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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63. Chapter Forty-Nine—A Visit from a Friend

I was roused from my slumber late one December night by fire on my feet. I jerked awake with a holler that would have woken everyone in the house up if they aren’t already awake and staring at me. “What the fuck, Twilight?”

“Two colts are lost in the Everfree!”

“Good for them. Let me know when it’s morning so I can go hunt for their bodies.” I tried to settle back down, but I suddenly felt energy coursing through my veins. “Fine! I’m up, I’m up!” I tossed my legs off the side and stood up. I saw a worried looking Twilight, a tired looking Spike, and a bored looking Taya all staring at me. “Where did they disappear?”

“The last anypony saw, they were going in near Fluttershy’s home,” Twilight said. “We don’t know why they went in, but one of them was carrying a camera and the other was carrying a wooden sword.”

Fucking… I reached over and grabbed my crossbow and the bolts. The sword followed them. I didn’t have time to put my armor on and I didn’t figure I would need it either way. “I’ll be back when I’m back. Hopefully they’ll be fine.” With that, I jumped out my window, flying to the forest. Fuck it’s cold… Should have gotten a jacket. I knew the kids probably didn’t have much time, so I didn’t go back for one.

I made it to the forest quickly enough. I landed at the entrance near Fluttershy’s cabin and started looking for tracks. Luna’s magic eyes helped tremendously for that; I found the tracks within five minutes. I started running into the forest, watching out for any signs.

I found two colts an hour after I started running. They were just walking into the forest like it wasn’t full of monsters or anything like that. One was a little kid named Pipsqueak and the other was named Featherweight or something. “What the hell are you two doing in here?” I whispered, gripping them both by the scruff of their necks.

“Monster hunting, Sir Navarone! Are you here to help?” Pip said, his voice cracking. When he opened his mouth to talk, the wooden sword fell out of his mouth.

“I told him it was a bad idea, Sir Navarone!” Featherweight spoke up. He had a camera around his neck. “But he didn’t listen, he never does.”

I did a quick mental calculation. The sun was going to be coming up in a few hours. I don’t know how the hell these two little kids were still alive. I couldn’t run with them both and they couldn’t keep up with me if I ran alone. We might not make it if I walked them out, especially not at night. Zecora’s house was too far. The abandoned castle, though… “Alright, we’re going to a safe house until the sun comes up. Do whatever I tell you to. Do not talk loudly. Do not lose sight of me. Do not step where I don’t step. And if I tell you to run, run until you get out of the forest.” I set them down. “Let’s go.”

Pipsqueak picked up his sword. Featherweight asked, “Why did you come out here, anyway?”

“Because you aren’t supposed to be in the forest.” I started walking. They jumped to keep me in sight; it was dark in this place. “This place is dangerous. Very dangerous. You two are lucky you didn’t run into anything that thought you were a treat. I know a griffin that would be hesitant to walk this place. Hell, I am hesitant to enter this place without a good reason.”

“Then why—” Pipsqueak started, too loud.

“Shh! Whisper.”

“Then why did you spend so much time here in the past?”

“Princess Luna ordered it. Most of the animals can’t see me here anyway, unless I get unlucky. I have a tree to thank for that.”

“But… I’m doing this for Princess Luna!” Pipsqueak whispered.

“I know she didn’t order you in here. Don’t try to tell me she did.”

“I want to prove myself to her!”

“There ain’t nothing wrong with that, but you’re going about it the whole wrong way. Next time she’s in the area, I’ll bring her to you.”

“But… she hasn’t been here in years!”

“Princesses are busy. Just trust me, Pip: this isn’t the way for you to earn her favor. I’m her knight, I would know.”

“How did you do it, then?”

Being the right species. Saying the right—or maybe wrong—things. Killing sapient monsters. “I was smart. I waited until I knew a bit more of what I was doing—and when I had better weapons—before trying to kill any monsters. At least wait until you have your cutie mark before you start trying to earn a lady’s favor. And ask your parents first.” He sighed, but thankfully dropped it.

I had us stop a few times before we got to the entrance of the castle. I heard a few critters that were ominously close to us, but thankfully nothing tried to attack us. The portcullis was mostly rotted, now that it was finally able to hit the ground. We stepped over it and what was left of the skeleton of the manticore and finally got into the castle proper.

They looked around in wonder. “What is this place?” Featherweight asked.

“The old capital of Equestria, or something like that,” I answered. “This is where the princesses used to live over a thousand years ago. How are you two not freezing?”

They gave me an odd look. “Our winter coats are in. Are you cold?”

“I’ll be fine.” Hopefully. “Who wants to learn how to make a fire with sticks?”

“Not me,” Pipsqueak said.

“Not me either,” Featherweight added. “I want to explore the castle!”

“You two can’t even see in the dark. What are you planning on doing?”

They looked at each other for a moment before looking around. They could probably barely see the entrance room we were in, with the moonlight coming in from outside. They looked back to me and shrugged.

“That’s what I thought. You two just lie down and go to sleep. I’ll keep watch.”

“But I’m not tired! I want to hunt monsters!” Pipsqueak said.

“Too bad. If you can’t sleep, at least lay down.”

They did so. Pip looked sullen and Feather looked tired. I stood near them, watching the door. Not fifteen minutes later, they were both asleep.

Two hours after they fell asleep, I started hearing creaking outside. That sound means one thing in the forest: Timberwolves. And Timberwolves hunt in packs. They were the only animals that ever knew I was there, but they appeared to have some manner of respect or something for me. I don’t know if it was because of the tree thing or because I was a human, but they occasionally would walk up to me and rub against me, wagging their wooden tails.

Well, all this was after the first time I met them. That ended poorly for the wolf, who tried to take a bite out of me and was met with a sword to the brainpan.

But while this pack might react kindly to me, I doubt they would to the ponies. I moved in front of their sleeping forms, holding my crossbow at the ready.

When the first one poked its head inside the door, I spoke up, “These ponies are not for you, wolf. Your kind respects me and I respect your kind, but I must protect my charges. Depart now and we shall stay in peace.”

It growled, and stepped inside the room. Four more followed it. One, the largest of the pack, stepped forward. “Take another step and I shoot,” I warned it.

It stopped. After a moment, it opened its mouth wide. It sawed at the air for a moment, looking like it should be coughing. Eventually, it did. After a minute of making random noises, something intelligible came out. “You bring ponies onto our lands,” it forced out in a crude, guttural voice. I was very, very shocked. “Why should we not eliminate them and sate our hunger?”

“They are young, and do not know the error of their ways. I did not know your kind could talk.”

“Many of our kind can’t. The art is lost. Of those of us that can talk, almost none ever do so outside of our race. You have earned some respect. But these two have not. We want them.”

“I can’t let you have them.”

“And I don’t want to try to take them from you. But we must eat.”

“Perhaps we can make a deal? Their lives, in return for my help in killing something bigger?”

The wolf shuddered, branches shifting against each other. It turned to its pack and did something to its body to make clicking noises. More noises answered it. It finally turned back to me. “That is acceptable. We must move now, however. We will take you to the edge of the trees, where you will leave them. Then the hunt shall begin.”

I nudged Featherweight and Pipsqueak awake. Featherweight looked up and saw the timberwolves and started screaming. I forced his mouth shut before the wolves got angry. Pip had different ideas: He grabbed his wooden sword and tried to charge before I ripped it out of his mouth and pulled him back to me.

“Now, these guys are going to escort us to the edge of the forest. You aren’t going to scream. You aren’t going to attack them. You are going to walk next to me, staying quiet. Do not look them in the eye. Do not wander. Now, when I let you two go, what are you going to do?” I looked to Pip, who was looking down.

“Follow you,” he said in a morose voice.

I let Featherweight’s mouth go and looked at him. He looked like he was about to have a heart attack. “T-t-they aren’t h-h-here to hurt us?”

“Not anymore. They’re friends. Come on, you two.” I let them both go and stood. Pip sighed and grabbed his little wooden sword again. The wolves watched their every movement, daring them to make a move out of place. Featherweight was glued to my side as I started walking to the door. He was doing his best to look everywhere but at the wolves. Pip was looking straight ahead, silently daring any of them to attack us.

Some of the wolves filed out ahead of us while the rest waited for us to get outside. “Sunrise in about three hours,” I commented as we made our way to the gate. Nothing answered me but the creaking of timberwolf wood.

It took us an hour of hard walking to get to the edge of the forest. “You two go straight home. If anyone asks where I am, just tell them that I’m cleaning your mess.”

“Thank you soo much, Sir Navarone!” Featherweight said, elation evident in his voice. He didn’t wait for Pipsqueak, just flew/walked straight home.

Pipsqueak muttered something mean I pretended not to hear and walked home. I waited until he was out of sight before I joined the wolves. We slinked back into the forest, the wolves practically melting into the trees. “Battle plan?” I whispered to their leader.

“We find the target. You kill it. We have heard of how your weapon works. Most predators do not even see you, and will never see death coming for them.”

“Lead the way.”

Onward we went. Honestly, I was somewhat tempted to go back on the deal, but I don’t like doing that when I don’t have a previous deal overruling it.

We were walking in the forest for half an hour when the wolves stopped. The leader jerked his head forward and I continued, readying my crossbow. I had no idea what to expect.

Oh God, it’s one of those. According to Twilight, these things were called catoblepas, and had the same ability of the cockatrice to turn things to stone. Essentially, it was a bull with the head of a boar and some scales on its back. I had never seen one look up. They were pretty dangerous, as far as I could tell; I did my best to avoid them.

But that isn’t an option here. I walked up to it, trying not to make too much noise. It might not be able to tell I was there, but noise would still spook it. When I got to a good position, I raised my crossbow, took aim, and shot it in the head. It dropped like a rock. Too easy. I yanked the bolt out and cleaned it as the wolves walked closer. I reloaded and turned to the leader. “Dinner’s served.”

It looked over the body. “Yes.” It turned back to me. “You have proven yourself reliable. I suggest you remind those you care about not to enter this forest, at least not without you as a guide. While you will not be attacked, those that enter without you will not always be so lucky. Until we meet again.”

I stood out of its way and it brushed past me to get to the body. I leapt into the air as they began to tear the thing apart.

It’s certainly interesting that timberwolves are intelligent. Definitely not something I was expecting. I’ll have to tell Twilight. Right after I get some sleep.

I landed back at the library just as the sun was coming up. I entered, feeling my skin prickle at the sudden temperature change. I walked up the stairs, seeing no one awake or about. I pushed the door to Twilight’s room open and walked over to her bed.

Aww, she looks so peaceful. I poked her in the ribs. Hard. She jumped awake, blinking at the sudden brightness in her eyes. “Kids’re safe. I need you to put me back to sleep. Oh, and the timberwolves are smart. But first, sleep.”

“What was that about the timberwolves?”

“Sleeeeep!”

“Ugh, fine. But unless you want to sleep on my floor, we should probably go to your room.” We did just that. I dropped off the weapons I had grabbed and my shoes. With that done, Twilight knocked my ass right back out.

Of course, I had to wake up less than an hour later to accept thanks from the parents and whatnot. I would have rather been asleep, honestly.

 

I got a fun little surprise a month later. A certain white mare came into town, looking for a nice place to get away for a while. And she came bearing gifts.

This white mare wasn’t Celestia. Nor was it Rarity. No, this was one Vinyl Scratch.

And she brought me fucking booze. You can’t really ask for more than that, man.

“You’re a saint, Vinyl,” I said as I cracked open a barrel.

“I heard that,” she answered as I passed her a filled flagon. “As much dough as you’ve made me with this little recipe of yours, I figured I could finally come to town to repay you.”

The two of us were chilling at one of the lakes around Ponyville. I was out walking when she showed up, carrying a barrel with her magic.

“How long you going to be here?” I asked.

“As long as I feel welcome. I like the vibe of this little town. Nice and quiet, with a hidden undercurrent of energy you can just barely make out on the surface. I might get a little house here, to stay when I’m not feeling the music mood anymore.”

“You get paid so much that you could just casually do that?”

“Buck yeah. I’m still living the high life off that wedding commission. I offered to do it for free, but now I’m glad Pinkie refused. And this alcohol stuff you made is making a killing, too.”

“Just as long as no one gets the recipe, I don’t care. Speaking of which, if you’re tired of apple-flavored booze, I got recipes for other fruits and for honey-alcohol. Make a little variety, eh?”

She grinned widely. “I’m down for that! It can wait, though. Right now, I just want a celebratory ‘start of vacation’ drink with a good friend.”

“I can drink to that.” We did just that, too. “So, you got any plans for your time here?”

“I got several friends living in and around Ponyville. I was planning on visiting them and catching up. See how small town life is treating them. Maybe hanging out with my favorite human some.”

“You probably don’t want to spend too much time with me. When I’m not doing something for the princesses, my life is pretty boring. I live in the library with a friend, her dragon assistant, and my daughter. I don’t have a job because everything is covered by the crown and what isn’t is covered by reward money and the bits I got for selling my books. I spend my days going on walks and trying to forget the things I’ve done.”

“Things you’ve done? HAH! How bad could it possibly be?”

“Worse than you could possibly imagine.” I drained the glass. “It’s best that we not talk about it.” I refilled the flagon. “What about you? How’s the music industry treating you?”

“It has its ups and downs. That lifestyle just gets old after a while, though. Sometimes I just like taking a break. I hadn’t been to Ponyville in a while and I remembered that I still owed you a few barrels of this stuff, so I figured I’d pay you a visit.”

“You know what you also owe me?” She looked over at me. “An explanation of sorts. What the hell happened that night we met?”

She sighed and drained her mug. “That was… not my fault. And it was not my intention. I told everypony to keep off you, but that bartender was paid to slip you a mickey. He refused to tell me who paid him. I tried to pull you away from the party, but you refused. Said you earned a bit of fun.” She shrugged. “I left the party early, not liking where it was going. When I heard what happened… Well, I was surprised. Very surprised.”

“I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I still get secret smiles from Lyra every time I see her. I just know that it was bad and something I shouldn’t have done.” I smiled. “I had a lot of explaining to do when I got back to the palace.”

“You did say something weird that night… something about seducing the princess?”

“I might have said anything that night. Come to find out, I was already under three libido increasing spells by the time I met you. That was a hellish week.”

“But is it true?”

Eh, fuck it. “Yeah.”

She looked me up and down. “I could maybe see why, but they’d have to do some, er, improvements. Which one did you bag, anyway?”

“Eh, I’ve fucked both in the past. Had Luna around my finger for a few months. Didn’t work out.”

“Hah, knew those two knew how to have fun. I can’t imagine you were supposed to tell anypony, though.”

“Yeah, I’m not. But honestly, fuck it. What’s the harm in letting everyone know the princesses are still mortal?”

“True, I suppose.”

“What about you? You got anyone waiting for you?”

“Nah. I like playing the field too much.” We drank in silence for a bit before she spoke up again. “So… how were they?”

“Luna’s a freak. I hated it. Hell, that’s part of the reason I left her. I’ve had enough of the weird stuff and I really just want to keep it simple for a while, but she looked at my past and for some reason seemed to think I liked some of the shit she did.” I shrugged. “Celestia was one of the best lays I had in forever, though. Might hook up with her again sometime, if she’s interested.”

She smirked. “You two ever want a third wheel, count me in. I’d love to cross that off my bucket list.”

“Bucket list, or buck it list?”

“Psh, there’s a difference? Most of mine is sex related.”

“Fair enough. I’ve already fucked several of the sapient races out there, as well as three royals. I think I’m good in terms of that. I think the dragon might have been the best, all things told.”

“Sure know how to make a mare feel appreciated, Nav.”

“Hey, we never fucked. We just had a little fun.”

“Yeah, yeah. Speaking of, how’d your little dragon friend handle himself that night?”

“He did very well for himself, from what I heard. Didn’t even regret it.”

“Good for him, at least.”

I looked back into the barrel. “Good lord, we’ve already cleared half this thing.”

“There’s plenty more where that one came. I left fifteen barrels of that stuff in my room.”

“And I have a few barrels of honey alcohol in the storeroom. Along with bags of bits. Hey, you wouldn’t happen to need about three thousand bits, would you?”

“Nah, I’m good. Wouldn’t say no to something to eat, though.”

“Yeah, booze can make you hungry. Which reminds me of something! I got something else for you to try one day while you’re here. Something called weed. It grows in the forest, so it’ll have to wait until I’m less drunk, but you’ll probably love that stuff.”

“If it’s anything like this booze you got, I bet I will. You’ll have to find me one day when you get some. For now, though, I’m hungry. You know of any good places to eat in this place?”

“Sure. I’ll have to leave you before we get there, though; Pinkie’s not happy with me right now.”

“Oh? What did you do to her?”

“She’s crazy and thought I wouldn’t mind getting kidnapped. When I used my masculine wiles to escape, she got a little upset.”

Vinyl snorted and capped the barrel with her magic, then lifted it up. “I wouldn’t imagine Pinkie would be the type of mare to hold a grudge over something like that.”

“She isn’t. She doesn’t hate me, she just gets all glary whenever I’m around. It kills me to see her with a frown. Besides, I’m not hungry anyway. Just share the rest of that barrel with her, if she’s not busy.”

“Sounds good to me, I suppose. Shall we?”

Off we went, into the town. I pointed places and ponies out as we walked, giving her a mini-tour. We made it to Sugarcube Corner all too soon. “See you later, Vinyl,” I told her as she walked into the shop.

“You sure you don’t want to stay?”

“Yeah. Have fun.” She just shrugged and let the door close behind her. I continued on through the town, stopping at the library. Well, this is going to be a bit interesting.

 

I showed Vinyl weed three days into her stay. I got Taya to demoisturize it and brought Spike with me so he could light up her blunt. I found Vinyl just chilling on a park bench, enjoying a nice quiet day in Ponyville. The kind of nice quiet day that seems so boring when you have them and yet look so inviting when you don’t.

Spike and I joined her on the bench. “What brings you two around here?” she asked as we sat.

I held up the blunt. “Remember that thing I talked about the first day you got here?”

“Yeah. Weed, right? Is that it?”

“This is a blunt. It has weed in it. There are several ways to take it in. I don’t know how to cook this stuff and I don’t have a pipe, so this is how you’ll take it. Spike, would you do the honors?”

“Gladly! I remember when you gave this stuff to me and the town. That was hilarious!” With a little tuft of flame, the end of the doobie caught. I passed it to Vinyl.

“Alright, you put your mouth on the end that isn’t on fire and gently suck in. It’ll feel uncomfortable and you’ll probably cough, so be ready for it.”

She did so. She managed to hold it in for a second before letting it out. Thankfully, she didn’t have a coughing fit. “Earthy. So what’s this supposed to—Whoa.” Without waiting for a response, she took another hit. “Yeah, I can think of a market for this,” she said in a lazy voice. “You’re gonna make me a very rich mare, Nav. I wonder…” She sighed, running a hoof down my side. She took another, longer hit. When she pulled back this time, I gently pulled the blunt away from her. She let go with no resistance. I snubbed it out.

“Glad you approve. Spike, rock paper scissors watches her. You in?”

“This was your idea, Nav!”

“Yeah, but you helped me. You’re off today anyway. What were you planning on doing?”

“Not watching a mare that’s sitting there high as a kite! I think I’ll go find something else to do, thank you very much.”

“Fair enough. Not like I have anything to do either. Have fun.”

“I’ll try. Good luck with Scratch.”

I looked at her. She seemed content to just sit on the bench, watching passersby. She watched Spike walk away with a silly smile on her face.

We chilled on the bench for five minutes before she spoke up. “Do you remember what you said about my eyes?”

“A lot of that week is a haze. I remember them being red and being really awesome. I might have said they were pretty.”

She was still smiling. “The word was beautiful.” She sighed and leaned against me. “Never had anypony tell me that before,” she whispered into my ear.

Then she stuck her tongue in my ear. I jerked back and she fell off, laughing. “I had you going, didn’t I?”

“Yeah. I thought I was about to get a repeat of the bar incident.” That would not end well, given that we were in public.

Her horn lit up before fizzling out. She went cross-eyed, looking at it. She tried again with the same result. “Hey, what gives? My magic ain’t working!”

“Probably the weed. Odd, Taya was able to do magic.” I shrugged. “Maybe it’s different for everyone.”

“So how do I go about making this stuff?”

“We can talk about it when you’re not high. You’ll have a better chance of remembering, then.” I actually had all the instructions written out already. I planned on giving them to her later. At least she wasn’t going crazy under this stuff like Spike and Pinkie. But then, I had also given her less.

I did kind of wonder what it felt like… I haven’t actually tried weed, myself. I’ve gotten lightheaded from the smoke, but I’ve never gotten the full effect. I looked at the blunt for a moment before shrugging and pocketing it. Not for me.

Vinyl seemed to be enjoying it, though. She was grinning like a fool, even now. I kind of wish I could see her eyes.

Hm… I reached up and pulled her goggles off. She didn’t even notice, aside from blinking at the light change. Her eyes looked quite nice in the light of day. I leaned back a bit on the bench, letting my wings drape over the low back.

It’s a shame it was winter, honestly. At least it was sunny out, even if not all that warm. Sometimes I wonder why the ponies even bother with seasons, if they control the weather. Probably Celestia’s decree, to further the illusion that she controls the sun. Not any of my business, that.

There weren’t many ponies out and about, but there were a few. Enough to keep Vinyl interested for a short while. Not long enough, apparently. A few minutes after I took her goggles she flung herself onto my lap. “Pet me!” she demanded.

“…What?”

She flipped herself onto her back and looked up at me. “Use your paws to pet me.”

I rolled my eyes and started rubbing her belly. I quickly stopped when I saw that she was blushing up a storm. “Sensitive belly?” I asked. “I know you ponies have random effects down there.”

“You… you were brushing against… my…” Oh. Sometimes I forget where ponies have their nipples.

“How about you turn over, then?”

She smirked. “I didn’t tell you to stop.”

“Turn over, Vinyl.”

She sighed and did so. I started gently petting her. She sighed and relaxed. We got a few odd looks, but I didn’t give any fucks. A few minutes later, she was asleep.

She’s not the first pony I’ve lulled to sleep that way. I seem to have magic sleep-inducing fingers or something. I leaned back into the bench again, enjoying the warmth of the pony-blanket I was now wearing. As an afterthought, I slid her goggles onto my face.

Suddenly everything was purple tinted. It was pretty damn awesome.

We were there for three hours. We were given tons of looks, but again, I didn’t care. There got to be a point, though, where I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. That was okay for a little while, before I realized it was winter and that not feeling my legs could be a very bad thing. I gently prodded her awake.

She pulled herself from my legs, rubbing her eyes with her hooves. “Where am I?” she blearily asked.

“My lap,” I answered. She looked up at me and saw me wearing her goggles. With a gasp, she ripped them from my face with her magic and settled them on her own eyes. “I need to get me a pair of those. They’re pretty nice.”

“You can get a pair from somewhere other than my face! What if...” Her voice dropped to a whisper, “What if somepony saw?”

I shrugged. “Fuck ‘em. They got used to me. Surely they can get used to something as simple as an odd eye color. Hell, I’m surprised a cool mare like you hasn’t just said fuck ‘em already and just let them pretty reds hang for all to see. You could probably take back the image of them with your art.”

“I dunno, Nav…”

“There was a band back in my world. Huge. Absolute hit. They were constantly wearing makeup and constantly in their band characters. One day, they came out and told everyone that they were Jews. Now, that doesn’t make any sense to you, but in my world, Jews are people that do not do what that band did. Their image didn’t allow it. But by saying fuck them and doing it anyway, they were able to take back an entire race of people’s stereotype on music. They had to get famous first, but it still worked. And hell, you are definitely famous.” She still looked a bit worried. “Well, think about it this way: If it tanks your career, that’ll just give you a good excuse to come back to live in Ponyville.”

“That doesn’t make me feel much better…”

“Then why do I see a smile?” She was trying to hide it, but it was there.

“It’s… nice to think about. Nice to imagine. And I guess it’s nice to know that I have friends that would look after me if worse came to worse.”

“When you’re the friend of two princesses and a queen, you can afford to be generous. Now, I don’t suppose you can get off my lap?”

“But you’re really comfortable!”

“Yeah, but I can’t feel my legs.” She sighed and moved off me. I felt a warmth spread down my legs, followed by a tingling feeling. “I should be good to walk in a few minutes.”

“There’s not really anywhere to walk in this little town, though.”

“You can walk around the town. Or just walk to have the sensation of movement. It’s decent exercise.” Come to think of it, I had never seen a pony that I would actually label as fat. Celestia was nice and squishy, though. “But you are right. This town doesn’t have all that much going on.”

“I could throw an impromptu concert.”

“Do you have any of your tools? Kinda hard to play music without your tables and speakers.”

“I can borrow Pinkie’s set. They’re small-time, but they get the job done.”

“I thought you were here to get away from that for a little while. Wouldn’t this be the opposite of what you want to do?”

“Oh yeah… What do you ponies do all day? This place is so boring!”

“It’s better when you have more friends and can hang out. But yeah, this place is pretty damn boring. It’s nice.”

“NICE? How can you stand living here, Nav?”

“Because I know the other extreme of life, and it’s not something I enjoy. I’d rather live in a boring place than live where things constantly keep happening. But again, it isn’t that bad if you have plenty of friends.”

“Well then, what do you typically do?”

“Oh, I don’t have plenty of friends. Sure, I know a bunch of ponies here. But that doesn’t mean I’d show up at their door with a six-pack and an empty schedule and ask them if they want to hang out.”

“So what do you do with the friends that you have?”

“Lately, very little. I’ve drifted apart from some of them. I still do the occasional magic test stuff with Twilight, but there’s nothing we do together that would interest you. I’ve barely seen Pinkie over the past few months. Rarity and I never got along that well to begin with, so we rarely do much. Applejack spends most of her time on the farm or with the others, so there’s not much there. Fluttershy spends a lot of her time with her animals, and I don’t like animals. I still hang out with Rainbow sometimes, but not much. Lyra and Bon-Bon spend most of their time together, and Bonnie’s always been a little weird around me. Derpy’s working. There are a few other ponies I was sort of close to, but I really don’t see most of them anymore. Most of my time is spent walking, chilling with Spike, or playing with Taya.”

She shook her head sadly. “Sounds to me like you need to get back in with your friends.”

“Nah. I’m a bad influence on all of them. And I’ll probably be moving to Canterlot eventually. I might as well have as little an impact as possible for when I leave.”

“That’s really depressing, Nav. I know Pinkie misses hanging out with you. She said that you’ve been avoiding her for a while now. And Dashie likes hanging with you, too. She sees you here and there, but you’re apparently never in the mood to do anything. From the sounds of things, this has been an ongoing problem.”

“I can’t talk about it. Royal order.” The truth of it was that what I did to the dogs weighed heavily on my mind, even to this day. They trusted me and I betrayed them. And I was rewarded for it, to make things worse. If I was willing to do that to the dogs—even if there was a decent reason—what might I be willing to do to the ponies if there was a good enough justification? That, and I was still a little down from the whole Luna thing. The only one that even noticed my mood shift was Taya. She was happy that I broke it off.

“Smells like an excuse to me.”

“It is. But it’s a good excuse.” I shrugged. “Regular ponies aren’t equipped to handle the kind of shit the princesses make me do. I’m saving you all some pain by keeping you all away.” That’s also one of the reasons I started leaving my journals in Canterlot. I know they’re getting read wherever they end up, but at least Celestia and Luna can handle what I deal with.

Even if they’re both cunts for reading my PRIVATE JOURNALS in the first place.

I casually reached into my pocket and pulled out my magic ring, just in case. I had it slipped on by the time I finished that statement. She didn’t seem to notice, but I wasn’t watching her anyway.

“Sounds to me like the princesses need to find somepony else to do their dirty work, then. You shouldn’t have your life ruined because of this!”

“Someone has to do it, Vinyl. It might as well be me. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it works.”

She shook her head. “No, that’s not the way it works. You seem like such a good guy! Why should you have to do stuff that’s making you feel like this?” Me? A good guy? Ha.

“I don’t know, Vinyl. Maybe it’s just bad luck. It could have been any number of humans that got pulled here. But it was me. It’s not exactly unfair, as far as I can tell. I don’t like it, but I can’t change the way it is.”

We were silent again. She eventually said, “Would you, if you could?”

“No. I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this.”

“And that’s why you’re such a good friend! You’re willing to do all this for others, even if you don’t even know them. You do these jobs because you know somepony has to. You’re willing to endure pain and misery for somepony else. Selflessness, Nav. You shouldn’t hide yourself away from something that ‘might’ happen. So you might be a bit of a bad influence on somepony. Big deal. You gotta live life while you have it!”

“That applies to everyone else, too. Some of us choose to—or are forced to—live by higher ideals. Someone has to do the dirty work. I can’t just go around doing whatever I want.”

“You can in your off time!” She hopped off the bench. “Come on, Nav!”

“I can’t.”

“Don’t be such a spoilsport! Come on!”

“No, I mean I literally can’t. I can’t move my legs yet.” She looked down to my legs, watching me try to shift them. It wasn’t going very well.

“Oh. Is there any way to speed that up?”

“Not that I know of. This is what happens when you sleep across my legs for a while.”

She looked at the sky for a moment before looking back to me. “How long was I even out? Couldn’t have been more than a few minutes.”

“Three hours.”

“Three hours?! You let me sleep on your lap, in public, for THREE HOURS?” She didn’t sound that angry, thankfully.

“Uh. Yeah?”

She shifted, looking away. “Huh.”

“You mad?”

“No, no. Just… surprised. Why would you do that if you work so hard to keep yourself distanced from ponies?”

“Because I’m not a dick. If you fell asleep, you probably needed the sleep. Why wake you up?”

“Even if I’m sleeping on you?”

I shrugged. “Gotta sleep somewhere. I don’t have anything planned for the next ever, so I didn’t mind you sleeping on me.”

“You’re really, really weird, you know that?”

“How do you know that I’m not the normal one and that it’s actually you that’s weird?”

“Because only a weird pony would say something like that to justify his weirdness.”

“Whatever.” The flexing of my legs was finally getting results. I achingly stood up, wincing a bit as I felt pinpricks shoot up and down my legs. “God, I hate that feel. So where are we going?”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’ll get better as we walk. So, where are we going?”

“To see some of your friends, of course!” She started walking off.

“That really doesn’t sound enjoyable,” I answered as I started following her. “Can we do something else instead?”

“Nope. It’s about time you had a little talk with Pinkie.”

“Okay, that really doesn’t sound enjoyable. Can we do pretty much anything that isn’t that?”

“We’re going if I have to drag you there.”

“And how exactly would you go about doing that?”

She turned to find me watching her, my arms crossed in a way that displayed my ring. “I’ll kick you in the shin, grab your wings with my teeth, and start pulling.”

“And what if I fly away?”

“I’ll call Rainbow Dash and get her to catch you for me. Then I’ll kick you in the shin for trying to get away.”

“What is it with you and kicking me in my shin? Why can’t you just threaten me with magic like all the other unicorns?”

“Because I rarely use my magic. Now come on.” With that, she started back off down the road. I sighed and followed. The shit I put up with, man.

I shoved my hands into my pockets and smiled at what I found. I pulled out the two gender stones and slipped my ring off and began juggling them. I know it was weird as fuck, but the sensation of constantly changing genders was really interesting. And the expression on anyone’s face that saw what I was doing—and how I was changing—was priceless. Of course, not many ponies even noticed; they never knew what a female human looked like anyway. Twilight didn’t go out much when she was humanized, after all.

I noticed Vinyl looking back. “What are you doing?” she asked in wonder, watching me juggle. I figured that it was probably something none of them could do.

“Juggling,” I answered, my voice changing pitch several times in that one word.

“Juggling? How does that make your voice change?”

I stopped, holding up the gender stones. “These two stones are cursed. This one,” I said holding up the pink, “turns anyone that touches it into a girl.” I lowered it and held up the blue. “And this one turns you into a guy. If you hold them both, well… interesting things happen.” Namely, you turn asexual and your voice goes completely flat. It’s impossible to let go of both at the exact same time, so there’s no way to stay that way.

Her eyes opened so wide I could see them through her goggles. I pulled the stones away as she rushed forward. “Lemme try!”

“Nope! First time hurts like a bitch.”

“Oh come on. How bad could it be?”

“I coughed up blood and almost fainted. It doesn’t hurt after the first time, but still.”

“I wanna try it anyway. Please?”

I rolled my eyes. “Fine, but not here. And you aren’t allowed to tell anyone about this.”

She smiled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!”

“And you can’t tell anypony, either!”

She sighed. “Fine…” Then she perked right up. “Now come on! Forget seeing Pinkie, I wanna test this out!”

I grinned to myself as she shot off down the road. I slipped the stones and the ring in a pocket, making sure I touched the blue one last. I flew after her, catching up and pacing her as she rushed back to her hotel room.

When we got there, she pulled off her goggles and looked at me eagerly. I said, “Brace yourself, this hurts.” With that, I threw the blue stone at her. She jerked back and her eyes shot wide open, but she didn’t make a sound.

About fifteen seconds after her transformation started, it finished. Before me stood a male Vinyl Scratch that looked shockingly like Shining Armor. I leaned over and picked the stone up from where it had fallen. “Well?” I asked.

“I feel… whoa!” Her voice was a lot deeper. “So… what can you tell me about this new body?” She even sounds like Shining Armor.

“You have a penis now.” I shrugged. “That’s pretty much it. You’re a stallion instead of a mare. Go check out the mirror.” She walked into the bathroom and looked at herself.

“Not bad. Pretty handsome, if I do say so myself.”

“Narcissism much?”

“Hey, I’m just saying. I’d fuck me if I was a mare.”

I rolled my eyes. “I wouldn’t know about that. Here, let me turn you back.”

“What? So soon? No! I didn’t even get a chance to see what sex is like as a guy!”

“It’s a lot different, I’ll tell you that much.”

She smirked at me. “And how would you know that?”

“Because Luna is, as I said, very adventuresome. I did not like the change and she was very bad at it.” Admittedly, I had been tied down, but still.

“I don’t suppose…”

“No. You’ll have to find someone else to test it out on. But since I can’t let you walk around town like that, I guess you’ll never have the chance.”

“What? Oh come on, Nav!”

“Nope. I shouldn’t have let you do this at all, but it’s time to turn back.” I pulled the pink stone out.

“Can you give me, like, ten minutes alone in the bathroom, then?”

I rolled my eyes again. “Use lotion. And don’t expect to make a mess; you haven’t started producing anything yet.”

“Got it. Thanks, Nav!” The door slammed shut. I put the pink stone up and laid on the bed, marveling in the odd feeling against my now-female body.

A few minutes later, Vinyl came back out looking somewhat disturbed. “I think I’ll change back now,” he said in a quiet voice. I casually tossed the pink stone at him. Just like that, Vinyl was a she again. She picked the stone up with magic and gently set it down in my hand. “That was odd.”

“Yep.” I slipped the pink stone in my pocket and touched the blue one. “Anyway, it’s getting pretty late. I think I’ll head on home.”

“Nav, it’s barely lunch time.” I was hoping she’d forget that we met on the bench at eight. “Now that we have that little distraction out of the way, let’s go see Pinkie.”

“I have another little distraction!” I pulled out my key. “This can open any lock. How about we play with it instead of visiting Pinkie?”

“Nope!” She stopped for a moment. “Well, after you prove that by opening this door. Then we’ll go see her!”

I followed her out. She closed the door and gestured to it. I very slowly raised the key and turned it. I did my best to make it last several hours. I failed by a large margin. The door did, at least, open.

“Pretty neat trick. Now let’s go visit Pinkie.”

I’d stalled for as long as I could. I followed behind her as she led me to Sugarcube Corner. I felt hooks under my skin trying to pull me away as I stepped inside the shop. Mr. Cake was behind the counter, wearing his typical smile. Vinyl led the way up to the counter. “Sup, Mr. Cake,” she said. “Pinkie in?”

“Nope. She’s off today, went to see some of her friends. You know how she is.” And just like that, the hooks were gone. “Can I get you two anything?”

“Some cookies would be nice. Nav?”

“I don’t suppose you learned what coffee is yet?” At his blank look, I shrugged. “I’m good.”

I sat at a small table while he got Vinyl’s order ready. Given that he had stuff on display, she joined me rather quickly. “So what’s coffee?” she asked.

“It’s a drink from my world that helps you wake up super-fast. It’s the human equivalent of sugar for you guys.”

“Sugar doesn’t wake you up?”

“Nope. It tastes good, but it can’t make me hyper. I imagine that coffee would probably be like crack for you guys.”

“What’s crack?”

“A drug that turns a human into someone like Pinkie Pie at her worst.”

“Impossible!”

“Nope. Give a guy some good ol’ pure coke and he’ll be jittering and pumped in no time. That shit’ll kill you, too. Weed? Yeah, it’s not necessarily good for you, but ain’t nobody ever overdosed on it. Alcohol? That stuff’ll kill you if you aren’t careful and don’t limit yourself. Coke? Easy to OD on. Heroin? Speed? Meth? I’m not even going to give you details on those. Humans put all kinds of crazy shit in their bodies.” I pulled out a flask and took a shot of mead. I stoppered it and passed it over. “Here, try this.”

She opened it with her magic and took a whiff. She raised an eyebrow, but took a large dose from it. “Not bad. Nice little kick. This your honey alcohol?”

“Yep. Got the recipe from the griffins. Apparently this stuff is illegal to import. But… well, it’s not importing if we make it here, now is it?”

She grinned. “I don’t suppose it is. You got a recipe?”

I pulled some sheets of paper out of a pocket. “Recipes for mead, other alcohols, instructions for taking care of and growing weed.” I pulled a small packet out of another pocket. “And some weed seeds. If any flak comes down on you from above, blame it all on Spike and feign ignorance.”

“Spike? Why him?”

I shrugged. “I use him for everything like this, unless I’m actually talking to him. He doesn’t mind.”

“I’ll remember that.” She started looking through papers. “Most of these alcohols are very similar.”

“Yep. The only different thing is their fruit, for the most part. It’s a lot of hard work, as I’m sure you found, but it can more than pay for itself if you make enough. Just don’t ever let the recipes get out, as I said before.”

“You got it. Least I can do, after all you’ve done.” She put the papers together and sent them somewhere with a flash of her horn. “Now, let’s go find Pinkie!”

“Vinyl, I really don’t think it was meant to be. I mean, she wasn’t here. Why can’t we just take that as a sign and call it a day?”

“Because I don’t take no for an answer, even if it is from fate.”

“So are you saying that you’re a rapist?”

She waved a hoof. “Don’t be silly. Let’s go.” She stuffed the last cookie in her mouth and stood. I followed her out the door, waving to Mr. Cake as I left.

“You know, there are places in my world where a girl would be killed for daring to order a guy around like this.”

“And yet you continue to follow my every word. How about that?”

“I’ve gotten used to it. Having two princesses constantly on my case does that.”

“Sounds to me like you’re just a submissive kinda guy.”

Getting raped a lot can do that to a guy. So can having a girlfriend that can hold you down with magic or just hold you down without it. It felt good to get away from her, in a way.

“Just proves my point, you not answering.”

“Shut up, Vinyl. Don’t make me throw the blue stone at you and run away.”

“I’m pretty sure I could outrun you, if it came to that.”

“I’m agile, small, I have tons of stamina, and I can fly. I’m pretty sure I could get away.”

“Then why are you coming with me now?”

“Because I couldn’t get away from Rainbow Dash. And I figure that you’d probably be more angry at me ditching than you would at me for changing your gender.”

“You must think I have some really weird kinda priorities. Both would piss me off, but I think I’d be more angry about the gender thing.”

Again, I didn’t answer. I just continued trudging behind her, silently bemoaning my fate of a cartoony life.

I didn’t get to mope about for long, though. Vinyl rained on my pity-party. “So if you were Pinkie, where would you be?”

“An insane asylum.”

“When you broke out, where would you be?”

“The nearest bakery.”

“After that?”

“Prison, for stealing all the sweets.”

She rolled her eyes. “You’re really not very helpful.”

“It’s impossible to find Pinkie unless she wants to be found. One time, she popped out of my shirt. I didn’t feel her the entire time she was in there, which was apparently quite a while. She terrifies me.”

“She’s harmless, though!” No, she’s not. “She just wants to see everypony smile. Nothing wrong with that, is there?” Answering that would have been a bad idea. “So where should we start looking?”

“Honestly, I have absolutely no idea. She’s friends with everyone in this town and quite a few people out of this town. She could be anywhere.”

“You said you thought she was moping a bit, though. Where do you think she would go to get advice?”

“Cranky Doodle Donkey.”

She stopped, looking at me funny. “What kinda made up name is that?”

“I said the same thing! His name is like a song from my world, Yankee Doodle Dandy. When I commented to Pinkie about that, she giggled and sang the song she came up for him on the spot. Turns out it had the same fucking beat and very similar lyrics. This world scares me.”

She shook her head. “So where does this guy live?”

“Outskirts of town. He’s a pretty decent guy, as long as you’re respectful and leave when he asks you to.”

“Well let’s get going, then!” She started off in a random direction. I stopped and watched her. After a second she turned back. “Where does he live, again?” I pointed behind us. She started off in that direction. I started following.

Way too much of my life seems to be following—or being carried by, I suppose—other people. I wish I could change that, but it’s not like I had much of a choice. My line of work kind of forces that. I pulled out the stones and began juggling again, trying to keep from thinking too much.

A few minutes later, Vinyl asked, “Is that it?”

I looked up at the old house. “Yep. That’s Cranky’s place, alright. If he lets us in, don’t touch anything.” I slipped the stones back into my pocket and slid the ring on. We walked up to the door and knocked.

A few seconds later, Cranky opened it. He was a really old donkey that wore a rather ridiculous toupee. He had a more reasonable one, but Pinkie destroyed it. Rarity replaced it for him and added her own personal touches.

He looked me up and down. “And what do you want, Sir Navarone?”

“I told you already, don’t call me sir, Doodle.”

“And I told you, no pony calls me Doodle!”

“Yeah, but I ain’t no pony, now am I?”

We stood like that for a few seconds before he grinned. “So who’s your friend, Nav?”

“Vinyl Scratch. She’s a musician.”

“What’s with the goggles?”

“She’s shy of her pretty eyes.” She turned to me, blushing a bit. “I don’t reckon you’ve seen Pinkie recently, have you?”

“Hm… I might have.” He turned to Vinyl. “If you let me see those ‘pretty’ eyes of yours, I might remember better.”

She sighed and pulled her goggles off. Cranky blinked at seeing them. “Well now, that isn’t a common sight. I traveled all over Equestria and only saw a few ponies with eyes like that.” His grin returned. “You shouldn’t hide them.” It was Vinyl’s turn to blink. He turned back to me. “Pinkie and ‘Tillie left a few minutes ago. I think they were going for a walk in the Whitetail Woods.”

“Thanks, Cranky,” I said. I held up my fist. He shook his head, but met it with his gnarled hoof.

“Just be careful, lad. Pinkie’s over what you did to her, but that doesn’t mean my Matilda is.”

“I’ve been through worse than whatever she can do to me.”

He chuckled. “You’ve never been nagged at, have you lad?”

I gave him a look of horror. “That’s worse than torture—and I would know. How do you stand it?”

“By giving as good as I get. Go on, you two. And good luck, Nav.”

“Hope I don’t need it. See you later, Cranky.” With that, Vinyl and I left. His door slowly closed as we started off to the woods. “Are you sure you want to keep looking? I mean, the Whitetail Woods are rather large and I haven’t done too much exploring in there.” Now that was a lie. I knew that place very well. I didn’t know where Pinkie would be, though.

“We’ll be fine. I mean, you’re you and I’m me. Ain’t nothing in there going to try to pick on us!”

“That won’t stop us from wandering around aimlessly for hours.”

“How bad could it be?”

In all honesty, that place is really, really easy to navigate. Undergrowth is almost nonexistent, trails are common and noticeably marked, and there are no animals in there that would dare attack me or a pony. It’s actually quite nice. I just smiled and said, “You’ll see.”

Half an hour into the walk, she was actually begging to go back.

“Vinyl, I was joking before. This forest is incredibly tame. You can stop pretending.”

She looked at me in horror. “Tame? The ground is rough, the paths are uneven, there are trees everywhere… How are you so fine with this?”

“God you are such a city girl. Fine, let’s go back. You won’t hear me complain.”

She gave a sigh of relief and turned back. “Pinkie can wait for another day. I just want to get back to my room and put some ice on my hooves.”

“Is it really that bad? It’s only been half an hour!”

“In the snowy, mushy dirt roads. I think there’s hardened dirt in one of the lips on my hooves…”

“Here, let me look at it.” She held a leg up. I knelt down and put it on my knee. “Not too bad.” I pulled out a knife. “Don’t move.” I gently picked the dirt out of the little groove, making sure not to scrape against the actual hoof too much. I put the knife away and brushed out what of it I could with my finger. “Better?”

She pulled the hoof away and rested some weight on it. “Much!” she said with a smile. Her smile faded. “We’re still going back, though. I prefer taking nature in small steps.”

“This is about as small a step as you’re going to get. This place is harmless.”

“I think I’ll stick to parks for now…”

“Man, the Everfree would kill you.”

“Oh, don’t even talk about that place! I haven’t been in Ponyville long, but I’ve already heard all kinds of rumors about it. Mostly silliness, but if there are that many rumors, I know better than to go there.”

“Oh, that place is harmless if you’re with me. I’m bros with the timberwolves; they got my back in that place.”

I could tell her eyes were widening behind the goggles. “Timberwolves are real? What else lives in there?”

“All kinds of nasties!” Pinkie exclaimed, jumping out of some bushes that weren’t large enough to contain her. “And Nav here knows ‘em all!”

“Sweet Celestia, I’ll never get used to that,” Vinyl muttered, holding her chest from Pinkie’s sudden arrival.

“I don’t know if I’d say ‘know,’” I commented. “But with as much time as I’ve spent in there I certainly know what kinds of things live there. Your first assessment was correct: Most of them are quite nasty. You out here all alone? It’s not like you to be away from others for too long.”

“And it’s not like you to be with others this long. And just look at poor Vinyl here! Poor thing looks sore and unloved. Just what have you been doing to her?”

“Giving her weed, letting her sleep on me, letting her turn into a guy and then jerk off in the next room, and then letting her lead me all over the place. I’m such a terrible friend, I know.”

Pinkie didn’t miss a beat at any of those points. “I don’t know about terrible friend, but a real friend would go to that room and lend them a hoof! Or a hand, I guess.”

“I’ll leave that to you, then. I know I’m not about to jerk a stallion off.”

She eyed my fingers. “I bet those would be so good at it, too…”

“And I’m done with this conversation. So what brings you out here?”

“Just walking with a friend, same as you.”

“A friend? You look pretty alone to me.”

Pinky looked around herself for a moment. Then she reached back into the bushes and pulled out Matilda, an older female donkey. She looked about herself in surprise. “Where am—Oh. It’s you.” She was glaring at me.

“Yeah, I do tend to be me,” I answered. “It’s the only person I’ve ever tried to be.” That’s not entirely true, I guess. I mean, there was that one time I was Egill.

“Yeah, silly!” Pinkie said. “Who else would he be?”

“A proper gentlecolt!” Matilda answered.

All three of us looked at her in horror. “A gentlecolt?” Vinyl finally spat out. “I would never hang around him if he acted like that!”

“And he would get so boring! I mean, sure he’s a knight, but that doesn’t mean he has to act like one!”

“I’m too much of a dick to be a gentleman. Sorry, but you’ll just have to settle for me.”

“I see. Come, Sir Navarone. Let’s walk.”

“I would, but I need to make sure Vinyl gets home with no problems. She hurt one of her hooves.”

“I’ll take care of her!” Pinkie shouted, launching herself away from the bush and knocking me away from Vinyl.

Vinyl said, “I’m not so sure—” She was cut off by Pinkie throwing something on the ground. Smoke erupted from it and covered her and Pinkie. Half a minute of me and Matilda coughing later, the smoke dissipated and Pinkie was gone. Vinyl was standing there, looking confused. “What happ—”

A pink hoof reached up from a gopher hole in the ground and wrapped itself around Vinyl’s hoof. With a jerk, Vinyl disappeared into the hole.

Matilda and I just gaped. For a full minute, we just stood like that, not blinking or saying a word. I mean, I’ve seen Pinkie do some weird shit. Everyone that lives in Ponyville has. But that? That was fucking terrifying.

“Nope.” I turned around and started walking back to Ponyville. “Nope nope nope.”

Matilda joined me a moment later. She didn’t comment on what we just saw. After a minute, she said, “So why were you so mean to Pinkie?”

“Because of shit like that. She completely terrifies me. I want as little to do with her as possible. And we don’t have much in common, so I didn’t figure I’d have any regrets in losing her friendship.”

“Well. And here I was going to tell you why you should march up to that mare and apologize. I thought you saw yourself as too good to spend time with a lowly peasant like her.”

“…What?”

“You’re a knight, Navarone. Many knights spend as little time with commoners as possible. I thought you were acting like one of them… Well, you obviously aren’t.” We continued in silence for a bit. Eventually, she said, “So are you really afraid of her?”

“Yes. The things she does… I didn’t know how she would take rejection. The last time I said more than two sentences to her, I woke up in her bed. I went to sleep in mine and she didn’t wake me up at all. I just appeared in her bed. I don’t know how. One time she kidnapped me and Fluttershy and made us help her find her family. And another time, she hid in my shirt for a few days and I didn’t realize she was there until she popped out. That’s impossible, but she did it. I’m afraid of Pinkie. Straight up terrified. The only reason I deal with her at all is because I fear the alternative. If she’s like this to friends, how would she be to enemies?”

“I… don’t know. She is slightly worrying, but I’ve always seen her as harmless. She just wants to make everypony smile.”

“Even if they don’t want her to. She has no sense of boundaries, nothing stopping her from doing whatever she wants. I’d rather just avoid her as much as possible.”

She sighed, but didn’t reply. There wasn’t much she could really say, I don’t think.

When we got to within a few minutes of her house, I said, “You’re not going to tell Pinkie all that, are you?”

“Why shouldn’t I? She was a little bit confused, I know that much. Why shouldn’t I tell her the truth?”

“Because the truth is bad. It isn’t something she needs to know. I’ve already hurt her. I don’t want to ruin her. Don’t tell her for her sake, if not mine.”

“You’re afraid of her and by your own word don’t really like her, and yet you have no desire to hurt her or let her be hurt. Why is that?”

“Because I’m not a dick. I’m a terrible person—possibly even evil—but I’m not a dick.”

“Anypony that thinks they’re bad probably isn’t.” We were at her house, now. “I’ll see you some other time, Navarone. I won’t tell Pinkie anything you don’t want her to know.”

“Thank you. Good bye, Matilda.” She entered the cozy home she shared with Cranky and I started the short walk back to town.

It’s weird how often I hear the same advice. You’d think they would realize I had heard it by now and chose to ignore it, disregard it, or disagree with it. I guess they all still gotta try, though. I believe, at this point, that it is within the general nature of ponies that they want to make others feel better. Not all of them feel that way, but most of them seem to.

Well, I still had most of a day left. No telling where Pinkie or Vinyl were, so that was a bust. I gave Vinyl all the info she needed anyway, so it’s not like that really mattered. She was fun to be around, but I’ll freely admit that I’m a bit of a downer these days, so it was no great loss to not be around her. At least, not for her. I hummed an old tune while I slowly walked back to the library, kicking up the occasional tuft of snow as I moved.

“What’s got you so down?” I heard a cocky voice ask.

“Nothing much, Rainbow. Just thinking, like usual.”

“You haven’t learned your lesson about that yet? Thinking’s bad for you, Nav!”

“I know, but I can’t seem to stop. It’s a dirty habit, I guess. How do you avoid it?”

“I don’t. I just think about happy things instead.”

“That’s somewhat odd to hear from someone like you, but okay. What kind of happy things should I be thinking about?”

“Your fami—Um. Your speci—Ooh. Your heal—” I interrupted her with a sneeze. “Oh come on! What about Taya?”

“What about her?”

“Surely you feel good when you think about her. I mean, she’s your daughter, right?”

“Most of what I feel when I think about her is fear and apprehension. I can’t help but ask myself if I’m doing a good job or if I’m being too lenient or too hard or too something on her. I worry for her safety even though I know she won’t get into trouble.”

“You’re way too difficult, Nav. What about your friends? Don’t you feel good when thinking about us?”

“Let me tell you how my mind works: It overlays good things versus bad things in my mind. Twilight, Pinkie, and Rarity are in the red. You and most everyone else are all clear. So there are a few friends I feel okay thinking about, but not many.”

“That’s a really dark way of thinking about it, Nav.”

“I know. I’m a really dark person, remember?”

“And how’s that working out for you?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“That’s what I thought. I would try giving you advice, but I’m pretty sure you’d just blow it off, disagree offhand, or ignore it.” Someone gets it! “But something’s gotta change in your life, Nav. You can’t keep living like this.”

“Humans are designed to live in misery. We perfected it and some of us even prefer it. The last time I was truly, mind-emptyingly happy, I stole Celestia’s crown and paraded it around the palace. I think Pinkie still has those pictures, but to be honest, I don’t remember much of that week without reading my journals.” Which I’m actually a bit afraid to do.

“It’s really depressing that it’s been so long since you considered yourself happy. How can you stand living like this?”

I shrugged. “Look at my alternatives.”

“You mean finding something to be happy about? How is that really so bad?”

“Because, as I said, I don’t think I’d know what to do if I was happy.”

“Enjoy it, duh! Come on, what’s something you’d enjoy?”

I zoned my eyes out for a moment. “Let’s prank Rarity.”

“We always prank her! Why can’t we hit somepony else?”

“Because I like fucking with Rarity. It’s a lot of fun.”

“Well… yeah. But after her we prank somepony want to prank.”

“Alright. On me I have booze, half a stick of weed, a few knives, and my good looks. Can you think of anything to do with that?”

Your good looks are useless. Weed and booze… It’s unoriginal, but we can put some of that stuff in brownies and give her some.”

“I don’t know how to cook it. I gave that stuff to Pinkie before because I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t know how she figured it out.”

“We could give it to Sweetie Belle and unleash her on Rarity’s shop.”

“Now that’s just cruel. Let’s do it.”

“Now, we just need somepony unassuming to give it to her…”

We both shouted “Not it” at the same time.

After a few seconds of glaring at each other, I said, “Spike?”

“Spike.”

“Wait wait wait, that might ruin any nonexistent chances he has with Rarity. We need someone else.”

“Twilight?”

“She would never agree to that.”

“Yeah, she’s too boring. Pinkie?”

“No clue where she is. She disappeared with Vinyl earlier today. How about a male Rainbow Dash?”

“Nav, how in Tartarus are you going to make me look like a stallion?”

I pulled out the blue stone. “With this. It’s a magic gender changing stone.”

Her eyes went wide. “How long have you had that?”

“A few months.” I jerked my hand back as she shot out to grab it. “Not in public.” No one was really paying attention to us, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t notice if Rainbow suddenly turned into Rainbro. “It hurts the first time you use one of them.”

“One of them?”

“Yeah. I have this one and I have the female one. Man, you’re the second pony I’ve told this to today. I suck at keeping secrets.”

“This was supposed to be a secret?”

“Ehhh, kinda sorta. I mean, I don’t really want a horde of ponies tracking me down to feel what it’s like to be the opposite gender. When I told Vinyl, her first reaction was trying to snatch it out of my hand. When I told Rarity a few months ago, she just scoffed. I would have thrown one at her, but they hurt on the first go.”

“How bad?”

“You’ll have to tell me. It’s different for girls than it is for guys, apparently. Don’t know why.”

“Well then, what are we waiting for? Let’s go somewhere private!”

“Did you… did you have to shout that out loud?” We were now getting a lot of stares from passing ponies.

She blushed a bit. “Heh, oops. Uh… Let’s go to the library?”

I face-palmed. “Let’s just go.” We continued in relative silence. When we were away from most of the crowd that was staring at us, I said, “So are we still planning on getting Rarity?”

“Psh, no! I’m going to touch that blue stone and surprise all our friends that don’t know about it!”

“How about no? That would just raise a whole bunch of questions that I don’t want to have to answer Celestia about.”

“How bad could it be?”

“Do you know how many lesbian couples there are in Ponyville?”

“Uh… A lot?”

“Yeah. And how many do you think would like to try—if just once—turning into a guy for their lover?”

“Probably most of them.”

“Yeah. If they see you flying off from the library as a stallion, you bet your ass most of them are going to be coming by to visit Twilight, asking how she did it. And then she’s going to tell them it was me and I’m going to get chewed out by Twilight and then get mobbed by lesbians that want a dick.”

“Well when you put it that way… I still want to try it.”

“Then you can take the stones in a bag—after promising on whatever kind of loyalty you have that you’ll bring them back the moment you’re finished with them. And that you’ll come back in the right gender. And you aren’t allowed to tell anyone that this event happened.”

“I guess that’s fair. So, what can you tell me about… it?”

“You won’t have to worry about a condom, if that’s what you mean. You won’t have had time to produce anything, so you’ll be shooting nothing.”

“Oh. Well that’s a bit boring.”

“Eh.”

“How do you even know about that, anyway?”

“Experimentation. Unwanted and unasked for experimentation.”

“Oh… With who?”

“Nunya.”

“Nunya? Who’s that?”

Fucking ponies, always ruining my crappy human jokes. “Not important.”

“C’mon, Nav!”

“I’ll tell you later, then. Not here.”

She grinned and quickened her pace a bit. “I bet I can guess who it was.”

“That’s nice. Keep your guesses to yourself.” I sped up to match pace with her again. “So if you ponies control the weather, why do you even have winter?”

“You know, I never understood the reasoning behind that. What we’re taught in school is that the ground has to have a break from growing crops, which I guess makes some kind of sense.”

“Well, I don’t know much about farming, so sure, why not.” We made it to the library in a nice time. We let ourselves inside, which was easy considering I lived there. The warm air inside felt very nice against my exposed skin and I let out a small sigh of comfort. Then I tossed the blue stone at Rainbow.

She froze, letting out a yelp of pain. She somehow managed to fall over on her back. Her legs twitched a few times before stopping.

“Ain’t nothing worse than bracing for it,” I commented as I pocketed the stone. “Get used to your new body. I’ll be right back with the bag.” I went upstairs and grabbed the little bag I use to store the stones. I went back down to find Rainbow getting to shaky legs.

“That… that hurt,” he said, his voice much deeper. “Whoa!”

“Yep.” I tossed the pink stone at him. He turned right back into a girl.

“Stop that!” she said as I grabbed the pink stone and dropped it in the bag. I added the blue one a second later.

“It’s pretty funny, though!” I passed her the bag. “Promise me you’ll return it.”

“I promise I’ll return it as soon as we get done.”

“And no using it on anyone but yourself.”

“And I won’t use it on anypony that isn’t me.”

“Good enough for me.” I relinquished my hold on the bag. She took it in her mouth. If you know what I mean.

“Fanks, Naw!” With that, she was out the door.

“I can’t help but feel that I’ve made a terrible mistake…”

“That’s probably because you’re you,” Twilight said, coming up behind me. “What did you do this time?”

“Told a few people things I probably shouldn’t have. You know how it is.”

She shook her head. “No, I’m afraid I don’t. I keep secrets, like a good friend.”

“These were my secrets to tell. I just fear I shouldn’t have.” I shrugged. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Depending on which secrets you told, it could be anywhere from life on the moon to nothing.”

“Life on the moon wouldn’t be that bad. I mean, I’d die almost instantly, so I would have that to look forward to.”

She sighed. “It’s hard to tell—even now—when you’re being sarcastic. You’re way too good at this.”

“I get a lot of practice. So what about you? Are you going to try to drag me off to do something with friends?”

“Nope. I just came back to pick up something I forgot. I’m off to a meeting with the clam jousting club.”

What. “Tell me that’s not a thing.”

“Well, that’s what it’s called. I don’t know why, but they like keeping accurate records. They never let me see what’s going on, though. They go to their private rooms, make a lot of racket, and then come back and tell me to record some things.” She shrugged. “It sounds pretty fun, but they all say I wouldn’t be interested in trying it.”

“Uh huh. Well, have fun with that. Tell Lyra and Bon-Bon I said hi.”

“How did you know they were members?”

“Lucky guess.”

“Well, I’ll see you later, then.” She left.

I was able to hold my laughter in until the door shut behind her. Oh Twilight, you’re so silly. I didn’t even know Ponyville had places like that. I mean, at about eighty percent female, they have to do something, but still! Wonder if that happens in places like Stalliongrad.

 

 

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