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.

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23. Chapter Eighteen—More snake people

Not long after we got back, we three travelers got kidnapped by Twilight’s main group of friends and forced to tell stories of our trip. Spike and I got the most attention, because Twilight didn’t have jack all to tell. As soon as she mentioned water growth tables, they all zoned her out and turned to us instead.

They seemed to enjoy our stories a lot more, but I made sure to water down the vast majority of what I said. After all, there was no reason to ruin any of the more innocent ponies. Luna was one thing, but I didn’t want to hurt any of these girls. Even then, though, one thing that I noticed quickly is that almost a year away changes people in little ways...

 

Around an hour after we started, Pinkie Pie pulled me and Fluttershy aside from the main group, using the excuse that we had dance business to talk of. The rest of the group was content to talk with Spike and Twilight at that point, so they let us go without much comment.

When she got us alone, she told us the news: “Remember that naga my dad adopted?” When we nodded, she continued, “Well, now he likes one of the native naga! That should be good news, but… the other naga don’t like it. The two of them hid at my dad’s. The other naga are gonna hurt them both if they leave… We didn’t know what to do, so my parents were hoping you could help! They’ve stuck there for over a month.”

“I told him we should have just wasted that bastard…” I sighed, combing my fingers through my hair. “What do they want me to do?”

“I dunno. Just show up and do whatever you do! We know the naga like you, so maybe they’ll listen to you.”

“I just got home. How do you plan to explain this trip to the others? Don’t you think it’s time we told them?”

“I agree,” Fluttershy said. “We shouldn’t have ever kept this a secret from them at all.”

“You two know our friends... Rainbow Dash would immediately go to help them and just make a big mess. Rarity would think of all the drama and would rush off to watch. Applejack would be right behind Rainbow Dash, though probably for better reasons. Twilight might contact Celestia or she might actually try to talk it out. Either way, our friends… I just don’t think it would be a good idea to tell them.” Pinkie Pie was definitely, definitely more sane. “And besides, the naga don’t even respect ponies! Adding more ponies would only make it worse. I was actually thinking you could go alone, Nav.”

“You’d better have a decent reason for thinking no one would notice if I left.”

“Say it’s somepony from Egypt that wants to thank you for saving her!”

“Yes, but that isn’t very believable. I don’t actually want thanks for what I did.”

“Come on, Nav! What else do you want them to do? Just hide inside for the rest of forever?”

“Not that I don’t want to help, but… The last time I dealt with those naga, I ended up in Africa because of it. Celestia basically blackmailed me to force me to go.”

“I’m sure that’s not what Princess Celestia was doing, Navarone. Surely you’re mistaken,” Fluttershy assured me.

“I was there. You weren’t. I’ll do it, but I won’t promise any results, one way or another. Do you want this to end with the lovers winning or with the lovers losing?”

“Why would you even have to ask that?” Fluttershy asked, seeming shocked for some reason.

“Just making sure. Africa was… a trying time.”

Perhaps some of the pain I still carried showed through my face, because they both took me in their front legs in one of the warmest hugs I received in eight months. There’s a lot to be said for true friendship. Luna was nice to be around, and Kat was… no, but I felt better in that one moment than I had in a long time.

 

I waited for Pinkie Pie to send a letter off to her family, to ask them to send a letter to me detailing what they wanted me to do. When that letter arrived, I was able to pretend it was a request to meet me.

When it arrived—dropped off by Derpy Hooves—I left the next day. Convincing the others wasn’t that hard. Spike wanted to go, since he “helped me save the ponies, too!” I told him the letter asked for me, and that he was needed here with Twilight. Personally, I think he just wanted to go to try to find some more meat; Twilight had the poor guy back on a vegetarian/gem diet, and he wasn’t able to convince Fluttershy to give up any of her friends.

Rarity offered to give me the clothes of a conqueror, to fit my new… status. I declined.

I carried with me the dagger the naga gave me, my crossbow, some bolts, the fire starter, a new brown cloak, and some clothes. My other cloak had been used as bandages or a blanket or something by the cats. Either way, it was gone when I got my stuff back.

 

When I got to the rock farm, I realized the situation was about as bad as I was expecting: There were naga sentries posted about the building. The ponies were probably allowed in and out, but I was suspecting the two wayward naga would be killed if they laid a finger outside.

“You’ve returned!” said one of the sentries. “Are you here to finally join the naga?”

“Nah, sadly. I’m here on business.”

“You’re here to take care of this mess, then? I’m glad someone is doing it, and I’m doubly glad to see that someone is you. We were given orders not to enter this building, but surely you can go in there and kill that bastard and drag the harlot out here.”

“I wish I could, but I’ve been hired to mediate the situation and deal with it peacefully.”

“Bah! These ponies… Whenever there should be action, they demand words. How they ever took over this world is beyond me.”

“They have magic, that’s how. And a leader that doesn’t die.”

“Bah. Go in if you want, human. But don’t expect this to end peacefully.”

I went in.

My reception inside was just as warm. Pinkie Pie’s parents were happy to see me and because I was tired of thinking of them as ‘the mother’ or ‘the dad,’ I finally bothered asking their names. They were somewhat surprised I didn’t already know, but then the father muttered, “Pinkamena…” With that caveat out of the way, I was given their names: Sue and Clyde. Guess which was which.

“I’ve been told we have a Romeo and Juliet situation here,” I announced.

“You mean Poneo and Pirouette?” Sue asked.

“...Never mind. Where are our two errant lovers?”

“Before we let you see them, we have to know: Are you here with violent intents or with peace in your mind?” Clyde asked.

To answer that I took off my knife belt and hung it over Clyde and hung my crossbow over Sue. “I will hunt peace. If there is not a peaceful solution, I will leave.”

“You’ve changed,” Sue told me, smiling sadly.

“Africa taught me a lot of things. Not all of them were fun lessons.” With that, they took me to the two.

The two naga looked up from where they seemed to be… coiled. “I shouldn’t be surprised to see you, human, but even after all that has happened I am,” the male naga said. “Why would you come after doing so much to see me dead?”

“Everyone can change. Tell me, why should I help you?”

The female naga answered, “We are in love.”

“You are young, yet. How do you know this is love, and not just hormones? Or more likely, the instinct of rebellion enacted through giving in to lust with an enemy of your tribe?” Clyde and Sue gave me a pained look. The two lovers looked insulted. “I was young once.” Still am, but they don’t need to know that. “I yearned to rebel. Everyone does. Sometimes they have a good reason and sometimes they don’t. If what you two feel is true love and not just inflamed lust brought on by sticking it to the elders, I will try to help you.”

Sometimes, being the only one of your kind is useful. They can’t tell me I’m too young to speak wisdom if they have no clue how old I am. And it’s easier to make people see sense if you hide it as wisdom.

“And how could we even know such a thing? I feel what I think to be love. What other judge is there?”

“Yes, how else are we supposed to know, if not by listening to our feelings? We love each other. What more is there to it?”

I said, “I might not be the best person to ask, but Sue or Clyde can correct me if I’m wrong: Can you imagine yourself spending the rest of your life together? When you aren’t apart from each other, can you think of ways to fill the time other than sex or children?”

Clyde chimed in with, “Can you imagine letting her have your children?”

Sue sniffed, but added, “Can you imagine yourself getting so frustrated with each other that you just want to walk away and never come back, but instead stay and work through your problems?

I hit them with the last blow: “If what you’re feeling now ever wears off, can you imagine yourselves staying with each other?” I paused for a second and dredged through my memory, then quoted, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Say what you want about the Bible, but it has some good lines.

They slowly looked away, thinking.

I told them, “Go to different parts of the house. Stay apart for the rest of the day. Think about it.”

They looked at each other, then at Clyde and Sue. After nods from the two ponies, they slithered away to different parts of the house.

“What’s your game, Navarone?” Clyde asked.

“If I’m going to risk ruining my reputation with the naga for helping these two, I want it to be for a good reason.”

“What do we do while we wait?”

“You two stay up here and answer questions. Keep your daughters away from them, if you think they’ll try to encourage this. We can’t afford to let any nonsense get back into their heads while they’re thinking. I’m going to go find the leader of the naga if I can, and ask him some questions.”

“Don’t antagonize him overmuch, Navarone.”

“I don’t plan on it.” I grabbed my weapons just in case, though.

 

When I stepped outside the house, I asked the sentry, “Is it okay if I use the well entry?”

“Jerk the cord four times, then descend.” I assumed there was a code behind the number of jerks.

I did as he said. Instead of trying to climb down the rope, I just tucked my wings in as close as I could get them and jumped down the damn hole. When I got out of the little tunnel, I shot my wings out to slow my descent, and made my way to the far off shore. Once there, I asked someone if they could get a leader or something up there to talk with me.

I didn’t have to wait long. I suppose it wasn’t often that something jerked the cord four times and then falls into the damn hole. I was guessing that as soon as I started descending, a leader was informed and told to expect some manner of summons.

Either way, not a quarter of an hour later, the war leader from before and a smaller, hunched naga came out of the water. The war leader boomed a pleased greeting when he saw me. “Human! It has been almost a year since we last met! Tell me, friend, how are you?”

“I am well, though I fear I come for a request rather than for meeting.”

“Yes,” the older naga said. “We feared as much, when we were summoned. Tell me, human, what makes you think you can request anything from us?”

“That is no way to treat a guest!” the warlord accused him.

“He is only a guest as long as he is welcome. I am not so accepting of strangers as you.”

“If you truly must talk of such things,” I said, “I seem to recall I did you the favor of lighting your ceiling on fire a while ago.” The enemy camp was a job. That was a favor.

The warlord smiled. The old guy just snorted.

“Anyway, I want to know why you guys are so pissed at the naga and the maid he stole.”

The warlord answered, “Because it was as you say: He stole her. If he had asked for her, it would have been different. We would have met with him, determined if he was worthy of her, and then passed judgment one way or another.”

“But he is—or rather, was—part of an enemy clan. Would you not deny him out of rote for his position?”

“The girl was of a low class, and would have given no advantages to have married off. He would have had as good a chance of getting her as most males here would.”

“Is it too late for him to ask?”

“Yes,” hissed the hunched elder.

“No,” responded the young warrior.

“He disrespected our customs. He deserves his fate,” the older slowly said.

“He might be ignorant of our customs,” the warlord rebutted. “If what they feel is truly love, why should we deny them a chance to be together?”

“So you see our debate, human,” the hunched one said. “We have been arguing this off and on since this matter started. I say the male should be killed and the female should be striped bloody for running away with him.”

“But nothing can be done while they seek asylum in the property of a foreign state,” the warrior assured me. “Despite the wishes of some certain naga.”

“I don’t know why our ancestors allowed those ponies to settle there! We should have chased them away while we still had the chance. Now, we are forced to let criminals sit at peace right above our very heads!

“What would change your mind and allow those two to go free?” I asked.

“If they dropped the love affair entirely, and the girl left him to come home, it would just go away.” the warrior said. “She would be stigmatized for a while, but it would go away in time. He might never be allowed to marry any of ours, but then he might well be allowed to.”

I snapped my fingers, thinking of something different. “And if they could choose exile unto some faraway isle?”

After a small internal debate, the hunched one said, “If they accept exile into pony lands—well away from here!—I will allow them to leave.”

I smiled. “Good. If there is nothing else, I should leave to take this news back.”

Before I could take off, though, the warrior stopped me. “Hold, human. I have heard tell from the ponies that you have been away for a while, in a place far across the sea. What manner of job was this that took you so far?”

“Bah!” the hunched one muttered before taking off into the water.

“We are better for seeing his tail,” the fighter sighed. “That old one is the most stubborn… But he is an elder, so his word must be respected.”

“To answer your question,” I said, “I have been in a land called Egypt, and then later in a place called the Middle East. In Egypt, I helped lead a revolution to bring in a power that is against slavery and is pro-Equestria.”

“So those ponies finally gave you a fun job!”

“Yes. And wouldn’t you know it, it was my time among your people that convinced them to do it.”

“Then I am glad you found us, human. I myself have been too long from a good fight. Our leaders prefer peace, and I can understand why, but my body aches for some manner of scrap. I trust you learned some skill in true fighting during your troubles?”

“Nah, I didn’t. Most of my fighting was close-in knife work, slitting throats to allow the real fighters easier access. And even then, a lot of my work was behind the scenes, either planning or linking up groups of fighters.” All technically true.

“Bah! Surely you have some manner of story to tell?”

“I helped rout an army of over fifteen hundred enemy troops with three people.”

“Now there is a tale for the legends! Tell me the names of your companions!”

“A cat woman named Jocasta and a pony named Celestia. Maybe you’ve heard of her.”

“You led the leader of all the ponies into battle? You truly are a monster, Navarone!” he said, laughing. “Either a monster or a master liar!”

“It wasn’t so much a battle as it was truly a rout. As soon as they saw Celestia, they fled. But I’d like to think I was scary enough to have a part in that, and if you had known Jocasta you would have understood more their desire to escape.”

“You keep some of the strangest company, Navarone. Do you have any real stories for me?”

I told him some. He loved hearing of our fight on the last day, the taking of the Suez Canal. I told him of our kill count the size of around five hundred, of Rock and his charge against the gatehouse, of Miguel and his gleeful slaughter, and of our tactics used in the battle itself. He wasn’t that impressed with our murderers, but understood their use.

He smiled, thinking of Rock: “I would love to meet this fellow. You say he is a cat?” I nodded. “I have never seen one of their kind before. I didn’t even know they existed. Tell me, how are their women?”

I told him some about Kat, but not the fact that it was all forced. “You sly dog,” he said. I wish…

When I had told him all I could think of, I bid him farewell and flew back up to the rope. I couldn’t have climbed it before since my arms were so leaden with the effort of holding onto the wall, but I figured I could probably make it up this time.

I was right.

 

It was getting close to night when I got back up. I figured the two naga I left up here would probably be thinking still, or have made up their minds to love each other no matter what.

Still, I did have two options for them now: Exile or give up this farce. Even if they did want to love each other, they could love each other just as easily somewhere else.

When I got in, I told Sue and Clyde the news. “Tell them if you want. If they find out death is off the table, they will not see as much romanticism in their affair. Now that they would no longer be martyrs of love, they might find they no longer feel interested in each other; after all, when ‘the rest of your life’ is measured in days, asking someone if they think they could stand being with someone that long doesn’t mean as much.” They agreed.

I haven’t mentioned them before, because they were annoying, relatively uneducated farm girls that still imagined they might one day be taken away by a prince, but there were two other female ponies here, sisters of Pinkie. I didn’t ask their names and I didn’t listen when they told me. If I had to guess, I’d say Inkie and Blinkie, just because I hate myself and this world agrees.

Anyway, they were very, very annoyed at my meddling in their live-action love story. I personally thought the entire matter was silly and should never have happened, but whatever.

And apparently the female naga was starting to think so as well. I heard some crying coming from the room Sue went to. I just shrugged at the two sisters and went upstairs.

I wasn’t in my room for an hour when the male naga came in. “Human—no, Navarone—your words… I regret to say it, but I think you’re right. I don’t think I actually do truly love her. The farmer has been telling me some things he and his wife have done together, and I just can’t imagine doing any of that with her. But after all this trouble, I don’t know how to tell her… After what she’s given up, and what she risks…”

“I can’t help you there, my friend. I have a similar problem. Except I have no choice in the matter. I suggest just telling her, but you should ask Sue and Clyde as well.”

“I can’t believe I caused so much trouble… Life is never easy.”

“And it just gets harder as you get older.”

“I doubt it can do much more to me. I will think on what you said, and I will tell her in the morning.”

He left and I did my best to sleep, fully expecting to be woken up in an hour by the female naga telling me she didn’t love the fellow and that I was right.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Life isn’t a story, after all.

But when he did tell her, she wasn’t that sad. She felt the same way, but just didn’t feel the need to tell me.

I went to tell the sentry the news. He asked me to watch his post while he went to get the leader. “Bring the warlord, not the hunchback,” I advised him.

“Of course. We don’t want bloodshed any more than you do, not if it isn’t necessary.”

I thought that kind of ironic, considering he was going to get the warlord instead of the civilian.

I stood guard in the autumn chill while waiting for their leader to appear.

When he finally dragged himself out of the well, I greeted him. “I hear you found a peaceful solution, human. I am not completely disappointed by that. Can I talk to the two?”

“You can’t go in with weapons. I’m sorry, but I will take no chances.”

“An understandable and wise caution.” He handed his weapons to the naga sentry that followed him up. “Better?” I led the way in. The naga could barely fit into the door, he was so large.

“So you’re the naga that ordered the death of my clan,” the young one accused.

“Boy, I thought I taught you about how to treat guests in my house!” Clyde yelled.

The younger one at least had the grace to look abashed, but he didn’t apologize. The warrior said, “That’s okay, farmer. It’s true enough, anyway, and I feel no guilt over it. They were enemies, and they fought and lost. That is the end of it, as far as I’m concerned. We aren’t here to discuss that, I’ve been told. I’m here to bring a young female naga back, if she truly wants to come.”

She looked down and said, “I do.”

“Then let us depart, and not intrude on these ponies overlong.”

She paused, and said her goodbyes. She stopped in front of the young naga, and settled for shaking hands.

Crisis averted. The two sisters sighed, and did their best to make the rest of my stay completely uncomfortable. Thankfully, the rest of my stay was just the rest of that day and long enough to pack the following day.

That place was seriously depressing. Not once while I was there did I ever see the sun, and I think it was brighter in the naga cave than it was at their farm.

My parting words with the farmers were worth noting, I suppose: “I’m glad we were able to end that peacefully,” I said.

“Yes,” Sue sighed, “but it’s a shame the two didn’t truly love each other. It would have made for such a nice story…”

“Sometimes the best stories are those that we read, not those that happen to us. If they would have been miserable together after a few years, it is better they drifted apart,” Clyde told her.

“I’m somewhat hoping this is the last time I’ll have to deal with the naga,” I said. “I like them, but this is a long way to have to come just to settle a small problem.”

“I don’t know if I would consider this small, Navarone. After your trip in the Middle East, I might can understand why you would think it so, but most ponies don’t do as much in their lifetime as you’ve done in the past few years.”

“I’d be happy to trade. I was close to starving or dying of dehydration in Africa, and that’s not even counting all the cat people throwing weapons at me.”

“Some ponies beg for adventures, Nav. Back in my day, I used to hope for something, anything, to happen to get me away from these rocks,” Clyde said.

“Everyone wants an adventure. No one wants the hunger or the desperation that comes with it. Or the killing, or the fear, or the memories of things you were forced to do to survive.”

“There are a lot of ponies that would call you a hero,” Sue said.

“I could be considered a hero, if you overlooked the bad things I did, or the several things I did that were highly unheroic.”

“But you saved ponies. Is that not what a hero does?”

“A hero saves people. He doesn’t murder people to do it. He might kill them, yes, but he doesn’t slit their throats while their backs are turned, or break locks while someone else is distracting the guards, or plan food heists that will leave hundreds of innocents starving.”

“You are so hard on yourself. You did what you had to do. There is nothing wrong with that.”

“I know,” I answered with a weary shrug. “But I wish it hadn’t been necessary. I hope I will never be called upon to do anything like it again. I’m honestly starting to think this world is being destabilized by my presence, and that just by being here I’m spawning conflict.”

“That’s silly. These problems always existed. But most of them didn’t directly involve ponies. Eventually if you hadn’t acted we would have been freed from the naga one way or another. And if you hadn’t acted on the problems in the Middle East they would have been cleared up by Princess Celestia. Just because you are available to help solve problems does not mean they wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t there,” Clyde assured me.

“He’s right. I mean, you weren’t here when that Nightmare Moon lady was sent to the moon a thousand years ago, were you? You had nothing at all to do with that, and that was probably the biggest period of conflict in the entire history of Equestria,” Sue added. That they know of.

Basically true. At least my methods hadn’t ended up with any dead ponies, though not for lack of trying.

Not long after that, I left for Ponyville. It was a nice ride back. I got some odd looks from passengers that had never seen me before, but whatever; after so long, I was immune to such matters.

My homecoming was precisely what I expected: A debriefing from Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, who were relieved it was resolved peacefully but disappointed there wasn’t a new epic love story to add to the annals of history. All I got from Twilight was a ‘How was it?’ that was easily answered with ‘Eh, I don’t think I’ll answer any more letters like that.’

 

 

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