• 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.

  • ...

Storm Clouds Rising

Luna stared at the moonlight reflecting off of the marble balcony. It was a beautiful night, her night, and one that should not be wasted with pointless concerns. And yet, here she was contemplating a question that she would more than likely never have the answer to. Ever since her conversation with Discord that night, his question had been circling in the back of her mind.

“May I join you?” A tentative voice drifted in from the open door.

Luna turned around, smiling broadly at her sister. “By all means, Tia.” As Celestia settled down beside her, she wondered. It was a long shot, but perhaps she knew more of the situation than her. After all, Celestia’s knowledge base would surely have expanded in a thousand years. “Tia, may I ask you something?”

Celestia smiled in that soft way of hers, “Of course, Lulu, anything.”

She took a deep breath, “When I traverse the dreamscape, I may enter the dream of any pony. However, not once have I entered the dreams of another . . . another species.” Sighing, she stretched out on the marble, pressing her stomach to its cool surface. “Why can I not enter Discord’s dreams as well? Or the griffons? Surely they are creatures gifted with dreams as well.”

Celestia’s laugh cut through the still night air, “That is easy, Lulu. It is because they are not ponies, you know that as well as I. Tell me now, what is truly troubling you?”

Luna looked up into her sister’s eyes. Would she take her seriously? She began slowly, choosing her words carefully, “When Discord is in his pony form, I . . . I cannot see his dreams.”

"Yes, because that spell does not change what he is, merely his outward appearance.”

“You say that, Tia, but . . . but that is not entirely the case.” There was more to it than just some simple illusion. No, this was different, it was draconequus magic of an incredibly high caliber. “In that form, his magic feels like any unicorn’s, Tia. His smell and even his presence is that of a pony. If I had not known better, I would have confused him for one.”

“And your point, sister?”

“It is powerful and ancient magic that he uses to keep that form. Maybe it blocks me from seeing his dreams.” She stared into Celestia’s eyes, “What if it is not an illusion, but a transformation?”

“You cannot be serious, Lulu.” She sat up straighter, staring at the night tapestry. “True transformation spells are only something the changelings are capable of, Father professed that fact most adamantly, do you not recall?”

“I do, but, perhaps, just perhaps it really is a transformation.” Luna could tell in an instant that Celestia doubted her. “Is it not possible that Discord, the only being even capable of using chaos magic, found a way? Undoubtedly such a stunt would be dangerous and incredibly taxing, as his form was not meant for such things. You must admit, it would explain the pain he is experiencing.”

There was a long silence where Celestia closed her eyes, apparently mulling over the idea. Then, she met her gaze again, “Yes, it would indeed, Lulu. But,” she got to her hooves, “best not trouble ourselves over the implications of a spell that neither of us could hope to perform, nor would Discord ever divulge the secrets of.”

“Very well, Tia.” She leapt to her own hooves, following her sister to the doorway. Before leaving, she cast one long look at the starlit sky. Yes, far too nice of a night to waste on pointless concerns.

Shining Armor stood on the terrace overlooking the training field. The new regimen was backbreaking, but of the utmost necessity. Princess Luna was right to be concerned about the Crystal guard’s state of discipline, and Shining would see to it that they were whipped into shape.

He was started from his reverie when a courier flew down, bowing hastily. “Letter for you, sir.”

“Thank you.” He levitated the envelope pleased to see the Sergeant’s characteristic mouth writing. It’s about time. Dismissing the pegasus, he turned back towards the castle for some privacy.

Leaning against the cool stone, he began to read,

‘Shining Armor,

I fear your concerns were justified. As far as we could tell, there has never been a professor by the name of Entropic State at Canterlot University. From my sources and my own knowledge, nopony of that description has ever lived in Canterlot. I do find it peculiar that Princess Celestia should vouch for him, perhaps that is something to consider.

Your servant,

-Guiding Light’

Damn, I knew it. It seemed as though this Entropic State was nothing but a fraud. But who was he really, and what was his game? For Celestia to completely ignore such evidence was concerning to say the least. Was this some elaborate plan of hers, or a deception on his part? If the latter was the case, Twilight could very well be in danger. Looking up at the sun, he judged how much time he would have. I could make it there by nightfall if I hurry.

“Twilight, put it down,” Discord practically moaned, clapping a hoof to his forehead. Despite her promise to spend the entire afternoon in each other’s company, the alicorn seemed more than determined to spend it with her muzzle in his journals. He stretched out on the checkered blanket, allowing the sun to soak through his dark coat and ease the now nearly unbearable ache radiating through his body like a poison. “It’s too nice of a day to be reading.”

“Really? It’s the perfect day to be reading. Besides,” she patted his forehead as if he were a little foal, “you said you wanted to relax today. You’re leaving tomorrow evening, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” Discord bit his lip, trying not to imagine what would happen tomorrow. Rather he focused on the expanse of grass stretching to the corners of the meadow. “I do not wish to leave, Twilight.” The words came as a kind of mantra, as if to reassure himself and accept the truth. This month had been incredibly stressful, but he would not have traded his time here for all of Equestria.

Twilight levitated the book down shuffling over until her side pressed against his. “I don’t want you to leave either,” she murmured, resting her head on his withers. “You’ll come to see me, won’t you?”

“As often as I can.” A surge of guilt came over him as soon as the words left his mouth. After tomorrow evening, the pony that was Entropic State would no longer exist, there was no possible way he could keep that promise. How in Equestria was he going to explain that she had been dating the Lord of Chaos for days now? All he could do was pray that she would understand.

“That’s good.” For a while, she lay there, head resting on him, rising and falling with each breath he took.

Discord never knew what closeness was, not in the way that it related to mates anyway. But in that moment, he thought that he might just be starting to get it after all. It did not matter where they were or what they were doing, as long as Twilight was by his side, he was content. Strange to think that a creature as small as she was could have him so hopelessly entangled. For the first time in his life, he began to consider the possibility that he had found his match. He whispered into her ear in his softest voice, “I love you.”

Twilight kissed him softly on the neck. “I love you too.”

Spike really did love hanging out with Twilight, but he could only tolerate Entropy’s company for so long. His threshold had lowered exponentially when the couple had begun the annoying habit of not even acknowledging when he came into the room. Though he marked it off as Twilight’s stress about Entropy going home, he could not help but worry that its effects would last longer. So he tried his best to keep himself occupied, but there was precious little to do in the library these days.

He looked around at the spotless shelves, practically glistening in the midday sun. Two days ago, Twilight had somehow managed to teach Entropy a cleaning spell. This led to a cascade of “cleaning raids” in which Entropy and Twilight had scrubbed every nook and cranny of the building to practice their spells. Spike was more than convinced that they were making excuses to spend the time together. Entropy for one would never volunteer for cleaning duty unless there was something in it for him.

So, he sat there on the perfectly arranged cushions, twiddling his thumbs as he had been for the past hour. He contemplated going to Rarity’s, but the unicorn was spending the day with Sweetie Belle, and that would mean no opportunity to share his concerns to his one confidant. He rolled around the floor, bumping into the podium. A rattling noise preceded a loud thud as it toppled to the floor. Oops. Getting to his feet, Spike made to put it back, noting Entropy’s heavy physics book lying open on the floor.

Knowing the lecture he would get if he damaged Entropy’s textbook, he made to scoop it up. He was stopped halfway by a piece of paper sticking out from one of the pages. Spike flipped the book open, watching a sheet of parchment flutter to the floor. Disregarding the book, he scooped up the paper and nearly dropped it when he recognized Twilight’s writing.

“What’s he doing with this?” He sniggered, fingering the parchment, “Love letter?” Taking a quick glance around the room, he decided that just for a moment he would stick his nose where it did not belong.

On closer examination, he could see the remnants of Twilight’s familiar sealing spell, however the image of the receiver was not Entropy’s, but Discord’s. Spike’s heart began to thump in his chest. Why does Entropy have Discord’s mail?

Curiosity got the better of him, and he flipped the letter open and began to read,


I know I just wrote to you, but something’s come up again. I tried to fix that mess with the potion by using chaos magic, but, it sort of backfired. The whole library was pressurized, it almost felt like I was standing in an ocean of magic. Has that happened to you before?

Spike froze, staring around at the library. “Twilight used chaos magic? I thought she was only researching it!” He clapped a claw to his face. “Get ahold of yourself, Spike.” The real question was how did Discord’s letter end up in Entropy’s possession. This particular one had been sent using his dragon flames, he could tell by the residue. So how had Entropy got ahold of it?

Spike began to pace feverishly across the floorboard, struggling to make sense of it all. After a while he paused, clapping his claws together. “What if he’s Discord’s spy? Maybe he’s here to dig up dirt for a prank!” No, that would not make any sense, if Discord wanted to prank her, he would have done the investigating himself, heck, he would probably enjoy it. Unless . . . .

A sudden, irrational and simultaneously brilliant thought crashed over him. “Unless Entropy is Discord!” Spike clutched his claws to his ears, as the blood pounded in his head. The destruction, the inability to control harmony magic, and the obnoxious personality all made perfect sense now.

But, why would Discord be disguising himself as a pony, and why in Equestria would he want to date Twilight? Spike shuddered at the thought of the aged Spirit of Chaos actually romancing Twilight. Whatever the reason, the idea was disturbing, and Spike vowed to settle the matter. If Entropy was in fact Discord, he would know soon enough.

Despite their relaxing afternoon off, Discord could not help but feel woefully unenthused as they made their way back to the library. All that time and he had not thought of one decent way to tell her the truth, and he was running out of time. Maintaining the illusion was threatening to pull him apart at the seams, and if he did not hurry he might end up destroying a lot more than a few buildings.

“So, I told her we could got to Canterlot for—” Twilight stopped short, staring at him as though he might explode any second. “Are you okay?”

“Huh? Oh, yes.” He winced as they continued to walk along Main Street towards the library. “It’s just my blasted joints.”

“Entropy, this is getting ridiculous. It’s not right for you to be having so many problems with your joints. For Celestia’s sake, you’re only forty-two!”

“I know, I know.” He lowered his head, avoiding the now withering stare. “I promise I’ll see a specialist when I get back to Canterlot, okay?”

She brightened in an instant. “Okay, but I’ll hold you to it.”

The rest of their walk consisted of Twilight’s recounting their plans for Celestia’s party. Discord was far too tired to give a lick about Twilight’s historically accurate royal banners, or about anything much more then when he would get to rest. Finally they arrived at the library, opening the door and stepping inside.

As always, they were greeted by a several degree drop in temperature. Whether it was the bookshelves providing insulation or some kind of enchantment, it was always more than welcome. He breathed an involuntary sigh of relief, “That’s better, I thought we might melt.”

“You? My coat’s darker than yours!”

“No it is not.” Discord snorted, pointing to the dirt colored hairs. “See? Brown is much darker than lilac.”

Twilight just giggled, walking off toward the kitchen, “Well, whiny, how about I make you some lemonade?”

Discord’s ears perked up. If there was one drink he could not resist, it was lemonade, especially Twilight’s lemonade. “Yes, please. And, if you don’t mind, some more of that potion you gave me.”

“The one for your joints or the one for pain?”

“For pain, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.” Discord watched her walk into the kitchen, then moved slowly to the cushions. Just as he curled up on his favorite spot, Spike quite nearly appeared out of nowhere. He snorted, pulling back, “Where did you come from?”

Spike raised an eyebrow, “Your powers of observation are astounding.”

Discord had the sudden urge to clap the kid on the head for being a smart-aleck, but thought better of it. “I was tired.” And for your information, I could track you down at midnight in the pouring rain.

Spike settled down on the cushion across from him, grinning in an almost challenging manner and clutching what looked to be a small book. Gods, what now? He pointed at the book, “Pray tell, what is that?”

Spike grinned smugly, holding it up for him to see. “It’s my official journal as Twilight’s assistant. I record all the things that happen in here, and some of my thoughts as well.”

Discord could not help but snigger. He has an official journal? He raised an eyebrow, “Any insights then, Spike?”

“Hmm, yeah, here’s one you might find interesting. It’s about the girls and their battle against Discord.” He flipped through to a page, “I’ll summarize it for you. When Discord revealed himself in Canterlot, Twilight and her friends were really surprised.”

The depths of your understanding have no limits, Spike. Entropy waved a hoof lazily. “Cut to the chase, boy.”

Spike looked a little taken aback, but cleared his throat and continued. “Well, when they discovered that the Elements of Harmony had been taken, Discord gave them a riddle to fool them about their location. However, Twilight figured it out instantly, and knew just where they had to be.”

Discord felt a tinge of irritation crack through his spine like a whip. “Is that the official record?”

“Sort of. Not many know that Discord managed to steal the Elements from the castle. Twilight said it would have caused an uproar among the nobles, to know that such important artifacts had been stolen right out from under the Princess’ nose. Anyway,” he continued, as though he had not been interrupted. “Knowing that the Elements were back in Ponyville, Twilight thought of this awesome plan: why not pretend to fall for Discord’s little trick? That way, they could retrieve the Elements without him getting in the way.”

Pretend to fall? Why they fell hook line and sinker! Discord could not help but swish his tail, “Oh, really?”

“Yup! Twilight knew that if Discord discovered that they had already worked out his riddle, he would have just moved the Elements elsewhere. So they all agreed to pretend they fell for his spell.” Spike shrugged, “Guess Discord isn’t as smart as he looks, because they totally fooled him!”

“Fooled him did they?” Discord sat up straight, bristling like a cat. “They did not fool him, he fooled them!”

Spike waved the thought away with a claw, “Please, that old geezer? He’s just smoke and mirrors, the girls saw through him in an instant.”

Smoke and mirrors am I? Discord felt the chaos magic slip out from under his spell as he glowered at the dragon. “What do you know? You weren’t there.”

Spike huffed, “Well you weren’t either, but Twilight was!” He cleared his throat, “After they pretended to fall under the spell, they headed to Ponyville. The thing was, they had to keep pretending, otherwise Discord, as dense as he is, would catch on.”

Dense am I? DENSE? He pinned his ears, fighting back the magic threatening to break loose in all directions. Control, Discord, control.

Spike continued to ramble about the girls finding the elements. “And then they made me the element of loyalty, since Rainbow had to leave for the trick to work.” The dragon struck a pose, “And with a whoooosh, kaboom, we froze Discord in stone. But, we all agreed to give Rainbow the credit instead of me seeing as it was her element all along.” An obnoxious smirk stretched across his face, “Guess that draconequus wasn’t so tough after all. He’s just a weak pushover.”

Discord shot to his hooves, pinning Spike to the ground. “Enough! I’ll be damned if I stand here and take your lies, boy!” Chaos magic began to escape, slowly pressurizing the room. “Draconequus are not weak! Those ponies fell for my trap like the gullible fools they are. I am the puppet master here!”

“Entropy? What . . . what was that about?” Twilight’s soft voice by the doorway made his heart stop cold.

Oh, Tartarus.

Twilight always felt a little awkward in the kitchen. After Spike had grown old enough to help out, he was more than willing and capable of making the meals for the two of them. After Spike had grown old enough, he had taken to the role of her personal chef with gusto. Much to her chagrin, he had proven himself more capable than her with cooking, and was more than willing to take over making their meals. That was well and good, but there were days she wanted to cook something for herself. Thankfully Spike had yet to master proper lemonade, so she was still permitted to make that.

As she worked, she listened to what sounded like Spike telling Entropy a story. She was glad that he was finally starting to become comfortable around the stallion. As she listened to Entropy’s deep voice mingling with Spike’s, she could not help but worry. The past few days had seen a gradual decline in not only his interest in learning, but his enthusiasm for anything in general. If she left him alone for more than a few minutes, she would find him collapsed on the ground fast asleep. That and his apparently growing pain had her wondering if something was seriously wrong with his health.

Twilight shook the thought away. Entropy was just a little depressed about leaving, that was all. As for the pain, well, he had been doing a lot more walking than he ever did at the university, so it was to be expected. Just as she was adding the final ingredients to the potion, Entropy’s voice, completely devoid of its usual warmth pierced the silence.

What in Equestria are they arguing about now? For a brief moment, she made to walk over and stop them, but thought better of it. No, they were both an important part of her life now, and they needed to learn to get along and sort their problems out themselves. Entropy was an adult, and Spike was old enough to know to behave. Though knowing them as she did, she was not holding her breath. Something tells me I’m going to be playing referee.

Finishing up the potion, she levitated the pitcher of lemonade and the potion, mentally bracing for whatever petty argument she was about to walk into. She stopped cold when she saw Entropy pressing Spike against the floor, an enraged glint in his eye. Then, the strangest noise she had ever heard came out of his mouth. It was not a growl nor a hiss, but something in between, something that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, as if by some primal fear.

All she could do was rest the pitcher and potion on the ground, standing there frozen in the doorway. “Entropy? What . . . what was that about?”

He looked over to her, a look of sudden realization dawning on his face. Slowly, he unpinned the dragon, lowering his head. “My apologies, Twilight, I . . . I don’t know what came over me.”

Spike scrambled to his feet, running over to stand in front of her like a bodyguard. “Get back, Twilight. Entropy’s no pony!”

Twilight could only glance between Spike’s look of purest determination and Entropy’s exasperated expression. Why me? She turned to her stallion, eyes boring into his until he cringed. “Explain, now.”

Entropy bit his lip, “Well—”

“—I was talking to him about defeating Discord and he went all crazy.” Spike gesticulated wildly, looking into her eyes. “It was like he was some kind of monster or something. No pony should be able to make sounds like that!”

Twilight had to admit, he had a point. She sighed, rubbing her temple with a hoof, “What was that you were speaking?”

“Uh . . . it was . . . .” He pawed at the ground feverishly, averting her gaze. “Uh . . .” Apparently her question was too difficult for him because he just opened and closed his mouth. “Things,” he supplied unhelpfully.

“URGH!” She stamped her hoof against the floorboard. “I’m surrounded by children!” Without ceremony, Twilight grabbed Entropy by the leg, dragging him towards Spike. “You two are going to learn to get along, even if it kills you!”

Spike looked practically mutinous, “I am not working it out with him.”

Rather than a response, Entropy merely rolled his eyes, looking to her. “Well?”

“Uh . . .” Twilight wracked her brain. What could possibly teach the two to get along for more than a millisecond? “You know, Fluttershy could always use some help with the animals. Why don’t you spend the afternoon there?”

Entropy and Spike exchanged a horrified look, and she knew she had hit her mark. Before either of them could protest, she started to push them to the door, stopping them by the doorway. “Wait here.” Cantering over to the kitchen, she levitated the bottle of potion and rejoined them. “Here, Entropy. Make sure you drink all of it, okay?”

“All right,” he murmured, taking the potion. “So, er, shall I drop Spike off this evening?”

Spike butted in-between them, scowling at Entropy, “I don’t need dropping off, especially from the likes of him!”

Entropy groaned, turning to face the door, “Come along, Spike, you cannot find an appropriate means of finishing me off here.”

“I’ll lead the way, old man.”

“Really now, I’m not that old.” With one parting wink her direction, he strode out behind Spike, leaving her alone once more.

Twilight grinned, realizing that this was the perfect opportunity to pick up where she left off. Levitating the aged journals from her saddlebags, she settled down on the cushions. There was something strangely captivating about them, apart from their obvious use as a chaos magic guidebook. The way they were written, it was like a looking glass into Discord’s mind, to see him for who he was, and not who he pretended to be.

Her eyes focused on the last page of the volume she had chosen, contemplating the minuscule words crammed into the corner.

‘I fear I am slipping; losing my way. Perhaps I will join them soon.’

Over the years, Discord had come to find that no sane creature would willingly seek out the company of a draconequus. It was understandable, and even expected given his kind’s nature, but it did prove problematic at times. So, heading to Fluttershy’s for “critter time” seemed ludicrous at best. For some bizarre reason however, that was far from the case.

Now he stood with Spike in Fluttershy’s yard, surrounded by her animals, holding a rake in his magic. Though he tried to ignore them, Spike’s judgemental glances keep finding their way towards him. Allowing the rake to fall to the grass, he rounded on the kid, “What?”

“Nothing.” Spike pretended to be fixing the nearby chicken wire fence. “Just, I’m surprised a draconequus isn’t scaring all these cute fuzzy animals away.”

“Draconequus?” Great, just great. The last thing Discord needed was Spike blabbing to Twilight before he had the chance to explain himself. Best to play innocent. “My dear Spike, I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m a unicorn, always have been.”

The dragon raised an eyebrow, “And I’m the prince of Equestria.” He stamped his foot down in what Discord could only assume was supposed to be an intimidating gesture. “Drop the act, Discord! I know your game, and it’s not fooling me.”

He snarled at Spike, half tempted to blast him with his flames. However, aggression was far from the best approach given the situation. Instead of raising his voice, he softened it, “And what if I was, Spike?”

Spike looked taken aback, staring wide eyed at him. “Then . . . then I’d tell Twilight.”

“And what would she do?” It was a valid question, and he was admittedly a little curious to hear the the kid’s response.

“She would . . .” he puffed out his chest, trying for his intimidating look, “She would be really really mad because it’s an awfully mean trick to pull.”

He spoke the next words as gently as he could, despite his irritation, “Why is it a mean trick, Spike?”

“Because you would have been lying to her the whole time! And,” he looked down at his feet, “Pretending to love Twilight . . . it would make her sad.”

“What would make you think I was pretending?”

Spike took a horrified step back, nearly tripping over one of the chickens. “Eeewe, no! You’re pretending, there’s no way you could like her like that. You’re the Spirit of Chaos, you can’t love her.”

Ignoring the fact that their hypothetical situation had morphed into a very real accusation, Discord continued, “Why would my being the Spirit of Chaos prevent me from loving Twilight?”

“You and Twilight are like night and day. There’s no way the two of you could honestly get along.” Spike crossed his arms sullenly, “Besides, you’re never serious about anything!”

Discord raised an eyebrow. Really? What, is my serious knob broken or something? “Listen, Spike,” he leaned in closer, “Discord might enjoy causing a little havoc, and maybe he doesn’t like organization that well, but, that doesn’t mean he can’t learn to bend.” Sighing, he stood up straight, looking around at the still stick strewn yard. “Well, we could sit here and chat about hypothetical situations all day, Spike, or we can get to work, your choice.”

Spike mumbled something under his breath along the lines of “I’m onto you” before heading to work. The afternoon wore on in the tense silence, occasionally interrupted by Fluttershy coming out to offer them iced tea or water.

Though Discord tried to ignore the fact, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find a way to keep his chaos magic in check. Whenever it did “malfunction”, it sent the animals running helter skelter away from him. This only seemed to fuel Spike’s suspicious glances his direction. His latest slip-up had sent a tangible wave of chaos magic rippling through the yard. This resulted in every one of the animals making a beeline for Fluttershy’s cottage.

Spike smirked at him, “Seems the animals don’t like you much, Discord.”

Discord made to retort when a searing pain sent him to his knees. It was exponentially worse than any before, it was all he could do to lie moaning on the grass. Rather than dying down, it only intensified until his vision began to blur. Before he could think of how to stop it, he threw up a mouthful of blood. Damn.

“Entropy?” Spike knelt beside him, shaking him gently. “You need a doctor. I’ll go get one.”

“Do not worry, Spike.” Discord rolled on his side, allowing the beating sun to numb the pain. “I will be fine. Just . . . just let me rest a bit.”

“Uh . . . okay then. Should I get Fluttershy?”

“No, I do not want to worry her.” The last thing he needed was a panicked Fluttershy rushing to get help. He lifted his head, casting a quick cleaning spell on the blood before allowing his head to hit the grass again. Best not leave any evidence.

Though he loathed to admit it, he was nearly out of time with this form. One way or the other, he would have to tell Twilight, and soon. Closing his eyes, Discord listened to the scratching of the rake as Spike started to work again. Its rhythm was oddly soothing, and he soon found himself drifting off.

Not this one again. Discord knelt in the familiar stone hall, limbs wrapped tightly in the heavy chains. Once again he would be forced to re-live his banishment. Mentally he braced himself for Celestia’s harsh voice to reverberate around the chamber.

However, it did not come. Rather another, heart wrenchingly familiar voice completely devoid of its usual warmth spoke up. “You know why you are here, Discord.”

Discord gritted his teeth, staring hard at the chains, heart pounding in his chest. No, not this, anything but this.

He winced when she continued just as icily, “Look at me, Discord.”

Every part of him was screaming not to look up, not to meet her gaze, he did not deserve to look her in the eyes after what he had done. If he did, he would be forced to admit the truth. However, he could not avoid it, not any more. Slowly, he looked up to stare into Twilight’s eyes. “Yes?”

Twilight stood there just in front of him, somehow taller than before and sporting a crown not unlike Celestia’s. There was no trace of her usual playfulness now, just a stony glare. “Why?”

“It was . . . a bet. However, I did not intend on,” his throat became tight, “falling in love with you.”

A harsh laugh rebounded off of the stones, setting him cringing. “You fell in love with me? Don’t be ridiculous, draconequus! You were playing me for a fool the whole time.”

It was true, at least it had been true. Now, now he wanted nothing more than to have her love and trust. Though given his actions, he just might have lost that opportunity forever. He started pleadingly into her eyes, “I was at first, but the situation has changed . . . I have changed. I can no longer see you as a mere friend, Twilight, but as a,” he gulped, feeling his face heat up, “a mate.”

“Since when do draconequus look to ponies for a mate?” The words dug at him, as though she were tearing out his heart with a rusty spoon.

“I am the last of my kind, you know that,” he murmured. His eyes drifted to his patchwork quilt of a body, so different from those of the ponies around him. “There is no way for me to have a family of my own, so I forsook that kind of affection.” Discord turned to her, the one creature in Equestria who might understand him. “I am tired of being alone, Twilight, I am tired of it. ”

Twilight’s stony expression faltered for a moment, then returned once more. “What makes you think I would love you back?”

Discord grimaced, knowing the answer. There was no reason, no reason in all of Equestria for her to care for him like that. “Because—”

“—Because what? Because you’re good for me? You’re the Spirit of Chaos, a criminal nutjob, and a liar.”

His blood began to boil at her words. So what if he had lied to her? He would like to see what she would have done in the same circumstances. To find yourself falling for the one creature in Equestria that would never have you if they knew the truth. Discord turned away from her, “Very well, do what you will, Twilight, I can see it was a vain hope.”

He winced, as he was hoisted to his feet and drug out of the chamber by the guards. When he awoke, he would have to face the fact. There was nothing he could say that would change the inevitable. Tomorrow he would lose her, and be alone once more.

Twilight had always considered herself to be a dedicated researcher. When there was a matter that needed to be understood, she would commit herself to the subject completely. This evening was no exception to that habit, although her focus had shifted from chaos magic theory to diagnostics. She was currently studying a particularly monstrous tome, open to the page on cancers.

Though most had been effectively eliminated through magic, there were still a few that could not be reached by even the most skilled unicorns. Twilight cringed as she read on about cancers of the brain. They brought on an agonizing, slow death that she would not have wished on her worst enemy. Although some of the symptoms were close to Entropy’s recent condition, that had proven true for many ailments, and she knew that it was not the case with him. He was only depressed.

A rapid hammering on the oak door tore her attention from the page. “Yes? Come in.”

It swung open and her brother, donned in his Royal Guard armor, all but stormed through the door. Before she could recover from the shock of Shining Armor’s sudden appearance in her library, he had rushed over to her, pulling her into a back-breaking hug. “Thank Celestia you’re all right.”

The heavy armor pressing into her chest was far from comfortable. Having enough, she pried him off her with an annoyed sigh. “I’m fine, Shining. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Shining bristled and looked around the library, acting as if he expected someone to jump out in ambush. “You alone?”

Twilight rolled her eyes, “Well I was.”

He sighed, removing his helmet. “Good, because I need to talk to you.” Without waiting for a response, he continued in an urgent tone. “Entropy isn’t what he seems, Twilight. My contacts in Canterlot have found some disturbing information.”

“Hold on! Your contacts in Canterlot?” Twilight bristled, snarling at Shining, “You investigated him?”

“It’s not what you think,” he added hastily. “I . . . I want to respect your choices in stallions, Twily, but I wanted to double check. Background checks are standard procedure for my guards.”

“Well Entropy isn’t one of your guards, Shining, he’s a professor.”

“That’s what I’m trying to say, Twily. He’s not a professor, never has been as far as we can tell. In fact, as far as we know, there’s never been a pony of his description living in Canterlot.”

The words lingered in the still air of the library even as a ringing began in Twilight’s ears. “You . . . you can’t be serious, Shining.” She shot to her hooves, trying to steady her racing heart rate. “You’re wrong! Entropy’s a professor at Canterlot University, he told me himself.”

He stood, meeting her gaze, “Twily, by all accounts the pony named Entropic State doesn’t exist. It’s a false identity.”

“But Celestia vouched for him!” There was no reason for Celestia to lie to her. “If she says Entropy’s a professor, then he is.”

“But he’s not!” Shining’s armored hoof struck the ground with enough force to send an echo through the library. “I very much doubt Celestia would lie to you, but what if she was deceived? What if Entropy has some other agenda?”

“Entropy isn’t a criminal,” the words came as a soft affirmation. “Why would he even do something like that, huh?”

Shining pinned his ears, glowering at her, “Think about it, Twilight. By coming here and making you fall for him, he’s in the perfect position to gather intel on the newest princess, even learning some of her own magic.”

Twilight had heard enough. “Entropy isn’t here to steal my magic, Shining! He loves me, end of story.”

He clapped a hoof to his chest, “So you trust this pony you’ve known for only a few weeks more than your own brother?”

Her throat grew tight as she locked gazes with him. After what felt like an eternity, she closed her eyes, turning away. “Yes, yes I do.”

Silence, then a long, heavy sigh. “Fine, but don’t blame me when everything falls apart.” Without another word, she listened to his armor clanking against the floorboards, then the slamming of the door.

Opening her eyes, she stared around at her library, but it was not her library, not anymore. Between all the days of studying, spell practice, mishap upon mishap, it had somehow become their library. Without him around, the place felt cold and empty, she felt empty. It was as though some invisible string had wrapped itself around them, hopelessly tangling their lives together. Would it be so wrong to leave it that way?

Summer nights always had a soothing effect. Whether it was the crisp cool air, the music of the crickets, or the soft breeze Discord could not tell. All he knew was that it made the agonizingly slow walk to Ponville marginally more bearable, though that might of had something to do with Spike as well. Ever since he had woken from his nap, the dragon had been almost annoyingly civil to him.

A part of him wanted to interrogate him about that, but he was too tired to care. So he continued plodding down the dusty road in silence. Spike kept glancing at him as though he just might explode any second. Discord tried to ignore it, focusing instead on not gasping in pain with every step he took.

Finally, the dragon spoke up, “Say, Entropy?”

Now I’m Entropy again am I? Make up your mind, Spike. He raised an eyebrow, “Yes?”

“If you were . . . if you were Discord,” Spike seemed to note his irritated look and hastened to add, “and I’m not saying you are. But, if you were and you did decide to date Twilight, you would take good care of her, right?”

Discord’s heart lurched at the question. He paused, locking gazes with Spike, “She would be the center of my world. Nothing, and I mean nothing would come before her. I would be loyal to her, even beyond the grave.”

Spike looked a touch taken aback. “Uh, all right. That’s good, I guess.”

Discord jerked a nod, continuing to limp along beside him. “I’m going to be trusting you to keep Twilight’s experiments in check.”

“Please. I was doing that long before you came around.” Spike’s eyes darted to his for an instant before focusing ahead. “But . . . you can count on me to keep her in line.”

He chuckled softly, “Oh I don’t doubt it for a second.”

By the time they returned to the library, both Discord and Spike were too exhausted to speak. Then again, there was nothing left to say. Discord watched the dragon lead the way inside, shuffling across the floorboards as if in a daze. Looking around the darkened library, he wondered if Twilight had called it an early night. A pity, he had wished to talk with her. Sighing, he looked down at Spike, “Goodnight. Tell Twilight I’ll be back around seven thirty.”

Just as he was about to walk out a strong breeze swept over him, accompanied by the sound of hooves touching down. He turned about, only to find himself muzzle to muzzle with a panting Twilight.


“Oh, it’s . . . I just didn’t want to miss you,” she added. Then, before he knew what was happening, her velveteen muzzle pressed to his in an intoxicating kiss.

Slowly, reluctantly, they broke it, staring hard into each other’s eyes. Discord nickered softly, “Well that was unexpected.”

Twilight wrapped him in a tight hug, burrowing her face into his mane, “It shouldn’t be.”

He returned the hug, feeling her steady heartbeat against his chest. It felt right, too right. After tomorrow it would all be over, but that did not matter now.

“Oh come on! Really? I’m standing right here!” Throwing his arms up in frustration, Spike turned and walked away, grumbling under his breath.

Chuckling, Discord released Twilight. “I suppose that’s my cue to leave.” With a parting peck on the cheek and a wink, he stepped out into the cool night air.

Discord generally took the longest route possible back to Mrs. Plumsworth’s, but not tonight. Tonight it was all he could do to make it there. As he shuffled by the fountain, he was stopped by a familiar burning sensation in his throat. Sure enough, in a jet of golden flames, a sealed scroll appeared. He rolled his eyes. What now?

Leaning against the fountain, he tore open the envelope and began to read. His eyes widened as he read the small paragraph. “Twilight’s planning to come see me in Canterlot?”He moaned, clapping a hoof to his forehead, “Gods, could this month get any worse?”

He strode over to the nearby alleyway, transforming his hoof to a talon with a flourish. Snapping it, he summoned parchment and a quill. After scrawling out a hasty note, he sent it off with a jet of flame. He so despised requests, but it was better than Celestia showing up at exactly the wrong moment. Hopefully she would understand. Discord sighed, transforming his talon to a hoof and limping down the street once more. She’s never going to let me live this down, is she?

Author's Note:

Wooo! Well, sorry for the wait, but this was a tough one! Lots to fit in and I wanted to make it a quality one. Can you feel the anticipation? I know I can. :trollestia:

This chapter would not have read half so well without my editor, Nomad_Sigma. He was a HUGE help, and I can't thank him enough for his time and effort on this story.