• Published 6th Oct 2012
  • 1,874 Views, 101 Comments

A Discordant Tale - piedol



A story of Ponies, Humans and Discord, and the tragedy lost to history.

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Equestria isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Yes, there's ponies. Yes, there's magic. Yes, there are dragons and manticores and hydras and who-knows however many more species that exist only as myth to humans. Yes, there is a pleasing lack of other humans to have to put up with. What could possibly be missing from this picture then? Why would I find reason to complain?

Let me break it down for you:

It's ruled by ponies.

Ponies are vegetarians.

I am not a fucking vegetarian.

I like to eat meat.

The ponies won't like that, so I can't do that.

In even simpler terms; I now have to be a vegetarian, and that fucking sucks.

I just wish I'd thought all that over before responding to Celestia when she asked me what I'd like for breakfast. How the hell was I supposed to know that they didn't find the concept of roasted pig flesh appealing?

***

"I'm sorry, but could you repeat that?" the white Alicorn asked with a confused look on her face.

"Bacon." I stupidly repeated. "You know, pig meat, but cut into strips?" I stupidly explained before my stupid mind realized stupidly late just how stupid I am.

Fuck, you're stupid.

I know...

Celestia's mouth opened and closed soundlessly. Luna and the servant unicorn that had come to take our breakfast requests only managed to copy half her actions.

Dead. Silence.

If I try running now, while they're shocked, think it'll give me enough of a head start to outrun them?

Nope.

Didn't think so.

"I'm... Sorry, Joseph," Celestia finally said, "but we are currently not stocking meat for the purpose of consumption at the palace, or anywhere else in Equestria for that matter. I hope you wouldn't mind trying a more vegetarian diet?"

"I hope so too," came Luna's deadpan followup. "Making a comment like that in Ponyville would do more than just disturb the locals, given their tendencies towards overreaction." She frowned and looked off to the side at nothing in particular. Something told me she was reminiscing her time with a particular pink pony in a chicken costume.

I agreed to Celestia's first suggestion of a simple fruit salad. Better than imprisonment, I suppose. After the waitress hastily departed to fetch our meals, the Princesses and I made ourselves comfortable in the dining room they had led me to. It consisted of just a few large sofas set around a large circular glass table. The room itself was small, by the palace's standards, at least. It was merely the size of my entire apartment, rather than the building that housed it. This was in stark contrast to some of the rooms we had passed through to get here, which ranged from two-storey arching corridors made purely marble and gold to vast ballrooms and courtyards the size of small football fields. This relatively basic room looked like it was designed more for relaxation than formal company, with the sofas being the large soft kind you just sink into. If they ate there every morning, at least the Princesses could never start their days stressed.

Being the restless soul I am, though, I couldn't just sit and wait for the food to arrive. I settled for less than two seconds before I was on my feet again and heading towards one of the windows to take in the scenery. We were five storeys above the gardens below, which were on the same level as the rest of Canterlot Palace's recreational grounds. I could still make out the statue of Discord that I had arrived at, inconspicuously resting several hundred feet away at the entrance to the maze. Looking to the right of that personal eyesore, I was granted a picturesque view of a curved section of Canterlot City, which encircled the palace walls. It was only upon seeing the tiny speck of a village nestled into the valley below, though, that I was able to truly grasp just how massive Canterlot City was. If the images displayed on the show are anything to go by, I'd say the whole thing was around two miles from the railway entrance to the opposite end, with the castle itself standing proudly over it all. Just being there had me feeling like royalty.

It was Luna that interrupted my distraction with a polite cough. Once they had my attention, the sisters gestured for me to take a seat alongside them. Of course, Celestia's offer of sharing breakfast hadn't been purely pleasantry; We had things to discuss.

I took a moment to decide where to sit before joining them. Despite the table being round, Celestia's position and gentle but commanding presence caused me to almost unconsciously classify whatever seat she took as being the 'head' of the table. I made the cheeky decision of sitting at what I now took to be the foot, opposite Celestia and to the right of Luna. Neither princess gave any indicator as to whether they'd even noticed my reasons for sitting where I did, and the elder simply nodded once I was seated before speaking.

"Joseph, what are you capable of?" She asked.

"That's a rather broad question. I can speak. I'm good at organizing things according to patterns and rules. I can't swim that well, but I can hold my breath underwater for almost two minutes, if that counts for anything. I'm bad at cooking, but good at eating. What exactly are you looking for?" I asked in return. Sarcasm is always more fun to use when the receiver can't be sure you're using it.

"I mean to understand the differences between your race and ours. To be more specific, your limitations in a world designed by and for ponies, such as eating habits. The most important thing I need to know though is whether or not you are capable of using magic, as it is very much a defining factor in this world."

Reasonable, as always. Making me uncomfortable, as always. My magic was something I'd hoped to keep under wraps till I was out of the palace walls, simply because the less powerful I appeared, the less of a threat they'd take me for. It's not like I was planning to hurt anyone, so hiding my true capabilities wasn't really that much of a weight on my conscience. Still, I didn't want to risk her question being purely for the sake of giving me a chance to admit before she even made an accusation. If I could sense the auras and magical ability of those around me once I focused enough, there was no doubt in my mind that Celestia could, would, and probably already had done the same to me.

"No need to worry there, Your Highness. Humans are familiar with magic, which I think may be part of the reason Discord chose one of us for whatever he may be planning. I haven't tried any spells since arriving here though, as I noticed some sort of restriction on this world's energy."

"Your observation was accurate. Equestria's magic is tied to thousands upon thousands of magical symbols, rather than simple emotion and will, as you'd find in most other worlds. Obviously I won't be able to personally assist you in learning how to use our magic, for the same reasons I can't allow you to stay here in Canterlot, but you are free to pursue your own studies into the field once in Ponyville. The town's library should have adequate resources to teach you the basics."

"I've always preferred learning things the hard way. I don't mind having to essentially start over from scratch. This will just be an opportunity for me to get reacquainted with the intricacies of the art."

She paused at that, "Hmm. 'Art'. I suppose hearing you think of magic as an art form says something positive about your mentality."

"Indeed," concurred Luna, "Most unicorns, which are the only one of the three main races that are capable of fully focused use of magic, look at it as a tool to make up for what they physically lack, or a science to be studied. Some even view the mandatory learning of its basics as a burden and a chore. It's nice to meet somep- someone who can appreciate its beauty and complexity."

"Thank you. Now, you just mentioned something about three races. That would include unicorns, the winged ponies I saw earlier, and your race, correct?" I intended to feign ignorance on as much topics as possible till I was safely out of their immediate range of observation.

"Actually, there are unicorns, who have horns and can consciously choose what they do with their magic, pegasi, who have wings and a natural affinity for weather, and Earth Ponies, who have neither wings nor horns, but have immense physical stamina. All three races are naturally tied to the magical leylines, which both define and enhance their unique aspects. As for my sister and I, we are Alicorns, which sport the wings of pegasi, horns of unicorns, and resilience of Earth Ponies. I only say 'three races' because Alicorns aren't-"

"Sister," Celestia quietly interjected, "don't bore our guest with unnecessary details. His question has been answered."

Luna's eyes widened briefly as she seemed to suddenly remember something, then her expression was once again relaxed. She smiled at me and apologized, "Sorry for rambling on like that. How about we change the topic to something more relevant? You'll be heading to Ponyville before the day's end, and you hardly know what to expect from our land. I suspect it would be best to let you learn that on your own time, along with your magic studies," she subtly glanced at her sister, "but you deserve to at least know where you're going to be living during your hopefully temporary stay here. I suspect it will be at the town's library, as it does have one or two vacant rooms. Sister?"

"No. Not at the library," said Celestia.

"Huh?" Said Luna in surprise.

"Huh?" I echoed, earning myself two strange looks.

I'm a Human in Equestria! Cliche dictates that I have to stay with Twilight!

The fictions were a lie? I don't know what to believe anymore!

"I have a more appropriate household in mind," Celestia continued. "You'll be staying with a Miss Cashmere Down. She has made sure to keep her guest rooms vacant and ready at all times for royal guests, as per my request. She is a particularly studious friend of mine, and I'm sure she'll be eager to allow you to make use of her sizable personal collection of books, in exchange for providing her with the opportunity to study a new species."

She's essentially bribing you for information.

I need the books to learn about my environment, and Celestia wants to learn about me in as much detail as she can get her prissy hooves on. No doubt everything I tell this Cashmere will be reported to the Princess, along with information on exactly what I study. It's not that surprising of a tactic, but certainly one I didn't expect from Princess Freaking Celestia. There’s sure a lot of tricks for someone supposedly against Discord.

Can't do much to prove yourself innocent at the moment though, and you've already introduced yourself using mostly half-lies. She's right to be suspicious.

Point taken. Am I really that far off from what she thinks I am? I guess I can't ask for trust till I become trustworthy.

How long did it take you to work that one out?

“Sounds fair enough," I say after some thought. "She wouldn't be the first pony I've met that displayed a healthy scientific curiosity." I glanced at Luna and she glanced at a suddenly interesting spot on the ceiling. "Knowledge for knowledge. I look forward to the learning opportunity."

"Your unwavering ambition is commendable," said Celestia. "You find yourself stranded and in a strange world and spend not a moment to grieve what you lost. Doesn't the possibility of not being able to return to your home upset you?"

It was obvious that she was still hung up on the whole 'I'm a spy from Discord' deal, and my lack of concern for my current predicament was nothing but a lack of evidence for my claims of unwilling involvement. She clearly didn't intend to leave me with even a shred of privacy, putting concern for her ponies above common courtesy. Even her younger sister seemed too apprehensive to ask such an intrusive question, though she nevertheless looked at me intently as she awaited my answer. As justified as they were in getting an answer, it still irritated me to be victimized from two already opposing parties. It's a good thing I'm such an open guy. If they wanted the truth, they could have it.

"To be completely honest, not really. I didn't really have much to live for but myself, selfish as it sounds, and that's pretty much all I got sent here with, so I'm still happy."

Celestia looked at me disbelievingly, "What about your friends? Your family? Your entire race? Wouldn't you miss them? You seem almost content with being here."

"Most of my 'friends' were just people I associated myself with temporarily, as I couldn't afford any permanent relationships while I was still in school since I would have had to part ways with them once my course was completed anyways. I haven't seen my family in over two years, by choice. I just drifted apart from them once I started living on campus, and don't really think of them that much, and I'm sure they do me the same favor. My race? Hah. Trust me when I say that on a whole, they're not worth the effort of missing. Here I am now in a strange new world with no prior commitments or debts to hold me down. I'm free from the shackles of my previous society, and now have a chance to experience something entirely new and interesting. Talking ponies don't exist in my world, much less unicorns and pegasi. Who knows how many other fantastic new creatures I'll find? I don't know exactly what Equestria holds in store for me, but I look forward to every minute of it."

The sisters were silent for a while after I finished, Luna seeming curious and Celestia simply looking pensive. Before the silence could become uncomfortable though, the elder spoke.

"It is abnormal to me to meet someone who can so casually discard those he knows and not feel any regret for his actions, but I cannot judge you for your choices. Our cultures are different, and while I do not know whether such behavior is normal for a human, I will not attempt to force you into our ways." She surprised me by cracking a slight smile as she continued, "In fact, I don't think it will be necessary. After spending time among the residents of Ponyville, I am confident that either your attitude towards companionship will change or you will tire of life in this world very quickly. The nature of this land is one of coexistence, and by living in it, you become a part of it. Without the desire to interact and make new companions, you will quickly find Equestrian life to be a trying experience. Mark my words, Joseph."

"Marked," I wryly replied.

"Well, I have no further questions for you. Your last statement told me all I needed to know," said Celestia. She looked over her shoulder as she continued, "And it seems we've finished just in time. Breakfast has arrived."

I followed her gaze to see the same waitress that had taken our orders returning from whatever royal kitchen she had run off to, flanked by what looked like a pair of waiter Earth stallions carrying covered trays on their backs. All three had the same gray coat and straight glossy-black hair, causing me to briefly wonder if they were all related. I couldn't make out the cutie marks on any of them, due to their absurd yet somehow fitting butler outfits. The mare was wearing the type of maid outfit you'd see in pictures of the early nineteenth century, or maybe just on certain unmentionable websites. The guys were dressed up in, believe it or not, matching shirts and pants, complete with white undershirt, cuffs, collars and all that fancy shit.

I choked when I saw them enter the room. They didn't hear me, but the Princesses were much closer, and gave me dual reprimanding glares. I tried my best to resist the giggles, and ultimately had to bite my lip just to distract myself. Luna rolled her eyes at my lack of etiquette and turned to greet the servants.

"Excellent time, as always, Sherry," she said.

"Thank you, Your Grace. I always do my best," the mare replied in a soft but resolute voice.

She motioned with her head and the stallions came forward with the dishes. Without saying a word, they smoothly deposited the plates on the glass table without so much as causing them to rattle, removed the covers one by one and placed those on their backs once more, then bowed before departing the way they'd came.

Sherry stayed back to set out our drinks, using her oh-so-handy horn to levitate the three golden cups off their tray and to their respective users, and then pouring us each a glass of the most expensive looking water I'd ever seen. The bottle was green and shaped like any other wine bottle would be, complete with cork and a vaguely French sounding name displayed in gold on one side. Even when I noticed that the liquid in it was completely clear, I expected it to be vodka or maybe even white rum. I wasn't till it was being poured in the container directly before me that I realized it had no scent at all.

Considering all the effort they put into the packaging alone, you'd swear the water cures cancer or something.

You may be on to something there. Ever hear about a pony with cancer?

Oh my god...

Once we each had our refreshments, she curtsied to Celestia and trotted out of the room once more. Fancy display aside, the food was actually pretty darned simple, and also delicious. I had a mix of seedless grapes, sliced apples, two orange halves and baby carrots (I had asked for a fruit salad, but decided not to say anything). Celestia and Luna both had... Bouquets.

I'm did a double-take as I noticed what had been in their plates, or rather, bowls. Both were filled with fancy arrangements of various colorful flowers. Tulips, lilies, roses and whatever other flowers I never bothered to learn how to recognize made up their breakfast. Each petal was full and vibrant and slightly glistened in the soft light of the early morning, giving me the impression that the chefs had either intentionally moistened the flowers just prior to serving, or that they'd been picked fresh with morning dew right from the freaking garden.

I honestly shouldn't have been surprised. I'd seen more than one pony munch on a plant or two in the show. Still, actually seeing royalty, more than that, living goddesses or creatures of at least similar power, dine on a bunch of frilly flowers... I couldn't help it. I just didn't seem fitting.

I got so distracted from my own meal that Luna eventually noticed me staring at her daintily nibbling off the petals of a particularly outstanding white and purple specimen.

"Is something the matter, Joseph? Would you like some flowers instead?"

"Huh? Oh! No! It's okay. It's just... Well, never mind. I just felt a bit odd, is all," I stammered.

"'A bit odd'? You're literally an alien to us. Of course you'd feel odd!" She laughed. "Humans don't eat flowers, do they?"

I answered in the negative.

"And they also eat meat, hopefully out of preference rather than necessity?" She continued.

"Correct, though I wouldn't say it's so much a preference as it is an addiction. We like what we like."

"I see," She said, trailing off into silent thought as she finished her flower and switched to another.

"I sincerely hope," mumbled Celestia around what looked to be a rose, "that your kind is capable of healthy function while following a vegetarian diet, as the only place you'd get to enjoy an alternative within Equestria’s borders is in the Everfree Forest, where civilization has given way to the unpredictable and dangerous savagery of nature. It would be a shame if we were forced to send you there, wouldn't it?"

I stuck my tongue out at her as she grinned slyly at me. Apart from whatever harsh decisions she may have considered making relating to my predicament, she was actually proving to be relatively pleasant company. At the very least, she had a good sense of humor. At no point in time did she raise her voice, or become flustered as her sister had. I almost felt regret when we had finished eating and she turned to the matter of my transport to and stay in Ponyville. Almost.

After Sherry had come and collected our things, making it a point not to steal too many glances at me while she did so, Celestia briefly closed her eyes and performed some magic that caused her how to glow softly for a short time. I openly gave her a questioning look, and she explained, "I signaled for my personal assistant to join us in the gardens twenty minutes from now. He will facilitate your trip to the town and ensure that you have begun settling in before they day's end."

"Ooh. Long distance telepathy? Any chance of you telling me how to do that one?"

"About as much chance of me telling you how to use mind control," she responded with a grin as she and her sister rose off the sofas.

Uhhh...

"Right, didn't think so," I timidly said while I followed suit.

We began walking towards the exit in much the same way we'd arrived, when Luna suddenly stopped. Her sister and I looked at her curiously, and she seemed to be considering something.

"If you would like a display of what there is to be learned magic-wise here," she eventually said, "I wouldn't mind obliging you, seeing as you're still our guest. It was a bothersome walk all the way up here, and the only reason we're even leaving the Palace proper is to meet with my sister's assistant. Why go through the hassle again when we can use magic?"

Celestia's ears perked straight up as she apparently caught on to something. "Luna, you can't seriously mean to use now of all times as a chance to practice-"

"It won't be practice! I've gotten the hang of it now. I promise everyone will arrive in one piece this time," she cheerfully responded.

This time?

"I'm lost here. Would either of you mind filling me in?" I said.

Celestia sighed in exasperation, massaging her temple with a gold-adorned hoof while she answered, "My dear sister is eager to turn what would be a simple walk down to the gardens into yet another opportunity for her to experiment with teleportation. She's never been particularly good at it, and-"

"Hey! I can do it just fine!" protested Luna.

"Oh please, even when it happened, and you were at the height of your power, you still had to resort to a basic shape-shifting spell and turn into a cloud of sparkly dust to get around quickly."

The blue Alicorn blew the most dignified raspberry I've ever heard, "Oh, sure, let's bring that back up now. It's been two years, sister. I think I've improved somewhat since then."

"I'm not saying you haven't, I just don't think you've perfected the spell. I wouldn't want a repeat of what happened to poor Philomena."

"She recovered!"

"She's a phoenix, of course she did. But unless Joseph here has the ability to spontaneously deconstruct and reconstruct his body to repair any serious damage, I don't want to risk it."

"If it's all the same with you," I interjected, entirely and blindly intrigued by the concept of being teleported, "I won't mind letting her try it out. If she says she's mastered it, let her actions speak for themselves. What's the worst that could happen?"

"You have no idea." Celestia hissed.

"Look, even the alien--no offense--has more faith in me than you do! Are you really going to keep your own flesh and blood down like this?"

Celestia was about to retort but instead clenched her teeth, groaned in frustration, then said, "Fine!" She turned to me with a glare, "But don't say I didn't warn you!"

Luna excitedly began to focus, her horn glowing with rapidly increasing intensity. The dust in the air around us began to vibrate madly with residual energy, purple sparks of magic leaping from Alicorn to human to Alicorn to the ground and everything in-between.

I watched in fascination at the display, one part of my mind wondering how long it would take for me to be able to learn and perform such a spell, and another only just deciphering what had up till then only seemed an incoherent babble from Celestia's mouth due to my initial anticipation of the experience.

I began to voice my sudden concern to the irritated Celestia who appeared to be in the process of casting her own spell in the form of a bubble--or possibly shield--around herself.

"Hey, Celestia, what exactly happened last-"

FLASH

"FUCK!"


End of Chapter 4


Obligatory Author's End-Of-Chapter comments here.

Once again, another fun chapter. This time, I tried to capture the personality of Equestria's oh-so-adored ruler as well as I could while also adding elements that I found fitting, such as being able to both make and appreciate a good joke. As for Luna... Yeah, I know. It's TTEOAP-esque, but I swear I wasn't inspired by the Luna of that story so much as I was by the one portrayed in the episode 'Nightmare Night'. That Luna was naive, insecure, out of touch... But she wanted a to be loved, just like she did before the whole 'OHMAHGAWD IMMA TAKE OVER EQUESTRIA' deal happened.

She's still Celestia's little sister, and they doubtless grew up together. I'm saying that before the separation, their relationship would have been similar to what I showed here, except that while Luna was imprisoned with evil Space AIDS, Celestia had a thousand years to become withdrawn and serious. The entire conflict happened because Luna had the childlike quality of being attention-hungry, and went all out insane because of it (Maybe something else, but let's pretend it's just that for the moment). So while she was stuck with the taint/possession, she wasn't herself. So when she returned, her mentality would be very similar to what it was like up till the time of banishment, and she'd even have the urge to make things the way they were between Celestia and herself.

TL;DR - Luna's somewhat immature because of her time in exile, and Celestia has a very special face that she only uses for her sister. This accounts for the difference in their overall behavior, ie, why Luna would behave so much like a teenage girl when her sister is practically an adult (Ages aside).

Next chapter will be a bit shorter, as it's drawing the curtains on this whole awkward initiation into Equestrian life through Canterlot, but rest assured that the ones to come will be longer and far more captivating.

Till then, remember to spread this story to your friends like the plague. :3
Later all