• Published 15th Dec 2014
  • 9,853 Views, 575 Comments

This Cruel and Random World - Bluegrass Brooke

It was a simple bet. Spend one month as a pony, and prove to Celestia that he had been right all along. Discord never thought he would actually enjoy it. As the days pass, he finds himself desperate to keep up the façade a little longer.

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Prologue — The Bet

This Cruel and Random World

"He cannot be serious." Celestia stared at the floor of the throne room opening and closing her eyes—willing the scene in front of her to fade away. Unfortunately, everything remained exactly where it stood. The room's polished marble floor now more closely resembled a specimen preserved in amber. Lowering her muzzle, she inhaled deeply. Sweet? "What is it?"

One of her guards took a cautious step into it and flinched. The substance drizzled lazily from his hoof as he recoiled. "Oh, gross!" Registering her intent stare, he formalized his response, "Sorry, Ma'am. It's honey."

"Honey?" In an instant, Celestia knew who was to blame. She stretched her slender body to its fullest height. "Discord!"

A low, mocking voice echoed around the hall. "What, princess? Do you not enjoy it?"

Celestia rolled her eyes, glancing around the room for any sign of the draconequus. "This is not the place, Discord." It is never the place . . .

He revealed himself in the nearest stained glass window, sniggering like some school yard colt. "Au contraire, Celestia. This is the perfect place." With a loud crack, he materialized in front of them, levitating above the honey. "I wanted you to appreciate my gift in all its splendor."

Deciding to play along for once, Celestia raised an appraising eyebrow. "Gift?"

"Oh yes." With another crack, Discord donned a sun bonnet topped with flowers. "What could be more fitting to celebrate the arrival of summer than a room full of honey for our dear, sweet princess?"

"Of course." Though Discord's pranks were harmless, they continually inhibited productivity. Inhibitions stemming from an unhealthy level of boredom no doubt. A being as powerful and knowledgeable as Discord could hardly be blamed for acting out when no appropriate challenges were presented. Unfortunately for him, they had a dearth of crisis-level incidents at present. He would simply have to wait like the rest of them. "We require the hall, Discord. Change it back."

Discord clucked disapprovingly, wagging a talon in front of Celestia's muzzle. A snide expression contorted his features. "Yes, yes, your precious ponies and their incessant whining." He quite literally rolled his eyes on the floor, scooping them up. "What could be more important than that?"

Celestia sighed heavily. Managing Discord tried even her patience at times. Though she repeatedly explained the importance of such 'trivial matters,' he failed to show any semblance of interest or respect. Keeping him civil had become an ever-constant struggle. How had her father managed Havoc?

Discord laughed, sending a booming echo across the hall. "Cat got your tongue, Celestia?"

Celestia was not even surprised when Discord attempted to magic her tongue out of her mouth. A quick spell deflected that trick. For the love of— Seeing the disappointed expression on Discord's brought out a brilliant idea. One so simple that she could not believe it had never crossed her mind before. He was bored, so why not give him a challenge worthy of his talents? Ever so casually, she leaned against the stained glass window. "You know this game of ours could go on forever, Discord."

"Oh, inevitably." Discord was now juggling some of the more valuable statues from the hall. "There is nothing I love more than a good laugh."

She allowed the corners of her mouth to turn slightly upward. Lure him in slowly . . . "A good bet."

A muffled crash echoed around them as the statues sunk piece-wise into the honey. Discord stared in stunned disbelief, clearing his ear with a talon. "Do my ears deceive me, Celestia, or are you actually making a bet with me?"

"I am." Discord slithered up to her, ears perked forward. For once, she held his rapt interest. Best to use it to her advantage.

Discord tapped his hoof against the stone. "Well? I am waiting."

"You think so little of ponies, Discord. However, deep down, you are afraid." The words came out in a rush before she could catch the significance. Immediately, she turned from his gaze. That had been a lie. Discord did not fear ponies, but rather mistrusted them. A mistrust most warranted . . .

A heavy silence followed her words before Discord snorted a burst of golden flames as if brushing off the issue. "Hardly, Tia. If anything, your beloved ponies are afraid of me."

Though on the surface the words were confident, she could sense the sorrow hidden within them. "Perhaps it is misunderstanding that holds you back."

"Misunderstanding is it?" he scoffed, looking back at the guards—faces now white with terror.

"If you only got to know them—"

"I have known them long enough, Tia." Discord's conflicted scowl sent deep furrows along his face. Rare that he should show his age so openly. With a quick snap, the entire hall returned to its previous state of order. "I tire of this." The words cracked like thunder in the stillness that had fallen across the chamber. He lowered himself on all fours, tail encircling her legs. "Have you considered that it is your ponies that lack knowledge?"

Celestia bit back the primal fear wrought by her proximity with the draconequus. The finest hunters ever to grace this world—at least by Father's account. She had seen enough of their warriors to know how quickly they were capable of rendering a pony to a piece of consumable flesh. "Discord," she growled, "enough."

"'Enough,'" he mimicked in a high-pitched, mocking tone. His golden eyes stared challenging into her own. "Speak your mind, Tia lest I forget this conversation occurred."

She gulped, looking back towards the ponies. This could prove a great turning point or a spectacular failure. Either way, she owed it to the citizens to try. "I feel that you would benefit from prolonged contact with the ponies."

"Prolonged contact?" Discord's eyes narrowed as if she had espoused heresy in the High Temple. "And how would I be achieving that?"

"One month living in Ponyville."

Discord gave a low, rumbling chuckle that set the hairs on her neck on edge. "Are you so naïve to think they would accept my presence so easily?"

Celestia sighed heavily. As much as she longed to think they had reached the point of complete tolerance, it remained an as yet unattainable ideal. "No. I fear they would not understand if you were to appear as you are. I remember a spell of yours, back before—that." She braced herself for the reaction to her next words. "Taking on their form for a month, would it be impossible?"

Discord's snarl turned to one of purest loathing. At long last, he grumbled his response, "No. It-it could be done with relatively little effort."

"Then why not spend that time amongst them? Allow yourself the opportunity to absorb their culture, magic, society. Perhaps . . . perhaps then you would understand."

Flames danced past her mane into the throne room proper—a brilliant display of control and magic. One that caught her very breath. Discord smirked, seemingly satisfied by her response. After watching the dying embers for a time, Discord stared intently into her eyes. "Very well. How do you define success?"

"If you resist using chaos magic during the period and refrain from revealing your true identity."

"Foals' play." He leaned in until she could feel the residual heat of his flames on his nostrils. "And what if I succeed?"

"Then—" Celestia felt the words catch somewhere deep in her throat. "I will listen to a request or two from you."

Discord rolled his eyes. "Hardly a fair trade. However," he held out his paw," tis better than lying about here."

"Indeed." Celestia took it, shaking firmly. An entire month without Discord causing her trouble and a chance at having his cooperation at last. If all went well, he might even prove to be respectful in the future. Then again, that might be too much to ask . . .