“Remember, Discord, you have to refrain from your usual antics, at least for a few minutes,” Fluttershy spoke the mantra she had been repeating for the last few hours. “I know how hard this must be for you, but…”
“You don’t say,” the spirit of chaos grumbled in reply, putting on yellow sunglasses. “Can’t believe I had to call upon this form! It’s the most disgustingly orderly of my collection.”
‘Orderly’ was really unfitting in this situation. If anypony could consider a pony with long, greasy, blue, yellow and toxic green hair and short ragged coat coupled with an unnaturally thin physique and ocular heterochromia orderly, that pony had really weird standards.
“Believe me, I will make it worth your while.” She smiled at Discord, who replied with a disgruntled huff.
“Not only do you drag me into my opposing element, you’re making it seem like I was bribed! Puh-lease, Fluttershy, I am doing it only because of our friendship!” he said with an honest expression of pride on his face that was marked as such with a crayon caption spelling out ‘honest’. “But as compensation, I would pretty much love to get a chance to strangle this petty bureaucrat!” His sight shifted to the expensive looking wooden door, with a sign reading ‘Lotsa Paperwork — Main accountant, Birth Control Service.’
Discord’s indignation was understandable; they had been sitting in the waiting room for at least two hours, and each minute away from the children made Fluttershy more and more worried. How were they doing? What were they doing? What if they got into trouble again? Too bad she couldn't go to school with them - unfortunately, she had already got her final grades a long time ago.
Fluttershy took a deep breath, trying to distance her thoughts away from the subject as much as possible. It would all be okay. She and Discord would get the documents for her children, present them to Cheerilee, and everything would be fine. They just had to get them.
Thankfully, they didn’t have to bring children along — only the documents, which took Fluttershy forever to obtain. The constant lying and begging was tiresome on the long run, prone to stressing out the yellow mare, and sitting here didn’t make it any better, which was why Fluttershy was glad for Discord’s company. Discord was an adult — at least in terms of age — he could take it.
The door was opened by a grumpy looking mare who quickly trotted away, murmuring something worthy of censorship under her breath.
“Next,” sounded a voice from inside the room.
Discord jumped from his seat, every fibre of his being resonating relief and happiness. This torture was about to end! Never before had he been so excited to hear a monotonous, bored voice. Fluttershy followed suit, though not as eagerly.
The office was pretty much what one would expect from a pony with such a name: a huge mess of papers, documents and files. The clingy smell of old paper was tickling the nostrils. Right upon entering, Discord made the mistake of taking a deep breath, which he usually did before erupting into welcomes. This time, it resulted in an abnormally powerful sneeze, which sent a tower of parchment off a table. Lotsa Paperwork, a pale, thin mare with — what a coincidence! — sheets of paper as her cutiemark, sighed.
“Thank you very much,” Lotsa intoned with neither annoyance or anger, but with extreme boredom. “A little workout was all I needed right now.”
As she dived into the piles of paper, Fluttershy tried to give Discord a firm slap on the head, but could not bring herself to cause the dose of pain necessary to educate him. Instead, she opted to push him towards the chairs, urging him to sit down.
“Uh… we need some documents… you see…”
“Of course you do. Everypony needs documents. That’s why they come here,” Lotsa murmured, piling the fallen papers into one big pile and dropping it on her table. “Could you be more specific in what documents you need? I doubt either you or your husband have the patience to wait while I look through all my stashes.”
“Husband? Oh, no-no-no, he is not my husband, he’s…” Before Fluttershy could finish her speech, she found herself in a wedding dress.
“You know, it does look good on you.” Discord’s already creepy face hit a new record in creepiness with the grin her currently displayed.
“He’s… just a good friend of mine.” Fluttershy’s cheeks bloomed red as she desperately tried to hold her train of thought on tracks. “Y-you see, he...he…”
“A glass of water, perhaps?” Even now, Lotsa’s face stayed as bored and lifeless as before.
“No, thank you. I’m… I’m okay.” She took a deep breath and nudged Discord, who discontentedly dispelled the wedding dress. Thankfully, Lotsa didn’t seem to notice his antics or didn’t care to. Likely the latter. Fluttershy wondered which sort of torment this poor soul had gone through. “You see, I’m taking care of three foals this pony is a father of…”
“Does this pony have a name?” Lotsa blinked, so slowly that Fluttershy started to feel sleepy.
“This pony’s name is Swag Master, nice to meet you!” Discord bowed as gracefully as he could in this alien body. Fluttershy should have picked a name for him in advance. This was just embarrassing.
“Uh-huh… Swag Master…” Lotsa immediately scribbled it down.
“Yes… But at school they told me I need his power of attorney in order for them to be enlisted. You see, he has a lot of work and can’t look after them properly, so I do it in his stead.”
“If you need his permission, you could ask him to write it and verify it at the notary. I’m not necessary for that.” Lotsa turned to the door, about to shout for the next person to come in.
“However, there’s a bit of a problem… His children don’t have birth certificates…” Fluttershy’s heart bled when she saw a dash of great disappointment on Lotsa’s face.
“Uuugh!” she growled neutrally. “Let me guess: Appleloosa?”
“Uh… y-yes?” Lotsa sighed neutrally at Fluttershy’s reply.
“They might as well declare independency with their lack of officials. Very well then. We’ll make the birth certificates right now.” She dived underneath the table, before jumping out with a scroll. “I’ll need you to answer every question in this list. Every information you put here will be recorded, so don’t make any mistakes.”
“Huh, this doesn’t look too bad.” Discord rubbed his chin in joy. His expression, however, changed immediately when Lotsa unrolled the scroll. It was at least a few meters long, with every question written in incredibly tiny letters, in order to fit them all onto as small space as possible. Twilight would love to meet the maker of such a list.
“Are you serious?!” Discord exclaimed, his muzzle turning into an expression of sheer horror. “We have to fill in all that?!”
“Do you have three foals?” Fluttershy noddded silently at the question, and Lotsa pulled two more scrolls out of the desk. “One for each foal.”
In a fraction of a second, Discord’s face changed colour six times, and then he started weeping. With a heavy sigh, Fluttershy asked for a pen. They were in for a long stay. Hopefully, the foals were having better time at school than she did here.
“And as of that point, Equestria, freed from the tyrannical rule of currently reformed Discord, began its journey to its current state.” Cheerilee closed the book and put it down on the table, sighing contentedly. “Wow… what a journey that was.”
Indeed, Discord’s rule was the most difficult part of Equestrian history. Probably due to the fact that Discord changed the land’s name, his own title and landscape every second he got bored and forced the historians to write it all down. But at least it entertained the pupils. It wasn’t every day they got to call Equestria “Dotonamapia”.
Nightmare Moon carefully put a dot at the end of the sentence and put down her pen. She couldn’t help but facehoof at the many names Discord came up with. Some truly creative, some not so, and others just plain dumb.
Suddenly, she felt a slight bump to the head and a small ball of crumbled paper fell down on the floor. Intrigued, she levitated and unrolled it, only to see ‘ur a butt’, letters twisted and jumping. Speaking of dumb, Chrysalis seemed to lust for attention once more.
The class was getting louder, the pupils began to discuss their plans for today and for the upcoming weekend. Loudest of all were the four Cutie Mark Crusaders, unsurprisingly.
“The bell hasn’t rung yet, what’s all the commotion about?!” Cheerilee exclaimed loudly, calming everyone down. “Before the lesson ends, I have a special announcement to make. There will be a class trip to Canterlot, due to a celebration of its foundation. So please, inform your parents about this, I’m still dealing with foalnapping lawsuits from last year.”
A loud burst of shouts and excited screams filled the classroom and Cheerilee sighed heavily. “Sometimes, I feel like the only teacher in this school.” She whispered to herself.
Nightmare Moon sighed in unison with her. Poor Cheerilee. What a brave mare she was. When under everypony’s gaze, she looked strong and wilful, and only when others were busy did she allow herself moments of weakness and respite. Moonie just wanted to approach her and give her a big, big hug.
“Love letters, I see.” Moonie didn’t notice Tiara’s approach, who was already standing by her side and reading the contents of Chrysalis’ message. “So who is this secret fan of your… ehem… posterior?” Moonie slightly nodded towards the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
“Figures. I always knew they were a bit… odd.” Silver Spoon grinned, looking from behind Tiara. “I guess you can add that to the list.”
“Cheerilee said something about a trip to Canterlot…” Moonie murmured, and both Tiara and Silver Spoon suddenly got excited.
“Indeed she did! This is going to be terrific! I had my mind set on this one particular dress, but it’s only sold in Canterlot. Finally, I’ll have a chance to get it!”
“But Tiara, I thought we were going to pick earrings for me!” Silver Spoon interjected into Tiara’s monologue.
“Yeah-yeah, that too. I’m just recalling things from the top of my head - there were a lot of things we wanted to do, after all.”
“Will we visit the palace?” Moon interrupted her, drawing their surprised eyes to her.
“Royal Palace? Why’d you need to go there?” Tiara tilted her head.
“I… uh, desired to see the princesses. Even for a little while.” Tiara and Spoon exchanged confused looks.
“Well, we have a princess of our own, right here in Ponyville.” Silver Spoon pulled her glasses down a bit, looking at Moonie as if she was a complete doofus. “Don’t tell me you haven’t met her.”
“Of course I have, but… I would really like to see… the princesses.”
“Then I guess you have your chance. Princesses never miss out on a good lecture opportunity.” Diamond Tiara finished Spoon’s thoughts for her. “But in all honesty, you should be more concerned with visiting a beauty shop. Don’t get me wrong, perhaps you enjoy this mysterious creeper look you’ve got going, but I believe you can do much better.”
A few moments of calm silence passed, before Tiara looked back at the crumbled the butt letter.
“You call Snake Smile your friend, and yet there’s quite a lot of bad blood between you. Like… a bad bloodbath, even.”
“It is… complicated.” And that is to say the least, Moonie thought to herself. “Our personalities do not match.”
“Figures. Some get the brains, others get the muscle.” Diamond Tiara hummed, as her head slowly turned in a different direction. “And others get the looks.”
Sombra, who was too busy to notice the stares directed at him, carefully watched a small bug crawl on the wall. This spectacle had engulfed him since the start of the lesson, so his copy-book was pure white, not even a hint of ink.
“Ugh, I told him so many times to focus! Why does he never listen?” Moonie groaned. “I’m trying my best to help him, Tiara, but sometimes my words just fall on deaf ears!”
“Then perhaps you need some help?” Silver Spoon suggested, rubbing her hooves. “Been so long since I’ve done any tutoring. I’m actually quite good at tutoring, you know! Tiara’s the witness. Right Tiara?”
“Pretty much true. Excuse me, I forgot, what was your favourite way of tutoring?... Ah, yes, cold blooded torture.” Tiara giggled, receiving a poke to the side from Silver. “Don’t hesitate to ask for help — another scratch on Silver’s count! Muahahaha!”
Meanwhile, their cheerful banter was carefully observed and analysed from the back rows by Chrysalis. If one could call coming up with variations of the insults involving ‘dumb’ analysing.
“I don’t think calling her names will make her see Diamond Tiara for what she truly is.” Sweetie Belle once again repeated herself, commenting Chrysalis’ fondness of sending insults via Crumbled Paper Aero.
“Yeeeeah… you’re right.” Chrysalis groaned out a reply, but immediately added in a whisper. “Feels good though.”
“Perhaps if we gather evidence and show it to her! We’re not the only ones she bullied.” Scootaloo offered a rather ingenious idea. “We could ask our classmates to confirm our words.”
“You don’t know Moon. She’d even dismiss plain truths if agreeing meant that I’m in the right. Long story, but… we’re not really getting along.”
“Gee, Ah wonder why.” Applebloom looked with a shade of scorn as Chrysalis swept away over thirty sheets of paper containing either ‘buthed’ or ‘dummi’ in various forms.
“Pfft, I’m going easy on her. She should be thankful. My skills in verbal beatdowns are unmatched,” Chyssie boasted.
“Well, yer ain’t gonna beat ‘er down into liking you, Ah’m sure. We need an actual plan if we want a demigod on our side.” Applebloom barely finished her speech when Sweetie grabbed her muzzle, trying to cover her mouth.
“Shush, you! Not so loud. Somepony might hear us,” she hissed angrily.
“Oh my, it still feels like a dream. Chrysalis, Sombra and Nightmare Moon learning math in the same class as us! Pinch me, please, this is too cool to be true.” Scootaloo whispered, her wings shivering with excitement. “And when we’re all Cutie Mark Crusaders… We’ll be a Cutie Mark Order! The Cutie Mark Inquisition!”
“Sounds stupid. I’m loving it.” Chrysalis said quickly, writing something down. Once she was done, she raised her hoof. “I got it. I have a plan.” The crusaders quickly huddled up in a bunch and perked up their ears. Chrysalis pointed her pen at Sombra.
“See that foal? He’s our only chance. If Moon ever concurs that I am right, it’ll be him who’ll convince her. We must have him!” Chrysalis concluded her thought with a firm stomp on the table. “He must join our side, or the war is lost.”
“We’re at war now? Gosh.” Applebloom sighed. “But Ah guess yer right. We must make him our friend.”
“He’s cute.” Sweetie Belle’s cheeks turned bright-red as the three other fillies stared at her with eyes wide open. “W-what? I’m j-just saying… Not implying anything.”
“Ladies, let’s keep our priorities straight. We need him as a friend, not a coltfriend!” Chrysalis hissed angrily.
“Now that yer mentioned it…” Applebloom tapped her chin while setting her sights at Sombra with a sly smile, which immediately earned her an indignant gaze from Chrysalis.
“Here Ah thought our night together meant something!” Apple Bloom's eyes sparkled with hellfire, much to Chrysalis' delight. Bloom turned to her, shaking with rage, but fought back the violent, ultragory desires.
"Let's just pretend ya never said anythin' and Ah heard nothin." She said, barely holding back her screamy voice.
“You can sort all your behind-the-door, closet relationships later. Let’s get back to business already.” Scootaloo exclaimed, pulling Chrysalis, who was still reeling from the punch, up from the floor. “What’s our plan?”
“Simple. You go to him, enable your mare charm and convince him that Tiara is a bag of dookie.” Chrysalis replied, with a confidence befitting of a mare in complete safety.
“We? Are you not going to do anything?” Sweetie Belle raised an eyebrow. “He is your friend, after all.”
“Well, you see…” Chrysalis turned silent, remembering every instance she tried to convince Sombra to join CMC. At the dinner, after the dinner, in the free time, during homework, late at night, early in the morning, in the shower… Her efforts only served to make him avoid any topics regarding this entire debacle like the plague. “Turned out, I wasn’t a good pony for the job.”
“Very well, then. Cutie Mark Crusaders coercers. We’re back in action!” With a smile, Scootaloo prepared to blast right off. “Come on, let’s build some bridges!”
Just when they were about to head over to his table, Sombra left a classroom, probably in pursuit of a pretty butterfly, or the smell of fresh salad emanating from somepony’s lunchbox. Guessing the time was right for a little jog, the trio headed out.
“Bloom… can I ask you a thing?” Sweetie Belle said suddenly in a loud whisper.
“Fire away.” After a few deep breaths and some not-so-fresh air in the hallway, Bloom calmed down after her outburst.
“That… thing Chrysalis was talking about. I mean… uhhh… did you really…” Sweetie’s cheeks turned red as she struck her front hooves together, making the unfortunate implications. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course…”
“Long. Story.” Bloom replied, again frustrated and angry. “Ah’ll tell you sometime later.”
“Oh… okay. I mean, you did mention making a special friend… but… if it’s THAT special…”
“That’s not what ah meant! Ugh, can’t believe Scootaloo is not the one making things more awkward!” Apple Bloom stared angrily at Sweetie. Scootaloo smiled smugly.
“I’m biding my time,” she whispered just to herself. “And when the moment is perfect, I shall strike!”
“Any of y’all got any idea how to approach Sombra? Chryss completely forgot to mention his likes and dislikes.” Apple Bloom tried to veer away from the awkward subject and get back to the point.
“Chill, alright? Just go with the flow. We approach, we make some small talk, non-invasive, non-threatening. He’ll recognize us as friendly. Then we go in for the kill! Pow-pow and we’ve got a new member.” Scootaloo looked pretty energized about the whole endeavour. “I cannot wait to see the look in Tiara’s eyes — pure, utter defeat!”
“Sounds fine to me. Let’s get this show on the road!” Apple Bloom exclaimed. Soon, they were outside, looking for any traces of the foal. They spotted him casually lying on a bench, while watching ants carry somepony’s lunch leftovers.
“Hey!” Scootaloo said, interrupting Sombra’s trance. “I believe we’ve already met, not a long time ago.”
“Y-yes…” Sombra nodded unsurely. “I think so…”
“You probably got quite a bad first impression that time, I bet? Y’know, with arguing, shouting, bad puns, tearing your family-friendship-thing apart… And for that, we’re deeply sorry. Right, girls?” Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle joined Scootaloo.
“That we are. And don’t worry about yer identity. Chryss told us everything. You can trust us.” Apple Bloom reassured, and Sombra’s face brightened up.
“Really? Oh, that’s great. I mean, I like my other name, but my real name is my favourite.” Sombra got off the bench and on his hooves. “Chrysalis’s been telling me a lot about you. That you have your own guild!”
“Ehm… Actually, it’s not a guild… more of a club really.” Bloom rubbed the back of her head, but her thoughts were derailed by Scoots’ shout of excitement.
“You are a genius!” She dashed in and leaned on Sombra, wrapping her wing around him. “We’ve been talking for a couple’a seconds, and you’re already producing gold! You will be the best foal friend ever!”
She then looked at her friends and proudly announced. “From this day onward, we shall be known as The Guild of Cutie Mark Crusades! And our clubhouse will be the guildhouse! This is a glorious day, all thanks to our newly acquired member.”
“Come to think of it… that does sound more awesome.” Apple Bloom nodded in agreement.
“Uh… eh… you’re welcome.” Sombra murmured, as his cheeks turned bright red. “But… I am not sure about being a member…”
“What about it?” Scootaloo turned to him, still keeping her wing wrapped around his torso.
“Well, my other friend, Night… Nightmare Moon wants me join her guild too. She says it’s going to help me a lot in my studying… But Chrysalis says that she’s wrong, and they fight a lot about it.”
Cutie Mark Crusaders looked at each other and mentally steeled themselves. This was the moment. The kill.
“I guess Moon’s ‘guild’ is Diamond Tiara and her friend Silver Spoon? Oh, we’ve got a lot to tell you about those two. We know them firsthoof, and believe me, they are…” Sweetie Belle began, but a cold voice from behind interrupted her.
“They are who?” Diamond Tiara, as unexpected and undesirable as a sudden urge to visit a privy, cut in with a cold and menacing voice. “Don’t you think discussing anypony behind their back is rude?”
All three Cutie Mark Crusaders looked at Tiara and noticed Nightmare Moon and Silver Spoon hurrying to her aid. Likewise, Chrysalis was trotting to their side. Apple Bloom let out a sigh of despair, her mind tracing back to the day they first tried to forge the bridge with Sombra.
“Here we go again.”
“See, Discord? It wasn’t that bad. At least now it’s all over and we can go home.”
“Never in my life have I been this bored. I’m currently torn between this and being a statue… No, no, this was more boring.” Discord floated beside her, the bag with the papers hanging on his tail. “That pony must hate her life with a passion if she works in a place like this.”
“Somepony has to do it. She is pretty brave for choosing this.” Fluttershy took a deep breath, hoping the fresh air would cleanse her lungs of the dust accumulated throughout their long stay in the office. The time was just about right to meet her foals from school. “Could you go home without me? I’ll get to your reward as soon as I’m back, I promise.”
“Yes, yes, you get all the fun stuff while I get some more tête-a-tête with Angel. How unfair, really! I ran out of places to clean. Do you really want me to do windows?” Discord swung his tail and tossed the bag over his head and caught it with his claw. “I guess I’ll just reminisce about my reformation days with Angel. Y’know, spinning your house around and stuff. See ya later!”
He poofed away, only the sound of his laughter gracing Fluttershy’s ears. Trying to suppress the thoughts of the possibility of having to pick up beds from the ceiling again, she turned away from the withering smoke and followed the familiar path.
The trees and ponies seemed to blend into a single blurry mess as her mind turned on the autopilot that guided her to the destination while Fluttershy was deep in thought. Unfortunately, her autopilot seemed to be a young Rainbow Dash, as it usually led to her crashing into any unexpected obstacle.
“Ouch!” Shy reeled back on impact, her mind desperately trying to process what just happened, in a manner of an absent-minded construction pony who went out for sandwich without realising he was driving a construction crane into a house. In this case, the house was Zecora, loaded with tons and tons of bags.
“Oh! Z-Zecora! I’m so-so-so very sorry!” Fluttershy felt her soul shrivel as she saw oranges, apples and some fruits of unidentifiable nature roll on the ground. The zebra, however, did not look upset in the slightest.
“Oh, a dear friend of mine! I haven’t seen you in a while.” She displayed a friendly smile, while pushing the escapee fruits back into the bag. “How have you been? Are you feeling fine? I wonder: what forced our paths to intertwine?”
“Oh… I was just going to pick up my…” Fluttershy almost uttered the words, but they quickly crawled back into her. How could she forget that not everypony yet was aware of her foals’ existence? She didn’t know if Twilight would approve of her taking this secret outside of the inner circle, so she decided to play it safe. “My books! Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately.”
“A commendable feat, I applaud. However, the library is on a different road.” Zecora’s smile changed slightly, and a sinister light sparkled in her eyes. Did she see through Shy’s lies? Fluttershy felt a shiver run down her spine.
“Umm… yeah! True… But I needed some specific books, not found in the library. So… I was going to fetch them!” Fluttershy tried to finish up with a smile, but it looked crooked and forced. To her relief, the sinister fire faded away as quickly as it appeared, meaning the danger had passed.
“I see. For these books you must have looked worldwide, if they were so rare that even Twilight could not provide.” Zecora glanced around herself, eyeing each fruit as though it was her sworn enemy. “Alone it is hard for me to pick up all this load. If you’d be so kind, help me take it to my humble abode.”
“O-of course! No problem at all!” Fluttershy was glad to make up for the trouble she’d caused and together they began collecting the scattered fruits. Lacking any magical tools to pick them up with, it took a while.
“So, how are you doing? Anything new in the Everfree?” Fluttershy asked, after half of the fruits were back where they belonged. Zecora shook her head.
“When you live in the Evefree, just like I do, you will eventually forget there can be something new.” She said with an unusually saddened expression. “As much danger as the forest has, that makes some ponies pale, if you know how to trespass, life becomes rather stale.”
“Oh… I understand…” Fluttershy always felt that she and Zecora were somewhat similar in terms of socializing — not big fans. But Fluttershy never felt alone, because she always had company of her animals. Zecora, however, only had a company of creepy masks and bubbling brews. “Maybe you’d like to come over to my place, some time? I’d make some tea, buy some pastry and we could have a bit of fun… if you’d want that… you can come over to anypony, really, they’ll welcome you at any time.”
“Ha-ha, I appreciate your concern, only good is on your mind. Friends like you are one of a kind.” Zecora laughed, and when all of the bags were refilled, she, with Fluttershy’s help, put them all on her back. “But I’m afraid I will have to decline; I have some work I must complete in due time.”
“Then… maybe you’ll let me help carry the bags?” Fluttershy muttered, but Zecora shook her head as she trotted away.
“I am indebted to you as it is, friend of mine,” she said, as the distance between them grew more and more. “I will see you some other time.”
Zecora faded into the distance, leaving Fluttershy with a smudged mood and a sense of guilt. This seemed unfair. She must be feeling so lonely, living so deep in the forest, yet they rarely visit her that often, if at all.
As Flutters continued on her way to the school, she pondered about other daily grievances Zecora had to put up with. Having to travel a respectable amount of distance just to visit shops, nopony who’d help with housework — it was worthy of a Twilight-sized checklist.
To try to take her mind away from such thoughts, she pondered about what kind of stories her darlings had accumulated for her. Surely, they would be joyful and interesting.
Fluttershy had a weird relationship with silence. To specify, it was on and off. Sometimes she’d prefer the peace and quiet of her home, and sometimes she was terrified of long, awkward silences. This was the latter case.
Nightmare Moon and Chrysalis did not exchange a word throughout the entire trip and now were too busy with their plates to engage in any conversation. Sombra, while as quiet as both of them, wasn’t interested in his food and just stared at it, as if hoping to see some deeper meaning in it.
“Uh… So… How was school?” This was the most obvious question she could ask, and probably the worst.
“It was okay.” Chrysalis murmured. This was a bad sign. Whenever Chryssie didn’t explain in great detail why having her stay still for even a short period of time was the worst idea ever meant something was horribly off. Moonie nodded silently, confirming Fluttershy’s suspicions.
“And how was your day, Sombra?” She sought for good news anywhere she could, but clearly there were none to be found within him. He looked at her with a slight shade of sadness in his eyes and shook his head. “Oh… Not good, then…”
“Nonsense. Everything went smoothly. Sombra was just, uhm, over-impressed by Chrysalis’ antics, is all.” Nightmare Moon smirked, carefully tasting every bite of her hayburger. Chryssie was mid-bite, her eyes immediately focusing on Nightmare Moon.
“Ha...Ha-ha-ha.” She laughed slowly, enunciating every ‘ha’ like it was its own sentence. “Yes, I admit, I am often up for some hijinks. But at least I’m not making friends with bullies.”
“They are not bullies!” Upon seeing a small shred of anger on Nightmare Moon, Chrysalis knew she pushed the right button. “It’s called elitism! It is well deserved.”
“Is that another word for an uptight jerk?” Chryssie dropped that line casually, but it seemed to have exploded like a bomb. Even behind Moonie’s stoicism, she could hear her battered pride screaming in agony.
“Uh… girls… you shouldn’t…”
“To hear something like that from, ehem, a jerk! Hypocrisy at its finest! Thou art the foulest individual I ever had the displeasure to meet!” Nightmare Moon was boiling with anger. It wasn’t visible, but one could feel it in the air. Sombra slowly crawled under the table, hoping to avoid the storm.
“Oh yeah? And whatcha gonna do about?” Instead of feeling suppressed by the aura of anger, Chrysalis felt bolder than ever. She jumped onto the table, breaking every rule of etiquette and slowly walked towards Nightmare Moon.
“I… I shall strike thee with a spell!” Nightmare Moon put her forelegs on the table and stared right into Chrysalis’ soul with fiery intent to scare her. “Do not provoke me! I am serious!”
“Girls! Y-y-you have to stop this! N-n-now…” Fluttershy tried to give her voice a little bit of an oomph, but all that came out was a barely audible whisper. Her confidence was leaking like soup out of a cracked cauldron.
“Ooh, frightening. Did your bully-friends teach you that? Don’t waste your breath! Empty threats won’t work on me!” Chrysalis smiled smugly, but then immediately jumped back as a puny cloud of sparks crackled in the air and disappeared just as suddenly as it appeared. Rather shocked, Chryssie looked at Moon, whose horn was alight, crackling with the same colours as the cloud of sparks, which had already dissipated.
“No threat I make is empty.” Nightmare Moon said, frowning.
“Oh… Well… In that case…” Chrysalis bared her teeth, but never got to finish her retort.
“Enough!” Fluttershy suddenly slammed the table so hard the dishes and cups almost flew off into different direction. The room had suddenly gone silent. “I will not allow any more fights in my house! From now on, no mild cussing, no pranks, no sarcastic overtones and… whatever Chrysalis does! You’re both grounded! Now go to your rooms...room.”
It sounded more coherent and firm in her head, but little slip ups were expected. Besides, it worked perfectly. Both fillies stopped bickering and stared in terror at her, silent and motionless. Suddenly, Fluttershy was overwhelmed by guilt.
“Uh… you… you probably don’t know what grounded means… ehm… Just… be good next time, alright?” She put up a weak smile, and the two replied with slow nods. Then they carefully backed away to their seats. For a moment, they were sitting completely still, and immediately when Fluttershy opened her mouth they ran away, upstairs, right where she told them to go.
“Oh my… I think Iron Will’s influence is still showing… Ehem… “ She cleared her throat turning to where Sombra was supposed to be, and found him peaking from under the table.
“Is it safe? Can I come out?”
“Yes… yes, you can.” Fluttershy sighed heavily and slumped down on her chair. “Do they… do this often? Fight, I mean…”
“Yes…” Sombra suddenly blushed.
“And how often?”
“When they don’t see each other, they don’t fight.” Fluttershy sighed at that reply. And the day started so well. What else could go wrong?
“Mom… Is Canterlot far away from here?” Sombra’s question broke her concentration.
“Mhm… Well, a couple of hours by train… Wait, why are you asking?”
“Miss Cheerilee said that there will be a class trip to Canterlot, and told us to tell our parents so she didn’t get accused of foalnapping anypony like last year.“ He turned silent, checking if his phrasing was correct, and then nodded approvingly to himself. “Yes, that’s what she said.”
“A.. class trip to… Canterlot?” She felt a chill run down her spine. No, she could not let them go there, not in a million years. Letting them that close near the princesses was like approving your own execution, and besides Twilight wouldn’t let her do that anyway. “Oh, I see. Could you tell Miss Cheerilee that you, Moonie and Chryssie can’t go?”
“But why?” He tilted his head. “I want to go.”
“I understand, honey, but… let’s just say, it is very important for you all to keep yourself hidden and in Canterlot… that’d be difficult to do.” She finished her speech, and Sombra lowered his head in disappointment. “Don’t be so sad. You’ll get to go there… eventually.”
“It’s okay… I’ll tell Cheerilee, then.”
“Thank you, sweetie.” She gave him a rub behind the ear. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to go talk to our troublemakers.”
“Okay…” He nodded once again, and Fluttershy left the table and went upstairs. Sombra looked at his now-cold food and wondered how would Canterlot look like. Maybe it was big, with buildings reaching the sky? Or maybe it looked like Ponyville? Or maybe it was like Crystal City? He shuddered at the thought of ever going back to Crystal Empire and brushed it off. However, while he was brushing off thoughts, somepony gave his hayburger eyes.
“That was some legit scary stuff, I tell ya.” The burger said, as if an unseen force was moving the two pieces of bread like a mouth. “But at least she didn’t give them the Stare. Believe me: you don’t want to see the Stare!”
“Uh… Uhm….” Sombra looked around in confusion, in desperate search of answers. He hoped this was somepony’s prank, as he didn’t want to admit he was eating living burgers all this time. “T-this isn’t funny! Come out!”
“Bleh, you really do take after Fluttershy.” The burger turned lifeless and Discord poofed into the room right on the opposite side of the table. “Unfortunate implications make you as dull as rocks.”
“Oh… hello… Mr. Discord. Nice to see you.” Sombra tried to smile, but the draconequus’ weird appearance still unnerved him. “How… are you doing?”
“I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. But our mommy dearest doesn’t seem to be doing as well as we do. I mean, the shouting and the angry voices - not her thing. Your filly friends are really acting out.” Discord paused for a moment then picked up Sombra’s burger and threw it upwards, letting it fall right into his mouth. “While I find their behaviour extremely inappropriate, it is no reason to take away a trip to Canterlot from you.”
“Do you think she doesn’t want us to go because of Moonie and Chryssie?”
“Of course! Have you seen what they’ve been doing? They’re at each other’s throats! And you’re the one suffering, in the centre.” Discord smiled when hints of doubt appeared on Sombra’s muzzle. “And that is unfair, don’t you think?”
“It is! But… I don’t know what to do… or what to say.” He averted looking into Discord’s eyes, mainly because he was too deep in his own doubts. “And it’s now because of me that we can’t go to Canterlot… because I can’t make them friends again…”
“Well… partially. But! But I can do something about it.” Discord smiled even wider and floated to Sombra’s side. “Let’s make a deal: I get you your trip to Canterlot…and you keep your filly friends from tearing each other to shreds. At least for the time of the trip.”
“B-b-but mommy said we can’t…”
“Tshhh.” Discord placed his clawfinger on Sombra’s lips. “I’ll convince her because it’s for the greater good. You want to do good, right?” The foal nodded in reply.
“Beautiful. Now go do something fun. Let me handle the Canterlot business. And remember: we had a deal. Show them who’s boss!” Sombra nodded once more, slipped out of his chair and headed outside, most likely to feed animals. For some reason, he found it fun.
“You’ll thank me later for this, Shy.” Discord snapped his fingers, and green flames covered him, concealing his transformation. Once it was complete, he looked exactly like Fluttershy — only his eyes remained the same color. “I hope.”
Fluttershy was upstairs, desperately trying her best to rebuild bridges between the two fillies. Obviously, it would not succeed - with the path she had chosen, she came to a screeching halt. Discord pulled a small mirror out of thin air and looked at his reflection, looking for any possible slip-up he might have done with the morphing. No, the only remaining part of him were the eyes. But instead of a problem, Discord saw it as an opportunity. In a second, a pair of sunglasses descended from the heavens itself and landed right on his face.
“Best Fluttershy ever. Deal with it.” He smiled at himself. While Flutters was busy upstairs, he had time to practice his impression of her. But even a brief practice would be enough to fool Cheerilee. She wasn’t the brightest of ponies in the town. Considering she bought those dumb nicknames.