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.


186. Chapter One Hundred and Fifty Part 2

The fire elemental was currently busy, so I decided to join Zecora at the front. Before I could get there, Taya vanished with a pop and the female unicorn hopped in front of me. “My lady, I have a quick question,” she said.

“You don’t have to call me that. Scoria, right?”

“Yes ma’am. Scoria Pitch. Taya asked me about… sexual magic.”

“And what did you tell her?” I slowly asked.

Her ears began twitching and she rubbed the back of her neck with a hoof. “I don’t actually know much. And I can’t really teach her most of it without… Well, demonstrating. I was just wondering… Um, how should I approach this? In the future, I mean.”

“My daughter is legal. I won’t tell you that you may not teach her. I won’t tell you that you have to teach her. All I ask if that if you know any way of keeping her safe, please make sure she knows those kinds of spells. Things like avoiding pregnancy or pain or anything like that. She is rebellious and curious, so all I want is for her to be safe if she begins… experimenting.”

“That is… very reasonable of you, ma’am.”

“What Taya wants is an overreaction. It’s in her teen blood. So I’ll be as reasonable as I can about things that I know I can’t prevent. If you find out she’s using whatever you teach her to do stupid things, please let me know. Otherwise, help keep her safe and use your best judgment.”

“Happily, my lady,” she replied with a bow. Before I could remind her not to call me that, she trotted off, heading back to the door leading below. I only watched her butt for a few seconds before continuing to Zecora.

With Flo covering my feet, my movement was completely silent. Zecora didn’t notice me until I was next to her and I placed a hand on her side. “What are your thoughts on Blaze?” I quietly asked.

She did not react to my touch at all. The only indication I had that she even heard me was a small noise in her throat.  She didn’t seem to be in any kind of distress, so I stood like that for about a minute before she finally relaxed and looked at me. “I have been thinking.”

“That’s usually a good thing.”

“I spent a long time hiding and obscuring the truth. That is, in part, how a shaman keeps her power. We use riddles and secrecy to hide our capabilities and we dole out parcels of truth here and there to keep our villagers coming back to us. With your assistance, I realized how and why we do so. And in turn, I realized how I lost my sister and how she fell to darkness. I realized how my clan so easily turned on me. Openness and honesty trump secrecy and obscurity. Direct, clear statements beat tempting scraps of truth. The way of the shaman is a way of deceit and dishonesty.”

“I’m very glad I helped you come to that conclusion, Zecora,” I said, rubbing that spot on her back. “There is absolutely nothing more annoying than someone with a holier than thou tone telling you some cryptic bullshit like they have all the answers when they could just cut the crap and tell you what they actually mean.”

“Indeed.” She slowly took a breath in and loudly released it. “For the first time, the voices of my ancestors are clear.”


Her head finally turned to mine and I realized that her eyes had a sickly green tint to them. “The powers of the shaman come from our ancient dead, Navarone. That is our greatest secret. It is why our most ancient and powerful magics are done with the assistance of substances that enable us to commune through time and across the veil of life and death. But it appears that my ancestors approve of my disgust for the dishonesty of the other shamans.” Her eyes looked over my shoulder. “I have been meditating on what I have learned and for the first time, I can see the other side without assistance.”

“Can you make her fuck off?”

Her eyes met mine again. “No. My powers allow me to see the other side, but they will never allow me to affect the other side. We seek to learn from the wisdom of the ancients, not control them. We borrow their powers, not steal them. Theft and control are the paths of the necromancer and the warlock. In time, I may learn to speak with the spirit haunting you. I was attempting to commune with the spirits of the ship when you found me.”

“Any luck?”

“Not until you arrived.” She turned her head back to the horizon and waved a hoof out in front of her. “Many of them gather for you, Navarone. Those added by your sword, claimed by your hand. On this ship of death and damnation, you are a focal point.”

“I would have been very happy not hearing that.”

“One of the duties a shaman has is to reconcile the dead with the living. When we encounter a spirit, it is the duty of a shaman to assist it in moving on. As my powers grow, I will hopefully be able to put the souls of the lost to rest.”

“I am very happy to hear that.”

“Would you care to join me in meditation, Navarone? Perhaps, with you by my side, I can speak to some of the lost souls surrounding us.”

“I don’t think I would be any good at it. I can stand here quietly, but I have no idea what meditating entails. I was never a spiritual person.”

“I will give instructions when it is time.” She moved over and sat, leaving me room to join her. “Join me.” There was still people I needed to talk to, but I figured exorcising the ship was probably pretty important as well, so I sat next to her. “Clear your mind, Navarone. Tune out the sounds of the ship. Ignore the duel between the naga and the fire. Focus only on the rush of the wind, the heat of the air, the smell of the ocean. Let nature claim her daughter’s mind.”

There was nothing about that wording that I liked, but I did as she said. After I became part tree, clearing my mind became much easier. My mind slowly emptied and I tuned out as much as I could.

After a good chunk of time, Zecora slowly sighed out and whispered, “We must choose one, Navarone.” I made no reply, just calmly sat and waited. “Put yourself in that place. Put yourself in that time. Is the weather cool? Hot? Is it bright or dark? Are you calm or frantic? Think back, Navarone. Remember.”

It was a cool night, in the wastes. They all are. The heat quickly seeped out of the ground and was replaced by the chill of the night. And it was dark, almost impossibly dark. That was before I was knighted, before I could properly see in the dark. It wasn’t a new moon, but the pale light it gave me was barely enough to tell what I was doing. My frantic, panicky movements were tempered by the strange inner calm my mind felt.

As I drew that painful line across his throat, I felt a part of me tear away. As I betrayed one of the principles I was told to hold sacrosanct, I felt something in me turn cold. As I murdered my first victim in cold blood, I felt the light in my eyes dim.

The sounds of nature around me disappeared. My breathing slowed to a crawl as my mind dipped into the past. After a few minutes of complete silence, I felt… something in front of me.

“He is here,” Zecora whispered.

I came to with a flinch, the darkness and silence in my mind instantly replaced by reality. As the meditative spell Zecora wove over me faded, I heard a sorrowful weeping drift away. I tried to follow the sound with my eyes, but that just made it slip further away and I saw nothing but the light of day, the blue sky, and the endless ocean beneath us.

“And he is gone,” she said, standing.

“What was that?” I slowly asked.

“The spirit of one who haunts you,” she replied. “By putting your mind in the state it was when his soul bound to you, it enabled him to more easily come forward. He sensed the familiarity, the last moment he ever truly knew before this cursed half-existence took him.”

“Well, great. Now I feel like even more of an asshole. Thanks.”

She held a hoof out for me. “As I said yesterday, violence begets violence.” I took that hoof and let her help me stand. “Violence brings pain and suffering, even after death. As a shaman, I know that better than most. Would you care to tell me the story behind this particular spirit?”

“It was a pointless murder in a pointless turf battle.”

“If he left enough of an impression upon you that he was the first to appear, there is more to the story.”

“...He was my first. I slit his throat while he slept. It was a barbaric death for a defenseless soldier. He was the first of… thirteen, I believe. And then I burned their camp to the ground. With it went children. Mothers. Fathers. A full migration of naga, killed almost to the last. His blood shattered an oath I made in my old life. His river of blood led into what feels like an ocean of it.”

“The dead hold more power over the living than most realize, Nav.” She released my hand and looked back to the horizon. “I would like to try again later, if you would be willing. You would likely feel more at peace if his soul released its hooks on you.”

“Why can’t we just try again now? I’ve almost been killed by ghosts several times. I’d be very happy to get rid of some of the ones around me.”

“Calling forth a specific one takes energy and time. If you killed him at night, it would be easier to summon him then. He has followed you peacefully until now. Unless he gains a lot of strength, you have nothing in particular to fear from him.”

“Do you mind if I boop you on the nose?”

“I do not.”

I reached over and booped her on the nose. “Let me know when you’re ready to try again. It’ll be interesting to see your powers grow, especially if they help clear some of the darkness in my past.”

“It would be my pleasure. I will seek you out when it is time.” Her eyes slid shut and I guess she went back to meditating or something. She was clearly done with me for the moment, so I wandered off, wondering what actions I’d have to do to be able to explore her next dialogue chain.

It seemed that Blaze was currently done with the naga. Black Fate was poking over the naga’s wounds and making sure he was still alive. Silver Quill was now covered in birds and Fluttershy was trying to coax more in for herself. The male guard Rarity had been talking to was making out with the male crew member Pinkie had been talking to. Rarity was watching, awkwardly rubbing the back of her neck and blushing up a storm. Pinkie had moved on to Black Fate and was bugging him while he tried to heal Ames.

I decided to start there, to see what kind of result I could expect from sparring with Blaze. My feet carried me to the naga’s prone form and I stopped on the other side of him from the medic. “It appears the resident naga bit off more than he could chew,” I said.

That made Black finally look up. “That he…” He realized what I was wearing and his eyes went wide and a small blush appeared. “Um.” His eyes found a certain part of my anatomy.

I leaned forward and clasped my hands in front of me, making my chest pop out even more. “Is he gonna be okay, doc?” I sweetly asked, putting on my nicest smile.

His ears shot down and he forced his eyes away from my chest, back down to Ames. “Yes ma’am,” he gruffly replied. “Though I did tell him I wouldn’t heal him up if he decided to fight with that fiery monster.”

“Well that wouldn’t be very nice,” I said, trying my hand at a pout.

“And trying to fight that thing isn’t very smart. I say a few bruises is a pretty fair lesson.”

“Oh come now, doc. Couldn’t you heal him? For me?” I simpered. His ears began twitching, so I reached a hand over to play with them. That made them shoot straight up for a second before they drooped down, giving me better access.

Pinkie slapped my hand away with a hoof and glared at me from across the naga. “He’s gonna heal the naga for me, not you! I got here first!”

“Now now, he would never want to disappoint his lady, would he?” I asked with a smirk. “Now why don’t you be a proper gentleman and heal the naga for me, hm?”

“Well, his lady couldn’t reward him like I can!” Pinkie said, throwing a hoof around his shoulders and cuddling against him. “That would be improper, and everypony knows that you’re a perfectly prim and proper little lady.”

“Oh, but there’s so much fun in being…” I licked my lips for effect and leaned forward to trail a finger under the guy’s chin. “...Improper.” His ears really started going haywire. “Why, I can think of all kinds of improper ways to show my gratitude. Mmm, what fun we could have…”

“P-shaw! I know how to show true earth pony gratitude! You can keep your silly human ways.” She pulled her other hoof in and caressed his cheek. “You’d prefer a real mare, wouldn’t you?”

“Surely a seasoned traveler and soldier has had his fills of simple ponies, earth or not. Something more exotic might suit his tastes better. And my oh my, I’ve heard my taste was quite delicious. Maybe if you heal the naga up, you’ll have time to find out…?”

His horn lit up and magic picked both Pinkie and I up. She floated across the naga, next to me. “I think my patient needs some space!” With that, he pushed us as far away as he could, which equated to the far side of the ship.

As soon as he dropped us, Pinkie stuck her tongue out at me.

“Don’t you tempt me with that tongue, missy,” I said. “Put it away before I put it to use.”

She did so as petulantly as she could and said, “You cheater!”

“How did I cheat?”

“You were a stallion once! You know exactly how to get one!”

“Then I guess you just gotta step up your game, Pinks,” I replied with a boop to her nose. “Here’s some advice: Those two aren’t actually gay. They’re just making out because you two weirded them out so much and they wanted to get away from you.”

“Nuh uh!”

“Yeah huh. That crew member has a dead wife that haunts him and that guard used to hit on Fluttershy all the time before I asked him to stop. I don’t think either of them are even bi.”

“Why’d you ask him to stop?”

“Because she asked me to.”

“Oh… Have any of them told you they had a crush on me but were too shy to tell me? That would make it so much easier!”


“Oh… Who should I go after then, Navi?”

“I dunno. But I believe in you.”

“Do you believe in me more than you believe in Rarity?”

I reached out and patted her on the head. “Well, I can currently feel that you exist, so at the moment, yes. But as soon as you aren’t within feeling range, that belief will start to waver.”

“But if you only believe in things you can touch, how do you believe in things like justice or mercy or love or parties or fun?”

“Why do you think I’ve spent the last several years horribly depressed? Duh.”

“But depression means you believe in sadness!”

“Nuh uh. Depression is feeling nothing, not feeling sadness. Imagine you’re walking alone through a desert that has no clear beginning and you have no idea how large it is. Occasionally you’ll get calls from people who talk about how lovely the weather is, how vibrant their surroundings are, how happy they are, and invite you to come by. Then they hang up. You know where they are, but you have no idea how to get there. You’re lost, stuck in a desert. People ask why they never see you or why you never want to do anything. When you tell them that you’re lost in a desert, they tell you getting out is easy. They’ve never seen a desert in their lives, so they think escape is simple and give you directions that get you all turned around. Sitting down and letting the sands overtake you is tempting, but you can still faintly remember what it was like before you got to the desert. You remember the grass and the trees and the shade and smiling and you hope you can find it again, but you have no idea how far you have to go or if you’ll ever even get out.”

“Why don’t you ever make me imagine fun things?”

“...Imagine me rubbing your belly.”

She sighed in delight and her tongue lolled out. “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff…”

“You have fun with that. I need to go talk to Blaze.” She softly moaned, her eyes closed in concentration. It didn’t seem like she was paying attention anymore, so I finally left her side and walked over to the most fiery elemental on the ship.

He was standing next to the side of the ship, staring at everyone on deck. His eyes lingered on Fluttershy and Silver Quill, both of whom were now covered in birds, before finding me and watching me walk toward him.

When I finally stopped in front of him, his eyes met mine for a few seconds before he eyed up my body. Or more likely, the elemental wrapped around my body. Once he got done with that, he snorted in derision. “What.”

“Have you run into any difficulties yet?” I asked.

“I have not had a chance to stretch. Your snake barely got my fire going. Get your weapon. Perhaps you will be a better warm up.”

“I would not. The naga was my teacher for a while. He’s still slightly better than me, but that gap is rapidly closing.”

“I should feel disappointment that one of my creators is worthless in combat, but I do not. When you meet your better in a fight, I will watch you die and feel nothing.”

“Okay. Have you had any other problems?”

His eyes went back to Fluttershy. “These ponies are disgustingly soft.”

“Then don’t pay attention to them.”

“That is difficult when they seek to pester me. That yellow one thought she had the right to speak to me.”

“How dare she,” I sarcastically replied.

“Indeed. I had a feeling several of the other weaklings on this ship would be upset if I torched her, so I just ignored her until she left me be.”

“Feel free to continue ignoring them, then.”

“I would rather teach them their place. The weak exist to serve the strong.”

“Continue ignoring them.”

He spat flame at me. It dissipated inches from my face. I crossed my arms and lifted an eyebrow. “Coddling your crew will only keep them weak.”

“If I had known you were just gonna be a whiny little bitch, I would’ve gotten your brother first.” He instantly lit up bright red. “Let me know if you have any real problems.”

“I will enjoy hearing your last breath.”

“Only if you live that long.” I was done with him, so I left, heading back below.

Once I got to the stairs, Flo giggled and said, “I have a feeling his dick is bigger than yours, Navi. Maybe you should stop having measuring contests.”

“Yeah, well, he only has two people that want his. Everyone loves playing with my lovely lady boner.”

That made her cackle, unsurprisingly.

“So if you were an adorable female cat assassin, where would you be?” I asked.

“In a litter box.”

“Flo, you’re useless.”

“Don’t make me leave you here, naked. I’ll get to your room before you can and lock it behind me.”

The first place I decided to look was Kat’s room. She was not there, which pretty much stumped me. As far as I knew, the only other person she spoke to was Spider. Occasionally one of the water elementals, which meant she might have been in the cargo hold. That’s where I went next. The only ones there were a female guard and a male crew member having illicit relations, because apparently using their own rooms was too difficult. I left them to it and kept searching.

My final stop was the armory, because that’s where I found her. She was there with Ice, Smiles, and presumably Cascade. As soon as I walked in, Smiles lived up to his name and started to say something, so I preempted it with, “You shut your whore mouth, Smiles.” He shut his whore mouth. “And keep your whore mouth shut.”

“That isn’t very nice,” Ice said.

I cut him off before he could say more. “You shut your whore mouth, Ice.” He shut his whore mouth. “You don’t have to keep it shut, though.”

“What makes a mouth whorish?” Cascade asked.

“I have no clue,” I replied with a shrug. “I just thought it sounded funny, so I said it.”

“Sunshine Smiles wants to know if that means he can open his mouth now,” Ice said.

“If he wants, I guess.”

Smiles sighed in relief and asked, “Why aren’t you walking funny?”

“You shut your whore mouth, Smiles,” I replied. He sighed and shut his whore mouth again. “And because Flo healed me.”

“...I forgot I could do that,” Ice slowly said. Then he surged over to Smiles and covered his lower half. The poor pony sagged in relief as the ache in his crotch from wearing two experienced mares out disappeared.

“One of our many advantages, dear brother,” Cascade said, turning slightly pink. “You should try to keep the best interests of your host in mind at all times. It is wise to encourage them to avoid pain, but when they happen to find it anyway, it should be your goal to ease it.”

“Tell that to Flo,” I said. “She likes hitting me for no reason.”

“Each elemental shows his or her love differently,” my clothing replied. “I choose to teach you a lesson the only way you seem to respond. Perhaps if you try heeding my words, I won’t need to hit you.”

“Use better words, then.” She hit me for that. “There you go again, defaulting straight to violence!”

“You should be thankful that I am taking an active interest in your lifestyle, Nav. I could be like Aqua instead.”

“Let’s see, all the health benefits of having an elemental minus all of the annoying sarcasm, life lessons no one asked for, constant intrusions, and randomly hijacking my body just to make me do embarrassing things. Where do I sign up?” She hit me again. “Stop domestically abusing me!”

“Only after your Stockholm Syndrome is complete, silly. It’s not like I don’t kiss the boo-boos better!”

Cascade looked to Kat and said, “As you can see, each elemental is very different and reacts with his or her host in unique ways.”

“Yeah, Flo isn’t always a butt,” I said. “Just usually.”

“As far as I know, Ice has never been a butt,” Smiles said.

“Then so be it.” Kat turned and walked over to Cascade, then held up her two paws. Cascade took them and turned slightly pink. “I… I want you inside me, Cascade.”

“Then I will fill you and make you mine,” the water elemental happily said, immediately turning completely pink. “Is your body ready?”

“I think so… Just be gentle.”

“Don’t worry, Kat. I’ll make sure it won’t hurt. It’s your first time, after all. I want it to be memorable.”

Flo sighed in disgust as Cascade’s body merged into Kat’s. I guess she just hates happiness and cute things for whatever reason. Or maybe she hates the idea of Kat being happy. Who knows?

Once Cascade was all the way inside, Kat slowly stretched out her arms. Her destroyed claws began regrowing until they were fully outstretched, back to their normal length. “I can… feel you inside of me,” she said, shifting slightly. As Flo said once, there’s only so many places an elemental can go when they’re all the way inside you. So at the moment, Kat looked nice and plump. “Ooh, it’s quite delightful…”

Kat’s eyes turned pink for a second before Cascade oozed back out. “Now a piece of me will always be with you,” she said, placing a hand on Kat’s cheek.

“It’s so warm,” Kat panted, her face blushed. “And I still feel so full…”

“That effect will fade in time, dear,” Cascade warmly said. “Enjoy the afterglow while you can.”

“Yep, it’s all downhill from here,” I said.

“Would you like to do the honors, sister?” Flo asked. Cascade reached over and slapped me. At least she didn’t do it as hard as Flo usually does. “It’s very therapeutic, isn’t it?”

“I think I will stick to warm hugs and gentle rebukes,” Cascade replied. “In my experience, the disappointment of a well-respected figure in your life is enough of a changing force. I have never required pain to get my point across.”

Ice smiled and turned to me. “Perhaps you could learn something from Cascade, dear sister,” he said. “There is no need to abuse your host so. It only drives the mortal races away, in the end.”

Flo extended a tentacle to Ice and placed it again his lips. “Shhh. Listen for just a moment.” The room went quiet. “Do you hear that, Ice?” He shook his head around her tentacle. “That’s the sound of the fucks I give.” He blinked. “Notice how it sounds very silent. That’s because there aren’t any.” She pulled the tentacle back.

“That wasn’t very nice,” I said.

She placed another tentacle on my mouth. “Shhh.” I opened my mouth and sucked on it. “Well, I was going to make another example, but I guess you’re too slutty to hear it out.” I moaned around her tentacle and she sighed in utter disappointment before removing it.

“So anyway, is there something you needed?” Smiles finally asked, looking at me.

“I came in here for a reason, but I honestly can’t remember why anymore,” I said with a shrug. “So I guess not. Things got weird, so I think I’m just gonna go.”

“Well, let me know if you remember,” he said.

“If I feel like it.” I finally left. Kat decided to follow me out, and that’s when I remembered why I was there. “Do you mind joining me for a moment, Kat?”

“I was just about to ask if you had a second.” She followed me down to my room, bereft of her new watery companion. When we got there, she entered behind me, though she left the door open. “So what did you decide?” she asked, moving closer to me with a smile.

Some small part of me didn’t want to have to tell her, but I knew it really was for the best. As Twilight said, I didn’t really want to be owned and going down another path like that with Kat would be scary and might put my mind back in a place it didn’t need to be. Sex might not be completely out of the question, but any kind of dominance shit had to go out the window.

So I sat on the bed and said, “I thought about it and came to the conclusion it would be best if we didn’t have that kind of relationship.”

Her ears fell and she just said, “Oh.”

“I’m willing to try sex after we get some proper tools for it, but it’ll be totally equal with no dominance shit at all, and it won’t be a common occurrence.”

One of her paws clutched at the other arm and she looked away, ears still down. “Forget it. Just forget I even asked.” Before I could say anything else, she hastily left.

When I couldn’t hear her paws anymore, I sighed. “What should I do, Flo?”

“Let her go. This is the grave she dug for herself. Consequences exist even in a world with forgiveness.”

“...That sounds very strange, coming from you,” I slowly said. Her watery goodness tightened against me. “You don’t like Kat.”

“I don’t like anyone that’s hurt you.”

“When you met Kat the first time, you did something to her.”

“I did.”

“What did you do?”

“I read her memories, including her intentions with you. I didn’t like all of what I saw, so I left a few strong suggestions.”

“You changed her mind.”

“In a very basic way of looking at it, yes. She raped you back then because she wanted to and she was considering doing it again. She found your fear and pain delicious and was curious despite herself how tasty betraying you and making you hers would be. I don’t think she would have done it, but I decided to point her toward serving you instead of serving herself. That was also something she was considering, so I decided to make it a more likely possibility.”

“Even Brook said she wouldn’t forcefully change someone’s mind.”

“I am not Brook. And that case would be changing a fundamental and strong aspect of one of her sisters who is infatuated with someone who does not return her feelings. This case is protecting my host against a psychopathic rapist. And I did not technically change it, regardless. I just happened to put more weight on an idea she was already considering.”

“The next time you decide to fuck with someone’s brain on my behalf, make sure you’re actually doing it on my behalf. That shit’s fucked. The road of fixing undesirable traits is rarely a good one.”

She did not reply.

Before I could spend too much time in silence, a yellow water elemental joined us. This one didn’t start by yelling at me or hitting on me, so I figured it was probably Cascade instead of Naiad or Ice.

“I have finished sorting through Kat’s memories,” she said while closing the door behind her.

“Did you find when Flo fucked up her mental state?”

“Yes, we discussed that before I sought to make her a host. I did not realize the entirety of Kat’s past mistakes. What she did to you was monstrous.”

“Yeah, it was.”

“I am very shocked that you have not asked Flo to remove those memories from you, Nav. How can you stand remembering what was done to you?”

“I dunno,” I replied with a shrug. “With a lot of PTSD, I guess. Oh, and plenty of unhealthy coping mechanisms, like tons of weird, kinky sex and mucking about in dreams. Can’t forget forming a more caustic and dickish personality so I push people away instead of letting them get close enough to hurt me. You know, the usuals.”

With each word, her resemblance to a smurf grew. By the time I was done, she looked like someone Gargamel would try to turn to gold. “Would that I could take your pain,” she whispered, gently caressing my face with a wet hand.

“I didn’t know water elementals could be masochistic.”

Now do you see why I hit her?” Flo sighed.

“No. Now I see why she needs love more than violence. There has been talk of replacing you, Flo. I would never support taking a water’s host away from her, but I advise you keep in mind that there are those who would.”

“They are welcome to try,” Flo replied, tightening her grip on me and turning red. “Navarone is mine and I dare one of our uppity sisters to take her from me. What we share is not the disgusting saccharine love one would expect, but it is love nonetheless.”

“So you say, sister. Navarone may love you. But there is talk that she could grow to love another more. After all, you two did not choose each other. You chose her out of desperation, and lied about your capabilities. That is not our way. And after all Nav has been through, do you not believe she deserves honesty and happiness? Do you want to keep Navarone because she loves you, or do you want to keep Navarone because you love her?”

“You and the others may attempt to knock me from my perch at your own peril, Cascade,” Flo very coldly replied. “Go comfort your rapist host.” Cascade shook her head sadly and departed without another word. Flo slowly loosened around me and fell back to her natural blue.

It was too nice of a day to spend all of it rotting away inside, so now that my schedule was finally clear, I decided to head back up to the deck. Now that we were finally at the peak of day, there was a lot less movement and a lot fewer ponies out and about. There’s something about being covered in fur that doesn’t mix well with being right next to the equator, shade from the balloon or not. Thankfully, I had a personal cooling system by the name of Flo, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Jak was using Spike’s fire to burn runes onto a large chunk of metal, presumably the groundwork for his next golem. Doppel appeared to be trying to make small talk with Blaze, though judging by the occasional monosyllabic answer I heard from him, he wasn’t that enthusiastic about it. The naga was doing forms with one of the guard squads, teaching them how to fight against something with arms and weapons. Zecora had gone from sitting at the front of the ship to standing on one hoof on the railing at the front of the ship, somehow balancing herself. A yellow Naiad was hovering behind her, presumably worried for her safety and internally monologuing about the stupidity and suicidalness of the mortal races.

Despite not really deserving it or even needing it, it felt like a lazy day to me. So I ignored everyone and walked up the stairs leading to the wheel deck. Gourd was teaching Spider the ins and outs of moving the ship around and how all the controls they had worked. I didn’t pay them any mind and just went to stand at the back of the ship so I could overlook the ocean. Unfortunately, that gave me a view of Fluttershy flying with a large flock of birds that were carrying a laughing Silver Quill. I didn’t want to get dragged into that, so I put a foot on the rail and jumped off so I could fly up to the top of the balloon, where I had a feeling no one would attempt to bother me.

The balloon is nice and soft, and Flo made a great pillow. Once I was situated, she oozed off my body and just acted as a pillow while singing softly. I had never really considered sunbathing up there before, but given the low likelihood of interruptions, I resolved to do it more in the future.

All was well for about two hours, when I suddenly felt much colder as something blocked the sun beaming down on me. Without even opening my eyes, I said, “You’re blocking my sun.”

“I am your sun,” Celestia warmly replied.

Of course, that made my eyes slam open. Thankfully, we were still on the balloon instead of in the palace. “How did you teleport in so quietly?”

“Your eyes were closed, so I couldn’t get to you. Instead, I teleported to Twilight. She didn’t know where you were, but one of the water elementals told me one of their sisters was up here.”

“Well, you found me. What did you need?”

“I would like to speak to the fire elemental and the air elemental. I believe I saw the fire on the deck, but he did not look that interested in speaking.”

“You mean the big bulky dude that’s literally made of fire?”

“I do.”

“Yeah, that’s the fire elemental Blaze. Finding Aerie might be more difficult.”

“No it won’t,” Aerie whispered. It sounded like she was talking from behind Celestia. Sure enough, Celestia’s tail started going haywire as Aerie began messing with the magic keeping it constantly moving. “I have always wanted to play with this. I see it every time I watch you, but I never decided to approach you.”

“I’d prefer you play with my mane instead of my tail,” Celestia said.

“I will remember that,” Aerie said, continuing to play with Celestia’s tail. “Why did you desire to speak with me?”

“Navarone has informed me that you and Blaze would like to stay in Canterlot for some time. I like interviewing potential guests of my castle before allowing them to stay there. So if you would consent to it, I would like to ask you a few questions. Privately.”

“Very well.” Celestia’s tail stopped going crazy and she found herself lifted off the balloon. “Then let us become private.” All I had time to see was a look of complete surprise on Celestia’s face before she was dragged off the balloon by an insane air elemental.

She’s a big mare and I figured she could take care of herself, so I went back to sunbathing. Despite it being nice and hot out, I don’t think I was getting any sun burns. After taking a second to think about it, I couldn’t remember getting any since I became half tree. Flo went back to her singing and we both zoned out again.

About an hour later, a slightly charred Princess Celestia joined me back on the balloon. This time, she made her presence known by cuddling up against me as soon as she got there.

“So what did you decide?” I asked.

“That I will host the two of them in Canterlot, on the condition that Blaze spar with me every now and then. He’s a very poor loser, but he’ll get better as it happens more.”


“You know, you could also spar with me.”

“Can we spar tongues?”

“I meant weapons.”

“How about dildos?”

“...Yes, but I still meant weapons.”

“How about proxies?”

“Learning how to better defend yourself requires sparring against those who are better. The naga is good, but Blaze beat him. Blaze is better, but I beat him. I do not want you to die, Navarone. I cannot teach you, but I can help you train.”

“You’re a super busy princess.”

“You have the ability to enter my dreams at will. And since you are obviously afraid of losing to me, that route would involve no witnesses.”

“In dreams, I have the equivalent of real magic. I don’t know if I could avoid using it.”

“You have the equivalent in real life as well, Navarone. After all, life is only a dream.” She reached a hoof up and her eyes narrowed slightly before a flower slowly started forming in it. Her horn did not light up. “Reality bends to the will of those who choose to bend it,” she quietly said as the pink rose took on its full shape. “The waking world is a dream shared by all. Those of us who choose the path of lucidity can shape the dream to our desires. Those who stay unaware of life’s true nature march to reality’s tune. Princes and princesses change the laws of the land as they please. What makes you think the laws of reality are any different? Open your eyes, Navarone. See the dream for what it is, and you can make it what you want.”

“What does that say about fate, then?” I asked. One of her eyebrows lifted. “You’ve spoken about it before, as though fate was a guaranteed thing. If I began fiddling with magic and twisting the laws of reality, doesn’t that mean I could break fate? Or tune it how I want?”

She gingerly placed the rose behind one of my ears. “I can honestly say that I have never tried. I thought you didn’t believe in fate.”

“I don’t believe that humans have fates. That doesn’t mean you mini horses don’t. And if humans do or did have fates, I never saw any evidence of it. I imagine I probably don’t, since I’m some kind of unholy soulless aberration of nature that probably needs to be destroyed before we can truly stop Discord, but some others might.”

“If you ever say that again, your elemental and I will collaborate to come up with very inventive ways of making you suffer.”

“I’m just sayin’, man. According to Death, I’m a walking automaton without a soul. And you called me a construct.”

“What your hallucinations told you have no bearing on reality. Life is what we believe it to be. There was a time I would say your elementals were only machines. But I see beyond that now. They are alive. And you are alive. Whether or not you have a soul, I cannot say. But it doesn’t matter to me. I’m happy to have you as you are.”

“That’s kind of sad.”

She sniffed. “You have gotten me off subject. I want to spar with you when you return to Canterlot, Navarone. It’s imperative that you be as good as you can be with your weapons. Luck, wit, quick thinking, and reflexes have taken you this far. The naga has given you the foundation for true training. Let me build upon that and turn you into a fighter truly worth fearing.”

“This honestly sounds like something your sister would do. You’ve never really brought this up before, Celestia. What happened?”

“I was informed that one of your new destinations is Tartarus, Nav. I know there is no way to dissuade you from your course, so all I can do is help you become as prepared as possible.”

“Did you also hear that I’m going to Iceland next? The home of the dragons?”

“I did. I advise you speak to Reginald, if he is still in his cave. It has been made clear that I and all of my subjects are not welcome to speak to him or go to any dragon territories. I imagine you would be an exception.”

“I hope so.”

“Now, about my offer. Please let me help you, Nav. I know we have little time left, but we can make good use of what we have. For whatever reason, you hate losing to me. But you swallowed your pride against the naga. Just think of me as him, another teacher that is helping you learn. There is no shame. And if that is not enough, I will allow you to do almost anything you choose to me should you let me train you.”

“I wasn’t planning on stopping at Canterlot. I was going to drop off these two, speak to Reginald, and begin moving to Iceland as quickly as possible. I’ve wasted enough time.”

“And your time spent in idleness on this ship is not a waste? Let me take you with me back there.”

“And leave the ship again? This is my ship and my crew, Celestia. I joined you after Africa because you needed my help. But I hated doing it. I belong here, with my friends and my daughter. If this is truly such a big deal to you, I’ll join you in your dreams, but I won’t leave the ship for anything but an emergency. After all, where we’re going, we’ll all have to know how to fight. If I was the only one intensely training, it would do no good. We will fight as a team, with cohesion, against the demons. I won’t learn how to do that from you, and you can’t teleport us all.”

She deeply sighed and laid her head against my stomach. “All I want is for you to be safe, Nav. I will look for you in my dreams tonight. If you are not there, I will come back for you.”

“You’re certainly welcome to try.”

She smiled and pulled herself up to kiss me. “That’s all part of the training,” she happily replied. With that, her horn lit up and she popped away, presumably heading back to Canterlot.

“Well, I guess that’s one way to reply to a letter,” Flo said.

“I guess so,” I replied, easing back down against her watery goodness.

“Your front and back are going to be uneven, you know.”

“Meh.” I went ahead and flipped over anyway, letting my back start getting tanned as well.

“It’s going to be a long flight back, huh?”

“I bet it’ll feel like no time at all…”

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