Then she started to notice several rings floating in the air next to the cotton candy clouds. They looked like they just waited for her to fly through them. Grinning sheepishly she spread her wings and rose into the air. This time no random obstacle would be in her way. As she flew through the first ring she concentrated and created more rings ahead for herself. Fluttercruel felt the wind (Discord had apparently added) on her face.
At first the rings just formed a straight line but soon she shaped more and more complex patterns. She got better and better and didn't realize or care how much time had passed. Suddenly she had an idea. Fluttercruel landed next to Discord who drew something that resembled a construction plan on a paper.
"Why don't you try it too, dad?"
"Hah! No problem."
Slowly he flapped his wings as his body began to rise into the air and flew up to her rings. Fluttercruel followed him instantly.
"You are not really flying, are you?"
I am in the air. That is what counts."
"Did you ever try to fly yourself without magic?"
"Of course I did. Didn't work out that great, but that was thousands of years ago. How hard can it really be? Even birds are able to do this."
With one snap of his fingers he stopped his own telekinesis and no matter how he moved his wings he fell to the ground like a stone.
As he prepared himself for leaving a Draconequus-shaped hole in the flat world a pillow jumped into his way. The collision spread colourful feathers all over the place.
Fluttercruel hovered down to him.
"Now we are even. I owned you one pillow. How about I teach you something about flying?"
Slowly Discord walked out of the pile of feathers. So this was how this teaching technique felt on the other end. Maybe he really needed some advice.
"Fine. Tell me what I did wrong."
The pegasus resisted the urge to say "Everything." and decided to try it step by step. She concentrated on the flying lessons she remembered. Fluttershy still failed them because of her fear of ridicule but even back then the fluttering pony couldn't blame her father for trying after the official lessons failed.
Fluttercruel still remembered everything from his determination to teach his daughter, his complete joy as she got her Cutie Mark to his and her mother's surprisingly understanding reaction when Fluttershy decided to live on the ground with the animals she had adopted. She wasn't sure if the parents of the doormat were really naive or really wise.
Fluttercruel focused back onto the present. What was the most obvious problem? The wings wouldn't allow anything the size of the Draconequus to fly. Well she remembered one very muscular pony that flew despite its tiny wings but the pegasus had to admit she no idea how that even worked. Maybe there was Chaos involved as well?
"Okay I honestly don't think you can fly with two wings that small."
Discord turned his head one-eighty to take a look at his bat wing and feathered wing. He tried to remember the width of the wings dragons of his size had. The incarnation then easily manipulated his own body and let the wings triple in height and width.
"Eat your heart out, Roid Rage."
A camera appeared next to him and he spread his wings dramatically. He hadn't expected Fluttercruel to jump into the frame and to assume the tree pose. Both stared at each other and fell laughing to the ground. The camera just continued to take the pictures.
The next few attempts slowly became better and after some tries the Draconequus managed some basic flying manoeuvres like the classical loop-de-loop. The young chimera began to think about how it was even possible for someone to wield the powers of Chaos like this and still have no idea how to fly by himself. Was Chaos really the only thing he did in all those years? She made a mental note to do her best to not become a one trick pony.
"This flying is actually harder than it looks like. Now all these pegasi competitions and festivals are starting to actually make sense. I think I can get the hang of it."
In the next days both worked to improve their basic abilities. As her chaotic creations became more and more long-lasting and varied, his flying became good enough to keep up with her. But he still lost every race against her. Just as she lost every game of chess again him, Fluttercruel was sure that she needed many years of experience before she could have any chance to defeat him in this game.
The copies of the ponies stayed with them and the pegasi challenged her from time to time to a race, especially Rainbow Dash. The young chimera lost almost as many races against the cyan pegasus as she won. But it would be boring to her if there was no challenge in defeating the self proclaimed greatest flyer of Chaos and wiping the smug grin out of Dash's face.
Eventually Fluttercruel could create detailed objects but it was still difficult to not let them vanish or explode the instant something distracted her. Her Chaos also allowed her for now to do some basic magic like telekinesis.
To her it was the most fun to train her Chaos, when she turned it into a game. She created a paper plane and let it fly around herself. The small construct fired paper bullets at her while the young chimera acted like she was a giant monster, ready to squash it. Discord ensured her that this all was just the start.
"So what is this 'easier way' to create Chaos?"
"Did I really say it was the 'easier' way? Sorry, old habits die hard. But it was true, technically at least. To make it short, it is a trick I learned in the time of my first banishment. It allowed me to bypass the few limitations Chaos has but it takes a lot of concentration to pull it off. It could backfire horribly on you."
"My Chaos backfires often enough. I can take a few blasts."
"Not like this one. At first the spell begins to fall apart and then the build-up results in a huge explosion, something big enough to level Canterlot into the ground. It happened to me the first time I tried it here. I was just able to teleport aside."
For one second Fluttercruel saw her father with a surprisingly worried face, before the usual happiness returned. She merely smirked back.
"I won't need it for now anyway."
With a snap of her fingers the paper plane turned into a real plane, flew off and chased after a few sour candy clouds. Discord waved after the vanishing plane.
"I am sure you will learn it sooner or later."
Once when she was sure that he wasn't looking Fluttercruel approached the copy of Pinkie Pie. At first the pink pony seemed startled but her smile returned when she saw what the young chimera had brought with her: Pinkie Pie's personal cotton candy cloud on a dog leash.
The former pegasus sighed. These ponies always made it look so easy. But after a few seconds the younger incarnation of Chaos was able to say:
"I am sorry."
Fluttercruel was caught off guard when the pink pony hugged her without hesitation and too shocked to return the hug.
"Nevermind! Drink something as well. Here is a straw."
Out of nowhere Pinkie Pie produced two giant drinking straws and both enjoyed some chocolate milk.
Over time other ponies challenged her to chess games as well. Twilight and Rarity were extremely good, Applejack and Rainbow Dash were easy to defeat (both had horrible poker faces) and Pinkie Pie seemed to be able to see all her moves ahead and the young chimera never won a single game against the pink pony.
While they usually were silent when they played their games of chess, Discord suddenly spoke to her in the middle of one game.
She had noticed that his bigger wings from time to time started to fold into a form resembling a cape. That combined with his more focused facial expression and his changed body language sometimes gave him an almost royal appearance. Fluttercruel wondered if he would hate if she would point out how different that made him look.
"To get better at this game you need to learn to make more complex plans and work the weaknesses and strengths of your opponent into them."
"I already know the weaknesses and strengths of each piece."
"That wasn't what I was talking about. I meant the bigger picture. Try to see all pieces as part of one opponent. The king is his weakness, one strike and everything will fall apart, the pawns are the primary defence and everything else, especially the queen, is the strength of your opposition."
For a short moment unpleasant memories of the encounter between the six heroes and Discord returned to her. She remembered Fluttershy's absolute fear when the Draconequus revealed herself to her. The entire time he was just playing a sick game against them but when Discord was about to loose to the fluttering pegasus he cheated anyway.
Thinking about it he didn't cheat in a single game they were playing in this world. Fluttercruel wondered if there was ever a different use for these skills at manipulation but she remembered how Celestia did use her own experience to do this. Even Fluttershy suspected that the Sun Goddess was the one that started the events that led to the healing of her sister from insanity.
Just like Chaos the ability to manipulate others could be used for anything. Didn't Discord use Chaos to heal her? Didn't he subtly led her to discover more about herself, instead of letting her doubts about her own existence consume her like they almost did with the other Fluttercruel? Didn't he show her where her choices could lead her and show her that she had in fact choices?
"And another thing: You need to practice your poker face before the mirror, you still make it too easy for your opponents to see what you plan to do."
While she didn't really felt hunger, from time to time she created various kinds of food, just to test the tastes. To her frustration she soon realized that food only had a taste when she added one into the construct. Without knowing how the meal was supposed to taste, she couldn't do that. So her hamburger tasted like absolutely nothing.
The young chimera found herself enjoying spicy and bitter things and was about to ask Discord what kind of food he preferred. But as she saw him putting mustard and honey on a pickle, she decided there were a few things she didn't want to know.
Her own sour candy clouds tasted surprisingly a lot like lemon juice. But there was a certain appeal to it. Discord always made strange faces when eating them, but then he just took another bite. Fluttercruel soon found out that the clouds were long-lasting enough to create an entire pool of dark chocolate milk.
When asked about what she saw in the center of her being, he told her that souls appear in the very core of Chaos. The Draconequus ensured her that souls always contain some Chaos, just like they contain Darkness and Light. The three foundations of reality, Light, Darkness and Chaos, were also the basis of every sentient being. It was the most obvious difference between Fluttercruel and the constructs Discord made to fill this void.
Even if they looked like ponies they were always lacking something both chaotic beings had. Still it was incredible how lifelike they had become over time. She didn't care the slightest what they might not have. The copy of Rarity started to sew dresses for her. Some were extremely weird, they looked like deliberately mismatched jester outfits with vibrant colors and with strange patterns such as polka dots and stripes.
Fluttercruel actually liked them but besides chess games and the occasional lesson these dresses were extremely impractical. To the young chimera it seemed much stranger that the white unicorn kept calling her "Lady Fluttercruel."
Father and daughter talked about what he knew of this world and about the two places close to it: The Limbo, where neither of them wanted to ever go to again, and the subconscious world of dreams. The last one did interest the young chimera for more than one reason.
She hated to admit it but she wanted to at least once meet her mo
Fluttershy and see her reaction. Would she fear her? Think she was another trick of Discord? Or would she actually see something else in her?
The subconscious world may be her only chance to do this. She didn't know how long it would take for the seal to break this time. When it takes as much time as the last seal did, Fluttershy will have passed away centuries ago. Discord told her that he would eventually show her how to teleport there. While he was unable to go there thanks to Luna's return, the Princess of the Night would likely not recognize Fluttercruel as what she is.
The older incarnation of Chaos told her that the subconscious world was spontaneous and changed constantly. Despite that it was the place where all minds of this world were linked together. There was only one real constant rule the Draconequus had found out: To get back to the white space all Discord had to do was to shock or surprise the person, whose dream he had entered, so much that their dream ended. But in their dreams the ponies did have an incredible tolerance for nonsense and surprising them was much harder than it sounded.
Even bringing a giant squid to fight the heroes into a dream about Romareo and Juliet was once not enough to wake up the dreaming theatre producer. But his next play was a very weird one. Most dreams were immediately forgotten and only had subconscious influence on the dreamer.
Over time Discord began to add more and more details to the world. Plants like Poison Joke and singing piranha plants appeared in the world, some of them floated through the air and made swimming motions. Various constructs were created to look like animals, from normal bees to bears with wings to juggling octopi to timber wolves. The world began to develop a life on its own.
More and more houses, some made completely out of cards, some cardboard cut-outs, some upside down, some floating, some made out of chocolate and some completely normal ones (they really seemed out of place) were placed on the ground and in the air, making the place look less barren. The copies of the ponies started to live in them.
One day she found him with the construction plan standing in the part of the limbo close to their world, before throwing the plan away and creating a weird pink and brown structure.
"So, what do you think?" the older incarnation of Chaos asked.
Somehow the pink parts reminded her of Fluttershy's mane. But she was sure that she was just seeing things.
"Eh, it's not pointy enough, and what's with all the pink and brown?"
"Ah, but you're missing the beauty of it, my little princess, the contradicting colors and shapes have a certain appeal to it, the ponies call it Modern Art."
"Eh..." She snapped her fingers. "There, that's better."
While scratching his chin, Discord inspected their new home/house/construct/whatever in mental limbo. Some ponies would say that it was more like something belonging into a Picasso painting. Other ponies would ask who Picasso is supposed to be. He looked closely at the sharp angled black shapes that his daughter had added to the structure. Finally he smiled at the creation.
"Haha! Now you're getting it, Fluttercruel! That's my girl!" he proclaimed proudly, putting his eagle claw on the shoulder of the young chimera while showing a genuinely pleased smile.
"Thanks, Dad," she said with a wide grin. While she didn't say it, she still wanted to be able to surprise him enough so that at least some parts of their domain vanished. Not that she had anything against how it looked but she saw it as a challenge to really surprise him at least once.
"Now come on, let's swim in the dark chocolate swimming pool, shall we?"
After a spending some time in the pool, Fluttercruel noticed that their new house was placed in the center of their little world. The cotton candy clouds, the floating rivers, some of the flying constructs, some trees and some houses seemed to continue the shapes and angles of their home.
Curiously she fluttered out of the chocolate and started to fly away from the world to get a better look. No matter from which angle she looked at it, it all seemed so connected, like it all was a giant piece of art.
He was right; it had its own appeal.
"I knew you notice it," she could hear his voice at her side.
"And you even worked my black shapes into it."
"Modern art needs contrast to be complete. I think you really added something to it."
"But one more thing dad, STOP calling me a princess. I am none and the very idea is kinda weird."
"Fine, I can understand that. If my little angel, wants me to stop using this royal title then she has some training left to do."
While working with her Chaos she also noticed that he would from time to time take short looks into the mirror he had created. His expression seemed hopeful. Fluttercruel wondered what he saw in there but was too busy to stop her Chaos from exploding in her face for the seventh time of the day. The constructs did keep their distance from her whenever she practised. While her failures still frustrated her, it was nowhere near as bad as in the beginning.
This went on for several days; it was hard for her to keep track of time in this void. Eventually Discord created a calendar the size of a house showing her how slowly time did move in this white space. Outside it would be only one more day until Nightmare Night. The young chimera knew what they could do to pass the time in a different way.
"How about we use this opportunity to have a little celebration?"
From the look on his face she knew that he would have never thought to celebrate a festival dedicated to Luna or her corrupted self. That didn't surprise Fluttercruel at all since the three beings weren't exactly at the best terms to put it nicely.
"There is no reason to let have them all the fun. And it is a good chance to teach you something about transformations. We will need good costumes."
After a snap of his eagle claw, both were sitting on chairs facing the same giant board from before. The Pinkie Pie construct sat in a chair next to her. Again the cheerful copy of Twilight Sparkle stood next to the blackboard.
"Attention students. Today we learn about the magic of transformation. For an average unicorn this is vey difficult and requires a huge amount of magic but for a being of Chaos the ability to change forms is almost second nature. It works very similar to how you shape Chaos into objects and magic. But in this case you work with the outer layer of Chaos surrounding yourself and shape it into a different form. Just try it."
Uncharacteristically unsure Fluttercruel decided to start with a minor change. So she closed her eyes and concentrated on her mane and started to imagine Pinkie Pie's hairstyle instead of her own. She felt a tingling feeling and as she opened her eyes, a huge mirror stood next to Twilight Sparkle. In it she saw that she was wearing the same ballooned impossible pink hairstyle, the partying pony did.
The pink pony in the audience applauded her enthusiastically. Fluttercruel had to chuckle and then changed it back to her normal appearance.
Now it was time for something more difficult, a complete transformation. The pegasus concentrated on the image of Rainbow Dash: The light blue coat, the rainbow-colored mane and tail, the red eyes and finally her Cutie Mark of a cloud firing a multicolored bolt of lightning. She felt her entire body shifting and the image in the mirror changed from her chimera-like appearance to a perfect copy of Rainbow Dash.
"With Chaos you always dress in style!" she said with the same voice of the weather patroller.
Discord and Pinkie Pie burst with laughter while the copy of Twilight seemed to restrain her cackle.
Fluttercruel decided to change back into her true form. She realised that when she awoke in this place, she absolutely hated her new appearance but it did grow on her. Her chaotic powers allowed her to see her own soul, proving to her that she did in fact exist in her own unique way and wasn't merely a leftover of Discord's magic. Now that Chaos had done this for her there was no reason to be ashamed of her real form.
But the lesson wasn't quite over.
"As you see as long as you understand the basics of Chaos, shapeshifting is quite easy. But unlike the disguises used by skilled unicorns or changelings, a being of Chaos can shift the entire body in nearly every way imaginable, creating tools, joke articles and weapons whenever they are needed. Try to immobilise this target."
With these words a copy of Applejack appeared next to her, watching the pegasus carefully.
"Ah don't like where this is going
Fluttercruel thought about this challenge. She could think of so many things to immobilise the farmer with: Bear traps, morning stars, knockout gas, flails, cages, quarterstaffs and so much more. But she didn't want to use any of these methods on the construct she had played some entertaining if easy games of chess and had some similar one-sided hoof wrestling games with.
So the best way to solve it seemed to be to create some kind of rope and just bind Applejack's legs together. But she had to surprise her as well; this earth pony wouldn't just stand there if she tried something like this.
Carefully Fluttercruel concentrated on her tail and let a single hair grow and move slowly around the grass and behind the farmer. She reminded herself on the movements of snakes to let it glide across the place. Now she had to act fast. The pegasus concentrated as much Chaos as possible into the edge and the top of the hair became a cord. Within seconds the robe tied itself around the legs of the surprised Applejack and lifted her into the air. After a few seconds Fluttercruel placed her gently back onto the safe ground. Applejack smiled and went back to the chaotic plants as the copy of Pinkie Pie hopped alongside her.
Her father clapped behind her.
"Now that was quite a show. You learn really fast. Let's see who the first one to reach our home is."
A line of floating rings appeared in the air. Both started to hover in the air and raced off to the goal. Rainbow Dash flew alongside them but eventually crashed into one of the many bubbles floating through the air.
The rings extended whenever the two incarnations were too close to each other and eventually both nearly crashed into their target. Unsurprisingly the copy of Twilight stood next to the finish line with a camera. Both chaotic beings asked her the same question at the same time.
and the winner is
for the first time ever Discord actually won a race."
A small golden trophy with the inscription "Fastest chaotic personification of Chaos since breakfast" appeared in his claw and a long piece of paper hovered next to him.
"I want to thank everypony that helped me to archive this victory."
He took a deep breath, preparing his seemingly long speech.
"I want to thank Fluttercruel, for being the first being since the dawn of existence that managed to actually teach me something."
The former pegasus seemed to be at the loss of words for a few seconds, but then she knew something to say.
"Hah! Trust me, you haven't seen anything yet. It won't take long and we will fly better than the Wonderbolts. But don't think just because you won one race, the next one will end the same."
Their training continued until it was almost Nightmare Night. Fluttercruel was staying in her house, while the Draconequus did prepare the decorations outside. She wanted to create a special present for her dad. He had saved her life and taught her so many things and now she wanted to return the favour in a different way. From the encounter with Pinkie Pie she knew that to find kind words was very hard for her.
The grey chimera had experimented with her own Chaos and tried to weave it together in a different way. She remembered the stitching lessons Fluttershy's mother had given her and used it to let the energy flow around itself differently. Instead of letting the flow itself take the form she bound the energy to itself and carefully weaved it together.
Fluttercruel concentrated the Chaos and formed it into a green gem. Then she created a silver bracelet containing the emerald. She remembered Fluttershy's father giving his daughter an emerald necklace as a present at her cuteceañera and telling her what an emerald symbolized.
She was impressed with her own progress and took a look at her own reflection in the mirror. Usually she used it to practise her poker face - a polite smile, not unlike the expression Fluttershy usually wore. The young chimera loved to wear it while crushing her opponents in games of chess. Fluttercruel had practically thought of every possible form she could take as a disguise for Nightmare Night but no pony or pony in a disguise was really fitting her.
But there was one guise that she wanted to try as her own costume. Her body shifted and the eagle claw and the lizard leg turned back into pony legs. The yellow feathered wing and the batwing on her back turned into two pegasi wings matching her coat.
Looking at the mirror and she saw an almost perfect copy of the Fluttercruel of the other world, minus her Cutie Mark. She intentionally left this one out. It was strange knowing so much about a different version of herself while all these ponies knew nothing about her. She began talking to the mirror.
"I am neither of you. Despite owning so much to you, there is nothing I can do to ever pay it back. Strange isn't it? All I can do is to find my own place in the world."
Somehow she felt uneasy. Not about the party, she knew that she would enjoy her first celebration ever but it was almost like there was something wrong. Not with her or with her father but with the world itself. Like something was there that didn't belong in the world she knew.
It was time. Carefully she hid the present under her wing and walked outside.
The world outside had changed a lot. It was night and the small moon could be seen in the sky. Several blazoned houses stood around her own one, making the entire place look somewhat similar to a small village like Ponyville. Everything was decorated in the typical Nightmare Night decorations, continuing the shapes and angles of their home. Every single cotton candy and sour candy cloud was adorned with Nightmare Night banners or balloons. The singing piranha plants sang about Hallowsomething but talking to them never got any result but another song.
Countless ponies walked around the place. Twilight Sparkle was disguised as some sort of ancient wizard, likely something from a children show. Discord had surely made this one up; Fluttercruel couldn't imagine the purple unicorn ever wearing something ridiculous like this. Pinkie Pie was a chicken, Applejack disguised as a scarecrow, Rainbow Dash was a Shadowbolt and Rarity was wearing an extremely pink princess dress nearly covered in a near infinite number of ruffles.
But they weren't the only ones: Noi was a princess in a lavender dress, Alula was an astronaut, Piña Colada was a ladybug, Dizzy Twister was a lion, Cherry Berry was a bee, Lemon Hearts was a grey mouse, Minuette was a surgeon, Raindrops was a Viking, Cloud Kicker was a witch, Sea Swirl was a knight, Wind Whistler was some ancient queen, Meadow Song was a ninja, Berry Punch was a ghost, the Mayor was a clown, Zecora was ironically a witch, Sweetie Belle was some vampire, Scootaloo was a wolf-pony (strange Fluttercruel somehow had expected her to be the chicken), Apple Bloom was the Frankenpony Monster, Dinky Doo was a fire-fighter, Lyra Heartstrings was a mummy and there was a white and brown colt she didn't recognize that was disguised as a pirate.
Then she saw Discord. He had changed his appearance into a grey pegasus whose color resembled her coat. His mane was white and the tail was black. He had a Cutie Mark of two opposing arrows merging into a common point.
"Happy Nightmare Night, my little angel."
"Happy Nightmare Night, dad."
The following party was extremely entertaining. They had the classical games of finding the apple in the apple-bobbing tub, which was slightly harder then normal version since the tub was the size of a small castle and there were even some oversized squids inside, ready to attack anypony.
Applejack did occasionally lasso an apple or even a confused giant squid out of the tub and gave them away to the copies of the children. Discord tried the game a few times and somehow caught nearly everything but the apples: A silver spoon, a hoof trimmer, a burning candle, an ice cube, some slippers and a stop sign.
The spider throwing game now included spiders the size of a pony being flung into a huge spider net that was even connected to the miniature moon. Fluttercruel never had so much fun with party games before. Then again this was her first party ever.
Rarity was tough competition in this contest but the younger chimera wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The Draconequus also managed to hit the giant spider net surprisingly well with the spiders.
Then there were the more outlandish activities like a live action show of Cupcakes with horrible overacting and underacting actors in incredible cheap costumes, which easily took out every bit of fear she felt for her nightmare. The costumes looked like one pony on the hind legs was hiding in the front part and the backside was empty and just lazily dangled around.
The first time she saw the oversized heads and strange legs Fluttercruel spent five minutes having a laughing fit. The copy of Pinkie Pie saw the scene and after seeing her alter ego she also found herself on the ground laughing at all of this.
The actors were patient enough to wait. The show started with the fake Pinkie Pie saying "Hi everypony, my name is Pinkie Pie and today I will make a cupcake out of Rainbow Dash." and ended with the Rainbow Dash costume inside another giant cupcake costume saying "Oh no, now I am a cupcake." in an almost bored tone.
This time it took Fluttercruel and Pinkie Pie a bit longer before their mouths could produce anything but laughter. The Twilight construct looked worried at the pink pony but after 10 minutes of constant laughter she had calmed down.
"Now that is how you giggle at the ghostie!"
Finally there was the game of pinning the tail on the Windigo. As the icy horse raced around the sky, Fluttercruel had to chase it down following its every movement until she was close enough to pin it against the mountain. It really took all her flying skills to track it down. Instead of a pin she was using a fiery spear she carried in her telekinesis. That game was a blast.
In the second round the Windigo hid in the clouds and tried to attack her from behind but was blindsided by the Rainbow Dash copy. The grey chimera took the chance to pin the icy mare to the moon in turn. Discord also tried the game and soon a dozen of spears made of fire were floating around the grinning incarnation of Chaos as the Windigo tried to escape him.
She didn't know how long these activities lasted but eventually Nightmare Night was over, as she approached her father.
"Thank you. Now that was a party. Even Pinkie Pie could learn a thing or two from this. And I have something for you."
Carefully she let her telekinesis carry the bracelet to Discord. He locked shocked and half of the decorations vanished. Then he began to examine it closer and closer. The former pegasus wondered if there was something wrong with it. This was the first time that she saw some of his Chaos vanish from something she did. Then he began to smile.
"Yes, of course. Can't you see?"
"Now that is the point. Even I had to spend some time to really see that this was produced from Chaos. Interesting the way it is woven together
But where are my manners?"
Suddenly he hugged her; somewhat shocked she hugged her father back.
"Someone once told me that an emerald symbolizes rebirth and foresight. I think that fits you perfectly. I have also heard that it brings good fortune," she eventually has able to say as their embrace ended.
Discord looked thoughtfully at the bracelet before putting it on his left arm. The Draconequus began to concentrate and a matching golden bracelet with an emerald inside appeared before her. She smiled and used her telekinesis to place it on her left foreleg.
Then he shifted back into his real form, the bracelet still placed on him. His face was strangely serious.
"I am sure that it will work out. And I think it is time to take the first step. A long time ago I did manipulate a seal placed on Celestia's and Luna's powers. But now
He raised his eagle claw and it was covered in white and black energy that disappeared as sudden as it came. For a short moment Fluttercruel felt a strange shockwave.
"I release my part of the seal. This is the only thing I can do for them to make up for what I did in the past to the foals they had adopted and then again with Twilight's group. I wonder how long it will take them to notice what did happen. I wish I could see Celestia's face when she finds out."
He chuckled but suddenly his face froze in place. Fluttercruel immediately rushed over to him but nothing seemed to have happened to him. The grey chimera felt the strange urge to scribble something on his face. Maybe with was one of the visions he was talking about?
His visions got clearer and clearer. The first one showed him the fearful Fluttercruel surrounded by darkness. It caused him to venture into the Limbo and save her.
The second one showed him the former pegasus fighting against something distorted. The Draconequus had never seen anything like this before and the vision ended again with her surrounded by the same hungry darkness ready to devour her. He may have overreacted slightly afterwards. But soon he began to plan how to prevent that from ever happening and how to work more combat orientated abilities in their training; he was sure that by now she could defend herself.
But it still bothered him that the second vision ended just like the first one. Was there something he didn't understand?
Right now he had another vision. Instead of Fluttercruel it showed him Fluttershy. Her eyes were closed and she mumbled something. She approached a cliff as her pet rabbit desperately tried to stop her. The yellow pegasus kept moving forward without hesitation and walked off the edge. She didn't spread her wings but let herself fall. Discord shuddered as he heard her scream. Then he again saw Fluttercruel fighting against something but this time the image was clearer and he could see a bare horse skull with a black horn. Finally he saw his daughter trapped in darkness again.
What the Tartarus did he just see?
Suddenly he found himself back in the white space. To his surprise his world didn't vanish but most Nightmare Night decorations were gone by now. The constructs looked worried. His own creations did certainly become more stable. Fluttercruel just stared at him with a mixture of annoyance and uneasiness.
"I just had a vision. I need to check something out."
Again he split of a part of himself and send it back to Equestria. Discord immediately flew to Fluttershy's house but it was empty, neither Fluttershy nor Angel could be seen. Was he already too late?
He began to remember where he had seen the cliff. The personification of Chaos would have never thought that mapping the entire world out of boredom, when he was sealed in his prison, would ever be useful. Thanks to that he knew that the vision took place at Ghastly Gorge.
Soon he found Fluttershy on her way to the cliff. Angel was with her but the bunny seemed to hardly be able to slow her down. She still had to climb the rise but that wouldn't take that long. Despite being the incarnation of Chaos and one of the aspects of existence that was absolutely nothing he could do against that in his current state. But as he got closer he felt a strange energy surrounding her and could hear her whispering.
"Don't worry. I will do it for you. I won't let you down."
It was like she was sleepwalking. No matter how hard Angel pulled or if he tried to trip her nothing seemed to work to stop her from walking forward to the dead end. Someone else was playing a sick game with her. It was clear that she wasn't doing this on her own free will. Nobody knew better how mind control worked and this seemed to be a variation of it. But somehow he recognised this power. It was similar to something he knew but also very different.
He began to analyse his options and there was only one way to reach the mother of his child before she perished. But to do that he would have to endanger Fluttercruel.
"A weighty choice is yours to make. The right selection or a big mistake." Discord said to himself, fully aware of the irony.
The memory of the vision was painful and even worse was the implication that there was nothing he could do to change it. Despite saving his daughter from Limbo, the vision was even clearer than before. Was this one of these self-fulfilling prophecies he used against clueless ponies before? As Angel continued to struggle, the Draconequus shifted back to his little world where Fluttercruel was still waiting for him.
"What did happen? Why the serious face?"
Seeing the normally cheerful incarnation of Chaos so distressed did unnerve the young chimera more than she wanted to admit.
"I saw a vision of Fluttershy falling to her death. And something is luring her over a cliff right now while she is sleepwalking. I don't know what it is."
"Then what are you waiting for? Send me to the subconscious world. I will find her and beat up whatever it is that toys with her."
He had to admit that it became clearer and clearer how much they thought alike. He hardly had to explain anything to her. And her determined expression did show him that she was serious as well.
"Okay. Disguise yourself. Remember what I have told you about that place. Now go!"
As she quickly shifted into the very first form that crossed her mind, he concentrated his Chaos and sent her into the subconscious world.
Was he doing the right thing again without hesitation? But he had no idea if he had done the right thing. Discord knew that despite his special gift Fluttercruel could be in real danger. Then why did he send her in there despite being afraid of loosing her? Why did she suggest it without hesitation? Since when was this doing the right thing stuff so difficult?
He signed. The only thing he could do for now was to trust her.
"What did happen? Why the serious face?"
She just knew that something was very wrong when he looked so serious before and after he left. In fact his condition seemed to be worse than before. What could trouble the incarnation of Chaos?
"I saw a vision of Fluttershy falling to her death. And something is luring her over a cliff right now while she is sleepwalking. I don't know what it is."
Her mother could die. Thousands of thoughts rushed through her head in seconds. How could that doormat let herself be tricked into this? Why was the mere thought of Fluttershy in danger so painful? She had never done anything for her! It was Discord who saved her from the darkness and it was Twilight Tragedy who saved him.
Even Discord had no idea what was trying to kill her mother. It could be anything. It could be too powerful for her. It could be hopeless.
She would not think like a doormat! The young chimera was proud on herself and everything she had learned so far. Fluttershy's memories taught her many things. Why were they so important to her? Because they were like the eye of the storm in her Chaos? Because they represented what she didn't have?
The grey chimera didn't know the answers but Fluttercruel knew that she wanted to save her mother. There was only one place where she could reach Fluttershy. She made a decision.
"Then what are you waiting for? Send me to the subconscious world. I will find her and beat up whatever it is that toys with her."
She tried to hide her fears but the younger incarnation of Chaos knew that Discord could see through her. But he still warped her into the world of dreams as she quickly and instinctively disguised herself.
When Fluttercruel could see her surroundings again, the pegasus noticed that she was in the middle of an enormous green field with Fluttershy's cottage, surrounded by woods and inhabited with countless animals. There was a gigantic tree right before her, it was as big as Canterlot itself. Nearly every possible animal was here, from bees to bears and seals to falcons. She was sure that this was the right place. This had to be the mind of her shy mother.
But everything seemed so normal. Only now did the pegasus almost passively notice what kind of form she had chosen under pressure. She had to chuckle at her yellow fur and pegasus appearance. But in the end she remembered that the old man had told her that ponies tended to ignore strange things in their dreams, so looking like Fluttershy might not be too problematic.
There was just this feeling that something else didn't belong here. And where was Fluttershy? Inside the cottage there was no fluttering pegasus but otherwise it did look just like the real house. This was Fluttershy's mind; according to what Discord had told her there should be a representation of her somewhere prancing around with some animals or something.
An embodiment of Angel was hopping around, seemingly searching for Fluttershy as well and after one short glance he ignored the chimera in disguise standing next to the cottage.
Then Fluttercruel was hit by a realisation. If all souls were at least somewhat chaotic, maybe she could find her parent with her other vision. Soon everything became grey as the disguised chimera carefully scanned the surroundings for Chaos. Neither the animals nor the woods seemed to contain anything but there was a weak glow coming from the huge tree.
Without hesitation the former pegasus flew into it. Suddenly she felt sick, like she was pushing herself through some kind of organic barrier.
As she could finally see again, Fluttercruel saw an exact replica of the world she just saw. There was the field, the woods and the cottage. But something was very wrong here. She felt being watched.
Another scan did show her that one soul was inside the cottage. Carefully she approached it. She knew that something was trying to kill Fluttershy. This thing could be right with her in the cottage. As silent as possible she created a small eye and let it flew towards the house.
Thanks to her little spy she could see and hear everything. Sure an eye also hearing things for her didn't make much sense but she was the daughter of Chaos itself.
Fluttershy, Twilight, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Rarity were all inside the cottage with her. But only Twilight and Fluttershy said anything, the others were merely standing around and smiling at the fluttering pony.
"Fluttershy, please, you must do it for us. We need to remove the Element of Kindness from you to give it to someone else."
"But Twilight, I can't
"How can you be so cruel? Scootaloo was horribly injured when the ponies panicked at Nightmare Night and only by giving her this Element we can save her life. You don't want her to die, do you?"
"NO! I could never
"Don't worry. You know you can trust us. You just need to jump inside. It will be over very soon."
As the insecure pegasus still wondered what to do, the purple unicorn pointed at tub filled with water that seemed to be imbedded into the ground.
Looking at all her smiling friends Fluttershy was able to walk towards the tub.
Fluttershy didn't notice the eye outside her window starting to fly around in panicked movements before vanishing.
Suddenly Rainbow Dash and Rarity were knocked to the ground as something flew past them and Fluttershy found her way blocked by a very familiar being: Gilda, the griffon. The sudden guest glared at her friends and then became fixated on her. She seemed to be wearing something on her arm.
"Get out of my sight, you cowardly dweebs."
Without warning the griffon roared and tackled the shocked pegasus outside the house. It happened so fast that none of the surrounding ponies could react.
The fluttering pegasus coughed from the painful impact but somehow her head felt clearer outside her cottage. But where did Gilda go to and what did she almost do on Twilight's suggestion? Everything that was logical before suddenly seemed so strange.
"Are we starting to wake up?"
Then she noticed the small pegasus standing next to her. It was a yellow filly with a long pink mane covering half her face and a long pink tail. On her left foreleg was a small golden bracelet. She had no cutie mark but somehow she seemed and sounded so familiar.
"I am sorry, I think I am not all there. Um
Who are you?"
"Hi! I am your daughter! And you didn't even name me!"
The small pegasus smiled at her so innocently and cute that it managed to calm down Fluttershy even after the strange events that just happened. It was hard to resist the urge to hug the filly immediately.
"Oh, I am so sorry for that. I am sure I will find a name for you."
Somehow the little pegasus seemed disappointed and even somewhat scared by her reaction.
Sure. Sure. But first you should leave this place. Please, it is dangerous here!"
"Where do you think are you going?"
Without warning Twilight and the rest of the group suddenly stood around the two yellow pegasi. They didn't teleport there; they just appeared out of nowhere. Fluttershy's senses began to revolt; just making a clear decision became painful.
Normally she froze up in the face of danger. Just thinking about dragons or Discord made her body shiver with fear. But this always changed once the fluttering pegasus felt the urge to protect someone and right now she felt that she had to protect her daughter.
"You will come back and do what you promised to do!"
"I am sorry, Twilight but something is very wrong here and I have to help the little one first."
In fear of something she hadn't even seen, Fluttershy grabbed the filly and flew away in such a speed that she surprised herself. For a moment it seemed that there was some sort of invisible barrier holding her back but just as suddenly it was gone and she reached a very familiar field. It looked just like the last one but somehow it felt safe.
Her thoughts became clearer and clearer and by now she realized that everyone from Twilight to Gilda did act very strange including the filly still holding on to her for dear life. She caressed the little one for a moment before placing her on the ground. The filly did look at her like she wanted to say so many things but didn't have any time.
Then the gigantic tree behind them started to melt and to turn into a black disgusting mass. The heads of her friends began to form from this liquid but instead of pony bodies they were placed on long hydra-like necks. They talked in perfect sync.
"You are such a disappointment. You couldn't even do such a simple task for your friends."
"You are NOT one my friends! Who are you?"
"How can you be so cruel? Don't you remember your friend?"
The black mass began to spread and soon it started to cover more and more of the ground. The animals from bears and seals to falcons drowned in the crawling mess. Their expressions were of pure horror as they were dragged under it.
A spike burst out of the slime ready to hit the fluttering pony as Angel pushed her aside and was dragged into the mass as well. Without hesitation Fluttershy flew after him but somehow he managed to push her back to the side of her daughter with a look of pure determination. Then he was just gone.
As Fluttershy could only stare at this all-devouring Nightmare something grabbed her. To her relief it wasn't the darkness but another yellow pegasus looking just like her. The only difference was that she didn't have a cutie mark and was wearing a larger version of the golden bracelet the filly had. Was this her daughter? What was she actually? Her twin dragged her with a surprising strength into the air and both started to fly as far away from the darkness as possible.
By now nothing of the ground was left uncorrupted. Tentacles rose from the mess and tried to grab them. The first attempts were sluggish and easy to dodge but soon the strikes became faster and unpredictable. Fluttershy suddenly felt her body moving on its own, not unlike the time when Twilight took control of it in an attempt to help her friend to end her career as a model. Her body dodged attacks almost as fast as Rainbow Dash. Her twin practically screamed at her. Thinking became harder and harder.
"This is a dream! You have to WAKE UP! That is the only way to save you!"
I can't. I am sorry, you try so hard but I can't do it."
The darkness rose from the ground and covered the entire space above them. They were trapped as the black slime moved closer and closer to them. In it she could see twisted forms of the faces of her friends grinning at her. Then the faces melted away and only the staring eyes of them remained.
Suddenly she felt the hoof of her twin on her shoulder.
"I hoped it would never come to this
I hoped it could be different
but it is the only way."
Her expression was grim and determined. What was the only way? Fluttershy suddenly became very worried about what would come next. The other pegasus looked at her with such sorrowful eyes.
Suddenly the form of the pegasus before her began to shift. Her fur turned grey, reawakening unpleasant memories. Her left foreleg became an eagle claw, her right hind leg reshaped itself into a lizard leg and one of her wings transformed into a batwing.
It all reminded Fluttershy at the awful day when Discord turned her against her friends and all the horrible things she said and did. The chimera looked at her and talked in her own voice. Disturbingly familiar pink clouds circled around her.
"I am truly your daughter and Discord is my father."
"But this doesn't make any sense
"Make sense? Oh, what fun is there in making sense?"
"NO! YOU CAN NOT
The entire world started to shake and everything around the fluttering pegasus fell apart like cheap glass. Fluttershy awoke screaming.
She found herself falling off the edge of a cliff. She froze in shock until she noticed Angel clinging to her neck. He was in danger!
Instinctively she flew back upwards and landed safely. Her entire body was shaking with fear.
How did she get here and what was going on in her head? She felt like she had forgotten something important but there was also the strong urge to immediately fly to Twilight to talk about what just happened to her.
Tears run down Fluttercruel's face as she found herself back in an empty part of the limbo. She landed somewhere very distant from the world Discord had created in this place. From the very beginning Fluttercruel knew what she had to do. From the very start she knew the only thing that would shock Fluttershy enough to awaken her from this twisted dream. But the young chimera hesitated. She knew that this was likely her one and only chance to meet her mother and talk to her.
She wanted to tell her so many things: About herself, about her father and about what Fluttershy's memories did for her. She didn't want her mother to see her in the middle of a battle and she didn't want to reveal herself like this to her. She didn't even dare to apologise herself before giving her mother the worst shock of her life.
She had lost her one chance. After this reveal Fluttershy would never consider the young chimera her daughter. To her she would always be a creation of Chaos. But it was worth it.
Then the tears stopped flowing. Fluttercruel knew that she had to do this.
"If I have to be cruel to her or manipulate her to save mom then so be it."
She had managed to use her powers without any mistakes and proved that even Chaos could
Almost instinctively she changed her wings into metal and shielded her face as something almost stabbed her between the eyes. The sharp skeletal stinger was stopped just before her eye. Soon it retreated and Fluttercruel saw her attacker.
She looked almost like a twisted corpse. A bare skull with a black horn was connected over the visible spine to a black body. From the main body grew four twisted legs that resembled spider legs instead of horse legs and they ended in sharp spikes. Huge skeletal wings were placed on her back. Despite her monstrous form there was something strange about the creature. The way her body moved was so disturbingly familiar.
"Since you ruined the last game, now we will play for a little while."
Fluttercruel tired to fly away and come up with a plan but she soon found herself in a telekinetic hold. No matter how much she struggled, she couldn't escape it and floated closer and closer to the grinning skull.
Suddenly the body of the creature was moved into the air. The grey chimera noticed her father standing next to her and the look he gave the being was truly something out of a nightmare. The expression was much more hateful and angry than how he looked at Fluttershy when she won in his game.
Suddenly a brick wall appeared under the being and she was slammed with high speed into it, causing the wall to break, before the creature was lifted up again. She didn't seem to be injured. For a brief moment Fluttercruel wondered how he had found her so quickly but then she remembered the golden bracelet she was still wearing.
The broken wall turned into a metal plate with spikes on it and the monster was rammed into it. Then the being was moved up in the air again. She didn't even bleed.
Finally the metal plate shifted into a pool of acid and the creature was dropped into it. The Draconequus's attention was focused on his daughter and his expression became serious and worried.
"Are you okay, Fluttercruel?"
"Yes and I managed to wake up mo
Fluttershy in time. I wonder if she even remembers it."
Quickly Discord turned around to see the disturbing being crawl out of the acid. She didn't even seem phased by the liquid.
"What are you?"
"How could you have forgotten me? You are just as selfish as my sister."
"You..? But that is impossible."