• Published 15th Dec 2014
  • 9,845 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.

  • ...

Interlude - What went wrong?

Celestia pranced down the hallway, choosing her steps as daintily as if she were her mother. Chin up, back straight, head held proud, tail ever so slightly up. You can do this, Tia. Focus.

"Ha ha ha!" A familiar, high pitched laugh shattered her concentration like a mirror.

The filly rounded on the draconequus leaning against the nearest pillar. "Discord! I'm trying to focus."

"On what? Becoming a peacock?" He snapped his talon, and the feathers of her perfectly trimmed wings turned into peacock plumage.

"Change it back! Change it back!" She spun in circles, pink mane flying in all directions. My beautiful wings! They're ruined. Her attempt at magicing them back to normal failed gloriously, only growing out the feathers more. After a while she stopped, huffing at the now cackling draconequus. "It's not funny! Stop it . . ." A few salty tears streamed down her cheeks as she stomped her hooves against the stones. "Discord! Be nice."

"Naw, I think they're an improvement!" Discord floated over to her in his magic, chuckling as she tried to grab him, tripping over the now grossly enlarged wings.

Celestia was about to storm off in search of her father when a low, commanding voice made them both jump. "Discord!" She wheeled around to see Havoc, golden eyes boring into his son's like daggers. Discord immediately landed beside her, cringing.

Havoc crossed his tiger paw over his dragon arm, glowering at Discord. His next words were in draconequus, but even through the hissing she could tell he was extremely mad. She could not help but smirk when Discord muttered something back to him in the same language, cuffing his hoof against the stones.

Rolling his eyes, the ebony draconequus rounded on her. "Celestia, you know better than to wander around without your guard. The Empire takes no quarter, not even for royalty. If they were to catch you, they," He frowned, apparently deciding that the exact details of what the griffons might do was too much for a filly. "It would not be good," he finished lamely.

Discord ran behind his father's griffon leg, sticking out his tongue. "Yeah! Wimpy alicorn." Havoc snarled something in draconequus at Discord, and the child shrugged, "What? They are wimpy. You said it!"

Havoc moaned, rubbing his claw through his mane, "Discord, I did not say that. I merely made the point that an alicorn is no physical match for a draconequus. It is not an insult, it is a fact."

Celestia was starting to feel just a touch inadequate. "Well, Dad could beat you up anytime, Discord!"

Havoc's booming laugh echoed around the chamber. "That he could. That he could." He snapped his claw, returning her wings to normal once more. "I apologize for my son's lack of manners, majesty." He looked down at Discord, setting him cringing again. "He shall be assisting me with the offerings for his outburst."

Discord groaned, "Do I have to?"

Havoc's claw ran almost unconsciously over the countless draconequus runes embossed on his gold plated necklace. Celestia had never seen him remove it and wondered if he had had it permanently bound to his body. He spoke to Discord, "Of course, as a son of the high priest, it is your duty. Come, we must prepare." Havoc grabbed Discord by the scruff of the neck like some disgruntled kitten and with a snap, they had both vanished.

Celestia had to admit that she was a little jealous of their ability to just disappear at random, it would make sneaking out so much easier. Just as she started down the corridor again, she literally ran into her father. The black alicorn took a step back, frowning down at her. "There you are, Tia." He frowned, looking around the chamber, "Where is your guard?"

"I . . . left them, Father." Celestia wished the adults would simply drop the matter. "Havoc already chided me," she added, hoping that would prevent another mundane lecture.

"Did he now?" Morpheus laughed, looking around the hall. "He has left to perform the offerings?"

"Yes." Though she tried to sound casual, she could not completely hide the bitterness in her voice.

Her father raised an eyebrow, "What troubles you, Tia?"

"Why? Why do you allow him to do such . . . barbarism, Father?" Celestia cringed at the memory of Havoc's most recent offering, a severed stag's head presented to her father on a silver platter. "Surely he could find a more humane way?"

Morpheus sighed, running a hoof through his mane, the exact shade of a moonless night. "Tia, we must be respectful of their beliefs. Havoc is high priest to all the draconequus. It is his duty to offer sacrifices for his people and their scripture says it must be flesh offering."

"But, the deer are growing intelligent! That is what mother says." What if they became as intelligent as ponies? Would her father still approve?

"Tia, they raise them as livestock, and Havoc is ever cautious to slay them humanely. But," he looked out the window at the sunlit city beyond, "if it comes to that, I will have a discussion with him."

"Very well, I shall hold you to it." She held out a hoof, "Your word?"

He chuckled, taking it, "My word, Tia."

"Lulu, I do not see the point in—" Celestia paused, staring ahead at her little sister who was doing a credible impersonation of a cat stalking a sparrow. "Lulu, what are you doing?"

The teenager moaned, standing up straight in the knee high grass. "Why must you question everything, Tia? Did you not request this walk with me?"

"Yes, but, a walk, not a," she paused, thinking of the most tactful word, "hunt. If I wished for that, I would have brought Discord along."

Luna snorted, then burst out into tears of laughter, rolling on the ground. "Truly, Tia? It is not a hunt! I merely hoped to come close enough to pet it."

"It?" Celestia followed her gaze a particularly disgruntled rabbit staring at them from behind a nearby raspberry bush. "Why do you not request the guards to fetch you one?"

"But, that ruins the fun of it, Tia." Luna sighed, getting to her hooves, "I enjoy a challenge on occasion."

"Yes, as do—" She stopped short staring beyond the clearing. There in the distance rose a black pillar of smoke rising into the midday sky like a great serpent. "What is that?"

"What is what?" Luna followed her gaze, frowning deeply. "That is the direction of the nearby village, is it not?"

Celestia could only nod, feeling an uncontrollable shaking in her limbs. Fire was not uncommon in Equestria, but a fire so large that it could be seen from this distance was beyond terrifying. "We must aid them!" Just as she was about to take off with Luna, three of their guards flew down to greet them.

They bowed, the elder addressing her directly, "Majesty, the village is in danger."

"I can see that." She jerked her head towards the smoke. "Did you not send the weather team?"

"Yes your majesty, but," he bit his lip, staring hard at the grass, "there is a situation that prevents us from acting."

Celestia felt her stomach drop, an icy chill taking hold. "What situation?"

"Discord. He—"

"—He has gone mad!" The other guard interjected, shooting a panicked look back at the village. "The village has become the beast's plaything. Please, Princess, you must stop him!"

The older guard made to chide him, but she interrupted. "I understand your concern, but Discord would not act so. His magic is but jests, there is no real harm to it."

"You may tell that to the villagers he has tortured!" The younger pegasus pranced anxiously, "We must hasten there at once."

Luna nodded, "Very well, we shall see what trouble he has caused."

Before Celestia could protest, Luna took to the sky and she was left to catch up. They flew alongside the guards in silence, Celestia was too nervous to speak. Discord had been growing restless lately with his recent ban from the villages. What was she to do? He had proven himself a threat to everyday society, and he refused to see reason. However, she never imagined he would resort to this. Discord was easily irritated, but he would never hurt anypony, would he?

When they landed, they were greeted with a scene out of her worst nightmare. The village, or what was left of it was an arrangement of upside down buildings on fire, checkerboard grass, and an absolute menagerie of chaotic beasts and objects only Discord's perverse mind could have thought up. There on a self-made throne sat the young draconequus. He smirked holding up a glass of what she hoped was wine. "Tia, so good of you to join me."

"What is the meaning of this, Discord?" Her voice was icy, and it took every amount of self-control she possessed not to blast him with her magic. This was not her friend, this was a monster. "Return this place to order at once!"

"Order? Why?" Discord scoffed, running a claw through his black goatee. "There is no fun in order, Tia! I am merely showing our lovely subjects this fact as they refuse to listen to me any other way."

Luna stamped her hoof. "And why should they listen to a beast like you?"

Celestia felt her heart lurch the moment Luna spoke. Her sister's opinion of draconequus was far from positive, though normally she would show ungodly restraint in that regard. It had been the worst possible insult at the worst possible time. In an instant, Celestia felt herself being bound in tight chains, growing out of the ground like thorns. Luna had been trapped in an overlarge bird cage. When they tried to defend them, the guards were thrown unceremoniously against a nearby building, knocked unconscious by Discord's magic.

"That was rather rude, Luna," Discord spat, glowering at her sister with a look bordering on loathing. "How dare you! Do you know who I am?" He snapped his talons and a great maelstrom of chaos magic, like some evil cloud descended on them, warping everything it touched into grotesque shapes. Discord stood, magic swirling more violently with each word, "Every damn day I hear that I am not fit to be in the company of ponies. That I am a monster bent on destroying everything they love! Continually insulted for using the magic I was born with. Then you blame me, sentencing me to isolation!"

"I am not like that. I am not!" He was silent for a moment, allowing the magic to crescendo still further. His voice shook, tears streaming down his cheeks, "Do you not think I have suffered enough?"

Celestia's heart ached to see her friend suffer so, but she could not think of the words to comfort him. He was right, but what was she to do? After his mother's outburst all those years ago, draconequus were reviled by their subjects. No amount of propaganda on her part would change that. "Discord, you know I care for you."

"Truly, Tia? Truly?" Discord snarled, cursing at her in draconequus. The magic started to spark like lighting, striking at them like whip lashes. Try as she may to break free of the chains, they were held fast.

There really was only one option left, and it was the most painful she could imagine. She turned to Luna, whispering, "Luna, you must anger him further."

Luna gaped at her, "What? You are out of your mind! He will kill us, Tia."

"No, his magic is what holds us and we cannot match him in that regard. However," she jerked her head to the draconequus' claws. "we may yet be a match for him physically. We must make him forget he has magic."

"You are not suggesting . . ." Luna gulped, staring sadly at Discord, "What if he does not return from it? What if he takes after her?"

"We are out of options, Luna. We must act now or all of Equestria will suffer."

"Very well." Luna raised her voice to an earsplitting level usually reserved for addressing the subjects. "The ponies are not mistaken, Discord, you are a monster! What message do you hope to convey by this brutality? You are no better than your father."

He snarled, apparently no longer concerned with controlling the sea of magic around him. "Do not compare me to he who forsook his own soul!"

"I shall compare you, for you are the same!" Luna stamped her hooves, glowering challengingly at Discord. "You and all your kind are nothing to us. Go back to whence you came!"

Discord seemed to lose it then, allowing the magic to cascade over him like a flood. It crashed into them, dissolving the chains and cage like dust. When it settled, they were left to stare at Discord, or what was left of him. It was as though he had left to be replaced by some sort of feral animal. It was sickening to watch him crouched on all fours, snarling and spitting at them. A blast of his golden fire would have enveloped Luna if she had not dodged it.

This was her chance. Without hesitation, Celestia charged him, lowering her horn as it surrounded itself in the most powerful concentration of harmony magic she could muster. A sickening resistance hit as she drove her horn into his chest and out again. The effect was instantaneous, causing him to thrash around, howling in agony. His attempts at slashing her were credible, but she was ready and so was Luna.

Chains wrapped around him, directed by the alicorns. In a matter of seconds they had bound him tightly in what amounted to links of pure harmony magic. Slowly, its effect took hold, and Discord stopped struggling. For a moment he lay there, still as death. Celestia feared they had killed him, but his chest still rose and fell. She strode over to him, looking into his eyes. Blessedly, he had returned to them after all.

Tears streamed down his muzzle, "Why?"

"It . . . it was the only way," her own voice shook, staring hard at him. Around her the ponies had gathered, glowering at him. A few began to stamp their hooves, calling her to finish him off, even Luna looked close to joining them. Celestia bit her lip, contemplating. Every fiber of her being was screaming at her to show him mercy, to explain to the ponies that he was not a monster after all. But now it was too late, Discord has sealed his own fate. She had to make a choice between him or her subjects, and she knew the answer. "Take him to the castle! We shall try him henceforth."

"Yes, majesty." The guards dragged him away unceremoniously.

Celestia turned away, too ashamed to watch the ponies pelting her friend with whatever rubble they could find. He had made a grievous mistake, and he must pay the consequences, such was the way of the law. So why did she feel like the one who was at fault? Surely this world was cruel in every sense of the word.

"Tia! Are you listening?" Luna cocked her head to the side, frowning down at her.

Celestia jumped back on the covers of her bed, leaning away from her sister. "Lulu! Do not come so close."

Luna chuckled, standing up straight on the marble. "Well, I would not have needed to if you were paying attention." She jerked her head to the sunlit window and the courtyard beyond, "As I was saying, sister, I have spoken with Discord."

The mention of his name made her jump. It was of course a coincidence, but an uncomfortable one to say the least. "What did he say?"

"He fears for Twilight. He suggests . . . he suggests that after his stint," she emphasized the word as if he were a particularly rowdy inmate, "we ought to let her decide who is to watch over and mentor her."

"That is obvious, is it not?" Celestia prodded her chest with a hoof, "It is my responsibility, Lulu."

Luna bit her lip, looking around the immaculate chamber, "Yes, but, Discord seems under the impression that she may decide on him."

"Him?" Celestia burst out laughing, clutching her sides, "You cannot be serious, sister! Truly my student would not willingly choose to study under him."

Luna giggled, "Yes, well, it does seem a little hopeful on his part." Her smile faded, voice taking on a serious tone, "I fear he is in pain, Celestia, he cried out in front of me."

"In front of you?" If there was one thing Discord despised, it was showing his weakness to anypony, let alone Luna. "I thought it was but a harmless spell."

"I thought as much, but it seems to be weakening him." She sighed, looking away, "I am all for his learning our ways, but not at such a price. We should consider bringing him back to recover. If Twilight is as volatile as he claims, we may need his magic to combat the corruption."

Celestia raised an eyebrow, "You think it has come to that?"

Luna shook her head sadly, "I do not know, but we should be prepared for the worst."

"Very well, I shall . . . I shall write to him. Perhaps I will cut his visit a week short." The thought of having Discord wreaking havoc on her castle again was less than pleasant, but Luna was right, this was more important. "In the meantime, I will consider how best to explain the situation to Twilight."

Luna nodded her approval, retreating out the door once more. Celestia stared out the window, contemplating. Twilight was a dear student and friend, the representation of all that they valued. For her to corrupt so easily made no sense. Perhaps Discord had been right after all. Just like the fool she was, she had ignored him, ignored him until it was too late. She chuckled, running a hoof through her mane. History certainly has a way of repeating itself, eh, Discord?

Author's Note:

A special treat for my patient readers. :scootangel: I'm not going to have a lot of time to work on the next chapter this week or next, so I wanted to post a little something to tide you over. A little smattering of headcanon, and you finally got to learn about Discord's first outburst. Seems these next few chapters are going to be interesting. We're getting close, folks! :trollestia: