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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177. Chapter One Hundred and Forty-Six Part 1

On the way back to my room, Taya and I bumped into the maid that typically bothers me. Of course, she was on her way to bother me yet again. “Lady Fleur de Lis would like to see you, my lady,” she said with a bow.

“How do you always know when people are here for me?” I asked. “Like, are you telepathic or do the guards just hunt you down when someone comes to see me?”

She smiled sweetly. “A proper maid never fails to serve her mistress. I took the liberty of allowing Lady Fleur to wait at your door. I hope that is acceptable.”

“It is. Thank you, Rose Dancer.” She bowed again and trotted off, humming a happy tune. I shook my head and we continued on our way.

“Can we trade Doppel for her?” Taya asked.

“No.”

“Okay.”

We weren’t too far from the room when the maid found us, so Fleur didn’t have to wait too long. A large smile split her face when she saw us coming, and she skipped to meet us. As soon as she got to us, she carefully pulled the package from me with magic and hugged me. “Ah, Nav, it’s nice to see you again!”

“It’s only been a couple of days, you know,” I replied, hugging her back. She was just the right kind of soft and squishy for me.

“Minutes, hours, days… They can all go by so slowly, if you have nothing but dull company to spend it with.” She dropped the hug and turned on my daughter. “And you must be Taya!”

“I am,” my loving daughter dully replied.

Somehow I had a feeling that Fleur would get tied in a knot if I let their meeting take its natural course, so I decided to take the reins back. “So what did you need?” I asked, continuing the walk to my room. I needed to speak to her privately and I figured if she was hunting me down, she probably also needed something.

Fleur didn’t miss a beat and followed, still carrying my box of clothes. “Do you remember the idea you had for an all-race beauty pageant?”

“Remind me,” I said, opening my door and letting myself in. The other two followed me and Taya casually pushed the door closed with magic.

“When we first became friends, you suggested that I look into a world-wide Miss Equestria show. Though I suppose it wouldn’t be Miss Equestria, at that point. Basically, take all of the races in the world, or all of the races that chose to participate, and bring them into a beauty talent show to try to bring more unity to everypony.”

“Oh yeah. That. What about it?”

“Well, Queen Chrysalis approached me yesterday and said you spoke to her about it as well. She asked if I would support her in assisting to host such an event.”

“Cool.”

“Indeed! I said yes, of course, though I admit to knowing little about the requirements of such a thing. Truly, Queen Chrysalis… scares me a little, but I believe her heart is in the right place. If… do changelings have hearts?”

“I dunno, probably?”

“Well, no matter. I told her that I would do my utmost to assist her, though I believe she actually intends me to do most of the work.”

“Good luck. I believe in you.”

She stood there for a few moments longer, possibly waiting for more. When nothing else came, she awkwardly cleared her throat and placed my package on the desk. “I was wondering if you could perhaps help me.”

“Dude, I’m leaving in a few days. And now that my ship is here, I’ve got a lot of shit to do and not much time in which to do it. If you’ll recall, I’m about to be made a noble. That shit’s happening tomorrow. I still haven’t spoken with the leader of my guards or the captain of the ship, I haven’t spoken to Celestia about what’s gonna happen tomorrow, and I also have some very important plans with Blossom tomorrow that I actually need your help with.”

“Even if you can’t lend your physical support, having your name involved would be an incredible boon, Nav. Everypony in the world knows who you are. Simply put, you’re famous and in high standing with every race that I know of. Ponies, griffins, changelings, naga, cats, sheep, minotaurs… And even more, I’m sure. If you can’t assist me in helping put the event together, can you at least give me permission to use your name when needed?”

“Sure.” She nodded smartly. “Alright, what are you doing early tomorrow night?”

“Celebrating my divorce, which will be happening some time tomorrow morning.”

“Wrong answer. You’re helping Blossom early tomorrow night.” She slowly lifted an eyebrow. “She’s telling Celestia she’s a vampire.” The eyebrow dropped and she gasped, lifting a hoof to her mouth. “All three of us will approach her. I’ll pacify her and make sure she can’t hurt Blossom. You’ll act as the voice of the people and tell Celestia you aren’t afraid. If Blossom gets kicked out of the guard, I’ll make her a vassal and she’ll come with me.”

“What if… what if the princess hurts her?”

“She won’t.”

Her ears twitched a few times. “Are… are you sure?”

I reached over to my bed, where a knife was sitting. I pulled it out and held it up. “Celestia will not harm Blossom, Fleur.” Her ears shot straight down and I put the knife back up. “If things start getting ugly, hide. Teleport yourself out if you can. But I very highly doubt that will happen. Celestia is usually a fairly reasonable person. Blossom is a good guard and has been for years. The worst case scenario I’m envisioning is her getting kicked out of the guard, which I could totally understand.”

“...Yes, especially if what she said about undead being illegal is accurate. Of course, I have no reason to doubt her.”

“She was sanctioned by Luna, not that it means much these days. Like I said, I highly doubt it’ll come to violence.”

“Hm. Having her assistance would be very useful for me in the coming months, but I imagine you would also find her invaluable. Hopefully the princess will recognize the value of having an immortal as the captain of her guard.”

“If not, whatevs. Don’t make me no difference, as long as I don’t have to actually try to fight her.”

Fleur was silent for a few long seconds before slowly asking, “Could you?”

“Fight her? Yes. Win? Psh, hell no.” Fleur blinked and Taya snorted. “Even with my armor, my weapons, and wearing my ring, she would probably beat me. But if I can get the ring on her, I can possibly buy Blossom a few seconds to run. Best case scenario of Blossom having to run is her dying tired.”

“...Ah.”

“Yeah, so let’s stay optimistic here.”

“That’s… Yes, let’s. What time would you like to approach the princess with this?”

“As soon as Blossom gets her lazy ass out of bed tomorrow night. I’ll be a noble and can make her a vassal with all the protections that entails, not that it’ll matter much if Celestia goes violent on us. I don’t know what time tomorrow I’m getting all noblefied, but it’ll probably be early. If you want to meet up some time after that and before talking to Celestia and take some time to relax and possibly celebrate your divorce, we probably can. I still haven’t spoken to my main people, so I don’t know what my schedule will be tomorrow.”

“I would… like that,” she said with the barest hint of a blush. “Blossom will actually be helping me move tonight, along with a few of my soon-to-be ex-husband’s servants. I would ask for your assistance, but I know you can’t stay up too much past dark.”

“I wouldn’t want to help anyway. Moving fucking sucks. I mean, I probably would, but I’d complain the whole time and probably make Taya do the bulk of my work.” My loving daughter rolled her eyes, then hopped onto the bed.

Before Fleur could chastise me for using my daughter as free labor, someone knocked at the door. Taya decided to take Flo’s place and used magic to open it without asking. Gourd and Watcher both walked in. Watcher sketched a quick salute for Fleur’s benefit, but he dropped it without waiting for me to return it.

“So we’ve heard some interesting news,” Gourd said.

I looked back to Fleur. “It was nice seeing you again, Fleur. Come find me after the ceremony tomorrow. If I have time, we can talk more.”

“Of course, Nav. It’s been a pleasure.” She looked to Taya with a smile. “It was nice meeting you, Taya.” She got no reply after a moment of waiting. Her smile dipped slightly before she turned to Watcher and barely bent her front knees. “Hello and goodbye, Mister Watcher.”

“Ma’am.” With that, she went on her way with a hearty gait.

As soon as her tail flicked out of the door, Gourd closed it with magic. “So how do you know her?” he asked Watcher.

“Her husband wanted to know if I was gay, so he sent her to seduce me back around when they first got married. I took her up on it and collected more than once. She remembers a few certain stallions that have showed her an exceptional time.”

“Jesus, and you call me shameless,” I said, shaking my head. “Whatever. So I’m becoming a noble. What’s changing on the boat and what all am I gonna need to do tomorrow?”

Watcher looked at Gourd. “Rock, paper, scissors?”

“Sure.” Their horns lit up. A few seconds later, a rock appeared above Gourd and scissors appeared above Watcher.

“Me first, I suppose.” They looked back at me and Watcher continued talking. “Nobles may have a personal group of guards that act as guards of their land, property, and body. They may also have a number of vassals that enjoy several privileges. A noble may have one vassal for every five square kilometers of land they possess. They may have one guard for every square kilometer. You own the Everfree Forest. The entire Everfree Forest. You may have… Well, truth be told, nobody knows how many guards or vassals you can have. An accurate measurement has never been taken of the forest and it slowly expands every few years. But you may certainly have enough vassals that every single pony on the ship could be one.”

“That seems like a lot of people to trust,” I said.

“Yes s… ma’am. Celestia and I decided that it would be best to name a vassal and call him or her the captain of your guards, and employ the rest of the guards as your bodyguards.”

“I agree with that,” I said with a nod. “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that’ll be you.”

“Yes ma’am, it would. However, after we’re done saving the world, I will retire from your guard and ask that you let Sentinel be in charge. I will likely be happy to remain as your vassal, but my fighting days are coming to an end.”

“I’m perfectly okay with that. Anything else on your end?”

“For the immediate future, no. Gourd?”

My boat captain nodded. “The Second Chance is yours now, my lady,” he said with a bow.

“...Nah, I’m not letting Celestia force you to give me your ship.”

He stood back up, shaking his head. “You misunderstand. This was my decision. I’ve been speaking about it with the rest of the crew, too. We put it to a vote. Six out of seven of us agreed that we’d ask to be in your service after this whole thing was over with. The one that disagreed said we should just say buck it and do it now.”

“Dude, why? Like, come on. I gave you a boat, I gave you a second chance, I gave you a chance to live in peace. Why the fuck would you want to be under my banner?”

“Um. Because you gave us a boat, a second chance, and a chance to live in peace?” Taya giggled.

“...Alright, yeah, I walked directly into that one. What happened to being a passenger ship and all that?”

“Nav, no one wanted to hire us before we got all the scary military-level upgrades. We’re literally a floating war ship. The only ponies that might want to hire us would do it to essentially be pirates. I’m not going to be a privateer, no matter whose banner I’m flying under. At this point, we’re much better off being a trade ship, but none of us even have the startup capital to get that going. We want to work with you because we know you can support us and we know you can use us. We help you make more money, you help us stay in the air. I’ll become your vassal and my crew will become yours, under my command.”

“Fuck both of you. I’ll make you vassals tomorrow, after Celestia ruins what was left of my life.” They both nodded and Watcher actually smiled. “Yeah, yeah, you act all happy now, but wait until I tell you one of our future destinations. We’re going to pony hell.”

“You’ll get to see all your new friends again,” Watcher sarcastically replied, rolling his eyes. “When?”

“After we get the other two fires, because I damn sure ain’t going up in that bitch without them to support us. The waters still haven’t told me where the other two are, but if they manage to be in a worse place than we’ve been to so far, I’ll be extremely disappointed in myself for saying this because that meant I jinxed us.”

“You really should know better, mommy,” Taya said.

“Shut your adorable fucking face, dear,” I replied. “Do you two know if I have any kind of paperwork I need to do after this shit is done?”

“I’ve only seen one ceremony,” Watcher said. “She had to sign her name in the big rainbow book. As far as I know, that’s all you have to do that’s ceremony specific. Taya will stand at your side. Gourd and I will stand behind you, to be made your first vassals. I will have an honor guard ready, a squad of my soldiers. Two of the pegasi will accompany you everywhere until we leave the city.” I lifted an eyebrow. “Celestia’s request. Apparently there was an incident.”

“There was. Three nobles tried to rescue Pertz. I killed them. Their widows tried murdering me the next night, at a party.”

“Some party,” Gourd muttered.

“I assume there’s more to it than that,” Watcher slowly said.

“Celestia sentenced Pertz to Tartarus after an obviously biased trial. She literally started it by asking him to plead guilty to save herself some time, because it was a foregone conclusion.”

“Well, it was,” Taya said with a shrug.

Watcher’s smile disappeared, though. “She should not have done that.”

“She was doing it on purpose, to antagonize the nobles she knew were plotting against her. After the trial, she sentenced him to Tartarus in front of them all, then said he would spend his night in solitary in prison tower C.” Watcher slowly face hoofed. “What?”

He shook his head, dropping his hoof. “Prison tower C is a myth. That’s where she sentences every pony that’s too dangerous to let live before having them disposed of. I imagine Pertz is no longer alive.”

“Yeah, she murdered him in front of me, using my sword.” Gourd gasped and Watcher sighed, shaking his head. “She gave me a list of nobles and told me to kill them if any of them tried freeing him. Sure enough, three did. They attacked me, I killed them, their widows tried killing me, Fancy Pants arrested them.”

“I’m assigning three guards to you, starting tonight,” he said. “They will stay with you or at your door at all times.”

“Alright. Anything else?”

“Rarity has something for you,” Gourd said.

“Already got it,” I replied, waving a hand at the package Fleur left on the desk.

Watcher nodded. “Then you probably already know about Gilda and Rainbow Dash, the naga, and Kat?”

“I spoke to the naga, I’ll deal with Dash and Gilda, and I spoke to Kat. She swore fealty to me.”

“She did, but the naga didn’t?” Gourd asked, his eyebrows lifting up.

“Naga aren’t about that life,” I said with a shrug. “They belong to their clan first and foremost. The naga has two blood debts to me that he wants to see settled. Aside from those, he owes me nothing, although I’m actually a member of his clan. What will I need to do to officially make Kat a vassal?”

“Swear her in as one,” Watcher said. “You’ll learn how tomorrow, when you make us vassals. Or you can have her attend and swear her in there as well. Though it’s not like it honestly matters. Vassals have very few extra privileges in the law. She’d be fine as she is now.”

“If this shit is becoming official, I’m keeping all my business open and honest,” I said. Taya snorted and that reminded me that I literally just ordered Kat to break the law for me. “Mostly.” Watcher raised an eyebrow. “...Well, as long as doing so is convenient. If Kat is going to be my servant and vassal, she is going to have all the same protections and whatnot that my other servants and vassals will. Way I figure, that’s only fair.”

“Remember that she’s an assassin with a price on her head,” Watcher said. “If you have her in your employ and any of the nobles here in Canterlot find out about her past, you will instantly make dozens of high ranking enemies. You’ll also have to worry about her old employers wanting revenge.”

“I will not allow myself to become a hostage to good manners and high society,” I said. “If who I choose to associate with earns me enemies, so be it. I will encourage Kat to practice caution, but I will not cast her aside because politics deem it convenient.”

“Noble, if unwise,” Watcher said with a shrug. “You were warned.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“You’ll probably find suitors of both genders approaching you, but mostly stallions,” Watcher said. “Please turn them down gently. I understand that you don’t consider most nobles worth your time, but you’re going to be one of them now and you can’t afford to make enemies this early. For the most part, you’ll be far enough removed from Canterlot that a few small feuds won’t bother you, but if you truly anger a noble, even a low ranking one, you’ll find that their allies become your enemies as well. Noble blood in Canterlot runs deep and most of the families are interconnected somehow. If you anger enough of them, you’ll find them all against you. Should you ever attempt a project outside of your own realm, you’ll find making headway… difficult. And they’ll be able to make many other things difficult for you in the long run, as well. The Everfree will not be an easy location to tame. Trying to do so without extra support will make it all the worse.”

“Noted.” He nodded. “So do you think I should even make an attempt to tame the Everfree?”

“I believe that doing so would be extremely difficult without permission from the spirits of the forest,” Watcher said. “Zecora has told me enough to know that. And getting their permission will likely not be easy. But if you can do so, you can build a city that’s impossible to attack, export goods that are unobtainable anywhere else, charge whatever kind of tax you want on traders coming and going, and essentially expand your operations at your own pace, free of any kind of outside influences. I believe that if you wanted, you could create a magnificent city there and become the most powerful noble in Equestria. The political power and amount of wealth you could obtain would have rivaled that of the griffin king before he decentralised his power.”

“That sounds like a yes to me.”

“Yes ma’am, that is a yes.”

“I’ll talk to Zecora about it. Anything else?”

“That’s it from me,” Gourd said with a shrug. “Though I will have some personal paperwork for you to fill out tomorrow that will dedicate a small amount of funds that Watcher and I can both access for anything the ship needs. Depending on our first destination after we leave, I can probably stock up on trade goods that’ll fetch a good price. I’ve been abstaining until now, but I believe, as long as our destination is tame, that we can make a nice profit.”

“Get it to me after I make you vassals,” I said with a nod. “I don’t know how much guards typically make. When you two get that paperwork written up, start with taking out all the back pay for the guards and your crew. I’ll give them three days, starting tomorrow, to relax in Canterlot. We leave after that. Include Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Gilda, the naga, and Spike, but don’t pay them any more until I speak to them.”

Watcher bowed. “Yes, my lady.”

“Not in private. If you gotta say anything, ma’am works. In public, go full retard if you want, though I’d prefer you didn’t.”

“Yes ma’am. And I have nothing else, either.”

“Alright. If you two have any personal uses for that money, feel free to take out what you need. The ship comes first, of course, but there’s probably plenty to go around. I honestly have no idea how much is in there.”

“I overheard some nobles talking,” Gourd said, rubbing at the back of his neck. “Word among the bankers is that you’re probably the richest patron your particular bank has.”

“Cool, then we’ll have plenty for the ship. Do what you guys need with the money.”

“I do have a suggestion,” Watcher said. “Find and hire an accountant or secretary before we leave. Let him or her keep up with the bills your keep has and keep track of the money you have. You’re a noble now. You can’t afford to rely on hearsay and rumors to know how much money you have.”

“And if we’re going to start trading on the side, we’ll need one to keep track of profits,” Gourd said. “That way, we can easily know what route is the most profitable and what goods we need to move to make the most.”

“Fuck, I don’t know a thing about that shit,” I said. “I’ll look into it. I have enough sources of income that I should have done this ages ago. I’ll go to the bank in two days to speak to them and get some advice. This is probably something I should have done as soon as Chrysalis gave me that fucking mine, but whatever. If you guys see Kat today, tell her to come see me before the ceremony. There probably won’t be time to get her to dress all fancy-like, but I’m okay with that. Also, spread the word about my demon wing thing so I don’t have to explain it a dozen times. And if you want, feel free to tell everyone to swap over to whatever bullshit female terms they’d typically use for me.”

Watcher nodded, but Gourd asked, “Why? What changed?”

“My dick changed into a vagina.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I have a long life ahead of me. The sooner I accept it, the easier it’ll go. If I find a way back, cool. If not, it is what it is. I’m tired of fighting unnecessary battles. I am a woman and I have to find a way to be happy about that, or I’ll spend the rest of my life miserable.”

“I’m proud of you, Nav,” Watcher softly said, actually smiling. “I really am. You’ve taken a lot of bad hits, but you’re finally learning to roll with them.”

“I’d say I learned that lesson a long time ago, when I got brought to Equestria, but yeah. I’m trying to make the most of a bad situation. As time goes on, I’m finding that being a girl isn’t necessarily worse, just different. And truth be told, despite my distaste for the idea, I know being a noble will be essentially nothing but beneficial. I’ve spent too much time being unhappy. I’m finally, finally learning how to just accept and learn to like what I have, even if it’s something I never thought I’d want.” It doesn’t hurt that most of what I have is pretty fucking awesome.

Right as I finished saying that, Taya hugged me from behind. I turned and hugged her back. Gourd snuck up behind me and also hugged me, surprisingly enough.

“So I guess we’re just doing a human sandwich now?” I mused. I couldn’t hug both and Taya was squishier, I continued hugging her.

“I hate to ruin the sandwich, but that won’t stop me,” Watcher said, joining the two of them. “But if you tell anyone, I’ll deny it.”

“...Your fur is softer than I imagined,” I quietly said as he pressed against me.

“Just because I’m a soldier doesn’t mean I can’t keep myself well-groomed and clean,” he replied. “And when you grow up pink, it pays to stay clean.”

Gourd snorted a laugh. “Why?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Gourd shrugged and released me first. Watcher abandoned me shortly after. That left me with two cold spots. Taya decided to hold on longer, so I let her go and looked back at my soon-to-be vassals, though I left a hand on her head. “We’re headed back to the ship, unless you need anything else,” Watcher said.

“Nah. For the moment, I have everything I need. I’ll probably look over the outfits and then go find Celestia. I’m sure she’ll have some gloating to do before the ceremony.”

Watcher smirked. “I heard she liked being scratched behind the ear. If she starts gloating, try that.”

“I just might. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

Watcher saluted, still wearing a grin, and Gourd nodded. With that, they both left, leaving me with a huggy daughter. I grabbed her again and fell onto the bed with her on top of me.

When she was done having her back rubbed, we finally got to looking at the packages Rarity so generously gave us. When I opened mine, my mouth actually dropped.

The white dress had dozens of extremely ornate designs, detailing every one of my deeds. Helping the naga, depicted by me standing in front of a farmer with a brutal dagger in one hand. Acting as Santa Claus in Ponyville, shown by a wrapped present. The Egypt campaign, depicted by me flying toward a pyramid. Guarding Twilight when she did her water shit, depicted by me next to a unicorn with a sword in my hand. Bringing Spike to the dragon migration, depicted by a dragon eye overlaid on a diamond. The defense of Emerald Script, shown by me standing with wings bared in front of two cowled cats. My tree powers, shown by my body overlaid with an oak leaf. The Maris competition, depicted by me standing on a pile of bodies with a sword in my hand. The changeling invasion, depicted by me standing on a dome. The dream machine, depicted by a picture of the statue. My discoveries in the Everfree, depicted by a pair of stones, a key, and a ring. Finding Reginald, depicted by me on a dragon. Beating Blueblood, depicted by me shooting him with a crossbow. Defeating the diamond dogs, depicted by a blur of shapes raining fire. Saving Cadance, depicted by me shooting a cowled griffin. Finding Excalibur, depicted by me killing a giant spider with the sword. My victory at Flankfurt, depicted by me squaring off against a cat. Saving Skyla, shown as me wearing nothing but a blanket squaring off against two cowled ponies. The war games, depicted as me with large fangs and bat wings, in my night knight armor. Blueblood’s attempted assassination, depicted as a horn through my chest and lightning shooting over my shoulder. Lyra and Bon Bon’s wedding, depicted by me standing between a pony and a changeling. Sombra’s defeat, with me standing over a dark pony, my hands raised to fight. The book world, depicted by the book overlaid with a feather. All of the shit in South America was sewn in as though it was all in a web, including our victory in the ambush, my assassination of the priestess, becoming a queen, and then making Arachne back down. Antarctica, depicted with a skull and crossbones. The victory over Trixie, depicted by me and a unicorn standing against another unicorn and an alphyn. Beating Pertz, depicted by just a picture of Africa with the Congo drawn in. My fight against the demons, depicted by what I later learned was the main symbol used to purify a demon’s sign. Finally, my ascension to a noble, shown by me wearing a tiara.

“This is beautiful,” I whispered, doing my utmost to actually take the thing in.

“It’s better than mine,” Taya matter-of-factly said. Her white dress had a few events, but her life was considerably more empty than mine. My dress had no blank spots. The blank spots on hers were filled in by lightning bolts.

I honestly didn’t know what to say about the dress, other than that it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. No frills, mostly white, a good length that wouldn’t trip me, and it was loose enough in the legs that I could easily move.

“I can’t believe this,” I muttered, setting it on the bed and slowly running my hand down the front. It was completely unlike anything else Rarity had ever made for me, aside from my direct requests. And even then, I had to watch her on those, because she typically added embellishments when I wasn’t looking and could stop her.

“Well, she also left a note,” Taya said, using magic to pull it out of the box. “I guess this is just what the princess asked for.”

“Probably.” I took the note and started opening it. “I bet this is just her complaining about how basic it is. Though I don’t know if you can really call this simple.”

Then I read over the note.

I slowly put it on the dress and lifted a hand to my face.

“What’s wrong, mommy?” Taya asked.

“Nothing, dear. Aside from the fact that now I feel like a total bitch.” I picked the note back up and started reading aloud. “My dear friend Navarone, I hope you love your outfit. I honestly and truthfully consider it my greatest work ever. The outfit Princess Celestia commissioned for you would have looked truly awful. I believe she wanted you to wear it as some manner of punishment. I will not allow that, not for one of the most important days of your life. She may be upset with me, but I don’t care. I will not allow one of my best friends to look back on such an important moment with disgust, because they were forced into that moment looking anything other than their absolute best.

“I know there are times you think I dislike you, and I know there are times I think you dislike me. But we both know that we are friends. Friends with differences, friends with problems, and sometimes barely even friends at all, but I don’t think we ever truly could dislike each other. With that in mind, I am more honored than you could understand to make this dress for you. You are a true hero, and should look the part when you are finally recognized for it.

“I know you are not vain and dislike talking about your past deeds, so please, let my outfit do the talking for you. On this day of all days, allow yourself to feel pride. You have helped so many. There is no way for all of us to repay you. I hope this dress will act as a reminder of how much you are owed. Wear it with pride, for you have earned it.

“I am so happy for you that I could cry. Or laugh. When I see you, I suppose we’ll see which. Either way, I doubt I could properly express myself, so I took the liberty of doing it in a letter. I hope you take no offense.

“Love, your dearest friend Rarity.”

I slowly put the letter back on the bed and just stared at it.

Taya nodded and said, “Yep, you probably should feel like a total bitch.”

I slapped her with the letter, then walked over to my nightstand to grab the key and the ring. “Stay here.” She did so and I walked back to the ship alone.

When I got there, Kat was on the deck and it looked like she was going to start walking in. “I was just about to find you,” she said. “Watcher said you needed to speak to me.”

“...Yeah. Be at the ceremony with Watcher and Gourd tomorrow. I’ll make you an official vassal, so you get all the same rights and privileges.”

“Happily. Perks are always nice.”

“Also, you might need these,” I said, holding up the ring and key. She quickly snatched them and shoved them in a pocket before any of the guards could look our way, not that any of them really cared. “Get those back to me when you can.”

“Of course. Watcher also said we were going to be here for a little while. Is that right?”

“Yes. But try not to procrastinate.”

“I won’t. I was going to commission something from some metalworkers if we had time.”

“If you need extra bits, let me know.”

“I shouldn’t. I still have all the money from the Antarctic contract. I’m heading to that district before they close, unless you need anything else from me.”

“I don’t. See you tomorrow, Kat.” She nodded and started ambling down into the castle. I went down into the ship. Most of the crew and guards were gone, presumably celebrating their return to actual civilization. The halls were completely empty and mostly silent.

Rarity’s door was open this time. I could hear shuffling in there before I planted myself in the doorway. She was using magic to pack a few bags. If I had to guess, I’d say she was planning on going to Ponyville now that her packages were delivered.

It didn’t take long for her to notice me. When she did, she lifted an eyebrow. “What do you want?” she asked. I held up the letter. She eyed it for a moment before looking back at me. I lowered it and walked in. “Stay back, you fiend!” That was the only attempt she made to stop me, so I just snatched her in a hug.

A few seconds later, she slowly hugged me back.

Half an hour or so later, I found myself standing in front of a smirking sun horse and an unamused bug horse. “So what’s gonna happen tomorrow?” I asked.

“You are becoming a noble,” Celestia answered, her smirk turning into a full grin. “And you’ll be wearing your adorable noblemare’s dress. I can’t wait to see you in it!”

Moonbeam snorted and shook her head. “And you think I’m sadistic.”

“At least Celestia lets me cum sometimes,” I muttered.

The bug horse used magic to swat my ass. “Just for that, you don’t get to cum the next three times we’re together.” Celestia giggled.

“Sadist. Anyway, I meant the ceremony. What all do I need to do?”

“Very little,” Celestia said. “I have a script, but you do not. My script will be a slightly modified version of the standard one, but there’s still nothing in particular that you’ll need to know going into it. What will happen is that I will say a few words, you’ll repeat some back to me, and then I’ll teach you how to make vassals and you’ll swear in Watcher and Gourd. Most of the paperwork will be handled for you, as will all of the pomp and ceremony. Basically, all you have to do is show up. Your part in the ceremony should be over in less than fifteen minutes. And I know I probably don’t need to say this, but please come unarmed and without your ring.”

“...Why without my ring?” I asked.

“So you can swear your vassals in. Typically, I’ll use magic to seal a noble to their word of serving Equestria, but I won’t for you. That’s the slight modification I made. But you’ll still need to swear in your vassals.”

“How do I swear in vassals who aren’t unicorns, then? I don’t have magic of my own.”

“I’ll give you a magical seal with your heraldic symbol on it. Non-unicorn nobles use that to swear in new vassals. It will need to be attuned to you tomorrow, but that’s part of the ceremony. Relax, Nav. Everything will be taken care of. Tomorrow is your big day and I will ensure that nothing goes wrong.”

“I’m the most relaxed I have been for a very long time, Celestia,” I said. “I’m not worried at all, I’m just trying to get a feel for what’s going to happen. You needn’t worry your pretty little head about me being nervous.”

Her cruel smile turned warm. “I’m happy to hear that, Nav. I believe that I will be able to turn in early tonight, if you’d care to join me. I can’t imagine Moonbeam would mind if we spent some time together, just the two of us.”

“I’m afraid I can’t,” I said. “I have spent too long away from my daughter. I’d be delighted to join you, but I’d much prefer her company, no offense to you.”

She nodded. “I understand completely. The two of you are perfectly welcome to join me for dinner, should you be so inclined. I shall send a summons for you tomorrow, when it is time for the ceremony. Be prepared for it at ten in the morning.”

“I’ll be ready. And I will need to speak to you tomorrow night, before I go to bed. Please make some time available. It’s pretty important.”

She nodded again. “Of course. If it’s late enough, I’d be happy to discuss it over dinner. Perhaps just the two of us…?”

“I’m afraid not. We’ll have two other guests, though if all goes well, they shouldn’t be there long. After they leave, we’ll have the night to ourselves.”

“Then I hope all goes well. Now, I’d love to continue, but Moonbeam and I really need to get back to work. She’ll have to return to her hive soon, after all.”

“Then I’ll see you both later,” I said with a nod. “Night, Moonie.”

She smirked and turned into Taya. “If you really prefer your daughter’s company…”

Celestia used magic to slap her in the back with a book. “No.”

“Goodnight, Chrysalis,” I coldly replied. I left without waiting for her to reply. As soon as I stepped out of the sitting room they claimed as their work space, my escort of three guards fell into step behind me.

It was actually starting to get late, so I knew that I’d need to think of something to do for dinner. Once it became night, I’d pass out unless Taya gave me some energy or Flo kept me up. Without those, Taya would be on her own for food. She could probably manage, but I wouldn’t want her to have to.

And of course, she’d probably demand that I eat before going to bed anyway.

I looked over my shoulder at my gaggle of guards. “Any of you know a restaurant close by?”

“The kitchens are currently open,” one said. “That would save you a trip.”

“I really don’t want to sit in a cafeteria right now.”

“Then use room service. Your room has one of those magical bell cords, right?”

“...I forgot about that. Any of you guys hungry?”

“Watcher would be… somewhat unhappy if we ate on duty.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“...I could eat.”

So when we got back to my room, we all got food. It was pretty nice.

Around three in the morning, when I was most definitely asleep, something slowly eased down my back, lightly pricking at my skin and giving me goose bumps. Normally, that wouldn’t even be enough to wake me up, but Flo must have forced some adrenaline into me, because I went full retard, tossing Taya out of my arms and elbowing whoever the hell was behind me in the face.

Before my assailant could recover, I shot up and tackled her, dragging her to the floor and almost beating the shit out of her before I realized it was just a horrified Kat.

That didn’t stop Taya, who vaulted across the bed and lit the room up with a flash of horribly bright light, then shot a lance of fire under me. Normally, I’d find myself looking at a very crispy kitty. Thankfully, this particular kitty was still wearing my ring. Before Taya could hit her with something else, I held up a hand and calmly said, “Taya.” My daughter stopped immediately, though her horn was still lit up and ready to go.

I stood and held up a hand for Kat. She eyed it for just a moment before taking it and letting me haul her to her feet. “You’re quick, Nav. More so than I thought.”

“Yeah. Did I hurt you badly?”

“Nothing that will not heal on its own.” She removed the ring and held it up for me. I took it, of course. “I have successfully breached Celestia’s library.” She waved a paw to my desk, where she left a few books and my key. “Doppel took Spider back to the ship already.”

“You work fast, Kat. Any problems?”

“She will know that her library was breached. I do not know how long it will take her to realize. All of her traps were magical in nature, so your ring made short work of them. I left no trace that I could tell, but I am not sure what manner of defenses she might have that I could not detect. The three of us split up after the raid and went our separate ways. Doppel and Spider rendezvoused elsewhere and I wandered for a while before coming here. I believe there will be no problems.”

“I hope not. Taya, hit her with some healing.”

“It’s really not—” Taya healed her anyway. “...Thank you.”

“After the ceremony, Watcher and Gourd are getting me some paperwork that will allow them to take funds from my account to pay for shit they and the ship need. If you want, I can get them to add you to it as well. As my vassal, you’d be able to take what money you need.”

Her eyes widened for a moment before she winced and her ears shrank down. “No thank you. I would be too tempted to abuse it. I appreciate your trust in me, but I’m not worthy of that much.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Come to me if you need anything and you find yourself short. Now, go get some rest. The ceremony will probably be around ten tomorrow.”

She nodded. “I’ll see you in the morning, Nav. Sorry for waking you like that.”

“Man, what did you even do? I just felt something on my back and freaked.”

One of her paws lifted and her claws extended. “Lightly ran this down your back. I think those little bumps you get are cute.”

“Oh. Well, goodnight, Kat.”

“My lady,” she said with a small bow. She started heading out, so I fell back into bed. Taya joined me a moment later. Just like that, I was asleep again.

The next morning, my daughter and I had a staring contest. In her mind, it was a battle of the wills. In my mind, it was a battle against my patience, which was rapidly running out. Finally, I lowered my hands to the sides of the chair. “Taya, you can choose the easy way or the hard way. Either way, this is going to happen. One way involves a lot more time and pain for both of us. Don’t take that path.”

“Don’t make me do this, mommy.”

“Trust me when I say you won’t be doing it alone, dear. I will go get Twilight if I have to.”

She eased back in her own chair and her eyes went unfocused. Finally, they returned to mine. “Why do we have to?”

“Because that’s just the way it is. It’s expected of us, and today, we’re going to give them exactly what they expect. Now please, make this easy on both of us.”

She went silent for a few very long seconds before muttering, “I don’t wanna…”

“Too fucking bad.” I popped the makeup container open. “Look up.” Her head tilted to the ceiling. “Don’t play dumb with me. We’ve done this before.” She sighed and lowered her head back, then just looked up. I started applying the stuff and giving her directions as needed. She bore it with a sullen silence.

Soon, my daughter was transformed from an adorable little filly to an adorable little filly with makeup on her. It made basically no difference in my mind, but I still haven’t figured out what actually makes ponies attractive or not. To me, it was pretty much just like putting makeup on a horse.

When I was done, she turned her baleful gaze to the mirror and sighed in utter disappointment. “Why, mommy?”

“Because life is suffering and it only stops when you die,” I answered. “We still have an hour and a half, so you can get in your dress now or wait, up to you.”

She slid out of her chair and plopped her ass down on the bed. “I’ll happily wait. And watch you put on your makeup, of course.”

“Of course.” I was planning on doing it anyway. There wasn’t really a justification for doing it at Fleur’s party but not for the big ceremony to turn me into a noble, so I figured I was better off just doing it and getting over myself instead of trying to come up with an explanation for Celestia.

Once it was all good to go, I leaned back in my seat and just stared at myself. Honestly, I really had no idea what to think. My hair was light orange and down to my ass at that point, finally so heavy that instead of being super curly, it was mostly straight. My face was feminine and covered in makeup, making me look closer to my sister than me. One of my shoulders sported a demon wing and the other, an angelic wing.

I slowly lifted a hand to the mirror and slid it over my face. “I don’t even recognize myself anymore,” I whispered.

A knock at the door cut me away from self-pity. Before I could put on some more clothing or even think to stop her, Taya used magic to open it. Watcher, Gourd, and Kat all entered. Watcher was in his armor, Gourd was wearing a ship captain’s outfit, and Kat was wearing a set of heavy silk armor. All of their outfits were emblazoned with my red hand symbol.

Before Watcher could complain, I said, “Sorry for being mostly naked. My oh-so-sweet daughter is in a bitchy mood because I made her wear makeup and doesn’t seem to like waiting for permission to open doors.” She snorted, of course.

Since I cut that off at the start, Watcher just shrugged. “We’re usually completely naked anyway. Do you have everything you need for the ceremony?”

“Yeah. Once I braid my hair and get dressed, I’ll be good to go.”

Gourd shook his head. “Leave it down. It looks much better.” Everyone looked at him and he shrank back a little. “I-in my opinion, that is…”

I let that silence last a few more seconds to make him feel awkward. When his ears started twitching, I said, “I wouldn’t be making you a vassal in an hour if I didn’t value your opinion. Down it is.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “But you’re brushing it for me.” I tossed the brush at him. He reflexively caught it with magic.

“Um…”

“Did I fucking stutter?” He thought for a second, shrugged, and then walked over to my side and started running the brush through my hair with magic. “Did you two get that paperwork squared away?”

Watcher’s horn lit up and a small stack of paper appeared next to him. “We’re gonna need your signature a few times. It can’t actually take effect until we become vassals, but you can go ahead and sign everything now.”

“Float them on over,” I sighed, holding out a hand. He handed them to me and made a pen appear as well. “Alright, give me the abridged version of what I’m signing,” I said as I turned to face the desk. Gourd scrambled to follow me with the brush as Watcher walked up to stand at my other shoulder.

He explained what each page and signature meant as I signed them off. It pretty much boiled down to them getting an allotted three thousand bits a month. Their account would be refilled at the end of the month. Once they used the full three thousand, they could no longer obtain more until it reset. The unused money wouldn’t stack, so the highest it would ever go was three thousand. And that number, they assured me, was probably going to need to be adjusted every so often. That was just the amount they would need to catch up on all the costs they had up to that point.

So basically, as soon as they became vassals, I’d almost instantly lose three thousand bits for back pay, supplies, repairs, possibly trade goods once we had our next destination, and a few other odds and ends. Given that I already sank upwards of ten thousand bits into the expedition, it didn’t really seem like too big of a deal. I honestly had no idea how much I had in the bank, but I’m pretty sure each book I published was five hundred for the book itself and then royalties, and I had published at least a hundred books at that point. That put me at a base fifty thousand bits just from books, with god only knows how much in royalties that were being automatically deposited. Then there was the mine, the inventions and their royalties (like the pen), and a few other odds and ends.

So basically, it would take me a while to miss three thousand bits a month.

By the time I finished signing all those papers, we had about forty-five minutes left before the ceremony. None of us actually knew where it was supposed to happen or how long it would take to get there, so I knew my daughter and I needed to finish getting ready quickly. “So who knows how to help a lady get dressed?” I asked.

Watcher rubbed the back of his neck with a hoof. “I’m pretty good at helping them get undressed…”

“I can help,” Kat said. “Part of my training before… Well, I know how to assist noble ladies in a variety of ways.”

“Good. Help Taya, please. I can get dressed on my own.” My daughter sighed dramatically and hung her head. “Save the theatrics for when I’m making you do something on your own. I’m also putting on a fancy fucking dress, so I don’t wanna hear it.”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine, mommy.” She turned to Kat and put on what she probably thought was a happy expression. “Don’t you just love dressing up and feeling pretty?” she asked with something approaching enthusiasm.

“Yes, actually,” Kat said. “So you’ll get no sympathy from me.” She walked over to where Taya’s dress was hanging and grabbed it. “Now let’s get you looking pretty!”

Kat had my daughter suitably in paw, so I walked over to grab my dress, but two sets of magic snatched it before I could touch it. I looked over at Watcher and Gourd and lifted an eyebrow.

Gourd shrugged. “We’re already here anyway. Might as well put us to use.”

“Fine, whatever,” I said. “Go ahead and do your thing. But don’t expect to make a habit of this.”

“We wouldn’t dream of it, ma’am,” Watcher said. His magic gently grabbed me and lifted me up while Gourd’s magic controlled the dress to slide it under me. Watcher lowered me into the dress and Gourd pulled it up around me until I was properly suited.

“That was very unnecessary, for what it’s worth,” I said as I began walking around the room to get a feel for the thing.

“You’re going to be our lady soon,” Watcher said. “It’s pretty much in the job description of a vassal to help their lords and ladies however possible, even when unnecessary. Usually, help is requested. Sometimes, we have to act on our own. Generally speaking, we won’t be doing anything we haven’t already been doing. But taking someone as a vassal implies an extra level of trust than just having someone as an employee, so to say. For example, should you ever become hospitalized for any reason and Taya is not around, the longest serving vassal present will be in charge of you and your forces until you awaken. Basically, it means we have the right to be a lot closer to you and we’re generally expected to help you before you even have to ask for something. In this case, that means helping you get dressed so you don’t risk falling on your face or ruining your beautiful dress.”

“Uh huh.”

Gourd shrugged and said, “I just wanted to play dressup.”

“At least you’re honest.” I had a pretty good feeling for how the dress moved at that point, so I turned to my daughter and Kat. Sure enough, Taya was in the dress, though she was staring at the little sandals Kat was holding up with disdain. “Taya, I swear to god. I know you’re a teenager, I know it’s literally programmed into you to be difficult right now, I know you really don’t want to do this. Life is just a long series of things we don’t want to do, occasionally dotted with a few things that aren’t shitty. So go ahead and learn how to tolerate the shitty parts now, because they don’t stop coming. Now put on your fucking shoes before I have all three of my soon-to-be vassals collaborate on how to make you more miserable.”

She stuck her tongue out at me. I narrowed my eyes. She rolled hers and used magic to put the sandals on.

Watcher’s horn lit up and something else lifted out of the package. I never actually looked in the box, so I honestly didn’t know there were heels in there. He floated them over to me with a grin.

“Taya, you can take your sandals off now.” Gourd burst out laughing as Watcher floated the heels back to the package. Taya smirked and used magic to remove hers. “Hey, this isn’t a win for you. I told you full well that I ain’t gonna make you do nothing I ain’t gonna do, and I damn sure ain’t putting fucking heels on again. That shit sucks hella hard.”

“I love you too, mommy.”

“Kat, pinch her cheeks for me.” Taya had time to look surprised before Kat was pinching her cheeks and cooing. I let it go on for a few seconds before saying, “You can stop if you want.” She didn’t stop, so I let it go on until Taya’s horn lit up. “That’s enough.” Taya’s eyes looked a lot more dead than normal, but her suffering is fun for everyone, so I didn’t take it to heart. “I figured a guy woulda been here for us by now.”

Everyone waited about fifteen seconds, expecting a knock. When none came, Watcher grunted. “I figured that would have done it. Celestia’s losing her touch.”

“We can give it five and try again,” Kat said with a shrug. “It is a little early.”

We all waited another ten seconds before Watcher shook his head. “They didn’t even go for the meta-conversation about it. What is the world coming to?”

We discussed how often shitty cliches actually happened in the real world until someone finally knocked on the door. Kat gracefully leapt across the room to answer it. One of the day guards stepped in and bowed for a moment. “Princess Celestia has—” He looked up, saw me, and stopped for a moment. “...You look very nice, ma’am.” His eyes were looking me up and down. I almost pretended to get offended before remembering what my dress had on it.

“Thank you,” I replied with a nod. “I’m also very impressed with this dress.”

“Er, sorry, ma’am. Princess Celestia has asked me to lead you to the hall where the ceremony will take place. If you are not ready, we can wait another five minutes before going.”

“We’re ready now,” I said. “We’ll be right behind you.”

“Just a sec,” Watcher said, holding up a hoof. “Nav, this is a good chance for you to start practicing. You’re about to be a noble lady. You need to speak a lot more politely and softly. I know you’re going into it as a soldier, but you need to start projecting yourself as a lady. You’ll need a lot of practice to stop from just slipping into your normal mode.” He looked back at the guard. “Forget you heard all of this, by the way.”

He nodded. “Of course, sir.”

“Yeah, you’re right, Watcher,” I said. “Sort of. I don’t want to look like I’m ashamed of what I am. But I want it to come out on purpose, not on accident.”

“That’s wise,” he replied with a nod. “Act like a lady normally, but when you get serious, revert back to talking like a soldier. Guard, repeat your conversation.”

The poor guy blinked, then thought for a second. “Uh. Princess Celestia has… You look very nice, ma’am.”

I very lightly curtsied. “Thank you, sir.”

He smiled and continued, “Princess Celestia has asked me to lead you to the hall where the ceremony will take place. If you aren’t ready, we can wait before going.”

“I am prepared. We would be happy to accompany you.”

“Then please, follow me,” he said with a bow.

“Just a sec, again,” Watcher said. “See there, Nav? If you act like what ponies expect a noble to act like, they’ll treat you like one much more readily. That’s extremely valuable, especially in a place like Canterlot.”

“Noted, though that matters less with how famous I am. Let’s go.”

The guard led the way out. I followed behind him and everyone else followed me. It was me, Taya, Gourd, Watcher, Kat, my three personal guards, and the random redshirt leading us. Since most of them were horses, the walk was not quiet. Even without metal shoes, hooves make a lot of noise against stone or marble floors. At least no one really spoke, so there was that.

Much to no one’s surprise, the guard took us to the royal overlook, the same place Cadance and Shining Armor got hitched. The doors were closed and two more day guards stood outside them. “Are they ready yet?” our guide asked.

“Not just yet,” one of the door guards said. “All the guests should already be there. The ceremony should begin in about five more minutes. You’ll need to enter in ten minutes, ma’am.” He tapped the door with one of his back hooves. “The princess will open these when it’s time.”

“Then I guess we wait,” I said, grasping my hands in front of my stomach. “This would be much worse if I was actually nervous.”

“How are you not?” one of the guards asked. The other two normal guards stared at him in shock and he flinched slightly. “I… I mean, if you don’t mind me asking…”

“I don’t mind at all,” I replied with a small smile. “Once you’ve stared death in the face a time or two, things that once brought fear to you seem to lose some of their power over you. I’ve stared death in the face considerably more than a time or two. I’m still afraid of plenty, but little ceremonies like this are nothing to me. If something goes wrong, so be it. But Princess Celestia has assured me that nothing will, so I have even less to fear. My mind is comfortably at ease.”

The two guards at the door shared a glance for a few seconds. Finally, one of them broke it and looked back at me. “My lady, I’d like to… apologize, on behalf of all the day guards.”

“Apologize for what?” I asked. “You have never wronged me.”

He looked down and rubbed the back of his neck with a hoof. “Some of us may have… made things slightly more difficult for you in the past. We might have followed some regulations to the letter that we should have been more lenient about. And some of us might have… maybe said some unflattering things about you.”

Once he finished, I slowly walked forward until I was standing in front of him. He didn’t look up, so I gently placed a hand on his shoulder. He very weakly flinched and finally looked up, though his ears drooped down. “I accept your apology, though I must offer one of my own. My behavior was not always as pleasant as it should have been. I am striving to leave my past mistakes behind me, and I’d like the day guards to understand that I’m trying to better myself.”

His ears straightened and he covered the hand on his shoulder with a hoof. “Apology accepted, ma’am. And thank you.” My smile deepened for a moment before I backed away, since standing that close to a horse always feels awkward to me.

One of my personal guards softly snorted and muttered, “Why isn’t she like that with us?” One of his companions swiftly kicked him in the leg. He flinched and continued muttering much more quietly.

We pretty much just chilled there for another few minutes until the doors opened, revealing row after row of ponies in the crowd. My eyes followed the red carpet leading up to the great white horse herself. Oddly enough, Twilight and Flo were standing all the way up there with her.

“That’s your cue,” one of the day guards whispered.

I calmly folded my hands in front of me and began slowly walking down the aisle. Everything about the situation felt very wrong, but I had been feeling wrong for years. I pushed down my revulsion at wearing a dress in front of a huge crowd, the feeling of wings hanging at my back, the heaviness of my long hair pulling at me, and the growing feeling of warmth I felt in my head as Flo rejoiced in how awkward I felt.

For what it’s worth, she wants it known that she was feeling happy for me, not because I was feeling awkward.

When Celestia saw my dress, she hid her surprise fairly well. Her eyes tightened just a little and her smile took a very minor hit, but neither lasted long and she went back to serenely smiling. I knew I’d probably hear words about it later, despite it being absolutely not my fault this time.

Before I knew it, I was standing directly in front of her. She stood in silence for about ten seconds, just slowly looking over my dress and letting some of the noise from the crowd die down. I didn’t even realize it while I was walking, but they were all cheering.

Finally, Celestia’s eyes met mine. “Navarone. Your exemplary service to the nation of Equestria has been noticed. It is time to reward you for all the ponies you have helped. It is time to promote you as an example to others, to show what comes of good and extraordinary deeds. Are you prepared to spend your life in service to Equestria, its rulers, and ponykind everywhere?”

“I am, Princess Celestia,” I replied. I didn’t go out of my way to be loud, but magic picked my voice up and amplified it so the whole room could hear.

“Are you prepared to live a noble life in service of justice and honor?”

Psh, hell no. “I am prepared to try, Princess.”

“Are you prepared to defend those who follow you, and lead them to live righteous lives?”

“Yes.” Though they better be doing their fair share of defending.

“Are you prepared to use the land you will be bequeathed to the betterment of the realm?”

“I am.” Eventually. Maybe.

“Are you prepared to hold the next in your family line accountable for all the oaths you have taken today? And to have your next in line pass down the oaths to her children?”

“I am.” Though there’s no guarantee Taya will ever actually inherit any of it.

She moved one hoof closer and asked much louder, “Navarone, are you prepared to be uplifted to the ranks of the nobility?”

“Yes, Princess Celestia.”

“Then I grant you the noble title of Lady of Nature, ruler of the Everfree Forest.” She leaned down and tapped me on the head with her glowing horn. The light infused my body and I felt an immense heat in me for about a second before it disappeared and the light oozed out of my body. Celestia straightened back up. “As your noble seal, I grant you these.” Twilight’s horn lit up and floated a pillow over. It had a ring and a round metal emblem, both with the hand symbol on them. Celestia’s horn lit up and she grabbed both from the pillow and floated them in front of me. She took my left hand with magic. Her smile turned into a smirk and she slid the ring on my ring finger. Just like that, her face returned to its motherly look and she floated the seal to my other hand. “Turn to your followers, Lady Navarone.” I did so and Celestia walked up next to me. “Who will be first?”

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