• Published 4th Jul 2022
  • 637 Views, 56 Comments

The Nail - Boltstrike58

In which Fizzlepop Berrytwist, the Element of Magic, must face her greatest challenge.

  • ...

Chapter Four: A Turn For the Worse

It was an uneventful ride back to Ponyville for Fizz that evening. She used the time to think over the conversation she'd had with her mother, as well as her role as princess. She still wasn't sure what it meant, but she did feel more confident about it, and less consumed with fear over being the only alicorn without a kingdom. She'd figure it out eventually, as long as she had friends by her side. Plus, at least she was a princess of something she had knowledge of.

The train came to a halt in Ponyville station, and the doors opened to allow Fizz and the other passengers to disembark. The other bearers weren't around to greet her, but Fizz wasn't surprised or annoyed by that, considering she had no way to send them an advance notice or anything. She guessed they probably weren't together right now, since they'd probably run out of time searching for the stolen Star Swirl items already. They were most likely at home, resting and waiting for Fizz herself to return. Now that her little detour was over, Fizz decided she might as well have dinner and go to bed.

Fizz made her way to the Golden Oaks Library, finding it had gone undisturbed since she'd left that morning. She unlocked the door and slipped inside, before grabbing some loose snacks and filling her stomach (Fizz was never much of a cook). Then, after a quick search to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything, she climbed into bed, pulled up the covers, and went to sleep.

Fizz's eyes snapped open to the sound of banging on her front door. From the light outside, she could tell it was many hours later, but that didn't mean she liked being awoken like this. She groaned as the assault on her ears continued, before throwing off the covers and climbing out of bed.

"I'm coming, cool it!" she shouted. Finally, the knocking ceased.

Fizz dragged herself down the stairs towards the door, before conjuring her magical hand and using it to pull the knob. There, standing in front of her house, were Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie.

Fizz gave them a glare. "This had better be an emergency," she slurred, still half-asleep.

"I'm pretty sure this qualifies as one, sugar cube," replied Applejack.

Fizz groaned quietly, but she supposed she at least owed the others a listening ear. She sat down.

"Alright, what's going on?" she asked. Now that she was starting to wake up more, she looked from side to side, noticing something for the first time. "And where's Fluttershy?"

"That's why we're here," replied Rainbow. "Listen, we were gonna come and get you to go over all the stuff that got stolen from Canterlot, but we decided to let you sleep in a little. Anyway, I went to go pick up Fluttershy this morning, but she wasn't there, and there was a gigantic hole burned into the side of her cottage. And...also, this." Rainbow reached up to her own back, pulling down a white shape. The shape unfolded, revealing itself as Angel Bunny. Fizz looked closer at the rabbit, and gasped as she noticed that he was missing several patches of white fur. The spots looked like they'd been singed off. Angel, for once, wasn't displaying his usual attitude, but instead shivering in place. "The rest of the animals are fine, but something must've really spooked them, because they were hiding in every nook and cranny of Fluttershy's house."

"We've already looked all over town, and asked everypony," said Rarity. "No one's seen her since yesterday."

Fizz gritted her teeth. If Fluttershy really was missing, there was only one suspect in her mind.

"Discord," she growled.

The others all blinked in surprise. "Wait, I thought they were friends," said Pinkie. "Why would Discord kidnap her?"

"I bet you anything he's been planning this," said Fizz. "First, he 'gets really close' to one of us. Then, he removes that pony, so we can't use the Elements of Harmony. He can't brainwash us like last time, that wouldn't fit his chaotic nature. He doesn't want to use the same trick twice, if you know what I mean."

"Darling, that seems a little harsh," said Rarity. "I know you don't fully trust Discord, and I can't say I blame you, but even if he went to all that trouble, wouldn't he make sure we knew it was him? He always loved to gloat."

Fizz opened her mouth to retort, but a thought cut her off. Perhaps Rarity was right. If Discord really was behind this, there was no way he'd be able to resist rubbing it in their faces.

"You may have a point, there," she eventually conceded. "I still think we should call him and ask him what he knows. Plus, if he didn't do it, maybe he could help."

"Well, I suppose it can't hurt," said Applejack.

Fizz nodded, before rushing back inside her house. She pushed one of the bookshelves out of the way, revealing a hidden safe. Then she conjured her magical hand, using it to turn the dial of the safe until it popped open, revealing the necklaces and crown that contained the Elements of Harmony.

"Just in case," she said to the others, before getting them out and stuffing them into her saddlebags.

Then the five mares moved out to the grassy land outside the library. Fizz lit up her horn, causing a few sparks to jump outwards. Rarity powered up as well, sending a magical tether to Fizz in order to add their magic together. With a pulse, Fizz cast the spell to summon Discord from wherever he was.

In a blinding flash of white light, Discord appeared in the center of the group of mares. The draconequus was currently sleeping, but being Discord, he slept in reverse, with his legs lying on the pillow and his head snaking over the bottom headboard of the bed. He snored loudly, only waking when Fizz trotted over and poked him in the eye with one hoof. With an annoyed yawn, Discord snapped his fingers, sending his bed back to wherever it belonged.

"Princess Fizzlepop, to what do I owe the pleasure?" he demanded. "Remember, Celestia said to only use that spell to summon me in emergencies!"

"Well, this is actually an emergency," said Fizz. "Have you seen Fluttershy today?"

"No, actually, I haven't," replied Discord. "We were supposed to have tea time in two days, but I haven't spoken to her since..." He stopped in his tracks, as the implications finally caught up with his brain. "Wait, did something happen to Fluttershy?"

"That's why we called you here!" snapped Fizz.

Discord didn't respond. Instead, he snapped his fingers, and the whole group was enveloped in white light. When it faded, they were all standing outside of Fluttershy's cabin. Rainbow Dash's description hadn't done it justice. It looked like the entire front of Fluttershy's house had been burned away. The door was completely gone, chunks of singed wood stuck out at every angle, and the animals Fluttershy kept inside were cowering in fear.

Discord froze where he stood, as his pupils widened in shock. Then he started grinding his teeth.

"Who. Did. This?!" he demanded, rounding on Fizz. His brown and yellow eyes were glowing red with fury. "Where. Is. Fluttershy?!"

"We don't know," replied Fizz, standing her ground, despite the fear that wormed its way into her heart. "Can you teleport us directly to her location? I know you can sense the magical signature of other creatures, so—"

"No," Discord snarled, standing up to his full height. "I'm going alone. Whoever did this is going to face so much chaos, they'll need a straightjacket by the time I'm done with them."

"Discord, wait!" Fizz tried to yell, but it was too late. Discord had already snapped his fingers and disappeared in another flash. Fizz punched the ground in frustration.

"So...that's it?" asked Applejack. "We just wait for Discord to bring Fluttershy back? After all, it's not like anything besides the Elements can stop him, as far as we know."

"I guess," replied Rainbow. "Boy, I've never seen him that angry. I pity whoever took Fluttershy. What do you think, Fizz?"

But Fizz wasn't listening. She was investigating what remained of Fluttershy's house. She examined the scorch marks closely, before lighting up her stump of a horn and creating her magic hand. It reached down and probed the burned wood.

"There's a magical signature here," she announced to the others. "This was clearly done by somepony with very powerful magic. Almost comparable to an alicorn. But why—" Then the memories of the last few days came rushing back to her. Fizz remembered the theft of the ancient knowledge. The pieces came together in her mind like a self-assembling jigsaw puzzle. "Oh, that idiot."

"What? What's wrong, Fizzy?" asked Pinkie Pie.

Fizz spun around on one hoof to face the others. "We have to get to Canterlot. NOW," she shouted. "Discord's walking into a trap!"

Discord reappeared on the side of a mountain. Glancing around, he discovered that it overlooked the city of Canterlot, which stuck out of the side on the way down. Beyond that, the location itself was fairly barren. No grass grew beneath his mismatched feet, no trees stood out from the earth anywhere. Of course, the Lord of Chaos wasn't concerned with any of those things.

"That's strange," he said, earnestly. "I meant to teleport directly to Fluttershy's location, yet she's nowhere to be found. Where—"

"Greetings, Discord," came a voice.

Discord spun around on his bull hoof, facing the opposite direction. The speaker standing behind him was a lavender unicorn mare with a dark blue mane and tail, one pink stripe running through it. He didn't recognize her, but that wasn't a concern.

"Ah, so you must be the one who took Fluttershy," he growled through clenched teeth. Chaos magic began to gather in the palm of his lion's paw. "Listen, whoever-you-are, I suggest you give me back my friend before I really get mad. I promise, you won't like me when I'm angry."

"Fluttershy? Why, she's right here!" announced the unicorn, lighting up her horn. Next to her, reality seemed to peel away like a strip of wallpaper. Beneath the illusion sat a blue, transparent sphere of energy, containing a clearly terrified Fluttershy.

"Discord! Get out of here!" she called out, pounding her hooves ineffectually against the sphere.

"Fluttershy, why would I do that?" asked Discord. "When I can simply free you and then teach this foolish pony some manners?" He confidently snapped his fingers, casting a spell that would shatter the barrier holding his friend, before starting to rain cherry pies down onto the unicorn.

Or, at least, that's what was supposed to happen. All that actually happened was a few sparks of white magic flying out of his hand.

Discord blinked in surprise. This had never happened before. His magic had never failed him. Annoyed, he tried again, only to achieve the same result. He grew angrier and angrier with every failed finger snap.

"What's going on?!" he demanded. "I swear, this never happens to me..."

"I'm aware," replied the unicorn, sounding unnervingly calm. She lit up her horn, causing the dust around them to be brushed away in a magical breeze. Underneath were certain runic symbols, burned into the very earth with magic. They glowed bright orange, and even though he'd never seen them before, Discord felt his hair stand on end at the sight of them.

"Anti-chaos magic runes," explained the unicorn. "Developed by Star Swirl to nullify your magic completely when you're near them. Though he wasn't around long enough to finish them. Let me tell you, it took a lot of labor to get them into proper working order."

Fluttershy swallowed in fear.

"But don't worry, Discord," continued the unicorn, "I'm not going to hurt her. In fact, I'd like to propose a trade." She powered up her own magic once more, creating another sphere of blue energy. "All you have to do is step inside this, and I'll release Fluttershy. You have my promise."

Discord gritted his teeth again, clenching both mismatched hands. "How do I know I can trust you?" he demanded.

The mare gave a sly smile, one that definitely didn't inspire any further trust in Discord.

"Why Discord, you think I'd lie to you? Well, to be fair, you don't know me. But let's be honest, what other choice do you have?"

Discord opened his mouth to issue some sort of snarky retort, but it died in his throat as his brain caught up. He had to admit, whoever this pony was, she had a point. His magic was completely useless here, and he couldn't think of any way around it. Swallowing in fear, he glanced between Fluttershy and the unknown mare repeatedly.

"Don't do it, Discord!" Fluttershy shouted, as she jumped up and down and waved her hooves. "You can't trust her! Don't do it!"

Discord closed his eyes, looking away from his closest friend. There was simply nothing else he could do.

"Fine. You win," he declared, looking the strange mare in the eye.

"Wonderful!" she replied. She beckoned with one hoof. "Simply step into the sphere, and that'll seal the deal."

Fluttershy continued to protest, but Discord tuned her out. His shoulders slumped, but he stomped obediently towards the sphere. Finally, he pushed himself inside of it, passing through the magic like water.

"Excellent," said the mare. "I did promise, so here you go." She fired up her horn one more time, and the sphere around Fluttershy faded away, and the butter yellow pegasus fell to the ground.

"Why did you do that?" she asked, looking at Discord. Tears began to gather at the corners of her eyes.

"I'm sorry," he replied, turning away from her. "That's what friends do for each other, isn't it?"

Fluttershy couldn't respond to that. What could she say?

"Now that we've gotten the introduction out of the way," continued the unicorn, "it's time for all the real work." She dismissively waved her hoof at Fluttershy, not even bothering to look at the pegasus. "Go on, get out of here. Go and warn Celestia about me, or something, I don't care. It won't matter in the end, anyway."

Fluttershy's whole body was trembling, but she managed to climb to her hooves. She spread her wings and took off, flying as fast as she could towards Canterlot. Discord watched her go, knowing he should feel better that his best friend was safe, but the pit in his stomach remained.

The mare, of course, didn't seem to care about that. She was busy levitating a hooful of ancient-looking books at once, flipping through them and glancing between them.

"No, that's not the right spell matrix. Come on, where? I knew I should've marked the page better—AH-HA! There it is!" She shut all the tomes at once, before lowering them to the ground. "Oh, Spike?"

From a short distance away came a small purple dragon with green spines on his back. Discord felt the weight of the dragon's reptilian eyes settle on him. Spike grinned, showing off his sharpened fangs, and Discord swallowed.

"I'm ready, sis," said Spike.

"What...what are you going to do?" Discord asked, nervously.

The unicorn gave Discord another smile, but it brought no comfort. "It's a simple process, my friend," she said, putting an unsettling emphasis on that last word. "I need your chaos magic, but I have no way to control you. So I'm going to remove it, and place it in a vessel more loyal to me." She indicated Spike with a wave of her head.

Discord gasped. "But you can't!" he shouted. "Chaos magic is impossible to control for anyone besides me! You don't know what you might create if you—"

"Oh hush, you big worrywart," insisted the mare. "I know what I'm doing."

She charged her magic, a raspberry aura gathering around her horn. She pointed it directly at Discord as he continued to protest, begging her to reconsider. From the tip of her horn, a bolt of purple lightning lanced forward, hitting the bubble containing Discord. For a few seconds, nothing happened, but then he was assaulted from all directions by the worst pain he'd ever felt. It was like every nerve was on fire at once. Then his stomach began to lurch, and he vomited. Out of his mouth came a stream of dark purple energy, accompanied by carnival noises. Discord felt his powers leaving his body as the magic floated over towards the mare, who took a hold of it with her telekinesis. Inside the bubble, Disocrd slumped to the ground, weakened.

"Alright. Now Spike, this may sting a little."

"I'm ready," replied the dragon.

The unicorn gave a smile, before she used her magic to lift Spike off the ground. He opened his mouth, and the mare began feeding the chaos magic directly into it. Discord could only watch as Spike's eyes began to glow bright orange, and his body expanded as more and more magic went inside.

"Slow and steady," said the unicorn. "We've got the time."