“...And that’s how we were able to stop Tirek and—Starlight!”
“Bwuh?” Starlight’s head shot up from the table she’d been resting it on. It felt like it had been hours since Princess Twilight Sparkle, her mentor, had started talking about their run-in with the worst enemy they’d ever faced. She shifted her head to the right, glancing at the clock that was positioned high above the door leading into Twilight’s personal study.
‘F-five minutes? There’s no way that’s right!’
“Starlight, have you been listening to anything I’ve been saying?”
“Um… something about a Tyrannosaurus Rex that you got into a fight with?” Starlight guessed, a sheepish look on her face. Her mentor slapped a hoof to her face, and Starlight blushed. “Hehe, I’m guessing that wasn’t right?”
“No. No it was not,” Twilight deadpanned. “Do these lessons not mean anything to you?”
“No, they do!” Starlight replied insistently. “It’s just… I don’t know. My mind is elsewhere, I guess.”
Twilight regarded her friend curiously. “Is there something you’d like to talk about, Starlight? After all, friendship can—”
“‘Solve any problem’,” Starlight finished for her teacher. She followed that up with a sigh, resting her chin on her forehooves. “I know. Believe me. After what you showed me, I’ll never forget that lesson. But it’s hard to apply that in the real world when nobody wants to be my friend.”
“Starlight.” Twilight placed a hoof on her friend’s shoulder, offering her a warm smile as their gazes met. “You have eight wonderful friends, who would do anything for you. If you’re having a problem, you can always come to us for advice. We won’t think any less of you for needing help.”
“I get that, I do. But this just isn’t something you can help me with, Twilight.” Starlight’s voice was filled with determination, and she rose up a bit in her seat. “I have to solve this problem by myself, and I will.”
“Are you sure, Starlight?” Twilight asked, giving her friend another gentle smile. “I just want what’s best for you.”
Starlight smiled back at her mentor, but hopped out of her seat anyways. “Thanks, Twilight, but this is something I have to take into my own hooves.”
“Well… if you’re sure.” Twilight sent a hesitant grin in Starlight’s direction. “But don’t think this will get you out of your friendship lesson!”
Starlight laughed as she trotted out of the room, heading into the winding hallways of the castle. “Of course not. I’ll be back, Twilight!”
Once she made it a good distance away, she heard Twilight yell out, “Oh my gosh, now I have the time to make flash cards!”
She giggled a bit. ‘Oh, Twilight, I hope you never change.’
Getting to her destination hadn’t taken very long at all, and Starlight silently thanked Celestia for that. The walk through Ponyville had been mostly uneventful, but that was just the problem. Whenever Twilight walked through the town, she was greeted by nearly everypony that passed by her. For Starlight? There was no such greeting from anyone. Because of that, it had been rather boring. As she knocked on the door to her friend’s cottage, she hoped that that boredom was about to come to an end.
It took a few moment, but the door eventually opened just enough for her shy friend to poke her head out. “O-oh. Hello, Starlight,” Fluttershy smiled, opening the door in full. “What brings you here?”
“Um, could I maybe come inside?” Starlight asked, turning her head back to look around the area leading up to Fluttershy’s home. A few ponies were walking down the path, which was enough to make her turn back to her friend. “I don’t want anypony to hear what I have to ask. They might get the… wrong idea.”
‘More like assume I’m trying to come up with some sort of plot to take over Equestria,’ she thought to herself. The ponies of Ponyville were very dramatic, after all.
“Sure!” Fluttershy beamed, moving aside and motioning for Starlight to enter. As soon as she was inside, Fluttershy gingerly closed the door and turned back to face her, still smiling widely. “It’s been so long since we’ve spent any time together!”
Starlight giggled at her friend’s excitement. “Well I’ve just been cooped up with Twilight for the past few weeks. She’s intent on teaching me all about friendship, but it’s been a bit boring for my taste lately. She's been assigning me homework. I'm a grown mare, for Celestia's sake!”
The pegasus tittered, hovering her way over to the couch and plopping down onto it. “Well, Twilight will always be Twilight, I suppose. So what brings you here?”
Starlight was hesitant to take a seat, instead choosing to pace around the coffee table as she spoke. “It’s just… I want so badly to be accepted by everyone. But nopony in Ponyville is willing to even talk to me for more than ten seconds.
“And to make matters worse,” she continued, “I feel like a total outcast even among our group. The cutie map never calls me on any missions. Hay, nopony ever invites me on any missions, either!”
“And then somepony had the nerve to tell me that I don’t even deserve a second chance. Well, third I guess, but all that really matters is that I want to change. Why can’t anypony just accept that?”
Starlight paused her pacing and shut her mouth. “O-oh gosh, I’m so sorry, Fluttershy,” she apologized, blushing. “I got sidetracked, I guess.”
“It’s okay,” Fluttershy assured the unicorn warmly. “So, um, what was it that brought you here, exactly?”
“O-oh, right. That.” Starlight sighed. It was now or never. She knew that if she wimped out now, she would never be able to do it. Images flew through her mind of what could possibly come of what she was about to ask, with none of them looking good. Thankfully, she was able to hold them off long enough to yell out, “I was wondering if I could talk to Discord!”
“Um.” Fluttershy put a hoof to her chin, which worried Starlight. She was going to say no, and it was going to be sad, and then she’d have no clue where to go ne— “I suppose that’s fine, but… why Discord?”
Starlight gave a sigh of relief, and thought about what she was going to say. She wanted to word it in a way that didn’t come across as, ‘Oh yes, I want to get to know all of your former enemies!’. “Discord knows what it’s like to be an outcast, but he never lets it bother him,” was what she decided to settle on. “I want to know his secret.”
‘Okay,’ Starlight gulped. ‘You can do this. Just ring the bell like Fluttershy said, and he’ll be here any moment….’
With a little shake of her hoof, the bell chimed. The sound lingered for a few moments, and then… nothing. Aside from the many animals in Fluttershy’s back yard seemingly chatting with one another, there was no noise.
‘Huh. Well, maybe I just didn’t ring it loud enough?’ She guessed, shaking it a bit harder. She waited a few seconds and… “Still nothing?” She spoke aloud, growing frustrated. Throwing the bell down on the ground, she harrumphed, “Hmph, what a piece of—”
Starlight paused, a low pitched humming grabbing her attention. Looking around for the source, her eyes finally settled on a green ball of light floating just above her. She backed away from it, fear present in her voice. “W-what is that?”
Electricity crackled around the ball, and it exploded outwards in a bright flash of light, making Starlight throw up a hoof to shield her eyes. Before the light had even begun to fade away, she heard someone speak. “You’ve got some nerve, Fluttershy. What have I told you abou— Oh,” the new voice paused for a moment. “It’s you.”
Starlight lowered her hoof just enough to peek over it. She had seen Discord’s statue before, on a class field trip back in her younger days, but that didn’t compare at all to the real thing. He was all kinds of crazy. Literally. She needed to focus, though. “H-how do you know who I am?”
“Oh, Starlight Glimmer,” Discord grinned, disappearing in a flash of light. She felt a pressure on her neck, and turned around to see him on her left side, his lion arm wrapped around her. “I’ve heard so much about you from dear Fluttershy.”
In an instant, the pressure on her neck was gone, and Discord was back in front of her. “Oh, yes. She tells me that you stole the cutie marks from an entire village of ponies. Something about being upset that your friend left you as a foal?”
Starlight was aware of a small flash of light on her flank, and was shocked to find that her cutie mark had been changed back to the equal sign she’d forced everypony else to have. “B-but, you can’t just—”
Another flash of light, and her cutie mark was back to normal. “But she and her friends thwarted your plans, and returned everypony’s cutie marks to their rightful flanks,” he giggled. "Honestly, it all sounds like something out of a dystopian novel."
“How did you do that?” Starlight demanded, stamping a hoof on the ground.
“It’s quite simple, Glim Glam.”
“Glim Glam?” She dead-panned. “Really?”
Discord kept talking, ignoring her. “I’m the master of chaos, you see. But of course,” Discord disappeared once again, this time reappearing as a much smaller version of himself on her head. “You already know that, or else you wouldn’t have come here looking for my help with your... Oh, what was it?”
Starlight was about to ask him to get off of her, but instead let out a sigh. “I want to know how you’re so okay with being an outcast.”
“An outcast, you say?” Discord chuckled. “Why, I’m the toast of the town! Everypony in Ponyville loves me!”
“But they never even talk to you!” Starlight countered. She could hear him snap his talons together, and he reappeared once again in front of her, this time in a wicker chair of sorts. It was at this point that she became aware that she too had changed positions, now lying in a chaise lounge. “W-what the—”
“Now, Starlight Glimmer, tell me all about the problem you’ve been having.”
The unicorn rolled her eyes, but settled on playing along. “I don’t really feel accepted in Ponyville, Discord. Nopony ever takes the time to stop and talk with me like they do with Twilight, or Fluttershy, or anyone.”
“Mhm,” Discord nodded, a pen and pad appearing out of thin air and falling into his lap. “Subject is very self-conscious.”
“H-hey! I’m not self-conscious!” Starlight argued.
More scribbling. “Subject is argumentative.”
This time, Starlight simply grumbled. It wasn't like there was much she could do, after all. This was Discord, the spirit of all things chaotic and disharmonious. To try and argue back would simply play into his strengths. No, she was going to let this all play out in the hopes that, for some reason, he might actually he—
“Starlight,” Discord called her name, rousing her from her thoughts. “I’m going to be a good sport and do you a favor this one time.”
“Really?” She asked, her eyebrow raising up. “What kind of favor?”
Discord snapped his talons once more, and the two were back to standing normally. But this time, there was a mirror placed directly in front of Starlight. Discord grabbed her by the shoulders, leaning down to look in the mirror with her. “Tell me, Starlight Glimmer. What do you see when you look into this mirror?”
“I see a unicorn and a draconequus,” she replied with a perplexed look. “What does this have to do wi—”
“Look harder,” Discord cut her off.
Starlight was tempted to simply trot off in anger, but she managed to take a couple deep breaths and look back at the mirror. This time, she found herself caught, locked staring into her own gaze. It pierced through her. She wasn’t sure if this was really happening, or if it was just another one of Discord’s tricks. But then it hit her, and she understood what he meant. Sort of. “I see… Starlight Glimmer and Discord.”
“Right. Not just any old unicorn and draconequus, but Starlight Glimmer and Discord. One of the most magically gifted unicorns in all of Equestria, and the spirit of chaos himself,” Discord grinned at her through the mirror. “Do you know why that’s significant?”
“Because I’m me, and you’re you,” she replied. “And no matter how much I want to be like you, I’ll always be me.”
“Exactly!” Discord shouted excitedly, pulling the surprised unicorn into a hug. He dropped her, rather unceremoniously, and she looked back up at him from the ground as he continued, spitting a few blades of grass from her mouth. “You’ve spent so much time trying to be as liked as everypony else, but you’re not everypony else. You’re Starlight Glimmer, one of the most magically gifted unicorns in Equestria.”
“So, you’re saying I should just be happy with being ignored?” Starlight asked indignantly.
“Of course not! But you shouldn’t come to somepony else for advice on how to be liked,” Discord advised her. “Have you ever simply tried approaching the ponies you claim ignore you?”
“... No,” Starlight admitted. She sighed, a sigh of disappointment. “I always just assumed they didn’t like me at all. A few of them don’t, but some of them have actually wished me good luck and I just kept walking past them. I’m such a dummy….”
“Well then,” a snap was heard, and Starlight found herself in the town square. Nopony seemed to notice that she had just appeared out of nowhere, but she jotted that down to being Discord’s influence. Even with him out of sight entirely, his voice was clear in her mind. ‘Maybe you should fix that….’
‘Alright, Starlight, you can do this….’
With a smile, she trotted up to a nearby mare that she recognized as the town's local carrot farmer. Clearing her throat, she barely managed to raise her voice enough for the pony to hear her. “Um, hi, Golden Harvest.”
To her surprise, and delight, Golden Harvest looked absolutely delighted to see her. “Oh, hello, Starlight! How are you?”
Starlight smiled even harder. Maybe she had been acting silly. ‘Thanks, Discord...’
“I'm fine now.”