"Eros has degenerated; he began by introducing order and harmony, and now he brings back chaos." ― George Eliot, Middlemarch

(Cover art by atryl)

Prologue:

It felt as if a part of him was awakening again, a part of himself that he'd locked away in boxes made of cat tails and locks made of black licorice - cat tails make him sneeze (and when he sneezes the world goes all orderly in his head in a way that makes him nauseous) and he detests the taste of black licorice. Thoughtless Chaos. Cruel Chaos. The bits of himself that made his dearest sad and disappointed. The pieces that could make him not care, even for a breath he didn't need to take, about keeping his hard earned happiness.

Discord sits deep in the Everfree Forest feeling these bits stir and other bits being nibbled at like they were Pinkie's cupcakes at a party. They aren't even near and he can feel them feeding off his magic.

They fed, then made you theirs when they'd eaten enough of your magic. Worse than Changelings, really. Changelings just fed on love, they didn't steal it, consume it, then feed it back to you in such a twisted form (and it's too orderly, too planned for him to even attempt to appreciate).

The Bearers of Harmony had fought them, of course. (And she'd fallen, and he couldn't protect her, and she hadn't gotten back up, and she was just sleeping yes, sleeping, sleeping, she would wake up, she would get back up and they would fix their son, and he'll make them know what chaos feels like right into their bones until they've screamed themselves bloody - and no, no rage, he'll scare her and oh she's been scared so much lately, he won't scare her, too).

He'd run. Run like the coward he both was and wasn't. Oh, he could fight them. He could make them bend to chaos of ihis/i making. Only he feared losing himself, of going back to having a mind made so much of chaos that he wouldn't recognize friend or loved one. As he hadn't recognized Tia or Luna - once.

"Daddy? Are you okay?" her voice trembles, his poor scared little filly. How much had she seen? How much did she understand? She was suppose to be far away and safe in the Crystal Empire, but she had her mother's bravery even so young, and his chaos magic (and you don't control chaos magic so much as you learn how to twist it to your wants, to the whimsies of your mind).

He winds a little tighter around her, though not so tight as to hurt her (he will never hurt her, he will turn himself inside out and drink the content of glasses, not the glass, forever first). "It's alright, Golden Apple, daddy's just thinking."

She nods, trying very bravely not to cry. Oh, but she looks like her mother. Right down to the wings. Well the horn and her coloring is from him. Her name still confuses some ponies, but he likes that, other ponies just think she was named in honor of one of her Aunts, let them think that. Tia still remembers all the chaos that particular apple caused and as long as one pony gets it, he's pleased.

Oh no, she's crying now. He strokes her mane, but doesn't shush her. He sort of wishes he could cry too. "Why - why did brother do that? And what happen to momma? She looked hurt! Why wouldn't Aunt Candace let me even write letters?" the words pour out of the scared little filly in a torrent. She stomps her hoof. "You'll fix things right? And then we can all go home?"

I can't fix anything. Her hooves and legs are scraped up and he doesn't even have healing power to fix that. He could change her hooves back to their original state by turning them blue with pink polka dots and back again, but even that little bit of chaos magic could alert them to this hiding spot.

He kisses her forehead. "I'll think of something." It's not a lie, not quite.

Discord throws a rock into the pond of his mind and examines each of the ideas that come on the chaotic ripples. He finds one that scares him and elates him all at once. It's perfect. It's dangerous. It's unpredictable.

It'll take a big enough surge of magic that he'll be found for sure. But Golden Apple will be safe.

"There, there, little one. Don't cry," he soothes. He snaps his fingers and a glass of chocolate milk appears. "Have some."

She takes the milk eagerly, then drinks the glass. That's his girl.

Golden Apple blinks up at him. "That tasted weird," she says questioningly, just before she falls asleep.

He catches her and lowers her safely to the ground. He hates having done that, but she'll be less scared this way. He'll be less scared this way.

Gathering his magic he prepares to send her - he doesn't know where. He can't control where or when. He can't even control what universe. (Please not the twisted one, please, any but that.)

"Please," he whispers to the forest, to his own magic, to chaos itself. "Please let it be somewhere safe"

He snaps his fingers and she's gone.

Sagging in what he knows to be short lived relief, he thinks briefly about running again. But there isn't a point, they've found him.

"Hello, father."