. As she concentrated her magic, her focus was broken when she felt the earth below her neck turn hard and choke her. The purple alicorn gasped as the pressure in her body prevented her from kneading magic good enough for the teleportation spell.
“Anytime now, Twilight,” Fluttershy pleaded, not liking the thought of sinking into the ground any further.
“I can’t!” Twilight wheezed. “The earth is crushing me! I can’t focus on my magic with all of this pressure building in my body.”
“You should have gone to the bathroom when you had the chance!” Pinkie Pie yelled in alarm.
“I’m not talking about that kind of pressure, Pinkie!” Twilight exasperatedly snapped at her pink friend. “The earth around my body is squishing me too tight for me to concentrate. It’s a very distracting sensation.”
“I wished this were real sand!” Pinkie Pie protested. “At least sand is not hard enough to squeeze your body!”
Before Twilight could lecture Pinkie Pie in the topics of density and pressure, she was interrupted by the approaching hoof steps of somepony. They came far enough for their owner to be seen but their increasing volume let her know that he was getting closer to them.
“It looks like I got cursed with the ugliest crop in Equestria,” a familiar voice greeted them. It sounded arrogant and insulting yet it was very recognizable.
As the seven victims turned their heads to the side, they saw Statice walking to them from afar with a smug smile on his face. That smile went as easily as it came when he got closer to them. It was replaced with a frown that was audibly accompanied with a dismayed groan.
“What in Tartarus are you girls doing here?” Statice asked, feeling annoyed now that his plan of capturing Piercing Gaze was already ruined. Not only was he going to have to make another plan, but he was also going to make a new one to deal with those girls. Why was being an enemy with somepony always so hard for him?