Absentee Father of Monsters

by Rambling Writer

Chapter 1: #0 Dad

Chrysalis and Cozy Glow stared levelly at each other while Tirek watched. Nobody moved. Nobody said anything. The atmosphere was so tense you could play it like a banjo. Tempers had reached an ionization point and casualties were nigh-inevitable.

“Yes,” confirmed Cozy Glow, “I do think you’re lying. You’re a changeling. Deception is in your blood.”

“I don’t have blood,” snapped Chrysalis, “I have hemolymph.”

“I know a thing or two about lying,” continued Cozy Glow, buzzing her wings. “It’s not my fault the truth won’t make ponies roll over and obey me. And you? I’m seeing all the signs. Your breathing. Your eyes. The way your hair’s curling. You’re a liar. How could you do that to one as cute as me?” She batted her eyelashes.

“For the last time,” snarled Chrysalis, “I’m telling the truth when I say ‘Go Fish’!”

Cozy’s eyes narrowed. “Maybe. But remember, I’m watching you.” She drew a card and howled some things someone her age shouldn’t have known.

“Finally,” said Tirek. He looked through his cards. After a moment, he asked Cozy, “Might you have any-”

Rocks flew as the cave wall exploded. The trio was blown back, their cards scattered everywhere and the game turned to 52-Card Pickup. The table was reduced to pebbles in an instant. Discord strode out of the dust, wearing a gaudy yellow shirt, hat, and foam finger that all said VillainCon 1007. “Did somebody say ‘gathering of villains’?” he bellowed.

Cozy Glow fluttered to the remains of the table. “I don’t think we did,” she hazarded. “Did… you two…?”

“I said no such thing!” Tirek protested, staggering to his feet. “Why would we advertise our alliance like that?”

“I can’t feel my face!” screamed Chrysalis from beneath a pile of rubble.

“…Oh,” Discord said. The foam finger grew floppy and the brim of his hat wilted. “You’re sure? It’d be a shame to waste a good entrance like that.” He looked around hopefully.

“Nuh-uh,” said Cozy.

“Certainly not,” said Tirek.

“I think my jaw is broken!” said Chrysalis.

“Well, poo,” said Discord, sticking his lower lip out. His paraphernalia crumbled to ash. “We finally get a super impressive villain teamup and I’m not invited. Oh, well. So long, and thanks for all the fish.” He raised his hand, ready to snap.

Tirek’s eyes suddenly grew huge. Molten energy coalesced between his horns and he loosed an orange beam of magic at Discord.

Only for Discord to grab the beam before it could reach him and freeze it in the air. “Ah… no.” He sliced through it with a claw (Tirek flinched and stumbled back) and inhaled the beam as if it were a Pixie Stick. “Mmm. Spicy,” he said licking his fingers. “Really, Tirek, that didn’t work last time, why do you think it would-”


The entire cave shook as Grogar stomped into the room. He glared at Tirek, Cozy Glow, and Chrysalis in turn. “I told you,” he snarled, “I need stillness so I can think! There’s work to be done, work that obviously cannot be entrusted to the likes of any of you miserable miscreants! And YOU!” He pointed at Chrysalis, still on the ground. “What are you doing in that pile of rock?”

“I have GRAVEL inside my SINUSES,” croaked Chrysalis. She sneezed; a pebble flew across the room.

“Oh, get up,” snapped Grogar. “I won’t have you waylaid by mere stones.”

“Why’s the changeling with rubble in her muzzle the most interesting thing in here?” Discord mused, staring at the ceiling. “You can see that whenever you want, as long as ‘whenever’ means ‘at the same time and place as Pharynx’s training sessions on Tuesdays’.”

Grogar whirled at the sound of Discord’s voice. “And you,” he snapped. “What are you doi-” His voice cut off as he and Discord locked eyes. Discord’s face (not literally) exploded with joy. “Aw, crud,” muttered Grogar.

“Daddy!” squealed Discord gleefully, and grabbed Grogar in a pouncing hug.

Tirek’s, Cozy’s, and Chrysalis’s jaws dropped. “You’re-” gasped Tirek.

“-D-Discord’s-” squeaked Cozy.

“-father?” yelped Chrysalis.

“Father- of- Monsters,” grunted Grogar, failing to extricate himself from Discord’s grip. “Including- this- little-” He screamed in rage and pushed, to no avail.

Chrysalis raised a hoof. “I have a question.”

Tirek raised a hand. “I have several questions.”

Cozy Glow raised a hoof. “I have all the questions.”

“I missed you so much, Daddy!” said Discord, spinning Grogar around. “Did you get that orange juice yet? You said you were just going to the store to get orange juice, but you never came back! I super-duper wanted that orange juice, you know.” He scowled. “And I got so bored, I took over Equestria for you, just like you wanted! And then you still didn’t come back, so Celestia and Luna re-took it over, and they petrified me! That was kinda mean. And you STILL still didn’t come back, so I was stoned for over a thousand years!”

“Explains a lot, doesn’t it?” Chrysalis whispered to Cozy Glow.

“What explains a lot?” asked Cozy Glow.

“We’ll tell you when you’re older,” said Tirek.

“But one thing led to another, and now I have a new best friend, Daddy! I let her kill Sombra! Wow, he dies a lot. Maybe he should stop that. None of us have died once! Except for you, and even that was just that one time.”

“Discord-” Grogar squirmed and twisted, but Discord had a grip on him as firm as green on grass (green also being the color he was turning). “Discord! Put me down!”

“But DAAAAAAAddyyyyyyy…”

“No buts, young draconequus!”

Discord pouted and put Grogar on the ground. “Daddy, I-”

“I’m busy! Go to your room!”

“You’re no fuuuuuuuun!” Discord wailed, stomping away.

Once the echoes had faded away, Grogar sighed and rubbed his forehead. “He was meant to be a monster I could control,” he said, preempting the other villains, “a conduit to the destructive potential of chaos magic. Then the very nature of chaos magic meant I couldn’t properly control him. He was of no use to me, so I let him run wild until those accursed alicorns petrified him.”

Chrysalis put a hoof to her mouth and gasped. “You abandoned your own child?” she said in a hushed voice. “That’s- That’s just cruel, and not in a proper way! It’s scummy, it’s tasteless, it’s-”

“Didn’t you use your own kids as cannon fodder waaaay back in Canterlot?” asked Cozy Glow. “ ’Cause coming from you-”

“Only after I had raised them from infancy and molded them to be cannon fodder!” Chrysalis protested. “I merely spent their entire lives shaping them to be extensions of my will and leaving them in a constant state of near-starvation so they could be easily manipulated; I would never abandon them outright!”

“You would if one of them was Discord!” Grogar snapped.


Tirek raised a hand. “Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise,” he said. “If we can convince Discord to join us-”

“Sorry,” Discord said, sticking his head in. “I’d love to, really, but the boring, predictable script says I can’t.” He pulled away.

“Never mind.”

Grogar paced back and forth. “And I don’t know how long his fickle mind will keep him here. He might remain long after we have conquered the ponies. But for now…” He took a deep breath. “For now, we’ll just have to live with him.”

“Metaphorically or literally?” Cozy Glow asked, smiling guilelessly. (Tirek and Chrysalis smacked her on the back of the head at the same time.)

Grogar peered into his Scrying Stone, following the trail of magic left by his bell. It was a delicate process, one that couldn’t be interrupted. Following an arcane trail through a visual medium took a great deal of skill and concentration; the slightest slip-up, and one might have to start over completely when they lost their place. After the interruption, this had taken the better part of the day; the sun had gone down hours ago, and only a combination of focus, commitment, sheer will, and caffeine kept Grogar awake. He was close. He was so-


Grogar shrieked in surprise, jumped six feet in the air, and lost his place. It was only through a truly admirable application of self-control that he didn’t decapitate Chrysalis right then and there. He turned to her-

“Is this picture accurate?” Chrysalis asked, waving a photograph around. “Discord claims that you and he are responsible for this, but-”

“Let. Me. See,” snarled Grogar. He snatched the picture away and squinted at it. It depicted him in Roam, standing in front of the Cavezzeum, roaring in delight as monsters roamed the streets. And in the bottom left corner, a young Discord was forcing his head into frame, making a goofy face, and pulling one of his eyelids down.

“Yes,” Grogar said, flipping the picture back to Chrysalis. “That was roughly two hundred years before Celestia’s and Luna’s arrival in Equestria. It took ages for Roam to recover from that assault.”

“Hmm. In-ter-es-ting,” whispered Chrysalis. She looked at Grogar, looked at the picture again, and departed, wings buzzing.

Grogar turned back to his Stone, but with his focus shattered, his will redirected, and his caffeine drained, his commitment alone was insufficient to keep him awake, and he yawned hugely. He turned to his bedroom and loped off to-

…Just how had that picture ended up in Chrysalis’s possession, anyway?

Groaning and rolling his eyes, Grogar dragged himself to the room Discord had designated as his and already decorated. (Why he couldn’t utilize those phenomenal cosmic powers for the reason he’d been created was beyond Grogar.) Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow were all clustered around Discord, who was pointing things out in a book. “…and we destroyed this castle on my eighth congelationday! I did it alllllll by myself!”

“The destruction is rather mundane for you,” observed Chrysalis.

“Yeah, I wasn’t as cool or creative then as I am now. But I-”

“What is this?” asked Grogar.

“I kept the scrapbook I made for you, Daddy!” said Discord. He held up the book, revealing the title to be Just Me and My Dad. In the frame on the cover was a picture showing a scowling, unchanged Grogar and an ecstatic, very young Discord giving Grogar bunny ears, standing in front of a manticore-overrun castle. “Remember this?”


“I’m showing them your subjugation of Tuscaneigh!” Discord said brightly. “That was awesome! See, we’re at the siege of Firenzoccolo.”

Cozy Glow, Tirek, and Chrysalis all oooooooooooed appreciatively. “Such a beautiful city,” said Chrysalis. “So ripe for the taking.” She leaned in and licked her lips. “So much love to consume.”

“You think it’s beautiful now? Oh, just you wait!” said Discord. “See, this is the main piazza before we conquered it…” He turned a page. “And this is it after!”

Tirek stroked his beard. “Very nice, very nice indeed,” he said. “The smoke from the fires creates a certain atmosphere, especially against the ruined clock tower. And the pile of disemboweled bodies over there is a nice touch.”

“THEIR INSIDES ARE ON THE OUTSIDE!” Cozy Glow shrieked, covering her eyes. “MY POOR INNOCENT BRAIN!”

Discord stuck out his tongue at her. “Wuss.”

“Go to bed,” said Grogar firmly. “It’s late.” And he wasn’t sure he could sleep if Discord kept talking about the Good Old Days, even as tired as he was.


“This party is over. Go to bed. You can show them the joys of ransacking the countryside tomorrow.”

“Okay!” Discord slammed the book shut so hard that it collapsed into sawdust. “G’night, guys! See you tomorrow!” He poofed himself into bed (with Daring Do covers, of all things).

“Now leave,” Grogar snapped at the other three. He magically picked them up and hurled them out the doorway. “Thanks to your interloping, I have wasted a day on a fruitless endeavour, and I am quite-”

“Will you read me a story, Daddy?” Discord piped up.

Grogar planted his face in his hoof. “You have… far… outgrown… stories.”

“So?” It was amazing how well those mismatched, horrifically jaundiced eyes could emulate a puppy’s.

Cozy Glow poked her head back into the room. “I could use a story, too,” she said, fluttering to the foot of the bed. “Nopony’s read me a story in, like, ever! Or maybe it was only a few months.”

The idea of a noose became very appealing to Grogar. But to have waited for so long, only to have his victory snatched away from him — by himself! — simply because he couldn’t put up with Discord… He breathed in. He breathed out. He breathed in. He breathed out. “Very well,” he said. “I can-”

A sound made him angrily spin around. Tirek and Chrysalis were looking into the room, the grins of spies plastered all over their faces. “Oh, don’t mind us,” Tirek said, hiding the camera behind his back. “We’re just, um-”

Observing!” Chrysalis interjected. “What a- good- parent you are!” She smiled.

“Yes, precisely,” said Tirek. “Good parenting is so hard to find these days. It’s a joy to see you take to it again so quickly!” He gave Grogar a thumbs up.

“If those photos get circulated, I shall end you,” Grogar rumbled.

“What photos?” Tirek and Chrysalis chorused.

Grogar attempted to glare them into submission, which failed when he yawned hugely in the middle of it. “Out,” he mumbled. The pair retreated, but he could hear them waiting just out of sight, probably ready with the camera. Too tired to care, Grogar idly flicked through his memories of the children’s books he knew about, picked one, and summoned a copy. Reluctantly taking a seat next to Discord’s bed, he said, “Here’s one that was written recently: I Want My Hat Back.”

“Is it a good one?” Discord asked. He pulled his blankets up to his chin.

“Yes. Trust me.”

“Wow,” said Cozy. “That’s the first picture book I’ve seen where killing and eating someone is the solution to all your problems. We should try that sometime!”

It was remarkably easy to lose things in a featureless cave, Grogar fumed to himself as he turned the place over for what felt like the hundredth time. He had a lead on his bell, he was positive. He could feel it. He’d been just a few seconds away from finding it yesterday before he’d been so rudely interrupted (both times!), and now he needed his Scrying Stone to solidify that lead. Unfortunately, said Stone was missing. If only he could scry for it, ha ha…

Grogar tapped all the ground beneath the table. It was a big stone, over two feet across, quite heavy, and yet when he’d woken up this morning, it was gone. It was like it’d vanished into thin air. An artifact of that size certainly couldn’t have been misplaced, the same way one might misplace a quill. No, either he was sleepwalking or it’d been deliberately hidden.

Discord slunk into the room, one step at a time, looking everywhere except Grogar. He cleared his throat. “Um, Daddy?”

Grogar didn’t respond, instead rooting around the staircases again. Perhaps one of his “allies” had taken the Stone… but why? What would they want with it? Why didn’t they ask him? Certainly they knew the retribution they would face if they were found out.


Grogar grunted in a way that could be taken as a response.

“You, um, remember your palantír ripoff?”

Dread hit Grogar with the force of a dozen freight trains carrying funeral mourners. He slowly turned to face Discord. “Pray tell, what do you mean, ‘remember’?”

Discord shuffled from foot to foot, self-consciously twisting his goatee around a claw. “Well, I was going to show my new best friends how to play buckball, but you don’t have any balls, and I needed some balls, because I really wanted to play with your balls, and what kind of Daddy doesn’t have balls?-”

Chrysalis’s attempts to control her laughter two rooms over finally failed. “You are so immature!” squeaked Cozy Glow.

“-then I remembered you have a crystal ball, and… well, that sort of ball doesn’t bounce the greatest.” Discord held out dozens of large chunks of glowing glass and grinned ruefully. “Sorry!”

“…That was inviolable!” roared Grogar. “Indestructible! And- And- you!- in a game?- somehow-!” He screamed and attempted to flip the table. This proved less than dramatic, as the stalagmite the table was made from refused to budge.

“Didn’t you get the extended warranty? Or maybe you should sue for false advertising. Because, you know, if its main selling point was indestructibility-”

Grogar slung a blanket of glowing black from his horns and pinned Discord to the wall, completely covering him. Half a second later, a straw popped from the surface of the arcane prison and curled over to reinsert itself. The magic rapidly vanished inside the straw, which proved to be in Discord’s mouth. Discord ate the straw and smacked his lips. “That was kinda bland, and now I’m thirsty. Can we get ice cream, Daddy? We never get ice cream!”

Grogar’s breaths were deep and heaving, like a rabid dog had run a marathon. “We- are not getting-”

“If I may…” Tirek sidled into the room. “Ice cream sounds quite nice at the moment. This place is so unbearably humid. I mean, a swamp? A thousand places for an evil lair, and you chose a swamp?”

“The festering decay and atmosphere of dread are traditional,” grumbled Grogar.

“I suppose the lack of air conditioning is also traditional?”

“Air conditioning? Ha!” bellowed Chrysalis. She sprinted around Tirek and slid to a stop. “That’s not the worst of it!” she said to Tirek. “What about the mosquitoes? None of the windows in here have any glass, and my room’s on the outside wall, so every night, I’m plagued by swarm after swarm of those miserable bugs.” She shifted her tail to a donkey’s and whipcracked it to smack a mosquito out of the air. “I have chitin and they’re still getting through!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Discord. “I think mosquitoes are neat.”

“That’s because you, like them, are omnipresent, beyond irritating, impossible to exterminate, and home in on the spot where you could cause the most irritation, and the world would suffer absolutely no harm if you were destroyed completely and utterly.”


“In any case,” Chrysalis said, staring down Grogar, “I am also in favor of ice cream, if only to get away from this wretched place for a moment.” She paused and grinned sheepishly. “Also, I’ve never had ice cream before.”

“You should try mint chocolate chip,” said Cozy Glow, conveniently buzzing into the room. “It’s the most amazing flavor ever. Add me to the ice cream list, too, by the way,” she added to Grogar.

Grogar squinted at Cozy Glow. “And what’s your excuse?”

“I’m just a kid,” Cozy said, shrugging. “I always want ice cream.” She smiled and made big, puppy-dog eyes.

“You’ve been outvoted by a supermajority, Daddy!” Discord said cheerfully. “Time for ice cream!”

Rather than pointing out that this was a dictatorship rather than a democracy, Grogar rolled his eyes. “Very well. Ice cream. So long as you cast a glamor over us to keep us from being noticed.”

“Oh, that’s easy! I’ve been practicing.”

“And where would you like to go?”

“And, naturally,” grumbled Grogar, “you chose the most expensive ice cream place around. Thank you. So very much.”

“It’s not my fault, Daddy!” protested Discord. “How was I supposed to know they charged a fifteen percent villain gratuity?”

“From the sign that said they charged a fifteen percent villain gratuity!” screamed Grogar, pointing at the sign in question.

Discord made a face. “And you expect me to read? Besides, you’re just jealous that I, not being a villain anymore, wasn’t charged.” He slurped up his sundae.

“I might not be,” grunted Grogar.

“This twist is simply divine,” Tirek said in between licks. “I’d never thought chocolate and vanilla could go so well together.”

“Yeah, the twist here is really good.” Cozy Glow wiped some hot fudge from her mouth. “And how’s that mint chocolate chip, Chryssy?”

“Cah’h hauk,” Chrysalis said through a full mouth. “Tuh biffy eahdih mih hocowih hih.”

“I’m gonna take that as a ‘good’,” said Cozy, licking down her hoof. Chrysalis nodded vigorously.

Grogar forlornly sucked at the straw of his milkshake, just like Discord sucked at his will to live. He could see it now: an endless cycle of getting interrupted at exactly the wrong time, getting dragged to do the most banal, time-consuming things one could imagine. At this rate, what would once take mere minutes could now take… days, weeks, months, who knew? All because his “son” arrived at exactly the wrong time.

The milkshake decided to spite him and chose that moment to run out. Grogar scowled at the cup and crushed it beneath a hoof. “When you all are finished,” he scowled, “we are returning to our lair. We have much to do, still.”

Discord’s jaw dropped. Once he’d reattached it, he protested, “But Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyy, you promised we could go mini golfing!”

Grogar gaped. “…When? Miniature golf wasn’t even invented the last time we were together! Regular golf wasn’t invented, and thank heavens for that!”

“It was implied! Remember when you promised you’d show me the proper way to kill rabbits by stuffing pony heads down their burrows from a distance? That’s kinda like mini golf. Maybe. If you tilt your head. And squint. And lie.”

“Sadly, that is currently frowned upon in polite society.” Grogar heaved a breath. He already knew where this was going. “Very well. We can take some time to go mini golfing.”


Please try to keep it cheap this time. I-”

“I’ll pay for it!” Cozy Glow said, putting up a hoof. “I still have some allowance left over from before Tartarus. I think. Let me check.”

“Perfect!” said Discord. He pulled off one of his horns and unfolded it into a map. Several points were marked on it, each with a picture of a mini golf course. “Now, here we have the best mini golf courses, so we need to choose which one we’re going to.”

“…That,” Grogar said in disbelief, “is a map of all of Equestria.”

Discord looked at him sideways. “Well, duh. We need to cover all the best mini golf courses. All of them.”

Grogar sighed and massaged his temples. Honestly, it was like Discord was trying to make things as difficult as possible for him.

Princess Highlights,

The Legion of Doom has been infiltrated and Operation Deny Deadbeat Dad’s Dastardly Deeds is a go. Annoyance is reaching critical levels and nobody suspects a thing.


P.S.: Congratulations! In formulating this plan, you’ve learned the most important part of being a leader: getting someone else to do stuff for you.

(No, really. I know you want to handle everything, but you’d go mad within the hour if you didn’t delegate the unimportant tasks. More so than usual, I mean. And not the fun kind of mad, either!)

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