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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143. Chapter One Hundred and Eighteen

By the time Cadance finally left—which took too damn long since she was trying to avoid being at the Gala with the plug—I was able to actually stand and move around. Flo decided that meant we could paint instead of forcing me to sleep. She decided to paint The Starry Night next, though that one wasn’t for Blossom. I had no idea what kind of price Fancy Pants would be able to get for it, because art usually only gets famous for two reasons: The name of the person who painted it and it getting stolen enough times.

By the time she finished, the sun was just barely creeping up above the horizon. “You know, I just realized that I have no plans anymore,” I said while she was adding any little finishing touches that girls always think things need.

“You didn’t have any plans when you got here, either. First, you need to get this checked by Celestia. Then you need to send it to Fancy Pants. After that, the day is ours. Why don’t we spend it with Taya?”

“That’s probably not a bad idea, though I really don’t know what we’d do. I guess she can watch me paint, or we can do more with metal. That was weird, but neat, and she seemed to enjoy it.”

“You could take her back to Ponyville. Some of the ponies there would enjoy seeing you.”

“It would also be a good place to wait for my period to die out, since there are so few stallions there. But that would mean letting them all know I’m a chick now.”

“Pinkie and Rarity are already there, Nav. I bet the whole town knows. Twilight’s probably heading there soon, if she hasn’t already. You could go with her. And it would also give you a chance to check up on Spike.”

“Hell no. I’m not going to see Reginald on my period. If he was mentioning my scent before, I’d hate to see how he’d act now.”

“...That’s a good point. You could still go to Ponyville, though.”

“Yeah. I also have to decide if I want to go back to the ship or not. It’s finished, but living in the palace has benefits.”

“You should at least check up on it. If there were complications, it would be better to know now than later. But moving back or not is something you should leave up to Taya. She might prefer the beds here or the food here. You don’t really need either.”

“Then I guess we’re back to waiting for her to wake up. Want to start another painting?”

Before she could answer, my door slammed open and in walked Jak. “I need your book, Navarone,” he said as I flinched toward him. Thankfully, Flo jerked my hand back so I didn’t ruin the painting.

“Jesus, dude. You ever hear of knocking?”

“Once. Where is the book to that realm?”

“In that bag,” I said, waving to the bag it was in. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll fly it up to the ship for you.”

“There is no need,” he said. “I can just use it myself.”

“If you use it yourself, you’ll have to fight your way through the maze on your own. If you use it with me, you can go straight to Athena. And unless the airship is parked right outside of the palace, I can get ready to go and fly to it faster than you could get there by walking.”

“Perhaps it might be wise if I did fight my way to her. That way, I could use the book later without your assistance.”

“I’m not gonna doubt your fighting skills, man, but there were things in that book that couldn’t be killed without magic, or alone. It would be good to have more people with access to the book, but I’m not gonna let you do it alone.”

“Hmph. You sound like my daughter. Get ready, then. We may as well discuss things on the walk to the ship.”

“Well, give me about twenty minutes and I’ll be ready.” He didn’t move, aside from crossing his arms. “...Are you just going to stand there?”

“That was the plan, aye.”

I just shrugged and set the painting stuff down, then hopped up and walked to the bathroom, removing clothes as I walked. “Suit yourself, man.” He didn’t reply. The dude was probably old enough to be my grandfather and he supposedly had respect for the ‘forerunner’ or whatever, so I didn’t really expect him to do anything creepy.

A quick shower and change of clothes later and the two of us were on the way, the large tome in a bag on my back. “I don’t know how you will take this, human, but my assistant seems to enjoy your presence more than he should,” Jak said.

“I’m well aware,” I dryly replied. “He goes far out of his way to show it. I was hoping I would have curbed it, but I guess not.” Part of the reason for sleeping with him was to hopefully make him shut up, after all.

“Would you like me to assign him more work? If his mind is occupied on that, it won’t be occupied on you.”

“He’s your assistant. I won’t pretend to know what you should do. Let Smiles stew on me if he wants. I don’t really care, as long as all he does is think about it.”

“It is… nice to know you respect my authority. Many leaders prefer to step into the business of those they lead when their attention is not wanted or needed.”

“Most of the people under me have more experience than I do. Why would I want to get in their way?”

“It’s good to hear the forerunners share practical thoughts.”

“It’s probably not a good idea to base your thoughts on the rest of humanity on me. I mean, I may be perfect, but the same can’t be said for most other humans.”

“Ah, it seems humility is a trait you lack. Would you care to talk about the past, perhaps?”

“Sure, let’s talk about yours. You said you had a daughter, right?”

“That is not quite what I meant,” he slowly replied. “I was hoping to discuss humanity.”

“Why? Humanity’s dead and gone, at the moment. There’s nothing to talk about.”

“It’s always worth discussing the mistakes of others, so that we may not one day repeat them. You say humanity is dead. How did they die?”

“Hubris, in a way. The demon we’re on a trip to fight is the same one that killed my people. Our pride gave him the tools he needed to ensure our destruction, though I still don’t know the catalyst he used.”

“But what could kill off an entire race? Surely your people weren’t all congregated in one area.”

“Oh, we weren’t. But if you burn the seas and the skies and scorch all the earth with poison, it doesn’t matter where you were, you’re still going to die. I don’t know the specifics or how long we lasted after the last great war, but the moment the first bomb launched, all that was left was to sing our swan song. And that’s why you exist. I only know the barest of details about our demise, sadly.”

“Surely you could tell me more about your people, though. Their history. Their culture. Their everyday life. Beings that could create explosives powerful enough to kill the world must have had interesting lives.”

I sighed, shaking my head. “I don’t know what to tell you, man. Look at this world, all the different cultures it has. Earth is the same way, though we were all humans. We had the entire planet populated and every few hundred kilometers had a different culture and a different history. I could tell you some of the basics, but it would take days. If I had to use one word to describe my race, it would be survivor. That’s what we were, until we weren’t anymore.”

He looked down as we walked, finally getting out of the actual palace. “It is… disappointing, in a way, to be told that the famous forerunners that created us were not themselves perfect and united. And that one of the only ones left has so little desire to spread knowledge of them.”

“Thinking and talking about it is depressing. How would you feel if you were the only survivor of your kind and someone asked about minotaur history?”

“I would be proud to share our accomplishments and pleased that someone had an interest in the dead.”

I guess it’s easy to say that when you never walked in these shoes. I just sighed and shook my head. “Fine. Ask a specific question and I can try to answer. But honestly, you’re better off asking Athena. I was young when I came here, after all.”

“You’re still young. We wouldn’t allow any of our people to leave Minos at your age, not unaccompanied. Especially not a pretty lass like yourself.”

“Except I’m not really a chick. Do you have a question or not?”

He snorted and started asking about where I came from in specific. As we walked and talked out in public, I started noticing something I really didn’t want to notice: cameras. And with those cameras were very obvious reporters, or at least people that seemed ready to write. They were, of course, following me and surreptitiously taking pictures.

It took me a full fifteen minutes to notice them. After that, it took me less than fifteen seconds to get tired of it. I walked up to the first one I saw doing it, that happened to be a shifty pegasus. As soon as he realized I was walking toward him, he tried shooting away, but I snatched him by the tail and forced him back down, because fuck physics.

“So, mind telling me why you’re taking pictures?” I asked as he continued to struggle to get away.

After a few more seconds of fighting, he gave up, sagging slightly. I still didn’t let him go, so he just turned his head to me. “We wanted an interview, but we all know how you handle giving those. So instead, we settled for following you until you looked like you were in a good mood.”

“And the pictures?” I sighed.

“Good for the papers on a slow day. Nothing that interesting happened at the Gala this year, so we needed something…”

“How’d you even know I’d be out here? Or do you just have people watching me? You aren’t the only one following me, I know that much.”

He sighed and pulled an envelope out of his camera bag, and then passed it to me. “Our source told us to give you this if you caught us…” I grabbed it and stuffed it into one of my larger pockets.

“Well, I caught you. Now fuck off before Jak here rearranges your face. He doesn’t like having his conversations interrupted.”

As soon as I mentioned his free facial reconstruction opportunity, his ears shot down. He sped away as soon as I released his tail. I just shook my head and started walking again. Of course, Jak continued walking next to me.

“I wouldn’t have hurt him, you know,” he said.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know that. Most ponies are afraid of the unusual, and you’re unusual to them.”

“Hmph. These days, there’s little to be afraid of. My fighting days are long over, if I have my way. What does that letter say?”

“I’ll read it when we get to the ship. You got any more questions?”

In the five extra minutes it should have taken to get to the ship, I scared off two more reporters. Both gave me envelopes that I promptly shoved into the same pocket. From the short glimpses I got before doing so, I could see they all looked the same.

Finally, Jak and I were standing on the deck of the ship in front of a large tarp. “Why’s it covered?” I asked.

“The captain thought it would attract too much attention. A large metal moving statue probably would, so I agreed to have it lie down and then cover it. I tested it last night. It doesn’t have the full range of motion or abilities that her golems have, and it is by no means any kind of intelligent, but it moves and follows basic commands. It is… a starting point.”

“Well, let’s see it,” I said, nodding at the tarp.

He smiled widely and whipped the tarp off, revealing a gleaming metal minotaur. Personally, I was expecting something… less minotaurish and more humanoid, but it makes sense that a different race would make golems to look like themselves. “Sudo stand,” Jak ordered. The thing slowly started to stand.

“...Sudo?” I sighed, already hating myself for getting the reference.

“I needed a command word,” he said with a shrug. “Pseudo. False. It seemed amusing, so I went with it.”

“Oh, that pseudo.” By that point, it was standing tall, which let me get a better view of the runes engraved into the thing. A lot of it was blank, but the spots that weren’t seemed to glow slightly blue. “Well, you want to deliver it?” I asked.

“Of course. That’s what we’re here for, is it not?”

I pulled my bag around and then grabbed the book. “Well, let’s see it walk,” I said, looking back up to it.

“Pseudo follow commander,” Jak said. The golem slowly stepped forward, its knees unbending. “Not too fast or pretty yet, but it’s a start.”

“That it is. Here’s hoping Athena finds it respectable.” I turned so the book faced all three of us, then opened it. Two seconds later, Jak and I were standing in Athena’s hellish realm. “Where’s the golem?”

And then Athena was before us, sitting on the stand with the closed book. “So my pretty birdie and large bull have returned,” she said, peering at us with intense apathy. “Why have you come?”

“To deliver your golem,” Jak said. “But it didn’t come with us.”

Athena blinked and suddenly held up a scrap of paper with a rune cut into it. “Your first lesson, half-man. This symbol allows travel between realms, giving access to teleportation and my portal book.” Jak took the paper with a very strange reverence. “I am almost eager to see the finished product,” she said, suddenly standing on the other side of the pedestal. “So don’t come back until you have it.” With that, she opened the book toward us, sending us back into the overworld.

“She really worries me sometimes,” I said to myself as Jak immediately started walking to the stairs leading down. The golem started following and he wouldn’t have really fit, so I said, “Pseudo stop.” Thankfully, it stopped. Jak didn’t even notice, so he got down the stairs with no worries.

Since no one seemed to be on deck, I started circling the golem, getting a better look at it. Jak didn’t seem to bother with fine details, meaning no abs or hair. The entire thing was seamless, so I had no idea how it was walking. Magic, assumably; metal isn’t exactly that malleable without a lot of heat, after all.

“Wonder if we could attach a dildo to you,” I mused to myself, tapping its arm with my knuckles.

“If you’re that desperate, I’m sure we can work something out with the crew,” Gourd suddenly said, hopping down from the wheel deck where he had apparently been hiding.

“You wouldn’t be so lucky,” I replied, barely sparing him a glance before looking back at the golem. “The ship okay?”

“Yeah, we’re good. Short of getting hit by lightning, nothing should be taking us down.”

“And with a good weather pegasus on board, that shouldn’t be a problem. Do we have room for a few more of these things?” I asked, tapping the golem again.

“Oh yeah. Especially if they can fight. They’ll be heavy, but we were carrying some scrap metal anyway so it’s not like it’ll matter too much. And if we can carry a giant drill and twenty extra passengers, I’m sure we can find place to put these things. We just gotta keep them from the edge, because getting them back up is going to be hard since they’re so resistant to magic.”

“Magic resistant?” I asked, finally looking back at him.

“Yeah. Jak put some kinda rune on them he found on that paper you gave him that made this thing really hard to use magic on. It’s possible, but hard. We’d have to use ropes to get this thing back up.”

“Yeah, I remember the paper golem being immune to Twilight’s magic. It was… not fun. But as long as ours don’t start rampaging, we should be fine. But stopping one of these monsters will be harder than stopping a paper one.”

“That will never be our problem,” Jak said as he stepped out from below deck, carrying what looked like a blowtorch.

“If there’s a codeword, someone can figure it out,” I said. “All it takes is one of us saying it once and they can learn it.”

“True. I will ask Athena for ways to defend against that.” He put on a pair of welding goggles that barely fit on his large face, then said, “Watch your eyes.” Gourd and I looked away, so Jak started torching the symbol onto the back of the golem. As it melted in, I heard him whispering something, but I don’t know what he was saying. After about a minute, an even brighter flash came from the statue, followed by a sudden lack of light as Jak turned the torch off. “That should do it,” he said, pulling the goggles up to get a better look at his new etching.

“So you ready to go back?” I asked, hefting the book.

“Aye. Stand back, Captain.”

“I definitely want no part in that,” Gourd said as he began walking back up the stairs. “Not after the stories I heard.”

“Smart man,” I said right before opening the book. This time, the golem got pulled in with me and Jak. Athena was sitting on the platform’s railing right behind us as we got in, so she got to see the golem first.

“Less human than I was expecting,” she said, suddenly shifting to its shoulder. “It is a nice statue, but can it move?”

“It can,” Jak said. “Pseudo walk.” At its first step, Athena teleported off and to the side, to watch it move. “It’s extremely basic, but this is more than any minotaur could have done a year ago. Pseudo return.” The golem started walking backwards to where it had originally stood.

“It is very crude,” Athena said with a nod. “Using command words is an interesting concept, but very dangerous. I shall teach you, if you and your golem can pass a test.”

“And what test is that?” Jak asked, a hint of hope in his eyes.

“Walk my labyrinth, just the two of you. After all, it would not do to disturb your beautiful commander every time you needed to visit.”

I sighed and shook my head, knowing already what his answer would be. “How long do I have to complete it?” he asked.

“Until you die. Complete it whenever you want, as long as you complete it. Your teaching won’t begin until you do.”

That was my point to break in. “Can’t you just waive the rule for him?” I asked. “Your labyrinth is hell.”

“I cannot waive the rules, no,” she said. “If he wants to learn from me, this is what he will do.”

“And I will do it,” Jak said, nodding. “Come, Navarone. Let us prepare.”

God dammit. “Fine. But whatever happens is your own fault.”

“I am old. I know the consequences of my actions.”

“Whatever. And I’m not beautiful,” I said, directed at Athena.

“Perhaps you need a better mirror,” she said with a shrug before disappearing, probably to look at more books.

“Weirdo,” I muttered, turning back to the book. I finally opened it, sending us back to the real world. “If you’re actually going to do this—”

“I’ll need weapons and armor,” he said. “I’m well aware. There is a minotaur embassy in Canterlot. They will be able to lend me most of what I need. I already know all your tales of what it is like within the book realm, so you are no longer needed.”

“Bah. The only advice I’ll give you is bring a bag, then. You’ll need some way to carry the books you get and any magic items you might want to keep.”

“I doubt I would keep any items, but books will be nice. And I will also want to bring food, since you were in there for several hours. Maybe a pillow, since I’m older than you.”

“Just remember that you’ll have to carry it.”

“I have a perfectly serviceable golem to carry things. I must go get ready.” He gently tugged the book from my hands. “I will see you later, Navarone.”

“Good luck,” I quietly said as he walked down the stairs. When he was gone, I just shook my head and jumped off the side, flying back to the castle. Since my window there was open, I let myself in and sat on the bed, prepared to think.

When I did, though, I felt something in one of my pockets that wasn’t supposed to be there. I dug out the envelopes I took from the reporters on the way to the ship and tore one open, already hating myself for having to read them.

Dear Navarone the cute, your adorable attempts to dissuade me will only make me try harder. Turning my ‘husband’ on me? My my, that was a new move entirely! But I know how much you cherish your precious privacy. I also know how much you cherish your special ‘alone time’ with the princess. And dear me, I definitely know how you want your daughter to be left out of your fame.

Maybe you should rethink coming to my party, Lady Navarone. After all, I’m very good at getting what I want, and I definitely want you. Make things easy for the both of us and just give in, or I will definitely make things hard for you.

~ ♥ Fleur de Lis

“...So she wants to play hardball, hm? You thinking what I’m thinking, Flo?”

She sighed and said, “No, Navarone, you can’t kill her and leave her in a ditch somewhere. You also can’t sell her into slavery. If you go to Ponyville, she almost definitely can’t bother you. That was the plan, was it not?”

“True enough. Bet I can also play her off Cadance.”

“Bad Nav. Cadance is your friend, not a tool. Fleur almost definitely won’t follow you to Ponyville, and if she does, you’ll have the home field advantage. Just let it go.”

“Let it go? She fucking challenged me. Why should I just let her get away with that?”

“Because not going to her party means you win, no matter what else happens. You should keep it at that, because you aren’t the only one she’s threatening.”

“Yeah… I need to let Celestia know. In fact, I should do that now, before Taya wakes up. I can also tell her that the next painting is finished.”

“Both of those are good ideas. And of course, Celestia might have an idea on how to deal with Fleur.”

“I hope it involves whips and chains,” I whispered darkly as I stood back up.

“You are so, so perverted.”

“Yeah, it’s fun. Where do you think Celestia would be?”

“Either her breakfast room or—” A knock at the door drowned out whatever she was saying.

Since that probably meant either Taya or a maid, I immediately went to answer it, shoving the letter back into a pocket. Sure enough, there was a maid on the other side. This was a different one, since the other presumably didn’t want to see me after our art history discussion. “Princess Celestia sends her regards, Sir Navarone, and would like to invite you to breakfast.”

Convenient. “An invitation I’m happy to accept,” I said. “Is she in the breakfast room right now?”

“She requested her breakfast in her personal chambers, sir. Do you know the way?”

“Yeah, I can get there. Is she feeling alright?”

“As far as I am aware, she is. It is not unusual for her to break her fast in her room after important events such as the Gala, or so I’m told.”

I just shrugged and said, “Works for me. I’ll go there now. Thanks for the message.”

“It is a pleasure to serve, Sir Navarone. Do you require anything else?”

“Nope.” Or at least, not unless you like the taste of blood. I do enjoy toying with maids… “Go back to your regular duties, I guess.”

“Of course,” she said with a small bow. She went one way down the hall while I went the other, after making sure to close my door.

“So… you ever think about living here?” Flo asked.

“I am living here,” I said.

“I meant permanently. Plenty of help, easy to access food, you don’t have to do your own laundry… You know you enjoy it.”

“I enjoy it because I know it’s temporary. I couldn’t stand being pampered for too long. Doppel’s nice because she isn’t a complete pushover. I get a feeling that the maids and the butlers here would jump as soon as I ordered it and wait until they’re in the air to ask how high. Why would I live here anyway? I have my own house.”

“True, you do. But will you be content to stay there after this quest is done? You like your privacy, yes. But you also thrive in dangerous situations. There aren’t too many of those in or near Ponyville, not for you. The next best thing would be politics. You surely can’t get any closer to things than being here in Canterlot.”

“Bah. Besides, once this quest ends, I’ll have to help the humans. They would be much better off with my help, once it comes to establishing relations with the other races. I’ll have to wait and see where they need me before deciding what exactly I’ll do after this quest.”

“...The humans won’t be the only ones to need you,” Flo quietly said. “There’s Taya. Your friends. Celestia. And… me.”

“I never really did ask about your plans after all this. What are you going to do?”

“I will need to discuss things with my sisters first. If I have my way, I’ll retire from the world as much as I am able. From what I’ve been able to glean, most of them want to help shape the world’s future. But most of them weren’t trapped as I was trapped. Seeing the ocean again will be… marvelous. But of course, I would hate to leave you behind. I would like to retire from the world, but your journey is far from over. Perhaps I will spend time at your side.”

“I would definitely like that. You know you’re welcome with me wherever I go.”

For some reason, I felt a very pleasant warmth in my head when I said that. It also kinda killed the conversation, so that was that.

When I got to Celestia’s room, I knocked before letting myself in anyway. Celestia was actually in her sitting room or whatever she called her anteroom, and was just looking up from her breakfast when I stepped inside. “Good morning, Nav,” she said with her typical warm smile. “Hungry?”

“Not particularly, but I need to eat anyway.”

“Yes, Cadance told me about your… fainting spell last night, and the valiant guard that helped you to your room. The valiant and… sexy guard.”

“I think Captain Midnight would be somewhat upset if I ever called her that,” I said as I took my seat at the table across from her. “It’s true that I was feeling somewhat under the weather last night, but I’m better now. I still need some food to help, though.”

“Hm. And what caused that condition, I wonder?”

“Well, you’re free to wonder,” I said with a shrug, starting to eat.

“The last I heard, you were leaving the party with Sir Fancy Pants. Did he do something, perhaps?”

“Nah, that dude’s cool. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, Celly. I’m fine and that won’t be happening again.”

She snorted when I called her pretty, and answered, “I always worry when my… friends feel ill. Especially when I know they’re hiding the cause from me. What happened in the garden last night, Navarone?”

“I was having a tryst with a guard, things got out of hand with my… bleeding issue, and I passed out because of it.” She went crosseyed looking at her horn, which didn’t glow. I mean, I was technically telling the truth, after all. “This isn’t an issue, Celestia.”

She looked back to me, her eyes narrowing slightly. “You know it’s inappropriate to do things with the guards and the maids, Nav. And there would be no helping you if Captain Blossom found out you were with one of her night guards. She may have helped you to your room, but she would turn on you in an instant if she thought you were abusing your rank for something like that.”

“That won’t be an issue. It wasn’t one of her guards.”

“...Now I’m interested. Most of my guards don’t like you. So one was more adventuresome than the rest?”

“Feel free to speculate all you want. I don’t kiss and tell when my partners don’t want me to.” Usually. Occasionally. Or at least, not when telling might risk getting her banished to Tartarus. “Is there anything else you wanted, or did you just want to pester me about my personal business?”

“It’s gossip, Navarone. That’s what mares do over meals.”

“Good thing I’m not a fucking pony, then, because fuck that shit. I’m happy to spend time with you, especially time that’s spent doing sexy stuff, but I don’t like gossip. But if you really want to deal with gossip, get a load of this.” I pulled the letter from Fleur out of my pocket and held it up for her.

She pulled it over with magic. “What’s this?” she asked as she unfolded it and started reading.

“A letter from someone I hate.”

When she finished reading, she looked back up. “Did she send this in the mail?”

“No. She gave copies to a bunch of tabloid reporters and told them to follow me and take pictures.”

“Hm… Do you remember Cadance’s dare of a public date?”

“Oh hell no.”

“Oh come now, it would be the perfect chance to ruin Fleur’s party. I imagine she would stop bothering you, too. Sometimes, bending your neck is the best way to deal with an opponent like her, especially if it gives you the perfect chance to stab her in the back.”

“I am absolutely not going to that party. You don’t understand what the party is about. I do, and I know that anyone that gets involved is automatically the loser, even if they think they came out on top. And I’m definitely not about to bend my neck for a second to that fucking trollop.”

“Oh? And what were you thinking about doing instead? These threats here are quite severe for somepony like you, and of course there’s nothing illegal about it. Unless she lays a hoof on you or actually threatens you with harm, there’s nothing I or any guard can do. She’s essentially free to stalk both you and your daughter.”

“Well, I happen to have a few changeling friends, one of which is enjoying herself in Canterlot. I was thinking about going back to Ponyville for at least a few days to see how everything’s going there. I figured I could leave Doppel here and tell her to pretend to be me until she has some people following her, and then turn back into herself. Or turn into Fleur doing something embarrassing. Nothing against the law about that, is there?”

“Impersonation is a crime, actually.”

“...What if Doppel had a mustache? I mean, I don’t have one. Fleur doesn’t have one. Taya definitely doesn’t. It can’t be impersonation if she doesn’t even look like us.”

She smirked and said, “Yes, that could certainly work. I suppose it’s a plan, then. How long are you going to be in Ponyville?”

“Few days, probably. There’s really not much for me to do there. Canterlot has a lot more going on. I figure that might be long enough to get the word that I’m in Ponyville, which will bring all the tabloid bastards back there. Then I can go back to bumming around Canterlot.”

“You know, you could just spend your time in the palace instead. Most civilians aren’t allowed here without permission, so you’d be safe from all but the most determined reporters.”

“Yeah, but I also have friends in Ponyville. I’m sure they’d be somewhat upset if I didn’t even stop by to say hi. What’s that stupid bullshit Twilight always spouts about the magic of friendship or something?”

Celestia sighed, rolling her eyes. “Don’t even get me started on Twilight right now. I swear, I spend two thousand years erasing and modifying history only for it all to blow up on my face in an instant when you found those stupid magic books.”

“My people have a saying, Celestia. Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Your sister, for example, didn’t learn to not be a cunt, and now look at her. Learning from your past mistakes is important. Censoring history makes that impossible.”

“Not entirely true. I learned many lessons and I did my best to learn from the past. It… didn’t always work, but it did in many cases. It seems that I learned some of the wrong lessons, though. I thought that by censoring history and making my ponies happy, they would progress and learn to become their own power. Instead, they’ve grown dependent and mostly complacent. Then… you came in and started sharing knowledge you shouldn’t have.” She sighed and looked down. “I suppose that’s certainly one way to get them to start progressing.” She looked back up at me, her eyes hard. “But the lessons I’ve learned from history told me that in sharing your knowledge with three different races, you started a war, Navarone.”

“Perhaps. But at the moment, I imagine there’s one thing that little Miss Moonbeam hates more than her old apprentice.”

The glare she gave me for that told me that I most definitely struck a nerve. “There are some words that should not be said, and some knowledges that will not be shared. Chrysalis would murder you on the spot if you ever said that name. Do not say it aloud again.”

“Oh, I’m not rushing for the grave just yet, don’t you worry. After all, getting under your skin is just too much fun.”

“And if you keep it up, I’ll have to punish you.”

“Ooh, will it involve spankings?”

“I will definitely promise that you won’t enjoy it. I suggest going back to eating.”

“Tch, you’re no fun sometimes.” I actually was hungry though, so I finally went back to eating, though I made sure to do it as petulantly as I could. She made sure to happily nod at my good behavior, so I stuck my tongue out at her. When we were both good and finished, though, I almost immediately got bored of the silence. “So how did you enjoy the Gala?” I asked.

“It was certainly… different,” she said. “Talking to all the ponies while you were doing your best to make me moan was a very unique experience. I also wasn’t too pleased about the toys you left behind.”

“Shame. I figured they would definitely please you.” She just snorted. “Well, I also finished another painting. I figure you’ll want to look at that eventually, in case it traumatizes another one of your maids.”

“It wasn’t the painting that traumatized her, it was what you told her. I’ll go look at it after we finish here.”

“We’re not finished? I know I’m full.”

“Oh, we’re finished eating. But I want to try something. Something that might be sexy,” she said, standing up.

“I’m in,” I happily replied, hopping to my feet. “Do I get to be on top?”

“If it works, no. Now come along.” She started leading me into her bedroom, getting my hopes up. When we got into her actual room, I didn’t see any toys lying around, which killed at least some of my hope. But then, I knew she’d be hiding them. “Now, strip down,” she said.

I started doing so, but stopped when I got to my pants. “I’ll start… leaking when I take these off,” I said.

“It won’t be a problem,” she said with her happy little smile. I shrugged and started pulling them off as well. Before I could comment on ruining her carpet, Celestia’s horn lit up bright and I very unfortunately felt myself changing. Soon enough, I stood before her on all four legs as a filthy animal. “How do you feel?” she asked.

“Like a fucking horse, how do you think? If this is what you meant when you said something sexy, I’d rather just abstain.”

“Hm.” She started walking around me and stopped when she was behind me. Then, without warning, she used magic to pull my tail up. “That’s… strange. You don’t feel anything back here?”

“I feel you pulling my tail. And the air is cool. Oh, and I’m not fucking bleeding any more, so woohoo. Now turn me back.”

She dropped my tail and walked back in front of me. “Strange. I thought you would be in heat. You don’t feel any different?”

I snorted and said, “Humans are technically always in heat. We can breed at any time, so even if I was in heat as a filthy horse, I can’t imagine it would affect me.”

“It certainly affected you when you were a stallion.”

“Humans don’t have powerful pheromones. That’s probably why. So are we done here?”

“Not quite. I’ll be right back.” She started walking to the bathroom, shaking her rump at least a little more than was probably necessary. Either way, she successfully managed to steal my gaze until the door closed behind her.

“Well, this sucks,” I sighed, my body sagging. “Think she’ll actually turn me back?”

“Eventually,” Flo replied. “But you know her. She’ll have her fun first.”

“Ugh… Being the princess’s toy can be hard at times.”

The door behind me popped out and out walked Princess Breastia. “You know you love it,” she said, laying one of her hands on my back.

“I think you got things a little backwards,” I said. “You’re supposed to turn me human and keep yourself a pony.”

“Oh, I will. Eventually.” Her horn lit up and I began floating. She carried me to the bed and then plopped her pretty little ass down and draped me over her lap. “But first, let’s have some girl time.”

“I never agreed to this!”

“Consider it punishment for having an… encounter with a guard.” Her horn lit up again and she floated a hair brush over from her vanity. I closed my eyes and tensed up for a spanking, but instead, she started gently brushing my hair. “There, isn’t that nice?” she quietly asked as she ran the bristles through my hair.

“...No?” Although as much as I hate to admit it, it actually did feel good.

“That’s a shame.” She started vocalizing as she brushed all the little kinks out of my mane in an attempt to make it prim and proper.

“I didn’t enjoy this when the monkeys were doing it either, Celestia.”

“I will gag you, dear.” I sighed and set my head down on the bed. “Good girl.” She continued brushing my hair to her heart’s content, though I have no clue what kind of joy she could have gotten out of it. When she finally got tired of messing with my head, she carefully yanked at my tail and started brushing it, too.

“Alright, that feels weird,” I said, trying to pull it back. “You know I learned my lesson. Can’t we just—” Her horn lit up brighter and a ballgag appeared floating next to her. My ears flopped down and I just fell back onto the bed, resigned at my fate.

But I was telling the truth. Her brushing my tail felt really, really weird, especially since she kept pulling it up with each brush. The best word for it was exposed, I guess, like everyone was staring even though we were alone. It didn’t help that I kept feeling a rush of unpleasantly cool air against my vag.

Thankfully, my stupid tail wasn’t that long, so she had to give up after just a little while. Not so thankfully, she floated over a brush with shorter bristles and started brushing my fucking coat instead. It felt… strangely good, especially when she used long strokes that hit my flanks. Then her spare hand went up to my head and started scratching my ears.

As soon as she did that, I twisted my head and fucking nipped at her, biting her hand. She gasped and tried yanking it back, but I narrowed my eyes and held on, not letting her go. Then she dropped the brush with her other hand and pulled my wing up to press down on one of the nodes there. That surprised me enough to make me gasp and lose my grip. “Bad girl!” she said, swatting at my ass.

“This is your fetish, not mine,” I said. “You push me, I’m gonna push back.”

“I know it feels good,” she said, shaking the spit off her hand. “Everypony I’ve spoken to about it likes when you play with their ears.”

“Yeah, and you ain’t gonna do it to me. I’ll fucking kick next time. You like being treated like a pet. I don’t.”

“Then don’t think of it as me treating you like a pet. Think of it as me giving you a pleasure you’ve given me many times before. I’m just trying to help you feel what I feel. You know I don’t think you’re weak, and letting me pamper you like this isn’t going to change that.”

“God, why can’t we just fuck? That feels good and we can both enjoy it.”

“Because this is supposed to be a punishment.” She grabbed the brush again and continued brushing my coat. “Can I at least try your ears? You know I won’t tell anypony. Everything we do stays private.”

Ugh. There’s no fucking way to win here. “You have one minute. I’ll be counting.” Flo, would you kindly?

Celestia chuckled with glee as one of her hands went up to my ears and started scratching at them. It felt far better than it should have, which made both of them involuntarily sink down so she could have better access to them. While the hand working on my ears did its magic, the hand with the brush slowed to a crawl, focusing on my flanks, where my cutie mark would be if I had one. As… humiliating as it was, it sadly felt good.

When Flo told me a minute had passed, I honestly didn’t want to let Celestia stop. I pulled my head away anyway, because fuck her. “Time’s up,” I said.

“You know you liked that,” Celestia quietly answered, continuing to pet my back. It also felt good, but I smacked her hand away with a wing.

“If you’re going to put something in my mouth, it better be one of your nipples, not words. Are we done here?”

“No, not quite.” I suddenly found myself lifted again and then flipped onto my back. “I didn’t get to brush you here yet.”

One of her hands immediately started going to my tummy to rub it, but I pushed it away with as many hooves as I could. “Don’t you dare,” I hissed, glaring at her.

“Your resistance just makes me want it more, silly,” she said, though she didn’t make another move for it. “Why don’t you want it? And if you say it makes you feel like an animal, I’m going to be extremely upset.”

“Why?”

“Because you do this to us all the time. Pet us. Scratch our ears. Rub our bellies. You have no compunctions about doing this to any of us, and yet you’re insulted I would even think about doing it to you. Do you really still see us as animals? Your daughter? Your friends? Your lovers?”

“You enjoy being petted. You are soft and furry, so you are pleasurable for me to pet. You enjoy it, I enjoy it. Therefore, I pet you.”

She smiled and said, “You physically enjoy being petted. You are currently soft and furry, so you are nice for me to pet. You enjoy it, I enjoy it. What’s the problem?”

“It’s physically possible to cum from being raped, but that doesn’t mean you enjoy it.”

She sighed and dropped her hands to the bed. “I don’t get you Nav. I really, really don’t. You would happily let me stick something inside of you, but you refuse this. Hate it, even. It just… I don’t understand!”

“I’m not supposed to like it, Celestia. I’m a human. Rubbing my belly is weird, end of story. I hate being in this body and I hate the things it likes because of it.”

“Why don’t you want to explore all your body has to offer, like it or not? Are you afraid of liking it and possibly finding reasons to stay in this body?”

“How am I supposed to explain a phobia? Does it even matter? Just turn me back.”

“Nav, I want you to trust me. You already should know I won’t hurt you, but then you do this. Being with a mare is new to me and I want us to explore each other’s bodies, but you won’t even let me touch you in some places…”

“I wouldn’t let you rub my belly if I was a stallion, either. What is it with you and pushing me today? I already regret sleeping with that guard, so there’s no need to try to make me feel worse.”

She finally used magic to pick me up and then fell back onto the bed, draping me over her naked body so she could hug me. “Do you really not even realize I could be jealous, Nav?”

“...Jealous?”

“You left me at the Gala alone when you know I hate it there, and then went and had sex with a guard. You let somepony else… be your first time with anal, when I thought you would let me do it. Whenever we do spend time together, you seem to always want to make it about sex.” Like hell I do. “If you don’t think those things will trigger jealousy, you really don’t know much about relationships.”

“You already know I don’t know much about relationships. So you’re jealous. How is petting me going to make you feel better?”

“Because I know I’m your first when it comes to that, and I’ll always have that to myself. And it helps me feel like I have a better connection with you, since you trust me enough to let me do it even when you’re afraid of it.”

Christ, women are absolutely fucking weird. Flo, what the hell?

“If you ever want to get involved with Celestia romantically, you need to kiss her right now, then roll off of her and put her hand on your belly.”

I fucking hate you so much right now. Since Celestia was currently hugging me, all I had to do was lean up to kiss her. She seemed surprised by it at first, probably because she wasn’t used to her human mouth meeting horse lips, but got into it rather quickly. As soon as I felt her tongue pressing back, I broke the kiss and rolled over.

“If it really means that much to you, go ahead,” I sighed, looking away. When she sat up again and looked at me, I felt my ears drooping.

“Are you… sure?” she asked, hovering one of her hands over my belly.

God, this is so stupid. It’s just a fucking belly rub! “Just do it.”

She didn’t waste another second, lowering her hand down to my warm, fuzzy tummy and stroking it, making me flinch. My ears shrank back further against my head when I realized it actually felt good. It was warm, comforting, almost like scratching an itch I didn’t even know I had, but somehow so much softer. And it was utterly, utterly dominating.

I instantly despised it. So after god only knows how long, I pushed her hand away and turned on my side, curling up in a ball. “Fuck that,” I whispered, pulling even my tail further in.

Celestia seemed relatively happy anyway, though. She hugged me from behind and kissed me on the top of my head. “Thank you, Nav.”

“You’re fucking weird,” I said. “Now turn me back.”

One of her hands let go of me and pushed its way through my tail to my private parts. “So soon?” she asked, rubbing me in the rightest possible way. “I’d rather not get blood everywhere while we do this.”

So much for me always making it about sex. I just sighed.

Around lunch time, the painting was on its way to Fancy Pants, I was back to being the master race, Taya was lying across my lap reading a book, and there was a kitty standing in front of me. “So you’re leaving?” Kat asked.

“For a few days,” I said with a shrug. “And we won’t be going far. The ship can get there in less than half an hour, I imagine. That’s what we’ll be taking, since trains take so much fucking longer and Taya can’t fly.”

“I could if you let me cast that wing spell,” my obstinate daughter muttered.

“Am I still going to be staying in the palace?” Kat asked.

“If you want. Celestia said she was okay with it. Or you can go back to the ship. You might actually like spending some time in Ponyville, but the people there are… rustic. The ponies there will absolutely freak the fuck out over Spider, and not in the good way.”

“Then we’ll be staying on the ship. I do not like sleeping in this palace. It’s too colorful. Too… gaudy.”

“Yeah, it is. But the food’s nice and the maids are hot, so I can put up with it.” Not to mention our delightful hostess. “Any clue where Doppel is?”

“I haven’t seen her since before the Gala,” Kat said. “She might be in her room. Also, did you take up painting?”

“Yeah. I’ll have to find Doppel before we leave, because I have some stuff for her to do while we’re gone. You should start packing. Taya can teleport you and Spider up to the ship if you want, or you can wait until it gets back from dropping the two of us off.”

“I am not a fan of long distance teleportation,” she said, clutching at her stomach for a moment. “But I wouldn’t mind having the few things we brought teleported back. I would like to have my paws free when we travel through the city, just in case.”

“That’ll be doable,” I said with a nod. “You need any money to buy anything around town?”

“I still have some gold from the protection job. I doubt we will be buying anything anyway. The food on the ship is sufficient.”

“I don’t know about you, but while we’re in a city, I’d rather have real food than travel fare. Especially since there are some places in town that cater to omnivores. They have fresh meat and fresh fish.”

She shrugged. “Spider doesn’t have taste buds and I’d feel weird going to one of those places alone. Though to be fair, I’d also feel weird going to one with him.”

“I can take you there before we leave, then. Maybe invite Gilda, too.” Then we can get back and have a carnivore orgy.

“That would be nice. Now, I should go get everything together. I assume you wanted to leave soon?”

“Soonish. Celestia’s getting weird and I need a few days out of town.”

“Tell her to back off,” Taya helpfully suggested, though she didn’t actually look up.

“Doesn’t work that way,” I sighed, patting her back.

“Insulting or upsetting a host is ill-advised,” Kat added. “Especially one as powerful as she is. If she comes to bother you, it’s better to just leave for some time. What’s she doing?”

“Getting all emotional and shit,” I said. “We’ve had a thing going for a while and she’s trying to make it more than it is.” Sooner than I’d like.

“That’s certainly not something I want to be involved in,” Kat said. “Good luck. I’m going to go get ready.”

“Check on Doppel on the way, if you don’t mind,” I told her.

“Will do.” She left, pulling the door shut behind her.

“Do you need me to slap Celestia for you?” Taya asked, finally looking up from whatever she was reading.

“I do that plenty enough on my own, dear. You know, you’re about the right age for finding boys. Do you want any help picking one out?”

“Ugh. Even if I was interested, I don’t need your help, mom.”

“Hey, I can’t help that I know what boys like. Just don’t get too upset if I ever… accidentally seduce one away.”

She snorted and looked back down to her book. “Anyone you could distract wouldn’t be worth it anyway.”

“Whoa now, are you doubting me?” I couldn’t really see her face, but I imagined she rolled her eyes. “Well, you’re right, either way. Once a cheater, always a cheater, generally speaking. At least you’re straight,” I said, rubbing at her ears. “Most women are straight up crazy. Though I suppose a lot of guys aren’t really shining beacons of reason, either. I haven’t had to deal with as many of them, though.”

“You’re not exactly making me eager to find friends, daddy.”

“Well, you were hardly eager before. But just because most are crazy doesn’t mean you can’t find those that have the kind of crazy you can get along with. I mean, I’m crazy and you love me, right?”

“Daddy, you’re the sanest one here.”

I couldn’t and wouldn’t deny that, and the entrance of Doppel saved me from having to come up with a reply. “Did you need me, Master?” she asked.

“If you’re not busy, yeah. It’ll be pretty easy, I imagine.”

“I live to serve,” she said, doing her best to inject as much sarcasm as possible. “I was just sleeping off orgy exhaustion. All the rich and stuffy ponies were quite eager to play with me.”

“You probably could have made some easy money off them, if you wanted. But whatever. Taya and I are getting chased out of Canterlot by a bitch named Fleur de Lis. She has reporters out looking for both of us right now. While we’re out of town, I’d like you to disguise yourself as me until you get a few people following you, then change into Fleur and do something embarrassing. Or just change into yourself. Doesn’t really matter.”

“That sounds fun. But why can’t I just change into her and host another orgy?”

“Because that’s normal for her. She’s about as much of a slut as we are. And I happen to be good friends with her husband, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t get her into any actual trouble.”

“...Good friends or good friends?”

“He refused my offer, so just friends.”

“Weird. Maybe he’s gay.”

“...He’s married.”

She just shrugged. “Happy to help either way, Master. When are you leaving?”

“All our stuff’s already on the ship, so we’re just waiting on Kat. So as soon as she’s ready.”

As soon as I said that, a familiar pink horse stuck her head through the doorway. “Going somewhere?” Cadance asked. The rest of her body followed shortly after.

“To Ponyville for a few days,” I said. “Fleur’s threatening us with tabloids, so I figured the best way to strike back is to get out of town.”

She shook her head sadly. “Nav, when will you ever learn? You need to get the reporters on your side so you can do things like this. They wouldn’t be a problem if they liked you.”

“I fight like a man, not a woman. Doppel’s staying behind to make sure that all of Fleur’s friends in the tabloid industry mean nothing. After all, who wouldn’t want to report the fabulous and famous Fleur breaching all kinds of social niceties?”

That made her smirk. “Leave it to you to burn everything down behind you. Just remember that if you ever want to survive in Canterlot or, say, the Crystal Empire after you get back from your journey, you’ll need to learn more tact. I know you’re smart enough to be sly at times, but attacking your opponents directly is not a smart plan in politics. This would be some good practice…”

“Not when she’s threatening Taya. I have to protect the reporters, after all. No, getting away for a while is the best option.”

Cadance just shrugged. “Well, then I suppose you’ll be happy to hear that Twilight’s going to Ponyville soon, too. In fact, you could probably take the same chariot.”

“I’m down for that,” I said, nodding. “Saves Gourd from having to unpark the ship. Do you know when she’s leaving?”

“I saw her in the hall on the way here. She just said she would be leaving soon.”

“Then we should probably hurry. It shouldn’t take Kat much longer to get her stuff together.”

“Kat’s going? What about… the spider?”

“Nah, she’s staying here. She’s just not staying in the palace and wants her stuff on the ship. I told her we’d take care of it.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” Cadance said, waving a hoof. “I can take care of it. You should go find Twilight before she leaves.”

“Eh, I guess that’s one way to start paying me back for telling Celestia.”

“Telling her what?”

“About last night.”

“What happened last night?” Taya immediately asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” I quickly answered, patting her head.

“Why would that be a problem?” Cadance asked. “You got sick. Celestia should know when something like that happens.”

“You got sick?” Taya asked.

“No, I didn’t. There was a clear reason for what happened, and I absolutely did not want Celestia to know. She was very displeased and made me suffer for it.”

“She got mad because you got sick?” Taya asked.

“Then what happened?” Cadance asked. “If there’s a ‘clear reason’ for it, what happened?”

“Well, you know how I’m bleeding down there?” Cadance’s ears flinched and she looked away. Doppel just rolled her eyes. “Well, I was doing inappropriate things. It got out of hand and I passed out. The captain found me and helped me get to my room. End of story.”

“So doing… things while you’re… in season can knock you out?” Cadance asked.

“I’m not in season. Humans don’t have estrus. And apparently it can. Now, I’m going to go find Twilight. Doppel, you have your mission. Good luck. Cadance, keep being adorable.”

“It’s all I ever do,” she said with a smile. Taya hopped down so I could stand up and she grabbed our few bags with magic. “Have fun in Ponyville.”

“Hopefully,” I said as I started to walk to the door. “Where was Twilight?”

“Walking back from the library,” Cadance said. “So she might well be in her rooms.”

“That’s where we’ll check,” I said. “Come on, Taya.” She mutely followed me as we left the room behind. Doppel also followed, but just to get to her room. Soon enough, it was just me and Taya walking through the halls.

“So what really happened last night?” Taya asked.

“Almost exactly what I said. I was doing inappropriate things in the garden, but the captain didn’t find me afterwards. She found me before, and helped with those inappropriate things.”

“...What kind of inappropriate things? Daddy, were you pranking someone?”

“...Yes.”

“You weren’t pranking somebody, were you?”

“We weren’t.” She just sighed and shook her head. “Taya, honey, you shouldn’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer. It’s amazing the number of women back home that never learned that lesson.”

“Well, at least I’m becoming a little more human,” she muttered.

“That’s not necessarily a good thing.” I mean, sure, humans are the master race, but everyone has a place. Under us, of course, but that’s still a place. “You are what you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

She just angrily sniffed.

When we finally got to Twilight’s room, she was just walking out, a bag held in her magic grip. “Oh, Nav! And Taya. I was just on my way to see you.”

“Good. I have… news,” I said, trying to make my voice sound serious.

“Uh… Is everything okay?” Twilight asked.

I knelt down and put a hand on her shoulder. “I… don’t know how to say this. I’m pregnant.” Her mouth dropped. “You’re the father.” She blinked. “Although now that I think about it, that joke isn’t as funny when I’m actually a woman.”

“That’s not funny at all!” she yelled, slapping my hand away. “What is wrong with you?!”

“You’re easy to get cheap laughs out of,” I replied with a shrug, standing back up. “Heard you were heading to Ponyville. Mind if we tag along?”

“Why would you even say that you’re pregnant? Especially if you were still a stallion! That’s not something to joke about!”

“Because it’s funny. Right, Taya?”

“Eh, kinda.” She didn’t sound that amused, but she rarely does.

“It is not funny. You have problems.” She huffed one last time and started walking down the hall.

Of course, Taya and I followed. “So yeah, you going to Ponyville?” I asked.

“I’m on my way to the chariot pool right now,” she said.

“Cool. Mind if we ride with you?”

That got her attention and she turned her head to me. “Why do you want to go? And better question, where’s Spike? Why isn’t he with you?”

Oh boy. How did I forget to tell Twilight? Shit. “After his… transformation in the south, he was… worried about some things. He asked me to take him to a dragon’s place so he could spend some time with an older dragon. So there’s where he is.”

“Nav! You can’t just leave him with some random dragon!”

“Spike is perfectly capable of taking care of himself. He has wings, he can breathe fire, he has large claws, and he’s already stronger than I am. He can protect himself better than I can, now. Cut the apron strings, Twilight. He’s his own man now.”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t be worried about him! What if I left Taya at some random unicorn’s house back when I was teaching her, huh? How would you feel?”

“Somewhat worried, but I’d trust that you knew what you were doing. I don’t understand how magic works and what teaching it requires. You do, so I’d trust you.” Her eyes narrowed and she turned her head back, stalking on down the hall. “So yeah, mind if we ride with you?”

Her shoulders slumped. “Ugh. Why are you even going? I know you’ve been spending nearly every waking moment with the princess, since she always refuses to see me because she’s meeting with you.”

“That’s some bullshit, right there. I’ve spent some time with Celestia, yeah, but not much. She’s just avoiding you.”

Twilight sighed. “I thought as much…”

“We’re actually going to get away from someone else. I upset the wrong person and they’re threatening me with reporters. I figured it was best if we got out of town for a few days.”

“Take my place on the chariot. A certain princess just made time in her schedule for me.”

“Awesome. Give her a kiss for me.”

“No.” She pushed her floating bag into my hands. “Drop this off at the library when you get there. Something tells me I’ll be heading to Ponyville soon anyway.”

“Sure thing. Have fun.” Twilight started trotting back down the hall, letting me and Taya continue on down to the chariot area.

“Daddy, you’re weird,” Taya said as we walked.

“And you’re adorable. Some things just can’t be helped, Taya. You should learn to embrace them.”

“How do I… embrace being adorable?”

“Smile more. Laugh at jokes. Wear cute outfits or accessories.” Act more like a filly and less like a bitter midget. “Let the adorableness flow through you.”

“That’s weird.”

“It’s adorable that you think so.” She just groaned.

The ride to Ponyville was blissfully short, as it usually is. The guard pulling our chariot was happy to help, as soon as I explained that I had tits and he could look at them if he just shut up and took us to our destination. He dropped us off in front of the library and went on his way with just a few backwards glances.

Of course, everyone and their mother in Ponyville noticed both me and Taya when we landed, but no one bothered us immediately. Because of that, we stepped into the library unmolested.

“Welcome to Golden Oaks Library, Sir Navarone,” a stallion standing near one of the bookcases said. “I didn’t know you were in town.”

“I just got here,” I said. He blinked at my voice. “Are you the new librarian?”

“Yes sir. I have my own house, though, so I don’t actually live here. I assume you’re here for a room?”

“Maybe. The previous librarian will be coming back soon, though, and she definitely will. I’m just here to drop off her belongings. I might well head back to my own home tonight.” Or just let Taya stay in the library while I dick around. “Anything happening in town?”

“No sir, not that I know of. Did… something happen to your voice?”

“Yeah. Anything big happen here? I know how disaster prone this place is sometimes.”

“Oh, no sir. Ever since a few certain mares left some months ago, absolutely nothing of note has happened here. It’s been wonderful.”

“I hope it lasts, but somehow I doubt it. Most of them are back in town, aren’t they?”

“Yes sir. They came back just a few days ago. What happened to your voice, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I grew a vagina and lost my penis. I’ll just leave this bag here.” I set Twilight’s purple bag down next to the horsehead statue in the middle of the room. “That’s Twilight’s bag, whenever she gets here. Thanks for the information.”

“You… lost your…” Before he could actually work up the nerve to say penis, Taya and I had already left. Unfortunately, my record of not being bothered immediately ended.

“Yo, what up?” Vinyl asked, nodding.

And right next to her, at the same time, Lyra happily yelled, “You’re back!”

“Hey, can it, minty! I was here first!” Vinyl said.

“Psh, as if, marshmallow,” Lyra shot back.

“Ladies, please, you’re both pretty,” I said, kneeling down and hugging them both. “Of course, I’m prettier, but we can’t all be perfect.”

“You’re also a mare,” Vinyl said, hugging me back. “What’s up with that, dude?”

“A mare?” Lyra asked, also hugging me.

“Those cursed stones stopped working,” I said. “I happened to be in disguise at the time, so…”

“Bummer. You been broken in yet?” Vinyl asked.

“Yes, unfortunately.”

“Well, if you’re a mare now, you can go to the clam jousting club,” Lyra happily said, finally pulling away from the hug. Since she did, Vinyl also backed off, trying to pretend she didn’t like it.

“Not right now I can’t,” I said, tousling her hair and standing back up. “I’m going through some physical stuff right now and it would be a bad idea if I had sex.”

“You alright?” Vinyl asked.

“Yeah, it’s natural. It’s also nasty. Don’t worry about it.”

She shrugged, but Lyra didn’t. “We’re all mares here, Nav,” she said. “Nasty isn’t a problem, don’t you worry. There’s a meeting tonight. You should come! And then cum!”

“Thanks for the offer, but I can’t. I will definitely need a place to stay for a few nights, though. Does my house still have any spare rooms?”

“You bet it does!” Lyra gaily answered right before Vinyl shoved a hoof in her mouth.

“You’re staying at my place,” she said. “Come on, I’ll show you where it is.”

Lyra smacked the hoof away, glaring. “She asked me, thank you! And since I’m at her house, that’s where she’ll be staying.”

“Tch. That house is nice, but it’s way too far outta town. And come on, who wants to stay in a place with a bunch of brats? My place will be much more fun. Come on, Nav.” Vinyl grabbed one of my arms with magic and started pulling me off.

Lyra grabbed the other one and made me stop in my tracks. Before she could open her mouth for a rebuttal, Taya smacked both of them on their respective horns with her own magic, releasing my arms.

“Ladies, please, if you’re going to fight over me, wait until my daughter isn’t here first. We can’t make up together afterward if she is. Anyway, I never liked living in a place with a couple and living in a guest room in my own house would be weird, so I think I’ll be staying with Vinyl.” Of course, she did an adorable little hoof pump at that. “I’m only here for a few days anyway, so being in town would be nice. Lyra, I’ll definitely be sure to stop by to see how everything is going with you and Bonnie. When will you both be home?”

“We’ll come by tonight!” she said, then turned to glare at Vinyl. “And we’ll bring our wonderful foals, too.”

“Whoa now—” Vinyl started, but I stopped her by scratching at her ears.

“That would be nice,” I said. “We’ll be sure to have something ready. See you tonight, Lyra.”

She watched my hand somewhat eagerly as it played with Vinyl, but she just nodded. “Alright, Navi. See you at seven!” With that, she started trotting off down the road, her tail swaying merrily.

“Well, that’s nice,” I said, turning back to Vinyl. “So where do… what?”

She didn’t look all that happy, that’s for sure. “Isn’t it a little early to invite random ponies to my house?” she asked.

“You’ll be fine. And making friends in your new town will be good for you. Especially hot lesbian couples that are down for threesomes. Now c’mon, I wanna see your new place.”

She sighed and shook her head, turning in a random direction and walking away. “I guess you know this place better than I do. So how you enjoyin’ your new body?”

“Absolutely hate it. One thing I made sure not to share with most ponies is that our females bleed out their snatches for a week every month. I’m in that fucking week.”

“That buckin’... sucks, dude. Like, really. Can’t you just put a bandaid on it or somethin’?”

“Let’s see you try pulling a bandaid off the most sensitive part of your body.”

“...Good point. Does it hurt?”

“Yes. It comes with cramps, bloating, occasionally headaches, occasionally mood swings, and general irritability. It can also make me extremely horny at times, which sucks because no one wants to deal with that.”

“You have two holes for a reason,” she replied with a smirk, swishing her tail. “You aren’t bleedin’ from there, right?”

“That is one way only. Also, not in front of Taya. She’s still mostly innocent.”

“Whatever makes you feel better, daddy,” Taya flippantly replied, lifting her nose at the thought.

I sighed, shaking my head. “Being a parent is hard at times. But she’s so cute that it’s worth it,” I said, pinching Taya’s cheeks.

“Ugh, daddy, please! They’re staring!” Only a few were staring, and they were looking at me, not Taya. Still, that’s something I had always wanted to hear from her, so I made sure to kneel down and hug her.

“Let them stare,” I said. “Doesn’t bother me any.” She groaned and tried to push me away with her hooves. I didn’t let go, of course. After all, it was my job to embarrass her.

Vinyl also seemed to think it was amusing. “Enjoy it while you can, filly,” she said. “Next thing you know, he’ll be kicking you out because you’re dating somepony he doesn’t trust and your music’s too loud and he wanted a son, not an ungrateful daughter.”

Well, that got dark quickly. It also got me to stop hugging Taya, so maybe it was what she wanted. “Let’s be on our way,” I said, continuing to walk. The others joined me, of course, with Vinyl taking her spot at the front. “So what made you move here, anyway?” I asked.

“Change of scenery. And it’s not so much that I moved here. More that I got a house here. It seemed pretty nice all the times I was here visiting you, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I had money to burn anyway, so I just got myself a nice house in the area. It’s a nice place to go when I get some time off. And since I heard you were back, I figured you’d be coming here soon. So here I am.”

“Cool. I saw Octavia back in Canterlot, but I didn’t have a chance to speak to her. You both doing alright?”

“Oh yeah. Swamped, though. We both have more gigs than we know what to do with. And after the stuff you gave us, we have more money than we’ll ever know what to do with. Not that, you know, she needed more anyway. What about you? Aside from getting gender swapped, everything going alright?”

My mind instantly flashed back to some of the hellish stuff I had been through while I was gone. Almost getting killed by Miguel. Getting blinded by dark magic. Fighting Sombra. Seeing a pony burned alive right in front of me by ghosts. Almost dying in Athena’s realm. The spiders. Becoming a queen. The bunker from hell. Celestia’s creepy possessiveness.

I shrugged. “About par for the course,” I said.

“Same ol’, same ol’, huh? Didn’t you always say your life sucked?”

“Sure did. I’ve been through about eight of the nine layers of hell, only skipping the nicest one.”

“Sucks. You’ll have to tell me some stories later.”

“Maybe. Heard it’s been pretty boring here, though.”

“Oh yeah. The first time I visited you here, I didn’t know how you could ever stand to live in a place that’s boring. After a few years of living the highest life possible, I think I’m starting to understand.”

“Figured you would. Anything coming of rock and roll?”

“Yep. And just like you said, most of the older ponies hate it. But it’s definitely taking off with the ponies our age.”

“Figured it would. Though I have no clue how old you are.”

“Well, this is me,” she said, stopping in front of a large house. “I only have two guest rooms, though, and I think we’ll be getting another guest soon. I’m sure you can figure out rooms on your own, though.”

“I don’t sleep, so I just need a place to keep my clothes. Who’s gonna join us?”

“Oh, you’ll see,” she said, walking up to her door. “C’mon, I’ll show you the ropes.”

Not like there’s really much to show about a house, but alright. We both followed her inside and she gave us the grand tour that wasn’t very grand since the place was pretty small. Smaller still, since it was made for ponies. It was pretty cozy, though, which was definitely nice.

“So what do you think?” she asked when Taya and I were dropping our shit off in our room.

“It’s nice. A bit smaller than what I’d expect you’d get, though.”

She waved a hoof. “Easier to buy one than to have one built. Besides, this is my comfortable home away from the city. Making it too big would defeat the point.”

“True enough. Well, I think I’m gonna go for a walk around town and talk to some friends. You’re welcome to join me, if you want.”

“Nope, you’re not,” she said, smirking again. “You gotta get cookin’.”

“...Cooking?”

“You invited that weird mare over tonight. That means you gotta feed her.”

“Oh come on, you’re our hostess. Isn’t cooking your job?”

“Psh, hah! I don’t know how to buckin’ cook, dude! I got enough money that I don’t ever have to. But you had to go and invite them over. So get your ass to the kitchen and make me dinner, mare!”

Oh hell no. “You just earned yourself three hours of cooking lessons, missy.”

“Yeah, right. I’m gonna go set up my tables.” She turned to start walking away, but I grabbed her by the tail and started dragging her to the kitchen. Of course, she had no way to resist that. “Wha-what? How are you dragging me?! Lemme go!” She actually started struggling, trying to break free from her tail’s evil hold.

“No can do. I learned how vulnerable you ponies are at your tail soon after I got here. If I can grab it, I can drag you guys anywhere. So yeah, you get to learn to cook. Congratulations.”

“This is cruel!”

“I’m a cruel person. Coming, Taya?”

“Of course, daddy. This is too funny not to watch!” Vinyl just sighed, probably cursing herself for inviting me to her house.

Long story short, dinner went well and I quickly remembered why I didn’t have that many friends. Most people are boring, even if they’re magical horse lesbians. They’re even more boring when they’re put into semi-formal dinners like the one we were in. So yeah, it went well, but it was boring as hell.

Early the next morning, before Taya or Vinyl could wake up, I was walking around the town, looking for something to do. Of course, being a small town at around six in the morning, there was almost no one out.

Unfortunately, one of the few that I did happen to find was Pinkie motherfucking Pie, happily skipping around. That happy skipping became happy stopping when she saw me. “Navi, you’re here!”

“Sure am,” I sighed, stopping in my tracks as well. “And don’t call me that.”

“Too late. Let’s go on an adventure!” Without stopping for an answer, she started skipping away again.

Since this was Pinkie, her request was more of a demand in disguise. I knew she would track me down if I tried not going with her, so I just sighed, set my shoulders, and started following her bouncing tail. “So where are we going?” I resignedly asked.

“To the Everfree! It’ll be fun.”

“Why the hell would you want to go there? That place is dangerous for you.”

“That’s why you’re going, silly. You’re the big, strong knight that’ll protect me from all the nasty things living there.”

At the time, I only had a dagger and a few throwing knives on me. There wasn’t too much in the way of protecting I could do if something large actually came out at us. But Pinkie’s gonna Pinkie, so I figured she’d be just fine. “Whatever. What are we looking for in the Everfree?”

“Me!”

“We don’t have to go to the Everfree for that. You’re right there.”

“Come on, Navi. How can I find myself without going on a life-changing journey? Now pick up those legs, missy! We have a long way to go!”

Ugh. How far do you think I could get if I started running now?

“About two steps,” Flo said. “Then she’d either catch you immediately or start herding you toward the forest so you had no choice but to go. You were bored anyway. Just deal with it.”

Easy for you to say. You’re just along for the ride. I’m the one that has to deal with her.

Just as I thought that, Pinkie gasped. “I know what would be fun! Let’s sing a traveling song!” Before waiting for any input from me, she immediately started singing. I felt the power of music compel me to join in on her song, but I clenched my teeth and kept my mouth shut. Of course, Pinkie sang around me, disregarding my attempts to be rebellious.

The silly song finally petered out when we hit the forest, ending with what should have been a friendly duet but was instead just Pinkie singing something that made absolutely no sense about the power of friendship or something.

When it was finally over and we entered the imposing forest, she pressed up against me. “That was fun, Navi! We need to do that again some time!”

“I’d rather not. And we’re in the forest now. Watch your volume, please.”

“No problemo!” she yelled, then used a hoof to do some kind of zipping motion over her mouth, followed by throwing away a key or something. Essentially, just Pinkie being Pinkie. She did, at least, stop skipping, and instead started walking next to me like a normal person. Instead of constantly talking or singing, though, she started humming the song she had just been singing, swaying as she walked. It was almost enough to make me wish I had died at birth again, but I managed to push that feeling down so I could concentrate on making sure nothing ate her.

After about fifteen minutes of walking in some random direction, I noticed we were on a path I had actually never seen before. That was really strange, because I spent weeks in that forest, learning as much about it as I could. For there to be a path I had never seen that close to the edge was straight up impossible.

“Where the hell are we?” I asked, looking around. “I’ve never seen this area before.”

“The forest is a big place,” Pinkie said with a shrug. “But we’re going the right way!”

Pinkie’s gonna Pinkie. Dammit. Either way, I had a bad feeling about where we were going. My hand unwittingly found its way to my dagger, clenching the handle.

After another few minutes of walking that strange path, a large briar patch appeared out of the mist right in the middle of the road. “See, this is what happens when no one upkeeps their roads,” I said, crossing my arms. “You ain’t gonna get through that without getting scratched to hell.”

“Well, Nana Pinkie said it was just on the other side! So that’s where we’re going!”

“She said what is just on the other side?” I asked as Pinkie started forcing her way through. She didn’t answer, so I just sighed, spread my wings, and jumped into the air. It was all well and good for her to walk through that thicket, since she had fur. But I was wearing some thin clothes, so there was no way in hell I would walk through it. It was so thick that I actually lost sight of her while flying over. Then I heard her scream. “Pinkie!”

I skedaddled to the other side of the patch immediately, since it sounded like she made it through. There was nothing there but a dark hole in the ground, leading straight down. Since I saw a fresh hoof print right on the other side, I yanked my dagger out and jumped in behind her.

The hole itself wasn’t actually deep, but the fucker zig-zagged like crazy, so it took me a minute just to get to the other side. When I did, I actually gasped in surprise, almost losing my hold on the dagger. The cave was beautiful. Bioluminescent plants lit up several of the dark corners, while the sun shone in from a few cracks on the ceiling above, highlighting a small pool of pure crystal.

That was when I noticed that the water actually looked like crystal. Pinkie was standing in front of it, whispering something.

“...Pinkie, where are we?” I asked, taking another look around the place. On that second look, I realized the place had been inhabited at some point. There was a road carved toward the hole we both fell in from, leading to the pool. Normal looking water fed the pool from a place deeper into the cave that I couldn’t see.

She didn’t answer me, so after a few more seconds of looking around, I checked back to see if she was alright. When I did, I gasped in surprise, rubbing my eyes again to make sure.

Standing down next to the lake were two identical Pinkie Pies.

I should have just stayed in Canterlot.

 
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