Diaries of a Madman

When Discord breaks free of his stone prison, he proves to be much older and wiser than he was on the show. A being of ancient and unimaginable power, he forces Celestia to make a deal to save her little ponies. What she doesn't realize is that one of the terms of the deal is that she forgets ever making it. Enter Navarone, a poor human just trying to get by—or at least, to the ponies that's what he looks like. Pulled from his home by an accidental summoning from one Twilight Sparkle, Navarone is thrust into a world of ponies and more violence than he expected from such a peaceful seeming world. These are his adventures—with a few asides from everybody's favorite Lord of Chaos, of course.


11. Chapter Eight—Carnies, teeth, and interesting meetings Part 2

She gave me a very dark smile as she closed the door behind her and began removing my clothing. “Oh, I know you will.”

...It’s a good thing she woke me up an hour early. We needed all that extra time for her… ugh, bathing session.

When we finally finished, I felt very much like I needed an adult. But as she assured me herself when I yelled that, she was an adult.

“And you thought you could get ready in fifteen minutes,” she said with a giggle.

“I hate you,” I sighed, smacking away the comb she was trying to run through my hair. The hair that was in a ponytail, mind.

“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic! If you hadn’t been so recalcitrant, that would have gone much smoother.”

“And if you had been willing to just let it go, we wouldn’t be running late right now.”

“WE’RE LATE?!” Without even stopping to check the clock, she grabbed my hand with her mouth and started galloping down the hall, dragging me along behind her. Of course, we weren’t late. But judging by the speed at which my maid ran, she was utterly terrified of the possibility. When we got outside of a random, nondescript door, she ground to a halt, losing her grip on me and sending me to the floor. “Get up! There’s no time for more sleeping!” Some magic took hold of me, propping me up but doing little to abate the pain I now had from being tossed to a tile floor. “Now remember, be on your best behavior!” Then she licked a hoof and rubbed it against my face to remove some imaginary stain before opening the door and shoving me through, then pulling it shut behind me.

The room was bereft of other occupants, so thankfully no one saw how I stumbled in. It also gave me some time to look around the room and learn where things were. The only important thing that I saw was a table with six seats, four in the middle and one on each end. Behind one of the chairs was a rising sun and behind the other, a waxing moon. The table itself was well-polished but bare wood. There was only one other door in the room, leading somewhere else. Only six plates, each with a basic set of silverware, and a single candelabra adorned the table. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was just the dining room of a well-to-do family instead of royalty.

But I knew better. Still, that didn’t stop me from walking to the other side of the table and sitting in the chair next to what I was assuming was Luna’s side of the table. Then I just waited.

After getting woken up the night before and then much earlier than I’m used to, I was feeling really tired, even after the excitements of the morning. My head was on the table and I might have dozed off when a quietly cleared throat got my attention. I flinched off the table and looked to my right, where Luna was now sitting.

“You’re really quiet,” I said, blinking the sleep out of my eyes.

“Greetings, Navarone,” a new and different voice said from my left. My head panned that way and a large white horse filled my eyes. She had wings and a horn, like Luna. And she was wearing a much larger crown and a large gold neck bangle. Her hair was a mix of pastel colors, flowing in the wind like Luna’s does at night. Her eyes were a dark pink. She seemed… tired.

Alright, meeting a new princess. Act natural. “...Hello, Princess,” I said as casually as I could. “Sorry for uh… being asleep.”

“Oh, it’s no problem. My sister told me she woke you up quite late last night. And from the reports that Twilight has been sending, you don’t tend to be awake this early.”

Twilight sends a lot of fucking reports, doesn’t she? “Not usually, no,” I replied. “And having a maid forcing me into a bathtub against my will didn’t help wake me up, either,” I added, giving Luna a very pointed look. I looked back to her sister when she began to talk.

“You have an aversion to being clean?” Celestia asked, somewhat confused. “That isn’t something that was mentioned.”

“To my people, it’s a massive taboo to be seen naked by anyone that we don’t know very well. And even more of one to be… bathed by another.”

Luna snorted and said, “You will never settle in well should you not begin accepting our customs instead of yours, Nav.”

Celestia said something before I could. “And we should not make a guest uncomfortable, Luna. If he finds it awkward to be bathed, then he shall no longer be bathed. It is an ancient tradition that fell out of favor long ago, anyway. Where you found a maid that would be willing to do such a thing, I don’t know.”

“More than willing,” I muttered, rubbing my hands together under the table.

“What was that, Navarone?” Celestia asked.

“She seemed… overeager to please,” I said, louder. “I tricked her into leaving and took a shower before she could get back. When she found out what I did, she forced me to take another bath so she could say she did so.”

Celestia’s gaze slowly moved to Luna as she said, “I wonder what could have given her that kind of urgency.”

“We can discuss this later,” Luna icily replied. “The hour is early and I am weary. Shall we not eat to break your fast, sister?”

“We should indeed, sister. Navarone, I trust Twilight’s report about your diet was accurate?”

“Uh. If she wrote down everything I told her, yes. Unless you have nothing but flowers and hay, I can probably eat something.”

“Excellent.” Her horn lit up and a soft chime sounded throughout the room. Moments later, a few servants entered the room from the other door, each with platters of food. “My apologies at being unable to provide meat for you,” she said, not really sounding overly apologetic. “It is not something we generally keep on hoof, save for when certain ambassadors are visiting.”

“It’s no problem,” I said as the servants began stacking non-meaty breakfast foods on the table. “Honestly, I’m surprised you all seem so understanding about the issue.”

“Not all of us are,” she replied. “It is something I suggest you keep quiet. No pony will make any attempts to harm you over it, but most ponies are… not overly friendly with those that voluntarily eat meat.”

I muttered, “...Good thing I haven’t mentioned my hunting trips,” under my breath.

“What was that?” Celestia asked, smiling.

“I’ve found ways of getting meat on my own,” I said, louder. “The Everfree has monsters no one will miss. I have cravings for meat. Everybody wins.”

“Until you make a mistake,” Celestia said.

“Thrill of the hunt,” I replied with a large smile, ensuring my canines were showing. Oh God, why did I do that? I was thankful for Luna breaking the conversation.

“Enough talk,” Luna said as the servants began filing out. “I, for one, hunger and long for bed.”

“We can eat while we talk, sister,” Celestia said, levitating some fruit from one of the platters. “But yes, it is time to eat. Take whatever you desire, Nav.” Already using Nav instead of Navarone? Interesting.

“It’s nice to have fruit other than apples,” I commented, grabbing a slice of honeydew.

“Ponyville is an out of the way town, not used to importing,” Celestia said with a shrug. “And it’s definitely an Apple town.”

I just had to get summoned to the ass end of nowhere. “Definitely different from what I’m used to. It’s weird being in such a small town for so long, especially one not connected to the economy.”

“Oh?” she said. “What are you used to?”

“Large cities. Well, large-ish. Only a few million people—” Both of them flinched when I said that. “What?”

“...Nothing,” Luna finally said. “Go on.”

“...Only a few million people, but we’re still connected to the global market. It’s hard not to be, where I come from. It’s weird to go to the market and see so little variety.”

“Your world sounds… different,” Celestia finally said. “But surely things aren’t all bad here?”

“Different doesn’t mean bad, Princess,” I said by way of answer. “Yes, I would much rather be home where I belong. But failing that, this place isn’t so bad. As long as I’m human.”

“Was being a pony so distasteful to you?” Celestia asked, one of her eyebrows lifting.

I snorted and said, “It was probably the worst experience I’ve had in my entire life, and I’ve almost been killed before. Twilight told me she felt similar about being a human. I’m glad it’s over.”

“What was so bad about it?” Luna asked. “As handsome as you appeared, surely all the ponies were friendly!”

“I didn’t have fingers. I was on all fours all the time, which feels wrong. All my senses were different, throwing me off entirely. My eyes were larger and in different places. My nose picked up more. My ears kept twitching. There were pheromones in the air that drove me mad at one point because I wasn’t used to them. It cursed me with these damn wings that I still can barely control. So yeah, thank you for turning me back, Luna.”

“You are most welcome, Nav,” she happily replied.

“It is always interesting to see how somepony reacts to change,” Celestia commented. “Twilight sent me many reports about her experiences in the different shape.” Does that purple horse do anything other than send reports? “Though I’m surprised she didn’t use the spell on you to cancel out the effects of the pheromones. Didn’t you ask her?”

“...No,” I slowly said. “I didn’t. I assumed it was just me. I did mention it to someone, but she didn’t know what I was talking about.”

“Well, no harm done,” Celestia said, shrugging. No harm my ass.

I didn’t have much to say after that. Which turned out to be good, because there was a lot of food and I was rather hungry. Not talking made eating easier and faster. Though it did worry me slightly that Celestia had cake for breakfast. I didn’t comment on it, of course; it’s hardly my place to tell someone that can squash my fucking head like a grape what she can and can’t eat.

“It is time for me to sleep, Nav,” Luna told me, standing from her chair. How did she even sit in that thing, anyway? “I will arrange transportation for you to return home tonight, should you desire it.”

“Then I guess I’ll see you when you wake up,” I replied with a shrug.

“Rest well, sister,” Celestia said, nodding.

“I shall,” Luna said, her horn lighting up. With a quick pop, she disappeared.

Celestia just smiled, shaking her head. “So lazy. Now, would you like to go somewhere more conducive to pleasant discourse? This room is comfortable, but not suited for lengthy visits.”

“Sure, I guess.”

“I hope you don’t mind walking,” she said, standing from her chair.

“I very much prefer it,” I answered, also standing. “I’m definitely not used to magic.”

“And flying?” she asked, walking to the door. I fell into step behind and then next to her after we got out of the room. The maid was not out there.

“Fuck flying,” I said. “I hate these damn wings.”

“Many would see them as a blessing, not a curse.”

“Those ‘many’ are probably ponies. Humans are not shaped to accommodate them. Anyone that thinks they’re a blessing are welcome to have my set.”

“...I’m sure you’ll come to accept them, in time.”

“Probably. But until I do, I’ll hate them.”

“Were I younger, I’d tell you to count your blessings and try to find the good in everything you do.”

“It’s a good thing you’re not younger, then. I’m perfectly content in my misery.”

For some reason, a smile bloomed on her mouth. “I think we’re going to be good friends, Nav.” That’s not ominous or anything.

“If you say so.”

She chuckled and said, “If you aren’t interested in being friends, I understand. But many ponies feel somewhat dwarfed when meeting me and grow nervous. You didn’t. I think it would be quite nice to have somebody like that as a friend.” Even changed her racist wording. Neat.

“My grandfather had a saying. ‘Size don’t matter for much. Neither does age.’ You probably wouldn’t like the rest of it, but that’s the important part.” Them horses may be older and bigger than you, but don’t let that stop you from makin’ them do whatever you say. “You seem alright, so far.”

“Then I hope that impression lasts. Here we are…” she stopped in front of one of the many doors along the halls and pushed it open with magic. “Come in, come in.” We both entered what looked like a decent-sized sitting room. A few bookshelves and writing desks lined the walls. A large window was inlaid into the back wall, showing a pretty courtyard garden. A few lounging sofas that ponies seemed to like were arranged about the room. “Make yourself comfortable,” she said, lying across one of them. “Now, let’s have a conversation, you and I.”

“...What kind of conversation?” I warily asked, not sure how I should feel.

“Preferably a polite one. You obviously aren’t used to showing deference to anypony and I’m much the same. It will be nice to have an actual conversation with somepony instead of me ordering somepony to do something or having to listen to Twilight’s stories.” I knew someone else had to think Twilight’s tales were boring. “It has been a long time since I was able to actually talk to somepony.”

I shrugged and said, “Name your topic, then, and let us converse. Though I can’t promise to be as knowledgeable or experienced as you’d hope.”

And so we talked. The topic started at morality, went to philosophy, delved into human mentality versus pony mentality, dipped into the little physics I still remembered, dived into calculus, sauntered into some minor astrophysics theory, somehow meandered from there into underwater basket weaving, touched on modern human medicine, and finally ended on my impressions of some of the people I had met so far in Equestria.

“You know, Twilight’s my star student, and I feel like I should defend her, but you pretty much nailed her spot on,” Celestia laughed. “I had some idea of what to expect from you,” she said on a more serious note, “but I must say that I’m happy to finally meet you. If you are anything like the rest of your species, which you say you aren’t, I wouldn’t complain to see more of them here.”

“You might not, but I would,” I answered. “According to some theories about stuff like this back home, my dimension literally doesn’t exist anymore. But I still can’t help but think that somewhere, my family is missing me and wondering what the hell happened to me, how I just completely disappeared out of my room. And some people are a lot closer to their family than I was. If you started taking more of them away, some of those people would resent you and try to get back at you for it. And there is no force in the multiverse stronger than a group of humans plotting revenge. You may think you’re immortal now, but piss some people off where I come from and you’d find out for sure. And if you are, you might end up wishing you weren’t.”

She smiled at that, oddly. “An interesting response. So, what do you say to being alone here? The only human in our world. A very lonely position, I must imagine.”

“Yep, sure is.” I shrugged and neutrally said, “Life sucks and then you die. I’m still alive, so you better believe it’s gonna keep sucking. Lonely or not, humans are survivors. That is our long history and as the only one here, I shall do my best to hold onto the tradition.”

“That is a… bleak and depressing outlook, Nav. Wouldn’t you rather have somepony to love you?”

“No offense about this, but I’m really, really not interested in ponies. I have no attraction to your race and no desire for a relationship with any one of you. On the off chance my highly emotionally battered soul can even find love, I very much doubt I’ll find it here.”

She smiled and said, “You’re young. You may yet change your tune.”

“Maybe. But I’ve yet to see any kind of psychologist in Equestria and my childhood left me without the emotion of love. So I wouldn’t hold your breath. Hell, even if I could, I’m wired differently than all the ponies I’ve met so far. I’m fine being around most of them for short periods, but I can’t stand being around them for long. They’re too bright, too cheery. I’m way too bitter to be in a relationship with any of them.”

“Not all ponies are like that, Nav. Many of them also have problems, things that keep them from being constantly happy. Ponyville is a small town, away from the world. You’re more likely to find ponies more like you in a city like… say, Canterlot.”

“Eh. Still have the problem of being unable to care for someone. But none of that is really important. Why are you so interested about my ‘lonesome’ status, anyway?”

“You are one of my subjects now, like it or not, and I like to know how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. And since you’re my only human subject, I can’t base your feelings or thoughts off anypony else’s. And besides, you are my friend, are you not? Is it truly so bad for one friend to care about another’s problems?”

“I wouldn’t know. I didn’t have much in the way of friends back home after one of them almost fucking killed me. And not many of the ‘friends’ I have here spent much time asking me about my problems.”

“Then I’ll be sure to schedule more talks for us. It’s unhealthy to have nopony to talk to.”

I smirked and asked, “So who do you vent to, Princess?”

“My sister, of course.” She paused for a second before adding an uncertain, “...Usually.”

“You know, someone once told me that it’s unhealthy to have no one to talk to. If you ever need to complain, I might not mind listening.”

“...I shall keep that in mind. Now tell me, how do you feel about gardens?”

“Eh, they’re alright. But I can’t imagine one that would be overly green in the winter.”

She chuckled and replied, “Then I’m glad I’ll get to show you something unimaginable. Come along.”

“If we’re going outside, I’m going to need a coat,” I said as she stood. “There’s one in my room.”

“Oh no, you won’t need one here.”

“...If you say so,” I dubiously said, standing.

“You’ll see. Now come along,” she said, leading the way back into the hall. I fell into step beside her. “Have you heard Fluttershy talking about the gardens here?”

“Nope. I don’t spend much time with her. She always seems like she’s afraid of me or something.”

“From what I’ve heard, you don’t spend much time with any of the ponies at all.”

“Hm. So what about the gardens?”

“They’re very meticulously tended and magic is used to ensure the plants within rarely age or die. The flowers aren’t always in bloom, but the cold of the winter doesn’t kill them.”

“Tch, magic. Figures,” I muttered.

It seems she heard that, however. “Is there a problem with magic?”

“It’s cheating,” I replied. “I had some family back home that would keep a perfect garden all year ‘round and none of us had any magic. If I was ever cursed to have a cutie mark as retarded as gardening, I know I’d hate it if someone used magic to ruin my work and keep me idle most of the time.”

Her strides slowed as she contemplated that. Finally she said, “That is a very… rough way of looking at things. But I will certainly ask the gardeners their preferences. If they feel the magic is detracting from the beauty of their work, the magic will be removed. Though I didn’t take you for a gardener.”

“Thank God, I’m not. I said some of my family is, not me. I don’t care enough about plants or art to do anything like that.”

“Oh come now. Everypony has an artsy side.”

“Every pony. I ain’t no pony. Ain’t never gonna be one again, either, not if I can help it. Some of us humans are a bit more centralized in what we do. And what I do doesn’t involve art. I don’t mind looking at some of it, but I have no desire to make it. But I’m sure you’re not interested in that. What about you? What kinda hobbies you got?”

She took a moment to consider before saying, “I quite enjoy reading, though I don’t get much time for it anymore. Sparring as well, though I definitely don’t get many ponies willing to compete against me.” Understandable, big as you are. “And of course, walks through the garden. Which will begin now!” We finally arrived to a set of double doors that led out into a very large garden.

Together, we exited the palace and began walking into a very nice garden. As she promised, it was nice and warm out there. “The air feels… strange,” I said, waving my arm through it slowly. “Warm, but… off.”

“Residual magic,” she explained. “Most ponies don’t even notice since they’re so used to it. There aren’t too many active fields like this in Ponyville, though, so it’s no surprise that you would notice.”        

“Hm. Seems weird to have such a large garden with no animals in it, though. With as warm as it is, I figured it would be a hotspot for animals.”

“Oh, it is,” she answered before letting out a low whistle. At her signal, I could hear rustling in all the bushes and trees around us. Soon, dozens of critters were scampering toward us.

“Oh God. That’s a lot of animals.” As long as they stay away from me, I have no problems.

“Indeed it is,” she said as the animals crowded around her. I quietly backed away, hoping none would fuck with me. “It’s said that the palace has the largest collection of small animals in the kingdom, but that’s not quite true. A number of zoos have larger collections.” She began handing out pettings and the like. “There’s no need to be shy, Nav. Now that they know you’re with me, they don’t mind you.”

“Pass. I’m not a fan of animals.”

“Until it comes to eating them?” she asked, smiling over at me.

“Hey, if God didn’t want me to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of food. Besides, they taste good and I need the protein.”

“Oh, I know…” She reached down to one of her critters and gently pushed it my way. “But just look at this one! You two have so much in common.”

The animal in question was a monkey. It looked up at me with wide eyes, tilting its head to the side. My eyes narrowed, returning to Celestia. “Did I ever tell you about the horses I used to ride back home?”

She clucked her tongue, catching all of the animals’ attentions. “Go on, now,” she pleasantly called, using her wings to shoo them away. “Return to where you were.” The animals slowly left, casting numerous backwards glances to their mistress. “So loving,” she sighed, watching the last of them depart. “I’m surprised Philomena didn’t come, though.”

“Who?” As I asked that, I felt something heavy and sharp latching onto my shoulder and then felt a dry wind hitting my head, signifying something landing. And then the new thing on my shoulder let out a loud and annoying squawk right next to my ear.

“Ah, Philomena! Navarone, this is my pet phoenix, Philomena. Though it seems you’ve already met.”

“...Yeah. Can you get off me?” I asked the fiery-appearing bird. It just leaned in and started nibbling gently on my ear. “Why do all birds do that?”

“I don’t know, but your shoulder gives her the perfect perch for it! I always thought it felt quite nice, personally.”

I started shaking my shoulder, trying to dislodge it. “I don’t. Hear that? She likes it. Go eat her ear, not mine.” It didn’t move. I sighed and looked over to Celestia. “Can you get this thing off me?” The bird squawked in my ear again. “Quickly, please.”

“I don’t think she likes being referred to as a ‘thing’, Nav,” Celestia said.

“Then it can start acting like a person and prove me wrong,” I said by way of answer.

“...I suggest against antagonizing somepony that can light herself on fire while she’s on your shoulder, Nav,” Celestia said.

One of my eyes twitched as I asked, “Do you have any suggestions, then?”

“Well, your hands would be very good for petting her…”

“Why would a person want to be petted?” I asked. At the sudden twinge of heat next to my face, I relented. “Fine! Christ, get the fuck off me and I’ll pet you.” God, I fucking hate animals. Thankfully, she lifted off me and moved over to Celestia’s back.

I think Celestia managed to read the look on my face and said, “She would be quite upset if you reneged upon your deal, Nav. Angry phoenixes are… definitely a sight to behold.”

“Feh.” The unpleasant feeling I had about being forced into petting the blasted bird didn’t stop me from doing it, though. She seemed quite happy with my hands, all things told. After a minute of playing with her, I backed off. “There. Now fuck off.” She let out a chirp that sounded somewhat happier before taking off…

...And landing on my chest, gripping onto my shirt. I was understandably confused and alarmed by that, but all she did was rub her head against my cheek before taking off again, flying who knows where.

“I fucking hate animals,” I muttered again, brushing the nonexistent animal detritus from my shirt.

“That’s a shame,” Celestia said, smirking. “It seemed that she quite liked you. But we’ve spent enough time out here, I believe. Now is a good time for lunch.”

“Then let’s go eat, shall we? Gotta be better than out here.”

“You said you liked it, I thought.”

“Before I got attacked by a bird. So what’s on the menu this time?”

“Oh, this and that…”

This and that, indeed. Vegetables, sandwiches, fruits, cake (that I let her consume). Typical lunch I’ve come to expect from ponies, though more of it since Celestia’s quite large in comparison.

“Sadly, I’ll have to leave you for some time,” Celestia said. “Even when a princess is supposed to have time off, our schedule will never be completely spotless. It should be a fairly short time, just two hours. Twilight has reported that you have a fascination for books. Would you like to spend the wait in the library?”

I shrugged and said, “Sure, I guess. Better than doing nothing.”

“Excellent. Your guide shall be here shortly. Hopefully Luna has spoken to her about giving you space.”

“Can’t you just tell her to not molest me or something?”

“She is one of Luna’s servants, not mine. It would be a breach of decorum should I give her an order. Though it should not matter, since you are likely leaving tonight anyway.”

“Eh, fair enough. I’ll see you in a few hours, then.”

“Until then.” With that, she left the small dining hall behind.

And then the maid entered three minutes later. Two hours that were fairly boring passed with me in the library and the maid bending over a lot, trying to show off her uniform. But since it wasn’t a sexy French maid outfit, it didn’t bother me any.

And since she was a horse, of course.

When those two hours were up, Celestia appeared at the entrance of the library where I awaited, reading some pony stories. Though I don’t know why I bothered, since they all had happy endings and most of them didn’t have anything bad happening in them.

When Celestia arrived, she asked, “Now, are you ready to attend a small event?”

“Uh. What kind of event?” I somewhat nervously asked, closing the book and setting it aside.

“Nothing major. There is a play that I quite enjoy happening soon and we are going to attend.”

“Alright, I guess. But this time, I’m almost definitely going to need a jacket. It may be warm in your gardens, but it’s probably pretty chilly outside.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable. Shall we?”

“If you know which room I’m in, lead the way.”

“Unless Luna changed anything, I know precisely where your room should be. Let us go.” And so we went.

A few minutes later, we arrived. And… “Where are my clothes?” I asked, eyeing the corner where I left them.

“They should definitely be here,” Celestia commented, poking her head in the room. “This is your room, isn’t it?”

“...Yeah.” I started poking around, looking for them. For some reason, they were in the fucking drawers. “Why are they in here?” I asked.

“...Isn’t that where clothes are supposed to go?”

“Well, yeah. But I didn’t put them in here.”

“Then one of the servants probably did. If everything’s there, no harm done. Just find your coat and let’s be on our way.”

“...Alright.” The coat was in a closet, for some stupid reason. Who the fuck puts jackets in closets? Normal people just throw them on things until they need them again! “Now, lead the way.”

Anyway, soon the two of us were walking through the palace. “I hope you don’t mind us walking to the play instead of using the chariot,” Celestia said. “Sometimes it’s nice to just stretch my legs and walk among my ponies.”

“It’s cool. I wouldn’t like being on a pedestal anyway. Though I imagine the two of us are going to garner enough stares anyway.”

“Very likely,” she replied. “I suggest you grow used to it. Unless you feel like becoming a pony permanently, it is something that will probably follow you for some time.”

“C’est la vie,” I sighed, shrugging. She didn’t reply to that. When we got to the castle gates, I asked, “So you aren’t bringing guards?”

“I won’t need them,” she replied. “I prefer not having them when I go on hoof.”

“Eh, I’m unimportant anyway. If anyone’s aiming, it’ll be for you.”

“Your concern for my well-being is touching,” she dryly replied.

“Hey, I’d miss you! But I prefer living too much to take a bullet for you. I’d definitely hold your blood in and rage at the heavens if you got hurt, of course.”

“My hero.” She didn’t sound very enthusiastic, but I could hardly blame her.

Thankfully, the theatre wasn’t that far from the palace, so we didn’t need to be in the cold for very long. Since Celestia was fucking Celestia, we didn’t even see the line. Of course, we both got tons of stares, but that was to be expected.

The two of us got taken to one of the upper VIP box seats, like those at the old opera houses. Here’s hoping there’s no pony version of John Booth.

“I do hope you’ll enjoy this play,” Celestia quietly said as the curtain closed. Turns out we got there just in time.

“I probably won’t, but at least I’m out of the library,” I just as quietly replied.

“Silver lining,” she whispered with a smile.

...It was a reverse-sexed Phantom of the Opera with no bad guy and no tragic ending. No drama, not much conflict, and the resolution just had the lead male character choosing the brighter looking mare. I mean, at least the songs were good, but everything else? Ugh. Three hours of my life, gone.

All the ponies seemed to enjoy it, though, stomping their hooves in approval. Celestia politely clopped her hooves at the end, not dropping the decorum of a proper pony princess. I sat quietly, trying to keep myself awake. “Would you like to meet any of the actors?” Celestia asked.

“Not particularly, no,” I said before yawning. “Your plays are boring as hell compared to ours. Or at least, to me they are.”

“Oh? And what are yours usually like?”

“Take this one. We have something similar back in my world. Reverse all the genders, make the ugly guy evil and secretive, make the red-head more of a bitch, and you got your play. Same basic plot, but a lot more conflict and in the end, the bad guy gets killed or something. Much more entertaining.”

“It sounds unpleasant,” she said, her nose scrunching slightly. “But as you said, at least you got out of the library. If you aren’t interested in speaking to the actors, would you prefer to return to the palace? I believe Luna will be waking up soon and would likely love to hear about your day.”

“I somewhat doubt that, but going back wouldn’t be too bad. Not like there’s much else for us to do, I don’t imagine.”

“Oh, there’s plenty we could do. But it probably is for the best that I bring you back. My sister might be upset that I’m monopolizing her guest, after all.”

“Then she can steal one of yours for some time. If she wants to complain, just tell her to get a better sleeping schedule. Just uh, don’t tell her I said that.”

“That is something I don’t disagree with,” she said, standing and stretching. “Now let us begin the walk to the palace. Better to return while there is still some warmth left from my daylight.” I stood as well, eager to be away from the awful theater with its terrible pony plays.

It didn’t take us long to get back to the palace. A mix of Celestia’s presence and me being a tall, intimidating predator thing got most of the ponies out of our path. I don’t know which was more effective, though the glares I was giving out for being stuck in the cold for any length of time probably did quite a lot.

When we returned, Luna was actually awake. “It does seem a little early for her,” Celestia commented as we walked to the dining hall once again. “Maybe she was excited?”

“If she’s so excited to see me that she can’t sleep, there’s a problem,” I said, scratching at my chin. “She definitely needs more friends, if that’s the case.”

“Is it truly so bad?” Celestia asked. “Many would be flattered to have somepony acting in such a way.”

“I’m not many.”

“...So I’ve seen.” Silence reigned until we got to where we were going. Celestia entered first, since she was the lady. “Ah, sister. Did you sleep well?”

“I did indeed,” Luna answered as I entered. “Did you two have a pleasant day?”

I shrugged and replied, “It was alright. Would’ve been nice with fewer birds attacking me.”

“Philomena was not attacking you,” Celestia sighed, walking over to her chair. “She was playing with you. And it was cute, not awful.”

Luna and I both snorted. She said, “That is certainly a matter of opinion. Your pet phoenix is a menace and she always has been, ever since you found her.”

“A menace you only don’t like because she bonded to me instead of you,” Celestia said, almost… smugly.

Luna pouted and I thought things were about to get ugly when the first servant came in with dinner. I helped myself to a seat closer to best princess and the three of us began to eat. After that, Celestia dragged us both off to that same sitting room, where she forced me to tell Luna how the day went. Then we just shot the shit for an hour or two before Celestia had to head to bed. To me, it was still early, but I was also feeling somewhat tired from getting woken up so early.

“It was nice to finally meet you, Nav,” Celestia said, standing.

“Same to you, Princess,” I replied.

“Oh, please. I thought we had dispensed with the titles long ago. Call me Celestia,” she said.

“Sure. Easier to remember.”

She smiled and said, “ I look forward to our next meeting whenever it might take place. Until then, Nav.”

“Until then,” I said, nodding.

“Good night, sister,” Luna said. They exchanged pleasantries and Celestia departed, leaving me alone with the dark princess of the night. “So what did you think of my sister?” she asked.

“I… honestly don’t know. She’s considerably more playful than I was imagining. And more sarcastic. Definitely interesting to talk to. All in all, I guess I approve of her.”

She giggled and said, “That is certainly nice to hear. Something for the newspapers, I suppose. Local alien approves princess. I wonder what everypony would think.”

“Probably wouldn’t care,” I said with a shrug. “But unfortunately, I’m also really tired. Getting woken up so early will do that to a guy.”

“...Indeed, sadly. I hate to see you depart without being able to spend more time with you, though.”

“There’s all the time in the world, if you can visit me in Ponyville. And, you know, warn me that you’re coming. I don’t mind spending time with you, but I don’t like getting woken up.”

“I shall remember that. But come, let us gather your belongings so that we may send you home.”

“Lead the way. I still don’t know this castle.”

“Even I am still learning it,” she said, standing. “This palace is large, overly so. The old castle we had was much more compact.”

“Changing size for changing times,” I said, joining her as we left the room. “Larger population with more needs. And more ambassadors. It makes sense that it grew. But I’m sure you’ll get us there just fine.”

She smiled at my encouragement, not that she needed it. She proved that well when, sure enough, we made it. And it didn’t take very long for me to gather up all of my stuff, either.

“Ready when you are,” I said with a nod.

“Come close, then,” she said. “Magic works easier when the participants are nearer.” I stepped up next to her. I only had time to see her wicked grin before she snatched me into a hug that I couldn’t return with my arms full. “Always be wary,” she giggled into my ear.

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You got me. I’ll see you later, Luna.”

“Later or soon,” she said. “Goodbye for now, however. Prepare yourself.”

I saw the flash of a horn lighting up and that was all before my first trip to Canterlot was over.

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