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.

1Likes
0Comments
24266Views
AA

71. Chapter Fifty-Seven—Playing by the rules is overrated anyway

The next day, I gathered up Shining Armor and Kumani and we entered the dog compound. I was armored, as I figured I might as well do my best to stay alive. I wasn’t wearing the helmet because that would make it look like I thought I was about to get attacked.

We three entered the dog quarter. “So where’s John?” Shiny asked as we began walking.

“He couldn’t make it,” Kumani answered. “I’m his sister, Kumani.”

“I see. And Navarone, what are these rumors I hear about you kissing a male dragon yesterday?”

“It was a dare,” I answered. “Not one either of us made. I’m surprised he did it, knowing the potential consequences.”

“And I’m surprised you were so docile about it,” Shiny answered with a smirk. “I figured you were more of a lady’s stallion.”

“I am. He caught me by surprise. And fuck, man, have you ever kissed a dragon? Their tongue goes down your fucking throat. You can’t really fight back.”

Kumani giggled. “You never complained about my tongue before,” she said, her voice husky.

Shiny gave me a good ‘what the fuck’ look. “Really, Nav? Her?”

I shrugged. “I have exotic tastes. Given that I’m the only fucking human here, I kind of have to. Is it any real surprise to you?”

He sighed and shook his head. “I’ve come to expect no better of you. Griffins, ponies, cats, dragons… I bet you’ve even put a naga on that list, haven’t you?”

My grin told him enough. “To be fair, though, I have been here for several years. And I’m exotic as well, so there are some girls out there that would be more willing to do things with me. It’s been fun, but I was looking forward to settling down. But hell, look where that got me.”

“I know, Nav,” Shining answered. “Celestia only knows I hear enough about that from Cadance.”

I didn’t even want to know. I wasn’t surprised that Cadance was whining about it. When I got back, I planned to tell her the full story.

We three were getting plenty of looks from the dogs. It wasn’t every day you saw a dragon, the pony captain of Celestia’s royal guard, and a bipedal critter that didn’t match anything else. Especially one that’s armored in some very expensive looking plate mail, wielding a crossbow, some bolts, a sword, and an axe. I figured I’d play the part of knight on this trip. The axe and sword were both on my back, one over each shoulder. I was hoping that I was ready for anything.

When we finally got to the address provided on the invitation, we saw several armed and armored dogs around the small compound. I showed the invitation to a bored looking sentry that stiffened when we approached. “I’m here to see the boss,” I said.

He looked over the letter for a moment before shrugging. “You human?” he asked in a somewhat guttural voice.

“Yes.”

His eyes flicked over my shoulders. “They not human.”

“No, they’re not. They’re coming with me.”

“Nothing but human allowed inside.”

I crossed my arms. “You go tell your boss that unless these two come in with me, we have no business to discuss.”

He shrugged again. “Your head.” He pushed the gates open and entered the little house. We waited there for a few minutes. When he finally came back out, he walked up to us. “Only human can come in.”

I turned around and started walking away.

“Wait!”

I turned and looked for the one that spoke. It sure wasn’t the guard dog; that was a much more cultured voice. Through the bars of the fence, I saw a very tiny dog. I would say he was some manner of chihuahua, if that had any relevance. “Yes?” I asked.

He sighed. “I can’t let them in. But I must talk with you. Why do you refuse to see me without them?”

“I got word you were planning on killing me. These two are my assurance that I don’t get hurt.”

He looked affronted. “And where did you hear such preposterous rumors?”

“My sources are my own, but I trust them more than I trust you. If you have business to discuss, we can discuss it here. Or you can come with me to a more secure location. But I’m not going anywhere alone.”

He grit his teeth before turning to my companions. “You. Unicorn. I’ve seen you before. You are Celestia’s royal guard commander. Any business I have to discuss with Navarone would go straight to her ear.” He looked at Kumani. “You, however… Dragons have no loyalties beyond kin and gold. You’ll find plenty of gold if you help Navarone.” He turned back to me. “The dragon can enter. The unicorn may not.”

I crossed my arms. “I don’t need gold. I don’t need a job. I have no desire to enter a contract. We may have things to discuss, but unless you have a very convincing reason that you can give me right here and right now to stay, I’m leaving.”

“What if I told you that if you entered and spoke with me, we could decrease smuggling of lives, drugs, and other items by as much as fifty percent?”

“I would call you a liar, first. A criminal organization does need a boss, but just because the head is cut off doesn’t mean the rest of the criminals will follow. Most will resort to independent work, lacking any manner of rules or guidelines. You want me to assassinate a crime boss. You either plan to take over his organization for yourself or you plan to try to end it. Neither would work. The first, because I would kill you. The second, because crime never ends. It just changes.”

He shook his head sadly. “I thought you were a creature with vision! One that knew that enslaving others was wrong!”

“It is, for the most part. But if you believe that killing one person will end crime, you would be sorely mistaken.”

He raised his paw. “That is where you are mistaken, Navarone. I don’t want him killed.” His paw pointed at me. “I want him captured.” He dropped it. “The three of you may enter. Open the gate!”

I turned to look at Shining Armor and Kumani. “Well?” I quietly asked.

Shiny was still looking at the dog. “If he can do as he says, we could really clean this place up.” His eyes went to mine. “I know you remember the pirates you ran into, Nav. That was one ship. They had several pony slaves. If we can help stop that from happening, it is your duty as a knight and my duty as guard captain to ensure we do.”

Kumani shrugged. “If he’s paying, I’m in. I happen to have more loyalties than just to kin and money, but I’m always looking to add to my hoard.” She noticed Shining Armor glaring at her. “What? I don’t care about your little ponies or crime.”

Flo?

“I am fairly certain he won’t betray you,” she said.

I turned and walked into the gates. Shining Armor and Kumani followed. The dog grinned and began leading us into his little estate. The doors opened for him and he led us through the foyer and into a nice sitting room. Each chair had high backs, so neither Kumani nor I could sit in them. There were no couches for Shiny. The dog walked over to a chair behind the desk and sat down. I noticed that the chair was highly padded, enough so that he could look over the desk.

“Shiny, ward the door. Nothing gets in.”

“My name isn’t Shiny.” His horn lit up and a purple ward appeared over the door.

I turned to the dog. “Why me?”

“Because I know your loyalty to Celestia and her sister is merely coincidental. You are a knight of Equestria, but you care nothing for the land or its ponies. Your motivation also isn’t gold. You do what you do because you either have no choice or because you are convinced that it is the morally correct thing to do. I have a feeling you would tell Celestia or Luna to eat shit if they told you to do something you thought was evil.”

“Damn right I would. Your spies are good. Convince me to do this job of yours, then.”

“The dogfather—” That’s as far as he got before I burst out laughing.

He looked disturbed and a little bit insulted as I tried to get myself together. When I finally managed to breathe without laughing, I said, “D-d-dogfather? Are you fucking kidding me?”

“No. I’m not. I don’t know why you find his name humorous.”

“It’s a human thing. God, I fucking hate this planet. Go on, tell me more about your godfather.”

Dogfather. He’s the biggest crime boss this side of China. There are rumors that he was thrown into Tartarus by Celestia herself and managed to escape.”

Shiny scoffed. “Impossible. No pony can escape from Tartarus.”

“I didn’t say it was true. But where do you think the blood diamonds come from, huh? You know Celestia wouldn’t risk mining operations in that hellhole.”

“Blood diamonds are a myth!”

“No they aren’t,” I said. “I’ve found one before. Your sister confirmed it, and you know she knows her shit. I don’t have all day. Shining, is the dogfather a real person and is he a crime boss?”

“He’s not a person, but he is a crime boss.”

“Alright, I don’t care what he did. Why should I take him down?”

“Think of all the lives you could save! Think of—”

“Don’t care about them. What I meant is, what’s stopping someone else from taking over after I remove this fellow?”

“That’s why you’re taking him alive. Capture him, bring him here, I retrieve the information I need from him, and then the dogs out east pour in all the resources I need to remove his criminals from business. We take down all the heads at once in one massive sting operation and remove his entire business. Sure, something else might eventually replace him, but that would take time. And with what we learn from him, we can possibly prevent it from happening as quickly.”

“What’s in it for us?”

“Ten thousand bits. Each.”

Shiny sniffed. “We’ll do it for free!”

“Kumani, hit him.” I heard a loud thwack behind me. “Where is this fellow? What makes you think we can even do this?”

“Because he wants to meet you, Navarone. And he’s here, at this festival.”

“He would never let Shining Armor in. Captain of the royal guard? He’d be killed on sight.”

“Then don’t bring him. I have an agent you can use instead. Minerva, you can enter now.” A panel opened on one of the walls and a female dog walked out. “This is Minerva, a very well trained fighter. She has a bone to pick with the dogfather.” It wasn’t until I sit here writing this that the pun hit me.

I looked her up and down before turning back to the boss. “No. I’m not bringing someone that has a grudge with this guy. If I’m going to risk my life capturing him, I’m going to risk my life my way. I don’t need another fighter anyway. I need a thinker. So no, you can keep your agent. Give me the location of this guy and I’ll have him for you by the end of the week.”

The boss leaned back in his chair. “I am not used to hiring mercenaries that do not accept any manner of guidance.”

“And I’m not a mercenary.”

“What if part of the deal was that you had to take her?”

“Then I would walk out that door and you wouldn’t see me again.”

Minerva finally spoke up. “Please! I want to be part of the team that brings the dogfather to justice! He killed my entire family!”

“Yeah, I don’t care. Another person I don’t know and can’t control adds too much of a risk on this already too risky mission. Don’t worry, I have a plan for taking this fellow down. But that plan does not involve you. It cannot involve you. You would get in the way. When I bring him here, you can torture him all you want.”

“My entire life was dedicated to bringing him to justice!”

“Then it looks like you picked a wrong vocation.” I turned back to the boss. “If she shows up while I’m trying to capture the father guy, I won’t be able to ensure his safety. You keep her here.”

He sighed before nodding. “Fine. Have it your way. It’s more important that he be brought to justice than she gets her revenge.” He turned to the girl. “Sorry toots. It’s his show now.”

She was actually tearing up. I said, “So where is the dogfather?”

He opened a drawer and pulled an envelope out and passed it across the desk. “We intercepted this message that was bound for you.”

I picked it up and opened it. I read it to myself before reading aloud, “Sir Navarone—You are an interesting subject. You managed to capture one of my ships and crew almost entirely by yourself. You helped ruin an entire trade industry in Egypt. You aided trade and legitimized several smugglers that had been paying me protection money, denying me even more income. You helped the changelings destroy a very profitable mining colony. You seem to ruin my business simply by existing. Yet I have no desire to harm you. I know you have many qualities I would pay dearly to possess. Of course, why pay when you don’t have to? If you want to see your little Taya again, meet me in the sewers under the naga compound. You may bring two companions—not that they’d do you any good. Signed, Dogfather.”

“He has Taya?” Shiny asked, surprised.

“Hell no, he doesn’t have Taya,” I answered. “She’s across the motherfucking ocean. I just saw her two days ago. This letter was written before I got here, when he thought I was taking a boat and hadn’t seen her in a month or so. She’s protected by Twilight and herself.” I looked at the boss. “I’ll be back here in less than a day. You better be here, or I’m slitting his throat and leaving you his body.”

He nodded. “I’d expect nothing else. May profit be with you.”

I led the way back out the building. Whenever Shining Armor tried to talk, I told him to shut up. We finally got back to my apartments. I turned to Shiny. “Is there a way to eavesdrop with magic?”

“There are some enchanted devices, yes.”

I grabbed the invitation to the dogfather and set it on the table and led the way to my room. “Put a ward up. I want just us inside it. Nothing needs to hear this.” He did. “Alright, most people don’t know how much magic can actually do. Shiny, go get Celestia. Have her teleport directly to me. Leave the bubble up.”

“My name isn’t Shiny and this isn’t a bubble. You can’t just order the princess around, Nav!”

“Tell her it’s important. Tell her said it was important.”

He grit his teeth. “Fine.

He left, muttering darkly. “So what’s the plan, Nav?” Kumani asked.

“I’ll wait for Celestia to get here. I don’t want to explain it twice.”

“Do I at least get a part?”

“Yes. You get to help me drag him back to the boss. You’ll get your money, assuming we get paid for this.”

I walked over to the writing desk between the two beds and pulled some paper from the desk. I wrote a quick message and walked back to the bubble.

“So… what do you want to do while we wait?” she asked after a minute of silence.

“Knowing Celestia, she’d teleport in just as we got to the good stuff. I guess you could tell me more about yourself; all I know is your name and that you’re a dragon.”

She opened her mouth to answer, but a teleporting princess cut her off. “This better be important, Nav,” Celestia said.

“It is. The dog boss just hired me to take down the dogfather. I got a letter from the father telling me that he has Taya and that if I want to see her again I’ll meet him in the sewers under the naga complex. I’m going to go there and you’re going to teleport me and the boss here. Then you kick his ass, steal all his memories, and we give him to the dogs.”

Celestia nodded her head. “I like that plan. Just to be on the safe side, though, we should check with Twilight.”

I held up the note. She pulled it from me with magic, read it quickly, and sent it on its way. “You really do think of everything, Nav,” she said.

“Not everything,” I answered. “Just as much as I can.”

Celestia looked to Kumani. “And you must be the dragon he slept with. He does get around. How was he?”

“Fun. Quite a lot of it. I take it you’ve spent a time or two with him?”

Before Celestia could answer, a scroll burst to life in front of her. She quickly scanned it before passing it to me. It basically said that of course Taya was there, though some dogs did show up to try to create some trouble. They were handily defeated.

“Pathetic,” I said. “Can’t even capture a little girl.”

“Don’t tempt fate,” Celestia warned. “Now, we need to do this quickly. I have somewhere I’m supposed to be right now.”

I pulled my gauntlet off and removed my ring and set it on a bed. I replaced my gauntlet. “Just watch me, Celestia.”

“Of course, Nav. I want to put the dogfather back in prison as much as you do. Just remember: You have to be touching him for me to be able to teleport him as well.”

I nodded and went to the door. As the door closed behind me, I heard Kumani comment, “This feels like cheating.”

I grabbed the invitation and got outside my room just as Shining Armor got to my door. I held a finger to my lips, hoping to keep him quiet. He either got the message or didn’t want to talk to me anyway. I hummed an old song as I walked down the streets toward the naga compound. It didn’t take me too long to get there.

I got a number of looks and my weapons got even more. And when I went into an alley and pried up a sewer lid, I got a ton of strange looks. I stopped noticing them when I jumped in and let my wings gently float me down.

“God I hate sewers,” I said as I covered my nose. I called out, “Alright, I’m here. Come out and lead me to him.”

A cat stepped out from behind a corner. “You are alone?” I nodded. “Come, then.”

I followed the cat down a very long series of tunnels. He didn’t talk and I didn’t talk. We finally got to a crossroads type area, where three dogs were waiting for us. Each one looked positively psychotic. “Where’s the dogfather?” I asked.

One of them stepped forward. “That would be me.”

I looked him up and down. “Don’t lie. The dogfather is going to look normal, someone the guards would never think was a crook. Where is he?”

I heard a light clapping from down one of the corridors. After a moment, I could see a dog walking down it, gently clapping. Another dog followed him, carrying a very depressed looking changeling disguised as Taya.

“You are smart, Navarone,” the dog said. “Very smart. But not smart enough to protect those you love, apparently.”

I pulled my right gauntlet off and held up my hand for him to shake. He looked at it oddly. “What is this?” he asked.

“Human greeting. We shake hands when we meet possible employers.”

“I don’t have hands, but… I do like being at least slightly civil.” He wrapped his paw around me.

“That’s a nice changeling you have there,” I said with a grin. The triumphant smirk on his face disappeared as we teleported.

Kumani instantly wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him tightly, holding him up and away from me. Celestia bent her horn in and it lit up. The dog instantly fell unconscious.

“Easiest ten thousand bits I ever made,” I commented. “So how long do you think it’ll take to sort through all his memories?”

Celestia’s horn was still glowing. A minute later, she pulled back. “Done. I can’t believe he seriously came here in person to meet you. How he escaped from Tartarus is beyond me. Apparently he thought it was tradition, or a kind of politeness to greet a defeated opponent in person.”

I scoffed. “Dumbass. Do we have everything we need from him?”

She nodded. “Yes. I will give the dogs one month. If they don’t make their move, I will begin dismantling his crime organization. Shining Armor, go with them to make sure no harm comes to the dogfather.

I finally noticed him over in the corner. He had a very shocked look on his face. “Princess… this feels wrong. It’s like… it’s like we were supposed to go through a process first, but bypassed all the steps!” We all looked at him like he was an idiot. I mentioned before how he was new to dark operations. He just sighed and shook his head. “Very well. Shall we, then?”

I took my armor off, because it stank something fierce after that trip to the sewers. “Shining, can you do magic to that to make it not stink?” Celestia’s horn lit up and the armor returned to its pristine condition. “Thank you. But don’t you have something important to do?”

She rolled her eyes. “Important, but boring. I’d rather see the look on the boss’s face. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to. Shining Armor, when you get payment, return to me.”

“Yes, Princess.” With that, Celestia teleported out. “Well, are you two ready?”

I looked the dog over. “We should tie him.”

Kumani gently set him on the bed and began wrapping the sheets around him. It wouldn’t be strong, but it should stop him for a moment if he does wake up.

“Why would we need to do that?” Shining asked. “He’s not going anywhere. Not with the three of us watching him.”

“Because the first rule of mercenary work is not taking unnecessary chances. Especially when you’re ferrying an extremely dangerous criminal. Is he good and tied up?”

She tugged at the bounds. “He’s not going anywhere.”

“Kumani, carry him. If he moves, yell. Shiny, keep a shield around us at all times. This fucker had friends. Friends that I don’t want coming at us. Speaking of which… Kumani, if you go, you’ll probably become a target. Same for you, Shiny. You two don’t have to help me get him there.”

Shiny said, “I want to see justice done. And my name isn’t Shiny.”

Kumani shrugged. “They wouldn’t dare hurt a dragon. And those bits could be useful.”

I pulled my crossbow up and loaded it. “Let’s go. Either of you see anything suspicious, note it. Trust no one; they had a changeling with them.”

I took a step to the door before remembering something very important. I grabbed my magic cancelling ring and stuffed it in a pocket. With that, we finally departed. As soon as we got outside of my room, a bubble surrounded our little group. When we got outside the apartment, I locked the door behind us and we finally started off to the dog compound.

We got even more looks, this time. Plenty of glares, for taking up so much space; anyone that tried to walk into the bubble clanged off.

We were about halfway to the compound when Pinkie showed up and knocked on the outside of the shield. “Should I let her in?” Shiny asked.

“No. She could very well be a changeling.” I stepped up to the side of the bubble she was on. “If you really are Pinkie, we’re on business for Celestia. Be careful; you might be a target. Trust no one. If I’m not wearing my ring, assume I’m a changeling.” I pulled it out of my pocket and put it on.

“Okie dokie! Just know that your punishment is waiting!”

I wasn’t expecting Pinkie to be serious about this. Our business, not the punishment. There was a time she would demand to be involved just to feel welcome. I know I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

They ambushed us right outside of the dog part of the town. Dogs, cats, naga, changelings. Hell, even a few ponies. They poured out of the sewers and alleys and swarmed our group, pounding on the shield.

I grinned. “Shiny, can things go out of the shield?”

“Not normally,” he answered, his voice tight with strain.

“Let’s find out if they can while I’m wearing the ring.”

I unsheathed the enchanted sword. Some of the assailants backed away a few steps before rushing back in. I walked up to the edge of the shield and swung out at them. The sword went right through, cutting through armor, flesh, and bone. It turned all of their wounds icy as it went, leaving everyone that survived to wail in pain.

At that, the assailants truly backed away. They were expecting a quick dash and grab, killing the three of us and retrieving the boss. They weren’t expecting an impenetrable shield and an enchanted sword.

“Let’s go. Walk around the wounded, Shiny. The guards should be here soon to clean them up.”

Just as I said that, dog guards and pony guards rounded the corners ahead and behind us, finally coming to our rescue. All the civilians had long since fled, leaving just us and the crooks.

We began skirting around the wounded as the criminals finally fled, trying to get away from the guards. “Nav, what did you do to them?” Shining asked.

“Enchanted sword,” I answered. “One of two enchanted weapons known to exist. It sends an icy chill through any wound. It’s quite useful.”

“And how did you get that?” he asked.

“I found it. Your sister studied it. Celestia said I could keep it.”

“What’s its name?” Kumani asked.

“As far as I know, it doesn’t have one. If I picked it, I would call it the Pale Blade.”

“That’s a stupid name,” she answered.

“For once, I agree with her,” Shiny said.

“Then I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t pick it. I’m honestly surprised none of those guards tried to stop us,” I said. We were a few streets away, now.

“The princess probably sent word ahead,” Shiny answered. “And the dogs knew we were coming.”

“Doesn’t matter, as long as no one gets in the bubble. Kumani, is he keeping still?”

“He’s still out cold. Whatever Sunbutt did to him, it was effective.”

Shining Armor gasped. “What did you call the princess?”

“Not the time,” I said. “You can rebuke her later, when she isn’t carrying someone worth thirty thousand bits.” He grumbled, but didn’t say anything I could hear.

There were no further interruptions on the way to the little estate. The sentry looked at us dumbly when we walked up. “Already?” he asked.

“Yes. Open the gate.”

He scratched at his helmet for a second before shrugging and pushing the gate open. We walked around him, the shield still on us. He let it drop when we finally stepped inside their building.

The little dog was running down stairs, quickly trying to put a vest on. When he saw us, his eyes went wide. “They weren’t lying! How are you back so quickly?”

“Because I’m dangerously savvy,” I said. “You got our money?”

He finally got downstairs into the foyer. When I asked about the money, he got shifty-eyed. “Well, sort of. I don’t have the actual bits right here, but I can write you a check that you can cash at the bank in town.”

“Go get your guards to take the prisoner. You can write your check, but you’re coming with us to cash it.”

He quickly nodded. “Of course! Of course! Just a moment.” He sprinted further into the building, making funny barking noises. A moment later, he came back out with three guards and Minerva. She got an evil look on her face when she saw the dog. “Take the prisoner. Break his legs and chain him into a cell.”

Shiny recoiled. “You can’t do that! It’s against several prisoner mistreatment laws!”

“Shining Armor, you have seriously got to learn to shut the fuck up,” I said. “This entire job was illegal. We just kidnapped someone. He may be a criminal, but that didn’t change the fact that what we did was kidnapping. Kumani, hand him over.” She threw him at the dogs. They caught him. I noticed that Shining Armor looked disgusted and horrified. “I want my bed sheets back, by the way.”

The boss waved a paw. “I’ll just add twenty bits to your reward. You can buy yourself some new ones.”

“One more thing: Celestia knows. She helped us pull it off. You have a month to pull your sting op before she does it for you.”

The dog flinched back. “A month?! That’s—” He stopped. “That’s… doable. It’ll be hard, but we can get the information we need that quickly. Minerva, get started as soon as possible. Whatever it takes.” The dogs carried the dogfather away. Minerva was chuckling and stroking a dagger.

“Now, our money?”

“Yes, yes. Come along.” He pushed through our group to the door. We followed, though Shiny’s steps were very stiff. I think it was finally getting into his mind that what we did was pretty illegal. He probably also realized that Celestia not only condoned it, but also helped us.

When we got outside, the boss called up three guards. One of the guards picked the boss up and set him on his shoulders. The other two flanked us. “To the bank,” the boss said. The dogs nodded and began trotting off. The boss slapped the one he was riding on the head. “Slower.” They slowed down. We started following them. “So, Navarone, how did you capture him?”

“The how isn’t important. On the off chance that I need to do something like it again, I’d rather not reveal how I did it.”

“That’s wise, I suppose. Could you do it again?”

“Yes. But I do not desire to gain more enemies. We were attacked once on the way here. Oh, and be careful when you’re guarding him: They have changelings. When you get back, institute a policy wherein only those that prove themselves by bleeding can see him. Kill any and all bugs you see.”

“Why bleeding?” he asked.

“Changelings always bleed their own color. If you cut them when they’re disguised, they’ll bleed green. Dogs have red blood. And I also suggest removing him from this area immediately. They probably know where he is.”

“That is the plan, yes. As soon as I pay you three off, I will make plans to move him. Speaking of which, are you three partners? Or just friends?”

“Friends,” I answered. “I’ve worked with Shining Armor in the past, but this is my first job with Kumani. I think this is their first underhanded job.”

“It is,” Kumani confirmed. “But they pay well. It might not be my last.”

“WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PONIES?!” Shining Armor finally burst out.

“Justice isn’t always just,” I answered. “Sorry to burst your lawful good bubble, Shining Armor. You just did more good while breaking the law than you usually do while guarding the princess.”

“If I didn’t need the money, I would be gone,” he growled through clenched teeth. “You’re lucky I don’t lock all of you up!”

I didn’t answer. Hell, that kind of killed the entire conversation. I didn’t feel bad about it; I knew what we did was right. I just didn’t want to piss him off any more.

We got to the bank in silence. The dogs led the way inside. A griffon manager quickly walked over to our group. “What do you need?” he asked, looking at the boss. It wasn’t every day you saw a group like ours walking in, and usually when you do, you know you have some high rollers.

“I need to make a quick withdrawal,” he answered. “Thirty thousand bits.”

Every face in the room turned toward us. The griffon gaped. He finally managed to get control of himself. “Come with me, sir. Alone.”

The guard dog gently set the boss on the floor, and the griffon led him to a side room. A few minutes later, they returned to the foyer. “Just a moment, please.” The griffon let off a piercing cry. Three naga guards immediately entered the room. They saw us and drew their weapons. “None of that,” the griffon quickly said. “These are customers. I just need your help with an order. Come with me.”

The naga put their weapons away and followed the griffon as he led them to a back room. We were getting even more stares now, as people from different rooms further back came to check out what the noise was.

Nearly ten minutes of silence later, the griffon returned. The naga each carried a bulging and clinking sack of bits. Their muscles rippled out as they hefted the incredibly heavy bags. They were set on the ground in front of us. “Do you need a receipt?” the griffon asked the dog.

“Yes. It would be good for the records.” The griffon nodded and went to his little side office. The dog turned to us. “There are your bits. This bank is famous for never shortchanging, so don’t worry about missing any. You are free to go.”

Shining Armor grabbed one of the bags with his magic and walked away without a word, the bag trailing behind him.

Kumani hefted one over her shoulder and looked at me. “Kumani, I can’t pick that thing up. Do you think you could…” She grabbed the last bag and it went over her other shoulder. “Thanks, doll.” I turned back to the dogs. “Nice doing business with you.”

With that, we left the bank. When we got a few blocks away, I said, “Those twenty thousand bits are yours. I don’t need any more money. Well, I’ll take about a hundred bits to cover some things I need in town. Other than that, the rest is yours.”

“Cool. In that case, let’s head to my place.”

“Take the lead, then. I know I don’t mind watching that nice little tail of yours wag.”

She giggled and got past me just as a pink stone whirled at me from the side. It hit me and I turned into a chick. Pinkie trotted up and caught the stone before it fell. “What’s in the bags?” she asked.

“Nails,” I answered. “A lot of them. We’re getting paid a few bits to move them around.”

“Why would anypony put nails in a cloth sack?”

“Beats me,” I answered. “Are you enjoying the party?”

“It sure would be a lot more fun if more of my friends were here… Or if you’d play with me more. You and Kumani keep going on all the adventures without me!”

“Well, the one earlier was dangerous. There was a reason we were in a bubble. Speaking of which, you have my permission to go normal Pinkie if it means you get your freaky powers back. There are some people that aren’t very happy with me right now, and they might strike out at you.”

With the sound of a balloon being blown, her hair exploded and a brilliant smile appeared on her face. She immediately started skipping instead of walking. “Thank you thank you thank you!” She took in a deep breath. “This party’s gonna be so much more fun now!”

I put a finger on her lips to silence her. “You still need to behave. I know you understand the difference in making trouble and having fun. Apparently you learned that difference at the first Gala you attended. The same thing applies here. Stay in public areas unless you get an invitation to a private one, and please don’t go anywhere without too many ponies without asking me first. I know that’s a lot to ask, but the people I just pissed off are very powerful and would not hesitate to slit your throat. So by all means, have fun, just be careful and use some common sense.” That might be a little much to ask of Pinkie, but I trust her more than I would most of the others.

She saluted while still bouncing, somehow. “You got it, Miss Navarone ma’am!” God, that gender change thing is annoying.

“Hey Pinkie, have you seen any lens-crafting places in town?”

“I’ve seen three. One in the naga quarter, one in the pony quarter, and one in the dog quarter.”

“Damn, you’ve really done some exploring. What about white or blacksmiths?” For those that don’t know, a whitesmith is someone that works in light colored metals.

“Those are everywhere! But if you want something fine, you’ll have to use the one in the dragon quarter.”

“I know this is a low chance, but what about leather workers?”

She grimaced. “There aren’t any of those anywhere.”

“Didn’t think so. What about a place where I can get a good strap of something? Or some really strong fabric?”

“Nav, you can just buy goggles.”

“Not to fit my face, I can’t. And I need these made for special things.”

“Then check the pony quarter. Though this entire thing seems silly.”

“Pinkie, why do you care about anything that seems silly? You’re Pinkie!”

“Oh yeah! I’m still getting back in the mood. Give me a few more minutes.”

“Take your time. Kumani, how far away are we?”

“It’s only been a few minutes. Take a guess.”

I shrugged. I wasn’t in any real hurry. “Pinkie, I can find all the shops myself. Thanks for the help.”

“No problemo!” She didn’t go anywhere, though. She just continued bouncing next to me. “So where are we going?”

“Dragon quarter,” I answered. “I don’t know how welcome you’ll be where we’re going.”

“Not very,” Kumani said back to us. “Nav can get in easily because he’s—or she’s—Nav. You… might be able to get in.”

“Why would dragons need nails?” Pinkie asked.

“So they can hang pictures,” I answered. “I mean, have you ever tried driving a nail into a rock wall? You ruin a bunch of them like that.” Most dragons live in caves.

“I guess that makes sense. But why would you hang a picture when you could just put in a desk and get a different kind of frame?”

I shrugged. “Tradition, I guess. I know better than to question dragons.”

“If you say so,” Pinkie said doubtfully.

We continued in silence. I had no doubt that Pinkie wanted to talk more, but she knew me; I don’t usually enjoy the constant discussions of frivolous topics. Honestly, I’m quite surprised she was still around.

Thankfully, the crowd thinned as we got closer to the dragon area. There was still a large number of ponies, since this was one of their cities, but most of the other races started disappearing from the roads. Dragons aren’t exactly known as the most hospitable bunch, after all.

And a lot of the dragons were staring at the bags Kumani was carrying. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if they could smell the gold within. I casually unhooked my crossbow and held it at the ready. The wooden one couldn’t pierce a dragon’s hide, but I wouldn’t doubt for a second that this one could. It would give them a nasty hole to brag about, that’s for sure.

“I’m somewhat surprised they give your people houses,” I commented as we walked. “Wouldn’t your claws damage the floors?”

“Normally, yes. But the hosting city of the party goes to great lengths to ensure that doesn’t happen. Magic is usually involved.”

All was looking good for us until our group was stopped in the middle of the street by a male dragon a little taller than Kumani and in a full suit of plate armor. “You, Navarone. I have heard reports of you kissing a dragon yesterday. What have you to say to this?”

“It was a dare, nothing more,” I answered. He leaned back at my voice; he was probably expecting something a bit more masculine sounding. “A fool of a friend of mine dared him to do so in public. Given my past… transgressions of that nature when it comes to the dragons, I dealt with his crime myself. I truly hope you fear no repeat of the incident.”

“A dare… tell me, who was the dragon that defiled himself in such a manner?”

“He called himself John.”

“I do not know him. That might be a false name.” He turned to Kumani. “You, dragoness. Would you happen to know the name of the one that did this?”

“I do not, Purifier.”

He looked at the bags she was holding. “And what is in those?”

“Gold,” I answered. “Twenty thousand bits. Earned by the two of us. You can check with the dog boss; he kept a receipt for the money. There was another in our group, a unicorn by the name of Shining Armor. He earned ten thousand for himself.”

He nodded slowly. “And what did you do to earn this money?”

Kumani answered, “Navarone captured the dogfather. I aided him.”

“If he captured the boss, why was the profit spread evenly?”

“Because I am a fair man,” I answered. “Just because I did most of the work does not mean their efforts weren’t just as important.”

He crossed his arms. “Why then is she carrying the load for you, though?”

“I’m not strong enough. My strength lies in my weapons and my mind, not in my body.”

He grinned. “If only you were in the horde. We could use more thinkers rather than brute muscle.” He turned to Pinkie. “You. What is your role in these events?”

Pinkie was sitting on her haunches, eating popcorn taken from who knows where. She looked up at his mentioning of her. “I’m the comic relief!”

He blinked and looked at me. I shrugged. He looked back at Pinkie. “Continue the good work, pink one.” He turned to Kumani. “They are welcome in our holds. If any deter you, tell them Purifier Echo vouches for them. But… if I find that you are lying about any parts of what you told me, I am coming for you, dragoness. And just because you are a knight of another nation, Navarone, do not think you are safe from me.”

“I have no worries,” I answered.

“It is good to find one so carefree,” he answered. “Continue on your way. I will look into these matters further.” He left, walking down the way we came. For anyone wondering what just happened, it was later explained to me that dragons have a version of guard called Purifiers that make sure dragons don’t just go willy nilly and fuck shit up. Sure, back in the old days, that was accepted as appropriate dragon behavior. Nowadays, though, dragons tend to hold themselves accountable for such destructive actions. And thus, Purifiers were made. They keep draconic laws and make sure that dragons follow the laws of whatever land they are in. I don’t know what the name was about.

“You told me those were nails,” Pinkie said. There was no accusation in her voice.

“I did,” I answered as we continued on our way.

We got a few meters when a thought hit me. “Kumani, what did you tell Shining Armor when he asked about your male body?”

She stopped like a brick. “I told him…” Her head whirled around to see the back of the purifier fellow turning the corner. “Oh fire… I told him I was my brother!”

“I don’t think it would be a good idea to let that guy find out about that. Pinkie, would you kindly go inform Shining Armor that he’s about to get a guest that he should not mention male Kumani to?”

She raised a hoof in front of her and looked it over. “I dunno, Nav.”

“Ten thousand bits,” Kumani said.

Pinkie didn’t budge, just continued looking over the back of her hoof. Kumani turned to me, desperation in her eyes.

I sighed. “Your practice date. Wherever you want. Two conditions: We have to both be free, and Shining Armor has to not say anything. Deal?”

One date?” Pinkie asked, finally looking up.

“If the first one goes well, we’ll talk. But if the first one flops, there’s no need to go anywhere else. Fine?”

Pinkie took a moment to pretend to consider. “Wellll… Okay. But only because you’re my friend!” She held out a hoof to shake. I met it with my hand. Only when my hand touched her hoof did I realize we were both now male. I shook her hoof and with that she was merrily hopping down a side road, once again female.

“Will she make it?” Kumani answered.

I turned to her and grinned. “You don’t know Pinkie. For what it’s worth, I would trust her with more than my life. Now, let’s go. And you owe me for this.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She began to walk again. “Seems I tend to end up owing you a lot. How am I ever going to pay you back for all of this?”

“I’m sure I’ll think of something. Even if nothing apparent shows up, I can imagine that having a dragon owe me would be quite useful.”

“Oh, the indignity,” she mock-complained. “Whatever shall I do, owing such a pitiful creature?”

“I’m sure you’ll manage.”

She finally stopped outside of a large mansion. “This is it,” she said. “Can you get the door?”

I tried the handle. It opened with no problem. I graciously allowed her to enter first and followed behind her. When I had the door shut, I turned to check out the place. “Nice,” I said with a nod. “Why can’t I get a place like this?”

“Because you aren’t the daughter of a high ranking dragon. Now come, these bags are heavy.”

She walked into a back room. I shrugged and followed. “So how high ranking is this fellow?” Man, it’s just like me to accidentally find a ranking official and then fuck his daughter. Not necessarily in that order, though. My seed has graced, like, six noblewomen. I should start a tally or something, see if anyone can beat my record.

“Very. Let’s just say that there is a reason it would not be good if we were found out.”

“Is he here?”

“He might be in the pool. Or he might not. I don’t keep up with him.”

“He’s not going to try to eat me, is he?”

“Not while you’re wearing all that. He might kill you, strip you, and then eat you.”

“I’m gonna go ahead and skip meeting him. I’m allergic to being killed.”

“But not to being stripped or eaten?” she asked with a grin.

“Well, that depends entirely upon who’s doing the stripping and eating. For some, I have a very localized reaction. For others, not so much.”

She quirked an area that would be an eyebrow on a human. “And what’s the treatment for such a reaction?”

I grinned. “If we have time, I could always show you…”

 

When I left, Kumani was merrily counting bits. I had three hundred bits stashed randomly around my body. My crossbow was held at the ready, because I knew now that I was alone, I would make a very tempting target for anyone thinking to get revenge.

My first stop was the blacksmith in this quarter. I was hoping the order I had would be quick and easy. When I finally found the blacksmith’s shop, I found out that the order was not only quick and easy, but already done. “You mean I can just have these?” I asked, holding up the relatively large bronze rings.

The blacksmith looked up from his anvil. “Yes. They were made for… Well, that memory’s painful. Needless to say, I want them out of my shop. I’d like to never see or think about them again.”

I took a look at the rings again. If I had to guess, I would say they were wedding rings of some kind. Guess some poor bastard got stood up. I shrugged. “Thanks, then.”

He just looked away. As I walked out, I silently left a handful of bits on a counter. It should have more than covered the cost.

I whistled a sad tune as I walked toward my next destination: A lenscrafter. I was hoping they would have what I needed. I was looking to make sunglasses, of a sort; something to block out the blinding light from a flash-bang grenade. If possible, I was also hoping to get exchangeable lenses, so I could put regular glass in if I just needed goggles.

I was heading to the pony quarter first. The fabric shop/clothier was also there, and I was hoping I could get what I needed in one general area.

I managed to get into the pony area when I noticed that the street seemed to be getting emptier than I was comfortable with. I took a look around and noticed a few stares from alleyways. I shrugged and leapt into the air, soaring away from what was probably an ambush.

I landed in a nearby street and asked the first citizen I saw about the lens place. Thankfully, she was able to point me in the right direction. Even better, that direction was away from where I thought I was about to get attacked. When I found the shop and explained what I wanted—and showed her my bits—she quickly got to work. Apparently, lenses aren’t in big demand during events like this, and she was happy enough to help. She even helped me fit them into my frames, along with providing me a decent way to replace them with lighter glass if I needed to.

Nice lady. Shame it cost me way too many bits. Then again, it’s not like bits were of any concern to me.

She happily pointed me towards the fabric shop and off I went. I was making good progress when suddenly Pinkie!

“Sowhenarewegoingonthedate?” she said way too fast to comprehend, popping out of a flower pot.

When I got done jumping back and almost shooting her with a crossbow, I sighed and moved back to a regular position. I noticed that there was still dirt and a flower on her head. I pulled the flower off the top of her head and put it behind her ear. “I’m currently busy and thus not free. I suppose if you thought about it, this entire trip could be like a somewhat interactive date, given that I invited you here as my ‘date’ on the trip.”

“Nope, you aren’t cheating on this one! I guess I’ll just follow you until you aren’t busy anymore.” She shook her head to dislodge all the dirt. The flower somehow didn’t go anywhere.

“How about this instead: You go back to our rooms, look through the invitations we have, and pick the one that interests you most. When I finish what I’m doing, I’ll meet you there and as long as it’s within reason we’ll do it. Does that sound fun?”

“Hm… How about I stay with you instead, and when you finish we can go back and do that?”

I didn’t really like the sound of that for a few reasons. First, my suggestion would be faster; she could return to our rooms while I get what I need done. Then I could fly back quickly and we could go off. Second, her staying with me was more dangerous; if we got into a trap, I could fly away while she couldn’t.

But Pinkie is immune to logic. Or maybe it’s women that are immune to it. “Sure. No promise it’ll be fun, though.”

“Interesting things always happen around you. And you usually respond to them in just the right way to make them even more interesting!”

“I’d prefer boring things, personally. Anyway, I assume from your question that you got Shiny to not spill the beans.”

“Yep. I had to threaten to turn him into Shining Aegis forever, though.”

I didn’t want to know. “As long as it’s done and Kumani and I are safe, it’s okay. Although you know I gotta ask, why do you even want a practice date, Pinkie? Seems like you’re social enough to never even need one.”

“It’s not for me, silly! When was the last time you went on a date?”

Never. “...Alright, whatevs. Silly as hell and stupid, but that’s about what I’ve come to expect from you.”

“I’m glad I’m living up to your expectations! Oooh, candy!” We were passing a booth that had treats set up. I don’t know why she took note of this one, since we passed a few already.

Either way, she pounced upon it with gusto. Half the table was cleaned off by the time she was done, and she walked back up to me with a few cupcakes sitting on her head. “Try one! They’re really good!”

“Pass. First, they can’t be as good as yours. Second, I’m not going to be hungry much this trip, and I’m saving what hunger I will feel for meat. I’ll probably check out the griffon area sometime soon.”

“So what did you do that was worth thirty thousand bits?”

“Have you ever heard of a fellow called the dogfather?”

“Hmmm… Nope!”

“He’s a big crime boss. He runs pirate clans, drug pens, slave rings, and several other illegal things. He sent me a message saying he had kidnapped Taya. He does not know what Celestia can do when it comes to dragon messaging. Long story short, the Taya he had was a changeling. I got hired by the dogs to capture him and did so. Kumani and Shining Armor helped. All in all, it took us about three hours. Now there are bands of crooks roaming the streets looking for me, trying to get revenge. It’ll be fun.”

“Sure sounds like it! Ooh, do you think those are some of them?” she asked, pointing to a mismatched group of figures wielding a bunch of nasty looking weapons. They were coming right at me, murder in their eyes.

“Pinkie, run. Don’t stop until you get to somewhere I would consider safe.”

She grinned what was possibly one of the scariest grins I’ve ever seen and pulled a frying pan out of somewhere. I sighed and raised my crossbow, quickly slipping my ring off. “Your safety is not my problem,” I said. “You get hit, you get hit.”

First target: Dog with a nasty looking whip. Shot him right between the eyes and he fell, tripping the pony behind him. I dropped the crossbow and pulled a knife off the belt I was now very happy that I left outside of my shirt. It went into the chest of a pony. They were straight up charging, now.

“This would be a good time to point out that I don’t know how to fight,” I calmly said. Normally I’d be running away by now. But with Pinkie standing her ground…

She—no, he—grinned and hit me with the pink stone. “Then you get to follow my lead!”

There are much better times for this! I took another knife out and buried it in the chest of a dog. He clutched at it but quickly recovered. I had time to draw my sword before the other six were upon us.

Pinkie grabbed my free hand and whirled me around. I somehow kept the sword close in, making sure not to cut either of us. When he jerked me to a stop, my sword arm shot out and stabbed one of the fuckers in the face. I looked over at Pinkie to see that he bashed someone upside the head with his frying pan with his outstretched leg.

Just as one of the group went to hit me, I was being pulled somewhere else. The heavy mace went whizzing past me, just barely stopping from hitting the ground. Pinkie caught me and lifted me into the air and spun me, making me kick someone. When he stopped the spinning, he set me down and brought me in close. I jerked the sword out of the way to avoid hitting him and ended up slamming it into someone’s stomach. I saw Pinkie’s frying pan was in someone else’s face, sending teeth and blood flying into the air.

I noticed that the flower I put behind female Pinkie’s ear was now behind mine, somehow.

With a quick lick on my nose—because why not?—Pinkie pushed us apart, making us both just narrowly miss a scimitar coming between us. Pinkie’s push gave my arms a lift, making my sword contact the scimitar, which somehow broke when it hit mine.

The fellow held the broken sword up to his face in confusion. That made it pretty easy to run him through.

I turned to find that Pinkie had finished the last guy off himself.

Flo, what just happened?

“I… I have no idea. Don’t make Pinkie angry. And now’s your chance to make an impression on the rest of the brigands.” I looked around.

The pony that I had tripped with the dog was just lying on the ground, watching us in a form of fascinated horror.

I grinned and began walking toward him. I lifted the sword to my mouth and ran my tongue down the blade, licking some blood off and looking dead at the eyes of the pony. A yellow puddle began to form under him and he tried backing away.

When I was close enough, I slung some of the excess blood onto his face and he flinched back. I held the sword up and knelt down to his level. “I want you to deliver a message,” I told him. “You see these motherfuckers?” I asked, nodding at the dog body that he was just ahead of. He didn’t move. I grabbed him by the throat and held my sword up to his face. “LOOK AROUND, HORSE!”

His face jerked around the road before his eyes squeezed shut. “Tell the rest of your friends what happens to those that try to come after me. Now, unless you feel like either going to jail or joining your friends in the afterlife…” I let him go. “I suggest you get.”

He was gone so quickly that he left a dust cloud. I walked up to the dog, rolled him over, and pulled my bolt out. I cleaned it on his vest, grabbed his purse, and stood. I went to get my knife from the pony. Those done, I walked over to the group of bodies.

“This city needs better guards,” I commented as Pinkie passed me my crossbow. I noticed that she was back to being female. I grabbed the knife in the chest of the other dog and sheathed it. “Sun or moon, Pinkie?”

“Sun.” I pulled a bit out and flipped it. It was moon.

I unsheathed my knife and slit the throats of those that Pinkie knocked out. I cleaned my knife on the coat of the last one before putting my knife back up and turning to face her. I pulled the flower from my ear and dropped it on the body of the last one. “Shall we continue, then?”

I heard Shining Armor yell, “STAND DOWN!”

I looked towards his voice to find him standing at the head of a large group of pony guards. “Where the fuck were you ten minutes ago?” I called.

“PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR, NAV! I SAW WHAT YOU DID!” he yelled back.

I rolled my eyes. “Pinkie, look behind us.”

She did. I reached into a pocket. “Shiny, catch!” I pulled the makeshift pin and lobbed the flash bang grenade at him.

He actually did catch it with magic, and brought it very close in before I turned away and it exploded. “RUN!” Pinkie fucking vanished. I leapt into the air, flying toward what I was hoping would be Celestia’s current hangout. Given that she usually likes standing outside, it wasn’t that hard to find her. Somehow, Pinkie had beaten me there.

I landed next to them. “Sup, Sunny?”

She looked at me. “Nav, you have a little something… Oh, here, let me get it.” Celestia levitated a napkin or something over and wiped some blood off my face. “Now, what’s this about you assaulting a group of my guards?”

I shrugged. “Eh, you know how it is. Shiny saw me slitting some throats and figured those prisoners would have been better off in a changeling hive. You know that dogfather guy? Well, it turns out he had an entire criminal organization behind him. So these guys have been following me around all day, trying to catch me in an ambush. Well, they got bored of trying, so they straight up attacked us. They were quickly dealt with. Some weren’t quite as dead as usual, though, so I flipped a coin. Sun for jail, moon for death. Moon won. The only survivor was a messenger, hopefully sent to relay the message that it’s not worth fucking with me. Oh yeah, I didn’t assault them. I just temporarily blinded them. I suspect Shiny will be here soon, whining about me.”

Speaking of which… I slid my ring on.

“Navarone, you do realize what you did is pretty much illegal, right?” Celestia asked.

“You call it murder. I call it mercy. I know what their fate was, Celestia. And so do you. Which would you prefer: A quick death, or being used as food by changelings?”

“Nav, I’m not saying that what you did was wrong. I’m saying that it was illegal. And I can’t let you get away with it. Leave Shining Armor to me. He won’t like it, but you are more useful out of prison than you are in prison. But don’t think that doesn’t mean you’ll just get away with this. You will do a task for me when we return to Canterlot. A task you will not like. Just remember that you brought this one on yourself.”

“Can I be there when you deal with Shiny, then?”

“No. You and your date can go back to doing whatever it is you were doing. If any guards stop you, show them this.” Her horn lit up and a seal appeared. I took it and found that one side had a sun while the other side had an image of Celestia. It was essentially a large pre-Luna’s return bit. “Now go. You have already disrupted a very important party. Even if it is really boring.” That last part was muttered so that only we could hear.

“You got it, Celestia. Come along, Pinkie.”

“Nice seeing you, Princess!”

With that, we left Celestia to wallow in boredom. We also left several conversations forming behind us, probably about us.

When we got a few blocks away, I pulled us to a bench and said, “Pinkie, what you just did will probably catch up to you eventually. I know you, but even you don’t go through something like that unscathed. If you ever need to talk about it, remember that I’ve been through it too.” And much worse besides.

She quickly serious’d up and said, “Nav, I don’t need a shoulder to cry on. You do.”

“...What? I’m just fine.”

She slowly shook her head. “No, you’re not. Anypony can see it. Or at least, anypony that knew you before Egypt.”

“Uh huh. Well, since you’re currently fine—”

“Princess Celestia isn’t your friend, Nav,” she broke in. “She uses you and she’s going to keep using you until she’s used you up. You know she doesn’t care about your problems or what you’re going through, as long as you stay an effective tool.” Where the hell did this come from?

“I’m well aware, Pinkie. And I don’t want pity. Someone to talk to would be nice, but it’s for the best that I keep it inside.” To just me and Flo, I suppose. “I know you, of any of them, would be most likely to understand, but I’m not going to burden anyone. And don’t you dare say it wouldn’t be a burden, because I know that for a lie. Now, let’s get going.”

I tried to stand, but she pulled me right back down. “Nav, you would be the perfect friend but for one little thing. You know how to give and give and give… but you don’t know how to take. You’ll help anypony with anything they ever need, but as soon as you get hurt or you get in trouble, you refuse to ever go to us for help. And you know I’m not talking about for clothes or cooking. You know what I mean. You know me, Nav. You know how I feel about my friends. I tried doing what you’re doing once. The pain just builds and builds… You have to let it out!”

“I know, Pinkie,” I answered. I think she could hear the resigned tone in my voice. “God help me, I know. But I can’t. I’ve only done it once in my entire life, with Celestia. She was threatening me and I had no other choice. And it was probably the hardest thing I’ve done. Where I’m from, I was raised to never show weakness. From birth, I was raised that way. I grew to despise the idea of me showing it, and strove never to have to. And,” I said as I stood, “it’s killing me inside. We can talk more when we’re in private. But I don’t want to get caught by the guards, if they’re still looking for us. Now come, I want to get these goggles finished.”

“Pinkie promise we’ll talk about it later?” she asked, not moving.

“Sure, why not. Now let’s go.”

“Do the ritual!”

“No. My word is enough. You know that. Now come on.”

She sighed and stood. “You’re lucky I trust you.”

We started off toward… Wait. “Pinkie, I’m lost. Can you lead the way to the clothing shop or whatever it is we’re looking for?”

She took the lead. I wanted to ask her how she already knew this place so well, but I knew that wouldn’t end well. She’d probably spout off some strange song or something. I noticed something I really didn’t want to when she started bouncing off down the road, and I quickly began taking in the sights.

Flankfurt was a nice city, even if I had been ambushed twice already. It looked exactly like I pictured a German town would look like shortly before World War Two.

“You know, Nav, now that you’re a girl, you could get a dress. I bet you’d look so pretty!” Pinkie said. I looked at her and saw that she was now jumping backwards, looking at me as she spoke.

“Yeah, no, that’s not gonna happen. Just because I am physically a chick doesn’t mean everyone thinks I’m one. Most people that know of me know that I’m a guy. So if they see me in a dress, they’re going to assume I’m some kind of crossdresser or something. I don’t want that kind of image. It’s bad enough that the purifier fellow heard my voice like this. God only knows what he thinks about it.”

“Who’s God?” she asked.

“I might tell you later.”

“You always say that!”

“And it’s always true. I might tell you later. But I just as easily might not. And since later encompasses any time past what we’re in right now, I could tell you at any point in the future. So just because I haven’t told you yet doesn’t mean I won’t.”

“But… you aren’t going to.”

“Yeah, I know. What about it?”

“Why say that you might do something if you know you won’t?”

“Because I’m a bad person.”

Before I could react or even tell what she was doing, I found myself on the ground. It hurt a lot more than it would as a guy, what with my fucking breasts in the way. Pinkie just giggled as she picked me up and somehow managed to get me across her back. “Onward!” she said, continuing to bounce.

My eyes shot open as soon as she hit the ground. That shit hurt! I opened my wing and on the apex of her next jump I hovered off her. I dropped to the ground with a sigh and wished I could rub my private areas in public to try to get them to stop hurting.

Pinkie quickly noticed that I no longer graced her back. She looked around, trying to find me. I don’t know why it took her so long to notice that I was standing behind her. “Why’d you get off?” she asked.

“Because your jumping hurts me like hell. I think I prefer to walk. Or fly, if you were a pegasus.”

“But walking is so boring! Why don’t you try skipping, like me?”

“I’m not a fan of skipping. It never ends well for me. And now that I’m a chick, I imagine that it would end even worse than usually.” I began walking again, and didn’t take long to pass her immobile form. “Coming, Pinkie?”

“You’re no fun sometimes,” she answered as she matched my pace with her skipping.

“I know. I can’t be a bundle of joy all the time. Sometimes I just have to make sacrifices.”

“You really should stop lying, Nav. Ooh! You need a girl name!”

“No I don’t. Navarone is androgynous.”

“Hm… You look like a Katie!”

“How do you even know human names?”

“How about Femanon?”

“That isn’t even a fucking name. Navarone and Nav are the names I will answer to.”

She gasped really loud. “I know, I can call you Pinkie!”

“That’s your name.”

“I know, that’s how I know it’s such a great name! You can be human Pinkie and I can be pony Pinkie!”

“Let’s not do that. In fact, let’s pretend you never even brought that up.”

“If you get a female name… I should have a male name!”

“Bubble Berry. Now can we drop this?”

“Ooh, that’s a good one. What about the rest of my friends, Pinkie?”

I didn’t answer. I wasn’t going to fall for her tricks.

We were passing a party area when Flo whispered, “Nav, stop.” I stopped and looked around. Pinkie continued skipping a few feet before stopping as well. “There, the piano.” I looked into the party area and saw the piano sitting there, unused.

What about it?

Pinkie spoke up, “What’s wrong?”

Flo whispered, “Go to it. I want to try something.”

I started walking toward the piano, stepping around ponies and other races that were mingling in the area. Pinkie was following me. I idly noticed that she wasn’t skipping anymore.

“Nav…” Pinkie said as I sat down at the piano. “What are you doing?”

“Navarone, put your hands on the keys and close your eyes. Relax.” I did what she said as she said it. “This might feel… odd. Please don’t try to fight it.”

I felt something course down into my hands, moving my fingers and lifting my arms to play an old tune. It seemed hauntingly familiar, but I couldn’t tell what it was. It was a sad, sad song.

After half a minute of playing, I felt my mouth open and a voice not my own crept out, singing in a language that sounded like a mix between French and Latin. I have no idea what it was saying, but from what I could hear of it, it was beautiful and depressing.

Nearly four minutes into the song, my eyes opened automatically and I saw Pinkie looking at me from the other side of the piano. When I saw her, she jerked back in surprise, a hoof rising to her mouth. The song ended shortly after, petering off into a very marked silence.

I blinked several times, freed from Flo’s control. What the fuck was that?

She didn’t answer. Hell, after controlling me from so far—which I thought she said she couldn’t do—she was probably too tired to do much. When I stood up and turned from the piano, I saw that everyone was staring at me. Normally I would have told a bad joke, but I couldn’t think of one.

So lacking that option, I instead decided to walk away. I heard a few people crying in the audience as I quickly exited into the nearest side street and walked away at a speed that many would consider jogging.

Pinkie didn’t take long in finding me. She didn’t comment on the performance at all.

“Shall we get back to finding the shop?” I asked after a few minutes of mindless walking.

“Yep!”

She took the lead again and once again we set off to find the shop. I was hoping that would be the last damn distraction; the sun was getting close to setting and I wouldn’t be surprised if the place was going to close soon.

Thankfully, we did make it before the place shut down. “Fucking finally,” I said as we got to the entrance. The inside of the shop reminded me of Rarity’s place; a bell even rang when we stepped inside.

“Coming,” a male voice called out. If he’s not gay, I’m not certain I trust him making anything for me. “What can I help—YOU!” he shouted, looking at me.

I looked behind me to make sure he was shouting at me. “Me?” I asked, turning back to face the pony that was now in my face. I jerked back a bit.

“Yes, you! I saw your form earlier, fighting those ruffians! Such beauty, such grace! And all hidden in those… ugh! I offer you the chance of a lifetime! Let me make you something perfect for you, clothes that would perfectly fit your lovely frame!”

“Yeah, no. Long story short, I’m a guy. Short story long, I have magic gender changing stones that my pink friend here is currently in charge of. So my gender is fluctuating a bit right now. Meaning when I leave this place, it’ll probably be as a guy. So no, I don’t need whatever you’re offering to make me.”

He blinked and pulled back. “What?”

I reached into my pockets and pulled out the goggle frames. “I need to connect these two so I can have a good pair of goggles. I also need something around the insides so they won’t hurt against my face. Think you can do that?”

He looked to Pinkie, who lifted a hoof to her head and did the little universally accepted motion for crazy: a little circle next to one of her ears and a funny face.

The guy turned back to me with a smile. “I see, you jest! Come, let me measure you!”

I looked at Pinkie to see that she was nodding, still smiling. I sighed. “I’ve done worse. I swear to God, if you have anything pink in there, I’ll add you to the list of things I’ve killed today.”

“Worry not! I know a warrior such as yourself would not wear such a color. Now come, come!” He led me and Pinkie to a back room that looked eerily similar to Rarity’s creative room.

I suppose I should describe the guy, since it would make a bit more sense when I start mentioning how he used his magic to float stuff. He was a short, dark blue unicorn with orange eyes and white hair. Seems like an odd combination, but the person in charge of deciding that stuff never consults with me first. I couldn’t tell if he was gay or not.

“Now, I need you to remove your clothes,” he said. I shrugged and started removing stuff. With all the belts, it took me a minute or two. The only thing I left on was the ring.

Pinkie was in my face as soon as I removed my shirt. “What are these?” she asked, standing on her hind legs and putting her front hooves on my breasts.

Sensitive!” I answered, pulling back and covering them with an arm. “Lie on your back.” She hopped over on her back, looking up at me. I poked one of her nipples. “These are those. Or those are these. Either way, female humans have them in a different place and they’re usually much larger.” I stood back up and looked at the guy. “Can we get on with this?”

“Of course!” A few measuring tapes began to float over and he measured my body. “Hm… What about this ring? Would you mind taking it off?”

“Yes, I would. Whatever you’re making will have to accommodate it.”

“I think I can manage that.” All the measuring things pulled away. “You may clothe yourself.” I did so, setting all of my weapons up for my annoyingly female body. “Now, about those goggles you needed…”

I pulled the frames out yet again. “Yes, I need these to go around my eyes without letting any light in, and I need them to stay around my head for as long as I need them. They’ll be going through heat, water, and high stress from flying. Think you can do that?”

“Of course! I can even make them look wonderful!”

“Don’t. I want them to look unassuming and unoriginal, just a standard part of any flier’s kit.”

He pulled them away from me and looked them over. “Why is the glass dark?”

“To help block out light. When can I come by to pick all of this up?”

“Two days.” He listed off a price. “Does that seem fair?”

“Doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t. I have the bits to cover it. I’ll be back in two days. Come along, Pinkie. Let us leave the artist to his work.” It was at that point that I realized I didn’t catch his name. I also didn’t care. He merrily bowed as we left his shop.

And ran right into a group of royal guards. “Aw, shit.”

A familiar looking night guard stepped forward. “Navarone, we’ve been ordered to bring you to Princess Celestia.”

“Smiles?”

He grinned. “Yep. Don’t worry, Nav. You aren’t in trouble. She just wants to talk to you about Shiny.” He looked at Pinkie. “You can come if you desire. The princess said you weren’t required, but were allowed.”

“Wherever Nav goes, I go! At least until I get that date I was promised…”

I shrugged. “Lead the way, Smiles.” He did just that, the guard contingent forming up around us. “So what’s with the numbers?”

“Luna somehow found out about the attempts on your life. She was not very happy with her sister letting you roam the city alone.”

“While I do appreciate the guards, it’s a bit too late for that. Pretty sure I dealt with the brigands already. You’re cool, but I don’t think I need the rest of them.”

“You’ll have to take that up with Princess Celestia,” he answered. I just sighed and we continued in silence for a bit. “I have to ask, though… What’s wrong with your voice?”

“Long story, most of which is unimportant. I’m temporarily a girl and I swear to God, if you laugh, I’ll hurt you.”

“You always seem to lead such an interesting life… ma’am.”

I punched his wing, since that was the only part of his body I could get to that wasn’t covered in armor. “Just remember that you owe me. I helped you win that bet, if I recall.”

He blinked before grinning. “The bet was about a fight, not a breakup. But… yeah, you did. Wasn’t worth it, though.” His smile disappeared. “The princess was inconsolable for a few days. She put on a brave face for you and her sister, but as one of the only guards she had that knew you, I was very frequently summoned to her presence and then sent away without a word. If you don’t mind me asking… what happened?”

“It involved blood and pain and fetishes I have nightmares about.” Well, I would have nightmares without Flo. “Essentially, she showed me what she thought about me, and that wasn’t something I wanted any part of. If she can show me later that she changed, I might give her another chance.” No I won’t. “I trust she’s better now?”

He nodded. “Yeah, though I think she’s still sad about it. That week she declared you a harlot and fiddled with the dream machine to make everypony dream about you was… ugh.” He eyed my hands. “Though I have to say, you can certainly do some… interesting things.”

“Are you saying that she did that on purpose?”

He looked away. “Yes. We weren’t supposed to tell anypony.” He looked back at me. “But then, you’re not a pony, are you?”

“Damn right I’m not.” I stretched my hands, looking him up and down. “You want to make Luna really jealous?”

His eyes widened when he realized what I meant, and he blushed and stammered. He finally managed, “N-no! I value my life and job more than a night of fun. Besides, I thought you weren’t… into stallions.”

“I’m currently a girl, remember? Besides, what’s one night if it’s for a good cause?”

“Making your princess upset is a good cause? I’d hate to see the land where you come from.”

“Man, we don’t even fucking have princesses. Or princes. Or royalty of any kind. Doesn’t matter. Did Celestia say what she wanted? Or is she just going to find another way to waste my time?”

“You shouldn’t be so quick to say the princess is wasting your time, Nav,” he answered. “You might be a friend to many of the guards, but if they hear you talking like that, bad things might happen.”

“Less threats, more answering of the question.”

“She didn’t. Just that it involved Shining Armor and that we were to find you.”

“I’m getting real sick of that prick. Did you know that he got pissed at me for slitting the throats of unconscious brigands today?”

“Probably because that’s murder,” he answered with a shrug. “But given where they were going to end up if they were left alive… It seems a mercy, to me. I would have turned my eyes away and let you do it. Though maybe that’s why Midnight is in charge and not me.”

Why don’t I know that name? “Midnight? I don’t remember ever meeting him. He’s the captain of the night guard?”

“Yes, she is. The reason you haven’t met her is because she sticks to the city, actually working in Canterlot instead of doing whatever it is Shiny pretends to do. That fool may be the face of the guard, but Midnight Blossom is the backbone and the brains. She has been itching to meet you, but both of your schedules are erratic. You’ll definitely get to know her during the war games coming up, though. Just… be careful about flirting with her. I know how you are.”

I shrugged. “I’m attracted to danger. But fine, I’ll be careful.” Doesn’t mean I won’t try, of course.

It was then that I noticed a lack of pink. I looked around and saw Pinkie attempting to chat up some of the guards around us. She was having limited success with the night guards, but no luck at all with the day guards.

“So where is Celestia, anyway?” I asked.

“In her living quarters. She generally retires as the night comes.”

We continued in silence until another question occurred. “So why you?” I asked. “Surely you have some manner of life in Canterlot. Why are you here?”

“Princess Luna sent me. She knew you wouldn’t take kindly to having guards, and hoped having me would soften the blow. I know how you operate, and accepted on the condition that this week I get paid double.” He shrugged. “A week of light duty and double pay seems fun to me.”

“I’m sure you’ll find something to do. No offense, bro, but I don’t want a fucking babysitter.”

“You won’t hear any complaints from me. Just means less work, and maybe I can actually enjoy this party.”

“It’s good to know my well-being is so important to you.”

“Well, you’re going to be awake all the time and I’m going to be suffering from teleport lag, so I can easily follow you around for a while if you really want.”

Teleport lag, for those that don’t know, is like jet lag but worse. Pinkie was probably also suffering through it, but Pinkie is Pinkie.

“Nah, calm your nips; I’m just fucking with you. How far is it to Sunbutt’s abode?”

“We should be coming up on it soon. Also, would it kill you to show a little more respect?”

“Yes.” He just shook his head.

Pinkie popped up right next to me. “Are we there yet?”

“Are we still walking?” I asked.

She looked down to make sure. “Yep. So are we there yet?”

“No,” I answered.

“Actually,” Smiles corrected, “we are.”

“No, we’re at the building. We aren’t at our destination, unless Celestia’s coming out here to talk to us.”

They both rolled their eyes. “Just always gotta be right,” Smiles said.

“I know!” Pinkie agreed. “But she’s cute, so I put up with it anyway.”

Smiles giggled at that until I punched him again. “What did I do? She’s the one that said it!”

“I’m not supposed to hit gi—wait, I am one now!” I spun around and punched at Pinkie, only to find she was no longer standing there. She was pounding on the door to Celestia’s building. We joined her there. The rest of the guard detachment took up positions outside as we were beckoned in. Smiles followed me and Pinkie.

The servant fellow led us to a sitting room that thankfully didn’t look anything like the one I was going to destroy back in Canterlot. Celestia was already there with tea. “Hello again, you three,” she said. “Come, sit.” Pinkie bounced up to a couch relatively close to the princess. I sat on one across from Celestia. Smiles stood between me and Pinkie. “Navarone, do you try to make my life hard?”

“Depends. Did you try to ruin mine?”

“This is the third time I have had to remove memories from Shining Armor’s mind because of you. He was calling for you to be banished to Tartarus, you know. As a prince, it was well within his rights to demand it, and to see that demand done.”

“And yet here I sit. You are not as pure and good as you try to make your ponies think you are, Celestia. I am what I am because of you, and don’t even try to pretend otherwise. It is only fair that you take responsibility for the actions of your slave.”

“Slave… I offered you friendship, Navarone. Why do you deny me that?”

“Because your offer came tainted with things you had no right to demand. But I don’t think this is a discussion you want to have in front of those that still believe you worthy of the love you hold. And you didn’t call me here to tell me that you wiped Shiny’s mind.”

“Do you want guards?” she asked.

“No. I believe it is too late for them; the brigands have likely been taken care of and I’ll not be seen as weak by needing guards.”

“After your performance today, I am hesitant to leave you unguided, if not unguarded. I understand why you did what you did—or at least what you gave as your reasoning—but it is still against the law. And I can’t always protect you. Speaking of which, I need my seal back.” I fished it out of a pocket and dropped it on the table. “Now, I need to know: Are you planning on behaving for the rest of this party?”

“I almost never plan to misbehave. Sometimes it just happens that misbehaving is the best option. So yes, I do plan on being good, but no promises.”

“I should have expected nothing else.” Her horn lit up and an envelope appeared. She flew it over to me. I stuck it in a pocket. “Navarone, usually when I give you letters, they are for you.”

“And I was always raised thinking it was impolite to open and read a private letter in front of others.”

“Open it.” I rolled my eyes and did so. I quickly read through it. It was an invitation to some ball or something, a themed event to be held in a few days. “I want you there,” she said when I looked up.

“Why?” I asked, folding the invite up and passing it to Pinkie.

“Members of every race present will be there. That means changelings and dogs. I want this ball to go well, which means the changelings and dogs will have to be either kept apart or forced into peace. You have a very high reputation with every race, or at least every race’s elite. I want to use that reputation to either make a peace of sorts between the changelings and the dogs or to at the very least keep them from coming to blows.”

“Do I have to go?”

“No. But your… date looks interested.” Pinkie did, actually. She was staring at me with puppy dog eyes, tears just ready to begin falling if I said no.

I turned back to Celestia. “No promises. Is there anything else you needed?”

“Why are you a female?”

I sighed and rolled my eyes. “I pissed off Pyrite. He couldn’t punish me in the manner he wanted to. He gave my punishment to Pinkie. She had taken my stones. My punishment is that she gets to use them on me randomly during the week.”

“Pyrite always did like eccentric punishments…” Celestia commented. “Be male for the ball, if you attend. And Pinkie, do not lose those stones.”

“No problemo! I keep them where I keep everything.” We all wisely decided not to ask.

“Then you two may leave. Night guard, I have words for you.”

When Pinkie and I got outside, I said, “Did you notice how she didn’t even offer us tea?” The guards moved to follow us as we walked away. “Guys, cool it. Wait for Smiles; he’ll tell you whatever you’re supposed to do.” They shrugged and returned to their positions.

“Would you have accepted if she did offer it?”

“No, but it still would have been polite of her. I suppose that’s what I get for having high expectations. Now come on, let’s put you to bed.”

Her gaze on me went half-lidded. “Are you going to join me?” she asked in a sultry tone.

“No. I’m sure we can find someone to keep you company, though.”

She sighed and went back to skipping. Thankfully, it didn’t take us too long to get to our apartment. I noticed that we had a flood of new letters.

I sighed and walked over to the table and began sorting through them. Some were for Pinkie, but considerably more were for me. “They should color code these envelopes,” I commented as I began opening them. “I have no idea which race sent what.”

Pinkie joined me on the couch soon after I began reading through the first one. She plopped down across my lap and reached for her own pile.

She made it through her pile a lot quicker than I got through mine. When I finally reached the last letter, I saw she was reading through some of those I threw aside. “Well,” I said, “anything you want to go to?”

“The princess’s ball.”

“Then that’s your date. Most of the rest of these damn events look boring as hell. I apologize in advance for this, though; there’s a chance I’ll have to divide my attention during that ball thing. Now, you need to go to bed.”

“Aww, do I have to?”

“No, but I’m going for a flight when I leave, so you’d be on your own.” I poked her in the side. “Either way, you need to get off my lap.”

She got off my lap, only to move so that she was sitting down in front of me, her body between my legs. “Can we at least have some fun before you go?”

“No.” I tried to stand up, but her forelegs gently pushed me back down.

“Please?”

“No. Now let me go.”

One of her hooves began moving to a place I wasn’t comfortable with. “Pretty please with su—urp!” She cut off when I grabbed the top of her mane and ripped her head up, putting a knife right next to her throat.

“No. Means. No. Move your hooves away from me.” She did so immediately. “I’m not a pony anymore, Pinkie. You can’t take advantage of me like that, not now.” I pulled the knife away, let her go, and stood. “I might see you sometime tomorrow. Have a good night.”

The only answer she gave was throwing the blue stone at me as I left and locked the door. I hummed a song I recognized as the one Flo played earlier as I flew away.

This party thing was off to an interesting start.

 

 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...