• Published 26th Aug 2014
  • 8,879 Views, 362 Comments

To Judge A Book - LickleSoxy



Twilight discovers something about Discord that gives her a whole new perspective of him.

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15
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Chapter 1

-o-

The book was old. Its cover was marred, scratched and torn, its pages darkened and withered with age. Dotted around the edges were stains whose sources could not be determined; each one probably held its own, unique story. The writing inside was merely smudged in places, then completely incomprehensible in others. A page or two was missing from the various chapters that made the bulk of the book's contents.

Twilight Sparkle could not bring herself to care about any of that.

Everything within the book was brilliant and inspiring like no other. Nothing she'd ever laid her hooves on could compare. She was unable to determine the exact moment fortune had swung her way, giving her access to the book, but that didn't matter. The information she'd read again and again was utterly fascinating to her. Piecing together the more gruesome puzzles of Equestria's history, the facts held between the cover had captured her attention on numerous occasions.

Despite having read it so many times, Twilight never grew tired of going through each page, paying meticulous attention to specific points that grabbed her interest. She knew that, if challenged, there were passages from the aged antique that she'd be able to recite from memory alone. That wasn't too large of an accomplishment, of course - there were many sheets and books she could do that with. But this... This book was somehow different.

There was one note - a tiny, insignificant little sentence that she knew off by heart - that was of a particular interest to her. If she were to analyse herself and her habits, she knew she'd find a correlation between how many times she'd picked this book up, and how many times she'd studied that single passage that stood out among the rest.

Malicious was not a word that could yet be used to describe the creature known as Discord, for innocence still overruled its nature.

It was such a simple sentence, lodged between a bunch of other stuff pertaining to the rise of Discord and his eventual rule over Equestria. Just a minute speck of data amass an entire swell of history. Despite this, it had captured Twilight's curiosity, and her desire to understand its meaning had become an intense passion.

What had been the author's intentions when writing the statement? What did it mean? Had the writer been in support of Discord, or someone who merely sympathised with his predicament?

She had no clue, obviously, considering there was no way of knowing who the author had been. The name that had been carved on the cover, undoubtedly with care and precision, had long ago been scrubbed away, leaving not a single letter as a clue to what had been originally printed there. Asking Celestia about it had been futile, as the princess had not been able to remember who'd written the vast collection of documents.

Instinctively turning to the page that had stolen her focus some time ago, Twilight bit her lip as she quickly skimmed over the familiar words. She couldn't truly understand the reasoning behind her feelings, but it didn't sit right with her. Something about the sentence felt off, somehow. It was as though she were missing an important piece of the jigsaw, rendering the entire puzzle useless. Did the words hold a deeper significance that what she could fathom? It sure seemed that way.

With frustration filling her, Twilight knew that reading the rest of the chapter would not give any more meaning to the sentence. She'd read through the information about Discord's reign bit by bit, hoping to find anything that would link back to that tiny, out of place opinion produced by the anonymous author.

There was nothing. None of the thoughts or facts in the passages following the sentence even mentioned it in passing.

Sighing in annoyance, Twilight slammed the book shut with such a force that dust billowed up into the air. Failing to halt the cough that tickled at the back of her throat, she huffed. Turning her attention to the pile of books sitting directly beside her, she let her gaze roam over their ancient bindings with an insatiable longing. They were all history books, most of which detailed events of Discord's time as ruler of the land. And each and every one was useless.

Most of them cut straight to his defeat, leaving out all the important moments that made that period in history one to remember and learn from. Others went off on a tangent about how despicably evil Discord was; they were the worst, in Twilight's opinion. It was clear that the authors of those specific books had not been big fans of the draconequus.

Sighing once more, Twilight grimaced. She required an unbiased, factual document; one that would give her the clues needed to finally finish this masterpiece of a mystery. The question was simple: How would she go about finding such an item of data?

Ignoring the desire to shout out in irritation, Twilight pushed herself into a standing position and glanced around her surroundings in despair. There was nothing here that could help. She'd looked through every shred of paper she could find, hoping to locate that one answer that would give her peace of mind. Was there a book she had missed? Was there a place she had not looked in, that held a hidden document she could scan through?

Eyes widening slightly as a sudden thought struck her, Twilight moved her focus to the currently empty shelves spaced evenly around the vicinity. Perhaps she was looking at this from the wrong angle. Maybe the thing she was searching for wasn't in a history book at all.

Nodding firmly as if to reassure herself that the idea was a good one, Twilight allowed her lips to lift into a small, unmistakable smile. A trip to Canterlot was in order, if her theory were to be put to the test.

-o-

"Twilight Sparkle, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

Twilight bowed slightly, mostly out of habit, before a friendly smile lit up her face. She tried to ignore the heat in her cheeks when Celestia's eyes sparkled with amusement.

"Princess, it's good to see you."

Celestia's response was a smile of her own, and it was as brilliant as the sun she rose every morning. "As it is you, Princess," she said, chuckling quietly. "I trust there isn't a troubling matter you require assistance with?"

Twilight shook her head reassuringly. "Actually, I was hoping I could use the Canterlot library for some research I've been doing. If that's alright with you." The latter sentence was rapidly tacked on at the end, though her tone failed to show it.

"Of course. May I ask what you're looking for?"

The smile that was planted firmly on Twilight's face shifted a minuscule amount, and she prayed that it went unnoticed. Keeping her eyes locked on Celestia's tall frame, she kept her head held high in a bid to remain calm and collected, as she contemplated whether to tell the truth or not. Did it really matter if Celestia knew what it was that had made her travel this far for answers? Thinking it over, would it not, in fact, be beneficial to ask for Celestia's help, considering she'd known Discord far longer than anypony else?

Twilight's head tilted a touch. "There's something in one of my history books that isn't really explained very well. I think the books in the library will be able to clarify some of the finer points for me."

"Which part isn't explained?" Celestia asked, curiosity getting the better of her. Both ponies understood that Twilight's new library held some of the best accounts of Equestrian history that had ever been recorded. Celestia had even let her take a copy or two of the more detailed stories from Canterlot's own storage. If there were holes in the information Twilight's library held, then both knew that some of it could be cleared up by Celestia herself.

The question was not surprising to Twilight. The princess of the sun had lived a long, brilliant life, and it was only right to assume that she would contain knowledge of past events in her memory that had never been put on paper. Getting a verbal answer would certainly be a faster approach that rummaging through more books.

Twilight bit her lip. Why had she not thought to simply ask Celestia earlier?

"Well... There's a piece about Discord that doesn't make any sense," Twilight replied, before speaking the quote aloud. She frowned. "I know it doesn't seem like much, but I really need to understand what the author meant when they wrote it."

Celestia's clear curiosity rapidly transformed into obvious bafflement. Twilight tried - and probably failed - to hide her disappointment at her former mentor's next words.

"I apologise, Twilight, but I don't think I can help with that."

Twilight shrugged with a tiny smile. "It's okay, Princess. That's why I wanted to use the library."

Nodding, Celestia said, "You may use the library any time you wish. You needn't ask. If you would be so kind as to share any findings you may gain, I would be most grateful."

Grinning as relief flooded her - had she really expected rejection? - Twilight thanked Celestia, before making her way out of the room and towards the library that she'd come here to visit.

-o-

Twilight made a mental note to take heed of her gut feelings more often. The assumption that this library would contain what she'd been desperately looking for had been absolutely spot on. Though it had taken an hour or more of fruitless searching, her luck had eventually changed for the better. All it had taken was finding the correct book. Twilight giggled. Couldn't most things be solved by the beautiful objects she so cherished? The answer was yes, clearly.

The book held biological information about the various creatures that occupied Equestrian soil. Snatching it down from its perch on the shelf, Twilight hurriedly flipped through the pages with eager anticipation. Minutes passed. Then, once more, her hopes faded to a small, low flame that threatened to extinguish at any moment. There wasn't a chapter on draconequui. Actually, from what she had scanned, the species didn't even get a passing mention.

Twilight's ears flattened out as her body sagged in defeat. Her assumption had been wrong. She'd let excitement overtake her form, and it had given her unrealistic expectations. This book was just like all the others. Halting a grunt of annoyance before it could pass through her suddenly dry lips, Twilight glared at the pages opened up before her. Surely this was a game? Someone or something had to be mocking her. She couldn't have come this far without gaining some sort of victory... Could she?

No. The single word tore through her mind. Perhaps it was the stubborn streak of her nature that allowed it to ring through her thoughts, but that didn't matter. That little push of an answer was filled with determination, and Twilight found herself flicking through the pages of the book again. Taking her time, she continued on, unable to stop the hard rhythm of her heart. Was it dread, or something else that made sweat bead on her brow?

Twilight licked her lips as her eyes took in the titles of each page. 'Alicorn', 'Dragon', 'Rodent', 'Bird'. Each name flew by, faster and faster, until one title appeared that she was not quite so familiar with.

'Chimera'.

Although she had heard the term before in association with griffons, Twilight had to admit that she wasn't entirely sure of its definition. That was about to change. Reading through the chapter, a growing spark of joy began pulsing through her as she took in every paragraph. Detailing what made them function and thrive, the chapter also documented basic genetic characteristics that made a creature definable as a chimera. If what she was reading were true, then draconequui fit into one of the multiple categories of species that were called chimeras.

Now, she had a target word to look out for. Discarding the biology book - it had no value now that it had served its purpose - and quickly browsing the shelves of the library, Twilight could not contain her gasp of glee as her gaze came upon the dark green cover of an old book located in the mythological section. Pulling it from its safe cocoon with her magic, she let it float in front of her for a second as she took in the gold lettering of its title.

Chimera: An Encyclopaedia of All Known Subset Species.

This was it. She was about to claim a gold star, and there was nothing that could take it away. Sitting down on the cold floor, she opened the book delicately. Skipping over the notes and going directly to the contents page, she let her eyes dart over the list until she caught sight of one particular heading. Her earlier excitement had returned tenfold, and she could barely hold back on the desire to jump around in circles as she turned to the page number that the contents had indicated.

A pleased sigh escaped her throat when the word 'Draconequus' flashed into focus. Written in neat script at the top of the chapter, it was one of the most gorgeous things she had ever laid eyes on.

Twilight Sparkle was triumphant. Her search had not been in vain. All that work had paid off, giving her this achievement. From what she could see, there wasn't all that much written in the chapter, but she did not care. This was the first sign of anything documented about draconequui that she'd ever stumbled upon. Yes, she enjoyed reading vast amounts of information on topics she was unfamiliar with, to get a better understanding of them, but no complaint would emit from her mouth right now. The tiniest amount of knowledge was better than none at all.

Settling into a slightly more comfortable position, Twilight had to remind herself that she needed to take her time with this. She didn't want to miss out on anything important or, Celestia forbid, accidentally misinterpret a word or sentence. This was something she did not want to forget. Anything that would allow her to understand Discord just that little bit more was so very vital and precious.

As she read through the page, Twilight was unsurprised by some of the information - she'd known Discord was classed as immortal, and that he was an omnivore - but there were also things that caught her completely off guard.

"Draconequui can see a spectrum of colour unavailable to ponykind. They see the basic rainbow hues, and also colours as of yet incomprehensible to most other species. It is believed they share this trait with both the phoenix and the dragon."

Twilight blinked in confusion as she read over that last sentence again. Dragons could see colours that ponies could not? Was that true? Did that mean that Spike could see things that should couldn't? The frown was not preventable. How had she gone all these years without realising such a fact about someone she'd raised from birth? She shook her head to clear her thoughts. There was no reason to fret over it now, since she could always ask Spike about it later.

Moving on to the next part in the book, Twilight's face contorted into an odd expression of disbelief as she took in the words.

"Certain smells act as a catalyst to emotion for draconequui. The effects differ between the genders. Example: Females gain a sense of happiness from the scent of lemons, whilst males gain a sense of happiness from chocolate instead."

Twilight smirked. Well, that certainly explained a lot. She wondered if there were scents that could make Discord feel other emotions, also. This little adventure was getting more interesting by the second. Twilight read on.

"Fully grown males average at around 8 metres in length from head to tail tip."

That gave her reason to pause. That wasn't right... Was it? Discord was definitely not that big. Was he? No, of course not. He'd tower over everypony if he were. Sure, he was taller than even Celestia, but not by a margin such as what the book was implying. However, there was always the possibility that Discord was that large, but was choosing to use magic to shrink himself down. She'd seen him change his size before, so it wasn't that much of a stretch to imagine he would do so all the time.

For a creature who enjoyed invading the personal space of all who he spoke to, being closer to the general population's size would be more convenient. Maybe it was a personal preference thing?

Satisfied with that theory, Twilight shrugged in bafflement at the oddness of it all. That was not something she needed to dwell on. Focusing on the book once more, she continued to read. After a moment or two, she again came to an abrupt halt as yet another piece of information caught her attention. It was her answer. The puzzling question that had brought her to this library in the first place could now be put to rest.

Mouth parting slightly as shock welled up inside of her, Twilight's eyes narrowed as she read the words. Reading them again and again and again, a growing horror began slithering up through her body as a chill forced itself through her skin. The denial was fast and hard as it flooded her. Shaking her head, she read the sentence one more time, making sure to be slow and concise so she could absorb it properly.

Draconequui are unique in that, due to their natural life spans, they do not reach full maturity until they reach a minimum of 7000 years of age.

No. That was untrue. It had to be a lie. There was no way in Equestria that it was the truth. This had to be some sort of joke. At least, she hoped it was.

7000 years of age.

Nothing could take that long to become an adult. Nothing. It was impossible. It had to be a mistake.

Twilight grimaced. A slow maturing process was not unheard of. Spike was technically a baby dragon, despite there being less than a decade between their ages. He wouldn't be an adult for a couple dozen years at the very least. But taking thousands of years to mature? How could that even be possible?

Of course, she had encountered truly bizarre life cycles before, but nothing that was quite so... alarming?

Slamming the book shut and lifting her head, Twilight's eyes widened. All the colour drained from her face as a sudden thought tore through her mind.

She needed to talk to Celestia immediately.

-o-

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