• 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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Chapter 2

-o-

The harsh sound of laughter was the first thing that registered in her mind.

The second, unfortunately, was the feeling of flour sticking to her body. Taking in a deep breath, Luna stared down at her legs for a moment, determining whether or not the white dust could rival Celestia in terms of sheer paleness.

Somehow, the dry, powder-like substance had got on every strand of hair she had, including her mane and tail. She was only too grateful that her eyes had not been touched, though she suspected her normally dark lashes were now quite the opposite. Resisting the urge to sniff - a sneeze was not desired right now, as the volume of guffaws would only increase in response - Luna felt just a smidgen of amusement well up within her.

Rapidly squashing it down before it could manifest itself as a giggle, Luna dismissed all positive emotions from her mind. Settling on letting a strong irritation take over her thoughts, she lifted her head and glared at the one who'd attacked her in such a childish manner.

"It is not humorous!" she bellowed, her voice taking on what she assumed was a royal tone. Fighting back on the growl that threatened to develop when all Discord did was shake his head, Luna sneered. The mismatched creature was clutching his stomach as though it were causing him a great torment, but Luna knew for certain that he was not in pain. He was being ridiculous.

Opening his eyes, Discord paused mid-chuckle to wipe a tear from his eye. "I disagree entirely, my dear. You look hilarious!"

Then, without any more hesitation, Discord allowed his glee to take full control. Not caring about the image he was giving off to any other ponies who were in the kitchen with them - did he have no shame? - Discord collapsed to the floor in hysterics. It was quite the spectacle. Luna continued to watch him, unmoving, as her annoyance quickly transformed into a blinding fury.

The problem was, she wasn't upset with him. His antics were playful and immature, but that was what she expected. His behaviour had always been the same; Luna had never really thought it a chore to be in his company. He was merely having fun, albeit in a way she deemed unfit for a being of his power, and he was mindful of making sure physical harm didn't come to her.

What angered Luna, what truly made her want to scream to the skies in frustration, was the fact that she found his little prank funny. She was supposed to be royalty, a princess with great responsibility. Yet here she was, in a silent rage because she was struggling to keep her own laughs bottled up and tucked away.

Provoking Discord was never a good idea. If she let him see that she found his silly tricks amusing, she would regret it for the rest of her given life. There would be no stopping him. And, more importantly, Celestia would never forgive her. She would be dubbed a traitor; her sister would believe that she had allied herself with the enemy. It would start a war. Not a real war, of course, but Luna knew that a battle of the pranks was not a matter to be taken lightly.

Luna bit her lip. If it were to ever come to that, she understood that she would actually betray her sister and pick Discord as her teammate in the fight. He was a sure fire shot to victory, after all.

"Do you really want me to add water to the mix, Luna?"

The question pulled her abruptly from her thoughts. Blinking rapidly a few times to regain some sort of focus on the matter at hand, Luna's eyes narrowed slightly as she threw Discord a quizzical look. What was he talking about? What did he mean by-

Oh.

It was only then that she realised something - he was no longer laughing. The cheerful sound had gone, vanishing from reality and leaving nothing but silence in its wake. If his stance were any indication - folded arms, straight back, and head turned away from her - it seemed that he found her momentary lapse in focus an insult.

"You've been standing there in a daze for a ridiculous amount of time. I thought you'd spontaneously died while standing up somehow," Discord said, pitch startlingly high. He scowled. "It's no fun if you don't react properly."

Before she could reply, defending herself and her actions, he disappeared in a flash of light. Luna's lips drew into a thin line. Unable to prevent her features from lowering into a frown, she turned her gaze back to the flour coating her body. The sigh that passed through her lips was quiet, but unmistakable.

Why did she have a feeling that today was going to be long and arduous?

-o-

Every step Twilight took was filled with reluctance. As she got closer and closer to the room that Celestia was in, nerves began hitting her without mercy. She had thought long and hard about how she would broach the subject of Discord's age with Celestia. Initially, she'd been in a rush, flying out of the library in near hysteria. As she'd made her way through the long corridors of the castle, she'd forced her legs to slow to a more reasonable pace.

After all, her panic could easily be for nothing, couldn't it? There was a chance - a mighty large one, she assured herself - that she was mistaken in her assumption of just how old Discord was. Besides, even if he were younger than 7000, did that really matter? Just because something was written in a book, didn't make it an absolute truth. Books were capable of being fictional.

The walk from the library had given her time to think. All the information she'd read was not guaranteed to be fact. Authors were not infallible; they got things wrong just like everyone else.

There was nothing to be concerned about.

Then why am I trembling? Her mind screeched at her in stubborn anger as she finally reached the door. The answer to that little question was obvious, though she didn't want to admit it out loud.

The fact of the matter was, if the book turned out to be telling the truth, and Discord was younger than the age it declared was needed to reach adulthood for his species, then every insignificant detail surrounding Discord's complete history would need to be studied and edited. If he were a child... How could it not have an impact? His motivations, desires, and methods of gaining said wants would all need to be re-evaluated.

And, perhaps more importantly, the punishments in response to his actions would need to be scrutinised. It was all too taxing to think about. What if she and her friends had been attacking an infant that was merely acting out?

... Had Celestia imprisoned a child in stone for a thousand years?

Fighting back the urge to shudder, Twilight willed her legs to continue onwards. Pushing open the door, she was immediately greeted with a friendly, patient smile. Returning the show of happiness with a shy grin, Twilight stepped fully into the room and proceeded to walk over to Celestia so she would not need to shout to be heard.

This was good. She was keeping her calm. All she'd done was overreact, and now Celestia would clear up any of her concerns. Twilight would be made to feel a fool when the older princess declared Discord's age, speaking a number much higher than what was required. She was being silly. Discord was simply an ancient prankster; that was all. Her gut feeling was wrong in this particular situation.

"Princess Celestia?"

"Hello, Twilight. Did you find what you were looking for?" Celestia asked, quirking an eyebrow. Twilight scrunched her face into a frown.

"How old is Discord?"

Although she hadn't meant to blurt it out quite so abruptly - subtlety didn't seem to be her strongest point - Twilight became awash with relief as the tenseness in her body dissipated. Not a single word had been spoken with a crack in its structure. She was being paranoid, but that didn't mean she would show it.

Celestia's head lifted a touch. Her interest was clearly being piqued, yet confusion became apparent in her expression. Twilight blanked. Then, she realised exactly what she had done - ignored Celestia's question. Cringing inwardly, Twilight hoped and prayed that the sudden desire to curl up in a ball and hide did not show in her body language. Was she always this rude when scrounging for answers to her own quandaries?

"This is important to your research?" Celestia's tone betrayed any attempt to cover up the bemusement she was now experiencing.

Nodding excitedly at the excuse that had been given to her, Twilight smiled sheepishly. "It's... um, something I've been wondering about for a while, actually." She coughed out a pitiful chuckle. "Knowing his age might help me figure out some of the aspects of his decisions while he was ruling, and how it affected the timeline."

Her smile became tight and horrifically false. It was clear that she was spouting nonsense into the outside world. Judging from the way Celestia's features hardened, if only by the minimalist of amounts, she wasn't oblivious to the fact that Twilight was speaking utter drivel. Regardless of this, Celestia shook her head and finally settled on giving Twilight a tiny smile.

"By my calculations, he is just under 4000 years old." Celestia's mouth widened into a cheeky smirk. "Though he would hastily deny it, he is younger than I."

Every ounce of hope Twilight had managed to salvage since the start of her quest diminished instantly. That... was not the answer she was expecting. Feeling the control she held over her body decrease somewhat, Twilight swallowed the bile that was now sifting its way up her throat.

Why were her legs shaking? Had the room been this cold when she'd first entered it?

"A- Are you sure?" she pressed, shocked at her own ability to still form coherent sentences. Now it was Celestia's turn to frown.

"I'm certain. Although... I suspect it is possible his ageing halted while he was encased in his stone prison. He could be nearer 3000. You would need to clarify with him."

This time, Twilight did not catch the gasp before it passed forcefully out her mouth. The sharp sound was irrevocably loud.

"3000?! Bu- But- But that's not even half the age he'd need to be!" she yelled, feeling the uncomfortable pull of hysteria tugging away at her mind once more. She let out a peculiar, strangled sound that seemed to vibrate along her tongue. "That's not right. That can't be true, can it? Can it?! No, no, no, no, no."

Gritting her teeth together, Twilight lost all focus on everything that was not important - the heat of her breath rushing over her lips, the startled noises coming from directly in front of her - and let her thoughts race as she tried to figure out a solution that would make sense. She snapped back up into a standing position as an idea struck her immediately. She paused. Then she blinked. Wait, when had she sat down? She didn't remember her legs giving way. Had it been involuntary?

She shook her head viciously. It didn't matter. She was once again standing on her own hooves, and a burning energy seemed to be engulfing her in its flame.

"What if the book is lying?" she asked, delighted that she'd come up with a plausible explanation. It was exactly as she'd first thought - the book was purely fictional.

"Twilight, what-"

Letting out an almost manic cackle that cut Celestia off mid-sentence, Twilight nodded firmly, before flashing the older princess a wild grin.

"That's it! Don't you see? It makes perfect sense! It's lying. No need to worry. Nothing to be concerned about. The book is clearly-"

Surprise flitted through her when a hoof planted itself abruptly over her mouth, effectively putting a stop to her rant. Blinking rapidly a few times as she took in the polished gold that was now in her line of vision, Twilight felt her eye twitch. She then lifted up her gaze until her eyes connected with the very concerned gaze of her former mentor.

"Twilight, please calm yourself," Celestia said, tone soft and filled with worry. Waiting a moment, Celestia finally seemed satisfied that Twilight would not continue rambling as she moved her hoof back to the hard floor. "What's wrong? What book do you speak of?"

Flushing slightly, Twilight's ears flattened out.

"The book that says draconequui don't reach adulthood until they're over 7000 years old," she exclaimed, before quickly clamping her own hoof over her mouth. What was that? She seriously needed to learn some tact.

It took a moment or two, but as Twilight watched, she became aware of the instant in which Celestia connected all the dots together. Right after the pieces inevitably feel into place, Celestia's entire body seemed to descend into a stark, dull paleness that Twilight had never witnessed before. She hadn't known it was possible for Celestia to get any whiter than she already was.

"I'm sorry, Twilight," she whispered, a tremble in her voice that shook Twilight to the core, "but could you repeat that final part again? I believe I must have misheard."

All Twilight wanted to do, right in that moment, was cry. She wanted to squeeze herself into a tight ball and sob until a deep, sorrowful slumber overtook her.

What could she possibly say to make this right?

-o-

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