• 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.

  • ...

The Bitter Truth

Twilight knew something had to give. It always ended up that way, and she supposed it always would. Whatever forces that ran this world seemed bent upon her never living out a normal life, and there was nothing she could do to stop events from spiraling out of control. Strangely enough, this time it came as a direct result of Spike's actions rather than her own. Ironic to say the least.

"But, it's not fair!" Spike stamped a foot against the floor boards of the loft, glowering mutinously at her.

"It's more than you deserve." Twilight snapped the words a little more harshly than she intended. Feeling a touch guilty, she turned her attention to making the bed again. "Honestly, Spike. You tried to burn Entropy! I should take away more than your comic books and privileges for that."

Spike made his own bed, still shooting murderous glances at Twilight. "It's not my fault he's a big jerk. Besides," He straightened up, looking directly into her eyes, "what's so great about a washed up physics professor that can't even control basic magic?"

Twilight stamped a hoof, returning Spike's glare. "Entropy is kind, thoughtful, and much better behaved than you've been!"

One of Spike's eyebrows raised ever so slightly, "Yeah, and he's what, twice your age?"

"He's . . ." She trailed off, wondering about that herself. Just how old was Entropy? Sure he was a little grey in the mane, but that did not make him old, did it? "He's not that much older than me." The words came out more like a soft affirmation than the confident statement she intended them to be.

"Uh-huh." Spike snorted skeptically, starting to don his cleaning apron. He walked gingerly to the stairs, careful not to slap his bandaged tail against the steps. "You keep telling yourself that, Twilight."

A part of her wanted to chase after him and demand some respect. After all, she was his adopted sister, employer, and princess of Equestria. But doing that would have made her out to be a spoiled child. No, she would let it slide for now. Besides, though she hated to admit it, he was right about Entropy. The stallion was a lot older than she was, easily old enough to have a family of his own, though she doubted that was the case.

Sighing, Twilight walked over to her bed and pulled a small notebook from her bedside table. The diary was a little frayed in places, but it was still her treasure. She splayed out on the freshly made bed, flipping through the pages with her magic. The latest entries were about her assorted fiascos training Entropy. As methodically as she was capable, Twilight began to read between the lines.

Admittedly, she had been and still was a little smitten with the professor. And why not? He had been ready and willing to learn from the instant he walked through her door, and never once looked down on her for being younger than he was. The fact that he had a great sense of humor, knew more about physics than anypony she had met, and was dreadfully handsome was just icing on the cake. As far as she was concerned, Entropy was a near perfect fit for her. So why did her affections for him feel so wrong?

Maybe I'm just imagining things. Then again, maybe not. Twilight rolled over to stare at the now awakening town, wondering. Certainly she had responsibilities, and that might be part of her trepidation. But that was not the whole reason. No, it was something much deeper; it was because she was different. Ever since her arrival in Ponyville, she gave up being a simple student, accepting the role fate had placed on her shoulders.

Entropy's words from yesterday rang in her head. "'You'll never live a normal life', huh?" But why not? After all, Pinkie was living out a perfectly normal life with her husband despite being an Element of Harmony. A part of her wanted to slap the stallion for saying something so rude, but that would be pointless. He was right of course. Unlike her friends, she was hopelessly entangled in the very fabric of this country, and no matter how hard she struggled, her life would never be "normal" again. It stung worse than she could imagine, but that was the unalterable truth. Would it be possible for any stallion to love her with that looming over their relationship?

There really was very little Discord dreaded these days. After his "reformation," he no longer feared being turned to stone at every little chaotic discretion or being banished from the kingdom for his outbursts. In fact, as long as he stayed relatively harmonic, Celestia and Luna seemed all too eager to turn a blind eye. That suited him just fine, and the rest of Equestria along with him. In fact, he had grown so comfortable in his position that he had little to dread from anypony. That was, anypony but Twilight.

Certainly the alicorn princess was a far cry from their stuck up overlords, but she had proven herself temperamental in the past. Temperamental and powerful. Given his current limitations, it would be best not to invoke her ire just yet. And here he was, walking towards the library and perhaps one of the most degrading lectures he would ever have to sit through. With each step into the thick mud, his mind flashed back to his outburst yesterday. Of all the creatures to blow up at; it had to be Spike.

If it had been any adult in Ponyville, he would have not been so much as bothered. But, the plucky little assistant was still a child, and as a child, had little understanding of how the real world operated. Getting angry was normal, but getting angry at a child for acting like a child was inexcusable. Even he, the master and spirit of chaos itself could not stomach that. So he walked with his head hung low, and tried to avoid the nagging desire to start bombarding Ponyville with a shower of chocolate milk rain. For some reason, chocolate milk had become his fallback whenever he was nervous. Strange. In truth, he really did not care for the stuff half as well as lemonade.

"Entropy? Entropy?"

Discord pinned his ears, wheeling around to face whoever had the gall to break his reverie. "What do you . . ." He bit his tongue when he saw who he was scolding. Fluttershy was hiding behind a wing, looking like some startled forest creature. Typical, sweet Fluttershy. The mare was probably the only being in Equestria who had made an active effort to understand him as a person, and the last pony he wanted to offend. "Sorry, Fluttershy."

"It's okay." Her teal eyes darted to the saddlebags draped across his back. "Are you going somewhere?"

"To the library." Discord could not hide the grimace. Sighing, he looked around the fast crowding main street. "Spike twisted his tail. I thought I'd bring him some medicine."

Fluttershy clasped a hoof to her mouth. "Oh my goodness. Is he okay?"

"He's fine." I think. Provided I didn't break his ribs. He cleared his throat, "I'm sure Twilight's seen to it, but I thought I'd bring some more medicine just in case."

"That's very thoughtful of you, Entropy." She started to walk slowly forward, inviting him to follow her. Discord was not about to argue, and listened to Fluttershy discuss all the hazards of a twisted tail. The way she was going on, one would have thought they were discussing battle wounds. "And then," She made a wild gesticulation with a hoof, "poor Rose couldn't fly for two weeks."

"That's just awful." The phrase was his old standby whenever he and Fluttershy talked about her animals. Often times, it was the most considerate thing to say given the circumstances. As they walked along, he could not help but notice the sharp pain that came whenever one of his hooves struck the ground. That reminded him of something the old woman had said to him the other day. "Say, Fluttershy? Mrs. Plumsworth mentioned you had an herbal remedy for arthritis. Would it be too much trouble to ask for some?"

"Of course not. I'd love to make some for you." Fluttershy patted him gently on the back. "My grandpa always got arthritis, but felt so much better after my treatment. We'll get you back to normal in no time."

Discord had the distinct impression that Fluttershy viewed him as another of her animal friends. To add insult to injury, she had compared him to her grandfather. I'm not that old! We draconequus live a lot longer than you ponies. Discord knew for a fact that the mare would not be implying his advanced age if he was in his true form.

Fluttershy stopped by the fountain, and gasped. "I almost forgot. Today I normally have tea with Discord, but he's on vacation this month, so—"

"Hold on a moment. You mean you have tea with the spirit of chaos himself?" A wave of admiration surged through him as he saw her nod confidently. Oh Fluttershy, you're just about the only pony in Equestria who would admit to something like that. Discord was quite enjoying his little charade, and decided to play along. "Is it every day or something? What do you have to talk about with somepony like him?"

"Every two weeks." Fluttershy fidgeted with the long strands of her mane, avoiding his gaze. "And we find all kinds of stuff to talk about. Like, how he's adjusting to the castle, how my animals are doing, about our friends. . ." The mane twirling had reached fever pitch now.

"And?" Discord knew there was more. There always was when she started with her mane.

"Well, I was kind of hoping this time he might," Her voice lowered until it was barely audible, "help me with some relationship advice. Since he's lived so long and all."

Discord broke into fits of hysterical laughter before he could stop himself. Ask me for relationship advice? Gods above, she's lost it! He clutched his sides, laughing so hard that the poinies passing by kept staring at him. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he looked back at her. "Sorry, sorry, Fluttershy. Just, it seems a little counter-intuitive to ask a master of chaos magic for advice on a harmonic relationship."

"Oh." Fluttershy's face was the color of a ripe tomato now. She cuffed her hoof against the ground, kicking up a glob of mud. "Guess that is a little silly."

"Yes, just a little." Discord waved the thought away with a hoof. "But don't feel bad about it. Who knows, maybe he could help you." That thought was beyond comedic. Discord knew full well how useless his advice would be on that front. No creature anywhere was honestly interested in romancing him. "So, what about tea?"

Fluttershy seemed to perk up again at the mention of the party. "Well, since I'm not meeting with Discord, I thought I'd invite everypony over to my cottage for tea. Would you and Twilight like to come?"

"That sounds simply delightful, Fluttershy." Discord closed his eyes, remembering Fluttershy's expertly brewed tea and heaven sent biscuits. Their little chats were easily the highlight of his month. Though, truth be told, there was not a lot else to look forward to. "I think Twilight would enjoy it as much as I would."

"That's good. I'll be sure to make you some." Fluttershy looked behind her at the now bustling marketplace, "I'll have to pick up some more ingredients first, though. Bulk, Cheese, and Pinkie are coming too."

Discord raised an eyebrow, "What about Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack?"

"Rainbow Dash is fixing up the town after the downpour." Fluttershy giggled a little, "Mayor Mare was really mad about all the damage, and the mud."

Discord lifted a hoof, watching the mud drip off of it. "I did wonder about that." He closed his eyes, trying to imagine the scene that must have taken place. A shame he could not have been there; he would have brought popcorn. "And Applejack?"

"Well," Fluttershy leaned in a little closer, and whispered into his ear, "Apparently the crusaders pulled a really dangerous stunt yesterday. Applejack said Apple Bloom almost drowned."

"WHAT?" That was not in the least way funny. Discord felt his heart lurch at the thought. Ponies were happy go lucky creatures. Something like drowning simply did not happen to them. "Is she okay?"

"Yes, thanks to Flim; but Applejack's not letting Apple Bloom out of her sight for a while." Fluttershy looked extremely put out. "She wouldn’t tell me the whole story."

Discord patted her back in what he hoped was a reassuring gesture. "I'm sure she'll tell you when she's ready."

"I know. I can't help but worry though." She glanced towards the edge of town, "I just went to Rarity's and she says Sweetie Belle's helping her with orders as punishment."

He was sure if that was punishment for Rarity or for Sweetie Belle. If Twilight's stories were to be believed, the filly was amazingly destructive for her size. "I see, so, just a small party then?"

"Yes, but it should be fun." Fluttershy started back towards the market. "I'll see you at three then. I should have your medicine ready."

"You're a life saver, Fluttershy." He watched her leave, wishing he could be spending his sentence with her instead of the uptight know it all. Speaking of . . . Discord grimaced, remembering once again where he was walking to. Let's get this over with.

The rest of the trip he made in silence, mentally calculating the best way to beg for forgiveness. He decided on immediately addressing the issue before Twilight had a chance to blow it out of proportion. Yes, that was the way to go. His hooves moved mechanically along, and it took a moment to realize that he was standing in front of the library door. With a long, deep breath, he opened it and stepped inside.

He nearly started backwards at the amount of chaos taking over the library. Piles of books, papers, quills, and just about every assorted object in the library was strewn across the floor. Discord could not help smirk with pride. And here I was thinking I'm the only creature who adores a healthy dose of chaos. This is simply delightful. Lifting a hoof, he happily knocked over the podium for added effect. "I love what you've done with the place, Twilight."

There was the sound of rustling, then a crash from the loft. In a few seconds, Twilight appeared, looking decidedly disgruntled; strands of mane sticking out at odd angles, and a manic glint in her eyes. "I can't find it anywhere!"

"Find what?" Discord sprawled himself out on a pile of books to better admire their new and improved classroom. Perhaps today would be entertaining after all.

"Malcom's Extended Spell Reference. I need it for my latest theory." Her horn became surrounded in magic as she tossed book after book out of the way. "Spike doesn't even know where it went. Oh, what could have happened to it?"

Discord levitated a stray cook book in his own golden magic, allowing it to self-destruct and scatter paper and pieces of binding across the floor. "Oh, that book."

"That book?" Twilight rounded on him, staring fiercely into his eyes. "What's that book?"

"Well, the one I blew up the day I came here." Discord said in his most matter of fact tone. Honestly, it's not the end of the world. "I thought you'd remember that, being a librarian and all that."

"The one you BLEW UP!" Twilight collapsed on the floorboards, pounding her hooves against the wood. "Do you have any idea how valuable that book was?"

"Well . . ." He knew full well how valuable it was, but he also knew in its pages was the information Twilight would need to piece the puzzle together. If that happened, then his little game would be over far too quickly. That could not happen; not yet anyway. He looked up at her with his most innocent expression, "Valuable?"

Twilight slapped a hoof to the ground so hard it echoed around the library. "It was priceless. I had it on loan from Celestia."

"That uptight old sock can learn to relax." The words left his mouth before he really registered their significance.

Its effect was near instantaneous, as he felt Twilight's hooves slam him to the floor. "How dare you talk about the princess like that! What in Equestria is wrong with you?"

Oops. Discord felt like an idiot. Of course ponies did not go around calling the being they revered as a god an "old sock." He of course did so on a regular basis, but that was beside the point. Looking into Twilight's fierce gaze, he knew he was sunk. Unless he could distract her. A brilliant thought came to his mind just then. Oh, yes, that will do nicely, and it fits so well with my game. Discord leaned forward and pressed his muzzle to hers. To his surprise, it was like kissing a rose petal. Strange, I thought it'd taste like stale hay.

Twilight pulled away, cheeks a violent shade of red. "What in Equestria? Why did you . . ." She stammered the words, as she backed into the overturned podium. "Why did you kiss me?"

"Sorry, you're just so cute when you're mad." Discord laughed a little, surprised how dramatic her reaction was. She must be fawning over me more than I thought. "I wanted to see how the student of our dear sun princess would react to my insulting her. I didn't really mean any of it."

"Oh." Twilight looked incredibly sheepish, and tried to stand. Her legs were shaking so badly that she fell over in the attempt.

Sighing, Discord walked over and pulled her up. Her body leaned against his for support, then slowly pulled away. "Better?"

"Yes." Twilight's eyes met his for an instant, then focused on the floorboards. "Sorry for getting so upset. Of course you didn't mean it."

Seemingly gaining some composure, she turned back to him, "That really was a valuable book though."

"I do apologize." Discord tried to look sincere, but could not stop the small smile stretching across the edges of his mouth. It was too funny seeing their confident princess tore up over a single book. "I hope the information it held wasn't too critical."

She shook her head sadly, "Not for me, for you. I have a theory about your magic, but I wanted to research it some more. That book was going to help me uncover the truth."

"Really?" Well, now I'm really glad I blew it up.

"Yes, well, it doesn't matter now. I suppose we should clean up." Her eyes drifted to his saddlebags lying on the ground. "What's that?"

"Oh," Discord scooped up the bags, and held them out to her. "Medicine for Spike. After what happened yesterday, I was worried I might have hurt him."

"Entropy." A genuine grin stretched from each corner of her smooth face. "That was very thoughtful." She gave him a quick hug, and took the bags. "Thank you."

"How is he?" Discord dreaded the answer, but had to ask regardless.

"He's fine. His tail's only a little twisted." She snorted, pinning her ears. "I've grounded him, and taken away his privileges." Her eyes met his again. "I'm really, really sorry about what he did to you. I thought, with what happened to Cheese, he'd be more careful with fire."

Discord started back as Twilight's hooves ran gently over his sides. Touching her of his own volition was one thing, but having the mare stroking his coat whenever she wanted made him feel strangely violated. "Twilight? What are you doing?"

Twilight ignored him, still rubbing down his sides with a gentle hoof. "Are you okay? There weren't any burns were there?"

"No, I'm fine." For the life of him, he could not understand why she was so worried about him and so little concerned about the dragon. After all, he had nearly snapped the creature's ribs in half. Mares really were idiots when it came to stallions. He sighed, "Twilight, I'm the one who should be apologizing. Losing my temper at him, that was inexcusable."

Twilight stepped back, waving a hoof dismissively. "It's all right, Entropy. Honestly, I don't know what got into Spike."

Discord raised a skeptical eyebrow, "What got into him?"

"Yes. He's been making up these crazy lies lately." She brushed back a strand of mane, looking almost embarrassed. "Calling you a liar and a crook. It's just awful."

So he had the gall to tell her. Plucky devil, even if he's an idiot. Of course Miss Perfect wouldn't believe him, he should have known that from the getgo. The fact that Twilight would overlook something as serious as him pinning the child to the ground unsettled him. A being in her position ought to think a little more on logic and a little less on emotion. "Please don't blame him, Twilight. He's jealous, and a little scared I should think."

Twilight looked hard into his eyes, "Jealous? Scared? Why?"

Are you really that blind? Discord rolled his eyes, jerking a head to the loft where Spike was undoubtedly hiding. "He's had your full attention his entire life; living each and every day beside you. Then, out of the blue I show up, and suddenly he has to share you. Of course he's upset!"

"I . . . I didn't think of it like that." Her expression darkened, and she pawed anxiously at the ground. "What should I do?"

"Well, spending time with him wouldn't hurt." Honestly, don't you know anything? Discord scooped up one of the books off the ground, handing it to her. "Maybe cleaning up your own mess instead of letting him do all the work." He winked, "I've been around more than a few years, and I can tell you from experience; actions always speak louder than words."

For a moment, it looked as though Twilight were going to complain, but she merely nodded. Levitating the book back on the shelf, she looked around the library. "Guess I should pick up this mess."

He snorted a laugh, lying back down on the books. "You know, I rather like the new look. Why don't we leave it as is for the day? I don't think there's any harm in it, and frankly, I think better in a mess."

"Really? Well, okay I guess." Twilight looked as though she would rather swallow nails, but said nothing. Instead, she dragged out a cushion and joined Discord on the floor. "But I'm cleaning up as soon as we're done."

"Fine, just fine. Shall we get started then?" Looking around the relatively chaotic room, Discord felt right at home. He watched Twilight's eyes constantly dart up to the loft when she thought he was not looking. For the first time since he met the pony, he saw her for who she truly was; a naïve young girl with a lot to learn about life in general. It seemed almost cruel to put so much responsibility on her shoulders. Cruel and unnecessary. Such was the way of this world, and nothing, not even his chaos magic could change that.

"Twilight, do pay attention, this is important." Entropy wacked the podium with a rather large physics book, making her jump like a jackrabbit.

"What?" Her eyes darted around the chaotic library, then focused back on him. "Sorry, Entropy."

"You have nothing to apologize for, Twilight." Entropy rubbed his temple with a hoof, "However, if you don't start to focus soon, I'm afraid we'll miss our appointment."

Appointment? In all the excitement that morning, she had forgotten to check the schedule. Twilight glanced nervously across the sea of clutter, but it was no use. The place was so torn up that she could not have found anything specific if she had the rest of the afternoon. She looked helplessly back at Entropy. "We didn't plan for any appointments today, at least I think we didn't."

Entropy leaned casually against the chalkboard, examining the dried mud on his hooves. "We have not planned for it."

Now I know he's messing with me. Twilight puffed her chest out defiantly, "How can we be late if we haven't planned anything?"

Entropy snorted, rolling his eyes clean over. "Honestly, Twilight. Sometimes appointments are simply thrust upon us. It's not for me to change the mechanisms of fate."

It was her turn to roll her eyes. "Sure, whatever. Just what has fate brought to our hooves today?"

"A tea party with Fluttershy, Bulk, Pinkie, and Cheese." Entropy gave a wolfish smile. "Of course I said we would come."

"What?" Of course she was not surprised about tea, but the gender ratio was really throwing her off. Normally, when Fluttershy invited them over, it was just the girls. This felt completely different. "You don't mean it's a group date?"

Entropy looked as though he were pondering the idea for a moment. "Yes . . . if you want it to be." His voice was as level and confident as ever, despite the implications of the words. He leaned in close enough to feel his warm breath against her cheek, "We might even pick up where we left off this morning."

Twilight cringed, certain her face was beet red again. The memory of his muzzle pressed against hers was enough to send her heart and mind racing out of control. It had been sudden, a little unsettling, but absolutely wonderful. However, admitting that to Entropy was another matter entirely. "I uh . . . I . . ."

Entropy whispered softly into her ear, "You don't have to decide just yet." Chuckling to himself, he strode back to the chalkboard. "Shall we continue with the lecture?"

"Yes." She practically squeaked, turning back to her notes. Was this what it felt like to have a crush? Was Entropy messing with her, or did he mean it? Twilight would have given anything to have Pinkie's or even Cadence's advice on the matter. For now, she would just have to focus on his lecture.

"What equation would the royal scholars have used to decipher this phenomenon?" Entropy tapped the chalk board impatiently with his hoof. "Twilight! Are you even listening?"

"Huh? Yes. They would have used Klifner's equation." Though she had completely guessed on the equation, it sounded all right. Entropy did not look at her as he erased the board, then set down the chalk so hard it snapped in half. Twilight grimaced as he strode over to her and settled himself on the messy floor beside her. He's really mad.

Entropy did not look at her, but stared straight ahead at the now blank board. "Klifner's equation had not been discovered in the third century post banishment."

"Sorry." Twilight felt like crawling in a hole. Her fantasies were proving incredibly detrimental to their lessons. "I should have been paying attention."

"No, it's my fault for teasing you." Entropy sighed heavily, leaning against her side. "I really am hopeless around you."

Twilight felt her heart leap uncomfortably in her chest. Hopeless around me? Does that mean he likes me back? Probably not. She snorted a laugh, "Really?"

"Really." Entropy chuckled almost nervously, avoiding her gaze. "I've never met a mare like you before." The words came out almost as a whisper as he buried his head between his hooves. "Sorry, guess I got carried away."

Twilight patted his back reassuringly. "Don't be sorry."

Entropy chuckled weakly, raising his head. "Well, I suppose that's enough apologies for one day." He jerked a nod to the chalk board, "Your turn to dazzle."

"What? But I don't have a lesson plan." It was unfortunately true. She had been too preoccupied with Spike and her conflicting emotions to focus on Entropy's magic. Still, it would not hurt to try. "Well, okay, but it's not going to be structured."

Entropy's booming laugh bounced off of the empty bookshelves, "Perfect." He reclined on a stray pile of books as though it were a throne. "I do so love a touch of chaos."

Twilight bit her lip. What kind of professor wanted any measure of chaos? The only creature in the universe who actually enjoyed chaos was Discord. Thankfully, the walking disaster had not shown his face around Ponyville for some time. Probably wreaking havoc in the palace. From Entropy's statement, and previous actions, perhaps Entropy was friends with him. She snorted at the thought of Discord having any friends beside the Elements of Harmony. Though, it would not hurt to ask. "Say, Entropy?"

"Yes, Twilight?" Entropy was attempting to levitate another book, much to the misfortune of Carter's Culinary Guide.

She watched the pages slowly start to tear away from the binding. Thankfully, Entropy noticed her concern and dropped the book. "Never mind. It's nothing important." There was no way Entropy was connected with the spirit of chaos himself. He was bored just like her; and boredom led to destructive habits. Idly she wondered if she would be tearing up books for fun when she got to be Entropy's age. Celestia, I hope not. Twilight could not stomach the thought of blowing up valuable literature, no matter how bored she was. Though, perhaps a cook book every once in a while would not hurt.

Discord rarely walked anywhere. If he wanted to travel, he merely snapped his claw and would teleport exactly where he wanted to be. There was no real point in walking anywhere when one had a wealth of chaos magic at one's fingertips. So, it came as a great frustration to see just how long it took to go anywhere without it. Pony's hooves were bulky, and heavy compared to his own limbs, making each step feel weighted down. He winced as they walked through yet another knee deep patch of mud.

"Are you all right, Entropy?" Twilight was flying beside him, looking a little concerned. "You keep wincing."

"It's my joints. This blasted mud keeps pulling them." Discord had a few more choice words to describe Rainbow Dash's present to Ponyville, but decided against using them. Instead, he blasted away some of it with his haywire unicorn magic. The effect on Twilight was beyond hilarious.

She leapt behind the nearest tree, as though expecting a fireworks display. Discord snorted. Certainly he was terrible at controlling unicorn magic, but there was no reason to panic. "Twilight, I'm not going to blow up the forest." He pulled himself out of the mud pit with some difficulty, huffing a little more than he would have liked. "See?"

Twilight flushed a little, landing on the muddy path to walk beside him again. "After the books, I thought there might be explosions."

"Probably would have been if I had kept it up. There's always some kind of explosion with my magic." He admired the sunlight streaming through the trees and bathing the path in a soft glow. "It's rather beautiful out here."

"Yes, I'm a little jealous." Twilight giggled, waving a hoof around them. "It's the most beautiful spot in Ponyville. Much better than my library."

"What?" He smirked playfully at her, "You mean you'd actually leave your library if you lived out here?"

Twilight snorted, stamping a hoof against the mud. "I leave the library sometimes!"

"Uh-huh." Discord rolled his eyes, trotting forward a little ways ahead. "I don't believe you!"

Twilight giggled, cantering over to him. "Well, I'm here aren't I? This doesn't look like the library."

"I guess." He started to walk down the path again, eyes darting occasionally to Twilight. Every time he did, she would return the look with a soft smile. The mare had been responding a little too well to his advances today. Though he was all for teasing her, there had to be a line. If he led her on too strong and she discovered the truth, then he would have more than one angry alicorn out for blood. Discord did not relish the thought of being turned to stone again.

"We're here!" Twilight trotted energetically across the small bridge to Fluttershy's cottage. As usual, the place looked as picturesque as a postcard. Discord could practically feel the homely goodness radiating off of the house.

The door swung open, and Fluttershy stepped out. She was wearing her mane up in a ponytail for once, and looked very relieved to see them. "Twilight, Entropy. You made it. I was oh so worried the mud would have kept you away."

"Almost." Discord lifted a mud encrusted hoof, grinning back at his friend. "I nearly got stuck a few times."

Twilight giggled, "I thought I'd have to magic him out a few times."

"Oh my." Fluttershy waved them inside where her dining room table was set for tea. Cheese, and Pinkie were already there, grinning back at them. Fluttershy turned to Discord, "I'll get you something to wash up with."

"Thank you, Fluttershy. You're most considerate." Discord watched Twilight take a seat beside Pinkie and start chattering away about Pinkie's mane. Even he had to admit the elegant French braid suited her. "It looks lovely, Pinkie."

"Thanks, Entropy. Cheesie did it." She leaned over, kissing her husband on the muzzle; turning his face bright red. "Cheesie's the best at braiding.

"I'm not really." He dismissed the complement with a hoof, turning to Entropy. "How are you feeling?"

Discord grimaced a little, avoiding Cheese's gaze. After their work on the venue yesterday, he had hardly been able to walk. Apparently old joints did not mix well with wooden floors and sanding. "I can't say it doesn't hurt, but it's better."

"That's super good, 'cause I was really worried." Pinkie turned to Twilight. "You better make sure he takes his medicine. He's all ouchy."

"I am not!" For some reason, Discord was starting to feel incredibly self-conscious about this conversation. He was old and worn out, so what? They did not have to hammer the point home with a stake. "I'm perfectly fine, thank you, Pinkie." He said a little more tersely than he intended.

"Oh, okey dokey then." Pinkie turned back to Twilight and they began giggling like school yard fillies. What they found to talk about was beyond him.

Sighing, he made to take a seat beside Cheese when a white blur grabbed him in an excruciatingly tight hug. It took a moment to realize that it was a snow white pegasus with the largest biceps he had ever seen. This must be Bulk. "Hello."

"Hi! It's good to meet you! Yeah!" Bulk shouted the words directly into his ears, setting him cringing a little. Volume control did not seem to be a strong suit of his. The pegasus continued to squeeze him so tight he felt like he might break something.

Thankfully, Cheese strode forward, tapping Bulk on the shoulder. "Bulk, I think you might be hurting him."

"Oh, sorry!" The pressure immediately released, and Discord felt his hooves hit the ground once more. Eyeing the pony's oversized muscles, it was clear how he managed such a bone crushing grip. Despite his massive size, Bulk looked almost shy when he stammered, "Sorry, Fluttershy said you were new and I wanted to make you welcome. Yeah!"

"It's fine. Thank you for the sentiment." It took a second to realize his glasses had been dislodged. Cheese scooped them up, and handed them back to him. Discord grimaced at the now broken nosepiece. Ah well, this party could use some excitement. He lit up his horn in his golden magic. The look of terror it brought to their faces was priceless. Before he could so much as consider a spell however, Twilight dashed forward, snatching the glasses with her own magic. Spoilsport.

She grinned triumphantly, quickly casting a repair spell and placing the glasses on his muzzle. "There." Her nervous chuckle echoed around the room, as she elbowed him hard in the ribs. "Don't want any accidents, now do we?"

"I suppose you have a point." A pity, he so longed to improve Fluttershy's cottage for her. He supposed he must settle on being a good boy for the day, no matter how infuriating that was. Sighing heavily, he took a seat beside Cheese and pretended to be just as excited about their mundane world as they were. A few more weeks, Discord, a few more weeks and you'll be home free.

Twilight was starting to worry about the three stallions. Certainly Cheese and Bulk could handle fixing Fluttershy's water wheel, but adding Entropy to the mix was borderline dangerous. She could only hope he would not try and "improve" it with his magic.

"Twilight? Are you okay?" Fluttershy stared hard into Twilight's eyes, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing much." Twilight shrugged, stretching out on the picnic blanket they had laid out in the shade. It was a beautiful afternoon, and after tea, they all agreed to spend it outdoors. Spurred by Cheese's addiction to home maintenance, the stallions had promptly run off to fix Fluttershy's wheel. That was fine by Twilight, as she had been dying for some girl talk.

Pinkie rolled from the blanket to the grass and back again. "Nothing means something, Twilight!"

"What? Really?" Fluttershy held a hoof to her mouth. "I didn't know that."

Pinkie nodded sagely, scooping up another of her sugar free scones. "It always does in relationships. When Cheesie's really upset or worried, he always says it's nothing. But, it's always something."

Twilight snorted a laugh. "Okay, okay. I was worried that Entropy might try and magic Fluttershy's water wheel back together."

"Oh, goodness." Fluttershy's tail twitched rapidly, and her eyes darted back to the creek. "You don't think he will, do you? It's very fragile."

Pinkie dismissed the thought with a wave of her hoof. "Relax, Fluttershy. Cheesie's really careful with projects. He won't let anything bad happen. But," She turned to Twilight, grinning mischievously, "I'm guessing Entropy's not so good with that sort of stuff."

"Well . . ." Twilight tried to think of a time that Entropy had been careful with anything. "No, I think he prefers to break things."

"Geeze louize, he's like a crazy old uncle." Pinkie giggled, then burst out laughing, rolling on the ground. "Fun but super-duper destructive! How's anypony that old get away with being that silly? I've got to take notes."

"He's not that old!" The words came out much harsher than she intended, and Pinkie stopped laughing to stare up at her. "Sorry, Pinkie. It's just, I don't see why everypony has to go on about him being old."

"Because he is, isn't he?" It seemed rather cruel for Fluttershy, but there was no denying that she was the one who spoke the words. Twilight wanted to smack her. Apparently, Fluttershy took note, because she continued, "Well, not Granny Smith, old, but a lot older than us. I mean, he was close to our age when you were born. And he's been a teacher for years and years."

"So?" Twilight felt the blood rushing to her ears. The words were true, but they stung badly. She rounded on Fluttershy like an angry timberwolf. "Are you saying I can't like somepony older than myself?"

"Like, like?" Pinkie poked her head between them, eyes staring hard into Twilight's. "You've got a crush on Entropy?"

"What? I . . ." What little confidence she had, vanished in an instant. "So what if I do! Is that a problem?"

Pinkie only stared, taking a step back. It was a rare occurrence indeed when one of their resident party ponies was at a loss for words. Finally, she found her voice, "You mean you like him like I like Cheese?"

"Well, I don't know about that much. We just met a few days ago! But," She fidgeted uncomfortably, "I think I might."

"Oh, no. That's not good." Fluttershy shook her head sadly. "He's too old for you."

"He's not!" The list of possible comebacks seemed to slip from her mind. She resorted to her stores of knowledge. "Mares my age used to marry stallions older than Entropy all the time in the pre-banishment era! They never had any complaints."

"That was because there were too few stallions. Mom told me that story." Pinkie nodded in a knowing fashion. "But now, there's a whole bunch more."

Twilight stared thunderstruck at Pinkie. It was true, though it was beyond irritating coming from her. "What does it matter if I love him?"

Fluttershy sighed, placing a hoof on her back. "It's not love I'm worried about, Twilight."

"What then?" A part of her wanted to scream in frustration. Really, what was the problem? She was not fawning over Entropy like Rarity had with Trenderhoof. It was simple interest, nothing more. What was the harm in that?

Fluttershy took a deep breath, "Think about it, Twilight. If he's almost twenty years older than you, how old will he be when you get married, or when you have foals? How will they feel if their dad dies of old age before they're even grown up and have families of their own? You'll be left lonely."

"You don't know that!" She stood, snorting angrily at Fluttershy. "And what if I told you I don't mind that? What if I told you it was worth it, huh?"

Pinkie jumped between them again, "Calm down, Twilight. Nopony said it wasn't worth it. Fluttershy's just worried about you." She shot a dirty look at Fluttershy, "But it was kinda mean."

"Sorry." Fluttershy hid behind a wing as Twilight settled back down. Despite her frustration at Fluttershy, she had to admit, the mare had a point. If she did end up falling for Entropy like Pinkie had for Cheese, they would inevitably have less time together than if she chose a stallion closer to her own age.

Then, a new, terrifying thought floated to the surface of her mind; one she never dreamed of before now. Celestia had made her into an alicorn, but what did that imply? As an alicorn, did that mean she was destined to live as long as the princesses? What would become of her, her friends, her entire existence if that were true? It might very well end up that she would outlive Entropy and just about everypony else she knew and loved. I don’t want that. Celestia, please, anything but that. In that open expanse of grass beside her friends, Twilight never felt so trapped.

Twilight was depressed; even Discord could see that. The entire way back from the party, she had hung her head low like some poor, dejected hound dog caught in the hen house. Even his rendition of Bulk snapping the water wheel blade in half was met with deaf ears. Their walk had been entirely monotonous, and simultaneously irritating. What good was teasing the know-it-all if she never reacted?

They strode quietly into the library around sunset, and he closed the door behind them. To his surprise, the place was halfway clean. In the center of the library, balancing a stack of books in his hands was Spike.

The dragon glowered at him, but smiled brightly at Twilight. "Hey, Twilight. How was the party?"

"Fine, just fine." She started slowly up the stairs. "I'll clean later, Entropy, you're done for the day."

Discord watched her climb up to the loft in surprise. What, no snarky remarks? No ogling over how fabulous I am. Well, color me offended. Snorting, he turned to Spike. Though they had spent the morning and much of the afternoon in the library, he had only spoken to him long enough to hand over the medicine. Now, they stared hard at each other in what had to be one of the most awkward silences in Equestrian history. He cleared his throat, taking the stack of books from the dragon's claws. "Let me get those."

"Uh, thanks." Spike watched him place the books onto a shelf with gritted teeth.


"They don't go there." He quivered a little as he pointed to the opposite bookshelf. "There, top shelf."

Discord shrugged, picking them up and placing them on the correct shelf. As he did so, Spike's eyes followed his every move. He felt a tinge of guilt, as it was his actions yesterday that caused his uneasiness. Sighing, he walked back over to Spike, bending down until he was at eye level with the dragon. "Spike, I'm well and truly sorry about what happened yesterday. There was no excuse for my actions, I should never have pushed you like that."

"I'm sorry too. For calling you a liar." Spike looked pleadingly into his eyes, "For the love of Celestia don't hurt her, Entropy. She means the world to me."

Discord stared in stunned disbelief. So he admitted it. He crossed his heart with a hoof. "I'll do my best, cross my heart."

"Thanks." To his mixed horror and admiration, Spike hugged his leg tightly. "I just worry about her."

"I know you do." Discord patted him on the back, then pulled away before the situation got any more awkward. "Why don't we clean this place up for Twilight, eh?"

"Yeah!" Spike shuffled off to work with renewed fervor. They worked in companionable silence, with the occasional direction from Spike on the proper location of books. It took well over an hour and a half, but, by the time they were done, the library had never looked so clean. Of course, Discord hated it, but Spike looked around in admiration. "It's great! Thanks, Entropy."

"Sure. Anything to get away from Mrs. Plumsworth's stories." Discord grimaced at the thought of yet another retelling of Tuffles the cat's misadventures in Ponyville. He was about to leave when Twilight walked slowly down the stairs, levitating a scroll in her magic.

Her eyes seemed almost vacant, and she raised an eyebrow at seeing the state of the library. "It looks beautiful, Spike." Then, she seemed to notice his presence for the first time. "Entropy? You're still here?"

"Yeah! He helped me clean up." Spike elbowed Entropy in the leg, beaming up at him. "We got it done really fast." His eyes fell to the scroll. "Letter for Celestia. Allow me." He leaned forwards to send it off, only to have Twilight snatch it away, flushing a violent shade of red.

She smiled sheepishly, "It's not for Celestia, it's for Discord."

WHAT? Discord felt his jaw drop. Why in all of Equestria was Twilight writing to him? Realizing he was still gaping, he closed his mouth and stared questioningly at Twilight. "Why are you writing to him?"

"It's . . ." She seemed to consider, then puffed out her chest in a none too convincing attempt at a self-confident stance. "It's none of your business Entropy. But," The scroll levitated over to him and he caught it. "You're from Canterlot, and I suppose you must have spoken to the spirit of chaos at some point, seeing as how you're so fond of it yourself."

"Correct. Though I can't say we're good friends." Discord twirled the scroll, seeing the unfamiliar red seal with his draconequus form pressed onto it. A sealing spell, huh? Interesting. Must be quite important to her. He looked back at her, smiling. "I can't say I know him well, but I think I can get this delivered safely to him."

Twilight gave a sigh of relief. "Thank you so much, Entropy. Make sure you send it as soon as you can."

"I will." Discord placed the scroll carefully in his saddlebags, then stepped out into the cool night. A part of him wanted to tear open the scroll at once, and read it right away, but that would not be fair to Twilight. No, if she was writing to him, she had to be out of options, and desperate. Despite his personal irritation at his situation, he owed her the courtesy of a well thought out reply; even if that meant going against his own inclinations.

Discord read and re-read the letter by the moonlight spilling onto the quilt. In all the months since his imprisonment in stone, he had not dealt with anything truly serious. Acting serious went against everything he stood for, and frankly, was something he avoided at all costs. And yet, here he was reading through Twilight's exceptionally serious letter. He stared out the window, tapping his chin with a talon. He had allowed one of his limbs to resume its normal form in order to open the letter and help him think. Discord was certain that even Celestia would approve of his bending the rules given the circumstances. His gaze turned back to the shaky handwriting scrawled on the parchment. One more time then. One more time.

'Dear Discord,

This is probably the most stupid thing I've done, and I guess I'd understand if you turned this letter into confetti or something.'

Discord attempted a laugh that came out completely hollow. No, not confetti. Glitter, but not confetti. I've got standards, Twilight. He read on,

'As you may be aware (you probably already are), I've taken on Entropic State as my personal student for the month. I've learned a lot about teaching and a little about life in general from him, and I think he's a good pony, and I can't help but admire him.'

Please, you're head over heels for me. He traced the sentence with his talon, frowning. From that point on, her writing was almost illegible for all the shaking her quill had done. Here it comes.

'I know it seems like I'm always confident, but I'm not. I never have been. Something has come up, Discord. Something really, really scary. I don't want Celestia or Luna to know, not yet. I know we don't exactly get along, and frankly, you're the last creature I'd come to for advice. But, you're just about the only being in all of the world who might understand where I'm coming from.

I was made an alicorn without really understanding what it was. I guess I just assumed since Celestia put her trust in me, then I'd put my trust in her. Now I'm starting to wonder. Just what does that mean for me? For Equestria? For my friends, my family? Am I some kind of replacement for Celestia and Luna? Will I live for centuries like them, or is my time here as limited as my friends?

I'm not scared of living, Discord. I'm scared of living without them. I can't imagine centuries upon centuries alone. It's like I'm staring into a dark void with no way out. I feel so lost, and a part of me wishes I was never made an alicorn at all.

How do you stand it, Discord? Is that why you distance yourself from ponies? Is that what I have to do to stay sane? I'm so scared, Discord. I need your advice.


Discord looked up, taking a series of deep breaths. So she had discovered the cruel truth of the matter. Damn. She's too young for this! I could have told Celestia that, but no, she refused to seek my council on the matter. Anger like he had not felt for years surged inside him, sending an unnatural breeze through the closed room. He closed his eyes, slowly allowing his magic to ebb. What was done was done, and he would do his best to help pick up the pieces.

He scooped up a piece of parchment and a quill. Slowly, thoughtfully, he began to write a response in his smoothest calligraphy.


I admit I was surprised to receive your letter; surprised and touched. Thank you for trusting me with this, and I will honor your request by keeping this matter from Celestia.'

Discord could not help but snort a laugh. For some reason, his language always grew formal when he wrote; an ever present reminder of how truly old he was. He hoped it would not put her off too much.

'Your concern is not a new one, and I fear, it is not so easily resolved. I have struggled with the same questions, and have come to my own conclusions. Do not think that I have the answers to everything. No creature, no being in all this world, not even Celestia and Luna hold all the answers.'

It was an irrefutable truth, and one Twilight desperately needed to hear. Her reliance on Celestia's knowledge had gone far enough.

'You asked me if you will live a life as long as your friends. That I am not sure. Magic is a fickle thing, and not so easily understood as you and Celestia would like to think it is. The true powers that govern this world are not so keen on divulging their secrets; even to beings as powerful as we are. You may live a normal life, you may outlive us all, or you may die tomorrow in a freak accident with a tuba. What I do know, is that you cannot live your life to the fullest if you are living in fear.'

"Gods, this sounds like a sermon." Discord was tempted to toss the letter away and start over, but decided against it. After all, this was his way of proving to Twilight that he was her friend; that he would treat her concerns with the utmost courtesy and respect , without shortchanging her intelligence or calling her names. She deserved that much.

'As one of the Elements of Harmony, I can relate to your fear of outliving your friends. I have to say, that it is something I have struggled with. For years, I watched the ponies and creatures I cared about live and die around me. It scared me so much that I shut myself off from the rest of the world. Shut myself away, and let my hatred fester. I suppose you've heard of my little outburst. Needless to say, Equestria was spared from becoming my chaotic plaything.

I would never have understood the truth if it had not been for you and your friends. By your kindness, I was able to see the grand error in my reasoning. Choosing not to have friends to spare myself of the hurt was wrong.'

Discord paused to open the window. A strong burst of cool night air swept over him, cooling his rapidly rising heartbeat. For centuries he had lived with that choice. Why had it taken six young mares and their Elements of Harmony for him to see the truth? Sighing, he turned his attention back to the letter.

'The truth as I see it is this; no matter who you are, what you are, life will never be without pain. It is a cruel world we live in, and nothing is ever certain. Even these ponies you defend, live their lives with that fundamental truth hovering over them. You can either choose to embrace that uncertainty, and live life to the fullest, or you can hide inside yourself and wither away. That is why I choose to be myself, to make jokes, to see the world through a brighter lens. Yes, we may lose our friends in time, but we will forge new, just as meaningful friendships along the way.

It is a cruel and random world, Twilight; but that is not all it has to be. Remember that.

Your friend,


For a long while, he merely stared at the letter. Then, slowly, he rolled it up, sealing it shut. It pained him to think of the suffering Twilight would undoubtedly go through in the years to come. He could only pray that his letter eased some of it, and brought her a measure of peace. After one long last look at the letter, he engulfed it in his golden flames and sent it away. With a flick of his talon, his limb returned to a hoof. Discord sprawled out on the bed, closing his eyes and attempting to drift off to sleep. Tomorrow would undoubtedly be miserable as he dealt with Twilight's depression. He could only hope that when his letter came tomorrow night, it would bring her back to that cheerful pony she was meant to be.

Author's Note:

Holy cow, that was a LONG chapter. So sorry for the wait guys, and I hope it was worth it.

If you're curious about the Cutie Mark Crusader's dangerous stunt, check out my co-running story, An Honest Life.

Next chapter will more than likely not be this long. I just had a LOT to fit into this one. Also, please note the rating has been bumped up to teen. I just felt like this story no longer fit under the everyone category.