• Published 23rd Apr 2012
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A Friend of the Night - Shotoman



Luna's depressed. She needs friends.

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Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Discord could not help but smirk. These six little ponies were the only ones capable of stopping him? What a laugh. While completely hidden from view, both mundane and magical, he did a quick analysis of his opponents while they were filled in on the situation by his favorite little alicorn.

First there was Twilight Sparkle, bearer of the Element of Magic. From the feel of things, she'd earned it. Discord couldn't remember any ponies from the times before even approaching her level of magical power apart from the Princess Sisters. Mostly level headed, and as such the unofficial leader this little group, though not without her moments of neurosis. The glue that held this group of six together, while simultaneously being kept in check herself by the other five.

Applejack, Element of Honesty. Probably more level headed than Twilight Sparkle, and honest as the day was long. Strong, dependable, hard working. Boring. Still, as the one most likely to keep the others from... falling... it would probably be best to focus his efforts on her first.

Rainbow Dash, Element of Loyalty. Brash and headstrong. Smarter than she let on, but prone to leaping before thinking. She took a lot of pride in her skills as a flier, but even more in her never-leave-a-pony-hanging attitude. A move-in to Ponyville, with loyalties to both her hometown and her current friends. That was something worth looking into.

Fluttershy, Element of Kindness. Weak, helpless, pathetic. Next.

Rarity, Element of Generosity. A walking contradiction. On the one talon, she primped and preened herself more than most peacocks. Her gem obsession was on par with that of dragons. Getting herself dirty? Unthinkable. On the other paw, she cut off her obsessively preened tail just to calm a rampaging dragon, buried her stifling jealousy of a friend's success for that friend's perceived happiness, and those gems she obsessed over generally went to her clients. So which was the true Rarity: the greedy one or the generous one? Discord suspected the former, but he thought that about all ponies.

Finally, his favorite: Pinkie Pie, Element of Laughter. She'd make a great harbinger of chaos, if not for that pesky morality held in her center. Of all the ponies present, she was the one that seemed to appreciate the fun Discord brought to Equestria. He almost felt bad about the need to break her with the others. Almost.

Oh, oh, wait. The best part was coming up. Celestia had opened up the safe containing the Elements of Harmony and was just about to open the fancy box they were in. Not surprising to Discord, the box was empty. Oh, the look of surprise on her face was priceless! Then Celestia had to give him the perfect opener by saying “This doesn't make sense.” Who was Discord to deny his audience?

“Aw, make sense? What fun is there in making sense?” Let the games begin.

~FIM~

Luna was breathing in long controlled breaths, desperately trying to calm down, which was unfortunately her sister's strength rather than hers. She knew Discord was using her own fears and insecurities in order to turn her to his way of thinking. This particular stunt was a perfect two for the price of one, as it no doubt rattled Celestia almost as much as it did her. She knew this was no thousand year banishment—that if she could remain calm, either she, Celestia, or the Bearers of the Elements would free her from this trial.

Knowing this and believing it were, unfortunately, two very different things, and the panic and despair were creeping up on her, as evidenced by the tips of her mane and tail turning a dull gray color. Her breathing was beginning to speed up at that particular realization. She closed her eyes and slowed her breathing again. She knew what her enemy was up to. She could beat this. She had to. She didn't believe a word of it.

~FIM~

Celestia watched as Twilight Sparkle led the charge out to the now rearranged gardens, full of confidence and vigor. Discord had left a ridiculous riddle as to the location of the Elements, and Twilight had figured the answer lay in the massively expanded hedge maze. Celestia could only hope she was correct—Twilight was a most intelligent pony, after all—but something was nagging her that the quest would not be nearly that easy. “I know you're still there, Discord. You might as well show yourself.”

Discord popped into being in front of her, that infuriatingly happy smile on his face. “Am I really getting that predictable, Celestia? I should work on that a bit, what with my job description and all.” Her silent glare could almost have turned him back to stone on its own, if he didn't relish the reaction so much.

“You really are so grim, Celestia. I think it's gotten worse over the millennia. I suppose you're wondering what your role is in this little game of mine? Isn't it obvious? You are a non-participant this time around.” A snap of a talon later, and the two enemies were standing in Celestia's private chamber. Another snap, and the door to the room vanished, leaving a solid wall.

“Oh, but don't worry. You've got ring side seats.” Using his talon, Discord drew a large rectangle in the wall facing the bed, and with a snap, the rectangle became a window of some sort, with a black frame, and written in silver lettering upon the lower middle of the frame was the word "Pony." Through the window Celestia could clearly see Twilight and her friends approaching the entrance to the maze. “Oh, my,” Discord said in mock surprise. “They reached the entrance already. Looks like I gotta go. Ciao.” And with a pop of magic, Discord was gone.

~FIM~

How long had Luna been here? Hours? Days? Probably not days yet, but time on the moon was nonetheless always difficult to gauge. She was losing this battle of will and she knew it. Her previous imprisonment on this desolate rock was still too recent, the scars running too deep. No matter what she told herself in order to stay calm, an irrational despair simply kept running strong in her heart, and the gray was slowly creeping along her body.

Then she heard something, and the gray stopped. It couldn't have been real. She had to have been hearing things. But then she heard it again, and the gray began to recede ever so slightly. It was a voice, calling her name. A voice she knew. Luna spun in all directions, looking for the source, and found it—far off in the distance, visible only due to the flat terrain and dull colors, was a speck of green. Luna laughed a hysteric laugh as tears came unbidden to her eyes, and tried to take off in flight after the green glimmer of hope in front of her, but the air was too thin to keep her aloft for more than a couple of wing beats. She simply resorted to galloping, the gray in her coat receding further as she did.

~FIM~

Discord was thoroughly enjoying—how had he put it?—the “New and Improved Ponyville.” These ponies had lived in relative peace, harmony, and order for so long that they simply didn't know what to do with themselves when true chaos and disorder came along to mess with them. That dark purple one with the berry cutie mark in particular was most fun to play with.

Breaking the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony had been child's play. He simply had to divide them up, prey upon their own hidden fears and weaknesses, add a little Discord magic to the mix, and viola! Instant victory. The only difficult one was, much to his surprise, Fluttershy. He was embarrassed to admit that as weak as she seemed, she was completely unflappable where it counted. He'd had to change her mind through stupid brute force, and where was the fun in that? It still irked him, to be honest. Oh, young Twilight Sparkle was still putting forth a brave front, still trying to fight on, but one last push would be all she needed to see things his way. Speaking of... Discord checked his watch. “If my calculations are correct they should be coming out of the library right about...”

“Look out! Here comes Tom!” The shout was followed by the sound of glass shattering and a loud 'thud.' Discord floated over to the library to find the Element Bearers, minus one, gathered around a large boulder just outside the tree that formed the library. Each one was wearing the tacky piece of jewelry that actually was their respective Element of Harmony, though the indifferent looks on the grayed out ponies' faces made it clear how this confrontation was going to go.

“Well, well, well. I see you managed to find the Elements of Harmony. How terrifying.” Discord didn't even bother hiding his smirk.

Twilight stood straight, an almost convincing look of triumph on her face. “Discord! I've figured out your lame riddle. You're in for it now!”

“I certainly am. You've clearly out dueled me, and now it's time for me to meet my fate.” Discord created a pair of sunglasses for his eyes and a large red and white target for his chest to emphasize his sarcasm. “I'm prepared to be defeated now, ladies. Fire when ready.”

Twilight Sparkle glared at the,,, the thing in front of her that turned all her friends into complete jerks. “Formation, NOW!” she ordered, the dull ponies complying with less than enthusiastic mutterings. The unicorn glared back at the library. “Rainbow Dash! Get over here!” It took considerable self-control for Discord not to burst out laughing then and there. Instead of Rainbow Dash, Twilight's little baby dragon emerged from the library, wearing the Element of Loyalty around his neck.

Really now, was it that much of a surprise to anyone when the Elements failed so spectacularly?

Discord's sheer glee was fit to burst from his body as he watched the Element Bearers continue to turn on each other, as Twilight could only stand in stunned disbelief at the center of it all. “Bravo, ponies, bravo!" he said. "Harmony in Equestria is officially dead. Discord rules, Celestia drools.” Discord continued to laugh, watching as harsh words were shared and friends deserted friends, until only one shocked, angry, and devastated little unicorn was all that remained.

“FINE! Leave!” Twilight shouted at the retreating forms of her former friends. “See if I care! I don't need you guys either! With friends like you, who needs...” Twilight's voice broke ever so slightly. “...Enemies...?” Discord watched with pure delight as Celestia's prized and faithful student turned from brilliant purple to dull gray before his very eyes. It was a double victory in his eyes, for he knew back in her little tower in Canterlot his hated arch-enemy had watched every second. With this game finished and out of the way, perhaps it was time to make a couple of house calls.

~FIM~

Though running had become difficult—the air was as thin as the top of some of Equestria's highest mountains—Luna sped up when it became clear her target was who she thought it was. “SUGAR HEART!” she shouted, The Voice echoing throughout the plains. Sugar Heart herself was already running toward her, but sped up upon hearing her call.

When the two ponies met, Sugar Heart buried herself in Luna's front legs, as Luna gently rested her head on her young friend's back. Sugar Heart was struggling for breath, very nearly hyperventilating. After a moment, she began one of her fear-induced ramblings. “Omigosh omigosh omigosh we're on the moon aren't we we've been banished to the moon how did we get on the moon what are we doing on the moon?

Luna shushed Sugar Heart as gently as she was able—she was still rather unused to gentleness. “We are fine. This is no permanent banishment. It is an enemy from the times of old wreaking petty revenge. This was a punishment aimed at us. Not thee.” Sugar Heart's breathing slowed to normal and Luna stood straight and looked down upon her sternly. “Speaking of, what art thou doing here? We told thee to run.”

Sugar Heart shrugged. "You told me to run, but needed me to stay.”

Luna blinked in surprise. Sugar Heart had spoken so frankly, so immediately, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Luna smiled as she lowered her head to resume her equine hug. “Dearest Sugar Heart. Whatever are we to do with thee?”

Sugar Heart chuckled. “Not much left to do, is there? I'm already banished to the moon.”

Luna laughed. She actually laughed. “What is it about thee that makes everything seem better?”

“Oh gag me! Get a room you two.” Luna quickly spun to face the mocking new voice as Sugar Heart stumbled behind her protective form, blushing furiously.

Hovering in front of the pair was an ornate body mirror, but instead of reflecting naturally, a face that could be one of a pony if one squinted real hard was smirking back at them. “DISCORD!” Luna shouted.

“'Discord!' 'Discord!' Anybody ever tell you that you sound like a broken record, Little Luna?” He removed himself from the mirror, that smile plastered on his smug face. “You're looking good, by the way. Much bluer than I was expecting.” Discord's gaze shifted to Sugar Heart. “Ah, it's the little servant filly from before. That is a new variable.”

Luna narrowed her eyes dangerously. “What does thou want? Art thou here to gloat?”

Discord shrugged. “A bit. A bit. I thought you'd be interested in seeing how your dearest big sister was doing.” He gestured to the mirror, and Luna gasped. The image in the glass was that of Celestia, lying on her bed looking at something hanging from the wall, tears streaming down her face. Most distressing was the gray that had crept through two thirds of her body.

“WHAT DID THOU DO TO HER, DISCORD?”

“Do? Do? I didn't do anything.” Oh, how Luna would have loved to buck that smile right off his face. “You know as well as I do that the two of you are too powerful for me to corrupt directly, even if doing it that way wasn't completely boring.” Discord tapped the glass with a talon. “But those little fillies the Elements of Harmony have bonded to? Simple as pie. I just let Celestia watch as I did my thing. You know how... invested Celestia gets with her personal students.”

Luna glared at him. “AND THOU ART ENJOYING THYSELF AS SEVEN PONIES SUFFER UNDER THY DIRECT ADMINISTRATIONS?”

Discord smirked. “Well, honestly it's supposed to be eight. You're looking awfully chipper for a pony who's been spending the last day suffering her greatest fear.” He pulled at his goat's beard thoughtfully. “Oh. OhohohohHO! This is perfect! Little Luna's made a friend! That makes things so much easier.”

Luna placed herself protectively in front of said friend. “We know thy tricks, Discord. Thou will not separate us to face thy challenges alone.”

“Oh, dear,” Discord said, sarcasm dripping off his voice. “Without separating you, my games are simply more trouble than they'd be worth. Too bad I can't just change a normal little earth pony's mind with a snap of my fingers. Oh wait! I can.”

With a pop, Discord vanished, appearing behind Sugar Heart, and tapped her upside the head, before zipping straight up to avoid Luna's magical blast. “Oh, no,” Luna said under her breath as she saw her friend go wide eyed and slack jawed. Her heart dropped to her hooves when Sugar Heart's color changed from brilliant green to dull gray. “Sugar Heart?” Luna asked, for once her voice barely above a whisper.

Sugar Heart, her coat now completely gray, looked up at Luna, her expression completely dispassionate. “Was there something you needed, Princess?” she said in a clipped, professional tone. Princess. Sugar Heart had not called Luna just "Princess" in almost a year.

Discord's grin grew into a smile of pure delight when he saw Luna's head drop. Any moment now and he should be seeing gray creep along her body. Wait a second. That wasn't supposed to happen. Her mane and tail were supposed to be drooping and listless, not swirling around above her head as if caught in a violent storm. Eyes closed, Luna raised her head, and Discord could see that tears were indeed streaming down her face. But when her eyes snapped open, they were glowing with the intensity and malevolence of a nightmare.