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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99. Chapter Eighty-One—Dreamwalking Part 2

“Why couldn’t we do this earlier?” Taya asked. “Like when daddy was still in bed so we could stay inside.”

“Because to truly learn combat magic, you have to see its potential for destruction. You had to destroy to learn what you were capable of destroying, what you’re capable of doing to somepony else. And you did, with the grace that only somepony with the talent for it could do. Now here we are, in a training bout. Are you all ready?”

I swung my sword in a little circle, limbering up my arm, and said, “Yeah.”

The naga grunted. Taya nodded.

“Very well. I think it would be best if the teams moved apart. Naga, come along. Let’s give them some space.” Ames set his sword on his shoulder as he slithered away, following Sage. Taya and I were left standing there, waiting.

“Plan?” she whispered.

“Move in slow and steady. Be ready to take down the naga. I don’t think Sage knows about my ring, so I’ll do my best to take care of him. If we lose, we lose; it’ll be our first fight together and both of us are novices.”

“I know, daddy. And good luck.”

I nodded. “I hope we don’t need it.” I held my sword up in a ready position, already regretting agreeing to this bout.

When the other two were finally in position, the magic instructor called out, “Begin!”

Taya immediately jumped behind me as his horn lit up. I began slowly walking forward, waiting for either of them to make a move. Taya followed me, peeking under my legs and ready to act if something happened. Neither of them moved, aside from the unicorn’s horn lighting up.

“Get ready,” I mumbled, hopefully loud enough for Taya to hear. I was going to jump out of the way and I was hoping she’d do something violent to the naga.

I did just that, sidestepping to let her shoot. Thankfully, she pulled through with a massive lightning bolt that hit the naga in the dead center of mass… And then bounced back, arcing right at Taya. My hand shot out and the metal of my gauntlet attracted the lightning. Normally, that would fry me. Since I was wearing my ring, it shot straight into the ground, frying all the grass in a circle around me with a foot-long diameter. My poor backyard…

I stopped moving, Taya moving to stand next to me. “He’s giving the naga a shield,” I quietly said, watching the two of them. “Can you do anything to Sage?”

Her horn lit up and another massive bolt of lightning shot at her instructor. I saw his horn flash brighter as it repelled straight at me. I grinned and let it hit me head on, dissipating back into the ground.

“Use something less noticeable, Taya,” I said. “No reason to advertise yourself to everyone that’s looking. Now let me see… Can you put up a shield around me and keep it molded around me, but not touching me?”

“…Maybe? I can try.”

“I just need it to block the naga’s hits. Now, I’m going to rush the naga. Distract the unicorn and I’ll try to get a throwing knife into him. If his horn stops glowing, get rid of the naga.”

“…I can’t see horn glows, daddy.”

“Fuck. Then if he goes down, do it.”

Her horn lit up as a shield of sorts covered me. Or at least, I was hoping there was a shield around me. I took a second to pop my neck before bursting into a sprint right at the naga, ready to do whatever I could.

As soon as I got away from Taya, Sage’s horn lit up brighter and a spike of ice shot dead at me. I let it crash into me and dissipate as I continued sprinting. His eyes shot open wide and his mouth dropped, giving me ample time to throw a knife at him as I ran.

I didn’t have time to see what happened with the knife before I was dueling the naga. Now, for those of you lucky enough to have never seen a naga in combat, it’s fucking fearsome as all hell. They could swing their giant weapons like they were butter knives and ruin the day of anyone that got anywhere near them. I learned quickly that the best way to stay alive against one was to move very, very quickly.

He met my sprint with a thrust from his sword. I turned sideways, turning my sprint into a one-handed jab that he jerked out of the way of, not moving his lower body. Since the naga was still alive at that point, I knew the unicorn also had to still be kicking. My plan was to get around the naga and deal with the unicorn, but I don’t think Ames was going to make that easy on me; he let go of his sword with one hand and grabbed my sword arm with the other, lifting me up by the arm and pulling his sword back for a stab.

I ripped one of the throwing knives out of my belt and stabbed up into the arm that was holding me. The magic in my knife shot into his arm, freezing it up and probably giving him some manner of discomfort. Either way, he dropped me and clutched at the arm that I had reclaimed my knife from.

I bolted past him before he could recover and jumped at the unicorn that was trading spells with a constantly teleporting Taya. I stabbed his unexpecting form in the side before the naga’s spare hand wrapped around one of my wings, ripping me backwards and throwing me onto the ground. He had time to position his sword above my form for a downward stab before another lightning bolt hit him, sending little arcs of lightning all up and down his body as he jerked stock still.

On the off chance he would somehow survive that, I tried stabbing up with my sword, only to realize I didn’t have it anymore. Apparently I dropped it when I was ripped backwards. However, it appeared that I didn’t need it, as the lightning dispelled from the naga’s slightly smoking body and Sage said, “Wow. That was the most surprising loss I have ever had. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you cheated,” he said, looking at me as I picked myself off the ground.

“Trust me, I didn’t,” I said, grabbing my stick from where it had fallen. “I can’t believe we actually won, though.”

“By all rights, you shouldn’t have,” Sage answered. “That you did was… miraculous. I didn’t see any shield around you when the lightning hit. How did you not get hurt?”

“I have my ways.” Taya joined our little group as the naga seemingly recovered from his interesting ordeal. “Taya, remember what I said about doing more subtle things? Lightning gives you away and lets your opponent know where you are.”

“However,” Sage said, “it intimidates her opponents and can dishearten them to the point where they give up, making killing them unnecessary. That is the standard guard method of operating, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anypony that would teach her differently.”

I can think of a place. “If you say so.” No reason to tell him about my combat unicorns, though. I grabbed the throwing knives I used and resheathed them. “Either way, that was a good spot of fun, I suppose. We might have to make this a regular thing.”

“A regular thing?” Sage asked, looking at the naga for a second before turning his gaze back to me. “I didn’t come all the way here from town just for a single bout, Navarone. We’re going to keep going, are we not?”

I looked down to find that Taya was grinning up at me. I sighed, my wings sagging slightly.

We… didn’t do nearly as well in the other bouts. Now that the unicorn guy knew my magic resistance secret, he was considerably more careful.

After round number whatever, Spike came outside looking somewhat pissed and holding a scroll. He walked up and threw it at me during a break. “Someone sent you a letter,” he growled.

“Dude, who the fuck pissed in your cornflakes this morning?” I asked as I picked the scroll up from where it had fallen.

“I was in the middle of somepon—er, something. And uh… Doppel isn’t very happy either.”

“She’ll get over it.” I pulled the scroll open, immediately noting Luna’s seal. I was tempted to toss it aside without reading it, but I figured it might have something to do with the wedding.

‘Do you still want to learn how to dreamwalk? If you do, I can begin teaching you now that you’re better. I can meet you in your dreams tonight. Also, I want to talk about this… wedding. Your favorite princess, Luna.’

Favorite princess my ass. “Spike, you mind sending her a reply for me?”

“I might as well. Not like I have anything else to do right now…”

“Tell her I said yes, I do still want to learn. She can use the sky to send me a message before she comes in.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, dude.”

“She’ll understand it.”

“Whatever you say… So what have you been doing out here? More training?”

“Group training, yeah,” I said. “We won once out of a lot of attempts. I’m thinking about calling it a day soon; I still need to go see Lyra and Bon-Bon and Rarity, after all.”

“And you need to make a plan for Mirror, right?” he asked.

“…Who?”

“You know, the changeling we met in the Everfree? The crazy one?”

“Dude, I was just going to forget about her.”

“You know that helping her is the right thing to do, Nav!”

And now Taya decided to contribute with, “What are you two talking about, daddy?”

“Nothing. Spike, I’ll think about it. Go send the reply to Luna. Taya, we can do a few more rounds before I need to leave.”

Spike just sighed and left as Taya’s gaze turned cold very quickly. “Daddy, what were you two talking about? Don’t say ‘nothing.’ You told me to tell you when you were doing things wrong, and you’re doing things wrong.”

“Taya, it is the job of the parents to protect their child. What we were talking about is something that is possibly dangerous and I really, really don’t want you involved.”

“Then what makes you think you should be involved? If it’s dangerous for me, then it’s dangerous for you!”

“I don’t want to be involved. That’s exactly what I told Spike. Weren’t you listening?”

“You said you’d think about it, whatever it is.”

“Yeah, and I was lying.” Actually, I wasn’t. Spike and Flo were both right; it would be good to attempt to help Mirror, or at least see if she could be helped. “Why would I risk something that might be dangerous?”

The cold look warmed up slightly as she smiled. “I’m happy to hear that. Though I still want to know what you two were talking about.”

“We met someone in the Everfree that was off-balanced. Spike thinks we should try to help her. I think I should try to forget about her.”

“You’re right. You should forget her. You have enough crazy women in your life.”

“Don’t I know it…” I muttered, looking down at Luna’s letter.

Taya decided without my asking that she was going with me into town to check on the progress of my ceremonial robes and to talk to Lyra and Bon-Bon. I didn’t mind her going, personally, but what she didn’t know is that Lyra was actively hunting for flower fillies.

With that in mind, I went to their house first; why be forced to make two trips to Rarity’s shop if Taya was forced into the role and needed a new dress? I was expecting their house to be busy or at least somewhat different from the last time I had seen it, but things in Ponyville always seem to stay the same, no matter how much everything else changes.

I led the way up to the door and knocked. Not a minute later, Lyra pulled the door open, a somewhat worried expression on her face. “Oh, Navarone! We… weren’t expecting you.”

“If this is a bad time, I can come back later. I just came by to talk about the wedding.”

Her ears flinched slightly at that and I got a bad feeling in my stomach. “Now is fine. Just… you know,” she poked her head out the door, looked both ways, and continued in a whisper, “Queen Chrysalis, right?”

“I do. Why?”

“Good. Come on in.” I shrugged and stepped inside. Taya followed me. Lyra’s magic pulled the door shut behind us as she led the way further inside.

“I trust you sent them away?” Chrysalis’s voice asked from the den.

I grinned and stepped into view. “Oh, you don’t want to see me?”

She blinked in surprise before grinning as well. “Well now, isn’t this a surprise. You saved me the trouble of tracking you down. And perhaps you can assist me in convincing my subject about something.” She looked down to a couch on the other side of where she was lounging to see a somewhat frightened changeling that I took a guess at being Bon-Bon. “I want her to reveal herself during the wedding.”

I crossed my arms, thankful that I had put my ring on before I left. “That is their choice, Chrysalis. I can point out the possible pros and cons, but I will support her no matter the choice she makes and either way I will see to it that they are wed.”

“Then I will let you hear my argument first,” she said, looking back to me. “If she did this, it would be good for changelings everywhere. This would show the ponies that the two races can coexist with no fear—and with even the chance at love and marriage. If she takes the first step in revealing herself like this, other changelings could do the same thing. They, too, could be together with their pony loves.”

If everything goes well,” I countered. “She runs the risk of not being accepted. If that is the case, little will change between the relationships of ponies and changelings. However, everything will change for her and Lyra. Her entire life would be ruined. She’d be forced to leave Ponyville and possibly Equestria entirely. But it would mean no more lying to all the ponies all around you. It took you years to come out to Lyra. The first one is always the hardest. You could do this—and it would probably be for the best in the long run if you did—but it could potentially ruin your life.”

Bon-Bon looked down, a worried expression on her face. “What do you think I should do, Nav?”

I sighed, rubbing at my forehead to consider. “My personal opinion is that you go for it, but not at the wedding. Get Pinkie to throw some kind of pre-wedding party in a few days and make the announcement there. Something like this could ruin a wedding, and you don’t want the happiest day in your life to be ruined. However, I am not the one you should be asking.” I gave a pointed look to Lyra, who had taken the time I was talking to walk over to the couch and cuddle up with her changeling love.

Bonnie nodded, nuzzling Lyra. “I just want everypony else’s opinions before I asked for the most important one. Lyra, what do you want to do?”

“You shouldn’t have to hide yourself, honey. If the others don’t support us, they can go to Tartarus. I’m here to stay, and as long as we’re together, we don’t need anypony else’s support. I say we tell everypony.”

Bon-Bon sighed and nodded. “Then that’s what we’ll do. I just need to get Pinkie to host a party for us. Navarone, now that you’re well, when do you think we can have the wedding?”

“I will be ready whenever you two are. We’ll want to do a practice run, just so everyone we have involved will know their places and what to do. You two already have a copy of the very short script, so the words shouldn’t be a problem. Just let me know whenever you decide to do it. Rarity should have my robes finished by now.” I looked over to Chrysalis. “I trust you’ll be there?”

“I would not miss something this important, Navarone. Of course I will be there. I’m sure you’ll find some way for me to participate.”

I was about to answer when Bon-Bon broke in with, “Important? It’s just a small wedding!”

My smile only widened at that. “Remember how you said you wanted a ‘small’ wedding?” I said. “That almost definitely isn’t going to happen, no matter what you try to do. Not if you go through with your plan of revealing this, that is. I do believe that this will be the first marriage between an open changeling and a pony, meaning it is an extremely important step in interracial relationships between the two. I would expect reporters, maybe one of the princesses, dignitaries, and a huge crowd.” Her ears seemed to shrink with every word and I knew I might have made a mistake in telling her that. “However… I think you could get away with a small, private ceremony between the two of you before the big, pompous one. You get the small wedding and the knowledge that no matter what might go wrong in the big wedding, you’re married either way.”

She perked up a little at that. “I’d like that,” she said, nodding. “Lyra?”

“Whatever makes you happy. I know you don’t want to be a big spectacle, but what they both said is true: This is a big, important event. If you want something to calm your nerves before the big show, I’m okay with that.”

“Alright, that’s settled,” I said. “We can do that the day before the big thing, if it does end up exploding in popularity. When do you think you’ll have the announcement party?”

“…Tomorrow,” Bon-Bon said. “If it can be set up that quickly, of course. I feel nervous about it and I don’t want to risk backing out. You’ll be there, right?” she asked me.

“I generally make a point to avoid all of Pinkie’s parties, but an exception can be made in this case. I’ll be there and if it looks like it’ll turn ugly, I’ll go full royal knight on everyone.”

“That… won’t be necessary, right?” she asked.

“Not everyone is as forgiving as the person you want to marry,” I said. “You’ve been lying to a lot of people for a long time. It’s good that you’re finally telling the truth, but not everyone will agree that the truth is preferable to a lie.”

Chrysalis nodded and chimed in, “You have little to fear, though. Most changelings that reveal themselves come to be accepted in their pony societies, though they tend to keep their original disguise in case any visitors are less understanding.” It concerned me that she only mentioned what happened to those in pony societies, but that wasn’t the point here.

Lyra caressed Bonnie’s face. “And if anypony says anything, who cares? Let Nav take care of all the naysayers. We can handle everypony else that is there to support us.”

Bon-Bon’s fear slowly dissipated in the face of all the support she was getting. She eventually sighed happily, closing her eyes and resting her head on Lyra’s legs. “It feels… good… to finally be planning to put this to rest.”

“Well, if you two want to talk to Pinkie so she’ll have time to get the party together, I’ll need to get out of your hair,” I said. “We can make plans for the wedding after the party, when we’re certain how everything is going to turn out. And you might need to get your dress modified, if you want to be a changeling for the wedding.”

Lyra rubbed Bon-Bon on the head and nodded up at me. “We’ll see you tomorrow, then. And thank you, Nav. Thank you for everything.”

I smiled, finally getting a chance to say a line that I’ve wanted to for a while. “It’s what I do.”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes at my statement and stood. “I, too, must depart. I will see the two of you at the wedding.” She didn’t get nearly as enthusiastic a farewell. When she, Taya, and I got to the door, Chrysalis turned into some unfamiliar unicorn. “If anypony asks, my name is Crystal.” The cutie mark she had was a crystal, so I just shrugged.

When we got away from the house, she continued following us. “So what did you need from me?” I asked as I started heading toward Rarity’s pad.

“Is it so bad for one friend to want to see another?” she asked.

“I’ve heard that line way too many times from Celestia for it to have any use on me. You need or want something from me.”

“You are mistaken, Navarone, unless you consider wanting a conversation as wanting something. You forget where I come from and the common denizens thereof.”

“That is… relieving. Maybe you can answer me a few questions, then. Have you ever had changelings go rogue?”

“Yes. There is one right now in the night guard that went rogue. There is nothing I can do to him, now. I do not believe Bon-Bon will go rogue on me.”

“Okay, how about going insane?”

“…Why do you ask?”

“The idea of an insane shapeshifter scares me. I want to know that it doesn’t happen.”

“Then I’m afraid I will have to disappoint you. There are some that do crack. If they go undercover for too long or change personalities too many times—or even attempt to, in some cases—they can develop a number of mental problems. A common one is harboring numerous personalities in their head.”

“What do you normally do with changelings like that?”

“Put them down. They are a drain on limited resources because they contribute nothing to society and they can potentially be dangerous. Changelings can tell each other apart by pheromone, but other races can’t tell one changeling from another. If an insane changeling hurts a surface-dweller and reveals that he or she is a changeling, our reputation suffers.”

“What if they aren’t dangerous?”

“Multiple personalities, Navarone. The original changeling might have been the most docile little hatchling you could ever imagine. That doesn’t mean everything that spawns in his brain will be the same. However, that isn’t usually the case. When we first met, I believe I mentioned that changelings can feed on different emotions. I probably also said that those that feed on anger do not last long. The reason they don’t last long is because most of them go insane. I don’t know why. There is more to this than common curiosity, isn’t there?”

What to do, what to do… If I told her, Mirror would be hunted and put down by the changelings. If I didn’t tell her, I would practically take responsibility for the changeling and by extension all the actions she did later, even if I didn’t choose to help her.

Maybe it was my good mood, maybe it was a tiny scrap of humanity left clinging to my soul. Hell, maybe it was just common decency. Whatever it was, I just shrugged and said, “Not really. This here is my stop.” We were already at Rarity’s Boutique. I pushed the door open and stepped inside, not expecting Chrysalis to follow me.

She did, though. “This little town is extremely colorful,” she commented when she entered the store behind Taya. “Nothing at all like my home.”

You can’t enter Rarity’s shop for long without attracting her attention, unless she’s purposefully avoiding you. Since she wasn’t expecting me, though, she made an appearance as soon as the two of us stepped inside. I think she would have turned around as soon as she saw me if I hadn’t been accompanied by someone she didn’t know. “Hello, Navarone. How may I assist you and your friend?” Not even going to ask about Taya? Geez.

“I’m here about the ceremonial robes I need,” I said. “I’m just showing Crystal around the town.”

“Oh yes, your robes. They’re hanging up in the back room. Normally I’d trust that anything I made would fit you just fine, but I’d rather not take a chance with clothing for a wedding! You are welcome to try them on back there; I know of your modesty problems.”

“Thank you for being so understanding,” I sarcastically answered. “I’ll be right back.” I walked back to her creation room and found the robes hanging off a rack. I could hear Rarity talking to Chrysalis as I changed into the robes. Since I didn’t feel like taking anything off, ‘changing’ was easy: I just threw the robe on over everything else. Problem solved.

I suppose I should probably describe the damn thing, since it was an important ceremonial garb or whatever. The cloth was dark blue, the color of Luna’s coat. It came with a necklace of sapphire in the shape of her signature crescent moon. The same image adorned the belt that I cinched tight around me. On one of the shoulders was my personal handprint heraldic image.

Personally, I would have preferred having my armor, but the robe wasn’t too bad. And as usual, it fit perfectly. I practiced walking around the room in it for a minute before pulling it off and hanging it back up. I grabbed the hanger and gently draped the robe over my shoulder before walking back into the main room.

Chrysalis and Rarity were casually discussing dresses while Taya looked bored out of her mind. “Fits just fine, Marshmallow,” I said when there was a break in their conversation. “Just as good as your usual work. I’m sure Bon-Bon and Lyra will love it.”

“I certainly hope so,” she answered. “Though I don’t know why anypony would find such a dreary color suitable for a wedding. They’re supposed to be bright and happy, not dark and dreary.”

“Where I come from, the night and its colors are associated with the sensual and private parts of love. It seems fitting to conduct a wedding ceremony dressed in dark blue.”

“For you, maybe,” she said with a haughty sniff. “But then, everypony knows your habits. Maybe after this wedding, Princess Luna will modernize her marriage ceremony.”

“I quite like it,” Chrysalis said. “It is short and simple, something for a couple that wants to be wed without a big and pompous ceremony. It is a relic of a more pragmatic time, when ponies believed in doing things quickly because life could be so much shorter.”

“Perhaps some relics should be left in the past where they belong,” Rarity commented. “Are you here for the wedding, too? Do you need a new dress, perhaps?”

Chrysalis shook her head. “I don’t need anything, thank you. Besides, I wouldn’t want to miss any more of the tour.”

Rarity sighed and nodded. “Very well… Make sure you show her Sugarcube Corner and the library, Nav. This town doesn’t have many landmarks, so you might as well show her the best ones we have.”

“I will. Oh, and I believe there is going to be a party for the couple tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll be invited.”

“I might be able to make it… My schedule is full, what with the dresses and suits I’m making. It would be a nice break, I suppose.”

I shrugged. “Come or don’t. Now, let’s get going. Not a lot of daylight left, after all.”

The other two followed me out, Taya still not making a peep. She hadn’t spoken since the two of us had gotten to Bonnie’s house. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

When we were away from Rarity’s house, Chrysalis said, “It is growing darker, actually. I do not suppose your house has any vacancies, Navarone?”

“For the one that was kind enough to give me a house in the first place, of course. I suppose that’s where we’ll head.” She smiled as we continued to walk. A few blocks away, I thought of something that might be problematic. “I do happen to have a griffin princess in my house as well, though. She’s fine with Doppel, but I don’t know if that would go for you as well.”

“You really do get around, don’t you? Are you courting her, or did her father just decide that your home would be a nice vacation spot?”

“He thinks that I’m courting her. She just wanted to get away from home for a little while.”

“Well, there is officially peace between the griffins and the changelings for the first time in centuries, so I believe I will have no problems from her. And if I do, I will be able to handle them. I will leave after the… party tomorrow and return for the wedding, though I believe less subterfuge will be required at that point.”

“Hey, if you don’t want to risk it, just stay as a pony. Or turn into something else. One of the benefits of being a changeling, I suppose.”

“I don’t think you would enjoy sharing a bed with a stallion, Navarone.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” I answered with a shrug. Her eyes widened at that and I think if she currently had wings, they would have shot out. “It was less by choice and more by necessity. I have to say that he kept me warm, but not in a way that I enjoyed.”

“Hm…” I had an idea of what she was planning, and I can’t say that I liked that idea. But I wasn’t about to bring anything like that up in front of Taya, so I held my peace for the moment.

Thankfully, silence reigned as we continued trudging toward my home. I don’t know why I was really thankful of that, but it seemed nice at the time. When we finally did get back, we found that Spike had already left and a somewhat singed looking Doppel was dusting something in the front room as we walked in. When she heard us enter—and presumably smelled Chrysalis, she jerked toward us and bowed lower than normal. “My queen.”

Chrysalis turned back to her normal freaky bug shape with a nod to Doppel. “Hello, Doppel. Rise.” Doppel pulled out of her bow, not meeting her mistress in the eyes. Not for the first time, I wondered what all had gone on between the two of them. But I knew that some questions didn’t need to be asked. “I trust everything is going well with your… arrangement?” Chrysalis asked her.

“Of course, Queen Chrysalis. Master orders and I obey.”

“Excellent.” She looked back to me. “Is Cadance still here? I am not certain I wish to bump into her.”

“She is. At this hour, she is probably in her room with her child. And I’ll probably be going to bed soon as well; I rise and fall with the sun, these two seasons.”

“Amusing. A knight of the night that is unable to stay awake during fall and winter, the times of the year with the longest nights.”

“Yeah, it sure is a hoot. I assume you’ll be joining me?”

“Of course.” Taya had, at this point, left us behind, probably assuming we would be talking about things she wouldn’t want to hear. She was probably upstairs in her room or doing something else.

“Then I’ll let you catch up with your servant, or explore as you would. I need a shower if I’m going to be sharing a bed.”

“You’re so considerate. Though I haven’t smelled anything in over six thousand years, so it’s hardly a problem.” Maybe that explains why there’s always a funky smell in the changeling hives. “I will join you up there shortly.”

I nodded and went on up the stairs to my room. I found Freki at the foot of my bed, wagging his little wooden tail when he saw me. An idea came to my head as I got undressed, an idea that I should have had sooner. “Freki, go and guard the inside of my office. If anyone but me or Taya enters, warn them to back off. If they persist, either start barking or go for the bite. I know you want to be with me tonight, but I have an important guest over that might be willing to go for something in there.”

He looked disappointed, but he stepped out of my room, his tail dragging. I promised myself that I’d make it up to him, but I knew I would probably end up breaking that promise somehow. I tend to do that a lot when it comes to him.

When I got into the shower, Flo said, “Remember, Navarone, you are trying to abstain.”

“No, I’m trying not to fuck something every night. If Chrysalis is just going to be in town for the night… Well, would it really be so bad to keep her company?”

“Yes, it could be bad. All it takes is one dose to risk relapsing into old habits.”

“Then here’s hoping she just wants to fucking cuddle.” I know I wanted a lot more than that; the cravings were already starting. It feels weird to call something natural a craving like that, but Flo did a very good job convincing me that I was addicted. I was still unsure if I should be grateful for that or not.

When I got into my room, I knew the answer to that. The answer was no, I should not be grateful at all. Chrysalis was kneeling on the bed waiting for me in a human body, though she still had her jagged horn and her wings. She got a short black robe from some place and wore it draped about her in a way that concealed as little as possible while still making her look ungodly alluring. Her fangs poked out of her mouth as she gazed at me with a set of nearly glowing green eyes, her silken hair held in place by some hair sticks. She lifted a hand to point at me and slowly flipped it over in a ‘come hither’ motion. God damn was that sexy.

I felt my hands loosening their grip on the towel automatically and I wanted nothing more than to drop it and join her for a night of wild passion. Before I could give in, though, I heard an intake of breath from my head and suddenly remembered what I told Flo.

I’m going to regret this so much. Hell, I already regret this. “I… I can’t.”

Her hand fell and she pouted. “Am I not pretty enough? Or is there someone else? You shouldn’t lead a girl on, Nav.”

“There isn’t anyone else…” I needed a lie and I needed it quick. “Doctor’s orders. You can’t know how much I want to, though.” And God, did I ever want to.

She sighed. “I knew you had been wounded, but I thought they would have healed you by now.”

“That fucker used some kind of dark magic on me or something. If my heart rate starts picking up too much, bad things happen.” That wasn’t technically a lie…

She sighed, looking down. “Oh, very well. Still, can we at least sleep together? I would relish the company.”

“I’m always happy to cuddle. Especially in that sexy body…”

Flo coughed, whispering, “Are you sure that’s wise?”

No. But by God, I’m going to get something out of this.

She grinned and slowly leaned back until she was lying down. “Join me, then. I’ve had a long day and wouldn’t mind getting to sleep sooner.”

I dropped the towel and she looked up again, her smile growing. When she saw that I was walking over to my dresser, it dropped and she rolled her eyes. I slid on a pair of pajama pants—if I went through the trouble of getting them from Rarity I was going to fucking use them—and slipped into bed next to her.

She sighed as she snuggled up next to me and I wrapped my arms around her. “It’s always nice to be held,” she whispered before going silent. I think we both fell asleep shortly after.

 

I had forgotten about my plans with Luna in the surprise of finding Chrysalis. I wasn’t in Flo’s glade for a few seconds before Flo pointed up. I lifted an eyebrow before looking up and jerked back, surprised at seeing a message in the stars.

“Knock knock.”

I sighed and spelled out, “Who’s there?”

“Luna.”

“Luna who?”

“Nav, this isn’t a joke. Can I come in or not?”

I giggled and Flo sighed in exasperation. “Can you put us in a void?” I asked her. As the environment began to darken and distort, I left a final message for Luna: “Door’s open. Come on in.” Flo began swirling her way up my pants again, hugging my body under my clothes. I don’t know why she did that instead of just disappearing, but whatever.

A few seconds after I told her to come in, a portal of sorts opened in the void and Luna cautiously stepped through. “It looks different,” she said, looking around.

“I can imagine. So how do we begin?”

“First, I want to know why you were asking about a wedding.”

“I thought I explained it in the letter. A few friends of mine want to get married. They asked me to do the ceremony. Because of that, I needed to know the rituals I’m supposed to use.”

“I see…” She sounded almost disappointed. “I don’t suppose there is any way that I could be allowed to observe? I don’t wish to get involved, I just want to see the first wedding performed during the night in centuries.”

“You’ll probably get your chance. This wedding won’t be… traditional.”

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “What do you mean by that?”

“You’ll probably find out tomorrow or in a few days. It’s not my secret to give.”

“If you are planning to do something that ruins the first wedding in my name since I returned, I will be sorely upset.”

“Then I guess you won’t be that upset. That’s enough about the wedding, I believe. Now, how do we begin this dream business?”

“Very well. Before we begin, I need to know what you’re planning on using these powers for.”

“Probably nothing. But if I get really bored, I might go exploring around, see what some people are dreaming about. Maybe become a superhero in some kid’s dream by beating up a nightmare. Have some fun, you know?”

“Well, there are worse reasons to learn. Now, the first lesson I need to teach you is escaping the confines of a personal dream, like this.”

“Shouldn’t be too hard.”

“On the contrary. That is the hardest step, Nav. Once you learn to escape from the dream, we’ll have to see if you have access to any other dreams. If you can, the rest is easy. If not, I’ll have to introduce you to one or two. We should be able to finish the beginning stage in a night or two.”

“Beginner? What else is there to learn after I find out how to get in?”

“Well, as my knight, you can help me police dreams, keeping nightmares to a minimum. If you are going to be sleeping anyway, there’s no reason not to. And if I’m taking time to teach you this anyway… Well, you can repay me by spending some time fighting the nightmares of my subjects.”

“Fighting nightmares? I was joking when I said that. How the hell would you even go about that?”

“I’ll show you. And you may have been joking, but it’s a novel idea. With the work I have to do, I have little time to police dreams anymore. I can only get to a few a night, and there are more nightmares than that out there.”

“What about the dream machine? Doesn’t that thing handle it for you?”

“It does keep most of my little ponies’ dreams happy, but there are always outliers. I take it upon myself to spend as much time as I can to fix the nightmares I find, but there are always nightmares to fight. With your help, perhaps we can attend to more. Though traversing through the dreams of others is… difficult at times. Especially nightmares. It will take some practice to get the hang of it, though.”

“Well shit. Let’s get started, I guess. No promises about helping with the whole nightmare thing, but I reckon I can give it a shot.”

“Excellent. Now, here’s the first step…”

I don’t feel like recording all the effort I had to put into escaping the confines of a dream. I can readily say that without Flo’s help, I probably would have given up. As it was, it took me probably two hours to do.

When I did break free, I found myself in yet another kind of void, though this one was not without colors. Specks of color flooded the area around me, coming in all shapes and sizes. From what I could tell of the ones closest to me, they were smoky vortexes, constantly shifting as though something was trying to find a way out. A few of them flickered away as I watched and were replaced with others. After a few seconds of looking about me in wonder, Luna appeared.

“This is what I call the anteroom of dreamland proper. Each of those specks is a dream. The color describes what kind of dream it is. Black is a nightmare. Red is a sensual dream. White is a typical dream. Yellow is a happy dream. There are several other colors and shades, but those are the primary ones. Sizes represent the intensity of the dream. Larger dreams are being felt more intensely by the dreamer, while smaller dreams represent dreamers on the verge of waking up. I still don’t know what the shapes represent, even after all those years of trying to figure it out.”

“The soul, perhaps?” I mused as I tried discerning between dream bubbles around me. Most of them were larger than I was and they all seemed far away, so I was wondering what I was supposed to do.

“Perhaps.”

“How do you identify a dreamer?”

Luna looked around the void before spotting a particular bubble. She pointed out the white bubble and said, “Look at that and tell me what you feel.”

I did so and concentrated. After a moment, I felt it. “…Twilight?” I asked.

“Correct. I don’t know quite how it works yet, but if you are looking at a dream that belongs to a dreamer you know, you’ll be able to tell who the dream is. And if you think of a pony, you’ll be able to find their dream relatively easily.”

I thought of Taya and turned my head, looking to find anything. After a few seconds of searching, my eyes stopped on a green speck. “…Green?” I asked, taking a half-step toward it.

That half-step turned into a vault and I suddenly appeared right next to the speck, giving me some extreme vertigo. I lifted my hand to my head, rubbing at it to get my mind working right.

Luna wasted no time appearing next to me. “Moving around takes some getting used to,” she said, patting me on the shoulder. I gritted my teeth and had to fight from jerking away from her, but since she had been behaving, I let her have her moment.

“So how do I peek inside?” I asked.

“For a normal dream, you just put your hooves—or hands, I suppose—on the bubble and brush the smoke away. For a dream that is protected, like mine, yours, or Celestia’s, it’s impossible. You have to force your way in and hope you don’t get expelled, or leave a message in the smoke and hope for an answer.”

“How do you leave a message?”

“Trace lines in it and hope you get an answer. Most dreamers don’t know how to reply, or would probably never think to look for one.”

“Will anyone be able to tell if they’re being peeked at?”

“It’s possible, if they see the hole you make. I’ve never had anypony mention it to me, though.”

“Hm… What happens if you step inside one?”

She grinned. “I thought you’d never ask. We’ll start easy, with a happy dream.” She looked around for one, idly saying, “As far as I can tell, dreams are sorted in the anteroom by distance. As in, the closer you are to the dreamer, the closer their dream is to you when you first break out of your dream. I’ve never been able to prove it, not that anypony but me cares. Ah, there’s one.”

She grabbed me by the hand and took a step, dragging me forward an unknowable distance. When we stopped, we were standing in front of a dream that brought some semblance of familiarity to me, but not enough to actually recognize the dreamer.

“Let me just look inside to know what to expect,” she said, letting go of me and putting her front hooves on the triangular bubble. She gently tore into it and pushed her face against it. She immediately pulled away, blushing. “L-let’s find a different one.”

“What’s wrong with that one?”

“You don’t want to know!” She began quickly looking for another one while I approached the bubble we were standing next to. I did as she had, putting my hands against it and gently opening a hole. I saw a familiar filly sitting on my lap in a giant mound of pillows, gently being petted and called ‘best pony.’ I wasn’t wearing a shirt and I couldn’t tell if I was wearing pants.

I very quickly backed away, pulling my hands out of the bubble and letting it close. When I turned back to Luna, she was smirking, trying not to laugh. “We will never speak of this again,” I said.

“I told you that you didn’t want to know,” she giggled.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not your fault. If you’ll recall, you are the reason all these damn fillies have crushes on me and are giving me candy that they shoved up their vag first.”

“…What.”

“No joke. First few days I was back home after I got stabbed, the school teacher came by with a gift for me. Candy canes and stuff. Doppel was able to smell the lust coming off the stuff and I was able to smell, feel, and taste the juices.”

“That is absolutely disgusting. What did the teacher say?”

“I didn’t tell her. All things told, it didn’t taste that bad.”

One of her eyebrows slowly lifted as she contemplated what I just said. Eventually, she replied, “You’re joking, right?”

“Nope. Doppel and I shared it.”

She face-hoofed. “Nav, you have a problem. A serious mental problem that you really need to work on.”

Pot calling the kettle black. “That’s nice. We gonna invade a dream or what?”

“…Very well. Since this came up, I have a warning: Be wary of stepping into dreams that you are in. You take over the body of the dream apparition, rather than opening a portal and entering. This can lead to a number of interesting events. And it is possible to lose yourself in the dream, though that has only ever happened to me once.”

“Heh, step into a wet dream featuring you?”

“No, though that would have been preferable. Now, let’s find a happy dream that doesn’t involve you, shall we?”

I pointed at random, thinking of Derpy. “That one work?” I asked, my finger stopping at a yellow amorphous blob.

“It will do. How do you know that pony?”

“Friend of mine. She’s a weird one, but about as happy as it’s possible to be. Should be safe.” I took a step that way and felt less vertigo than before. Getting the hang of it. Luna followed me over as I stuck my hands on the blob and gently pulled it open. Peering inside gave me a glimpse of a landscape that had vast fields of bubble wrap, trees that grew muffins, red oceans, pink clouds, and a sky that was as blue as Rainbow Dash. “Yeah, I think this will do fine,” I said as I located Derpy and what looked like her daughter Dinky sitting at a picnic in one of the bubble wrap fields.

I pulled away and found Luna looking inside as well. “Yes, this is perfect. Now, we don’t want to be seen by the dreamer just yet. One of those muffin tree copses would be good to hide in. Open a hole and pull yourself inside, looking at the place you want to go. I will appear next to you.”

I shrugged and did so, widening the hole I made and pulling myself inside. With a flash of an even more intense vertigo, I appeared in an overgrown glade, wondering where I was and how I got there. By the time I shook my head clear, Luna appeared next to me.

“Tell me your name,” she said, looking dead at me.

I blinked a few times. “…Navarone?” I said after a few seconds.

“And where are you?”

“I… Luna, what are you doing here?” She nodded at that for some reason as I looked around. “Hell, where is here? This place looks… wrong.”

“Think, Navarone. Where were you five minutes ago?”

“I… I don’t remember.”

She grabbed me by the shoulders and forced me to look into her intense eyes, putting a lot of weight on me. “Think. Remember the anteroom. Remember the void. Remember the dreamscape, the bubbles and the colors. Remember why I brought you here.”

Perhaps some of the sanity in her eyes transferred over to mine, because I slowly felt something chugging in my brain. What she was talking about brought memories to my mind, half-forgotten dreams in a realm that seemed mad, but slowly grew more sane as the thoughts filtered into my mind. Finally, it kicked.

“This is a dream. Derpy’s dream.”

Luna grinned and the legs on my shoulder fell onto my back as she pulled me into a hug. “I knew you could break free.”

“Yes, yes. Now let me go.” She sighed and pulled away, falling to the ground. “Why didn’t you warn me that would happen?”

“I forgot. It’s been so long that it happened to me, I didn’t remember it could happen. It gets easier with practice. But now that I think of it, that might have been why I didn’t want you to enter a nightmare first.”

Flo sniffed. “If she had done that, I would have woken you up. I was just about ready to step in as it was.”

“Well, here we are. Now what?”

“The hard part is over. You have all the powers you have in your own dreams. All it takes is applying them.”

I decided to pull something out of reality and realized that I had only eaten once during the day. I shrugged and pulled a grilled cheese sandwich out of nowhere, biting into it.

“What is that?” she asked, tilting her head.

“Grilled cheese,” I answered between bites. “Best one I’ve had in ages.”

She reached over to my hand and nipped part of the other side, tearing off a chunk and pulling back. I rolled my eyes and tossed the remains aside. It disappeared before hitting the ground. After she had a chance to actually taste it, she hastily swallowed. “It’s glorious! How do you make it?”

“Put cheese on bread. Grill it. It’s grilled fucking cheese. The name tells you how to make it. Now, what else do we have to do here?”

“We could greet the inhabitant, but I try to never interrupt happy dreams; the appearance of an outside element could ruin it.”

“So we leave and look for another one?”

“That would be wise, yes. This is an interesting dream, but it is hardly the most unique I’ve seen. Escaping these dreams is the same as escaping your original one.”

I sighed and began attempting to break free again. It only took me half an hour this time. When we were back in the void, I turned to Luna and said, “So what happens if I’m in a dream and they wake up?”

“One of three things. One, you wake up. Two, you return to this place. Three, you return to your dream. It seems to be random.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. So, shall we find a less pleasant dream?”

“It would be wise to continue getting experience in the pleasant ones, Nav. Just getting in and out of a dream in optimal conditions is difficult for you. I would not want something like that to happen in a nightmare.”

“I didn’t say we should hit a nightmare. I said we should hit a less pleasant one. But hell, I learn best under pressure anyway. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Nightmare Moon is the worst that could happen. I will not lose you as I lost myself, not to something that can be avoided!” She took a deep breath before expelling it violently from her nose. “Now, let’s find another yellow one. There is much training to do and the night wanes.”

“We’ve only been here for a few hours.”

She shook her head. “Yes, but I am a princess and I have duties. I would love to stay here all night, but I can’t. We have time enough for one more dream before I have to return to running the country. And you will probably need some normal sleep.”

I shrugged. “Whatever.”

She cast her gaze around us and located another dream at random. “There. That dream is happy.” She grabbed my hand again and pulled me toward it. She peeked inside and nodded. “This will do. I’ll go inside first. Try to find me.”

Before I could answer, she slipped inside, giving me an interesting view of her flank. “Don’t even think about it,” Flo warned, a sharp tone in her voice.

“I’m not a fool.” I ripped a hole into the dream and looked around inside. What I saw was enough to make me lift my eyebrows: I peered down onto a vast ocean, a large boat slowly trekking across the sea. As I looked down onto the ship and its crew, I found that I recognized a number of kids from Ponyville. It looked like Pip was the captain of the ship and Luna stood beside him, dressed in some modest and demure gown.

I reached up to my neck and loudly popped it before tearing the hole open farther and throwing myself inside, landing on Luna’s back.

Before I could lose myself, Flo whispered, “Wake up,” into my mind. I blinked and the fog of confusion that was crawling into my mind receding, lucidity returning perfectly.

“Easy enough,” I said, patting Luna on the neck.

She looked back at me, smirking. “Was it?”

I had time to look confused before a flying weight threw me off her back and landed on top of me. I looked into the face of Pipsqueak as he grew into a much larger stallion. “Stay away from my mare!”

I tilted my head and grabbed him by the throat, instantly on my feet with him dangling in front of me. “You can keep her,” I said, dropping Pipsqueak onto the ground. “But if you attack me again, you’ll find out why it’s a bad idea to attack knights.” He narrowed his eyes, but didn’t comment, preferring instead to walk over to ‘his’ mare.

I zoned out whatever stupid conversation he was attempting to have as I looked over the ship. There’s no way this thing is seaworthy.

“It’s a dream,” Flo said. “Don’t question the logic.”

“Meh. I see nothing to be gained here. Shall we?”

Flo sighed. “You really need to be more careful when you’re talking to me. Especially around Luna. But yes, I think leaving might be a good idea.”

I teleported over to the front of the ship, staring into the waters as I did my best to escape. This time, I was able to get out in merely ten minutes.

Luna joined me outside the dream soon after. “You’re getting better. I’m surprised you were able to get your consciousness back that quickly.”

I just shrugged. “So that’s it for tonight?”

She nodded. “That’s it for tonight. I will visit you again tomorrow and we’ll continue. Returning to your own dream is as simple as escaping from this realm. Just do as you would do for a dream and you’ll be back where you belong.”

“Then I will see you tomorrow, Luna.”

She nodded. “Goodbye, then.” She waited for a response, but I was already trying to get back and wasn’t going to be bothered delivering one. She just sighed and left.

Soon enough, I was back in my own dream. Flo seeped out of my pants and pulled around my legs before regaining some form behind me and hugging me. “This will be an interesting skill to know,” she commented, slowly pulling me back to lie on top of her. “And it will be useful for communication when you leave. If you ever get separated from anyone on the ship, just wait for them to fall asleep and break into their dream.”

“Yeah. Though really, I’m just learning so I can fuck around.”

“I know. Now, you need to get some rest. I believe you’ll probably be waking up soon, and you have a very busy week ahead of you.”

“Sadly. It just keeps happening, doesn’t it?”

“You know you love it.”

I just sighed.

 
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