Twilight was trying desperately to keep her spirits up. "I'm sure the library will help us find the Elements! There might even be a spell I can use to scry for them! And I can write to Princess Celestia for advice! She fought Eris before, maybe she knows something!"

The trains hadn't been running. They'd had to trot all the way from Canterlot, Twilight attempting to shepherd her four increasingly unruly friends. Applejack looked absolutely miserable, and had made several attempts to gag Choco or Rarity, to the point where they were giving her a very wide berth. She still refused to talk, and from the attempts to use her rope to tie their muzzles shut she seemed to be iffy on the concept of other ponies talking, either. Fluttershy had attempted to run off every time they saw an animal, claiming loudly that she had to take care of the poor creatures because they'd be so confused by all this chaos. Choco and Rarity had spent most of the trip sniping at each other, until Rarity had become too exhausted with the burden of carrying the giant boulder that she refused to put down. After that, Choco interspersed his insults and attempts to rile up his friends with remarks about how much more interesting the world looked now.

And it was more interesting, in the sense of the Chineighse curse "may you live in interesting times." The sun had risen and set twice, and now that it was up again, it had a huge beaming smile on its face... which was hard to see because it was dangerous to look directly at the sun, but Twilight had used a spell to apply a filter over her eyes. The sun was also inexplicably wearing sunglasses. The cotton candy clouds kept floating over them and drenching them in chocolate rain, which invariably led to Choco refusing to move until he'd had a chance to drink as much as he wanted. Frequently the ground was made of colorful ribbons. Cannons sprouted randomly out of the ground, fired confetti into the air, and sank back down. The confetti usually turned into something else, such as butterflies.

By train, the trip to Canterlot took forty-five minutes. Trotting, it should take three. It was hard to tell with the sun rising and setting randomly, but Twilight was sure it had been at least five hours since they'd begun their journey.

"Come on, everyone," she encouraged, looking behind her. "It's been a long haul, but we're almost there! Let's—"

At this point a stampede of long-legged rabbits trampled over her.

"Oh, no!" Fluttershy said. "Angel! Sorry, Twilight, but I can't go to the library and get the Elements because Angel is in that herd of bunnies!"

Applejack grabbed Fluttershy by the tail, with her teeth, preventing her from flying off. "Applejack, let go! I have to go save Angel!" Fluttershy protested.

"With legs like that, I'm pretty sure he can take care of himself," Choco snorted.

As Applejack tried to brace against the ground to hold onto Fluttershy, her legs suddenly slid out from under her, and she slid wildly, slamming into Rarity. The boulder was knocked off Rarity's back, and rolled.

"I knew you were trying to steal my beautiful Tom!" Rarity shrilled. "Hi-yaa!" Her attempt to perform a spinning martial arts kick on Applejack resulted in her spinning wildly like a top and crashing into Twilight, who was trying and failing to get up after being trampled by bunnies. Twilight slid several heads down the road on her stomach.

"Is this – soap? Eris turned the road into soap!"

Eris dangled her head down from midair, revealing that she was floating above Twilight. Twilight shrieked.

"It's not just soap," Eris said indignantly. "Soap isn't sudsy at all if you don't mix it with some water." She landed on the soapy road and began to skate around on it. "Also, I added just a little bit of cooking oil for that extra slippery feeling!"

Choco skated past the two of them. "I bet you just think this is hilarious," he sneered.

Twilight struggled to get to her hooves again, and slipped, again. "Why would you do this?"

"Because skating is fun! Who wants to wait until wintertime just to be able to skate? And then you need skates! And you can only do it on water! Why not skate on land?" She laughed. "Don't you ever look at the world and ask why is it the way it is and why can't it be a different way because that would be more fun?"

"This isn't fun," Twilight said through gritted teeth.

"That's because you're not getting into the spirit of it! Come on! Loosen up! Live a little!"

"What's fun about my friends all being completely weird because you did something to them?"

Eris' head drooped slightly. As if she felt guilt. And then her eyes turned hard again. "Believe me, Twilight, I could have done a lot worse," she said, her voice serious for once. And then the light-hearted demeanor returned. "But I didn't! So cheer up!"

Twilight finally got to her hooves, to face the sight of all the houses in Ponyville floating high in the air, some of them upside down; grass turned into festive streamers; confetti drifting from the air like snow, only to be soaked completely by chocolate milk; flowers coughing up pastries; potatoes with legs dancing a can-can; small baby alligators with no teeth wandering around everywhere. "How am I supposed to cheer up in the face of that?" she asked, pointing her hoof at the chaos.

Eris pouted. "You don't want to see my chaos?" she said, improbably large eyes filling with fake tears. A light bulb appeared over her head, and lit. "Idea!" She grinned and snapped her talon. The sun slid across the sky like it too was skating on a soap road, and the moon popped up, with the image of the Mare in the Moon on it, wearing a great deal of brightly colored lipstick. "Now you can't see it!"

"Is that Princess Luna?" Twilight demanded, pointing at the sky.

"Naah, sending ponies to the moon is so overdone. That's just a picture. Do you like it? I used my very best paintbrush!" Eris pulled out a random tube of mascara and started painting her own eyelashes. "I'm not sure it came out the way I wanted, though, what do you think?" The mascara, despite appearing black, was putting outrageously long lashes on Eris' eyes in bright and clashing clownish colors.

"I think I need to get to the library," Twilight said through gritted teeth.

"Right! Lots of important research to do! Well, I'll leave you to it; I've got ponies to invite to a party!" She cackled. "It's going to be the best party Ponyville has ever seen, and every pony is invited! Whether they wanna party with me or not."

She skated off. Twilight was quite sure she didn't want to see what Eris considered 'the best party Ponyville has ever seen.' "Come on, everypony," she pleaded with her friends. "Just a little while longer. We're almost there."

Fluttershy moaned dramatically. "Oh, no, I hurt myself so badly falling down on this soap road. I couldn't possibly go on. You can all go without me, though, that would be okay."

Applejack rolled her eyes and started pulling Fluttershy's tail, dragging her along the soap road. Fluttershy scrabbled to free herself at first, and then said, "Applejack, thank you so much! You must have straightened out my back. I can walk by myself now." She got to her hooves, and started ostentatiously limping, except she couldn't seem to remember which one of her legs was supposedly hurt.

Rarity was rolling her boulder down the soapy road. "Oh, Tom, you're going to sparkle so beautifully when this is done," she said in a cloying tone. "I must thank Eris for giving us all this soap! Oh, and the oils are setting off your natural iridescence so nicely!"

Diamonds were not naturally iridescent, they were prismatic. There was a difference. And that thing wasn't a diamond anyway.

Choco was far, far ahead, having somehow instantly managed to master the art of walking – or rather, gliding – on a soap road. "What's wrong with you slowpokes?" he taunted. "I bet you I'll get to the library before any of you, and I'll figure out where the Elements are. And then I'll hide them for a prank, and we'll see how hard you laugh then!"

"We're almost there," Twilight repeated, because if she kept saying it, maybe she could make herself believe it.

The library loomed in front of her. Eris hadn't done anything to it, thank Celestia. (Although Twilight realized that Celestia had absolutely nothing to do with it.) "Okay, we're here," she said, sighing. "Everyone please, please, please just go inside, please?

"I c-can't!" Fluttershy cried out. "There's a sp-spi-spider!"

"Fluttershy, you have pet spiders."

"But those are my pets! This is a spider I don't even know!"

"I know what you're up to, Twilight," Rarity said, glaring. "The second I go in, you'll have your little minion Spike come and take Tom!"

Twilight facehooved. "I. Don't. Want. Your. Diamond." She didn't bother pointing out that it wasn't a diamond.

"I do!" Choco cackled. "I'm going to roll it straight into the Everfree and push it into a patch of Poison Joke! I bet you'll laugh at that, won't you, Rarity?"

"Try it and I'll break every bone in your misbegotten body," Rarity fumed.

Applejack gestured with her head at the rock. Rarity glared at her. "I won't let you have it either!"

"I think she's offering to carry it inside for you," Twilight said. Applejack nodded.

"A likely story! I'll put it on her back and she'll run away!"

Despite her belligerence, it was obvious that Rarity was at the end of her endurance. She'd been carrying or rolling that stupid boulder all the way from Canterlot. "Applejack. For Rarity's sake, please say something. Explain to her that you aren't going to take her diamond."

With one hoof, Applejack drew a circle in the dirt, a diamond shape inside the circle, and a line through the circle, crossing the diamond. She looked up at Rarity with a huge expectant smile, while Twilight had to control the urge to facehoof again.

"As if anyone can read that scribble. That isn't even words!" Rarity sniffed. Applejack's face fell.

"How about I bring it in, then?" Twilight said, sighing.

"You're just as bad! You'll steal my beautiful Tom—"

"Rarity!" Twilight said sharply. "I'm the personal student of Princess Celestia. If I asked the Princess to give me a big gem to feed to Spike, or for my studies, she'd just give me one. I don't need your diamond."

"Hmm. That is an excellent point. Very well, Twilight. But I'm watching you!"

"I'm not going in there," Fluttershy said. "That building is made out of a tree! It could catch fire and burn us all to death!"

"Fluttershy. Your house is made out of a tree also."

"Yes, but this one has a baby dragon inside," Fluttershy said triumphantly.

Applejack snorted impatiently and grabbed her by the tail, dragging her. "Or I guess I could go in," Fluttershy said.

Choco had at some point slipped into the library while Twilight was arguing with Rarity, and had knocked most of the books on the floor. He was busily engaged in stacking them in a tower as if they were a house of cards. Spike was asleep on the floor, holding a mop and a bucket. Twilight felt bad for him – he must have been very nervous. Sometimes Spike obsessively cleaned when he was nervous, not because he was naturally inclined to be overly obsessed with cleanliness but because he felt like he had to do something useful that Twilight would approve of. The anxiety seemed to be related to her leaving him behind, but it wasn't as if Twilight had had a choice, this time. But it was irritating that now, when she needed him, he was fast asleep and ignoring Choco making a wreck of the library.

"Stop that!" Twilight yelled. "Those are books, not toys!"

"Au contraire, ma chere amie! If they weren't toys, then how could I do this with them?" Choco asked, and started juggling books. He had nine of them in the air when Twilight lit her horn and plucked them away. "Oh, you're no fun!"

Twilight took a deep breath. "All I need is the book about the Elements," she said to herself. "All I need—"

Choco then proceeded to dump the bucket of mop water on Spike, and laugh uproariously. Spike jerked awake. "Huh? Ah! What's going on? Why am I wet?"

"Because Twilight picked a new assistant, and that means you're all washed up!" Choco said, laughing harder. "Get it?"

"Twilight, what—"

"No, I haven't. He's lying," Twilight said tiredly.

"I am not! I'm joking! What's the matter, Twilight, can't you take a joke?"

"Why are they all gray?" Spike asked.

He could see that? Twilight blinked, startled. The graying effect had deepened to the point where it was visible to her eyes, not just to her perception of magic. Fluttershy was still unnaturally bright, but all of the others had turned into shades of grey. "Never mind that. I need the book about the Elements."

"Sure thing, Twilight! It's probably still under E!"

Spike went to get it. Fluttershy got to it first. "I have it, Twilight!" she said. "But oops! I dropped it!"

In front of Choco Pie. Who laughed again. "Who's up for a game of keep-away?"

"Give me that!" Twilight demanded. "We need that to defeat Eris!"

"Eris, schmeris! I'm having fun!" Choco practically danced out of the way every time Twilight lunged at him. "Oh, Rarity! Present for you!"

"A present? For me? Where is it?" Choco kicked the book over to Rarity just as Twilight was about to close on it, and Rarity pounced. "MINE!"

"That's not yours! That's the book about the Elements of Harmony!"

"Finders keepers, losers weepers!"

"You didn't find it! Choco tossed it to you!"

"Just because Choco didn't give you a present is no reason for you to be so rude and greedy as to try to take mine!"

"Applejack, Spike! Help me out here!"

Applejack looked at Rarity, looked at Twilight, looked at Rarity again, and then lay down, face in her hooves.

"Come on, Rarity," Spike wheedled. "Twilight really needs that book!"

"Then she should have thought of that before giving it away!"

"Do you even know what that book is?" Twilight demanded.

"No," Rarity admitted, "but if you want it, I want it!"

Twilight screamed in frustration. "GIVE ME THAT BOOK!"

She lunged at Rarity, and was tripped by Choco, who laughed obnoxiously. When she looked up from the floor Rarity was nowhere to be seen. "Where is she? Where's Rarity?"

"Um, I think she ran out the door? You should go catch her," Fluttershy said.

Twilight's eyes narrowed, staring at the rock. And then she lunged, leaping into the air, and on top of Rarity, who was on the other side. "Give me the book!"


"Ooh, wrestling! Can I join in?" Choco asked, and threw himself on top of both of them.

Wait a minute. I have a horn, Twilight thought. Hers lit up, and she threw both Choco and Rarity off herself, grabbed the book, and practically fell over on the floor. "Get back! All of you! This is my book, and I'm going to READ IT!"

She opened the book.

The Elements were nestled inside.

"The Elements! They were here all along!" Twilight wanted to kiss them. In just a few moments, they could turn everything back to normal.

"This is great!" Spike said. "Now you guys can defeat Eris and put everything back to normal!"

"See, everyone?" Twilight said triumphantly. "We did it! We found the Elements of Harmony! Together!"

Fluttershy's eyes filled with tears. "No, we can't! We can't use them! We can't!"

Twilight stared at Fluttershy. "Why not?"

"Because they'll turn her to stone! It's cruel, it's too cruel! I won't be part of this, I won't!" She flew out the window, sobbing.

"Wait a minute wait a minute wait a minute," Choco said. "Stone? We're talking about turning someone to stone? For making it rain chocolate milk?"

"And for turning you and Rarity into huge jerks and making Applejack turn mute and wrecking the roads and all kinds of other things," Twilight said.

Choco shrugged. "That's just chaos. Chaos isn't so bad. I rather like it. But then that's right, you don't like anything that's fun!"

"What's fun about what Eris did to Ponyville? Or anywhere?" Twilight demanded.

"Everything!" Choco said. "And if you're going to turn someone to stone for liking chaos, count me out!" He stomped through the door, slammed it, then reopened it, stuck his head in and said "Not like you were ever really my friends anyway." Then he slammed the door again.

Twilight wanted to cry. Without Rainbow, Fluttershy and Choco, they had no hope of getting the Elements to work.

"There's no hope. We're finished," she moaned.

"Yes, he's got such a lovely finish, don't you think?" Rarity cooed, stroking her boulder, obviously paying no attention whatsoever. "But don't go getting ideas!"

"You don't even care, do you?" Twilight asked.

"No!" Rarity replied.

Applejack looked at Twilight pleadingly. "I know you still care, Applejack," Twilight said. "I just wish you would talk."

Applejack shook her head ferociously. Twilight sighed. "Well, three out of six... isn't good. But... but wait. We have other friends. Ponies we don't know as well, but they might exemplify the traits the Bearers need as well. Spike, you're the most loyal creature I know. Congratulations, you are now the new Rainbow Dash." She put Loyalty around his neck. "Necklace for you. Necklace for you. Necklace for you."

"Ooh!" Rarity cooed. "You can give me all those extras, too."

"No," Twilight said. "We need to go find some real friends who aren't total jerks and get them to help!" She put the Element of Magic on her head. "Girls. Spike. Let's go find somepony."

"B-b-but what if Rainbow finds out I've been impersonating her?" Spike asked with a moan. "That won't end well."

Twilight sighed. "We can't defeat Eris without all six Elements. Rainbow, Fluttershy and Choco have all abandoned us. You're loyal, so you're Rainbow. Let's see who can be Fluttershy and Choco."

Ponyville was an even bigger disaster outside, now. Giant upside-down ice cream cones, slowly melting, replaced many of the trees. The water tower was shooting out all of its water in a giant spray upward that came back down as rain. Lemonade rain, to be precise. Rocks that Twilight stepped on yelled at her for being careless with her hooves. And a group of ponies were playing Pin the Tail on the Pony with Derpy Hooves, as the hapless pegasus flew around in circles trying to retrieve her tail, which was somehow detached from her body.

Twilight charged forward. "Hey! Hey, what are you doing?"

"You wanna play too?" Bon Bon said eagerly. "Here, you try!" Somepony wrapped a blindfold around Twilight's eyes and stuffed Derpy's tail into her mouth.

Angrily, Twilight levitated the blindfold off, and marched over to Derpy, taking the tail out of her mouth with her telekinesis. "Here. You dropped this," she said, putting it back on Derpy's body, where it miraculously stuck.

"You're using unicorn powers! That's cheating!" Roseluck yelled.

Twilight turned around. "I am having a very bad day and I have to defeat someone who drives ponies insane. Don't get in my way."

The ponies scattered. Derpy said, "Don't be mean to them. They were just having fun, that's all."

Unlike the ponies tormenting her, who had all been grayed at least somewhat, Derpy was as colorful as she ever was. Of course she was normally a gray pony, but her mane was still bright blonde. "They were being mean to you."

Derpy shrugged. "Ponies make fun of me all the time. You can decide to get upset about it or you can decide to laugh, that's all. If I laugh with them then they're laughing with me, not at me."

A sudden hope sprang up within Twilight. "Hey, would you be willing to wear this necklace and help me and my friends who are still left defeat an ancient spirit of disharmony and chaos who's destroying Ponyville and driving everypony crazy? Great, I'm so happy you're coming with us!" Before Derpy could say anything Twilight dropped Laughter around her head.

"Pretty," Derpy said, tilting her head down so one of her eyes could see it. "But I can't help out. I have to get over to the school. All this crazy stuff is happening and Dinky is in class. I gotta make sure she's okay."

"That sounds like a great idea! We'll all go! And we'll try to find a kind pony along the way! And then we can defeat Eris!" She turned back to Applejack, Rarity and Spike. "We have our replacement Choco and we're going to school! Let's go!"

"Why did you give her that necklace?" Rarity complained. "You should have given it to me. Such a lovely, fabulous necklace. Totally wasted on a stallion like Choco or a pathetic pony like Derpy."

"Ignore her," Twilight said. "Eris did something to her head. I don't know what but hopefully after we defeat her, Rarity will be back to normal. Either that or I'll never have to see her again. Both choices are great at this point."

They made their way across the chaos. There were balloons swooping in, looping cords around ponies and carrying them off. Twilight saw a game of musical chairs where the pony left behind after a chair was removed poofed into a bunny rabbit... and then noticed several bunnies sitting, watching the game. Choco had completely covered himself in vanilla ice cream and was leaping out at ponies, screaming "Wooooo, I'm a ghost!" One of the Flower Trio whose name Twilight couldn't remember fainted dead away, but Roseluck, who was solidly gray, tried to beat him with a bouquet.

At the school, however, there was nothing but calm.

All the shades had been pulled. Twilight, fearing the worst, knocked on the door. She heard Cheerilee's voice, inside, and then Cheerilee came to the door and peered out, then slipped through the door, never allowing it to open enough for the foals to see what was going on outside. "If you're still sane and you're looking for a safe place, for some reason the school's been left alone," she said nervously. "I've been reading to the students."

Twilight glanced back at Applejack and Rarity. "Actually, we're not all still sane, but that's not the point. Derpy's sane and she wants to check on Dinky, and Applejack wants to check on Apple Bloom." She had no idea if this was true or not because Applejack hadn't said anything.

"What about Rarity and Sweetie Belle?"

"Rarity... shouldn't go inside." Rarity was sitting down, caressing her necklace with her hooves.

"All right," Cheerilee said, "but be very careful when you come in. I don't want the foals to see... anything outside, right now. It'll only upset them." She slipped back through the door, followed by Derpy, Applejack, Twilight and Spike. Rarity didn't even notice them, engrossed as she was.

"Dinky!" Derpy called to her daughter, and flew over. Huh. Her daughter's a unicorn, Twilight realized. "I was so worried!"

Dinky returned her mother's hug. "Why were you worried? We got back from our field trip hours ago!"

Apple Bloom was hugging Applejack, but looking nervously at Twilight. "Miss Twilight? Why is my sister all gray, and why won't she talk?"

"Long story," Twilight said. "There's a lot of craziness going on outside."

"But it's all going to be fine," Cheerilee said reassuringly. "We'll just sit tight right here and wait for Miss Twilight and her friends to fix everything."

"Actually. Maybe you can help with that." Twilight took a deep breath. "Children? Is Miss Cheerilee a kind teacher?"

"She's the best!" Sweetie Belle agreed enthusiastically.

"Thuper kind!" Twist agreed.

"Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo. Would you guys be up for trying to get a cutie mark in disaster management? Your job is to watch over your friends here in class and make sure nopony leaves the school."

"But school is almost over!" Scootaloo complained.

"There's a creature of chaos out there who looks like a zoo in a blender and she's driven everyone in Ponyville crazy, including Rainbow Dash and Rarity, and the world has turned upside down and it's not safe. You need to keep everyone safe. That means none of you leave."

"Does that mean we get to tell Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon what to do?" Scootaloo asked enthusiastically.

"I'm not going to take your orders," Diamond sniffed.

"Fine, go outside and get turned into a newt," Twilight said. "We'll just have to explain to your father that you couldn't follow simple instructions."

Cheerilee cleared her throat. "Miss Twilight, this is all very interesting but these students are my charge and I'm the one who'll be taking care of them."

"Not right now. You're kind. I need you to help me save the world." She levitated Kindness onto Cheerilee's neck. Cheerilee tried to shake it off.

"I'm a schoolteacher! Not a hero!"

"You're a hero to these kids. Besides, the last Kindness was a terminally shy veterinarian. You'll do fine. Come on."

As they left the room, Twilight distinctly heard Apple Bloom saying, "Creature of chaos? You don't think we had something to do with this, do you?"

Well. She'd check into that later. Right now she had a draconequus to defeat.

It didn't take very long. They had barely gotten a trot away from the school when Eris appeared in front of them. "Gasp! You've found the Elements of Harmony!" She put her paws to her cheeks in an exaggerated "oh no" expression. And then her eyes narrowed. "And you found three new pals. What happened to the old ones?"

"You know perfectly well what happened to them, because you did it!" Twilight snapped.

"Well, I know what happened to Dashie, and I can guess what happened to Fluttershy, but where's Choco?"

"Playing one of your stupid games. He didn't want to turn you to stone because you drove him crazy and now he loves chaos."

Eris laughed hysterically, falling on the ground and kicking her legs into the air. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! You don't even know – you have no idea what you just said! Oh my gosh that was the funniest thing ever!" She leapt to her feet and glared down at Twilight. "How well do you even know him?"

Through gritted teeth, Twilight said, "I know enough to know he was a really good friend before you messed with his head."

"Oh, no. Oh, no." Eris chuckled darkly. "Choco Pie is not a good friend, Twilight. Not a good friend at all. You need to remember that." Suddenly she was next to Twilight, half-twined around Twilight's barrel. "You could be friends with me! I'm a better friend than Choco!"

Twilight extricated herself. "I'm not here to make friends with you. I'm here to defeat you. I figured out your lame riddle, I found the Elements, and I found new friends to replace the ones you drove away."

Eris laughed again. "Oh, right, of course! What is it I'm supposed to be doing now? Oh, that's right! Getting defeated!" She teleported to a standing position. "Wait wait wait, before you turn me into stone for another eternity, tell me how is this face?" She stuck her tongue out. "Or should I do this one?" Googly eyes and paws pressed against her face so hard she was squashing it into a vertical elongation.

"Take formation!" Twilight shouted to her friends.

"Um, what formation? I've never done this," Cheerilee said.

"Applejack, can you explain—" Facepalm. Right. She wouldn't talk. "Rarity, can you explain to Derpy and Cheerilee what they're supposed to be doing here?"

"What's in it for me?" Rarity asked.

"Spike! New Rainbow Dash! Get over here!"

Spike visibly swallowed. "Are you sure this is going to work, Twilight?"

Twilight ignored that. "We stand in a semicircle and concentrate!"

"On what?" Cheerilee asked helplessly, as Applejack nudged her into position. Eris was sitting on a couch, ostentatiously painting her toe claws with brightly colored nail polish that kept changing color.

"I'm not good at concentrating," Derpy said shakily.

"Just do your best!" Twilight said.

She concentrated, tapping into the well of power that was her Element. She could feel Rarity and Applejack in the link, and distant presences, she assumed that of the other three. Come on, this has to work. Twilight reached down into her Element and rose into the air, wind blowing around her and the world turning white.

And then she was tumbling to the ground, with Rarity and Applejack. There was no sign that Spike, Derpy or Cheerilee had ever activated.

"What's going on?" Twilight asked, desperately, but she knew.

"I just don't know what went wrong," Derpy said helplessly.

"They never turned on." Cheerilee took off her necklace and laid it on the ground. "Sorry, but I have to go take care of the children. I think you're going to have to go get your friends. I mean, not like we're not friends, but your other friends."

"MINE!" Rarity screeched, grabbing Kindness. Twilight telekinetically snatched it back.

"Sorry, Twilight. I guess I'd better get back home and clean up the library. Good luck with all this," Spike said, laying Loyalty at Twilight's feet.

Derpy turned even grayer, her aura dimming, her blonde mane desaturating. "I always mess everything up. Nothing I try to do ever works." She lifted into the air. "I'm sorry," she said, and flew away, dropping Laughter.

Eris chortled. "Good work, everypony! I'm feeling so stoned now, you wouldn't believe!" She cackled. "Guess that means I win, huh!" There was a microphone suddenly in her paw, and she was singing. "I am the champion, you are the losers 'cause I am the champion..."

Twilight growled angrily at her. She just laughed. "This was loads of fun! Let's do it all over again some other time!" she said, and skated off on the soapy roads.

"It didn't work," Applejack said.

Twilight turned. Applejack was completely dull gray now. "Applejack! You talked!"

"It didn't work!" Applejack screamed. "I saw the truth was gonna destroy our friendships and I didn't want to lie so I just kept my mouth shut, but you kept telling the truth and now you ruined it! Our friends are gone, Rarity's plumb crazy and so's Choco and Fluttershy's gone and become a traitor and whoever knows what happened to Dash, and it's your fault 'a cause you wouldn't stop talking!"

Rarity snorted. "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

"Like you can talk, Miss Prissypants who thinks a giant boulder's a sparkly diamond! You're the craziest of all of us!" Applejack snorted. "I got a family to take care of. Who knows what kind of crazy things Eris did to them? Twilight, I'm outta here."

"And I have a diamond to care for," Rarity said loftily.

Twilight screamed at them as they both trotted off. "FINE! Leave! See if I care! I don't need you guys either! With friends like you, who needs...enemies...?"

Tears welled in her eyes. All the energy left her body, and she just sagged.

She walked off as well. Not toward the library. Not toward any direction. Chaos ruled, and no direction was better than any other.

For updates and notes about my work, visit my Livejournal at alara-r dot livejournal dot com, or my Tumblr at alarajrogers dot tumblr dot com. (Fanfiction dot net strips links, so I have to write it out like that.)

Support my writing and see sneak previews, incompletes, outlines and working notes! Maybe even vote on what I write next, or get me to write you a fic. See my P^a^t^r^e^o^n account at www dot p^a^t^r^e^o^n dot com slash alarajrogers. (Apparently ff dot net has taken to blocking that word, so I have to put in weird characters. Argh.)

I've also got some short fiction for sale at A^m^a^z^o^n; search on my name. And a blog about all the things I do badly at alarajrogers dot wordpress dot com.