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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55. Chapter Forty-Three—Weed and promises made

A few days after that, I made one last short trip to the forest. I stayed just long enough to grab some stuff I had seen growing there. When I got what I needed, I sauntered back into town with a smile on my face.

I think I was humming lyrics to a song I hadn’t heard in a while. Green and purple, green and purple…

I went straight to the library and grabbed one of my knives. I cut the plant up a bit and mashed it down. I repeated that process a few times before I left it out to dry in the sun for an hour. Then I went to find some paper.

I rolled the first doobie ever seen in Equestria.

“Hey Spike, you want to help me test something?”

He was currently cleaning a part of the library that no one but Twilight ever uses. He was not really enjoying it. Spike looked up at me for a moment before turning back to the case he was cleaning. With a shrug, he turned back and said, “Sure. What do you need?”

I smiled. “I need you to light something on fire and then smoke it for me. Outside, though; I know better about doing this shit in a tree that seconds as a library.”

“What does ‘smoke’ mean?” he asked as I led the way to the door.

“You inhale the smoke into your lungs. It’ll feel uncomfortable the first few times, but if I’m right, you’ll soon get over it.”

“And why can’t you do it?”

We were outside now. “Because I’m the scientist. I want to see what happens.” He shrugged. I handed him the joint. “Light it here,” I said, pointing at the tip. “Don’t burn too much of it.” He did. “Now, put your mouth here,” I said pointing, “And gently suck in. Be prepared, because you’re probably going to cough.”

He slowly inhaled and was able to hold it in for a moment before expelling it all in a massive cough fit. “Nav… What is thi—woah. Wooooooaaaaahhhhhh… I feel strange, man.”

“Keep smoking it, Spike. I want to see what’ll happen.” He did. I could smell the smoke from here. It was definitely marijuana that I found. And God, it was dank! If he got as blasted as he did from one puff… Though to be fair, he was still pretty small.

The joint was about half gone before Spike forgot what he was supposed to be doing. “Nav, why do I feel like—Oh, hi Pinkie.” I could tell from his voice that he was gone.

Wait, did he say—“Hi Spike! And hi Nav! What are you two doing?” Pinkie asked with her usual boundless enthusiasm.

“Spike is testing another human drug for me,” I answered. “Spike, how do you feel?”

“Like, far out, dude.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that. He sounded so stoned!

Pinkie was looking at the joint. “So what does it do?”

“It mellows you out a whole lot,” I answered. “I think Spike has had enough.” I removed the joint from his limp fingers.

“Oooh, can I try?” Pinkie begged.

“Do you have anything important to do today?”

“Welllll… Nope!”

I thought for a moment. It would be absolutely hilarious to have a high Pinkie Pie. I shrugged. “Alright.” I told her how to smoke it and how it worked. Soon enough, she was giggling just like Spike. “Welp, you’re both baked.”

Pinkie’s eyes lit up. “Baking! Oh, I’m soooo hungry right now! Spike, you wanna go bake some cupcakes?”

He jerked a bit and started giggling like mad. He barely managed to force out a one-word answer of “Yes.”

“No,” I said to them both. “You can have whatever you want from the bakery on my treat, but you aren’t going to be operating an oven while like this.”

“Aww,” they both groaned.

And then Pinkie’s eyes lit up again. “Your treat?” she said with a grin.

Well, there went the tournament money. I nodded. With that, Pinkie paused long enough to attach Spike to her tail before shooting off to Sugarcube Corner. I sighed and went to grab some bits before letting Twilight know where Spike was going and letting Taya know where I was going. I didn’t mention the fact that Spike was baked, though I think they both noticed the smell.

By the time I got to the bakery, it was almost too late to recover the situation. Pretty much everything pre-prepared was gone, and Mr. Cake was currently fending off a hungry dragon from the last things in the shop.

He was doing a pretty good job, until Pinkie popped out of the ceiling above the table and devoured half of everything by distending her jaw somehow in what was probably one of the creepiest things I’ve seen her do.

That made Spike giggle, which made Mr. Cake turn around and just gape. While his back was turned, Spike slipped past him to the table and began munching on some more stuff.

“Well damn,” I said, eyeing the carnage. “Yo Mr. Cake, sorry about this. I got it covered.” I pulled out all the bits I had on me. I don’t know how many it was. “For everything in the shop they ate and the psychological damage that came with it.”

He walked up to me, shaking his head. “I don’t know what came over them! Spike has always been so polite… And Pinkie has always been… well, Pinkie, but she works here, for Celestia’s sake!”

“Yeah, that’s kinda my fault. I was testing something on them and... Well, it worked. I forgot about Pinkie’s ability to distort reality. It might be even more powerful right now. Hey, do you know a way to keep someone with the mental capacity of a brilliant toddler occupied for a few hours?”

He looked at me oddly. “I’m a parent, Nav.” Oh yeah. “Give them some string. A lot of it.”

“Thanks. Now where the hell am I going to get some string?”

He shrugged. “Not my problem. I need to clean up this mess.”

We looked around. Pinkie and Spike were sitting next to a table, holding massively distended bellies. They were both smiling, looking extremely satisfied.

Aside from them, the shop looked like it was in tatters. “You two are probably the most active high people I have ever seen.”

They started giggling again. “He thinks we’re…” Pinkie started before lapsing into another fit.

“PEOPLE!” Spike finished before bursting out laughing. Pinkie joined him in the deeper laughter. Mr. Cake just shook his head before grabbing a broom.

I threw Spike over my shoulder and grabbed Pinkie’s tail, dragging her out the door behind me. I don’t know how I was able to drag her, but like I’ve said before: Physics is more of a suggestion in this world than anything else.

She was able to stand up eventually on her own power, and she trailed behind me, looking around at everything with a massive smile on her face. I let Spike down shortly after, though he quickly clambered up on Pinkie, and joined her in watching the world with wonder-filled eyes.

The ponies around us were creeped the fuck out.

I led them to Rarity’s shop, since I knew I could get some string there. I stopped a few feet from the door. I shouldn’t bring Spike in front of Rarity like this. How can I keep two high people occupied and out of trouble for a few hours?

The answer was simple: Put them to sleep. I reversed my direction and started going to the library. Twilight probably knew a spell to knock them both right out. I had to gently tug Pinkie’s hair to get her following me again.

She didn’t much like the stairs in front of the library. She spent nearly a minute trying to get up them before she finally managed. She was giggling the whole time. I led the way inside, shutting the door behind her and Spike.

Unfortunately, Twilight was not there. Thankfully, Taya was. “Hey Taya, have you learned any spells to put people to sleep?”

She nodded, watching Pinkie stare at the horse statue in the center of the library. “Are they okay?”

“Yeah, I just tested a human drug on them. It worked, but I don’t feel like babysitting them for a few hours. Just put them to sleep. It should wear off by tomorrow.”

Her horn glowed and Pinkie dropped to the floor, dead asleep. Spike had time to bundle up in her fluffy hair before passing out. “Thanks. They’ll be fine there, right?”

She shrugged. “What did you test on them?”

“Something called marijuana. Between that and alcohol, I could probably become a very rich man. I might find some for Scratch next time I see her, see if she’s interested in learning how to grow that stuff.”

“So what does it do?”

“Mellows a person out completely. It usually acts as a sedative and it can make someone really hungry.”

“What kind of effect does it have on magic?”

“Fuck all if I know. I bet it would be funny watching a unicorn trying to cast something like that, though. I think I still have some more left, if you want to try.”

“Will it hurt me?”

“It didn’t hurt Pinkie. It’ll take a little while to prepare, though; I have to get as much of the moisture out of it as possible.”

She smiled. “That’ll be easy. I can just warm it up with magic.”

“…Right. That.” I still get uncomfortable when I remember that my daughter is a unicorn. I went up to my room and grabbed some more of the plant. I grabbed a few full plants out of the forest, and I only used a bit of one to make the first joint. I brought some down for Taya and crushed it up in front of her. She warmed it, quickly drying it.

“I really don’t want you smoking anything, but… Well, once shouldn’t hurt.” I grabbed some more paper and rolled her a joint. “Don’t tell Twilight about this, by the way,” I warned.

She smiled and nodded. I led us outside. “Here, light the tip of this on fire.” She did. “Now put your mouth around the other tip and suck in gently. You’ll probably cough the first time.” She breathed in and held it for a moment before gently exhaling. This doobie wasn’t nearly as fat as the one I rolled Spike, and it didn’t take her that long to finish it off.

And she was really high, too. It was nice, seeing her with that kind of smile on her face. “I love you, daddy,” she said as she picked me up with magic and gently laid me on the floor. That done, she climbed up on my back and rolled into a ball of sorts.

“Well, that’s really cute,” I said aloud, reaching into my pocket for my ring. I slipped it out and set it on Taya’s horn. “But I’m not going to let you have magic right now, I’m afraid.”

She sighed.

“It’s not a punishment, of course. I just don’t want to risk you hurting anyone.” Namely, me.

“I understand, daddy,” she sighed, curling tighter.

The look on Twilight’s face when she walked in was priceless. “Nav, I’ve seen you do some weird things. And I’ve heard of you doing stranger. But what in Celestia’s name is going on?”

Taya had fallen asleep at some point. I slowly rolled over and picked her up and set her down next to Pinkie. “I was testing a human drug,” I said by way of answer. I plucked the ring off Taya’s horn. “It worked. It worked very well.”

She looked down at the pile and sighed. “What did you do this time?”

“Something called marijuana. It calms you down and acts as a major sedative and pain killer. It was used recreationally back where I came from. Its side effects were debated, so I don’t feel like telling you about them and risk lying. It shouldn’t be wildly addictive, but that doesn’t mean a dependency can’t occur. It’s not good for you, but at the same time it shouldn’t do anything to put you in the hospital. There was a debate going on about whether or not it could be used to treat cancer, but it was definitely good for fighting pain. Oh, and it was incredibly illegal for some reason.” I shrugged. “Nothing that bad.”

She was okay until that last point. “Illegal? I thought you said you wouldn’t bring any illegal drugs here!”

“No, I said I wouldn’t bring any drugs here at all. I just got bored. I already lied about the alcohol, so I didn’t figure lying about some Mary Jane would be all that bad either.”

She sighed. “And who is Mary Jane?”

“Another name for marijuana. Humans have a lot of names for things.”

“Well, this one doesn’t sound too harmful. And if you were willing to give it to your daughter… I’ll let it slide. Just warn me next time! I want to be there to help in case anything goes wrong!”

I shrugged. “Fair enough. Hey, I still have some upstairs if you want to try it.”

“Not interested. I still remember my time with alcohol. I spent a day nursing a headache and fixing Ponyville.”

“Suit yourself. I don’t like doing that to myself either. Since Spike is out for the count, you need my help with anything?”

I spent the rest of the day helping her.

When Pinkie woke up, I pulled her aside from the groggy Spike and yawning Taya. “Hey Pinkie, you wanna know something really cool about that drug I gave you?”

“What’s that, Nav?”

I smiled. “You can bake it into brownies, and you won’t notice the taste until you’re already high.”

Her smile matched my own. “Prank time?” she asked.

“Prank time,” I answered. I had already prepared the rest of my small stash, and gave it to her with a bit of instructions. She ran off into the night, giggling like a madpony.

The next day, half of Ponyville came down with a serious case of baked-off-the-ass. It was hilarious. Spike and I walked around town the entire day, messing with people. We saw Pinkie and Rainbow Dash doing the same thing, and greeted them with bro-fists.

“Well Nav,” Rainbow was saying, “you’ve pulled pranks with me—and on me—in the past, but this takes the cake!”

“Or the brownie,” Pinkie said with a giggle.

“That too,” Rainbow continued. “But this… this is awesome! We have half the town completely out of it! I saw Applejack hugging a tree and apologizing for bucking it so much. Big Mac was actually crying at her shoulder for a moment before joining her in hugging it!”

“And I saw Lyra using her hooves to try to play her lyre,” Pinkie said. “I don’t know how she was expecting to play it, but she had such a massive smile on that I couldn’t bother her.”

I said, “I heard Zecora talking earlier. Normally she rhymes in a simple pattern, but today she was changing patterns every few sentences. I think she even stopped rhyming, at one point!”

Spike said, “Twilight was trying to study today, but every time she pulled out a book, she forgot what she was looking for. After half an hour, she finally gave up and just built a book fort. When I left, she was gearing up for a siege by the pony-head statue.”

“Well guys,” I said, “I think we can all agree that today has been a good day.” They all nodded, smiling. “And if anyone asks what the hell happened, no one says a damn thing. Right?” They all nodded again.

That really was an awesome day, though. And the best part is that no repercussions ever came from it, though Twilight did give me the stink eye for a while.

 

Oh, and given that no one knew when Taya’s birthday was, Pinkie decided to have it on the day I found her, which was sometime in June. I don’t keep specific records of shit like that, so we had it in the middle of June.

It was alright. We also didn’t know how old she was, but Twilight was able to form a rough guess, though no one told me and they always seemed to ignore me when I asked.

Seriously, how old are some of these damn ponies?

 

The day of the Gala dawned bright and clear, with nary a blemish of cloud in the sky. I was wearing my armor, since this was a formal event and Luna told me to. I obliged, since I knew she could make my life hard. And since I knew Twilight would make my life hard if I didn’t.

Eight of us were going to this one: Twilight and her crew of pony friends, me, and Spike. Taya was invited, but she decided against it. I was a little bit thankful for that, because I knew she would likely end up being next to me the entire night, and I was kind of hoping to have a chance to talk with a few people—and then spend the night alone in the garden.

All of Twilight’s friends aside from Rarity were quite surprised to see me wearing my armor. “Geez, Nav!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, “What did the princess have to threaten you with to get you to put that hunk of metal on?”

I faked a shudder. “Guard duty,” I answered. Rarity smiled while the rest looked confused.

“What’s so bad about guarding the princess?” Pinkie Pie asked. “That sounds like the easiest job ever!”

“Yeah,” Applejack confirmed. “Ain’t no pony gonna attack her!”

“And if anypony does, she’ll use her magic to stop them before you can even move!” Rainbow Dash finished.

“Exactly,” I answered. “It’s boring as hell. I had to do it once as a punishment and it was the most boring thing I’ve had to do since I helped Twilight in Egypt.”

“Hey, that was very interesting!” Twilight said, coming out of her dressing room. We were all at Rarity’s shop, getting dressed and ready to go.

“Yeah, if you’re an egghead!” Rainbow Dash answered. Twilight rolled her eyes while the rest of us giggled a bit.

“So when is our carriage supposed to get here?” Rarity finally asked, after we were all set to go.

“Oh! I almost forgot!” Twilight said as she led us outside. “They should be here any moment now.”

“‘They’ who?” I asked.

“Just wait a few minutes. They’ll get here and then you’ll see.”

I would have sat on the ground to wait, but that didn’t work well in my armor or with the axe I had on my back. I was saved the need to wait by a sight in the sky.

The rest of them noticed it as well. “Is that…” Spike whispered.

“Princess Luna?” Rarity finished, sounding a bit hopeful.

It certainly looked like the chariot she used all those years ago, when she visited us during the Nightmare Night festival. It got closer and I realized that it was the chariot, but that there wasn’t a princess in it.

“It’s her personal chariot,” I said.

“Yup!” Twilight answered. “I mentioned to Princess Celestia that we didn’t really have any transportation in mind. She apparently mentioned it to Princess Luna, who decided to lend us her own chariot, since she hasn’t used it in so long.” A few of us knew the reason she hadn’t, but the rest were clueless.

The chariot with its strange night guards landed without making a single sound. The guards never uttered a whisper and their footfalls were oddly muted. The chariot itself never once rattled or creaked. It was pretty awesome. Or at least, a few of us thought so.

“A-a-are you sure about this, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked, looking at the thing with fear in her eyes.

“Absolutely!” Twilight answered. “Princess Luna wouldn’t ride in something that might hurt anypony.”

“Don’t worry about it, darling,” Rarity added. “I met Princess Luna during my last trip to Canterlot. She’s a wonderful pony! Good sense of humor, kind, respectful. I imagine she’d be able to be a good friend to anypony.”

Hearing Rarity say that assuaged the fear of the rest of them, who all piled on with ease. Fluttershy still looked at it a bit hesitantly, though. The guards were just staring straight ahead. I sighed and put my hand on Fluttershy’s back and bent down to whisper in her ear, “You can sit next to me.”

She blinked, and then shifted her gaze to her friends rather than the chariot. After a moment, she slowly boarded. I pulled myself up next to her, sitting on the edge; with all eight of us, it was a bit of a tight fit. I was hoping the guards would be able to carry us.

“We’re all set!” Spike announced, taking the position of the driver. I think he was too afraid to pull out any kind of whip on these pullers, but he also didn’t need to. As soon as they were told to go, they went.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to riding in a chariot flying above the clouds. But then, I didn’t think I would be able to get used to a lot of things. Namely, the fact that I was sitting next to several talking ponies, two of which could fly and two of which could do magic. And a dragon, of course. I suppose as time goes by, you can get used to anything.

 

We made pretty good time, thankfully. Rarity was complaining about her hair getting messed up in the wind, but she got over it. I really don’t know why they all decided to go this time, but whatever. I suppose Rarity wanted to talk to her snooty friends and Twilight was going out of obligation. But the rest? Meh.

When we got off the chariot, the guards flew it away before we could even say thanks. We missed the start of the Gala, but based on my… performance… during the last Gala, that might have been a good thing. We got into the party with absolutely no fanfare, other than a few ponies looking up to see who was opening the door.

My first goal was to get out to the garden. My second goal was to stay there all night until this thing was over.

I failed at both. Rarity immediately took me in hoof and dragged me off to see some of her rich people. I suppose the rest of our friends either scattered or stuck together; I don’t really know. I did know that I could feel Spike’s eyes boring a hole in my head, which was somewhat amusing.

Thankfully, Rarity led me to Fancy Pants instead of any of the other annoying ponies we had dealt with. “Ah, Navarone!” he said. “It is good to see you again! Your work for the princess goes well, I hope?”

“As well as any endeavors in that damnable forest.” I showed him what was left of my finger and he grimaced slightly. Thankfully, I was able to still use my gauntlets well enough. “The rest of the damage has healed, but I fear I’ll be missing this finger for a good little while.”

“Unfortunately, your line of work has an uncomforting rate of attrition. With as long as you spent in that dark place, you are lucky that was the only thing you lost.”

“Don’t I know it…” We shared a moment of silence, which Rarity decided to interrupt.

“So Fancy Pants, what all do you have planned for the Gala, and for the next few months?”

He started going over a list of engagements and plans and whatnot that I didn’t feel like remembering long enough to write down. He finished with, “And of course, you are both invited. I know the princess keeps you busy, Navarone, but surely you get some time off. And Rarity, I know you live in that little village, but it isn’t that long of a ride from there to here.”

I said, “I don’t know what kind of assignment I’ll get until I get it; Celestia does not believe in giving me advance notices.” I saw Fancy Pants look behind me and saw his face completely drop. “Of course,” I added, knowing exactly who I would see if I turned around, “I don’t suppose I can complain, since I haven’t asked her to.”

“You’re too savvy for your own good, Nav,” Celestia said behind me. “Fancy Pants, Rarity. I fear I must borrow Navarone for a few moments.”

“Your grace,” and “Yes, Princess,” answered her.

I turned and followed her. I didn’t bother slipping on the ring; she wouldn’t be hurting me in a setting as public as this. Then again, we didn’t appear to be heading towards a place that had a very public setting: She was leading me to a hall that led to a place I had grown quite familiar with.

“Celestia, I really hate this sitting room. Can we have this talk or whatever somewhere else?”

“You’re so picky, Nav. The layout of this room was designed with you in mind, you know.”

“That’s somewhat disturbing.”

“You’re a stranger in a strange land,” she answered. “I believed a small comfort such as a personalized sitting room would make you feel more at home.”

And then used it for every bad announcement you’ve ever given me. “Yeah. Sure.”

She just chuckled before going silent as we walked. It didn’t take us too long to get to the awful sitting room, though. “Ah, here we are,” she said, taking her habitual seat on one of the couches. I took the same chair I normally did. “See there? You’ve fallen into a habit, a clear sign of comfort for all creatures.”

“Or a sign of resignation. Can we discuss what we’re here to discuss so I can go hide?”

“It’s almost like you don’t enjoy spending any time with me!” I rolled my eyes. “Well, hiding might be difficult, given one of the tasks I have for you tonight…”

“I refuse to turn into a horse again. Fuck that.”

She just smiled. “Let’s get down to business, anyway. In a few months, you are going to be assigned as one of Cadance’s guards on a trip to the griffin capital, Gryphus. You should be gone for a few weeks.” I grimaced at that, not particularly wanting to spend more time with Cadance. “Tonight, you are going to be escorting Queen Chrysalis around the Gala. If this night goes well, there is just one more thing we need to do with her before she is locked as an ally, and you will be helping with that as well. That is everything I have planned for you in the coming months, but you know how volatile everything is. As a knight, you might be called in to do any number of things. As always, be prepared.”

“Now when you say that I’m escorting Chrysalis, what exactly does that entail? Am I guarding her or am I pretending to be her date?”

She gave me a womanly look. “Navarone, you’re currently promised to my sister in a few years. I’m not going to ask you to date somepony else. You are going to introduce Chrysalis around and guard her. I do not want anything to go badly this night.”

“Easy enough. Why isn’t she an official ally, though? We had her here as a prisoner. You could have forced her to sign anything.”

“Because ponies aren’t like that. I could have, yes, but I have learned in my long life that a willing ally is better than a reluctant ally. So you are going to escort her around and then you are going to help her deal with a small Diamond Dog problem.”

“‘Deal with?’ That sounds ominous.”

“I leave it up to you on how to solve that problem, Nav. Chrysalis wants them wiped out. I believe a peaceful, mutually beneficial resolution can be found. That said, I honestly don’t care how you do it. Those Diamond Dogs have been a nuisance ever since I allowed them to take residence in their mines. They have kidnapped a number of ponies, though most get released shortly after. The only reason I haven’t officially punished them yet is because an assault on tunnels is suicide when you don’t know the terrain.”

My eyebrows shot up. I was surprised she knew nothing about tactics. “They’re in caves though, right?” She nodded. “So shoot fireballs down there. That’ll incinerate them and all their air, so they’ll either burn to death or they’ll run out of oxygen and asphyxiate.”

She pulled away from me, her eyes widening. “Barbaric!” She sighed and leaned forward again, closing her eyes for a moment. “And why I keep you around.” Her eyes opened and narrowed on me for a moment. “Do not tell Chrysalis that unless killing them becomes your solution of choice. She could easily take that idea and use it herself and then claim we did not aid her as she asked.”

“So when am I going to start helping her with this?”

“In the coming weeks, probably. I trust that you can handle this, then?”

“I can handle Chrysalis, yeah. But must I deal with Cadance? You know how I feel about her.”

“You are an anomaly to her, Navarone. She is interested in you. If you tell her you finally agreed to date Luna, she might leave you alone.”

“No, then she’ll just gloat at me. I think I’ll just keep horrifying her. That was a lot of fun. And hey, you even got to help once!”

She grimaced lightly at that. “Yes, and I regret it. That was a particularly bad heat cycle for me. I think next year I’ll just prevent it.” She sighed and muttered, “I had to spend an hour coaxing her out of her room.” Louder, she said, “Deal with her as you will, as long as you protect her. Shining Armor and a few other guards will be with you as well. You are there more to impress the griffins than anything, but you still need to keep her safe. When you get back home after the Gala, you’ll find a present there that will help you.”

“Awesome. So where is Chrysalis? I suppose if I’m going to have to watch her, I might as well start now.”

“She’s listening at the door, though I asked her not to. She didn’t hear anything she shouldn’t have. Shall we return to the party, then?”

“Might as well. I know how much you love the Gala.”

“Quite. I somewhat hope there will not be anything odd happening at this one.” She stood and went to the door. She jerked it open, to reveal Chrysalis staring at us innocently from the other side, near the opposite wall.

I followed Celestia out and nodded to Chrysalis. “Been a while. How did you like the booze I left you?”

She grinned at that, baring her fangs. “It made for a suitable aid in a returning home celebration.” She turned to Celestia. “So he agreed?”

Celestia nodded. “He is your guide for the night. He will keep you out of trouble and will hopefully be able to introduce you to a few new ponies.” She turned to me. “Now you have her back home before midnight. I don’t need you corrupting my innocent little filly.”

Chrysalis did not look amused. I sighed. “Yes ma’am. I don’t suppose I can take her around the town, though?”

“That better not be innuendo, young stallion!” She gave me a mock glare before giggling. “Now go on. I’ll be going back to the party momentarily.”

Chrysalis looked at me and jerked her head down the hall. I walked by her side as we walked. “So. Navarone. What is this party like?”

“Boring as hell. We would probably have more fun sitting in the garden watching grass grow. I fear that is not an option, though. Do you want to meet the rich ponies or do you prefer to deal more with the commoners?”

“I am here to meet the kinds of ponies that come to parties like this, though honestly I would prefer to not be here at all. Such is the life of royalty, I suppose. How has your life been treating you since we last spoke?”

“Mostly alright. I got mauled in the Everfree forest, but such is the life of a knight. How are the love poisoned food-bags working?”

“Very well. None of my people go to bed hungry any longer. And they all quite like you because of it. You are a hero to the changelings, one of the few we’ve had. I don’t suppose you would mind visiting one of the hives near Ponyville sometime soon, would you?”

“Just visit? Or would you want me to help take care of a problem while I was there?”

“Oh, Celestia already told you? Yes, I want the Diamond Dogs eliminated. I believe that between you and Ditto, the task can be done with a minimum of changeling bloodshed, and hopefully with a large amount of Diamond Dog bloodshed.”

“And this couldn’t be handled peacefully?”

“Oh, it could. But we can talk about this matter later, in more depth. I believe we have a party to attend, and I believe we are coming up on it.”

Something occurred to me just then that should have been apparent to me sooner. “Chrysalis, before we enter the party, I have a warning to give you.” She gave me a surprised look. “This isn’t about you, so don’t worry.” She relaxed. “In the time since we last met, I made some enemies here in Canterlot. The kind of enemies that would attend a party like this. So we might well end up snubbed by some ponies because of that.”

She sniffed. “I don’t care. I’m sure whatever you did was well worth it, if it made you enemies of the elite.”

“Glad to see you’re nonchalant about it. Now then, shall we?”

We continued into the party proper. Celestia was already back in her place at the front. I didn’t see anyone I knew in the main foyer, so we continued along deeper into the party. We found Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Twilight in the dancing area. I led Chrysalis over to them.

We were getting quite a lot of looks from everyone, too. Me, because I’m always a tolerated outsider wherever I go that isn’t Ponyville. Chrysalis, because to the ponies her appearance is scarier than mine even with my armor.

So I wasn’t surprised at all when the three girls saw us coming over. They met us halfway. “Any of you three know where Rarity is?” I asked them.

They looked from me to Chrysalis to me again. “Sorry, but no,” Twilight answered.

Pinkie’s gaze didn’t quite make the transition back to me, I noticed. She was still looking at Chrysalis. “Yes, Pinkamena?” Chrysalis asked with a tone of I-can’t-believe-I-put-up-with-this.

“You can call me Pinkie! Why didn’t you dress up?”

I suppose I should point out that Chrysalis was not wearing a dress or anything of that sort as all the others were. “Because I am a queen. Being here is enough. Dressing is more than I care to do. Besides, I polished my carapace. Is that not good enough for you?”

Pinkie jumped in front of Chrysalis’s chest in a flash and tried to see her reflection in it. “It is nice and shiny!”

Twilight’s horn lit up and yanked Pinkie back. “That is not how to treat royal guests, Pinkie,” she said with a small sigh. “So what brings you here, Queen Chrysalis?”

“Your sadistic princess demanded I attend this blasted party if I wished to receive Navarone’s service in a coming campaign. It is a small price to pay.”

“Campaign?” Twilight asked in surprise. “What’s going on?”

“That’s none of your business,” I answered. Chrysalis looked at me for a moment before shrugging. “Do you at least know where we can start looking for Rarity, then? Celestia told me to introduce Chrysalis to some rich ponies, and wherever Rarity is, I’m sure she’ll have some boring rich guy wrapped around her finger.”

“But Rarity doesn’t have fingers!” Pinkie said, jerking her gaze away from Chrysalis for a moment.

“I’ll tell you if you dance with me,” Twilight said with a small smile.

I turned to Fluttershy. “What about you?”

“Um. I’ll tell you if you dance with Twilight?” I looked at Twilight to see her giving Fluttershy a look. She quickly jerked her head back to me.

I gave Chrysalis a side glance before looking back to Fluttershy. “What if I dance with a Twilight look-a-like?”

“Nope, gotta be me!” Twilight said.

“I wasn’t asking you, Twilight. I believe Fluttershy is her own per—pony.”

“Um. That would be… okay, I guess.” The last was mumbled.

I turned to Chrysalis to ask if she was interested, to find that she had already turned into Twilight. I held out an arm which she gladly took. I led her onto the floor.

“I didn’t know you could dance,” she commented in Twilight’s voice as we started.

“I’m a man of many talents,” I answered with a shrug. “Some of them are more useful than others. There are other mares I’d rather be dancing with rather than Twilight, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”

She smiled sweetly. “Like your princess? Or maybe Luna?”

“Luna is my princess. I’m her knight, remember? Celestia is the other one, in this case. But yes, Luna is one of those I’d rather be dancing with. Possibly at the top of my list, honestly. Celestia is on there, but I think I’d be afraid to dance with her. She’s huge, compared to me. I’ve done it in the past, though.” I smiled. “You’re also on the list.”

She missed a step but quickly recovered. “Well, no pony said we had to be in a hurry,” she said after a moment. “After this dance, perhaps I can change back and we can continue.”

We continued the dance, each wearing a small smile. When it finished, she changed back, shocking quite a few nearby ponies. The next song quickly picked up and we danced to it as well. Twilight was glaring at us. Pinkie had disappeared, but I caught a glimpse of her near the band. Fluttershy was watching us with a small smile.

That song ended and I was about to call it when I heard the next song and stopped with a smile. “Hm… Interested in a slow dance?” I asked.

“I recognize this song… I know an old dance to it. Shall we?”

This was the song that Luna and I had danced to at that one Gala, right before we left for the maze. I noticed that Pinkie had rejoined the others.

“Let’s,” I said. We danced to that one, getting closer together than would have been allowed at most high schools.

It was pretty fun.

Until we left the floor and found Luna waiting on us, with a smug looking Twilight at her side. “Sup, Luna?” I asked.

“Hello, Nav,” she answered. Well, she didn’t sound angry. “Chrysalis, my sister told me you would be here tonight, and that Navarone would be escorting you. I didn’t know you knew any pony dances anymore.”

Chrysalis said, “Some things are hard to forget, Luna. That is not a discussion for here, though.”

“No, I suppose not. I see my knight is treating you well, though. If either of you need assistance on this night, feel free to find me or Celestia. I fear I must get back to what I was doing, however. Until later,” she finished with a nod, breaking away from the group.

Twilight stared after her in confusion, before giving me a mean look. “Check the dining area,” she said in a strained voice. She stalked off into the small crowd around us.

Wait, small crowd? I looked around, thinking. Well, Chrysalis is pretty noticeable and we both attract attention. I suppose being peaceful and dancing will draw some people. The two of us spent an hour talking to those rich boring bastards.

Until a grey pony with dark hair walked up and ahemmed rather loudly. “I think I’ve seen you around Canterlot before, human.” His accent was enough to make me want to pimp slap him with my gauntlet on.

“That’s not surprising, pony.” He flinched a bit when I called him pony. I continued, “I’ve been in this world for a few years and I’ve walked around Canterlot in the past.”

“Indeed. I think you were at a garden party, the most recent time.”

I smiled, knowing what he was trying to do. “Yes, I was. I remember that party fondly. I got to put a royal twat in his place.”

All the ponies around me gasped and the person accusing me pulled back, his eyes widening. He recovered quickly, though, I’ll give him that. “So you’re saying you did kill Blueblood?”

“Oh, no. We had a duel. I won. He stalked off afterward. There were several witnesses that saw him walk away.”

“Oh there were?” he said, his tone turning mocking. “And who might they be?”

I was one of them,” Fancy Pants said, stepping out of the crowd. He glared the grey stallion down. “Is there something you need, Jet Set? Or were you just trying to dig a hole you won’t be able to get out of?”

Jet Set gulped, taking a step back. I smiled. “Why are you bringing it up?” I asked. “Are you interested in a duel yourself?” His pupils retracted. I reached my arm around behind me for my axe and he was gone before I even touched it.

Chrysalis let out her adorable little chuckle. Fancy Pants turned to us. I held up a fist. He looked at it in surprise for a moment before smiling and hitting it with his hoof. “It has been a while since I greeted somepony that way,” he commented. “It is nice to see you again, Navarone. And this is Queen Chrysalis, I presume?” At my nod, he gave her a bow. “A pleasure, my lady.”

She smiled at that. “It is nice to meet you, gentlecolt. Though I did not catch your name.”

“Fancy Pants, at your service,” he said, rising. “I see you have already met some of the more distinguished ponies of Canterlot.” Most of the small crowd around us had made themselves scarce when I reached for my axe, though. “I fear Navarone here has a fun habit of scaring rich ponies away.” He smiled. “I might have to hire him as a bodyguard one day, if the princesses would allow it.”

I waved a hand. “Fuck them. I’m a free man; I do what I want. You ever want to hang and I’m not busy, I’m in. You seem pretty cool, for a rich guy.”

“I didn’t understand half of what you just said, but I think it’s a good thing,” he commented before turning back to Chrysalis. “If you would like to meet some of the more… tolerable… of Canterlot society, you are welcome to join me.”

She looked to me and I nodded. She turned back to him. “Very well, Fancy Pants. Navarone will have to come with us, though; Celestia assigned him to watch me for the night.”

He nodded. “That’s quite alright, I assure you. He is welcome. Come.”

I don’t want to talk about the next few hours. It was so very, very boring. It was rich ponies talking about rich pony things. Fancy Pants would probably be bro material if I could get him away from this stuffy place, but I know duty required me to be here. That kind of sucked, but c’est la vie.

A lot of the rich ponies there weren’t that bad, but they were still stuffier than those I was used to. And they were mostly toadies, trying to work their way into the good graces of those above them.

As it turned out, I was apparently one of those now above them. That irritated the shit out of me, and I told them to knock it off because I knew what they were doing and it wouldn’t work.

That got a lot of nervous laughs and averted gazes before they disappeared into the masses. I caught Chrysalis giving me an approving look before she looked away.

Anyway, that’s all I really have to say about that.

 

I escorted Chrysalis to the edge of the party area. “That was an… interesting… experience,” she commented. “I do not envy Celestia in the slightest. We changelings do not have such events as this.”

“Oh man, I think I’ll come to chill with you guys next year so I can avoid going to this party again. I hate the Grand Galloping Gala.”

“You know you are always welcome, Navarone. My changelings would be happy to have you, and I know I would as well.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why do you always use full names instead of any familiar versions?”

She jerked back a bit, looking somewhat confused. Her eyes widened after a moment. “Oh. That habit. I… avoid getting close to anypony. There are reasons behind it. Private reasons.”

“I understand privacy. You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to. I just thought it was a strange habit, is all. Do you need anything else before I turn in?”

“I don’t suppose I could trouble you for another morsel? Your memories have a unique taste that I’ve come to enjoy.”

“Help yourself,” I replied. “You know what I don’t mind you taking.”

“Quite trusting, Navarone,” I heard Luna say as she walked up behind me.

I turned to face her. “Chrysalis and I formed a bond of sorts,” I said. “It is hard, being predators forced to live subservient to prey.”

“I see.” Her tone was not comfortable. She turned to Chrysalis. “Perhaps you’d be willing to feed off me, instead? I have something in which you might be interested.”

Chrysalis looked into Luna’s eyes for a moment before nodding. “Very well, Luna.” They stepped close. Chrysalis’s horn lit up green and shot out to hit Luna. They stood like that for a long while, eyes locked. The glow finally stopped and I noticed they were both smiling. Chrysalis turned to me. “Thank you, Nav. I will see you when you visit the hive near Ponyville.” It wasn’t until she was walking away that I noticed what she called me.

Luna said, “Come along, Nav.” I walked next to her as she led me to the gardens. “I had a talk with Twilight about you. She’ll be less bothersome now, I believe,” she said as we walked along a path.

“Thank you. She has been acting this way ever since… Well, since I helped her deal with her heat problem. I did not realize at the time what a mistake that would turn out to be.”

“There was a lot you could have done to minimize the damage. But that is neither here nor there. My sister has a busy schedule for you, but I want to remind you that you are still my knight. You are not required to follow Celestia’s orders any longer. I ask that you do anything she requests that you think will help Equestria, though. And I also ask that you report to me anything she requests that you do.”

“Those seem reasonable. She asked me to escort Chrysalis tonight. She said I’ll be helping Chrysalis and her changelings deal with a Diamond Dog problem soon. Celestia doesn’t care if I kill all the dogs or search for peace. Chrysalis seems to want to kill them. I’ll learn more before I decide what I’ll do. Celestia also wants me to escort Cadance to the griffin capital in a few months. That’s all she told me.”

“She told me about all of those. I believe your friends are staying in the palace overnight, is that correct?” I nodded. “Come along, then. The party is over, and now the real fun can begin!” Stupid horny princesses. Not that I was complaining, mind, but still!

 

We got back home with no problems. When I got up to my room, I saw something that made me smile wide: A masterfully made steel crossbow. I dropped my bag of armor and cradled the crossbow, seeing how different it was from the crappy wooden one I had used for so long. Cocking is easier. It’s heavier and the end is padded so the recoil is probably lessened. I bet those sights are perfectly accurate.

I set the crossbow down and started walking around the room to get everything I’d need to head to my makeshift shooting range. That included my ring, the key, my sword, some knives, plenty of bolts, and finally the crossbow.

That done, I took it all out to the range. The crossbow shot perfectly. I bet even Spike could use this thing. I smiled at that. I could take him hunting and let him get his first kill.

When I got back to the library, I found that it was empty, which was an uncommon occurrence. I mean, sure Twilight got out a lot and Spike wasn’t tied here, but Taya doesn’t go out much without me.

I smiled to myself. Free day. I put most of the shit up in my room and flew up to a nearby cloud and just laid back. It’s always nice to be able to just take a day off.

What sucks is that I’m so rarely given the opportunity to do it. I was up there for maybe half an hour when I felt four hard points driving into my body. I opened my eyes and saw Rainbow Dash staring at me. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you, Nav!”

“Well, you found me. Congratulations.” I let my eyes shut again, but she drove one of her hooves into my chest. I opened them again. “What did you need, again?”

“Twilight said you need to do your knightly duties. C’mon Nav, get up!”

“What kind of knightly duties? And if Twilight is involved, why didn’t she just teleport me to her?”

“She said you were wearing your stupid ring or something. And the kind of knightly duties that require you to act as judge!”

“Back up.” She didn’t move. “What about me being a judge?” And what about me wearing the ring? I’m on a cloud!

She rolled her eyes. “Just go get your axe!” With that, she somehow grabbed me and threw me off the cloud. I fell for a few feet before catching myself. I sighed as I flew to the library. Rainbow Dash followed me, obviously impatient.

I landed in front of the library and pushed the door open, half expecting a surprise party or something. There was still no one there. I grabbed my axe and found Rainbow Dash waiting for me downstairs. “So now what?” I asked her.

“Just come on!” She led me out and jumped into the air. I closed the door behind me and followed her into the air. She led me straight to the center of town.

I landed in the center of a largish crowd. Twilight and Applejack were in the center, with two raggedy colts and a slightly less raggedy filly. Mayor Mare was standing to the side, and I saw two royal guards there as well.

“Alright, what’s going on?” I asked, striding up to Twilight. “And why are there three starving kids here?”

Twilight and Applejack looked at me with confusion. “Starving?” Twilight finally forced out.

I looked at her for a moment before turning to one of the colts. I bent down and pulled his face up so he could look me in the eye. I recognized that look he gave me. I let his head fall again and stood up. “Yep. This one is, at least. I see that hunger there.” I tapped his side with the handle of my axe, making him flinch back. “You can see his ribs right there, too. Same for the other colt. The filly is a little better off.” I turned to Applejack. “You catch these three stealing apples?”

She nodded, her eyes wide. “How’d you know?”

I scoffed. “They’re starving. I had to do worse when I was in Egypt. At least they didn’t try to murder you for them.” I turned to the three kids. “How long have you three been away from home?”

One of them mumbled something.

“I can’t understand a word you’re saying. Talk louder.”

“We don’t have a home,” one of the colts said.

“Huh. Welcome to the Ponyville, kids.” I turned to Applejack. “How much did they take?”

“A few dozen apples,” she finally said. “I didn’t know they were starving, though!”

“No, I didn’t reckon you would,” I answered. I turned back to the kids. “How long has it been since any of the three of you ate?”

More mumbles.

“Speak UP, kid! For Christ’s sake, if I’m getting pulled off my cloud for this, I’m going to make this quick. How long?”

“Days.”

“Thank you.” I turned back to AJ. “I’ll pay for whatever they took.” I turned back to the kids. “I’m giving you three a choice. These two royal guards here can take you to Canterlot, where you can go to Celestia’s orphanage. Or you can stay here in Ponyville and try to find a job or something. AJ here might let you work at her farm, if you ask nicely and apologize for stealing. I suggest the orphanage, honestly, even though I fucking hate Canterlot. But if you prefer an honest living, you won’t find one more honest than farming.”

More mumbles.

I turned to Twilight. “Do magic on this colt to make everything he say three times louder.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Nav,” she said.

“Twilight, who has the big axe, me or you?” She rolled her eyes and her horn glowed for a moment.

“Alright, random colt, what’ll it be? Orphanage or staying here?”

“Can I… talk it over with them?” he asked.

“Sure.” I crossed my arms, watching them.

“Uh, in private?”

“Oh hell no. You can do it right here. ‘Can I talk to my friends in private’ is code for ‘We’re ditching this place and running away where we’ll be starving again in a day or two.’ You’re free to bail on this place as soon as you give living here a chance. Running from the orphanage is your own problem, but it would be a lot easier to keep you in the orphanage if Celestia wanted to keep you there. So your choice, kids. Try living in Ponyville or go to the orphanage in Canterlot.”

“Then can you at least turn this thing on my voice off?” the colt asked.

I nodded at Twilight. Her horn glowed a moment.

The filly spoke up. “If we promise not to run away, can we talk in private?”

“Twilight, give them a bubble. Something they can’t get out of and we can’t hear what they say.” Her horn glowed again and a transparent purple bubble appeared around them. One of them tapped it and grimaced when he found that he couldn’t escape. They got down to discussing. “Mayor Mare.” She jerked when I looked at her. “Why am I dealing with this? I thought I had to do this crap when a public official was not available. And why is there a crowd?”

“Well, Twilight said we should send for you, since this seemed like an easy case…”

I started glaring at Twilight as soon as the mayor mentioned her name. She was grinning sheepishly. I turned back to the mayor, trying to calm myself. “And the crowd?”

“My fault, sugarcube,” Applejack said. “I was uh… raising a bit of a scene as I dragged these three into town.”

I turned back to the kids. They were looking at me. One seemed to be knocking on the barrier. “Twilight, be ready to grab them if they run off.” She nodded. “Let them out.” She did. They didn’t try to make a run for it.

“Alright, what’s your choice?” I asked them.

“Orphanage,” the spokes-colt said.

“Alright. Good luck in life, kids.” I turned to the guards. “Can you two make sure they get to Canterlot? And that means watching them, because as soon as they get out of my sight, they’re going to make a break for it.” The filly let out an ‘eep.’ I turned to them. “I understand, kids. I know you’re used to being together and you’re worried that you’ll be pulled apart when you get to the orphanage. Celestia is a very understanding lady. She’ll make sure you’re well taken care of. You’re going into an uncertain future from a depressing past and that probably scares you. It’ll be okay.” I turned back to the guards. “Can you two handle it?”

They saluted. “Yes sir!”

“Good. Don’t hurt them, please. Honestly, if you can hold onto the filly, you’ll probably be able to keep the other two under control easily enough.” I turned to the crowd. “What are you still doing here, ponies?” They started dispersing. I turned to Applejack. “How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing, Nav. I don’t charge starving foals for food.” She turned to the kids. “But if I catch you three in my fields again without having asked me first, you’re going to be working off your debt.” They didn’t meet her gaze. She nodded after a moment and walked off.

I nodded to the guards, who began herding the kids away. I slid my axe into its holder and jumped into the air, only to find myself dragged down by a purple aura. “What, Twilight?” I asked.

“How do you always know it’s me?”

“Because the aura is purple. What do you want?”

“First, I want you to explain about this ‘aura’ I’ve heard you mentioning. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard you talk about it.”

“You mean you really don’t see it?” She shook her head. “Alrighty then. Every time a unicorn uses magic, I see an aura around their horn. It’s usually the color of the horn itself. That’s how I immediately knew something was off when Chrysalis was hiding as Cadance; Cadance has a bluish glow, while Chrysalis has a greenish glow. And whatever the unicorn manipulates also gets an aura. Right now, I see a purple aura around me. And when several unicorns manipulate the same object, the colors meld.”

“Hm… We’re going to have to test that… Why didn’t you ever mention it before?”

“I thought it was normal. Where’s Taya, anyway? I haven’t seen her in a little while.”

“She’s with Pinkie,” Twilight said distractedly. “So you see an aura for every unicorn that does magic? What’s Luna’s?”

“Blue. Celestia’s is gold.”

She trotted to the library, holding me behind her. I sighed and got as comfortable as I could. We made it quickly enough, thankfully. We did get a few stares, but it wasn’t exactly an uncommon sight, I’m sad to say.

Thankfully she set me down when we got inside. I casually slipped on my ring while she was rummaging around for paper and whatnot. She found what she was looking for easily enough and began testing my ‘magic sensing ability,’ as she called it.

I was able to accurately tell every time she manipulated something in the library. I would have questioned her as to why she was doing this when I already told her what I could do, but this was Twilight we were talking about. She would probably repeat all the tests when Taya got back to make sure I could do it with other unicorns.

And she did, of course. She tested me for hours. She even sent for Rarity to test me some more. So much for my free day…

 

 

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