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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172. Chapter One Hundred and Forty-Two Part 2

“Why me, then?”

“Shining Armor is returning to his kingdom tonight, so the only other pony that knows Pertz isn’t in that cell is going to be gone. Your sword is the one that killed him. When it’s magically tested for victims, they’ll find Pertz next to all the nobles you also killed, which will be your alibi. You will say that you couldn’t sleep and decided to check on the defenses. While there, you found that he had been freed and was trying to escape. You killed him first, then whoever was aiding him. If it happens to be somepony that isn’t on my list, I will come and rip some information from their minds, then deal with them personally.”

“Sounds like you’re asking me to essentially murder some bitches for you.”

“I am not. I am asking you to stop an attempted jail break… and don’t take prisoners.”

We continued eating in silence for nearly a minute. “This doesn’t sound like you, Celestia. At all. This isn’t how you operate.”

She looked away. “I have advisors.”

“This reeks of Luna.” Her ears flinched very slightly. “Did you speak to Reginald?”

Her eyes narrowed and she looked back at me. “I did. He was slightly displeased when I declined to confirm or deny what you told him. His anger was somewhat abated when I told him where Luna was, though he still wasn’t pleased that he is incapable of getting to her.”

“Hm. And who came up with your plot for the nobility?”

She sighed and hung her head. “It was, in fact, my sister. What happened with Pertz was also her idea.”

I let silence kick in again. After a few more minutes, I sat back. “I will guard the cell, but I won’t be a murderer, Celestia. If they attempt to fight me, they will die. If they attempt to run, they will die. But if they attempt to surrender, I will not put them down. I will let you put them to the sword. If you want people murdered, let the blood be on your own hands. I’ll let you use my sword if you must, but I won’t stain my soul with more unnecessary blood.”

“I can accept that.” She sipped at a cup of tea for a few moments before setting a hoof on the table. “You are extremely popular right now, Navarone. I want you to know that there is almost nothing you could do at the moment to ruin that. If this fouls up in any way, you will be free from any public reprisals. That said, your actions have had… consequences.”

The way she said that, she wanted me to ask. So I crossed my arms and waited, because I wasn’t going to accommodate bad behavior. If she wanted me to ask, she should just explain it to save me from having to read her mind.

After about a minute, she finally continued, though she removed her hoof from the table. “Killing some of the last thugs that attacked you made the nobles wary. It also made them curious about human behavior and actions. That led to many of them reading the books you had printed and the… anime. From what I understand, some of them have picked up some rather unsavory habits. If you get attacked again, it will likely be from considerably better trained soldiers, probably actual mercenaries. And they won’t have any intentions of leaving you alive. Given your record, I doubt any intelligent mercenaries would be interested in attacking you, but I want you to be wary regardless.”

“Okay. Do you expect there to be issues?”

“Not if tonight goes the way I expect it to. If even one noble meets their end tonight, the rest will be cowed for a generation or two. Especially when I strip all the titles from their corpse, interrogate their family, and seize all but ten percent of their wealth for being a traitor.”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll need to scout out the prison cell. I have no idea where it is or what it’s like, and if I’m going to plan a trap for some peeps, I’ll need to have my eyes on it.”

“Wise,” she said with a nod. “I believe that if they make an attempt, it will likely be early in the night and all at once. But just in case, I’d like you to remain there all night. If they attack early, I shall clean up the mess in case another group attacks. I left a… doll of sorts there that will allow you to communicate with me. If they attack, slay them all and call for me. I will come.”

“You made a fucking voodoo doll?”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t call it that. Voodoo is just a… Actually, yes. It is a voodoo doll. There, happy?”

“Hey man, I’m just asking. Respect the dark arts. That shit’s spooky.”

“Which is something else I’d like to discuss. Later.”

“Sure, sure. And I’m also gonna eat up dat pussy later. But for now…” I finally stood. “I’m gonna go do some recon.”

“Always the romantic.” She stood as well. “Before you go, let me pour more healing into your wing.”

“Happily,” I said, turning so it was facing her. She walked over and carefully pressed her horn again part of it that wasn’t covered by the cast. It lit up and a wave of healing overcame me. “How’s it looking?”

“The diagnostic magic comes up clean. As far as I can tell, you’ll be able to take the cast off in a week and probably immediately fly.” She pulled her horn away and used magic to make me face her. “But I still want you to be careful. Especially tonight. I’ll have a folder sent to your room that contains the photographs of the nobles that might attend, along with a short dossier detailing what I know of their abilities. Most are unicorns, of course, so wear your ring. I’d also advise your armor, in case they bring muscle.”

“So don’t be retarded. Got it.” She rolled her eyes. “Celestia, I’m a soldier. If I’m going into what might be a fight, chances are, I’ll be wearing my armor. Can I use my gun?”

“Yes. But it’ll be close range, so it’ll have limited effectiveness.”

“Better to have it and not need it. I’m gonna go get geared up. I’ll leave after I get the dossier. I’ll burn it all in the morning.”

“Good. Hopefully I’ll see you later tonight. If not, I’ll see you in the morning. I’ll definitely make time to talk to you tomorrow at length about the visions you had, as well as a few other things.”

“‘Kay.” I started trying to walk past her, but she stopped me with magic and leaned in to kiss me.

It didn’t last too long, for better or worse. “I definitely missed you, Nav. Maybe we’ll have time for… some other things tomorrow.”

“Maybe. We’ll see. Anyway, later.” She didn’t seem too enthused by my answer, but I was starting to seriously rethink some things. Celestia’s fun… when she’s not being a ruler. Or being influenced by Luna. But she was having me do some pretty dark shit, and doing some herself. And I knew she had done much worse.

I was having a hard time reconciling it in my mind, and didn’t know if I should keep trying. There were certainly other options out there, including the old fallback of ‘none of the above’.

But for the moment, she accepted the answer, and even smiled after a few seconds. “Until then.” She finally trotted out, leaving the mess on the table behind. I followed behind her, making sure to go the opposite way to be dramatic, even though I actually needed to go the way she was going. I got to a side hall and turned, then waited a minute and finally started going the right way.

Being a national hero doesn’t mean you magically get to avoid the occasional social awkwardness, I’m afraid.

Sure enough, when I got to my room, there was already a packet waiting on my bed. I popped it open and dumped it on the desk. Six different paper clipped packages fell out. I spread them out on the table and realized that I pretty much just became a shitty spy from the eighties.

After I got over my small personal disgust, I started reading them. Two mares, four stallions. One of the mares was a pegasus, one of the guys was an earth pony. The rest were unicorns. I didn’t recognize any of them or their names, though all seemed like rich assholes. Celestia didn’t give a reasoning about why any of them wanted to free Pertz, though she did mark two of the stallions as the most likely duo to come by. They were both unicorns.

I didn’t bother learning their names, because that would put a hole in the story Celestia gave me. It would be better to just recognize them and kill them if needed.

When I was done looking at the pictures, I pulled my armor back on, then grabbed my sword and gun. When I was all situated, I pulled off a glove and slid the ring on. I doubt anyone would want to fight me after beating Pertz and his entire village, but just in case anyone tried, I was going to make sure they’d be harmless.

After I got everything situated, I put all the photos back in the packet and tossed them in a drawer. I didn’t expect anyone to go through my stuff, but I’d have them burned in the morning regardless. Once that was done, I walked out and immediately realized I had no idea where the fuck the prison tower even was. I sighed and started looking for a guard to get directions.

“So does this make me a hypocrite?” I asked as I walked.

“I was wondering when you’d come to that conclusion,” Flo replied. “And yes, it does. Selling out Celestia’s illegal and immoral activities and then helping her do more of them is fairly hypocritical.”

Way to pull that punch. She scoffed, of course. “You didn’t say whether or not this was the right thing to do.”

“I didn’t. There is no right or wrong thing here, only what you do.”

“Don’t pull that cop-out bullshit on me, Flo.”

She was silent for several long seconds before I felt some kind of cold touch on my back that quickly spread around to my stomach. It took me a few steps to realize she was pantomiming hugging me. “This is exactly how you started down your path, Nav. You did dark things for Celestia because you believed that they needed to get done, and that you might as well be the one doing them. You wanted to spare others the horrors of going down that path. And as she was telling you what to do tonight, I could see that same internal struggle in your mind, and it resolved in the same way. You’re doing this because you believe it’s an evil task that needs to be done. You chose yourself as one to do it, to spare a pony from it.”

I continued walking in silence. She was right, of course. I knew she was. I knew it as soon as Celestia told me what she needed done. And yet… “What other choice is there? Honestly, what other option do I have?”

And that made it her turn to be silent. I found a guard not too long after and got directions to the tower. He smiled when he gave them, probably thinking I was just going to check on the defenses, like a good hero.

When I was about halfway there, Flo finally responded. “You have a reputation and you have a silver tongue. These nobles are honestly incapable of hurting you, given your armor and your ring. Luna believes the best way to deal with them is to kill them. She’s an insane psychopath. If she thinks it’s the best way, that obviously means there’s a path of peace that might not be as efficient. Violence is not always the proper answer, Nav.”

“Well, I was certainly going to talk to them before just attacking. I absolutely refuse to be Celestia’s junkyard dog. If she expects me to kill no questions asked, she’s going to be sorely disappointed.”

“Of course. But you don’t have to kill them even if they do attack you. Beat some sense into them. If Celestia wants them dead, she can kill them herself. Just beat seven kinds of hell out of them first.”

“Not too terrible of an idea, all things told. Talk them down first, beat the shit out of them if that fails, kill only if necessary.”

“Precisely. Assuming, of course, anyone shows up.”

Given the feeling in my gut, I suspected someone definitely would.

Apparently the designers of Canterlot watched too many bad movies, because the prison towers were all really close to each other and were maybe a five minute walk to Celestia’s personal bedrooms and about another five minute walk to the armory. Normally, that would be a really stupid placement, but I suppose in a world where the princess has enough magic to vaporize someone in an instant, I guess it wasn’t as bad.

The hallway leading up to the prison tower was thankfully very long and lined with bare walls and floors. There weren’t even any windows, which made sense. The place was probably built to hold the worst of the worst, if Celestia was sending Pertz there. It was also completely unguarded, which didn’t really surprise me; Celestia probably told the guards to take the night off. Instead of torches, there were just magic ambient lights shoved into the wall every few meters.

At the end of the hall was a door, a chair, and an adorable Celestia plushie. Since I had no reason to bother her at the moment, I ignored the doll and just sat. “Should I even bother checking the door?”

“Just in case they already beat you here, I suppose…” I shrugged and leaned over to try the handle. It was locked, unsurprisingly. I leaned back and settled in to wait.

About three hours after I got there (most of the dead time was spent fighting dreams while Flo paid attention to the real world), someone intruded on us. Flo told me as soon as she heard the hooves coming, so I hopped in front of the door and pulled up my gun, ready to deal with a bitchy, pain in the ass noble.

Imagine my surprise when it was Captain Midnight Blossom who rounded the corner. She stared at me for a few seconds before continuing forward. I slung my rifle and crossed my arms.

“I’m surprised to see you here, Nav,” she said as she came closer.

“Same. I figured you’d be out patrolling.”

“I was. Then I heard that the princess ordered the guards assigned to Pertz to take the night off. I came here immediately to find out who was watching over him.”

“She’s expecting trouble, so she asked me to make sure nothing happens. I’m slightly more capable than the average guard, so she figured I’d be a good choice for guarding him.”

“You’re considerably more capable than the average guard, I’d say,” she replied with a small shrug. “But guarding someone, especially someone dangerous like Pertz, is not a one-pony job. Anything could happen. That’s why we assign guards in pairs.”

“Celestia did not deign to give me a partner. I’ll be fine alone.”

She lifted an eyebrow. “You are a strong stal… person. But can you truly stay up all night without rest? And expect to successfully fight?”

“You forget the perks of my biology,” I said, reaching back and flipping my ponytail over my shoulder. “I can go all night.”

“In spring and summer. It’s fall. That hair is orange.” I silently flipped the hair back. “I think I’ll join you.”

“I think you’ll go back to your duty, Captain,” I slowly said. “Celestia is expecting visitors, and I am to greet them according to their station.”

One of her ears twitched and she turned her head. “It seems that some of your visitors are coming now.”

Her ears were much more sensitive than mine, apparently. I heard them a few seconds later, then muttered a curse and pulled up my rifle. “Get behind me,” I said, stepping forward.

“Not a chance,” she replied, taking up a stance next to me.

I really didn’t need her there for what was about to go down, but it was a little bit late for that and I probably couldn’t make her leave if I tried. Especially not with time to spare, as the new visitors were already rounding the corner.

There were four of them. Three were nobles that Celestia told me to expect, the female unicorn and two of the male unicorns. The last was a large, fully armored diamond dog carrying a long pole-axe and a small shield. I quietly pumped my rifle as they walked closer.

“Visiting hours are nonexistent, I’m afraid,” I called down the hall. “I’m gonna have to ask you to turn around and walk away.” They continued walking. “I’m not certain you understand. If you think you’re going to be seeing Pertz tonight, you are extremely mistaken.”

One of the male unicorns said something so quietly that I couldn’t hear it and the party stopped. He continued forward, coming to a halt a few meters in front of them and still several meters away from me. “My dear Navarone, I’m afraid you’re in our way. Our friend is on the other side of that door, and we’d quite like to see him again before he goes.”

“Princess Celestia, in her infinite wisdom, did not grant Pertz visitation rights,” I said. “He is a very dangerous man, and absolutely must not be disturbed for any reasons. You’ll have to ask Celestia for special permission if you’d like to see him. Otherwise, I’m afraid that I can’t allow it.”

One of his eyebrows lifted. “Since when do we need permission to bid a friend farewell? I thought Celestia was all about the magic of friendship.”

I smirked. “Just because she built this nation does not mean she has to be a paragon of its values. Now I heavily advise that you turn around and walk away while you are still able.”

“Are you… threatening us?” he quietly asked.

“No. Now I’m threatening you. Leave or I will kill every single one of you. And then Celestia will posthumously strip your titles and your wealth, leaving your families destitute and on the streets. So please, do this the easy way. Turn around and walk away.”

He rolled his eyes and turned his head. “Would you kindly stomp this disgusting freak?” he asked.

The diamond dog lifted up the mask of his helmet to look at me more closely. “You… Navarone? Hero of cat-land?”

“The very same. I’m also part of a naga clan,” I said, baring the naga steel. “And I wiped out the Dog Father’s organization in Germaneigh and I killed his operation here in Equestria and I brought Pertz to justice, killing hundreds in the process.”

He lowered his helmet, looked at the unicorn, shrugged, and said, “I quit.” He thumped off, leaving the three unicorns somewhat dumbfounded.

“Now you see, he has the right idea,” I said, putting away the knife. “You know I brought Pertz to justice. I personally dueled him and beat the hell out of him. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say he was probably stronger magically than any of you before he left.” The other unicorn guy and the chick shared nervous looks. “So if I can beat him, and his entire army, what do you think I’m going to do to you? Now, Princess Celestia doesn’t have to know you were here. Walk away and that’s it. But if you try and fight me, I’ll just give her the bodies and let her do the rest. So, what’ll it be?”

They were silent for some time. It looked like the two standing in the back were starting to edge away. The one up front was glaring at me, and his horn finally lit up. “We’ll take our chances!” A ball of fire shot directly toward me. Blossom jumped back, trying to avoid it. I let it impact me dead on. When it cleared, his mouth dropped.

“See, now you done fucked up,” I sighed, shaking my head. Before he could react, I lifted my rifle up and shot both of his accomplices, dropping them both before they could make up their mind to either run or fight.

He flinched when the gun made noises, then looked down at himself in surprise. “You missed!”

I lowered the gun, smiled, and whirled my finger slightly, giving him the hint to turn around. He slowly looked behind himself and saw two dead unicorns. His mouth dropped, so I pulled out my sword and started walking.

It took him a few seconds to notice I was moving. When he did, he jumped back and his horn lit up again. I was honestly surprised when instead of trying to do something to me, he teleported Blossom in front of him, held in a magic grasp. “If you don’t stop moving, I’ll kill her!” he shouted.

I stopped, of course. Not that I really thought he could kill her, of course, it just seemed like the dramatic thing to do.

“I am leaving here with Pertz,” he growled. His horn lit up brighter and one of the spikes I shot into his companions lifted up and pointed at Blossom’s neck. “And you aren’t going to stop me.”

“No, I’m not,” I said. “But I don’t really think I’ll need to.”

“Oh? And who do you think is going to get here in time to save her? If you touch that contraption at your side, she dies!”

“What makes you think I’m going to save her?” His mouth snapped shut. Blossom’s eyes were glowing and her fangs were starting to get longer. I smiled ever so sweetly at the stallion. “Exactly one living person is leaving this room tonight, and it won’t be you. Blossom, it’s time to feast.”

She vanished into smoke, making the guy cry out in fear. Before he could do anything else, the smoke jerked to his neck and she reappeared on his back. He started rearing, but she bit down on his neck before he could get too high up and yanked out. His carotid tore and blood started fountaining from his neck. She turned into smoke again and reappeared in front of him, suckling at the wound as he collapsed to the ground.

Before the life left his eyes, I slammed my sword into his head, breaking Blossom out of her bloodlust. She backed away, breathing heavily. One of her shuddering hooves lifted to her mouth, which happened to be covered in blood. It was pretty much all over her front half, honestly.

“Fucking noble filth,” I muttered, pulling the sword out and rubbing it over his body to clean it. “Wasting my god damned time.” I spat on the body for good measure, then sheathed my sword. “Well, that’s three fewer you have to guard,” I said, turning back to Blossom. She was staring at the body in horror, the hoof still on her mouth. “What? Shit, did we accidentally just turn him into a vampire?” Before she could answer, I pulled the sword back out and stabbed him through the chest. “Didn’t even think about that!”

She grabbed my arm before I could pull the sword back out. “I just killed somepony!”

“What? No, that was my sword. Trust me, I had a reason for stabbing him before he died all the way.” Since she wasn’t worried about him becoming a new vampire, I rubbed the sword back on his body and put it away again. She didn’t let go of my arm, though. “Is that… a problem?” I also noticed that she reverted back to saying somepony.

“I… I swore to Luna that I would never… never suck somepony dry…”

“Well, you didn’t. See all that blood on the floor? And, you know, all over you? And look here…” I walked over to the dude and stepped on his chest, making more spurt out. “Still plenty of blood in there. He’s hardly dry.” She still seemed somewhat unsure. “Come on, this guy was a total douchebag. He was literally threatening to stab you. Why wouldn’t you want to kill him? Because you swore an oath to a psychopath? Fuck that bitch. There were no witnesses, he’s dead, my sword’s the one that killed him, no biggie.”

“...True. I merely… assisted in the take-down, I suppose. That was actually… the first time I’ve ever used my abilities in a fight.”

“Cool. I’d say they work pretty fucking well. How did it feel?”

“Good. Very, very good. It seems that the richer ponies are, the better tasting their blood is. I believe it has something to do with their level of activity and their diet. Needless to say, his tasted… delicious.” She actually licked her lips, then tongued one of her fangs. “I’ll have to be careful in the future.”

“Yeah, that’s a slippery slope you don’t want to start sliding down. Anyway, you need to go now. Head to my room and take a shower, then go back to your patrols. I’m calling in a cleanup crew and going back on watch.”

“...Cleanup crew?” She looked at the pool of blood on the floor. “This one is… fairly conspicuous.”

“Don’t worry about it. And Blossom?” One of her eyebrows lifted. “Thank you for standing with me.”

She smiled, showing off her red-tinged fangs. “What are friends for?” Just like that, she burst back into smoke and drifted down the hall.

When the smoke was fully gone, I walked over to the Celestia doll and picked it up. I really didn’t know what to do, so I just started tickling its belly. About fifteen seconds later, Celestia teleported in next to me. “What do you—Oh.” She took a few steps down the hall so she could get a better look at the bodies. “Hm. I really didn’t expect her to be here. Oh well. I assume there was no trouble?”

“They had a mercenary with them,” I said. “A large male dog. Fully armored. He had a halberd and a buckler. He decided to leave when they made it clear they were looking for a fight. Didn’t want to face me in battle.”

“A very wise mercenary.”

“There was… another issue.” Her head slowly turned to me. “Captain Midnight Blossom came in before they did, to see why her guards had been ordered to take the night off. She was there when they came, and saw me kill them.”

“I assume they attacked first, then.”

“They did, of course. Threw a fireball at me. When that did nothing, the bloody one took Blossom hostage with magic. I cut him down, but she got covered in his blood. I told her to go take a shower.”

Her lips tightened for a moment before she shrugged. “Captain Midnight is very loyal and very strict about the law. If she believed you were in the wrong, she would have asked you to sit in a cell until it could be sorted. If she left, then she saw no issues.” She turned back to the bodies, a somewhat calculating look on her face.

“What do you think about her?” I asked. “The captain, I mean.”

“I appreciate her service. I believe Luna trusted her slightly more than she should have, and gave her far too much leeway outside of Shining Armor’s jurisdiction, but those actions paid off. Captain Midnight is a fine and professional soldier that does Canterlot proud.” She seemed to zone me out and started walking around the bodies, avoiding the blood. “So two with bolts and one with a sword…” She lingered at the one I cut up. “One head wound, one neck wound, one heart wound. Was he… especially resilient?”

“Blossom happens to be a friend of mine. I was… somewhat displeased that he tried holding her hostage.”

“Ah. Understandable.” She pointed at the neck. “This one isn’t frozen.”

“That was the first one. He was pissed that I killed his friends and wanted a… ugh, taste of me, so to say. It basically got me close enough that I could slit his throat with a knife. He wasn’t quite dead and I remembered you said you wanted them killed with the sword if possible, so I stabbed his heart. That didn’t kill him immediately either, so I said fuck it and just cut through his brain.”

“Excellent. I’m not asking because I don’t believe you, I’m asking in case it’s brought up in some manner of court. You just killed three of the richest ponies in the world, Nav. Between the three of them, they owned enough land to make Chrysalis jealous.”

“Why the fuck would they come here by themselves, with just one mercenary as a guard?”

“Because I don’t make a habit of allowing hired swords in my city, Navarone. I didn’t tell anypony in the press that Pertz would be in town until the day before the trial and I made sure to schedule his punishment extremely close to the trial, so they wouldn’t have time to get any of their personal troops here. They came themselves because almost all nobles go through several self-defense and advanced magic courses, enough to make them more than a match for any group of common guards or any manner of prison cell.”

“Oh. Huh.” She looked back at the bodies and lifted a hoof to her chin. “So this might end up in a court?”

“If you had just killed them by yourself, yes. But with Captain Midnight and the mercenary to back you up, it shouldn’t come to that. We won’t be able to claim you killed Pertz as he was trying to escape, but that is just a minor issue.” Her horn lit up and the bodies and blood disappeared. “I’ll put them on ice, to be dealt with in the morning. I’ll also arrange to have that mercenary found and detained, if Captain Midnight hasn’t already handled it.” She turned back to me finally. “I want you to very seriously consider something for me, Nav.”

“What, the consequences for killing rich assholes?”

“No, the benefits of killing rich assholes. Do not turn me down offhand, Navarone. What I’m offering is an extremely important opportunity, one that you don’t have to take. But I want you to think on it for a while, regardless.”

“...Okay?”

“Between removing these three and Pertz, a huge amount of land just opened up, along with estates, wealth, and hundreds of opportunities. By all rights, I can make you a lord… or a lady, in this case. An actual member of nobility, with a clear heraldry and a title that will follow your family line. Which would mean Taya and her children, of course. You already have the money and influence for it. This would just make it official, and guarantee that it would all pass down to Taya in the event that something happens to you.” I opened my mouth to reply, but she pushed a hoof on it. “Don’t say anything, Nav. Think about it. Don’t deny it offhoof because you can’t stand the idea of being ritzy. Think about the benefits. All of them. And think about what it could mean… for us. Okay?” After several seconds of thought, I slowly nodded. She smiled, then teleported off.

“So that’s never gonna happen,” I casually said, placing the doll back on the floor and sitting in the chair again.

“Let a mare dream,” Flo sighed.

“Dreams are for winners, Flo.” I could practically feel her rolling her eyes as I went back to the dream world.

Half an hour later, Flo jolted me awake with such a shock of adrenaline that I literally jumped out of the chair. That threw Blossom off me and I whirled on her, my sword in my hand before I even knew what I was doing. When I saw her there, a light blue haze overlaid my vision and my body started shaking slightly. Blossom looked on in shock as Flo pulled back the adrenaline she dumped into my body, calming me down without making me completely crash.

“What the hell was that?” I hissed when I had control of my body again.

“I just… wanted to surprise you,” Blossom quietly said. “It looked like you were sleeping, so I floated over and, well, poked you with my fangs…”

Flo coughed lightly in my head. “I thought it was an attacker and didn’t take time to assess the situation.”

“I was not fully asleep,” I said, putting my sword away. “Long story short, I have an entity in my head that’s always vigilant. It can hear intruders coming. If you had just normally walked up, I would have been ready. When the thing in my head realized you were there, it went into overdrive and pumped me full of energy. So basically, please don’t do that again.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” she said, finally standing back up. “It appears the cleanup crew was thorough.”

“Yep.” She didn’t reply for several seconds, probably waiting for more. “So did you need something? Or did you just want to say hi?”

“I’m here to stand guard with you, Nav. And saying ‘no’ isn’t an option. I will either stand guard with you or I will stand guard at the other side of the hallway. I know you don’t need me, but Pertz is dangerous and I’m not going to risk him getting free.”

It’s tempting to tell her that Pertz is dead, but… I shrugged and ruffled her mane. “Happy to have you with me, Blossom.” Of course, that made her glare at me, but she looked too adorable for me to regret it. After a few moments of glaring, she rolled her eyes and shook her head, putting her hair back in its proper place.

Since it seemed she was there for the long haul, I sat back in the chair. She plopped her ass on the floor, though I’m pretty sure that was against normal guard regulations. “By the way, the dance is tomorrow… Well, I guess it’s actually just tonight, now. Are you prepared for it?”

“Yeah, Fleur got me set up. The clothes are supposed to be delivered today. I don’t actually know where it is, so you’ll have to meet me and take me there.”

She nodded. “Of course. I’ll have a chariot take us, since you still can’t fly. Fleur partially planned it with me in mind; it doesn’t begin until an hour after Celestia lowers the sun.”

“Coolio. I’ll be ready.” She nodded and we fell back into silence. After about a minute, I shrugged and asked, “You wanna play I Spy?”

“Nav, this entire hall is grey and empty.”

“Alright, yeah, fair enough.” I started slowly kicking my legs back and forth. She awkwardly cleared her throat. “So… Why don’t you like being pet?”

“It’s depony-izing. And I can’t feel it anyway.”

“Oh. Well, if anyone walks in, we’ll probably end up killing them anyway. Can I pet you, just to let you try it?”

She rolled her eyes. “No. And don’t ask again, or I’ll break into your mind, make you think you’re a pony, and then spend all night rubbing your tummy.”

“...‘Kay.”

The awkward silence returned again. After another minute or two, she quietly asked, “So… wanna talk about stallions?”

“Sure.”

And so we did. It was boring.

No one else showed up that night. After we talked about dudes, we discussed some other stuff. Our pasts, our heroic deeds, our not so heroic deeds, I let her meet Flo and get filled up by her watery greatness. We also discussed some future plans and where she thought she might be going with Fleur’s friendship.

About an hour before the sun came up, we were pretty much out of things to talk about. The silence was back, but it wasn’t awkward anymore.

I knew it had to be broken, though. There was one more thing I needed to discuss with her, something that actually somewhat concerned me. “So. Where do you see yourself in fifty years, Blossom?” I asked.

She didn’t reply for a while. I know she heard me, because both of her ears started twitching. After about a minute, she quietly said, “I’ve asked myself that many times.”

“As it stands right now, you can’t stay in the guard. Celestia would find out your secret.”

“She would. I’ve thought about that.”

“Traveling is possible, but difficult for someone with your curse. You can only avoid the sun for so long.”

“It is. I’ve thought about that as well.”

“And when you muster out of the guard, you’ll probably have that enchantment removed. But the fangs would remain.”

“...They would. That is also something I have considered.”

“Then I have something new for you to consider. After the dance, let’s talk to Fleur. I want you to come out to Celestia.”

Both of her ears shot straight down. “She would kill me!”

“No, she will kill you if she finds out on her own. If Fleur and I are both there, and you’re wearing my ring of magic immunity, she won’t and can’t kill you. I’ve spoken to Celestia about you before. She very much values your service and your skill and thinks you’re a good commander. If I am there and vouch for you and Fleur is there and vouches for you, I think she won’t kill you. She might not allow you to remain in the guard, but I don’t think she’ll kill you. And we’ll tell her to talk to Luna and the night guards themselves. If we all support you, I know she’ll allow you to live and I’m almost positive she’ll allow you to keep your position. And of course, the longer you wait, the less happy she’ll be when she finds out.”

She remained silent again, though her ears were going haywire. For a second, I thought I may have broken them or something. Finally, they returned to normality and she hastily shook her head. “No, I can’t. I… just can’t!”

I slid off the chair and put both my hands on her shoulders, to make her look me in the eyes. She actually seemed horrified. “Blossom, you have friends. We want you to be happy and we want you to be able to live openly. We are your strength when you find yourself lacking. With us by your side, you are plenty strong enough to do this. If you truly don’t want to tell her, we won’t force you. But if Fleur was able to find out your secret, you can bet your ass that Celestia can. And if she does, we probably won’t be able to help you. So please, while I’m in town and while Fleur is still at the height of her power, let us help you. Let us give you strength.”

She carefully bit her lip with one of her fangs, looking away. After a few minutes, she lifted a hoof to one of my hands and carefully pulled it away. “I… I need to go, Nav. I’ll stop by your room tonight…” Before I could try to stop her, she burst into smoke and drifted off, leaving the hallway feeling strangely empty.

When the smoke was fully gone, I sighed and fell back into the chair. “Flo, you really need to start taking over when I begin fucking these things up.”

“I cannot force someone to do something they absolutely refuse to do, Nav. And hearing the words coming from you would mean infinitely more than anything coming from me. Try as I might, I would lack the kind of earnesty that comes from true friendship.”

“Man, that’s some bullshit and you know it. My voice has just about no inflection in it. Literally anything would be an improvement.”

“No, literally anything would remove the earnesty. If your only tone is monotonous, suddenly putting something there would make people doubt your sincerity. They’d think it was fake. Also, your eyes would change color.”

“Fuck, forgot that part. Fine, whatever. What do you think she’ll do?”

“Now that, I don’t know. It’s hard to read her. She’ll probably come around, but she might not. I’d advise against speaking to Fleur about it unless Blossom changes her mind.”

“Yep. Ah well, whatevs. At least we got to actually talk about some shit. Next time, I should offer to help her practice making out.”

“Nav, she’s a corpse. She probably tastes bad.”

“Maybe. Think I should offer to let her practice eating chicks out, instead?”

I got smacked for that one, unsurprisingly. “I have no idea how your mind always manages to stay in the gutter.”

“It’s a talent, trust me. One that was well-cultivated.” She sighed in utter disappointment.

Another hour later, two day guards came by with a note from Celestia. It was sealed with her stamp and had her typical cutesy shit in it, so I figured it was legit enough. They took over guarding the empty room and I met Celestia for breakfast, carrying the voodoo doll with me.

“So can I keep this?” I asked when I sat down.

She eyed the doll for a moment before shrugging. “After I remove the enchantment, yes. But I refuse to give you the power to toy with my body however you like, whenever you like. I assume the rest of the night was uneventful?”

“You assume correctly. Three of the six on your list are down.”

“Half is honestly more than I was expecting. That is excellent news.”

“...Ponies are dead, Celestia. Do you really consider that good news?”

She sighed and leaned forward to put a hoof on one of my hands. “Nav, moralizing doesn’t work very well when it’s coming from the person who killed those ponies. Yes, given the choice, I’d rather them be alive and working with me rather than dead because they were working against me. But they were working against me, they couldn’t be turned to work for me, and now they can’t work against me anymore. I do not celebrate the fact that they are dead, Nav. I celebrate the fact that three extremely powerful and popular nobles that worked against me are no longer capable of working against me.”

I sighed and leaned back, pulling away from her touch. “This shit is getting fucked, Celestia. I know you value Luna’s advice and I know you want her to feel included after her thousand year absence, but why the fuck are you following her advice? She is evil and psychotic. You are better than this.”

“Once again, this moralization is coming slightly late. I am aware that my sister is flawed, but—”

“Evil, Celestia. Not flawed, evil. There is a very vast difference. A flawed person can recognize mistakes. An evil person gets told they made a mistake and says the person who pointed it out is wrong. She is a murderer, a torturer, a rapist, a traitor—”

Celestia slammed a hoof on the table, clattering all the silverware. “She is my sister! For over five thousand years, she was my sister! My hooves, my eyes, my ears, my nose to the ground! She was my sword, my spear, the instrument that made my will a reality! And in time, she became wise to the ways of the world, Nav. The true, dark, unpleasant world. The world I strived to hide from my ponies, the world she helped keep at bay for them! And you would have me undo all the work we both did! You would have me undo six thousand years of history, Navarone. Both by ignoring her advice and personally selling myself out. Do you see the irreality in that demand? The complete disregard for what we have accomplished? Can you even comprehend what you have asked of me? Do you know how wholly and completely this would shatter not just my sister and I, but the entirety of all pony civilization?”

I slowly leaned back forward and placed my hands on the table. After a few seconds to compose my response, I quietly said, “You have six thousand years of history, Celestia. Behind me, I have tens of millions. Billions, maybe. I have cycle after cycle of life birthed and life eradicated. I know human history. I know elemental history. I know of some cycles in between. Forget emotion, because this isn’t about that. Forget yourself, because this isn’t about you. And this isn’t about Luna. This is about the future of life itself. Literally all life. Discord wants to die, Celestia. He tried to kill himself by completely eradicating all of humanity. He couldn’t kill us all before we made new life. But don’t think that means he stopped trying. Each cycle begins with a new form of life growing into power and each cycle ends with that form of life being eradicated almost to a man. Following your path of lies and darkness and evil—yes, Celestia, evil, because that is what you are, deny it or not—gives him power. It gives him the ability to eradicate you in the end. If that is what you want, I have no place in this kingdom. If you would prefer living in your small kingdom and keeping the peace by evil methods, then I will take my leave and continue on my journey to try to save all life. But if you want to live in the wide world and help me save it, I will happily find a place at your side.”

She stared at me for some time. Finally, she pulled her hoof off the table. Her horn lit up and a piece of paper and a pen appeared. She placed it on the table and slowly wrote out a letter. When it was done, she set the pen on the table and looked back up at me. “I am about to set in motion a series of events that will very probably destroy all or most of my power, Navarone.”

“Your ponies love you, Celestia. Because of that, they deserve to hear the truth. I believe they will, in the end, find it preferable to lies. You will have plenty of friends at your side, myself included.”

Her horn lit up brighter and nothing happened. She eyed my gloved hand before standing, walking over to where I was sitting, and kissing me deeply. It lasted nearly a minute, and when she was done, she sat back in her chair and magicked the letter away. “And so it begins.”

“Where did that letter go?”

“Chrysalis. I requested an immediate audience. We will sequester ourselves for some time, I imagine.”

“Oh, I doubt it’ll take long,” I said with a small smile. “I had a conversation or two with her as well.” Her ears twitched slightly. “Oh, and she prefers Moonbeam now.” That actually made her mouth drop. “Not everyone revels in being a bad person, Celestia.”

And it snapped shut. “I am also not one of them. But I need to speak with her about more than just that. And I need to eat before she replies.” She shuddered. “The food in the hives is absolutely awful.” With that, she finally shut her trap so we could start eating.

She didn’t get to finish before a letter materialized next to her. She floated it up and read over it, then set it on the table without commenting on it. When she finished shoveling mounds of food into her corpulent body, she gracefully patted her mouth with a napkin and picked the letter back up. “Chrys… Moonbeam has agreed to my request.” She fell silent and read over it again. “She actually signed it as Queen Moonbeam.” She looked back over to me. “What in Tartarus did you say to her?”

“Oh, this and that. She wanted to change. All it took was a catalyst. When are you going to see her?”

“As soon as I speak to my advisors and let them know I shall be gone for the day.”

“Ah.”

“Yes…” She sighed and her wings flapped once. “I was looking forward to discussing your prophecies and a few other things with you.”

I shrugged. “I’ll be here for a little while. There’s plenty of time.”

“True. And if all else fails, I can discuss them with Twilight or Zecora. I’m sure both would be happy to talk.”

“Yep. Say, when you see Chrysalis, can you give her a kiss for me? And maybe a swat on the ass?”

“No. I’ll see you when I get back, Nav.” She hopped to her feet, then seemed to shrink back for a moment before shaking herself. “And thank you. Truly and deeply, thank you. Moonbeam was not the only one looking for a catalyst.”

Before I could reply, she trotted out.

At least I got to watch her sexy ass bounce.

 
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