• Published 9th Jan 2018
  • 2,193 Views, 30 Comments

Eldritch Fun Times - Impossible Numbers

To make sure she's OK, Rainbow Dash visits Fluttershy on Nightmare Night. However, this peaceful and quiet cottage is about to – ahem – “play host” to some strange and unnatural forces.

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Eldritch Fun Times, Part II

Luckily, the stuffed dog heads cushioned Rainbow’s own head from impact.

Rainbow Dash sat, still swaying and feeling a little woozy, on the settee. She was starting to wonder if she’d hallucinated Fluttershy’s scream, or confused the howling winds for her howling friend. Maybe she’d almost wanted it to be something exciting, because she knew, deep down, that Fluttershy was about as exciting as a rainy Sunday afternoon with Grandma.

Whereupon she took another slurp of hot chocolate, and in so doing picked up and chewed one of the melting marshmallows. Too much thinking. Not enough drinking.

“He’s just out back getting the ice cream for Angel’s Special,” said Fluttershy. Angel Bunny himself lounged on the tabletop, glaring at his mug and tapping a foot impatiently.

“Who is?” said Rainbow, raising an eyebrow.

“Discord, of course!”

“But I thought he only came over –”

“He does. It’s just that this time, his special day happened to be Nightmare Night. Oh, he’s so excited about it. He’s never really taken part in it before.”

Rainbow glowered at her. Of course, Fluttershy meant well, and she had just given Rainbow Dash a seat and a drink of her own, but…

“Is this what he usually does, then? Just sits around drinking tea?”

“Sometimes, we have cookies.”

“I meant… you have a tea party with Discord, the Master of Chaos, can’t go two seconds without turning something into something else… and you just drink tea?”

“Uh huh. That’s what a tea party is. And sometimes we have cookies.”

Feeling vaguely disappointed, Rainbow Dash added, “Nothing else?”

“Er… if we don’t want cookies, we have cakes.”

“What do you actually do?” said Rainbow, who was surprised to realize she’d never asked before. But then, the less she had to do with tea parties and the more she had to do with triple backflips, the better.

“We swap stories too. Discord’s ever so funny!” Fluttershy took a sip and sighed. “Like this one time, he was designing a new adjoining room for Princess Luna at Canterlot, and she wanted it to be a frieze-sided pentagon – that’s a shape with five sides –”

“I know what a pentagon is,” snapped Rainbow.

“Oh… sorry…” Fluttershy coughed and looked away briefly. “With… round-edged buttresses and crescents all over it.” Regaining her cheer, she continued, “Only… heehee… sorry… it’s so funny… he got the instructions mixed up with his breakfast order and… heehee… made a three-sided pentagon rounded off with free-range eggs and buttered croissants!”

Fluttershy alone laughed, albeit behind a polite hoof. Even her animal friends exchanged blushes and shrugs.

Rainbow frowned. “But if it’s three-sided, then how can it – uh, never mind. Look, what’s with the –”

The sound of a trumpeting elephant matched the rising red star that materialized, flared, swelled, and then vanished beside them. Emerging in a burst of red confetti, Discord the Draconequus landed next to the table, startling swarms and flocks off the sofa and into various boltholes. Only Harry and Angel were unfazed.

“Guess what I got!” Discord held up a tray of sundaes. Rainbow stared. Eight glasses stood up on the tray… but ten actual ice creams sat on top…

Discord’s smile faded at the sight of her. “Rainbow Dash? My, my, if I’d known we were catering for one extra, I’d have brought one extra.”

“I’m not staying, before you ask.” She glanced out the window. “Wait a minute. You did that? Fluttershy, why would you ask Discord to put up a blizzard?”

A puff of smoke, and a much smaller Discord stood between her and the blizzard, one eagle claw resting against the window frame as he leaned. “Really, Rainbow Dash. Isn’t it obvious? No matter how many times dear Fluttershy makes it clear, there’s always some dim-witted foal who’ll try his or her luck at the cottage door. The blizzard’s just to give them a hint. With my own special touch, of course.”

“Discord!” said Fluttershy warningly. “Don’t call ponies ‘dim-witted’. It’s not nice.”

“Oh, all right. Some intellectually challenged foal, if you prefer.” He vanished with a flash. Disembodied, his voice added, “And why have you got two pom-poms on your shoulders?”

Rainbow wished she had a body to glare at. Instead, she had to settle for glaring at the spot he’d just vacated.

“They’re not pom-poms! They’re part of my costume. They’re supposed to be Cerberus heads, if you notice the faces.”

Discord wiped into existence with a fanfare of bagpipes. He squinted, and then chuckled. “Oh dear, I hope Cerberus never finds out. If he understood the concept of law, he’d sue you for slander.”

Rainbow swallowed her pride. Were Fluttershy not there, she’d let out a volley of shouted words. It had taken hours to get the costume right. Still, decorum was decorum… whatever “decorum” was. She settled into the stuffed seat.

“So,” said Fluttershy, keen to defuse whatever tension had been planted in the conversation, “Rainbow, why did you come and see –”

“Hey, Discord. I thought you’d be out and about on a night like this,” Rainbow said, not sure herself if she was being polite or looking for a scathing counterattack. “Nightmare Night’d be right up your alley.”

“Of course it is. I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Discord put the tray of sundaes down, and it occurred to Rainbow Dash that they’d been hovering in midair during his disappearing-reappearing act. “What, after all, could be more fun than spending a night of horror sitting indoors, drinking tea, and listening to you gabbling? Vanilla was it, Fluttershy?”

“I’d like the strawberry one, please,” said Fluttershy, accepting a glass.

Rainbow cast her a suspicious look. But then, surely Fluttershy wouldn’t. In any case, she couldn’t. She’d tell Discord about things that happened in the week, and when last year the subject would inevitably have come up… Well, how could she hide a whole night from Discord? Which she wouldn’t. Anyway, why would she want to?

“Well,” said Rainbow, shuffling to get more comfortable and wishing the costume wasn’t so tight, “I’ve got lots of plans for tonight. Twilight’s going to try some dark crystal spells around the castle, Spike and Pinkie are setting up traps, and Applejack and Rarity are taking turns as chaperones.”

“Really?” said Discord. A snap of his talons, and he sat down on the resulting green hassock with tentacles sprouting out of it. “Chaperones? Oh dear. Who’s misguided enough to be getting married at this time of year?”

“Chaperones for the kids. Going trick-or-treating? You know? ‘Nightmare Night, what a fright, give us something sweet to bite’?”

“She recites poetry now,” said Discord to Angel, who shrugged and continued sipping his drink.

“Don’t you know anything about Nightmare Night?”

For once, the air of smug complacency around Discord faltered with his smile. He gave Fluttershy a blank look, then gave another to Harry, who growled uncertainly.

“Of course I do,” he said with newfound casualness. His tail wrapped around a sundae glass and tossed it into the air, where it hung spinning like a wheel. “Ghosts and ghouls go abroad, Fluttershy stays in, tea parties ensue, scary stuff happens, the end. Sounds like fun if you ask me.”

He leaned back and opened his mouth. The sundae gave up and shot right down his throat with a gulp, glass and all.

Wiping his lips with a straying tentacle, he added, “Why? Is there anything else?”

Before Rainbow could reply, Fluttershy coughed genteelly. “Uh, Rainbow Dash? Could I speak to you alone for a minute?”

“What? Oh. Sure. Yeah.”

Curious, she followed Fluttershy into the kitchen. There was no sign of anger or fear or sadness. Disconcertingly, Fluttershy’s face was blank. She even walked in as bland a manner as possible. On a normal day, Rainbow could read her body language like a two-page colouring book. Then again, Fluttershy had been getting harder and harder to read these days…

As they stepped into the kitchen, Fluttershy spun around and her gaze caught Rainbow Dash between the eyes. It was like being hit by a frying pan.

“Rainbow Dash,” she began.

Don’t tell me you’re trying to keep Nightmare Night a secret from him,” said Rainbow immediately. “Come on, Fluttershy. That’s not like you at all. It’s not even fair.”

“I’m not trying to keep it a secret from him.” Yet Fluttershy’s defiant face flushed red.

“He doesn’t even know about dressing up and getting candy! That’s what Nightmare Night is all about! And since when did you put up blizzards to keep foals off your lawn?”

“It’s not a secret, I promise. Just… Just do me a favour, please? Don’t go on about it. You think I haven’t told him at least something about it? When I did, he told me himself he wasn’t really interested.”

“I dunno, Fluttershy.” Rainbow rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “He seemed pretty interested to me.”

Still blushing, Fluttershy stood taller. “He likes our little tea parties. It’s his special time, and I like to give him the attention and the company he deserves.”

Rainbow stepped back and raised an eyebrow at her, wincing as one of the Cerberus heads bobbed briefly against her cheek. Her own nose smelled Fluttershy’s musk, and mixed in with the milky scents and slight whiff of feral animal was the sting of worry.

Perhaps they were both overreacting. It wasn’t as if Rainbow had been trusted to keep an eye on Discord’s progress. Maybe Fluttershy knew what she was doing. All the same, Fluttershy seemed so… intense about it. Of course, that could be the usual Fluttershy over-concern for all living things. This was a mare who cried when baby chicks fell out of their nests, for Pete’s sake.

“Fine,” said Rainbow, whose eyes were weeping slightly with all the staring. “But I’ll just bet he asks what I’m doing as soon as I’m gone.”

“Oh, don’t go.” The sting of worry spiked in Rainbow’s nose. Aha. “Won’t you stay for a drink, at least?”

“I really should be getting back to the others, you know. We’ve got a full night planned out, and… and…”

Darn it, she thought. Fluttershy was giving her the wide-eyed pleading look. That was downright unfair.

“And… I… suppose I’m game for a quick hot chocolate.”

Fluttershy beamed at her, and relief rushed through Rainbow’s nostrils on the cocktail of scents. “Excellent! I’ll refill your mug! This is turning out to be a wonderful Nightmare Night. Maybe the best one yet.”

“And I’ll have some cookies, if you got any,” said Rainbow to her retreating back. Getting sugary snacks whenever she could, after all, was what Nightmare Night was all about.

Besides, she’d think better on a sugar rush. Pinkie and Twilight had explained the concept to her at some point, but she was sure that was the gist of it.