Disclaimer: I don't own MLP
AN: MINOR ANNOUNCEMENT: There's a poll for a future Naruto story on my profile for any that are interested. That is all, enjoy.
And so the day was won. The changelings had not only been stopped, but saved from their own hunger and shown a better way by one of their own to share love instead of stealing it. With the prisoners freed and the now deposed Queen Chrysalis having fled, changelings and ponies alike celebrated and cheered.
But only the changelings and ponies.
None noticed Discord in the rear of the crowd, scowling his displeasure. He slithered off in the air and vanished, lest someone take note of his less than pleased visage.
He should be happy, or he was sure that was what his friends would believe. After all, he rose to the challenge and helped save Equestria from a mass, hidden takeover even with his magic being unusable during this little adventure. He should be whooping in celebration, subtly rubbing it in various faces, or hugging Fluttershy now that she was safe.
But he wasn't, and he didn't feel the desire to pretend for anyone that he felt anything positive after recent events.
When reality reformed around him, he was in a vast field of tall grass overlooked by a range of mountains. It was far from Equestria and long untouched by anything that could be called sapient…exactly what he wanted.
The very air trembled around him as he glared into nothing, the plants within his immediate gaze withering and eroding as the air rushed towards him, as if he was an infinite void. Static sparked from his wings, fraying at the ambient magic and oxygen in the air. His lips curled back show his fangs, his teeth grinding apart pions and axions into strangelets and Planck particles. Chaos churned within him, around him, and beyond the very fabric of reality as it tried and failed to appease him.
With a roar of rage, Discord brought his fists down and impacted into the ground. A great spider-web of cracks and gashes pulsed into the earth, spreading for miles as they grew ever deeper and wider to become a great canyon. His roar echoed across this realm, the very gravity dying of fright and allowing the rubble to freely rise upward. Reality itself was fractured at the very bottom of these chasms, geysers of super space spraying to form pits of emptiness that bubbled with cosmic ash. The grass turned to glass from the impact, but was still too shocked to notice, for the shards continued to sway in the breeze. The clouds themselves had become balls of shining, neon light that burned at the sky, as if they were infantile stars spawned from nothing…nothing but Discord's rage.
Discord just sat there, his arms half embedded in the soil. He breathed deeply and slowly as his body trembled with terrible wrath and horrific power. His chaos was running wild, and he just didn't care. He let the breath escape his jaws and studied the palm of his lion paw. He could feel the very fabric of what mortals and immortals alike named "reality." The shell that kept their worlds so stable and orderly…that imposed the very laws of physics and reasons. To them it was like a steel wall; it might dent or bend, but it never breaks. To him, it was a thin cloth and he could feel it shriveling under his very touch. He could already see the chaos escaping through the cracks in the materiality, the strip tearing from the whole and shifting in his grasp. The fragment squirmed and warped into a clay scorpion with a snake for a tail. The creature skittered around his limb as he idly turned it upside down, studying the little abomination as it hissed and snapped at him in warning, as if it could do anything to him, before coming to rest on his palm again.
He crushed it with a sickening squish, dropping the clayborn-thing like a discarded toy.
He looked out upon his creation with the same scowl. He had given up much in the sake of friendship, something that he never knew he needed. He gave up taking Equestria and the world over. He gave up his plots against the Alicorns and others individuals. He gave up his war against Harmony and had a ceasefire with Order. He even gave some of his dignity in admitting that, yes, he needed Fluttershy and the others. He was tired of being alone and even more tired of pretending he wasn't. But there was one thing that Discord refused to relinquish.
A thousand years ago, he was known as the most powerful being in the world, none could compare. Not an army of Alicorns, an arsenal of magical weapons. Nothing could stop him. Yet now he had been bested by three: A Fledging Divinity in the form of Harmony, a brutish centaur with family problems, and now...a bucking chair.
It was ironic, really. Since joining the side of the heroes, his once absolute power was questioned more and more often. He could only shrug that off so many times before not even all the insanity in history could sate this simple issue.
His pride was wounded; it could be dismissed no more. But what was he to do about it?
The air grew heavy, the near blades of glassed grass around him shattering as they fell to the ground and began to crush themselves into grains of sand.
The scowl became a snarl as he concluded there was only one way to remedy his situation.
The mundane way.
The mortal way.
The old way.
Discord flexed his talons and popped his spine. He had work to do.
Fluttershy sighed as she made her way to Ponhedge. She had been able to retrieve the Mask of Mage Meadowbrook, but that wasn't what weighed heavy on her heart and mind.
Discord had been missing ever since the Changeling incident from months before, having vanished while no one was looking. At first, even she hadn't thought too much of it. Reformed or not, Discord liked to surprise ponies, herself included. She half expected there to be a surprise celebration instantly appearing at some point between the trip back from the land of the changelings and her home.
The only surprise was that there was no surprise, no Discord. Not that day, next week, or next month. No tea parties, no visits, nothing.
She had even asked in a letter to Princesses Celestia and Luna, being as polite as possible, if there was possibly any other changelings that hadn't changed and might have had a hoof in his disappearance. While they assured her that was not the case, they did raise their own concerns about where the draconequus had teleported away to, especially after he hadn't shown up for the award ceremony held in honor of him, Starlight, Thorax, and Trixie.
Discord not showing up to something celebrating himself? That got everypony among her friends concerned.
After that, Twilight and Celestia had tried to summon him, but he was apparently rejecting their summons, for lack of a better word. Her blood had run cold when the prismatic ritual produced no Chaos Lord, fearing that there was nothing to summon. That Discord was no longer with them.
Thankfully, the princesses had assured her this was not the case. If he was captured or sealed away again, they would have been unable to summon him at all rather than him refusing the summons. She was happy to know that at least he was probably alright. Still, she wished she knew what he was doing, why he was avoiding them so much…avoiding her.
He wasn't reverting to villainy, she was sure of that. She still recalled when she had awakened after Chrysalis had been overthrown, Discord instantly scooping her into a warm embrace. No, she believed in him. But what could keep such an almighty being as her friend so preoccupied all of a sudden.
That thought had to quickly be pushed aside for now though. She was almost back at Ponhedge and she wasn't sure what, if anything else she would need to do with helping Twilight undo the seal imprisoning the Pillars of Equestria. What none of them had expected was said heroes almost having their return to the world short-lived if she and her friends had not pulled them away from falling boulders that had reappeared with them.
"What... What has happened?" Starswirl the Bearded asked, looking around at many faces, strangers and friends alike.
"It worked! We brought you back!" Twilight exclaimed in cheerful success.
"To where?" the ancient wizard inquired as he tried to rub the cobwebs from his head.
"You and the others have been trapped in Limbo for over a thousand years-" Twilight started, missing how Starswirl's eyes became very wide and alarmed at the mention of Limbo. "-But I figured out how to get you ho-"
"What?!" Starswirl exclaimed in shock and fear. "No, no, no, no! You must undo what you've done!"
"What? Why?" Twilight asked in alarm before looking concerned and uncertain. "I mean, I don't think I can."
Starswirl closed in on the young Alicorn with wide and desperate eyes. "You cannot bring us back!"
"But I did. I brought all the Pillars back," Twilight countered as she slowly backed up towards the center of Ponhedge.
"You cannot bring "only" the Pillars back!" Starswirl warned in growing alarm.
All parties stopped as lightning crackled across the darkening sky, the ponies cowering as a mass of darkness formed with an echoing laugh. As the shadows collected into a giant imitation of an Alicorn, the Pony of Shadows was once more free upon the world.
"Oh, no!" Twilight whispered in horror, realizing what she had done.
"Your pitiful attempt to imprison me has failed, Starswirl!" the Pony of Shadow declared, relishing in triumph.
The ancient unicorn's horn glowed as he attempted to attack the villain, only for his magic to fizzle impotently from exhaustion. "You must return us to limbo!" he implored to Twilight. "It's the only way to stop him."
"I only figured out how to bring you back!" Twilight retorted, looking urgently to Sunburst as he flipped through the pages of Starswirl's journal.
"Working on it! No table of contents!" he answered frantically.
The Pony of Shadows watched with dark amusement. "Allow me to assist," he said sinisterly, tendrils of shadow bursting forth to stab through the six stones of Ponhedge, along with the book. The ponies dodged out of the way as dark magic pulsed through the appendages, shattering the ruins and destroying the book. "There! Without the power of Ponhedge, your banishing spell is useless!"
Starswirl turned his half-desperate and half-annoyed glare at the Princess of Magic. "You have studied my writings. Surely you have some other plan!"
"No. I just wanted to save you. I didn't think-" Twilight was cut off by the laughter of the dark figure standing over them.
"Don't fret. When I extinguish the light and hope of this miserable world, you..." The Pony of Shadow suddenly trailed off, looking immensely confused. "What is that sound?" he asked incredulously.
The ponies, ancient and modern alike, found themselves surprised by the sudden change of subject. "Is that a voice?" Flash Magnus asked in surprise.
"Sure sounds like it," Applejack answered with a scowl.
"But where is it coming from?" Somnambula asked
Rarity scowled as the voice became clear to her "Is it just me, or does it sound-?"
Everyone froze in shock as a brown blur impacted with the Pony of Shadows, sending him tumbling back into the trees.
"-familiar?" the fashionista squeaked as everypony stared at a backside that was both familiar and very, very different.
The great equine growled as it stood and shrugged off the tree trunks. "Who dares to-MMM!?" The Pony of Shadow yelled before it quickly grew silent with alarm and confusion.
Discord crouched with a vicious, deadly grin. His very being radiated power eager to be unleashed. "Mine."
"The Draconequus," Mistmane voiced in surprise.
"The Lord of Chaos." Meadowbrook added in dread.
"The Mad God himself," Starswirl finished with a scowl. "This bodes ill."
The Titans of Shadows and Chaos stared each other down, one daring the other to make the first move. "I don't suppose you'd be agreeable to a truce, Lord Discord?" The Pony of Shadows offered warily.
Discord smirked as he raised his talons, as if to snap them. The shade of an Alicorn tensed in preparation, but grew confused as Discord instead held out the curled digit towards his enemy, as if to flick him.
He did flick him.
The Pony of Shadows gaped, dodging out of the path of a vertical wave escaping from Discord's finger and leaving a deep indent in the ground as it went. It shot past the shadowy villain, cleaving through stone and forest to create a perfect path, plants and stone cut through like butter. The Pony of Shadows looked at the devastation in shock before facing his opponent anew.
But Discord had not given him pause, already in front of the mock-Alicorn and delivering a fist into his chest. The Pony of Shadows let out a silent scream as cracks formed in the very air around the impact of the strike, before exploding to send him skidding and catering across the ground.
"That's Discord?" Sunburst whispered in shock, looking to Starlight in astonishment. "You never said he was so...intense."
"He wasn't! Well, except for one moment- oh buck, did someone threaten Fluttershy?" she whispered back in terror.
"Twi, is my mind playing tricks, or is Discord a bit taller?" Applejack asked while swallowing a lump in her throat, clutching onto her hat in case it flew away.
"And are his wings bigger?" Pinkie Pie asked curiously, unable to take her eyes off this epic clash, however one-sided.
Twilight didn't answer, too much in awe and disbelief as she watched Discord handle the Pony of Shadows both directly and effectively. Never before had the sheer gap between Discord's power and all others been made so vividly clear to her.
"I don't suppose you heard from Discord recently, Fluttershy?" Rainbow asked. "Or, you know, why he's suddenly gone boss-mode."
"No, I haven't. I've...I've never seen him like this," Fluttershy answered, staring on with deep worry for her friend.
"I am just very glad he is on our side," Rarity murmured.
"And that he never treated us like that when he was a baddy," Pinkie Pie added on, Rarity cringing at the image of so many broken bones.
Discord ignored the murmurs of his friends, regarding the Pony of Shadows with dissatisfaction as the dark creature pulled itself from the earth. The Lord of Chaos raised both arms out wide, as if to embrace something. He waited until the Pony of Shadow's locked eyes with him once more, smirking as he raised both limbs high in a grasping motion.
The Pony of Shadow decided he'd rather not stick around for whatever came next, taking flight to make his escape.
Or he would have, if something had not erupted from the very earth, pulling him back down. He screamed and roared in pain as he realized what it was: Lava. Literally tendrils of pure, bubbling lava were wrapping around his large wings and torso, dragging him not just to the ground, but beneath it. The Pony of Shadows struggled and thrashed desperately against his infernal binds, but found no release.
With a scream of defiance, the Pony of Shadow unleashed a great surge of dark magic, pushing the lava-appendages off his form long enough to escape. He let out a sigh of relief, but it was short lived.
Discord flicked his opponents three times; unleashing each digit in rapid succession. The Pony of Shadows let out a cry of pain as his wings were both cleaved from his shadowy body and a large gash appeared just below his chest. Darkness bled from his wounds like a misty blood as he panted hard. He weakly backed away as Discord advanced on him, every step of the Draconequus seeming to carry more and more weight. "Please," the Pony of Shadows pleaded as he stared up at the Lord of Chaos. "Mercy."
Discord only snorted as he grasped the mock-Alicorn by the neck, pulling him off the ground. He glared into the white eyes of the Pony of Shadow as his free claws held a ball of strange, pale magic. "How disappointing. I was hoping for a warm up at the least," he said in disappointment, aiming the sphere at the terrified villain. "You were better off as a pony, Stygian."
Everything froze, Discord's glare becoming more intense yet unfocused. He slowly turned to stare at the spell, frozen in midair and aimed at his back. His gaze trailed back to the caster; Mistmane, glaring at Discord in a brave yet foolish manner. "Really?" Discord asked dryly, growing increasingly annoyed as he felt the Pony of Shadow slip from his grasp and attempt to flee. "Not so fast."
The Pony of Shadows vanished in a blur of teleporting darkness, but not before screaming as one of his hind legs, along with Mistmane's spell, disintegrated into mana and dust.
"Lovely, he got away," Discord mused without much care. His gaze shifted to glance at the large group of ponies behind him, regarding them fully for the first time. They stiffened under the literal weight of his stare.
All except one.
"Discord!" Fluttershy exclaimed happily, flying up to him.
"Wait, what?" the pillars said in disbelief as they saw the mare fly up to the draconequus.
"Fluttershy," Discord greeted with a smirk as she floated up to his face. "Saving the world again?"
"Umm, I think we kind of endangered it this time," she answered sheepishly.
"How many evil cans are even left now?" Discord mused with an eye roll.
Fluttershy ignored the rhetorical question, looking at him curiously. "Where have you been? Everypony has been so worried about you!"
"Busy," Discord answered vaguely. "I thought Nightmare Moon was making an encore, instead I got her male knockoff."
"We really appreciate the help, but um, were you going to...?" Fluttershy asked in uneasy concern.
"You'd be surprised what you can live through," Discord answered in ominous reassurance before looking thoughtful. "How long have I been gone, anyway?"
"Umm, about three, maybe four months?" she answered, surprised he didn't know.
"Really? That long? Guess I really got carried away," Discord remarked, stroking his goatee. "Well, I suppose that's what I get for training with singularities."
"I'm sorry, but where the BUCK did that come from!?" Rainbow demanded, flying up with a wide grin. "That was awesome! Discord, have you been holding out on us?"
"Yes?" Discord answered with a smirk. "I don't think you'd survive a serious pounding from me, Rainbow."
"That's nasty as Tartarus and I just don't care!" Rainbow said, almost squeeing. "Way to tug your awesome out, dude! Eight out of Ten!"
"Only eight?" Discord asked, clearly unimpressed with her judgement.
"Well, it would have been a nine if it lasted longer, or a ten if he hadn't gotten away," Rainbow reasoned.
"Fair," Discord allowed with a shrug.
"Okay, seriously, why the hay are you taller?" Applejack asked as she stood next to him, scowling at his legs. "I really remember being higher above your knees."
"Side effects," Discord waved off.
"Whatever happened, we are super-duper happy you're back and took round one with the Pony of Shadows!" Pinkie Pie pronked over before glancing at the very long, very perfectly-v-shaped ravine that had been created. "Buuuuut maybe tone down the landscape rearrangement? A smidge?"
"Excuse me, but WHAT THE TARTAROUS IS GOING ON HERE!?"
All parties turned to a seriously confused and displeased Starswirl. "Oh, right, he wouldn't know about that," Starlight recalled with a grimace.
"Know what? Have these lands been taken over and ruled by this fiend for so long that ponies accept it as unavoidable?!" Starswirl rounded on Twilight and the unicorns that hadn't gone over to Discord.
"Oh no, nothing like that," Twilight answered sheepishly. "He's, um, reformed now."
"Reformed?" Rockhoof repeated, scratching his head. "Ya mean he was destroyed?"
"Never knew why Celestia used that word so much," Discord whispered to Fluttershy.
"No, no. She means he gave up being a villain," Starlight spoke up, glancing to Discord with a small smile. "He's a friend of ours now."
"Discord? A friend to ponies?" Somnambula asked in shock.
"Some ponies. Namely these mares. Don't know Socks over there though," Discord remarked, looking to Sunburst, who nearly dropped his glasses in surprise.
"Umm, Sunburst, honor to meet you," Sunburst offered nervously.
"Don't show fear, he can smell it," Starlight warned, trying not to enjoy Sunburst's nervousness.
"I guess the princesses count now. This whole redemption thing was their idea," Discord stated with a smirk.
"Somepony actually believed a villain like you could change your ways after all you have wrought?" Starswirl asked in disbelief.
"Me, all but one Changeling, Starlight over there," Discord listed off casually, the ancient heroes looking to the sheepish mare curiously. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an actual villain to hunt down and deal with, thanks to somepony."
"Wait, Discord!" Starlight called, teleporting to be in front of him before he could leave. "Would you mind if we all, you know, teamed up?" she asked with a nervous smile.
Discord raised an eyebrow, floating her up to his eye level in the same motion. "Do I look like I need help?" he asked flatly.
"Look, just humor me. I think there's something else to this story," Starlight requested in a whisper before smirking playfully. "Besides, you wouldn't want to take down the Pony of Shadows without an audience, would you?"
Discord regarded her with an amused look. "Funny thing is, I know you're playing me...and you're right."
End of Chapter
And there you have it, a fic where Discord actually takes things seriously. Now Discord is taking this as seriously as possible without outright ending the threat upon arrival. Which, as we all knew, leads to terrifying results.
And the main six, while some uncomfortable with what just happened, are ultimately happy he's helping in such an...effective way.
This'll have some fun and interesting side effects on future events in Equestria. Hope you all enjoy Pridecord, as I like to call him.
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