• Published 10th May 2014
  • 2,582 Views, 58 Comments

The Beast Within - Arreis Of Avalon



Discord, after Tirek has gone back to his prison, has trouble dealing with his own inner demons. He knows what he did. He knows what he did was wrong. Unable to cope, he does the unthinkable.

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Past Influences

Blueblood sighed. Of course it was raining. Why wouldn't it be raining? He cursed the Griffon weather system; too many rainstorms. His fur wasn't made to be this soaked through, being so thin; he was sure to get a cold. That would make it absolutely dreadful to deal with the nobility.

Still. He’s had put up with worse.

“This rain is simply dreadful,” Rarity bemoaned from her spot in the cart. Blueblood fought the urge to snap at her - but, if he could say anything, he would definitely suggest she try pulling the cart instead of him.

Applejack covered it for him, though. “C’mon, Rarity, it ain’t that bad.” She glanced up at the sky, blinking away the rain. “Why, Rainbow Dash makes storms worse than this one all the time.”

“Oh, I know, dear, but I don't make it a habit to be out and about when it's raining like this.” Rarity pouted just a bit. “My mane is just atrocious!”

Blueblood huffed slightly, ignoring the idle chatter. He wasn't quite used to these scouting trips being accompanied by 3 mares. He wasn't used to any company on these trips, actually. He usually tried to go alone; other people just got in the way. Case in point, had he gone alone, he wouldn't be pulling them all along in a cart (though, he supposed Applejack’s reasoning that this conserved everyone else's strength was sound).

He glanced back at the girls again. Rarity and Applejack were just chatting. Twilight sat in the very back of the cart, maps around her. Blueblood’s ear twitched as he strained to hear her muttering. “So if we take a left… No, that will take us right into the river… But going around will take another 3 days… I could always- well, no…”

He breathed out slowly, turning to watch the road again. She hadn't spoken much since they left Rainbow Falls. He’d seen ponies pour over their work before (goodness knows his aunts never seemed to pause), but Twilight was something else. Usually ponies did this to avoid thinking about other things, but Twilight just seemed… absorbed into it. He'd never met anyone quite like her. Part of him admired her determination, but, well…

It still felt kind of weird.

“Hold on, Blueblood.” He gently slowed as Twilight moved slightly to face him. She was staring at one of the maps. “We’re going to run into a border station soon. How are we going to get through?”

Blueblood glanced at the group. “Fair point. Rarity, Applejack, and I should be fine. You, on the other hoof… Well, there's only so many Alicorns in the world. They’re attuned to magic disguises, so that won't work.” He rubbed his chin. “Alright. Twilight, if you pretend to be sick, I can get us through the border without them checking us too much; a bit of money exchanged and we should be fine. If worst comes to worst, I can cast a silencing spell-”

“Hold up.” Blueblood turned to Applejack, who looked less than pleased. “Why’re you sayin’ she's gotta hide at all? And what's this about a bribe?”

“Applejack, it's not a bribe, per se. It's just…”

“A bribe.” She frowned.

He huffed. “We need to get through without them spreading word of our travel through here. They would be certain to talk about us. It's the same reason why we couldn't just take the train to Griffonstone and make our way from there.”

Applejack smiled, the flicker of determination in her eyes instantly concerning Blueblood. “Well, why don't’cha just let me handle this one? Ah know Ah can get us through without any nonsense.”

“Applejack, not to offend, but if this goes badly, we will have to use a less than desirable means of getting past the border patrol. I do not wish to use mind magic, but I will if I must.” Twilight glanced his way, surprised. Many people seemed surprised when they learned of some of his talents in magic.

“Well then, Ah know not to mess it up, don't Ah?” She stood and stepped out of the cart. “Lemmie handle it. Get your pretty lil’ hooves outta the dirt; Ah’ll take it from here.”


*~*~*~


The stained glass windows were her favorite part of the castle, she knew.

It wasn't just that they marked a history she was liable to forget. It was that it marked her history with a frank sense of beauty, one that held back none of the agony and strife, nor any of the peace and harmony, that held the past together like a tapestry. She bathed in the light, feeling an odd warmth through the colored glass.

“... Somehow we knew we would find thee here, dear sister.” Celestia blinked, the only sign of recognition she gave that she had heard Luna’s words. “Why must thou insist on wandering these halls alone?”

“Please, drop the formalities, Luna. You know I can't stand that old dialect.” Luna huffed softly, taking her place beside her sister, where she belonged. Celestia did not turn towards her in the short silence that followed, instead focusing on the glasswork before her.

Luna sighed softly, once again breaking Celestia from her thoughts, however briefly - and, truth be told, she did not mind the intrusion. “Dear sister, why are your thoughts restless?”

“Have you been having our dear nephew spy on me, Lulu?”

Luna’s nose scrunched ever so slightly at the nickname. “No, Tia, of course not. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to know the emotions going through your head. It only takes a sister.” Celestia cracked a small smile at that comment alongside Luna. “You’ve avoided my question.”

“Indeed I have. You already know the answer, after all, and I found it more fun to see your face when I used that nickname.”

“You know how much I hate that name, sister. Only our nephew gets to call me that, and even then! It’s illogical, it doesn’t shorten-” She cut herself off as Celestia began to laugh. She allowed herself to smile further; goal accomplished, then. Ever since she had returned, it had been her one goal to hear Celestia laugh at least each day.

Celestia calmed down slightly, finally turning to her sister. “Very well, Luna; tell me. Do you know what’s been bothering me?”

Luna nodded. “It is, of course, Discord’s… present state of being.” Celestia nodded, beginning to walk. Luna quickly fell into stride with her. “Why are you so perturbed? He’s much better. Better enough to evade the trained health officials at the hospital, even,” she added a tad bit bitterly.

“You know his way, Luna. He is not one to be tied down, after all.” Luna knew only too well. That was what concerned her, though she would never say it out loud. “To answer your question… I am not sure. Something is different about him.”

“Well, yes… After all, if he is truly free of that evil part of himself, then shouldn’t we be rejoicing?”

“That is exactly the problem. If, and I use that word loosely, he wasn’t lying to us, then what can we expect?” Celestia paused once more at a different window, the lavender light from the colored glass flashing in her own eyes. “Could he be playing an intricate, poorly thought out prank? Could that evil side of him have taken over? Could he truly be, well… himself?” Luna noticed Tia’s eyes flicker over to her, if but for an instant. “That last question is the most concerning to me.”

Luna was somewhat surprised by that. “Why is that, dear sister?”

“Because, Luna… You and I both know that there is no darkness without light.” Luna’s eyes widened ever so slightly. She faced the window as well, not looking at her sister as she felt the sudden gravity of the situation weigh down on her. Celestia breathed in, trying to find the proper words to say. “... I lived a thousand years regretting my choices, Lulu,” she said finally, her voice softer and gentler than it had been.

“You no longer have to do so, Tia. I’ve returned. The past is the past and deserves to remain there, as I have been learning as well.” Granted, an area she still needed some help on, but an area she had expertise in nonetheless.

“I know this, sister. But those thousand years do not leave the mind readily. They still affect me as they do you, though I… imagine in different ways.” There was nothing Luna could say to that. “In those thousand years, I felt… void. Empty. There was a vital part of myself missing, and I only felt the spark of that part when I raised the moon. When I grew closer to you, to the dark, the night… That was the only time I could come to appreciate the light that my… that our little ponies all praise.”

There was another silence between the two sisters as Luna processed all she had heard her sister say. On the first day back on Earth, she and Celestia has stayed up all night, all day, discussing what had happened… What she had missed. And Tia had said much the same thing then as she had here. It was a feeling Luna knew well. She had felt it just the same.

“That is why I fear for Discord,” Celestia finally said. “Because, if he told the truth… if he really is purely good or purely evil… There is an emptiness in this world that I fear none can fill.”

Luna took in the stained glass window once more, a shiver struggling to make its way down her spine. Suddenly, the warm glow felt cold on her fur. As she took in the history of her ponies, those whom she vowed to protect… She felt a small sliver of fear in her very soul as she thought of all her sister suggested.

Celestia bowed her head softly. “Let us hope it does not come to this again.” Celestia turned her back on the glass window, moving away as Luna stayed behind, lost in thought as her sister had been when the discussion began. Celestia paused only briefly, glancing back. “Oh, and Luna?” She smiled softly. “Wish Blueblood luck if he has not left with the others yet. Their secret mission is of vital importance.” With no other words, she made her way out of the hall of windows.

Luna sighed. She had known the secret would be out quickly. Celestia was always perceptive, though it had certainly grown in the years she had been away. But Luna was perceptive as well, and while she might be lacking when compared to her sister, she also had a far better reign on her emotions.

Celestia had been downright miserable when Discord had first fallen into his coma. Quite clearly, something had Celestia in turmoil, and just as obviously to Luna, it was love. But, as she had just seen, it was far more than that. It was simple dread. For, there might come a day when the scene before her eyes, that scene of Discord, ruling over ponies with an iron claw and cruel grin, might play out once more. And, if that were to come to be…

Luna knew that Celestia would hesitate only briefly before eliminating the threat, freezing him in stone as she had done so long ago.

“Please, Nephew… Get them there safely.”


*~*~*~


The griffon sighed, allowing herself to slump just ever so slightly at the gate to the path ahead. “Why did the Weather teams decide on a torrential downpour on the day when I have guard duty?” She shivered lightly, shaking out her feathers to try and dry them. It did absolutely nothing to help, of course, but it made her feel slightly dryer on the inside.

She craned her neck as she heard something. Was that… hoofsteps? Ponies coming towards Griffonstone? Her eyes narrowed as she stood a bit taller. “Guess no rest for the wicked…”

Sure enough, a group of ponies quickly came up to the sentry station. The griffon held out her spear. “Halt for inspection!” The pony in the lead, an orange mare that was pulling the cart, did so without any fuss, blowing the stray parts of her wet ponytail out of her face.

She looked at the others. A stallion was in the cart, looking… honestly, rather noble. She had an instant sense of distaste for him, though she wasn’t sure why. Maybe because he was a pony. The mare next to him looked no better, a white furred mare who was desperately trying to style her wet mane. Ridiculous looking, to say the least. And lastly, there was the mare in the back, who…

Who had a horn and wings.

She was an alicorn.

The griffon’s eyes widened. “Holy crabapples…”

“Howdy!” The orange mare unhooked herself from the cart. “How y’doin’?”

“I uh…” The griffon clearly had not expected that. Most travellers just silently walked up, let her inspect their carts and persons, and then were on their way without a word. “I’m… doing… wet?”

The mare laughed, tipping her hat to let the rainwater out of it. “Same here, partner. My name’s Applejack, and this here’s Rarity-” she pointed to the prissy mare “- Prince Blueblood-” she pointed to the stallion that looked really uncomfortable “- and Princess Twilight Sparkle.” She smiled brightly. “What’s yours?”

The griffon opened and closed her beak, slightly overwhelmed by the hospitality. “I… My name’s Gene?”

“Nice t’meet y’, Gene.” Applejack turned back towards Twilight. “Twilight, y’mind comin’ up here?”

Twilight blinked. “Oh. Uh, sure?” She got out of the cart, walking over. Gene gulped, eyes widening ever so slightly. That was royalty. Oh. Wow. She hadn’t heard any word from her captain that any diplomats were expected! “Hi there,” Twilight said, a smile on her face.

“What…” Gene looked between the two mares, as well as the stallion and mare in the cart still. “What brings you all to Griffonstone? No one told me about any diplomatic meetings to screen.”

“Well, we… aren’t really here for a diplomatic meeting,” Twilight said a bit hesitantly. Gene’s eyes narrowed. “We’re, uh… You see…”

“What Twilight is tryin’ t’say is, this ain’t about meetin’s.” Gene looked over at Applejack. “See… Back in Equestria, we’ve got a small situation on our hands involvin’ a Draconequus. We found some ol’ maps, ones that point out a place we didn’t know was there. We’re on our way there now, but t’get there, we gotta get through this here station.”

Gene… supposed that made sense. But… “If you were sent here, why would you have a princess with you? And why wouldn’t you call ahead with warning?”

“Cause this mission is a secret.” Gene looked taken aback. “See, if word got out that we were headin’ to this fella’s hometown, that Draconequus stirrin’ up trouble might just try an’ stop us. We had t’keep it as secret as possible.”

The griffon frowned. “Then… why would you tell me? And you still didn’t say why Princess Sparkle is with you.”

“I can answer that one,” the stallion said from the cart. “You see, there are likely numerous magical wards on the Dracon home. We need a powerful magic caster to reliably get there safely. That is where she comes in.”

Twilight nodded; clearly, that made sense. “And, as to why we’re telling you… Well, being honest is the best way to get through your sentry station. Had we not told you our reasoning, you would have undoubtedly contacted a higher up, who would have contacted Equestria - which could lead to our enemy discovering our plan.”

Gene looked down slightly. All of this was making quite a bit of sense. She had never had travellers be so open with her before. Gene nodded, looking back up. “I’ll just need to check your cart and then you four can be on your way. I would hate to delay a mission of enough importance to require a princess.”

All of them smiled at that - the stallion in particular looked relieved. Gene could see why; griffons weren’t really well known for their hospitality. She walked over, checking their cart. Foodstuffs, maps, books, and more books. Gene could also see some adventuring gear and… what looked like a really wonky sword hastily hidden. But, well, that made sense too. Again - hospitality wasn’t a strong suit of griffons, and any seen weapons would usually cause a fight. But weapons, on the road to unmarked territory, made logical sense.

Gene nodded, looking back up at them when her inspection was finished. “Everything checks out. You all can pass through.”

“One last thing,” Applejack said, frowning ever so softly. “See, we gotta keep this mission a secret. This Draconequus… he could have eyes an’ ears everywhere, literally. We can’t let anyone know we’ve been through here.”

It wasn’t hard to know what Applejack was asking. Gene nodded without a shred of hesitation. “Don’t worry. I’ll send word to my Captain that some ponies came through on their way to Griffonstone in my report today. Your real destination is safe with me.”

Applejack smiled in relief. “Thank y’kindly, Gene. Y’didn’t have t’do that, but it helps us a whole mighty lot.”

“I’m not usually one to break protocol, but…” Gene stood a bit taller. “I’m not going to stop an epic quest in the making. You all will have a hard enough journey, by the looks of it, without getting stopped at a border patrol.” She relaxed slightly. “Just be careful out there. Us griffons are made of tougher stuff - there’s some real bad beasties out there if you aren’t being careful.”

“Noted,” Twilight said, turning back to everyone else a moment later. “Everyone ready to keep going?” The others nodded. She turned back to Applejack. “Let’s get going then.”

Everyone prepared to leave, Applejack taking the lead once more with the cart harnessed to her back. She nodded to Gene in farewell. “Oh, and one last thing!” Applejack paused, looking over. Gene gained a sharp grin, slightly sharpened teeth glinting from the few shreds of sunlight that made it past the cloud layer. “If you all are actually planning an attack or something, you can bet I’ll be right there to bring you to justice for lying to me.”

Applejack grinned back, laughing a bit. “Don’t y’worry none. There ain’t been a day when Ah couldn’t be fully honest, and there ain’t ever gonna be.” She nodded in parting one last time and continued on her way, party with her.

Gene stood a bit taller as the ponies left. She would be careful to leave their exact destination and features out of her report. Lord knew, if the Captain got word of an alicorn in griffon territory, her head would be on the chopping block. But something about what that orange mare had said…

As a guard, she was trained in analyzing the truth markers on beasts of all range and size. That Applejack mare… she had been telling the truth the whole time.

“Good luck,” Gene said softly over the distant crack of thunder. Seemed the storm would be over soon.


Blueblood shifted in his seat, frowning. “How did you know that would work, Applejack?”

“Hmm?” Applejack glanced back, blinking the rain out of her eyes. “What? Bein’ honest?” As Blueblood nodded, she failed to hold back a snort. “Easy, Blue.” She faced forward again, smiling. “Ah knew it would work cause honesty ain’t never failed in the past before.”

Blueblood raised his brows in surprise. He… honestly had no response to that. It wasn’t often that he was left speechless, but, to his surprise… He found it a rather pleasant experience this time around.

At least, until he saw Rarity’s smug face at his silence just before her comments about the rain began once more. He sighed, albeit with a small smile. Perhaps… travelling with others was not quite as bad as he had made it out to be. It wasn’t quite hell. Just… mild torture.

He could handle torture.

Author's Note:

Many thanks this time around to LoveMLPForever for the comment that gave me back my inspiration to work on this! Wrote the entire chapter in about 2 hours once again, so please excuse any errors you see. I hope this was a good one! It only gets better from here. Please enjoy!

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