Okay, sorry for the long delay. I had the hardest time dealing with Zecora's dialog and writers block is an evil force. Anyway, enjoy.

Chapter 9

Fluttershy sat on the front porch of Faith's home, idly watching her animal companions mill around the garden that she and Faith had worked on almost a month ago. It had been two weeks since the fiasco with Discord changing Faith into a mare and things had been somewhat tense the first few day's after he had been changed back. Discord had sensibly decided to not return to this small cabin in the woods for at least the first few days after they had gotten back, and hadn't shown up until a full week after he'd said that.

When he did comeback, it was with his usual zany antics that had only annoyed Faith, but Fluttershy was grateful that Faith had not raised hoof towards Discord and was endeavoring to keep the uneasy peace between them. Faith had left earlier that day into the woods to do some scavenging for herb's to restock his dwindling supply, while Discord was taking it upon himself to actually do something useful and was currently washing dishes in the kitchen, leaving Fluttershy free to think and socialize with her animal friends.

This current situation had to be one of the oddest she'd ever been in in her entire life, crammed in a small cabin with a mysterious and heroic hermit and the obnoxious and crazy embodiment of chaos. She sighed heavily and laid back onto the porch, starring up at the sky, just visible through the trees, wondering idly when Faith would be coming back.

Faith meanwhile was rummaging through a patch of overgrown flowers, looking for various aromatic herbs for tonight's dinner. As he plucked a particularly large sprig of basil, he saw something out of the corner of his eye that made him grin. He placed the basil into the satchel around his shoulders and turned towards the plant he'd seen. It was a large flowering plant, more akin to a vine than anything else, that had grown out of the ground and wrapped around other smaller plants, strangling them as it pulled at their roots.

The flowers that grew on it were technicolor and vibrant, stretching out about as far across as his hoof. The flower was emitting an intoxicating aroma that recalled to mind the ocean, roses, and his various favorite foods. He reached down to pick it as a wicked idea returned to his mind, the same idea he had been formulating since he'd gotten back home a couple weeks earlier. This little plant would most certainly be of use in accomplishing it. As he plucked the flower off the plant, he heard a cough from behind him. He spun around quickly, almost dropping the plant off his hoof as he turned to face the newcomer. Before him stood a pony with a black and white striped coat and wore a large number of rings around her neck and one in each ear.

She was eying Faith with a knowing look, her eyes glancing to the flower before fixing back on his eyes. She motioned to the plant he'd plucked it from and said, "Faith, this plant is full of venom, it is an evil thing, why then would invite deaths sting?"
Faith looked at the flower balanced on his hoof and then back at the zebra before saying,
"It's no business of yours what I intend to do with this, Zecora."

Zecora scowled and tried to take the flower away from him, but Faith was too quick and easily avoided her. Faith grinned and tucked the flower into his satchel before saying, "You have known me for almost 14 years and you know that I never take something like this unless I had a use for it."
He motioned to the vine the flower had been on and continued, "The Mystic Adder, a flower that absorbs and seals all magics, feared by unicorns and valued by alchemists and the mischievous alike."

Faith grinned broader, a curios light in his eyes as stepped past Zecora and out of the clearing. Zecora continued to watch after him and said in an ominous way, "Take care that you do not anger the Spirits of the world, else karma hit you with a curve ball surely hurled."
With that she continued on through the glade, hoping that Faith would think twice about his plans.

Faith paid no heed to Zecora's words however and was home within ten minutes, coming through the tree's and seeing Fluttershy on the front porch, watching her animal friends play. She waved to him as he entered into the clearing and he walked over to her, rearing onto his hind legs briefly so slip the satchel he was carrying over his head and catching it in his teeth before dropping back on all fours again. Fluttershy reached up to take the satchel from him and her cheek brushed against his as she grabbed the strap in her mouth.

He heard her eep and felt the spot where the contact had happened burn. Though when she pulled back her face was burning deeper shade of scarlet than he would have thought possible. She turned stiffly and trotted back into the house, trying not to betray her embarrassment. Faith smiled as he watched her, and made to move when Discord floated gently down beside him before sharply demanding,
"Don't you go making moves on my girl. I won't stand for that."

Faith snorted and turned toward Discord, his powerful gaze boring into Discord's eyes as though he were trying to pierce through them and see into the mind behind. Faith shifted his stance a little and said,
"Don't be such a liar Discord, I've been observing the two of you when you have been together. The most I can say is that she considers you a friend just as you consider her. You show no signs of romantic interest in Fluttershy and she show's no such interest in you."

Discord's eyes narrowed dangerously and he dropped to the ground, all pretense of loftiness gone. He towered over Faith and spread his wings dramatically, before growling, "I would be careful if I was you, I won't take you spying on me and I certainly won't have you stealing Fluttershy from me."

Faith leaned closer to Discord, his eyes remaining fixed on his as he said, "Well then, you had better pick up the pace, because at the rate you move, she'll have kids before you can protest."

Discord continued to glare at Faith for another moment before dropping into a more normal mood, forcing his anger to fade. He walked over towards the house and said, "Challenge accepted Faith, we shall see which of us is the better. She'll pick the right one I know it."

Faith nodded at Discord retreating back and said in a low voice, "Yeah, but lets see how you manage without magic."

Faith sighed a little heavily and followed after Discord and into the house, where he found Fluttershy pulling the various herbs and plants out from the satchel. When she pulled the flower out she paused, examining the strange blossom, as if trying to figure out what exactly it was. She had heard of flowers being used in cooking, and that they gave interesting flavors to meals. She had never cooked with them herself and looked questioningly at Faith. Faith, who knew of this flower's properties and uses, could not in good conscious allow Fluttershy to cook with it, if he did, she would be poisoning Discord's ability to use magic without even knowing it.

He took the flower from her and said, "This is a special flower for tonight's dinner, I'll cook it this time so don't worry yourself over how to cook it. You just sit down and relax."

Fluttershy perked up and nodded in agreement to this idea, heading into the living room and sitting on the couch, picking up one of the interesting books that Faith had in his home. Discord scowled in Faith's direction and moved over towards Fluttershy, saying in a sweet voice as his paws rested upon her shoulder's, "Here, you've been working awfully hard over the past couple of weeks. Allow me to get rid of your built up tensions."

He slowly massaged her neck and shoulders and she let out a sigh of relief that made Discord grin smugly at Faith. Faith grit his teeth firmly and slid his hoof through the handle of his mortar and pestle, slowly grinding the various herbs in pastes and powders that he put into there perspective containers until at last he came down to the Mystic Adder. He smiled at the flower and dropped it into the mortar, grinding it down into a fine paste that he then added water to. As he let that steep he grabbed all the ingredients for dinner that he needed, trying to ignore Fluttershy's giggles as Discord tickled her sides in his massage.

It wasn't long before some semblance of a meal began to form, by far the most extravagant that he had ever made before in his entire life, consisting of five separate dishes and a dessert. As he stirred at the savory vegetable stew that was to be the main course he poured the juice from the steeped flower through a strainer into the stew, being careful to remove the petals themselves, which were highly toxic if eaten themselves. The nectar and water contained within the petals was what had the magic inhibiting properties that he was looking for. He stirred the stew a bit more before checking the wild berry pie he had put in the oven when he heard a yelp from behind him and Discord swiftly saying, "So sorry my dear, I got carried away. I promise that it won't happen again."

Faith chanced a glance over his shoulder to see Fluttershy sitting upright on the couch, stiff as a board, her face a bright red and her eyes wide. Faith almost swore again as a dozen mental images formed in his mind of what happened to cause this, all of them making him want to throw his fruit knife across the room at Discord. Faith took a few deep breathes as he heard Fluttershy quietly forgive Discord of his "carelessness" before she turned back to her book politely declining his offer to continue with his massage. With no other choices left to him, Discord instead walked over to where Faith was cooking, a slight grin on his face as he leaned against the counter staring at what Faith was doing. He opened his mouth to say something but Faith interrupted him by saying in an undertone, "Not one word Discord, or I'll kick you where it hurts."

Discord closed his mouth sharply and instead began to try to help with dinner, despite Faith's protests that he not. After a nearly silent argument, Discord eventually resigned to just setting the table, floating a stack of plates and mugs, staked one on top of the other in an alternating pattern towards the table, a slight scowl on his face as he rapidly and neatly, set the table. It was already apparent to Faith that the he and Discord were rapidly devolving into a head to head fight with each other over Fluttershy, it didn't help matters when Faith's feelings in the matter were conflicted. On the one hoof, his feelings towards Fluttershy were confused, he didn't know if he truly had feelings for her or if he simply was competing for her because of how much he hated Discord.

He was more inclined to believe the latter of the two feelings, but their was always a wriggling doubt in the back of his mind that made him wonder. He gripped the handle of the pot the stew had been in and moved over towards the table, careful in his movements to limit the chance of burning himself with the hot cast iron pot. He set it on the table carefully and made four more repeat trips before calling Fluttershy over for dinner. Fluttershy had a quiet air about her as she moved from the couch to the table, her head seemed to hang a little low as she approached the table, her eyes remaining fixed on the floor. When she got to the table, both Faith and Discord wisely did not move to pull the chair out for her, allowing her the space she clearly needed.

If looks could kill, Discord would have been utterly destroyed with the venomous glare that Faith was sending his way as they pulled up their own seats opposite each other. The atmosphere surrounding the dinner table was uncomfortably thick, everyone eating their meals in near total silence, it wasn't until the third course, the vegetable stew that a little life returned to the table. Faith carefully slid his hoof under the lids handle and pulled it off with an exaggerated motion. Fluttershy's eyes widened as she stared in amazement at the dish, the aroma that was wafting off of it was superb and even Discord admitted that it smelled and looked great. Faith smiled and began to serve the dish, feeling somewhat relieved that the tension around the dinner table was starting to lighten.

Faith served each of the individuals at the table and returned to his seat in time to watch Discord pick up the bowl before him and drain everything from it in seconds. Discord grinned broadly and asked politely for more, to which Faith happily provided. The rest of the meal passed without incident, the previous tension had finally faded and a warm atmosphere prevailed for the remainder of the evening. Even Faith enjoyed the companionship, to which Fluttershy admitted she was proud and happy to see. She didn't know it, but the main reason Faith was getting along better with Discord was because now finally, they were truly on even ground. At least for a little while, Discord could not alter reality or change events as they unfurled. Faith grinned broader to himself at the thought of all the things he could do now, all the things that were now possible and couldn't help but feel excited for the things that were about to unfold.

Hours later...

Faith lifted his head off the couch and looked around the darkened room. It was late at night and all was quiet. Faith had deliberately stayed awake for the last few hours so that he could have a shot at executing his idea. After a few more moments he rolled off the couch and onto his hooves, slowly walking towards the door. As he pushed it open he froze when he heard a snuffling sound from the bedroom. Propping the door with a small brick he walked over towards the bedroom looking inside. Inside he saw Fluttershy asleep on the mattress, the quilted blanket hanging loosely off the side of the bed. He smiled a little and walked into the room, pulling the blanket up over her and tucking it gently around her.

He couldn't help but feel his heart lift at the sight of the sleeping pony, so sweet and innocent. He smiled broader and bent to to gently kiss her on the forehead. She smiled broadly and curled into the blanket. He chuckled softly and turned and left the room. After closing the bedroom door behind him, he quietly left through the open front door and out into the yard. Out across the garden was a sizable hammock in which rested Discord. Faith had had a lot of time with which to devise a means of getting back at Discord and had been working on it off and on ever since he had gotten home two weeks earlier. He turned and headed into his work shed, emerging moments latter with his large wheelbarrow, full to the brim with a semi solid mixture of mud.

He pushed the wheelbarrow over towards where Discord slept. After setting the wheelbarrow down gently he went around to the back of the work shed. A few minutes later he returned to Discord, pushing a large wooden frame. He'd being asked about it before hoof by both Fluttershy and Discord and had waved away their questions by simply stating that it was a secret. They had stopped asking about it and that had suited him just fine. After he reached Discord, he positioned the wooden frame and pushed it under the creature. After ensuring it was in place, he stood on his hind legs and carefully untied the knot of the hammock with his teeth.

With the greatest of care to not wake Discord he slowly lowered the hammock into the wooden frame, sliding the fabric out from under Discord after he came to rest. Faith waited a few minutes to see if Discord had woken up. His sleep seemed undisturbed and after a few more moments of waiting Faith moved on to the last step of his plan. After moving the wheelbarrow into position, he lifted up the wheelbarrow and poured the mixture into the mold, burying discord up to the neck in the mixture.

After smoothing the surface over with his hooves he smiled at the scene before him. Now not only did he sleep like a rock, now he'd sleep IN a rock. He stifle a chuckle and returned the wheelbarrow to the shed before heading back to bed, eagerly looking forward to tomorrow.

I hope that you liked it, I'll work on chapter 10 as soon as I can.