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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175. Chapter One Hundred and Forty-Four

Thankfully, I managed to dissuade Celestia from picking my clothes for the next three months in advance. For some reason, she seemed to absolutely adore the idea of dressing me up like a doll in front of everyone. Smacking her in the nose with a thoroughly used dildo got her mind off of it, and we both went to breakfast in normal clothing. Namely, a shirt and pants for me and nothing but a crown for her.

I gotta say, I was surprised to see Chrysalis waiting there for us. “So you finally deigned to join me,” she said, tapping a gnarled hoof on the table. “I don’t even eat and I still managed to arrive first.”

“You didn’t wake up to a horny princess dry humping you,” I said, sitting next to her. “Tonight, you two can share the bed and we’ll see who gets here first.”

They both smirked. Chrysalis actually leaned over and stuck her tongue in my ear while Celestia said, “We already made a deal. We each get you every other night while she’s here. Last night was my night. Tonight is hers.”

Oh boy. “Don’t I get a say in this?” I slowly asked, trying not to shiver at the nasty wetness I now felt.

“No,” Chrysalis breathed in my ear, this time actually making me shiver. I couldn’t tell if it was in fear or delight.

With that, Celestia rang her little morning bell and food started getting carted out. Chrysalis decided to behave, though she eyed the food with disdain. When the servants were gone, I asked, “So what brings you here, Chrysalis?”

“Moonbeam, Nav. I am casting my old self behind.” Her wings fluttered for a second and she shrugged. “Well, most of it. I am here to speak to Celestia more formally about several matters. After striving for hundreds of years to hide the past, finally releasing the truth will be difficult. We both have records that go back to the very beginning, so we’re going to work together to put them together in as cohesive a narrative as possible.”

“Sounds fun. I’ll be sure to stay as far out of the way as possible. Or at least, I assume,” I said with a glance toward Celestia, “that my official business here is done. Am I needed to slay any more demons or uppity nobles?”

“You are not,” she said with a nod. “As of now, I have no more official business for you. The inquisitor might want your help, but I believe he has things under control. And honestly, no offense to you, but I believe you’d be of little help now that the fighting is over. He knows what questions to ask and how to conduct an investigation about demons. And until the other nobles make a move, you won’t be useful against them. Unless you want to help draw them out, of course.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I said with a grin. “The widows of the ones I killed tried to murder me last night.” Her eyes widened. “Fancy Pants should already have them in chains now.”

“That is an… interesting development. You should have discussed this with me last night.”

“You didn’t give me a chance. My mouth was too busy—” Moonbeam loudly cleared her throat. “Either way, it’s not like it matters. Fancy should have them behind bars now, and they’ve already been stripped of titles. And now that I’m no longer a knight, I can’t really do much anyway.”

“Unless I name you an agent of the crown and give you my seal,” Celestia replied. She lifted a hoof to her chin and tapped it a few times before shrugging. “No matter.” Her hoof went back to her side and her horn lit up to grab a fork. “For now, it is a non-issue. But if your life is threatened again, tell me immediately.”

“Can I tell Moonie instead?” I asked. “She’s a lot scarier.”

Moonbeam threw one of her legs around my shoulder and cuddled me. “Every time you call me that, I’m going to blue bean you.” I hate everything.

“To answer the question, no,” Celestia said. “While she is certainly scarier, it is not her place to protect you from pony nobles. However, I’m not opposed to allowing her to take the shape of a personal bodyguard, should she have spare time.”

Moonie and I shared a glance. She rolled her eyes and looked back at Celestia. “I’ll have to decline,” she said. “I believe our human can take care of herself. Given the proper arms and her ring, of course.”

“Which I don’t plan on going anywhere without,” I said. “Though I also don’t really plan on going anywhere in general. I’m tired of getting stared at, and now that I’ve pretty much come out as a chick, I have a feeling the reporters will return in force. Since you have no jobs for me, I think I’ll just stay in the palace.”

“After the business last night, that’s understandable,” Celestia said with a shrug. “Thankfully, Captain Midnight was there to help you. I’m happy that you’ve befriended her. Positions of power have a way of changing ponies, and she never seemed to be the most social. It’s good that she’s changing. I believe I’ll broach the subject of her fangs the next time she brings me a report. They’re good for striking fear into others.” Moonbeam snorted, of course. “But they’re hardly fitting for the captain of all the guards.”

“If she likes them, that’s her prerogative,” I said. “I say let her keep them.” Celestia shrugged again and the conversation pretty much dipped off. That gave us both time to eat, at least.

Of course, we weren’t the only ones that were hungry. After I leaned away from the table, Moonbeam gently poked my stomach with a hoof. “You have had your fill. Would you be interested in helping me obtain mine?”

“If you explain why I can’t call you Moonie, yes.”

Her ears actually twitched. She slowly pulled her hoof back and looked down at the table. After several long seconds, she looked back at me. “I accidentally hurt the last person I allowed to become close enough to me to call me by a familiar name. I hurt her badly and I regret it to this day. I discourage any forms of familiarity or closeness because of it.”

I reached over and grabbed her hoof, taking it back to my stomach. “I’m not too afraid of losing something that I’m not going to have it,” I said. “Learn from your past, but learn the right lessons. Don’t avoid making friends so you can’t hurt them. Avoid putting yourself in a position where you have to hurt your friends.” I lightly tugged on her hoof, pulling her close. When her head was near enough, I gently took her horn and pressed it against my forehead. “Eat, Moonie.”

She did, and her eyes widened. “L-love…”

“For my friend.” She tried pulling back, but I tightened my grip on her horn. “For you.” Her ears dropped. “You’re leaving your old self behind, Moonie. That means old habits. You can let yourself have friends. You can let yourself have feelings. You can let yourself let go.” To demonstrate, I released her horn.

She very slowly pulled back and lifted her head to look at me. Without saying a word, she hugged me.

You know, I gotta say, Celestia probably felt pretty fucking awkward, just sorta sitting there and not saying anything. It wasn’t a short hug, either. Buggy chitin doesn’t really feel that comfortable, honestly, and the angle made the chair kinda dig into my back. The only reason I didn’t cut it short is because moments like that are probably important or something for a recovering evil tyrant.

Finally, the bug horse released me from her oppressive grasp. I got in a more comfortable position and popped my neck. Doing so gave me a look at Celestia, who was casually filing a hoof. When she noticed we were done and could see her again, her eyes went wide for a moment and she made the file disappear with a flash, then went back to her casual smiley self.

“I feel… full,” Moonbeam said with a delightful sigh. “You mean… so much to me, Nav. It’s a shame I have to bluebean you four times tonight.”

“Son of a—”

“Ahem.” Celestia cleared her throat, cutting me off. “Moonbeam, would you mind heading to the planning room? I’d like to speak to Nav for a few moments before we convene for the day.”

“Of course, Celestia.” She stood and hugged me again, though this time she shoved her tongue in my ear for a few seconds before giggling. “I’ll see you tonight, Navi…” With that, she teleported off, leaving my ear all wet and nasty.

I shivered and grabbed a napkin to wipe that shit off. “I don’t get why people do that,” I said. “It’s uncomfortable and nasty and not even a little bit sexy. It probably doesn’t taste good, either…”

“I was wrong about you and Chry… Moonbeam, Nav.” Celestia leaned back a little in her chair and sighed. “And I was wrong about Moonbeam in general. I truly thought that after Discord corrupted her, she forever fell from the light. Honestly, I thought she had some manner of spell over you for the longest time that I couldn’t detect. There were times when I considered digging and tearing at your mind to find the truth… or what I thought to be the truth. But now I know you were right. Now I know that she really does consider you a friend.” She fell silent for several long seconds before actually choking. Just like that, she started crying. “You… you can’t know… how happy that makes me, Nav.” She used magic to push all the plates and cutlery away from her spot at the table and she laid her head down and actually started sobbing.

...Alrighty then. Now it’s my turn to feel awkward. It seemed like the right thing to do, so I went over there to comfort her. She was on my uninjured side, so I was able to throw a wing and an arm over her shoulder, hugging her as she completely lost control.

After about a minute of crying and sobbing and being all girly and emotional and shit, she tried talking, though it was hard since she was still crying and sobbing occasionally. “I… I abandoned her, Nav… When she needed me most… I left her alone. I let her… I let her hold her past, her darkness… I forced her to walk alone. I felt… I thought… she helped him, Nav! She… she became a monster for him! But… but she never really… she never lost herself. And I… I never really let her… She was like a mother to me and I never even gave her a chance! I turned my back… on my teacher. My friend… My Moonie!”

She finally pulled away from the table and buried her head into me, once more sobbing uncontrollably and just barely failing to stab me. Oh great, now I’m going to have to go change. Fucking fantastic. I patted her back and gently rocked her until she calmed down enough that she could hear what I was going to say. Of course, I didn’t really know what to say, but I had a feeling that I’d either figure it out as I went along or Flo would fill in where I couldn’t.

“We… the both of us, you and me… We’ve spent our lives living in the past, Celestia. We have both made mistakes. We have both suffered. We have both caused suffering. But the past is just that: the past. You may have hurt Moonbeam. You may have helped create Chrysalis. But it’s not too late to help Moonbeam become herself again. It will never be too late to live in the now once more. We both must turn our heads from the past and look forward. We both must turn our heads from the darkness and gaze into the light. We must turn our back on lies and walk with the truth. Will you allow yourself to change? Will you resolve to walk that path with me, Celestia?”

There was absolutely no hesitation. She pulled back, tears still gleaming in her beautiful eyes, and said, “Yes.”

“Alright, cool.” She looked at me for several more seconds, probably expecting something else. Maybe another chunk of wisdom, maybe more comfort, I don’t know. “I’m gonna go take a shower and change.”

She did not let me go. “How do you do it, Nav?”

“Um. With soap and water?”

Of course, she didn’t even grace that with a reply. “How are you changing this world so much?”

“Flo called me a catalyst of change,” I said with a shrug. “I was raised in a wholly alien way with a completely different mindset while dealing with totally unique problems. When I was put in a position of power, even if that power was only found on the wrong side of a sword point, it enabled me to use my uniqueness to affect the world. A strange person in a strange land inspires strange things, I guess. Can you let me go now? I’m already covered in your tears and slobber.” Her horn lit up and all of that nasty disappeared from both of us in a flash. “Why even waste time showering?”

“Because it feels nice.” She finally pulled away, allowing us both to stand up. But instead of letting me leave or teleporting out herself, she put a very heavy hoof on my shoulder. “You are my friend, Nav. You are there when I need you and you helped me reconcile with one I thought long lost. You showed me the darkness in one I once trusted. Your wisdom, while juvenile at times, is powerful when it needs to be. You have become my rock in the storm. I… feel there is so much more that I can say, but I don’t believe it is necessary. So I will end with this: Thank you.”

“No probs, toots. Ain’t no thing but a g-string.”

She put her other hoof on the other shoulder, and I quickly felt them both go to my cheeks. My legs barely kept from buckling under her horse-like weight. “If you pass off my heartfelt admonition of friendship to you with your hip urban lingo that you know I can’t understand again, I’m going to break your neck.” I decided not to reply. After a few more seconds, she removed the second hoof and the original one went back to my shoulder. “Let’s try this again.” She lightly cleared her throat and said, “So I will end with this: Thank you.”

I covered her hoof with my hand. “I am happy to be your friend, Celestia. I’m not good at the sappy shit, you know that. But despite all the fucked up shit you’ve done to me and despite all the slightly unpleasant things I’ve done to you, I still find myself happy to see you. I still enjoy being around you. You are my friend, and I do not regret that.”

Her ears twitched slightly as she remembered a few things. “If I could undo the past—”

“You can’t. But we’re not thinking about that anymore, Celestia. We’re both looking forward.” Except when it comes to Luna, because fuck that bitch. I may not be looking at the past anymore, but I damn sure learned my lessons.

She sighed and looked away. “It seems I truly do have much to learn about friendship…”

“I have an awesome idea.” She looked back at me, lifting an eyebrow. “You should send me letters through Spike about what you’ve learned of the magic of friendship.”

“Very well,” she immediately said, nodding once.

“Wait, shit, no—”

“But only because you asked, my dear friend,” she said, leaning forward and nuzzling my face, cutting me off. “I’ll be ever so delighted to send you letters about what I learn. It’s truly a brilliant idea.”

“You know I was just—”

She pressed the tip of one of her wings against my mouth, silencing me. “Thank you for the idea, Nav. Now, forgive me, but I believe I’ve kept Moonbeam waiting for too long. I’ll see you soon, either for lunch or for dinner.” Before I could even tell her to go fuck herself, she teleported out with a large, shit-eating grin on her face.

“Shut the fuck up, Flo,” I pre-emptively said.

That just made her laugh harder. Thankfully, I was pretty sure that Celestia was just joking.

But somehow, I felt like I should know better.

Flo arrived in Canterlot around three or so in the afternoon. I was letting her paint another picture with my body, because she enjoyed that a lot more than writing books, when she slid under the door and snatched me from behind.

The ensuing confrontation ended with six ponies accidentally snuggled, four guards and two maids. It also caused some minor property damage that Flo was able to fix herself, thankfully.

It also ended with me feeling a hell of a lot more safe, because it’s hard to stab a dagger through something that can literally tear it apart at a molecular level, and I can easily wear her around my body like clothing. Of course, I’d also be wearing normal clothing, because she’s partially transparent.

When we returned to my room after snuggling her last set of guards, I sat back down on the painter’s stool. “So, do you want to keep going, or go out on the town? Maybe see Canterlot with your own eyes?”

“I did that the last time I was here, actually. I toured the city some before seeing Celestia and some more after, though I did it very clandestinely. Truthfully, the city isn’t that impressive to me. I’d prefer to keep painting. But I want to try something, if you don’t mind.”

“By all means.”

She motioned me away from the canvas, so I moved back. Several watery tendrils sucked in all the paint on the palette, then slid back into her body. She quickly became a kaleidoscope of colors before throwing her body at the canvas. When she slid off, the whole painting was complete. The cover painting for Bacchanale stood before me.

“Holy shit.”

Flo moved over next to me to survey her work. “This makes things easier, huh?”

I slowly turned my head to look at her. She was glowing a bright pink. I sighed and grabbed my bag of bits. “Let’s go get some more art supplies, I guess…”

By nightfall, she managed to do twenty more. Thankfully, she let me copy more books while she did her bullshit freaky art shit. I finally finished one by the time I appeared on someone else’s bed.

A green glow took one of my legs and one of my arms. A golden glow took the other leg and arm. Both stretched out across the bed and forced me down. Before I could really contemplate too much about where I was or what was going on, Celestia and Moonbeam both hopped on the bed with me, staring down at me with small smiles.

“So we got to talking,” Celestia said. “We’re all friends, and friends do so love to share.”

“And while she could take you one night and then I could take you the other night, that seems… somewhat selfish,” Moonbeam added.

“So we’re both just going to play with you at the same time,” Celestia finished.

“...As long as I can walk in the morning, I will allow this,” I said.

My clothes just fucking vanished. That heralded the start of a very satisfying and filling night. And of course, we were all late for breakfast the next morning.

Two ponies called on me around noon the next day. Flo was currently done with her bullshit retarded art stuff and was up to thirty paintings. The only reason she stopped is because she ran out of canvases and I didn’t want to go to the bank to get the bits it would take to hire someone to bring another thirty back to the palace.

Of course, I was chilling on the bed, writing again, when the maid knocked on the door. Without even taking a second to ask, Flo opened the door. We both saw several conflicting emotions on the maid’s face before the most pressing one took over: fear. “Did… did you rob an art museum?”

“No, I did not,” I said, setting down the pen and the book I was writing in.

“So… where did all these paintings come from?”

“Me,” Flo said, making the maid jump in surprise. “I painted them.”

“Y-y-you can talk?!” the maid squeaked, eyes wider than Celestia’s ass.

“And many other things,” Flo said, lifting an arm that started morphing into various shapes. “There are many mysteries in this world, Rose Dancer.” The maid’s eyes went even wider, somehow. “Yes, I do know your name. And plenty more besides. But I’m sure you came here for a reason, did you not?”

“W-what… what are…”

“I am a water elemental,” Flo answered. “I am bonded to Navarone, his protector and supporter. He saved me from a fate worse than death, so I will stay forever by his side.” Even when I don’t want you there. Especially when he doesn’t want me there.”

The maid took a few deep breaths before finally relaxing a little. “I… I see. Do you… have a name?”

“I do. I am Flo.”

“Well… I am pleased to meet you, Miss… Flo. If you are a guest of Lady Navarone, you are welcome in the palace, and if you need anything, please feel free to let me or any other servant know.” Flo bowed her head for a moment. The maid finally turned her attention back to me, considerably less freaked out. “Lady Fleur de Lis and Sir Fancy Pants are here to see you, my lady. Would you care to join them in a sitting room, or should I bring them here?”

“Well, it absolutely reeks of paint in here, but I’m selling the art through them anyway. Send them here. We might move to another room if the smell gets to them.”

“Very well, Lady Navarone.” She bowed and left, pulling the door closed behind her.

Flo turned back to me, a smile on her face. “Your wings didn’t twitch nearly as much when she called you a lady this time. You’re improving.”

“Literally kill yourself.” That just made her smile more. “Can you do anything about this smell?”

“No. I can suck up liquids better than your slutty lips, but I can’t do much for smells. An open window is the best I can do, I’m afraid. You really should have thought of that before you started painting where you sleep.”

“No, I did think of it. I just figured being constantly high from paint fumes would be fun.” She rolled her eyes. After a second, I found myself wondering if there was a point to lying to someone that could see my thoughts.

“There’s not,” she said as someone else knocked on the door.

Once again, she opened without even letting me say anything. “Come on in,” I said, finally sliding off the bed. “Though you’ll probably want to go somewhere else soon.”

“Hello… dear sweet Celestia, what is that?” Fancy said as they walked in. Fleur looked like she was about to go in for the hug, but used one of her hooves to cover her nose instead.

“That is paint,” I said. “We got thirty more done for you.”

“...We.” He finally looked at Flo. “I… see. And who might you be… ma’am?”

“I am Flo, the water elemental,” she replied. “It is through my power that Nav has been able to replicate human art and books. Now that he has finally freed me, I am able to do it far more quickly.” Both of the ponies were looking at the appreciable number of paintings placed against the walls.

“If this is the result, I wish he had done so sooner,” Fancy said. “When will these paintings be ready to sell?”

“They should all be dry enough to transport by nine tonight,” Flo said. “Once these are gone, Nav and I will go obtain more materials and a new place to paint and I shall begin the process anew.”

“That’s amazing!” Fleur said. “How long does it take you to do a single one?”

“Seconds.” Both of their mouths dropped. “Preparing and breaking down the canvas takes longer.”

“That’s… astounding…” Fancy whispered. “And… you’re a water elemental? I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“There’s a reason for that,” I said. “Let’s go somewhere else. I’m getting lightheaded and Fleur’s still too afraid to drop her hoof to hug me, which just ain’t right.”

“Then please, lead the way,” Fancy said, waving a hoof out the door. “I believe at this point, you might well be better acquainted with the castle than I.”

“Maybe. I’m probably allowed more run of it than you, at the very least.” Flo and I took the lead, letting the two of them follow. Fleur used magic to close the door to my room, sealing the horrible scents inside. And of course, she hugged me after that. “A more proper hello to you both,” I said, hugging her back. “I trust things have been going well since the party?”

“Correct,” Fancy said with a nod. His wife let me go, back to being all smiley and shit. “Word about my orientation spread far and quickly. However, I believe that my wife was… extremely good at her profession, and already smoked most of the rest that were hiding; no one else has come out that wasn’t planned.”

“Give it time,” I said with a shrug. “Though as you said, Fleur was definitely good at her task, even if she did catch one or two false positives.”

“There is strength in honor and loyalty,” Fancy Pants said. “It was up to her to find one that would deny her. It was up to me to find out why. Those that were true to their wives or had a strong personal honor were kept as close friends and allies. Those that had alternative interests were kept… slightly more close.”

“And I got my fun, either way,” Fleur wistfully sighed. “Though now that I find myself forced back into the game of romance, I shall likely find it regrettable.”

Flo reached a watery tendril back to her and morphed the rest of her body so it was all facing her while still walking the right way. “Romance is not required to live a fulfilling life, Fleur. Learn to live for yourself before trying to live for another.”

The mare sighed. “True, I suppose. I just do so adore the idea of truly falling in love with my own prince and being held by his strong hooves every night… I know it’s an unrealistic thought, especially given what I know of the world, but alas, the heart wants what it wants…”

“That’s why you have to learn to shut it down,” I said with a shrug. “I died on the inside ages ago and I’m perfectly okay with being lonely for the rest of my life.”

“That seems… unpleasant,” Fancy said.

“It very much is,” Flo replied. “That is why he has been trying to rekindle his aching heart.”

“Shut up, Flo. You aren’t my real dad!”

She giggled and reached a tendril out to pinch my cheek. I slapped it away, of course. She was about to try again, but I entered one of the palace’s many sitting rooms that exist away from the one Celestia made just to torture me.

I snagged the first couch. Surprisingly, Fleur hopped up next to me and then plopped across my lap. Fancy took the chair opposite and Flo just sort of oozed around the room, looking about.

“You may now pet me,” Fleur said, grabbing one of my hands with magic and putting it on her neck.

“Oh yeah, I did say I’d do that.” So I started petting her soft body, rubbing it in most of the right ways.

Fancy smiled. “Should you find your way back to male, I’d love to try, should you not mind me possibly getting excited.”

“We’ll talk. Anyway, you never did say why you came by. Can I help you with something?”

“Perhaps,” he said. “We came to discuss a few things. First, I wanted to tell you that the three ex-noble widows have been arrested. They denied everything, of course, but we forced the truth spell on them and they refused to say any more, which is taken as an admission of guilt.”

“If that’s the case, what’s the point of the mind reading spell?” I asked. “Why not just use the truth spell and ask if someone is guilty?”

“Because sometimes, questions aren’t that simple. Asking if somepony is guilty doesn’t tell you what they’re guilty of, first. But usually, that spell is used to determine the where’s and the why’s. Where are the stolen goods? Why did you attack that pony? Things of that nature, that are not yes or no. But regardless, the small remainder of their wealth has been confiscated and the three of them are now in the high security prison, awaiting sentencing.”

“Ballin’.” His wife’s head was now in my lap and she was cooing softly in contentment. “Am I gonna need to testify against them?”

“No. According to the witnesses, you didn’t even see the dagger they were about to use to stab you in the back. They will testify for you. There is no need for the victim to be present.”

“Even better. Did they put up a fight when you took them?”

“One did. We subdued her easily, however. Thankfully, this was the one that wasn’t a duelist. The others surrendered easily, knowing that attempting to fight would only increase any possible sentencing.”

“Smart on them.”

“Indeed. That leads to another of the things I needed to discuss with you. Captain Midnight and I spoke after I brought those three in. We are of the opinion that while you are in the city, you should be openly accompanied by one or two guards. Not so much for your protection, but to remind the citizens that you enjoy the princess’s personal grace and can wield her power how you see fit. We both believe that would deter any attacks on you, saving the lives of ponies and saving you trouble.”

“...As long as they’re pegasi. I doubt I’ll go out much and it won’t matter until my wing is healed, but I don’t want to have to walk to deal with any slow groundies.”

“Of course,” he said with a nod. “That is standard for all targets with wings. The princesses, you, any griffin ambassadors. Visiting grounded races like the minotaurs or diamond dogs get unicorns and earth ponies.”

“Then I’m okay with it.“ Fleur finally rolled over on her back, giving me some very interesting ‘come hither’ eyes that I chose to obey. My hands quickly caressed her belly and she softly moaned.

“Excellent. It also helps the princess’s image, making the ponies believe she’s taking an interest in the safety of one of her close friends. Anyway, the last thing I’d like to discuss is entirely different in nature. My wife has told me that you need her assistance in a very important matter.”

“That’s true,” I said. “I also happened to tell that same wife that some things are better left not shared.” Like my hands, which I pulled away as punishment. She viciously pouted.

When she got done being totally adorable, she said, “I believe I read in one of your human books that your married couples are, in some cases, considered one person. You advised me against spreading this news. You did not say I couldn’t tell myself, however…”

Oh god dammit. “Well, whatever. Yes, I did say I needed her help keeping Canterlot pacified for a while. Shit’s probably gonna go haywire here in the coming months, more than it has been recently. I need Canterlot stable.”

“...There was talk of demons and extinctions,” Fancy quietly replied.

“Damn. I guess when you do something stupid, you disregard the little guns and just straight go full retard,” I said, looking down at Fleur.

She rolled her eyes and replied, “Something that large affects us all, Nav. If what you’re saying is true, and I fully believe that it is since it’s coming from you, it should be the responsibility of everypony… No, everyone, to deal with it. Or to at least assist with it. This chaotic demon must be stopped.”

“But on the same vein, it feeds on panic and discord,” I said. “If word gets out and people freak the fuck out, which would be totally understandable, it’ll grow stronger. And of course, ponies are prey pack animals. If a few start freaking out, it can quickly start a chain reaction that’ll send the vast majority into a panic. I’ve seen it happen more than once in Ponyville.”

Fancy’s head lowered for a moment before lifting back up. “That is true, in some occasions. But from the way you speak, you believe there is a war of sorts coming. Do you not believe it better to have preparations? Or to have more ponies assisting you and the princess?”

“Me, no. I already have a full crew and my ship probably can’t really sustain many more. Celestia, sure. Every noble that actively supports her and stops plotting against her is good. And of course, they need to stop plotting against each other as well. This is a time for unification. Tell your peeps to unfuck themselves, and to turn their time and attentions to making the world a better place for everyone instead of just themselves.”

He slowly nodded. “That is something that I have been attempting for some time, with very limited success. I’m sad to say that power corrupts, it seems, and often causes those with it to desire ever more.”

“Your speech at the party the other night was perfect,” I said. “Nobles are supposed to embody virtues, not sins. Thankfully, it’s much easier to get people to follow a good example than to scare them into being good, so hopefully you set the stage when you took the first step. Honesty is one of the seven great virtues of my world, the others being temperance, charity, diligence, humility, patience, and kindness. Find nobles or great heroes that fit the mold and praise them among your friends. Spread the idea that acting virtuously is the only way a noble should act. The best part is that, in time, the commoners will probably start emulating that.”

“Many of them already seem to live good lifestyles,” Fleur said. “Rarity, at least, is among the most generous of the ponies I know.”

Unless you’re a human. “And there are plenty of lesser nobles that also do,” Fancy said. “But among the upper ranking nobility, plotting, planning, gossiping, and in some cases, outright criminality is common. It is, in fact, how they or their families typically became upper nobility.”

“Tch, ambition,” Flo contemptuously said, finally joining the fray. “Contrary to common belief, surviving in a safe, pleasant stability is far better than stabbing others in the back to achieve a less safe, slightly more pleasant stability. It’s much better to be content with what you have, when it is more than enough to keep you stable.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” I replied. “You don’t have proper emotions, not the way those of us with blood do. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not particularly ambitious either, but I can usually understand their reason for wanting more. It was the human condition, after all. I suppose we couldn’t help but put a piece of ourselves, however small, in whatever we created.”

“...Whatever you created?” Fancy Pants quietly said, his voice turning it into a question of disbelief.

“You and I are human creations,” Flo said. “Along with almost every single other race currently in existence, at least in some respects. As far as I and Athena know, humans were the first race, the great engineers that created all those that followed. After Discord wiped out enough that it was guaranteed that the human race would have too little genetic diversity to go on, the remaining human scientists began bioengineering various life-forms that would slowly pick up enough intelligence to become sapient as time went on. It seems that they correctly guessed that Discord would survive them, so they made something of a slow burn with their creations, ensuring that a new sapient race would emerge to power around the time a cycle ended and the genocide began again. From what I and my sisters can tell, the extinction events weren’t complete in some instances, so there are several groups of sapient beings left.”

“I keep forgetting that I haven’t told everyone that yet,” I said with a shrug. “I came from the past, as you know. My species got wiped out shortly after the two of us went back by this same demon that we now call Discord. We created elementals like Flo to guide the early races and try to teach them to avoid some of our mistakes. Shit went haywire when the demon turned them against each other. He destroyed most of them and imprisoned almost all of the rest. Then we lose track of history up until he attacks the alicorn empire, leaving three survivors: Celestia, Luna, and Chrysalis, though he corrupted her and turned her into a changeling. Now, just slightly over six thousand years later, he’s back.”

“That is… a lot to take in,” Fancy slowly said, looking down.

I shot some finger pistols at him. “That’s what your stallion said last night.” Flo popped me in the back of the head with a tendril.

“It’s a strange coincidence,” Fleur said, using magic to force one of my hands back on her tummy. “That one of the first race happened to come back around when the demon became free again, I mean.”

“The world is full of those,” I replied with a shrug, my hand going on autopilot to rub her belly again. “Humanity is the harbinger of all life as you know it. It only seems fitting that one of us should be here when the demon of chaos comes to reap humanity’s children once more. Or, to put it less poetically, it’s only fair that if one of us created this bastard, it should be our job to put him down. And I damn sure want revenge. But yeah, it’s definitely a strange coincidence. I don’t know if it was strange timing or if my arrival weakened his prison or what.”

“You have a very interesting way with words,” Fancy Pants said. “But you’re telling us quite a lot of… frankly, unbelievable things. I do trust you, and I most definitely remember our shared trip to the past, but much of what you’re saying is honestly quite ridiculous, at best.”

“Yeah, that’s understandable,” I said, waving the hand that wasn’t making Fleur whimper in delight. “It doesn’t really matter if you believe me or not. Most of this is just basic history. What’s important is, first, that you don’t spread it. Second, that you take what I said to heart and get the nobles to unfuck themselves. I mean, they tried to fucking free Pertz. The one who, in front of a courtroom, practically admitted to ordering a genocide, a mass rape, a regicide or two, and tons of other bad things. Three of those motherfuckers thought freeing that evil pony would be a good idea. If three of them acted on it, at least a dozen of them were thinking about it. That is, quite frankly, unacceptable.”

“I happen to agree,” Fancy said. “That is why I made a point of arresting their widows personally. And despite my misgivings with much of what you said, I do agree with the goal you have laid out for me and my wife. It is time for all of us to go back to living up to our title of noble. And as you said, an example to follow would be considerably more useful to us all than scaring them with what you say is the truth.”

“Yeah. So if you know of any…”

He slowly eased back, leaning against the couch more. “I have someone in mind. While not always honorable or honest, this fellow has been unyieldingly polite to everypony he has met and has had a fervent devotion to the princesses. He built himself up from nothing and has come quite a long way, sacrificing his safety and his time for the good of Equestria. I believe he would be a perfect example.”

“Sounds like he might be,” I said with a shrug, going back to paying more attention to his adorably squirming wife. The noises she was making kinda made me wonder how she would sound in bed.

“There is one small issue with this fellow, though,” he said. “He is still technically a commoner.”

Flo chuckled and said, “That won’t be a hard thing to fix, at the moment. Three powerful noble families just got cast down. Their land and titles all for the taking, now.”

“She’s right,” I said. “Celestia mentioned something like that. You should talk to the princess about this guy, see if she’d be willing to elevate him.”

“I’m of the opinion that he wouldn’t be interested,” Fancy sighed.

“Want me to talk to him?” I asked. “Sometimes, personal convictions have to be sacrificed for the good of everyone. If he’d be good as an example for all of us to follow, he should take an opportunity to be a noble. Assuming you can get him that opportunity, of course.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Fancy Pants said with a smile.

Two seconds later, Celestia teleported in, an even wider smile on her face. “Hello, Navarone.”

And just like that, it clicked. “Oh, you son of a—” Flo covered my mouth with a tendril, giving Celestia a chance to speak.

“I believe you said it yourself, Nav: In times of great strife, personal convictions must occasionally be put to the side for the good of us all. There will be many who won’t like this outcome, but they will come to accept it. Yourself included.” She eyed my chest and then one of my wings for a moment before looking me back in the eyes and continuing, “In time, even the greatest or most unbelievable of changes can be accepted as a true part of us. I would grant you the position of a noble lady of Equestria. Your castle near Ponyville will become your stronghold and the Everfree Forest, your fief. I am not offering this to you because I want to be with you, Nav. I am not offering this to you because of the mistakes I have made toward you. And I am not offering this to you because you are no longer a knight and I want you to be a part of Equestria. I’m making this offer of power and responsibility to you because you have shown that you deserve it. You have earned this in service of Equestria and all ponykind. And I believe that, by becoming a true noble lady, you will be of more service to us all just by the ideals you have come to represent. Flo, release him.” The water around my mouth receded, finally. “What say you, Navarone?”

“My reputation is shot, my image, tarnished. The people think I’m a slut, Celestia. Hell, they know I am. And half the nobles hate me. The ones that tried to kill me actually said I was your personal assassin. How’s it going to look when you give me the title of one of the ones that I killed?”

Fleur fielded that one, surprisingly. “Like you earned it in service to the crown,” she said. “Defeating traitors is pretty noble. And even if they may say otherwise, everypony knows that the three of them were traitors. I believe their widows just wanted petty revenge on you and tried to justify it to themselves.”

“And the sluttiness?” I asked. “Think of yourself, Fleur. How can either of us be considered good role models when both of our reputations have been ground through the dirt?”

She shrugged. “You’d be surprised how quickly and easily the ponies forget tabloids, Nav. Yes, we do have slightly tarnished reputations, but how many ponies have actually mentioned anything you’ve done? Reporters can easily be swayed to your side, should you choose to handle them with tact rather than fear and violence. Once that is done, the written word is putty in your glorious, sensual hands.”

“She is correct,” Celestia said. “Remember when you published those pictures of me with her?”

“You don’t know that was me,” I very quickly said.

“Nav, Taya told me you took those pictures for her.” God dammit, Taya. “Not that it would have taken much thought to figure out, regardless. Back to the point: After that, I issued no response and continued on my way. Reporters crave reactions, because they can turn that into a story that the masses will mindlessly devour. If you give them nothing, their source of news dries up and withers away and they find something else to talk about. Everypony knows what I did to Fleur, but it isn’t in the forefront of their minds because it is no longer on front pages. You will be the shining beacon of light in the murky gloom, your good deeds on display for all to see and your past misdeeds forgotten. Fleur and I will see to that, Nav.”

Flo slid up behind me and put her hands on my shoulders. “You have many plans for your future, Nav. Noble titles can be rescinded. Or, better still, passed on to your next of kin. I do not believe such a thing to be beneficial to your long-term future, but I believe in the short-term, this would be a wise move for many reasons. You can use it to bring legitimacy to your ventures on the airship, should the need to be associated with Equestria ever arise. And you can use your power in many ways at each Equestrian port you find yourself in, if it is ever needed. And, in the long run, it grants you the ability to do with the Everfree as you would, should the desire ever strike you.”

I slowly leaned back in my seat, my eyes going unfocused and my hand once more idly stroking the pony in my lap. Two of the three living people in the room eagerly awaited my next response. The third one continued softly cooing as I made her my tummy slut.

Finally, after I don’t even know how long, my eyes met Fancy’s. “I don’t Fancy being tricked, Pants.”

He widely grinned. “I’ve yet to meet anypony who does, Lady Navarone.”

I slowly and deeply sighed, then looked at Celestia. “When’s the ceremony?” Celestia proceeded to do the most adorable thing any pony ever could: Prance in place, whinnying in glee. When she got over it, I said, “You’re never allowed to do that again. That was so cute I think I almost had a heart attack.”

Just like that, she lifted Fleur out of my lap with magic and plopped herself down instead. “The ceremony will be in a week and a half,” she said, setting Fleur down next to her husband. “That is when your ship should arrive back in Canterlot. Your crew will all attend, and Taya will stand at your side.”

“How do you know more about my ship’s status than I do?”

“Because I wrote Spike a letter before asking Fancy to do this.”

“Fucking… whatever. I want you to know that this is bullshit and that all four of you are horrible people for doing this to me.”

Celestia rolled over onto her back and rubbed her head against my hand. “You’ll come to enjoy it in time, Nav,” she said.

“There truly is nothing to fear,” Fancy said. “The life of a noble is not one without responsibilities, of course, but there won’t be many that you haven’t already been doing. The main difference is that you can now have official vassals.”

“Man, who the fuck is gonna want to be my vassal?” I asked. “I’m gonna own the fucking Everfree. No one’s gonna want land there!”

“But some will flock to you anyway,” Celestia said. “Land or not. I’m quite sure you’ll figure something out. And in time, I might have more plots of land readily available for you. I would offer you Ponyville, but I have other plans for that.”

“Man, I don’t even care. I’m not planning on doing much of anything with this shitty fucking title. I can be the stupid symbol thing you want, but all three of you better be doing the legwork on using my example, because I don’t wanna do jack fucking nothing for this shit.”

Celestia tilted her head slightly. “That was a double negative, I think. Does that mean you’re going to be the perfect lady to inspire the masses?”

“Literally kill yourself.” Fancy and Fleur both blinked in shock. Celestia just grinned and carefully booped me on the nose with a hoof. “Hey, that’s my action! Stop appropriating my culture!”

“No.” She booped me again, then stuck her tongue out.

I quickly snatched it and pulled it tight, making her eyes widen. “The only reason I’m not tearing this out right now is because I expect to put it to good use tonight,” I said. “Now, if you boop me again, you and I are going on a ride through Canterlot. I’ll make sure to get ginger root from the kitchens and the crop from Chrysalis’s room.” Her ears sank straight down. I released her tongue and then booped her for good measure.

“So what’s the ginger for?” Fleur asked.

I started rubbing Celestia’s belly and replied, “Humans domesticated horses, which were mindless animals in our time. Sometimes, we’d take them to races or shows. Having an upright tail and a lively gait gave them extra points in things like that. So to cheat, humans would either carve out a ginger root and shove it up the horse’s ass or they’d use a swab and dab some oil in the vagina or the ass.” And that made all the ears in the room drop. “Of course, it was against the rules, but people still did it.”

“That’s… barbaric,” Fancy quietly said. “And you did things like this?”

“Me? Nah. The horses my family had were too old for shows. Shit was hella fucked, though.”

Fleur and Fancy shared a short look, then turned their gazes back at me. “Well, this was certainly an interesting conversation,” Fleur said. “But I believe it might be time for us to head home. We’ll need to talk to some ponies about arranging an art show anyway, if we want to get those paintings sold in a reasonable time frame.”

“Paintings?” Celestia asked, her ears perking back up. “Have you finished more?”

“Flo did,” I said. “There’s thirty in my room at the moment.”

“I see. I shall call on you soon to ensure they are appropriate. It certainly wouldn’t do to scare more of my little ponies.”

“Now see, I’d take that a lot more seriously if you weren’t wearing a dopey grin and blushing while having your belly rubbed,” I said. “I mean, Flo painted these things. Most of them are waterfalls, springs, lakes, or swamps. I’m the one who paints the hyper realistic proto renaissance creepy decaying Jesus pictures.”

Celestia shivered. “Whatever that thing was that you gave me was disgusting, unnatural, and should have been burned. Instead, I hung it above Luna’s bed.”

“Oh, that? That was just Saturn Devouring His Son,” I replied with a shrug. “You just have no taste.” Celestia scoffed, but didn’t say anything.

“We can send somepony by in the morning to collect them,” Fancy said. “Or rather, those that are left after the princess has her say.”

“Works for me,” I said. “It was good seeing you again, Fleur. And go fuck yourself with a cactus, Fancy.”

They both grinned. Fancy bowed his head for a short moment before replying, “I only used your words, my dear lady.”

“Yeah, well, half of what comes out of my mouth is complete and total bullshit anyway. You should never use my words, they’re total garbage.”

“And yet, they worked so well at convincing you,” Celestia said.

“Shut up, Celestia. You aren’t my real princess!”

“Oh? Then who is?” she asked with a filthy little smirk.

“Cadance. She’s best princess. You’re just some shitty knockoff brand.”

“I think that’s our cue to leave,” Fleur quickly said. “It’s been a pleasure!” She galloped to the door and got out before anyone could reply. Fancy joined her moments later, deciding that being somewhere else might be wise.

The look on Celestia’s face made me agree, actually. “Well, this was fun,” I said, trying to inch out from under her. “But I think it’s time for me to—” The door slammed shut. Flo apparently used my distraction to leave as well, closing the door behind her. “...to leave.” I finished inching my way out from under her and quickly started going for the door. The handle lit up with a golden aura before I could touch it and then literally melted. “On second thought, let’s stay for a while and talk…”

“My dearest Lady Navarone… Hm. What do you want to be lady of, Nav? Lady of Flowers, maybe? Lady of Butterflies? Bows and Ribbons? Pink?”

“Um… I’m gonna go with none of the above.”

She finally smiled very sweetly. “Well, we have some time to decide.”

“...Yeah. So uh, I got a… thing. I got a thing planned. You mind um, unmelting the door handle, maybe?”

“You embarrassed me in front of one of my vassals, Nav. Do you know what happens to those that embarrass their princess?”

“They get a medal and a five hundred bit reward?”

Her horn lit up and dragged me over to the couch. “I’m afraid that’s incorrect,” she said, draping me over one of the couch armrests, stomach down. “They get punished.” She used magic to carefully pull down my pants and then summoned up a paddle. “Please do remember that you did this to yourself.”

“That really doesn’t make me feel any better.”

“I know.” With that, she started. It was not enjoyable.

My body was not feeling all that great the next day. Between what Celestia did and then what Celestia and Chrysalis both did that night, my body was hurting. And of course, both of them refused to heal me.

Flo also refused to heal me, because I either deserved it or consented to it. So I was just lying face down on my bed, completely naked, with Flo covering my body in water to keep me decent.

“My life sucks,” I groaned at some point.

“No, just your lips,” Flo said. “And I certainly didn’t see Chrysalis complaining.”

“Man, I just got press-ganged into being a fucking lady. Like, an actual noble lady. Ain’t nothing ‘bout that shit right. And if you’re just gonna keep mocking me, you can get right the fuck up out my head. I ain’t about that life, dawg. I got enough peeps pushing me down. I need more supporters, not more haters.”

“Nav… you know you’re not black, right?”

“I’m black where it counts,” I muttered, trying to sink further into the bed.

“I’m sorry, but you don’t have the Oakland booty,” she said. “And I swear by the four, if you say anything about abandoning Taya, I’m going to spank you, too.”

“Flo, that’s racist.”

“I learned all the stereotypes from you, Nav.”

“Man, what the fuck ever. Point is, this shit’s mad ridic, yo. I don’t wanna be a chick, I don’t wanna be a lady, I don’t wanna have to be the one to fight and kill this ageless and undying genocidal demon, I don’t wanna deal with more crazy fucking ponies, I don’t wanna do so much… I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for a few years and let it all sort itself out, you know?”

“I know, Nav.” She slowly pulled herself off my body and laid a hand on the cast around my wing. “I think going for a flight would help put your mind at ease, Nav. You find it relaxing, you know?”

“Maybe… But my wing is still fucked.”

“Maybe. But I bet I can heal it all up right now. What do you think?”

I sighed and shrugged. “Celestia’s been doing her magic to it and nothing’s come from it, so whatevs. Go for it, I guess.”

She slid her watery goodness under the cast, pressing up against the wing. “I must say, given that you lost it, having it reattached and back to whole this quickly is fairly astounding, for those without an elemental’s abilities.”

“Magic is a hell of a drug. For some reason, I can barely feel your water.”

“Hm.” A few seconds later, the cast started dissolving. When it was fully gone, she gasped.

I looked back and shouted in surprise, flapping the leathery bat wing that greeted my eyes. Dozens of feathers scattered across the room, finally freed from the cast. “What the fuck?!”

Another hand grew out of Flo and forced me back onto the bed. The original two straightened out the wing so she could examine it more closely. “Nav, remain calm.”

“Easy for you to fucking say!” I knew she was right, though. Freaking out about whatever the fuck that was did me no good. My heart rate started to normalize as she inspected the limb.

“What do you feel?” she asked, running another tendril of water across the limb.

“I… I feel the water,” I said. “But it’s not like it was against my feathers. It’s… it really is like the wings I had as Luna’s knight. This is insane. Do you think this shit will spread further?”

“I do not know. You feel no pain?”

“I don’t. What do we even do about this, Flo? Everyone’s gonna freak the fuck out and if it continues to spread, there’s no telling what it could do to me.”

She carefully wrapped the place where my wing got bisected in her cold grasp. “And you don’t feel this?”

“I feel your hands. I don’t feel any pain.”

Her grip released me and she pulled me up to a sitting position. “I am going to give you a choice, Nav. It isn’t a pleasant one and it has no right or wrong answer at this moment. If you allow me to remove the wing, I am almost positive the corruption will disappear and that it will grow back normal, likely within two months. Or we can take our chances and hope it spreads no further.”

“...Let’s talk to Celestia. And maybe Inquisitor, if we can find him.”

“Very well. Please, allow me to find the princess. I believe that until you decide, it would be wise to remain out of sight.”

“Alright.”

She waited a few more seconds, then put a hand to my cheek. “I will always be with you, Nav. No matter what happens and what choice you make.” She pulled away and sped out the door before I could tell her that I already knew that.

“Well, this is a new one,” I sighed, spreading the demonic wing. “I wonder if I can even fly like this…” No one answered me.

Five minutes later, Celestia and Moonbeam both teleported in. “Lie down,” Celestia told me, though Chrysalis was already using magic to push me into the bed. They both pressed their horns against the place where I got hit by the halberd. “Definite appearance of corruption,” Celestia said.

“Yet diagnostics pick up nothing,” Moonbeam replied. “But spells were always unreliable against demons, Celestia. That’s why you created the inquisitors.” They both pulled away from me. “I believe magic will show us what spells could not.”

“True. But his mind is very different, as we’ve already found.” They both looked at my hair for a short moment before looking back at each other. “I have an idea, one that might enable one of us to do a much deeper diagnostic check.”

“Let’s hear it,” Chrysalis said with a nod.

“I know an area of effect spell that swaps the minds of those in the area. If one of us casts it with Nav, the other could then access the more familiar mind in his body, giving us the full range.”

Moonbeam looked around the room for a moment before seeing a few spare bits. She floated one over. “I shall take the side of Luna, if you take your own,” she said.

“I think that’s fair. Sun, I get his body. Moon, you do.” Moonbeam nodded and tossed the coin up with magic. It hit the floor a few moments later, showing moon. Celestia’s horn lit up and a stick of chalk and a spellbook appeared. “Turn to page three hundred and ninety-four,” she sexily said as she moved the chalk to the floor.

Moonbeam took the book and set it on my bed while Celestia drew up the magic circle. “So uh… what exactly is going on?” I asked.

“You are going to swap bodies with Moonbeam,” Celestia said. “True magic enables a caster to do a lot more with somepony’s body than spells do, but only if the mind and body types are familiar. That means you need to know their psychology, the way they think, how they feel, what their brain is made up of, how their body works… So much knowledge is required. Your body is a hodge-podge of tree and human and pegasus because we knew very little about your body while we were trying to save you and we didn’t have time to learn. Now, we know a lot more about your body, but your mind is still extremely foreign to us both, because you haven’t allowed us to fully study it. We’ve both gotten a few glimpses, but not enough to know what truly makes you tick. But Moonbeam and I both started as normal alicorns, so we know more than enough about our minds to be able to test anything about each other.”

“Magic has a lot of stupid rules,” I absentmindedly said.

“This spell is very simple,” Chrysalis said, standing. “Is the circle complete?”

Celestia took a few moments to finish off some last second marks, then nodded. “It is.” Moonbeam grabbed me with magic and set me down in the circle, then stepped into it herself. “Are you ready, Nav?”

“Man, I guess.” Moonbeam nodded and her horn lit up. A second later, my consciousness filled up the bug queen’s body. I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “My oh my, the things I see, the pheromones in the air…”

Moonbeam in my body slowly looked over her hands, then breathed in deep. “I… I forgot what it was like to… smell.” She looked at Celestia and sniffed slightly. “Are you wearing perfume?”

“I am. I’m sure Nav wouldn’t mind if you borrowed her body for a little longer, if we find that things have run their natural course with her wing. And if you’d choose such a thing, of course.”

“...Of course.” She finally stood and stretched. “I would not mind putting it through a few tests, as well. Humanity has interested me for some time now. I’d be delighted to know how well they perform.”

“It wouldn’t really be a fair test, at this point,” I said. “My endurance is so fucked up by Flo and the tree thing that it wouldn’t mean anything at all.”

“Ah. Well, I might perhaps still like to borrow it, or the body of a pony, for some time. I’d like to taste again at least once.”

“I don’t mind that in the slightest,” I said with a shrug. “And if you don’t want me embarrassing you, I can easily turn into something inconspicuous.” To demonstrate, I turned into Philomena and flew over to perch on Celestia’s shoulder.

“...You picked up transforming very quickly,” Celestia slowly said.

“She has had practice,” Moonbeam said. “But we digress.” She went over to the bed and fell into it. “If the corruption is still active, we must find and destroy it.”

“Of course.” I hopped off Celestia and turned into back into a queen. Celestia walked over next to my body and kissed the part of my wing that got cut up.

A kiss? Really? As Celestia was doing her thing, Flo oozed back into the room and then up my legs, filling in each hole as she went and making me shiver in a strange, perverse delight. “I think you look good in black,” Flo quietly told me.

“Suddenly, I feel like listening to rap music too loud and avoiding large bodies of water.” Flo sighed in utter disappointment. “So is this true magic? Just kissing?”

“Well, if friendship is magic, love must be, like, super magic or something,” Flo said. “So I guess?”

“Weird.” I removed the weird crown from my head and placed it on Flo’s. “I can feel that stupid thing shift every time I move. I have no idea how she keeps it on.”

“The grace and poise of a proper queen,” Flo said. “Something lacking in the simple ways of a warrior. Though I’m sure you’ll grow into it in time. Perhaps spending a few days as Queen Moonbeam would do you good.”

“Perhaps shutting your fucking face would do you good, hm?”

I felt something coming from Celestia and I managed to look at her before something pressed against my lips. “Take your own advice,” she said, pulling away from my wing. “This is difficult enough in silence.” With that, she released me and went back to making out with my body.

Since I didn’t really want my body to get eaten by some kind of demon corruption, I decided to stay silent. Flo also presumably wanted what was best for me, so she didn’t even sexually tease me, though I knew she wanted to. And I’ll have you know that not only did she not hit me for writing that, she actually confirmed it.

So I just kinda stood there for about three more minutes while Celestia did her weird kissy kissy thing. When she finally pulled back, she lifted a hoof to her chin in thought. “Very interesting.”

“What did you find?” Moonbeam asked.

“It appears that the demon corruption has hit the main body right at the wing joint, here,” she used one of her wings to point to where the bat wing connected to my back. “And it just completely stopped. By all rights, it should be spreading to the rest of the body, but it’s not.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I have a few guesses,” Celestia said with a shrug.

“As do I,” Moonie said. “I believe it is the tree physiology fighting the demon magic. Or rather, the tree physiology stopping the demon magic. I’ve heard of dozens of corrupted animals, but never any corrupted plants. It’s entirely possible that the tree changes that have taken over much of the rest of her body haven’t hit her wings yet, since they’ve never been injured to the point where it was necessary. They are still both governed by the typical animal rules, meaning corruption is possible. But the rest of her body is blocked off by the tree characteristics.”

“That’s fucking retarded,” I sighed, shaking my head.

“Do you want a full demon body or not?” Celestia asked. “Because if you want, I’m sure we can find a way to bridge the gap and let it corrupt the rest of you, too.”

“Look, I’m just saying, if we chop it off and it regrows as a leaf or something, I’m gonna be super pissed,” I said.

She rolled her eyes and looked back at the wing. “That was my main guess as well,” she said with a nod. “Demonic energies can corrupt much, but I’ve never heard of it changing plant matter. I believe that if we left it as is, you will be safe.”

“Will it, like, try to strangle me while I sleep or something?” I asked. They both slowly looked at me and raised one eyebrow each. “What? It’s a fucking demon wing!”

“...That is a fair point,” Moonbeam said. “But no. I am of the opinion that it will continue to obey your orders. If the corruption reached your brain, it might take over. But a localized corruption like this should be safe.”

“And you’re both positive that it’ll stop there?” I asked. “Because Flo’s pretty sure she can painlessly remove it and help it grow back in a few months with no corruption. I’d be without flight for a while, but it’s better than waking up one day half demon.”

“I am positive that you’ll be fine,” Celestia said. “If it has not spread further by this point, it won’t spread further. Now whether you can fly or not, I can’t say.”

“...Alright. I happen to need wings for the moment. I can remove it later, when things calm down and I won’t be on an airship for a while. But I want you to promise me that if I go full demonic, you either cure me or kill me, not put me in Tartarus.”

“Agreed,” she immediately said, nodding. “You’d likely start as a lesser demon. As long as I found out soon enough, you’d be nearly harmless to me. Not that it will be an issue, of course.”

“...Of course. So now what?” I asked.

Moonbeam looked down at her new body for a moment before shrugging and looking back up. “I’d appreciate borrowing your body for a few hours, but if you are in a hurry to have it back, I understand. I haven’t been able to taste in… some time.”

“I’m okay with that. I want it back tomorrow, though. If I’m going to keep those wings, I’ll need to learn how to use them before the airship gets back.”

My body nodded. “Of course.”

Celestia looked at the leathery bat wing for a moment. “How are you going to practice?” she asked. “Do you need my help?”

“Nah. I’ll try it myself, first. But if I can’t figure it out, I have a friend in the Wonderbolts. I’ll send him a letter. I figure if anyone can teach me how to fly again, it’ll be one of those guys.”

“...Is that the stallion you accidentally dated?” Celestia asked. Moonbeam lifted an eyebrow.

“Hey, you abandoned me during our date, so I figured I could totally get a side piece.” She rolled her eyes. “But yes, yes it is.”

“Well, enjoy your time with him,” she said before looking back at Moonbeam. “We’ll recess for today, so you can take time to play with that body. We’ll meet back up at dinner and swap you both back then.”

“Very well. I shall see you tonight, then.” Celestia nodded and teleported away. Moonie’s face concentrated, then she went cross-eyed to try to look at her forehead. “Ah, right.” She looked over at me, then. “By your leave, I would like to visit the city.”

“Only if you wear something over the wings and bring Flo with you,” I said. “I trust that you won’t go full retard.”

“Perish the thought,” she sarcastically replied. “You are welcome to join me, as long as you wear a different body.”

After a few seconds of thought, I turned into Gilda. All the ponies I could think to turn into might know some people in Canterlot, and it would be awkward if I ran into someone. I figured the chances of Gilda knowing anyone in Canterlot were low. “Ready when you are… dweeb.”

“Of course. You would pick a griffin.” She rolled her eyes. “I suppose it no longer matters, these days. Very well, then. Shall we?”

We did. It was okay.

 
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