Ch. 7: A Storm of Chaos Cometh
Twilight was annoyed, as she was beginning to notice an unfortunate pattern. For the second time, Sombra had said that he would teach her a new spell, and for the second time days had passed without that happening. However, this time, it was not Sombra who was to blame.
Sombra had started to teach her how to create objects from nothing but pure magic, what he called Manifestation, when she was pulled away to deal with Spike, who had incurred a life-debt to Applejack. Afterwards, she had received a letter from Princess Celestia, which led to her and her friends heading towards the outskirts of Ponyville, the next morning.
'Why is Princess Celestia coming to Ponyville? Does it have something to do with Princess Luna's visit to my dream?' Twilight wondered, tuning out her friends conversation. 'And who is this "important being" she's bringing with her?'
'Calm yourself, my student.' Sombra cautioned her. 'We know not why she has come, and stressing over it serves no purpose.'
That prompted Twilight to ask something that had been on her mind. 'Dark Magic requires powerful emotions to use. So, how is that you remain so calm all the time? I've only been practicing it for a short while, but I'm already starting to notice myself getting irritated more easily.'
'Practice.' Sombra replied evenly. 'While I ruled the Crystal Empire, I came up with a code by which to govern my mind; Prepare with the calmness of a frozen lake, fight with the fury of a blizzard. Ironically, it was inspired by the Frozen North, which I would later be trapped within. I realized that I had let my emotions get the better of me, and I let her go free because of it, which I knew would lead to my defeat.'
Remembering what she read in his journal, was about to as about that further, when Spike drew her attention with a world tone. "I still don't understand why the Princess would be so late!"
"She's bringing an important visitor," Twilight said. "That could be part of it."
'Those of importance do hate to be rushed.' Sombra added, though of course, Twilight was the only one to hear him.
"A visitor who's important and slow." Rainbow Dash said, with a roll of her eyes.
"Maybe, it's somepony so terribly important, that she still had many more terribly important things to before she got here." Rarity suggested.
Suddenly, Spike's expression morphed into one of terror, as he looked out into the distance. In a panicked tone, he said, "Maybe the visitor has a deer antler, a goat leg, a bat wing, and a snake tail!"
"Yeah right," Twilight said, with a laugh. "That's Discord."
'Ah, so that is what I felt.' Sombra spoke up in her mind. 'This could prove… problematic.'
"Why in the wide, wide world of Equestria, would Princess Celestia bring someone like that?" Rarity asked, not noticing Twilight's expression turn into one of shock as well.
"M-Maybe you should ask her!" Spike shouted, as he pointed to the approaching chariots, one carrying the Princess, and the other indeed carrying the petrified form of Discord.
As the chariots landed, and Celestia stepped off, Twilight stepped forwarded. In a polite tone she started, "With all due respect, Princess Celestia…" Suddenly, her eyes flashed bright green, the irises turning crimson, as she shouted, "HOW COULD YOU BRING DISCORDHERE!?" Her eyes faded back to normal, as she cleared her throat, and added a bow while finishing in a polite tone once more, "…your Majesty."
Celestia frowned at the obvious sign of Dark Magic use, but said nothing about it, given the circumstances, and how quickly it faded. Instead, she went on to explain her plan; for the six wielders of the Elements of Harmony to reform the Spirit of Disharmony, that his Chaos Magic might be used for Good instead of Evil, and that she believed Fluttershy best suited to lead the effort.
As Celestia focused her attention on the pegasus in question, Twilight was distracted by her other teacher. 'Be careful, my dear student. I have never had the misfortune of dealing with Discord face-to-face, but you know full well what he is capable of. Even putting aside his raw power, while he might lack my subtlety, his own style of manipulation proved quite effective on you and your friends last time.'
'I've been meaning to ask about that,' Twilight thought back. 'How do you know what happened with Nightmare Moon and Discord? You were still sealed away when those events happened, right?'
'The same way we are speaking now, of course; magic.' Sombra replied. 'I may have been trapped in the ice, but my magic allowed me to monitor the world beyond. When I sensed the presence of Nightmare Moon and Discord, I made sure to pay as close attention as I could, to see what became of them.'
'What about Queen Chrysalis?' Twilight asked.
'Who?' Sombra asked in turn. 'I'm afraid I know of nopony by that name.'
'She wasn't a pony, but rather a being called a Changeling.' Twilight replied. 'She and her minions attacked Canterlot shortly before the Crystal Empire returned.'
'Hmm, I have never heard of these "Changelings" before. And if that is the case, I may not have sensed her because I was already free, and more focused on taking back my domain. Or, perhaps the power of the Princesses was merely enough that I did not notice her.' Sombra explained.
Before they could discuss the event further, Celestia drew her student's attention. She left the Elements with their respective wielders, so that they could be used to release Discord, and so that they could seal him away again, if necessary.
After the Princess left, the six ponies gathered around the statue, as they prepared to release one of the most dangerous beings in the history of Equestria. As the spell took effect, and cracks spread across the draconequus' stone prison, the tension grew, until Discord finally burst free with a… yawn.
Stretching, Discord remarked in an annoyed tone, "It's about time some pony got me out of that prison block. What a relief!" As he spoke, he casually snapped his fingers, turning a nearby squirrel into a hulking monstrosity.
Gasping, Twilight demanded, "What do you think you're doing!?"
"Why, stretching, of course," Discord replied innocently, as he continued to do just that. "When you're a creature of Chaos, stone bodysuits aren't your typical go-to fashion." However, he immediately followed that with another casual snap of his fingers, causing a nearby rabbit to become several times larger, drooling and growling like it was rabid.
Pinkie pie gasped. "Make that bunny cute again! Now!" She demanded.
Waving dismissively, Discord said, "Oh, he's adorable the way he is!" Discord tickled the rabbit-monster's chin as he spoke, only to jerk his paw away as it nearly bit him. He promptly followed that up by blowing a raspberry at the transformed creature. Crossing his arms, he went on, "You know what else is adorable? You ponies truly think you can reform me." Suddenly he appeared next to Fluttershy, scrutinizing her as he spoke. "And that you're putting your faith in this one here, to make it happen. It makes me want to pinch your little horsey cheeks!"
Twilight was about to ask how he knew that, when she remembered what Sombra had told her earlier. Instead, she said, "You used your magic to eavesdrop on us, even when you were turned to stone, didn't you!"
"Well, of course I did," Discord replied without hesitation or remorse. "Although, I admit that it made rolling my eyes much more difficult."
"Well, unless you want us to turn you back to stone, you'll zap those animals back the way they were, pronto!" Twilight threatened him. As her anger at the draconequus grew, she found she had to resist the urge to blast him with Dark Magic. As tempting as the idea was, she knew that he would probably just avoid the attack in some ridiculous manner, and that it would not actually accomplish anything even if it did hit.
"Oh, and here I thought you wouldn't mind a little bad behavior, Little Miss Dark Magic." Discord said with a smirk. "Although, I must say, that is quite the interesting choice of accessory." He added, as he reached out and flicked a claw against Sombra's crystal, where it hung around her neck.
Because of the recent incident with Trixie, the others present already new about her new area of study. However, the way they grew tense at Discord's words made Twilight realize that they may not have been quite as accepting of it as they first seemed. Not sure of what to say, she turned to the only being she could for advice. 'Any ideas on how to get him to cooperate?' She asked Sombra telepathically.
'Dark Magic's reputation is what put your friends on edge,' Sombra replied. 'However, Discord's reputation is much worse. Perhaps-'
Both were shocked when a third voice interrupted them. 'Now, now, that's not very polite. Perhaps you'd like to share with the rest of the class?'
Twilight's eyes grew wide, as she realized that it was Discord's voice, and that he was smirking as she looked knowingly at the crystal around her neck. Glaring at the draconequus, Twilight took Sombra's advice, and said, "At least I only use Dark Magic against those that try to hurt others. You use your magic indiscriminately, so I'm sure Princess Celestia will understand if we have to turn you back to stone."
Discord sighed in defeat, before saying, "I suppose that's correct." Another snap from him restored the animals to their natural states. However, what none of the ponies (or Spike) noticed, was that the tuft of fur on the tip of his tail formed a new hand, which gave its own snap.
'What was that?' Sombra thought to himself, as an odd sensation overwhelmed him.
"And I know where I'll be crashing while I'm being 'reformed'." Discord said in an amused tone. Picking up the pink-haired pegasus, he finished, "With you, Fluttershy!"
His laughter at that left all the ponies more than a little nervous.
Twilight paced the floor of her library. Spike had gone to help Rarity pick out a dress, so she was by herself, except for Sombra.
After the chaotic day they had all had, she was deep in thought. 'A dinner party with Discord? What is Fluttershy thinking? Discord obviously has something planned. I mean, he's Discord, for pony's sake! The question is, is he just trying to keep Fluttershy from using her Element, or does he have some other trick in mind? What do you think Sombra?' After a moment with no reply, she focused on their telepathic link, and called to him again. 'Sombra?'
'…ear yo…gic interferen…osing control, b…reful, Twilight!'
Twilight blink in surprise, as Sombra's response faded in and out, his strained tone obvious even via telepathy. Looking down at the crystal, she gasped at the visible glow of Dark Magic pulsing in it… and the pulses growing more frequent every second.
"…et awa…ilight!" Sombra suddenly cried aloud, as cracks started to spread over the crystal.
Understanding his message, Twilight gripped his crystal with her magic, and levitated it across the room… only to fall back with a cry, as the crystal exploded.
"Sombra!" Twilight cried in shock. For a moment, she was afraid that Sombra was gone, putting all her efforts, and even her deceiving her friends and princesses, to waste, as well as meaning the death of a pony she was beginning to truly believe was not as evil as he was accused of being.
However, as the dust kicked up by explosion cleared, Twilight was greeted by a familiar form.
The form of a familiar unicorn, with a blank flank, ashen grey coat, and a ragged mane and tail so pitch black, it was like they had been woven from the darkest shadows.