• 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.

  • ...

The River of Light

[Author's note: I was not satisfied with the pacing and some of the character interactions with this chapter, so I've gone back and heavily modified portions of it. I highly recommend you go back and reread the second and the beginning of the fourth section, as I've added almost 1k words worth of additional dialogue and interactions that will be referred to in later chapters.]


It's at times like these, I wonder where I went wrong.


Discord always thought fun was a matter of perspective. Some creatures, mainly ponies, believed that in order for any activity to be fun, it had to be contained and predictable. That self-limiting thought process irritated him to no end. For the very activity that one creature found repulsive, might bring endless amusement to another. Therefore, he had little qualms about transforming the large field of wheat before him into a giant, squishy loaf of bread to sunbathe on. That was, until Celestia found out.

"What did you do?" The telltale, carrying voice of their very own sun princess sounded above him.

Discord chuckled as she landed on the loaf, prancing like a filly when it started to give way under her. "Stop struggling, Tia." Seeing that the alicorn was dead set on sinking to the bottom, Discord snapped a talon, turning the bread into stone under her hooves. He could not help but snigger into his paw at her sour expression, "Do not look so downcast, it was but a jest."

"A jest?" She snorted, tossing the stray strands of pink forelock from her eyes. "This is hardly amusing, Discord. Think of the ponies whose farm you have desecrated."

Desecrated? For gods' sake, I can turn it back. Being certain to flash her his most irritated scowl, he snapped his talon, and the field of wheat returned to the exact state he had found it in. He stroked back his sleek black mane, shooting her a toothy grin. "Happy?"

For an instant, Celestia looked as though she might actually laugh. Then, slowly, the hint of a smile vanished as her expression became as harsh as granite. "Discord. We must talk about your," she paused, apparently choosing her next word carefully, "disruptions. I have received no less than twenty four complaints this past week alone."

Really? That's a new record. Discord's airy laughter echoed across the field. "How delightful!"

Celestia's scowl deepened as she turned her attention towards the small cluster of stone buildings in the distance. Her voice was uncharacteristically soft, "They have requested I forbid you from coming into the village."

"What? Surely not." Discord rolled on the grass lining the field, enjoying a good laugh. When he had quite worn himself out, he looked up into Celestia's eyes. To his surprise, they were still as cold as ever. His stomach dropped at the realization. "You . . . you did not agree, did you?"

She stared hard at the grass, pawing the blades gently aside with a hoof. "I did."

Discord shot up, forgetting all his usual self control and grabbing Celestia's shoulders. "WHY? What did I do?" He knew he was overreacting, but he could not help it. This latest ban marked the twelfth village he was not allowed to set foot in. "Do you not think this measure excessive?" Excessive was an understatement, it was downright oppressive.

A moment of silence followed his words. Discord could not help but be irritated by his friend. Certainly she of all ponies would understand he meant no harm. Instead, she just kept staring at him with those cold eyes. "Your disruptions have gone on long enough, Discord. You are making my subjects' lives miserable." She rubbed her temple with a hoof, "Do you not see the trouble your magic has caused?"

"Trouble? My magic?" Discord snorted, waving the thought away with his paw. "I hardly think magic as wonderfully chaotic as mine could be considered anything but fun!" It was the truth. Unlike Celestia's precious harmony, his own chaos magic was overflowing with surprises. Even he did not know what form it would take.

"Wonderful? WONDERFUL?" The rising crescendo of Celestia's voice made him jump away from her. All trace of control was gone from her voice as she continued, "Your magic has always been, and shall always be an abomination, Discord.

"An abomination? Hardly!" He felt his heart pounding unnaturally fast in his chest. It was all perspective, it always had been. Just because his magic appeared strange, does not make it an abomination. Why was Celestia refusing to see reason? He gestured around at the perfectly restored, sunlit field. "My magic is nothing but good. Playful, yes, but good, just as your own."

Celestia scoffed, stamping her hoof so hard a small crater was left where it struck. "Do not make comparisons, draconequus!"

Draconequus? The word hit him like a punch to the gut. Over all his years of knowing her, Celestia had never referred to him like that. Despite all the curses thrown at him, all the scornful remarks, Celestia and Luna had been his rock of support. With her words, that rock began to crumble. His talon shook uncontrollably as he glowered back at Celestia. "So, I am nothing but a draconequus to you now?"

Celestia's ears folded back, and she shook her head. A new, almost panicked look filled her eyes. "I did not . . . I did not mean to say such words."

"No, but you thought them." Discord knew his blood was up, but he could not stop himself from continuing. He flexed his talon, allowing the nails to glisten in the sunlight like diamonds. "Does my form disgust you, Tia? Do you wish me to depart this place?" His eyes unconsciously drifted towards the mountains in the distance.

A painful, long suppressed memory surged to the forefront of his mind. The darkened cave, a pool of blood, a pair of lifeless bodies. Discord shook his head violently, forcing the thought away. He swallowed, staring hard at his mismatched limbs. Try as he may to deny it, he was not a pony, and never would understand their reasoning. "Would you . . . would you see me forsake my soul as my father before me?"

"By the gods, no!" Celestia started to shake a little. "You are my friend in truth, Discord. I would not see you harmed."

Discord snarled at her. Friend? Who was she fooling? "Friends do not send friends into exile, Tia!"

Celestia's ears pinned flat against her head, eyes boring into his. "I would not have to take such measures if you knew restraint!"

He had had heard enough. Without pausing to consider the consequences, he grabbed Celestia's leg with his talon, pulling her to the earth with a heavy thud. Then, using his entire weight, he pressed her back to the ground. A low, primal growl sounded from deep in his throat as he looked into her now misted eyes. "You know nothing of restraint, princess."

The look of panic on Celestia's face was strangely satisfying. It gave him a sick sort of pleasure to smell the fear on her breath, and hear the rapid pounding of her heart. His talon dug deep into her leg, causing her to cry out in pain. He chuckled, blowing a jet of golden flames mere inches from her face. "My entire life has been nothing but restraint. At any moment, I could forget myself entirely."

"You are not like them, Discord." Though she attempted to struggle, Discord held her fast. Apparently noting the futility of her efforts, she looked back at him, eyes pleading. "You may be a draconequus, but you are different. I could not see you abandoning your intelligence as the others did."

"Truly, Tia?" The words came out as a kind of purr. He stroked her cheek with his paw, wondering at the soft, fragile quality of her skin. It would be disturbingly easy to tear her open, and yet, the thought was oddly tempting. Idly, he wondered just how much blood she would lose before she passed to the next world. The chaos of the chase would be most invigorating at the very least. He wiped a tear from her eyes, a smirk parting the corners of his mouth. "Do not press upon your luck, friend."

He sighed theatrically, looking up at the expansive sky. The heavens seemed so far above them, but, were they truly so out of reach? "The gods have given us a gift, Tia, a fact you would just as soon push to the shadows." Slowly, carefully, he stepped off of her, eyes still focused heavenward. "It is a gift of freewill, and one not so easily pried away by any scheme of mortals. However," his gaze returned to the mare lying on the grass, "we can reject that gift of our own volition."

His hollow laugh echoed around the empty field. "We use our freewill to give that gift up! Do you not see the irony, Tia?" He turned back to Celestia, trying to judge the unreadable expression on her face. "Fear not, I still value the gift, and those who bestowed it upon me. I will not surrender my intelligence so easily."

Discord had one last fleeting image of Celestia's panic stricken face before snapping his talon. He now stood under the cool, dark undergrowth of a nameless forest, glad to be alone. Over and over again, he replayed their conversation. Celestia, like her precious subjects, failed to understand his sincerity. It was all a matter of perspective. They simply did not see the world as he saw it. Perhaps all they needed was a push in the right direction, and he knew just where to start.


And then I remember. It is my nature.


"Cheese, Cheese!" Pinkie's panic stricken voice echoed around the empty hall. Though Cheese had gone quiet, staring hard at the floor, she was still clutching him close, crying into his mane.

Twilight cringed, as she continued to cast the healing spell on his leg. The blood flow had all but stopped since she wrapped the tourniquet around it. Miraculously, despite her inexperience with healing magic, the spell was working better than it ever would have when she was a unicorn. A small part of her wanted to ponder its implications. But, that would have to wait.

She nearly jumped skyward when Cheese snarled at Pinkie. "What were you thinking?" He pulled away from his wife, glowering at her. "How could you talk to Entropy like that?"

Pinkie sat up straight, huffing, "He deserved it." Her hooves gestured wildly around at the splintered wood and blood crusted on the floor. "It's his fault you're hurt!"

Cheese snapped back in an uncharacteristically harsh tone Twilight had only heard him use once before, "It's my own damn fault, Pinkamena!"

For a brief moment that seemed to stretch on for an eternity, Pinkie was in a deadlock with her husband. Twilight had heard couples argue before, but never Pinkie and Cheese. It always seemed as though they were immune to arguments, being the cheerful party ponies they were. Now she could see how stupid that was. "Pinkie, Cheese maybe you should—"

Pinkie stamped her hoof so hard a dent was left in the floorboards. "Your own fault, huh? Was it your fault your parents locked you in that damn box for days on end? Did you trap yourself in that closet?" Her voice reached a feverish crescendo, setting Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack back a few steps. "How do you expect me to explain to our foal how his father died because his so called friend aggravated his claustrophobia?"

Applejack stepped forward, pinning her ears. "It ain't all Entropy's fault, Pinkie."

"Yes." Rarity jerked her head to the door, "You were acting horrid yourself."

"I . . . you . . ." Pinkie stammered. At first, Twilight thought that would be the end of it, but a steady stream of tears began to stream down Pinkie's muzzle. "So what if I was?" She shot a defiant look at Rarity, setting her back a few steps. "You don't know what it's like, worrying that your child's father might be dead because of some stupid prank. It wasn't funny! It wasn't!"

"Pinkie, it's all right." Cheese's voice was soft, almost pleading, a far cry from his earlier outburst. "I'm fine, the foal's fine. Entropy didn't mean anything by it." He sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Entropy doesn't understand how ponies think. It seems crazy, but in his mind, locking me in there was funny, so he thought we'd get a kick out of it too." Cheese frowned, looking hard at his bloody hooves. "Besides, he couldn't have known I would panic like that, I never told him about the claustrophobia."

WHAT? All of them turned their attention to Cheese. Twilight felt her heart pounding in her chest. He never told him? But, that means . . . Oh, Celestia.

Cheese pinned his ears, glowering at them. "Don't you have anything to say for yourselves?" His voice started to shake, "You saw how scared he was. He never meant for any of this to happen! And then you go and scream at him like he was trying to hurt me." Tears were now streaking down his muzzle. "Didn't you pause to consider how he felt? I'd say you're the ones who don't deserve to have friends!"

His words hung in the still air like a miasma. Pinkie had started to shake, falling to her knees, murmuring apologies under her breath. The rest of them stood in silence, staring hard at the floor. Twilight's heart sunk like a rock. It was true, all of it. Some princess of harmony she was. In a matter of seconds, she had managed to hurt the one pony in Equestria who truly understood her. He had been so accepting of her mistakes, even when she allowed her magic to corrupt. And, despite all that, she had jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of them.

Rarity's soft voice broke the relative silence, "What should we do?"

Every one of their eyes turned to Twilight, as they always did when a problem needed fixing. This time however, she was just as lost as they were. There was nothing to say, not really. Entropy had slipped up with his prank, but they were even more at fault. What kind of ponies hurt their friend so badly that he felt the need to run away? His panic stricken face kept floating to the forefront of her mind. They had been cruel to him, nothing they could say would change that.

Applejack took of her hat, fidgeting with the brim. "Well, Twilight?"

Twilight found herself shaking under her friend's stares. Please don't look at me like that. "I . . . I . . . don't know."

To everypony's shock, it was Fluttershy who spoke up first. "We need to let him know it's okay."

Cheese nodded in agreement, "Yeah, and begging for his forgiveness wouldn't be a bad starting point." He sighed, glancing down at his legs. "Say, Twilight, I'm not bleeding anymore, right?"

"No." The change in subject threw her off. Perhaps he was more worried about the injury than he let on. She patted the area around the gash, examining it with amazement. The deep damage was almost completely healed. How did I do that? Seeing Cheese's worried frown, she smiled, "I healed all the major damage, you'll be fine with a few stitches." Though you did lose a lot of blood. . . Mentally, she began to calculate the amount from the stains fast soaking into the wood.

"Twilight?" Cheese's sleepy voice brought her out of the trance. Though he was smiling, his eyes were flickering with pain. He lifted his head weakly to the door. "Why don't you find him? He's got to be scared." The stallion allowed his head to rest against the floor, closing his eyes tight. "I don't want him to think it was his fault," he mumbled.

Twilight looked to Pinkie. Certainly it was irresponsible to just up and leave. Seemingly reading her mind, Pinkie shot her an encouraging smile. "Go on, Twilight. And," she gulped, pawing at the ground, "let him know that . . . that I'm really sorry."

"You can tell him yourself when he comes back." Twilight got slowly to her hooves, casting one last look at the grim expressions on her friends' faces. "But, I think we owe him more than just an apology after what we did." They all nodded in agreement, and she smiled back at them. "Don't worry, I'll find him." She started towards the door, a strange urgency washed over her, as though every fiber in her being was screaming at her to find him before it was too late. With a great leap forward, she galloped out the door into the darkening streets of Ponyville. Please be okay, please be okay.

Waiting, it was always waiting. If he was not waiting for something, he was waiting for somepony, mainly Twilight. It was as inevitable as Hum Drum screwing up a mission. Guess that's why they leave me behind. Spike shuddered at the thought of being compared with a good for nothing like Hum Drum. He flexed his claws, admiring the way the moonlight reflected off of them. I'm more useful than he is! He's not a ferocious dragon, after all.

Then again, Spike could hardly call himself a ferocious dragon. The last time he tried to be ferocious, he nearly burned Entropy, and incurred the wrath of the one pony he never wanted to upset. He was bound and determined never to let that happen again. So he sat on the grass, just as Twilight had ordered him, and waited. It must have been over an hour, but he was not going to complain, not this time.

"Spike? What in tarnation are you doin' here?" Applejack's familiar voice cut through the still night air like a knife. The mare strode over to him, raising a skeptical eyebrow, "Watchin' the tents?"

"No." Spike stroked the grass with a claw, a little embarrassed. He knew full well how stupid he looked, but he really could not help it. Twilight had told him to wait there, and so he would. No matter how tired, cold, or hungry he was. "I'm waiting for Twilight."

"Oh . . . Did anypony tell you what happened?"

"Nope." His reply was a little terse, but he could not help it. There was nothing remotely amusing about sitting alone on the cold grass for over an hour. "Nopony tells me anything."

Applejack sighed, placing a hoof gently on his back. "We just don't want you to worry, that's all."

"Yeah right. You just don't trust me with anything important."

For a moment Applejack was silent, then she looked him in the eye, smiling softly. "You know, I think yer old enough to hear some of this." Without asking, she settled down beside him on the grass. "You see, Cheese had a bit of a rough start as a colt. When he's in the dark, well, he gets scared, real scared."

"Like, he needs a nightlight?" Sure the dark was a little scary, but it was nothing a little light could not cure. Spike was surprised to see Applejack looking a little troubled. "What?"

"Well, his kind of scared ain't somethin' a light's goin' to fix." She stroked the blades of grass aside with a hoof. "It's more like he forgets where he is, an thinks back on all those bad memories. He don't know he's safe, an that makes him panic."

"So that's why Pinkie ran off!"

"Yup. When we got there, he had already gone an hurt himself real bad."

"He'll be okay though, won't he?" His blood ran cold at the thought of Cheese ending up in the hospital again. The poor guy had lived in one for a month after the fire.

Spike cringed as she rubbed his head in a decidedly, maternal fashion. "Yup. He's all right, thanks to Twilight. But, before we knew that," Her hoof stopped, falling to the ground beside her. "we all blamed Entropy. He ran off, and Twilight's gone lookin' for him."

"Oh." So it was back to Entropy again. Why did every little aspect of Twilight's life revolve around him? What about her number one assistant? He got to his feet, looking around at the darkened town. "You think I should go back to the library?"

"Yup. Unless yer afraid the tents are goin' to get nabbed." She winked playfully, getting to her hooves. "Don't worry about her, Spike. She'll be home soon."

Spike watched Applejack walk away towards the apple farm with a frown. There was no denying she had a point, but he could not stopper the nagging suspicion that something was wrong. It was not as though he thought Twilight would come home hurt, which was far from likely. No, what bothered him the most was that she would come home different.

Ever since that afternoon, he could not stop thinking about Entropy kissing Twilight. If she really liked him doing that sort of thing, where would it lead? Would he become just another Hum Drum to her? Spike shook his head, trying to push back the thought. Twilight may be love struck, but she was not stupid. There was no way in Equestria she would forget him so easily, even if she did like Entropy that way. It would be all right, there really was nothing to worry about.

There were screw ups, there were mistakes, and then there were catastrophic failures. Unfortunately for Discord, his life consisted of nothing but the latter. Today was no exception. A failure to relate, a failure to use common sense, and a failure to realize the limitations of his damn pony form. Discord winced at the searing agony radiating down his hooves. He had gone as far as physically possible before he had to give in and rest.

Now he stood alone on the most deserted outcropping he could find, staring down at the jagged rocks of the canyon below. The terrain around Ponyville never ceased to astound him. It was as though the gods had decided to have a good laugh, and had thrown just about every possible land formation in the immediate vicinity of the sleepy town.

That reminds me. Discord looked up into the heavens, amazed as always with the vast expanse of space before him. Even Luna did not know the number of stars or planets, of that he was certain. That fact alone was one of his greatest comforts. He closed his eyes, praying softly. "Forgive me for my transgressions. It was not my intention to cause him harm. Watch over him, and grant him healing. And, if it be your will, I should like another chance."

Sighing, he returned his attention to the scene around him. The moon's soft light reflected off of the rocks, and cast long shadows onto the grass. It was a spectacular display, and one Celestia had never been able to match. His eyes tracked the narrow creek, winding lazily through the canyon below. A part of him wondered how far it was to the bottom. Certainly a pony would never survive such a drop. He glanced at his hooves, contemplating if he could die from it in his current form. It was better not to risk it.

He walked to the cliff's edge, staring down. Heights never had bothered him. He supposed it came from being raised on a cliff face. Magical flight came as naturally as walking to a draconequus, and there were many times he raced his father in just such a canyon. It was one of the few memories he held of him, at least in life. Discord felt the incredible urge to forget this whole game of his and return to his true form. There at least he would find some comfort.

But, leaving now would not be fair to Twilight, he owed her this month at least. Discord did not relish the thought of returning, knowing full well what he would be returning to. Judgmental glances, whispers behind his back, he had been through it all time and again. Even as a pony, he was fated never to connect with another living creature. Perhaps he had not escaped his kind's fate after all. Just as he made to turn towards town, a lilac blur came galloping towards him. What now?

Twilight slid to a halt inches from his muzzle. From her lathered coat and shaking limbs, she must have been running herself ragged. Discord could not fathom why she would have run so hard looking for him. Unless was still mad about his little prank. He braced himself for the inevitable lecture.

Twilight leaned in uncomfortably close, a triumphant glint in her eyes. "Found you!"

"I can see that." Discord took a few steps back, keenly aware of the proximity of the cliff face. He stared challengingly back at her, "What? You come to remind me of my failures?" The words came out far harsher than he intended them to.

She took a step back herself, lowering her ears submissively. "No, I—"

"You what, exactly?"

Her hoof stamped hard into the ground, "I came to apologize! Alright?" Her voice softened as she stared hard at the grass. "I'm sorry for blaming you, Entropy. And, I want you to know that I forgive you."

The last words struck him worse than a kick to the gut. They were the exact same ones Celestia used time and again, as though by saying it, everything would somehow go back to the way it was. It never was their fault, oh no. They might apologize, but it was always out of guilt at being caught, never out of true remorse. Twilight was every bit the same as Celestia, he had been an idiot to expect better. "You forgive me? What about your part?" His voice rose to a dangerous crescendo that echoed off of the rocks. "How in the hell did you expect me to know about the kid's claustrophobia, huh? It was an honest mistake, and you turn on me like a damn timberwolf! I thought we were friends, Twilight!"

For a split second, Twilight looked as though she might back down, but she soon took a defensive stance, glowering back at him. "All I heard was that you had locked Cheese in the closet. What was I supposed to think?"

"You could have heard my side of the story. Why does nopony bother to listen to me? You're just the same as every one else. So quick to cast blame, but too damn stubborn to admit when you're wrong!"

"Am I?" To his surprise, Twilight's eyes had started to mist over. "Don't pretend to understand me, Entropy! You don't know what it's like, being in my position. Everypony expects me to be perfect. And," her voice softened, "I'm not. I've never been. You of all ponies should know that. You saw what happened with my magic!"

Discord snorted, rolling his eyes. "Yes, yes. The misunderstood princess. Cry me a river."

Twilight's hurt expression made his heart lurch ever so slightly. Her voice was laced with venom, "You keep saying how nopony understands you, how you're always alone. But, you never try to make friends." She leaned in closer to him, glowering. "You give up like some little colt when nopony wants to play with him. You're nothing more than a child, Entropy!"

"Me? A child? I'm nearly twice your age, girl! You know nothing of how this world works."

"I know more than you do!" Twilight stepped forward, driving him until his hoof nearly slipped off the edge of the cliff. Her voice raised to an earsplitting level, "What do you do with your life, Entropy? Do you save Equestria on a regular basis? Do you have to deal with watching your friends age and die around you? Celestia, think of somepony other than yourself for once!" Her voice softened until it was barely audible, "I know I'm just a stupid girl with a lot to learn about the world. But, don't go acting like you can read minds. Remember what you told me, nopony understands everything, and that's okay," she patted his hoof, "that's why we need friends, to show us what we couldn't see ourselves."

Discord stared hard into her eyes, seeing the tears now fast flowing down her smooth cheeks. The aching in his chest intensified to a nearly unbearable level. Don't look at me like that! Please, anything but that. "I . . . I . . ."

Before he could think of something that did not sound like an excuse, he felt Twilight's muzzle press onto his. In an instant, the ache transforming into a hammer pounding against his rib cage. When she pulled away, he stood stock still, gaping in wonder. "Why?"

Twilight wiped a tear away with her hoof, smiling weakly. "I need you, Entropy, all of you. The good, the bad, everything. And," she gulped, flushing crimson, "I'd really like it if you'd take all of me. My good points, and my failures." Her eyes met his, this time with an almost pleading look, "I'm so sorry for what I did, Entropy. It was wrong, I know it was wrong. Would you ever forgive me?"

Discord did not think, he did not have to. He leaned forward, drawing Twilight into a tight hug. He whispered softly into her ear, "It's forgiven, Twilight." He held her close, inhaling the sweet scent of her coat hidden in the sweat. Pressed against her, he could feel her heart beating as fast as his own. "I'm sorry for being an old fool. You're right, I need you, and our friends." He sighed, stroking her back with a hoof. "And, I'll do my best not to jump to conclusions before I try to get to know ponies."

Twilight gave a soft nicker, nuzzling his neck. "Me too."

Realizing that he had been holding her for quite some time, he broke the hug, feeling his face heat up. What was I doing? He cleared his throat, "So, you coming here . . . that means Cheese is okay?"

"More than all right. I healed all the deep damage, and most of the surface wound."

"The kid had his legs sliced open. How in Equestria did you heal that most of the way?" It was a valid question. The wound had been deep, it did not take an expert to figure that out.

"I think it has something to do with my alicorn magic. It would fit with my theory . . ."

"Your theory?" Then he remembered Twilight's obsessive focus on her research lately. Perhaps it was time he got to the bottom of it. "What's this theory of yours anyway?"

Twilight flushed, pawing at the grass, "It's a little out there. Promise you won't laugh?"

That depends. The idea that any of Twilight's theories could be earth shattering was a little ludicrous. It was likely not worthy of his attention. Still, her actions tonight proved that he had a lot to learn about her, perhaps she would surprise him. "I'll do my best."

"My slip up the other day, when my magic corrupted . . ." Twilight's words nearly set Discord back a step. So that's where she was going. Well, it made sense that her theory would involve her magic. He listened intently to her next words. "It got me thinking. Then you gave me Discord's journals, and I started to see the bigger picture."

My journals? The bigger picture? What is she playing at? "Twilight, there is no bigger picture."

"That's where you're wrong, Entropy." Twilight's eyes shone with a determination he had never seen before. "This world, our magic, it's all connected! It's bigger than us, or the Tree of Harmony, or anything else we've ever dreamed possible."

"Connected?" She's lost it now. He waved a hoof, pushing the idea aside. "Twilight, how can you say that your harmony magic is anything close to corrupt magic, or chaos magic for that matter?" There's no way my magic is connected with hers.

Twilight shook her head vigorously. "No, you're thinking about this like I was when I started." She looked down at the creek winding through the canyon. "Magic isn't something we're born with and we store up inside ourselves. What I've discovered is that it's more like a river flowing through the heart of this world."

"Really, Twilight? You've lost your mind if you think that magic comes from a river!" Discord could not help but chuckle. "Your magic comes from the Tree of Harmony, just as it does for all ponies."

"Well, how do you explain chaos magic then?" Twilight glowered at him, obviously ready for a fight. "Do you think Discord takes magic from the tree?"

"Well . . ." No, no I don't. It was stupid, but he never so much as considered where his magic came from, as long as it came.

"See? It doesn't make sense for him to take it from there when he can take it directly from the river!"

"What river, Twilight? What river?" He waved his hoof wildly around at them. "In all my years I have never come across such a phenomenon as that. So, what drives this fantasy of yours?"

For a long moment Twilight just stared at him. Her eyes flickered with a sea of emotions. Then, without any warning, she strode forward, and covered his eyes with her hooves. "What do you see, Entropy?"

"Huh?" Why is she messing with me? "Nothing. Just your hooves." He was starting to lose patience with the mare's ramblings.

"Exactly. Now, just stand there and feel." The familiar warmth of Twilight's harmony magic washed over his sides. He could not help but imagine that she was slowly losing her grip on reality. It was nothing but the same old magic he had felt hundreds of times before. Boring as oatmeal, and just as warm. He felt her hooves slid off his eyes. She was grinning back at him as though she had just managed something incredible. "Okay. You can look now."

Discord raised an eyebrow, following her gaze to his sides. His heart stopped. A large portion of the smooth, chocolate covered hairs had been turned white with red polka dots. "By the gods, that was chaos magic!" His heart pounded into his throat as he stared at the impossible. How? HOW?

"I know! Isn't it incredible?" Twilight was beaming from ear to ear now. "It was my first time using it, so I wasn't sure it would work." Her hoof stroked his sides, frowning a little. "Maybe I went too far, I think I turned your skin a different color too."

Discord was getting frustrated with her now. How could she act so casual with what she just did? Never in all his years had he seen a pony use chaos magic, let alone an expert in harmony magic like herself. And yet, it had felt just like all her other spells. How could he have missed the feeling of his own magic? There really was only one explanation, and it irritated him to no end to admit it. Twilight was right, their magic had to come from the same source.

"Do you believe me now?" Twilight leaned in, grinning wickedly.

"Fine." He gave a theatrical bow, "You have bested my intellect, Miss Sparkle. I'll accept this crazy theory of yours."

Twilight's hooves clapped together, "Great! Because there's one last thing I want to try." She took a strong stance, as though expecting him to charge at her. From her pointed jerk of the head, he was supposed to join her. When he had, she lit her horn. "I want to see if we can see the river."

"How?" Discord lit his own horn, wincing at the spluttering, golden magic. "There. I'm ready to destroy something now."

Twilight rolled her eyes. "You're not going to destroy anything, Entropy. Just close your eyes like before, and feel."

"And how is our 'feeling' going to reveal this river?"

"It's not. Our subconscious will reveal it, when we focus on the source of our magic." Without another word or explanation, Twilight closed her eyes, sending a surge of magic from her horn. It was well and truly a mind boggling amount, and even he had to wonder at that.

Accepting that he might as well attempt it, he began to mirror Twilight. The same warm sensation flooded over him as before. This time it was different. If their magic truly came from the same source, then there was no distinction between his magic and Twilight's. If there was no distinction, then there was no need to hold back. So he allowed himself to forget who he was, where he was, and focus entirely upon the surging force now coursing through his body.

Twilight's gasp broke his reverie. He opened his eyes, and nearly jammed them shut again. There, just in front of them was the singular most beautiful sight he had ever witnessed. It was nothing like any river he had seen before, more like a great, writhing ribbon of light. The brilliant white magic churned in a determined flow in front of them, and stretched on for what looked like an eternity. Discord could only gape in awe.

"It's beautiful!" Twilight's eyes sparkled with a childlike wonder, prancing beside the stream and laughing. "I was right! It is a river, Entropy."

Discord fell to his knees, staring up at it. The light was painfully pure, and he knew, just knew that nothing could ever corrupt it. "Heaven has reached down to us."

Her soft chuckle sounded in his ear, sending his heart jumping. "Yeah. It has." She looked into his eyes, smiling sweetly. "What do you say we try out my theory?" Her horn alighted in its lavender aura, as a small portion of the light lept from the stream, appearing around her horn. She broke her concentration, allowing the light to return. "Harmony magic."

Taking a deep breath, Twilight lit her horn once more. This time, the light did not leap out from the stream. Instead, hundreds of thousands of droplets were dragged from varying points all along the river, slamming together as if Twilight's horn was a magnet. More quickly than before, she relaxed her concentration, sending the droplets rocketing back. She joined him on the grass, panting heavily now. "Chaos magic."

It's not an aberration. Discord could not stop the tears from flowing down his face. Before he could stop himself, he gripped Twilight in a tight hug. "Thank you, thank you."

Twilight chuckled, "Why in Equestria are you thanking me? I—" She stopped short when the river began to surge. Then, just as suddenly, it began to fade until nothing was left but the night sky. "It's gone."

Discord could not stifle a chuckle. "I guess it's shy." He looked into Twilight's eyes, noticing for the first time how distinctly exhausted she looked. "Twilight, maybe we should head home."

Ignoring his comment, Twilight pulled away, gesticulating wildly at the now decidedly uninteresting landscape. "My theory was right!"

Discord rolled his eyes, sprawling out on the grass. "I suppose I'm going to hear a lot about this, aren't I?" Seeing her hurt expression, he waved her on. "Go and dazzle me with your newfound revelations."

Twilight jerked a nod, "Okay. So, you saw that I could use both chaos and harmony magic, because they're both the same magic. The only difference is the method we use to draw it out of the river." Her eyes turned to his side which had returned to its usual shade of brown some time ago. "My chaos magic is transient because I can't slam the magic together like Discord can. But, I imagine he has trouble with harmony magic since he has to draw it all from one spot on the river."

You have no idea. Though, Twilight's words were encouraging. If she could use his magic, and control it, who was to say he could not do the same? But, there were a few gaping holes in her theory. "Sounds logical. But, what about the Tree? Corrupt magic? That sort of thing. You've missed a few bases."

"The Tree is easy. It's like our horns, channeling magic, sort of like a fountain." Twilight prodded his horn before plowing ahead. "I imagine most unicorns, earth ponies, and pegasi need a channel to access the river. For unicorns it's the Tree, for earth ponies it's the very soil, and for pegasi, it’s the sky. Alicorn, and other powerful beings like Discord can access the river directly, that's why they're more powerful." Her eyes bored into his, a frown stretching across her face. "What I can't figure out is how you can access it."

Discord looked away, chuckling nervously. Smart girl. "I haven't the faintest clue."

"Well, besides that, there's the matter of corrupt magic." She began to pace in little circles, more closely resembling a drunken scholar than an alicorn princess. "You know how when we cast a spell, we release the magic? Well, maybe corrupt magic comes from holding onto it too long, cutting it off from the purity of the stream."

Discord's eyes followed her swaying steps as he stood. "Twilight, you need to res—" Before he could finish his sentence, Twilight began to stagger, and collapsed in a heap. "Twilight!" He rushed over to her, feeling her heaving sides. Thankfully, she did not appear harmed, just tired. He nuzzled her cheek softly. "Idiot."

As his hoof stroked her frayed mane back, he could not help but admire the way its strands reflected the moonlight. At that moment, Discord could not think of anywhere he wanted to be other than beside her under the stars. He leaned down, resting his head against her own, breathing softly, "Thank you, Twilight. Thank you."

She'll be okay. She'll be okay. Spike lay curled up on his basket, repeating the words like a mantra. Hours had passed since he had gone back to the library, and there was still no sign of Twilight. Try as he may to sleep, his mind kept running a mile a minute. What if something really bad happened to them? What if she was lost? What if Twilight just ran away? Okay, admittedly, that was not likely, but there was no telling with Entropy.

Spike glanced at the clock above Twilight's headboard. Two-thirteen in the morning. There was no way she would be out that late without a good reason. Taking action, he got to his feet and started towards the stairs. Just then, the door to the library creaked open. He trotted over, looking down from the loft. Entropy? The stallion was carrying Twilight on his back as he made his way to the stairs. She looked unharmed, though obviously asleep.

He waited for them, biting his lip to stopper the urge to cry out. When Entropy got to the top, he smiled weakly at Spike. Without ceremony, he walked over to her bed and rolled her onto the quilt, resting her head on the pillow. He huffed for a while, wiping the sweat from under his forelock.

Spike rushed over to him, gripping his leg. "Why were you carrying her? Is she all right? You weren't attacked by timberwolves, were you?"

Entropy rolled his eyes, holding out a filthy hoof. "Hush. She's fine, just tired," he whispered. Sighing, he turned his attention back to Twilight. "We had a lot to talk about."

A lot to talk about? Spike felt his stomach drop. "What kind of stuff, Entropy?" He hissed the words, nudging the stallion in the ribs.

Instead of a response, Entropy climbed up on the bed himself. He sprawled out on the foot of it like some oversized guard dog. "Goodnight, Spike."

"What?" He can't be serious! He tugged at the stallion's leg, "Entropy, you can't sleep in Twilight's bed. She'll be really mad."

"Too tired," Entropy mumbled before closing his eyes and going silent. In a matter of seconds, he was as sound asleep as Twilight.

Spike ran his hands over his head. This was not good. All his worst nightmares had been confirmed. Twilight was out talking to Entropy the whole time, probably about mushy stuff. Then he brings her home at two in the morning and has the brass to fall asleep on her bed. Did that mean they were dating now? He hoped not, hoped that Twilight would knock some sense into him as she woke up. But, a part of him knew that was not going to happen. For now, he would just close his eyes and pretend that this was all a bad dream. Yes, a very bad dream.

The light of the bonfire climbed skyward like some great red mountain, illuminating the villagers dancing around its base. Their laughter and music drifted to where Discord lay on the grass, watching the scene unfold as it had countless times before. He chuckled at the swirling black edges around it. The dream was not a new one to him, though he never really grew tired of the memory. It had been pleasant enough to watch their dance, though he had been forbidden to take part in it.

So, just like countless times before, he watched, enjoying their laughter and wondering. His tail tapped out the rapid tempo of the dance as the firelight danced off his scales. A soft breeze blew the familiar, comforting smell of wood smoke and spirits to his nostrils. It was a good smell, one he would always seek out. He nearly toppled over when he heard a soft voice in his ear.

"Discord? What are you doing by yourself?" Twilight, no his dream's version of Twilight giggled softly, sitting down beside him. She was wearing the fashion of the day, some three hundred years before his banishment. Strange, it suited her, especially with her mane braided the way it was. The apparition seemed to read his mind, because she nudged him playfully in the ribs. "What? Does the dress look weird?"

"No! I . . . uh . . ." Why am I embarrassed? It's just a dream. Discord cleared his throat, gesturing to the crowd with his paw. "Why aren't you dancing?"

Twilight rolled her eyes. "Because you're the only one I want to dance with, silly." She huffed, sticking her muzzle in the air. "You've been sulking all night. If you're going to take me to the dance, you had better at least act like you're interested in dancing."

"I took you?" Discord burst out laughing. "Me? I'm a draconequus! Surely you don't want to be associated with the likes of me."

Discord winced as her hoof made contact with his chest. "Well I do!" Her eyes stared challengingly into his own, "You have a problem with that?" She turned away, fidgeting with her mane. "What were you thinking about?"

"Oh, a lot of things." He raised his talon, gesturing at the band. "The irony for one."

"Irony?" Twilight pressed her side to his, looking questioningly back at him. "What kind of irony, Discord?"

His dream Twilight was persistent, he would give her that. He sighed, looking back at the dancing forms. "The song is one of ours, the draconequus that is. It's not a happy song, but everyone has so much fun dancing to it."

"Well?" She scooted closer, stroking his chest with her hoof. "What were the words? I'm hopelessly curious, you know."

Curious? Please, you want me to give a history lesson. Guess it couldn't hurt though. "It's a song from the war that tore our kingdom apart, many centuries before you were born. They used to sing it dancing and laughing like these ponies. Father never told me why." He cleared his throat, and began to sing in a language he had not used since he was a child,

"Fade, fade, fade away
As the rust takes the iron,
So our minds slip away
We've turned, turned, turned away
From faith, love, and laughter
And the works of our hands
So, dance, dance, dance while you can
Tomorrow's but a dream and today is the end"

He chuckled, feeling his face heat up. "I'm afraid I'm a little stale."

Twilight shook her head, "No, it was nice. I've never heard a draconequus song before. But," She looked down at her hooves, "it's a little sad. Why did they fight in the first place?"

"Oh, I don't know, Twilight. Something stupid I'm sure. That's how all wars seem to start." He stared at the alicorn, the living embodiment of harmony as she was so lovingly called by Celestia. "The world may do well with a healthy dose of chaos now and again, but, it can't survive without harmony, it just can't. My kind never learned that simple truth."

Twilight looked into his eyes, as though searching for something. Then, slowly she ran a hoof across his cheek. "But, you did, Discord. You need harmony, that's what brought you to me."

"No, I came because of a stupid bet." That had been his only real reason for coming to Ponyville. Everything that came as a result was mere chance.

"Well, the bet may have brought you to me, but you stayed, didn't you?" She giggled, running a hoof through his mane. "You could have left today, nopony would have blamed you. But you stayed. You stayed for me, yes, but there's more to it than that." She looked up into the heavens, "The gods have a plan, they brought us together for a reason. Don't be so quick to dismiss this as mere chance, Discord."

A loud crash of the logs released a jet of flames, launching hundreds of sparks into Luna's night sky. His eyes focused on Twilight's childlike wonder. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

"Yes!" She looked back at him, a small smirk stretching the corners of her mouth. "Come on, Discord. Let's join them."

"But, I can't remember all the steps!" Before he could protest, she had pulled him to his feet. He rolled his eyes. Even in my dreams, she still wins. For once, he did not mind, in fact he was glad of it.

Author's Note:

And there it is. I hope my modifications smoothed out some of the pacing and character interaction issues.

Finally able to reveal my magic headcanon and a little more of Discord's past. I'm super excited to lead into the second half of the story at long last. Still a lot more twists and turns to come. Thanks for reading folks, and I hoped you enjoyed it!

A big thank you to Nomad_Sigma and SageBrony07 for editing/prereading my ramblings. I can't thank them enough for all the help and support!

Inspiration for the river came from a favorite anime of mine, Mushishi.