• Published 26th Jan 2012
  • 7,491 Views, 420 Comments

Head Full of Cotton Candy - TheManWithTwoNames

The many misadventures of Discord and Screwball.

  • ...

Chapter Two

Head Full of Cotton Candy

A “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic” fanfiction

By TheManWithTwoNames

I do not own any of the characters contained in the following work. “My Little Pony” and all subsequent properties belong to Hasbro and Lauren Faust.

And I’m starting to fear that might not change. I might have to up the T-shirt ante a bit.

And New York City... You just stay classy.

“I thought you were supposed to wake up from those dreams before you hit the ground,” Savoir Faire moaned tiredly as she was jostled awake by a surprise meeting with the grass. As she rose to her hooves, shaking off the last traces of sleep, she realized with some embarrassment that she had fallen asleep on top of her traveling partner. The draconequus was twisted in a curve above her, cracking his back loudly and shivering in delight from the release.

“G’morning, Savvy,” Discord yawned as he stretched his mismatched arms high over his head before giving his stomach a light scratch.

“Good morning, Your Majesty,” she returned politely, giving the king a curt bow. “Well, it almost is. There’s still the matter of your morning routine.”

“Oh. Right,” the king said firmly, causing the advisor to grin proudly. Her sleep may have been less than salubrious, but if Discord’s first instinct in the morning was to raise the sun, then the purple earth pony just might have found reason enough to stay awake.

“Breakfast!” the chimera cheered excitedly as he hovered over the smoldering fire pit. Savoir’s body sagged as she watched the dying embers roar back to life at the snap of Discord’s claw. Perhaps she was expecting too much. The pony looked morosely at the empty sky; the moon had vanished beyond the western horizon heaven-only-knew how long ago, and the sky above them was desperately waiting for the first lights of dawn to restore the balance of night and day to order.

Just as the advisor was preparing to let fly a verbal lashing, a demanding gurgle from underneath her robes offered a powerful counter-argument that food was delicious and the sun could wait.

“Eggs would hit the spot,” the pony said as she approached the fire and reached in her saddlebags to see if she had brought along any eggs as the king went about his own devices. Discord dug his paw into the dirt and began to tug on some unseen object, straining from the effort. With a final heave, he managed to pull an adult orange tree from the dirt, the ground beneath them shaking mildly from the sudden crop. Eagerly rubbing his hands together, he snapped off one of the branches and jammed the extension back into the base of the tree. Squeezing the tip of the branch experimentally, the draconequus was pleased as a small spurt of orange juice impossibly sprayed out of the wood and splashed into a pair of invisible glasses he held out. Returning to his companion, Discord handed his advisor a glass and the two shared a drink, though the spirit made an increased effort to be sure to drink the juice and not the container this time.

“Do you think you could snap up a frying pan?” Savoir asked after a refreshing sip.

“Oh, I see,” Discord said with a sly grin, “when I make something for myself, I get a big talking-to. But when you want something from me, it’s a whole different story.”

“Yes. Helping other ponies is the reason you wanted to leave the castle, remember?” Discord paused at the response for a moment before dismissing it with a “bah” and summoning a frying pan to cover the flame. In a few minutes, Savoir Faire had prepared a humble plate of fried eggs for the both of them, which both royals wolfed down in seconds (and for one, plate and all).

“Hey, Savvy?” Discord asked as he finally began to raise the sun, “where do eggs come from?”

“From chickens.”

“Just from chickens?”

“Well, I mean, other animals lay eggs too,” she began. “Mostly reptiles and birds.”

“Like this?” A flash of light brought with it the second strangest amalgamation of beasts the earth pony had ever seen: its body was small and reptilian, with a long dragon’s tail and two leathery wings, but at its neck, the beast’s scales turned to feathers. The chicken-headed lizard strutted around in confusion, pecking the ground here and there as it strutted about.

Unable to bring herself to watch the strange mishmash of animals for long, Savoir Faire quickly snapped her head to look at Discord with revulsion.

“When you do that... snappy thing... with your magic?” she asked, gesturing as best as she could manage with her hooves. “Are you creating these things? Or just taking them from other places?”

“I’m not sure,” the spirit answered with a shrug and a snap of his claw. Another flash, and another of the creatures was there, squawking and hissing at the other one. “There, now they won’t have to be lonely.”

“I don’t think they like each other.” Discord turned his attention back to the two as the creatures hissed and cawed angrily at one another, stretching their wings and puffing their chests and raking their talons on the ground. Suddenly, the first dashed away from the newcomer, heading past the orange tree and flapping its wings to try to take off to the sky, but only managing to flutter in hops. In its pursuit of the other cockatrice, the second crashed into the low tree branch and broke it off as it continued undaunted after its new mate.

Discord and Savoir Faire watched with some concern as orange liquid began to gush from the base of the tree, quickly pooling around the tree and spreading out farther and faster by the second.

“I think the tap’s broken.”

“We should go.”



“It’s not apples.”

“It’s definitely apples.”

“I’m not lying to you, the answer isn’t apples!”

“Then it’s unsolvable.”

Savoir Faire chuckled and shook her head to wipe the humor from her face. It had been several days since had left Canterlot with the simple-minded king, and the draconequus had never ceased to surprise the pony. Discord displayed power unlike anything she had ever witnessed in all her years of living in the magic capitol of Equestria, constantly performing bizarre and creative acts that she would never have believed to be possible. He would crack a rock like an egg and cook the yolk and no one would ever believe it if they were told where it came from; he could grab a fistful of grass and, with no small amount of showmanship, unclench his paw and reveal an apple; and of course, they were never thirsty ever since the creature learned how to pull fruit from the ground. (And it was certainly fortunate that most of his tricks revolved around food, as Savoir Faire shortly realized she had not packed nearly as much rations as she had thought.)

To the advisor, all of Discord’s displays seemed to come as naturally as breathing, having never once seen him expend any time or effort in learning his tricks. The urges to try a little something of this or that came to the king on a whim, and Savoir Faire had long since abandoned trying to dissuade his casual indulgences and resigned herself to giving a disappointed “tut” when a bird squawked in surprise as the berry it was about to peck popped like a bubble. She would only ever intervene with her advice on those regular events where the draconequus attempted something grand or do too much all at once and lose control of whatever situation he had concocted, though in those cases, her learned advice consisted almost entirely of some variation of “run.”

And every time the pair was catching their breath after leaving some new calamity behind, all the earth pony wanted was to be able to reach out and teach him how to control his magic. After all, ponies loved a unicorn. Ponies always wanted a unicorn around. Ponies looked twice at a unicorn.

But like clockwork, whenever Savoir Faire’s mind turned to those bitter thoughts, there was always a small sigh or, equally jarring, an absence of noise that would bring her attention to the towering creature beside her. It was so easy for her to forget how much Discord enjoyed imitating every creature that caught his attention, with his advisor being his favorite study. It brought a little happiness to her trek whenever she’d catch him trying to step in rhythm with her; she’d tease him a bit by starting to stomp and canter and trot as erratically as possible, but the draconequus always managed to follow those silly walks shortly enough. But whenever Savoir would catch him wearing her own disquieting frown, the pony could not help but feel responsible for whatever unhappy thoughts he was tormenting himself with. So she would put on one of the hundreds of silly faces she had perfected over her years and stare at him until he turned and cracked up at the sight.

Riding on the wings of her victory over gloom, the advisor would complete the routine by beginning the day’s lesson of proper royal behavior and etiquette. Her pupil had made the first lesson agonizingly painful by staunchly refusing to make any attempt to participate and antagonizing her as often as he could until she simply gave up and spent the rest of the day facing his endless torrent of questions about every little thing he could think of. (His favorite question was simply “Why?”, which he would gleefully repeat in response to everything until Savoir was forced to set him on a new subject or risk trying to explain the most intricate workings of the universe, a topic she wasn’t entirely well-versed in.)

Savoir Faire found her answer when a welcome dose of spontaneous inspiration struck and prompted her to make a game out of the exercises. It took no small amount of thinking on her part, but she was able to keep Discord engaged with riddles that she would clumsily combine with her larger point. It wasn’t perfect, but nothing ever was.

“There is an answer,” she said encouragingly. “Try to think. It goes around and comes around, and touches all you earn. And though you may not ask, you’ll receive it in return.”


“It’s not apples.”

“Then what is it?”

“Generosity,” she said plainly, a carefully-measured amount of disappointment clear in her voice. “Remember what we talked about the other day?”

“You know I don’t,” the draconequus said with a shrug.

“I was telling you about the Virtues of Sovereignty. Truth, benevolence, positivity, generosity, loyalty, and magic,” she listed off. “You’re going to need to know these if you want to show everypony what a great king you are. Are you still listening to me?” Discord whistled innocently as he took a sudden interest at some invisible something in the sky.

“Discord.” The spirit cringed at the sound. It was the magical tone of voice taught in secret to to parents, teachers, neighbors, and all those people in your life with complete direct control of your fate that bewitched the hearer to face the speaker and miserably take whatever masterfully-worded condescension followed until you were permitted to mumble an emasculated “sorry” and be sent off to rethink your life. “Focus.”

“Sorry,” the king mumbled sheepishly.

"We’ll be in Manehatten in just a few hours, and I want you to be at your best,” the advisor continued, softening her tone to something more sympathetic. While the flop at Ponyville certainly wasn’t completely Discord’s fault, they had lost their chance for what Savoir Faire was hoping would be the trial run for the new king’s introduction to his subjects. “It is wonderful that you were already eager to help ponies from the start, but you need to understandwhy you should help your subjects, and when it is better to just leave them to help themselves.”

“Like with that pony and the dragon from before?” Discord hazarded, his head sagging limply in submission.

“Precisely.” The earth pony smiled at how immediately the creature’s mood changed from the small bit of praise. “And I’ll be there to help you whenever you need me.” Satisfied, Discord took a few strides forward and took off into the air to get a view at the small town.

‘Well, with us there, what could possibly go wrong?’

Savoir Faire shut her eyes tight and prayed in the hope that the divine forces that had ignored her all her life had taken a sudden interest in her. “No, please. It has to be perfect, it just has to be. Just this once.”


The purple pony was speechless. She wasn’t expecting all of Manehattan to rush to greet them the second they set foot in the bustling town, but she didn’t think that they would be completely ignored. Ponies of all shapes and sizes and colors pushed through each other in organized mobs, walking in and out of buildings and joining the throng without so much as a passing glance or a word shared.

“Citizens of Manehattan! I present to you his royal majesty, King Discord!”

It was like an eerie dream. If Savoir Faire hadn’t seen a few ponies turn to look at the pair for a split-second, she would have sworn they were invisible. Or ponder the possibility that they had been dead all along.

“His Grace has come to grant his subjects a boon. Simply speak your request and we shall do our best to aid you!” she tried again. Nothing. It was unbelievable! The ponies just went on their way, not giving the sight of the seven-foot tall draconequus and the Canterlot pony draped in a completely ruined blue robe a second thought.

“Savvy, I don’t think these ponies are very keen on generosity,” Discord spoke, seeming much less effected by the citywide snub than his advisor.

Ignored. Again. It wasn’t like she was trying to ask anything from anyone this time, she was trying to help them! And still, not a soul would give her the time of day. Even that bandit was quick to ignore her after something else arrived on the scene. Was there just something fundamentally flawed about her that made ponies want to turn their backs and abandon her? Was there something about her voice that stopped others from hearing her, no matter how hard she cried out? Or was her coat a rare shade of purple that every living creature in Equestria couldn’t perceive, no matter how many garments or outfits she wrapped herself in? She couldn’t keep living like this...

“Savvy?” a low voice called softly.

Savoir Faire looked up at Discord with a hard grin. “Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Are you okay?”

“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?” She felt a single tear tracing down her cheek and hastily wiped it away. “We can’t stop now,” she forced herself to say, sniffling lightly. “There must be somepony out there for us.”


Manehattan was one of the wealthiest and largest provinces in all of Equestria, due to the workings of a number of social and economic factors that enabled the city to grow in size and industry to outshine even Canterlot. Thanks to the railroad industry pioneered by John D. Rockinhorser, ponies flocked to the then-small town for work. The city’s close proximity to the coast made it a central location for traders and migrants looking to profit off of the growing wealth of the city. The growth in population necessitated the construction of more buildings for those ponies looking for a new home, and when some shrewd businessponies realized that others would pay out the nose to live in a small apartment in an already cramped city, hotels and apartment complexes began to spring up from the ground and tower over the city as if to say: “For just two thousand bits you can live in one of these rooms and have just enough space left over to squeeze in a chair or maybe even a table if you’re slim.”

The magnitude of the city became legendary to the rest of Equestria, making it a tourist hotspot on top of being a central trade location and the most well-disguised landfill in the world, and thousands of ponies would annually flock to see the lights and hear the sounds and hopefully not get trampled in the process of being mugged by every legitimate and illegitimate business-stallion they met. And once their business was done, the local Manehattanites would turn to their neighbors and bemoan the fate that had befallen their beautiful home and how their ancestors didn’t travel all the way there so tourists could come to admire it.

Pride (or, for some, envy toward those who were smart enough to live anywhere else), led the locals to harbor no small amount of impatience with the rest of Equestria as outsiders trickled through, and the Manehattanites all unanimously adopted a “you-keep-to-your-own, I’ll-keep-to-my-own, get-outta-da-road-joik” mentality. (Though there also existed an outgoing minority which took on a “shout madly in the streets because there are microchips in my brain” approach to life.)

Savoir Faire was not aware of any of the rich and winding history that resulted in the stubborn and ill-tempered creatures known as Manehattanites, which only compounded her frustration with the extreme rudeness of the city ponies. Discord silently tagged behind the pony as she darted here and there, cornering any solitary pedestrian and aggressively probing them for any possible crisis that could use royal intervention. The advisor received a variety of responses, ranging from a sheepish grin and quick escape into the crowd to outraged and extensive shouting to some dismissive muttering, but each and every encounter unanimously ending in failure.

The pony continued her efforts for hours, combing every street for opportunity and finding nothing. Savoir miserably walked down the surprisingly empty streets of the Manehattan slums, kicking herself for getting her hopes up so high. The moon was beginning its nocturnal flight, and the dim lights of the slums cast gloomy shadows on the gray sidewalks. Savoir Faire was certain that there was something poetic in the situation, but she wasn’t in any mood to care.

Discord looked at his advisor uncertainly as he copied her footsteps; usually she would have caught on and started to play with him by then, but she just continued her slow trudge, barely lifting her hoofs off the sidewalk and occasionally stepping on the frayed ends of her tattered robe. The draconequus anxiously twisted his tail. Something was wrong with his advisor. But he was there to help, wasn’t he?

“Savvy? Are you alright?” he asked tentatively. The purple pony stopped dead and sighed heavily, her head sagging even lower as she deflated.

“I’ve been better.”

“Do you have a problem that I could help you solve?”

There was a pause. And then, “I’ve been trying to find people to help. But it’s been hard so far. Could you help me?”

Discord delicately patted his advisor’s head, the fluffy light purple mane gently springing back to position, and scanned the streets in hopes he could spot someone who looked as miserable as the purple pony at his side. His natural height allowed him to see a good distance around, but he wasn’t able to see anything. But he felt something.

The spirit finally paused to contemplate the strange sensations that had been tickling at him ever since he entered the city. He had no way to put it into words, but he could feel this dull tingle as he walked through the streets; the sensation sharpened here and there, pulling his attention in the direction of ponies who had collided with each other or a family of tourists all disagreeing on where to visit next, and other such things. Sometimes he could know exactly what was happening without ever turning to look at it or hear it.

But now it was more than just the tingle. Now it was as if he could hear emotions. Or feel them? Taste them? No, maybe not taste. It was like every sense at once and yet something completely different. There was a sort of gray heat surrounding Savoir; like a fire that didn’t burn him, but actually soothed him with its energy. He could hear the sound of two ponies arguing with each other, berating and swearing their hatred for one another. It was the same sound that he heard during those moments on their trek when Savoir was quiet for a while. He always tried to listen to what the voices were saying, but whenever he tried to tune in, she would always suddenly look at him with some silly face and distract him. Though Discord would always try to walk by the little pony and stay in the warmth she always radiated, there were times when it wasn’t enough and would have to make his own. Some instinct would tell him that he needed to turn a tree into rubber or turn a bird hot pink, and he would, and it would make him feel warm for a while. But then the awful coldness would creep back and he had to do it all again or he swore he would freeze to death. That’s why he liked this new city so much: it always felt warm.

Now, past the glow from the purple pony, he could hear something else. It was like five voices all chanting the same sad cry over and over. A small smile stretched across Discord’s face in response to the sound, though he wasn’t immediately sure why he was happy to hear it; he wanted to think that it was because he had someone to help, or that he could cheer up Savvy, but it didn’t sound right to him. He was almost happy to hear that the pony was unhappy. He wasn’t sure if he liked that thought.

“Come on, Savvy, this way!” Discord said excitedly, scooping the surprised pony off her feet and fluttering into the air. He blindly followed the sound or feeling or smell or whatever it was, zagging and cutting down alleys and streets until the sensation was at its strongest. It was only after the draconequus put down his pony that the two realized where they were.

Before them stood a dismal building wedged between two equally miserable-looking structures. The only reason it could even be called a house was because the walls still seemed to manage to stop what was left of the roof from falling off. The outside was covered with graffiti that served as the only bit of color in the area.

Without a word, Discord walked toward the splintered door, knocking carefully so as not to send it completely off its hinges. After a few moments, the door slowly creaked open to reveal a small and cautious-looking young pony’s face


“Can I help you?”

The pony whimpered and backed away from the door and an older, though equally-weary, stallion took his place.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Please.” The stallion’s face was haggard, with tired and desperate eyes sunken back into an emaciated gray face.

“Excuse me, but do you have a problem that I could help you solve?”


To say the family was troubled was a grievous understatement. The father, Dusty, rounded the family into the kitchen to meet their guests and sadly recounted the family’s history of misfortune: The matriarch of the family, tenderly nicknamed Granny Granular, had led her family to Manehattan as one of the earliest immigrants to sail to the city. Through hard work and honest living, enduring heavy tragedies and loss of loved ones, the family had earned their new life of complete destitution. The family struggled to scrounge up enough food to stay alive, with most of the family’s food going to the youngest filly, Mite, who had spent most of her few years sick in bed. Dusty, his wife, Arenose, and their older daughter, Reverie, worked tirelessly to keep the family afloat. The pressure of their situation was constantly eroding away at them, especially on Reverie, whom the family depended on for her unicorn magic, which the family of earth ponies viewed as a gift from heaven itself.

As Dusty talked as the family and royals gathered in the drab and cracked kitchen, Discord couldn’t help but have his mind wander to the enormity and color and life of the palace back in Canterlot. He had already decided how he was going to help these ponies, but first, he would need a better look around.

“Sorry, excuse me, I need to use the little colt’s room,” he spoke up as Dusty warmly recalled the story of how he and Arenose met.

“Whichever room has the bucket in it,” Granny said in her weary voice. Discord awkwardly returned her warm smile and scampered off into the hall. There were only two choices, so the draconequus stepped through one of the doors and stopped in his tracks when he saw the tiny, confused bundle looking at him from within a cocoon of thin rags.

“Oh, hello,” the voice said sweetly. “I thought I heard voices, but Mama doesn’t like it much when I get up. My name’s Mite. What’s yours?”

“Well hello, my little pony. I am King Discord,” the spirit introduced himself proudly.

“Wow, you’re a king?” the filly said with what little energy she could manage. “What’s it like?”

Discord thought for a few seconds. “There’s been a lot of walking around so far.”

“I wish I could do that. But always Mama says that I need to save my energy. I asked Granny why and she said that I was sick,” the filly said sadly. “I know they all worry about me. And it makes me sad that I can’t even help. I wish I was better.”

“I could try to help,” Discord offered as he took a few steps closer to the wide-eyed girl, trying her hardest to fight her exhaustion.

“Really? You can make me better?”

“Sure. It can’t be too hard.”


Savoir Faire internally sighed as she dreamily listened to the family’s tales of hardship and togetherness. She would have given anything to have someone to lean on when she was younger. And though she wanted to let herself melt into the family’s story and join them as they suffered together, a terrible feeling was nagging at her. Some dreadful omen that something was going to spoil this short-lived moment of solace: experience.

“Oh, no no no no no! S-Savvy!”

Before the second “no” had escaped Discord’s mouth, the advisor was already on the scene of the latest disaster. The draconequus was frantically hopping back and forth on his mismatched legs and twisting his tail as he madly flicked his attention from the purple pony to the brown potted plant that was standing among a small stack of blankets.

“Where’s Mite? Where’s my little girl?” Arenose asked, admirably fighting her first instinct of shrieking in despair. The rest of the colorless family was struck paralyzed as they watched the two strangers in their home hover over the shrub that was once their daughter.

“Discord, what did you do?” the advisor hissed harsher than she intended.

“I was just trying to help! She was sick and--and I was trying to use magic to make her better! I wasn’t trying to do this!

This couldn’t really be happening, could it? Savoir wanted to just shake her head and be back in the living room with the rest of the family, dreaming of a life like theirs. But it had all fallen apart. Again. And it would always be this way. Why did she always have to try so hard when it only made it hurt more in the end?

‘I could have told you this would happen. Why do you always have to fight me?’

But before she could advise her distressing king to flee, an uncertain voice broke the tension. All eyes were on Reverie as the young unicorn gingerly entered the room and approached her transformed sister. If it weren’t for the never-ending sounds of city life that were penetrating the house, one could have heard a pin drop as she carefully inspected the withering leaves of the plant. Seconds passed like hours for everyone watching, but as she turned her former sister around in her hooves and held it up to what sparse was present in the room, her movements became more and more confident until at last she rushed back to embrace her family with tears shimmering in her eyes.

“He’s done it! He’s done it!” the unicorn cried.

“Try not to knock over Granny on the way out,” Savoir whispered to the tense spirit huddled over her.

“He’s saved her!” Discord began to dash for the crowded doorway, though his escape was foiled by a swift tug on his tail by his curious partner.

“What do you mean?”

“I could never help Mite before. My magic isn’t nearly strong enough to heal ponies, and we could never even afford a doctor to find out what was wrong,” Reverie explained, her cheeks wet with warm tears. “But Mom, Dad, Granny! Do you remember a few months ago when I was house-sitting for Ms. Belle down the street? She showed me how to take care of her plants if they started to wither!” Not wasting another second, the unicorn turned and aimed her horn at the plant, a small, green magical glow surrounding the two of them.

Before the ponies’ very eyes, the limp, brown plant began to straighten and become rigid and tall; the withered leaves unfurled and spread as the sickly brown was washed away by a gradual green that crept and spread across the entire plant.

“Excuse me, sir? Could please undo the spell you cast on my sister?” Discord snapped his talon and in a flash, the healthy-looking plant was replaced by a healthy-looking, though somewhat confused, filly.

“How did I get over here?” Mite wondered aloud. Catching sight of her mother, the filly scampered back to the bundle of sheets that composed her bed before looking at her hooves in shock. “I’ve never been able to move that fast before.”

Unable to contain themselves any longer, the family rushed to their youngest member, lovingly embracing her and nearly drowning the little pony in a ceaseless stream of exhilarated praises and loving adoration.

Savoir wanted to sing out from the top of the tallest tower of Manehattan. It had finally happened: everything had turned out fine. No, better than fine, it turned out fantastic! Better than she had ever dared to hope! She could have exploded with joy then and there if it weren’t for one tiny irk poking at the back of her head.

‘Well, this wasn’t a disaster and they all seem happy. But how’s your little pet handling it?’

The pony turned to look at her king only to find that he had vanished. Her ears perked up at a sound partially hidden by the overjoyed cheers of the family: a sharp ‘snap’ and familiar guffaw echoing from somewhere else in the house. Soon after came a loud series of cracks, splats, and even a fwee; when the wild cacophony finally culminated in a massive crash, the ponies finally ended their tender moment and cautiously moved into the hall.

The family nearly had to shield their eyes from the vibrant colors that shone from every corner of the suddenly enormous interior of the house. Stripes, spots and polka dots of spread across the walls as if there were some arts-and-crafts detonation. Ribbons and curtains cascaded down the ceiling, and occasionally the windows scattered about the room would fly off the wall and fasten themselves somewhere else. Now and then a polka dot would peel away and drop on to the ground, making a hole in the ground that appeared to magically lead to any number of the other spots around.

The floor in front of the family shook and bulged up as something began to force itself up. With a final push, the floor stretched into a tall white box. Dusty regarded the black handle running down the side of the box for a moment and slowly pulled on it. The box immediately swung open like a door, letting all manner of fruits, vegetables, sweets, dairy, and bread wash over the pony, completely burying the shocked father.

“Come on in, and pull yourself up a chair!” The ponies jumped as Discord suddenly appeared right behind them, grabbed Mite and Reverie in his arms, flapped up into the air, and dropped them in two floating arm chairs. “Let the fun begin! It’s time to let down your hair!”

A large chest appeared behind the draconequus in a flash and closed around him, taking both of them to the ground. The instant the chest touched down, Discord sprung up from inside of it, the container suddenly filled to the brim with bits.

“It’s wacky in Discord’s playhouse!”

Savoir Faire was stunned from this day’s latest fit of complete whiplash. She didn’t know her record for having her hopes raised one second and then destroyed the next in a single day, but she was certain that today had shattered it.

“Oh my stars and garters,” Granny gasped. “Dusty, would you look at all this food?”

“And all those bits! Arenose, I can finally buy you a real wedding band!” the husband exclaimed, embracing his wife warmly.

Savoir Faire suppoed that the record was just made that much harder to beat. She watched with some pride as Discord showed off all of the new accessories and rooms and surprises he saw fit to implement in the poor Manehattanites’ home, including a kitchen with a hot, cold, and lemonade tap, a new rocking chair for Granny with several vibrating settings, and a pool-sized jacuzzi, and another refrigerator with an endless supply of food in case the ponies were too hungry to walk down the stairs and get to the first one.


Hours later, Savoir and Discord were finally able to slip away from the family’s endless praises and thanks and find some shelter from the constant pushing crowds of Manehattan in a short alleyway.

“Your Majesty,” the purple pony began, “if you don’t mind me asking, why did you do all that?”

“What do you mean? They were hungry so I gave them food, and they were poor so I gave them money. I didn’t do something wrong, did I?”

“No, not at all. I’m very proud of you for that, Discord, but I was referring more to the radical home makeover. Why did you do that?”

“Because I wanted to help them. And I wanted them to stay warm, since their house got so cold after I turned Mite back. Besides, they looked like they were having fun. ”

It was at that exact moment that Savoir Faire, the humble earth pony advisor, set in motion a series of events that would forever change the course of history.

“Well, I don’t suppose there could be much harm in having a little fun now and then,” she said, opting not to argue and ruin this victorious moment.

“So, where to next?” Discord asked as he snapped the map the pony had packed in her saddlebags and unfolded the parchment. Savoir shifted the bags on her robes and leaned squeezed underneath the draconequus to see for herself.

“Well, we came from Canterlot then down south to Ponyville...” she said softly as she traced their path with her hoof. “Then we went north east to Manehattan. So it would be best to go...” There was an awkward pause as she moved her hoof to the city and remembered unhappily that the city was on a peninsula.

“So it would be best to go... exactly back the way we came,” she concluded with a sough. “I guess we should go ask Dusty and Arenose if we could intrude on their home for a night. They shouldn’t mind, I think the hardest part would be convincing them to only let us stay the one night.”

“You know, Savvy, I could probably fly us back to Ponyville in a day,” Discord offered to the pony’s surprise. “I really don’t feel that tired. And I bet I could carry you.”

Savoir Faire smiled softly up at the spirit’s hopeful face for a few seconds as the voice inside her head shouted and booed and bashed trash can lids against her brain and stomped up and down, crying out for reason and sanity and survival.

“If you really believe you can manage it, then I trust you.” Before the pony could rethink her words Discord was already in the air with a throaty cheer, and with one swift motion he clicked his heels together, tossed the pony onto his neck, and zipped off to the sky. Time seemed to slow as the two hovered above the city, giving Savoir a moment to admire the electric beauty of the metropolis.

Discord reached around his back to hold the pony’s hooves down securely and beat his wings. And then they were gone.


There was a saying among pegasi: “Equestria’s real beauty can only be appreciated from the air.” As far as Savoir Faire was concerned, it was just a line of nonsense that the flying ponies liked to spout to belittle the earthbound races. (And it may have just been the earth pony in her talking, but she always wondered what the pegasi saw that was so impressive when they had their heads stuffed in a cloud or each other’s rears all day long. As far as she was concerned, you couldn’t appreciate the real value of something until you took a long, close look at it.)

But as she rested on Discord’s shoulders, the light of the sun shining from directly above her, she did have to concede that the higher view gave her a new perspective over the land and showed her things she had never noticed before during her walk to Ponyville. The dreamy way the clouds listed through the sky, or how lively the town looked with all of the villagers moving through the streets like little productive ants, or how much smaller and closer together the world seemed when you were above it all. But the most prominent things Savoir noticed was the enormous forest that stood at Ponyville’s borders that she was fairly certain hadn’t been there just a few days ago.

“I think we should investigate,” Savoir said. “Something does not seem right. Not even unicorn magic should be able to grow a forest this quickly.”

“You’re certainly feeling adventurous, Savvy,” Discord said with a wily grin. “It’s nice to see you ready to dive into something without wasting time trying to learn about it.”

“What? No, that is what I was suggesting we--” The rest of the advisor’s words transformed into a shrill yelp as she clung onto the plummeting draconequus’ neck.

The landing went as smoothly as the pony had learned to expect, and the two spent a good minute trying to pull Discord’s head out from the ground after the spirit had forgotten to slow his descent. With a great heave Discord was released and stumbled backward, tripping over emerging tree roots and his own tail before finally catching a low-hanging tree branch on his horns and flopping onto his belly. Rubbing his poor aching head, the draconequus cracked open an eye to take in his first look of the forest.

Flapping his wings to right himself onto his feet, Discord rubbed his eyes to make sure they weren’t playing tricks on him. The giggling Savoir was surrounded by that comforting gray glow as always, but all around her was a heavy fog of green light, matted with familiar flecks of gray here and there. The green permeated the forest, oozing out from the trees and grass and trailing out from the bushes where animals were hiding in their burrows from the sudden interlopers.

And beyond the thicket of trees and green was a shimmering green light as bright as the sun (well, he was counting on the sun still being bright since the last time he saw it. The forest canopy very near eclipsed all light). Squinting to focus his gaze as the emerald glow faded away from his vision, he caught sight of a figure, possibly a pony, watching them. Perhaps having realized it had been spotted, quick as a whip and quiet as a breeze, the figure retreated with a bound into the dark cover of the forest.

“Are you hurt, Your Majesty?” Savoir finally asked as she grappled with her dying giggles.

“Yeah... I mean, no. I’m fine,” he said. “Say, Savvy, I’m not sure I like this place.”

The humor left the pony’s face and she twisted her head this way and that at the forest, stepping in place as she tried to get a feel of the earth. “I agree with you on that. There is something bizarre about this whole forest. It feels like...” she paused as she scrounged to find words. The feel of the earth came naturally to all earth ponies and seldom needed explaining; it was like trying to describe color to the blind. “It’s not quite magic, but it’s not quite natural, either. It’s like somepony forced a forest to grow.”

Discord was hopeful that his small shiver went unnoticed and drew closer to the purple pony. “I think we should head that way.” He pointed in the direction of the figure from before. “Just call it a hunch.”


The pair pushed through the brush of the forest, trying their best to navigate the unfamiliar ground, their only protection from bumping into trees being the ball of light that Discord had conjured to hover above them.

“Are you sure we’re going the right way?”

“You tell me. You were the one who said we should go this direction,” Savoir said testily. She may have been an earth pony, but she was always a Canterlot mare at heart; the down-home style of living simply was not her way, and she was certain that even the most rustic and verdant pony would quickly lose their nerve in this wicked maze. Not to mention every branch and bramble was trying to rip her already-tattered robes.

“Right, right. I just expected to have found something by yow!” The draconequus blinked in surprise a few times at the sharp spikes that were rising just inches away from his face. He felt a weakening pull on his tail and floated up to solid ground next to the panting pony. Looking back in front of him, he saw the deep pit that had so suddenly swallowed him.

“What were you thinking?” Savoir shouted angrily. “You could have been killed!”

“Sorry, Savvy. I wasn’t trying to, or anything,” Discord offered weakly. The pony kept her eyes locked on him for a while longer before finally breaking away.

“Just don’t scare me like that again,” she said sternly. “I don’t want to have to put your tail in my mouth a second time.” Discord bit his lip and twisted his tail as he regarded the sullen pony with confusion. He hadn’t tried to scare her or make her angry that time, and no one was hurt. So why did he feel guilty?

A green glow stole Discord from his thoughts as the figure appeared again, this time standing much closer. The draconequus’ great eyebrows furrowed in suspicion and he calledd out, “Hey! You did this, didn’t you?”

The glow dimmed and the figure glided deeper into the trees. He did not stop to listen to his advisor’s alarmed shouts and tore off after the stranger as fast as his wings could take him. Discord twisted his body this way and that to avoid every tree branch that he could have sworn were lashing out as he neared them, never slowing down or letting his quarry out of his sight. After a long and dizzying chase, he finally exploded through a curtain of vines and found himself in a large clearing. Shielding his eyes with one hand to block out the setting sunlight (and taking a mental note to make something that could do that for him another time), Discord finally laid eyes on the creature that had been haunting him ever since he entered the forest.

“A deer? My would-be assassin is a deer?” He couldn’t help but laugh in spite of himself.

“Things are not always as they appear.” The soothing voice immediately caught Discord’s attention and he glared at the doe critically. “Brother.”

“Who are you?”

“I am the predator. The prey. The shelter. The trap.” The doe spoke with a wild grin, her eyes burning with an intensity mostly unknown to the species. “But you, Brother Decay, may know me as Nature.”

“I think you might have me confused with someone else. You see, my name is Discord.” Discord took a step back as Nature slowly advanced, her body crouched low as though ready to pounce.

“You little twit,” the doe spat. “You lower us all by calling yourself by what those lowly ponies label you.”

“Hey, I didn’t even have a name until Savvy gave me--”

“How dare you allow a mortal to have any sort of power over you!” Nature roared, her calming voice transforming into a painful rasp. “I would have done you the favor of ridding you of her had you not blundered into my trap first.”

“Leave. Now.” Though Discord’s expression was as still as stone, his voice was dripping with menace he had never thought himself capable of.

“I shall. Just as soon as I rip you out from that costume.” The earth below Discord suddenly opened and swallowed him, burying him up to his waist. He lifted his talon to call on his magic, but the vines he had cut through sprung to life and constricted his two hands, binding them together. “And for all the harm you have done to me, I shall not make this pleasant for you. Treating the sun and moon as though they were playthings. Turning dirt to soap and water. You have done everything in your power to antagonize me, and now I shall have my satisfaction.”

Discord struggled against his shackles, but his efforts only served to excite the spirit further.

“You even had Brother Death furious with me. He tells me that you stole something that belonged to him by turning it into a plant,” Nature whispered into his ear with her serene voice as she stalked around him. “And while I could not care less for whatever business you two have to settle. As far as I am concerned, whatever you own is whatever you take for yourself.”

“So, just how exactly are you going to get me to go with you?” Discord challenged as the deer came around to stare him down. “The other guy couldn’t convince me, and I really don’t feel like going anywhere with you right now either.”

Nature’s laugh was sharp and loud, like an eagle trying to chatter like a squirrel. “Do not make the mistake of expecting me to be anything like that buffoon. If a wolf tried to let things play out and hope for the best that a meal would come to him, he would starve.” As she spoke, the spirit’s form began to ripple and shift. The elegant frame became more pointed and streamlined as her neck sank and pushed forward. Her muzzle stretched away from her face, her mouth filling with two rows of sharp fangs. Her hooves split into wide paws while her tail stretched out further. The transformation complete, Nature pointed her head to the sky and released a bloodcurdling howl that chilled Discord to the bone.

“As I said before, I am the predator,” the wolf spoke with a deep, guttural growl. “And now, Brother, you will be my prey.”

Discord shut his eyes and turned away as the beast lunged at him, afraid to face the coming attack. When seconds passed and nothing had happened, he risked a peek. Nature was rolling along the ground, clawing and hissing at a purple shape that was pressed up against her.


With a great buck, the little pony managed to send the wolf flying off of her. Not wasting a second, Savoir Faire galloped to his side, her legs trembling. “Discord, what are you doing?!”

“I’m in a hole! What are you doing?!”

“Well, if I really did just tackle that wolf, then I’d say that I’m losing my mind!” she grunted as she tried to chew off the vines wrapped around the draconequus’ hands. Another snarl filled the twilight air and Discord threw himself over the pony.

“What’s happening? Are you okay?” she asked as she left her work for a moment to look at his pained face.

“I have a wolf on my back please chew faster.”

Nature savagely tore into Discord’s flesh, biting and tearing whatever she could get her fangs on. Any trace of her grace was abandoned as the spirit allowed herself to be completely absorbed by her primal instinct. Every second brought new progress into wearing down the rogue spirit, and with it, greater desire to continue. The desire for more was intoxicating; and Discord could feel her every emotion and urge as she attacked burning into his own soul.

“Got it!” Discord threw himself back, shaking the surprised wolf off of him. Not wasting a second, he snapped his paw and vanished from the ground to reappear at Savoir Faire’s side. Scooping the pony in his arms, Discord tried to soar into the air to escape the wild spirit, but rather than the feeling of wind catching under his wings, he felt a crippling pain that forced him to cry out.

“I think she got my wings!” he moaned to the mare as he dashed away from the beast snapping at his heels. Nature managed to bite down on the tip of Discord’s tail, causing him to lose his grip on Savoir and sending her rolling on the ground, her robe catching and tearing on every branch and root and rock on the way.

“You will not escape me,” Nature barked after the draconequus managed to free his tail from her grip. “I have spent days growing this beautiful forest, building my power, all just so that I might end you that much more easily. And even if you could flee, you would only find the others waiting for you. We will never stop hunting for you, Brother.”

Discord squinted and blinked as his vision flickered. The fog had returned, flowing out from the forest into the spirit as she paced around him. It came from everywhere, for miles and miles, every last inch of vegetation fueling Nature’s strength. But that wasn’t all. All those specks of gray that had dotted the green fog dropped from the miasma and covered the clearing, bubbling like a cauldron. And as the heat wafted up from the boiling pool, he could feel all the hate and the violence and the malice that had baptized the forest, from the tallest tree to the humblest blade of grass.

The draconequus clenched his fist, feeling the heat wash through his hands and tickling his finger tips. With a snap of his claw, the ground beneath Nature became a thick puddle of pudding that sucked her legs in and held her still. The wolf snapped viciously at the air as she struggled against the muck, only to gag as a bar of soap suddenly wedged in her mouth. Growling viciously, Nature lowered her body into the puddle and disappeared.

Savoir Faire swallowed nervously as she watched the two spirits battle. Discord had somehow managed to tilt the odds in his favor, but she still didn’t trust the wolf to give up that easily. “Be careful, Discord! She’s up to something!”

Her suspicions came true as she screamed out from a sudden pain in her back leg. Looking over, she saw a wolf’s head sticking from the ground, quickly being joined by the rest of the beast. With the strongest buck she could muster, she kicked the animal off of her and limped away as swiftly as she could as Discord rushed to meet her

“You both have no hope to survive. I hope you know that,” Nature said with a blood-stained grin as she prowled closer to the injured pony. “I have all the forest giving me power, healing this body Sister Life so graciously loaned to me. You will need something bigger than a pool of desserts and some soap.”

“Bigger?” Discord whispered to himself as he managed to reach Savoir just before their opponent could. With a snap, he teleported the two of them to the far end of the clearing, away from the feral spirit. “Savvy, I think I have a plan,” he said as he set the pony down.

“Well, could you run it by me first?” Her words were lost as her charge vanished with another snap and a flash. Hesitantly turning around, she saw that Nature had already made it half way across the clearing, teeth gnashing together viciously, slime dripping from the corners of her mouth.

“I will suck the marrow from your bones!”

Damn, Nature, you scary!’

The wolf’s yellow eyes bulged as its entire body skidded to a halt. As if by its own, the wolf tilted her head to the night sky, aimed at the full moon hanging high above them, and let her howls echo across the forest.

There was another flash and a shadow covered the clearing, to both Nature and Savoir Faire’s terror. It hung in the air for a second or two before finally dropping to the ground with an earth-shattering crash that knocked the pony off her hooves and sent her tumbling into a thorn bush. When the dust had settled, she finally pulled herself away from the prickers and looked up to examine the giant stone castle that now dominated the clearing.

A flash of light from inside the castle caught Savoir’s attention and she delicately limped inside, making sure not to put much weight on her injured leg. She could immediately spot Discord’s distinct profile from inside and made her way over to him. Only after the two had finished their long embrace and he had put her back on the ground did the Canterlot pony realize with dread that she had walked all that way from the thorn bushes without tripping over her robes.

Discord had made it a habit to not think too much about things that Savoir didn’t tell him to. But now, as he looked over the purple pony, her blue robes shredded and lost, leaving her completely exposed, he wondered about the significance of the marks he noticed on the flanks of the ponies he encountered. Savoir told him that the cutie marks were indicative of a pony’s special talent, but he sometimes he wondered how much the marks really meant. And as he gazed down at his companion, her face twisted with humiliation and shame, he wondered what sort of special talent involved a baseball and a screw.