• 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.

  • ...

Fever Pitch

Spike was seriously concerned for Twilight. Ever since they had woken up that morning, it had been as though she was on fast forward. By the time eight o'clock rolled around, they had made their beds, eaten breakfast, dusted the entire library, and finished the day's itinerary. For the life of him, Spike could not see where Twilight's renewed excitement came from, or when it would give out. He watched as Twilight started scrawling furiously on a sheet of parchment, "Twilight. What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong, Spike." Twilight laughed a little too high pitched to be convincing. "I'm just writing up a lesson plan for today."

"Yeah." He ran a claw over the now shimmering podium. "Since when do we get up at six to dust?" Though Twilight was a neat freak, Spike knew full well her desire for cleanliness only went so far. The only time she became this obsessed with order, was when something really serious was on her mind. "What's bothering you?"

Twilight giggled in that fake way again, scooping up yet another piece of parchment to write on. "It's nothing important."

"It is." Spike stamped his foot, snatching the parchment from her podium. "You came home all sad yesterday, and then you sent a letter to Discord. What? You can tell that crazy ex villain but you can't tell your number one assistant."

"It's not . . . not something I want a baby dragon to worry about." She patted his head in a motherly fashion that made Spike want to slap her.

"Don't patronize me, Twilight!" He puffed out his chest confidently. "I can handle it."

Twilight sighed, looking around the pristine library, then back at Spike. "I've just been trying to understand my role as princess, as an alicorn, and what that means for me and for everypony around me."

Spike snorted. That was it? Typical Twilight, constantly worried about things that did not matter. He walked over to a corner shelf and withdrew a photo album, setting it on the floor. Twilight strode over, eyeing the book with a questioning glance. Spike cleared his throat, opening up the pages. "You're the best princess Equestria could ask for, Twilight. Look at all the amazing things you've done with your friends and for Equestria." He prodded a picture of her coronation with a claw, "Celestia trusts you with the responsibility, so why shouldn't you trust her? She's got everything figured out."

"I guess." Twilight levitated the album to her muzzle, nodding slowly. "Yes, you're right, Spike. Celestia knows exactly what she's doing, doesn't she?"

"Exactly." Spike took the album from Twilight, returning it to its place. "So, what are you going to do with Entropy today?"

"Well . . ." Twilight looked away, as if not willing to answer.

Well what? Spike tugged at her hoof. "Come on, Twilight, tell me."

She turned back to him, a cheesy grin plastered on her face. "I'm going to have you help today, Spike."

"Me?" His heart leapt a little. The prospect of working alongside Twilight for the entire day, and being useful was too good to be true; even if it meant dealing with Entropy as well. He did a happy jig, punching his fists in the air. "Yes, yes, YES!"

Twilight chuckled, wrapping him a tight hug. "I know you'll be great." She released him, levitating the parchment towards her. "What do you say we meet Entropy for a change? Our lesson's outside today anyway."

"Okay." Spike happily followed Twilight into the sunlit street beyond the library. Looking around at all the happy faces, including Twilight's, he could not help but think today was going to turn out just fine.

Discord had grown almost accustomed to Ponyville's bustling streets. That did not mean he particularly enjoyed his daily commute, but it had become substantially more tolerable. Whether for good or ill, he was starting to be absorbed into the community of Ponyville. He passed a few of the local venders who all gave him a cheery greeting which he promptly returned. I swear, it's like I'm trapped in a permanent musical. Hey, that's an idea. Discord cleared his throat and began to sing,

"Morning in Ponyville shimmers
Morning in Ponyville shines
And I know for absolute certain
That everything is certainly fine"

Carrot Top snickered a laugh, "Twilight teach you that one, Entropy?"

He winked, leaning against her stand, "That she did, that she did." With a flick of his tail, he trotted down the road, glancing around at the passing ponies. He could not remember the rest of Twilight's song, but that was not going to slow down the spirit of chaos for a second.

"There's my friend en route to his project"

Cheese looked up questioningly, from under his hardhat. "What?" He spoke around the lunchbox in his mouth. "You need something, Entropy?"

He barked a laugh, "Oh, no. Just singing."

Cheese shrugged it off, walking towards the construction site. Discord watched him for a while, then turned back to the ponies around him. What else? Ah, that will do.

"There's the mailmare mis-mailing some letters." Discord chuckled as the wall eyed mare shoved a stack into the nearest mailbox with a sour glance his way. Simply delightful reaction. I should try some more.

"This Ponyville is so boring and still,
Can things ever change?
I don't think that they will."

Discord would have continued if he had not run nearly headlong into Twilight. He skidded to halt, nearly bumping muzzles with the startled mare. "Good morning, Twilight."

"Morning, Entropy." She stared at him as though appraising his sanity. "Were you singing?"

"Indeed." He puffed out his chest, gesturing around at the crowding street. "I was serenading the local denizens with one of your songs."

"One of my songs?" Twilight sighed, "I don't think those were the lyrics."

"No, I could only remember the first bit, so I took the liberty of improving on the original." Discord snorted a laugh at Twilight's near mortified expression. "Nothing bad, I can assure you."

"Really? Allow me to teach you the rest then." She winked playfully at him before singing herself.

"My Ponyville is so gentle and still.
Can things ever go wrong?
I don't think that they will."

Twilight's song seemed to cheer up the townsponies and a few of them joined in for the chorus. After she was done, they dispersed to their respective tasks. He could only stare in admiration at Twilight's broad smile. Here I was thinking she'd be depressed. I suppose I had nothing to worry about after all. He walked over to her, keeping step as they moved to the park. "Yes, your version is much better than mine."

"I wouldn't say better, just different." Twilight looked behind them, then stopped. "Spike?"

Spike ran over to them from the market, holding out a rolled up piece of parchment for Twilight. The kid was puffing out his chest as though he were presenting Twilight with her crown instead of a to do list. Discord could not help but snort a laugh. "What are you doing here, Spike?"

"I'm assisting in your training today." Spike stood up as tall as his diminutive frame would allow. It was adorably pathetic, and Discord did not have the heart to tell him how stupid he looked. Spike's attention turned back to Twilight, "What's first, Professor Sparkle?"

"Yes, do tell." Discord leaned casually against the nearest tree, watching Twilight go over her notes. Though he had been glad to see her smiling again, it was fast becoming apparent that it was a hollow smile. A part of him wanted to smack her senseless. Hiding from the truth was not brave; it was cowardice. I'll give her the option before things go too far. "Twilight, what's wrong?"

"Nothing." She turned to him, that cheesy, false smile still plastered on her face. "Let's get started, shall we?" Before he or Spike could argue, she took off towards the edge of town at a breakneck trot.

Discord looked down at Spike, unable to hide his concern. To his surprise, Spike returned the look. With a swift motion, he slung the dragon on his back, and trotted after Twilight. "So, Spike, do you have any idea where we're going?"

"Nope." Spike wrapped his claws in his mane. Discord could feel him trembling. "Why are we going so fast?"

Discord shot him an are you serious look, jerking his head towards Twilight. "Ask her. I'm just following orders today."

They trotted down the road for a long time, moving well past Ponyville before stopping at the entrance to the Everfree Forest. Discord slammed to a stop so suddenly that Spike nearly flew over his head. His eyes darted to the forest, then back at Twilight. "The Everfree Forest? What are we doing here?"

"Well, I've . . . got . . . a . . . theory." Twilight was panting like a dog, lathered sides heaving. Her head jerked to the trees before sinking between her hooves again. "The forest . . . messes with magic. I'm thinking that maybe . . . maybe you can control your magic there."

"Really?" Discord had to admit, he was impressed with Twilight's ingenuity. Even he never thought of that as a possibility. "It's worth a try." He turned his head behind him, "What do you say, Spike?"

"Fine. Just so long as we're not trotting there." He slid off of Discord's back, glowering at Twilight. "Entropy's trot's super bumpy."

Discord snorted, "Bumpy?" With his joints aching like they had been, Spike had a point. Even Fluttershy's remedy could not alleviate the stabbing pain whenever his hooves contacted the earth. His method of compensating turned out to be a showy looking, but incredibly jarring trot. "I suppose you're right. I'm far too old to be trotting around Equestria."

Twilight gave him the strangest look just then. It was not annoyance, nor pity. For a brief instant, she looked as though she might speak, but turned away, head hung low. "Let's go." She started into the forest without another word.

What bee got into her bonnet? Accepting the inevitable, he following her into the forest. Its darkened interior was a welcome relief from the oppressive heat of Celestia's sun. There was little that brought him into the forest these days, and he as not entirely convinced that it was such a bad thing. The entire place reminded him of a tacky haunted house, without the amusing rubber bats and spaghetti brains. It was terribly dull, and even the occasional glint from the local residents did little to entertain him.

As he was about to jump over a small patch of Poison Joke, Spike clambered onto his back with a fluid motion a cat would have been jealous of. Discord wheeled his head around to face the now trembling dragon, "Yes? Do you need something?"

"Could you . . . could you carry me the rest of the way?"

Discord rolled his eyes. Honestly, you could have said something earlier. With a bit of calculation, he made the jump and joined Twilight on the other side. "How far?"

"Not long now." Twilight's tail was swishing in an almost irritated fashion. For the life of him, he could not figure out what she was so angry for. "How're your joints?"

"Holding up."

Twilight jerked a nod, walking a little faster. Her moodiness was starting to get on his nerves. Just when he was about to ask what he had done, she whirled around to face him. "How old are you?" The words came out in a rush, and set the mare's face a violent shade of red.

"How old?" So it's my age she's worried about. I suppose that's reasonable. Discord closed his eyes, trying to think. He was a little older than Celestia, though he was not about to mention that to her. If he was counting in draconequus years, then he really was not terribly old. He decided to give her his best estimate in pony years. "Forty-two."

Twilight gaped open mouthed at him. "Forty-two?"

"Correct." Twilight's stare was starting to make him feel self-conscious. His age had never really bothered him before, but now that he was stuck in this form, he began to realize the limitations that came with it. He lowered his head, "Pathetic I know. Some washed up professor living alone at my age. I'd understand if that bothers you."

"No! No it doesn't." Twilight waved the thought away with a hoof. "Really, it doesn't, Entropy. I was just surprised, that's all."

Surprised? Please, you were shocked senseless. Discord strode past her down the path. "Are we going to practice now?"

"Right. This way." Twilight took the lead once more, and Discord followed slowly behind. The path was new, but at the same time, strangely familiar. Come to think of it, this whole place is familiar. Then it hit him. He stopped cold, looking around at the aging trees and back at the worn bridge they had crossed. "We're headed to the old castle, aren't we?"

Twilight turned back, pouting a little, "How did you know?"

"I read about it in the library." That should be a good enough excuse for the book worm. "I thought the layout looked familiar to the maps."

"Wow! I'm impressed you'd remember something like that." Twilight grinned back at him with a kind of reverent awe. "I never remember all the maps I've read."

"Well, history is a hobby of mine." I lived through most of it. Discord cleared his throat, gesturing to the break in the tree line. "I suppose that's it?"

"Yup. Just you wait, I've got some great lesson plans for us there." She winked at Spike. "And a special job for my number one assistant."
Spike shot Discord a worried glance as soon as Twilight's back was turned. Discord could only chuckle. Certainly the alicorn had something planned. Whether or not it was great was yet to be determined. At least she was keeping her spirits up better than before. He could only hope they remained up. Time would tell.

"That's it!" Twilight watched as Entropy made yet another successful attempt at levitating the loose stones into a pile. The dusty hall was proving an invaluable classroom. Even Entropy's destructive magic could not blow apart stones in a hurry. All the priceless heirlooms had been collected months ago, allowing them to let loose their magic without causing massive property damage. For the past few hours, she had drilled Entropy on levitation magic, and it finally seemed to be paying off.

The unicorn was focused entirely on keeping the largest stone airborne. As he did, Twilight could not help but notice the blood red color of his pupils. It always unsettled her to see that. A part of her worried if his lack of control was driving him to corruption like Sombra. She hoped not. Entropy was a kind pony, if a little eccentric. And handsome. Twilight wanted to kick herself for that last bit. Quit acting like a school yard filly, Twilight. Focus.

Entropy let the stone drop with an unceremonious thud. "There. How's that?" He looked up at her from behind his spectacles, eyes shining in what looked like triumph. "I did it. No explosions or fires."

Twilight doubted whether stones could explode or catch fire, but could not help but smile at her student. "Great job, Entropy. Why don't we take a break?"

"I thought you'd never offer."

They walked over to the base of the old thrones, kicking up little clouds of dust as they went. Twilight enjoyed the way the dust particles hung in the air, caught in the filtered daylight like thousands of gleaming candles. "It's almost pretty in here."

Entropy's laugh resounded off of the stones and back to them. "Pretty? You've lost your touch if you think this is beautiful." His eyes took on a dreamy expression, "This one time, my class turned everything in the classroom upside down, everything. Even the carpet. It was glorious."

Twilight could not help but raise an eyebrow at that. How was an upside down classroom more beautiful than this piece of living history? Her eyes fell on the insects scurrying up the moss laden stones. Quite literally living. She looked back at Entropy, wondering. He had seen a lot, spoken to a lot of ponies. Would he know anything about alicorns? About her destiny? No, he was just a simple professor at Canterlot University. There was no way their sun princess discussed such sensitive topics with him.

"Twilight? Are you going to stand there all day?" Entropy was lying next to their saddlebags, holding up a canteen. "Come and get some water."

"Right." She strode over, lying beside him. The cool stones felt uncomfortable against her belly, but Entropy did not seem to notice himself. His gentle stare sent a shiver up her spine. Why did he have to look at her like that? It was not fair. Maybe small talk would ease her nerves. "So, Entropy, do you have any family in Canterlot?"

"No. I don't have a family." Entropy snapped the words in an uncharacteristically harsh tone. Then, upon seeing her expression, he continued, "Sorry, my parents died when I was young. Nopony really bothered with me since I couldn't control my magic. I make my own way, always have."

Make your own way? That sounds like me. Twilight grimaced at the memory of how she had been before she arrived in Ponyville. As the personal student of Celestia, she had been proud and excited, but undeniably lonely. If she had never gone to Ponyville, just what would she have become? It was possible she would have ended up like Entropy; alone and bored with the world. Then, another, almost surreal thought occurred. Would she have been made an alicorn? Her life might have been completely normal if she had simply stayed in Canterlot. What would that have meant for the future of Equestria?

"Twilight?" Entropy was leaning so close to her that she could see her reflection in his glasses. His hoof stroked her cheek softly, "Are you all right?"

Instinctively, she pushed Entropy back against the stones. He winced, gritting his teeth. Oh, no. I hurt him. "I'm so sorry, Entropy. You just surprised me." Though he had, she was more worried about repeating the scene from yesterday. For the life of her, she could not figure out what had come over him to kiss her so suddenly.

She felt a sudden pressure as Entropy pulled her down against the stones beside her. "That's for knocking me down. Now we're even." Twilight tried to stammer that they were far from even, but Entropy leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "If you wanted a reprise, you should have just asked. I'm more than willing to pick up where we left off."

He wasn't joking, he really likes me. An irrational surge of fear washed over her. Entropy liked her, not just as a student, but as a stallion. All the little hints that he had been dropping were adding up. But, Fluttershy was right, they couldn't be together, the just couldn't. She could never be with any stallion. After all, she might be the one to outlive him.

Before she understood why, she threw Entropy back against the stones hard enough to make him cry out in pain. "What do you think you're doing? You can't like me!"

Entropy stared open mouthed at her, glasses sliding off his muzzle and onto the floor. His eyes sparkled with a mixture of fear and shock. "Okay, I'm sorry, Twilight. I thought the feeling was mutual." The words came out as a shaky whisper. His face turned rather red, and he looked down at her hooves against his chest. "Can you let me up now?"

"Huh?" Twilight realized that she was still pressing on his ribs with all her might. Slowly, carefully, she stepped off of him.

He rolled over on his sides, coughing a little. From the submissive expression on his face, he was not going to argue about what happened. His eyes darted one last time to her before he made to stand. Unfortunately, he sunk to his knees in the attempt. Wincing, he tried again, managing to steady himself. "I'm going to help Spike with the research now."

"Okay." Twilight watched him walk gingerly over towards the library. Her heart ached at the sight. The blood rushed to her ears, heart pounded uncontrollably fast. What's wrong with me? She liked Entropy, she might even love the stupid stallion someday. Hurting him made as little sense as the anger now coursing through her body. She was not angry at him, she was angry at herself, at her whole situation. There was no way out; there never would be. She was trapped in this existence, forced to live as Fate's puppet for however long it saw fit. The thought would surely drive her to insanity long before then. I need a way out.

Ouch. Not again. Discord walked, or more accurately limped, to the library and some peace of mind. With each step either his back or legs would cry out in pain. His brilliant plan to cheer Twilight up with a little flirtation had completely backfired. Now his was dealing with the unfortunate consequences.

He looked around at the familiar castle, remembering his own brief reign here. Back then, he had transformed it into a glorious candy fort for the amusement of his flying pigs and various other pets. Yes, it had been a great deal more entertaining back then. A shame he could not make any improvements at the moment. Though he would take some mental notes for later. Princess Celestia's throne room would make a most excellent chocolate swimming pool.

Despite his pleasant fantasies, as he walked down the corridor, he could not help but think about Twilight. Of all the little things to blow up at, his flirting was not even on his list of possibilities. Then again, it made some sense. The mare was scared and confused about her lifespan. That coupled with his advanced age probably brought those concerns to the surface. But why so violently? Certainly he had been a bit pushy, but it was not like he tried to force her to do anything unseemly with him. Still, he should have known better than to mess with her emotions when she was like this.

His hooves carried him mechanically into the library where Spike was seated inside a ring of dusty books. The entire place stunk of antique shop and mold. Wrinkling his muzzle, he lay down beside Spike. "So, this is," he considered a word that would not be too offensive, "different."

"Yeah." Spike looked up from his latest spell book, his own nose scrunched up. "It's the smell of knowledge or something like that."

"Smells more like decay to me." They shared a good laugh at that one. Discord scooped up the nearest book, mildly surprised to recognize the name on the cover. I knew this pony. Cantankerous old sock. He tapped Spike with the book, "Any luck?"

Spike crossed his arms, glowering down at the book in front of him. "No." He looked expectantly back at him. "How's training?"

"Uh . . ." Well, other than the fact that I upset Twilight just after I promised not to, it was great. Oh, and she's about ready to break into a magical fit of panic about her potential immortality, but nothing you should worry about. Yes, that was exactly what he wanted to say. Instead, he chose a more reasonable response. "She's stressed. Even with your wonderful demonstrations on parchment transportation magic this morning, and her tutelage, I've really not mastered much more than levitating stones."

Spike patted his leg in a reassuring manner. "It's okay. You'll figure it out. If anypony can teach you magic control, it's Twilight. She's the master of control itself."

Master of chaos meets master of control. Sounds like a cheap stage production. Discord looked at the books, all of which he was familiar with and none of which were remotely helpful. "Spike, these are good, but they aren't what we need. Twilight wants you to research non-harmony magic, doesn't she?"

"Yeah." He gestured to the massive bookshelves around them. "If we know all about what harmony magic isn't, we'll be able narrow down what it is and how to use it. That's what she said."

"Uh-huh." Discord snorted a laugh. It was a creditable notion, but one he knew full well would never work. Harmony magic was an entirely different creature from his chaos magic, or any other magical force he had encountered. Still, if it would keep Twilight focused on the present, he would lend a paw, or in this case hoof to help. He started down one of the narrow aisles between the shelves. "Come along, we need to study chaos magic."

"Chaos magic?" Spike's eyes bulged, and he scrambled towards him, tugging on his leg. "That's dangerous stuff. Discord's the only one who can even use it, and Twilight says he might not even know how to control it."

Discord swished his tail in annoyance. Please, I practically wrote the book on chaos magic. Just because I use it for fun, doesn't mean I don't understand it. He shook Spike loose, continuing through the sea of books. It had been centuries since he was last here, but he still knew where he kept his personal store of chaos magic books, which consisted mostly of his own journals on the subject. Idly he wondered if Celestia had not destroyed it some time ago. He hoped not. Those journals were just about the only personal possessions left to his name. To say he would be annoyed at her for damaging them would have been an understatement.

They walked through the rows until they reached the darkest corner of the library. As he ran a hoof across the centuries of dirt, a red glow began to outline a symbol not unlike his cutie mark, except the center was not a circle, but an outline of a draconequus. Spike trembled beside him, clutching his leg for support. "And there we have it."

Spike peered cautiously at the now swirling dust. "What did you do?"

"Just watch." Discord jerked his head to the red lines which were glowing exceptionally bright now. A loud creaking sound preceded the grinding of stones. In a matter of seconds, they were staring down into a darkened stone staircase. "And voila."

"How did you do that, Entropy?" Spike hopped up and down, looking at him with something close to reverent awe. "Can you use chaos magic too?"

He barked a laugh, "Don't be ridiculous, Spike. I can't do something like that." His horn lit up, and he slowly walked down the steps. "Discord told me about it one time. I was reading about secret chambers, and he complained that they were nothing compared to his. So, I convinced him to tell me about his. This was one of them."

Spike's eyes glanced nervously around the smooth stone walls. "You mean Discord made this?"

"I guess. I don't see why he couldn't." What? I can't make something mundane? Were you expecting checkers and cotton candy? Discord snorted, looking around at the bottom of his study. The place was a mess, covered in cobwebs and so much dust, it was hard to make out anything. With a quick burst of his unicorn magic, he blew the dust off of the majority of the shelves, bathing them both in a thick layer of it. "Sorry, Spike."

"It's . . . fine." Spike coughed, squinting in the haze at the shelves. "Wow, there's a lot of books."

"They aren't books, not most of them anyway. They're journals." Discord sighed in relief when he noticed his protection spell over them was still working. He scooped one up, stroking it lovingly. It reacted to him immediately despite his pony form, and opened itself to the exact page he had left off at centuries earlier. It was an older entry of his, from his time in exile. He smiled as he read through it. His life's work was contained in this room. Well, all the work that he really cared about anyway.

Spike made to touch one, but he stopped him a hoof. "Don't!" Realizing his overreaction, he flushed crimson. I really am stupidly sentimental about these. He cleared his throat, "These are extremely valuable and fragile. There's no other journals like these in all of Equestria, Spike. Twilight's destroyed spell book has nothing on these."

"Count me out! I'm not going to tell Discord I destroyed his books."

That's a good boy. Discord grinned, looking through the shelves. Which ones, which ones. It took over an hour, mainly due to his nostalgic urge to page through each journal, but he managed to select three volumes he thought would help Twilight not only understand his magic, but also her own situation. "Time to go, Spike."

Spike looked up from his seat on the stone stool. Judging from the drool on the side of his mouth, he had been making the most of his nap time. "Right." He trotted obediently after him, and they stepped out into the relative light of the library.

Discord was careful to reseal the chamber just as he had before. It would only open for him, but he wanted to make certain nopony snooping around would be able to so much as think about prying it open. Once he had finished, he started back towards the throne room. "We'd better get these to Twilight."

"Right." Spike eyed the journals now resting comfortably under one of Discord's front hooves. "So, what does he say in them?"

"Oh, all sorts of things." His earlier volumes were more along the lines of a teenager's whiny diary than anything else, but the middle volumes like these were valuable observations on his own chaos magic. The latter ones outlined his slow progression into the terror he had become before his imprisonment in stone. Discord would rather die than let anypony or any creature for that matter, read those entries. Seeing Spike's expectant look, he continued, "Mostly it's observations on chaos magic with a little insight into the history of Equestria. I thought Twilight would enjoy them."

They walked in silence the rest of the way. Discord did not mind, and was glad to hear the dragon humming a merry tune. It appeared that he only wanted to have a part in their training, no matter how small that part was. The dragon was confident in who he was, and that was something to be admired.

When they arrived at the throne room, Twilight was still where he had left her over an hour ago. She was staring hard at the stone floor, horn glowing in a strangely dark, almost black aura. Discord felt his heart sink. By the gods, it's corrupt magic. He stopped in the entryway, placing the journals beside Spike. Though his heart was racing, he managed to speak in a fairly calm manner. "Spike, you need to stay here."

"But, Twilight." Spike tried to move, but he held the dragon back. "Entropy, Twilight's sad. She needs us."

"I know, but you need to stay here. It's dangerous." Discord's eyes darted to the ever growing aura around Twilight's horn that was now seeping into her eyes. "Her magic has corrupted."

"What?" Spike hissed in his ear, "Is that even possible?"

Discord nodded slowly, starting forward. "Stay back, Spike. I'll call you when it's safe." He continued to walk towards her, his hoof beats echoing across the chamber. "Twilight, it's me, Entropy."

The mare looked up at him, the magic reaching out for him like black tendrils. The foul miasma it created was enough to make him gag. Gritting his teeth, he strode even closer, eliciting yet another burst of it. A quick glance at Twilight made his heart lurch. The mare was shaking uncontrollably, and a fear like he had never seen before flooded her eyes. His hooves felt like lead as he struggled towards her. With each step, more and more of the foul magic would coil itself around his limbs. Just before he reached her, he collapsed, unable to fight it any longer. This is bad, this is really bad. Come on chaos, help me out here. Try as he may to use his own magic, it was no use; he was becoming overwhelmed by the darkness. No, not again. I made a promise. Never again.

What? Where am I? Discord felt as though her were floating in some kind of liquid, though it did not look like liquid. It was dark, and a little moist, like a storm cloud. When he tried to wave it away, he discovered that he had reverted to his original form. Snarling, he snapped his talon, attempting to magic the cloud away, but it simply hung in the air just as before. Then a high pitched, mocking voice echoed around him. 'Well, well, well, what do we have here? Discord, the master of chaos, the bender of reality bested by a simple cloud.'

"Show yourself!" Discord whacked the cloud with his tail, only to feel it held fast by some invisible force. His struggles to break free resulted in an even tighter grip. "If you know who I am, then you know what I'm capable of."

'Do listen to yourself, Discord. My, my. Since when did you resort to idle threats?' The voice started a mocking laugh that seemed to echo endlessly in the void.

"Who . . . who are you?"

'Me? I'm you, of course.' The voice lowered, seemingly speaking directly into his ears. 'Your darkest fears, your secret ambitions, everything that you despise about yourself and keep locked away inside.'

Discord moaned, trying to block out the voice, but it was no use. "I don't have to be afraid, not anymore! I'm happy."

'Happy?' It resounded all around him, making him cringe. 'What part of your miserable existence is happy? You live life as Celestia's personal pet; obeying her every whim. Since when did you kowtow to the likes of her?'

"I'm free to do what I want." Within reason. Discord attempted yet again to snap away the cloud, but it seemed to close in even tighter, grabbing his talon now. "I have friends that care for me! I don't need you."

'Friends? Friends? Is that what you call them?' Celestia and Luna banished you from the only home you had ever known when you lost control of one of your spells.'

Discord shuddered at the memory. Lost control was an understatement. He nearly went mad with the power surge. "I almost burned an entire village to the ground."

The voice whispered almost lovingly into his ear, 'But you didn't. Nopony died. There was no reason for such an overreaction. You were young, still growing into your power as Celestia and Luna were. Why should you be punished and they rewarded?'

"I . . . they . . ." Those questions that had spun around his head for decades after his banishment resurged with a bitter potency. He tried to pull away from the cloud, but it grabbed him with bone crushing force, causing him to cry out in pain.

A cluck of disapproval rippled along the cloud. 'Listen to me when I'm talking, Discord. By the gods, you do so like to interrupt.' It continued in its matter-of-fact tone, 'After you had been nearly driven mad with loneliness, and came back to beg for mercy, they tried to lock you in the dungeon. Then they had the gall to blame you when you fought back. Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't sound like a friend to me.'

Tears started to trickle down Discord's face, as he struggled despite the nearly unbearable pain. "The past is the past. I don't care what happened then! They forgave me."

"They forgave you? What about them? Did they ever once ask for your forgiveness? Did they ever once admit their own fault?'

"They'll come around." Though he spoke the words, he knew how utterly hollow they sounded. In all the months that he had been back, Celestia and Luna never once admitted their own guilt. If anything, they constantly drove home the point that he had been misguided, and that they had led him to the right. It was cruel, and he knew it, but he would not let his bitterness corrupt him. Never again. "I don't care! I'm happy being me, and that's all I need."

'Yes, Discord. The last draconequus on the face of this world. Forever hated and feared by those he calls friends. What a perfectly happy existence.' The words came as sharp and painful as a piece of shattered glass raked across his heart. 'What have you to live for? You are alone, you will never be loved, nor will any creature love you. Your so-called friends abandon you at the drop of a hat. Why, you can't even entertain so much as a notion of having a family of your own. Fate has decided you will never be happy, Discord, accept it.'

Discord shook his head. "Stop it. Stop it! STOP IT!"

'Stop it? Weren't you telling yourself Twilight needed to accept the truth?' The voice laughed again, cold and harsh as a winter wind. 'Perhaps it's you that needs to hear the bitter truth!'

A rage like he had not felt in centuries gripped him. Every part of him wanted to rip the cloud to shreds. Twilight needed him, and he was wasting his time with this illusion. "I'm the master of illusions here; I refuse to be trapped by one of my own creation!" Taking what little remained of his strength, he let out a burst of his fire, engulfing the entirety of the void. A brilliant light flashed in his eyes, and slowly, the void melted away.

Discord felt his body contact the cold stones once more. For a moment, all he could do was stare down at his pony form, a little shocked to see that nothing of what transpired in the void had actually occurred. He looked up to see Twilight now completely engulfed in the black mass eyes closed tight. Every inch of her body seemed tainted by the foul magic. If he did not hurry, it would be too late.

Plunging forward, he tackled the alicorn to the stones, shaking her violently. "Twilight! It's not real, fight it! Fight it!" The cloud was beginning to swirl faster now, like some angry beast ready to strike. He was running out of time; he needed to snap her out of it before they lost her. "Twilight, I know you're scared. It's okay to be scared, I'm scared too. You're an alicorn, and I don't know what that means for you or for Equestria."

Discord gulped, trying to think of the right words to say. "Please, Twilight, don't dwell on what could be. Your friends need you now; here in the present. Would you forsake them for an irrational fear?" He clutched her to his chest, wincing as the dark magic stung his body, trying to gain purchase on his mind once more. Miraculously, as though an invisible force was speaking for him, the words came. "The mechanisms of this world did not choose you when you became an alicorn, they chose you from your birth."

His hoof stroked her back gently, soothingly, "Twilight. It's the time just when the world is at its most beautiful. It's a perfect harmony between the day and the night. You are the same." Discord found the tears streaming down his face and stinging his eyes. Not her, anypony but her. Please. She's too young for this. "You and you alone can find the balance between chaos and order, between the darkness and the light. Don't short-change your destiny by boiling it down to a random act of Celestia's!"

The dark magic surged around them, and, for an instant, it looked as though he had lost. Then, slowly, the magic changed. Where the tendrils had been, a pure lilac light replaced them. What had been a noxious miasma became a purifying mist. Discord looked down at Twilight, relief washing over him. Her silken coat had returned to its normal, bright shade of lavender, and no trace of the shadows marred her features. He clutched her tighter, breathing in the familiar floral scent. "Thank the gods you're all right."

Twilight looked at him as though seeing him for the first time. Her eyes darted around the throne room, at Spike, then back to Discord. "Entropy? What are you doing? What . . . what happened?"

"Your magic, it was corrupted." Discord could not stop his hooves from trembling as he held her to him. "Don't scare me like that! I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to you." The words sounded strange, even to himself, but they were the truth. Celestia assumed Twilight was ready for the responsibilities placed on her, but Discord knew better. The mare still needed someone to protect her, someone to lead her out of the confusion before she was led to the wrong. Who was better suited to the task then him?

Twilight stared blankly at him, "My magic was corrupted? You mean like Sombra's or Nightmare Moon's?"

"Yes." Discord realized that he was still gripping Twilight tightly, and released her, shuffling back on the stones to meet her gaze. He cleared his throat, "I read about it before. Alicorn magic is more powerful, but more easily corrupted than unicorn magic." His hoof ran over her sides, checking for damage. Thankfully, she appeared shaken but unharmed. "It's much more sensitive to emotion or stress, and therefore can easily swing towards the wrong."

"I . . . I guess that makes sense." Twilight looked down at her hooves in wonder, "I've noticed my magic has been more temperamental since I was made an alicorn. But," She turned back to him, the fear returning to her eyes, "I never dreamed it would react like that. What would have happened if you didn't stop me?"

Discord shivered at the thought. Nightmare Moon was one thing, but a young, inexperienced alicorn running rampant with untold reserves of corrupt magic was another level of threat entirely. "You would have become something far worse than Nightmare Moon or Sombra."

"What? WHY? I'm not bitter, I'm just . . ." She trailed off, though Discord knew exactly what she would have said. The mare was confused, he did not blame her, but she needed to control her emotions before somebody got hurt.

Discord rested a hoof on hers, "Twilight, your magic is different than Celestia's or Luna's. You are more magically gifted than you could ever imagine, but with that power comes a greater tendency towards corruption." He tried to think of what to say next. Entropic State was not supposed to know fountains of information on alicorn magic after all. "Celestia told me that much before I came here." Yes, throwing in the old windbag might help his believability.

Twilight looked up, mouth hung open in disbelief, "She did? Why?"

"Because she was worried about you." It sounded right coming from Entropic State, but Discord could not have disagreed more. If Celestia truly cared for Twilight, she would not have burdened her with so much responsibility at such a young age. The alicorn was a fool, something he had always known deep down, but saying such a thing to Twilight would only hurt her more. So he smiled, trying to hide the uneasiness that came as he looked into her eyes. She's too young; too naïve. Don't you see what you've done, Celestia?

"Whatdidyousaybefore?" Twilight's words tumbled out in a rush. Seeing his questioning look, she slowed herself down, "I mean, what did you say to make me stop?"

"Oh, that." Discord felt himself growing a little self-conscious. The truth would hardly make sense coming from Entropic State. Given the circumstances, he decided to fib just a little. "Well, Spike said you were worried about being ready for your responsibilities as a princess. I assumed that was what it was, so I reminded you how much ponies rely on you here, and that there's no reason to be afraid."

Twilight nodded slowly, then got to her hooves. Her eyes darted nervously around the hall. "Spike? Where are you?"

Spike's head peered from around the entryway, eyes wide with fear. "Is everything okay, Entropy?"

"Perfectly safe, Spike." Discord chuckled as the dragon practically flew to Twilight's side, wrapping her leg in a tight hug.

Twilight giggled, leaning down to hug Spike back. "I'm so glad you're okay. Sorry I scared you."

"It's okay, Twilight." Though he appeared relaxed at first glance, the dragon's legs were still shaking violently. He broke away from the hug, trotting quickly towards the exit. "Can we go?"

"Sure, sure." Twilight made to follow, but Discord stopped her with a hoof. "What's wrong, Entropy?"

"I . . ." How do I say this? "If you need somepony to talk to, when you're ready, I'll be there."

A broad smile stretched from the corners of her mouth that set even her eyes sparkling. "Thanks, Entropy. I appreciate it."

"Certainly." Discord turned back towards the entryway to retrieve the journals. When he returned, Twilight was staring almost longingly at them.

Twilight charged towards him, "Where did you get those?"

"In the library." He carefully held out his journals for Twilight to examine. She lit her horn and attempted to levitate the top one. Much to her chagrin and his amusement, the journal refused to budge.

"What the?" Twilight tried again.

When she did, Discord's voice, magically magnified and recorded centuries ago echoed around the hall, "Alicorns, think they can take sneak into my study, take my journals without permission, and try to read them with harmony magic. How quaint."

It had been so long since he set the spell, Discord had forgotten completely about it. He laughed and laughed at the thunderstruck expression on Twilight's face.

Twilight's horn lit up even brighter, surrounding the journal for a split second before the magic dissipated like the tide breaking over a rock. "URGH!"

Once again, Discord's past self mocked Twilight's attempt. "Really? If it didn't work the first two times, why are you convinced it will work now? Isn't that the very definition of insanity?"

Discord laughed hard, clutching the old journals to his chest. Just when he thought he would not be able to laugh the rest of the day, here he was cheering himself up. "Brilliant! Simply brilliant."

Twilight snorted, stamping her hoof in frustration. "Is that Discord's voice?"

"It is." He wiped the tears of amusement from his eyes. "These are Discord's journals. When I met him in Canterlot, he told me about his collection."

"Really? So that's why harmony magic doesn't work on them." Instead of the expected look of disgust, Twilight looked almost awestruck. Her hoof reached out to take one. When she did, it made no sound, but opened obediently to the first page. She carefully turned the pages, scanning the lines. "Wow, there's so much! What was he writing about?"

Discord chuckled, "Well now, that's for you to find out, isn't it?" He carefully handed her the other two journals. "Take very good care of them, Twilight, or Discord will have both our heads."

"Right. Thank you Entropy. This . . . this will help a lot." She looked towards the exit where Spike was tapping his feet impatiently. "We'd better get going."

Discord nodded, following her across the stones. Twilight appeared confident once more, though he feared that that confidence would be all too temporary. Today's fiasco had proven that Twilight was not ready for the power she now wielded. Alicorn magic was far too temperamental to start with. Add a young girl into the mix and they were looking at disaster. If Twilight could not control her emotions or her magic, it was only a matter of time until something drastic would have to be done. He could only pray it would never come to that.

Twilight slunk into the library, feeling more exhausted then she had in months. Every inch of her body ached as though somepony had stretched her too far and left her to dry. Their walk back to Ponyville had been completed in near silence, punctuated only by Entropy's jokes. Though funny, she had not found the heart to laugh. Every part of her wanted to crawl under a rock and stay there.

Her hooves moved mechanically up the stairs, and led her to the bed. She slunk down on the covers, closing her eyes and allowing her mind to wander. Why? In all her days, she never imagined that she could lose control of her magic, to allow it to corrupt all because of a single thought. What would the princesses have done in her situation? Certainly, they would not have been so easily corrupted. Even Luna's corruption took centuries to accomplish. And yet, she had polluted her own magic in a matter of minutes. I'm a failure.

Spike appeared in the loft, carrying the journals carefully over to the bedside table. "You forgot these downstairs, Twilight." He patted her on the back, "You okay?"

"I'll be okay, Spike. I'm not going to go crazy again." Her words came out harsher than she intended. Flushing, she looked up at him, speaking in her best attempt at a normal tone, "Really, I'm okay."

Spike nodded, then looked around the darkening room. "Maybe some cake? Pinkie brought some over while we were gone."

"Cakes sounds great, Spike." Twilight turned her head to stare out at the window. It was a beautiful sunset over Ponyville; a beautiful day to be alive. So why did it hurt so much? She sang low and soft,

"Evening in Ponyville glistens
Evening in Ponyville shines
And I no longer know for certain
If everything will certainly be fine"

Twilight scooped up one of the journals, deciding to distract herself with somepony else's thoughts for one; even if that somepony was a draconequus with a penchant for destruction. Just as she began to read, Spike came charging into the room, eyes wide with panic. "Spike? What in Equestria is wrong?"

He flailed dramatically onto the rug. "I've gone deaf in an ear!"

"What? Spike, nopony goes deaf in one ear instantaneously." Seeing that her words had no effect, she hopped off the bed and onto the floor. Gently, she stroked her hoof over the ear in question. To her surprise, something long shot out of it like a bullet, presenting itself at her hooves. Twilight stared incredulously at it, "A scroll?"

It was indeed a scroll, though nothing like the ones Celestia sent through dragon fire. Its lilac seal had a portrait of her face carved into it and a few words were written on it in flawless calligraphy, "'My friend, Twilight.'" Twilight sniggered then burst out laughing. "It's from Discord! What a way to send a letter, eh, Spike?"

Spike grumbled something about personal boundaries under his breath before starting back to the stairs. "I'll just get that cake then."
"Okay." Twilight levitated the scroll and returned to her spot on the bed. I didn't expect him to reply so soon. I wonder what his letters are like. Giggling with excitement, she unrolled the parchment and began to read . . .

Author's Note:

Things just got interesting. :pinkiecrazy: Also, just so you're not confused, Discord's disguise spell changes his voice so that he doesn't sound like Discord. If the spell were to slip for some reason, then his voice would change back to normal. I will go into more detail about the corrupt magic later, so don't think I'm glossing over it. :raritywink:

Wow. I know I said this chapter wouldn't be as long as the last one, but geeze, it came close! I had a lot of inspiration, so I wanted to write this one up before I lost it. Thanks for reading, and I hope it proved enjoyable. As always, comments are appreciated.