“It’s time to figure out what the other story is,” said Discord.
“Other story?” I said.
“There are two fundamental stories being enacted by ponies on this planet. We’ve talked about the story enacted by the ponies of your culture, but we haven’t yet discussed the story enacted by other cultures. Do you know what it is?”
“I don’t think I do.”
“Come on. I’ve given you enough material—I think you can figure it out.”
I thought about it for a moment, but my mind came up blank, and Discord put an exasperated head in his paw. He was evidently in a bad mood, and I was only making it worse.
“Start with what you know. What’s the story being enacted by the ponies of your culture?”
“Oh, yes. The world was born in a state of chaos.”
“But ponies were made to combat the chaos, and create harmony.”
“By conquering the chaos. In other words, by conquering and taking control of the world itself.”
“It was ponies’ duty to conquer and control the world. It was their destiny. Is that about what the ponies of your culture think?”
“Yes, I’d say so.”
“We’ve given these ponies the name Takers, because they take the rule of the world into their hooves. We’ve given every other culture in the world the name Leavers. You know how the Takers think, so can you figure out how the Leavers think?”
“Well, I guess they would leave the rule of the world in the hooves of the gods.”
“If they leave the rule of the world, then they must not think it was ponies’ destiny to rule the world. That means ponies weren’t made to combat the chaos.”
“You’re doing great. Keep going. Bring this to its logical conclusion.”
“Well, if they didn’t feel compelled to combat the chaos, they probably don’t perceive it as being chaos at all.”
“You’re almost there. You’re on the cusp of it.”
“They saw the world as existing in its own kind of harmony. And…furthermore, they saw themselves as belonging in that harmony.”
“Brilliant. I could hardly have put it better myself.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
“You have a wonderful model of Leaver cultures in the buffalo tribes in the west, and the zebra tribes in the east, as well as the few pony tribes you’ve allowed to survive to this day. These cultures lived for millions of years without taking control of the world as you’ve done, and they continue to live that way up to this very moment.”
“Yes, I can see that.”
“Would you believe there was a time when the whole world was like the Everfree Forest? And that ponies lived in this world perfectly happy and comfortable?”
“If you’d asked me back when we started, probably not.”
“The Everfree Forest is a center of chaos, is it not? It’s the last little pocket of the world that’s resisted being conquered by the Takers. Yet when we went there and took a closer look at it, we saw that it wasn’t so bad, did we not?”
“Yes, we did.”
“The Leavers lived with the whole world like that. Certainly they were always capable of taking control of the world, but they didn’t, because they were enacting a different story of the world and their place in it. Pegasus ponies have always had the ability to wrangle rainclouds, for instance, and in Leaver cultures, you might see a pegasus corral some to water her garden, or play a prank on her friends, or even make a sport of it. But you didn’t see pegasi systematically controlling all the rainclouds, as you see them doing today.”
“I can see that.”
“This is the world that I come from. It’s the reason I’m condemned as a monster, an agent of Chaos—because, as Celestia and her followers see it, the entire world was Chaos until they set about their divine duty of taking control of it. But now I’ve taught you enough to see the truth of it. The Taker story cannot continue, because it is the path to destruction. If the ponies of your culture do not abandon this story, they will soon destroy themselves and the entire world.”
“Yes. You know, it’s funny. I’ve heard the Everfree Forest called ‘unnatural’ before, but it’s actually one of the only remnants of the world as it was. It’s been there since the beginning, and lasted up until the present. And if we ponies are going to have a future on this planet, we’ll need it to continue with us, as we restore the rest of the world’s true harmony.”
“That’s right. The Everfree Forest is both the beginning and the end—much like Leaver culture itself.”
I enjoyed getting Discord’s take on pony culture here, and seeing him have his disciple think through what the alternative would be like. I’m sort of curious who his disciple is, whether it’s anypony we know. And given what we know about Discord’s manipulative ways I can’t help but wonder how much of what he says is true, and in what ways. Really interesting work!