Search Bookmarks Jump: Comments
    Please update your browser: Your browser is obsolete, you need to update or switch! Missing var() support! Missing grid support! Missing (flex-) gap support! Missing aspect-ratio support! Missing container query support! Missing clamp() support! Missing -webkit-line-clamp support!
    Header Background Image

    Rarity had a very strange dream that night.

    It began inside a large room within Canterlot Castle. It was a beautiful room, with marble floors and mahogany furniture, carved and polished until everything shined. Oil portraits hung on the walls, depicting elegantly dressed mares and stallions. The air smelled of fresh flowers, and not a speck of dust could be found.

    It was an immaculate sight, save for one small detail.

    Discord, or rather a statue of him, stood in the middle of the room, laughing at something or somepony. Granite and motionless, but goodness, the detail of the likeness… If she didn’t know better, she might have thought the Spirit himself had been turned to stone.

    Loathing bubbled up inside her at the sight of him. That vile beast! If only it were him, encased in stone! She’d feel not a drop of guilt at kicking the statue over and watching it smash to pieces! Her only remorse would be in damaging such a pristine marble floor with such a vulgar creature.

    Honestly, she thought, lifting her nose in distaste, why would anypony want to ruin such lovely décor with such a horrific addition?

    She heard sudden voices in the distance, and to her startlement, the statue vanished before her eyes. She quickly stepped back, looking around for it, until the voices grew louder and her ear twitched with recognition. Was that… Princess Luna? She trotted toward the door, momentarily distracted from the statue’s disappearance, and stepped back when a tall white alicorn trotted past her down the hallway, followed by another mare Rarity recognized as the Princess of the Moon.

    “Princess Luna!” Rarity called out, rushing into the hallway and following behind them. However, call as she might, neither of the alicorns turned back. She faltered for a moment. They can’t hear me?

    “Sister, please, we must—!” Princess Luna said, cut short when the white alicorn stopped and raised a hoof.

    “Just a moment, Luna.”

    Rarity stepped past Princess Luna, her eyes settling on the final lost princess. Oh, she’d seen the statue of Celestia in Canterlot, but she’d never expected it to be accurate—and then some. Though she made for an imposing figure, white wings half-splayed against her coat, Celestia rubbed the bridge of her nose with a forehoof, giving the impression of a tired schoolteacher. Rarity recognized the crown on her head, so different from the charred remains the dragons had thrown at her hooves.

    She was nothing short of what the filly had always expected a goddess to look like.

    “We do not have ‘a moment’!” Luna protested, stamping her hoof and gesturing toward a nearby window. “We have given ourselves many moments, and our kingdom is in ruins for it!”

    Rarity’s gaze traveled toward the large window next to Luna, and her heart fell at the sight. She trotted toward it, for a moment forgetting the two alicorns, and fixed her gaze on the castle gardens—or what was left of them, at least. The trees and bushes were glowing yellow, and it was as though they were stuck in a perpetual time loop, wilting in a second and then regrowing in the next. Beyond the gardens, Rarity could see the castle town, if only because some houses were floating upside-down high above the city.

    “And now Chrysalis and her creatures are involved!” Luna continued, drawing Rarity’s attention. “We must end this now! Disarray we can handle, but our ponies drained of their very source of life?! They will die, Celestia! And the more we wait, the fewer ponies we are able to trust!”

    “Don’t you think I know that?!” Princess Celestia snapped, her patience having worn thin.

    “Then do something about it instead of wasting time with diplomacy!”

    Celestia stepped forward, narrowing her eyes. “Oh? If it’s so wasteful, what do you propose we do, Sister?”

    “The duel! We can use Twilight’s weapon to strike him down then!”

    Rarity blinked. Twilight’s weapon…?

    Celestia sighed, rubbing a hoof against her temple. “You know very well that our information on the Elements of Harmony is very limited, and furthermore, Twilight has—”

    “We have no other choice!” Luna protested. “We must try! You are so sure it will not work! What if it does? I am willing to take a risk to find out!” She stood back and narrowed her eyes. “If you do not speak to her, I will, Celestia.”

    Celestia took a deep breath and replied, “Very well, Luna. I will speak to her.” She turned and trotted back the way she came. “But we will not step hoof in Neighagra Valley without being prepared for failure.”

    And then, just as Rarity made a move to follow Luna and Celestia, the room changed. No, not the room. The dream changed, she realized, finally understanding that Pinkie Pie had indeed kept her promise. The room swirled around her like a fading vortex, and Rarity spun, trying to find any sign of the princess.

    “Princess Luna!” she called out. “Princess, where are… you…”

    Her voice drifted off just as the dream settled itself into a different hallway inside the castle. There was Princess Luna, but rather than looking at Rarity, the princess was peeking into a room. Rarity’s gaze traveled down the hallway and a sense of familiarity washed over her. This hallway… She’d seen it once before, on the afternoon of what she could only think of as the day her downfall began.

    The hallway of the princesses’ chambers.

    It looked just the same as it did a thousand years in the future, save that no statue rested inside the nearby alcove.

    Rarity turned back to Princess Luna, who was now looking into the hallway too, her brow furrowed. Rarity wondered briefly what was going on before making her way toward the room Luna had been looking into. The door was only slightly ajar, but voices could be heard coming from inside. A… a child? A child was speaking, and when he quieted another voice replied and Rarity’s heart almost stopped.

    She recognized that voice.

    She immediately tried opening the door, but her hoof went through it instead. She recoiled with a startled gasp, but after a moment, desire took over and she trotted through the door and into Twilight Sparkle’s observatory, where a baby dragon sat on a chair, his gaze fixed on the unicorn trotting back and forth.

    She’s a unicorn…? Rarity thought, finding herself mesmerized by this mare that was so… familiar, yet so dissimilar from the one Rarity had fallen in love with. No magic coursed through her mane or tail, no wings fluttered at her sides, and she seemed distinctly shorter than the Twilight that Rarity knew.

    More than anything, she thought, Twilight looked tired. There were bags under her eyes, her mane was disheveled, and in her eyes Rarity saw… She saw herself days after being cursed.

    A mare who’d run herself ragged.

    “Twilight…”

    The words left Rarity’s lips unbidden, and Twilight stopped and turned toward her. Her breath hitched and she stepped back, having forgotten what it felt like to be the subject of Twilight’s gaze.

    “Hello?” Twilight called out. She trotted forward and it wasn’t until she passed right through her that Rarity remembered with a jolt that she was just a ghost in this memory. How the tables had turned. Twilight opened the door and peeked outside before humming and going back into the room. “I could have sworn…”

    “Twilight…”

    Twilight turned toward Spike, who was vastly smaller than the dragon Rarity had seen in the caves. Twilight sighed, and again she walked right through Rarity and back toward the desk. “I know,” she said, looking up at the papers and scrolls plastered all over the walls. A crown levitated next to her, which Rarity immediately recognized as the one perpetually affixed to… her Twilight’s head. Twilight observed it for a moment before putting it back and then falling to her haunches, burying her face in her hooves. “I’m running out of time, and the princesses are counting on me…”

    “They can wait,” Spike protested, crossing his arms. “You haven’t slept in days! If they want the Elements so bad, they can find them themselves!”

    Rarity’s breath caught. Find the Elements?

    “No!” Twilight said, turning to Spike. “I’m the one who found that tree! I’m the one Princess Celestia asked to do the research! She already has enough on her plate without cleaning up my mess too!”

    “But you haven’t made a mess!” he protested, jumping off the chair. “You found one of the Elements! Why aren’t you happy about that?!”

    “Because I’ve only found one in the three years I’ve been researching!” Twilight got up, snatched a scroll from the wall with her magic and waved it at him. “The Elements of Sun, Moon, and Love are still missing! Just because I have the Element of Magic isn’t cause to celebra—”

    Three knocks at the door interrupted her.

    “Twilight?” Princess Celestia’s voice came. “May we come in?”

    Rarity watched the familiar sight of Twilight panicking, quickly putting everything back in place. “Yes, yes!” she blurted out, levitating Spike and putting him back on the chair, ignoring his confused expression. “I’m ready!”

    The door opened, and Rarity moved away to avoid the unsettling sensation of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna walking through her. They settled into the room, their eyes fixed on Twilight, who smiled at them even though she looked—and no doubt felt—like a cornered animal.

    “Spike,” Princess Celestia said, “may we have a moment?”

    Spike quickly nodded and practically jumped out of his chair. “Y-yes, Your Highness!” he exclaimed, rushing out of the room and then closing the door after one last glance at Twilight.

    “Is something wrong?” Twilight asked, and such was the panic in her eyes that Rarity was compelled to go and stand next to her in a show of support, even if it was an ultimately futile gesture. She knew what awaited the unicorn now, after all.

    “Twilight Sparkle,” Luna began, her somber expression contrasting with Celestia’s bright smile. “We hope we are not interrupting you.”

    Twilight let out a shaky laugh. “Of course not!” she replied, backing closer to her desk. “You did say you wanted to ta-talk to me, Your Highnesses.”

    “Indeed we did!” Celestia said, and her tone was much kinder than her sister’s. She seemed nothing but relaxed as she looked around the room, trotting toward a nearby telescope and poking at it with a hoof. “How have you found your new quarters, Twilight?” She turned to Twilight and sat down on a floor pillow before turning to Luna and gesturing with her wing. “Won’t you make yourself comfortable? You’d think we were having a council meeting!” Once Luna seated herself with a barely hidden huff, Celestia again fixed her gaze on Twilight. “Well?”

    Twilight nodded. “Oh, yes! I’m much closer to your private library now, and my research has been going much faster because of it. The view has also allowed me to more closely examine the grand-scale impact of chaos magic, as well as its natural habits and patterns,” she explained, and for but a moment, Rarity was looking at her Twilight. “It’s more than I could have asked for.”

    “It’s nothing but a small sliver of what you deserve, Twilight,” Celestia said, bowing her head and drawing out pleased smiles from both Twilight and Rarity. Moments later, however, Celestia’s smile wavered and disappeared. “And though it pleases me immensely to hear your thoughts on the subject, there’s something much more pressing we must discuss.”

    Twilight’s ears lowered. “…Discord.”

    “The Queen of the Changelings and her army are advancing every day,” Princess Luna said, clearly not intending to be anything but to the point. “The day will come that even Canter Capital itself will be under attack, and we cannot stop them while our kingdom is afflicted by Discord’s spells.”

    “Twilight, have you anything to report on the Elements of Harmony?” Celestia asked. “You were there when he challenged us, and Princess Luna and I would like for us to be as prepared as we can be.”

    “I…” Twilight turned to her desk, and though she hid it from the princesses, she could not hide her absolutely stricken expression from Rarity. She rifled through random papers while whispering under her breath, reminding herself to breathe in and out. “Here!” She took a scroll and turned back to them, a confident smile affixed to her face. “I’ve yet to find the other Elements, but my analysis of the crown clearly shows that it’s inhabited by a strong, currently unidentified, magic essence!”

    Celestia nodded. “Are you able to harness this magic in any way? You told me it reacted to you, didn’t you? I’m sure somepony as talented as you are would have no trouble with it.”

    Twilight faltered, lowering the scroll. “I think ma—”

    “Your Highness!”

    A royal guard had burst in, breathing heavily, prompting the two princesses to immediately rise. Two more followed, carrying a stallion. They put him on the floor, and Rarity’s hoof shot to her mouth at the sight.

    To say he looked on the verge of death was not accurate enough.

    He lay on the floor, gasping to fill his lungs with ragged breaths of air. His filthy coat clung to his protruding bones, like he’d been starved for weeks on end, and his face… The longer Rarity looked at him, the more she wanted to look away.

    “Quick Lance!” Celestia gasped, stepping back. “What—?! What happened to him?! I was told he took the weekend to be with his family!”

    “We found him at the entrance of the abandoned tunnels!” one of the guards explained, taking off his helmet. “He says there are others deeper into the caves!”

    “Others?!” Luna demanded, her wings unfurling. “What others? What—!”

    “Pr… Princess…” Quick Lance began, struggling to speak. “My… my wife… my children… The others… Help… help them… Chang… changelings…”

    “It’s happened,” Luna whispered, watching as he collapsed, unconscious. “They’re here.”

    “You two,” Celestia said to the other guards, tone sharp. “Who else knows of this? What other guards have you alerted?”

    “N-no others, Your Highness.”

    Celestia was silent for a moment before levitating the stallion, placing him on the nearby couch, and then shutting the door with her magic.

    “Starting this moment, you will trust no pony but those present in this room,” she began. “We will treat Quick Lance here. Iron, you are to bring back Quick Lance’s family without arousing the suspicion of the changeling with them. Use whatever excuse you must. Then send for Princess Cadance and Shining Armor. When you report back, you will prove your identity to me by listing the names of your children before saluting me.”

    “Apple Fritter and Pear Heart!” the guard said before saluting and rushing off.

    “Luna,” Celestia continued, “you and I will tend to Quick Lance, and then we will go to the abandoned caves. We will only bring our personal guards, and these two here.” Finally, she turned around. “Twilight, do you think you can harness the magic of the Element?”

    Rarity turned around and was surprised to see an altogether different Twilight standing next to her. She was standing tall and proud, and if she’d had wings, Rarity knew they’d be splayed apart with conviction.

    “Yes,” she said. “Yes, I can.”

    And again the dream began to change as it had before. Twilight, the princesses, the guards, and the room began to fade, and soon enough, Rarity found herself in a vast meadow, standing in the company of not only three alicorns and a unicorn, but the vile Spirit of Chaos himself.

    “Well, well, well!” Discord said, floating in the air. “Am I surrounded?” He looked toward the three alicorns standing behind him. “What a fearsome army! A pony who moves the sun, another who hates that she doesn’t move the sun, and one who wastes her time in romance!”

    The three princesses standing next to Rarity did not flinch.

    “Oh! Oh, but wait, I’m missing someone, aren’t I?” Discord continued, stroking his beard. He snapped his fingers, a saddle appeared next to him, and he looked around. “Now, where is your pet? Ah! There she is!”

    Rarity looked down and saw Twilight standing in front of them, glaring Discord down. Though she still bore no wings, she was wearing the familiar star-studded crown. Rarity quickly trotted over to her, finding she was vastly more interested in Twilight’s side of it than the princesses.

    “Discord!” Twilight called out. “This war has gone on for long enough!”

    “War?!” Discord gasped, placing a paw on his chest. “I didn’t want any war! I was only creating a bit of havoc here and there, and you ponies got sooo worked up about it!” He crossed his arms and harrumphed. “Honestly, one would think you don’t like having fun.”

    “You have assisted Chrysalis with her invasion!” Luna accused, stamping her hoof against the ground.

    “Oh, please! I work alone!” he shot back, turning to the princesses. He snapped his fingers and a throne appeared in mid-air, which he promptly sat on. “It’s hardly my fault that ponies are dumb enough to let Chrysalis and her little ants take over! See! The changelings appreciate my fun! Maybe you should too!”

    Rarity heard Twilight take a deep breath, and for a moment, she dearly wished she could offer her beloved some sort of encouragement.

    “Discord!” Twilight called out again, grabbing his attention again as the throne swiveled in place. Her horn lit up, and so too did the star in her crown begin to glow. “I’m warning you! This is your last chance!”

    Discord cleared his throat. “Oh, let me be serious, then. Can’t ruin your big moment, now can we? It’s not every day a little unicorn finds a trinket to actually give her some magic powers!” He grinned at Twilight and then cleared his throat, the throne disappearing behind him. “Come now, Twilight Sparkle! Wouldn’t want to disappoint your beloved princesses, would you?”

    Twilight gritted her teeth. “Discord…” The magic pooling in her horn brightened, and her eyes began to glow like the star on her crown as a magic sheen spread through her coat, mane, and tail. “I’m ending this war now!”

    A beam of light shot out of Twilight’s horn, aimed straight for Discord, who responded by laughing with great joy. The Element of Magic shot a beam too, but Rarity saw the spell fizzle out and fade not even a second after it had appeared. Nevertheless, when she turned toward Discord, she watched as slowly but surely his entire body turned to stone.

    And yet—it might have been her position—she noticed something else, right before the spell finished: though Twilight’s magic had surely reached its target, Rarity noticed two other beams of light strike Discord from behind.

    Once it was over, the statue of Discord fell to the ground with a loud thud, and Rarity realized the statue she’d seen earlier may not have been some mere statue after all. He lay there on the ground, petrified forevermore as a cackling decoration. Rarity’s heart tightened in her chest, and she couldn’t help but think that, all things said and done, being turned to stone wasn’t altogether much better than being trapped in a library.

    Silence reigned for a moment before, finally, Twilight exhaled, her ears perking up and a dumbfounded smile curving her lips.

    “It worked?” she whispered, before nearly breaking out into excited giggles. “It worked! It worked!

    And yet, despite Twilight’s elation, Rarity wasn’t able to join in. She saw the Element’s magic fizzle out! And she was sure the princesses had attacked him as well…

    It was Celestia who made her way toward Twilight first, a delighted smile gracing her lips. “I am very proud of you, Twilight,” she said, and in her statement Rarity could detect no hesitation. The princess then turned toward the statue of Discord and frowned. “As for him…”

    “As for him…?” Twilight prompted.

    “As for him, we will discuss what to do in a moment,” Celestia repeated, her smile returning just as the tip of her horn glowed. “Petrification doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t see or hear us.”

    Her horn flashed, and before Rarity’s eyes, a sound and sight barrier in the shape of a black bubble completely surrounded the Spirit. She blinked at it for a moment before turning toward Celestia and feeling her heart drop at the deep frown on Celestia’s brow.

    A single thought entered Rarity’s mind.

    Something’s gone wrong.

    “P-Princess?” Twilight asked, and the crack in her voice showed she too realized something was off. “What’s wrong?”

    “Twilight,” Celestia said severely, her eyes fixed on the statue. “No matter what follows, I am proud of you.”

    “Sister!”

    Rarity turned around and saw Luna and Cadance walking toward them, both of them looking as grim as the Sun Princess, which only intensified the sickening feeling inside Rarity’s chest—and Twilight’s too, no doubt.

    “Sister,” Luna repeated, only briefly glancing at Twilight before turning her gaze toward the bubble. “How long do we have?”

    “He is the Spirit of Chaos. We might have fifteen minutes if fortune will allow it,” Celestia said. “Five, if not.”

    “Fif-fifteen minutes?” Twilight asked, looking back and forth between the princesses. “Fifteen minutes to…”

    “Discord was not immobilized by the Element,” Luna replied, “but by a petrification spell that Cadance, my sister, and I had been preparing.”

    Twilight stepped back, ears pressing against her skull and eyes growing wide. “I… I failed…?”

    “No, you didn’t fail, Twilight,” Cadance said almost at once, looking at the darker alicorn with a stern expression. “It just… It…”

    “You weren’t ready yet,” Celestia interrupted, eyes still fixed on the statue. “But…”

    “But he doesn’t know that.” Luna turned to Celestia. “And that is what might save us, isn’t it, Sister?” she said, just in time for Rarity to step back and muffle a gasp with her hoof.

    “I tricked him. I tricked him into reforming.”

    “But—! But, Princess Luna!” Twilight protested. “We can’t—!”

    “We have no choice!” Princess Luna replied, stamping her hoof against the floor. “You saw how many guards we found starved to death in those tunnels, Twilight! We cannot continue this way!” The alicorn turned to Cadance. “You agree, do you not?!”

    “It wouldn’t make us much better than him, Auntie Luna,” Cadance quietly said.

    “What if he finds out?! I can still find the Elements! I promise! I just need more time!” Twilight insisted before helplessly looking at Celestia. “Princess Celestia! Please, I didn’t fail, I can still fix—”

    “We have no other option,” Celestia interrupted, impassive as the statue hidden beyond the bubble. “If we had time, I would find a better way, but time is a luxury we have run out of.”

    As if fate had heard, the bubble around Discord began to crack, signaling the spell was fading.

    “Twilight,” Princess Celestia said, and now she offered the unicorn a smile. “You’ve done enough. Stand behind him and we will take care of this.”

    Twilight recoiled, ears again flattening against her head. “But— But I can… I can still… I’m…” Another crack from the bubble interrupted her. “Yes, Princess Celestia,” she whispered, tears bordering her eyes before she trotted away. “I’m sorry.”

    Rarity looked at the three princesses for a moment, watching as they stood tall and proud in front of the bubble, before running off to join Twilight, who was now quietly standing behind the bubble, her head hanging down in… shame?

    The bubble finally cracked, and Rarity watched, engulfed with loathing as a Discord made of flesh and bones emerged, gasping for air, back turned to Twilight and Rarity.

    Celestia stamped her hoof against the floor. “Dis—!”

    “You!” Discord roared, turning away from the three Princess and directing his ire at Twilight, who flinched and stepped back, trying to keep her ground. “What—?! What did you—?! How did—?!”

    And, for a moment, Twilight changed. Gone was the remorseful student, and for a moment the confident alicorn Rarity knew returned.

    Discord!” Twilight called out, voice fierce despite the fact that Rarity could see her lips tremble and her chest heave. “I’m giving you a second chance to stop the war and surrender peacefully!”

    You?! Give me a second chance?!” Discord snapped before floating down toward Twilight and nearly pressing his face against hers. “Who do you think you—

    “I am Twilight Sparkle, the bearer of the Element of Magic,” Twilight hissed, neither stepping back nor losing a shred of confidence. Her horn began to glow, and with it the star in the crown. “And if you don’t want to spend the rest of eternity in stone, you will leave Equestria alone.”

    Discord’s reply never came, for much like before, the dream stopped and again began to shift. The swirling vortex took him away, then the princesses, and finally Twilight. The scenery spun and spun around Rarity, until finally it stopped and she found herself on a castle balcony overlooking Canterlot Castle’s gardens, where dozens of ponies were gathered.

    As far as she could see, no chaos magic controlled the land anymore. No houses floated upside down, and the gardens looked more splendid than she’d ever seen them. The three princesses stood behind her on the balcony, accompanied by a white stallion that looked eerily similar to the statue she’d seen in the Princesses’ Hallway.

    The stallion cleared his throat, and with a winning smile announced, “Presenting the newest monarch of the Kingdom of Equestria!”

    Rarity turned around just in time for the balcony doors to open and her heart to skip a beat at the sight of Twilight, two beautiful wings on either side of her body and… and a terribly sullen look on her face, which vanished almost instantly when the other princess turned to her.

    She approached the balcony where dozens of cheers greeted her, to which she only nodded in reply.

    “Twilight,” Celestia said, placing a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “You earned this.”

    Twilight stared at Celestia for a moment before looking back to the crowd without a word.

    The dream froze again and the transition process began anew, until long gone was the balcony and Rarity stood in the middle of a courthouse. Dozens of angry-looking ponies sat in the surrounding tribunes, with the four princesses presiding as judges and Discord floating beside her in the middle of the room, arms crossed.

    “Well?” he asked, yawning loudly. “I’ve been here for ages. At this rate, you should have called this a Snooze Treaty rather than a peace one, really.”

    It was Twilight who spoke up, her eyes scanning a map. “In accordance with what we’ve established during this, our first annual Peace Treaty, we the Princesses of Equestria will allow you to preside over the Province of Galloping Hills until such time we conven—”

    “What?! Princess Twilight!” an elegant stallion bellowed from one of the tribunes, slamming his cane against the wooden railing. “You can’t give that beast the Galloping Hills province! That’s half the size of Canter Capital!” He waited as ponies around him murmured and exclaimed in agreement before pointing his cane at Discord. “This creature deserves nothing! What he’s getting is only out of the benevolence of ponies, but there is such a thing as being too generous toward those who have lost!”

    “Oh, please,” Discord protested, rolling his eyes. “Galloping Hills is no bigger than a bathtub!”

    “Oh, be quiet, beast! How dare you speak ill of what the princess has offered you!” an elegant mare sneered, throwing Discord an icy glare. “She can turn you back to stone in less than an instant, so remember your place in our kingdom!” She turned toward Twilight. “Princess, I will gladly offer the fields west of my land for you to give him instead of our beautiful Galloping Hills. They’re much smaller and more fitting.”

    Twilight frowned, her ears lowering. “But I—”

    “Thank you, Lady Steelwings,” Princess Celestia interrupted. “Galloping Hills might be too large an offer, I agree. Discord has allowed much harm to take place in Equestria, and we will not diminish the severity of Discord’s actions.”

    Suddenly, one by one, ponies all around began to fade until only Twilight and Luna remained, the former looking away from the latter.

    “We cannot arouse the suspicion of ponies, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna said. “If we act as nothing less than the victors for even just a moment, that might be enough for Discord to suspect us.”

    “It’s my fault,” Twilight replied, the three familiar words Rarity loathed as much as she did Discord. “If I had found the other Elements…”

    Luna, Twilight, and the courthouse faded afterwards. Twilight’s parting words burned themselves into Rarity’s mind as the scenery changed and she found herself inside a dining room—empty save for two alicorns, a dragon, and a draconequus.

    Princess Luna sat by herself on one side of the large dining table, her eyes fixed not on the scroll lying in front of her, but on the conversation between her companions. Discord was floating above the table, smiling widely at Twilight and Spike who, to Rarity’s surprise, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

    “Discord,” Twilight said, tapping the tip of a quill against a scroll. “Shouldn’t you be in Tempest Valley?”

    Discord snorted. “Yes, because there’s so much to do in a valley the size of this room,” he pointed out before floating up the scroll Twilight was working on. “And you still have to finish writing down why I’m so wonderful!”

    “Pfft, wonderful,” Spike said, oblivious to the eye roll Discord did behind the scroll. “Right.”

    “I’m very grateful you’ve allowed me to study your magic, Discord,” Twilight said, her ears perking up as she sat up straight and pulled the scroll down. “It’s fascinating! I thought chaos was disorganized, but patterns are starting to form between our experiments.”

    “Now, Princess Twilight, who am I to deny ponykind of the wonders of me?” Discord said, taking a look at his claws. “Even if you’re the only one who appreciates my services,” he added, throwing Luna a pointed glare, which she returned in kind.

    “Forgive me for not mingling with the enemy,” she replied, looking back to her scroll.

    Twilight cleared her throat, throwing Luna a nervous glance. “Actually, Discord, I might continue my research later. It’s almost supper, and I—”

    Discord snapped his fingers, and a massive, delicious-looking three-tiered cake appeared before the alicorn, along with a small silver spoon.

    Twilight blinked at the cake—which Rarity assumed was rotten inside—before taking the spoon and levitating it with hesitation.

    “Oh, really, it’s just a cake!” Discord insisted, harrumphing and crossing his arms. “Wanting supper implies you’re hungry.”

    “And our servants can take care of that,” Luna loudly pointed out.

    “It’s okay, Princess Luna,” Twilight quickly replied, offering Discord an apologetic smile. “I’m sure it’s…” She gulped and took a spoonful of cake. “I’m sure it’s delicious!”

    As if to prove her point, she brought the cake to her mouth, chewed, and, to the surprise of everypony staring save for Discord, exclaimed, “Oh! That was… actually really good!”

    An old-fashioned chef’s hat appeared on Discord’s head.

    “Of course it was! I made it!” He then turned to Spike. “Won’t you have a try?” he offered, snapping his fingers and materializing a second spoon next to the drake.

    “Oh, don’t mind if I do!” Spike exclaimed as he took the spoon, eagerly scooping up a large piece of cake and popping it into his mouth. He chewed for a moment, but unlike Twilight, his reaction was not delight. Rather, his face turned green and he ran out of the room, the sound of retching following in short order.

    “Oopsie-daisy!” Discord exclaimed, pressing his hands against both sides of his face. “It completely slipped my mind that that recipe is bad for reptiles!”

    “Discord! That wasn’t nice!” Twilight said, frowning at him. She got up and went after Spike, but Discord teleported in front of her right as she reached the door.

    “Now, now, Princess, I’ll go,” he insisted. “It was just a prank that went a bit too far!”

    Twilight seemed intent on protesting, but relented. “All right, but please apologize to him.”

    Discord harrumphed. “No pony apologizes to me for treating me like a monster!”

    Discord.

    “All right, all right!” he said, floating out of the room and grumbling under his breath. “Spike! I have another cake for you! A good one, I promise! Mostly!”

    When he was gone, she rolled her eyes and returned to her seat, just in time for a blue aura to close all the doors, startling both Rarity and Twilight.

    “You are spending much of your time with Discord, Twilight,” Luna said, staring down at her scroll.

    “I… He’s a bit difficult, but he seems to like me,” Twilight offered, adjusting her wings against her body.

    “And you seem to like him, too,” Luna replied, looking up just in time to see Twilight wince.

    “Princess Luna, there’s nothing wrong with trying to be friends with him,” Twilight said, looking at the cake with determination. “He’s not bad.” She faltered. “I mean, he is, of course, but I’m sure he can be different if we give him a chance. He just needs somepony to show him a better way, and I like spending afternoons with him sometimes.”

    “While you spend your nights researching an effective method to use his magic against him?”

    Twilight frowned. “I’m not researching it to use it against him! It’s a magic I’ve never seen before! And I’m not just researching that! Princess Celestia wanted me to keep researching the Elements.”

    Luna sighed and turned to the younger mare. “Twilight, you are treading dangerous waters. You are letting your guilt vanquish you. That beast deserves none of your pity. You did what you had to do. We all did.”

    “I just…” Twilight pushed the plate away. “I don’t know.”

    With those three words, the dream changed again, away from the dining room and into a room where a very irate Princess Luna was pacing back and forth, back and forth in front of a passive Celestia and a distraught Twilight, whose face lay buried in her hooves.

    “Twilight, you’re sure of this?” Celestia asked, neither smiling nor frowning down at the alicorn.

    Twilight nodded, face still buried in her hooves. “I saw him,” came the muffled piteous voice. “He was standing over my desk and… and…”

    “And you are absolutely certain he was reading your research papers on the Elements?” Celestia asked, and Twilight finally looked up.

    “I don’t know… I think so? I’m not sure!” She groaned and buried her face in her hooves again.

    “Twilight Sparkle!” Luna thundered, taking her pacing to a screeching halt. “How many times have we told you to keep your room protected?!”

    “I know, but I didn’t think he’d—! I thought he’d changed!” Twilight defended, looking up at the alicorn between tearstained eyes. “I thought we were friends…”

    “He’s the Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony!” Luna shot back, stamping her hoof against the ground. “We are nothing but entertainment for him! And you give him access to your cham—!”

    “Luna, enough,” Celestia ordered, her eyes burning into her sister. “We don’t know whether he was looking at her research, and we should be grateful Twilight discovered him in time to prevent such a thing. All that matters is that her research is now where he can never find it.”

    “Can’t we just tell him the truth?” Twilight suggested.

    “And have him conquer Equestria again?!” Luna shot back.

    “We can find a different way to stop him! I can do it this time!”

    “This would have never happened if we’d banished him from Equestria!” Luna exclaimed, raising her voice and returning to her pacing. “Or forbidden interaction with ponykind! We allowed for this!”

    “Banishing him would not have alleviated his hatred of us,” Celestia replied, still as calm as ever. “A truce was the only way we could hope to avoid any future conflict. Twilight was doing the right thing by trying to foster a friendship with him. If we had all followed her example, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this conversation, Sister.”

    “And if we were?!” Luna insisted. “You are all so intent on proving his innocence! Have you forgotten what he did to us?! What he caused to pon—”

    “If I find the Elements…”

    Luna stopped talking, turning her attention to Twilight who was now standing straight, staring Luna down.

    “If I find the other three Elements of Harmony, things will be all right, won’t they? If I leave Canter Capital and find them, that would fix my mistake, wouldn’t it? I can still fix this.”

    “What? But that’s what he wants!” Luna protested, her ears flattening against her head. “Together is how we are stronger! Not torn apart! Perhaps you are right and he did not see your research! We are at peace now! Leaving would be telling him something is wrong!”

    “Something is wrong, Princess Luna,” Twilight said, trotting past the princess and toward the door. “And it’s my fault.”

    “Twilight!” Luna thundered, going after her just as the dream began to change again, and when it stopped, Rarity’s eyes grew wide upon recognizing the scenery.

    A massive courtyard with dozens of different species gathered around, from dragons to yaks to zebras to changelings, all eyes focused on the four princesses and the creature floating in the air, stroking his beard.

    “Honestly, I’m growing dreadfully tired of land!” he said, now crossing his arms and humming. “It’s so terribly lonely ruling alone… This time, I want something else! I’m sure you’ll agree!”

    Out of all the princesses, only Celestia smiled.

    “Peace between us is not acquired without mutual agreement, after all,” she said brightly.

    “Yes, yes,” he replied almost absent-mindedly before turning to them and grinning. “I’d like… a companion!”

    “A companion?” Cadance asked, raising an eyebrow. She sat up straight and fluffed her wings. “What do you mean?”

    Discord gestured dismissively. “Oh, nothing toooo complicated. I’d like a pet!”

    “A pet? They’re quite a joy to have, if I do say so myself!” Celestia said, still smiling brightly. “I simply don’t know where I’d be without my phoenix.”

    Discord nodded. “Well, I want one too! And I promise I’ll take good care of him! I even got him a cage!” he exclaimed, and upon snapping his fingers, his pet appeared in the form of a terrified Spike trapped inside a cage far too small for him.

    “Spike?!” Twilight gasped, standing up. “Discord, what are you doing?!”

    “Twilight!” he called out, desperately reaching out through the bars of the cage, tears in his eyes. “Princess Celestia! Help me, please!”

    “Now, now, let the adults talk!” Discord exclaimed, snapping his fingers and muzzling Spike. “Dragons live so long, though! I just want a companion forever!”

    “You can’t!” Twilight protested. “That’s not—”

    “That’s not what, Princess Twilight?” he asked, floating all the way down to her, and once again, just like five years before, he sneered in her face. “What will you do, my little pony? Turn me to stone? I thought we were friends.” He floated back up before she could reply. “Really, I’m not asking for anything outrageous! Why can’t he be my friend?” he asked, shaking Spike’s cage. “I’m sure you don’t mind letting me take care of him for a few millennia! Or, you could refuse, and I’ll be quite cross!” He glanced at the small group of changelings huddled near the dragons. “Who knows what might happen again, right, Princess Twilight?”

    And then, the dream changed one last time.

    It twisted, and twisted, and twisted until Rarity, alongside Princess Luna and Discord, found herself inside a dark and dank place that looked very much like the inside of a cave, and it wasn’t until she saw a translucent black barrier by the entrance that she understood just where she was.

    “Twilight didn’t deserve any of this!” Luna spat. “We—”

    “Princess, you brought this all upon yourselves!” Discord interrupted with glee. “Fool me once, shame on me; fool me for three years? My, my, what shame on you indeed! You really thought I’d sit there and be reformed? Oh, for the longest time, I simply couldn’t work out how a mere unicorn had single-hoofedly managed to bring me down from the God of Chaos to somepony groveling for your mercy—until I figured it out. Goodness, I couldn’t let you upstage me, could I? How am I doing, by the way?”

    He snapped his fingers and an illusion of Twilight appeared, looking quite terrified.

    “You should have let her face the consequences of her mistake all on her own. I always knew that little know-it-all wasn’t as strong or intelligent as you all made her out to be, but my, did you trick me into thinking she was. I suppose you had to cover it up, didn’t you, with your hero complex and all? What would Celestia do if anypony knew her precious student had made such a terrible mistake? Or Cadance, knowing her precious sister-in-law had failed Equestria? And you…” He snorted and made a dismissive gesture with his hoof. “You just wanted to pretend you were useful.”

    “N-no, that is not—!”

    “Unfortunately, I’m afraid I’m all out of tea, and though this has been terribly fun, I still have three more princesses to deal with! So much to do, so little time!” he said, snapping his fingers so a cup of tea appeared in his paw, which he promptly spilled all over the ground. He then threw the cup behind him, smiling when it smashed against the barrier.

    “Since you’re too much of a weakling to destroy the barrier yourself, you’ll have to wait until your precious sister or friends come and save you. But don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t take too long for somepony to find them. After all, they’ll be missed, unlike other someponies.”

    With a sinister laugh, he turned to leave, but then stopped.

    “Oh! Silly me! I almost forgot!” The Spirit snapped his fingers and Luna’s crown appeared in his hand. “I’ll be borrowing this, Princess.” He flung the crown up in the air and clapped when it landed on his head. “Perfect for fooling those apple farmers into telling me where Princess Twilight Sparkle’s secret library is. Goodness, am I going to have fun with her.”

    Rarity stepped back, her heart beating thunderously in her chest.

    “Rarity.”

    The dream shifted again, away from the dark cave, and now she found herself standing in front of a beautiful lake, the star-filled night reflected on its surface and Princess Luna seated beside her. Rarity stared at the alicorn, unsure of how to react or what to say.

    “It haunts me still,” Princess Luna said, pensively looking down at her reflection, “the role we played in Twilight Sparkle’s self-loathing.” She offered a bitter laugh. “And to think history remembers us as tragic heroes.”

    “Pr… Princess Luna…”

    The princess lifted her hoof and threads of water arose from the lake, converging and forming a tapestry.

    “O, what a tangled web we weave…”


    You can support me on

    2 Comments

    Enter your details or log in with:
    Heads up! Your comment will be invisible to other guests and subscribers (except for replies), including you after a grace period. But if you submit an email address and toggle the bell icon, you will be sent replies until you cancel.
    1. A Deer
      Mar 7, '23 at 10:30 pm

      Had a dream about this chapter last night where it was all Twilight yelling at everyone about her sandwich. The real chapter is so much more filling. This chapter really adds to the characters. Especially Discord, Twilight, Celestia, and Luna. It adds to Discord’s motivations knowing his past with Twilight and the others. It also adds a bit more tragedy to Twilight’s story because we see her take on so much pressure to save Equestria. And then she is pressured to go along with a scheme that doesn’t sit well with her. She really had no way out of the whole situation. Either go with the scheme or try and find the elements while war continues. And she felt responsible for any outcome that came to be. Then the hindsight of Luna at the end. Hindsight can be painful.

      I really like the way you structure these long stories. The information and backstory is peppered throughout instead of too much in the beginning. Chapters like this one feel much more fulfilling where you placed it because I’m invested in what’s happening and in the characters. So the backstory has much more weight to it. And it adds a lot to the stakes. Kind of like a showing the cards moment in a card game.

    2. Zanna Zannolin
      Sep 27, '22 at 9:15 pm

      this chapter is delightful because you finally get ALL THE ANSWERSSSS okay well. not all of them. but a MASSIVE amount of backstory that clears up so many questions and it weaves together all the flashback scenes we’ve gotten previously which is just such a fun moment for me personally (huge fan of out of context flashbacks being put in context…What a trope)

      i don’t know what it is but i so adore the changeling reveal with quick lance. like it just gives this fantastic atmosphere of urgency and vague underlying horror. i would literally read an entire spinoff that’s just about the changelings infiltrating equestria and the first chaos war. like that right there is fantastic on its own and yet you manage to condense the entire thing and fit it into this fic? as exposition? completely brilliant *chef’s kiss*

      also lunaaaaaaa christ you have as much internalized guilt as twilight. all the princesses are my sopping wet pathetic meow meows like somebody give them therapy. i am almost apprehensive for whenever we get to see celestia because like. how’s SHE doing in all of this. we got so much mental illness going on and then we know nothing about celestia (which btw? honestly that’s such a power move. it’s so interesting to me to think about. really builds this element of suspense always creeping up in the back of your mind.)

      also :((((((((((( discord and twilight actually being friends upsets me SO much. i don’t know if i’ve mentioned. it literally makes me want to cry like…twilight REALLY DID CARE and discord thinks she didn’t…i’m fine.