• Published 19th Feb 2024
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By the Will of the Council - Captain Neckbeard



Sent to Equestria by their tribe, Celestia and Luna have to uncover their kin's most sacred artifact. During the mission however, Luna starts to realize there might be more important things to find than a mere artifact.

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Chapter IV: A Fellow of Infinite Jest

The thatched roofs of the houses being on backwards didn't even surprise the sisters. Or the singing flowers. What did, though, was how the ponies in the village behaved. They were completely out of their minds. They all acted in strange, deranged manners. Of course, none of them seemed bothered by the two alicorns among them. They didn't register with them at all.

After gawking for a few minutes, Luna spoke:

"So, it seems whatever chaos-magic is lingering about affects living creatures as well. I... I admit I don't have a very good advice right now."

Celestia glanced over to Luna, wearing a very serious expression.

"Well Luna, I think you should just...

Luna shrunk back a bit. She didn't seem to like it, but remained silent. Her face was a strange mix of expressions.

...loosen up a little!" Celestia finished the sentence after a dramatic pause, and beamed up. "And I'm your sister, so I will help with these ponies."

"T-thank you..." Luna sputtered, taken a bit aback by the sudden tone change.

"We should ask around a little. Who knows, maybe some of these ponies are merely pretending."

"You don't believe that yourself, do you?" Luna said, now confidence returning to her voice.

"No, but trying a less radical solution first can't hurt, can it now?"

"Fine. Let's try asking." Luna shrugged, and the two sisters walked away in two different directions.

☼✶☽

Celestia noticed a stallion first, walking backwards. She trotted up to him, and greeted him:

"Good afternoon! We have a… um, nice day today, don't we?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" the stallion answered, in a bit panicked voice "Tread lightly 'round here, or you'll be steppin' on the snails."

"Then why aren't you walking facing forward?" Celestia said, playing along.

"Hey! Tone it down! You'll wake them up!" the strange stallion responded, and sped up.

Celestia let him go away, then turned away from the goofy sight. Her next "target" was a mare, who was digging a hole in the middle of the road, with her bare hooves.

"Creator's blessings! My name is Celestia. Can I ask what are you doing?"

The pink mare popped up her head from the already pretty deep hole, and pointed at the previous stallion, with a scornful expression.

"I'm building a shelter for the snails, because THAT crazy bastard scares them to death! Do you know how delicate their little souls are? This travesty just can't stand!"

With that, the mare resumed her silly task, and disappeared in the sizable hole.

"Yes, well, happy digging then!" Celestia said her farewell, and walked away. But this time, she also focused her magic, and scanned the magic surrounding the young mare. It wasn't the subtle magical wavelength that permeated the places occupied by earth ponies. It was simply... chaotic. Foul. Jumbled.

But now Celestia was curious how deep this rabbit hole went. Aside from the many other holes that dotted the village. It seemed that pink mare was busy in the last couple of weeks. Along the way, she noticed another pony, making gravestones. Celestia gulped. That wasn't a good sign.

"Greetings miss. I fear to ask, but who has departed?" she asked upon getting closer.

The mare turned back, her face dark and brooding.

"It's...it's the snails. They're dropping like flies! And speaking of, also the poor flies! They're dropping like...like snails!"

The pony wiped away a single teardrop from her cheek. In turn, her face got a white patch of rock dust.

Celestia rolled her eyes, but it didn't register with the mare.

"May they find peace wherever they are now."

The white alicorn reached the village outskirts, and the amount of crazy ponies per square acre noticeably declined. But there, where the fields began, a stallion balanced atop a pole, and he was wildly crowing.

"Cocka-doodle-doo!!!"

Celestia decided to have one last attempt at something resembling a conversation, just out of curiosity where this one would go. She was smiling though, because she knew in many of the mortal realms, the crowing of cocks marked the sunrise. The sunrise, that was really unreliable as of late.

"The Sun's already up!" Celestia trilled.

"I know, a'ight? But I have to make up for many missed cocka-doodle-doos. The village's rooster went missing a few months ago. Someone has to fill in for him." The stallion answered in a rather tired voice.

Celestia's ear flicked once. Sure, that makes sense... She asked:

"You seem sleepy though. Shouldn't you have some rest?"

"Are ya taking the piss? I have to do this at night as well. There is simply no time for rest."

"But cocks don't crow at night..."

"Yes, they do!" the stallion burst out angrily "Don't ya try to disparage my work, ya...ya chicken!"

As a closure, he also let out an especially loud crow. That was the cue for Celestia to leave the scene, and find Luna. It was time for plan B.

☼✶☽

MEANWHILE...

On the other end of the village, a mare was struggling with an apple. A giant apple. She was struggling with rolling that apple up a small hill. Her sounds of effort could be heard from dozens of yards, which took Luna's attention.

She flew up to her, and using her levitation, effortlessly made the cart-sized apple make the rest of the journey. The cream-colored mare also made it, and panted heavily. When she caught her breath somewhat, Luna asked:

"Obsecro, mortalis formose, quid hic consequi conaris?"

The mare looked at the alicorn like who saw Cerberus himself. Luna wasn't sure about the issue, but a moment later, it dawned on her. The language...

She switched from her own to slightly accented Equish:

"Pray tell, fair mortal, what are you trying to achieve here?"

Now the pony understood, and answered.

"I was supposed to roll this apple up the hill." she pointed at the gigantic fruit "And now thanks to you, all my efforts are ruined!"

Of course, Luna immediately lost her patience hearing such foolishness. She raised her voice:

"Are you out of your mind?! I just helped you in your pointless task!"

"Well, my task is to roll the apple up the side of the hill. That doesn't include actually reaching the top."

With that, the mare pushed the apple, and it rolled down the hill, almost reaching where the houses began. Then she trotted down after it, but not before giving Luna a nasty look as a parting gift.

Luna looked after her. She facehooved heavily.

"Oh dear Creator, give me patience!"

☼✶☽

The sisters met in the village center some time later. Luna had both eyebrows raised almost sky-high. She asked.

"Any luck?"

Celestia shook her head.

"About as much as you had, I suppose. Although there might be a solution for all this. But I need your help."

"I'm open to ideas, as I said earlier."

Celestia looked around with a hoof put to her chin. She measured up the distances in the village.

"So, do you have a plan?" Luna asked, gesturing with a hoof.

"Luna, do you know the spell for removing curses and dark magic? Because I think we're dealing with a particularly nasty kind here."

"My memory of it is a bit shaky." Luna drooped her ears for a moment, and her voice carried a tinge of shame "Could you remind me of it?"

Celestia smiled, and playfully waved her sister off:

"Of course! And don't you feel bad, now! I like the confident, bossy Luna much better."

She turned around, and cast intricate arcane patterns on the wall of one of the houses. The glowing rune-like carvings drew Luna closer.

"Familiar?"

"Oh, I remember now. It's similar to how you perform a stun spell, somewhat. I think I can do this, yes." the younger sister answered, but her mouth was left open at the end of the sentence. She was definitely a bit overwhelmed by the information.

"The principle is the same, really. But we'll have to cast this together to reach enough yield to remove this corruption from the whole village. Like a combined repulse spell, but without the telekinesis."

"Yes, yes..." Luna muttered "Just give me ten minutes, and I'll be ready. This is a bit different from my combat spells, after all."

☼✶☽

About half an hour passed. Luna let out a small sigh, and turned to Celestia.

"Alright, I'm ready, I think. On your lead."

Celestia nodded, and her horn lit up. Luna also prepared the same spell, although she was much less confident in what she was doing. Her sister had her eyes closed, her mind seemingly completely lost in imagining the spell, but a few moments later she opened them, revealing a white glow. Luna knew right then her sister was more than serious about dispelling the corruption, and reached out to Caelum with all her might to gather all the magical energy she could.

Finally, her eyes began glowing as well, and was ready to release the spell. Celestia noticed this, she bent over slightly, and called her out.

"Luna, now!"

The two horns touched, and all the magic accumulated in both alicorns got released in the form of a single, combined beam of greenish color. The spell was shot up into the sky, but it didn't reach too high up when it exploded, and a shockwave of pure magic washed over the village. The sisters felt the tingle of the massive amount of magicka whiplashing, as they were "spent", and were in the process of reabsorbing arcane energy from the depths of Caelum.

In a second, the visage of the village changed. The roofs of the houses were on right, the flowers stopped singing, the strange colors got banished, and replaced by natural earthly browns and variations. And last but not least, the inhabitants all stopped in their tracks, and looked at one another and their silly dealings. They seemed confused, but about a minute later they realized what happened. Some of them burst out cheering, some hugged the other, some just lumped down to the ground, exhausted from all the pointless work the chaos forced on them.

They were all relieved, and the sisters were too. Their spell worked, the village was saved from the curse it got under who knows how many moons ago. Celestia looked into Luna's eyes, and nodded with approval. Luna was hesitating, but then settled at a trademark smug smirk, but also nodded back a little.

"Well sis, we made it! Look how happy these little ponies are! We saved their souls, and the village as well. No doubt they were suffering from the curse incurred upon them."

"Yes, we definitely did the right thing and all, but..." Luna said, and stepped forward a few steps "...now that they are back to normal, we could really ask them some questions."

Celestia followed her sister, and answered, her voice carrying mild concern.

"Don't you think we should let them rest a little first? They must have been in their unlucky state for weeks, if not more."

Luna wanted to answer, but as they got closer to the group of ponies in the town center, all the eyes got fixed on them, and many mouths were left open with awe. They didn't say anything, but as the sisters towered over the mortal ponies, it was clear to them they counted nothing less as some otherworldly sight.

Luna looked on with curiosity, while Celestia started to feel a bit awkward. She wanted to mingle with ponies, and not being gawked at.

Then finally, a mare spoke up:

"They! They are the ones who saved us! Be blessed! Praise be unto you, and the ground you walk!"

With that, the entire village deeply bowed, and eerie silence got hold of the place. Even the buzzing of a passing fly could be heard.

The sisters looked at each other. Celestia had her awkward grin still, while Luna let out a silent chuckle. Then she turned back to the crowd still kowtowing, and let out her voice:

"Surgite nunc, parvus equi."

The ponies straightened up, with mouths agape. They stared at the alicorns, then one stallion spoke up, pointing at them:

"They... they speak the language of gods! They are Angels! They came to deliver us! Be praised!"

And a moment later, all the ponies present resumed the bow, again so deeply that their snouts literally touched the ground.

And silence followed once again. Luna looked on for a few moments, then leaned closer to her sister.

"I'm really flattered, but shouldn't they get up? I just told them."

"I doubt they understand Elder Speech, dear sister."

"Ah, right..."

Luna forgot about the language barrier once again, but before she could correct her mistake, her sister spoke up.

"Please get up, my little ponies!"

One by one, the ponies raised their heads, and looked at the "angels" present. One stallion left the crowd, and walked right before the sisters. He bowed his head for good measure, then began with his right hoof on his chest.

"Thank you, glorious angels, for saving our souls from the chaos. We don't have the proper means to repay your kindness, but rest assured, we'll have your names in our thoughts for generations to come."

"You're very welcome!" Celestia nodded "But you don't have to repay anything, as...

"Who did this to you?!" asked Luna, interrupting her sister's serene tone.

"Oh, well..."

The stallion hesitated with the answer. He looked left and right, as if the being in question was just lurking around a corner. The villagers too, got unnerved by the question. Celestia furrowed her brows. Just what or who could justify such a reaction?

"I don't even know if I dare to say his name." the stallion finally said, visibly shrinking back.

Then, Celestia felt a tingle in her horn, and got shaken at her magical core. A very rare phenomenon, that she only felt a few times during her seventy years.

"Luna... Can you feel that?"

"Yes. Something strange. Foul magic. It's close."

"Ward. Now!" Celestia said suddenly, her voice being uncharacteristically strict and rough.

Luna raised an eyebrow, but didn't object, and cast an invisible ward around herself.

A moment later, just behind the ponies, a bright ball of light formed in the air. They covered their eyes, and when the ball popped, a strange serpentine creature emerged.

The ponies ran away screaming. Celestia and Luna remained, but their expressions showed some dread. Celestia's more than Luna's, but both mouths were left open a bit.

Snake-like body.

A leg of a dragon and a pony.

A lion's paw and an eagle's claw.

A wing of a bat and a pegasus.

A horse-like face with one fang.

It didn't resemble anything they could recognize.

☼✶☽

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" the creature started once everypony ran away "Do I see a village, refusing my creative improvements? For shame. Let's fix that!"

With a snap of his fingers, the chaos returned to the village. The houses turned into jelly. The roads into ice cream. The trees tore themselves out from the ground, and started to dance with each other.

The floating creature let out some satisfied laughter, then looked at the sisters wildly flailing their necks, horrified by the environment that changed around them in the blink of an eye.

"Now look at you! Pretty weird, yes, but somehow not chaotic enough. But I have an idea for you!"

He snapped his fingers, and Celestia and Luna felt the same powerful magic that surrounded them now pressing against their wards. But it couldn't penetrate it, and the serpent snapped his fingers again. Then again. Then a few more times, with diminishing results. The sisters' ward stood steadfast.

"This... This can't be! No one can resist my magic!" the being said, now his tone carrying some anger instead of his previous playful silliness.

"But wait. You're... You're alicorns!" he continued. "Yes, I can see it now. So, you came to witness my handiwork from up close. That's so nice of you. I'm a little bit touched, really!"

Luna furrowed her brows. She glanced at Celestia. The sister returned the same expression, so she surmised she didn't know who the creature in front of them was, either. None of their codexes told of even something remotely similar.

So she asked, in a not too friendly manner:

"Who are you, nasty demon of chaos?"

"Ah, how rude! But, to answer your question, I am Discord, the spirit of chaos and disharmony. I am truly surprised that someone like you wouldn't know of me. And speaking of, who are you, nasty alicorns of meddling-in-affairs-you-have-nothing-to-do-with?"

"That's none of your business. This realm is under alicorn supervision. And this is your only chance to undo what you have done, and walk away peacefully."

Discord's arms dropped to his side, and his face was plastered with a small frown, looking really humbled. But in the next moment, he dropped the act, and burst out laughing, slapping his forehead with his paw.

"AH-HAHAHAHAHA! Gosh, you should see the look on your face, blue one! So serious, so determined! Do you always make that face? If you do, you must be a riot at celebrations. Also, is it okay if I call you “blue one”? I mean, I still don't know your name."

Luna opened her mouth to answer, but Celestia took over the conversation.

"We are Luna and Celestia, representing the alicorn tribe, and guardians of ponykind. Your meddling with the natural order of things has caused great pain and suffering to the inhabitants of this land, and therefore, we ask you to stop. I'm sure we can talk things out, and find a peaceful solution. Can't we, Discord?"

Discord's face was blank for a few moments before he laughed out loud again, although with less intensity this time.

"You're pretty funny too, Celestia! And wow, you actually know how to start a conversation. With an introduction, instead of threats."

At that last word, Discord glanced at Luna, scowling slightly, but she stood it, without as much as an eyebrow raised.

"But to return to our resident topic" Discord continued, putting his paw and claws together "I think we still don't understand each other. I just can't dispel any of this disorderly corruption. For you see, I am Discord. The spirit of chaos. Hello? It would be completely against my nature to do such a thing."

Luna tried to answer, but Discord continued still, twisting in the air once, and putting a finger on his lips.

"I bet it's as much against my nature as smiling would be to the blue one. Oh sorry... Luna, I mean."

Luna finally got to reply, and slammed a hoof to the ground:

"That was quite enough of you, you insolent spirit of nonsense! Undo what you have done NOW, or suffer the consequences!"

Discord held back his laughter with his paw, so only chuckling came out, and when his amusement subsided, he could answer:

"Surely, you jest! And what are you gonna do? Kill me?"

Celestia furrowed her brows, while Luna lit up her horn, but neither of the sisters gave a reply.

"Oh, I'm so scared!" Discord shook his forelimbs, pretending fear "Here's the ever-angry alicorn of scowly faces, ready to strike me down!"

Then Discord dropped the pretense, and added in a slightly more serious tone:

"I just don't think you know what you're dealing with. I'd suggest you don't waste your powers, lest disappointment comes."

At the last word, Luna released the spell she was charging. In a split-second, the dark blue bolt of magic traveled the distance between Luna's horn and Discord's head, and the latter exploded into a red mist. Blood mixed with fur splattered to the wall of an adjacent house, and pieces of brain matter to the ground. The end of his spine dangled from the neck that still squirted blood, and the body fell to the ground.

Luna raised an eyebrow at the nasty showcase she created, then noticed some ponies from behind one of the houses were watching. They were gagging now, and one of the mares actually threw up. Luna eventually disregarded them, and turned to her sister.

"We're done here. Let's go."

But Celestia didn't move. She took a few slow steps towards Discord's body.

"Did you really have to use a pulverizing bolt? Look at this mess."

Celestia spread out a foreleg to indicate the obvious.

"I did not! It was a normal magic bolt. But his head just... Exploded."

Celestia rolled her eyes, then they stopped on the ponies who were slowly coming out from hiding. They were pretty visibly horrified.

"Look at them. How shocked they are. We should be more considerate around ponies. You know they are squeamish. Such a display of power was unnecessary."

Luna gritted her teeth, and snorted.

"Understand, it wasn't me! Perhaps his head was full of swamp gas, or whatever! It wouldn't be surprising, considering his behavior."

Luna walked to the other side of her sister. Disappointment was plastered on her face.

"And I didn't hear: Good job Luna, well done! That's what you should be saying instead. But no, you're criticizing my methods. I just killed a powerful monster! You should be in awe."

"If you did" Celestia glanced over "then why didn't the corruption dispel?"

Luna stopped in her tracks, and swiveled her neck around. She made a little frown, but then answered with her usual near-unshakable confidence:

"How should I know? Maybe it's the kind of magic that isn't tied to the caster."

"Then we should remove the chaos magic again, and only then we should get a move on."

But instead of Luna, a different voice answered, coming from the general direction of the bloody mess that she caused.

"I'm afraid I can't allow you to do that."

Discord's headless body rose up from the ground, in a manner similar to a snake waking up from its coiled-up slumber.

Both sisters stepped back. Their faces were indicative of anger and bewilderment. In Luna's case, it was more anger than bewilderment.

The spirit of chaos conjured up a pastry bag into his hands, and using it, vacuumed up his liquified head. Then he extruded the contents onto the stump of his neck, where the strange visage of his head was re-formed perfectly. Throwing away the bag (which exploded where it landed), he lifted up a finger, and playfully threatened Luna:

"What did I say to you about not wasting your powers, hm? I said you shouldn't! But at least now you know I don't easily lose my head."

With that, Discord removed his own head, then added:

"Or wait, maybe it's pretty easy... Whatever, these things always confused even me!"

At this point, from the corner of her eye, Celestia saw some ponies fainting. She wanted to speak, but Luna chose to act first.

"Why you... That's not... You're not... AGHH!!!"

With an exasperated groan, Luna fired three quick bolts of magic towards Discord, but he collected them into his paw, and formed a single ball from them. Then, he took a bite.

"Hm, not bad! It tastes like... Blueberry? No, wait, more like... Oh, I'd rather not say that, it might offend you!"

Discord finished his unusual treat, and licked his fingers. Then he finished Luna's sentence.

"You're not a god. That's what you wanted to say? Well, more or less you're right. Technically, I'm no longer a god in the strictest sense of the word. But the Cosmic Council let me retain most of my godly powers. So you still won't be able to kill me. Did I sate your curiosity? Or do we need to continue this pointless fight? Because honestly, you bore me to death."

"But thinking about it" Discord continued after a momentary pause, and put his claws on his chin "That might be your actual tactic! Where spells fail, a more covert method may succeed. You might not be as dumb as you made yourself out to be."

Discord crossed his arms, and his smugness contrasted well with the puzzled face of Luna. But at least Celestia could actually talk. She stepped forward:

"Look Discord, I'm sorry for the bad first impression, but it seems no permanent damage was done. So let's talk finally. From your words, I surmise you have a grudge? Against the Cosmic Council? I don't recollect your story from our codexes, but I bet they are simply incomplete. Something hurts you. Tell it to us. You don't have to take out your anger on these poor ponies. There might be a different way to solve things. So... Let's just talk for now."

Discord's response was his smile turning into a frown, then he fought his tears. He conjured up a couch, and threw himself back on it.

"Oh, yes... I've suffered much trauma, Celestia. You don't believe how much I needed some counsel!"

He put a forearm on his forehead, and glanced over to the taller alicorn.

Celestia's face showed some second-hand regret. She indeed seemed ready to talk.

Discord made a last pouty face, then he couldn't take it anymore, and exploded into laughter. The couch disappeared from underneath him, and he continued guffawing while floating in the air.

"I swear, I swear..." he tried to say a sentence, with an arm on his belly, fighting his uncontrollable laughter "I called your friend a bore, but you?! You're a riot! I don't even understand, didn't La'uriel made all of you according to the same recipe? We have the angry, violent one..."

Discord pointed out Luna.

"And we have the thoughtful, diplomatic one." he pointed at Celestia "What's next? One of you will show up who is just gloomy and arrogant? If yes, now I want to meet all of you!"

Discord continued the sentence, but none of the sisters understood it due to his hollering laughter. Celestia tried to remain calm, she bit on her lower lip, and began:

"Look, I think we can...

But Luna interrupted her sister, and in a threatening voice:

"You wouldn't want to meet all of our tribe, you wretched spirit of chaos! You would be no match for our combined power."

Luna's threat finally snapped Discord out of his fit, and he answered, again sounding more serious:

"Oh, you're still at this? Fine, if you're so adamant about killing me, I'll give you something you can actually kill. But if you don't succeed, this village will be made one with the ground. Not my style, but your incessantness made me impatient. Well, it was my pleasure, ladies!"

Discord jumped into the air, and snapped his fingers.

"Buh-bye!"

With that, Discord disappeared in a flash of light, in the same way he made his entrance. Celestia and Luna remained alone with the villagers, out of whom only a few dared to still snoop.