The Broken War
Disclaimer: I do NOT own MLP
Rose Dusk breathed deeply as she watched her children drink from and play in a literal lake of chocolate. Hours ago, the absurdness of her surroundings would have overwhelmed her. A checkerboard landscape, floating islands, flying fish, and other such oddities were the basic background to a thousand and one impossible things: A cat-dragon of clay and a Timberwolf King playing chess with pieces that were alive and faintly screaming, a volcano that had rivers of purple flowing up it's side and down into it's hole, a band of jackalopes making music on adorable tiny instruments while riding a snake with two tails and no head.
All of this and more was present in the Anarchy of Discord. But all of that seemed tiny in comparison. Not to the civil war, the twisted Alicorn queens, or even just knowing her children were safe. Oh, that relieved her, yes, but there was something personally bigger she was trying to come to terms with.
She had died.
There were no two ways about it. She felt the awful, burning pain as the flaming arrow pierced her body. The indescribable agony as her brain tried to process the sensation of her pain receptors being destroyed from the pain before death had claimed her. The moment of her children witnessing her death seared into her mind as her eyes melted away from the magical heat.
And then it was all gone. The pain, the heartache, the fear...all just vanished. It might have been her manner of death, but she wasn't sure if she had been in a white or black void, just that she was floating. That she was going, somewhere. She arrived, briefly. She could hear a tiny voice calling her. A voice she had never heard, but felt so right.
A voice that called her Mother.
It was something, somepony tiny embracing her, welcoming her. Most embraces were described as warm, but after what she endured, she was so happy it felt soft and cool, like the autumn breeze.
That was when Lord Discord had brought her back. Back to this broken world, back to her children. The voice called out to her, telling her goodbye. It was a happy goodbye on those lips, but it brought tears anew to her eyes every time the memory of it reached her ears.
"What pegasus filly doesn't know how to fly?"
Rose Dusk was jolted out of her memories, wiping her tears away as she turned to the voice of her savior. Discord stood near her children, her eldest daughter flying after free-floating balls of chocolate while her second daughter pouted as her underdeveloped wings failed to bring her off the ground, the only male of her progeny giggling nearby and hopping into a ball of his own. He was smiling, but it was empty even before he looked at her. Without warning, he looked down at the ground. "Keep them entertained, will ya?" he asked to no one, his shadow suddenly jumping off the ground to salute him, to her children's awed alarm.
While the shade whisked around the youngsters, the draconequus floated over to the mother of three, who bowed lowly. "My Lord, t-thank you again for protecting us," she said gratefully, trying to keep her hysterics under control.
Discord smiled coyly at that as a pair of high-back chairs formed under them, accompanied by a dining table. "Let's be fair, I hardly protected you. I just, fixed you," he countered with a hint of apology to his voice.
"R-right. I suppose I should be even more grateful for being brought back," she said nervously, trying not to make eye contact and offend him.
Discord said nothing for a moment, studying her intently, weighing what to say and when. "What happened, Rose Dusk?"
Rose Dusk winced at that very weighty question. "I don't know," she admitted with a shuddered. "I was nothing more than a mother, and before that, a chariot puller. All I know is what we commoners perceived. The sisters grew tense and estranged," she explained before growing pensive and meeting his eyes for the first time. "How did you know my name? I never gave it."
Discord smiled mysteriously. "I needed a name when I told the Grim Teratorn whose soul I would snatch back."
"Grim Teratorn?" she repeated, feeling light headed. "So, I was really-?"
"Dead," Discord confirmed bluntly. "Owing someone your life is rarely as literal as this, I'd say."
"I-I'm grateful, Lord! Just-" Rose Dusk tried to assured, only for a raised claw to silence her.
"Resurrection isn't a trick I advertise, but I understand, Rose," Discord promised patiently. "You're in shock. Spiritual Shock to be exact. It'll fade overtime, the world feeling so off balance and unreal. Mortal souls are rarely used to returning to their old bodies."
"Spiritual...shock?" Rose Dusk repeated slowly, looking down as an empty feeling came over her. "Was that real then?"
The question wasn't at Discord, he knew, and didn't acknowledge it. "Not to mitigate your need to come to terms with your death's undoing, but we've drifted off topic," he informed, getting her attention once more as she sat fidgeting in her chair. "What else was going on in Equestria?"
"What else?" she repeated, blinking without comprehension.
"Before Celly and Lulu decided to try and be edgy, evil drama queens," Discord clarified, his dark tone marring his jovial words. "Rebellions, famines, anything?"
Rose Dusk made a noise of understanding, furrowing her brow as her mind tried to recollect a time when the world seemed sane. "I had a brother and friends in the guard. They told me things, back then," she explained with a faraway look in her eyes. "Pri-princess Luna had grown more and more reclusive, and there were less and less attending her night court. Everypony-everypony among the nobles was hounding P-p-princess Celestia about crops. Droughts. Plagues. Medicine. There were many problems, all in the northwest."
"The northwest?" Discord repeated with a scowl as pieces of a puzzle began to form.
"I don't know why. All I know is that it involved Bugbears and Griffons. After that, the solar Princess was never the same," Rose Dusk answered solemnly before shaking herself out of a trance, looking meek before Discord. "I-I'm sorry that I'm not of much help, Lord. I...I...I..."
Discord quickly and quietly put up a barrier, making it look like they were just talking still. Those brats already saw their mother die today, they didn't need to see her crying in his arms. He grimaced as he held her. Caring, kind, shoulder to cry on? He was none of those things. He didn't comfort crying mortals, male or female, young or old. He was sometimes the reason they cried. But there was only so much he could watch without pitying. This mare had well exceeded the threshold needed to earn his sympathies, so he bit the cork and tried to deal with it.
"I'm so useless!" she yelled out into his fur between sobs of grief and hopelessness. "I could barely save my children before I died! I can't help the one who brought me back! I couldn't even br-bring my baby into the wor-world safely."
"She loved her mommy."
Rose Dusk stopped short as those words reached her, slowly looking up at him. "What?" she breathed, barely a whisper.
Now it was Discord's turn to not make visual contact, looking off to the distance out of the corner of his eyes. "The brat you were hugging before I brought you back? I guess you didn't hear her after she said goodbye. She was trying to tell you she loved her mother. She was-" Discord paused to glance down at her glistened, desperate eyes, and grunted. "She was sorry she wasn't strong enough to stay with you and her siblings."
Rose Dusk slid off him like a ton of bricks, staring right through his torso as he released her. "A baby girl? I-I didn't even have time to make sure before we had to flee. I just knew she wasn't-" she stopped herself as a sorrowful smile came to her face. "It wasn't her fault."
"She knows," Discord assured, giving her a pointed look. "But then again, so do you. And seeing as I didn't have to pull any of your brats back, I'd say you did a good job getting them to safety," he mused offclawedly.
"I'm still not very useful to you, My Lord," she remarked, her tone lighter now.
"More than you'd think," Discord replied wryly before his expression softened. "So, who are the rest of your brood?"
Somehow, that sounded less insulting than she thought it should. Regathering herself, she looked out to see her children playing tag with the god's shadow. "W-well, the girls are the red ones. The oldest is Anemone, with the black and purple mane. She's always flying and loves making little rain clouds. I think she hates being dry. Z-zinnia is the grumpy one. She got some defect her father had. Her wings won't be the right size until puberty. I-it'll hurt a lot, it did for hi-him. Sh-she's always the stubborn one, the pessimistic one. Always scaring little Ran Unculus. No idea how he ended up with a coat of brown, but he got my light red mane at least. He's always hopping, for some reason. He cares more about jumping than flying, and he's good at it," she explained with a distant, wistful smile before wiping away her tears. "A-apologies, I'm rambling now."
"No, no. I asked for an introduction and I received a marvelous one," Discord waved off, grinning while nodding to the youngsters. "Why don't you go join them while I get to work setting up a nice little home for you?" he advised.
"I-I'd like that, Lord Discord. If y-you need anything- well, I imagine you'll just summon me if you do," she said with a nervous, thankful smile as she gingerly took flight to her children. By some magic of Discord or another, the fatigue of childbirth, fleeing to these lands, and more was all rapidly vanishing from her system.
If she had looked back, she may have noticed the dark figure that took her place as Discord's conversation partner. "You already knew her children's names, didn't you?" Sombra predicted keenly. "You just wanted to keep her attention on the children she still had, and not on asking if you could bring back the one she hasn't."
Discord hummed in confirmation, crossing his arms. "With the state she's in, telling her no could destroy her, in a sense."
"Yes, but then, isn't that what you do, Lord of Chaos?" Sombra countered with a smirk.
"Flippers, you have very poor survival instincts," Discord warned.
"No, I just know the line separating your annoyance from your wrath," Sombra retorted with a snort, his smoke-like mane flowing in the wind. "So, Luna fell to her darker powers. I'm not surprised. The self-righteous have a habit of being the most self-conscious about how others perceive them," he murmured thoughtfully.
"Something broke Celestia," Discord stated solemnly. "That mare was made to endure. Luna's corruption, the hardships of Equestria, the enemies. She could have endured that, but something happened in the mix that overwhelmed her, put a chink in the armor that was her resolve. Everything just fell apart after that. She lost hope in something out there, Sombra, and it killed her will to keep going on as the Princess she had been."
Sombra grunted as he glanced away. "Must you make me feel pity for the sun-wench?"
"Celestia? Yes. Daybreaker, buck no," Discord answered with annoyance.
Sombra eyed him for a moment. "Do you know what happened, after meeting her?" he asked suspiciously.
"No," Discord answered without hesitation, glancing off to the north. "Just a feeling I have."
Sombra hummed. "That probably means Luna is the more stable one right now. Or whatever title she made up for herself."
"Perhaps," Discord acknowledged. "We're not allying with either of them."
"Oh trust me, I agree! Likely not for the same or right reasons, but I wholeheartedly endorse a policy of being pure enemies with the alicorns," Sombra assured with a vicious smirk. "That said, Daybreaker might be the one we need to put down first."
"You underestimate those two, Sombra. Even in hatred, they are sisters. Now that I've refused Daybreaker's offer, each of them will never accept having their sister beaten but by their own hoof," Discord assured.
"Logically, the best strategy would be to wait them out and let them kill one another," Sombra noted.
"Yes, but that'd be logical," Discord countered with distaste.
"And boring," Sombra agreed with a hint of bloodlust in his crimson eyes. "So, what's the plan, Lord Discord?"
Sombra or Flipperhoof, he never thought he'd enjoy seeing such a terrible look upon the Lord of Chaos's face.
No one knew the true population of Anarchy. No country bothered to check or care how many inmates were sent there by other nations, and even if Discord permitted them to scout out his lands, it'd be impossible to tell between the many chaos-creations and inmates warped into entirely new forms.
So it came as a great surprise to the unwilling residents of this chaotic land when they all found themselves teleported into a great crowd. Thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, with a single gap down the center of them. Some were pony, others weren't. Most were still recognizable as their born race, but many had been warped and twisted into one thing or another. A stallion with a face half made of sand. A dragon with hooves. A chimera that could have been any number of things.
Before them, seated upon his horned throne on a hill, was their warden: Discord the Draconequus.
Alarm bells went off in the heads of every inmate. Discord was almighty, if he wanted to deliver a message, he'd need only speak and all of Anarchy would hear his decree. To bring them all together, at a single place?
And that look in his eye, that scowl upon his snaggletoothed maw.
Something was very wrong.
As if a switch was hit, Discord grinned and held out his arms in welcome. "Scoundrels, sinners, and scum of the earth! Welcome to the first ever Court of Anarchy!" he greeted, but his jovial tone comforted no one. It was never meant to. "I'm sure you're all desperately confused about why I took time out of your lovely sentences for this little get together, so I'll cut right to the heart of the matter," Discord stated before, literally, reaching into his own chest to pull out his still beating heart.
They didn't flinch, not a single one of them. He casually crushed it with a sickening squish. But it wasn't blood that gushed from that organ; it was something else, something strange.
It was images, moving images in a semi-liquid form. Or perhaps like a solid mist? They all ceased trying to make sense of the sight as it washed over them.
They saw, and they knew. They saw the meeting of Discord and Daybreaker, the twisted shell that had once been Princess Celestia, and knew there was war in the world, in Equestria.
"There, now we're all up to speed," Discord said with a humorless smirk. "I happen to be in need of an army. Who's in?"
There was a tense silence as uncertainty ran over the crowd. "What's in it for us?!" someone in the back called.
Discord's smirk grew. "You get power, from yours truly. After all, I can't send you out there completely helpless, can I? Some of you get payback, as I'm sure many resent one or both of the sisters for throwing you here. If you don't, you'll probably want payback for what is happening or will happen to your homes," he mused before his grin grew positively manic. "But most importantly? Everyone that joins and survives this war gets a Pass."
And just like that, he had everyone's complete attention and interest.
"That's right folks. A one time, complete "get out of jail free" pass for all those willing to step up to the plate that manage to survive," he assured as they looked about themselves uncertainly. "Oh, I understand. You're looking for the catch. There's always a catch with me. And there is," he admitted, steepling his fingers as he looked out over them. "You don't get sent here for nothing, folks. Most of you are indeed scum: murderers, con artists, traitors, kidnappers. Rapists," he summarized as they all gave him wary looks. Casually, he held out his hands, gesturing to both sides. "Those on my right, there's no catch. You're all the ones who I know can, if you truly wish, control yourselves if given the chance. But you on the left? I know otherwise. You can't stop. It's like an impulse, an itch that never stops," he explained, smirking at the very uneasy second group. "So I'm giving you what you can call a gift or a curse, depending on your view. If you accept, I'll remove those little impulses that FORCE you to do such...terrible things," he elaborated, smirking coolly. "Long story short, if you end up back here, you'll have only yourselves to blame this time."
Mixed reactions were amongst the crowd; Fear, excitement, horror, hope.
"Everyone else can go back to your regularly scheduled punishments until you decide to join up in my little Discordant Crusade. But you know what they say: The earliest lions get the bigger prides," Discord added in cheekily.
"So, I'll ask one more time, who's in?"
End of Chapter
So, by popular demand, here you all are: a full fledged story based on The Broken Treaty, to which this takes place immediately after. You'll be happy to know I'm already half way done with Chapter 2.
Now for an important side note:
Hello, friends. Most of you know this, but I'll be putting this in new updates once per story: back at the beginning of March, my Great Grandmother died. She was the woman who raised me and who I have lived with all my life. We all miss her dearly, and the only solace I take in the timing is that it happened before the Coronavirus shut down funerals.
Its been a couple weeks since the funeral, and I'm doing...better, thanks in large part to friends and family. After a week or two, I started writing again, obviously. Between everything going on, I needed an outlet and, well, to be blunt: writing is what I do. I didn't feel like showing my face on the net for a while, so I now have a small back log of chapters saved up, made at previous advice from some friends. I'll post one or two chapters a week, as to try and keep ahead of everything.
Now, here's the big news: I have no job, chiefly because I was always worried about leaving my grandma alone for most of the day. My life for the past few years has resolved around just making sure she's okay, gets her pills, the bills are paid up, we aren't in debt, etc. After the initial shock and sting of her death passed, one of my chief worries was that I'd end up homeless before I can find a job. Thanks to the amazing support of many fans contributing on my pat-reon and GoFundMe, I should be able to keep the house for at least a month while I job hunt. Given everything going on in the world, I deeply appreciate the help. Left over money from the funeral insurance, if it comes in soon enough, could keep the whole place going for a couple more months.
As I've always said, I will never hold updates hostage or anything like that. I will continue to post for as long as I am able, when I am able, with what I have. If you are willing and able to contribute to my pat-reon or GoFundMe, I deeply appreciate it. If not, I understand- especially with the gravity of everything going on. Regardless, I hope my stories can bring a bit of joy to everyone during these times of trouble.
I hope you all are doing well and handling the Coronavirus as best you can. Take care, be safe, and thank you all for everything.