The alicorn made the last adjustment to the components of the spell, examined them with a critical eye, and nodded to herself. Everything was in order. The doors were shut, locked, and sealed, the windows likewise, and with her current home in the middle of the expanded Everfree Forest, she was unlikely to get a visitor to begin with.
With her usual methodical habits, she turned, levitated a quill, and quickly finalized her notes. Satisfied, she returned her attention to the centerpiece of the room, energized the spell, and waited.
At first there was no reaction, but slowly color began to return to the stone statue. The draconequus yawned as his head was transmuted from rock to flesh, and craned his face to watch the rest of the transformation.
“You know, it’s a bit like having your foot fall asleep,” he announced to the world at large. “So, to whom do I owe the pleasure of releasing me?” he asked as he turned to the only other occupant of the room.
To his shock, the alicorn didn’t seem to be paying him any attention; instead she was splitting her focus between reading some levitating scrolls and scribbling madly on loose sheets of paper.
“Now, now, is that any way to treat a guest?” he smirked as he snapped his fingers to shift the quills to snakes and the papers to badgers.
Nothing happened, and his gaze swung from his hand to the alicorn who was staring at him dispassionately.
“Are you finished?”
“I - but how?!”
She smiled, a hint of wistfulness behind it. “You don’t remember me, then, Discord?”
The mismatched creature put his hands on his hips and huffed. “No, I don’t. It’s been a thousand years, and I certainly never met a purple alicorn with such...” he hesitated and leaned forward, not quite believing his eyes. “Twilight Sparkle?”
“It’s been a long time, Discord.”
“It certainly has. Oh, just look at you, all grown up!” He lifted her off the ground and grinned hugely, and Twilight rolled her eyes. She’d forgotten how... grabby he was. “So, why did you go about unpetrifying little ol’ me, hm?”
Twilight hesitated, looking off to the ground. In a rare moment of empathy, Discord picked up on it and gently lowered her down. “It’s... been a long time.”
He nodded. “Indeed it has. Approximately a thousand years... give or take a few decades.” The abacus he’d conjured to count it out vanished quietly in a puff of confetti.
“That’s just it,” Twilight sighed. “A millennia is a long time, and...” she glanced at a window, the shutters closed over it. She shut her eyes, trying to fight back tears. Despite herself, one managed to escape.
Discord’s furred paw caught it midway down her cheek. “A long time to be by yourself. Yes, I can understand... past a certain point, the only ones who really remember you are your enemies.”
The draconequus looked mournful, to her confusion. “A shame. I liked the pink one. She enjoyed my chaos.”
Twilight stared at him. “You corrupted her, Discord.”
He looked offended. “Of course I did! It was nothing personal. I mean, what would you do if somepony had the only weapon that could stop you?”
“Well, I wouldn’t brainwash them into their total opposite!” she accused.
Discord merely shrugged. “Work with the tools you have, m’dear. Though, again, I really doubt you brought me from Celestia’s gardens and destoned me just to have a nice chat and a cup of napalm. Care for one?” He popped a glass of the jelly into existence and hid a sigh of relief that at least he was capable of some of his old tricks.
Twilight glared at him, but without any real vitriol. “I’m working on a spell, but I can’t complete it.”
The draconequus took a sip and gestured for her to continue.
“It’s a resurrection spell of sorts, but I’ve reached a roadblock. The caster needs to have an intimate knowledge of life and death, and...” Twilight coughed. “As an alicorn, I can’t die.”
Discord pitched the glass over his shoulder, whereupon it arced perfectly up to the ceiling and refused to shatter, obstinately ignoring gravity. “And you want me to mostly kill you? If so, why block my magic. Oh, and while I’m on that, how in the name of chaos are you doing that?!”
She laughed! At me! The embodiment of destruction and entropy! Raging internally, he set his will to making her blood flow in reverse and her muscles rip from bone. Again, it had no effect.
Chuckling, Twilight rubbed at her eye. “And here I thought it was obvious. Which Element am I the representative of again?”
“Magic,” he ground out from between his teeth.
“Exactly! It’s been a thousand years, Discord. I pretty much am Magic at this point. You’re saying ‘here, help me kill you’. Not going to happen.” She turned away for a moment, and desperate, Discord swung a fist at her. To his horror it froze in midair, all color draining from it and the texture returning to stone.
It wasn’t the only part; all his extremities began to turn to rock. “N - no! Not again! Please... have... have mercy!” he babbled as he fought the spell with everything he had - fruitlessly.
“‘Unlike you, I don’t turn ponies to stone’. Remember that, Discord? I do. Except, oh, indirectly, you did! I checked through the history books, Discord. Cockatrices were entirely unknown before your reign, and they have your pawprints all over them! Well, the horseshoe’s on the other hoof now!”
“Please, Twilight! Not another thousand years as statuary! I - I’ll do anything!” He swallowed as the magic crept up his neck, the muscles halting mid-motion. “I’ll behave!” He clenched his eyes shut, preferring not to have to see his vision cloud over and go dark for a third time.
“Do you promise, Discord?”
Nervously, he cracked an eye open. He could feel a light wind on his face, but no other sensation below it. “Yes!”
“Do you Pinkie Promise?”
He blinked. “Do I what?”
“Pinkie Promise!” The feeling of cold stone crept over his ears.
“Yes! Please, just have mercy!”
Nothing happened for long enough the draconequus feared for the worst, but the alicorn eventually relented. He let out an overdramatic gasp of both relief and fear as his body once more became flesh. “Okay, Twilight. Why, exactly, do you need me?”
She turned and left the room, indicating he should follow with a flick of her wing. “It’s simple. I need a way to get through to the afterlife. I have everything else set up.”
“Set up? What do you mean by...” he hesitated when he saw the contents of the room. Five stone slabs, and the bodies of five all too familiar ponies on them. “All right, Twilight Sparkle. You win. This is disturbing even by my standards.” Discord wasn’t sure which was creepier: how much the bodies looked like the original ponies, or the fact that none of them were moving, including breathing.
Twilight gave the nearest one a cursory inspection. “They’ve never been alive, so stop that. They’re simulacra, as perfect a replica of a living pony as possible, and in stasis spells. In fact, they’ve been in stasis since I first started work on them, and it will only break once they’re capable of moving under their own power.”
“You’re... trying to bring them back?”
Twilight paused, nearly choking on her answer. “Yes. I... miss them. A thousand years of loneliness... I’m sure you understand. So does Luna. But it’s not the same. Spike’s still around, but even he’s getting old... he sleeps for decades at a time now.”
The draconequus blinked, and noticed for the first time how the building seemed to be rising and falling, very, very slightly, and very, very gently. Seemingly close by came a sound somewhere between stone grinding and a bellows stoking a fire. “When you say Spike sleeps for decades... what is ‘Spike’? And how close is he?”
The alicorn covered her smile with a hoof. “That’s right, you didn’t meet Spike. He’s my baby brother. And a dragon.”
Discord turned around in circles, looking at the walls, floor, and ceiling. “And where is he? He’s got to be near here to make that much noise.”
“He’s not,” she replied offhoovedly. “He’s a few hundred feet below us.”
She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Yes, Discord?”
“First, stop that. Second... just how big is your ‘baby brother’ if we can hear him from here?”
She scratched at her chin with a hoof as she thought. “You know, we’ve kind of lost track over the centuries. Last we checked the Library Tree had grown around and over him, and the only part of him that’s really able to move much is his head.” She shrugged. “But, you know, since he got into the last few hundred years he’s been too lazy to get up, so it’s worked out well enough.”
He could almost feel his eyes about to pop from his head. “The library... just what size is it now?”
Twilight coughed. “It’s... bigger than Ponyville was. By a lot. And that was before I added the dimensional distortion spells for even more space.”
Discord stared at her, boggling.
“I have a lot of books, okay? And I do research! And studying!” she said defensively.
Discord closed his eyes and rubbed at his temples, trying to force the oncoming headache away by sheer willpower. It didn’t seem to be working. Finally he looked up around the otherwise plain chamber. “Back on topic, please. Twilight, just what is it you want me to do?”
She took a moment to compose herself, then continued in the tone of somepony clinically detaching herself. “You warp the laws of reality by your very existence, Discord. I hope, though I have yet to test this, that this ability extends to the laws regarding that of life and death. If so, with your assistance, I will punch a spell through the boundary. This spell will have a message and a metaphorical trail to lead the recipient to the simulacra I’ve crafted for each of the respective soul. After that...” she paused. “I suppose we’ll wait for results.”
“Ambitious,” he admitted.
She gave him a faint smile. “I’ve kind of lost the ability to think small over the centuries.”
“So you want me to do... what I normally do?” he asked to clarify. “I’ve never tried anything like this before.” Probably because it never occurred to me, he thought.
“Pretty much. Though with precision. I know, a foreign concept to you.”
Discord huffed at her. “And just how will I know what you want done? It’s one thing to describe it, another to understand it, and two casters makes things even more likely to go wrong... and that’s without one of them intentionally being the spirit of chaos.”
“I have something set up so you can visualize it. There’ll be a solid wall, all I need you to do is make it permeable. As for accidents...” She smiled. “You’re not powerful enough to cause any I can’t handle.”
He had the unnerving feeling she was right. “Okay, so... when are we doing this?”
“Right now, if you’re willing.”
“Might as well get it over with,” he muttered. She nodded and glanced at him, and he felt a slight tingle behind his ears.
:Can you hear me?:
Discord’s jaw dropped. “A telepathy spell? You made one of those too?”
:Actually,: her mental voice was rich with laughter, :I picked it up from a unicorn filly. Now,: and this time the tone was all business, :this is what needs to change.:
She sent him the image of a wall - stretching endlessly in all directions, milky white with swirls of different pale shades shot through and moving within the surface.
“So, should I wait for you, or...?”
:Go ahead, I still have some setup to do,: came the absent reply.
The draconequus rolled his eyes and turned his attention to the formless wall. “So... what about it do you want to change again?”
:I don’t want a hole in it. Just make it easier for things to shift through it. Less a cloth curtain or rock slab, and more of a gel.:
Oh, sure, just mess around with an immutable natural law with likely terrible consequences if something goes wrong. Who does she think I am, an avatar of chaos? Discord smirked and forced his will against the barrier. Its nature remained eternal and unchangeable, but it was his nature to corrupt and alter everything about him, and eventually the wall subtly changed.
He poked it with a metaphorical claw, and was pleased to see it distend slightly.
“Done,” he called, leaning back on the stone doorframe. Twilight nodded and floated five crystals over to the pony bodies. “The Elements of Harmony? I’d have thought they would find new bearers after all this time.” He kept his tone light, but his eyes wary and watchful on the instruments of his defeats.
Twilight smiled wistfully. :They can’t. Not while I still have mine.: Each Element was lowered atop its respective owner, and the alicorn took a deep breath. :Here goes...:
She closed her eyes, focused, and a corona of energy snapped into existence around her. Arcs of magic leapt over to the crystals, touching, enfolding, and lifting them into the air to hang gently.
Discord felt his eyes widen as he followed her actions, marvelling at the skill behind them. Five locator spells were simultaneously crafted with the delicate precision of a jeweler, but with the absent concentration of somepony who had done it thousands of times before. Woven into and layered atop the first spell was a second, one that seemed to be the polar opposite, a combination that should have cancelled both out. Instead of pointing to an object, pony, or location, it directed the target back towards the caster. Lastly was a message spell, tucked into the core and whisked out of sight before he could intercept the subject.
Twilight hesitated for a fraction of a moment, and then flung the magical matrices into and through the soft patch Discord had created.
He, meanwhile, was staring with his jaw hanging open. She is... beautiful.
As the energy filling the room faded, he leapt forward, picking her up again and spinning her about. “We did it!” he crowed.
“Not yet,” she corrected, lopsidedly smiling. “I just hope they get the message.” Her gaze shifted to the bodies.
“And just what message was that?” he asked before giving into temptation - I am chaos, why not - and kissing her.
Twilight leaned as far away from him as she could and pulled a face, and reluctantly he let go, to her quick and obvious relief. “It was one word. Just... ‘please’.”
Both watched the five ponies, breath held.