• Published 18th Jul 2014
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The Balance of Harmony - Thornwing

Discord's lost his mojo. Can the ponies help get it back? What happens if the balance of harmony can't be kept? Another adventure begins.

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Chapter Three - Divergence

Twilight yanked the covers up to her snout as she tossed and turned in her bed. The evening blur swept through her mind once more as she tried to make sense of it all. She couldn’t get comfortable what with the thought of Discord and her new mission mocking her attempt at getting some sleep. It had been a draining afternoon that dragged on late into the evening. She had only made it back to her castle long after sunset. Still with the all the tiredness she felt from having journeyed to the Tree of Harmony and back, she still couldn’t quite settle her mind.

She reflected on the discussion she had been through with Discord for what must have been the hundredth time. There was, of course, the big revelation about the existence of the Elements of Disharmony. Five counter elements to the Elements of Harmony—sadness, hate, envy, lies, and greed. Even so, what troubled her the most was the knowledge that the Lord of Chaos himself was no longer in control of them. It was one thing that the chaotic elements existed; it was quite another entirely that they had no idea who now wielded their power.

Discord recounted the nature of the elements and laid out the mission protocols. He gave them a crash course on what they were up against and what would be required of each of them in order to bring the Elements back into balance. The Elements could not simply exist without an avatar—much like the Elements of Harmony lived within each of her friends. The Elements of Disharmony would seek out new hosts in order to radiate their own inverted version of harmony upon Equestria. She had to stop that from happening.

The biggest thing she had learned from their whole encounter was something very important about the nature of the Lord of Chaos himself. She always thought of their struggles as being good versus evil—light versus dark. The truth of the matter was that their spirited antagonist was not inherently evil. He was merely the chaotic balance to the order of harmony. Discord, being the Spirit of Disharmony, was the only one capable of controlling the counter elements and maintaining the delicate balance between them. Once he lost his magic, he lost control of those elements. It wasn’t something he could merely summon back to himself.

By using what magic still remained to him, he had been able to guide their search, albeit in a general direction only. Only a couple of the elements were able to be traced, however. It may be that they had not as yet found a host, or the new avatar of disharmony was not yet aware of or capable of using their new powers. It was clear though that these elements must be found and returned to the one being capable of safely containing their essence.

The task of retrieving the chaotic magic fell to the guardians of the Elements of Harmony. The Tree of Harmony made that point clear as she provided the ponies with their element necklaces and Twilight’s tiara. The gemstones that once held their own harmonious magic were now colorless and empty. Discord explained that he and Una had devised a plan whereby the ponies would be able to track down the missing elements and contain them within the vacant gemstones until they could be returned to their rightful master.

It wouldn’t be easy, and by the sounds of it, they may not even be able to handle the task together. It seemed the Elements of Disharmony had been scattered across all of Equestria. If the chaos storm over Ponyville was any indication of the urgency of their mission, they would need to split up in order to recover the elements as quickly as possible before the entire kingdom was inundated with an unstoppable flood of chaos.

Twilight flipped over once again as she grunted in frustration. Maybe I should have stuck to smiling and waving, she thought as she continued to try and force herself to sleep. She stared at the empty crystal star that sat atop her coronation tiara on the table beside her bed and eventually closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Morning came quickly and so did the flood of ponies to the castle. Everypony wanted to know what was going on with the storm the day before. The general confusion and fear amongst them as they speculated on the reason behind the strange events grew to a dull roar. Applejack and Rainbow Dash did their best to settle the crowd insisting that Princess Twilight would be able to answer all their questions just as soon as she was able. By the looked of things, excuses wouldn’t hold them back much longer.

“What are we supposed to do?” cried Bon Bon. “We can’t be kept in the dark like this.”

“What’s going on?” shouted Cloudchaser. “We need answers!”

“Yeah, we spent hours trying to clean up the mess those clouds made,” remarked Thunderlane. “I’ve got the battle wounds to prove it.”

“Alright everypony,” yelled Rainbow Dash, “settle down and we’ll tell you what we know once Twilight gets out here.”

“I think I’ll go see what’s takin’ so long,” Applejack muttered to Rainbow.

“Princess Twilight isn’t hurt, is she?” remarked a worried Sweetie Belle.

“Yeah, why isn’t she here yet?” added Apple Bloom. “Wouldn’t it be terrible if she was sick?”

“She probably doesn’t even care,” came a despondent third cutie mark crusader call out.

“Scootaloo—of course she cares about this,” replied Rainbow Dash. “She just had a really late night is all. She’ll be here soon.”

By this time, Fluttershy and Rarity had joined the throng of ponies gathered to hear from the Princess. They made their way up the castle steps and joined Rainbow Dash in her continued efforts to calm the crowd of nervous ponies.

Applejack took her leave and climbed the stairs to the castle loft. She found the still sleeping princess splayed across her bed. Pinkie Pie and Spike sat quietly at the foot.

“What’s the holdup?” Applejack trotted over, not worried at all about the clattering noise her hooves made.

“Shush! We’re not quite sure she’s ready to wake up yet,” Spike loudly whispered back.

“Yeah,” Pinkie Pie added straining to whisper, “She needs all the beauty sleep she can get before she has to face that angry mob outside.”

“Well they aren’t getting’ any happier by havin’ to wait.” Applejack strode over to the bed and yanked off the covers. “Rise and shine, princess!”

Twilight woke with a start. A magical blast discharged from her horn and shot into the ceiling.

“Woah, nelly!” shouted Applejack as she jumped back and away from the startled Twilight.

“That’s what we tried to tell you,” scolded Spike. “She’s a little jumpy this morning.”

With the discharge of magic combined with the shout from the startled Applejack, Twilight finally came around. “Is-is it morning already?” She opened her eyes revealing two bloodshot pupils. Her mane was completely frazzled along with her tail. Twilight looked like she’d been rolled down a hill and into a briar patch.

“It certainly is,” replied an ever cheery Pinkie Pie, “and we’re so glad you’re finally awake! Now you can go talk to the angry mob outside.” Pinkie clapped her hooves together as she cheered the arousal of the tired princess.

“W-w-what are you talking about, Pinkie?” Twilight rubbed her eyes and slipped down off the bed.

“Well, to be honest, you do have pretty much the entire population of Ponyville waiting at your door wantin’ an explanation for the crazy day they just had.” Applejack sidled up and tried to help Twilight as she began to comb out her mane. “You probably shouldn’t keep ‘em waitin’ much longer.”

“I definitely should have stuck to the smiling and waving,” scowled a still exhausted Twilight.

Twilight finished brushing out her mane as Applejack gave her tail a few comb-throughs. “Well, we better make this official,” Twilight said as she levitated the tiara onto her own head. The gemstone embedded at the apex looked dull and barely gave off any sparkle at all. She exited the loft and the rest of the group followed.

She floated down the stairs and cantered through the front doors stepping out into the welcoming morning sunshine. Immediately she was bombarded with questions.

“What’s the deal with those clouds?”

“Are we safe here in Ponyville?”

“How are you going to stop it?”

“Are we all going to die??”

“Everypony quiet!” yelled a still frazzled and now seriously frustrated Twilight. “There is absolutely no reason to fear. We know what happened here and we have a plan to stop it.”

The crowd became deathly still as the princess spoke. One lone voice in the back ventured a follow-up question.

“Then what’s the plan?”

Twilight hesitated, still unsure herself if they even really had a plan. Shakily, she replied, “I’m still working out the particulars, but in the meantime, I need you all to go back to your homes and let me handle this.”

The crowd slowly dispersed as the frustrated ponies resolved that there was nothing more to learn from their princess. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo stayed put, clearly not satisfied with the answer. They huddled up together as they continued to worry about the fate of the town.

“I don’t like this one bit,” said a teary Apple Bloom. “Maybe there’s somethin’ we can do ta help?”

“We’re too small and too young to do anything to help,” added Scootaloo. “Why should we even bother trying?”

“I don’t know what makes me more sad,” cried Sweetie Belle, “not having our cutie marks, or chocolate rain.”

Rarity noticed the three fillies had stayed behind and came over to see what the matter was. “What’s wrong, girls?” she asked. “Why such long faces—it isn’t like this is the end of the world or anything.”

“Maybe it is,” Sweetie Belle replied chocking back more tears. “I don’t want to die without my cutie mark!”

“There, there, Sweetie.” Rarity reached out a hoof and patted the sobbing filly on her head. “Twilight will have this whole mess cleared up in no time. Why don’t you three run along home and find a nice game to play, or something.”

Rarity was torn between patronizing her younger sister and actually being worried about her current emotional state. Oh well, she thought as she pushed the idea of her sister growing up to the back of her mind and rejoined the others in the castle. The three small ponies turned around and trudged toward town.

Once the crowd had been placated, Twilight and her friends went back inside the castle. She called them all to the throne room for another emergency meeting. Once they had all gathered, Twilight began to lay out her plan.

“Alright girls, this is it.” Twilight still looked very tired, but spoke clearly. “I was up most of the night thinking about our dilemma. We’re going to need a plan and we need to execute it fast. By the looks of the reaction we just had to a little chocolate rain, we could have a full on panic unless this chaos problem is resolved pronto.”

“Twilight,” called Rainbow Dash, “we don’t even know what we’re doing or where we’re supposed to go to do it.”

“Yeah,” added Applejack, “Discord wasn’t really all that helpful with his instructions.”

“Yes, I know.” Twilight lowered her head and tried to concentrate on the plan she had been working on most all night. “We’re going to have to split up into teams. If what Discord told us is true, the Elements of Disharmony are all over the place. Also, we don’t have a location for every element yet—he said he would let us know when he got a lead on the rest.”

“Why do these quests always have to be so hard?” whined Rarity. “Why can’t it just be, ‘walk across the street’, and we’re done.”

“I don’t know Rarity—I’m not even sure why we were chosen to be the bearers of the Elements of Harmony in the first place.” Twilight stood up and walked out to the center of the room. “The bottom line here is that Equestria is counting on us. We each need to do our part so that the balance of harmony is maintained.”

Twilight’s horn began to glow as she projected a map of Equestria into the air above her. Little red dots began to glow as she indicated points on the map that Discord had shown them during their discussions the day before.

“Alright, the first spot we need to investigate looks like Manehattan,” she continued. “Rarity, I want you and Applejack to head there and see what you can find out about the element of greed. Discord is confident that the element is somewhere in the city.”

“Well at least we get to ride the train,” commented Rarity. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had to spend another moment trekking through the hills.”

“We’ll get right on that, Twilight,” said Applejack.”

Twilight turned toward the two Pegasi. “Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, I need you both to head up to the Griffin Kingdom. Discord thinks the element of envy could be located somewhere nearby the city of Griffin’s Nest.”

“No problem!” stated Rainbow Dash. “We’ll have that element locked up in no time—right Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy didn’t sound very confident in her reply. “Right—I think. Are you sure the Griffin’s will be okay with us searching their town?”

“No worries, Fluttershy,” winked Rainbow Dash. “My old pal Gilda will help us out.”

“That’s sort of what I was afraid of.” Fluttershy tucked her head down. “The last time she was in Ponyville things didn’t really go so well.”

“Good!” Twilight moved on without really considering Fluttershy’s response. “I think I know where one of the elements is hiding out, and I’m going to need Pinkie Pie to stay here with me in Ponyville.”

“What do you mean, Twilight?” fidgeted an anxious Pinkie Pie. “Don’t I get to go somewhere cool too?”

“Not if my calculations are correct, Pinkie,” replied Twilight. “If that group of depressed ponies this morning was any indication, I think the element of sadness could be right here under our muzzles.”

“Well that just leaves lies and hate now don’t it,” said Applejack.

“Correct, Applejack,” continued Twilight, “but I have a hunch that isn’t all. We really don’t know if there’s a sixth element hiding out there. I’m guessing by the lack of magic in my element crystal that we’re going to have something big to deal with before long. I’m going to stay here and help Pinkie. Hopefully we’ll find out more from Discord and the Tree of Harmony about the other elements. I’ll send word if we find anything new to share.”

“If that concludes our little pre-adventure planning conference,” Rarity said in a huff, “I shall be off. I have some packing to do before I am made to become Discord’s errand pony.”

Twilight sighed and tried her best to reason with her. “Rarity, this isn’t just about helping Discord. This is about helping all of Equestria. You remember the last time Discord used his magic to spread chaos all over the place—that’s what will happen again if we don’t stop it. Only this time, the bearers of the elements might actually have evil intentions. Who knows what could happen if we don’t act now.”

“I guess you’re right, as always, Twilight.” Rarity tossed her mane and raised her hoof dramatically to her horn. “Such is the burden we all must bear so that everypony can rest easy at night.”

Twilight looked around at all of her friends. She knew she was taking a gamble splitting them up like this and that their Rainbow Powers may not be able to save them if they got into trouble. They had no idea who they would encounter as the new bearers of the Elements of Disharmony. The only thing that was certain was that there was no time to waste.

She returned to her seat and concluded, “Alright then, I need you all to look out for one another. We need to get those elements and bring them back to Discord as soon as we can. You need to find the bearers of the elements and convince them to give them up—that’s the only way we’re going to get this done. Let’s show them the power of the Magic of Friendship!”

A chorus of affirmation sprang from the little group as they all dispersed to their assigned tasks.

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