The sky was nothing but black clouds, immersing these inhabitants in a murky, black shadow. The blackness was tinged on the outlines with a scarlet hue, where the crimson sun was hidden, casting down fiery beams below.
The rocks he was lying on were coated in flames. Everything was. Some of it was meant to be true fire and burned when touched, but some of it was meant to simply be a decoration of sorts; a benign, eerie, orange glow, just the way he liked it.
He ran a claw down the volcanic rock he was sitting on, and watched as the flames licked up his arm, coating his hands all the more brilliantly. He smirked and flicked his wrist, dispelling the flames entirely. They floated back up into the reddened sky, and back to the hot sun.
Mismatched eyes spotted a small, weak form making his way through the black forest. The entity grinned to himself, and was able to taste the stallion's fear and revel in his helplessness. With the snap of his fingers he disappeared in a black cloud of smoke, and reappeared above the stallion. He grinned when he felt the life radiating from the helpless creature.
Still a mortal. They didn't get many of them. More often than not, the soiled souls came to the realm once they passed on, but in a world like Equestria, so full of love and happiness, the banished evil was a rarity, and one he loved to prey on.
"Why look here, a newcomer," he grinned. "I'm surprised my old friend Cerberus didn't gobble you at the gates. You do seem a little too tiny for his taste though."
Usually a cold, emotionless shell, the stallion was on his knees, weeping pathetically. Maelstrom loved when they were at their knees, begging for mercy. It usually took a lot of work to get them to that point, so to see them submit to him this early on was a treat. "Please, sir—your evilness," the stallion blubbered and sobbed, "I don't belong here! It's all a-"
"Mistake?" Maelstrom finished for him with a sardonic laugh. "Yes, we hear that a lot. Just in case I have been mistaken, however, let's take a look at your records." With the flick of his wrist a glowing scroll had been produced, and Maelstrom pretended to read it over and hum to himself.
"Let's see here... A wandering thief, a notorious burglar who often practiced black magic on others, first imprisoned by Celestia and then banished once he tried to kill a guard." He grinned and happily rolled up the paper. "Nope, I do believe you fit the bill quite nicely!"
The entity spread his arm out in a welcoming manner, eagerly draping his arm around the trembling stallion's shoulder and leading him in through the black trees. "Oh, there's no reason to feel nervous! You know, the media really has blown this place out of proportion. Haven't you read our brochure? Our twenty four-hour-day spas are to die for!"
"R-really?" the shivering stallion asked, and the entity grinned and patted his back soothingly.
"Why certainly! I could give you a tour, but first you should get acquainted with a few of our members and experience the first tour attraction on the way there!" As the frightened pony protested, Maelstrom eagerly whacked him in through the thickets with his tail, and listened to the screams of terror as the stallion was pursued by a herd of cackling silhouettes.
"Don't forget to tip!" Maelstrom called back out, above the cries as he made his way back to the gates of Tartarus. "I swear, Cerberus, the living are so weak now-a-day," he sighed as he sat against the large beast and scratched him under the chin. "Toys from the mortal world aren't as durable as they used to be. It's sad, really." He scratched Cerberus's belly as he flopped in front of him.
The three headed canine lowered his head to nuzzle his master's face, who returned it tenderly. "You running out of toys, big boy?" he asked Cerberus sadly, noticing there was only a couple of mortals left in his giant doghouse. "Don't worry, buddy. Soon enough we'll have more friends to play with."
Maelstrom hovered up to sit on the very top of the gate, feeling the scalding metal under his claws and gazing out with an almost thoughtful look. Soon one day I'll rain supreme...this waiting time is over. With a murky, black mist, and a snap of his fingers a large hourglass had appeared in front of him. It drained ever so slowly, the spits of crimson sand landing with a soft tink against the glass.
"How long do you think it will be, Cerberus?" he asked, twiddling his fingers nonchalantly and tapping the hour glass with the tip of a nail. "Every day the seal grows weaker, but it isn't weak enough."
Tartarus was a pass between the world of the living and the world of the suffering souls. It wasn't as if you could simply buy a season pass to Equestria for a while. If it was that easy, the land of love and happiness would be quite different today.
Maelstrom slid down the rusted gates and landed hard against the reddened soil. He sauntered his way towards one of the caves. Smoke leaped from the fire pit in the very center, and tendrils of different colored smoke did as well.
The black mass crouched there in front of the pit of flames, his back to the taller shadow. A mantra of words slipped out of his mouth, and at the breath against the back of his neck he froze and turned. The creature stood above him, and his fangs glinted in the dark.
"What progress are we making, Nefarious? Have you found an easier way to break the seal between the worlds?"
The hybrid turned away and worriedly began tossing a few things into the fire pit. "My Lord, I can only do so much at a-" His air was abruptly siphoned off, purged from his body as the entity wrapped his hands around his neck and lifted him to eye level. He fought and struggled, frantically trying to pull away Maelstrom's hands. Finally he managed to wiggle himself out enough to desperately wheeze out a defense.
"It's...true, my...Lord! The seal between worlds has only...been...hastened by the new guardian...! Equestria now has a new guardian...and a new...protection! Our influence...can only go so far with the strength the seal is...at now!"
Maelstrom sneered and pressed his face against the hybrid. His blood red eyes pierced through his helpless victim, casually, slowly squeezing the life out of him.
"There...is not much more I can do...to...speed the process...up..." By now his servant's voice was beginning to slur to nothing as unconsciousness began to slowly drag him under. His eyes started to roll back in his head, and right when he felt the respite of darkness Maelstrom released him.
"I believe you," he said tonelessly. Nefarious managed a relieved smile through his gasps as he clutched his throat and slithered to his feet. "But that doesn't mean it will save you." Nefarious only had time to open his mouth in a soundless scream as he was dispersed in a cloud of crackling, black smoke.
Maelstrom continued walking deeper into the caves, letting the remnants of the smoke drift around him as he reached the very back of the tavern.
Deep within the recesses of blackness, his form slunk towards a small bundle of infants curled up together in a bed of pebbles and sand. They blinked up sleepily as they sighted his face, their tiny, milky fangs glinting in the sliver of the crimson sun spilling through the crevices of the rock.
He gazed down at the tiny younglings and ran a light, fond claw over their faces, his expression soft, and his fangs glinting. Continuing to caress the purring, baby entities, he began to softly sing.
Sleep now little children
Sleep and dream of pleasant things
While the river of blood begins to flow"
The infants watched the strange form slink around them, his tone a lethal, calm serenade as he hummed along with his lyrics. His scaly, razor tail dipped gently under the babies' chins, and the tiny abominations shut their eyes and let themselves fall asleep against the surface. He slid his tail out once their eyes remained closed.
"The king of darkness continues his work
The fires begin to rage
Screams of mortals mark the dawning age"
The infants were snoring soundly, and he latched his fangs into a large boulder, jarring it into place where the red stream of light was coming in. The children needed their sleep. He crawled to the top of the ceiling, just over the babies, and looked down at them.
"The darkness that surrounds you
It's here as a reminder
It blankets you in the comfort of knowing what's to be"
He slunk through an opening in the ceiling, and slithered up a jagged rock sticking out of the top of the opening. His serpentine form coiled itself around it. His poisonous voice carried through the entire realm with the helpful echo of the mountains.
"Soon the king will rise
He'll greet these mortals
His poison strikes fear into their eyes"
He returned back to the star, slithering his gangly body through the air, his mismatched feet landing with a heavy thud in the red dirt. His angel wing and his large, jagged black wing folded into his body.
"The tortured cries ring through the dark
They make their mark on my cruel heart
Soon this world will be torn asunder
Mark these words and hear the thunder
Feel the fear and hear the screaming
This is what I'm always dreaming
The reddened sun it casts its rays
Theses are the world's final days
There is nothing that will stop us now
There is no way there is no how
So enjoy these days for you will learn
These worlds, these realms are doomed to
"The bride and groom will now exchange their vows."
The ceremony seemed to have droned on forever to Discord. Wedding ceremonies were never really his thing, although he could definitely do wedding receptions. Ponies to play with, decorations to transform to his liking, and a new bride to spin on the dance floor—fun stuff. Really, his intolerance for gooey sentimental crud really kicked in when Celestia insisted on reciting her favorite poem from filly-hood. Gag, gag, gag, gag, gag.
The angelic voice of his soon-to-be-wife snapped him out of his thoughts and a little out of his own disgust as she spoke.
"Discord..." Celestia hovered a small piece of paper in a pastel hue in front of her, glancing and smiling up at him now and then as she read. "For as long as I can recall, you have been my family. You were my best friend, but it always felt as if you were more." She giggled a little. "I hear many stories of ponies hating the idea of betrothal because they have no say in it, but you and I were always meant to be, even before we were betrothed."
This was a little easier for his petty brain to take. At least the words were coming from his beloved herself and not from some old poem, or worse, Luna's mouth. Luna could never say anything heartfelt without his innards twisting up in disgust. It just wasn't her sassy, tomboyish self.
"We've had our..." Celestia quieted for a moment, a pained warble in her voice, "trials and tribulations in the past, but they've only made us stronger. I think it's what made us realize that we just couldn't be without each other, even when we were sure that we could. I know that it's hard for me to convince you I do want you after all these years and everything we've been through, but if you let me, I'll spend the rest of my life reminding you how much I do want to be with you."
Discord's eyes held a gentle shine to them, and he just tenderly held the mare's hooves for a few moments. She smiled as he playfully swung them slightly, and seemed to be looking at him expectantly. That's when his best mare nudged him in the side.
"Discord," Fluttershy whispered urgently, "your vows!" Come to think of it, she couldn't remember him giving her any paper, and it didn't look as if any of the bridesmaids (the girls) had a slip of paper either. They were all exchanging looks of confusion.
Discord tapped his fingers together and looked around at the literally thousands of expecting faces (dear Chaos, who's idea was it to invite the entire kingdom anyway?), and back to his getting-increasingly-angrier bride and sister-minister. "Oh, those..." That's right, on the day of the pop rocket tournament with the attic spiders he was told to write some blucky marriage stuff. The paper he had been given was of course turned into a paper airplane.
"Discord," Luna growled, looking just about ready to grill him up and fry him in butter.
"Alright, alright!" He held up his hands, trying to produce some on-the-spot goopy, but very true crap. Oh, Celestia looked ready to murder him. Perhaps some jokes would help. He cleared his throat.
"Chaos is what makes me happy," Discord said. "It always had been and it probably always will be, but although chaos may be what makes my clock tick, you are what makes my heart beat." This was cheesier than his favorite cheddar block in the fridge, but she was smiling at him now so he must be doing something right. "I know that now, after eons that there are more things that can make me happy, and you're one of them. And so I promise to make you happy as well, and make up for all the pain I caused you." None of this was a lie, perhaps that was the biggest gag factor.
"Celestia, do you accept Discord as your lawfully wedded stallion til death do you part?"
"I do," Celestia said softly.
"And Discord, do you accept Celestia as your lawfully wedded mare til death do you part?"
"Hm, perhaps," Discord said wryly, "I'll have to think about—NNGH!" He bit back a cry of pain and a string of curses as Fluttershy subtly bit his hanging talon, and rubbed it on his side as he huffed. "Yes, I do!"
Luna was grinning from ear to ear and giving her brother a proud smile. "May I have the rings?" she asked. There was no response, and she repeated it—only to once again receive no answer.
"Spike!" Discord hissed, glowering fiercely at the baby dragon that was trying to amuse himself by spinning the rings on one of the steps. Spike hurried out an apology and bolted over to Luna with the rings. She hovered them both; one over Discord's paw, and one over Celestia's horn.
Lune cleared her throat and spoke louder, placing the rings delicately on both horn and finger. "Discord and Celestia have made their declarations and I am proud to now announce them as husband and wife!" She grinned, eyes sparkling. "And it gives me a greater joy to now announce to you your new King and Queen of Equestria!"
The screams and cheers were absolutely deafening, causing both alicorn and draconequus to subtly wince and grin as everypony jumped up and down and stomped their hooves in joy. In a room of thousands of ponies, it sounded like a stampede of impending doom.
"You may now kiss the bride!" Luna said joyfully. Both young newlyweds happily embraced one another and pressed their lips together as more screams erupted and confetti absolutely exploded, filling the room with a blizzard and blanketing the grounds in rainbow.
"Between you and me," Discord cheekily told his new wife settled in his arms, "I forgot to add to my declarations that I vow to prank you every day and awaken you with a loving bucket of ice water to the face, and drench your toothbrush in vinegar~"
"And I vow to beat you over the head with a rusty, moldy, old rolling pin the size of the moon if you do," Celestia responded sweetly, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
Ah love...there was just nothing like it.
By Chaos, Discord had spent eons being hated by the pony folk, and now he was the center of attention, for the first time, in a good way, the entire day. Well, to be fair, most eyes were on Celestia, but a water balloon on a guest here and there reminded them she wasn't the only one here today.
Now the newlyweds were walking down the hall, with every head bowed to the ground in a respectful kowtow. Discord grinned gleefully and muttered to his wife and sister as they walked, "So this is what royalty is going to be about, huh?" he smirked. "I like it."
The sisters exchanged a look that made Discord's smile fade, and they hesitated. "We'll talk about your role later, Discord," Celestia told him.
"My role?" the spirit blinked. "Isn't my role going to be, well, being a King?" He received no response and found himself pushed through swinging doors to the garden, where a large silver canon greeted the baffled eyes of all. Especially when they all saw a certain pink pony behind the canon, and a certain blue pegasus inside of it.
Pinkie Pie lit the fuse of the canon and cartwheeled backwards, just as it exploded with a thundering boom and sent particles of rainbow glitter shooting up into the air, as well as Rainbow Dash. Everypony watched in amazement as she preformed a heart shaped Sonic Rainboom, just as the fireworks began going off inside of it.
Discord's attention was pulled away from the sky to look over at the saffron pegasus galloping towards him. "Incoming Flutterrocket in three...two..." He caught her, holding her hooves playfully away from him as she tried to hug him.
"Oh Discord, you did it!" Fluttershy exclaimed happily. "I'm so proud of you!" She managed to wrestle his arms away and hug him. "I love you."
The draconequus smirked and pushed her away by the snout with the tip of his finger. "Yes, yes, I'm afraid my 'I love you' was used up today already when little Tia forced me to say it to her at the altar."
"She forced you?" Fluttershy asked teasingly, and he smirked and flicked her nose.
"Hey, kissing is a better persuasion tactic than you might think!"
"Persuasion," Twilight giggled quietly. "Forgive me for being doubtful that you needed any convincing." She yelped as Discord wrapped his tail around her own, dangling her upside down in front of his mirthful eyes.
"Oh, is that so?" Discord smirked, continuing to dangle the hapless unicorn. Only now did she realize she was inches away from a large, ice cold punch bowl. She clung to his tail like her life depended on it and Discord laughed.
"Oh, Uncle Discord, stop teasing her!" Cadence huffed, taking the mare into her own hooves and setting her on the ground. He seemed to look thoughtful about that and gave a shrug, slithering over beside her instead.
"Oh, very well—a Twilight would taste quite bitter in the punch anyway. I never did like the flavor of book worm." He sniggered at the indignant "hey!" he received from Twilight. "So how are you enjoying the party, dear? Are you jealous my spectacular wedding is washing yours out~?"
Cadence smirked up the impish spirit, one eyebrow slightly lowered. "As if, Uncle," she chuckled, "Although I must say I am deeply impressed with Rainbow's improved Sonic Rainboom." She let out a sigh of contentment. "I'm just happy to be here." She threw her hooves around his waist, causing him to flinch. "I know you'll both be very happy together."
"Provided we don't drive each other to killing one another with typical pet peeves," Discord snickered back, finally deciding to awkwardly pat Cadence's poofy mane. "Like how I'm annoyed at how boring and normal she likes things."
"And she's annoyed with how chaotic you like things," Cadence added with a laugh. "Oh yeah, you're meant to be alright."
After the cheering and clapping had stopped, Pinkie bounced to Discord. "Hope you enjoy the reception, your Majesty!" she giggled with a curtsy, "'cause it's everything you asked for, from the super-de-duper strawberry taffy cake to the gummy bear cookies!"
Discord and Celestia turned to look at the entrees and decor, noting they all had a Discord flair to them, from the marshmallow and syrup brownies to the cotton candy flower arrangement in the center of the table.
"What have I gotten myself into?" Celestia grinned, shaking her head.
"You should have figured that out before you married me~!" Discord chirped.
The final spurt of fireworks graced the sky with speckles of light, and everything had finally fallen silent. The guests were all gone now, and other than the last, crackling boom there was no longer anymore activity. Discord gazed at his new bride and they both grinned at each other, getting ready to start their first night as husband and wife.
"It's just the two of us now," Celestia said, flipping her veil out of her eyes as the wind made it dangle into her face. "The two of us and nopony else."
"So it seems," Discord mused. He blinked and stared as Celestia kept looking at him expectantly. "What? Do I have something on my face? It's the gummy bear cookie Rainbow Dash threw at me, isn't it?"
"Do you remember anything about your tutoring?" Celestia huffed. "Perhaps about how a husband should treat his new bride and what fashion he should carry her into their house for the first time in unity?"
The spirit twirled his goatee thoughtfully, a smirk playing at his lips. "Oh, you mean this?" Without warning he hoisted the shrieking Celestia upside down over his shoulder. The mare yelled at him and pounded his back through her laughter, trying to get down as Discord sped off to their room.
"You big oaf!" Celestia laughed. "This isn't what I meant! Put me—YAUGH!" Her husband cheerfully hurled her face first into the soft, cottony bed. Several what-looked-to-be tiny shredded pieces of weeds bounced with her. "Weeds?" she blinked.
"Rose petals are cliché," was Discord's simple explanation, and with the snap of his fingers music began to play. Romantic music? Oh please, it was Discord! The alicorn rolled her eyes as a Mexican tune began to play. What was with him and his fascination for Mexican things?
"So our first night together as husband and wife is going to be in a bed of weeds, with a Mexican song playing in the background?" Celestia sighed, unable to keep from grinning. She expected no different.
"Why of course!" The spirit grabbed a long, rather droopy weed and held it between his teeth, shifting towards her a little. "What could possibly be any more romantic~?"
I could think of a few things. The new queen said nothing and only wrapped her arms around the new king, drawing him towards her, where Discord dropped his silly Mexican role and eagerly curled up beside her, tail flicking away the weeds from the both of them as he affectionately coiled around the mare.
"I love you," Celestia murmured quietly, her snout gently touching underneath his neck.
"Yes, and I've grown rather fond of you~" Discord responded—only to yelp and rub his arm as the exasperated mare slapped him. He lay beside her and stared right into her eyes. The day they had both longed for eons had finally come upon them, and from this day on they were finally together and moving on with their life. Their life. There was no way life could be anymore wonderful.
"The king of darkness continues his work
The fires begin to rage
Screams of mortals mark the dawning age..."
(It's incredibly difficult writing the world of Tartarus (hell) and trying to make it as not downright evil but still spooky and hell-discerable as possible. But yeah, this chapter gives ya a good idea of what a few chapters will be like, and especially what this villain will be like.
Yes, Celestia and Discord are married. :D Isn't it wonderful? I got giddy writing up their wedding~ I know this prologue is horribly short, but prologues aren't meant to be very long.)