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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110. Chapter Eighty-Eight—Some Serious Shit

With the fuckhuge crisis out of the way and Luna’s damnable party no longer on the horizon, I was able to finally actually start getting ready to leave. The Europe party was in a month and I needed to have everything going onto the airship ready to leave in two weeks. That meant Taya, all my shit, and everyone else that was going needed to be accounted for and ready to go.

The naga was going to be returning soon, so he wasn’t really a problem. He’d bring everything he was taking with him, so that was that.

Gilda was supposed to get there the day before the ship left. She’d be bringing everything she needed—probably very little—so she was easy enough to plan for.

Doppel and Eva had very little in the way of personal possessions, aside from clothing, so packing them up was easy. The hardest part there was convincing Doppel to leave behind most of her fetishistic outfits.

Taya was only bringing clothing and books. No toys, no makeup, nothing a little girl should carry with her. Just… clothes and books. Honestly, I found that somewhat heartbreaking in a way.

Spike was bringing a few books, some clothing, and his weapons, but he was going to be teleported to the party with me by Celestia, so most of his shit could go that way.

Watcher and his troops were supposed to be bringing their own shit. I had the gold to pay them, so there was little else I needed in terms of those guys.

The crew manning the ship were supposed to get all the food and supplies we needed. I was supplying the ship’s weapons and they were going to get them from my house when they picked up everyone else.

All I was bringing were my weapons, some clothing, some books, all my magic stuff, plenty of gold, the laptop, a new set of armor that I took a quick trip to Canterlot to commission, and anything else I could think of that I might need. I would be loading most of that into the ship when it came by the house to get everyone.

…And I completely forgot that I offered to take Zecora. She came by my house a few days after Luna’s party and told me she was in, if it meant we were going to South America. Not many people came back from that place, but she was hoping with all the preparations we were making and all the fighters we had, we’d be fine.

So was I.

The air elemental hadn’t made a single reappearance since we saw her at the apple orchard. Flo assured me that the air elemental would definitely follow us, but I would rather have her officially on my side instead of just pranking my enemies. Especially now that Luna was more obviously my enemy. I was expecting to start hearing reports that she was getting fucked with soon.

A smiling Lyra and Bon-Bon came to my door some time during that week with three neutral packages of general apathy. Those three kids looked familiar, but I couldn’t place them.

“Howdy, Lyra, Bon-Bon,” I merrily said when the door was open. “You brought new guests this time. They look familiar for some reason.”

“They should,” Bonnie answered. “After all, it was you that sent them to the orphanage.”

“Whoa now, I haven’t made any orphans in mainland Equestria!” God, why would they bring me kids whose parents I fucking killed?

Lyra and Bon-Bon both looked extremely confused by that until Lyra smiled. “Ha, good one, Nav! Don’t you remember? Applejack caught these three taking apples and you sent them to Canterlot to live in the princess’s orphanage.”

The memory slightly returned to me. “Oh yeah. That’s… better than what I was thinking. Ah, anyway, come on in out of the cold. No reason to freeze in that snow out there.”

“Thank you, Sir Navarone,” Bonnie said, stepping in as I made room.

“It’s not ‘Sir’ anymore,” I answered. “And even if it was, you should know better than to call me that by now.” With the door closed behind Lyra, who was the last in, I walked on around. “Make yourselves at home.” I know I sure did, grabbing my chair before any of those cretin children could steal it from me. “What brings you five by?”

“Oh, just a few more questions, if you have the time,” Bon-Bon replied. “And the kids wanted to meet you, of course.”

“I always have time for you two. And hello again, children. I believe you three already know me. What are your names?”

“Cloverwood,” the bigger colt said.

The middle said, “Treetop.”

And the little filly answered, “Cherrywood.” Shit, their parents must have been carpenters or something.

“It’s nice to meet you more formally, without an angry crowd around us. Come, sit.”

“Well,” Lyra hesitantly began, “we were hoping that we could talk in private.”

“That’s easy enough.” I hopped back up, saying, “Just a moment.” With them waiting there, I walked over to the study where Eva was either practicing reading or trying to decide which books to take. “Hey Eva, got a job for you.”

“Okay!” The book she was looking at dropped to the table as she hopped up, very eager to be of any kind of service.

I led her right back to the living room, where Bon-Bon was sitting on the couch and the other three were exploring the few items I had sitting around for public viewing. “Eva, can you show these three the pool?”

“Okay, Navi! Come on, guys, let’s go swimming!”

Bon-Bon cast me a somewhat alarmed look. “Nav, it’s snowing. Should they really be swimming in that?”

“It’s an indoor pool, nice and heated.” Sort of. “As long as they dry off before you all leave, there won’t be any problems.”

“Well… alright,” Bonnie said, shrugging. “Just be careful.”

Eva nodded. “Don’t you worry about a thing! Navi lets me watch Taya all the time.” More like the other way around. Either way, she led the passive kids away to the kitchen and I reclaimed my seat.

“So,” Lyra said, grinning, “Navi?”

“No. Bad Lyra. Eva only gets to call me that because I can’t say no to adorable changelings.”

“Oh? You think we’re adorable?” Bon-Bon asked, changing back into her real body and smiling.

“Yeah. So what did you two want to ask? And hell, why these three? They’re coming with some baggage.”

“They looked like they needed it,” Bon-Bon said with a shrug.

Lyra giggled and added, “And the few younger ones were afraid of Bonnie.”

“The princess told us the three of them came in a package and we decided we could make it work,” Bon-Bon finished.

That gave me a useful idea, but I decided to save it for later. “Well, what other questions did you have?”

And so it was that I gave them the same psychology lesson that I gave to the crew of the airship, the ex-slaves. There’s no reason to repeat myself and no one is reading this anyway—you fucking assholes—so I won’t put it down here.

Some long minutes later, when they were out of questions, I said, “So three of them, huh? Isn’t your house pretty cramped?”

They both sighed. “Yes,” Bonnie answered. “They’re sharing a room for now. They don’t seem to mind, thankfully. When they get older, we know we’ll have to at least get a separate room for Cherrywood.”

Lyra nodded. “And money’s tight. We would upgrade, but… Well, the wedding did set us back somewhat.”

“Understandable,” I said, mentally smiling. “I have a… proposition of sorts. It might help temporarily abate that problem.”

“What’s that?” Bonnie asked.

“In a few weeks, I’m going on a vacation of sorts. A long one. Months or maybe even years. My house is going to be empty when that happens. Large empty houses attract unwelcome guests, in my experience. I wouldn’t frown on having a few house sitters. Live here while I’m gone, use the house as you need it. There aren’t any bills, since the house is self-sustained. You could save up enough money while I’m gone to get a house of your own.”

“That’s…” Bonnie started, sounding uncertain.

“Wonderful!” Lyra finished, much happier. “But where are you going? And why’s everypony going with you?”

“Lyra, please,” Bon-Bon sighed. “Nav, are you sure about this? Trusting your home to us and three foals you barely know? If something were to happen to it, we could never afford to fix it!”

“One of the reasons that I need someone to watch my home is because I can’t bring all the money I have with me and have to leave some here,” I answered. “If anything happens, use some of that to repair some damage. But this house is pretty fucking sturdy. A royal guard tried kicking the door down and just ended up hurting his legs. It’ll take a lot to hurt this place.”

“Then what about the Everfree?” she asked, looking to the wall where we could practically feel its evilness lurking. “Is it really safe to live so close to that place with three defenseless foals?”

“I’ve lived here for almost a year already and I’ve never seen anything hostile coming out of that forest. The monsters seem to be localized there. And most of them can be kept out by the wall, anyway. That gate isn’t just for show, after all. Even if they get through the wall, they’d never get into the house itself. Those windows are either made of strengthened glass or some kind of really strong crystal. Trust me, this place is perfectly safe.”

“I don’t know…” Bon-Bon dubiously said.

“Lighten up, Bonnie!” Lyra quickly shot back. “This is exactly what we need. More room, getting slightly away from Ponyville, and getting a chance to build up the bits to get our own place. There are a few downsides, but the benefits easily outweigh them! And he has a bucking pool!”

Bon-Bon bit her lower lip, not something I advise for anyone with fangs. “Can we… think about it for a few days?” she finally asked.

“I’m not leaving until the start of spring, so you have a few weeks to decide. But everyone else here is going to be leaving in two or so weeks, so you can start moving stuff in then, if you decide to accept the offer.”

“Alright… So why are you going?” Bon-Bon asked.

“And where?” Lyra added.

“And when will you get back?” Bonnie finished.

“The where is pretty much everywhere. I have a lot of destinations in mind. The first stop will be this year’s Europe party. After that, somewhere to the north. The why? Well, we humans have something in us called wanderlust. Our feet get tapping and we have an insatiable desire to explore. I’ve already done all the exploring I can do in the Everfree, so I have to move on.”

“And you’re bringing Taya with you?” Bon-Bon asked. “Isn’t it dangerous?”

“Be honest: Do you really think I could leave Taya behind?” They both rolled their eyes, agreeing. “I welcome the company. I got a good group going with me, too, so it’s not like it’ll be too dangerous.”

“So when will you get back?” Bon-Bon repeated.

“When the wanderlust is eaten up in me, I guess. I may not ever come back. There’s not much tying me down to Equestria nowadays. Friends, yeah, and I’d miss all of you. But there are plenty of memories here that I’m not certain I want to revisit.”

“Things will definitely be different around town without you around, Nav,” Lyra said. “Everypony likes having you out here on the edge of the forest. It makes them feel safer.”

“But they don’t like having me in town?” I asked with a smile.

Bon-Bon shrugged. “Coming from somepony who’s different, even if I’m only newly revealed to be different, there are those who would be happy to see you gone. But more would be sad.”

“Yeah, I know. Oh, and by the way, this is still a secret. So don’t go blabbing about it to anyone until I tell you it’s okay, alright?”

“You don’t have to worry about us, Nav,” Bon-Bon said. “We’ll keep it quiet. Right, honey?” she asked, throwing a small glare at Lyra, who nodded sheepishly.

After a second, though, she asked, “What do you mean you don’t have much tying you down here, though? What about being a knight?”

“I retired. As of a few days ago, I am no longer Sir Navarone, Knight of Princess Luna. Now I’m just Navarone.”

“I… I didn’t know that was possible,” Bon-Bon commented.

“At least, not without breaking your armor!” Lyra added, making me roll my eyes.

“Well, I managed. If I come back, I might rejoin their ranks. But for now, I’m happy to be a free man, unbound by any oath or duty.”

“Why? And how?” Bonnie asked. “If you don’t mind me asking, of course,” she hastily tacked on.

“Luna and I had a… disagreement that has lasted several years now. Things escalated and she can eat a bag of dicks. Celestia happened to agree with me in that assessment and consented to removing my name from the book of knights.”

Both of their faces turned a very bright shade of red when I mentioned Luna’s dick eating opportunities. Lyra eventually squeaked, “What was the disagreement?”

“Something I don’t really want to talk about. It’s private.”

“Hm… That seems convenient,” Bon-Bon remarked, trying to get over her blush. “Your wanderlust coinciding with leaving the knighthood.”

“It is. I’ve been planning this trip for a year now. This is a great going away present.”

“And that’s all it is?” she asked. “Just convenient? Not an excuse?”

“First, yes, that’s all it is. Second, Bonnie, you have no places in politics. Stop prying. This is a problem that I’ve given Luna a solution to. She’s almost definitely not going to take it, so that’ll be the end of that.”

“Forgive a friend for trying to help,” she muttered, looking away.

I sighed. “Sorry. I forgot what having friends is like. I’m used to people politicking around me. Too much time in Canterlot and with the princesses. This isn’t a problem that a friend can really help with, though. I have found that those who walk with giants tend to get crushed. And oftentimes, the giants don’t even notice. I figure a little time away might soothe some anger.”

“If you’re sure…” Bonnie sighed.

“Trust me, this is for the best. For a number of reasons.” We were all silent for a few seconds before I said, “So what’s been going on with you two, aside from the adopting thing?”

“Just getting used to married life,” Lyra answered, shrugging.

“Though we were already pretty well used to that,” Bon-Bon added with a smile. “Still, adding kids to the mix has been fun. Even if they haven’t quite opened up yet.”

“Give ‘em time, like I said. And after what they’ve possibly been through, don’t expect to be seeing much of one without the others. Tragedy has a way of bringing people together in the most amazing ways.” And of course, it can also drive them apart, but that isn’t something they needed to hear.

“Well, we’ll definitely remember your advice when we’re dealing with them,” Bonnie said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to thank you enough for all you’ve done for us…”

“Which isn’t really all that much, honestly. I’m just happy to help.”

“And if you ever need anything that either of us can help you with, be sure to ask,” Bon-Bon said. From Lyra’s somewhat lascivious smile and glances down at my hands, I could assume what manner of crisis she would want to help me with. I knew she wouldn’t do anything without her wife’s or my permission, though.

“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” I answered.

Perhaps sensing an end to the conversation, Lyra tore her eyes away from my hands and looked to the window. “Bonnie, we should probably get them out of the pool and on the way home before dark.”

She nodded. “We should. Where’s the pool, Nav?”

“The cellar door is in the kitchen. Just head down the stairs. You can’t miss it. I’ll be down in a minute or two with towels.”

And so that day went.

 

When you work with someone, there’s only so much you can do to avoid them. Even if your workplace is a theoretically infinite expansion of blackness with the occasional bubble of light to break up the void.

So there I was, trying to access more commands in the dreamworld, when I heard a throat clear behind me. There are supposed to be exactly two people able to get into the world of dreams, so it was no surprise to me to turn and find Luna hovering there. We looked at each other for a few seconds before I turned my head and stepped to the first dream I saw.

I knew she was going to follow me, so I hopped into the peaceful dream without looking and didn’t stop long enough to see what it was about before going out the other side and finding a new dream. Imagine my surprise when she was actually waiting inside the next dream I entered.

Yeah, fuck that. Without even waiting for a look of recognition in her eyes, I broke out of that dream and sprinted away, dreams zooming past me like memories of a blackout drunk night. Honestly, I wasn’t that surprised to find her waiting at the end of my journey. Without even stopping for a breather, I summoned a knife, jammed it into the side of her head, and immediately left the land of the dreams for my own mind.

“Keep her out,” I ordered, sinking back down.

“You aren’t even going to let her talk?” Flo asked. “Not going to let her explain?”

“No, I’m not. She burned through all of her chances. I’m done. The only time I will deal with her is when I have to. I will find a way to stay awake until spring if she won’t leave me alone. If I knew how she followed me like that, I could probably work to avoid her…”

“Good. It is absolutely about time that you decided to cut her off. I do believe she wanted to kill me and I don’t want to risk Celestia not having succeeded in convincing her to leave me be. And of course, after all the many things she’s done to you, it truly is about time that you gave up on her completely.”

“It’s good that you support me. I’m sure few others will. Honestly, I’m surprised Celestia was so quick to get on my side.”

I think Flo would have replied, but she stiffened before looking up. “She left you a message.”

Sighing, I looked up. Her message was relatively predictable. “I’m sorry.”

I replied with, “Yes, you are.”

Neither of us saw any other sign of Luna that night.

The next event of that stretch of time was the visit of a certain grey mare. When I opened the door—I have a maid, why doesn’t she ever answer the damn door?—Octavia smiled nervously, rubbing at the back of her head with a hoof. “Um, hello, Sir Navarone. I’m not… interrupting anything, am I?”

“Not at all, though it’s not ‘sir’ anymore. Come on in.”

“Oh, I don’t plan on staying long,” she hastily said, though that didn’t stop her from stepping inside anyway. “And what do you mean, not sir anymore? You are a knight, aren’t you?”

“Nope. Anyway, how can I help you today, Octavia?” At this point, we were both sitting in my living room.

“Hm. I came by to… apologize. I want to blame the wine for my behavior and my… Well, my obliviousness. I should have realized that something more was awry and left you alone. I shouldn’t have… exacerbated the problem. Celestia, I can just imagine how you were feeling, trying to talk to me while that was happening… How did you stand it?”

“By not paying attention, no offense. I remember little of that conversation.”

“None taken! If I had known that I was competing with Princess Luna for your attention, I wouldn’t have tried. Speaking of… is that why you’re no longer Sir Navarone? Is it now perhaps… Prince Navarone?”

“No. God no. The only reason I let Luna get anywhere near my dick is because she was pretending to be Celestia before she put knees to the floor. I really wish you had told me it was Luna down there.”

“Well, I was somewhat preoccupied with getting away from the embarrassment at the time, I confess. And with the alcohol clouding my senses, I wasn’t making very good decisions.”

“Like trying to suck me off in the middle of a really fancy party?”

She blushed, looking away. “Y-yes. The alcohol was an excuse to hide my behavior behind, though. I just wanted to try to repay you somehow for all that you’ve done for me and the other musicians.”

“As I’ve told others, I don’t need to be repaid for kindness. You of all people don’t need to be turning tricks to try to pay anyone back, either. You have a career and presumably a reputation to worry about.”

“I… don’t understand. Is that some sort of problem where you’re from?”

“Yes. It’s also illegal, I do believe. At the very least, it’s illegal to ask for sex in repayment. It isn’t here?”

“Well, no. Uncommon, yes. And if there was anypony that knew I did it, I might risk being taken advantage of. But I don’t think it would ruin my reputation. Not that you would ever tell, I don’t believe. It was supposed to be a little secret.”

“Well, you were beaten to the punch, I’m sad to say. And I must say, it was definitely an… interesting experience.”

“I’ll say… Are you sure there’s nothing I can do to repay you? I feel strange, having no way to help you.”

“Consider it a donation to the arts. I like music and I like helping people. The way I figure, helping people make music is a double win to me. Though I wouldn’t mind making a bit of music right now, if you aren’t in a hurry.”

“I’m afraid I am, sadly. After what happened at the party, I was quite certain you would be upset with me, and made sure to make plans that would require me to leave quickly if things… deteriorated. Even if I am pleasantly surprised that you aren’t upset, I still can’t avoid doing what I had planned. Truth be told, I’m lucky I was even able to meet with you, with the Soiree coming up. I managed to find an airship going that way in a few weeks. The captain offered me a spot for a reasonable price and I would have been a fool to say no. Normally I would have left by now.”

“It’s certainly good to know I’ll see you there, then. Will Vinyl be there, too?”

“She’s supposed to be, though I don’t know how she’ll get there. That mare always finds ways to surprise me.” Well, at least I’ll have two friends there with me on my last days in Equestria.

“Then I guess I’ll see you both there, if not before.”

“I look forward to it, Nav.”

Another day gone by…

The day Ames got back was a day of much quiet relief for me. Truth be told, I hadn’t realized just how much I had come to depend on his quiet and steady demeanor. In a way, he was almost like I used to be, though he was considerably more violent.

“How was your time back at the clan?” I asked when he slithered back into my home.

“Illuminating, for a number of reasons. I was beginning to forget the meaning of honor around you. They reminded me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. But I’m sure we’ll knock that silly concept out of your head sooner or later.”

He snorted. “I certainly hope not. There is little else for one such as I to hold on to. Honor gives us purpose and keeps us fighting. If not for honor or money to help the clan, why else would a naga fight? Why else would we live?”

“Duty.”

“Duty and honor go hand in hand, Cain. My duty is to be honorable, for if I misrepresent my clan, I risk damaging our reputation. Or the reputation of all naga everywhere. You are lucky in that you need not fear other humans harming your reputation, or fear harming theirs. How does it feel to be the sole being in charge of your reputation?”

“Pretty good, until I fuck up. There’s a reason everyone thinks I’m a slut.”

“Is it because you’re a slut that sleeps with any female you can find?”

“Exactly. Thankfully, that’s not really looked down upon in this world.”

“But it very highly damages your chances to find a mate, does it not?”

“Yeah, but I’m not really looking. I already have someone in mind, if things go well when I get to Europe.”

“That is… good to hear, I suppose. Though you would likely be better off with a naga than a mare.”

“Maybe. But it isn’t a mare that I have in mind. You might meet her, if she shows up.”

“Why do I have the feeling that you would not be depressed if she didn’t show up?”

“Probably because you have a low opinion of me,” I answered with a shrug. “So anyway, how was your trip home?”

“It was… nice. Seeing my partner and hatchlings again brought peace to my mind. It is strange, how much you come to miss someone without even realizing it.”

“Trust me, I know all about that.” Minus the not realizing it part. “At least you were able to see them before you left.”

“Indeed. I trust things have been well here? Were there more attempts on your life?”

“Not directly. Luna went crazy and damn near ruined everything, but I got out of it. Celestia stopped being completely useless, thankfully.”

“I trust you finally killed that dark blue devil? With as much trouble as she has given you, she deserves no less.”

“Sadly, no. I can’t just up and kill the princess.” At least, not in the real world. In dream land, all bets are off.

“A shame.”

“However, if she shows up here, I’m not going to stay my hand. If I see her, it will be attack and kill on sight. No more second chances.”

He nodded, smiling and showing off his sharp teeth. “I am happy to hear that. I assume the same rule goes for me?”

“Yep. Don’t permanently harm her guards, if you see any of them. Challenge them and tell me they’re here before doing anything.”

“Very well. What of Celestia’s guards?”

“They’re welcome, for now. But be wary, as always.”

“So be it. Now tell me, have you been keeping in practice with your sword? I believe it’s time to break the dust off our practice blades…”

I gained several new bruises that day…

Have you ever pushed, say, a cute little rabbit to the brink? Pissed it off, maybe? Jerked its chain so much that it finally lashed back? Rabbits are cute and cuddly looking when they’re passive. And shit, they’re funny as hell when scared, since they make a horrifyingly loud noise and run away.

But when angry, when pushed too far, even the cutest of rabbits—or ponies, in this case—become very deadly.

That goes double if the subject in question isn’t cute at all and already had a history of violence against me.

Now, I wasn’t expecting anything all too bad when I opened the door to greet little Miss Twilight. No, not expecting that at all. I should have known better.

Very little time passed before I realized the mistake I had made, though. Twilight was glaring very hard at the door and then me. Her horn was glowing and a very unhappy looking Spike was hanging there listlessly. Oh boy.

“How can I he—” I tried starting with.

Twilight was having none of that. “WHAT DID YOU TELL HIM?!” she screamed at me, one of her hooves stamping on the ground.

It was at that moment that I very desperately wished I was wearing my ring or had it on me at all. “What do you mean?” I slowly asked, trying to figure out how long my door would last if I had to slam it.

“She’s crazy!” Spike had time to shout before his mouth was gagged with magic.

“You know full well!” Twilight yelled. “Spike isn’t going anywhere with you!”

“…Why don’t you come in? We can talk this over like adults instead of children. And put Spike down.”

“No! Every time you talk, you get your way! Not this time, Nav. Spike isn’t going with you and that’s final!”

“Maybe the reason I get my way is because I make sense and use logic to get my points across. Think, Twilight. If you force Spike to stay here, how happy do you think he’d be? Do you really think he would ever forgive you?”

“It’s for the best! I know what’s best for him, Navarone. Me, not you.”

“You don’t even know what to feed him! Look at him, Twilight! Truly look at him. Since I started feeding him meat and making sure he got gems from the mine I own, he has doubled in size. His claws are sharper and they shine. His scales picked up a luster they never had before. Christ, woman, you were killing him from malnourishment! I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts sprouting wings, soon.”

“That can’t be…” She turned to look at Spike. And I mean really look at him, probably the first time in a long time she’s actually paid attention to his appearance. Her ears drooped at what she saw before she jerked her head back to face me, her glare returning. “Anything could have caused that!”

I crossed my arms. “Twilight Sparkle, you’re smarter than that. Yes, theoretically, any number of things could have caused it. Why don’t you ask Spike, hm?” She nervously looked back at him. “Or are you perhaps afraid of what he’d say?”

That seemed to do it. She removed his gag. “Tell him, Spike!” she ordered.

“Tell him what?” he spit. “That he’s right? That he’s done more to help me find out who I am than you ever did? Twilight, he introduced me to a dragon! A big, huge one! Older than even Celestia and Luna. And Nav is right. If I kept eating grass and flowers, I would have either died or stayed tiny all my life. Reginald thinks the damage is reversible, but I can’t eat any more of that green stuff.”

“B-but…” she whimpered.

“There are some things that can’t be learned in books,” I said, gently rubbing Twilight’s head. “There are no books about dragons in Equestria. You couldn’t have known without talking to one. And you ruined all three chances you had to do so. I didn’t. But honestly, why do I have the feeling that this isn’t just about me taking Spike?”

Her lower lip quivered, but she slowly shook her head, trying to deny it. “No, that’s not—”

“You’re afraid of being alone, aren’t you?” She flinched as if slapped. “First I left you and now Spike’s leaving you. You’re separated from your family, your older brother got married, and now your little brother is leaving the nest. And you’re afraid of that.”

Her magic suddenly gave out, dropping Spike to the ground. Twilight joined him there a moment later, sobbing. “I d-don’t know what to do!”

I did, but it wasn’t my place to do it. Spike caught my gaze and I nodded down to the crying Twilight. He shrugged. My eyes narrowed and he sighed, walking over and hugging her. “Twilight, you’ll always be my big sister… But I have to go. My place isn’t with the ponies. I can’t stay cooped up here in this small town. I’m already outgrowing it! If I go with Nav, I might be able to find a place I belong, where I can fit in. And who knows? Maybe I can find somepo—one for me. Maybe even another dragon! I have to go, Twilight.”

“Everypony’s leaving me,” Twilight whispered. “First Nav. Then Rarity started spending more time in Canterlot than here. Rainbow Dash is talking about how Spitfire promised her a spot in spring. Now Spike, my number one assistant… It’s not fair!”

What’s the common theme in all of those? Maybe it’s… you? Thankfully, I’m smart enough to not say that. Either Spike didn’t think about it or he was smart enough to not say it as well.

“There are plenty of ponies here,” I said to fill in the silence. “Plenty of friends to be made and ponies to spend time with. People drift apart and change, Twilight. It happens to all groups of friends at some point. Stay in touch if you can, adapt if you can’t. Spike can always send letters to Celestia, so you can use her to keep in touch with him. I’m sure she’ll be willing to help you two without any questions.” And hell, it’s not like you can stop me from taking him.

“…I’ll write to you every day,” Twilight said, finally looking up at Spike. “And you better respond! I’ll find you both if you don’t!”

Spike smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind, Twilight.”

All things told, I think that could have ended worse.

The day I went to Canterlot to pick up my new armor is probably one that I will never forget. Not for the armor itself, though I admit that it was pretty important. No, this day was important. Arguably one of the most important days I’ve had in Equestria.

And it made me even more relieved that I was leaving soon.

It started as a normal day. Wake up, contemplate killing myself, get out of bed, shower, get dressed. All that fun stuff. Knowing that the armor was supposed to be done that day, I made sure my schedule was clear. Not that it was really hard, given I hadn’t been to town in over a week and most of the ponies there didn’t seem to miss me. I was tempted to lay down odds with Bon-Bon the day I left to see how long it would take for someone to notice I was gone, but I figured that would be in poor taste.

With Taya learning from Twilight, the naga teaching Spike, and Doppel ‘exploring’ the area with Poly, the house was empty. “Time for me to go,” I said to myself around noon, when I was almost positive Luna would be asleep and Celestia would be too busy to make time to see me. After making sure I had my knife and my ring, I walked on out, locking the door behind me.

As soon as I got outside, I took to the air, soaring toward the distant mountains where Canterlot rested. It was still a cold day, but this time, the air was clear, with no clouds or snow to fuck me over.

Like always, the direct flight there was much faster than the slow train ride around the winding mountain tracks would have been. I was not at all looking forward to having to ride the train back, but unless I felt like talking to Celestia and politely asking her to lighten the armor, I wouldn’t be able to fly back.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering—not that you’re reading this (you fucking piece of shit)—how is armor that cuts my mobility in half useful at all? Well you see, I was planning on asking Celestia to lighten it later. A going away present, perhaps. I just didn’t want to ask her in Canterlot and risk running into Luna. Better to wait until we were both at the Europe party to ask, I figured. I’d look around for unicorns able to cast it before we left, though, just in case Celestia decided to be a cunt.

So I landed in front of the castle and walked on up to the entrance. Before I could get into the main doors, the guards in front of me slammed their spears together, blocking me from entering. “Visiting hours are over, citizen,” the one on the left said.

“…What?”

“Unless you have royal business, you may not enter,” the right one added.

I blinked a few times, totally caught off guard by that. “Seriously? I have business in there.”

They both grinned darkly. “Papers?” the left one asked. “Anypony with royal business is given identification papers to prove it.”

“And of course, knights, guards, and servants may enter freely,” the other one said. You bastard.

Before I could get violent with those two bastards, we heard a throat clear behind me. “Navarone is with me, gentlecolts,” Fancy Pants calmly announced, stepping up to my side. “We have business inside.”

Their spears immediately uncrossed. “Yes sir,” they both answered, though they seemed rather reluctant to do so.

“Well then, shall we?” Fancy Pants asked, stepping up to my side. I shrugged and led the way into the grand entrance hall of the palace.

“Hardasses,” I grumbled when we were inside. “They know full well who I am.”

“Precisely,” Fancy said. “The one who embarrassed them and their commanding officer once in a faux assassination, again when you protected Cadance from assassination twice, and most recently in the war games. Yes, the guards know you very well, Navarone.”

“Ungrateful bastards, then. Think they’d be happier if I just let Cadance die?”

“Now, now, there’s no reason to be like that. Besides, if you had stayed a knight, this wouldn’t even be an issue.”

“Bah. Thanks for getting me in, Fancy. I’ll let you get to whatever you were doing. I have business in the armory.”

“If you don’t mind, I’ll accompany you,” he answered. “I’m early and this will give me something to do.”

“I won’t stop you, but I also won’t promise you’ll have any fun.”

“Well, I wanted to talk anyway. First, another warning about my wife. While she was… amused with the princess, she hasn’t quite gotten over her desire to try you out, as it were. But sadly, it seems that she has been listening to Rarity’s silliness, that business with the mangos or whatever they’re called. I heard Fleur talking about getting you into a ‘yowee shota’ scenario, whatever that means.”

“It means that she wants to watch me fuck a little colt.” Or be fucked by an older stallion, I guess.

Fancy Pants turned his head my way sharply, disgust in his eyes. After a few seconds of walking in silence, he looked back. “I assume you’re joking.” I wasn’t. “Either way, I don’t think you’re interested in it.”

“Trust me, I’ve been staying well away from your wife. I don’t see why you can’t just forbid her from hunting after me. I do promise this, though: If I catch her snooping around my house, I’m going to give her to my changeling that feeds off lust and keep her locked up for a full day before letting her go.”

“Understood. And I don’t forbid her from doing anything like that because I’m an old man and frankly, it amuses me to see her thinking she gets away with it. Marry for love, Navarone. It will be better for you in the long run.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I drily answered. “You said that was the first thing. What else did you want to talk about?”

“Your rather abrupt removal from the roster of knights. It was quiet and there was nothing in the news about it, so it must have been something the princesses don’t want getting out. What happened, Navarone?”

“Eh, Luna went crazy. You know, the usual. I finally had enough and told Celestia I was done. She offered to let me either become her knight instead or become an umbral knight. I told her I’d think about it.”

“An umbral knight?! And you told her you’d think about it?! Navarone, that’s an honor you can’t refuse!”

“Watch me. Oh yeah, being a knight has its uses, don’t get me wrong. But taking orders? Fuck that shit. I’d rather give them.”

“Navarone, that’s what an umbral knight does. Every order you are given is a suggestion, but every order you give will be followed out. Of course, the orders have to be justifiably beneficial to Equestria. And being the first of another species to ever be an umbral knight would be… Navarone, how could you refuse?”

“I didn’t. I told her I would think about it.”

“Then I suggest you think quickly. An offer like that can’t last long. There hasn’t been an umbral knight in over a hundred years!”

“I can imagine why. The kind of trust it would take for someone to earn that position is insane.”

“Indeed. Honestly, I’m somewhat surprised the princesses would trust anypony at all with that much power. Let alone somepony so different.”

“I’ve proven my worth, I suppose. Though yes, it seems odd that she would entrust me with the power to countermand her own orders. Bitch is crazy, I guess.”

He sighed, shaking his head. “Navarone, you really shouldn’t refer to the princess in such a manner, especially not in the seat of her power when all of her guards are out in force. Such things tend to be bad for your health.”

Right as he finished talking, a knife appeared in my hand, pulled from where it had been tucked into a sleeve. “Let them try something. It would end poorly for them, I assure you.” I put the little knife back up and shrugged. “But avoiding a fight is usually better. We’re at the armory now anyway, though.”

“So we are. What business do you have here?” he asked as we stepped inside.

“I need new armor. If I’m not Luna’s knight, I won’t be wearing her symbols.”

“What of your Defender of Harmony armor? It’s perfectly functional and even owning it is a great honor.”

“It’s ugly as hell. If I have the money, I’m going to get something worth wearing.”

“And you did,” the blacksmith fellow said, appearing from an open door leading to the back rooms. “Your armor is done, sir.”

“Not sir anymore, mate,” I said. “Where’s the armor?”

“If you’re a client and you were born with meat between your legs, you’re sir to me. And right this way, sir,” he said, backing into the room he had emerged from.

I shrugged and followed him back. For whatever reason—boredom, probably—Fancy Pants followed me. When we got through the door, we beheld a mannequin fit to my body covered in some rather sturdy looking plate.

“Raw steel. No decorations. No fineries. No gold.” Hell, the armorer almost sounded offended by my lack of style. “Extremely protective, with the light flutes helping against bending. Heavy. Holes for your wings that you can screw into place. This armor won’t let you down, sir.”

“And I also said no insignias,” I commented, looking at the blood-red handprints on the pauldrons. They were the only color on the otherwise dull black armor.

“It seemed fitting. They can be removed, if you want.”

After thinking about it for a few seconds, I shook my head. “Leave ‘em.” The way I figure, disguising me and my ship as a band of mercenaries would be easier, the more threatening I looked. Those marks definitely looked pretty horrifying. “How much does it weigh, all together?”

“About seventeen kilograms. Heavy, but not unbearable. The knight armor I made for you was fifteen before the magic.”

“And I’m a lot stronger than I was back then. Let’s try it on, see how well it fits.”

The armorer’s horn lit up and the armor began coming apart, pulling away from the mannequin. “It should fit just fine, with the measurements I took,” he said. “But it’s always better to check. I assume by this point you know how to put this stuff on?”

“Assuming it’s built like the other set, yeah.” I pulled the dagger off my belt and removed my jacket and shoes. “Let’s see here…” As the armorer pulled it down, I put it on. Fancy Pants helped me with a few of the harder to find straps. Soon enough, I was fully covered in its cool metallic embrace.

The armorer nodded. “Open faced helmet, full visibility. Just watch your face, since you don’t have any protection there.”

“I think I’d watch my face even with protection there,” I replied, flexing my arms in the heavy armor. “Not too constricting. I wouldn’t want to run a marathon in it and I certainly wouldn’t trust flying in it for long distances, but it’s not as bad as I was expecting.”

“Exercise helps,” Fancy said. “When I received my first set, I could barely walk. Now, it’s more like a second skin, though I admit I rarely wear it any longer.”

“Aye, he’s right. The guards here, they don’t mind their armor at all. But it’s made of light metals and is less protective. They also have more legs to distribute weight over. Still, you look fine enough.”

“Excellent. No hook to hang the helmet this time, but this armor is functional only anyway. If I’m wearing it, I’ll be expecting a fight.”

“As you should, with how… dull this set is. I can’t believe you didn’t let me do anything with it.”

“I don’t want to look like a spruced up noble playing at war. I want to look like a soldier that knows what he’s doing. Nobles are targets. Soldiers get avoided, especially if they look like they’re experts.”

“Feh. Take your plain armor, then. You need anything else?”

“Not that I can think of. Thanks for doing this, man.”

“It was partially a pleasure. Don’t expect it to save you from everything, though.”

“I hardly do. But I’ll feel better with it on than not having it at all.”

“Understandable. If you need me or my services for anything else, you’ll know where to find me. You too, Sir Fancy Pants.”

I grabbed my shoes and my jacket as Fancy and I departed the armory. “That is definitely an interesting set of armor,” he commented as we walked aimlessly down the halls. “I suspected you wouldn’t care for black armor at this point, since the idea was to have nothing tying you to Princess Luna.”

“The color has nothing to do with her, I assure you. I’d rather not be a shining beacon in the day, if I ever have to fight in the open. The flashing might disorient my enemies, but it could also hurt me or my friends. Better to reduce the risk, don’t you think?”

“True. How thick is that stuff?”

“Very. He wasn’t joking when he said it was heavy and protective. Oh, it’s possible to break through it, but most people would sooner break their weapons.”

“That must be comforting.”

“Very. I just wish I could move faster in it.”

“Oil the joints. Work out more. No offense, but do you even lift?”

“Not really. I do other exercises, though.”

“With as skinny as you seem, I expected as much. You seemed awfully… frail compared to the other human soldiers we met.” Frail probably wasn’t what he was about to say there. Small or short, likely.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a human that can do much in this shit. It’s fucking heavy. Add in the sword, my ranged weapon, and any supplies I’d be carrying, and it’s going to be hard to walk.”

“You could just ask the princess to help lighten it.”

“I’m planning on it the next time I see her, probably in a few weeks.”

“A few weeks? Nav, we’re on our way to see her now.” It was at that point that I started paying attention to where we had been walking. The twisting and winding path we had been following was leading straight to a large assembly hall.

“Correction: You are. I’m watching for the next hallway leading to the main entrance. I’ve no real desire to see Celestia today. Especially not at any kind of big gathering.”

“You see, the problem with that logic is that visiting hours are still not in. If you leave my side and get questioned by a guard, you’ll likely end up in jail for trespassing.”

“That’s some bullshit and you know it.”

“Oh, I do. But I am no longer early, so I can’t afford the time to escort you out. Besides, I believe Princess Celestia wanted you at this event anyway.”

“Then why didn’t she tell me?”

He smiled. “She knew you would tell her no. But it was planned for a day she knew you have business in the palace and asked for somepony to make sure you attended, if we could.”

“You bastard!”

“I’m merely doing my duty. Forgive me if it impedes you for a few short moments.”

“And forgive me if I sneak out the back way. No one ever watches the gates to the statue garden. I can easily get out that way and catch the first train home.”

Oh, I hated that little chuckle. “You’re welcome to try, but I guarantee that you won’t get far. Remember, the day guards don’t quite like you. And at this point, they probably all know that you’re here and that you’re supposed to be with me. If you get seen at all—and in that clunking, noisy armor, you will—it’s jail time.”

“Fancy, I thought we were cool. Where the hell did this bullshit come from?”

“As I said, I am merely doing my duty. And I did help you get inside. The least you could do is help me by showing up.”

“Fucking fine. But I do not like being tricked, Fancy.”

“I’ve yet to find anypony that does, Nav.” The rest of our walk was in silence, at least from talking. The clatter my armor and his hooves were making against the tile floor was plenty enough noise for the both of us.

When we got to the large hall, we found that we were not the first ones there. A large number of news ponies were around. A few guards lined the walls and servants danced their way through the crowd, offering drinks and other things of that nature. I saw Shining Armor and Cadance near the front of the crowd, but they didn’t notice me.

Fancy Pants started walking further in, but I grabbed him by his coat. “I got a bad feeling about this,” I quietly said, looking around. “Celestia wants me here, you said. What’s happening?”

“Oh, I haven’t the slightest. Would you care to meet some more of her majesty’s knights? It would do you well to know them when you become an umbral knight.”

If. And no thank you. I’d like to stay here near the doors.”

He turned to fully face me, his eyes going to my face. One of his eyebrows lifted at what he saw. “You’re truly worried about this, aren’t you?” he asked.

“Yes. I think I know what’s going on and I have a bad, bad feeling about it. Look, do you know teleportation?”

“I can move a few hundred meters, yes.”

“If I ask you to take me away from this place, can you do that for me? As a friend? I really don’t think I’m going to like what’s about to happen.”

He studied my face for a few more seconds before nodding. “Very well. It will make quite a noticeable scene, though.”

“I’ll be gone, so I won’t care.”

He snorted, turning back to face the crowd. “So selfless,” he gruffly muttered.

“Aren’t I just?” I sardonically answered.

We didn’t have long to wait, sadly. Though I suppose waiting would just make it worse, increasing the very justified feelings of unease I had. Justified, because when the wait ended, there was more than one alicorn on the stage. Celestia and Luna stood side by side before us all. Luna looked tired and her mane was its standard light blue it normally was during the day. Celestia looked like her typical regal self.

There was only a single reason Celestia would want me there for a public address that both sisters were attending. A single reason that I gave her. A reason that was never supposed to come into fruition.

As Celestia began welcoming everyone, I turned to Fancy. “Now would be a very good time to teleport me away,” I whispered.

He half-turned his head my way. “It hasn’t even started yet, Nav.”

“But I have a feeling I know what’s going to happen.”

“Give it time. She just started talking.” He turned back to face her and I knew he wouldn’t hear of me leaving again for some time. So I turned an ear to the door that was close to us. Any fucker shows up late, I’ll just let myself out. Tell the bastard guards I’m taking a breather.

Unfortunately, it was hard not to pay attention to Celestia. “The grim nature of this announcement will shock everypony,” she was saying. “But it must be said. Luna?”

Fuck me. They don’t waste any time, do they?

I poked Fancy again and leaned down. “Now would be great. I know what she’s going to say and I don’t want to hear it,” I whispered.

“Stop being so paranoid,” was his answer. Bastard.

Of course, Luna didn’t waste time either. After all, why prolong the suffering?

“As everypony knows, I was on the moon for several long, lonely years. Long enough to… cause problems. Celestia and I have both come to the conclusion that until those problems are dealt with, it is best that I step down from any semblance of power.” There was some murmuring in the crowd, but she didn’t stop to address it. “I will still offer advice if needed, but times have changed. Things that were once accepted are now taboo. Things once taboo are now accepted. I learned some of what is accepted and some of what is not already, but… I learned through the hard way.”

There was silence in the hall for a few moments. Eventually, Luna’s eyes found mine. My head shook, a vain attempt to get her to stop while she was ahead. To get her not to condemn herself. To hopefully make her see sense.

As ever, she was immune to it. A small chuckle emanated from her before she continued. “I say the ‘hard way’ like it means so little. Royalty is not perfect, my little ponies. My crimes are many. I have attempted to murder someone because I did not understand him. I attempted to hit that same person with a love poison when I thought I did understand him. I almost killed him two more times, though both were accidental. Later, I raped him and took joy in his pain, thinking he would consider it a privilege to provide pleasure to a princess. When he forgave me, the process repeated itself and I mind raped him. Even later, when I was angry with him, I abused my powers over dreams and broadcast his habits across the nation.” Ponies were starting to freak out, at this point. I was getting more and more worried and I could feel my hand scrabbling around the doors for a handle. “And just recently, at the party I hosted, I almost tricked him into getting raped again.”

Everyone but Celestia was staring at her in complete shock. If not for my almost frenzied attempts to flee, you could hear a ninja fart.

“All of this, done to one person. One man.” Her eyes met mine again. “Navarone, will you ever forgive me?”

It was at that point that I finally found the door handle. I ripped the damn thing open and bolted out, slamming it shut behind me. Down the halls I sprinted, no real destination in mind. There was nothing in my mind but the thought of escape.

I didn’t want to see the looks on those faces. The ‘Oh I’m so sorry’ looks of sympathy. And I didn’t want to see Luna’s face, heartbroken and close to tears, or Celestia’s, grim but accepting.

God help me, but I don’t think I could have said a word in there if I had tried.

When I realized how fucking heavy the armor actually was, I stopped running, instead moving at a walk. I knew at that point that I needed to get out of the damn palace quickly before I got surrounded by reporters. Or worse, friends. Cadance and Shining Armor had been in that crowd. There would be no helping me if they caught me before I could get home.

“Running might not have been the best choice,” Flo eventually said.

“Then you should have said so before I fucking did it.”

“No, no. I understand perfectly why you did it. I don’t blame you, either. But walking out would have made a much better point.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I thought you meant I should have answered her.”

A new voice said, “You should have.” I looked over to the adjoining hall to see Celestia standing there.

“Flo disagrees,” I answered, tapping my helmeted head.

Her eyes narrowed at the mention of my internal guest. “Your machine is wrong, then. I recall you saying you would forgive her if she did what she just did.”

Flo huffed. “Tell her that her memory is fading with old age. You said you would consider forgiving her.”

“Your memory’s fading with old age, Celestia. I didn’t say I would forgive her. I said that I would consider forgiving her. So now I’m considering it. Now, would you kindly show me to the nearest exit?”

“I’m fairly certain that no matter where you go, news reporters will be waiting for you. My little sister just admitted to committing some very heinous crimes, all towards you. This is big news.”

“And I’m sure she’s going to go to prison for a long time because of them. After all, that’s what happens to those that break the law.” She didn’t answer. “I don’t suppose you can make this armor light, can you? It’s awfully heavy.” Her horn lit up as she fixed my problem without a word. “Thank you. Now I can fly back without having to worry about damn reporters.”

“You’re breaking us, Navarone,” she suddenly said. “Me and Luna both. Oh, she very much deserves what will happen next, don’t get me wrong. But you could forgive her. It would mean so much to her…”

“You know what would mean so much to me, Celestia? None of this ever having happened in the first place. Luna has escaped consequences for her actions for five years now. There’s no escaping this. Oh, I can’t lie: It’ll hurt to watch, in a way. But in another way, you can’t understand how good it feels to have this out in the open now, to have everyone know what that monster has done to me. Forgiving her would make it hurt less. It would make her sacrifice feel worthwhile. So no. I think I’ll let her stew before I decide. Maybe it’ll do her good to know how I feel every time I wake up.”

“Maybe. But remember that this isn’t the only time she’s gone through being a social pariah. Everypony knew her as Nightmare Moon when she returned.”

“And no one knew who that was or what she had done. Historically, sure. But reputations can be fixed when the event that happened was so far in the past. None of the common ponies were alive to see what she did, so it wasn’t hard for her to change their minds. Now this happens. Everyone knows. Everyone was around when it happened. Everyone remembers the dreams. It will take her hundreds of years to recover from this. And do you remember her opening line? Royalty isn’t perfect? She’s taking you down with her, Celestia. Remember Fleur. People know you’re fallible. And now Luna admits to so many crimes, starting off with that line. How long do you think the people will be behind you, Celestia? Do you ever wonder if they look to their northern neighbor and see how the griffins are doing with their lovely little republic?”

“I raise the sun for them! They will not betray me so easily.”

“You don’t do jack shit. So you can move the planet. Ask any dragon how the world moved before you were around and guess what he would answer?”

“The monster that ruled before I did could also move the sun.”

“Maybe. But if people start thinking you’re going bad, how long do you think they’ll let that excuse stop them from booting you?”

“It won’t happen,” she firmly answered.

“So you say. For now. I’m going to go find a window to hop out of. It’s time for me to go home, I do believe.”

“Yes. Yes it is. I may come visit you later, Navarone. We have things to discuss, things from our last meeting.”

“If you say so. Have fun dealing with this fallout.” And so began the long journey home.

Of course, that couldn’t be the end of it. Oh no, not with my fucking luck. God, I hate these damn midget horses.

My first visitors, not even two hours after I got home, were Shining Armor and Cadance. There were a few guards behind them, but I didn’t have time to look closer before I got fucking piledrived in a hug. Cadance has practice doing that to me, thankfully, so I didn’t end up on the floor.

“Christ, are you in heat again already?” I sighed, patting her on the back of the neck. “I already told you, no threesomes!”

“We heard what happened, what Luna did to you!” she answered, rubbing my back with her hooves.

“And?”

That stumped her. She didn’t let me go, but Shiny started talking. “I told you that he would be fine, dear. Now, Navarone, I need to know if her confession is true.”

“Yep. Now can you let go of me?”

Shining Armor’s horn lit up and some magic pried Cadance away from me. “That’s all I needed to hear, Navarone,” he answered. “Though I need to know, why didn’t you come forward?”

“And watch as nothing happens? There’s no justice here for me. Good luck meting out any to her.”

“By her own admission, Luna is guilty. She admitted this in front of a crowd full of reporters. This news will spread, Nav. There’s no way she could possibly escape judgment for this.”

I snorted. “Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.”

“I understand that,” he sighed. “But maybe this time will be different.”

“It will be,” Cadance angrily said, almost in a growl. “She has at least one princess against her.” It’s cute that you think you have power.

“We’ll certainly do our best,” Shiny said, nodding. “But I also need to know if Celestia has done anything to you as well, anything you’re hiding.”

“Does sending me undercover as a pony maid in a place where I had a very high chance of getting raped by griffons count?” Cadance hugged me once again.

“Iffy, but I can’t bust her on that.”

“What about sending me to help Chrysalis commit a genocide on a colony of diamond dogs?”

“That’s on Chrysalis, not Celestia. Though it is… dark.”

“She declared me and Rarity guilty of treason because she wanted to see what would happen.”

“I heard about that! But… well, she decides what is and isn’t treason. So I suppose I can’t do anything to her with that.”

“Well, she sort of accidentally raped Rarity. Also, can you get her off me again?”

His horn lit up once again, tearing Cadance away. “How did she… accidentally rape somepony?” he asked.

“Ask Rarity for details. It isn’t my place to say.”

“…Alright. I’ll see to it that you’re kept updated on the case, then.”

I shook my head. “Don’t bother. I don’t care and I’m leaving in less than a month. Good luck with the conviction, Shiny.”

“I… I’m afraid to say I might need it. Are you certain then? You’re leaving for sure?”

“Already have plans for it, yes. I was planning on teleporting out to the party with Celestia, but then Luna pulled this move. I might leave earlier than expected. Say, if you’re going into town, can you do me a favor?”

“I can’t leave without talking to Rarity and Twilight, so by all means.”

“Ask Spike to come by. I have a question for him.”

He nodded. “Easy enough. If you leave before we see each other again… Well, good luck, Navarone. I think I might understand you better now.”

“Thinking’s overrated, Shiny,” I answered.

“You better come back, or at least visit,” Cadance said, trying her best to be threatening. “After so long… Well, I’d miss you if you just up and disappeared forever.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll be back here eventually, I’m sure. Too much history to just walk away forever.” And besides, I still have to bust Flo out.

“You better be,” she replied. “I’ll come find you if you don’t!”

Shiny smiled at that. “Don’t make my wife exert herself, Nav.”

“I won’t. You two should get to town before it gets dark, though. It would suck to fly back at night.”

They both nodded. “Then we’ll see you later, Nav,” he said.

“And we’ll miss you,” Cadance added.

“I’ll miss you both as well.” I meant that to be a lie, but after I said it, I realized that it was actually true.

The next time I saw them was in a much darker, more dangerous place. But there will be a time to tell that story, and that time is not now.

 

My next guest was, of course, Spike. “What do you need, Nav?” he asked when I opened the door for him.

“I just got a very good reason to leave when the airship does. Do you want to leave early, or is there something holding you back?”

He shrugged. “Twilight probably wants Pinkie to throw me a party, but honestly, I don’t really want one. When’s the airship coming?”

“Two days. I’m hoping that’s soon enough. I got a powerful need to leave and I don’t know if that’ll be quickly enough.”

“What’s going on?”

“Big things. Big, ugly things. I expect the news to hit Ponyville soon. Hopefully in three or more days.”

“That’s not very specific, Nav.”

“Luna just admitted to the world that she raped and almost murdered me.”

“Oh. That sucks.”

“Yep. So if we’re leaving in two days instead of one, that means I need to talk to Bon-Bon.”

“Yeah, you—wait, Luna did what?!”

“Eh, I can tell you on the way into town. Come on, let’s get to walking.”

I grabbed the leather coat from the rack conveniently placed next to the door and walked on out, pulling the door shut behind me.

“It all began a few years ago…” I started as we walked.

When we got to Bonnie’s house, he finally said, “I’m glad we’re leaving, Nav.”

“You and me both, man. Think she’ll be pissed if we knock at this hour?”

“Well, it’s not quite dark yet,” he answered. I shrugged and knocked. “What do you need to talk to her for, anyway?”

Before I could answer, one of the kids opened the door and looked up at me. “Is your mo—Er, is Bon-Bon in?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he answered, not moving.

“…Can you ask her to come to the door?”

Without answering, he wandered off, leaving the door wide open. Spike and I shared a look and a shrug. Soon enough, Bon-Bon showed up at the door. “Oh, he made you wait in the cold? Come in, you two!”

I shook my head. “We won’t be here long. I just need to tell you that I’m leaving ahead of schedule. I need that answer in two days.”

Her ears flinched before she nodded. “We… talked about it. And sort of argued about it a little. But we decided that we’ll do it, Nav. We’ll watch your house while you’re gone, as long as you don’t kick us out immediately when you get back.”

“Fair enough. Come by tomorrow or the day after and I’ll show you how everything works and what to do if anything breaks.”

“Of course. It’ll probably just be either me or Lyra, though, not both.”

“Whoever it is can show the other. Wish I could stay longer, but I need to get Spike back home.”

She nodded. “Of course, Nav. If I don’t see you tomorrow… Well, I suppose I’ll see you whenever you get back.”

“Of course. Talk to you later, Bon-Bon.”

When we got back on the main thoroughfare, Spike said, “You don’t have to walk me back, Nav.”

“I know. I’m not going to. I just needed an excuse to leave sooner.”

“Oh. That’s pretty rude.”

“It’s not rude. I had an excuse.”

He rolled his eyes. “Whatever. So two days?”

“At midnight. Be there on time so I don’t have to drag you out of bed.”

“I will. Should I tell Twilight I’m leaving sooner?”

“You can, but she might want to know why. I’d rather her think I’m leaving in two weeks so she might put off visiting me.”

“Nav, what’s with all this dark, abandoning stuff you’re doing? Why not just tell everypony that you’re leaving?”

“Because I don’t like goodbyes. I’d rather just disappear.”

“Well, I’m at least going to leave a note for all my friends. It’ll feel… softer that way.”

“Do whatever you think best. Anyway, I do need to get back before nightfall. So I’ll see you later, Spike.”

“Alright, talk to you later.”

Given that I had to take my jacket off to fly home, it was a cold flight. Almost cold enough to make me wish I had desecrated the lovely leather duster Kincaid had given me.

Flo woke me up late that night, flooding my body with something that jerked my body awake with a gasp. “Visitor,” she whispered.

My eyes slammed open and I recoiled in horror as I saw a pair of fangs and faintly glowing eyes right next to my face. “Jesus!”

My uninvited guest jumped backwards and apparently tripped over something. When I heard a rather feminine yelp of pain, I actually looked at my assailant. It was a certain captain of the night guards. “Come to give me a midnight kiss, Blossom?” I asked, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

“It’s well past midnight, Nav. And it’s actually called the vampony’s kiss, though that wasn’t why I was here. I was actually attempting to wake you up.”

“Sure you were. Well, I’m awake. Now what did you need? If you’re hungry, take your fill and let me go back to sleep.”

“I wouldn’t wake you up for that. I think you know full well why I’m here.”

“I can think of a few reasons. Why don’t you just tell me?”

“Did any of my guards help Luna with any of what she did to you?”

“…That actually wasn’t what I was expecting. Uh, there was a single guard who helped her a long time ago. He was positioned to make sure I died against some evil moth thing.”

“Do you have a name?”

“I’m afraid not. I met him later, but I don’t remember his name.”

“Did anypony else help?”

“Not that I can think of.”

“I see. Shining Armor is taking care of the case against Luna right now. I’m cleaning up house, looking around for anypony that might have known but didn’t say anything. Have you told anypony anything about what happened?”

“Celestia. She knew the entire time. And there were a number of people who found out about a few parts of it, from reading journal entries. Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle.” I wasn’t about to get Fluttershy mixed up in all this. That would just break her.

Her eyes narrowed. “Elements of harmony? Why wouldn’t they say anything?”

“Loyalty to Celestia, maybe. I don’t know. Look, if you decide to question them, can you wait a few days?”

“No promises. We want to get this investigation done as quickly as possible and we need to start questioning them before they learn what happened. We won’t question them tonight, but it is likely that it will happen tomorrow.”

“I see. How long is that going to take?”

“That depends on how willing they are to cooperate. If push comes to shove, I imagine Captain Armor will rip the information from their minds. Unpleasant, especially given that one of them is his sister, but if it’s necessary, that’s what will happen.”

“Eh. Look, I’m leaving in about two days. Can you do what you can to make sure nothing comes to bother me in that time?”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “I didn’t think it was going to be this soon. How long are you going to be gone?”

“A long damn time. If this doesn’t blow over well, I might not come back at all. Not much left for me here.”

“A shame. You’ll definitely be missed, even if you aren’t a knight anymore. I’ll see what I can do about getting a squad on station. If Captain Armor asks, I’ll tell him they’re there to keep anypony that might be feeling vindictive out.”

“Awesome. That’ll save me from having to keep the gate down until I leave. You know, the night guards have always pulled through for me. It’s been an honor working with you guys. I think that’ll be one of the few things I’ll miss when I’m gone.”

“You won’t miss it that much. After all, Watcher’s going with you.”

“True. But I will be losing a number of good personalities. Steel and Panzer. Smiles, even if he can be annoying as hell. Quisling, though I’m bringing two other changelings. Hell, as much as you try to be mean and uptight, I’m going to miss you. I didn’t spend much time with most of the others, but I really am going to regret leaving all of it behind.”

“If you have to leave, you have to leave. If it makes you feel better, we’re all going to miss you too. We’ve never really had anypony that had a military mind like yours. It’ll be a shame to lose you.”

“Ha, I knew you’d miss me. Do I get a going away present?”

She grinned sweetly and I thought for a second I finally got her when she said, “Nope. But if you come back… Well, I might give you a welcome home present.”

“Oh, now that’s just twisted. Now I have to come back! Can I at least have a good night kiss?”

Her grin only deepened. “Would you ask the vampony for a kiss, my dear Navarone, not knowing what it would entail?”

I shrugged. “Sure. I’ve done worse.”

“Then look into my eyes!” Her wings exploded outwards and her eyes took on a strange intensity, stripping away any resistance a normal person would have and forcing me to focus solely on her. As she moved forward, I felt a growing sense of elation, a growing feeling of submissiveness. She stopped right next to my bed and leaned in, gently pressing her lips against mine and giving what felt like a tender, loving kiss.

After too little time—infinity would be too short a time, for the pleasure I felt—she pulled away from my lips and leaned in past my face, so she could whisper into my ear. “Present yourself.” Without even thinking about it, my head tilted up and away, leaving my throat bared to her. She pulled back and lovingly licked my carotid, sending goosebumps across my flesh. She chuckled at the sight, her laughter sweet music to my ears.

After taking her time to prepare me, she punctured my neck. There was no pain. In fact, as she began to slowly suckle my life fluids away, I felt an intense pleasure and satisfaction, the knowledge that I was helping my mistress of the night wiping away any feeling of wrongness or pain. It felt right and I loved it. The only part at all that I hated was when she pulled away, ending it.

“Now sleep, my succulent morsel. Sleep the night away. Your guards will be here in the morning.”

I tried to answer, but couldn’t. Her compulsion seemed to be still working, because I just lied back down and closed my eyes as she walked away, getting out however she got in.

And thus ended what was probably one of the most intimate experiences of my entire life.

A day guard squad showed up the next day and took up positions around my house. Surprisingly enough, there were no visitors except for Bon-Bon. I showed her around and how everything worked and things like that and then she was on her way.

It was a nice day that gave me plenty of time to get ready to leave.

That night, my guards were replaced by a more… familiar batch. Steel Rain and his men stood watch over my house.

And of course, they brought an even more familiar face. “What do you want, Smiles?” I tiredly asked. “I’m about to go to bed.”

“This is my last duty as a guard, sir,” he answered.

“It’s not sir anymore. And congratulations. You get a promotion to officer or something?”

“I’m resigning. A lot of the night guards are, I think.”

“Well, good luck in life. I sure hope you have a job lined up after this.”

“I kinda… don’t.”

“Hm. You should work on that. Can’t imagine there’s too much work for an ex-soldier in Equestria.”

“Yeah…”

I let the silence build up for a little while before I said, “Well, good night. Have fun on your last duty session.” With that, I started walking to the staircase, getting ready for what he was about to ask.

“Wait!” I stopped but didn’t look back. “Uh… Do… Do you have any positions for me?”

Knew that was coming. I turned back around. “What would you be looking to do?”

“Defend you! I’m good at fighting, sir!”

“I have guards aplenty and I’m not too shabby in a fight myself. My entire crew is full of battle-hardened unicorns. Try again and this time remember that you’re competing against fifteen other soldiers.”

His ears flinched and he gulped. “I can cook pretty decently.”

“So can I and at least one of the others that’s going. Would you care to try again?”

“I’m pretty good at uh… darning?”

“So is one of the others I’m bringing.” Though who taught Spike to sew, I don’t know. “One more try, for old time’s sake?”

He thought for several seconds before finally sighing and saying, “I know… how to please a stallion?” I just crossed my arms and looked down on him in disappointment. He hung his head and turned around to walk out.

“I’ll make a deal with you, Smiles.” He whirled right back around, already living up to his name. “My first stop is the party in Europe, the Stalliongrad thing. If you promise me that you’ll look for a job there doing whatever, you can ride with me on my ship. If, by the time we leave, you haven’t found a job, I’ll take you with me. But if I find out that you weren’t looking, I’ll leave your ass there. Alright?”

His smile was wide enough to drive a cock through. “Yes sir!”

I quickly held up a hand. “I have a few conditions. The first one is that you need to look in Stalliongrad, which I already said. The second is that I am not gay. Do not push me, Smiles. Flirt with the others if you want, but I am not gay. Okay?”

He sighed, but said, “Yes sir…”

“Alright. If I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to let you know. We’re leaving tomorrow night, midnight. If you’re not here by the time we leave, you’re getting left behind. Bring a personal kitbag if you want. There are plenty of rooms on the ship, but most of them are relatively small. Keep that in mind. And for the love of God, don’t tell anyone else that’s leaving the guard that I’m hiring you. I don’t want all the damn dregs that quit when the going got tough coming to me and bothering me.”

“Yes sir! So is anypony cute going with us?”

“I’m going to bed. You’re not invited.”

“Sweet dreams!” he called as I walked up the stairs. I didn’t comment on the muttered, “About me,” he added.

Nothing happened the next day aside from Gilda finally showing up.

 

The night of our departure was perfectly clear, arranged for by me. I didn’t want any rain getting in the way of the shit we were moving onto the ship. Thankfully, most of it was treated wood anyway, so there wouldn’t have been much damage.

Watcher and his troops rode in on the ship, since they were both in Canterlot. Smiles flew in, since he didn’t know what we were taking anyway. Spike, Gilda, Ames, and I were all hunting in the woods for one last meatfest before we left and we met Zecora heading to the house on the way out. She had on her a number of alchemical stuff, but almost no potions.

“Why bring the heavier brew when I can make them anew?” she wisely asked, emphasizing her point by shifting one of her bags that looked like it had a calcinator in it.

When the ship finally got to my house, I got the naga and Watcher’s crew and Smiles to get all the weapons and shit on board. While they were working on that, Spike found me. “This feels wrong,” he said.

“Leaving home? It does, I’ll admit.”

“Not that! Leaving without telling anypony. Sneaking away into the night. I feel like… a thief, I guess. What will they think if you just disappear like this? Shouldn’t you at least tell them?”

“It’s a little bit late for you to be bringing this up, Spike. It’s already midnight. Most everyone’s asleep. Besides, I did leave a note.” Well, the note was just for Dash.

Spike sighed. “I don’t know. It just… doesn’t feel right, I guess.”

“Well, it’s kinda not right. I shouldn’t be doing this and I know I shouldn’t be. But honestly, what is there left to say? ‘I’m leaving, possibly forever, bye’? That wouldn’t go over well. Especially not now.”

“Better to hear it late than to just wake up and find that you’re gone,” he said.

“Well, Twilight knows. She can tell them when they find out.”

“True, I guess… They’re going to be awfully mad, though.”

“I know, Spike. I know. Hopefully a few years will dull that anger.” Oh, if only I knew how wrong I was about that…

“Maybe. Hey, I’m gonna go see if I can help them. I got these dragon muscles coming in, I might as well use them.”

“Have fun with that.” Off he went, wagging that little tail of his and leaving me alone.

It didn’t take long for her to show up. Before she could say a word, I said, “I was wondering when you would show up.” I finally turned around, revealing a very sad looking Pinkie Pie.

“We’re going to miss you, Nav,” she quietly replied.

“And there are going to be times when I’ll miss you guys,” I shot back. “But I think you knew this was coming. I don’t think anyone here thought I could stay in Ponyville forever.”

“I know… And I don’t blame you. Some ponies are going to be awfully angry you didn’t tell them, though.”

“Yeah.” I fished the letter out of my pocket and handed it to her. “Give that to Rainbow Dash after lunch tomorrow.”

“I will.”

“And I’m sorry you couldn’t throw a party for Spike. Something big came up and I needed to leave early. You’ll find out what happened soon, I think.”

“Was it that bad?” she asked.

“Yes. It is… prudent that I get gone soon. You’ll understand. Hell, everyone probably will when they hear.”

“What should I tell Fluttershy?”

“I have instructions for Dash in the letter. If she’s not too angry, she’ll handle it.”

“Okay…”

“Buck up, Pinkie. We’ll see each other again some day.”

“Promise?” she asked.

“I promise,” I answered, one I honestly didn’t care if I kept or not.

It cheered her up slightly, anyway. “Good. I can throw you a welcome home party! Or a long lost friend party!” As things turned out, that second one wouldn’t have been necessary.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” I heard yelling and turned back to my ship. “Looks like it’s time for me to go, Pinkie. Everything’s loaded up and ready.”

“Alright, Nav. Be safe. And when you meet the three-eyed genie, remember what kind of person you really are.”

“…What?”

She shrugged. “I dunno. That happens sometimes. I’ll see you soon!”

“Soon. Right. Until our paths cross again, Pinkie.” I spread my wings and jumped into the air, bypassing the long rope ladder and flying straight up to the ship. “Everything squared away?” I asked the captain.

“Everything but the crew,” he answered. “Everypony’s heading up the ladder now, though. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to tell you sooner, but I picked up a few passengers going our way. I couldn’t turn down the fares, what with our destination.”

“I understand. I don’t suppose you picked up a grey mare named Octavia, did you?”

“Aye, I did. Cute little thing. You know her?”

“Friend of mine, yeah. When everyone’s aboard and we’re all ready to go, feel free to set sail.”

“Yes sir.” I looked around the bustling ship, with magic floating pieces of weapons together according to plans and the occasional bat-winged pegasus lending a hoof whenever they could. “How’s it feel?” he asked.

“How does what feel?”

“Leaving it all behind like this. Dropping your home and setting off for adventure.”

“Well, this is hardly my first time doing that…” Taking one last look around the ship and all the crew that was loyal to me, I added, “Last time, I was forced out of my home. Dragged here by a whim and left to rot.” My eyes finally settled somewhere: Forward. Towards east, where our destination awaited. “This time, though… This time, it feels… right.”

When we left on that long, inhospitable journey, I was looking forward, ever forward. And God help me, there were so many times I wanted to look back. But like a car crash or a train wreck, you just can’t take your eyes away sometimes.

Was it fitting for the journey to be compared to something as destructive as a train wreck? Well, that will be for you to decide.

You fucking asshole.

 
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