Discord Doesn't Even Want a Cult!

by TheDriderPony

Chapter 1: Do you have time to talk about our lord and savior Discord?

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"Mail's here!" Spike's voice rang out through the crystal halls of the Friendship Castle.

"I'm in the middle of something in the library!" a voice called back, "Could you bring it up please?"

The young dragon sighed and turned back to gaze on the enormous stack of mail. Bracing himself, he managed to wriggle his claws beneath the pile and slowly lift it high enough that it wouldn't impede his walking. As he began to make his way towards the library, his pace was still remarkably slow. With the pile of mail completely blocking his forward vision, he was having to traverse the halls almost completely from memory. After a few missed turns (and one missed stair which nearly led to a colossal mess) he finally arrived at his destination. He nudged the door open by backing into it, as anything else would have required his currently occupied forelimbs. Finding his way to the table, Spike finally released his heavy load. A few papers fell off the edge where he'd misjudged the table's placement, but the large majority stayed stable. Shaking the numbness out of his arms, he turned to face his friend and guardian.

"Is it just me, or do we seem to be getting a lot more mail since you got the castle?"

"Have we?" A distracted voice seeped from behind a wall of books. "One second Spike, just let me finish this last theorem and I'll be at a reasonable stopping point."

A few moments of quiet quill-scratching ensued before it abruptly stopped with a sigh. "Alright. I think I can stop there. Now Spike- Spike? Where are you?"

"I'm right in front of you Twilight," he called, "You walled yourself in again."

A few books levitated up revealing a pair of purple eyes behind. "Oh, there you are." More books became encased in a lavender glow as they began to fly back to their position on the shelves. "Whoops, sorry about that. I was researching and then a grabbed one for reference, then set it aside as I checked another, and then set that aside... I guess I was so focused I didn't realize how tall the piles had grown."

Spike chuckled, half in relief that she was putting the books away so he didn't have to. Doing it himself without magic would have taken most of the afternoon. "That's the third time this week, Twilight. What's gotten you so focused that you've started subconsciously forting again?"

She frowned slightly at Spike's joke about her younger self's tendency to accidentally construct buildings around herself while studying intensely. "It's not that bad, I just got in the new edition of Fool's Guide to Magical Constructs and I thought I would double check their proofs and cross-check their references. You know, something to pass the slow afternoon."

"Uh-huh, just something to pass the time then?" Spike was more than used to Twilight's often odd behavior around books, so this was actually quite a reasonable explanation. "Since you've got so much free time apparently, you wanna help me sort this mail?"

Twilight shifted her vision to the table behind Spike, or rather, the pile of paper where a table used to be. "Oh wow, you weren't kidding about it being a lot." Her eyes lit up, "And now we get to sort it all! Oh could this day get any better?!"

Spike rolled his eyes as Twilight practically threw herself into the pile. She popped back up a moment later, several letters in her magical hold. "Let's start with these. Now let's see. Here's a fan letter for me, and another, and one more." She passed them over to Spike, who grabbed them from mid-air and set them in a neat little stack on the previously book-filled table. "Here's an advertisement, a sale announcement, and a coupon book. You know what to do with these, Spike." He nodded, and set them aside in a little alcove between the shelves marked 'Scrap Paper for Bookmarks'. "Oh, here's one for you Spike, from the Crystal Empire. Looks like Thorax decided to keep in touch after all."

"Oh, great! I wonder how he's doing?" Spike asked aloud as he started a special pile by the door for any further things addressed to him.

Twilight laughed lightly as she flew several more ads to the bookmark bin. "Help me finish sorting and then you can find out. Here's Starlight's magazines." Several back issues of Magic Monthly and Equestria in the World Today floated over to start yet another new pile. "What else do we have here?" A pile of similar-looking slim orange envelopes removed themselves from the pile and passed in front of the alicorn's eyes. "These are for... Discord?"

Spike perked up. "Discord? Who'd send Discord mail? And why is it coming here?"

Twilight shook her head as she set them aside and blindly reached for another random envelope. "I don't know," she dropped it in the 'Discord?' pile and grabbed another, "but-" it too went in the pile, "there seems-" another several, in a variety of shapes and sizes, "to be suspiciously many of them!" Nearly three quarters of the remaining pile passed before her eyes in rapid succession and each made their way to the one pile which quickly grew to dwarf the others. She snorted in frustration, and yelled out "DISCORD!!"

"Oh come on!" came a muffled voice from within the remaining pile. "You haven't even gotten to me yet. How could you possibly know I was here?!" A brown scroll with red and white trim and a green ribbon wiggled it's way out from between the latest Power Ponies issue and one of Pinkie's daily party invitations. With a stretch and a pop, the message revealed itself to be none other than the self-proclaimed Lord of Chaos... grimacing as he slowly pulled a stamp off his eyebrow. "I mean, honestly," he glared down at Twilight, "I spend three hours waiting in your mailbox to pull a classic jump-scare and somehow you call me out on it well before the main event!" He turned around in a huff. "Some ponies just have no manners."

Twilight rolled her eyes. "Fine, sorry then. Now could you please tell me why my mailbox is full of things addressed to you?"

Discord nonchalantly began filing his claws. "Well, those ponies at the Postal Service refuse to deliver to my house anymore. Something about it moving too much. Or maybe it was the dimension that moved too much? Or in too many ways? No matter. And dear Fluttershy can't take them either. She's subscribed to so many animal publications it'd even give a bookworm like you pause."

"Well, could you please rent a box at the post depot or something? We get enough mail as it is between the three of us who actually live here."

"Yeah!" Spike added, "Most of that pile was yours, and I nearly fell down the stairs trying to carry it all. Twice!"

Discord stopped filing his claws as a look of confusion overtook him. "Most of the pile?" he asked, "But all I was expecting was my subscriptions to Ponies are Friends: Not Playthings, Modern Pottery, and Chaos Whenever-ly. And that last one's published by me."

"Well," Twilight gestured to his pile of envelopes and packages, "it looks like you've got a little more than that."

He turned to look at the pile. Then back to Twilight. Then the pile. Then Spike. The pile. Twilight. The pile. Spike. The pile. Twilight. Spike. Pinkie, who waved briefly. The pile. Spike. The pile. The pile. And back to Twilight. "Really?"

Twilight nodded.

The Lord of Chaos blinked, somewhat taken aback. "All for me? Really?"

"Yes, really." Twilight insisted.

"Well, who're they from?"

"How should I know?" Twilight demanded, "Just open them already and find out!"

Discord snapped his claws, and an orange envelope grew a pair a webbed duck feet. It slid down the pile and waddled over to Discord, making soft jingling noises as it did. It continued along his tail, easily making the ninety degree turns up his back, along the underside of his furred arm and into his paw. The legs popped off and disintegrated into nothingness before they hit the floor. Not hesitating, Discord ripped open the top of the envelope, removing the page from within. His eyes scanned the page, moving back and forth quickly. "You don't say?" he muttered, "You don't say!" he gasped, "Oh you don't say..." he whispered.

Spike was getting impatient. "Well?" he demanded, "Who's it from?!"

Discord looked up from his letter, and met Spike's eyes with a level gaze. "They didn't say..." He turned the letter around so they could see the writing. "They didn't say anything in fact. The entire thing's utter gibberish." He was right. While some of the symbols were clearly Equestrian, most of it was either illegible or composed of characters from some unknown script. He tossed it to Twilight, who stopped her letter sorting to see if she could make anything out.

After a moment, Twilight shook her head. "I can't make anything out of it either. I recognize a few as Old Gryph, Buffalo, and even one or two draconic characters, but they're mixed in with Equestrian letters like they're one word." She offered the letter back to Discord. "Maybe there's something else in the envelope to explain it?"

Discord shook the upturned envelope over his paw. Instead of an explanation, two five-bit coins, three one-bit coins, and a piece of lint fell out.

"Is that it?" Spike asked, "Somepony went through the trouble to mail you thirteen bits and a letter you can't even read?"

Discord nodded slowly. "It would seem so. I must admit, even for me this is a tad strange. Perhaps I should open another one?" He snagged another similar envelope from the pile and cracked it lengthwise like a fortune cookie. He pulled out the message, glanced at it, and showed it to Spike and Twilight. More gibberish

"Another one?" Spike asked.

Twilight came closer to inspect the message in more detail. "This one's different from the last. There are no draconic characters this time, but far more ones I've never seen." She looked up to meet Discord's still somewhat flabbergasted expression. "This isn't some sort of weird reverse prank that you're using yourself to pull on us is it Discord?"

He gave a mock gasp of indignation. "Twilight, while I may be all in for the fun of not making sense, if I'm playing a prank there has to be a punchline. Otherwise how would you simple ponies know you were being pranked? I have standards." He looked at the meaningless message again, and tried turning it sideways. "That being said, I can see why you might think that. But I assure you, I am just as stumped as you are." He flipped the envelope with his tail, and out fell a twenty bit piece and nine one-bit coins. He flicked his tail again, and the coins flew through the air to land in a neat pile on Spike's head. "Here you go dragon-boy. Now you can buy that Ogres & Oubliettes expansion pack you wouldn't stop talking about last week."

"Sweet!" Spike cried, carefully gathering the coins and placing them with his letter by the door. "Thanks, Captain Was."

Discord smirked, "You're quite welcome, Wizard Garbunkle. Besides, what would I do with bits? If I want something, I simply whip it up myself." As if to make his point, a silver platter appeared in front of him, its contents rapidly shifting between gold bars, diamonds, a plate of steaming nachos, and Angel with Rainbow Dash's mane. Twilight, meanwhile, was absorbed in the two messages of indecipherable writing.

"Discord?" she began, her attention still shifting between the pages, "Do you think you could open a few more? I- I think there may be a pattern here, but I don't have enough references to decipher it."

"Well I might as well," he decided. "Spike, if you'd care to assist with those handy opposable claws of yours?"

"Alright! It's like an early Hearths Warming!" he paused, thoughtful for a moment. "But, uh, don't give me any more bits. I don't want a repeat of last time."

"Fine, I'm sure Fluttershy will appreciate a donation. Now-" With a flash, Discord donned a black jacket made of dozens of buckles, a crazed black hairstlye, and a pair of gloves with pruning shears on each finger. " Are you ready to open some letters?"

"You bet I am!" Spike enthused, caught up in the hype.

"On the count of four then... 1...2... square root of a potted petunia... 4!"

With a splash of paper, the two leapt at the pile like Celestia at a cake. The celluloid carnage was indescribable, though Twilight remained absorbed in her pages, catching and documenting each new sheet as it escaped the chaos behind her.

When the shreds of envelope, packing label, and glossy insert finally settled, an amusing scene was revealed. Spike lay stomach-down panting on the floor, his claws ink-stained, but with a joyful smile on his face. Twilight sat in a somewhat cleaner area of the room, a loose circle of documents filled with meaningless glyphs surrounding her. Her frantic eyes glanced from one to the next as she muttered about patterns and cyphers. Discord, however, floated above the mess. His expression: contemplative. He held a teacup in his talon, and sipped it's swirling black contents daintily. Between the muttering and the panting, he was the first to actually speak in some time.

"Well this certainly clears things up."

"What are you talking about?" Spike gasped between breaths, "All we found was more weird letters -so many letters- and not a single explanation or exception."

"Oh no, not that," Discord chided. "I was referring to my tea. It's really done wonders clearing my sinuses from all this paper dust." He leaned in conspiratorially, "Old family recipe. Squid ink and malt vinegar."

Spike groaned and flopped back down. "Twilight..." he called "Any luck on that translation?"

"ARGH! No!" she half-yelled, pulling at her mane, "I've tried everything I can think of! I have dictionaries in six different languages here, cross referenced with an archaeology book about deciphering unknown scripts, every edition of Cypher Script's Decyphering Cyphers and Unknown Scripts, and Talon Turing's The Griffon Enigma. There are no patterns, no codes, nothing! This is all complete nonsense!"

"Calm down Twilight, I fear for your blood pressure." Discord consoled, only half in jest, "Here. Have some tea." She took the offered cup quickly and downed it without thinking, muscle memory from Princess Celestia presenting a similar offer many times in the past. She froze immediately, and then with a deep sigh, she slumped down to the floor, a contented and relaxed smile on her face.

"Say..." she said a little woozily, "Tha's pretty good stuff. What'd you say is in this again?"

"Blackcurrant, cranberry, and alfalfa." He replied smoothly. "The initial effect is rather strong, but you should be fresh as a daisy in just a few minutes."

A few minutes passed in relative silence until, true to his word, Twilight sprang back to full awareness, complete with a ring of over-sized white petals which had sprouted from her neck to frame her head. Shaking her head to clear the last traces of fogginess, she noticed her newly acquired foliage. She shot Discord a glare and he snapped his talons, removing the petals with a chuckle. She gathered up the messages in her magic and arranged them in a neat pile on the table before grabbing a scroll she'd been keeping near since the letter opening had begun.

"Now that everything's been opened, I can tally up the registry I've been keeping of the letters' contents."

Spike walked over, having since recovered from his fatigue. "You were keeping track of everything? But I thought you were focused on the translations?"

"I can multitask. Especially in a library," she smiled proudly. "Nothing goes on in here that I'm not aware of. That includes you, Discord."

Discord froze, then quickly dematerialized his squirt gun, putting his forelimbs together in the picture of innocence.

Twilight returned her attention to the scroll at hoof. "Anyway, between the two of you, you opened fifty-two envelopes, two packages, and two scrolls. As well as fifty-six letters of indecipherable writing-" she grumbled something rude sounding under her breath, " there was also a grand total of 645 bits, as well as thirty-seven gold-foil wrapped chocolate bits, three pieces of twine, six photographs of somepony's cat, one cracked poker chip, a hoofful of red clay dirt, and one sealed glass jar filled with something I hesitantly label as once being chocolate milk."

"And even with all that, we're still no closer to a solution than when we started!" Discord cried out in annoyance and frustration.

"If it means anything," Twilight began, "over eighty percent of the bits were delivered in prime number increments."

Meanwhile, Spike had gathered up all the used envelopes and was carrying them to the scrap paper bin. But before he dropped them in his eye caught on a unique pamphlet wedged between the pages of a coupon book. "Huh," he said. "Maybe this has something to do with it?" Setting his rubbish aside, he snagged the pamphlet and brought it back to Twilight and Discord, who was still fuming. "Check this out." He passed Twilight the paper. "This looks like it might be relevant."

Both Twilight and Discord's eyes widened as they read the cover page. The Chaos Connection, it read. Though the letter O's were replaced with a symbol of eight radial arrows, and each word was written in a distinctly different font. Hesitantly, they opened the pamphlet.

Greetings, Salutations, and Farewell.

Is your life boring and ordinary? Has the everyday routine ground you down? Do you ever wish life was just a bit more exciting?
Here at the Church of Chaos, we can help. Our order is dedicated to bringing the joy of the magic of chaos to every pony, griffon, minotaur, yak and sentient cactus. We teach that Chaos is not a force to be feared, but embraced with gladness. Come join us in our main headquarters in Las Pegasus, and let us teach you the magic of life through Chaos.

Just listen to these testimonials...

"Is this for real?" Twilight exclaimed as Discord continued to read on in interest. "There can't possibly be a religion based around... around-"

"Him?" Spike offered.

"Exactly!" Twilight ran her hoof through her mane. "I mean... really? Why would anypony be interested in, let alone want to worship Discord? It makes no sense!"

"Et tu, Twilight?" Discord asked, a look of defeated betrayal across his face. "And here I was thinking we were friends."

She rolled her eyes. "I didn't mean it like that. It's just, well, you're not exactly an ideal role model that you'd expect ponies to turn to."

"Doesn't mean I don't deserve to be liked, followed, and subscribed," he huffed.

Twilight folded the pamphlet back up. "Anyway, if this is real, I think we should be concerned. No good things have ever come out of a cult."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Spike held up his hands defensively, "Don't you think you should give them a chance before labeling them a cult? That seems like a kinda extreme escalation. Maybe it really is just a legitimate group of ponies who honestly just want to praise... Discord..." he trailed off. "Okay, so maybe the idea is a little far-fetched, but do we really have to call them a cult?"

"As it would seem, they're quite content with that particular term," Discord mused, having apparently shrunk himself down to continue reading within the folded pages held in Twilight's magical field. "They've used it five times so far, as well as church, congregation, confederacy, congress, and cabal. But there are a few details here and there that I find... worthy of further investigation." He oozed out of the pages in liquid form, only to unmelt back to his full height from a puddle. "Spike, Twilight, are you two pondering what I'm pondering?"

"I think so," Spike replied, a thoughtful claw to his chin, "but would increased toy sales really be worth the effort of trying to justify it?"

Twilight gave her assistant a look. "I don't quite follow Spike's idea, but I think it's pretty clear I need to investigate this 'Church of Chaos'."

"Don't you mean," Discord wound himself around Twilight's neck like a feather boa, "we need to investigate? It's my cult after all." He went back to floating after Twilight shrugged him off. "Besides, we still haven't gone on our-" he pulled down a large banner from the ceiling, "Ultimate Adventure of Friendship and Bondage yet."

"Our what?!" Twilight yelled.

Discord looked at his banner contemplatively, "Hmmm, maybe you're right. Perhaps I should rephrase that slightly." He snapped his talons and the letters 'ing' sloppily and obviously wrote themselves over-top the 'age' in the banner's final word. "Better?" he asked.

"I- uh... yes?" Twilight stammered, "But that doesn't clear up what in Celestia's name you're talking about."

"Isn't it obvious?" he asked as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Over the past few months I seems to keep finding myself on adventures or in intimate scenarios with our close friends, each of which has ended up closening the bonds of friendship and understanding between us. Everyone, that is, except you, Twilight."

"What? What kind of adventures?"

Discord counted off on extra horns he grew as he listed each event. "Spike and I bonded over our Ogres & Oubliettes game. The other Elements and I bonded during your three day book sorting vacation. Starlight and I had a lovely time together foiling the invasion of the one-eyed, one-horned flying purple pony-eaters in Fillydelphia. The ever-rapscallious Cutie Mark Crusaders made me an honorary member after I assisted in helping them try chaotic new activities in search of their marks. Then there was the time Luna and I swapped bodies for a week, oh how we laugh at that now! Even Trixie, Pinkie's sister Maud, and I teamed up to take down the Cutie Marksist Rebellion in Manehattan." he paused, as if first noticing that he seemed to have more horns than anything else, "Need I continue?"

"I think you've made your point," Twilight muttered.

"It seems as though Fate as decided to tip her sun hat in our direction today and given us the perfect adventure to go on together!" Discord said gleefully. "You get to investigate this cult, look for evil hidden intentions, ensure the continued safety of Equestria and all that nonsense," he waved his hand dramatically, "while I get to see exactly what ponies outside of this little town think of me, how my image has held up over the centuries, and set them straight if I have to."

"Wait, what was that last part?" Spike asked.

Discord waved it off, "Oh, nothing, nothing. Just thinking out loud really, you know what I'm like when I get distracted." He turned back to the purple alicorn, who had been mentally running a pros and cons list regarding a co-investigation with Discord, "So then Twilight, do we have a date?"

She sighed, then nodded, "Despite my better judgement, having you there as back-up could be advantageous if things get dangerous. Alright, we'll go together."

"Wonderful!" Discord cheered, streamers, balloons, and avocados exploding from behind him. "A road trip to Las Pegasus to stop a potentially dangerous cult with the Princess of Friendship and the re-formed Lord of Chaos. What could possibly go wrong?"

Next Chapter: And when you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that he summoned a train Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 23 Minutes
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