• Published 13th Sep 2014
  • 5,653 Views, 258 Comments

The Seventh Element - PaisleyPerson

Thestrals are thought extinct. But what will happen when one moves to Ponyville? Disguised as an earth pony, Acrylic does her best to fit in. Can she keep the secret, or will she expose her entire race?

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Chapter 13: King of Chaos

Chapter 13
King of Chaos

Half of Graphite Sketch’s orders were in progress, but I still had time on my hooves before the first layers finished drying. With nothing much to do, I found my mind wandering. Not surprisingly, it drifted back to the nameless face from the Gala. I’d never seen him before that night, but something about the stallion seemed familiar. I couldn’t put my hoof on it, but I was uncannily comfortable around him.

Stepping out into the open air to clear my mind. My thoughts switched to the sky. How nice it would be to free fall a couple of times about now! If only. Then a pang of guilt smacked into my chest like a hammer. What right did I have to be daydreaming about love when I knew I’d only break his heart when he found out about my wings? His and mine both. I sighed, and flopped into the grass, half wishing a rain cloud would start drenching the world below. It was too sunny and happy to be thinking about such painful thoughts, but if it was dark and cloudy? Wishing wasn’t going to help me here, either. It wasn’t scheduled to rain until tomorrow. I was going to reschedule a time for these thoughts when a cold drop landed on my flank. It jolted me out of my daydreams altogether, and I opened my eyes to the face of a... pink? thundercloud. Did I wish that hard?

I hadn’t wished for it to be raining chocolate milk. Yet, the brown milky substance was flooding the grass. Shoot! I’d left a couple of paintings out to dry! I made a mad dash for them, but thankfully, the small clouds had not yet hit these. I dragged them inside, shook the milk from my coat, and watched out the window. What was this? A spell gone wrong? Twilight would know. Unfortunately, that meant I had to return to the sticky rain outside. I supposed an explanation would be worth it, though.

I locked up the shop before running into town, which had only sprinklings of the rain. I checked the library, but neither Twilight nor Spike was there. Bon Bon thought she’d run out to check on Sweet Apple Acres after the milk storm hit. I thanked her and headed out. It made sense. There was no telling what damage chocolate milk rain could do to AJ’s orchard.

I hadn’t gotten too far when all six of my friends came storming out from that direction. They stopped before they ran into me, but just by a hair.

“Whoa, guys! Where are you all off to? And what’s with this chocolate rain?”

“Nopony’s sure, but Princess Celestia is calling us to the castle. Chances are, we’ll get some answers there.”

“Right,” I said, heading off for the train station. When I didn’t hear hoofsteps behind me, I turned back to see their sympathetic but uneasy expressions.

“Well... it’s more like an Elements of Harmony thing...”

“Oh.” My face fell. Invitation only.

“Twilight, there’s no reason Acrylic can’t tag along for moral support, whatever this is,” Rarity spoke up.

“No, that’s okay,” I tried to smile. “Really. You all go on.”

“Are you sure? We’d be glad to have ya,” Rainbow tried again.

“It’s okay,” I repeated. “You guys go ahead.”

“You heard her, girls. Come on! We don’t have time to loose!” I heard Applejack chide Twilight before they left earshot.

“That was mighty rude of ya,” she hissed. While they charged off to the train station, I watched them go with a heavy heart. There go the Elements of Harmony without me. Dejected, I returned to my shop. At least I could take a warm bath to wash off all this chocolate milk.

I’d been afraid something like this might happen. That was the problem with being friends with all the Elements of Harmony when you weren’t one yourself. Celestia called them all out but me. Equestria didn’t need me. But I needed them to need me. Still, Rarity had wanted me to tag along. If I could have come, why did Twilight say anything about the elements? Was it just that she didn’t want me around?

My heartache washed away with the rest of the chocolate milk. Warm water did wonders for the troubled mind. After rinsing the sticky brown droplets from my coat, I lay back in the tub. Maybe I should just take off work today. A flight over the Everfree couldn’t hurt. Then again, work kept my mind busy so it didn’t have a chance to wander to... other subjects. Subjects like the stallion I fancied or my exclusion from the Element assignment.

In the end, I compromised and went out for a walk in the Everfree to collect more flowers for pigment. I was reluctant to get out of the warm bath, but finally pulled the plug. I let my mane dry for a while before putting it up in the ties, finally topping it off with my hat. I left my saddlebags and chose a simple wicker basket instead. I didn’t want the new saddlebags to become dingy in the mucky woods. Now ready to face the dark forest, I started outside. I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met my eyes.

The grass had been turned into a checkerboard of different colors, fish swam through the air, a chocolate milk rain storm was on its way, and off in the distance, I could see a herd of buffalo all wearing tutus as they performed a ballerina’s routine. My jaw dropped, depositing the wicker basket on the ground. This must have been what the Elements were called out for. I was frozen to the spot in shock, taking it all in. But then a smile sprouted onto my face. It was beautiful! Not what most were used to, sure, but it had its own beauty. You just had to look for it.

I abandoned my flower gathering altogether and ran back inside. I tore my last canvas off the shelf, balanced a couple jars of paint on my back, and dragged an easel outside. I knew the Elements of Harmony would soon defeat whatever was causing this, so I wanted to capture it while I had the chance. I had just finished setting up in record time when the sun and moon suddenly switched places. That’s strange. It was only two in the afternoon. I decided not to question it and quickly hurried to fetch a lantern.

It changed from night to day every few minutes, but I didn’t let that keep me from painting. When it was dark, I relied on lantern light to provide enough illumination for me to keep going from memory. In the light, I kept my eyes out for any new unusual landmarks I could add to the picture. Rolling hills of pale pink, blue and purple checkerboard anchored mutated flora and fauna while flying pigs soared overhead. Herds of stampeding long-legged rabbits trampled popcorn fields, and a cotton candy cloud storm thundered in the background. I even captured the image between constantly changing night and day, one side of the sky black as night with the other a faded sky blue.

“How strange,” a mysterious voice echoed overhead. I only briefly looked up from my work, but seeing nopony, went back to my painting. Perhaps it was just a side effect of the chaotic landscape around me. I was proven wrong when the voice echoed again. “Most ponies try and run from my beautiful chaos. But not you. Here you are, right in the middle of it. And what’s this? A painting of my handiwork? Finally! A pony who appreciates my disharmony! I must say, it’s about time somepony noticed how beautiful chaos can be.” I was still unable to match a face to the voice. It didn’t help, either, that the sun had gone down.

“This is your doing?” I called out to the air. “Well, then show yourself. An artist should take credit for his work, after all.”

“An artist? Why, I suppose you could call me that.” The sun finally came up. I suddenly felt somepony wrap an arm around my shoulder, and turned to look right into the eyes of the most mismatched creature I’d ever seen. His face was gray, and almost resembled a pony’s. His eyes were yellow with red pupils of different sizes. Thick white eyebrows lined them, and a matching beard trickled down from his chin. A cream colored antler marked the left side of his head, while the right was burdened with a heavy looking, curling horn with a pearly blue sheen. A short black mane lined the gray neck of his, but that drab color soon switched to a vibrant chocolate brown coat. His body was long and lithe, brining him to Celestia’s height. The massive paw curled around me was that of a lion’s, while his other arm resembled an eagle’s talon. Two wings sprouted close to the center of his back, one a purple bat wing and the other a bright blue bird’s. My eyes moved down the long curling body to find a green scaled dragon leg and a tan cleft goat hoof. The brown fur eventually yielded to a shining red snake tail, topped off by dragon spines and tipped with one last white tuft of fur.

“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Discord, the spirit of chaos and disharmony. But tell me, my dear artiste, what is your name?”

“Acrylic. Acrylic Storm,” I cooley replied.

“And you aren’t bothered by the sudden... shall we say... renovations I’ve made to your lovely town?”

“As an artist, I’ve learned to find beauty in everything. I can... appreciate the majesty in something even as wacky as this.”

“But it makes no sense. How is it that a pony like you appreciate this level of chaos?”

“There’s no sense to be made of it, so why try?” I retorted. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d really like to finish the popcorn patch before the sun goes down.”

“Oh, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to find somepony just like me!” he went on, ignoring my request.

“I’m not much at all like you. I don’t create chaos,” I pointed out, retrieving my brush from the palette.

“Not with magic, you don’t. But if not chaotic, what do you call this?” Somehow, the Flipside Reflection painting I’d made of Luna had been teleported into his arms. I was greatly perturbed by what he implied, but quickly wiped the shocked expression off of my face.

“That piece simply depicts both sides to Luna. At one end of the spectrum, you have her dark side, Nightmare Moon. At the other extreme, you have the young princess hidden underneath.

“Oh, don’t try to deny it. We’re just alike, you and I. Two misplaced souls in a world we don’t belong in. We were meant to be alone.” Was that a jibe about my thestral side? How did he know?

““I’m nothing like you.”

“Well, let’s see how long you can keep that up. Tell you what. As the new ruler of Equestria, I’ll be needing royal staff. How would you like to be Equestria’s new royal artist? We’ll need somepony to capture scenes of the glorious changes I’ve made to Equestria, and I’d prefer that they be a volunteer.”

“Thank you, but no,” I flatly answered, returning my brush to the palette as I waited for daylight to return.

“Well, if you change your mind, I’ll be gloating at the new chaos capital of Equestria!” He began waddling off. “Oh, and so long as you’re painting my wondrous handiwork, I’ll give you exclusive privileges, hmm?” With a snap of his fingers, a bubble suddenly formed around my working space. While I could tell that it was still nighttime outside the bubble, I could see perfectly fine. Looking down, even the checkerboard had returned to grass. I had my own bubble of sanity lost amongst a world of chaos. At least I could finish the painting, now.

It was missing something. I took a step back to try and figure out what it was. Upturned houses floating in midair? Check. A rhinoceros trio throwing a tea party over a giant mushroom table? Check. Plants walking around on the tips of their roots? Check. So what did I need to add? Of course! The one who started it all. I hadn’t completely filled in the sky, so I quickly brushed in the colors of Discord between night and day. He looked regal, flying over his ‘renovated’ domain with no opposition whatsoever. Speaking of which, how come the Elements of Harmony hadn’t defeated him yet?

“Acrylic!” I turned around. Speak of the devil. Twilight ran up the hill for me, sticking to the grass so she didn’t slip on the soapy roads. The others were behind her, wresting in the grass. Their coats looked strangely dull. “Oh, thank goodness! I need your help! Discord’s loose, wrecking havoc in Equestria, and he’s turned everypony against their element so they can’t be used against him and... wait a second. How’d you do that?” She stopped in front of my bubble, and tentatively stretched out a hoof. For whatever reason, she couldn’t pass through it. Instead, I stepped outside, feeling only a tingling of magic as I exited the safety of my barrier.

“I didn’t. Discord put it up for me.”

“Discord was here?! Look, I don’t know what he told you, but you can’t trust him.”

“I know, Twi.”

“You do? Then what’s that?” She jabbed a hoof in the direction of my painting.

“A work in progress?” I guessed.

“But you made his chaos look... beautiful.”

“It is beautiful, Twilight.”

“No, no, no! Acrylic would never say that. You’re not fooling anypony, Discord! What’ve you done with Acrylic? The real Acrylic?”

“What? Twilight, it’s me!”

“Stop playing games, Discord!”


“I said give. Her. BACK!”

With that, Twilight tackled me. She tried to get me in a headlock, and I instinctively started fighting back. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” The ponies below chanted. I bucked, kicked, lashed out for all I was worth. She had a tight grip, but I finally succeeded in loosening her from my back. She was still hanging onto my neck, and kicked back. I saw a hoof heading for my face, and tried kicking her off first. I was too late. I was thrown back with great force, landing in the soapy slide covered in cuts and bruises. I kept sliding all the way down the hill, bowling into four other ponies before stopping. My eye felt swollen where she’d planted a punch. No doubt it was black. I hadn’t taken so much damage the whole time we were in the Everfree.

I was now faced with four anti-element ponies who wanted to join in the ‘fun.’ Fluttershy tried to swoop down to dive bomb me, but I ducked in time. Applejack took the chance to whip a lasso out, knocking me over. Pinkie jumped on top of the dog pile as though she was doing a stage dive. I jumped out of the pile before she landed on me, clunking into a large boulder in the process.

“Hiyah!” Rarity cried, kicking me away. “He’s mine! All MINE!” I’d had enough. With an earth-shattering bray, I came down hard on the ground to create a shockwave that knocked everypony away from me.

“BACK! STAY BACK!” I thundered. My coat always looked gray, but a few strands of hair fell into my face. They were dull compared to the saturated sapphire they used to be. At this point, I didn’t even care. Twilight was standing on top of the hill, looking horrified. Now she knew that it was really me.

“Acrylic, I-” she choked on her own words, tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I thought...” I didn’t want to hear any more. I stormed back to my shop, locking every door and window in the house. How was I supposed to forgive this? Attacking me for being who I was? They didn’t even know I was a thestral, and outright assaulted me! No, these weren’t my friends. Not anymore, they weren’t.

I was hiding under the sheets, tears in my eyes. Maybe Discord was right. Maybe we were just alike. I knew now that I didn’t belong here. But I couldn’t return to my family with the thestrals, either. Where was there left for me to go? Discord... the only one who understood. I knew that he had tried taking over Equestria before, but even he seemed preferable to going back to those so-called ‘friends’ of mine.

I stayed holed up in my bed until sunlight seeped through my closed blinds. No, that couldn’t be right. Even with constantly changing night and day, no light come through as of yet. I drew back the curtain, and in a flash of light, the landscape returned to the familiar setting I knew and loved before Discord’s sudden appearance. So they’d done it. The Elements of Harmony had finally banded together to rise up against him. I shut the curtains angrily. He’d been my only other option, and now they’d taken it away from me, too! Were they trying to ruin my life? I stormed back to the bed and tried to hide from it all.

It wasn’t long before I heard a knocking on my door.

“Acrylic?” somepony softly called. “Are you home?”

“Go away!”

“Please, let us in. We just want to talk,” the voice I now recognized as Twilight said.

“Please? I mean... if it’s okay with you.”

“We’re all really, super-duper sorry!” Pinkie tried, sounding more glum than I’d ever heard her.

“Can you ever forgive us?” Rarity tried. I gritted my teeth. My very closest friend had betrayed me, hit me, even, and now she came back thinking I could forgive her just like that?

“Please? We all feel mighty awful ‘bout what happened,” AJ put in.

“Come on, Acrylic. I’m going to get lonely out here!” Rainbow called out.

“Acrylic, I’m sorry. I should never have said those things. I should have let you come to Canterlot. I wish you’d have been there with us. I can’t change what we’ve done, but please... just come out and talk?” I sniffled, wiping my eyes on the sheets. I had no choice. Nowhere else to go. I had to forgive them if I wanted any chance at getting my old life back. I dried my eyes, though the redness was still evident. Slowly, I dragged myself downstairs, moping the whole way. I glanced over at the mirror to see most of the color return to my mane, but it still seemed a shade too gray. I still didn’t care. I opened the door to the hopeful ponies waiting outside, and tramped past them without a word.

“Look, we’re all really sorry about what happened.”

“Forget it,” I sagged.

“So... that means you forgive us?”

“There’s no changing it now,” was all I said. They took it to mean yes, and stopped me in my tracks for a celebratory group hug. Once released, I just continued on for my work station. I’d play nice, but deep down, I hadn’t forgiven them. I hadn’t forgiven them at all.

Spike soon informed the girls that they were invited to Canterlot for a special thank-you ceremony. All of Equestria was invited, and several of the locals from Ponyville came up for it. Rarity dragged me along when I tried to refuse arriving. They thought my refusal was just because I hadn’t represented an element to help defeat Discord. They didn’t want me feeling left out. Needless to say, I felt more out of place at the ceremony, lost in the crowds who’d come in honor of the special occasion. Even Spike got a place on the stage up front, but I was left behind in the sea of faces. I couldn’t even work up the excitement to cheer with the rest when their stained glass window was revealed. Again, I’d been left out of the mural.

I felt myself being isolated from the group over the following months. My night flights with Rainbow were growing fewer and father apart. I always found an excuse to stay home from going out to dinner with everypony else. I even skipped a few of Pinkie’s parties. No pony noticed my absence. Discord’s words kept ringing in my ears. ‘We were meant to be alone.’ My friends seemed farther away than ever, and they managed to have a high old time without me.

They moved on after the Discord incident, but I didn’t. I kept to myself, busy with Graphite Sketch’s now regular placement of orders. We kept the mail ponies busy as letters, paintings and payment were sent back and forth. I was informed that I had my own spot in his gallery where the paintings I sent were always displayed. According to him, they sold well. I was running out of canvases, and had to turn to a supplier in Canterlot to keep me stocked. I was so caught up in managing my business that I’d quite forgotten about the world beyond my shop. That is, until a certain pony paid me a visit.

“I have a delivery for Miss Acrylic Storm,” a voice called from the door.

“I’ll be just a moment. If you could set it on the counter, it would be quite helpful,” I called from the back. I heard the clunk of a package being placed as directed, and set my brushes back on the table. I didn’t have time to wipe the paint off my coat, so I went out as I was. I instantly regretted it. The chocolate coated stallion from the gala stood in the lobby.