• Published 15th Dec 2014
  • 9,844 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.

  • ...

It Always Falls Apart

[Authors forewarning: This chapter contains soft core gore in the last section. Not enough to warrant the gore tag, but there is blood.]

"Entropy. Time to get up. Don't want to miss the setup." A soft, elderly voice drifted into the room like a wisp of smoke.

Groaning, Discord opened his eyes to see Mrs. Plumsworth's head poking around the door. Her powder blue mane was done up in a tight bun and pressed under her bonnet; a sure sign that she was ready to start her day. "What setup?" Wincing, he somehow managed to sit up despite the stinging pain in his limbs. A quick glance out the window showed that Celestia had yet to raise the sun. "Urgh, what time is it?"

"Four." She said it with her usual sweet, dimply smile that no creature could possibly resist. "The setup for the festival starts just after dawn. I thought it would be quite the treat to walk over together."

Treat? For who? Discord rolled out of bed, gasping at the sudden pain shooting up his hooves as they struck the wooden floor. He limped over to the door to join her. "What are we doing for this festival anyway?" Admittedly, Discord had not paid much attention to Cheese's rant yesterday on the upcoming festivities. It all sounded too structured for him.

"Oh, you'll be helping the other young men with the setup. We ladies will be working on the activities." Discord watched her climb down the stairs with some trepidation. It was a miracle the wizened earth pony got around as well as she did as small and frail as she was. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, she shuffled into the kitchen.

Reluctantly, Discord followed her. He watched her pack a picnic blanket full of the mysterious sandwiches she loved so much. Despite staying with her for well over a week, he had yet to discover what vile substance she filled them with.

Knowing full well he would be scolded for touching anything in her kitchen, he sat at the table and watched her work. She set down a steaming cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. "There you are, dearie. Eat up."

Really? What am I, seven? Discord rolled his eyes and began to eat the tasteless oats. "So, you and the ladies going for a picnic?"

"Oh, yes." Mrs. Plumsworth giggled, "I've got a big game of checkers planned with the whole gang. I'm gonna knock their socks off." She stacked a mug of cider into the basket, and continued in that oh so sweet voice of hers, "You and the princess have a hot date planned?"

Discord spluttered on his coffee, "What? No, nothing like that."

"Best get on it, boy. A handsome young stallion like yourself doesn't deserve to be left all by his lonesome." She waved a hoof in an overly frisky manner that made his skin crawl. "Kiss her on the muzzle for me."

The memory of Twilight's muzzle to his floated to the forefront of his mind. It had been easy to tease her in the moment, but now he was deeply regretting it. Getting that close to her again might be dangerous in more ways than one. "I'll think about it." Yes, he would think about it. It and what an idiot he had been for ever agreeing to this little bet.

"That's it!"

Spike jerked awake, peering blearily around the darkened loft. Though he had heard Twilight's voice, the alicorn was nowhere to be seen. Getting to his feet, he made his way slowly down the stairs and stopped. The library was a complete wreck; papers, books, and parchment strewn everywhere like the aftermath of some great explosion. There in the center of it all, grinning manically was Twilight.

She turned to Spike, looking decidedly unhinged. "I've done it!"

He cringed, afraid of the answer. "Done what?"

"Found the truth behind it all, Spike." Her eyes shone with unbridled excitement. "It was right in front of me the whole time." A piece of parchment levitated towards him, and he caught it. "Send that to Discord."

"Him again? Why?" Spike frowned at the sloppily written note. "We should tell Celestia."

She clasped a hoof to his mouth, eyes darting nervously around the library. "No, no, no, no. She mustn't know, Spike. She mustn't know."

Yup. She's gone into intense paranoia mode again. Spike sighed, rolling his eyes. "Fine, I'll send it." He blew a jet of green flames on the parchment, sending it away. "There."

Twilight gave a wicked smile, rubbing her hooves together like some movie villain. "Excellent, excellent."

Spike loved Twilight like a sister, but some days he wondered about her. He glanced at the clock overhead. Four in the morning? "Twilight? Did you sleep at all?"

"I don't need sleep." Her eye twitched ever so slightly as she began to levitate the books back to the shelves in all the wrong positions. "Not when I've got the truth at my hooves."

"The truth?" Spike was about to demand some answers when a jet of flames shot out of his mouth again. "That was fast." To his surprise, the letter that came was the exact same one that Twilight had send, with a small note attached. "Huh, he sent a note."

Twilight leaned in over his shoulder, eyes bulging. "What does it say?"

"'My dear Twilight.

Dragon flames again? How dreadfully uninspired. Do think of a better way of reaching me at four in the morning than that.


"WHAT?" Twilight levitated the note to her muzzle, frowning deeply. When she did, another line of text appeared on the bottom of the parchment in purple ink.

"'If you must send me a letter, slip it inside your copy of 50 Sinfully Satisfying Deserts. Once you've done that, spin around five times counterclockwise, three times clockwise while singing 'I'm a pretty pony.' And do put some effort into it.'"

Spike could not stop the burst of laughter from coming out. "'I'm a pretty pony?' Priceless! Should I get a tutu?"

Twilight shot him a particularly dirty look before walking over to the shelves housing the cook books. She held up the violently pink book, complete with lacy trim. "Why this book?"

"Who knows?" Spike walked over to her to inspect the book. Other than the unnaturally gaudy cover, there was nothing particularly chaotic about it. "Maybe he just likes sweets?"

Her eyes rolled clean over, "Of course he does. Don't you remember the chocolate milk rain and cotton candy clouds?"

"Oh yeah." Spike waved her on. "Let's see if this works."

"Okay, here goes nothing." Twilight slammed the scroll into the book, handed it to him and began to twirl in the designated pattern. She was as uncoordinated as always, and nearly fell on her muzzle after the first three spins. When she had finished, he glanced down at the book.

Discord's snide voice emanated from the cook book, causing Spike to drop it like a snake. "You call that spinning? Please, you'll have to do better than that."

Twilight snorted, stamping on the book a few times. That just set off a fit of laughter from the book. "Oh! How pathetic."

"Urgh! Fine! Some friend you are." Twilight took a step back and began the routine again. It took three tries before the book stopped complaining. After the third try, it simply went quiet.

Spike prodded it gently with a foot, using all the caution of approaching an angry lion. A shower of golden sparks danced skyward, and the book vanished in a puff of smoke. They coughed for a few seconds until it cleared. The burn on the wooden floor was the only evidence that the cook book had ever been there. "Well, that was . . . interesting."

Twilight nodded slowly, looking down at the burn. Her eyes widened as she stroked the spot. "Part of that was harmony magic."

Spike felt his stomach drop. The last thing Equestria needed was an unruly draconequus using harmony magic. "He can use harmony magic?"

A small smirk stretched broke around the corners of Twilight's mouth. "He can." She wheeled around, trotting over to her jumbled pile of books and papers. "This is perfect! I can prove my theory now."

"What's your theory?" Spike wanted to slap her for keeping him suspense. What did a draconequus using harmony magic have to do with her theory? He had a sinking feeling that Twilight was hiding something from him again. "Twilight, this isn't about your magic corrupting, is it?"

Twilight gave an unusually high pitched giggle. "Oh, yes, Spike. That and so much more . . ."

Judging from Twilight's intent focus on her notes, Spike decided it was best to leave her be. Besides, it was far too early for any sensible creature to be up; well apart from Applejack. He dragged himself up the stairs to the loft once more. A little sleep would do him some good. It would do Twilight a lot of good, though he doubted she was about to take the hint. Whatever she was researching, it had to be important. He had a multitude of questions for the alicorn. But, for now he would leave them be; they would keep for a few more hours.

When Discord envisioned a setup, he had thought of setting up a small tent, perhaps cordoning off some grass for the activities, and being done; definitely not hard labor. That illusion vanished the instant he arrived at the park and was greeted by Cheese donned in his trusty hardhat. He raised an eyebrow, "A little overzealous, aren't we, Cheese?"

"No, silly. I'm just prepared." Cheese patted a mountain of blueprints tucked under a hoof. "Lots to build today."

"How," Discord considered the word, "delightful." Despite the short walk from the house to the park, his legs were screaming in protest. Their little exercise had seemed a tolerable idea at the time, but now he was starting to think Cheese wanted to torment him. Discord limped alongside him, keeping pace as best he could. "Pray tell what city are we constructing today?"

"Uh . . ." Cheese looked taken aback. Discord rolled his eyes, gesturing at the stack of papers. Cheese's emerald eyes lit up, "Oh, you mean the blueprints! All kinds of cool stuff. There's six large tents that need setting up, a dance floor to be built, and a little stage for the kid's show."

"And we're going to do this in one day?" Of course, something as simple as that would take only a few snaps of his talons, but he did not think ponies were quite that efficient. Besides, ponies had a naturally tendency to chat away their productivity rather than actually accomplishing anything of note.

Cheese puffed out his chest, stretching to his fullest height which still left his withers a good inch shorter than his. "Please, we'll get it done by the end of the morning."

"The end of the morning? My but you are ambitious." Inwardly he cursed his luck. That would mean an entire morning of grueling physical labor with his stiff joints. Not exactly something to look forward to. He watched as Cheese trotted over to his wife to discuss something, Equestria knew what.

An early morning haze had fallen over the fast awakening town. Mrs. Plumsworth had not been wrong about getting there early. Already a steady stream of ponies were making their way onto the grassy thoroughfare they were now standing on. Discord's ears perked up when he saw the teacher, Cheerilee if he was not mistaken, complaining to a pair of mares by the park fountain.

"It's not like I'm ungrateful, Lyra, I just want a break!" Cheerilee stamped a hoof against the well-worn path.

Lyra snorted, waving the thought away with a teal hoof. "You're Ponyville's teacher, it makes sense to have you watching the kids."

"Yeah." Her friend who resembled the candy tattooed on her flank nodded sagely. "You're the only pony around who actually understands those line dances."

Cheerilee tugged at her mane, glancing longingly to the group of mares gathering under one of the trees. "But any townspony can teach the dances. I thought I might help out the mares this year."

Discord had heard more than enough. Here was a golden opportunity to tactfully avoid manual labor. He sauntered over to them as casually as his aching joints would allow. "You ought to go enjoy yourself, Cheerilee."

The mare wheeled around, flushing crimson when she saw him. "Entropy? I, uh didn't think you were listening."

"Sorry, I happened to overhear." He stroked his chin, putting on his best concerned expression. "As a fellow educator, I thought I'd come over and offer my assistance."

The teal mare raised an eyebrow, "Your assistance?"

"Correct." His eyes darted around the park, noting the first fillies and colts trailing in with their parents. How hard could foalsitting for a few hours be? If anything, it would be a refreshing break from the monotonous routine of pony life. He looked Cheerilee in the eye, "Why don't you let me take over the dance instruction? That would give you the whole morning off to work with your friends here."

Cheerilee squealed in an almost filly like display of excitement. "Yes! That is, if you don't mind, Entropy."

"Not in the least. I'm living in Ponyville for the month, I might as well help out where I can. Besides," He glanced over to where Cheese was starting to round up a few stallions, "I strained myself rather badly yesterday. I could use the break."

"Hold on a minute!" The mint pony stepped forward, giving him the stink eye. "How do you know Ponyville line dances?"

He waved the thought away with a hoof, "Please, I've studied plenty of line dances over the years. They're all essentially the same." That of course was a downright lie. Dances, like local festivals and traditions were remarkably varied. But, he was certain he could make something up, he always did.

Cheerilee stepped between them, staring pleadingly at her friend. "Bon Bon, let him try. Please. I really want to work today."

"Okay, but, don't blame me if he screws things up." Bon Bon started to the group of mares with Lyra, still eyeing Discord suspiciously.

Cheerilee grinned at him. "Thanks so much. Just teach them the simplest ones you know. And remember, positive reinforcement."

"Of course." Discord could scarcely hide the smirk stretching across his face. Positive reinforcement his hoof. Children need to be instilled with fear and reverent awe, not "positively reinforced." Sniggering to himself, he started over to where the children were gathering. Today was going to prove quite interesting.

Running errands was a necessary part of Spike's daily ritual. On any given day, he could expect to be sent just about anywhere and everywhere at a moment's notice. He did not mind, in fact he relished being useful to Twilight. But, he was fast growing tired of making excuses for her whenever she wanted to avoid reality. Such was the case today.

Around seven thirty, Twilight had roused him from his bed and told him to inform the others she would be late. Try as he may to explain the importance of being on time to organize the mare's half of the setup, it was no use. So he had trotted over to the park as fast as his half-awake legs would take him. Needless to say, Twilight's excuse was unpopular, though the townsponies did not seem ready to argue with Equestria's newest princess so early in the morning.

Walking back to the library, he could not think of a time when Twilight missed a town event for research, especially when it was her job to organize part of it. He opened the door slowly and stepped onto the crowded floor. It was even worse than he left, and Twilight stood in the middle of it, levitating two pieces of parchment and tapping a hoof to her chin. "What am I missing? What am I missing?"

"Uh, Twilight. Are you okay?" Spike stepped carefully over the books until he reached her side. He tugged pointedly at her wing, "I delivered the message."

"You're back." Twilight dropped the parchment to the floor, giving him a Cheshire grin that made him cringe. Such a look generally preceded a highly unpleasant experiment. She lowered her head to his eye level, and glanced over him as though she were going to buy him at the market. "Tell me, Spike. Is dragon fire magic, or is it just fire?"

"What?" The question was so random, so out of the blue, he honestly did not know what to say. Was dragon fire magic? Spike realized with a lurch of his stomach that he did not know the answer. I'm a dragon! I should know all about dragon fire. Feeling rather stupid, he stammered, "Well, I use it to send letters, but there's no spells or anything, I just think about who I'm sending it to, and it goes."

"Interesting." Twilight began to scribble furiously on a new sheet of parchment, casting the occasional glance towards him.

Urgh! She'll be at this all day if I don't do something. Spike decided to settle for drastic measures, and grabbed a particularly valuable history text lying on the floor. "Twilight! Enough!"

She looked up, and giggled in the high pitched, fake manner she had been using all day. "Spike, what are you doing with that first edition of Lyle Lessly's Guide to the Past?"

"Well, Entropy made this crazy bet with me." Yes, Entropy would be one to make a crazy bet. The stallion was half insane, that he was certain of. "He said I couldn't blow up a book with my fire as fast as he could with his unicorn magic." He fingered the purple cover lovingly, "I think I can top him."

Twilight shot him a dirty look, "You wouldn't dare."

Spike blew a jet of green flames extremely close to the book's ageing spine. "Wouldn't I?"

"Give it here!" She lunged forward, and attempted to snatch it from him, but he was quicker. He held the book at arm's length, grinning wickedly back at her. Seemingly conceding defeat, Twilight took a step back and glowered at him. "What do you want?"

"You need to go to the set up and help the mares organize. All this," He gestured to the piles of books and notes, "can wait until you get back." His words seem to irritate Twilight even more, but he knew she had to hear them. Though she was kind, and generally thoughtful of others, Twilight was quick to become obsessed with things that did not really matter. "Our friends come first, remember?"

Slowly, almost reluctantly, Twilight nodded. "You win, we'll go to the set up." She walked towards the door and outside into the sunlight.

Spike dropped the book, trotting quickly after her. "That's the spirit, Twilight! Now that you're on board, this day's going to fly by."

She gave her first genuine smile all morning as they started out towards the park. "Thanks, Spike." Then, a small smirk stretched the corners of her mouth. "Fly by eh? So, the faster we get this done, the faster I can finish my research?"

"I guess . . ." He glanced nervously behind them at the library. "But, we should just focus on doing a good job for the festival, Twilight."

Twilight did not reply, but merely chuckled to herself, trotting ahead. Spike rolled his eyes, running after her. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

Marvelous, simply marvelous. Discord watched with some satisfaction as Applejack's sister started screaming at the snobby earth pony filly sporting a tiara. A crowd of their little cronies had gathered around to watch the fight. Even he had to be impressed with how rapidly the children were spiraling out of control. It could not have been better if he had planned it himself. So he leaned against the large oak tree and watched the display from a safe vantage point.

One of the Crusaders, Scoot-something or other had stepped in to stop her friend. Discord groaned. Come on, let her have a go at it. You're ruining all the fun. Judging from the snooty filly's practically feral expression, she was not giving an inch. Children never ceased to amuse him. They were natural fountains of chaos sent from the heavens to cast their parents' orderly lives into a state of sweet disharmony. Every time he watched them, he could not stopper the desire to let them run amok.

Many centuries ago, he had tried just that. Celestia was not pleased to discover that her throne room had been desecrated by a mob of wayward toddlers from the village. Though she tried to scold him for letting them loose, she had laughed so hard that any desire to punish him was lost. Discord frowned at the memory. After all these centuries, he really had been the only one of them who had not changed. He missed the old Celestia, the fun Celestia, not the cantankerous overlord he knew today.

"That's it, I'm goin' to get you!" Discord looked up in time to see the Apple Filly lunge towards her adversary.

Oops. I let them go too far. The last thing he wanted was to be scolded by Twilight for allowing the children to physically harm each other. He called out to them loudly, but without shouting, projection was his strong suit after all. "Oh, my? Trouble in paradise?"

The children all seemed to freeze in place, whipping their heads around to stare at him. I've still got it. Smirking, he adjusted the glasses on his muzzle. He feigned surprise at their incredulous expressions, waving them on with a hoof. "Don't mind me, continue beating each other senseless."

The snotty filly snorted disapprovingly, glowering at him as though he were a distasteful piece of trash. "And just who are you?"

"Me?" Discord strode over to them, mentally calculating which ones would be causing him the most trouble. "Professor Entropic State. But you may address me as Professor State, or your majesty." Yes, that was a title more befitting a being as handsome and powerful as himself. Not nearly as distasteful as draconequus or old man. He bowed theatrically, then gave a booming laugh that set all of them back a step. That's right, be afraid. The master of chaos himself is before you.

Apple Bloom gasped, waving at him as though he were some kind of road side attraction. "You're that stallion that was makin' out with Twilight!"

What? Discord felt his heart leap in his chest. Does she even know what that means? He felt his face heat up as every one of their eyes focused on him. "We weren't making out, alright? She stole my glasses. Regardless," He cleared his throat, "today you are fortunate enough to have me as your dance instructor."

"You?" A peppermint maned mare Twist looked horror struck, "Wherth Cheerilee?"

Discord rolled his eyes, doing a credible impersonation of her lisp, "Thee's taking a break."

Once again, the tiara filly looked as though she might be sick. "Why should we listen to the likes of you?"

"Me?" Do you know who you are talking to? If he was in his true form, there would be none of this incessant whining. Entertainingly chaotic or not, he had to put these snots in their place. He lit his horn, allowing the sparks of golden magic to arch into the air and ricochet off of the ground in every direction.

The effect was instantaneous, as the children scattered like sheep. Slowly, he allowed the magic to subside. "I'm afraid I don't have the best control of my magic. If you don't want to dance, we could always practice levitation." He stroked his goatee as though considering the idea, "I've never tried levitating a child before. I wonder if you're fire proof. . ."

"No!" They shouted in almost complete unison.

Discord grinned wickedly. "Then we're in agreement." He stepped forward, with all the air of a general organizing his troops. "All right. Today I will teach you the most complicated and time honored dance known to pony kind; the Summerset Tolt." He shook his head, "Sadly some of you may not finish."

"The what now?" Applejack's annoying little sister seemed bent on usurping him. "What kind of dance is that?"

It was a valid question, and one Discord could not so readily answer. Being locked in stone for centuries had the unfortunate consequence of dulling his ability to learn modern dances. This particular one was from the time before his banishment. Instead of an explanation, he puffed out his chest confidently. "The kind that separated the stallions from the colts, the wheat from the chaff." He laughed so loudly the ponies closest to him had to cover their ears. "Colts to the left, fillies to the right! Make a line!" Today was going to be interesting.

Twilight liked to consider herself a multitasker. After all, there were not many ponies in Equestria with the ability to work as a librarian, uphold royal duties, and research magic all at the same time. Today however, she felt hopelessly single minded. While she was in the library, all she could focus on was her research. Now that she was outside in the park, with the mares awaiting her every order, the setup was all she could think about.

She was moving at a good, steady pace, but all the mares around her were moving like Tank without his propeller. It was infuriating to say the least. She patrolled the various stations like a shark around schools of fish. Her eyes fell to Rarity who was attempting to wrap red ribbons around the rings for the ring toss. "Rarity! What are you doing? Ribbons aren't on the to do list."

Rarity rolled her eyes, finishing off the bow. "I know, Darling. But I thought they could use a little pizazz."

"No pizzaz!" Twilight levitated the box of ribbons away from her, scowling until Rarity cringed a little. "You're supposed to be doing the check list, then moving on. We don't have time for dilly dallying!"

"Darling, this isn't a race you know." Rarity gestured around at the sunlit park where the mares were working. Each group was smiling and laughing amongst themselves, slowly moving through their assigned tasks. "This is about socialization as well."

"We can socialize when we're done," Twilight snapped, grabbing the box of ribbons. Before Rarity could argue some more, she took off at a fast trot. Why am I the only pony who cares about getting this done? At this rate, it'll take all day. I need to get back to my research.

Discord leaned against the tree, watching the pathetic excuse for a dance before him. Children were absolutely terrible at following directions, not that he was complaining of course. But, even someone as fond of chaos as he was grew tired of repeating the same instructions over and over again. The Summerset Tolt was incredibly difficult to teach, but it was the only dance Discord thought he could remember the steps to. He was of course mistaken.

Spike looked up at him from his position beside the phonograph. "Hey, Entropy? Shouldn't we be teaching them the next steps?" The dragon had to raise his voice to be heard over the painfully slow paced, whining orchestral piece emanating from the device.

"Correct." Just as soon as I remember them. Discord closed his eyes, trying to think back to the sultry summer nights under Luna's moon. He could still taste the wood smoke in the air, feel the cool breeze against his coat, and hear the laughter of the villagers as they danced the night away. They were all dead and gone now, but their smiles and songs would forever remain engraved in his mind's eye. And yet, he could not remember what came after the half pass to the left. Strange how memories came as fragmented puzzle pieces.

"Entropy? Entropy!" Spike pulled his tail hard, setting a surge of pain through his spine.

Discord's attention returned to the dragon, "Don't do that!" His heart lurched at the hurt expression on Spike's face. Oops. I've got to stop snapping at him. He cleared his throat, "Turn off the music, Spike. I'll teach these poor sops the next step."

Spike saluted him, quickly cutting off the pathetic excuse for music. Discord would have argued that the tune did not even resemble the original, but the slow pace of it made keeping step less difficult for the children. Not that any of them were even coming close to succeeding. Sighing, he made to break up their little display. "Attention, everypony! Eyes on me!"

They stopped, panting hard and starting up at him. Apple Bloom, ever the fount of complaints, began in her most annoying whine, "Are we done yet?"

Discord rolled his eyes, mimicking her, "Are we done yet?" He stood up straight, stamping a hoof into the earth. "NO!" That seemed to silence the wave of murmuring. Good, let's get this over with. "The next step is . . ." What was the next step? Ah well, he would just make something up, it was not as though they could tell the difference. "Take your partner, and swap places." He waited until they reluctantly complied. Then tap your hooves three times, once with your left front, once with your right hind, and once with your right front in that order."

The blank stares they gave him were beyond comedic. He proceeded to demonstrate, realizing how stupid it looked. A small, smirk stretched across his face. Yes, it is stupid isn't it? This could be fun.Discord cleared his throat, "Take your partner once again, three turns clockwise, one turn counter clockwise, and a half turn clockwise. Then freeze." He chuckled as the fillies and colts tripped over each other in their hasted attempt at performing the steps. "Once you've stopped, take two and a half steps back, and wait."

"Wait for what?" The Scoots filly looked into his eyes almost defiantly. "For us to fall asleep?"

Discord barked a laugh, "Hardly! You wait for the bell."

She rolled her lavender eyes, "What bell?"

"In the actual dance, you'll hear a bell. Once you do, you must proceed to imitate a chicken, but only the third closest to the orchestra." Yes, that sounded sufficiently convoluted. He tapped a hoof against his chin, trying to drag up some other crazy instructions. "The other two thirds will imitate ducks. Then, after the bell rings again, you switch."

The group let out a collective moan of frustration, but attempted to do what he said. Discord could not help but laugh at how fundamentally stupid his little dance was. The children were far too gullible for their own good. For the next hour, he proceeded to mix up the dance until it no longer resembled anything close to the original. Just as he was planning yet another gloriously convoluted step, Cheerilee came trotting over to him. "Entropy! It's time to break for lunch."

Drat. Discord sighed, waiting until the mare came to a stop in front of him. When she did, all the children gathered around her, chatting at once. All she had to do was look at them, and they silenced. "Seems like you had a difficult lesson."

Snips nodded sagely. "It was terrible! His majesty is a terrible teacher. He kept making up dances and laughing when we messed up."

"His majesty?" Cheerilee shot daggers at him.

"It was a harmless joke. Right, kids?" Discord feigned an innocent expression, but the children were having none of it. He shot Cheerilee a sheepish smile, "Well, I thought it was funny."

Cheerilee looked at all the fillies and colts, frowning. "Sorry my little ponies. I promise to teach you the real dances this afternoon." She waited until they dispersed before rounding on him like an angry timberwolf. "What is the big idea? It sounds like you were trying to make them fail."

"I was." There was no point in denying it, as it had been his intention all along. Judging from Cheerilee's sour expression, he would have to explain in greater detail. Ponies, don't have a lick of common sense. He gestured around at the park, and all the ponies now separating into their respective families. "Those fillies and colts, they're under constant pressure to succeed. So, when they fail, they think it's a big deal and that they somehow are inferior to their peers. But, the thing is, sometimes nopony succeeds, and that's okay too."

Cheerilee looked to be ruminating on his words. Then she gave a slow nod. "All right, then. It's a different approach, and I can't say I agree, but I'll let it slide." She gave him a friendly cuff on the shoulder before heading over to join her friends.

Satisfied he had dodged the bullet, Discord turned back to the tree and Spike. Despite being the instructor, he was still worn out from their little dance. He laid down on the grass beside the phonograph and Spike. The dragon's eyes were darting in every direction, and it was starting to make him sea sick. "Spike, calm down."

"But Twilight's not here yet!" Spike looked as though he were nearing panic state.

Great, not another one. "Relax, sit down and join me. It'll work out, Twilight will come when she's ready to."

With a big pout, Spike plopped himself on the ground beside Discord. His claws grabbed out chunks of grass, mumbling something about Twilight's irresponsibility. Discord could not help but snigger at that. For all her faults, Twilight could hardly be called irresponsible.

As they lay there under the tree, Discord realized for the first time just how hungry he was. He marveled a little at that. Being a draconequus, he often went days without eating, simply because he never felt hungry. Ponies on the other hand, seemed to need a constant stream of food. It was more than a little infuriating. He turned to Spike, "Did you bring anything to eat?"

Spike rolled his eyes, "Do I look like your personal chef?"

"Yes, yes you do." Discord chuckled, rolling on the grass. Teasing the dragon came all too easily these days. Watching him, Discord could see that he was still worrying about Twilight. It was annoying to see the child so melancholy for no good reason. He nudged Spike in the ribs with a hoof. "How did you like my dance, Spike?"

Spike stuck out his tongue, "Terrible! The first half was soooo boring, and the second bit made no sense."

"I know? Marvelous, wasn't it?" The image of the children tumbling over each other brought another smile to his face. "They were trying much too hard."

"But, isn't trying hard a good thing?" Spike's voice waver a little, "That's what everypony says."

You've got a lot to learn. Discord snorted a laugh, "I suppose some will say that. But, there's a point where the amount of effort you put in will never be worth the result." It had taken him a few centuries to piece together, but that was the truth. He had tried so hard to deny who and what he was to fit into Celestia's neat little society, but it had not been worth it. Nothing was worse than denying oneself. His attention returned to the dragon staring questioningly at him. "The point is, Spike. Sometimes you have to give up the attempt, find something that is truly worth your time. I tried to teach those snots that, though they were being quite stubborn on the point."

Spike's eyes grew wide. "So it wasn't a real dance?"

"Well, the first part was, but the second bit was just something I made up." Discord sighed, getting to his hooves. "It's a very old dance from the time before Discord took over Equestria." The memory made him shudder a little. His reign had only been for a few years by draconequus standards, but it had been enough time to cause misery to just about every living creature his magic came into contact with. Strange. All he had wanted was to have a little fun with them. Clearing his throat, Discord tapped the phonograph. "Your music wasn't even close to the original. It's actually a rather lively tune."

Then, as though pulled by some invisible string, he began to dance. It came flooding back as he moved along the grass, the ponies' laughter, the sound of their hooves clapping in time, the lively music drifting high into the night sky like the smoke from the fire. The dance was complicated, yes, but it moved fluidly like a river, sometimes slow and calm, other times rushing by. It was beautiful in a way that no modern dances he had seen could compare to. And so he danced, allowing himself to be surrounded by the past for a brief, blessed moment.

"Entropy?" Twilight's soft voice behind him shattered the illusion like a thousand pieces of glass. The mare was staring at him, eyes full of a kind of wonder. "I didn't know you could dance like that!"

"Yes, on occasion." Discord felt his face heat up. He never had photo albums, or paintings to remind him of his past, but he did have his memory. Twilight's interruption felt as though she had walked in on him reminiscing. It was embarrassing, especially since he continually professed the belief that the past was the past. Clearing his throat, he turned to Spike who was staring equally thunderstruck at him. Must have gotten a touch carried away. "I enjoy some of the more classic dances."

"Classic? I've never heard of that one. Maybe I should study Equestrian dance history some more." She turned to the phonograph. "So, how'd the dance lesson go?"

"Uh, well enough." He prodded the device with a hoof. "The music was a touch dull, but that can't be helped." While he spoke, Twilight's eyes darted around the park. What's she so worried about? "Twilight, is everything all right?"

Twilight's hooves began to prance against the grass. "The activities are all done, but the stallions are behind with the setup. They said they'd need another hour to finish. They're throwing off the schedule!"

"Wow, they're already almost done?" Discord was more than a little impressed. Apparently Cheese was a better organizer than he gave him credit for. "That's great. I don't see where the problem is."

Twilight slapped a hoof to her forehead. "We can't set up for the carry in until the big tent is up. Then there's the little tents that need put up for the activities. Equipment's still lying all over the place, and nopony can find the bean bags for the toss!" She stood huffing for a moment, lilac eyes glinting manically.

"It'll work out." Though, judging from Twilight's expression, that was far from what she believed. With a sigh, he started towards where Twilight had the activities at. "If you're so worried, I can help you put up the small tents."

"Yes!" Twilight trotted over to him, keeping step with him.

Discord could not help but wonder what he had gotten himself into. Hopefully Twilight's latest obsession would not lead to another incident with her magic. Even if it did not, he was convinced that he needed to keep an eye on her for the time being.

Discord had come to believe that Twilight Sparkle was one of the most put together creatures in Equestria. Today he had begun to see just how dangerously unpredictable the young alicorn truly was. In the course of the lunch hour, she had managed to collapse three tents, topple over the rubber duck trough, and tripped over no less than three crates. Currently, he was watching her "help" organize the food tables for dinner.

"Twilight, maybe you should—" He winced as a casserole dish shattered on the ground when Twilight's magic sputtered out halfway through moving it. Mayor Mare cantered over, muttering something to Twilight which resulted in her giving a high pitched giggle. Discord eyed her progress across the tent, likely to "supervise" the correct placement of the cider barrels. Gods give me patience.

As he moved towards her, he spotted Spike casting an equally nervous glance at Twilight. The dragon spotted him, running over. "Entropy! Twilight's going crazy."

"I've noticed." His ears flicked over as a loud crash announced that Twilight had dropped the box of cider mugs; thankfully, those were wooden. "It's like she's on fast forward. Is that normal for these sort of events?"

"No! She's normally super calm and composed." Spike rubbed his hands together, tapping his feet in a nervous tattoo. "What do we do, Entropy?"

You're asking me? I've never seen her like this! She's going to hurt somebody if she keeps it up. He cleared his throat, "Does she, does she have a backup plan, you know, in case she gets like this?" His hoof waved over to where Twilight was attempt to lift an entire barrel of cider by herself.

"Well . . ." Spike stared hard at Twilight, then glanced around the park. Then he gasped, looking up into his eyes. "Yes! After the Smarty Pants incident, she made a kit with sleeping powder in it."

Smarty Pants incident? Do I even want to know what that is? Discord nudged Spike with a hoof. "Why don't you go and get that kit? I'll bring Twilight to that oak tree we had the phonograph under. Then we'll use it. Sound good?"

The dragon saluted, running off towards the library. Discord took a deep breath and walked over to Twilight. He literally dragged her away from the two stallions trying to set up the cider. They shot him grateful smiles before returning to work. Twilight struggled a little, but he was stronger. After he had got her onto the grass, he glowered at her. "What were you thinking? Trying to do everypony's job isn't helping, it's causing more trouble."

"But they need me. They're lost without my organization." She made to move back to the tent, but he blocked her. "Entropy! Let me go back."

"Nope." Discord could tell Twilight was not going to be stopped by him for long. There had to be a better solution. Then it hit him. "Twilight, I've got something that needs your special attention over there." He jerked his head over towards the tree. "The phonograph is broken, and we need it fixed for the dance tomorrow."

"Of course!" Twilight trotted unsteadily towards the tree. Discord watched her progress with a moan. The mare was exhausted, and it was only a matter of time before she hurt herself.

When he caught up to her, she was grinning manically at the phonograph. The poor device had a stick jammed into its box as though it were being tortured. He raised his eyebrow at Twilight, "I see you fixed it."

"Oh, yes, it's all fixed now." She gave a strange, fake laugh before starting to pace in front of him. "It was trying to sabotage the success of the festival, but now that it's fixed, all is well. Phonographs are devious creatures, Entropy." The decided twitch of her eye did little to prove her sanity.

Discord looked around for Spike, but saw no sign of him yet. It was back to buying time. "Why are you so obsessed about making this festival run well?"

Twilight giggled again, and paced even faster. "It needs to be perfect. Don't you see that, Entropy?" Her steps began to sway with her nodding head now. "This is my chance to live a normal life, my one chance, Entropy. If I have to live forever, then I want this time to be perfect. You know?"

Discord's eyes widened with the realization. So that was it. It all made sense now. "Twilight, I—"

Twilight cut in, continuing as before, "If I accept anything less than perfect, I'd be cheapening the time I have with my friends. I'll regret it for centuries. That's why every last little thing must be perfect!"

Discord's heart ached at her words. It's not the situation, Twilight, it's the people you share it with. He heard a soft cough, and looked up. An involuntary grin stretched across his face at the sight of the dragon hanging in the branch above them, waving a vial. Perfect. Now to settle her down. With some effort, he literally slammed Twilight to the ground, forcing her to sit still. "Calm down, Twilight. It's all right."

"It's not all right. Not yet." Twilight continued to sway, twitching like a trapped squirrel every so often. "I've got to make it right. I always have to make it right. If I don't Equestria falls apart. So, I have to be cool, collected, and focused at all times. Ready for danger to strike. . ."

Discord moaned, seeing that he was having little success in convincing her to settle down. Her rant was starting to get on his nerves too. Twilight started to ramble about having important research to do, research that would shake the foundations of Equestria. Discord highly doubted any research Twilight could come up with would do that. There had to be a way to shut her up.

"And then there's my friends. Of course Applejack understood some of it, but she really doesn't get it. I mean, who could get—"

Without thinking, and without a second's hesitation, Discord pressed his muzzle to hers. The effect on Twilight was as instantaneous as if he had placed a stun spell on her. This time, her muzzle did in fact taste stale, but there was still that sweet earthy undertone he had noticed the day before. It was strangely addictive, and he found himself quite reluctant to pull away. For what felt like minutes, but was likely only a few seconds, he held the kiss. Then, slowly, he broke it, proceeding to rub his cheek against hers. He breathed softly into her ear, "Relax, Twilight. It will all work out, you'll see."

A loud chink sounded, and Discord watched the vial drop onto Twilight's back and break. Discord rolled his eyes. Smooth, Spike real smooth. He looked up to complain, but was stopped by the sudden weight of Twilight's body against his. "Well, that was quick." Sighing, Discord lowered her safely onto the grass and stroked her back, checking for cuts. Thankfully, Spike's little blunder had left her unscathed.

He heard a loud shuffling noise, and turned to see Spike shimmying down the tree. Once he was on solid ground, the dragon shuffled over to him, eyes wide as dinner plates. "Why . . . why did you kiss her?"

Discord froze for a moment, contemplating the question. Why had he kissed her? It had been so spur of the moment that even he did not know the entire truth. A small voice in the back of his head seemed to scream at him. Because it felt good! Yes, it did feel good, but it was also so fundamentally wrong that it made him sick. He should be disgusted with himself, and embarrassed. Instead he found his heart racing and the almost irresistible urge to repeat the scene. He gulped, looking at Spike. "I . . . I don't know. It was the only thing I could think of to get her to stop talking."

Spike's cheeks were a little red as he spoke the next words in a near whisper, "But, you liked it, didn't you?"

Discord was beyond denying it now. "Yes, yes I did." He stood, wincing at the pain in his joints. "So, how long does this powder last?"

"Three hours or so." Spike glanced at him as though expecting an order. "What do we do now?"

"Go back to work, kid." Discord started off towards the tent once more, Spike trailing behind him. Try as he may to ignore it, he kept flashing back to the feeling of Twilight's muzzle to his. Oh, gods, I admit it. I like kissing her. Is it really such a crime?

Interacting with Ponyville's citizens was like being perpetually stuck in a postcard with no way out. Everypony seemed ready and willing to chat, laugh, and smile with each other no matter how many times you may have messed up. Even Cheerilee had come over to thank him for that morning, saying that none of the children had fought during the decorating. Apparently, he was somehow responsible for that, though he had no idea where she got the ridiculous notion from.

After over an hour of chatting with what felt like the entire population of Ponyville, the party started to break up. Slowly but surely ponies trickled away, leaving only their group of friends left. Discord was relieved to see that Twilight was awake, and apparently sane once more. He grinned as she approached with Spike. "Sleep well?"

"Yeah. Sorry about going all crazy." Twilight gave each of her friends a hug in turn. "How did everything go?"

"Amazing!" Pinkie grinned from ear to ear, nudging her husband hard in the ribs. "Cheesie and I managed everything after you left."

"Thank you so much. I promise it won't happen again." She raised an eyebrow at Discord, "Spike said you had to restrain me to get that powder on. How?"

Discord chuckled nervously, trying his best to avoid eye contact. "You know, ways."

Cheese and Pinkie laughed in unison, sharing a very knowing look. Thankfully, Cheese strode forward to rescue him. "Hey, you want to help me put up the supplies we grabbed from town hall's closet?"

"Sound thrilling." Discord practically flew over to where Cheese had a pile of cleaning supplies waiting to be returned. He slung a few over his back, and grabbed a broom in his mouth. "Be back later, Twilight," he mumbled around the wood.

Together he and Cheese started towards town hall. Despite being young and exponentially more energetic than he was, the stallion was not trying to trot ahead like normal. "Finally tired?"

"Yeah, I'm ready to go home." Cheese adjusted the bag of supplies draped over his back. "I think I pushed myself too hard, and there's still the tear down."

Discord chuckled. Typical kid. They walked in silence the rest of the way. Discord found himself actually enjoying the ripples of light reflecting over the buildings. The town was peaceful again, winding down like clockwork as it always did. Somehow it was comforting. He supposed that was how the ponies saw it, though he could argue that chaos was far more comforting.

Town hall's heavy oak door was slung open when they arrived. They walked across the empty, yet immaculate floor to the closet. Discord could not help but stare at the equally substantial oak door. "Why would they waste money on this? It's a closet!"

Cheese shrugged, opening it, and revealing mountains of neatly organized supplies. "I think it used to be an office." They got into a rhythm where he would hand off the supplies to Cheese.

As they worked, he had a brilliant idea. Why not have a little fun with him? After all, Cheese could use another laugh, and so could he. After handing him the last of the supplies, Discord took a quick step back, slamming the door closed. With a practiced precision, he used Cheese's keys still in the handle to lock the door, quickly removing them.

"Entropy! The door closed, can you open it?" Cheese's voice was a little higher pitched than usual.

Discord chuckled, kicking the keys across the empty floor. "I'm so sorry, I seem to have misplaced the keys." Before the stallion could get a word in edgewise, Discord trotted out of the hall and into the light. He did a happy spin on his haunches, inhaling the cool evening air. "I think I fancy a walk."

As he made his way back to the park, Discord could not help but laugh at his own ingenuity. It was a good prank, a very good prank. Cheese was too trusting, it would be hilarious to see how he tried to rationalize being locked in a closet by his friend. Humming a cheery tune, and trotting rather briskly, he made good time back to the girls.

He skidded to a halt in front of Twilight. "Finished! Told you it wouldn't take long."

Twilight looked around the empty park, then gave him a questioning stare. "Where's Cheese?"

"Oh, him." Discord practically giggled. They were going to get a kick out of this one. "I played a prank on him."

Pinkie's voice came out unusually urgent and high pitched. "What kind of prank?" When he did not answer, she leaned in close, eyes boring into his. "What kind, Entropy?"

"Quit being a wet blanket, Pinkie." Seeing that all of the mares were now glaring at him, he decided it would be best to tell the truth. Discord sighed theatrically, "I locked him in town hall's closet."

His words had an immediate, and catastrophic effect. Pinkie's face went as white as a sheet. "The closet? In the dark?" In a split second, she took off at a dead gallop towards the hall. The others quickly followed suit, shooting dirty glances his way as they passed. Discord could only stare open mouthed as he, Twilight, and Spike were left standing alone in the park.

Twilight rounded on him, eyes actually misting over with tears. "How could you do that to him?"

"What? It was a prank!" Discord turned to Spike for backup, but the dragon looked every bit as confused as he did. He raised a hoof to touch her shoulder, but she recoiled, glowering at him.

There was no warmth in Twilight's eyes now. "Well it's not funny!" She turned to Spike, "Stay here!" With that, she tore off after her friends.

Discord did not hesitate to gallop after her. What did I do? It's not as though I beat him up. His legs ached and his muscles burned, but he did not even consider slowing down. Whatever he had done, he had to make it right. It was stupid, but he wanted their respect, wanted it more than he had ever wanted Celestia's or Luna's. These were the ponies who had accepted him as a friend, and he so desperately wanted to prove that he could be a good friend in turn.

He nearly slammed into the hall when he arrived, scrambling inside the door. What he saw inside made his heart stop. The smooth floor by the closet was covering in splinters of wood and thick droplets of blood. Discord stepped cautiously towards the scene, feeling as though he might be sick. What remained of the door was hanging by its hinges, and Cheese lay just beyond it in a pool of his own blood. "Cheese?"

The stallion was sobbing uncontrollably into Pinkie's chest as she stroked his back, whispering into his ear. Discord could only stare in horror at the deep gashes running down Cheese's hind legs, exposing the muscle underneath. Judging from the near destruction of the solid door, Cheese must have used his earth pony strength to kick it to shreds. Unfortunately, he seemed to have cut his legs on the jagged edges.

Even as he started, he noted the pieces of wood sticking out of his leg at odd places. The distinct, vaguely familiar smell of fresh blood drifted to his nostrils with an incredible potency. His eyes focused on the fast expanding pool under Cheese's legs. Gods, he's bleeding out fast. "He needs help," he somehow managed the words despite the pounding of his heart.

Rarity's eyes flickered to him for an instant, before turning back to Cheese. "Rainbow Dash has gone for a doctor." She said the words in a curt manner, as though dismissing any further association with him.

Discord watched as Twilight rushed over to Cheese, starting to wrap a towel tightly around the gash. Even as she did so, the cloth was already turning a deep shade of red. Fluttershy's tiny whimpers mingled sickeningly with Cheese's sobs. Applejack shot him a look of purest disgust. "How could you? He's yer friend, ain't he!"

He mumbled softly, "Yes."

"Like hell he is!" Pinkie's voice reverberated across the hall, as cold and harsh as an icy dagger to the heart. "What kind of friend does this? Huh?" Her voice continued to rise despite the fact that everypony, even Cheese had gone silent. "Get out! You don't deserve to have friends!"

The words echoed over and over again in his mind even after they had faded into the silence of the hall. She was right, they were all right. Panic like he had not known since the day of his banishment flooded over him. He had failed, he always failed. There was no place for him amongst ponies, there never had been. He, Discord, the spirit of chaos itself was incapable of having friends. No matter what he tried, everything would inescapably fall apart.

Without looking back, he ran, ran as hard and as fast as his legs could take him. It did not matter where, just as long as he kept moving. Every fiber of his being was urging him onward. Discord knew that if he stopped, he would wake up and realize that once again, he was alone. So he determined to keep going as long as he could. Then and only then would he face reality.

Author's Note:

And there you have it. The next installment. I've taken your lovely advice and written as long a chapter as I need without worrying about length, which so happened to be 10k (go figure). Sorry for the wait guys and gals, RL got busy for once. Next chapter's going to be good! It's been in the mental works for weeks now. I'm super excited to finally be able to write it out. :raritystarry: Await it with baited breath.

I slipped in a little tie in with What Changes May Come on this one. In my universe Cheese is severely, SEVERELY claustrophobic (a fact Pinkie knows full well, thus her reaction). Some explanation as to why will be given next chapter. Spike does not know, because the reason behind it is not child friendly, so the Mane 6 and Cheese agreed not to tell him until he's older. If you're interested, the full story behind Cheese's claustrophobia can be found in WCMC.