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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101. Chapter Eighty-Two—New friend...s? Part 2

“If he can stay quiet, yes. They don’t need to know that we’re in contact with any of the others yet.”

I reached out and pulled an invisibility cloak from Harry Potter into being. “Akin, I’m going to put you down and place this cloak over you. When I do, don’t move and don’t make any sounds, no matter what you hear or see. Can you do that for me?”

“W-will I be safe?”

“As long as no one else finds you here, you’ll be safe. Are you ready?” He slowly nodded and I set him on the ground, tossing the cloak over him. He disappeared from view instantly. “Just stay quiet and don’t move,” I said as I stood. He didn’t reply and I walked away from him so I didn’t accidentally step on him. When I was a few meters away, I said, “Bring her in.”

Another changeling slowly appeared in front of me. This one was larger, but still looked basically the same. Her eyes lit up with happiness when she saw me. “Navi!” Before I could stop her, she plowed into me with a hug. I managed to brace myself well enough to not fall on my ass, thankfully, and wrapped my arms around her. “I knew you could do something to help me!”

“You aren’t fully helped yet,” I said, trying to dislodge her from my chest. “I need some answers.”

“I can help with that!” she merrily said, letting me pull her away and hold her an arm’s length away. She smiled up at me with those cute little fangs poking out of her mouth. “What do you want to know?”

“Who was the original?”

And there went the smile. “My brother, Evo. You don’t want to meet him, though. He’s mean, even if he has a good reason.”

“Your brother? So you were the second?”

“Yep! The hive needed more females and since he fed off anger anyway, daddy made him turn into me! He… didn’t like that. Mommy and daddy were less than pleased with his reaction. I was second, Mirror was third—after a failed attempt by daddy to make Evo behave—Poly was fourth, and then a bunch of other things happened that I don’t remember much about and now there are tons of us! It’s never lonely, but some of them are real jerks! And when some of them take over… things get ugly.”

I set her down and took a few steps back. “Flo, what now?”

“I… I wasn’t expecting the violent one to be the original. Eva, I’m going to send you back. Nav and I need to talk.”

“Ooh, you sound nice. Who are you?”

“My name is Flo. I keep Navarone company. Now, you’re going back.” Before Eva could say anything more, she disappeared. “Nav, we have a small dilemma. By all rights, this is Evo’s body. However, he doesn’t seem like someone that we should release and give main control.”

“Yeah, he sounds like a fucking dick. And according to Chrysalis, all changelings that feed on anger eventually get fucked anyway. I say we deep six that asshole and let Eva take over.”

“Should that be our decision to make? It is not our body. Shouldn’t we let her personalities decide?”

“Hell no. Bitch is crazy. We can’t trust her to make rational decisions. And honestly, what do you expect they’ll say? No one wants to die.”

She was silent for a little while, considering. I don’t know what Akin was making of what we were saying, but he was still silent. Eventually, Flo said, “We’ll need to get the major personalities together. No more than four can coexist peacefully. I’m going to bring in Eva and Poly. They’ll have to decide who else gets to continue existing. All others will be integrated into them.”

“Well, bring ‘em on.” Flo went silent and a moment later, two changelings appeared.

They looked at each other in complete shock. “E-eva?” one said in confusion.

“Poly!” Eva sounded much happier, and hugged her counterpart. “I always wanted to meet you in person!”

“How is this possible?” Poly asked, not participating in the hug.

“Because of Navi!” Eva pulled away and pointed to me. “He’s helping us using the voice in his head.”

“Yep,” I answered. “And we’ve decided that you two are going to be in charge in your body. From here, there are a few options. You can share the body with up to two others or you can all combine into one.”

“How?” Poly asked. “We can’t share with them. Someone like Evo or Rage always takes over the moment we try to let someone weaker like Akin take over.”

Flo whispered, “If we start integrating the weaker personalities into some of the stronger ones, they’ll become even stronger until there are only a few left. Or, as Navarone mentioned, one of you could take full control over the body and integrate all of the others. You’d be well-balanced and more in control, but you would be alone in your mind. Either way, you need to choose.”

Eva opened her mouth to spout out some nonsense, but Poly spoke up instead. “Ganger and Mimeo. They don’t get out as much, but they’ll probably be the most useful.”

“But what about Evo?” Eva asked. “It’s his body. Why shouldn’t he get to keep it?”

“He’s a dick,” I answered with a shrug. “Do you really want him in control?”

“He’s only mean because of what was done to him!” Eva quickly shot back.

“You said he ate anger. I was told that those that eat anger don’t last long. How long do you think it would take for him to break down again? Why go through all this work if he’ll be back like this in another month?”

“I… It just doesn’t seem right!”

Poly put a hoof on Eva’s back. “Eva, this is for the best. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. You know he would never willingly help us here. He doesn’t want to change; he just wants to hurt others.”

“We can’t just kill him!”

“It’s not killing,” I said, walking over and putting a hand on her back, joining Poly’s hoof. “It’s integrating. His personality will mix with someone else’s, if I understand Flo correctly.”

“You do,” Flo whispered. “None of you will be killed. You’ll just combine with someone else. Nothing will be lost.”

Eva sighed, looking down. “Then we’ll share… Mimeo and Ganger it is, though I don’t recognize either offhand.”

Poly nodded, looking at me. “Mimeo is cold and relatively empty, used for point-blank analyzing. He’ll be good at getting anything done. Ganger is extremely charismatic and can talk us out of anything. Ganger will be easy to convince to help. Mimeo will see the advantage in it and he’ll be willing to help us.”

“Flo, bring them on in.”

“I can… try. Something in their mind is moving, aware that things are happening. Navarone, be ready to fight.”

I summoned my power armor again and slammed my fists together, grinning at the small shockwave that they sent out. “Let’s do this,” I said through my helmet speakers, summoning a hand bolter and a power sword.

“That’s really neat.” Poly said, flying up to and then around me, looking at my armor. “How’d you do that?”

“Magic.”

She landed on my pauldrons and draped across my shoulders. “Pretty comfy. Could use some more cushions, though. Eva, come on up!”

“I dunno… He doesn’t look very happy.”

I snorted. “This is a helmet. You can’t even see my face. And honestly, you changelings are so light that I don’t even feel her on my back. I could probably hold, like, fifty of you before I even felt it.”

“If you don’t mind…” Her wings twitched out and she flew up to the other one.

“This would be so much better without the armor. You know, a threesome might be in order before you guys get stuck in one body.”

Flo materialized a tendril of water long enough to smack me on the back of the head. “Quit it, Nav. Now, I found the other two, I think. Bringing them in now.”

“What’s a threesome?” Eva asked as the other two appeared.

“I’ll tell you later,” Poly answered. “Mimeo, Ganger, we have a proposition for you.”

One of the changelings before me had pupils. The other had the same ice-blue eyes that most changelings had. That was the one that answered, “Speak.”

The other said, “What’s going on? Is that you, Poly?”

“Yes, I’m Poly,” she said. “Nav here,” accompanied by the sound of a hard hoof hitting armor, “is helping us. He said four of us can survive, while all the others will be integrated in with us. I decided that you two should be two of those to stay. What do you think?”

“What do we get out of it?” the blue-eyed one asked.

Flo answered, “Equal ownership of the body. Cooperation will be required, meaning each of you will have to agree to work together. You can either share your time or share your tasks; it’s up to you.”

“Acceptable.”

The green-eyed one nodded. “I agree with Mimeo. I imagine that between the four of us, we can do pretty well. What about the others?”

“Total integration,” Flo answered. “Starting with Akin.” The invisibility cloak around the hiding one vanished, revealing a sleeping child changeling, curled in a ball.

Poly sighed when she saw him. “When dad did that last punishment, he created Akin and Mirror both. I feel so sorry for them, locked in that moment forever…”

“He’s been here that long?” Eva asked. “I never really noticed him!”

“That’s the point,” Poly answered. “Scared little colts don’t want to be seen. They want to be ignored, even if they don’t know it. So he hid from daddy and from all of us. Only Mirror ever tries to spend any time with him, but he’s terrified of her because of what she represents.”

…His dad raped him, didn’t he? I asked Flo.

“It would seem that way,” Flo whispered directly into my mind.

“Do what you have to do,” I said aloud. God fucking damn, I hate people.

“Poly, you’ll get Akin,” Flo said. “Navarone, I am going to need your help to do the next part. You need to go into their mind to drag personalities here. As long as you are in your armor, you should be safe. Just whatever you do, don’t hurt any of them. I have no idea what would happen if you did.”

“…I’m changing, then. I would probably crush them if I so much as touched them with this armor.” Ganger took a quick step backwards and Poly and Eva decided to fly off me. When they were clear, I changed back to my knight armor. “Well, send me on into the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t fear their brand of evil anymore. How do I get out?”

“I’ll be watching and listening. I just need to talk to them to walk them through the integration process. Hopefully this won’t take too long. Brace yourself.”

I reached up and popped my neck as I felt myself shifting from blue into black. I looked around and heard growling, but couldn’t see anything in the darkness. “And I said, let there be light!” I slammed my hands together and an orb of blindingly bright light shot out, illuminating the land around me. I saw that instead of a void, I was in a cave of some kind. As soon as the light appeared, several things hissed and I heard scratching and scraping and things skittered into the dark.

However, not all of them fled. Some changelings didn’t move at all, aside from flinching at the sudden brightness. And one immediately latched onto my leg. “Hi Navi!” she said.

“Mirror?” I asked.

“Yep! You here to have some fun?” One of her hooves went to my crotch. “Ooh, already hard for me!”

“Metal armor tends to be that way, yes.” I looked upward. “Flo, what am I looking for?”

“Find some of the weaker ones. Mirror can probably help.”

“Weaker, eh?” Mirror said with a grin. “If you have that kind of fetish, I can help you out.” She shrank in size and let go of me, sticking her backside up at me. “Please don’t hurt me, daddy! I’ll be good, I promise!”

That’s… disgusting. Holy shit. “…Maybe later.” I did still need her help, sadly. “I need to find some of the weaker personalities for reasons that aren’t sexual in nature. Can you help?”

She waved a hoof around her. “Everyone that didn’t move. They’re all minor personalities.” I saw that there were about twelve that didn’t go anywhere. They were all in varying poses.

I grabbed one that seemed to be begging. “Flo?” A hole appeared that led to some blue place and I tossed him in.

“I can hold two more. Get an angry one and a happy one.” I grabbed one that seemed to be snarling and one with a big grin and tossed them both through. “Now, try to get some of the stronger ones that fled. Tie them up or otherwise incapacitate them and leave them near here. I’ll let you know when I’m ready for more.” The hole slid shut.

“Mirror, cover your eyes. Things are about to get very bright in here.”

She grinned, using holey hooves to cover her eyes. “I hope you’ll surprise me!”

I grit my teeth and stretched my arms and wings out, summoning enough light to fill the entire cave. Now, the motions weren’t really necessary, but they helped me concentrate for some reason. Doing things with your body, I’ve found, is a good way to focus your mind. It worked, too; the entire cave was flooded with light, revealing several offshoots and tunnels that branched off in all directions.

“God fucking dammit,” I sighed, looking around. With a shrug, I pulled out a gun that shoots nets, because fuck logic. “Mirror, stay here. Do whatever you do when you aren’t having sex.”

“Masturbate. Got it. I’ll be warming myself up for you!”

I didn’t dignify that with a response. It’s changeling hunting time. I knew that I had four I needed to find. There were twelve weaker ones around the center. Mirror was also back there. Then there were the five we already had. I’m coming for you bastards, I thought as I picked a random tunnel and started walking.

Two hours later, I had three of them struggling in the center, trying to get out of their nets. I was starting to get really bored of wandering through tunnels looking for Evo. “Look, if you just show yourself, I’ll talk to the others and see if you can get partial control.” Hell no, I wouldn’t.

“You’re lying,” a voice hissed from all around me. “I can sense you, Navarone. Human. Slave. Slut. Liar. You don’t care about me. You don’t care about anything. You just want to feel good. A little addict looking for the next fix. You should take Mirror and get out.”

“You’re starting to get on my nerves.”

“No I’m not. You don’t care about a thing. You’d sell your own daughter out in an instant if you thought you could make it so that you never appeared in this world. And of course, you don’t even care that I’m saying this. You’re just here to feed another of your addictions.”

I dropped the net gun and started walking back to the center. “Hide all you want. Flo will find you when it’s your time.”

“Oh, she’ll find me… But it will be too late for you.”

I rolled my eyes and kicked the air behind me, catching the lunging changeling in the face. He shot backwards with the sound of a roach under a boot. I walked to where he was struggling to get up and grabbed him by the neck, lifting him up. “If you try to attack me again, I’ll give you a treatment that’ll make what your dad gave you feel like a tickle. So unless you want your colon ruptured seven ways to Sunday, I suggest you play nice.”

“Lia—” I slapped him across the face with my other hand, breaking one of his fangs. “Attacking someone weak and helpless? What a man you are.” I punched him in the gut, smiling as his eyes filled with tears.

“Yeah, I know I’m a bully. And I know that you’re a weak little coward, someone I feel no remorse hurting. And I also know you’re trying to get me to kill you. But don’t worry; that won’t happen. You’d be surprised what you can live through, after all.” I gripped his tail with my other hand and dropped his throat, letting him slam into the ground. I whistled a jaunty tune as I began dragging him to the center.

When I finally got there, I tossed him into the pile of the others that were still struggling. As an afterthought, I summoned some rope and tied him up using his leg holes and put a muzzle on him.

Mirror licked her lips, looking at how he was tied up. “I do like me some bondage,” she said, giggling. “Can I…?”

“Nah. No one deserves that.” I’m really glad that none of them are smart enough to change their shape to escape that shit.

The next hour was spent periodically throwing changelings into a portal. Finally, it was just me, Mirror, and Evo.

“So what’s all this for?” Mirror asked as I finally tossed an extremely unhappy Evo through.

“Integration and shit,” I answered. “We’re fixing this body so that only four entities remain, basically.”

“…Will I be one of the four?”

“Nope.”

Her eyes opened wide. “B-but… Why not?!”

“Hey, I didn’t decide this. That was Eva and Poly. I’m just acting as muscle here.”

“Can I dispute it?”

“Doubt it. Maybe a few hours ago, sure. But now, I don’t think so.”

She looked down for a second, confused and probably scared. Then she looked back up to me and I could tell that she was fighting back tears. “C-can you d-do a last request?”

Oh boy. “…Yeah. It’s only fair.”

“Will you… hold me? No one’s ever done that for me before…”

I stripped my armor as I knelt down, holding my arms out. She uncertainly wrapped her legs around me, and sighed as I enfolded her in my arms. I began gently rocking with her.

“Feels… warm,” she whispered. “I like it.”

It took another thirty minutes before Flo said, “It’s her turn now, Nav. Send her through, but you need to wait there.”

I gently pulled Mirror away. “It’s time.” She barely seemed to notice, and just had a sad little smile as I pushed her through the portal. When she was through, Poly and Mimeo walked through, joining me on this side.

They both looked around as I stood and clothed myself. “Looks much nicer with some light,” Poly commented. “Feels pretty empty, though.”

“You can decorate it however you want,” I said with a shrug, pulling a vase of black roses and a table into being. I set them both to the side. “All it takes is the will to do something. You could probably change the entire cave setting, too. Just remember that you’re all in it together, now. Make sure the others are okay with any changes you make.”

“I think some sun would be good,” Poly commented. “I never realized it was so big in this place. I explored as much as I could, but there were places that didn’t seem safe to go.”

“As far as I can tell, it’s all safe now. So have you guys decided what you’re going to do when you get yourselves together?”

“Survive,” Mimeo answered. “Thriving is not possible in the forest. Little food. Survival is all that can be done.”

Poly shrugged. “We might explore. There’s plenty of the world to see. Maybe we’ll find some place with no changelings that’ll recognize our hormones. And if not, at least we’ll have seen the world.”

I crossed my arms, leaning back a little and thinking. “I got a proposition for you. You know I live in Equestria’s borders, right on the edge of the forest. I have a changeling in my service already and I can convince her to keep quiet about you. I’ll be leaving soon and you can come with me. If you find a place in the world you’d rather be, you’re welcome to leave at any time. I’ll keep you safe from Chrysalis if I have to beat her myself.”

“Define leaving,” Mimeo said.

“As in, leaving Equestria and going around the world. It’ll probably be a lot safer than going yourself, what with having a large number of people going. Of course, you’ll be in my home first on a tentative basis. If you prove yourself capable and sane even with four people in your head, you’ll be free to stay. You fuck up too badly and you’re out. Talk to the others about it and get an answer back to me.”

“…You would do that? Even after all you’ve done for us?” Poly slowly asked.

I shrugged. “Don’t see why I wouldn’t. Changelings are awfully useful. And I’d say that you’re pretty down on your luck and wouldn’t mind a little bit of help. If you don’t want to work for me, you’re welcome to try your luck with Celestia or Luna—though I suggest against both of them. Maybe Cadance. Just talk it over with the others. Know that you have plenty of options. And God, this is taking fucking forever. Flo, if I eat in here, will I still be hungry?”

“Yes. I’m sending the others through and pulling you back, though. Just give me a moment.”

I nodded at the two entities before me. “Until we meet in person, then.”

Mimeo nodded and Poly waved as I faded out of their mind and into Flo’s void. I looked around to find that I was alone. Flo sighed deeply and whispered, “It’s hard, killing others… They weren’t technically people, but they still had feelings and were individuals. And we… destroyed them, in a way. Erased their ability to think. Shackled them as mindless slaves to others. And we call this the ‘best’ option…”

“It is, Flo. Never for a second should you think that killing isn’t sometimes the best or only option. It’s not always that way, though.”

“I know, Navarone. I just don’t like it at all. You are acclimated to it, sadly. But I am not. Water elementals have a reverence for life, after all.”

“I know. If you ever want to talk about it, you know I’ll listen. I’ve done my share of rationalizing in the past.”

“And all it did was make you cold, dead inside. Are you ready to return to the world of the living?”

“Yep. I imagine Spike is awfully bored out there.”

“Then be free.” I suddenly woke out of my Flo-induced coma and took a deep breath, getting a nose full of unbathed changeling. I immediately started coughing as I pushed her away from me. I heard clawed feet striking the ground and Spike put a hand on my shoulder.

“You alright, Nav?” he asked, concern in his voice. “She didn’t do anything, did she?”

“Other than smell like Satan’s gym clothes, no. Fuck, but she needs a bath! How long were we out?”

“It’s been hours. I got really bored, just sitting around. But how did you just now notice her smell? I could tell when I got in here and you were holding her for hours!”

“My mind was elsewhere. Did anything try to attack us?”

“…Yes. You didn’t hear me kill it?”

“Nope. What was it?”

“Cockatrice. This thing shoots real nice, too. Can you make me one?”

“Nope.” I pulled it out of his hands and popped the clip. Eight rounds left, with one in the chamber. “One shot, one kill. I like it. Those things aren’t worth eating and the round would go clear through it, so we won’t bother recovering it. How’s Eva?”

“…Who?”

I nodded at the changeling, who was now sitting up and rubbing at her head. “How you feeling?” I asked her.

She jerked her head to mine when she heard my voice. A massive smile grew on her face and before I knew what was happening I got pile-drived in a hug. “Thank you thank you thank you! I knew you could help, Navi!”

I patted her on the back before prying her off of me and setting her down, standing up, and walking away several steps. “It’s good that you’re better, but you smell like you were rolling around in no man’s land. If you decide to take my offer, before anything else, you are going to spend at least half an hour in a bath, scrubbing until I don’t gag as soon as you get near.”

“What offer?” Spike asked.

“I’m working for him now!” she shouted, still beaming. “We all agreed that it would be best to stay with you for at least the time being, until we can either learn some useful skills or find somewhere else to stay.”

Spike grabbed my arm and pulled me down to whisper, “I thought you said she was dangerous!”

“She’s better now,” I whispered back. I pulled away from him and nodded at Eva. “Then get whatever you want to save from this place and let’s go. I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do…”

“And Taya won’t be happy,” Flo whispered. “Remember what you told her.”

…Fuck. “Eva, make sure not to tell anyone about you-know-what,” I said, tapping my head. I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t tell fucking anyone about Flo.

“Don’t you worry, Navi! I won’t tell anyone your secret.”

“Awesome. Now can you stop calling me that?”

“Nope! Ready to go when you are!”

I sighed, shouldering my rifle and turning to Spike. “Come on up. Sooner we leave, the sooner I can get out of this armor and get yelled at by Taya.”

“Yelled at for what?” Spike asked as he jumped into my arms.

“I told her I wasn’t coming out here.” I carried him over to the edge of the hole and jumped out, soaring out and away. Eva easily followed, flying along next to me in her regular body. I lazily flew toward home, not really looking forward to the conversations that were about to happen.

I was tempted to land at Fluttershy’s pad and make Eva take a bath while I went and tried to explain things, but I quickly decided I didn’t want to risk leaving her alone with Fluttershy. So instead I flew directly to my house, looking around for a second before landing. I set Spike down and said, “Eva, Spike, wait here. I’ll be right back.”

Spike sighed and eyed Eva warily, backing away several steps when he thought she wasn’t looking. She was just looking around the yard in fascination, taking in the flowers and whatever else she could see. I started walking around the back. Taya was doing something weird with her instructor and the naga was watching them both warily. I walked over to him.

“I do not think I care for magic, Cain,” he said, still eyeing them both. “It has destructive potentials that are not at all fair in a fight.”

“I know. It’s great when it’s on your side. Why do you think I let Taya learn all this shit? Now, I have a task for you. In the front yard is a changeling. She might be dangerous. She will be staying with us for a little while. If we determine that she’s dangerous or unsound, she’ll get the boot. If she’s fine, she’ll be staying for longer. But until we decide, I want her watched. Can you keep an eye on her for me?”

“Very well. She is in the front, you said?”

“Yeah. Tell her that her first task is immediately taking a bath. Take her to one of the unused guest rooms and stand guard while she does her business. I don’t care if you have to physically drag her to a bath; she is going to wash before she talks to anyone else that lives here.”

“That sounds easy enough. I know from Doppel’s advances on me that they are light and easily carried. Why is it so important that she bathe?”

“You’ll see. I’ll go inside and explain the situation to Cadance and Doppel, if they’re here. Good luck with her.”

“She will behave.” On that ominous note, he began slithering away. I took a second to look at Taya and her instructor, who seemed to be holding a blindingly bright flash of light connecting their horns. Then I shrugged and walked to the back door, letting myself into the kitchen. Doppel was sitting at the table, reading some manner of mail or something. She didn’t even look up when I stepped inside.

“Doppel, I have news,” I commented, walking over to the table. She didn’t look up, just grunted. “News that needs to be listened to.” She sighed and put the note down. “I found a changeling in the woods that will be living here for some time. She ran away from one of the hives after going crazy from feeding on anger. I sorted her issues out and I don’t want Chrysalis showing up to kill her.”

“Navarone, that’s stupid and impossible for a few reasons. First, no one runs from the hives. Second, no changeling that feeds on anger lives long. Third, you can’t ‘sort out’ insanity. If anything, she’s a feral changeling sent here to spy on you by one of the hives that the queen doesn’t control. I suggest slitting her throat and dropping her in the woods, but I suppose we could turn her against her hive and use her as a double agent. I hope you didn’t tell her that I was here, though; I won’t be able to get her hormonal scent if she knows there’s a changeling here.”

“She knows. I’ll let you meet her before you decide anything. If it makes you feel any better, the naga is watching her and I can put my ring on so she can’t do anything. She should be coming in the front door by now.”

As if on cue, I heard the door open. Doppel sighed and hopped down from her seat, trotting over to the hall connecting the kitchen to the entrance. I pulled my ring out from around my neck as I walked that way. Soon enough, it was on my finger, the gauntlet going on the hook on my belt. I had seen no indication that Eva could use magic, but then, I didn’t have any proof that she couldn’t.

“Hi! My name’s Eva!” I got to within sight of them to see Eva holding up a hoof to shake with Doppel, who looked confused and somewhat afraid. As soon as Eva stopped, the naga grabbed her tail and began dragging her to the stairs. “It was nice meeting you! I’ll see you later.” That was all she had time for before they turned another corner and we couldn’t see them.

“Really nice girl. Still a little muddled. And fuck does she stink,” I commented idly as Spike entered and closed the door behind himself. “Well, what do you think?” I asked Doppel.

“She isn’t right in the head! Her hormones are overlapping, sending confused signals… She can’t be safe, Nav.”

“We’re going to give her the benefit of the doubt, for now. I’ll set Freki to watch her in the night and the naga can watch her during the day. Now, I don’t want Chrysalis to know about her. She’d have the same reaction you would, plus a lot more violence. As long as Eva proves to be safe, Chrysalis will hopefully never learn of her. If she ever proves otherwise… I don’t know. I’ll decide what to do then. Alright?”

Doppel muttered something that sounded like, “Too old for this shit,” before grabbing Spike and pulling him toward the stairs. She stopped when they were a few steps away and looked back at me. “Hey, you want to join, too?”

“…Nah. I need to talk to Cadance and then Taya. Have fun.”

She shrugged and continued dragging Spike away. Of course, he wasn’t resisting all that much. I wouldn’t either, if I was in his scales. Now, if I was a pretty pink princess, where would I be?

“You should be careful with who you call pretty, even in your mind,” Flo whispered.

You know what I meant. My first guess was with her brat. I waited a few seconds until I could hear Doppel’s door slam shut before following them up and poking my head in Cadance’s room. She sure wasn’t in there. Neither was her kid. “Huh.” I took the time to go on upstairs to my room and change out of my armor, making me feel much cooler and lighter.

That done, I went downstairs and called, “Cadance? You in here?” No answer. Maybe she finally went home. Could have at least told me.

I had one last place to check before I’d give up and talk to Taya first. I went into the cellar, to the naga’s room. Sure enough, I heard something splashing around down there. When I turned the corner, I saw Cadance lying on her back in the water, wings outstretched to either side. Her spawn was on her chest, peeking over and splashing at the water, giggling. Skyla’s smile immediately dropped when she saw me.

“We got a new tenant,” I said, stopping at the entrance to the little cave.

Cadance rolled her eyes. “Another girl you’re sleeping with, I assume?”

“Only half of those are true.”

“Oh, so you finally decided to try a stallion?”

“First, that wouldn’t be my first stallion. Second, fuck you. Anyway, this girl’s a little addled in the head. In the potentially dangerous way. Freki will be watching her at night and the naga will be watching her during the day to determine if she’s dangerous. I want you to help keep an eye on her.”

“Well, what’s her name?”

“Alright, this is where things get weird. For one, it’s another changeling. The weird part is that she has multiple personality disorder. I sorted it out for her and now there are four entities coexisting in her body. The host’s name is Eva. Poly, Mimeo, and Ganger share her body.”

“Navarone, that doesn’t make any sense. First, what is multiple personality disorder?”

“The name says it all. It’s a mental problem where there are several other people living in your head. Some of them are more ‘complete’ than others.”

“And you just… sorted it out?”

“Humans are considerably more advanced in mental health techniques than ponies are. This ‘disorder’ is just a blessing in disguise, if you choose to look at it that way. I could have completely put her back together, but if you can have four specialized personalities in your head, wouldn’t you want them around?”

“…No? I think I’m just fine having my head to myself.”

“Well, that’s your prerogative.”

“You don’t have anything like that, do you?”

“No.” Not of my own making, at least. “Anyway, I offered Eva a place to stay for a little while. I’m pretty sure she’ll be fine, but I’m just warning you in case anything does happen.”

“Well, thank you for the warning, even if inviting her here was stupid without knowing if she’s safe yet. Does everyone else know?”

“Everyone but Gilda, Freki, and Taya.” As I said that, Freki rubbed against my leg, making me jump. “Where did you come from?”

“He was in here, Nav.”

God, that’s creepy. “Then everyone but Gilda and Taya knows. Taya was busy with her lessons when I got back and I didn’t see Gilda.”

“Well, you should tell Taya as soon as possible. If this Eva character is dangerous, I don’t want Taya possibly getting her confused with Doppel.” She snorted. “Especially if one of them is named Ganger. That will be an interesting pair.”

“Huh. I didn’t even think about that. Anyway, I should probably go wait for Taya to take a break so I can tell her. Freki, you coming with me?” He happily wagged his tail. I took that as a yes and said, “See you later, Cadance. Try not to drown.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” she sighed as the puppy and I left.

Up the stairs we went. I pulled the door shut behind the puppy and then we went on outside. Taya and her instructor had moved on to something else, so I sat down to wait. The puppy ran off to the back wall, where a few trees were hanging over the edge. Need to chop those down. Or burn them back. Might as well test the napalm mix I made.

I was zoned out when I felt a stick poking me. When I looked up, I saw Freki holding a long stick in his mouth, tail wagging. He dropped it when he noticed me looking. “Really?” He just kept staring. I shrugged, grabbed the stick, and threw it. He sprinted after it as I stood. “Never thought I’d play fetch with a dog made of wood. Equestria’s a strange place.”

“While we are doing nothing anyway, I’ve been thinking,” Flo said. Oh boy. “It is possible for me take over your body in some ways. Doing so without your willing permission is difficult and I couldn’t do it for long, and honestly I rarely have any desire to. But… can I ever take over sometimes? Not to do much, nothing important. I just want to be free. I want to feel things again, things I can’t feel in my body.”

“You know I hate the idea of being helpless in my own body.”

“You wouldn’t be helpless. The instant you demanded control back, I would give it. If you don’t want to do it, I understand.”

“…Alright. Go for it. Take control now, if you want. I’m not doing anything important.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, go for it. Just be ready to give control back when Taya has a break.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to talk to her? She might be very upset when you tell her what you did.”

“I won’t use a scapegoat. It was my action and they were my words. I will take the fall and the hate for that. So by all means, take over now. But I’ll take back over when it’s time to talk to Taya.”

“Very well. Close your eyes and relax.” I did so, taking a nice deep breath. “Now open them.” When I did, I found that I was in the glade, looking into a screen that showed what she was seeing through my eyes. She lifted her hands up to look at them, turning them over and flexing her fingers. “It’s been so long… I can only stay in charge for so long at a time. I will try to make it worth it.”

“By all means.” I sat down in a nice armchair and leaned back. Flo played fetch with the dog with every sign of enjoyment. Hell, if she wants to enjoy all the boring things like walking and playing fetch and being normal, I won’t stop her.

I saw my eyes roll. “Don’t expect to pawn everything off on me, Navarone. Or at least, not everything that’s boring. And I would like to try sex eventually…”

“Well, we can use the stones and get Doppel to eat you out. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.”

“I imagine. I’ll think about it later. You know, I can’t understand why you don’t enjoy things like this. Look how happy he is!”

He certainly did look rather pleased with the world. “It’s just not very fun to stand there and toss a stick around. I’d rather find something we can both enjoy, like killing.”

“I’m not going to bore you with the whole spiel about how sacrifice is a part of every relationship.” She knelt down and grabbed the dog on the sides of his head, rubbing back and forth. “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?” He happily barked before pulling off and flopping on the ground and then onto his back. Flo chuckled and patted his belly.

“Daddy?” Taya asked.

Flo flinched, looking up. She said, “Hello, dear.”

“Whoa now, this is my time!” I said. Flo blinked and I was thrust back into my body.

“I was just saying hello,” Flo muttered.

“Why’d you go into the forest?” Taya asked.

“Remember the crazy person I mentioned finding?”

Her curious look immediately disappeared into a cold fury. “Why yes. I do remember that. And I also remember you saying you weren’t considering going to see her.”

“Yeah… About that… I did.” Her expression said more than enough. I held my arms out for a hug, smiling. She turned away without a word. “Oh come on, I didn’t even tell you the best part!”

“She’s staying here, isn’t she?”

“Wow, you’re good.” She whirled back around, eyes narrowing and horn lighting up. I snatched her into a hug before she could do or say anything. “Taya, trust me. I wouldn’t have brought her here if I thought she was dangerous.” I brushed at her hair, thankful that I took the time to remove my armor. “It’ll be okay. Just avoid her if you don’t trust her.”

“It’s not her I don’t trust! You told me you weren’t going in there for her.”

“I said that I wasn’t thinking about it. However, between Spike and Flo, I was convinced that Eva could be helped. I’m sorry, Taya. But to be fair, they were right: We were able to help her.”

She lifted her hooves up and pushed me off with way too much force. I fell back and saw that her hooves were lit up orange. She shook her head and said, “You said you would get better. You said you were going to try to be a better father. And yet the first thing you did was lie to me. Lie to me and then do something dangerous! How can you say you’re getting better if you’re just returning to your old habits?!”

“…You’re right.” My wings sagged when I realized what I had done. “I… It was instinctual, that lie. When you asked me, I was already thinking about going to help her. I just… I thought you would be mad if I told you I was going.”

“I would have been. But I’m even angrier now. This is why lying isn’t worth it, daddy!”

If you never learned about it, you wouldn’t be angry. “I know.”

“Then don’t do it anymore!”

“I can’t. I can’t make that promise or take that risk. All I can say is that I’ll try to get better. And now that you know about Flo, know that she’ll be keeping tabs on me to make sure I try.”

“You said that last time,” Taya coldly answered.

“If you don’t believe me now, there’s nothing I can do to convince you. Just… I’ll try.”

“We’ll see.” She turned around and stalked back to her instructor.

I sighed and whispered, “That could have gone better.” Freki whined and I patted him on the head. “She’ll be alright. No promises about me, though.”

“It certainly could have gone better, yes,” Flo commented as I stood off the ground. “Eva should be out of the bath by now. You can introduce her to Cadance.”

“Yeah… Come on, Freki. Let’s introduce you to your new friend.” He hurried to follow me as I walked to the house. When I opened the back door, I found Eva and Cadance sitting at the table, while the naga was next to the table, his arms crossed over his massive chest. Eva looked somewhat wet. “I see you met Cadance.”

“Yep! She’s really pretty, too.”

“That’s a word you could use. You two getting along?”

Cadance nodded. “She seems—”

Eva suddenly screeched and changed into a hummingbird, flying straight at me. She somehow got into my shirt and cuddled against me. In the time she took to do that, Cadance jumped up, kicking her chair back, the naga drew his massive sword, I had two knives in each hand, and the wolf was in some manner of fighting position.

And realizing that last one made me realize what the problem was. I dropped my two knives and brought a hand to my chest, cupping Eva’s shaking form. “That’s not a normal timberwolf, Eva,” I whispered. “He won’t attack you without a good reason.” She made some chirping noises that I couldn’t interpret. “I don’t speak bird, so I’m going to assume you just called me a sexy beast. While I appreciate the compliment, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to not call me that.”

She morphed back into her normal body, but still very small. “H-he’s not dangerous?”

“He’s a fucking wolf made of wood. Of course he’s dangerous. But he won’t attack you unless he has a reason to. Don’t give him a reason to, and he’s the sweetest little puppy you’ve ever seen.”

“…I’ve never seen a puppy.”

I held my other hand out. “Freki, come here.” Since he was right next to me, he didn’t have far to go. He put his head under my hand. “See there? Cute little puppy. Now please get out of my shirt; you didn’t towel off enough and I can feel the water seeping down my chest.”

“…You’re warm.”

I reached in there and plucked her out of my shirt, setting her on Freki’s head. “There. Now please don’t make that god awful screeching sound again. Especially not in a room full of veterans.”

“Okay, Navi. Sorry for scaring you all…”

“It’s okay. I suppose, given your history, that I should have warned you. Thankfully you didn’t channel your inner Mirror.”

Eva shivered at that. “No thank you.” She flew off Freki and expanded in size again, back to normal. I grabbed my knives and stood back up to see that the naga had sheathed his sword and Cadance was back in her seat.

“Well, I need to go into town,” I said. “Can I trust you two to help her get acclimated?”

“Poly wants to know if we can go,” Eva said.

“Well, the changeling spy in Ponyville is on my side… You could, though you’d probably be bored. And of course, you’d have to promise to behave.”

“I can do that! I won’t let you down, Navi.”

“…Navi?” Cadance asked with a sly grin at me.

I shook my finger at her once. “No. Bad Cadance. Now let’s go, Eva. You too, Freki. Sooner we get this wedding shit over with, the better.”

“Ooh, are you getting married?” Eva asked as we started to the front door.

“Nope.”

“Who is?”

“Two friends of mine.”

“What are their names?”

I sighed to myself. This is going to be a long walk.

 

 One long walk to town, a long day of wedding bullshit, and a long walk back later, I was rather tired. Not of Eva, no; she behaved surprisingly well. I was just tired. It had been a long day, after all.

When we were almost back, I said, “Alright, Eva, here’s how it’s gonna work. No offense, but Freki is going to watch over you during the night. Stay in your room until I come to let you out. Freki will ensure you do this. Understand?”

“Yep! Can I have a teddy bear?”

“I don’t think we have any.”

“Then can I sleep with you until I can get one?”

“No. We can get you one tomorrow. Tonight, you’ll just have to make do. Your dreams will probably be very different now that your mind is unified, if that makes you feel better.”

“…It doesn’t. Also, I’m kinda… hungry. Mirror used to be our main source of food, but now…”

How did we forget about that? “My mind is different from that of ponies and most other races here. You can feed off my memories rather than having the actual emotion present. What’s your emotion of choice?”

“Love. That’s what all four of us like.”

I knelt down next to her and thought of something. “Go ahead. Take your fill.”

“Are… are you sure? It won’t drain you or anything?”

“It will, but not noticeably. Love isn’t an emotion that I let influence my mind often, so removing some of it doesn’t do much to me.”

“Cool.” Her horn lit up with its common sickly green color and she began to feed. A few seconds later, she sighed in satisfaction. “It’s been soooo long…”

“I can imagine. Now let’s go.” I stood back up and kept walking. “I don’t really know what you’ll be doing around the house, come tomorrow. What are you good at?”

“Uh… I’m not really good at much of anything. Poly says Ganger can talk real good and Mimeo can do whatever you need done. But Mimeo’s in charge tomorrow, apparently…”

“Eh. I can probably write out a list of things no one else does or likes doing and give that to you eventually.”

“I can’t read.”

“…What?”

She shrugged. “Most changelings can’t. Light is a luxury that no one can afford.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this before. Alright, first order of business is teaching you to read and write. I can probably get Cadance to do that, since all she does is sit around the house anyway.”

“I… I get to learn how to read?”

“Yeah. You’ll probably also get to learn basic math, if you want. Is that a problem?”

She tackled me in a hug that thankfully didn’t really stop me from moving; changelings are very light, after all. “I always wanted an education! So did Ganger and Poly!”

“That’s nice. Please let me go now.” She was too busy talking about something stupid to hear me, so she just hitched a ride on the way home.

Eventually, though, she said, “So why can’t you teach me?”

“If I have learned anything from Gilda’s time here, it’s that I am not a teacher. And speaking of Gilda, watch out for her. She’s a griffin that’s living in my house as well. I don’t want you two to have a misunderstanding.”

“Don’t you worry, Navi. We’ll be good if she’s good. But why do you have so many people living here?”

“Doppel is the maid, Cadance is staying here because assassins are after her and she thought my house would be safe, the naga is here to teach me some things and to act as a guard, Gilda is here to learn some things, and Taya is my daughter.”

“Taya? And what about Spike?”

“Spike doesn’t live here. He’s just a friend that comes by occasionally. And Taya is a filly that you haven’t met yet.”

“When can I meet her?”

“Whenever you make time to. You’ll probably see her at dinner, unless you want to go to bed early. Or if you’re like Doppel and don’t want to watch us eat.”

“Why doesn’t she watch you?”

“She finds it awkward because she just sits there while we eat. Doesn’t feel included, I guess. You’re welcome at the table, or you can try to befriend Doppel while she does her thing.”

“Ganger quite likes her pheromone scent, but Poly just thinks that’s because she feeds off lust. But I always do like making new friends!”

“Have fun with that. Now can you get off me?”

“But you’re so comfortable…”

“That’s nice. Your body is hard and ungiving, not very comfortable at all. So off you get.” She sighed and fluttered off me. That was good, because I really didn’t want anyone in the house to see us like that and get the wrong idea. Since we were just going through the gate at the time, it was possible.

A few seconds after her little disappointment scene, she was back up and bouncing a little as she walked, humming a light tune. I knew I was in for a long… however long it took to acclimate her.

 
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