The Everfree Castle ruins were very different from their Canterlot counterpart. As opposed to gilded halls of white marble, this castle had greyed with age, stripped of everything of value either by the treasury or scavenging ponies. Its design bore a significant resemblance to the human gothic style, further adding to the disconcerting atmosphere surrounding it.
It would have been fascinating to the Doctor under any other circumstance.
He was an odd sight in those halls, especially if one had known him before that moment. Gone was the spring in his step, the air of childish wonder and curiosity; and in its place, a slow trot and the hardened face of a colt that had seen too many wars, and lost too many friends.
He came to a stairway that led up the tallest tower; the same one, he had been told, where Twilight and her friends had defeated Nightmare Moon. His sensitivity to the forces of time told him he would find the source of the paradox there.
The steps almost seemed as if they went on for centuries, but he eventually reached the top, emerging in a room illuminated only by the moon shining faintly through the windows. As he stepped forward, a single shaft of light burst from the ceiling, illuminating a strange creature – one the Doctor had seen before.
"Hello, Doctor," it said with a bow. "It's so good to see you again."
The Doctor scowled. "Discord. I thought you had been driven from the universe."
"Oh, that was simply some of my puppets. I simply had the great displeasure of being turned to stone for a millennia."
"So this is where you were," said the Doctor. "Right under everyone's noses. That explains why the Pantheon lost so much ground."
Discord chuckled. "Ah, yes. The so-called 'Pantheon of Discord.' That was never my idea, you know. Some beings simply decided that I was some sort of god, and I felt no need to tell them otherwise." His sighed wistfully. "Can you imagine it, Doctor? A whole bunch of transcendental beings, dedicated to the cause of chaos, spread out across the universe! Truly a beautiful sight."
"So where does Equestria fit in all of this?" The colt asked. "Why this of all planets?"
The Draconequus laughed again. "Believe it or not, my dear time pony, I am actually a native to this world. I even ruled it for a while in the good old days; the Equestrian government was so weak in its early days, it had no defense against my chaos."
"But then Celestia and Luna defeated you," the Doctor pointed out. "They turned you into stone for a thousand years, as you said."
Discord pulled an abacus out of nowhere and began to count. "One thousand, three hundred seventy-two years, twenty-five days, five hours, twelve minutes and forty-eight seconds, to be exact. And then I broke free, had some fun with Ponyville, demoralized the Elements of Harmony, and quite nearly won again, before that bookworm broke my spells."
The Doctor smirked. "Good old Twilight Sparkle."
"And here we are; the last Time Lord – or Time Pony, I suppose is more accurate right now - and the Spirit of Chaos. I suppose you want to hear how this all happened before we start anything else?"
Discord leaned back as if he was sitting in an invisible hammock. "I do think you'll like this one, Doctor, as you are directly involved in it."
The Doctor's face fell.
"You might be wondering why I didn't simply leave the planet as soon as I escaped, maybe try to conquer some other, less magically-inclined world instead. The truth is, someone, somewhere decided it would be funny if they gave my power a very specific limit: I cannot use it to leave this planet.
"But one day while I sat in my stone prison, something happened: you showed up. The last Time Lord…and my escape.
"You know of the Time Rift that runs underneath Canterlot; you used it to recharge your time machine before you left that last time. But what you never realized is that whenever you used your machine, the rift released a burst of energy. It was for the most part unnoticeable – a few flowers wilted a little early – but it did wonders for my cage."
The Doctor's eyesd widened. "You mean…every time I used the TARDIS took time off your sentence?"
"And now I am free!" Discord laughed. "But I was not done with you yet, Doctor. So I reached into the rift and shuffled things around a bit. The Reapers weren't too terribly happy about that, but I got what I wanted: you came running, and I was able to snatch this." He snapped his fingers, and in a puff of smoke revealed –
"My TARDIS!" the Doctor yelled.
"She's a tough little girl; I still haven't been able to crack her open," Discord lamented. "But it won't be too long before I can use her to do what my power can't. And then I will reclaim my Pantheon, and nothing in the galaxy will stand in my way!"
"You will do no such thing!" The colt stomped the floor. "Because you've forgotten one thing. Well, six things, plus me."
Discord grinned slowly. "Oh, my dear Time Pony, I'm fairly sure I did remember those."
He swung his arm behind him, and from the shadows, the six mares stepped out - but something was wrong with them. They all wore scowls on their faces, and their coats were desaturated, turned to a dull gray.
"Allow me to introduce my Elements of Chaos;" Discord said, walking behind the ponies in a line. "Treachery. Wrath. Greed. Deception. Cruelty." He stopped at Twilight and stroked her mane. "And Chaos makes it all complete."
The Doctor couldn't move. Everything had gone horribly wrong.
"And you know what the best part of all this is?" Discord taunted. "It's that I have you to thank for everything, Doctor. You set me free, you gave me a way off the planet, and you gave me my first minions. If it wasn't for you, none of this would have happened."
"No…No! I can still stop you!"
Discord laughed loudly. "You and what army, Time Pony? Celestia is Reaper food, your friends are mine! And now it is time for you to go."
He snapped his fingers, causing a portal to appear behind the Doctor and slowly approach him. The colt began to yell: "This isn't over, Discord! As long as I live, I will not stop until Equestria is safe! I will be - "
But whatever he said next was lost as the portal enveloped him and the room fell to silence.
"Come now my little ponies!" Discord called to his companions. "We have a machine to crack, glorious chaos to make, and all the time in the universe to do it."