Rock Steady Teacher

by Rambling Writer

Chapter 1: Foundational Learning

“Alrighty then,” Discord said, pleased with the phone’s buzzing in his stomach. “Let’s see Starlight handle that. Now, whose class is next on the agenda to disrupt?” He looked at his schedule. “Hmm. Professor… Maud Pie. These puns are absolutely terrible, and not in the way puns are supposed to be terrible.” He rolled up the schedule and ate it. “I should probably stop giving exposition aloud.”

Word of his antics in Trixie’s class seemed to be spreading. Good, good. It was only a matter of time before it filtered all the way to Starlight. In the meantime, what was the best way to continue his chicanery for the upcoming class? Five minutes seemed to be unfashionably late. Once sufficient time had passed, Discord found the room and kicked open the door. “Salutations, fellow fellows!” he bellowed, stuffing so much fake sugar into his voice it almost turned into cotton candy. “I insincerely apologize for being delayed by lateness, but-”

“Boulder doesn’t like it when students are late,” said Maud tonelessly from her desk. “There’s an empty seat in the back.”

Discord recognized Maud; she was the one who’d heckled him at the Grand Galloping Gala all those seasons ago. As if that wasn’t enough, the nerve. Acting like she was teaching him and he had to listen. Well, the fun couldn’t start until class did, so Discord hitched up his tail and strode to the designated seating area. He sat down, thinking he’d start small. He immediately and loudly pulled out a magazine and-

Boulder tore clean through the magazine, ripping it to shreds, and somehow managed to knock the air from Discord’s lungs. He toppled over, slammed his head against the wall, and fell to the ground. He looked up, only to find everybody staring at him and Maud looming over him. “Boulder doesn’t like it when you read in class,” she said, holding out the pebble that had hit him. Boulder sat disapprovingly on Maud’s hoof.

“Excuse me?” Discord said, attempting to salvage what was left of his dignity. If someone else found it, maritime law meant they were entitled to money. “I was just catching up on-”

Maud held out Boulder again. “Boulder doesn’t like it when you read in class.” Boulder sat accusingly on Maud’s hoof. Without waiting for a response, Maud turned and walked back to her desk. “Rocks are the very foundation of the earth,” she started droning, “just like friendships are the foundation of harmony…”

Discord was already smirking to himself as he climbed back into his chair. (Why was he even going through all these motions of being a student, anyway?) So she liked rocks, did she? Too easy. It was like she was trying to give him an easy target. Discord surreptitiously raised his fing-

Boulder smashed into his wrist hard enough to shatter his hand. Bits and pieces of his fingers scattered around his desk. He hid a yelp behind a bitten tongue, shook the stump of his wrist, and glared at Maud. She looked back at him and pointed at the blackboard. Boulder doesn’t like it when you perform chaos magic in class. (Her writing speed must’ve been incredible.) Everyone else in the room turned around to stare at him.

Discord snorted and picked up Boulder with his good hand. “Well, you’re not the slightest bit of fun, aren’t you?” he whispered to him.

Boulder sat angrily on Discord’s palm.

“Oh, please, it’s nothing personal, I’m just getting to Starlight through them.”

Boulder sat suspiciously on Discord’s palm.

“I… I suppose I haven’t,” Discord admitted, “b-but- Shutup.” He snapped his fingers and Boulder was back on Maud’s desk. Maud stared at him for half a second, then went back to rambling about rocks. Boulder sat alertly on the desk. Discord seized the moment and recovered his fingers.

As the class went on, it was like Maud had an anti-Discord sixth sense. Whenever he would prepare to try something, she would look at him. She’d look and look and look until he stopped thinking about whatever he was thinking about. All the while, Boulder sat observingly on her desk. He even tried to leave, but that piercing look pinned him in place to the point that he had trouble getting back to his chair. Next class, he was not going to be a student. Nope.

Eventually, Maud put a metal box on her desk, pulled on protective rubber boots, and opened it up. For a second, Discord thought something interesting might happen, but then Maud pulled out a chunky black stone. She had no variation, did she?

“This is medusite,” said Maud. “It’s a highly lithogenic mineral and necessary for rock farms. It’s often consumed by cockatrices and basilisks due to its potency. Now, I need a volunteer for this next demonstration.”

Almost every manipulation appendage in the room went up. Not Discord, though, nooooooooo. If he was going to be a student, he was going to be a certain kind of student: disruptive, slacking, and the one who made it very clear that the teacher shouldn’t call on th-

“Thanks for volunteering, Discord,” said Maud.

It took a moment for his name to register. Discord pushed up the brim of his cap and cocked an eyebrow (chk-chk). “I’m sorry, are you using some form of ‘volunteer’ that I haven’t heard of yet? Perhaps your dictionary is a bit outdated. See, when I think of ‘volunteer’, I think of-”

“Boulder doesn’t like it when students bring the class to a halt.”

Discord immediately teleported to the front of the room (it seemed safer). “If you insist. Pray tell, what frivolities have you in store for today?”

Maud held out the black stone. “Hold this.”

“Very well,” he said, plucking it from Maud’s hooves, “I shall-” He stopped right there; he was too stoned to say anything more.

Maud wiggled the medusite out of Discord’s frozen grip and put it back in its box. “As a lithogenic material, medusite turns to stone any organic matter it comes into contact with.” Maud pulled the boots off her hooves. “It happens suddenly, without warning. Friendships can end the same way, suddenly turning brittle without warning.”

Not for the first time, Discord wondered just why being turned to stone cut out his powers. It was so silly. What kind of spirit of chaos was he, able to be hoodwinked and held captive that easily? Maybe captivity was a talent of Maud’s; she certainly had a captive audience all of a sudden.

“Now, if a friendship truly isn’t working out,” said Maud, “you may need to end it. Depending on the type of friendship, there are many ways to break it off, just like there are many ways to destroy a rock. This-” She tapped Discord. “-is limestone. It’s a common building material. One could destroy it with this.” She reached behind her desk and pulled out a sledgehammer.

Discord began squirming inside. Of all the teachers Starlight could’ve picked, why did she pick the one associated with rocks? The entire class cringed away from Maud as she swung the hammer experimentally.

“However, it’s a very messy method of destruction,” said Maud. She tossed the hammer away. “In most circumstances, you want something cleaner. Something that doesn’t leave behind a lot of baggage. Fortunately, this is limestone, and limestone is soluble. So…” Maud trotted out into the hallway and pulled in a large tub of water (where was she getting all this? That certainly hadn’t been in the hallway when he’d arrived). “This is much more controlled. If you submerge limestone in water, it’ll dissolve.” She glanced up at the statue, and Discord had the distinct impression she was looking him in the eye. “Slowly. And it leaves nothing behind.”

If he’d had any lungs, Discord would’ve sobbed. The rest of the class was deathly silent.

“Or you can just stop talking to them. Sometimes, the only reason a friendship is staying together at all is because you’re struggling to keep it together, and if you simply leave it alone, it’ll fade on its own.” Maud dragged Discord to the back corner and stood him up. She looked at him for a moment, then turned him around so he faced the corner.

For the rest of the period, Discord was stuck standing in the corner, like some misbehaving foal. Pfah. He was a misbehaving draconequus, thankyouverymuch. Discord stewed and stewed and stewed and wished he could soup instead. Maud kept droning and UAVing on, her voice as flat as salt plains. And to make everything even worse, Discord’s nose itched. Why did everything bad have to happen to him? (Except for the bad things he made happen to other people, at least.)

About a minute after the bell rang, the stone abruptly receded from Discord’s body. He overbalanced and hit his nose on the wall. When he turned around, rubbing it, Maud was standing there, staring up at him. “Was preparing all that really necessary?” he scowled.

“We heard about what you did to Trixie,” said Maud, tucking a glowing rock into a pocket, “and for a spirit of chaos, you’re very predictable. Boulder wants to follow you around and keep you in line, but he and I have another class to teach. You’re welcome for letting you out.”

Oh ho ho. So that was how this was going to be. First that bit at the Grand Galloping Gala a while back, and now this. Well then. This little pony was lucky Starlight was his target; he’d have to make do with a warning. “Hear me,” he rumbled, drawing himself up to his full height, “you may have had your fun today. But I won’t let this stand by, and one day…” He gave his best villain smile, ignoring that part of him that said that it should be out of practice by now. “One day, I’ll show you my definition of ‘fun’.” He chuckled deeply. Thunder rumbled in the distance and plants wilted outside.

Maud blinked expressionlessly at him. “That’s nice. Don’t you have another innocent class to antagonize?”

Discord glowered at Maud. Maud stared at Discord. Discord glowered at Maud. Maud stared at Discord, except when she blinked. Why why why did one of the teachers happen to be the person who was, against all odds, unimpressed by him? Finally, Discord snorted and turned his back on her. “Very well. But don’t think I’ll forget-”

Boulder hit him in the back of the head like a bullet train. “Boulder doesn’t like it when you waste your time.”

Poof. And Discord was gone.

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