• Published 15th Dec 2014
  • 6,931 Views, 569 Comments

This Cruel and Random World - Bluegrass Brooke



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

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Unwanted Attention

One week. One week of dating, and she had him wrapped around her hoof. Discord honestly had no idea when or where it happened, it just did. Between their near constant magic practice and continued research, it was impossible not to be impressed with Twilight. For a pony as young as she was to have the knowledge, flexibility, and determination she had was nothing short of remarkable. He supposed everything she did was remarkable, at least to him.

What was most remarkable at the moment was how determined she was to learn chaos magic. As he lay on his quilt staring at the awakening town, he wondered what possessed her to become so singularly focused on it. In all honesty, he was pleased that somepony was taking an interest in his magic, but that was hardly convenient given his current situation.

Twilight seemed convinced that the more she nagged Discord about it, the more she could learn about chaos magic. He was quite sick of the stack of letters she kept sending him, as it was starting to interfere with his sleep. Try as he may to explain that chaos magic could not be learned through writing, his mare seemed determined to drive him crazy in the attempt. Chaos magic had to be felt, as he wrote time and time again in his responses. That led to a whole new problem where she kept asking him to come to Ponyville and teach her and Entropy. That would be awkward to say the least.

And then there was her constant ranting about Entropy. It was reassuring to know she felt the same about him as he did about her, though it sometimes felt like he was reading a school filly's diary. Really and truly he did not care what she looked like, so why in Equestria was she so worried about it? Gods above, he would not have cared if she were a griffon, and that was saying something. That coupled with Spike's ill-concealed attempts to come between them at every chance he could get was getting on his nerves. Children. I'm surrounded by needy children.

Just on cue, the book on his endtable began to vibrate. Sighing, he levitated it towards him, withdrawing an all too familiar letter. He rubbed his temple, bracing for today's drama.

'Discord,

I have a bit of a confession.'

He rolled his eyes, "Shocking that."

'Yesterday I found a really old potion in a spell book. There was no description, but the text said it was a chaotic potion, so naturally I made a bit up to experiment.'

"Naturally!" Discord burst into tears of laughter, rolling on the quilt. Leave it to Twilight to make a potentially dangerous potion without knowing what it even did. And then there was her adorable assumption that it was a chaos magic potion. "Not likely, dear. Draconequus don't go giving away the recipe to chaos magic potions to just anypony with a spell book." Still chuckling, he read on,

'Well, before I could test it, Spike bumped into me and I . . . I spilled it all over Entropy.'

"WHAT? You said that was water!" It was a small miracle the magic from the potion did not revert him back to his true form. That would not have ended well.

'I didn't tell him, and he went home. Now I'm feeling a little guilty. Do you think he'll be okay? Should I tell him?

-Twilight'

"For the love of . . ." Discord made a wild gesticulation at the paper, "YES! What do you think?" Still fuming, he withdrew a sheet of parchment, writing with his unicorn magic for a touch of practice.

'Twilight,

This might come as a revelation to you, but in my day when wayward alicorns spilled potentially dangerous chemicals on their elders, they explained themselves and apologized. Do you not think a pony of his age and standing would be capable of registering that it was an accident? Surely he has had some experience with potions before, and would be able to assist. If you had any iota of common sense left, you would tell him!

-Discord'

He sent it off in a jet of golden flames, tail twitching irritably. Great, now there's mysterious magical effects to add to my list of concerns. Children! Sighing, he got to his hooves, wincing at the pain in his joints. It was not so unusual anymore, and he had perfected the best gait to avoid jarring his bones more than necessary. It was abundantly clear now that it was not mere arthritis he was suffering from. The spell was slowly rejecting him, and any hint of chaos magic might be enough to dissolve it altogether.

Despite that, Discord could not help being happier than he had been in months. Not only was his life pleasantly varied, but he actually had someone to share those pleasant moments with, someone who truly cared about him. That thought kept him going despite the nagging pain radiating through his body like poison.

Purposely avoiding the kitchen and by extension, Mrs. Plumsworth, he veered out the side door into the sunlight. The warmth cascaded over his coat, allowing the aching to fade to near nonexistence. Whistling a nameless tune, he began his usual route to the library, nodding a greeting to the ponies he passed. They all knew his name by now, and he knew just about all of theirs'. It took a greeting with Carrot Top to realize that something was off.

Rather than her usual half-interested smile, the mare literally jumped in front of his path, grinning in a wolfish manner. Discord lowered his ears, taking a few steps back. "May I help you?"

"That depends," She walked, no sauntered up to him with all the air of a drunk hooker. Oh gods, why me? Before he could react, she was staring centimeters from his muzzle, eyes boring into his. "What are you up to sneaking by so casually?"

He bit his lip, trying to stopper the urge to blast her with his still volatile harmony magic. "I was not sneaking, I was walking."

"Nope, you were sneaking." She actually brushed his chin with her hoof, causing him to cringe.

There was nothing that remotely attracted him to this mare, and from her previous interactions with him, the feeling was mutual. So what in Equestria was the problem? Then it hit him like a ton of bricks. Twilight, I'm going to kill you. "I believe you may be under the influence of a mismanaged potion, Carrot Top. I—"

"—Potion?" Her high pitch laughter was like talons on a chalkboard. She pressed her hoof to his chest, "Darling, I don't need a potion to see that you're the finest catch this side of Canterlot."

Twilight was going to get a lecture from him personally, just as soon as he found a way to escape. Being involved in the spectacle was a lot less amusing than watching it. Sighing, he pushed her unceremoniously onto her haunches. "Enough, Carrot Top. I'm leaving." Just as he started off, the mare grabbed his hind leg, nearly pulling him to the grass. "Let go!"

"No!" A look of utter desperation stretched across her round face. "Please stay."

"Please leave me alone," he retorted, glowering down at her.

"Yeah! Leave him alone, Carrot Top." Rainbow Dash's jeering voice sounded from a nearby rooftop. With all the agility of a cat, she landed on the grass, prying the surprised vendor off of his leg.

Discord took the hint and cantered off, Rainbow keeping step. They veered off into a side alley, panting heavily. He grinned at her, "Thanks . . . Rainbow . . . you're a lifesaver."

Instead of a response, Rainbow was staring at him with a look of revelation sweeping over her face. "You're . . . you're younger!"

He rolled his eyes skyward. "Really? I do not have time for this, I am the same damn age I was yesterday!" His hoof stamped the dirt for emphasis, wincing at the resulting concussion.

"No you're not!" Rainbow facehoofed, proceeding to grab a nearby watering pail. She held it up for him, "See?"

Discord started backwards at the image. There stood a stallion that looked twenty years younger, jet black mane, no lines, and a more muscular physique. This was not just a love potion he was dealing with. "Twilight," he growled, turning back to towards the library. "When I get my hooves on you . . ."

"Before that," Rainbow Dash interjected herself between him and the street beyond, "why don't we you know, hang out?" Her eyes darted to his shoulders, with an unsettling interest. "You could come to my place, show me some techniques. You know?"

Techniques? What's she— Discord twitched as Rainbow Dash's tail wrapped around his. Great, just great. He pushed her aside with a hoof, "Not interested, Rainbow."

"Aweee. Come on." Her eyes sparkled with a lustful hunger as she pressed her side to his. "You've got to have a lot of experience."

"I do not!" That was the truth as sure as he lived and breathed, but Rainbow Dash did not seem satisfied.

The mare clasped one of his hooves, staring pleadingly into his eyes. "Come on, just one time. Please?"

The mare's advances were making his skin crawl. Typical ponies, mate with whoever they want then throw them away whenever it's convenient. He pinned his ears at her, "No! My kind do not partake in one night stands." Discord wanted to slap himself for the last bit. Flim's speeches about the virtues of honesty during their research must have rubbed off on him.

To his surprise, Rainbow Dash either did not notice his slip up or did not care. Instead, her side pressed to his once more. "But, it's not night, silly," she whispered in a credible impersonation of Mrs. Plumsworth's frisky voice.

Have mercy on me. Under any normal circumstances, Discord would not have dreamed of raising his hoof to a lady, but desperate times called for desperate measures. With as much strength as he could muster, he drew back his hind hoof and kicked Rainbow Dash right in the chest. The effect was instantaneous and Discord did not bother to watch her crumple to the grass.

He lurched forward in a headlong gallop. Idly he wondered at how much running he had done since he arrived in Ponyville. It really was ridiculous, and he made a mental note to complain to Twilight about it when he got the chance. His legs began to burn and he cursed his luck. I'm far too old to be gallivanting around the countryside because of a few mares.

Finally, he slid to a halt in front of the library door. Without even looking behind him, he ran inside and bolted the door behind him. He stared hard at the floorboards, panting heavily. "You're . . . . in . . . so much . . . trouble."

"What for?" Twilight's voice came from the top of her ladder. Discord looked across the room and noted her levitating a book from the top of the shelf, completely focused on the task at hand. "I didn't make you run."

"You!" Discord slapped a hoof to his face, "Don't play innocent! When were you going to tell me about the potion?"

Twilight turned to face him, gasped, and tumbled off the ladder. Without hesitation, he lurched forward, preparing to catch her in his magic. Thankfully, Twilight realized she had wings halfway through the fall and caught herself. They breathed a collective sigh of relief, staring at each other. Then, as if they planned it all along, the pair burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. Twilight was the first to gain her composure, waving a hoof as she caught her breath, "How'd . . . how'd you know about the potion?"

"What else could have done this," he made a sweeping gesture over his body, "Last time I checked, this was not what I looked like."

"Point taken." Twilight giggled, trotting over to him. Her hooves stroked his sides in that electrifying way of hers, "Were there other effects?"

He let out a soft chuckle, allowing her to continue examining his limbs. "Yes, and they were far from welcome."

Twilight listened to his quick recap with an unusually distracted air. As he spoke, her hooves stroked his legs, sides, and even his mane as though she were contemplating buying a new wagon. When he finished, he looked for her usual response, a theory or perhaps a wild spell to try. To his dismay, she continued to pet him like a particularly fluffy cat. "Twilight. Twilight! Pay attention."

"Sorry." She giggled, running a hoof through her mane. "It's just, I was really curious what you looked like when you were younger." Her muzzle pressed to his for a brief instant before pulling away. "You must have been quite the lady's stallion."

"Not hardly." Discord had an uneasy feeling about what was coming next. Surely an alicorn would not be affected by a little potion, right? He started towards the bookshelf, looking for some sort of antidote reference. "Where should we start looking for a counter potion?"

Twilight's high pitched laughter set the hairs on the back of his neck on end. "Silly, we don't need a counter potion." She trotted over to him, whispering seductively in his ear, "all we need is each other."

Not her too! Discord was all for having Twilight's affections, but not this way. He rounded on her, "Listen to me, Twilight. I want your affections, truly I do, but only yours." Clutching her close, he breathed softly into her ear, "You are more than enough."

Immediately she relaxed, "Okay, Entropy. But," her voice softened to a near whisper, "it's a shame, you know? This way we're the same age."

So that's it. Discord sighed, stroking her mane gently. "No, Twilight. This isn't an age spell, and even if it was, it would not be right." I thought she was over this. "Time must march on, I cannot stop it and wait for you."

Twilight nodded slowly, burrowing her face in his chest. "I know, I know," she murmured softly.

"Entropy? You finally show up?" Spike's ever annoying voice sounded from the door to the kitchen. Sure enough, the little apron clad dragon trotted out in his usually loud manner. "Why do you two have to be all huggy? It's only like eight o'clock. And what's up with your mane?"

Discord snorted, rolling his eyes. The child had no understanding of the word tact. We were having a moment. Reluctantly, he pushed Twilight back, getting to his hooves. "Next time you interrupt adults, do try to me semi-respectful about it, Spike." He swished his tail in the dragon's face, turning to the bookshelf once more. Today was going to be interesting to say the least.


While Twilight could safely say she knew a lot about spells, potions were another matter entirely. In the course of four hours, they had tried just about every conceivable spell she could think of to put Entropy back to normal. Despite their best efforts, the potion's effects remained as strong as ever and would not have been much of a problem if it did not mess so strongly with her focus.

Twilight was convinced that she loved Entropy, convinced for days now. Maybe not as much as Pinkie loved Cheese, but enough to safely say she was infatuated with the stallion. However, this potion took her affections to dangerously obsessive levels. Even with her alicorn magic, it was difficult to stopper the crazy fantasies that flitted through her mind every time she looked at him.

"Twilight?" Entropy waved a hoof in front of her face, jolting her out of the most recent "bad student" daydream. There was a distinct note of exhaustion in his voice, "Twilight, for the love of the gods, focus. I have explained this to you three times already."

"Sorry, what were you saying?" Twilight felt a heady tinge of guilt as he beat his head against the nearest spell book.

"The potion," he pointed to the book resting on the pedestal without looking up, "acts as an aphrodisiac and an illusion in one. Therefore," his hoof moved toward her horn, "we need to treat the symptoms together rather than separately."

Twilight nodded, glancing around at the mountain of books piled around them. "But, how do we nullify an aphrodisiac and an illusion spell together?"

"I don't know." He slammed his head harder against the book, the dull thud echoing around the room. "You tell me, oh great and powerful alicorn."

"Hmmm." Entropy had a point, she should know how to fix something like this. It should be simple, so why was the answer so hard to find? She hated to admit it, but she needed backup. "Maybe I should ask Discord."

"I don't think that's wise." Entropy grimaced, making a slicing motion across his throat. "Didn't he just write a 'you solve your own problems' response? What if he gets mad?"

Twilight could not help but roll her eyes at him, "Discord doesn't get mad, Entropy, not really mad anyway." It had to be close to the truth. After all, even when he first broke out of his stone imprisonment, he had never really been mad, not to the point where he would actually hurt anypony at least. "He's the spirit of chaos, not the spirit of vengeance. What's the worse he can do, turn us into books?"

Entropy looked as though he had a snide comeback for that, but said nothing. Instead, he scooped up the nearest book and began to read again, mumbling something about children. She pinned her ears at him, "And I'm not that young, Entropy!"

"Hmmm? I didn't say anything, dear." He levitated the book up, an overly innocent expression on his face. "But you're quite right in that regard."

"Don't agree with me so easily!" Get a clue, would you? With a little more malice than she would have liked, she turned to the nearest book. Their quest was starting to appear hopeless after all. Then, realization hit her like a brick. "Entropy, what's the only thing that can cancel out chaos magic?"

"Harmony magic," he muttered, still focusing on the text. "It's how you defeated Discord, isn't it?"

A small smirk stretched across the corners of her mouth. "And, I suppose the only way to cancel out harmony magic is with chaos magic?"

"No." Entropy's curt response hit her like a punch to the gut.

"What do you mean 'no'? It's only natural that the opposite of harmony would neutralize it." What did Entropy know? He was just being sore because she had been ogling him all day.

Her stallion rolled his eyes clean over, "Listen, chaos magic isn't the opposite of harmony magic, remember? It's just drawing from a millions of places instead of one."

"But harmony magic can beat chaos magic!" There, he could not possibly argue against that.

He shot her an Are you serious? look, "Twilight, the reason your harmony magic bests chaos magic is a simple matter of volume."

"Volume?" What's he playing at?

Entropy pointed his horn at a nearby book, casting one of the simple transportation spells they had been working on. "You see there? I'm drawing from the fountain, not from the stream. My power is therefore limited. Now," he pointed at her horn, "you as an alicorn, and your friends as the Elements of Harmony can draw directly from a single spot in the river, correct?"

Realization began to dawn on her, "You don't mean . . . ."

"Yes I do. You defeated Discord not because your magic was any 'purer' than his, but because you could draw more magic from the stream." Entropy tapped his book with a hoof, "That's why he immediately went after the Elements and shattered your ability to use them. He knew he could never out-magic you, so he out-smarted you."

The answer was so logical that she could not think of an intelligent rebuttal. It was far from pleasant remembering how easily Discord had out foxed them, but Entropy had a point. There was only one question remaining. "So, what nullifies harmony magic?"

"That, Twilight is obvious." He sneered in that knowing way of his, "Corrupt magic."

"Oh." A pit began to form in her stomach, radiating an icy chill through her body. That magic. The magic that would have seen her become as terrifying as Nightmare Moon. It was painful just to remember, and even more painful to admit that if Entropy had not been there, she would have given in.

Before she could speak, she felt Entropy's hooves wrap around her. "Don't worry," he whispered into her ear, "I would not let that happen to you, you know that."

She nodded, fighting the urge to cry. "Sorry."

"There is nothing to be sorry for, Twilight." His low, smooth voice was the best medicine in the world. "Let the past remain in the past or it will consume you," he breathed the words, almost as if he were speaking them to himself.

Twilight hugged him back, "That goes for you too, silly."

He chuckled softly, "All right then." All too soon he released her, returning to his research with an uncharacteristic determination.

At that moment, she was tempted to fall into another of her fantasies, but fought the urge. Allowing a stupid potion to beat her was just ridiculous. Speaking of . . . She stared at Entropy, wondering. The potion's effects were ludicrous to say the least. Did that mean it was chaos magic? There was only one way to find out. She closed her eyes, focusing her entire concentration on the river and the sensation of chaos magic. All she had to do was slam the fragments together, how difficult could that be? "Entropy?"

"What?" He looked up in time to flinch as a burst of her chaos magic hit him square in the chest.

What happened next could only be described as a major screw up. An unnatural, almost pressurized calm filled the room, as though they were lying in an open field right before a storm hit. Then, all too suddenly there was an unbearable ringing in her ears coupled with such a pressure that she feared her head might burst. Twilight writhed on the floor, moaning from the shock and pain of it all, it was too much for anypony to stand. Just as she was about to fade into unconsciousness, it receded as fast as it came.

She blinked blearily around the room, surprised at how bright it looked. Her heart lurched when she saw Entropy doubled over, clutching his chest. "Oh my Celestia!" As fast as her numb limbs could move, she crawled over to him. "Entropy? Speak to me, are you all right?"

He looked up, eyes flashing with a mixture of pain and anger. "Fine," he rasped, still clutching his hooves to his chest. "Do not . . . do not try that again, Twilight."

You don't have to tell me twice! "What happened?" She made to examine his chest, but he flinched away from her. "Entropy, let me look at it."

"I'm fine, Twilight, just fine." He jerked his head towards the kitchen. "Could you get some water?"

She nodded, getting to her hooves and cantering over to the kitchen. When she returned with a bucket, Entropy was lying in a more natural position, no longer gripping his chest. He took long gulps from the bucket as she watched him nervously. "I'm so sorry, Entropy. I tried to do the same spell I did by the cliffs, but something must have gone wrong."

He raised an eyebrow, speaking in his most sarcastic tone, "You don't say?"

Her eyes darted to his limbs, surprised to see them shaking. "Are you all right?"

"For the hundredth time, I am well." Entropy gave her a less than convincing grin. "I was just a bit surprised at the . . . effects."

She knocked him to the floor, "You can say that again! I have no idea how that happened. I mean, it's not like I haven't—"

"— Twilight? What are you doing?"

"What do you mean, Entropy?" She looked down to see his golden eyes staring at her with a mixture of shock and irritation. "What?"

"I don't think that I'm quite ready for this kind of . . . familiarity." He let out a long sigh, "Even if I was, I would not choose the main floor of the public library to make my advances."

She followed his gaze, stomach dropping out from under her as she realized that she was practically sitting on his chest. Somehow her hooves had found their way onto his, very nearly pinning him to the floorboards. In a swift motion, she jumped off of him, feeling her face heat up. "Oh my. I'm so sorry! It's this stupid potion, it's messing with my head."

"You can say that again," he mumbled just loud enough for her to catch the words. Rolling over, the stallion got to his hooves, straightening his now jet black mane. "I am going to seek the advice of one who is gifted in the area of illusion magic."

Twilight rolled her eyes. Theatrical much? "Who are you going to ask?"

"Flim." With a shrug and a wave, he trotted towards the door. "Man the fort for me, Twilight and do try to think of cures that don't hurt so much."

Before she could make to protest, the stallion had left her well and truly alone. Twilight tried to imagine Flim, Ponyville's resident ex-conman as a resource for anything besides shady business dealings. Certainly his power generating magic had come in handy for their research, but it was nothing compared to Entropy's raw power. She just hoped Entropy did not run into any distractions along the way.


Well, this is interesting. Discord tried not to look behind him, keenly aware of his little fan club, then again, they were not exactly subtle. It sounded as though half the mares in Ponyville were arguing over who was to kiss him first. The only saving grace was that they were too busy arguing to actually approach him. That did not stop him from making as fast of progress as he could. Unfortunately, something had to give.

Their resident mail mare shouted at the top of her lungs. "Let's catch him, and then decide who gets him!"

There was a roar of agreement at this, and Discord felt the thunder of hooves behind him. I'm getting too old for this. With a deep breath, he lurched forward, galloping as fast as his aching limbs could take him. Though he was making every attempt to zigzag and throw the mares off course, they kept up with him like hounds after a scent, it probably had a lot more to do with that than he cared to admit.

Lighting his horn, he began to cast a distraction spell from one of Twilight's books. The result was nothing less than pathetic. Rather than a distraction, he managed to teleport a forlorn stuffed animal in front of the herd. They trampled the poor ugly thing with all the air of a herd of wildebeests. Great, now what? Up ahead he spotted his opportunity, Big Mac's wagon loaded with straw. Perfect. He turned a sharp corner and in the split second it took for them to round it jumped headlong into it.

He must have been well concealed because the mares continued down the road in a thundering mass. That was way too close. For a while he lay hidden in the straw, contemplating his next move. The other stallions in the town did not seem so keen on his newfound popularity, and a few had actually burst into fits of laughter when he and the mob passed by so they would be of little use.

His best option appeared to be waiting it out until Big Mac returned. After all, where there was Big Mac, there had to be Flim. It irked him to no end to rely on a unicorn for something he should be able to figure out, but in all honesty, he was past the point of caring. What was more pressing was Twilight's near exposure of his true form and her inability to control chaos magic.

Not being able to control harmony magic was one thing, but if she was not careful, a lot of ponies could get hurt with her dabbling in chaos magic. It had taken him centuries to fully control his own magic, and the more he delved into it, the more difficult it became. If she actually read my journals closely, she would have known that.

Chaos could not be harnessed, only directed, a simple fact he had been forced to learn the hard way. There were times, even in his adult life where his control had wavered. Twilight was clueless, but incredibly powerful, enough to disrupt even his spell for an instant. In his current weakened state, an instant was all it took to lose control. It had required every ounce of willpower he possessed to contain the wave of concentrated chaos magic, longer to revert his talon back into a hoof. This spell required a dangerous quantity of chaos magic, and if he slipped again, all of Ponyville might be in danger.

"Entropy? What in the hay are you doin' in my wagon?" Big Mac's voice sounded right above his head. In a few seconds, he had wisked away the straw, allowing the oppressive sunlight to beat down on him. The stallion's eyes grew wide, "What in tarnation happened to you?"

"Twilight spilled a potion on me, some kind of aphrodisiac illusion mix." He burrowed himself in the straw again. "Trust me on this one, you don't want the mares to see me."

Big Mac let out an exasperated sigh, "Where to?"

Discord shuffled around in the straw, getting into a more comfortable position. "Flim if you can manage it. He's the master of illusion magic around here."

"Eeeyup." Without another word from Big Mac, the wagon lurched forward and down the bumpy road.

Discord did not know when or how he managed to fall asleep, but the next thing he knew Big Mac was whisking the straw off of him. The brilliant light made it impossible to see any of his details, though from the shadows, he assumed there were two ponies staring at him. "You can come out now."

"Is he okay?" Flim's nervous voice cut through the air. "Why's he all young looking? Is it an age spell?"

"Dunno . . ."

Blinking several times, he allowed the scene to come into focus. The wagon was resting underneath a particularly large apple tree. Flim was leaning casually against the trunk, looking a good deal like Applejack in his cowboy hat, collar, and straw clasped between his teeth. The younger pony jerked his head towards him, "Should we get Twilight?"

Big Mac looked horror-struck at the idea, shaking his head vigorously. "Nope."

Sighing, Flim walked over to him, scratching his scruffy red sideburns with a frown, "What in Equestria did you do to yourself?"

"Urgh! For the last time, it is not my fault. Twilight was experimenting with a potion and spilled it all over me." He jumped unsteadily off the wagon, staring hard at the thin stallion. "It's some kind of aphrodisiac illusion magic. I've been chased by the half the mares in Ponyville all morning. Twilight's even lost it!"

Flim looked at Big Mac, the smallest of smiles creasing his face. Then, as if by some unspoken cue, the pair burst into a fit of laughter. Flim's was accentuated by a bizarre, hollow cough that made his skin crawl.

If there was one thing draconequus were good at, it was recognizing weaknesses. His father claimed it was a natural instinct, in order to seek out the weakest prey to target. Though it was useful in certain situations, it always unsettled him to think that he was "sizing up" his dinner. He at least was one hundred percent confident that Flim had a serious lung disease.

Their fit of laughter subsided, and Flim managed to speak, "So? Why did you want to see me?"

He shrugged, "Well, I assumed you would have learned a thing or two about illusion magic when you were conning ponies."

"Why . . . you . . . " Flim huffed, looking away, "So what if we did? I'm not using it anymore. I've turned a new leaf, haven't I, Big Mac?"

Big Mac nodded sagely, "Eeeyup."

Discord glowered at the red stallion, "Enough comments from the peanut gallery." This whole situation was having his blood up. All he wanted was to live in relative obscurity for one month, one blasted month. Was that so much to ask for? "You," he pointed to Flim, voice icy, "tell me how to fix this mess now."

"All right, all right. Celestia above you're moodier than a pre-pubescent mare." Flim turned around, staring up at the apple tree. "We'll start with the illusion first. That's the tricky bit."

Satisfied that he would finally get some answers, Discord watched the unicorn set to work, picking apples, sticks, leaves, and Equestria knew what else. Big Mac followed Flim's every move like some overgrown lackey without a job. Seeing that it would be a while before Flim was finished with whatever he was doing, Discord set to work with his own experiment. He found a canteen under the wagon seat, and set to work.

Healing magic was one art that Discord rarely practiced. Not that he was not good at it, on the contrary, he like so many of his kind was gifted in that area. No, the real issue came from the fact that his healing magic was of course chaotic in nature and nopony anywhere, especially Celestia would tolerate its use in the medical field. Besides, it was not as though ponies could even use chaos magic in the first place, save for Twilight. The worst irony was that though he was able to use it on others, the magic was utterly useless on himself.

After the day's incident, he was more than a little cautious about using his magic. But, Flim was helping him out, and it was the least he could do to help him in turn. He began to cast the delicate spell on the water, waiting for that distinct, sickly sweet smell. Sure enough it came, and he cast another. Again and again, he stacked the spells, drawn from the depths of his memory. He surprised even himself at his progress. In a matter of minutes, he had finished the now steaming pink solution.

Flim's voice behind him caused him to jump, "Ready, Entropy?"

"As I'll ever be." Discord stood, turning to face a grinning Flim and Big Mac. He had the strong impression that they were neglecting some critical detail. His eyes fell on the cup of what looked to be a concoction of apple juice, dirt, and spit. "So, this is the antidote? I don't believe you."

"It's the truth." Flim held it up in his emerald magic. "I've used this before when my little sisters made a similar mistake with one of their potions. It really works!"

He rolled his eyes. "Very well." Without another look, he took the cup, draining it in one gulp. It was gods awful stuff, nearly causing him to gag from the aftertaste. "So, what now?"

Flim shot his cohort a knowing look, and pointed at Discord's tail. "See for yourself."

Sure enough, the formally ebony tail had resorted to its previous salt and pepper state. He let out a long sigh of relief. It felt wonderful to be back to "normal", but it did beg the question. How did one farm hand ex-conman out magic his and Twilight's combined knowledge? "What did you put into that potion anyway?"

"Oh, it wasn't a potion. It was apple juice with a bit of dirt." Flim shrugged, leaning against the wagon, "I didn't even use any magic."

"WHAT? But, you . . . look at me, I'm back to normal!" He gestured pathetically at all of him. What was wrong with this pony? Was he blind to what just happened?

Flim sniggered, waving away the concern with a hoof. "That you are, but it would have worked with whatever I gave you, just as long as you believed it would cure you." He shot him a toothy grin that could rival even the sleaziest salespony. "Illusion magic is all about belief. You see what you want to see, not what is actually there. So, the only cure for illusion magic is another illusion."

Discord could only gape at him. "Brilliant. Why did I not think of that?"

"Because you're a boring old sock, that's why!" Flim laughed at his quip, striding over to him. "Ready to get rid of your 'mare magnet'?"

"Please." Discord dreaded the thought of returning to town with that still hanging over him. "Is it going to be quite so backhanded?"

"No, more like upfront." Without any further word or warning, Flim leaned in and kissed him right on the muzzle. His scruffy muzzle was about the farthest thing from Twilight's velvety one, and tasted like stale apple juice. However, there was an immediate surge of magic, and Discord felt the aphrodisiac spell lift like a mist. Flim took a step back, gagging, "Celestia! Do you ever wash! Your breath stinks."

Big Mac shot him a decidedly confused look. "But, I thought you liked mares."

Flim face hoofed, "Of course I like mares! But, to break the spell, somepony of the same gender had to kiss him, and frankly, I didn't think you'd be so eager to jump in."

Illogical games and thought processes were a favorite of Discord's, but even he had to admit that he was baffled by this one. "Why in Equestria was that necessary?"

"The potion is designed to attract the opposite gender. So, it doesn't know what to do when somepony of the same gender makes advances." Flim proceeded to wipe his muzzle on his hoof, glowering at it with distaste. "Don't ask me to do that again, that was gross!"

Discord burst out laughing himself. "By the gods, Flim, you are bolder than I gave you credit for." Even he could not have come up with a more ridiculous cure. "How did you learn that one?"

"Well, my sisters had to get kissed by Séance. It was a lot less weird since she was family." Flim cuffed the grass with a hoof, looking a little embarrassed. "Don't tell Applejack," he murmured under his breath.

"I don't think she'd believe me if I did." Discord clapped a hoof on Flim's back. "Thanks for your help."

"Sure." Flim made to follow Big Mac back to the fields, but Discord held out a hoof. The kid raised an eyebrow, "Yes?"

"I have something for you, a bit of a thank you." Discord picked up the canteen, handing it to Flim. Seeing the younger stallion's dubious expression, he proceeded to explain, "It's not water, not anymore. I've put a series of healing spells on it. Take a few sips of that in the morning and in the evening and it'll help your lungs."

"But . . . you can't use magic . . . you . . ." Flim stammered, eyes darting from the canteen to Discord's horn and back again.

Discord chuckled, patting him on the back. "I did not tell Twilight because I feared she would not understand. I am actually rather gifted in healing magic. Unfortunately," he lowered his voice to a near whisper, "it's not a particularly legal type of magic. So, let's keep this our little secret, eh?"

Flim nodded, walking away with the canteen in a kind of daze. Satisfied that he had done some good, Discord trotted back towards town, whistling a cheery tune. Today had been interesting to say the least, but it had been enlightening in more ways than one.

Author's Note:

A bit of a silly chapter to break up the tension. For those of you that haven't read An Honest Life, in this universe, Flim has a broken wind (like horse asthma) from running steeplechase before he was properly conditioned.

On a side note, for those of you curious about the "incident" described by Discord in the last chapter, I've written a short, Mere Beasts to go into a bit more detail. It's a teaser snapshot of my draconequus and history headcanon.


Fabulous new cover art a commission by CarnivorousCaribou. Check out her unique style on deviantart, you'll be in for a treat.

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