• Published 2nd Feb 2013
  • 17,961 Views, 1,035 Comments

The Opera Phantom Discord - Alexandrite Ward



Fluttershy's father is captured by the villianous Discord, Phantom of the Opera! Can she save him while being pursued by the handsome and charming Prince Blueblood?

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Sorrow

Sorrow

"It was like an earthquake! The ground just…shook! Like nothing I've ever felt before!"

Inspector Silverstar nodded his head to Flam's explanation of what had occurred at the Maris Opera House, although his brow was creased with confusion. Not long after the fire brigade had been called out, he also received the news that some sort of "explosion" had occurred at the legendary theater. However, when he had arrived, the building still seemed to be intact. It wasn't until he began questioning the two managers that he had learned that the explosion had taken place beneath the opera house.

"Do you have any idea as to what may have caused it?" Silverstar asked, carefully examining the stage, taking note of several chard floorboards.

"None whatsoever," Flim sighed. "We never ordered any sort of construction, and were not told that the city would be doing any sort work…it came as a complete shock to all of us!"

Silverstar silently nodded his head. "Is there anything beneath the opera house that could perhaps trigger such a violent reaction?"

Both managers glanced at one another. The chief inspector turned around to face them, immediately taking note of their wary expressions. "Well?"

"All that's down there are…old props and costumes…" Flim mumbled.

"In fact…we never use the items down there," Flam added.

Silverstar looked even more confused. "I don't understand…are you saying that this simply…occurred by itself?"

"No, they're saying that the bloody Phantom was behind it."

The two managers and the chief inspector turned to see the Prince enter the auditorium, his hoofsome features marred by a dark expression.

"Monsieur!" both managers cried, rushing towards him.

"Oh thank God you're here!"

"You won't believe the madness we've endured!"

"Explosions, threats, hysterical actors–"

"We could have lost our lives!"

"Calm down," Blueblood softly ordered, to which the two stallions immediately ceased their speech. The Prince kept his eyes locked on Silverstar, whose face was turning a bright shade of red, knowing exactly what the hoofsome noblecolt was thinking. Blueblood then began to look over the stage, noticing, thankfully, that any damage that had been done was at a bare minimum. Still…it was too close to call, in his opinion.

"Are you satisfied, Silverstar?" Blueblood questioned.

Silverstar paled at the Prince's words. "S-s-satisfied? Whatever do you mean?"

"I mean your insistence that I, and everyone else at this theater, were completely mad for believing that a masked lunatic and his army of freaks, lived beneath this place and was capable of anything!"

Everyone shrank at the sound of the Prince's roar. Silverstar attempted to show some courage; after all, he felt it somewhat unfair to blame this whole incident on him. "Now s-s-see here," he stammered. "I told you that I was now starting to see what you were talking about–"

"Ah yes, that's right," Blueblood muttered with great sarcasm. "Better late than never, eh?"

Silverstar was at a loss for words by the Prince's accusation. "N-now s-see here!" he stammered with embarrassment, glancing briefly at the two managers who were now sharing the Prince's same glares of disdain.

"It doesn't matter," Blueblood grumbled with a wave of his hoof. "The damage has been done. Let us at least be thankful that it wasn't the entire opera house that he chose to blow up!"

When Blueblood had received word about the explosion, it had sounded far worse than how Master had explained it would be. He cursed the gypsy as his carriage carried him to the opera house, only to let out a sigh of relief when he arrived to find that the building remained standing. However, now as he surveyed the damage, which was not great from what anyone could see on the ground level, and as he heard the stories that were flying around from the various chorus members that he had passed on his way into the auditorium, as well as from the two managers, Blueblood began to see how this whole incident may, in fact, play in his favor.

The truth of the matter was that Blueblood was not entirely convinced that the explosion had truly killed his nemesis. He listened in great detail to the reports of how the ground shook, to the flames that had burst through the trap doors, thinking that it was unlikely anyone could survive such a thing…but still, his paranoia remained.

"I just don't understand it…" Flam murmured. "Why would he do such a thing?"

Blueblood opened his mouth to reply with the usual retort, that the Phantom was a devil and a madstallion, but suddenly, a new plan was forming…

"May I see this note that he left?" he inquired. Silverstar had been holding the letter, and reluctantly hoofed it over to the Prince. "A disaster beyond your imagination will occur…" he read out loud. "I think, gentlecolts, that he was sending us a warning."

"A warning?" both managers said together, looking confused.

Blueblood nodded his head. "Absolutely, it's the only thing that makes sense! He must have learned of our plans to capture him; that we were simply putting on this whole opera as a means to take him prisoner…and so he chose to frighten us by showing how vast his madness is, as a means to intimidate, even dare us to follow through with our plan."

"Worked for me," Flam muttered to his partner.

Silverstar scratched his mustache. "You're suggesting that the Phantom destroyed his own underground lair as a means to create a diversion so that he could escape before your plan was put into motion?"

"No," Blueblood said with a shake of his head. "I'm suggesting that he learned of our plans…and chose to send us a message." He could not help but grin as he noticed he had the three stallion's attention. "Think about it gentlecolts…what reasons can you grasp by him destroying his own home?"

Silverstar immediately had the answer. "Lack of evidence."

"Exactly!" Blueblood exclaimed. "He destroys all proof that he once lived beneath the opera house so that none of it can be used against him. And, by willingly destroying his secret underground world, he is sending us a message…a message of warning…"

"Indeed," Silverstar added, catching on to the Prince's theory. "He's telling us 'if I'm willing to destroy my own home…just think what I will do to your theater.'"

Both Flim and Flam paled at the chief inspector's words.

"But he made a vital mistake…" Blueblood continued.

"He did?" Flim asked.

Blueblood nodded his head. "He assumed we were going to storm his fortress, attempt to overtake him on his own territory…"

Flim and Flam exchanged confused glances. "We weren't?"

"Of course not!" Blueblood groaned in annoyance. "Why go hunting, when you can lure your prey to you?"

The two managers exchanged glances at one another, before slowly beginning to smile with revelation to what their dear patron was saying.

"Wait," Silverstar interrupted. "You actually believe that…that he's still alive?"

I hope not, Blueblood thought to himself. In truth, he did not know, but he wasn't prepared to take any chances. "What point is there in killing himself?" Blueblood questioned. "Where would be his triumph then? It is a possibility that he was unable to escape his elaborate explosion," he sighed. "But perhaps that is exactly what he wants us to believe? Perhaps he assumes that we will not be expecting him, or that we will cancel his opera?"

"Oh God," Flim groaned. "What are we going to do about the opera? Tomorrow is opening night! The papers will be filled with news about the explosion, it will ruin–"

"Calm down, Flim," Blueblood interrupted, his hoof gripping the older manager's shoulder tightly. "What have I told you about scandal? No matter what, it always sells tickets."

Flam looked just as shocked as his partner. "Are you suggesting that we go on with it?"

"Absolutely," Blueblood confirmed. "Why, I just learned yesterday that we've sold practically every seat! When was the last time you can remember a full house? Everyone is talking about this opera…even at my own clubs, all anyone can talk about is Don Juan Triumphant and who the new star is." He could not help but grin as he imagined all the money they would make from both the Phantom's opera, and his "disaster". "Celestia herself could not bring us such publicity. This explosion will surely help us sell out, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if we had people lined up just hoping to stand in the foyer tomorrow!"

Both managers were grinning from ear to ear as they too began to imagine all the money that would be pouring in.

"And as for our dear chief inspector," Blueblood continued, smiling at Silverstar. "This will be your opportunity to redeem yourself."

Silverstar frowned at the Prince's words. "Now see here, you can not blame me or my men for–"

"Think of the heroism that will fall upon you and your office if you capture the Phantom?" Blueblood murmured, attempting to make his plan sound as intriguing as possible. "You and your men stand guard at every entrance and backstage with your guns loaded and waiting…and we know he will make an appearance with Mademoiselle Fluttershy performing."

"That's right!" Flim cut in. "She's the bait that will lure him!"

Blueblood continued smiling, despite the fact that he could feel his neck muscles twitching at the thought Fluttershy bedding that monster. "As soon as we spot him, we take him down!"

Silverstar smiled faintly, still showing that he was not entirely sure about this plot, and doubting very much that the creature could still be alive. But one thing the Prince had mentioned was right, even if Silverstar did not wish to admit it. He knew about the creature, he knew that it existed, that the Prince had been correct with all the evidence he had shown…and now a disaster had taken place, which thankfully had not taken any known lives. But who knows what would happen should he continue to ignore the existence or the threat of the supposed "Phantom of the Opera".

"Very well," Silverstar agreed. "My men and I will be here tomorrow evening, standing guard and standing prepared should the fiend arrive."

Blueblood could not help but smile smugly. "Excellent. Now, Flim, Flam," he said turning to the two managers. "I think it's best that you bring in the rest of the company and explain to them that we shall be continuing as planned, for tomorrow night."

Both men nodded their heads, and immediately went out into the foyer where the company was waiting to hear word on what was going on. Twilight Luna, who had been standing and talking with several other dance mares, took immediate notice that Fluttershy was nowhere in sight. She left her small group of friends to search for the brunette, having a sneaking suspicion of where she may have gone.

To no surprise, Twilight was right as to where Fluttershy was. She found the young mare in her dressing room, crumpled on the ground, sobbing, and desperately trying to pry the hinges from her mirror off with a hammer. "Fluttershy?" Twilight asked in a tentative voice. She knew Fluttershy had been upset when the explosion had occurred, but she was still unsure as to why.

"I have…I have to get down there," Fluttershy mumbled through her sobs, still trying to pry the mirror open.

Twilight slowly approached the crying mare, unsure exactly what to say or do. "Get down there?"

"Yes," Fluttershy choked, "I…I need…I need to know…"

Twilight was very confused, but felt her heart swell with sadness for her friend. "Need to know what, Fluttershy?"

"I…I…I need to know…" she sobbed, her efforts with the hammer slowing. "I need to know if…if he's alright…if…if…I…" she dropped the hammer and crumpled completely, her head falling against the mirror's smooth surface, as the tears overwhelmed her. "Oh Twilight…" she wailed in utter despair.

The ballerina quickly fell to her knees and gathered Fluttershy's sobbing form in her arms, hugging her friend tightly. "It's alright Fluttershy…it will be alright," she attempted to soothe, although she had a hard time believing her own words. How could she expect Fluttershy to believe them?

Fluttershy clung to the small dance mare, her body weak and tired from crying, her heart overflowing with sorrow. After the fire brigade had finished dousing the flames and given the all clear, she was one of the first to hurry back inside. She flew to the chapel where Madame Luna had emerged earlier, but much to her despair, found the small passageway blocked by several large rocks that had caved in. The police arrived shortly after, and were keeping the rest of the company in the foyer while the chief inspector examined the auditorium along with the managers. Fluttershy's only other choice was the mirror in her dressing room. Had she thought about it, she would have asked Discord when they were together the other day how he opened the mirror. She had been tempted to break the glass, hoping still that somehow she'd find a door on the other side. But a part of her couldn't bear to break it; what if she ruined any chance at him returning to her? Perhaps it was the only way out for him now? Of course…that all depended whether he was still alive…and her doubts were growing more and more.

"Twilight? Fluttershy?"

Both mares looked up to see another dancer standing in the doorway of the dressing room.

"Is…is everything alright?"

Twilight nodded her head. "We're fine, Carrot Top."

The mare gave a faint smile, but still looked worried. "You both best come into the auditorium. The Prince is here–"

Fluttershy's head snapped up. "The…the Prince is here?"

Carrot Top smiled a little more and nodded her head. "Yes, and he wishes to address all of us."

Fluttershy felt her blood begin to boil. She didn't know how exactly…but deep inside she knew that Blueblood was to blame for all this.

Twilight immediately noticed the change in her friend. "Thank you, Carrot Top," she quickly replied, hoping that the mare would take her leave. Fluttershy rose to her feet, and Twilight quickly followed. "Fluttershy, you don't have to go out there," she intervened. "I will tell you everything, but you don't need to leave, you don't have to face him."

"Yes, I do," Fluttershy murmured, her tone somewhat harsher than normal. She walked out of the dressing room, and immediately took one of the side doors that led directly into the auditorium. The whole company was sitting, facing the stage…and there he stood, tall, proud, and extremely arrogant, addressing them as a dictator addresses his troops.

"I know that this harrowing experience was traumatic for many of you," he spoke with rehearsed sympathy. "And like you, I too have many questions: why did this happen? What was the meaning behind it? And perhaps the most important question, how exactly should we respond?"

A soft murmur went up around the auditorium; that was exactly what many of the company's members were thinking.

"Well, after careful consideration, and much discussion with our fine managers, we have decided to continue things as planned."

The murmur suddenly erupted into a great din of voices, many of which were gasping with surprise and protesting to the Prince's announcement. Even Fluttershy was shocked. They wanted the opera to go on?

"Tomorrow is opening night, and Don Juan Triumphant will go on as planned," Flim stated quite firmly.

"Here! Here!" Flam heartily replied, although he was one of the few voices to respond positively.

"This is crazy!" Fancypants cried. "We could have been killed! And you want us to carry on?"

"It's a necessity, signor," Blueblood muttered.

Celestia lifted a brow at Blueblood's words. "A necessity? How do you mean?"

Blueblood groaned, although inside he couldn't stop grinning. "If you must know," he sighed, pulling a letter from the inside of his jacket, "we owe our thanks for this underground display of fireworks to none other, than the Phantom of the Opera."

A great gasp went up from around the auditorium, including Fluttershy. However, unlike the others, she was fuming with anger as Blueblood waved the letter like a flag.

"Our dear Phantom sent us a warning…" Blueblood continued to explain. "He says that unless things go according to his plans, a disaster beyond our imaginations will occur."

Another murmur went up around the auditorium. No one could understand it! Why would the Phantom threaten them? Weren't they doing everything he had asked?

Fluttershy was gripping the armrests of her chair, her anger raging. Were they actually blaming Discord for this? Were they actually suggesting that he would destroy his entire world and commit suicide…just to frighten them?

"Well, he tried to frighten us, showing us the evil he is capable of committing. And I, for one, am tired of being bullied by some masked fiend!"

Several people in the auditorium began to grumble with agreement, while the others continued to look around warily, as if not convinced that the Opera Ghost was not watching.

"So we shall continue with our plans and show him once and for all that this is our theater!"

A rumble of applause went up from the auditorium, many people nodding their heads to the Prince's words. Fluttershy on the other hoof, couldn't stand it any longer. "He would never do such a thing!"

Blueblood's victorious smile faded instantly at the sound of Fluttershy's voice. Everyone turned to stare at the young mare who had spoken in the Phantom's defense.

Fluttershy lifted her chin and held her head high. "Do you honestly think that the Phantom would destroy his underground realm simply to frighten us?"

Blueblood felt his jaw tighten. "He's a lunatic," he growled. "He's capable of anything."

"He's a genius!" Fluttershy retorted, causing several people to gasp in surprise. "And it makes no sense!"

"It's right here!" Blueblood bellowed, throwing the letter up into the air. "Written in his own hoof, plain as the eye can see!"

"From what I have heard, the Phantom's letters have always been detailed with clear and concise instructions. Why would he be so ambiguous now?"

"Well forgive me, mademoiselle, but you have not been dealing with this villain for as long as we have!" Blueblood spat back. "He is capable of committing the most vile crime! He is mad enough to take his own life in the process of taking ours!"

"He would never do such a thing!" Fluttershy shouted back.

"He's a demon! A monster! A–"

"HE'S NOT A MONSTER! YOU ARE! AND I KNOW YOU ARE THE ONE BEHIND THIS!"

Everypony gasped and stared in shock and horror as Fluttershy screamed her accusation upon the Prince. Yet no one was as shocked as Blueblood himself. "She's hysterical," he muttered to the managers. "Get her out of here before she further causes a scene."

Flim and Flam had been frozen to their places the whole time, but quickly broke from their trance at Blueblood's words. "Yes, of course," Flim muttered, signaling to several stagehooves to come forward. "Take Mademoiselle Fluttershy to her dressing room…she is clearly upset from today's trauma."

"What?" Fluttershy gasped, and then she began to struggle against the strong grip of the stagehooves as they held her by the shoulders and began to pull her away. "GET YOUR HOOVES OFF ME! LET ME GO! DAMN YOU BLUEBLOOD!"

Blueblood turned his back on her shrieking, his face dark with rage and jealousy. Even now, she defended that creature. How he despised that monster, more than anything else in this world.

"Monsieur? Do you think it's wise for Mademoiselle Fluttershyto continue performing as planned?" Flam whispered. "Perhaps we should have Celestia–"

"No," Blueblood growled, deep and low. "Fluttershy will perform, that's who the people want to see anyway…they've heard too much about this chorus mare-turned opera star. But take control!" he hissed. "Don't let them even think about this morning…have them rehearse for as long as it takes…but do not let them dwell on today's events."

Both managers quickly nodded their heads, too intimidated to contradict their patron. A slow breath escaped their chests as they watched the Prince turn on his heel and exit the auditorium, causing the doors to bang loudly behind him.

"Well!" Flim coughed, looking stern. "Come now Madam Octavia! We have an opera to perform!"

The conductor groaned and rolled her eyes as he rose from her chair. "Come along everyone," she grumbled.

Meanwhile, Fluttershy continued to struggle against her "prison guards". "Let her go!" Madame Luna hissed, appearing around a corner, surprising them. They didn't have to be told twice, and quickly dropped her arms. Madame Luna wrapped a protective arm around Fluttershy's shoulders, glaring at each of the stagehooves until they all turned and quickly retreated the way they had come. Madame Luna turned then to Fluttershy, her voice a gentle whisper. "Are you alright my dear?"

"NO!" Fluttershy shouted, her anger and sorrow brimming over. "You know Discord would never do such a thing!"

"I know, my dear, I know," Madame Luna murmured, leading Fluttershy towards her dressing room.

"I'm not crazy, Madame Luna, you know that!"

"Of course I do!" the dance mistress replied, squeezing Fluttershy's hoof. "And like you, I too believe that Discord would never do such a thing, let alone write such a letter."

"The letter…" Fluttershy whispered. "Where did they get that letter?"

Madame Luna sighed and shook her head. "I don't know…but I find it hard to believe that it was written by Discord's hoof."

Fluttershy turned and gripped the older mare by the shoulders. "You have to take me to him," she implored. "Please Madame Luna, you must show me how I can get down there, and–"

"Fluttershy…" Madame Luna felt her own heart breaking with having to tell the young mare the sad news, but it couldn't wait another moment. "Fluttershy…I…I saw it happen. I heard the explosion, I smelled the gunpowder…and I saw his world go up in flames and cave in." She bit her lip, knowing this was going to be hard for the mare to understand, and extremely hard to tell her, especially when Madame Luna could see the hope dying in the mare's blue eyes. "No one…no one could survive such a–"

"No!" Fluttershy cried. "Don't…don't say that!"

"My dear, it would be a miracle if Discord, or the others, survived. The damage that was done was great indeed; it wasn't just fire or falling stone that threatened their lives…but the smoke was so great, how could anyone not choke on it?"

Fluttershy felt her head spin. She couldn't believe it, she just couldn't! Or was it that she didn't want to believe it?

Madame Luna hated herself for smashing the mare's hopes…but would it have been worse allowing her to hope when it was not possible? She carefully led Fluttershy to the chaise lounge in her dressing room, and helped her to lie down. "Get some rest," she murmured, smoothing a few stray curls from her brow. "I will check on you later."

Fluttershy said nothing; she didn't even nod her head. The tears that flowed down her cheeks were cold and silent, for that was exactly how she felt…hollow. Just like the ruined realm that lay beneath the Maris Opera House.

Blueblood was fuming.
Fluttershy's words continued to echo in his ears during the whole ride home.

Monster. She had called him a monster!

And she continued to defend that villain!

No…he would not be defeated, even if that masked fiend was dead! She was going to be his! He would possess her body, her soul, and especially the fortune that the Marquis Filthy Rich was planning on leaving her. He would have that mare no matter what!

Blueblood pushed his coachcolt out of the way as he climbed down the carriage himself. His butler, who had been standing ready by the door, quickly opened it upon noticing his master's temper. "Monsieur?"

"What?" he barked at the butler, wanting nothing more than a stiff glass of whisky to ease the ache in his head.

"T-t-there is a…well…a 'gentlecolt'…of sorts, to see you, in the library," the butler stammered slightly.

Blueblood's brow furrowed at the information, but then clarity washed over him as he realized whom the servant was talking about. "Thank you," he grumbled, pushing past the butler and going straight into the library. He would have to make sure that nothing was missing before dismissing his unwanted guest.

"Master," Blueblood muttered, seeing the tall graying gypsy examining one of Blueblood's many elegant book shelves.

"Ah, monsieur," Master greeted, smiling and giving a slight bow to the noblecolt. Blueblood simply grunted and shut the door behind him. "I was admiring your fine collection," Master continued, as if nothing were amiss.

Blueblood looked at the books on the shelf. "Can you read?"

Master chuckled. "Barely. But a stallion doesn't need to be a great reader to not know the great value of such books."

Blueblood rolled his eyes, taking a mental note to inspect the shelf closely before the gypsy left. "What are you doing here?"

The old gypsy's smile faded at the hostility in the Prince's voice. "I've come to collect the other 5,000 you owe me."

Blueblood said nothing, he simply walked over to a small table where a bottle of whisky lay and proceeded to pour himself a glass. The gypsy frowned at the lack of response. "Did you hear what I said?"

"Quite clearly," Blueblood muttered, taking a large gulp from his glass. "And you said I could pay you the other 5,000 once the Phantom was killed."

"That's right," Master muttered, his impatience growing. "And that's what I did!"

Blueblood took another drink. "We don't know that."

"WHAT?" Master was fuming. "What do you mean? Of course he is! No one could survive that! We had over thirty barrels of gunpowder! A cockroach wouldn't even survive such a–"

"You nearly destroyed my opera house!" Blueblood retorted, his eyes flaring up with anger. "And that was NOT part of our deal!"

"Please," Master grumbled. "Last I saw it, it was still standing…and besides, you wanted us to take care of your 'problem' without leaving any evidence behind…and I think we did just that! So pay me my 5,000!"

It was no use arguing with the stallion. He was convinced that the job had been done right, but Blueblood could not shake off that disturbing feeling, that everything had not gone according to plan…

And that was when Blueblood saw the opportunity rise.

"Were you able to get those creatures?"

Master was still fuming. "Don't change the subject," he snapped. "I got my freaks, but I want my–"

"I'll pay you your 5,000…plus extra, if you do me a little favor…"

Master stared at the noblecolt as if he had two heads. "You must be out of your mind! You expect me to do more favors for you before I receive my full payment? No, I'm finished making deals with you!"

"It will be worth your while…" Blueblood attempted to reason.

"No deal! Pay me my 5,000!"

"I could pay you another 10,000!"

Master stared at the Prince in surprise, his mouth falling open at the hoofsome pony's words. Even Blueblood was shocked by what he said…but he quickly brushed the surprise away, needing to make this deal desperately. "There is a mare…she…she…" he couldn't finish the sentence. "The Phantom took her prisoner, and she grew…close…with those monsters. They mean much to her, in fact, it was only two days ago when she rescued one of them from the police."

Master wanted to pretend that he didn't care, but he found himself intrigued by the Prince's story. "I'm listening," he softly urged.

"This mare is an heiress…she is to receive the whole fortune of the Marquis Filthy Rich upon the time of his death, which could be any day now. If I am able to marry her, I could give you another 10,000 on top of the 10,000 franks I'm already paying you."

"You've only paid me 5,000 franks so far."

Blueblood rolled his eyes and bit his lip to keep from shouting at the stubborn gypsy.

Master ran his hooves through his long silver beard. "Does she hold feelings for you?"

Blueblood tasted blood on the inside of his mouth. He realized then that Master's question had caused him to bite his cheek in anger. "She has feelings for those…those things that you took," he carefully explained. "And with your help, we can convince her to…accept…my proposal."

Master could not help but grin at Blueblood's words. "That is truly loathsome," he murmured. "I love it."

Fluttershy awoke with a start, sitting up abruptly and looking at her surroundings wildly. She had just had the most horrible dream; there was a great fire at the opera house, and Discord and his friends were trapped, and she could not reach them…
It wasn't a dream, she realized with a heavy heart.

She remembered everything now; the ground shaking, the smoke billowing from the air vents, giant orange flames bursting from the trap doors, and Madame Luna, telling her that there was no hope.

Discord was dead. Derpy and all the others were dead. Nothing could survive such an explosion…

Fluttershy felt cold and hollow. She wrapped her arms around her body, her every muscle aching with grief. Her hooves slowly fell to her belly, and new tears brimmed at the corners of her eyes.

Their son or daughter would never know his or her father.

Was it possible to die from a broken heart? Yes…for Fluttershy felt as if she were dying inside.

"Fluttershy?"

She turned her head to the doorway, seeing her father standing there, attempting to smile, but failing miserably. He said nothing else; he simply went to her side and wrapped his arms around her. Fluttershy let out a sad but grateful sigh, and hugged him back just as fiercely. "Oh Papa," she moaned, burying her face against his shoulder as she wept.

Time Turner ran his old hooves through his daughter's hair, whispering soothing words into her ear, yet knowing they would do little to relieve her sorrow. "When your mother died, I…I thought it was the end of the world…" he began. "I didn't want to go on living…I didn't want to face another day without seeing her beautiful face, or hearing her lovely voice…" his arms held Fluttershy even tighter as he could feel her trembling against him. "And I think…I would have let the sorrow eat me away, until there was nothing left…had it not been for you…"

Fluttershy looked up at him, her brow slightly furrowed at his words. "Me?" she sniffled.

Time Turner smiled softly and nodded his head as his hoof brushed a fallen curl away from her face. "I realized that I had my daughter to take care of, that you needed me, and if I gave in to my sorrow, you would be mourning two parents, not one," he sighed and kissed her forehead. "Fluttershy…I'm not saying that the pain will ever go away, or that things will get easier. I still grieve for your mother after all this time…but I know that she would want me to continue living, for her…for you."

Fluttershy opened her mouth to speak, but her father put his hoof to her lips. "I know, my dear."

Fluttershy's brow contorted even more. What did he mean? What did he know? And then it dawned on her…

"How…how long?" she whispered, unsure how he would react. Would he be disappointed? Upset? Angry?

Time Turner smiled softly. "After you had fainted on stage, I began to put the puzzle pieces together. You weren't eating very much, and yet you seemed to be ill much of the time. I remember your mother having similar dizzy spells and moments of sickness…and at first, I was worried; worried that perhaps the Phantom had…" he didn't finish his thoughts; no father ever wanted to finish such thoughts. "But when you told me how much you loved him, and how deeply he returned your love…I realized then that it hadn't been my worst fear."

Fluttershy smiled faintly to her father's words. "I'm sorry, Papa–"

"Oh no, my dear!" Time Turner shook his head, holding her face in his hooves. "You misunderstand, I am not upset, and I am not disappointed. I…I cannot condemn you, my child. When I met your mother, I…" he blushed slightly. "We were much younger, and our passion for one another could not be contained, at least not before our marriage. And I know that Discord had every intention of marrying you…" his words faded as he noticed the sorrow rise once more in his daughter's eyes. "What I am trying to say is…the pain you are feeling is great indeed, and it will be hard…but you must go on living, Fluttershy. Think of Discord…and think of your child…"

Fluttershy let out a long shaky breath as her hoof fell once more to her stomach. It pained her to think that Discord would never see their child…but she knew her father was right. She wanted to die, but she couldn't, and she wouldn't. She needed to go on living for Discord, for their son or daughter. She would tell the child all about his or her father; how he was a great musician, how he ran an opera house, how he wrote a great opera…how she and him met. She would tell the child about Discord's past, about the friends he looked after, about the cruelty that ponies can inflict upon others, and yet how despite all that, the two of them had found love. Discord would live on her heart, always and forever, in her memory, and in their child.

"Thank you, Papa," she murmured, hugging him tightly.

Time Turner smiled and hugged his daughter back. They held each other for a long time, giving one another strength, before finally letting go, as the sounds from the orchestra sailed into the dressing room. Time Turner sighed with annoyance. "I can't believe they actually want to go on with this performance."

Fluttershy was frowning too, but for different reasons. She rose from the chaise lounge and began walking towards the door. "Come," she said to her father. "There is something of great importance I wish to say."

Time Turner's eyes narrowed with confusion. "To whom?"

"Everyone." Without another word, she began walking towards the stage, her father following directly behind.

Flim and Flam were sitting in the auditorium, looking absolutely miserable, while Fancypants continued singing Don Juan's title song. Celestia was having a fit because no one was letting her sing Aminta's songs, and the dance that danced behind Don Juan, looked extremely tired. However, everyone fell silent, as Fluttershy walked out onto the stage.

"Mademoiselle!" both managers cried at once.

Fancypants looked horrified that his solo had been interrupted. Madam Octavia looked both thankful, and annoyed, that Fluttershy had finally chosen to join the rehearsals. There were several other chorus members who were also sharing the conductor's sentiments, thankful she had interrupted the rehearsal, grumbling that she had some nerve to come in late. "I'm glad our little ingénue chose to join us," Celestia scoffed with bitterness.

Fluttershy ignored the mare and looked directly at the managers. Both Flim and Flam were unsure exactly what to say. "Well…" Flam began. "Good to see that you are feeling better, mademoiselle."

"Indeed," Flim added. "Now that you are here, we can truly rehearse. Madam Octavia, if you please–"

"No."

Everyone stared in wide-eyed confusion and shock at the words that had escaped Fluttershy's mouth. Her voice had not been loud, but it had been extremely clear.

"No?" Flam, Flim, and Octavia said together.

"That's right," Fluttershy continued. "No…as in no, I will not rehearse."

Octavia groaned and threw her baton up into the air. Another prima donna in the making…

"What do you mean 'no'?" Flim asked, his annoyance growing.

"In case you didn't realize, mademoiselle," Flam muttered, not hiding his own annoyance. "We have a performance tomorrow evening! And we need–"

"Why are you doing this?" Fluttershy questioned, although she was asking the question to everyone, not just the managers. "Why are you performing this opera? None of you like it, I've heard you all complain about it. Why do it then?"

"The Phantom, of course!" Fancypants defended, shaking his hoof to the catwalks overhead. "He has ordered us to perform his opera, or–"

"You never paid attention to his instructions before!" Fluttershy accused, her voice rising slightly. "You took some things to heart, but you never followed them to the line as you're doing now…why this opera? Why this performance? And why now, exactly? The Phantom is dead!"

Fluttershy gasped as the words escaped her lips. Had she really said that? Did she believe it? "The Phantom is dead…" she repeated again, this time her words nothing more than mere whisper.

Flim and Flam glanced at one another warily. "We…we don't know that, for sure," Flam retorted. "This could all be a ruse! A plan to trick us! Besides, why would he commit suicide–"

"He didn't commit suicide, he was murdered!" Fluttershy shouted, causing the younger manager to tremble and stutter.

"That's a heavy accusation," Flim murmured.

"And how could it be murder?" Celestia grumbled. "No one cares about that villain anyway…you ask me, it was justice!"

Fluttershy rounded on the mare, and the diva gave a shriek before shielding herself behind Fancypants. She still remembered the day Fluttershy had punched her right in the eye.

"I care!" Fluttershy shouted. "And for too long I have been silent…but not anymore. I love him!" a gasp went out from around the stage, but Fluttershy carried on, not letting her courage fade. "Why did the Phantom choose me, you ask? Where was I all these months? I was with him! He took me prisoner, but in exchange for my freedom, he taught me to sing…and he crafted my voice, helped me become great…and I am great!" she shouted, lifting her chin with pride. "Think what you will, but I am a good singer, and you know that," her eyes fell on Celestia, who was attempting to look away. "And while I was there, locked away in his underground realm, a world that exists no more…I fell in love with him," another gasp went up from everyone, although now, some of the company looked sympathetic…and ashamed. "Those were the happiest months of my life…" Fluttershy whispered, before her eyes fell once more on the managers. "He is not the monster you make him out to be! He is a genius! And you…you are nothing but a hoard of greedy, frightened, cowards!"

Flim and Flam both began to cough in surprise at Fluttershy's words. "Now…now see here!" Flim shouted in defense. "That's going too far–"

"No, monsieur, it's the truth. You perform his opera, doing so in the name of fear, but what have you to fear now? He's dead! No…you carry on, because while you hate the music and you hate the composer…you will gladly take the money his genius has created!" she spat with bitterness.

The managers opened their mouths to reply, but found they had been robbed of their voices.

"Hypocrites," Fluttershy muttered. "Cowardly hypocrites."

She turned then, and began walking towards Celestia. The blonde soprano gave a high-pitched squeak, and pushed Fancypants in front of her. "Stay away from me!"

"It's yours."

Celestia stopped squeaking, and carefully looked over Fancypants's shoulder. "W-w-what?"

Everyone held their breath, wondering what Fluttershy was going to do. "I said, it's yours," Fluttershy repeated. "The part, the role of Aminta…take it."

"WHAT?" gasped the managers, along with half of the chorus. Twilight glanced at her mother, who was also looking shocked by Fluttershy's offer. Yet no one looked as shocked as Celestia herself.

"You…you w-want me to take the part of Aminta?" Celestia asked slowly.

Fluttershy nodded her head. "Yes. You've wanted it for so long, although I know that was more because you wanted to play the lead. You cared nothing for the character, or the story, or the music…all you care about is having the lead."

Her words stung, but that was the point. Celestia knew deep in her bones that it was true. "What game are you playing at?" she asked, eyeing Fluttershy suspiciously.

"No game," Fluttershy confirmed. "I'm giving you the role of Aminta. I don't want it anymore." Her words were short and everyone could hear the emotion behind them, but Fluttershy continued to hold her head high, her eyes focused on Celestia's.

"Mademoiselle!" Flam gasped finally. "What are you doing?"

"It's been advertised in the papers that you will be playing the lead!" Flim explained, his voice pleading. "You must play Aminta! You can not do this!"

"I am," Fluttershy murmured, looking around the stage at all the faces that were gazing at her with confusion, sadness, and shock. Her eyes lingered momentarily on Twilight and Madame Luna, before turning to look at her father. He gave her a soft smile, one filled with understanding. "I quit."

"YOU QUIT?!?" they shouted together in disbelief.

"As do I," Time Turner murmured.

"WHAT?" Flam gasped, looking as if he were going to faint dead away.

"No! Time Turner, you can't do this to us! Not a second time!" Flim cried.

Neither Fluttershy nor her father said anything further. Hoof in hoof, they walked off the stage, and out the auditorium, leaving a stunned company, and two wailing managers, behind.

Derpy groaned as pain ripped through her arms. She had been pushing at rocks and pulling at boulders for hours, trying to get to the Master who had been trapped in the cave-in from the explosion.
Carmen mewed behind him, leaping over the rocks Derpy had removed and sniffing the air around her, as if trying to find a weak spot in the wall of stone that barricaded the hunchback from the Phantom.

"Master?" Derpy cried. "H-h-hold on! I'm c-c-coming!" she grunted as she pulled more rocks away, watching carefully to make sure that she did not cause further damage to the already ravaged labyrinth.

Derpy shuddered as the memories of what had occurred earlier once more replayed before his eyes. She and the tiny kitten had fled from the sight where Master and his stallions were dispensing the gunpowder. She went immediately to the Master's chambers, shocked at seeing that the Master was not there. Where had he gone? She went to Fluttershy's old chambers, but found nothing their either. She began searching all the tunnels and hidden chambers, hoping to find some sign of the Master…and then, she smelled the smoke.

Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

It was a horrible smell, a smell mixed with hate and fear. Derpy knew she had to get away from it, as far as possible. Gathering Carmen close, she hurried down the tunnels, away from the foul smoky stench, as fast as her legs could carry him.

And then she spotted the Master.

He was flying down an opposite tunnel, his black cape billowing behind him like a bat's silken wings, heading towards the smell, heading towards the danger.

Derpy gave a cry of dismay and horror, and desperately tried to reach the Master before it was too late. She carefully crossed the divide between the two tunnels, calling out the Master's name, hoping he would hear her voice and at least pause, if not stop.

The Master was very fast, and Derpy knew she would not be able to keep up. "Master!" he shouted. "MASTER!" Derpy reached the other tunnel and began to hurry after Discord. She was panting, her side aching, her head swimming from the smoke that was now beginning to fill the tunnel, and her stomach churning with growing dread. Even Carmen was burrowing deeper inside her pocket, mewing out of fear. "MASTER!"

And then, the Master had stopped. He had just gone around a corner and paused. And Derpy saw why.

A flame, extremely small, was chasing a trail of gunpowder. And the trail came to an end where a pile of barrels lay clumped together. The flame had reached its destination…

Derpy said nothing, she simply acted. She grabbed the Master by the hem of his cape and hurled him with all her strength, back down the tunnel which they had been running. Derpy, her large hooves clutching her pocket protectively, dove under a large piece of rock, praying for safety, as behind her she heard a great blast.
Derpy knew that she should have been dead; she was far too close to where the explosion had occurred, and even the large rock that she had taken shelter under should have collapsed with all the weight that had fallen on it. But no…the rock, her shelter, remained steadfast, shielding her large body from the explosion and the stone that caved in all around her. Truly, she had witnessed a miracle.

And now, she only prayed that she could witness another miracle. After the dust settled, Derpy emerged from her shelter and noticed the large wall of stone that had collapsed all around her, barricading himself from where she had flung the Master. She immediately went to work, hauling, pulling, and pushing stone away, coughing from the dust and smoke that still filled the ruined tunnel.

"Meow!"

Derpy glanced up to see Carmen pawing at a particular rock. She was sniffing it with much interest, and Derpy noticed that her tiny nose was examining a crack between the rocks. When she moved her dark furry head, a tiny splinter of dim light pierced through.

"Master!" Derpy cried, immediately attempting to pull the boulder away. "M-master! I'm c-c-coming! H-h-hang on!" Carmen continued mewing, as if in encouragement. Derpy grunted as she pulled at the boulder, sweat dripping down her brow, her hooves blistered and bleeding, every muscle in her body aching, but she continued her struggle, she continued pulling…

And then, with a great thud, the boulder, fell away, and along with it, so did other rocks, crumbling around it, the entire wall rolling away and giving him access into the tunnel. Snatching up Carmen, Derpy placed the kitten once more inside her pocket and began to desperately search for the Master.

It was so dark.

Nothing was familiar anymore; the elaborate tunnels that stretched in the Phantom's underground labyrinth had been reduced to piles of rubble. The sliver of light that Derpy had seen through the crack belonged to a small, dying flame, which glowed from what looked like a piece of fabric.

Derpy's stomach tightened. "MASTER!" she cried, rushing towards the glow. The hunchback's suspicions had been correct; the fire had been eating away at Discord's cape. She quickly doused the flames, and bit her lip as she looked down at her Master, lying deathly still.

He lay on his side, his black mask somewhat askew, his clothes tattered and covered with dust, and there were several large, horrid looking cuts on his brow, lip, arms, and legs. "M-m-master?" Derpy whispered, fear swelling in her chest. He looked lifeless…lying there. Was his chest even moving? "Master…please…p-p-please w-wake up…"

Derpy felt the tears begin to fall, and her throat tightened as she touched the Master's hoof, gasping at how cool it felt. It didn't look like he was breathing. The Master…he was–

Derpy practically jumped from the great hollow gasp that escaped Discord's lips, his chest rising suddenly from the great gulp of air he was taking in. And then, he was coughing; coughing, sputtering, and vomiting.

"Master!" Derpy cried with relief, quickly brushing her tears away. "Master y-y-you're a-alive!"

Discord groaned, pain filling his body. He had never felt worse. "Derpy?" he whispered, his voice raspy. He could barely see the hunchback that was looming over him; his head ached so much. "What…w-w-what happened…?" he coughed, gasping for another gulp of air.

"T-t-there w-was t-this burst of f-fire…a-a-and then, the rocks started t-t-to fall! I grabbed you…and t-threw you d-down the tunnel," Derpy carefully explained, biting her lip with worry, wondering if she had caused the Master further injury.

"Y-you s-saved my life, Derpy," Discord murmured, offering a weak smile of gratitude; it hurt his mouth to move it.

"Y-you have s-s-saved us s-so many times," Derpy murmured humbly, glad that she had been able to help her master.

Discord groaned as he attempted to sit up, and found that it was far too painful. "The air…" he mumbled, coughing once more. "It's…it's not right in here…w-w-we must get to f-fresh air…"

Derpy bit her lip. He did not know how to exactly get to the world above from there, and knew especially that it wasn't safe. "The catacombs," Discord murmured, reading the hunchback's thoughts. "Take me to the catacombs, Derpy…the air will be fresher there…" he coughed as he explained.

Derpy nodded her head, and carefully, picked the Master up and hauled him over her shoulders, wincing as she heard Discord moan in agony from the pain that wracked his body. He too was coughing as he realized that the air was poisoned from the smoke. With a grunt, Derpy carried Discord towards the dark catacombs, praying that the Master would stay awake to guide her through the long twisting tunnels. She would tell him about the others once she knew the Master was going to be all right. Right now, all that mattered was that the Master was alive.

Author's Note:

We are getting towards the end guys :/ I can feeeeeel it, hope you stick around for the ending though :)