• Published 27th Sep 2013
  • 14,443 Views, 753 Comments

Chaotic Neutral - C-Puff

When magic starts failing, chaos threatens to consume Equestria. Good thing the ponies have Discord on their side to help fix things.

  • ...


Chapter 4

The train pushed forward through the rolling hills, tamed forests and stretches of open pasture of the Equestrian landscape. With the rather bizarre choice by the train's original engineers of using steam power rather than magic, it was unaffected by the epidemic and ran on schedule, as always. Twilight and her group of friends had a car to themselves as they made the trip towards Canterlot.

“I always found these hulking machines to be rather crude, but thank heavens somepony out there was more open-minded than I am.” Rarity said from her seat. “I have no idea how we would have gotten to Canterlot without it.”

“We would've figured somethin' out,” Applejack said, her eyes glued to the passing landscape outside the window, “Just 'cause you don't got any magic doesn't mean ya can't do nothin'.”

“Well yes. I never meant to insinuate...” Rarity blushed at her friend.

“It's alright, Sugarcube.” Applejack gave her a smile. “I know what ya meant.”

“I really hope the Princess is ok.” Twilight mumbled, mostly to herself.

“Why shouldn't she be?” Rainbow Dash looked up from her book to frown at her.

“I don't know,” Twilight shook her head. “I was just thinking; if Ponyville is going crazy without magic how do you think a big city like Canterlot is handling the situation?”

“Yeah, but Canterlot has royal guards and stuff.” Rainbow grinned. “Now way they'd take any flack from ponies trying to make trouble! You'll see. I bet the Princess has things perfectly in control.”

Twilight smiled, “Yeah, you're probably right.”

“I hope they're not being too hard on everypony.” Fluttershy said with concern. “I mean, yes it's important to stay calm, but they're probably scared and confused. It's not like they're trying to be mean on purpose.”

“I'm sure they're fine.” Rainbow scoffed.

“What I don't get is what the Princess thinks the Elements of Harmony will be able to do in this situation.” Twilight sighed. “I've re-read all the books I could find on them and none of 'em say anything about strengthening or healing magic. They just talk about Celestia and Luna using the elements to build Equestria and stuff.”

“She probably found out there's a bad-guy doing all of this and wants us to go blast him!” Pinkie Pie said. “Or maybe there's some super special spell she needs us to do to fix it! Like how we made Twilight an alicorn!”

“That was more the Princess' doing than anything else.” Twilight said absently, still thinking it over.

“She might be right though.” Applejack said. “I'm guessin' there's some kinda trick she wants us to do to fix this whole mess.”

“Maybe.” Twilight said.

“I hope it won't take long,” Fluttershy said. “I don't like leaving my animals alone for too long. They get a bit rowdy if you don't give them some rules and structure.”

“You mean you don't want to leave them alone with Discord for too long.” Rainbow Dash interrupted. “Can't say I blame you.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “No, that's not it. I have perfect confidence in him behaving himself while I'm gone.”

“Yeah well, hope springs eternal I guess.” Applejack sighed.

“I find her faith in me quite becoming.” Discord's head popped itself out of Fluttershy's saddlebag, completely ignoring physics saying he was too big to fit in it.

Shrieks of surprise came from each pony in the car, Fluttershy tumbling off her seat to the floor.

“Discord!” Twilight yelled, half in surprise and half in anger. “What in Equestria are you doing here?!”

“I thought I'd tag along, see how the old place is doing without me,” He said as he pulled free of the bag before dusting himself off, “And our dear sovereigns as well of course.”

“How the heck did you fit in there?!” Rainbow snapped, inspecting the saddlebag. “Did your magic conveniently decide to work or something?”

“If only.” He sighed dramatically as he sat himself on Flttershy's bench, crossing his legs and picking her up off the ground by the tail before setting her upside down beside him. “It took me almost two hours last night to get the damn spell to do what I wanted to. However, I just knew I couldn't resist the look of joy on your faces when you found me coming along.”

The group scowled at him.

“What about my animals?” Fluttershy said as she rolled herself the right-way-up again. “You didn't just leave them did you?”

“As big as the temptation was to set them free to stampede the town, I asked Rainbow Dash to look after them in exchange for some rubies.”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash pulled a face at him. “Ok look, I know it's your job and all but you're making less sense than usual. I'm right here! And you sure as heck didn't give me anything!”

He waved a paw at her. “Not you. The other Rainbow Dash. Small guy? Purple Scales? Breathes fire but never actually uses it for anything fun?”

“You mean Spike?” Twilight blinked.

“Yes, that's the one.” He nodded. “The new Rainbow Dash as you call him.”

“Twilight, what is he talking about?” Rainbow Grumbled.

Twilight gave a sheepish laugh. “I'll er... explain later.”

“The point is, your menagerie is taken care of, my dear.” Discord said, addressing Fluttershy.

She smiled back, satisfied. “Oh good.”

“We can't turn around and send him home can we?” Applejack said, getting up from her seat.

“We're already halfway there.” Twilight said. “Besides, the princess is expecting us as quickly as possible. I guess he'll.... just have to come along.”

“Splendid!” Discord gave a small applause. “I do admit, I did not look forward to being lynched by the townsponies while you six were gone.”

“I guess that's a good point too.” Rarity sighed. “He can't really do much damage without any magic, and it's probably better he's with us where we can keep an eye on him.” She gave him a look as if he was a grease stain on her favourite dress. “I am sure as long as we are all civilised it won't be a complete disaster.”

“Oh well of course, fair Rarity.” He said with mock charm. “There's no better place for Sophistication and Civilised living than Canterlot, after all.”

“Ooh! We should ask Discord if he knows why the Princess wants to see us!” Pinkie said suddenly, bouncing on her seat. “Do ya? Why's the Princess asking us to see us, huh? Can the Elements of Harmony really fix all of this and make Twilight and Rarity better?”

“I haven't the slightest idea.” He answered. “Apart from the Glowing Rainbow of Death I know very little about those accursed things.”

“And you're tellin' the truth right?” Applejack eyed him.

“He probably is,” Twilight answered for him. “From what I've read, Celestia and Luna found the Elements of Harmony while Discord was ruling the country and then immediately used them to turn him to stone. Not much chance of him learning anything after that.”

“What about before?” Pinkie said, turning to grin at him. “Did you know anything about the Elements before Celestia blasted you with them?”

“I really wish you wouldn't use the word 'blast'.” He pulled a face at her before thinking it over. “I'm not sure. I think there's something about them from a long time ago, but it could be about something else.” He shrugged, sitting back and crossing his arms behind his head. “Probably wasn't that important if I can't remember.”

“Well you're a lot of help.” Rainbow snorted.

“Maybe if you give it some time you'll remember later.” Fluttershy said with a soft smile.

“Doubt it.” Rainbow mumbled as she and Discord glared at each other across the car.

“I hope the city is operating normally enough for us to get some shopping done while we're there.” Rarity changed the topic with a sigh. “Do you remember you promised to show me that quaint coffee house the next time we visited?”

“Yeah I remember.” Twilight nodded. “I don't know if they'll be open during all of this, but if we have time we can check.”

“I wonder if the Wonderbolts are gonna cancel their upcoming show.” Rainbow pulled a face to herself. “I hope not! It'd be kinda dumb right? It's not like they use magic or anything. And ponies could use the distraction!”

“Don't they have unicorns running the safety crew and stuff?” Applejack said. She'd heard enough Wonderbolt rambling to know more about their shows than any earth pony farmer ever should.

“Most of the crew are pegasi.” Rainbow said. “They used to only do shows in Cloudsdale and they kinda just took their crew with them when they started touring other cities. I don't know about the ponies running the venues they use though.”

The topic drifted to various other things the group wanted to see and do while in the Capital. After a while it turned to wondering where they were going to spend the night and if they were gonna get their own wing in the palace again. Eventually the conversation petered out completely and each pony focused on passing the time in their own way. Either by reading, watching the scenery go by or trying to catch a small nap.

Discord was fidgeting in his seat. He was trying his hardest to get his mind focused on something to pass the time but it wasn't working. All he could think about was what kind of reaction he'd get from the ponies on the train if he turned all the cars into different kinds of fruit, or maybe how long it would take before some of them noticed he'd switched their eye-colours. There were a thousand things he felt would be hilarious or get some priceless reactions that he was currently unable to do. He hadn't been lying about the saddlebag. He had spent a ridiculous amount of time, repeating the same spell over and over again to get reality warped enough where he could ride in a bag physically too small for him.

He could almost feel his powers seeping out of him. The confident, swirling sensation of having reality at his very claw-tips to do with whatever he wanted was weakening. Instead he could feel hesitation, frustration and a deep hollowness inside him. And the more he was aware of his power failing him, the more things he thought of that would be fun to do to the world at large.

His leg twitched listlessly as he stared out the window, bored out of his skull.

“Hey Discord!” Pinkie's voice cut through his thoughts like a buzz-saw. He pushed himself up a little straighter and gave a yawn in her direction.

“D'you know how to play Eye-Spy?” She gave him one of her widest grins.

“I believe I am familiar.” he said flatly, resting his chin in a paw.

“D'you wanna play?”

“Not really, no.” He rolled his eyes. “I'm all for games, but they do have to have at least some form of creativity to them.”

“What about charades?” She said, grin never wavering.

“Oh no. I'm no good at charades.” Rarity spoke up. Discord noticed that, despite Pinkie talking to him, the other ponies all seemed to have looked up to include themselves in the conversation.

“Hmmm.” Pinkie thought for a moment, rubbing her chin with a hoof before breaking into her grin again. “Oh I know! We should tell riddles!”

“D'you even know any riddles we haven't heard a thousand times?” Applejack asked although the question appeared to be an honest one and not a jibe at her friend.

“I know plenty of riddles!” She answered enthusiastically. “And no telling riddles we've heard before!”

“I'm game.” Discord said, lying himself down on the bed-like seat of the train, his forelegs crossed over each other as he gave Pinkie a grin in return.

“Great! I'll go first!” Pinkie somehow managed to get her smile even wider. She thought for a moment before reciting enthusiastically; “In a one-story pink house, there was a pink pony, a pink cat, a pink fish, a pink chair, a pink table, a pink bathtub, a pink shower– everything was pink!
What colour were the stairs?”

“Are you serious?” Rainbow grinned at her with a frown. “You just said everything was pink! So that's gotta go for the stairs too.”

“Nope!” Pinkie smiled at her happily. “It's a One-story house! There are no stairs!” She proceeded to burst into a fit of giggles over this, rolling onto her back as she clutched her stomach.

“Ok, I see how it goes.” Applejack smirked. “So, what can ya catch but not throw?”

It didn't take long for the small group to get wrapped up in the game and soon scores came into it as Rainbow Dash insisted on knowing who was winning. Each time a pony guessed a riddle correctly it was up to her to then tell the next one. So far Pinkie was in the lead with twilight not too far behind her. Discord sat silently in his spot, watching answers get thrown back and forth between the group and grinning to himself. As the game started getting into its final stretches, Twilight's turn came around again.

She thought for a moment, smiling to herself before she said; “What's black and white and red all over?”

“A blushing penguin!” Pinkie answered almost immediately.

“I don't think penguins can blush.” Fluttershy said softly.

“A sunburned skunk.” Applejack tried when Twilight shook her head.

“Nu uh.” She grinned, clearly proud of herself.

“It's a newspaper.” Discord suddenly spoke up.

There was a small pause as everypony turned to stare at him. It almost seemed as if they'd forgotten he was still there. After a while Twilight grumbled. “Right.”

“My turn then.” He grinned widely.

“It's gotta be something that actually makes sense and has an answer!” Rainbow quickly interrupted. “You can't just make up nonsense, ok?”

“Oh yes, of course.” He nodded. “What do you take me for?”

“Do you really want me to tell you?” Rainbow mumbled but a sharp glance from Applejack silenced her.

“So...” Discord cleared his throat before staring down the small group. “I am the beginning of sorrow, and the end of sickness. You cannot express happiness without me, yet I am in the midst of crosses. I am always in risk, yet never in danger. You may find me in the sun, but I am never out of darkness.”

There was a long, drawn out pause during which the other ponies exchanged glances. Discord shifted deeper into the seat, watching them with obvious enjoyment.

“I'm... not really sure I want to know what the answer is.” Mumbled Rarity.

“If you forfeit I get the point anyway,” Discord smiled toothily at her, “And I get to go again.”

“Is it a graveyard or something?” Rainbow Scrunched her muzzle. “Something creepy like that I'll bet.”

“Not even close.” He said, putting his nose in the air.

“Is it even a thing we'd know about?” Applejack asked suspiciously. “Ya ain't talkin' 'bout a storybook monster we've never heard of are ya?”

“I assure you, you are familiar with the answer.” Discord said, still sneering at the group as they struggled.

“Well I certainly have no idea.” Rarity said, as if she suddenly found the entire game silly. “I have no shame in admitting defeat.”

“Heck no!” Rainbow Dash snapped at her. “No way I'm just giving up!” She rubbed her temples with her forehooves but didn't seem to be able to come up with an answer.

As silence started to drag out in the car the whistle sounded off and the train started to slow down. One of the train attendant’s heads poked into the car.

“Canterlot Station ladies. Make sure you've got all your belongings.”

“Great, maybe now we can find out what's going on.” Twilight said, standing up immediately to get her saddlebags.

The others followed her lead, quickly scrambling to gather their bags before trotting in the direction of the exit. Discord slid his way past them, giving Twilight a side-ways glance as he passed her.

“Incidentally, the answer was 'the letter S'.”

He flapped his wings once to overtake her and stretch himself out once he was in the outside air again. Twilight pulled a face, mostly at failing to figure out such a misleadingly simple answer. She didn't give him the satisfaction of knowing he'd outwitted her though.

Canterlot Palace was a short walk from the train station. It'd been designed so that dignitaries didn't have far to go when visiting the Princesses. Unfortunately this meant the small group failed to see much of the city itself. Twilight in particular was anxious to see if the city was noticeably different to how she knew it. The road to the palace was mostly the more scenic route, avoiding the inner city. However from what she could see on the faces of passing ponies and the occasional royal guard, things seemed at least to still be functioning. She didn't miss the increased tension in the air though. There were a lot of worried faces.

Entering the land officially belonging to the palace and approaching the formidable doors leading to the entrance lobby, Discord broke away from the group.

“Do you mind if I do some nosing around while you handle all the formalities?” He sad as he began to leave, not bothering to wait for permission. “I want to make sure they're keeping my pedestal in good condition. See if good old Celestia has turned anypony else to stone to fill up the empty space.”

“You're not gonna go cause trouble right?” Twilight frowned at him.

He made a dismissive noise at her, waving a paw in her direction. “Perish the thought! I just want to do a little sightseeing. Same as anypony else!”

“Oh, let him go Twilight.” Fluttershy reassured her. “I'm sure he'll be well behaved. Won't you Discord?”

“If I could make a halo at this moment I would.” He smiled innocently, putting on what he thought of as his most trustworthy expression.

“Ugh. Fine.” Twilight groaned. "But don't expect us to come save you if you anger any of the guards.

“I wouldn't expect you to.” He said as he trotted off in the direction of the Palace's maze.

“Ya sure that's the best idea Sugarcube?” Applejack said as the palace doors slowly swung open to receive them.

“Of course.” Fluttershy nodded.

“Well.... ok then.” Applejack didn't sound so sure but the subject was dropped as they were met by one of the palace guards.

He led them through the cavernous hallways to the throne room, although why wasn't really clear. All six ponies had been to the palace multiple times and at the very last, knew where the throne room was. On top of that, Twilight knew the entire layout of the palace pretty much off by heart, having spent most of her childhood inside its walls.

'Maybe things really aren't as in control as it seemed.'She fretted silently as they walked. Then again, maybe the guy leading them was new and might not have known who they were. This, however, seemed unlikely. Swallowing her anxiety, Twilight Sparkle focused on getting to Celestia and finally having the answers she came here for.

The throne room looked the same as it had every time they'd been there before. Sunlight poured in through the high-arched windows, dotting the hall with a multitude of different colours.

Celestia, Princess of all Equestria, was seated regally on her throne, the way Twilight had seen her throughout her life. The mere symbolic image of the Princess eased her nerves slightly. She was currently talking to what Twilight recognised as one of the palace advisors who was trying to carry a rather large assortment of scrolls in his forelegs. Twilight's gaze drifted to his head for a second, confirming her suspicion that the stallion was a unicorn. He was flanked by princess Luna, who was listening intently, looking back and forth between the advisor and her sister. As the guard led Twilight and her friends closer though, something nagged her at the back of her mind that something seemed off. It was only when they got closer did she realise what it was.

“Your Highnesses, Princess Twilight Sparkle and her friends have arrived.” The guard who'd escorted them announced with a bow.

“Thank you, you may return to your post.” She answered as she turned to greet Twilight with a welcoming smile.

“I'll go over these again and speak to your Highnesses later this evening.” The advisor said as his gaze fell over the six ponies. He wrestled his scrolls together and awkwardly trotted out the room. Princess Luna watched him go, a soft frown of concern on her face.

“I am glad you and your friends could make it so soon my dear Twilight.” Princess Celestia stood from her throne, descending the small staircase to stand in front of them. “My apologies for the disobliging communications between us, lately. Things have been... difficult.”

“Not at all Princess.” Twilight said as she and her friends gave her a bow before doing away with the formalities. “How's Canterlot doing? Is everything ok over here? Are you and Princess Luna alright?”

“We are fine, for the time being.” Princess Luna said as she came to join Celestia. “Although We've been feeling this magic epidemic as much as everypony else. Obviously.”

Her gaze drifted to each pony individually, as if sizing them up. He sky-blue fringe had been brushed aside, her mane hanging around her shoulders loosely. Princess Celestia wasn't much different. Her normally flowing hair fell across one of her shoulders with a light curl. Its usual chrome of colours replace by a single shade of light pink. It felt... strange to Twilight. Seeing her like that. In her mind she told herself it was just a physical change and there wasn't really anything dangerous and upsetting about it, but her subconscious and her nerves were telling her differently.

“What's happening Princess?” Rainbow Dash went straight to the topic at hoof. “What's going on out there? Every unicorn in Ponyville's lost their magic! It's going crazy!”

“Not just the unicorns, but the animals in the Everfree forest too.” Fluttershy added from somewhere behind her hair.

“Did you want us to come and beat up a bad guy who's doing all this?” Pinkie said as she growled at the room around them, as if expecting the culprit to jump out from behind a pillar.

“I'm afraid the answer to all of this isn't so easy.” Celestia said once everypony had settled down again. “To answer your first question, I don't know who is doing this. I've had patrols comb the entire city trying to find any suspicious activity or hear any rumours of strange ponies or other creatures appearing recently. So far they've come up with nothing.”

“At first we thought perhaps this was merely happening within the city walls,” Luna added. “But news has been filtering in from other towns and cities complaining of similar problems.”

“So you think it isn't coming from inside Canterlot?” Twilight asked.

“Although I do not want to rule out the possibility, I suspect whatever is causing the magic loss is coming from elsewhere, yes.” Celestia nodded.

“But what could even cause this?!” Rarity said. “What in Equestria could cause us to lose our magic?! And even effect your Royal Highnesses?!”

“We've had Our scholars and researchers scour the Canterlot library for some kind of explanation.” Luna answered. “Unfortunately this is a peculiar situation. We do not remember anything like this happening in all Our years as Princessess.”

“So... ya don't have any idea?” Applejack said with dismay.

“Perhaps not, but I think we may have found a starting point at least.” Celestia said.

She turned and walked to her throne again, removing a book from her arm-rest and bringing it over to Twilight. She set it down in front of her to see. The book itself didn't look too old, at least not in comparison to some of the books Twilight herself had read in the royal library. The leather that it was bound in was still in good condition and the gold lettering on it was clear and still had shine to it. It wasn't really what she was expecting from something that could give them some answers.

“'Keepers of the Alternative Powers. A study of the Cults of the Arcane Powers in Equestria. By Ogham Augur.”

“So, what's it all about?” Rainbow looked up after Twilight had read the cover out loud. “Is there like some group of crazies doing this?”

“Do you want us to go zap them?!” Pinkie said, bouncing enthusiastically in place.

“Not quite.” Celestia said. “The author of this book, Ogham Augur, is the leading researcher in the field of occult studies. He is the expert's expert on the subjects of peculiar cults, rituals and alternative worship within Equestria. If there is perhaps some connection there to what is currently happening to Equestria, he would be the pony to know.”

“So what does he say?” Rarity asked.

“That is where things get troublesome.” Celestia sighed. “Ogham has long ago left Canterlot. After he retired from his official duties as a palace scholar he moved to a town to the north of the Canterlot mountains. We have been trying to reach him since these events started but so far none of my usual methods of contacting him have been successful. Not even the simple mail has been able to reach him, possibly due to the confusion happening everywhere. Which is why I have called upon you six.”

“Us?” Rainbow stared at her. “You want us to go knock on his door and ask if he's got any info for us? Sure, no problem!”

“But why did ya need all six of us for that? ...Beggin' yer perdon Princess.” Applejack interrupted her eager friend.

“I have asked you here to give you a mission as the bearers of the elements of harmony.” Celestia said as she straightened again, regaining some of her more regal posture. “I need the six of you to travel to Ogham's home in the town of Coltchester and ask him if he has any information that could lead us to solving this situation. If he is able to give some insight on this, then I ask that you follow his lead, track down the source of this and find a way to resolve it.”

“Shouldn't we let you know what we find out first?” Twilight asked.

“I feel the longer we wait, the worse this situation may become. Coltchester is already a far distance to travel and to return only to set out again could cost us time we may not have.” Her expression softened. “I realise I ask a lot of you in what is already an alarming and confusing time, but I have confidence in Ogham's knowledge, as I have confidence in your ability to reverse this blight.”

“If this is the work of a cult, magic gone awry or a sinister plot, the Elements of Harmony will be Our best weapon and defense against it.” Luna added. “And as my sister and I can no longer use Our power, it will be your task to reverse this and help Us restore Equestria.”

Twilight took a deep breath as she processed this but gave a firm nod in response.

“We won't let you down Princesses!” Rainbow added with confidence.

“Woo hoo! Road trip!” Pinkie cheered.

“I do hate to be the voice of reason... really, I do.... but aren't there a few holes in this little plan of yours, Celestia?” A voice echoed around the tall throne room.

“Discord. I was not aware you were her too.” Celestia said with a neutral tone.

Discord was hanging halfway into the throne room through one of the highest windows. It was opened inwards by a small fraction and he'd stuck his torso through it to watch the ponies below him. Once he was discovered he slid the rest of the way in and flew down to stand in front of the Princesses.

“It's been a while, Celestia. Love the new look. It takes about a thousand years off your face.” He said, although whether he was being sarcastic or not was unclear. “Now, I'm not saying that finding this bookworm of yours and going on a little adventure is really a bad idea, but how is your precious student suppose to take care of herself in the cold, unforgiving wilderness without any magic?”

“You forget snaggletooth; we're going with her!” Rainbow said, buzzing right up to him to poke him in the chest. “So what if she can't do magic right now? I've never had magic and it's never slowed me down! And with six of us there's nothing that can get in our way for long!”

“And I'm not just some student whose never left home before.” Twilight added with a frown. “There's more to me than just magic you know!”

“You don't need to explain yourselves to him.” Luna said, any icy bite to her voice as she stared down her muzzle at the trickster in front of her. “My sister is the one who trusts you unfalteringly, and therefore so do I. His opinion shouldn't be given much weight.”

“Maybe you're right, sweet Luna.” Discord snaked his way over to her, putting a finger under her chin. “However, I am curious as to why your sister would send children to do this so-called important mission and not you.”

“We are needed here.” Luna snapped, twisting herself away from him. “Keeping the ponies of Equestria safe and taking care of their fears is our task. Even if we were to ask somepony else, they would not be able to bring them the security they need right now.”

“Are you concerned there's something too dangerous for them to face alone?” Celestia interrupted. Twilight turned to stare at her but she was using her diplomatic face, not a single flicker betrayed her emotions or intent behind the question.

Discord immediately backed off at this and flapped his way back over to the small group on his back lazily.

“I was just curious as to how you expected them to do anything with that magic jewelry of theirs. After all, isn't the point of this little exercise to get magic working again? Although I suppose watching them try and realise this little fact on their own might've been worth it.”

“Shows what you know.” Twilight tore her attention away from Celestia to glare at him instead. “The elements of harmony don't get their power the same way unicorns, salamanders and whatever the heck you are do!” She puffed her chest out proudly, a slight smirk on her face. “The elements get their power from our friendship! Even if there was no magic left in Equestria at all, as long as we stick together the elements will shine just as brightly as they always do!”

The other five ponies punctuated the little speech with various cheers and calls of agreement. Discord stuck his forked tongue out as far as he could.

“I think I am literally going to be sick. But fine! Fine! If that is how you believe the elements work I won't rain all over your little self-congratulatory party. Not that I thought anypony would listen to my sage advice in the first place. By all means, go and find your scholar and track down your answers.”

“You know we will.” Twilight stared him down. Discord shrugged in response but didn't argue back.

“Are you having magical disruptions too, Discord?” Celestia asked. Still staring with the same passive, unassuming tone of voice, although her eyes bore into him.

“We did just go over the whole 'magic everywhere is going down the drain' didn't we?” He rolled his eyes at her, crossing his arms.

“And yet climbing into a tiny bag didn't seem too hard for you.” Rainbow Dash remarked, giving him a slightly malicious smile.

Celestia said nothing for a moment, her eyes still locked onto Discord. She seemed to be thinking to herself. Luna watched her silently, frowning to herself as she waited to hear what was going through her sister's head. Discord on the other hand ignored her stare, leaning against his own tail as he sulked. After a moment Celestia seemed to come to a decision.

“I feel it might be in everypony's best interest if you went with them, Discord.”

The cry of “What?!” echoed all around the room as the other ponies gawked at her in disbelief.

“Are you serious?!” Rainbow said, throwing her fore-hooves out. “Princess this guy's gonna drive us insane! He's just gonna make our lives difficult and give us even more problems than we already have!”

“Not to mention he's extremely uncouth and lacks any sort of manners!” Rarity added.

“Ain't there something better he could be doin' durin all of this?” Applejack said with more level-headedness than her friends.

“Your votes of confidence are overwhelming.” Discord remarked flatly, although there was a hint of a grin on his face.

“Sister, I must ask what you presume he can contribute to all of this?” Luna asked skeptically, although she didn't seem as against the idea as the six ponies in front of them.

“Discord is older than all of us,” Celestia rose her voice slightly, speaking formally to the group. “Although he has been imprisoned for millennia, he understands the dangers of Equestria's wilds, and he has travelled the land far more than Twilight and her friends have had the time for. He would be a valuable asset as a travelling companion and, should the need arrive, perhaps his insight on Ogham's information could be useful, coming from a different perspective. It would be wasteful to have him remain in Ponyville or even at the Canterlot palace.” She relaxed her shoulders again, speaking more naturally. “I wouldn't suggest it if I felt he'd only be a burden.”

The ponies shifted in place, a few of them looking slightly embarrassed. For the most part they still seemed unhappy with the idea.

“Hmmm. See the sights? Take a vacation from the dreadfully boring countryside to see the dangerous and wild countryside? Potentially get into some fights with crazy cultists? Celestia, I do believe you know me better than I had anticipated!” Discord grinned at her widely. He seemed honestly excited at the prospect.

Celestia gave the small group a nod and that seemed to be the end of the matter. “I am afraid we will have to do some catching up a little later. There is much Luna and I need to attend to at the moment. But please, make yourselves comfortable. I have arranged the west wing be prepared for you. I don't intend to kick you out and send you back to Ponyville immediately.” she said this last part with a more playful smile.

“Thank you Princess.” Twilight gave a smile and a small bow in return. “We'll start figuring out a plan of action.”

And with that, the meeting appeared to be over. The ponies plus one Discord left the throne room, muttering amongst themselves about the new information. Celestia watched their backs until they exited and the doors were closed behind them. After they were gone Luna walked to stand closer to her.

“You didn't want to tell them the real reason you wanted him with them? She asked, cocking an eyebrow at her.

Celestia gave a weary sigh. “I didn't want them to think I had any doubts about either this plan or their abilities.”

“But you are worried about them?”

Celestia was silent for a moment before a soft, private, “Yes.”

“We will overcome this sister.” Luna said, more gently.

“I'm not worried about them failing,” She said as she turned back to her throne, “But... I am worried about their safety.” She gave Luna sheepish smile over her shoulder. “Is that silly of me?”

“Maybe.” Luna said as she followed her. “But then you have always been mother-hen type.”

“And you've always been the blunt type.” Celestia laughed softly as she returned to her seat. One of the Canterlot scholars was shown in, carrying a book almost the same size as he was on his back.

Author's Note:

Hey! An update!

Discord's riddle is apparently a traditional one, although traditional to what I'm not sure. Twilight's riddle unfortunately doesn't work too well in written text but it's one of my favourites so I wanted to include it.

Pinkie is really hungry for blood in this chapter and I'm not sure why XD As for Luna, I like her character in the third season more than the more popular idea of her being sweet and innocent. I like her more as some-one with a chip on her shoulder and a little snarkier and more cynical than Celestia.

Discord continues to make no new friends.

Please let me know of any spelling errors of screw-ups. As always I don't proof-read these as much as I should.

And Happy Halloween!!