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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12. Chapter Nine—Hunter... or hunted?

One night after Twilight and Spike went off to bed, I got another visit from the princess of the night. “How can I help you, Luna?” I asked, trying to stop her from looking into the library behind me.

“Allowing me out of the cold for a few moments would be nice,” she said. Fuck. I stood aside and let her enter. “My thanks. It is quite… What were you doing in here?” she asked, looking at the crossbow I had broken down and the bolts I was readying.

“You kinda caught me at a bad time,” I said, shutting the door and walking past her. “I was about to go hunting. It can wait until tomorrow, though.”

“Hunting… In the Everfree, I assume?” she asked, walking up to the crossbow parts and examining them.

“Yep. I would go to the Whitetail Woods and hunt, but apparently the deer are sapient and I don’t eat things that can talk. The Everfree has plenty of its own dangers, but I’m very careful and don’t usually go in far enough to find anything overly large.”

“I see… And why go at night, in the cold?”

“The cold is a tradition thing. Hunting season back where I come from is in winter. And there’s usually a lot of movement at night, I’ve found. It’s a lot harder to see, though, which is a big problem. But once I make my kill, I just fly out as quickly as I can.”

“Very well, then. I shall go with you.”

“...What? It’s not safe for a princess there!”

“I know you speak out of ignorance, so I will take no offense. But there was a saying long ago. The sun is the shield of Equestria. The moon is the sword. It will interest me to see how you hunt.”

“...And you won’t be disturbed by the sight of me skinning anything?”

“I most definitely will not. It is more likely I will be able to teach you something, I believe.” For some reason, I find that hard to believe.

“Alright,” I sighed, shrugging. “Let me just put this together, get changed, and then we can go.”

It didn’t take me long to fit all the parts of the crossbow back together. It was somewhat shabbily made and I very much wanted to get a better one, but not having much in the way of money put a damper on that. I need to start doing odd jobs or something. These hands have gotta be worth some kinda money.

Luna watched very intently as I put the crossbow together. “I have never seen such a weapon,” she admitted when it was in one piece.

“That’s not too surprising,” I said. “It takes fingers to use, after all. I’ll be back down in a second.”

She seemed content to study the crossbow more as I went to put on some colder weather clothes. I had that set specifically designed to be used for night hunting. It was basically just dark camouflage. I got dressed quickly, so soon enough I was back down to the front room of the library.

Luna had moved her observations to my bolts. “Are these forms of… spears?” she asked.

“Sort of.” I picked up the crossbow and put ten of the broadhead bolts in a quiver I made just for hunting. The bolts went around my waist and the crossbow went around my shoulder. “You ready?”

“I have no need for weapons, so yes.” Show off.

“Then let’s go,” I said, walking to the door. We let ourselves out and made sure the door was closed behind us, then started walking to the forest. “So how much do you know about the Everfree?”

“Little, other than that it has a special resonance with me. It started as a dark grove atop a bastion of evil. When I went to cleanse it… I failed. It has since grown, though it seems that its expansion has stopped. It needs to be mapped, but many are wary of it. And Celestia refuses to allow me to send anypony within.”

“That might be for the best. That place is hellish.”

“Yes, but it could possibly still be cleansed. The forest is… alive, in a way. It feels dangers and sends its monsters to seek them out. The more dangerous you make yourself, the more dangerous the forest will become. And the further you go to the heart, the more and more frenzied its attempts will be to cast you out. Going in as a simple hunter along the fringes is safe. But going in deeper, armed to the teeth, would be a fatal mistake.”

“Then let’s not make that mistake,” I said, my feathers ruffling.

“...Very well, Nav. So what do you hunt tonight?”

“Whatever I can find that’s small enough to carry out but enough to provide for more than one meal. With as much variety as there is in that place, it shouldn’t be hard to find something fairly quickly.”

“Are there any beasts of which I will need to be wary?” she asked. “There is little that can harm me, I believe, but such overconfidence has cost many a battle.”

“You see any chicken heads, look away immediately,” I said. “Same for buffalo heads. You meet the eye of a cockatrice or a catoblepas, have fun getting turned to stone. And be wary of even the flowers. There are patches of blue ones in there called poison joke that’ll fuck you up just by touching them. Same for any inconspicuous animals. I’ve seen a regular rabbit in there make something twice its size run away in terror once.” Shame I didn’t have a holy hand grenade with me.

“...I shall be cautious. You know that I could have griffins supply you with meat, right?”

“Shit, really?” I asked. “How much would that cost me?”

“Continued friendship, of course,” she said. “It wouldn’t be too expensive for them to make a side detour to Ponyville. They already supply a restaurant in Canterlot, after all.”

“That would… certainly be nice. That said, and try not to take this the wrong way, but killing things is fun. It gives me an adrenaline rush like nothing else. Most humans feel the same way, even if they don’t like to admit it. There’s just something about taking a life that feels so… empowering. I could easily live without it, and if the forest gets too dangerous I will, but why go without that rush if I don’t have to?”

She slowly nodded, pretending like she understood. “I used to be friends with many dragons that spoke the same way of killing,” she quietly said, looking forward. “They spoke of battle and the rush from finding and besting a foe. I confess, even I have felt a similar rush at many times, but I fear I lack the instinctive joy given to those lucky souls born as predators instead of herbivores.”

That is probably the creepiest thing she might have ever said to me. “...There are times when you scare me.”

“Fear not the night, Nav,” she said, “for the night is your friend, and friends have little to fear from friends.” I let that kill the conversation because I really didn’t like where it was going.

And besides, we were at the forest. I stopped right before entering and unslung the crossbow to cock it. “When we get in there, if you hear anything, quietly let me know,” I said. “With those big ears, you can probably pick up more stuff than I can.”

“Alright,” she answered. “Same for smell?”

“Sure, I guess. How quiet can you be?”

“Not very. However, magic has a solution.” Her horn lit up and a spell slowly settled over her, an aura slowly sinking down to her hooves. When it hit the ground, it dissipated and she nodded, then waved a hoof to the forest.

I fitted a bolt into the crossbow and began walking in, keeping the weapon raised and ready. As soon as I got past the first row of trees, I felt the darkness intensify around me. The forest itself seemed to suck some of the life from me, but I was used to it at that point. I continued on, Luna silently ghosting behind me. While I couldn’t be nearly as quiet as her cheating ass could, I made sure not to unsettle too many of the fallen leaves as I walked, peering through the dead underbrush of the forest.

The only times I could see very well were when shafts of moonlight swept through the little remaining foliage of the upper layer, casting the area in a pale glow. For a while, the forest itself was silent and the only sounds I could hear were the footsteps I was making and my own steady breathing, each breath of which sent out a thin plume of fog. Slowly, as the bugs and lesser creatures of the forest became used to my presence once again, more noises began joining me.

There weren’t too many things out since it was winter, but a gentle cacophony of bugs and some manner of night birds soon picked up. The ‘forest’ part of Everfree Forest was somewhat of a misnomer. The actual place was a strange mix of  jungle, swamp, and forest, with animals of all types present. Plants of all types, as well. I’d dread entering the place come summer due to horribly humid weather within.

We were walking within the place for about ten minutes when I felt something pull on my shoulder. I came to a stop, looking around. Luna used the hoof that stopped me to point to the left. I slowly turned that way, aiming the crossbow before me. My breath caught when I saw the animal that was passing near us. It appeared to be a mix between a saber-toothed lion, a dragon, a scorpion, and a unicorn. Catlike head with large tusks, a single horn, a scorpion stinger, and scales covering the entire thing. Dingonek

I knelt down quietly, watching it walk past and trying to make myself as small and silent a target as possible. Don’t notice me, don’t notice me… For the love of God, just keep walking… I very seriously doubted that my crossbow could even pierce that thing’s scales and I didn’t want to fucking find out. Even if I could hurt it, there’s no way I’d want to try eating that thing or dragging it out. Hell, what was something so dangerous doing so close to the edge?

Thankfully, it soon moved out of sight. I waited another three minutes before standing again and continuing on my way. Luna followed with nary a sound, her hoof-falls swallowed in the void of the spell she cast.

About fifteen minutes later, I got lucky and spotted something a little to the right. I held up a fist, hopefully letting Luna know to stop, and knelt down, aiming the crossbow at the two bird-like creatures in front of me. Chickcharneys, they were. Those things are basically long-limbed owls with legs and really weird arms. The bestiary Twilight gave me about animals in the forest had a number of legends associated with those things, but none of them were very important.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a very good shot from where I was. There were too many dead shrubs and shit in the way. So I started slowly and quietly circling, trying to find a better spot from which to fire. The two birds appeared to be foraging on the ground floor, which probably meant they found a rat or something and were either tearing it apart or waiting for it to emerge from its cover.

From the small actions they were making, I knew they knew they were being watched, and both seemed tensed to fly away at any signs that I was actually getting closer. The animals in the forest aren’t used to things that have ranged weapons, thankfully, so they didn’t know it would be within their best interests to flee immediately instead of waiting.

I taught one of them that lesson seconds later, sending him flying away in terror when I killed his friend from fifteen yards with the crossbow. Birds aren’t exactly the most resilient of creatures, so it was easily a one shot kill. I immediately reloaded the crossbow and continued to wait, kneeling. Luna moved from her position where I left her over to me and put a hoof on my shoulder, cocking her head in confusion.

“Wait,” I very, very quietly whispered. She blinked and looked around before joining me in kneeling, watching the scene before us. It took about twenty more minutes, but the other bird finally flew back from where it had been hiding, alighting on a nearby branch and looking at its friend’s body, presumably wondering if it would be worth continuing the search for the rat they were originally looking for.

So they’re just like deer. Even with a dead one in the field, they’ll come back. Interesting. I lifted the crossbow and shot him as well, forgetting until I pulled the trigger to correct my aim for the height difference. Since I was aiming at the center of mass, the bolt completely obliterated its face, dropping it to the ground floor and sending the bolt careening off into the forest.

I just shrugged and stood, reloading the crossbow again before walking to the clearing. Luna joined me. “Simple,” I whispered, nodding at the two dead birds. “Won’t taste the best since they’re predators, but better than nothing.”

“Is that it, then?” Luna asked, removing her spell. “You murder them from afar?”

“Hey, I don’t have any natural hunting mechanisms,” I said, grabbing the one under the tree and dragging it to the center with the other. “No claws, no teeth. Humans hunt with their brains, not their bodies. To that end, we make tools. A crossbow is one such tool that enables easier killing. You can argue that it isn’t sporting. But hunting isn’t about sport. Hunting is about getting food. And here I have two very fine examples of food. Now let’s go before the smell of blood attracts something bigger than the two of us combined.” I kept one hand around the crossbow’s pistol-grip and put the other around the legs of the two birds, lifting my wings.

“Let us leave this place, then,” Luna said, nodding. She took off first and I let her get above the treeline before joining her in the air. Together, we flew back towards Ponyville. But we didn’t make it all the way, since I wasn’t about to go into town with two dead birds like that. “Why are we stopping here?” Luna asked when we got to the place I habitually cooked my meat.

“Because Twilight doesn’t like it when I skin things in her house,” I said, setting the two birds down on a cleared patch of dirt next to the little stream. “There’s plenty of dead wood in the little copse there and the stream makes cleaning tools easy. I’ll pluck and skin them, cook some of the meat now, and bring the rest back to cook later. Twilight doesn’t much like it, but she hasn’t complained enough yet to make me stop.”

“I see. And would you mind a guest at your miniature feast?”

“Hey, if you want to eat meat, that is on you. But if you get sick, don’t blame me. If you want to save me some time, go get some dried wood so we can get a fire going.”

Her horn lit up and one of the rocks I set up in a circle lit on fire. The blaze spread to the others around it, creating a burning ring of fire.

“...Alright, that works. It means you’re going to be waiting while I pluck and skin these, though.”

Once again, her horn lit up, lifting the two of the birds off the ground. Her eyes narrowed and suddenly every feather off both of them was ripped out. My eyebrows lifted in surprise.

“You can cheat, I get it. Are you gonna rip their skin off, too? Just take the rest of the honesty out of it?”

“Do you enjoy plucking and skinning your kills?” she asked, lifting one of her eyebrows.

“No. But if I’m going to murder them in such a dishonest way, treating their bodies with respect is the least I can do to repay them. Disdainfully using magic in such a way ruins any chance to make up for it.”

“The dead are dead, Nav. They have no feelings, no cares left. Assuaging your guilt over their immediate and unfair demise is one thing. But you should not pretend that you do such a thing for their benefit rather than your own. If it will make you feel better, take your time with this one,” she said, pushing the one that didn’t have a destroyed face at me. “But I have few such compunctions and less time to spend here. So if you don’t mind…” Her horn lit up and a strange flash of light appeared around the feet of the bird. The light slowly moved up the creature’s legs and then the body, disintegrating the outer skin as it moved. It finished by removing the entire head. “Simple.”

I just shook my head, saying, “I suppose to one that has no knowledge of spirituality or hunting, or at least the knowledge that I do, such a thing is acceptable. And explaining it would be… pointless, I imagine.” I tossed the other bird back to her. “Do as you would. I’ll start pulling the meat off this one.”

“It pleases me that you saw reason,” she said with a smile. There was no answer I could make to that, so I just found the smooth, flat rock I used for cooking and set the bird on it. Then I took the knife and started slicing, removing the good meat and setting it in one pile and removing the things that weren’t fit to eat and tossing them into the fire.

After clearing the skin off the other bird, she sat at my side, watching me work and occasionally asking questions. Since it was just a bird, it only took about ten minutes or so to get all the meat worth eating off the thing. When I had everything off it, I tossed the body into the blaze and set the meat out in strips before moving the rock close to the stream. As bitterly cold as the stream was, I knew I needed to get all the blood off the meat and rock before I began cooking.

“What are you doing?” Luna asked as the water ran over the meat, washing the red away.

“Cleaning it,” I said. “I’m not about to just pull meat out of something’s body and cook it like this without cleaning it first. Unless I can hold it directly over the fire, that would be very risky, health-wise.”

“Hm. That is not something I considered.”

“Always good to be careful…” Soon, the rock was ready to be moved to the fire. “This isn’t exactly the best way to cook, since I don’t have any spices or anything,” I said.

“I’m sure it will still be just fine,” she replied, smiling. “Just don’t tell my sister that you let me have any of this. She would not approve.”

“Simple enough.” Luna and I just watched the meat cook for a minute before I said, “Hey, you want to try your hand at getting the meat out of the other one?”

She blinked in surprise. “Really? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, if you want. I mean, it’s not like anything’ll happen if you mess up. Birds are pretty straightforward, not much meat to ruin or waste.”

“Yes, that makes me feel better,” she sarcastically answered.

“Glad I can help. There’s another flat rock around here somewhere. Here’s the knife.” She gripped it with her magic and used her horn to light up the area much better so she could find the rock in question. She pulled it over and set it down next to us, then set the bird on it.

“Should I just start anywhere?” she asked.

“It doesn’t matter, no. Just be careful with the internal organs. You don’t want to rupture them and risk shooting fluids anywhere.”

“That sounds… interesting,” she commented, taking the knife and carving even slices of bird out while I used a stick to make sure the meat that was cooking didn’t stick to the rock.

“It’s interesting but terrible,” I said. “Especially if it’s anything from the stomach. You definitely don’t want to pierce that; it smells terrible.”

“I can imagine. How many times have you done this?”

“Not many. I only skinned a single deer back home, since hunting was just a rare hobby instead of something I could do all the time. I knew the theory, but the first few times I did it here, I learned a lot. This is probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve gone hunting in the Everfree. I don’t really go that often.”

“Understandable. How often will you go if you start getting meat from the griffins?”

“Even less often. I can live without killing or the danger. It takes something away from the taste if you didn’t kill what you’re eating yourself, but I’m okay with that. I’ve gotten my first kill, gotten my hands drenched in blood. I know the feel of it now, which is something that everyone that eats meat should know.”

“Now that is a thought that I like. Shame that it doesn’t apply to ponies. Though I suppose I could make all of the rich courtiers that surround my sister and I like flies come down to Ponyville and assist farmer Applejack with her crops. They complain of the ever-changing prices of various items while never considering the work put into preparing them. Even my sister is guilty of such inaction, at times.”

“Hey, I didn’t see you down here helping with the harvest.”

“My sister and I run a country, Navarone,” she shot back. “Those courtiers do little other than laze about and whine. Why my sister puts up with those fools is beyond me. In my time, our court was small and filled only with those that had specific uses. Guards, soldiers, an agricultural advisor, a weather manager, a magic advisor, and a few others. Every complaint or query from visiting ponies was filtered through our advisors first. Now it seems that everypony with two bits to rub together can directly petition my sister with little more than a short screening period. She complains of all her time wasted and yet…”

“She does it to herself?”

“Indeed. She tells me that times have changed and that I should change with them. But why, when such new methods are so grossly wasteful?” she asked, slicing the knife through bone in anger.

“Careful there,” I calmly said, putting a hand on her shoulder. She pulled the knife away with a nod and began working correctly again. “You and your sister have different courts, don’t you? Day court and night court?”

“Yes.”

“Then find all the advisors you want and set your court up in the old fashioned way. See which works best, hers or yours. If you can get someone to give you an unbiased opinion of the differences between the two methods after some time, you can either stick to your guns if your way is better or confidently do things the new way knowing precisely why it works better instead of just taking Celestia’s word for it.”

“That is… an idea,” she said, slowly nodding. I removed my hand from her shoulder and went back to poking at the meat. “I believe I shall do that,” she finally said. “Though it will take me some time to find advisors willing to be nocturnal.”

“You found guards to do it. I’m sure it won’t be a huge leap to find some civilians as well.”

“True. I will manage. And I believe I’m finished with this bird.”

“Then cast the remains in the flame. It looks like this stuff here is done cooking as well.”

“Wonderful!” Her horn lit up and the carcass floated to the fire. “Shall we dig in, then?”

“If you want to burn your mouth, be my guest,” I said, pulling the warm rock away from the fire. “I’m going to wait a minute or two for it to cool off.”

“...That is wise.” She sat next to me as we waited. “It really is cold out here…” she said.

“Yep. That’s winter for you.”

She was silent for another few moments before sighing and saying, “Fine, I’ll do it, then.” After that, she wrapped her wing around me and pulled me close. “There.”

“If you’re really that cold, we could have just moved closer to the fire,” I said, throwing my arm around her shoulder.

“This is more comfortable and requires less moving.” There was no real answer to that, since I could already feel her gentle warmth radiating through my side. She was presumably getting just as much, given that I was wearing one hell of a winter suit. “How long should we wait?”

“Eh, now should be good enough,” I said, stabbing one piece with my knife and bringing it up to my mouth. “But let me test it first.” With her watching, I took a small bite out, finding it at an acceptable temperature. “It’s alright for me,” I said, swallowing it. “Doesn’t taste all that great and it’s kinda dry, but it’s meat.”

“Good enough for me,” she said, levitating a piece up. “Oh, it’s been too long since I’ve had any of this,” she sighed, shoving the whole chunk in her mouth. Alright, Luna is really starting to scare me.

Scary or not, we ate that whole bird, down to the very last chunk. “You want to cook up the other one?” I asked. At that point, I was starting to feel quite tired and didn’t really feel like eating anymore, but apparently this wasn’t something she could get away with eating back at the palace.

“Not this time,” she said. “Meat is interesting to eat, but not very healthy for us. And sadly, I believe it is about time I returned to the palace. Would you like me to walk you home?”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like walking back. Want to just grab everything and fly?”

“That is acceptable. Need I carry anything?”

“Feel free to grab the leftover meat. I wasn’t expecting to bag two kills tonight, so I didn’t bring anything to carry the leftovers in.”

She nodded and stood, pulling away from my grasp and instantly making me feel twice as cold all over. “Then let us gather things quickly and leave. It is cold.”

“Sure is…” I said as I stood and walked to where I left the crossbow. I pulled the hunting bolt out and put a practice one in, decocking it by shooting it into the soft dirt. After recovering the bolt, I walked over to where she had all the meat floating next to her. “Shall we?”

“Let’s.” We both took off, soaring toward Ponyville. It didn’t take us too long to arrive at the library. She entered with me so we could easily put the meat up. Soon enough, we were both in the main lobby again.

“That was actually pretty fun,” I quietly said, shrugging off the thick greatcoat I had on. “I didn’t expect any of the ponies to be hunters or so blasé about blood.”

“I am not most ponies,” Luna said. “Should you go again, I might be interested in going with you.”

“Winter’s almost over, so I probably won’t go as often. But if I do decide to head in, I’ll certainly let you know beforehand.”

“Excelsior!” I just barely stopped myself from cracking up when she said that. “But I’m afraid that I must be going. Duty calls, sadly.”

“I understand. Have fun, Luna.”

“Unlikely.” Her horn lit up and I thought she was about to teleport out. Instead, something pulled against my back and forced me into her, where she hugged me. “But you aren’t fettered by the same constraints, so you may definitely enjoy yourself.”

“...Right,” I answered, awkwardly patting her back. “See you when I see you.”

“Whenever that may be,” she answered before teleporting away from her grasp on me, making me stumble for a second.

Luna’s fucking weird. I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

A few weeks after that, an odd thing happened. Twilight, Spike, and I were all chilling in the library. Twilight was taking notes or something. Spike was dusting. I was cleaning my fingernails with a knife, about to head out to do… something.

There was a knock at the door. “Spike, can you get that?” Twilight asked, not even looking up.

“Uh…” he looked down to what he was doing and then up to me. “Nav, can you get that?”

I set my knife on the table, got up, and went to the door. I casually opened it and beheld a white unicorn wearing a cape. “Can I he—” I started.

He used magic to slap me with a thin silk glove. “THE GREAT WHITE UNICORN PELT IS HERE TO SLAY YOU, BEAST!” I didn’t even have time to wonder why a pony had a glove.

I looked at him. He glared at me.

I slowly reached down into my pocket and pulled out one of the gloves I showed up with, put it on, and casually backhanded him across the face with that hand as hard as I could. “I accept your challenge.”

He spit out a tooth and some blood and fixed me with an even greater glare of pure hatred. “So…” I said. “You going to start slaying me yet?”

“TOWN SQUARE. FIFTEEN MINUTES. BE THERE OR I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE THE MONSTER YOU ARE!”

Jesus, turn off the caps lock.

Without another word, he turned around and stalked away. I heard him shouting around to bring up a crowd.

“What was that about?” Twilight asked, still not looking up. I closed the door.

“Oh, some unicorn just came here and told me he was going to kill me in fifteen minutes. I’ll go get my crossbow. Be back soon.”

“Have fun, N—WHAT?!” She finally turned to face me and used magic to pull me closer to her. “What did you say?”

“Some pompous fuck just came by and told me he was going to slay me like a beast or something. He said to meet him in town square, though really it’s more of a circle. I suppose I should correct him before I kill him.”

She dropped me. I went upstairs to get my crossbow and some bolts. I heard her yelling to Spike. When I came down he was writing furiously. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I told her, heading to the door.

“You can’t just go and fight him, Nav!” Twilight said, terribly distraught.

“Silly Twilight,” I said, ruffling her mane. “I’m not going to fight him.” She looked relieved. “I’m just going to kill him.” Her relief vanished.

“But you can’t—”

“It’s done, Twilight!” Spike interrupted, waving a letter. With a flourish he sent it away.

I sighed. “You aren’t going to let me go out there, are you?”

“Not until Princess Celestia gets here to clean this mess up, no!”

I shouldered my crossbow. “How long should she take? I really should be leaving now if I want to make his timeframe.”

With an explosion of magic, Celestia appeared right next to me. Twilight and Spike immediately went to their knees. “What’s this I hear about a unicorn trying to hurt Navarone?” she asked.

“Some dude just came by, slapped me with a glove, and told me he was going to kill me in a few minutes in town circle,” I answered. “I guess you want to watch me kill him?”

She frowned. “Navarone, stop it.” I sighed and put my crossbow down on a table. “That’s better. Now let’s go find out what this stallion wants.” She led the way out of the library. When she opened the door we saw Rarity and Rainbow Dash right outside, about to knock. When they saw her they bowed.

“We were just about to come and tell Twilight there was a stallion raving in town circle,” Rarity said. “He’s ranting about killing the beast that lives in the tree.”

“Thank you both, but I have already been made aware of this,” Celestia said. “Come along, all of you.” She led us toward the center of town.

“YOU DON’T NEED TO FEAR ANY LONGER, CITIZENS!” we heard him shouting. “I WILL RID YOU OF THIS MONSTER!”

It didn’t take long for him to notice the growing crowd of bowing ponies. “HE HAS YOU ALL SO AFRAID THAT YOU—” He saw Celestia and his eyes almost bulged out of his head. “Princess! You came yourself to see me defeat this monster?” Then he saw me walking behind her. If I thought his eyes were bulging before… “LOOK OUT!” He tried to rush to her ‘aid,’ but she forced him to stop with magic.

She picked him up and pushed him to the center of town, in the middle of the large crowd that had now formed. I followed. She slowly set him back on the ground and in a voice that wasn’t a yell and yet had no problem carrying, she said, “What is this I hear about a monster loose in Ponyville?”

She released him from her spell. He pointed right at me. “I am here to slay this monster and free Ponyville of its subjugations!”

She looked at me and then behind me and frowned. “I don’t see any monsters near or behind my good friend Navarone,” she said.

His mouth dropped. “G-g-good f-f-f-f-friend?” he practically whimpered.

She smiled. I crossed my arms and ruffled my wings.

“Yes, my good friend Navarone,” she answered, pushing me forward with one of her wings. “I’m sure if you ever need any help in your monster slaying travels, he can assist you; he is very good at dispatching unicorns that grow in power and arrogance and try to take over the minds of other ponies.” I don’t think that’s quite true… Though I guess I did help beat Trixie.

I heard some murmuring in the crowd. And if this fellow’s face dropped any further he was going to have to sew it back on.

Suddenly, I started to hear a whistling noise to my left. I ignored it, trying to focus on what Celestia was going to hit this dude with next. The noise got louder and louder until everyone but the monster hunter was looking at it.

It was Fluttershy.

And holy shit was she pissed.

She slammed into the unicorn. “DON’T YOU DARE HURT NAVARONE!” Holy fuck! I rushed forward to grab her before she really hurt the guy.

I had to actually rip her off of him. “Fluttershy, it’s okay!” I tried saying. “Celestia’s here, he’s not going to do a thing.” That got her attention long enough for me to get her off. I grabbed her, gently stroking her mane to try to soothe her. She was glaring at the guy on the ground, huddling in terror. I pulled her away from him and she followed me, not letting her eyes off of him. I think he was crying. I whispered into her ear, “That was awesome.” She blinked, realizing where she was.

She started hyperventilating, trying to hold onto me. I led her away from the area, the crowd parting before us. A lot of the ponies were smiling, either at me for helping her or at her for kicking that guy’s ass. I led her to Twilight’s library, since that was the closest place that was absolutely cool for me to be in; I was welcome in most public places, but I still got plenty of stares and a few snubs.

Maybe after this that would change.

I sat her down on the couch that seems to appear and disappear at need. I’m not joking about that—it is not there when I don’t need it and it is there when I want to sit down on something that isn’t a chair. No, I don’t know how that works.

“So like I said, that was pretty fucking awesome,” I said when I had her down and relatively calmed down. She blushed. “Mind, I don’t know if Celestia will agree, but I have never had a friend stick her neck out like that for me.” I held my fist out. She flinched automatically. I sighed and grabbed one of her hooves with my other hand and gently hit my fist with it. “Good enough,” I said. “Now, what the hell came over you?”

She blushed again, even deeper this time. “I… I was in the market, and I heard somepony saying a unicorn was here to kill you. I just sort of… lost my temper. I don’t know what happened!” I think she was almost about to either cry or start hyperventilating again.

“Fluttershy, it’s okay,” I said. “It is perfectly normal to be upset when you hear something like that. If anyone was trying to hurt any of you, you can bet money I’d be hauling ass to get to you to help. That is what friends do for each other.” I paused for a moment. “That said, though, I would probably get more details before tackling the fucker,” I added with a smile. “Especially with Celestia standing right there.

Her eyes went wide. “P-p-princess C-c-c-c-celestia! I thought you were saying that to make me calm down!” She started hyperventilating again.

I rolled my eyes and pulled her into a hug. Her wings flared, but after a moment she returned it. Her breathing slowly started to return to normal. When I heard the door open I finally let her go. Princess Celestia was there, watching us.

“Celestia,” I said, nodding.

“Navarone,” she answered, stepping in. “This incident will not repeat itself. I—” her eyes flicked to Fluttershy—“We have ensured that.” She sighed. “I honestly expected the ponies here to accept you more readily, Navarone. If Luna and I can do so, why can’t they?” She shook her head sadly.

“Because they don’t give me a chance, Princess,” I answered and shrugged. “I don’t really blame them. If something as strange as me came to our world and was left to roam free, stuff like this would happen to it too.” Well, actually it would all be much worse, but meh.

She didn’t have a response to that. She turned to Fluttershy, who bowed her head in what I was assuming was shame. “Fluttershy, have you learned anything from this?”

Fluttershy mumbled something. I put a hand on one of her hooves. She gave me a hasty smile and looked up at the princess. “I learned that you should never act without thinking or learning the full situation, even if you think somepony might be in danger. You might just hurt somepony that doesn’t really deserve it.” Not a very good Aesop, in my mind, but whatever.

Celestia turned her gaze to me. “And what did you learn, Navarone?”

I shrugged. “Ponies are occasionally kickass friends.”

She blinked. “Try again.”

“Uh. If some dick comes to challenge me to a duel, tell the princess on him?”

She shook her head. “One more time.”

I scratched my head. “Look, Princess, I’m not good at the Aesops. Given the choice, I would have just taken my crossbow down there and deep sixed that sumbitch. It would have dealt with this asshole, though it probably would have made the rest of the ponies in town pretty terrified. But to be quite honest, I don’t really give a damn anymore.” I shrugged. “If they don’t want to accept me, fuck ‘em. With these wings growing out of my back, I’m here in this world to stay.”

“I’m going to pretend you stopped three sentences sooner,” she answered. “Now give it a proper ending.”

I blinked, trying to remember what I had said. Dammit, where’s Pinkie Pie when I need her? She could just reach through the fourth wall, grab what I was going to write in my journals, and tell me. “…And that would be bad?” I said awkwardly.

Celestia smiled. “Close enough. Now unfortunately, I must return to the palace. It was as always a pleasure to speak with you, Navarone, and to see you, Fluttershy.” Before we could respond, she disappeared with a loud thunderclap.

“Well whatayaknow,” I said. “She finally asked me for one of those friendship lesson things she always makes you write her.” Hopefully it never happens again.

Fluttershy smiled awkwardly. “I don’t think she liked yours very much, Nav.”

I shrugged. “That’s just because I’m a human living in a pony’s world. The Establishment’s trying to keep me down.” She didn’t get it. I waved it away.

Twilight and Spike came in then, so Fluttershy was spared the awkwardness of more of my strange human jokes. “Can you believe that stallion?” Twilight asked. “Coming here like that!” She sniffed. “He’s lucky the princess let him go like she did.”

“Well,” I said, “I knocked a tooth out and Fluttershy here kicked his ass. I suppose that was enough.”

“You knocked out one of his teeth?” Spike asked with wonder in his voice. “You didn’t even touch him!”

I went over to the door and opened it. I reached down and picked up the tooth the guy spat out and held it up. “When he slapped me with his little glove to challenge me, I responded with a glove of my own,” I said. “But instead of slapping him with it, I slapped him with my fucking hand. Hard.”

“That’s uh… pretty mean,” Spike slowly said.

“Sure is,” I replied with a shrug. “Motherfucker shouldn’t have shown up to kill me.” Then I turned back to Fluttershy. “You need any help shopping?” I asked her.

She quickly shook her head, but then thought for a moment. “Maybe you can help me solve a problem, Nav.”

“I can certainly try,” I said. She led me out of the building, leaving Twilight to her boring work and Spike to cleaning.

“It’s… Angel,” she said. “He doesn’t like eating regular food, you see…”

“Fluttershy, I don’t know a damn thing about animals. But I’ll see what I can do, I suppose. What happens when you try to give stuff like that to him?”

She described the situation. “Uh huh,” I answered. I didn’t say anything else. The rest of the walk to her little shack was in silence.

She went in first and said she was back and whatnot. An assload of little critters were inside, playing. I saw Angel staring at her impatiently. When he saw me his gaze froze a bit, but went back to impatient quickly enough.

I walked up to him. He stared up at me fearlessly.

Until he saw my face.

“Let’s go for a little walk,” I said. He shook his head and tried to bound away. I snatched him by his bunny ears. “I’m glad you agree. We’ll be right back, Fluttershy,” I said. She nodded, looking down at one of her other little friends. She didn’t see Angel frantically trying to get her attention.

When we were outside and a few minutes away from the house I sat down next to a tree. I held Angel up to my eyes. “So I heard you like specially cooked meals,” I said. He just looked at me. “So do I. You know, I used to be a bit of a cook back home. Do you know what I specialized in?” He didn’t. “Rabbit soup.” His eyes went as wide as a bunny’s could. “Rabbits worked fine, but bunnies were better. Younger and more tender, you know?” I smiled easily and poked him in the belly. He gulped.

I pulled the knife out of my pocket and opened it with a loud click. He looked at it, fear evident in his eyes. I set the knife down on my knee.

“Do you know what I do to people that hit my friends, Angel?” His eyes returned to mine. “I hurt them.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “Now don’t get me wrong, Angel: I don’t like hurting others. In fact, I detest it. So do you know what you are going to do for me?” One of his eyes popped open. “You are going to make sure I don’t have to hurt anyone. No one is going to be hitting my good friend Fluttershy on your watch, right?” He frantically shook his head. “Good. I would hate to have to skin something as small as you to make some nice bunny stew.”

I picked my knife up, closed it, and slid it into a pocket. “Now how about I set you down so you can go eat what Fluttershy has for you?” He nodded his head like a jackhammer. I put him down and let him go. He sprinted right to Fluttershy’s house. I followed at a more sedate pace.

When I got inside, I found he was eating some manner of green pellet or something Fluttershy had laid out for him. “And you said you didn’t know about animals!” she said to me, smiling.

“Angel and I, we reached an understanding of sorts,” I said. He looked over to me and I patted my pocket. His ears slumped and he shoved a pellet in his mouth. I smiled, nodding.

“Well, whatever you did, thank you!”

“Anything for a friend, Fluttershy. If you need any more help, just ask.” She happily nodded and I stepped back into the nice day.

Some time after I showed up in Equestria, Pinkie Pie tried holding a party for me, calling it my birthday. She started discussing it with me when I bumped into her at the market place. Applejack was with her. When I told her my birthday was actually in March, she gave me the oddest look I’ve ever seen from her.

“What do you mean, it’s in March?” she asked.

I shrugged. “It’s in March. What more do you want?”

“…Why didn’t you say anything before? I would have thrown you a great party!”

“Have I ever been the sort to like parties?”

“Uh, yeah! You love my parties!”

“...I don’t think that’s true.”

“If you say so…” she dubiously said before getting excited again. “Well, this March I’ll throw you a super extra fantastical party to make up for last year’s! Wait… when in March?”

“If I tell you, will you promise not to give me a party?”

“Psh, no! Don’t be silly, Nav. Everypony loves parties!”

“I’m not a pony, remember?”

“Well, everything else I’ve held a party for likes them!”

“Maybe I’m the exception.”

“You know… I could hold you a party every day in March! That way I’ll be sure to get it on the right day!”

“You wouldn’t. It would be too much money.”

“It’s worth it, for a friend!”

“Your birthday present for me should be to not give me a party.”

“But you love my parties! Why would I want to not give you something that you love?”

My head was starting to hurt. “I don’t like your parties.” That was exactly the wrong thing to say.

Her eyes welled up with tears. “You… you don’t like my parties?” she asked in the saddest voice I think I’ve ever heard.

Before I could answer, she started to cry. Now, it’s rare that I see Pinkie Pie cry, but when she does in a situation like this—when her feelings weren’t actually hurt but she wanted to pretend like it—the tears fly from her face in a stream, like something out of a damn anime. Confuses the hell out of me, and makes me really wonder what the fuck is wrong with this world.

I turned to Applejack. “Is there any way out of this that doesn’t involve me telling her when my birthday is?”

“Nope. Or at least, I sure can’t see any.”

I was getting more than a few mean looks from the ponies in the market. I sighed.

There was a party scheduled for me on my birthday. Pinkie Pie is an unstoppable party monster.

 
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