Hello everyone! Here's chapter two : ) I hope you like it!
Endgame of Chaos
Darkest Before Dawn? ('Between Dark and Dawn')
Luna and Celestia (still in their vacation garb) stood on a balcony overlooking a pale purple and blue sky with the moon rising high and the sun almost gone.
Luna sighed as he glanced at her moon in its rightful place in the sky. "Finally—at least that's all taken care of." She turned to her sister.
Celestia nodded as the orange lip of her sun slipped fully below the horizon, dimming the sky a little more. "Twilight did quite a number on this amulet." She held up the busted sun and moon amulet in her magic, unable to hide a small smile of amusement.
"Indeed." Luna picked up the amulet in her magic with a dry look. "We'll have to try a different approach when we really do shift these particular responsibilities over to her and her court." She made the amulet disappear.
"They did a great job with the Swanifying though." Celestia smiled sheepishly. "In hindsight, maybe it was a little much at once to leave Twilight in charge of that event and all our usual work and lowering the sun and raising the moon."
"Perhaps." Luna couldn't help a smile as well, and her eyes lit up. "But still, it was so nice for once to be completely free from all responsibilities, all cares, all duties!" She held a foreleg out the horizon. "We haven't simply watched a sunset or moonrise in over a thousand years! Wasn't it peaceful to do so for the first time in so long?"
"Peaceful until both celestial bodies looked like they were balls in a ping pong match, I guess," Celestia replied with a chuckle. And yet her eyes brightened too. "But for the moment before the sun and moon went crazy, yes…it was very peaceful." Celestia put a foreleg around Luna and hugged her close.
Luna looked to her sister. "And it was also peaceful because we'd made up and were friends again by then." She hugged Celestia in return.
"We'll always be friends, sister."
They gently set their foreheads together.
As the night sky darkened, the sisters separated.
Luna's smile grew. "I know it's night now, but if you're not too tired, we could spend more time enjoying ourselves together right here in our own home. Just like when we were fillies in our castle in the forest: we could play hide and seek or engage in tag or invite Starswirl over and see which of us can play the best prank on him. It could be exciting." Luna pumped up her eyebrows.
Celestia's smile grew too. "That sounds fun but maybe a little overstimulating after the vacation we've had. I think I'd like some conversation…and there happens to be a triple layer chocolate cake hidden in the ice box for dessert. We could eat that while we chat."
Luna held out a hoof. "One round of tag and then cake and talking. Deal?"
Celestia nodded and shook her hoof. "Deal!"
The two sisters turned to head inside.
"Celestia, Luna, you have some explaining to do!"
The sisters were met with the sight of a scowling draconequus with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Discord!" they exclaimed at once.
Luna shook her head and snapped out of her surprise first. "When did you get here?"
"Right around the time you two got exceptionally sappy about just 'watching the sunset/moonrise' instead of doing it. Now don't change the subject." He moved his head down right in front of theirs, his voice low. "You two skipped town and didn't even tell me you were leaving."
There was silence for a moment. Then Luna blinked as her sister suddenly burst into laughter. Both Luna and Discord raised an eyebrow at Celestia.
Luna watched as Celestia wiped a tear of mirth from her eye. "Sorry, Discord. I just always think you're at your funniest when you act so serious about simple things."
"I…"Discord blinked several times then shook his head to clear it. He looked to Luna. "I'm sorry, did she have a nightcap or something to celebrate the end of your little trip?"
Celestia stifled a giggle again.
Luna just rolled her eyes. "No, she just happens to find you genuinely amusing sometimes now that you're reformed." A bit of her smile returned. "But really, Discord, are you so very upset that we went on a little trip and didn't include you? Come now, 'twas only for a day and it wasn't a snub. We just needed to do a little sisterly bonding."
"Yes, that's right." Celestia added, her laughter under control. "Before we retire we decided to get an idea of what retirement might be like." She glanced down at herself. "I'm not sure if we're going to be sporting the festive shirts and new mane styles everyday, but it was certainly fun to try."
Discord scoffed, pacing, arms gesturing dramatically. "Festive shirts? Mane Styles? Sisterly bonding? Like I would care enough to take time out of my own busy schedule for all of that!"
"Then what are you upset about?" Luna tilted her head.
Discord snapped his fingers. The balcony doors opened. The chaos master pointed inside, face stern. "You princesses march right in there, and I'll show you."
Luna and Celestia glanced at each other. Just as another giggle almost burst from Celestia Luna nudged her sister and walked forward. "Fine, Discord, whatever this is we'll let you get it out of your system. But then, if you don't mind, Celestia and I were planning to spend a delightful evening at home."
The two sisters headed past him inside.
Discord followed after them and shut the balcony doors behind them with a snap.
Inside, Luna watched as the chaos master glanced around the room (which happened to be her bedroom). "Blue and silver drapes, dark wood furniture, moons and stars everywhere. Let me guess, this is Luna's room—how predictable."
"If you don't like the decor, you can always leave," Luna assured him with a small smile as she climbed upon her bed and stretched out with her hooves facing into the room.
Celestia sat on the bed beside her, facing the same way. "Discord, please just show us what—oh!"
Discord snapped again. A large mist of magic appeared like a screen before them, and Luna noticed Celestia's eyes glowing and imagined her own must be too. As the sisters looked at the mist-screen, scenes from several of their misadventures today were projected. Zip-lining above a jungle, going over a waterfall in a barrel, riding a rollercoaster at the amusement park, cave spelunking amongst bats, Luna's severe sun burn session on the beach.
Discord snapped. The magic slideshow disappeared. "That to-do list of yours wasn't an exaggeration." From nowhere in particular he pulled the scroll Luna and Celestia had used to list their intended activities out and examined it. "But actually seeing your plans played out is even more distressing than I imagined!" He ate the scroll.
Luna sighed and rubbed her temple. "First of all, please do not use your magic to project our memories like that without warning ever again. And second of all, I'm afraid I'm not following you, Discord."
"But thank you letting us relive our vacation a little." Celestia raised a hesitant eyebrow. "Is there any way we could get a copy of those memories? Or some pictures? It'd be nice to have something to go with our photo mugs from the rollercoaster."
Discord's jaw fell to the floor—he pulled a string attached to his mouth to make it roll back up like a window shade. "Are you two ladies mentally sound? That wasn't a vacation you two went on, it was a series of deathtraps sometimes set to a jaunty tune!" He leaned forward, resting his hands on the bed, his eyes wide. "I mean, really, if the other villains and I had known that you two would have gladly put your lives in peril 'just for fun' we would have left you to your own devices centuries ago!"
Luna cleared her throat. "Discord, all we did were enjoyable activities that ponies across Equestria do all the time. Are you perhaps...making some kind of joke I do not understand?" She glanced to Celestia.
But her sister only shrugged and gave a half smile. "If it is a joke, I don't get it either." She glanced at Discord with a slight frown. "Discord are you feeling all right?"
Eyes wide, the chaos master looked back and forth between them, making gestures with his arms and opening and closing his mouth, though no words came. Luna waited patiently and made sure no more bursts of laughter were about to escape Celestia. Finally Discord paused, took a deep breath, and began calmly. "I am fine. But you two almost weren't. And I am upset because…" He jumped into the air and raised his voice, "you two put yourselves in danger multiple times for no reason at all!"
The sisters were silent for a moment. Then Luna lowered her head to the bed. "Well then, I can see this is going to be one of Discord's more colorful dramatic episodes. You're better at handling him than I am, sister. Smile, be supportive, and wake me up when it's over."
"You're not listening!" Discord whined before snapping himself to sit on the bed between them. "Roller coasters can be terribly shaky, that zip-line could have broken on the spot, you two could have fallen down into that cave with the bats and been knocked unconscious, that barrel over the waterfall thing was just insane, and Luna—sun poisoning is real! WEAR SUNBLOCK! I flaunt all rules of society and sanity, and even I don't go to the beach without that stuff!" He was breathing pretty hard by now. "You two were supposed to retire like civilized, normal, boring ponies—you were NOT supposed to have some kind of death-defying midlife crisis!"
"Discord, enough!" Luna pouted. "We are grown mares who have fulfilled our duties as princesses, and we get to decide how we retire."
Celestia frowned. "Discord, we've spent our whole lives being put up on pedestals and confined to castles and meetings and official events. We deserve a chance to live however we want to live."
"You're still not listening!" Discord countered, temper flaring. But then, as he glanced back and forth between each bothered sister, his look softened slightly. Finally he let out a deep breath and rubbed his temple, his eyes closed. His voice was gentler. "You said the girls get to decide when they're ready to rule. Which means even if they are ready right now, they don't feel ready just yet. Which means they still need you here. So, what if you had gotten hurt or lost while you were away? And then what if everyone found out and someone powerful attacked, and the girls had too many doubts again to defeat them? You can't expect me to take care of things by myself, especially if I don't know you two might be suddenly missing or out of commission. Okay?"
The sisters blinked and looked at each other then back to Discord.
"Take care of what, Discord?" asked Celestia gently.
Discord's eyes opened for a moment—Luna watched his gaze lock onto Celestia's: his mouth opened, almost letting words slip out. For the first time, he seemed vulnerable to Luna. But then the chaos shook his head. "It's…nothing in particular. I just don't like the idea of you two doing risky things when still having you available to fight is so important to the nation. I didn't even know you were gone. Even if you were fine, what if a problem really had come up and the girls couldn't get hold of you and couldn't reach me as back-up? What if something bad happened?"
Luna's brow was furrowed in thought: she was remembering a conversation she'd had with Celestia after Discord's last visit here following Sombra's return. Luna's gaze met Discord's. "Do you have reason to believe something bad might happen?"
Discord winced very slightly—but it was enough to confirm for Luna her sister's recent suspicions that Discord knew something and was keeping it to himself. The chaos master looked down and finally replied, "Something bad can always happen."
"Indeed," Luna answered gently. "But if you allow fear of the bad to rule your life, Discord, you'll certainly miss out on a lot of fun."
Discord shrugged but didn't say anything.
Celestia smiled a little. "I know some of what we did on our vacation seemed dangerous, Discord, but it was all supervised. And Luna and I are very tough. We can survive pretty much anything." Her grin grew. "We survived your antics in the past, remember?"
That comment almost got a smile out of Discord again.
Luan smiled more too. "And we survived your 'reform process' which was basically several months of you walking a fine line between friendship and villainy to drive us crazy."
Discord definitely did smile now. "Okay, fine…maybe I…came on too strong about my complaint. But part of that complaint still stands. I know you're free to retire however you see fit—which turned out to involve a lot more recklessness than I'd ever imagined. But do you think you could hold off on the heavy stuff until the girls are fully established as leaders, until they accept without a shadow of a doubt that they have the potential for all the power they'll ever need to protect Equestria on their own? Or at least can you give me some warning before you go off on pre-retirement shenanigans?" He hesitated then added in a weak mumble, "Please."
There was silence. Luna glanced to Celestia, who nodded. The sun princess spoke. "Luna and I might do more than just sit in the castle all day until Twilight and her friends ascend the throne. But if it would really make you feel better I suppose we could let you know when we're planning to try any especially risky activities…"
"I accede," Luna started. Then she stood up and got in front of Discord. "But first I need to know the answer to one question: what exactly is it that you're afraid of lately, Discord?"
Discord sat up a little straighter. "I told you, nothing in particular— just evil in a general sense."
Luna's eyes narrowed slightly. "The reformed you is a poor liar."
Discord scowled and puffed up his chest a little. He turned to Celestia. "Celestia, tell your sister it's rude to accuse friends of lying."
But Celestia only frowned at him. "But you are lying, Discord. And there is something specific on your mind. And if it's something that scares even someone as brave and powerful as you, I think it's something we all need to know about."
His frustrated look faltered and he leaned back a little under the gaze of the sisters. "I-I'm just being responsible! I'm telling you two to look out for yourselves because frankly I cant fit in watching over the two of you and all the girls at the same time."
Celestia blinked. "You're watching over all the girls?"
"I had assumed you kept tabs on Fluttershy," Luna remarked. "But all of them…" A realization dawned on Luna. "That is not something you've done from the start: this is new, isn't it?"
"I-I don't know." He glanced away and twiddled his thumbs.
"Discord, please," Celestia urged.
"Tell us…" Luna finished.
"Enough!" Discord flew up, breathing heavily: Luna had never imagined him panicked before, but for a moment he seemed on the verge. "There's nothing to tell. This whole transition of power thing has just put me a little on edge!" He landed on the floor. "I'm powerful but not all-powerful, just like you two. And I care about what happens to those six ponies and to Equestria and to the pony sisters. And right now, without you two, I'm not sure if things would be okay, and I don't like feeling that way. Okay?"
He was blushing now as he looked at them.
The sisters took a moment to absorb his words. Luna touched Celestia's hoof.
"Discord," Celestia started, "remember our little talk after Sombra attacked? When I told you that everything would turn out okay in the end no matter what happened?"
He nodded. "But what about the bad things that can happen until everything working out happens?"
"If anything bad happens, we'll all do our best to fix it. No situation or turn of events is hopeless, Discord." Luna's made her voice soothing, and she reached out to touch his arm. "Everything is changing, yes. But I promise you, no matter what we face, one day good will prevail."
Discord didn't say anything, but he did nod faintly. "Yes, of course. Just…if you two really could tell me next time you're going off to do anything that could result in serious illness or dismemberment let me know so I can make sure I'm around for the girls for now…until they're all set to take care of everything themselves, I mean." He attempted a smile.
"Only if you promise to come talk to us again if you ever feel so upset," Celestia replied. "I'm the one who's a little worried about you now, Discord."
"Indeed," Luna frowned, some unpleasant memories returning. "It is never good to work oneself up into such an agitated mental state."
"Oh, don't worry about me." Discord waved them off, his familiar grin returning. "I'm Discord—I'm always okay, more or less." He flew up. "Anyway, glad we had this little chat. Thanks for understanding, ladies. And, uh…if you could not tell the girls I keep tabs on them, I'd appreciate it a lot."
"Discord, perhaps you should rest." Luna gestured to her bed. "Celestia and I were going to stay up together for a little while, and my bed will be free all night. Why don't you take it and then we can all have a nice, relaxing breakfast in the morning."
"Oh, no, no," Discord shook his head, "I am not getting the nursemaid treatment from the pony sisters again. Not that Celestia serving me snacks on a silver platter all afternoon wasn't fun the last time, but I have places to be and things to do."
"Maybe you could just stay for a little while then," Celestia quickly added. "Play and relax with Luna and I, have a snack? It could be fun."
"I would, truly, but I have a busy schedule of chaos to keep." Discord snapped, filling the room with chaos for a moment, then snapped to make it disappear. "Ta Ta, ladies, glad to see you're both well after your trip. And I dig the shirts by the way. I think I'll snap up one of my own." Discord snapped up a yellow floral shirt then disappeared with a snap of his tail.
The sisters watched him go, neither of them smiling now.
"He's getting worse…" Celestia said softly.
Luna nodded. "I agree. He's just like you described him after your last conversation but even more nervous. Perhaps what's bothering him is something that would affect only himself and that is why he won't share it—he's being stubborn and taking on all the responsibility."
"What if it's serious?"
Luna glanced over and saw a shine in Celestia's eyes.
"Sister," she touched Celestia's shoulder, "it may be serious, but the best thing we can do right now is listen to him and support him. What we said to Discord about everything being all right and no situation being hopeless—that advice goes to you as well. He will be well."
"I don't want to retire until I'm sure he is." Celestia took a deep breath. "You don't have to stay on the throne with me if you want to leave sooner, but I don't want to leave the girls in charge alone while he's still so uneasy about them and about us. Even if it's just as an advisor, I'll stay here."
"Then I'll stay with you, Celestia." Luna smiled gently. "The pony sisters had to rule apart from each other once. That is a mistake I would not care to repeat."
Celestia smiled, wiped a tear from her eye, and hugged Luna.
They separated eventually.
Luna's smile grew. "Are you still up for hide and seek then lots of snack?"
"Actually," Celestia shrugged. "I'm a little tired. Maybe we could have a sleepover like when we were fillies. Turn in early for the night and gossip and share memories and count the stars? Then maybe something more adventurous in our dreams?"
"That would be perfect, Celestia." Luna used her magic, and the two of them were quickly tucked into her bed together with their shirts gone and their hair down and popcorn and cake on a platter between them. They stayed up for hours laughing and talking and reminiscing.
Celestia had fallen asleep some time ago. Luna watched her big sister slumbering with a smile on her face, and Luna smiled too. The sight of Celestia sleeping peacefully had always been a happy image to Luna—she liked knowing her sister was at ease with her mind safe in the land of dreams. Luna would join her soon so they could have more fun playing and imagining how their retirement would go. She had no duties tonight to take up her time, thanks to the girls.
But for now Luna remained awake, and her mind was on Discord. She had been hoping to visit his dreams: not to 'spy' so much as to check up on him. Of course, if some hint about whatever was making him so sensitive lately came up, she certainly wouldn't mind being able to witness that as well.
However, an hour had passed since Celestia had dozed off and Luna still couldn't detect Discord in the land of dreams, which meant he was awake. Doing what, exactly, was a matter she couldn't pin down. Normally, Discord keeping unexpected sleeping hours wouldn't have seemed strange—he was chaos embodied after all, and who was she to complain about someone staying up to admire her nights. But clearly Discord had a reason for being awake, and Luna wanted to know what it was.
She shifted in the bed, her eyes on the moon. She cringed as she remembered what she had said to Celestia in the heat of argument about her sister probably wishing Luna had stayed up there. The idea sounded silly now—like Discord getting upset and saying that everyone probably wished he was back in stone. In fact, quite the contrary, Luna knew the girls and herself and especially her sister would miss Discord terribly. Her eyes went back to the sleeping Celestia's smile. Celestia would only admit to her (for fear of Discord getting word and his ego getting out of control) that she was incredibly proud of Discord's reform. Seeing him learn to be happy and make friends had delighted Celestia from the start… much as she had delighted in watching Luna herself find her place in this world after her return.
Whatever Discord was hiding, Luna tried not to think the worst: she tried to think that he was just being dramatic. She tried to think that even if his mysterious worst fears came to pass nothing would happen to their new chaotic friend.
Luna moved closer to Celestia: her big sister's presence was always the best comfort to her in moments of doubt.
Celestia yawned and her eyes blinked open. "Luna?" she whispered softly.
Luna smiled gently. "I'm sorry I woke you. I was just settling in to go to sleep as well. I'll see you in the land of dreams soon, Celestia."
"Oh—okay. That's nice…" Celestia mumbled before closing her eyes and resuming her calm sleep.
Luna closed her eyes as well. And she decided one very important thing before she dozed off: just as her sister had decided to keep a close eye on Discord in the waking world, she would keep a close eye on him in the dreaming world. Until whatever he was worried about passed, Luna sensed he would need someone to watch over for him on all fronts.
The pony sisters slept, safe together.
Discord was floating in the air in the Equestrian wilderness under a dark sky while drinking a cup of tea. He'd always liked tea, even before becoming friendly with Fluttershy and having weekly tea parties. It was a soothing, simple drink that let his normally chaotic mind think things through a little.
He had a lot to think through right now.
Because he was looking through a pair of binoculars at snowy mountaintop in the distance where there was a cave enchanted with magical winds so that no creature could ever enter and reach a certain item within.
A bell was supposed to be in that cave at the top of Mt. Everhoof. But the bell was gone. Discord could sense that its magic wasn't there anymore.
Discord let out a deep breath and lowered his binoculars. "If 'he' had it, we'd all be doomed already. Which means someone else has it. But who…" The chaos master had a few ideas of the type of creatures who would take it, though none of them seemed bright or strong or determined enough to have actually succeeded at the bell's abduction. And, as far as he knew, a fair portion of them were still in Tartarus (supposedly).
But the fact remained that the key to stopping or empowering the greatest evil the world had ever known was missing, which left Discord with some limited options at the moment.
"If I tell the sisters, they'll want to go after him themselves. But they don't understand—they're not strong enough alone. They could barely even beat me, and that was with the Elements." He sipped his tea again. "The next option is the girls. They've got a spark of true power, but they they still have doubts, and this is…this is so much worse than silly Sombra."
He hugged his knees in close to his chest and closed his eyes. Memories came to his mind again, very bad things. Things that even back during his days of selfishness and lax morals had made him cringe and feel sick inside and want to sleep with the lights on.
Discord opened his eyes. "He's the only thing they're not ready for. Not yet. And I can't help them—not like they think I can, not like I could against Sombra." Discord shook his head. "Maybe we could all attack together, but if he took out all of us, what would happen to Equestria?" Discord swallowed, eyes wide. "I could go after him myself—ambush him. But if he was pulling Sombra's strings, then for the sake of everypony I can't risk what he could do to me."
He took a deep breath and drained his tea then snapped away the cup. "Okay then, first things first. I'll figure out who took the bell. That'll be a start, a very safe start: a quick field trip to Tartarus should help narrow down the suspects." He tried to hold his head high and look confident even though no one was around, but his insides felt like a solid lump instead of like the zany circus of moments usual for him. "Maybe, just maybe, I can nip this issue in the bud before it's too late." He held up his fingers to snap, scowling into the night sky. "I will not let this place go back to how it used to be. Not ever. Even if it takes every ounce of chaos in my body to do so."
He wiped at his eye with his free hand then snapped himself away.
The wind continued to howl around the frigid mountain peak, empty of its treasure.
I hope you all enjoyed this kind of random, more serious story, and please review if you can :) As to how many chapters this will have, it really depends on the content of the episodes going forward. I haven't been watching any of the leaks or looking at upcoming ep summaries, so I can't say for now if they'll be any other chapters besides one dealing with the series finale. Fortunately, eps are coming back next month ^_^
Take care, everyone!