Equestria from Dust

Celestia awakens to see an empty world, white sandstone stretching the horizon. She wanders the world as she builds it from her imagination, filling it with life, but as time passes, the world that she created begins to seem like little more than a lucid dream, conjured from the dust.

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12. Part 12: Discord

Discord

 

 

Equestria from Dust, by soundslikeponies

 

 

 

 

“I just wanted to come out and play.”

 

 

 

Celestia and Luna walk through the town, their students sticking close by their sides. It’s eerily quiet. No sounds of birds, squirrels—or of any of the other westwood creatures. Just a shallow breeze, fanning the outlying fields, and the sharp crackle of burning wood.

Luna surveys the abandoned town around them. “Where are all the villagers?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” Celestia replies, gaining a frown that mirrors her sister’s. “I only spotted four ponies on the ground while we flew over. With a farming town this size, there should have been at least fifty or more.”

“I spotted five,” Luna says, “but yes, you’re right. We first started getting reports about it too recently for everypony to have already left.”

“You think most of the town disappeared?”

“Maybe. If the one behind this is behind Gallepelago as well, wouldn’t it make sense that they could teleport? Maybe teleporting a whole town full of ponies was within their power.”

As Celestia and Luna talk, Storm Gale spaces out, staring at in a window of one of the houses. Childrens’ figurines rest in its windowsill, now abandoned by their owners.

“Scared?” Rose Flame asks.

Storm breaks her gaze away from the window, turning to her. “What? No!” she says, puffing out her chest and trying to regain her posture. “I’m not scared of no empty houses.”

“Well, I’m scared.”

Storm blinks, not entirely sure she heard Rose correctly. “You are?”

“I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but from the way the Princesses are acting, and the fact that an entire town went mad—most of them vanishing into thin air—you’d have to be stupid to not be scared.”

Storm opens her mouth to retort, almost by instinct, but whatever she was going to say dies in her mouth, seeing the weight and seriousness Rose’s expression has. She rubs her hoof into the soil, her confident posture deflating slightly. She glances at rose. “D’you think the Princesses are scared of him?”

“No,” Rose says, shaking her head.

Her words return some of Storm’s confidence, but it’s short lived as a blur of movement passes by the sides of Storm Gale’s vision. “Hey!” she shouts, grabbing Rose’s attention, as well as Celestia and Luna’s. “I saw something move!”

The four of them all follow Storm Gale’s gaze to the house that she was looking into earlier; it’s disturbingly still.

Then, a long, brown-furred head pops up into the window, looking out at them. At seeing the four of them there, its eyes widen: two red pupils that stare out from the bright yellow irises of an owl—or a wolf. Possibly even some mix of the two. In a similar fashion, the horns sitting above its head are a mismatch of an antler and something not belonging to any animal that has ever lived in Equestria.

The person to whom the head belonged to left the window and stepped outside, their long lithe body having to thread itself through the doorway.

“Ah! Hello, my little ponies!” he—judging by its voice—greeted.

Celestia and Luna stepped out in front of Storm and Rose respectively, pushing their students safely behind them.

Celestia steps forward, her lips forming a thin line of hostility. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” she asks.

“Who am I...” the creature replies, tapping its chin in thought. “You know, I haven’t given it much thought. I suppose I just pushed it to the back of my mind, as so many others do, hoping that someday I’ll have an enlightening self-realization about myself.” The creature grinned at Celestia mockingly. “As for what I am doing here, I’m really just having a bit of fun.”

Fun?” Luna says, stepping up beside her sister. “Are you the one who caused all this?”

The creature takes a long, sweeping bow with a wide grin. “Guilty as charged,” he answers, crossing his arms and looking around at the burning, and abandoned, town. “You should have seen it before I was here: so dreadfully dull and boring. It’s definitely much better now. Look.” He walks over to where several of the houses were on fire and throws his arms up towards the sky. Taking a deep breath, he lets out a satisfied sigh. “Doesn’t the smoke just bring the scene together?”

Celestia and Luna lower their heads and bare their horns at him, ready to attack him at a moment’s notice.

“Why?” Storm asks, poking her head out from behind Celestia. She glares at him. “Why’d you do it?”

The creature disappears in a puff of smoke and reappears beside Storm Gale “It’s quite simple my dear,” he says, scratching her chin amusedly with one of his talons.

The four of them jump at suddenly seeing him in the middle of them. Celestia and Luna whirl around, and seeing him so close to Storm, charge at him.

For his part, he simply floated away from them, chuckling. “The reason why is because and the because is the reason why.”

Storm Gale’s nose scrunches up in confusion. “Huh?”

The creature rolls its eyes. “Oh, nevermind. I was just trying to skip to the point of not making one.”

“Are you saying you attacked this village just because you could?” Celestia asks, her eyes narrowing.

The creature claps its hands together, smiling broadly. “Precisely! Now, see, that’s why you’re the teacher, and she’s the student,” he says, gesturing to them in turn.

Celestia’s eyes widen. “Do we know each other?”

“No,” he replies. “... Well, yes. Yes and no. See, I know you, but as you’re probably very well aware, you don’t know me.” He pauses, biting his nails and wagging a finger at her. “It would help if I had a name, wouldn’t it?”

Celestia ignores his last comment. “How do you know me?”

The creature, likewise, chooses to ignore her. “Draconequus?

“What?”

“I’m trying to think of a name,” he says, stroking his white bushy goatee. “No, no, no, draconequus won’t do. You ponies name yourselves based off what your special talent is, correct?” Suddenly his eyebrows shoot up, and he snaps his fingers. “Discord! Ah, yes, that’s the perfect name! I would consider chaos to be my special talent, after all.”

Celestia’s patience wanes with his ongoing antics. Her horn glows, and white magic ropes materialize around the newly named Discord. The ropes coil around him and throw him to the ground, pinning him, an extra binding materializing around his mouth to tie it shut.

He struggles against his magic bonds fruitlessly, barely making them budge at all, as Celestia walks up to him and stares down at him.

“I will not have you bringing any harm to those within my kingdom—”

Oh, you think that you can stop me?

The voice comes from behind Celestia. A copy of Discord struts towards her as the copy she had bound disappears in a puff of smoke. Celestia glares at him, but makes no further move against him.

A wide, toothed smile stretches across Discord’s face. “It’s so fun seeing you frustrated, Princess. You hardly ever let your anger show, do you? All those loyal subjects looking up to you, it must be awfully hard to maintain your composure, especially since it was only you and Luna for so many thousands of years.”

Celestia’s eyes widen, her mind racing to think of how he could know that. She glances back at Storm and Rose. The two of them are staring at her with a curious and confused awe. They look at her as though she is a stranger, and not the mentor who had taken them in as children. Truth be told, the first is as true as the second.

She turns back to discord, hate broiling in her gut—something she rarely felt for anyone. “How do you know me?” she asks between clenched teeth.

“Everyone knows who you are, Princess,” Discord says, mockingly. “It comes with the title.”

Celestia takes a deep breath to calm herself, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of seeing her rattled. “How do you know of the time that predates ponykind?” she asks again.

“Well, I was there in a sense. You didn’t really think you were alone back then, did you? That you—” He cuts himself off and looks at Luna, a sly grin spreading across his lips. “That you two were the origin of everything?”

Celestia feels the coat hairs on the back of her neck stiffen, the implication of his cut off not lost on her. “We traveled around the earth many times. We never saw anyone else.”

“But don’t you wonder where the earth came from? Where magic came from? Magic isn’t just an ability that unicorns have, it saturates everything, right down to the air itself. I dare say: for being so intimate with magic, you know very little about it.”

“Do you know?” Celestia counters.

“Goodness gracious, no. But doesn’t it just make you curious?” Discord asks, grinning at her.

“I’ve long since given up on asking questions without answers.”

Discord laughs, a small chuckle that slips out. “That’s quite funny, because I know you, Celestia, and I know that you haven’t.”

“Tell me, Celestia, what do you call real?”

Celestia raises an eyebrow. “Pardon?”

Discord tries again, more slowly, with patience. “What do you call reality, and what do you call a dream?”

“Dreams are figments of our imagination that happen while we sleep.”

“Oh? So you’ve never had a dream where you questioned whether or not it was real? And you’ve never seen something while awake and questioned whether or not you were dreaming?”

Celestia opens her mouth to answer, but falters. The image of the two spirits pop into her head, and she closes her mouth, falling silent.

“I think you have,” Discord says smugly.

She bites her tongue, resisting the urge to argue.

“So magic...” Discord paces deliberately, tapping his claws against his talons. “It allows you to create anything you can think of—anything you can dream of. This whole world—” Discord gestures to the town area around them. “—is really nothing more than a product of your imagination. You dreamt of the sun, the oceans, the sands, and the trees. By what definition do you not call this a dream?”

“What are you playing at?”

Discord puts a claw on his chest and straightens his back. “Why, nothing—for a change,” he says quite innocently. He takes a look at Celestia, then shakes his head sadly. “You don’t have an answer for anything, do you?”

Luna steps up and nudges Celestia’s shoulder, whispering in her ear, “Sister, he is talking in circles to distract you. Remember, we came here to stop him.”

“We don’t know how his magic works. What would you suggest?” Celestia whispers back.

Discord coughs into his fist. “Oh, don’t mind me,” he says, throwing the two of them an annoyed glare. “I’ll just go back to having fun if you think we’re done here.”

Luna steps forward, before Celestia can raise a hoof to stop her, and her horn surrounds with a blue glow. The same glow surrounds Discord, though he merely rolls his eyes and chuckles. “A paralysis spell. How cute.” With a snap of his clawed fingers, the blue glow around him pops, disappearing. “You really should pay attention to your sister. She is the smart one, after all.”

Luna bares her teeth, her horn glowing as she readies another spell.

Pointing at her, Discord bursts into laughter anew, wiping mirthful tears from the corners of his eyes. “What are you going to do next? Tickle torture me until I stopped—oh, actually I may quite like that—ahaha!”

The glow surrounding Luna’s horn steadily grows, her blue magic pulsing with power and flickering like fire. Luna points her horn at Discord and releases her magic. A fireball the size of a large pony shoots from the tip of her horn at Discord, who halts his hysterics once he sees the giant fireball heading his way.

The fireball strikes him. Flames splash on hitting their target much like a ball of water would. The ground, too, becomes engulfed in flames around where he was struck, turning into a roaring funeral pyre for him.

But then Discord jumps out of the bonfire, dancing around with bits of him aflame. He huffs and puffs on them, trying to pat the flames down with his paw, until eventually he manages to get them all put out. When he finishes, he turns to Luna, a very indignant expression upon his muzzle.

Luna’s mouth drops open, the surprise at seeing him walk out of her spell relatively unscathed leaving her speechless.

“You want to be hostile?” Discord asks. “Then fine, we’ll be hostile. I didn’t do anything to you or your sister when you entered my territory out of respect for the mutual bond we share, but clearly that respect is not mutual.”

Luna glares at him and readies another spell on the tip of her horn.

Celestia spins in front of her, placing herself between the path of the readied spell and Discord. “Luna, stop!”

Luna’s eyes widen. She rears back and hastily kills the glow of her horn. “Celestia, what are you doing? We came here to stop him!”

“We came here to save the villagers,” Celestia replies evenly. “The only one here who knows where they are is...” Celestia glances over her shoulder at Discord, her eyes narrowing. “Him.

Discord watched the two of them with a wide grin, tapping his fingers together. His air is like that of a trouble-making child, and his grin constantly threatens to split his face. Celestia’s eyebrows raise in realization.

“You’re keeping the villagers somewhere,” she states.

“That is correct,” Discord answers with a sly smile.

Celestia looks at the ground, her eyes searching it as she ponders. “You know me...” She mumbles, meeting Discord’s eyes. “You don’t care about the villagers at all.”

“Note entirely true,” Discord says. “They manage to provide some entertainment.”

“You clearly want me, so why not let them go?”

Discord slithers up to Celestia. Beside them, Luna tenses, her horn faintly glowing and at the ready. Celestia, however, doesn’t even flinch. Even as Discord reaches down and tilts her chin up with one of his razor-sharp talons.

“Then,” Discord says, his hot breath blowing on her face. “Whatever would I motivate you with?”

As Discord finishes this sentence, his eyebrows raise, a creeping smile accompanying a realization. The next look he gives Celestia makes her anxious; he wiggles his eyebrows, a knowing smile upon his smug visage—knowing of what, Celestia has no idea.

The look barely even lasts a second. Discord gives a heavy-hearted sigh. “Oh, all right.” He raises a claw and snaps his fingers, over sixty dazed and hypnotized villagers teleporting a short distance away from them in a blast of purple magic.

Celestia’s mouth hangs open slightly, having never expected him to actually do as she requested.

“You know, Celestia, I really am disappointed in you,” Discord says, folding his arms and clucking his tongue. “I never thought you’d be so selfish.”

Celestia turns from the newly returned villagers. “Selfish?”

“Some part of you still sees these ponies as creations you made from the earth. You have trouble wanting to save them because you simply can’t sympathize with them.”

Celestia blows hot air through her nose. “You don’t know me as well as you wish to believe. I came here, did I not?”

“You’re confusing your sense of duty with your sense of passion,” Discord says. “No, I don’t believe you don’t care about any of your subjects.” Discord’s mouth snakes its way to a grin. His eyes look past Celestia. “Except...”

Celestia follows his gaze behind her. Her blood runs cold when she stops on Rose Flame and Storm Gale. When she’d stopped Luna’s attack, she’d left their side. Luna notices as well and reacts.

“Rose! Storm! Run to me!” Luna screams urgently.

Before either of the students can take a single step, Discord snaps his fingers, in the same manner that he did before, and the two of them vanish in a blast of purple magic.

Celestia’s mind goes blank as she stares at where Rose and Storm had been. Her sides clench, a knot forming in the pit of her stomach. And then, she begins to shake.

“Oh, so you do care for those two. And here I was starting to think I’d never be able to get your complete and undivided attention.”

Celestia slowly raises her head and meets Discord’s gaze. Her restraint is gone. Her glare holds unbridled fury that can retreat armies and crumble mountains. As she speaks, her voice is even, but holds an edge sharper than any steel. “You have my attention,” she says. “But know that if any harm befalls our students, I will smite you.

Luna steps up beside Celestia and levels a white-hot, piercing stare at Discord, silently offering her own threat.

Discord steps back away from Luna and Celestia, blinking. Then, the grin returns to his face. “I agree to the conditions,” he says with a mock bow.

The three of them stand rigid in the town square, even as villagers slowly begin to wake up, and watch their encounter.

Discord clears his throat. “Where Discord reigns for kingdom none, those learned find themselves undone. Two foals shiver scared, far from home.”

“What is this, a riddle?” Luna asks.

“No. Call it a... welcoming,” Discord replies to Luna. “I hope you are still a dreamwalker, Luna, for my dreams are far more dangerous than most... if you can even find them.”

Celestia’s ears perk up. “Is that where Rose and Storm are?”

Discord’s eyes curl up into a smile at her question. A top hat appears on his head in a puff of magic, and he nods while tipping it to them. “Ta-ta!” he says, and snaps his fingers, vanishing in a puff of smoke.

Celestia and Luna’s head swivel around, scanning the town for him, but it appears as though he’s gone. The two of them glance at each other before turning to the crowd of now awake and gathered ponies.

“We need to go after Storm and Rose,” Celestia says.

Luna lets out a sigh and begins to walk towards the villagers.

Celestia follows after her. “Luna, wait! What about Storm and Rose?”

Luna turns and whispers harshly to her, “There is a village full of confused and frightened ponies that were under Discord’s spell, and you would leave them to chase our students?

Celestia freezes, having not heard her sister speak to her in such a tone for centuries.

Luna’s eyes soften and avert themselves from Celestia’s. “I apologize, that was unnecessary.” She reaches out and touches Celestia’s shoulder with her wing. “Please do not jump in front of me so recklessly again, Sister. It pains me to think of myself bringing harm to you.”

“It was the only way I could think of halting you so quickly.”

Luna motions her head towards the gathered villagers. “Come, let us make sure everypony is alright, and then head back to Canterlot. We won’t be able to search for Discord’s dream until nightfall.”

Celestia reluctantly nods. She glances over her shoulder. The spot where discord vanished still sizzles with magic, a rapidly fading aura invisible to the naked eye surrounding the spot and the two spots where Rose and Storm had been. Celestia prays for their safety, before joining Luna over with the villagers to check for any injured.

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