Discord could see something. A disturbingly familiar castle could be seen under him as the checker pattern around it covered the entire world around it. It was like looking down on a distorted image while everything around him was completely dark.
"You could have had everything. Why did you reject your gift of Disharmony?"
The Draconequus recognised the voice instantly, it was his own. Quickly turning around he saw a bigger version of the mirror, he had created, floating before him.
His reflection smiled back coldly.
"I can feel that I am fading away and now she shows me you of all things? Now that is definitely not the way I wanted to go." Discord said dryly to the mirror.
The mind of the incarnation of Chaos was racing how he could get out of this. He knew this was likely just a smokescreen to distract him while he was devoured. The Nightmare had absorbed the mirror, so she could have access to the knowledge of this world. Or his own connection to Truth was going berserk and this was an elaborate vision.
But by now the energy of the Nightmare had to be almost depleted as well. The darkness around him was thin; he could still feel a burst of Chaos outside. If he could just break through this attack…
"You knew what would have been the easiest way to overpower the Nightmare? Whenever you absorbed one of these five puppets back you became more powerful. I have no idea why but their Chaos has grown on its own. Not that I care. But here is the joke: Would you have absorbed your Fluttercruel back into yourself you would have enough power to easily defeat this Nightmare. Just devour your own flesh and blood!"
The reflection burst into laughter. Instinctively Discord took a few steps back as the mirror followed him.
"Now don't act like you actually care for her! She is a creation of you! You were just doing this father act to get a loyal minion, didn't you? And just think about it. If you could defeat this Nightmare and add her power into yours you would be powerful enough to break free of this cursed seal of Harmony."
The grin of the reflection became even wider.
"If you would miss her, you could just recreate your daughter by infecting Fluttershy in Equestria again. Even better, your daughter would also gain a body in the process! Hell, you could create some sisters for her as well. Just think about the chaotic being you could have created from Pinkie Pie!"
The mirror floated even closer, Discord could look into the empty, soulless eyes of his reflection.
"Then tell me, what is your plan to escape? Wait. You don't even need to tell me how, just say do you see any other way to overcome this Nightmare?"
The incarnation of Chaos was speechless.
"Do you need an inspiration? Then how about this?"
Images of the world ruled by Discord flew past the Draconequus. He witnessed how the former bearers of the Elements became more and more corrupted until they were finally ready to accept the Elements of Chaos.
Countless mortals died by chaotic monsters created by Discord or by his six minions. Other were broken in body and mind beyond recognition. Families and friends were broken apart or turned against each other.
He saw Derpy running around the castle for all this time to free her daughter turned into a muffin. It continued for 100 years, 200 years, 300 years and 400 years.
He saw Cadence's final battle and painful death and understood what this world had lost with her. The suffering continued for 500 years, 600 years, 700 years, 800 years, 900 years and 999 years.
The pain of the world seemed endless and it all was compressed into a few seconds.
"That is how you should wield your power! And Cadence's and Twilight's faces were just priceless! I always have to laugh when I see the recording of it!"
The Draconequus looked around the place in panic but there was nothing to work with. He took a look on the silver bracelet with the emerald inside, the present his Fluttecruel had made for him.
He remembered what he had seen in his first journey into Truth and the talk between Twilight and the little earth pony he had seen in the mirror later on. Those two scenes were suspiciously missing in this seemingly endless display.
Discord smiled at the mirror. He knew what kind of game this was. Truth was used against him but it was only part of the picture and not the entire truth. The Draconequus had used partial truths often enough to recognise this technique.
"Now please continue to inspire me. Don't stop here. I am sure you still have hundreds of years left to show."
Now the smile on the face of the reflection vanished. Discord knew he had to take the opportunity and turn the conversation around.
"I think I should take this chance to thank you. After all it was you who inspired me to do what I have done. Without you, I wouldn't have reconsidered myself. Without you, I wouldn't have seen the other world."
Now the reflection looked furious.
"SHUT UP! That is not…"
Before the image could continue Discord interrupted it. Small cracks began to appear on the mirror.
"Without you, I wouldn't have saved my daughter. Without you, I wouldn't know where her cruelty might lead her."
"No! That is wrong. Stop it."
The cracks began to spread all over the mirror.
"Without you, she wouldn't have made this decision. Without you, she wouldn't have saved her own mother from certain death."
Now the damage was nearly completely covering the mirror.
"You saved Fluttershy's life! That is all thanks to you!"
Without any further words the mirror began to break and the cracks spread over the entire darkness around the Draconequus. Everything broke apart like cheap glass.
Discord knew this was the opening that he needed.
Slowly Fluttercruel could see the constructs of Twilight and Pinkie Pie floating next to her. Twilight looked exhausted and the pink pony could barely move. Only then did the young chimera notice the energy shield surrounding them. Her vision was still somewhat blurred.
The purple unicorn was shielding them all with her magic.
"Are you finally awake? I wanted to say that you were always a good student and I am proud on you. But there is one more spell I want to teach you."
"What are you talking about?"
Only then could the incarnation of Chaos see that both constructs were injured. Cracks similar to those Rarity had started to spread from Pinkie Pie's left foreleg and Twilight's face.
"Damn it. Why can't I save a single one of you?"
Twilight didn't know what to say but Pinkie Pie raised her head and managed to smile weakly.
"Don't be silly. We knew that would happen one way or the other. Remember we were born from Chaos but even if… even if we would have been dolls or toys or whatever, we wanted to help you two. I just wonder what it would be like to live like the ponies of the other world, to have a family and so on."
"You can still do that if you just keep going. Dad and I will blast Half Moon apart and then we will rebuild the chaotic world. It will be much better than before. You have to see it!"
To her own shock Fluttercruel could hear her voice quiver. The cracks did almost completely cover the face of the purple unicorn.
"Sorry, but we can't follow you much further. Discord gave us a boost of Chaos but our energy is almost completely spent."
Pinkie Pie looked so uncharacteristically sad and the construct of Twilight continued for her.
"This is my final lesson. This shield spell is based on something the other Twilight used to protect her friends from Discord in their last encounter. This version uses concentrated Chaos to form it into a barrier around the caster. It works very similar to how you shape Chaos into objects and magic but this time you keep the raw energy around yourself and form that into a barrier. Just try it."
The young chimera took a deep breath and tried to replicate the spell. The first attempt collapsed into itself and the second try did cause a minor explosion. But the two constructs stood far enough away to avoid any damage.
Twilight didn't look like she could hold her spell much further. Her entire body was covered in cracks but by sheer force of will the unicorn continued to cast her protective incantation.
But with her third attempt Fluttercruel crafted a working shield around herself and the two constructs.
Exhausted Twilight ended her spell and now the young chimera felt the constant assault of darkness on the other side.
"Thank you… my fr…"
In the middle of the sentence the purple construct collapsed and changed back into the Chaos she was created from. Fluttercruel could feel a burst of power flowing through her body.
She started to sit down and sobbed. As her concentration weakened, the shield did weaken as well.
Fluttercruel could feel a hoof on her shoulder. The last construct sat next to her and began to talk. Deep gashes spread over Pinkie's entire left foreleg.
"You know I have been thinking a bit about everything. You were born when Discord corrupted Fluttershy with Chaos. You wanted to be cruel. Then you did something incredibly kind and risked your own life to save your mother."
The pink pony looked wistfully at her ruined leg.
"I think I was born when your father wanted you to not be lonely in this world. All I wanted was to see my friends smile, to see you smile. You look so cute when you smile. In the end I fought alongside you and hurt someone to protect my friends. I don't think it is important how someone is born but what they do with their lives. Could you tell me one thing, why did you apologize to me after I was hurt by your explosion just after we met?"
The young chimera looked into the eyes of the pony next to her. She knew that Pinkie wanted to distract her from the all-devouring darkness outside and it seemed to work.
Upholding the shield became easier the less she thought about the danger outside. She knew that this was their last chance for a talk.
"Because… I have to admit it's hard for me to say. I think I didn't want to hurt you. I wanted to be cruel and that is still there but… there is more. Cruelty isn't all I am. I still think that some ponies deserve it but to different degrees."
Fluttercruel could almost see her memories of ponies bullying Fluttershy.
"The jerk ponies I can remember pushing Fluttershy around should feel what that is like. The horrible flight instructors I can remember should be reported to the authorities. I doubt what they did was in any form legal. I thought about dropping them from high attitude and catching them just before they crash on the ground but I think the other idea is much worse for them. And this Nightmare who tries to kill you, dad, mom and me should be pounded into dust…"
"Sorry if I have to push you in one direction but why did you want to help your mother or us?" Pinkie Pie interrupted.
"Because… I can remember what it is like to be kind to others and others being kind to Fluttershy. These memories are… precious. They felt so right. And my father and all of you were kind to be. After the chaotic Ponyville my next memories are about the dark place where everything wanted to torture and kill me. Then he saved me, made me laugh and taught me so much about my Chaos."
Fluttecruel looked at the golden bracelet still on her arm.
"I am sure that he put a tracking spell inside. Hm, dad is always planning ahead. That will never change but I think we both became something different over time."
"So what do you think is more important? Is it Kindness or Cruelty?"
The young chimera had to chuckle.
"To be honest I have no idea. I didn't think about it until recently. But I do know that I wanted to help you."
The gashes had spread over most of the body of the pink pony and hairline cracks were already on her face. Fluttercruel knew that they had almost no time left.
The shield around them was bursting with power and began to push the darkness around them back.
"That is good to hear. I wished we had the chance to talk more before all of this happened. It felt really good. And Fluttercruel, I want to remind you that I will always be your friend. I thought you were like a big sister."
"Now I see it, you actually have a family: Father, me and the rest of Chaos. You are a real pony to me."
Fluttercruel looked into the eyes of the pink pony before her. She wouldn't turn away in the last moments. Pinkie Pie smiled with tears in her eyes.
As the last construct turned back to Chaos Fluttercruel felt another burst of power and cracks began to form in the darkness around her shield.
The young chimera knew that this was the opening that she needed.
An infernal scream echoed through the entire white space as the darkness was blown apart from the inside by two powerful explosions of Chaos.
The remaining darkness was thrown off its two resistant victims and crashed hard into the ground next to the center of the chaotic world.
The small world of Chaos was almost completely wrecked; only some pieces of their home/house/construct/whatever were still left standing.
Both incarnations of Chaos were relieved to still see each other but Discord instantly understood what it meant that he couldn't see the two last constructs with his daughter.
Breaking free of that trap had almost completely exhausted the two of them; both knew that they couldn't risk anything. This was their last chance to win this battle.
(Now listen well, my little angel. I need you to create something for me.)
The darkness concentrated itself back into the form of Nightmare Phobia. But she also looked weakened and her right wing and parts of left side of her skull were missing. To her frustration she had to realise that these pieces of her didn't regenerate anymore.
The poison was taking its toll and her vision was blurry. But she could still see the small grey chimera standing close to her. Discord was nowhere to be seen but the creature didn't care anymore.
She turned into darkness and overwhelmed the former pegasus before she could react. Fluttercruel did put up absolutely no resistance.
"You aRe NotHing. YoU Are noThiNg. YOu arE nOthIng."
Then she saw Discord floating before her. He smiled but it only showed his teeth, his eyes were devoid of any friendliness.
"You made your choice and now I am afraid you just lost the game. I guess I forgot to tell you the rules but nopony is perfect. And I am sure that the real Luna wouldn't have fallen for that old trick."
"HoW DAre yOU…"
Suddenly Nightmare Phobia felt absolutely horrible, like something was building up inside her.
"Let me at least give you this consolation prize. Arrivederci!"
Without any warning another black spear with a blue spearhead stabbed the being and fixated her on the ground next to the center of his world. As fast as he could the Draconequus teleported away from her.
Soon he sat on the park bench floating much further away from the chaotic world. Fluttercruel already waited for him. It was the same place from which he had first shown her the world, he had created. She could see the constellations that they had made together.
"So Half Moon absorbed the fake?"
It wasn't a construct but just a big empty doll made to look like her. She would not lose anypony else to her.
"She swallowed it hook, line and sinker."
Discord created two pairs of sunglasses and handed his daughter one of them. Both put them on without hesitation.
"Your Chaos was good enough to trick her and I placed a nice surprise inside."
Fluttercruel noticed that the park bench did move away from the remains of their world as it seemed to get smaller and smaller.
"Do you remember what I once told you about the 'easier way' to create Chaos and what happens if that spell fails? Now you are going to see what happens when it goes critical."
In a blinding light a gigantic explosion engulfed the broken world. It looked nothing like the explosions she was used to. For a second it was a black ball of energy, then it was a huge fireball, then a sphere of lightning. It started to alternate between countless stages and changed faster and faster. Lightning and fire erupted from it and vanished. This continued until it collapsed back into itself within seconds, leaving nothing but empty white space behind.
The younger chimera could only stare at the place where she once lived together with the constructs and her father. Now everything was completely gone. Discord looked shaken as well. She knew he was trying to hide it for her.
She remembered Twilight teaching her about Chaos and always looking after her fellow constructs. The purple unicorn was the very first construct she met and stayed with her as long as she could. The young chimera felt a tear rolling down her cheek.
Fluttercruel recalled the races she had with Rainbow and how long both of them could argue that one of them hadn't won this race, because the wind was inconvenient or the sun was too close to their flight path.
The young chimera almost saw Rarity making chaotic dresses for her and acting like her chaperone. What would she think of her now?
Fluttercruel remembered the dishes Applejack had cooked for her. The farmer had insisted that if Flutter didn't know these tastes, then she would learn them one by one.
But most of all she remembered Pinkie: The time they had spent together, the things they had laughed about and the last moment they shared. She almost felt the hoof of her friend on her shoulder as she thought about her.
Discord put his lion arm around her.
They had created this world together but the feeling of losing it was nothing compared to the pain of seeing her friends perish.
By now both were completely exhausted from the long battle and the sunglasses vanished into nothing. As the glasses vanished she could clearly see a tear in Discord's right eye.
"Yes, my little angel?"
"Screw this! There is no need to hide your sadness anymore. If you want to be sad about them, then be sad. You don't have to hide your pain! I won't either."
The Draconequus looked thoughtful and mournful at the space where they had lived.
"I… never felt like this. I saw many mortals pass away over time, some sooner, some later. But I was never so invested in their lives before. This feeling is so…"
"Dad, I feel it too. I can understand it. Some things can't be put into words. What do you think would Twilight say to all of this?"
"Hm. Probably that it was their own choice and they did it for us and for Chaos. She would… would say that we can grieve but that we should not lose ourselves in despair, that this was the price of being alive. She would say that I can't change the past and should concentrate on the future."
The Draconequus looked at his daughter.
"Now this sounds much more like something she would want to hear."
"You are right. They were unique and are independent enough to be with the big Alicorn with the unpronounceable name right now."
Somehow Discord just knew that they would not end up in the Limbo.
"Fluttercruel, I wanted to say… thank you, for everything."
"Nah, don't mention it."
Both incarnations moved closer together. Discord tried to think of anything else he could say right now.
"But they would be proud on what you were able to do."
"I just wish we had more time to…"
Fluttercruel shook her head and decided to change the topic as soon as possible.
"Tell me one thing; did you have a plan B in case Miss Crescent didn't fall for this trick?"
Discord looked somewhat embarrassed.
"Well, actually yes. I would have teleported us both to the subconscious world and that would have gotten Luna's attention without any doubt."
He pulled out a white letter with a symbol of two opposing arrows merging into a common point.
"Even if she would have attacked me, you could have taken the chance to deliver this letter to Celestia or Luna. Both just love their letters."
The young chimera had to chuckle weakly.
"You were actually going to do that?"
"It was plan B for a reason, but it still beats getting eaten alive."
She didn't like the way he sounded when he talked about it. Would he even have enough power left to bring them both to the subconscious world?
Discord manifested a glass of chocolate milk in his claw. "To the constr-...no, to our...friends."
Fluttercruel manifested herself a glass of bitter chocolate milk and toasted her father. "Our friends." Both incarnations drank, milk and glasses, to their fallen friends.
Suddenly both felt a power building up behind them and as they turned around simultaneously they saw white and black lines circling around each other and forming the overlapping symbols of the sun and the moon.
Then the white space opened at that part and two very familiar Alicorns flew through the opening: Celestia and Luna. As sudden as the hole appeared, it closed itself after the two winged beings had passed it.
Now both incarnations of Chaos were completely speechless.
"I am sorry we are so late but despite our full power it took a lot of time to get past this barrier," Celestia said slowly floating down to the park bench.
"It was too late to save her but at least you managed to stop her from hurting anypony else. But she should have been my responsibility." Luna added with a sombre tone.
Fluttercruel was the first one to recover. She felt strangely energetic after the two Alicorns appeared. The young chimera remembered that the construct of Twilight once told her that the source of Chaos was the difference between two forces. And right now two powers that were total opposites stood before them.
She noticed that her father seemed a lot less exhausted then before. He must have felt it as well and the Draconequus also quickly hid his letter on the park bench. The white letter could be hardly seen on the similar colored bench.
It was strange. While she felt mortal fear from seeing the two Alicorns of Harmony standing before them, Fluttercruel also sensed something very nostalgic. Almost instinctively she fluttered between the two sisters and her father.
"For Chaos's sake did we skip a few pages here? How can you even know what just happened here?"
"Well… to be honest I used the same spell your father used to look inside Truth. I have been using this incantation for some time now to regularly check on his status. After Twilight acted so strange, Discord was my first suspect. But I have to admit that I never suspected him to ever do something like this for anypony."
"Wha… what did you see?" Discord was finally able to talk and his mind was racing.
The incarnation of Chaos couldn't believe that he never thought of this possibility. He had "borrowed" this spell from her. If he was able to use it to cross the seal from his side, it was possible from Equestria as well. Of course the Sun Goddess also could use it to see what he was doing.
The incarnation of the Light looked thoughtful.
"I saw almost everything. How you healed Fluttercruel, how you two created this world together, how you broke the seal on our powers, how you lost these individuals and how you fought against Phobia. Meanwhile Luna was able to see the encounter in Fluttershy's dream but it was already over before she could reach her. Without you two we would have also lost Fluttershy to her."
Her sister interrupted her.
"Still your crimes against ponykind remain and the seal of Harmony on you didn't break. And don't think that we have forgotten what you did to us."
The Draconequus tried to avoid looking into Luna's eyes.
“I understand that now. After everything that happened I know what it was like for you to see your subjects in danger and being unable to help them. When I did play my games with the ponies, you must have felt helpless.”
Now Fluttercruel took her chance to talk back.
"So why did you even bother to come? You could have just waited outside and attacked Half Moon in case she is done with us."
"Because no matter what happened, we three were born together, we are still a family and I will not abandon someone who did try to change. Even if it is too late for some…" Celestia said with a stern voice looking to the space where the world of Chaos once stood.
"Still the optimistic one… then again you were right with Luna and the six bearers. I… I wanted to say… Damn it! You know I thought I had hundreds of years to prepare a speech before I meet you again." Discord tried to calm himself down.
"I didn't have time to prepare a meaningful speech either! Just say it!" Luna snapped back.
"I… I am… I am sorry for… everything I did to you two and the world. Just everything."
Fluttercruel could hardly believe what she heard.
"Wait a bucking minute? Family?"
"Well the short version is that we have the same origin. It all began with us hearing a voice saying 'Remember you three represent the three foundations of this world. You, Celestia, are the Light, my little Luna embodies the Darkness and last but not least Discord is the Chaos between those two forces.' After that…" Luna started.
I was dying. I knew it would happen sooner or later but now even Discord turned against me and killed me. What did I do wrong? I never hurt him but he attacked me without any provocation.
It was dark around me. Thick fog-like darkness surrounded me while the ground seemed to be made of sand. While there was no wind, it still moved on its own. I couldn't see much further and there was nothing here to be seen or heard. This place was completely silent.
Is that blood that started to ooze out of my wounds? I don't want to die before I was able to take my revenge. Celestia, this imposter, the bearers and Discord would all pay for what they had done.
My body isn't moving anymore. I can't feel most of my legs anymore. Are they even still there? I can feel parts of my head, my main body, one of my forelegs and the left wing but nothing else. The darkness that left me started to color everything around me even darker. The pain! That isn't normal! Why did Celestia do that to me?
Slowly I could see others surround me. They looked strange, almost like they are not really there. It is like they are shadows. Some look like ponies, some might have once been dragons and I think I can see a few other beings that I don't even know in this group.
"DiD yOU cOme tO hElp Me?"
They didn't answer my question. Slowly they moved closer to me. They made me feel hungry.
As the first shadow pony stepped into my darkness it sunk into it without a scream and I was finally able to appease some of my hunger. It tasted strange but I felt better, the pain became less. I needed more of them.
They had no fear and wordlessly they continued to walk into my darkness. They were so generous and kind. Why couldn't these traitorous ponies of Equestria be more like them? I felt myself becoming more and more. Why didn't I find this wonderful place sooner?
My darkness began to spread over the place, absorbing more of these selfless shadows.
"I neEd mOrE! CoMe ALL to mE! LeT us all GO toGeTHER!"
I felt myself grow. It was wonderful. I didn't feel any pain anymore. This was like it always should have been. I can feel their hate for everything that exists. I can understand them.
They keep walking into my direction like they are following an unspoken order. There is no hesitation in them. They come willingly to sacrifice themselves to me.
We will no longer be casted aside. Now it is time for Celestia… no for the entire world to pay for what they have done to us. It will hurt Celestia more than anything else if I take away the world she loves so much.