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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129. Chapter One Hundred and Six—The First Curse

The others spread out behind me as I had ordered, taking up positions. I wasn’t aiming at any particular part of the overly large tower, and it was hella hard to miss, so I just collided with a blank section that didn’t have any spiders on it. The thing was horribly sticky and just overall nasty as hell, so I made sure to cut through it as quickly as possible. Thankfully, Excalibur made short work of it.

Soon enough, I had a hole large enough for Celestia to fit her fat ass through. I led the way inside once more, basically just freefalling down the tunnel of web, the sword still grasped in my hand. The others followed, mostly doing the same thing I was doing. Sadly enough, the freefall ended quickly, with a large group of spiders at the bottom with a web over the main cave entrance.

“What brings you here, outsiders?” the gatekeeper asked.

“I come with a message for your goddess,” I said as the others got into some manner of arrangement behind me.

“Why would she care what you have to say?”

“I’m the queen of the monkeys.”

“Hm, I see. Capture her!”

“Taya, light ‘em up!” Every single spider down there fucking disintegrated. “...Alright, new backup plan: Kill everything.”

“I like that plan,” Kumani said. “Can we forget the main plan and use the backup one instead?”

“I’ll think about it. Now would someone kindly remove this gate?” Kumani blew a wad of fire onto it, destroying the whole thing of webbing and sending a small torrent of flames further down into the tunnel. “Thanks, babe. Shall we?”

Celestia’s horn lit up, extinguishing the remnants of the flames. “Until we decide to go with plan B, I suggest taking care, dragon.” Kumani just snorted and I jumped on down into the tunnel, not feeling like dealing with their bullshit. After all, it wouldn’t be any skin off my back if we ended up killing the shit out of the spiders.

We passed several spiders on the way down, though none tried to stop us. Still, the fall was like a kaleidoscope of colors, with all the different kinds of spiders we passed. Of course, I didn’t really pay attention to most of them, since I was too busy falling in style.

It wasn’t until I was in the cave system proper that I realized the spiders down there would have no way of knowing what flag we flew or if we belonged. My only hope was that they wouldn’t care or wouldn’t notice us. Although going unnoticed was fairly unlikely, given that we had a fucking dragon and a large flying white horse with a glimmering, billowing mane. In fact, I could see that we attracted attention just by entering the main system.

Not that we stopped long enough for them to do anything. As soon as I got my bearings and had the time to wonder just how many massive caverns existed on the world, we were flying off toward the biggest structure there that I could see, one that went from the top of the cave to the very bottom.

“And this Arachne is within that tower?” Celestia asked.

“Sure hope so, because that’s where we’re going,” I said. “Taya, you still got that quilt?”

“Yes, mommy!” she called over the rushing wind.

“Celestia, quick warning,” I called as we flew. “This chick probably knows true magic, not those bullshit spells you forced on the ponies. So be ready to counter her, because Taya doesn’t know it well yet and I can’t even do the basics.”

“Noted!” Man, Celestia is damn near unfazeable sometimes. Eh, I’m sure I’ll trip her up soon.

Since I didn’t want to create too much of a disturbance by straight up breaking into a temple, I landed in front of the main entrance. My group walked up to the massive golden doors, each heavily engraved with things that I immediately disregarded. There were several guards outside the doors, each staring at us as we got closer.

“Purpose of visit?” one asked.

“We wish to pay our respects to Goddess Arachne, and deliver two messages,” I said.

“Check your grievances at the door, outlanders,” the guard said. “Should you attempt violence within her court, expect immediate and violent retribution.”

“Noted,” I answered, sheathing my sword. The doors very slowly pushed open on their own, allowing us entrance. We all entered, making sure to watch each other’s back in case we got attacked. Between Celestia, Twilight, and Taya with the amulet, I figured we could all get teleported out of that place with no real issue. After we killed a bunch of bastards, at least.

Finding the goddess wasn’t overly hard, all things told. I mean, she was the giant withered spider in the middle of the large room on a tall pedestal, each of her five remaining legs locked in some kind of sockets. Her three eyes opened to face us as we walked, complete and total apathy painted on them. Twenty bucks says she’d incinerate me if I hugged her.

I opened my mouth to say something, but a low rumble stopped me. Most of my group looked around the room in confusion, but Celestia and I just watched the goddess as her mandibles slowly moved. “Young and impetuous mortal, come to visit the undying,” she croaked, her voice like ashes falling from a fire. “What seeketh you?” I think she was looking at me, but I might have been wrong.

“...What language was that?” Celestia whispered. Welp, she was looking at me.

“I come seeking peace between spiders and monkeys,” I said.

“No. How cometh you to know this language?”

“I was born when it was still spoken. Then I sorta skipped a few years. Now, here I am.”

“...Curious. You will look good among my slaves.” I heard a click coming from the pedestal and suddenly thirty guards descended from the ceiling, all aiming at me.

“Taya, above!” She looked up and the spiders were once again instantly incinerated. “Look, spider bitch, we’re here for peace. It would be really convenient if you did this the easy way for us,” I said.

“Think you that you can kill me? Kill the undying? Cursed by a god and betrayed by a demon? I cannot be killed!”

“Yeah, but I bet you can go mad. If we kill all off your servants and shit and then bury your ass down here, you’d get awful bored real quick.”

“You… threaten… me?” she asked, slowly standing up.

“Well, you just tried to enslave me, so I figure it’s only fair.”

“I would destroy your mind in an instant, human. It would be a fitting end, to one of your kind.”

“Hey, rumor has it that you were one of us, once. Born that way, actually. Then a certain Athena decided she didn’t like your tone.”

“You DARE!?”

I felt one of Celestia’s wings on my back as the spider strained at the bindings holding her in place. “Whatever you’re saying, it’s not working,” she quietly said.

“Yeah, I dare!” I yelled, pulling away from Celestia. “I spoke with Athena. She’s still alive and kicking, Arachne. And don’t think she’s forgotten you.”

“Tell me where she is and I might let you leave this place, daughter of Eve!”

I looked back. “Taya, the quilt.” She slowly floated the folded blanket over to Arachne, who looked upon it with complete disinterest, until…

“This is my work…” Taya gasped as her telekinetic spell around the quilt was broken, taken over by the spider.

Celestia’s breath caught as well and I suddenly felt one of her hooves coming to my shoulder, drawing me back. “We shouldn’t have come here,” she whispered.

“After so long, how could such a simple thing survive?” Arachne quietly asked.

“Our second message is from Athena, who begs for forgiveness,” I said. The quilt slowly unfolded and continued doing so until the massive thing was open, showing off the dark scenes within for all to see.

“So long… But she destroyed it! I watched her with my own eyes!”

“And yet here it is, imbued with a magic of its own,” I said.

“Here… it… is,” she slowly said, casually ripping one of the locks out of the floor and caressing it with a leg. I swear I saw her mandibles lift up in what might have been a smile as the magic within the quilt hit her. “Why now, human?” she finally asked, looking back at me.

That, I understood,” Celestia whispered. Strange.

“Because Athena lives in a realm she can’t leave, locked away lest she die from the ravages of time.”

“She hasn’t my curse, it seems,” the spider said. “But then, Athena never had many dealings with the being of chaos.”

“You know him?” I asked.

“That monster found me not long after Athena’s dark curse wormed its way into my soul. He offered a fix for my curse, at a price.”

“Then… how are you still alive?”

He betrayed me. His price was that most of my offspring would be as unforgiving as I. Since I didn’t plan to survive long, I readily took it. He fixed my curse… To him, agelessness without true immortality was a crime most dear. So he made me undying.”

“Man, what a dick.”

“I’ve wanted him dead for all of my life and yet his death still eludes me. I know he is free and alive, laughing at my suffering. This feeble body can barely move, so I fear his death will never be at my hands.”

Celestia stepped forward. “Arachne, he is not a being of chaos. He is a being of discord, of conflict. If your kind are unforgiving and you yourself cannot even forgive an offense, he will continue to fester and grow in strength. Your kind is in open war against even itself, is it not? What better way for him to grow powerful than spending time within your kingdom?”

“What proof do you have, young horse? How can you seek to judge me?”

“Because my kind has stopped him once and he has cursed me and my sister as well. We killed him with artifacts called the elements of harmony, designed to destroy discord and hate in whatever they hit.” Man, wish we had those things with us for this spider bitch. “They locked him within stone for over six thousand years. He only recently escaped.”

“You killed him, and yet still he lives. I have sent armies after him and gotten back only tattered remnants. I fear there truly is no killing this entity.”

“You’ve tried war,” I said. “Have you ever tried peace?”

“...No. After the fires of man destroyed most life, peace reigned for some time. But he came back anyway. His power has grown and shrunk as time went on, but never once has he become as weak as he was after the swan song of the humans. I fear we would have to eradicate all life in order to kill him. What better way than with war?”

“And then you will remain,” Celestia said. “You alone, immortal and undying, sustaining him with the hatred in your heart.”

“Should we be together alone, I can be comforted that we will spend an eternity suffering together. He wants to die as much as I want to kill him.”

“I’m down for helping out with that,” I said. “Anyway, I’m working with some people to get together some things to help stop him again. But to get one of the things I need, I need the spiders to stop attacking the monkeys.”

“What is it that you need from them, human?”

“Water elemental that’s pretending to be a goddess.”

The next thing I knew, I was standing right in front of the spider chick. My eyes widened in surprised as she poked me in the stomach with one of her very sharp legs, her leg just seeping right through the armor like it wasn’t there and drawing blood. She brought the leg back out, coated in the amber substance, and then I was standing back next to Celestia, who immediately drew a leg around me again and pulled me close, chanting something in a low voice.

I was too busy pressing a hand against my stomach to check for damage. The armor was unpierced and it didn’t hurt, so I looked back up to Arachne. She pulled a stone tablet out of nowhere and pressed the leg with my blood on it against it. My eyes widened as the blood flowed down her leg and onto the tablet. After a few seconds passed, she tossed the thing down to me, where it hit the ground with a clatter.

“Take it and leave.”

I slowly reached down and grabbed the stone slab, lifting it up and looking it over.. I could barely read in the dim light, but it was basically a peace treaty written in my blood. Creepy as hell. Why did it have to be my blood?

“Do you have a reply for Athena?” I asked, looking up.

Arachne grabbed the quilt and slowly spread it out, looking over the scenes of violence and destruction. After a few seconds, the quilt caught fire and began burning. “Apology accepted.”

The quilt lit up in a massive flash of light, the flame instantly consuming it and lighting the entire chamber. All the hidden guards shrieked in pain and all of us flinched back as well. After the flash faded and I blinked enough of the spots out of my eyes that I could see again, I actually gasped in surprise, looking up at the dias.

“Human,” I whispered, taking a step forward.

Arachne the human slowly lifted her hands up, gazing at them in either horror or fascination, it was hard to tell. “What. Is. This?” she hissed, jerking her hands down and glaring at me.

Oh yeah, that was horror. “I don’t know! I’m just a messenger!”

The way she was suddenly wreathed in darkness made me suspect that she held the notion that no answer—and no returning messenger—was just as powerful as a fifteen page report. I don’t know why she was so upset, because she actually looked pretty good for her age.

“Is this Athena’s idea of a JOKE?! Lock me in a body for an eternity and then just as suddenly rip it away?”

“She removed her curse, did she not?” Celestia asked.

“I was content!”

“You were miserable!”

The darkness surged out from the angry goddess. “I was content in my misery!”

Before the dark shroud could cover us, light erupted from Celestia, casting the shadows back. “You will not harm us, Arachne!”

“No, I will kill you!”

“Now might be a good time to leave,” I said, backing up to our group.

“We saved you from yourself!” Celestia shouted, the light slowly forcing itself forward.

“I would rather die as myself than be forced to change!” the human chick hissed, the shadows moving forward and starting to enclose us around the bubble of light Celestia was casting.

“Then you would never die. You were made immortal! Better to live eternally in happiness than trudge on in endless misery!”

“Better to live as what I made myself than live as a plaything of others!” The bubble of light around us began to shrink. I could barely see the naked form of Arachne taking a step toward us.

In response, Celestia took a step back. “You were turned into that spider!” Celestia said. “That wasn’t what you made yourself.”

“It was how I was comfortable! I had power, I had strength, I had servants, I had cruelty!”

“And now you have a future!” The shadows receded slightly. “Before, you lived as you were made, cursed into the body of a spider. Now, you are as you should be, once again deciding your own fate, how you shall live or what you shall be. You are powerful and can change any way you like. Would you so quickly slip back into your old ways, the ways that caused you to be cursed in the first place? Your future is your own, Arachne. Do not squander it as you squandered your past.”

Arachne narrowed her eyes. That was the only warning we had before Celestia’s bubble buckled and broke. The shadows consumed us… and we all appeared on the surface, blinking and looking around in confusion.

“Now would be an excellent time to leave,” Celestia said, lifting her wings.

“Agreed. Dash, grab Taya! Everyone, to the ship!” I spread my wings and jumped, the stone peace treaty still in my arms. They all obeyed, following me to the ship. There were no sign of spiders aside from the tower until we got to the ship, and then it was only the five I was still planning on kicking out. “Gourd, full fucking speed! Anywhere that isn’t here!”

“Negotiations go bad?” Watcher asked as the ship kicked in and started moving.

“Bad is a word for it. Full defense! Taya, get that amulet off.” She moved a shaking hoof to slowly force it off. I snatched it as soon as it was over her horn. “Watcher, make sure nothing gets through. Celestia, come with me. Taya, Twilight, help Watcher.” I wanted to make sure our ship was completely safe.

“So where are we going?” Celestia asked as we entered the bowels of the ship.

“To talk to Athena and ask if she knew Arachne was fucking batshit insane.”

“Nav, you don’t get to be my age—or their ages—without going slightly insane.”

“...Imagine how Discord feels,” I said, opening my door. She didn’t reply and I just popped the chest open, pulling out the ancient book and dropping in the amulet. I carried it over to the bed. “Stand next to me.”

“What’s going to happen?” she asked, moving to my side.

“I hope you like calamari,” I just answered, opening the book. We both got sucked inside by the freaky tentacles.

Before I could call for Athena, she appeared before me, the hand with the weird gauntlet thing on my lips. The other hand was on Celestia’s, gently silencing us both. “I take it that Arachne did not appreciate my gift?”

“She was less than enthusiastic,” I wryly said when she pulled away her hands.

Celestia gently bowed her head. “Hello, Athena. I am Princess Celestia.”

“I know. Did she try to kill you?”

“Not kill,” Celestia said, shaking her head. “That was a mind wipe, I believe.”

“Ah, I see.” We disappeared from that spot and reappeared down below, in the study. “Tell me, Celestia. Do you like bananas?”

“I’m partial to them.”

“I will add it to the notes,” Athena said, sitting and summoning a banana from somewhere. She peeled it open and started pecking at it.

“So uh… What’s the deal with Arachne?” I asked. “Is she gonna come after us?”

“I don’t know. She and her kind don’t use books that often, so I have very little information about the spiders or her. It’s a shame, truly. I know all about both of you, or at least what you would have been if you weren’t ripped from time.” That part was addressed to me, I think. “But about the one soul intertwined with mine, I know very little.”

“Well, let me give you a crash course,” I said. “She’s a fucking psycho bitch.”

“Then little has changed, at least. I suppose that time does not, in fact, change us all. Is she human again, at least?”

“Indeed she is,” Celestia said, nodding. “And none too pleased about it.”

“No, I wouldn’t imagine she would be.” When she said that, I really felt like reaching over there and slapping her upside the face. But then I remembered that she could turn me inside out with just a thought and decided against it. “Did you discover how she managed to survive this long?”

“Chaos,” I answered. “She made a deal with him.”

“Those deals do tend to go quite poorly,” she said, nodding. “At least, historically. Mordred lost his soul and his life just for a hint of revenge that didn’t even succeed. The air elementals gained a small amount of humor at the cost of being imprisoned alongside those they tricked. Miguel was healed at the cost of a favor that got him killed. Blueblood regained his looks at the cost of his sanity.”

“That explains much,” Celestia muttered, sighing.

“Moonbeam sold her humanity for the ability to have children.” Humanity? “And there was a monastery of monks and priests formed by Chaos to worship you, Celestia. They lived in secrecy, hidden away in old China, plotting to assassinate all other alicorns. He betrayed them, destroying them in the process. He’s been very active lately, causing all sorts of mischief.”

“Such as?” Celestia asked.

“Not all knowledge is free, child,” Athena said. “Answering your question would not help you beat Discord.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. “You never know what might be useful.”

“I’m quite positive.” Her head shot toward Celestia’s back and she was suddenly riding the horse. Celestia flinched and looked back, her eyes going wide as Athena traced one of the feathers. “You remind me of a mount I had so very long ago. Pegasus was his name, I believe. He wasn’t mine for very long, though. Oh, how time flies… And so did he, as I recall.”  Her hands gently corrected a few feathers before she appeared next to Celestia, patting her on the side. “The golems just dropped off more books. Leave me.”

The next thing we knew, we were standing back in front of the book that acted as the exit. Celestia’s eyes were very wide, which was a rather uncommon sight. I just smiled and cracked the book open, letting it consume us both again.

“She is… crazy,” Celestia said while I put up the book, her voice slightly haunted. “Absolutely insane and horrifyingly powerful.”

“Yeah, she sure is.” I closed the chest and sat on the bed. “So, how are things in Canterlot? Having fun with that political shitstorm I left you?”

“Are you dating that dragon?”

“Yep. Why?”

“Because I was going to use you to relieve some stress. A shame. Do you have any useful information to give me?”

“Depends on your definition of useful. I found out that my sword is an ancient human artifact called Excalibur that was actually designed by one of the last human mages to fight Discord, but I don’t know its full capabilities yet. I know that he purposefully tried to kill off true magic in the humans so he would have less problems oppressing the people.”

“That is… not very good news.”

“Yeah, I can imagine why you’d think that. Starswirl wasn’t very happy about helping you with that, was he?”

“He was not, no.”

“And I bet he wouldn’t have been very happy to learn that you had Luna ready to fucking deep six his ass, either.”

“...You are correct; he would not have been.”

“So how hard is this shit to learn, then? I found a primer and Athena offered to teach me more if I can get past it, but my faith is absolutely shot at this point.”

“It relies almost entirely upon faith, Nav. You must truly believe that you can do what you’re trying. Truly, it can’t be taught. Once you know how to do it, all that remains is doing it. Much information and anatomy needs to be known to actually make some of it work, which is why your internal organs are… fused as they are. Chrysalis and I… didn’t know how to put you back together while we were healing you. We made it work, though.”

“Yep. So what do you know about Discord, then?”

“He treats it all like a game, Nav. He doesn’t care about winning or losing, he just wants to play. I suppose he wants to find some way to relieve the boredom of such a long life.”

“Yeah, probably. Well, I’m perfectly willing to relieve him of that long life.”

“I know the elements of harmony were actually created by him, hidden away in the chamber in which you found your ring, the key, and the gender stones. All were created by him, I believe. He just gave them to us to even out the playing field, to make losing possible. After all, what’s the fun in just winning?”

“Well, at least he does that. Still sounds like a fucking dick.”

“Quite. I know you have never met him in person, but—”

“Dude, yes I have. He asked me about some dead guy named Grogar back in Stalingrad.”

“...Grogar? He disappeared centuries ago! No matter. Do you believe it might be possible to reform Discord? Surely his powers could be used for good rather than for ill.”

“Celestia, he wants to die. And honestly, I want to kill him. And I’m in good company with a lot of other people that want to kill him. I say we just pop a cap in this mofo and call it a day. Besides, that’s fucking retarded. Dude’s ancient, literally a manifestation of conflict. How the hell do you think you can reform something that by its very nature can’t be good?”

“Yes, I suppose it would be impossible. But it’s still a nice thought.”

“I’m not going to be thinking much in the way of nice thoughts for someone that murdered my people.”

“You are not alone, Nav. He killed the alicorns as well, save for me and my sister.”

“...Then why try to reform him?”

“So he could hopefully undo what he did and bring the alicorn race back.”

“Eh. You could just try asking nicely.” Or do what I’m going to do and just go back in time. But you don’t need to know about that yet.

“I could, but I have a feeling he would say no. Now, we need to have a short talk, I believe.”

“Short means quick, right? I got shit to do.”

“Hopefully, yes. Arachne was, as we found, a human. Was she typical of your kind?”

“Nah, that bitch had a bee in her bonnet or something. She really needed to get laid, I swear.”

“So you say. But do you remember what she said?”

“She said a lot of things. Most of them were fucking crazy.”

She smiled. “It’s good to hear you say that. Because much of what she said is exactly what you have said.”

“Yeah, but she’s evil. I’m closer to neutral. It’s all a matter of morality.”

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “To a good, there is white and then there is black.”

“Hey, only if you’re lawful. If you’re closer to—”

She shook her head. “Enough of this talk, Navarone. Do you not see that she is you in another hundred years? The bitterness and hate that consumes her can just as easily eat your soul as well. Or the loneliness and isolation of Athena could be your fate, instead. Do you not see it? See the similarities even now?”

“Not really, no. I mean, what am I looking for, here?”

Think, Nav. Remember our conversations, what we’ve spoken of. Remember when I offered to change you, to rip away your dark memories. Don’t you remember your words to me?”

I flinched slightly, recalling that dark time. “...I do. But that isn’t a thing of morals, Celestia, not black, white, or grey. That is the essence of the indomitable human will. Ask Athena and she would give you the same answer. Attempt to change who we are at your own peril, even if the change might make us happy. Stop thinking of me like I’m a pony. Think of me as a truly alien mind, one that you can get close to but never truly understand.”

“If I have learned anything in my long life, it is that saying ‘never’ is unwise. And don’t ever think that you aren’t worth it, Nav. I think what you’re saying is an excuse, something to make us not even try.” And here I was, thinking she had actually read my journals. “You’re more similar to us than you’d admit. Not the same, no, but not as different as you pretend.”

“Okay.”

That upset her a little, as I suspected it would. “Are you truly willing to risk going down their paths of misery and isolation? Navarone, I have been down that path. It is… haunting. Terrible. I was able to escape, but I wasn’t able to do it alone. Only through the love of my sister was I—”

“My sister is dead, Celestia. A million or more years gone. There are none as isolated as I am. This path is one I walk alone, unfettered by the morals and ideals of my people. I am who I am, not by the molding or changing of any family or loved ones.”

“Taya would disagree.”

“...I’m sure she would.”

“And I would disagree. You have friends, Nav. Friends that love you. And others that would love you in other ways. And your guest in your head, she is like a mother to you. You are not as alone as you pretend you are.” Or wish I was. “For your sake and for the sakes of those that love you, don’t take the same path as those that came before. The same path to which I fell victim. The same path from which Luna is still recovering. You saw what it did to their hearts.”

“And I see that you are just as depressed and lonely as your sister. You just hide it better.”

“As I said, I fell victim to it. But I am recovering, Nav. I found solace in you and in my student. Luna found solace in her own version of you, which is still a form of loneliness. You did not know me for long before, but I changed after spending time with you, Twilight, and Luna after her return. I’m much different than I was.”

Wonder if you were more devious before. “That’s nice, I guess. I’m probably not going to change, Celestia. I rather doubt Flo will let me turn evil or whatever. And you know my crew wouldn’t.”

“I’m not worried about what’ll happen any time soon, Nav. I’m worried about what will happen when you no longer have a purpose in life. What you will do when you’re like me, just living day to day. When your quest is done and there’s nothing left, you’ll be idle. That is when you will find who you truly are. And I’m very afraid that I already know what you’ll find.”

“That’s a road that I can cross when I come to it.”

“Indeed it is. But I’m trying to give you the opportunity to look both ways, so you won’t be blindsided when you do cross it. Talk to me, Nav. If not now, then later, through letters or dreams, if we have to. But please, let me help you however you need. Don’t ever hesitate to ask. I don’t want to lose you as Arachne lost herself.”

“...I’ll think about it.”

“I suppose that is all I can ask.” And probably about as much as you expected. We shared a small silence before she sighed and asked, “Did you learn anything else on your travels that I might need to know?”

“There are some ghosts that are fucking evil. Watch out for them.”

She nodded. “I will certainly do my best. But if there is nothing more pertaining to Discord, I believe I have some explaining to do for my element bearers.”

“Yeah, they’re pretty pissed. I do have one quick question before you bail, though. Is Luna coming for me?”

“No, Navarone. She’s in a place where she can’t harm any other innocents. You probably won’t see her for another hundred years or so.”

“That’s a hundred years too soon, if you ask me.”

“I will ask your opinion then. If you’re still upset, I might ask her to stay longer.”

“Bitchin’. You need anything else?”

She shook her head. “Not for now, Nav. We may talk more before I leave, if you’re willing. And… thank you for keeping me included. This is my fight as well, even if I can’t be as involved as I would like. It’s just a shame about Luna.”

“Eh. See you, sunbutt.”

“Stay in touch,” she said with a nod, walking on out and probably accidentally flashing her lady parts. Either way, I got a nice gander at them before leaning back for a few seconds, enjoying the silence.

When I was done with that, I grabbed the slab from its position on the bed and walked back out, up to the deck. “Gourd, put us on a course with the monkey kingdom,” I called.

“Already on the way, ma’am,” he called back.

“Excellent. Spike, I got something for you to do.”

“What do you need?” he asked, cutting off his conversation with Gilda.

“When we get there, find the vizier and drop this off. Tell him one of the conditions of the peace treaty was that I stayed behind. That might be easier than me going down there and escaping. This way, you can just say that you decided to go on with the mercenaries so you can fight to forget your lady love or some bullshit.”

“Doesn’t that seem… kinda cruel?”

“Spike, I don’t give two fucks. I’ve spent far too long on this continent. We should have been out of this place a week ago. Just drop the fucker off, get Brook, get anything else you need or want, and get out.”

“Uh… Okay, I guess.”

Gourd appeared at my side. “I couldn’t help but overhear. Sir, we could use them for supplies. We don’t need too much to top off our stores, but some extra fresh fruit would be nice for the crew. If they’re in a rewarding mood after the news about peace, they might be willing to let us get some things. And since I think someone might be pilfering supplies, it would be good to make sure we’re fully stocked.”

“Well, Spike’s going to be taking Watcher and a few pegasi anyway. I don’t see the harm in gathering some supplies. And take a few guards, find whoever’s stealing. If they have a good reason, tell them to knock that shit off. If they don’t, tell Watcher if it’s a guard and me if it’s not one of your six.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Anything in particular you want me to grab?” Spike asked me.

“Dude, as long as it’s not more travelers, I don’t give a fuck. Watcher, got a sec?”

“What do you need?” he asked, walking over.

“When we get to the monkey place, go with Spike, drop the thing off, grab the elemental and whatever supplies they’re willing to part with, and get back up here.”

“You got it, ma’am. What if they’re pissed about you not being there?”

“Tell them it was part of the deal or whatever, that I said peace for my subjects is more important than my own happiness. Just make up some super sappy bullshit. If I got them to believe I was a good queen, I’m sure you can figure something out.”

“Yes ma’am. Are you going to be handling the protection on the ship?”

“Nah. I think a long talk with Kumani is probably warranted. And then I want to hear Zecora talk without rhyming. I bet it’s adorable.”

“It’s definitely… different,” he said, shrugging. "Enjoy your talk, I suppose.”

“Oh, I think I will, if you know what I—” A rolled up newspaper came out of nowhere and slapped me across the face. “Good, you remembered. See you.”

They all said their goodbyes as I went over to Kumani. Before I could say anything to her, she grabbed me and started dragging me down below. “So it’s been a little while since we talked,” I said as she dragged me.

She didn’t reply.

“I’m sorry for not being able to talk sooner. Things have been busy and unfortunately, family comes first.”

Not a word.

“I’m… also sorry for letting you think I was dead?”

“I can smell Spike all over you.” Oh boy. She threw me into her room and followed me in, closing the door behind her.

I landed on the bed. “We were in close proximity the entire time, so that’s probably why.”

“I can smell him on your wings.”

“He carried me a few times. I got hurt and the monkeys refused to let me exert myself.”

“I smell him in your clothes.”

“He carried them for me a few times, too. Again, they didn’t let me exert myself.”

“I smell him in your breath. Did he carry your tongue, too?”

“...We had to pretend to be lovers.” At her glare, I held up my hands and hastily said, “It was either pretend with him or fuck a monkey!”

“Armor. Off.”

I began peeling out of it, my wings twitching. “I never let it go too far. We kissed a few times and we shared a bed, but nothing untoward!”

“I don’t know what that word means. Take it off faster.” My wings just drooped and I began pulling it off properly.

As soon as I got all of it off, I just stood before her, looking away, dressed solely in the admittedly sexy lingerie the monkeys made me. “Whoa. Where did… that come from?”

“The monkeys,” I said, still not looking at her.

She shrugged and pushed me back onto the bed. Before I could stop her or ask what she was doing, she pulled my legs open and thrust her face between them, sniffing viciously.

“I don’t smell him down here,” she finally said. I sighed in relief. “How fortunate for him. That is a kiss that only we can share. Though I would much prefer toying with something longer, harder, and more filling. Make sure to change back soon.”

I tried to answer, but it… didn’t work very well. I quickly learned why Kumani’s ‘punishments’ were a lot of fun.

When I was able to walk again, I first went to my room to change into something that wasn’t body armor and soiled lingerie. And since no one was waiting for me in my room and since Taya wasn’t in her room, I went up to the deck, where apparently a party was underway.

“What’s with all this?” I asked to myself, not expecting me to answer.

“Spike’s wing-tastic party!” Pinkie answered, popping up in front of me. “And both of your ‘We’re still alive and also a perfect couple but hiding behind our friendship and feelings’ party!”

“Pinkie, you are not the love doctor.”

“Yeah, I know. Now come party!”

“...Nah. I think I’m gonna go find Cele—” Pinkie pointed to the deck, where Celestia was standing with Spike. “Oh. Then nah, I think I’m gonna go find Ta—” She pointed somewhere else, where Taya was standing with Zecora. “Dammit. Nah, I think I’m gonna—” She somehow grabbed my arm and pulled me into the small group of ponies that actually showed up for the ‘party’.

“It’s your party too, Nav,” she said, practically throwing me at Spike. “So have fun!”

“What’s with her?” Spike asked, catching me and making sure I didn’t fall off the fucking side.

“Bitch is crazy,” I said, pulling away from him. “You two having fun, at least?”

“It is better than sitting in the palace dealing with nobles,” Celestia answered. “Though it doesn’t seem that much of your crew is interested in partying.”

“Yeah… most of my crew is ex-guard or ex-slave, so they don’t really do parties. Doppel usually hosts impromptu orgies whenever Pinkie hosts one of these, so the soldiers can blow off steam until it’s safe to go back on deck.”

“...Why don’t I get invited?” Spike asked.

“Because I made that up,” I said. “She’s right over there, hitting on Dash.” I nodded to our side, where a very red-faced Rainbow Dash was backing away from a hungry-looking Doppel. “Celestia, you want to kill some stress, feel free to borrow her for a few minutes.”

“I’ll pass, thank you. If I wanted somepony as loose as she is, I have a standing offer from Fleur.”

“Hey, Doppel can give herself a dick. And if you’re worried about sleeping with a slut, I think you need to remember all of your nights with me.” And that got Spike to blush.

“Nav, you enjoy sex. That’s understandable. Doppel and Fleur are insatiable. That’s disgusting.”

“Eh, if you say so. Anyway, what do you think of Spike’s wings?”

She reached a hoof out to gently pull one of them open. “They definitely fit you, Spike. I had a feeling you would grow in many ways on this trip. I expected there would be more mental growth than physical, but I’m still very proud of you.”

Spike sheepishly grinned and looked away. “I couldn’t have done it without Nav, Princess. You should be thanking her as much as me.”

“...Her.” Celestia looked back over at me. “I was really wondering about that, Nav. Why are you like this, again?”

I pointed up to where the spiders were standing upside down on the balloon, watching the party with either confusion or disinterest. “They have almost no respect for any male. At all. I had the gender stones and I needed to deal with them, so now I’m a chick. As soon as we drop those fuckers off and get off the continent, it’ll be back to normal with me. And it won’t be soon enough, either. I swear, I keep getting these weird… urges.” My eyes flinched to Spike for a short moment before I shivered.

“Ah, I see. That’s certainly understandable. Just remember that all the items Discord made are cursed. We may not know just what the curse is, but try not to rely on them too much.”

“Once I turn back, I’ll stay back for a good while. Being a female human sucks, especially once they start bleeding from their vag.”

They both blinked a few times. “Wait, what?” Spike asked.

“Not important. I’ll be turning back soon. Anyway, you’re the one that got you those wings, Spike. You really don’t need to thank me for them.”

“Nav… without you, I wouldn’t be here. I might not even be alive, with my diet. I wouldn’t know anything about dragons, I wouldn’t have so many awesome friends, I wouldn’t have had any adventures…” He wrapped his scaley arms around me without warning, pulling me into a hug. Then his wings joined his arms. “Thank you,” he quietly whispered.

I really didn’t quite know what to do in that situation. My body felt… awkward as fuck and a blush came to my face. Truth be told, I wanted to push him away, but I don’t think that would have been a good idea. After all, he had the ponies’ mentality, and might be somewhat upset if I denied a hug like that.

So I just silently hugged him back, feeling awkward. It was pretty much like every hug I didn’t initiate, really. Then he said, “Nav, I lo—”

“Monkeys, ho!” someone shouted over whatever Spike said. I pushed Spike back and looked ahead.

“Yeah, we’re right about there,” I said. “Stop the ship!” We started quickly slowing down. “Spike, you still got the treaty?”

“I let Watcher hold it,” he said, not looking at me and blushing slightly.

“Well, go get him and it. You know the way around the castle, so you’re leading them. And I’m going below, so none of those monkeys see me.”

“What if they’re… I don’t know, really depressed that you’re not there?”

“Then they’ll be really depressed I’m not there. I ain’t no fucking queen. Hell, ask Celestia. She knows how terrible of a ruler I’d be.”

Spike and I looked at her. She nodded. “You’re good at leading, but I doubt you’d be a good ruler. You lack the patience. I’m surprised you were able to put up with being a queen for any length of time.”

“Damn right. Tell them I abdicated or whatever. Tell the vizier to figure something out. And then get Brook here.”

“Uh… How? Can she be teleported?”

“I dunno. Take a few pegasi, put her ass in a bathtub, and fly her here. You’re smart. I don’t fucking care how you do it, just figure something out.”

He shrugged and said, “Alright.”

“Celestia, you want to go with them? Talk to the vizier, get a treaty or something? Or better, offer them a place in your kingdom so the spiders can’t murder the shit out of them?”

“...I think I will do that, if you don’t mind. At the very least, I will offer to help them migrate somewhere less hostile.”

I shrugged. “Do whatever. I wasn’t lying when I said I don’t care. I’m wiping my hands of the monkeys. As long as you don’t kill them all, do whatever the fuck you want.”

“See, now that is why you’d make a bad ruler,” Celestia said, nodding.

“Eh, whatevs. I’m heading below, if you need me.”

“Then I will see you later,” Celestia said with a nod.

“And you said I can grab whatever I want?” Spike asked.

“Go for it. As long as they don’t try to stop you, might as well grab a souvenir.”

“Cool.”

Since that was taken care of and I no longer considered it my problem, I started heading down. Zecora waylaid me before I could get to the door heading below. “Navarone,” she slowly said, almost tasting the word and the lack of rhymes.

“Zecora,” I answered with a nod. “Enjoying your newfound freedom?”

“Indeed I am, my human friend. It is nice, not having my speech dictated by a curse. I can say the word orange without having my stomach convulse.”

“Did you lose all your awesome yet creepy voodoo powers, too?”

“Why would I have lost those? I earned each and every one of them over many hard years. They are why I was cursed, but I could never turn my back on them, for they made me what I am, for good or ill.”

“I know that feeling…” I sighed. “Just be careful saying that around Celestia.”

“If you are content in what you are, there is no harm in saying such a thing.”

I shrugged, a motion that seemed to be growing even more common with me. “Whatever. So what’s next for you?”

“As I believe I have said, I request that we take a stop in my hometown. If such a thing is not possible, I will manage it myself when our quest is at an end.”

“If we’re ever in the area, let me know. Hopefully we’ll have a time for a nice little stop.”

“I fear one of those words will not apply. But our host is glaring at us, so I shall return to the party. We might talk more later, Nav.”

“Sure thing. See you, Zecora.” And then I was able to continue my walk into the darkness, with the addition of Taya. Although it wasn’t really that dark on the way to my room, but for the sake of being dramatic, I could pretend.

“Why aren’t you going with them, mommy?” Taya asked when we got to my room.

“You don’t have to call me mommy in private, you know,” I said, sitting down on the bed. She hopped up next to me, resting her head against my side.

“I know, but it’s funny watching you flinch again, like you used to do when I first started calling you daddy. And saying mommy just… feels better, I guess.”

“Weird. Anyway, the monkeys are fucking crazy and they might try to make their ‘queen’ stay if they saw me again. This way, I don’t have to worry about getting locked up and caked in makeup every day.” And getting Spike’s massages whenever I want. Or really nice food. Or living an easy life. Or making almost no hard decisions. Or never having to worry about fighting.

“...Before you turn back, can I see you like that? Just once?”

“Nah. I never want to put that shit on my face again. But I would love to put it on you. Oh, I bet you’d be so adorable!”

“No!”

I looked over to the bag that Spike brought from the monkeys. Apparently he stored it in my room. I dragged it over and started rummaging around in it. I quickly found two plain dresses, one white and one black, and one fancy dress. And of course, several sets of lingerie, most of which were wildly inappropriate. I could only assume they expected me to put on some kind of strip tease for Spike the whole way there. Buried under all of that was a makeup kit and two pairs of heels. I pulled the kit out with a dark grin, looking over at Taya.

“It’s makeover time!”

“No, mommy, no!”

I shrugged and dropped the kit back in the bag. “Fine. But I know your weakness, now. I’m not above exploiting it.” Especially if it would be extra funny. “So, what were you up to while I was with the monkeys?”

“Crying, mostly,” she answered with a shrug. “Losing everyone you care about seems to make that happen.”

“Yeah, it does. So what do you want to do now?”

“Hug you forever?”

“Well, forever might as well start now.” Before I could prepare myself, she threw me on my back and latched onto me, holding on tight. I hugged her back, a smile on my face. And since hugs are boring and I’m a bad person that can’t enjoy simple things, I decided to check on Flo. You feeling better?

“Considerably,” Flo answered. “I’m still… aching, but most of the damage is gone. I have a strange question, one that you might be qualified to answer.”

I’m listening.

“Is wanting revenge… wrong? She truly hurt me and she was very ready to hurt either you or Spike if you didn’t fall into line. I want to make her pay. Is that bad?”

Fuck no it’s not. That bitch is crazy and needs to be reminded that while she may have acted as a god, she wasn’t one. Maybe we can get the other elementals to help us do things to her.

“Nav, most of them will probably be just as bad, if not worse. Remember, they’ve been hiding away in the oceans for just as long as Brook was on the surface. There’s no telling what might be down there and how they may behave. If even Aqua was as dark as she was, I fear this quest may be more perilous than we thought, and not just from what monsters we may find. The elementals may be worse enemies than even these spiders, for at least we had the option of killing the spiders.”

There’s always the option of killing the elementals. I mean, it’s a bad option that we shouldn’t take, but it’s there.

“I can’t imagine that would be beneficial to our long-term health, Nav,” she said. “We want to beat chaos. To do that, we need to free all the elementals. To do that, we need all the waters. Apparently there is a fire that’s already free, but he alone wouldn’t be enough to do much.”

Everyone keeps saying that this earth elemental actually had a plan to stop chaos. Why not just find him instead? If he’s free, we can bypass the rest.

“Because we don’t know if he’s free or where he is. It would take Aerie to find him, and she wants us to free the fires first. So it will have to wait.”

God, what a bitch.

“Such is their way. And she might well want revenge against the earths anyway, for it was their plan to lock the airs away.”

Well, whatever. It’s not like those three will be all too hard to find, I’m sure. After flying all over the fucking place to get the waters, I’m sure those three can’t be too bad.

I need to learn not to invoke Murphy’s Laws, I swear.

About half an hour or so later, spent mostly shooting the shit with Flo while pretending to be a good father and/or mother, someone knocked upon my door. “Come on in,” I called, not moving Taya since I think she had fallen asleep.

Rarity let herself in, then smiled at the adorable display before her or whatever. “Nav, why do you always manage to surprise me with things like this?”

“Because you always expect the worst from me,” I quietly answered. “What do you need?”

“Spike and the others are back. Well, except for the princess. Apparently she stayed behind to talk with the monkeys. They brought a water… elemental, is it? They brought a water elemental back.”

“Good. So why are you telling me?”

“Well, the captain wanted to know our next course. And I believe Spike wanted to speak with you, not that he told me.”

“Ah. Can you gently move her?” Rarity used magic to pick Taya up, since it would be more gentle than hands probably ever could be, and set her next to me. I threw the blanket over her and stood, walking to the door. Rarity let me out and I shut the door.

“So, what was this I hear from Pinkie about you and Spike admitting your feelings for one another?” Rarity asked, a blush coming to her face.

“A lie, that’s what. Spike and I are just friends. We had to pretend to be lovers with the monkeys, but nothing came from it.”

“Ah. Then I suppose I will need to have a talk with her about things that she wants to be true versus things that actually are true. Now what about what I heard from Twilight about you wearing a beautiful dress and makeup? And… lingerie?”

“I was a queen, Rarity. Queens do that shit. Not willingly, mind, but the water elemental was threatening to murder Spike if I didn’t play nice. I figured it was prudent.”

“...I see. Tell me, how does one go about bringing a water elemental pain?”

I was about to tell her not to, but Flo said, “By reminding her what a bitch she’s been.” She used my mouth to say it, of course.

Rarity nodded, a small smile on her face. “I think I’m going to go have a talk with this elemental. I will see you later, Nav.” Before I could tell her not to, she trotted off, her tail wagging enough that I knew she was thinking happy thoughts. That was enough for me to decide that nothing bad could probably come of it.

Since I needed to talk to the captain, I walked up to the deck. “Gourd?”

He wasn’t on the main deck, but he answered from the helm, “Aye?”

“Set course for the Pacific. It’s about time we were done here.”

“Aye aye. Any stops along the way?”

“We’ll stop before the beach to let the spiders off. Nothing else, though. And if you don’t mind, take us high. No reason to risk getting attacked now that there’s no reason to be low.”

“With pleasure.” He started talking to the helmsman, so I turned my attention to the deck. On it was the bathtub from my old room at the palace, a few crewmembers, the spiders, a few soldiers, no elemental, some of the girls, and Spike.

“How did it go?” I asked, walking up to them.

“Pretty good,” he answered. “They uh… they weren’t that happy you stayed behind. I think some of them actually started crying. The vizier declared a week of mourning or something. I’m kinda glad we got out of there when we did. What do you want to do with this bathtub?”

“Ask around, see if anyone wants it. If not, we’ll just kick the fucker over the side or something. Maybe see if we can crush something with it. I don’t think it’ll fit into any of the bathrooms here.”

“Yeah, probably not.” He shrugged and reached down, where he had a bag I didn’t notice. “I brought you a present, too.”

“...What kind of present?” I asked as he opened the bag and rifled inside.

He just grinned darkly and pulled out that large green dress, the one I learned to absolutely despise. My eyes narrowed as he held it up, lifting where his eyebrows should have been up and down. “What do you think?” he asked when I was suitably pissed. I reached up to slap him across the face, but stopped when I saw him pull something else out. When I realized what it was, a matching grin lit up my face. He saw it and blew some fire onto the torch. “Would you like to do the honors?” he asked, offering me the handle.

“It would be my pleasure,” I said with a mock curtsy, taking the torch in my hands. “Hold it up high, now.” He lifted the dress higher and I put the torch to the bottom, my smile deepening as the dress caught and started going up in flames. “To an end of that ugly business,” I said, casually tossing the torch off the side.

“Don’t know about ugly,” Spike said, holding the dress away as it started really going up. “But it’s nice to be back with friends. It was pretty fun, though…”

“You just liked seeing me suffer.”

“Oh come on. You were cute in those dresses.”

“Ugh. Watcher, anything to report?”

“No ma’am. It’ll probably take us all night or longer to get to the Pacific. Any orders?”

“Gourd says there’s someone sneaking supplies. If you can, find whoever’s doing it. If it’s a guard, you deal with it. A crewmember, tell Gourd. Someone else, tell me.”

“He’s already spoken to me about it. It’s not been much missing, but we’ll find whoever it is.”

“Excellent. If I gotta share a boat with everyone here, I want to make sure everyone knows stealing is a stupid idea when we aren’t on rations. It’s not that fucking hard to log whatever you take.”

“I’ll make sure to remind everyone that’s all they need to do. And it may be the spiders. We… don’t really know what they eat. Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen any of them eat.”

I slowly looked up, to where they were just watching us all passively. “Hey spiders!” They all looked at me. “You guys been in the supply room?”

One of them answered, “No.”

“Alright, thanks.” I looked back down at Watcher. “Fuckers creep me out. Think we should take them with us?”

“They would be useful, but they wouldn’t be worth it. They have to eat something, and spiders are purely carnivorous. Between the naga and the dragons, we go through meat quickly enough. We don’t need to add five spiders that may or may not be loyal to the mix.”

“My thoughts exactly. Celestia did say to leave her behind, right?” Given that we were already moving, I was certainly hoping so.

“...She didn’t say not to.”

“Well, she’s a big princess. I’m sure she can take care of herself. Anyway, if there’s nothing to report, I’m going to bed. It’s been a long fucking day.”

“Just one small thing. Jak is making headway. That’s all he told me to tell you.”

“...Do you know what he meant by that?”

“No clue.”

I sighed and shrugged. “The sun’ll be up for another half hour anyway. Might as well see what’s going on with him. See you, Watcher.”

“Ma’am.” I walked on below, heading to Jak’s ‘special’ workshop. The halls weren’t overly crowded, thankfully. Not that they ever really were, but eh. When I got to his workshop, I let myself inside. Smiles was sleeping on his hooves, using the anvil and a piece of armor as a pillow. Jak was in his own room, the part away from the smithy. I skirted widely around Smiles so he didn’t try to snatch me as a cuddle buddy again and knocked on Jak’s door.

“Yeah?” he grunted, not opening it.

“How’s your golem coming?” I called.

He opened the door, squinting at the light difference. “I got the head do—Oi!” He reached behind him and grabbed a screwdriver, throwing it at Smiles. The pony jumped up, looking both ways quickly. “If you’re gonna sleep, sleep on a bed! Don’t need you slobberin’ all over everythin’!”

“Er, y-yes sir!” Smiles sleepily said, jerking to attention and then saluting. He started hobbling off.

“Lazy git,” Jak muttered. “Got the head of the golem done. Wasn’t that hard once I realized one of the words on the sample you brought me said paper. When I replaced that with the one for steel, it started going a lot smoother. Just gotta make the body and limbs, now.”

“How long you think that’ll take?”

“Dunno. Went through a lot of metal just making this. I’m gonna have to start building it on the deck, too. Otherwise it would be stuck in here unless we felt like breaking a few walls down.”

“That would be… inconvenient.”

“Aye. I don’t suppose you happened to find any metal on your little escapades, did you?”

I started to tell him no, but then I remembered the bathtub. It looked like it had been made out of some kind of metal, something that was extremely precious to the monkeys. “There’s a bathtub on deck. It might be made of metal. You’re free to do whatever you want with it. But if it’s not metal, let me know so Spike and I can push it off the deck on something.”

“Aye, sounds easy enough. You know what kind of metal?”

“No clue. It might not even be metal. I’m not a metallurgist.”

“Well, we can’t all be perfect,” he said, patting me on the head. “I’ll go check it out, see what we got.”

“Have fun with that. I’m going to bed.”

“Then sweet dreams, lass.” He closed his door and I shrugged, walking back to my room. Taya was still in my bed, snuggled up properly in the blankets. I got over the mini heart attack, then started getting ready for bed. It felt strange to be sleeping naked again after a week or so in what I had been wearing, but I really didn’t want to put on panties again if I could help it.

When I was ready, I just pulled open the blankets and plopped down next to my daughter. Before I passed out, Flo said, “You are a really weird parent.”

What? If I was a guy, I would put on clothes. It’s not weird if we’re both chicks!

“Right. Sure. If you wake up with her accidentally touching you inappropriately, you have only yourself to blame.”

Noted.

And then I fell asleep. As awesome as that large monkey bed was, it was nice to sleep in my own bed again. And without a large lizard accidentally cuddling against me every night and poking his dick into my back. It was worse when he’d wake me up by kissing me since there were monkeys in the room, but that’s not really important.

The next day, we were well on our way to the ocean. It was definitely nice to be finally leaving South America behind, because the entire place fucking sucked. Unfortunately, I had to speak with Brook before we actually hit the ocean. Not so unfortunately, I had two dragons and Taya at my back, ready to evaporate that bitch if she tried anything.

“We’re going to the Pacific,” I said, standing relatively far away from her. We were in the cargo hold, of course.

“I know. I can feel my sisters getting closer.”

“Cool. Do you know if they’re all together?”

“All four are in close proximity, yes. For the first time in ages, it seems the elementals are convening.”

“That’s kinda the point, yeah. I don’t suppose you read all my memories while you were violating me, did you?”

“Flo protected your mind. I did get all of Spike’s, though. Every thought, every emotion and feeling… It reminded me why I dislike fires. Too passionate and quick to act, once you get past all his pony training.”

“Better than being a mind-raping bitch that tries to kill people when she doesn’t get her way,” I said, crossing my arms. She didn’t reply. “Long story short, we’re freeing the elementals to stop chaos. All the elementals, not just the waters.”

“You are stupid.”

“And you’re a narrow-minded racist. But I don’t care, because you’re useful. And I may be stupid, but remember who convinced you to leave.”

“Two water elementals and an air,” she said.

“Flo didn’t say a word. Don’t expect to make a host out of anyone in my crew.” I turned away from her and started walking out. “Let’s go.” The two dragons and Taya followed me.

“She’s kind of a bitch,” Kumani whispered loudly enough for Brook to hear as we walked.

I didn’t reply.

We got to the ocean before the day was half over. “Do you have any words for our mistress?” one of the spiders asked as our ship lowered to let them off.

“Nope. I would say that it was a pleasure, but she’s kind of a bitch. So just report back to her, I guess.”

“Yes, mistress,” the spider chick said, bowing slightly. Then all five of them scuttled off to the side and shot webs toward the trees. When the hot white loads connected, the spiders started pulling themselves down. When they finished, they cut the lines, leaving us with long threads hanging off the side of the boat.

Before I could order them to be cut off, Rarity started pulling one of them up. “As useful as they were, it’s nice to see them leave,” she sighed as the thread came up. “And it’ll be even better when I can start making proper clothing from these threads…”

“Have fun with that,” I said, turning from her. “Twilight, get the helmsman set up on the proper course.”

“Easy enough,” she said, nodding. Then she lazily teleported up to the helm area.

“Gourd, get that flag down and replace it with our own. Throw that one in storage, in case we ever need it again.”

“Aye, ma’am.”

“Spiders are gone,” I said, walking to the stairs going down. “It’s sir again.”

“Happy to hear. We’re running into too many mares in power.”

“Amen to that.” I hummed a happy little song as I walked back down to my room, ready to finally be out of the body that wasn’t my own. When I got to the room, I dropped the sword belt and reached for my chest, popping it open. Out came the gender stone bag. I dumped its contents on my bed.

My blood froze. My eyes widened. My mouth dropped.

On my bed were two stones. My gender stones.

They were grey.

I let out a nervous laugh, poking them. Nothing happened. I picked one of them up and rubbed it, thinking the grey might have just been dust. It stayed grey. One of my eyes twitched.

The next thing I remembered was standing in front of Twilight. “The stones are grey!” I hissed at her, holding her face with both of my hands and shaking her.

“W-what? You’re hurting me!” She used magic to push me back. “What’s wrong?”

“The gender stones are broken!” That got the attention of everyone on deck, I think.

“What do you mean, broken?” she asked.

I held up the hand where they were apparently clutched, though I didn’t remember grabbing them. “They’re grey!”

“...Oh. Oh my. Um. Did you try… cleaning them?”

Yes!” She blinked a few times, looking scared. Then I remembered something. “You can fix this. Cadance said you swapped the genders of half the palace. You can turn me back!”

She looked away. “We… don’t talk about that, Nav. Most… most of them weren’t married. And their memories changed, too, matching their new bodies. The princess told me most of them are happy with their new life, but—” I was already turning away, running back below. She hurried to follow me, maybe thinking I was going to hurt myself or something.

As soon as I got to my room, I ran to the chest and pulled out Athena’s book. By the time I got it open, Twilight was next to me. We both got sucked in. “Athena!” I yelled, looking around wildly. She appeared right in front of me. I went to grab her, but my hands froze before they could touch her. Then I started to say something, but one of her hands was at my mouth, grabbing my lips.

“Yes, Navarone?” she asked, not letting me go.

I held up the broken gender stones, panic and horror in my eyes.

“Hm. That sucks for you. Goodbye, Nav.” She turned and opened the book, sending me and Twilight back out. Before Twilight could even say anything, I opened it again, reappearing in Athena’s domain.

“Fix it!” I shouted. She had already disappeared, but she reappeared again.

“I can’t. Your biology is so broken that changing your gender without those stones is suicidally impossible. It would kill you.”

“Then fix the stones!”

“Discord made those, Navarone. Even looking at them hurts me. Fixing them would be impossible.” She gently patted me on the head before holding out a hand. A book appeared in it, a book that she passed to me. My hands numbly grasped it, my mind unable to do anything else. “Have one on the house. I hope you enjoy dresses.” Then she opened her portal book again, sending me and Twilight back to the real world.

I fell to my knees, completely stunned. “No…”

Twilight slowly hugged me. “Nav, we’ll… we’ll help you adjust. It’s not so bad, really! It’s definitely not the end of the world.” I shot my hand out to the side, where my sword belt was, and grabbed a dagger from it.

Before I could slam it into my chest, Flo stopped me. “I will also help you adjust, Nav,” she said. The knife clattered to the floor as I lost control of my arm. “Your entire crew will.”

I pushed Twilight away and stood, slamming my door open. Before I could get to the top and throw myself over the edge, I saw something that absolutely should not have been on the ship: A spider.

Each of his eight eyes widened as he realized that he had been caught, and he tried skittering away. He didn’t stand a chance. I grabbed the orphan I recognized from the area around the temple and started dragging him to the deck.

“I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me, please!” he was shouting. I didn’t reply. “The guards are so mean and would have killed me. I didn’t have a choice!” I didn’t care. If I was going to kill myself, I was going to take an abomination with me.

The two of us made quite a commotion. Me, by slamming a door, and him, by screaming his bloody head off. So when we got to the deck, we had quite a crowd around us. “Well, that explains why we were missing supplies,” Gourd said as I dragged the spider to the side.

I spread my wings and stood on the ledge, holding the spider up over the side by his neck. “Please, mistress! Please! I’ll do anything! Please you any way you want! Be a perfect slave! Don’t drop me!”

My eyes narrowed and my grip loosened. His legs started curling around my arm and he held on in terror. We were well above the ocean, high enough that a fall would surely kill him. And far enough from land that even if it didn’t, he probably wouldn’t survive.

Before I could drop him, Flo said, “Nav, I will not stop you from doing this. But this is an act done in anger. What’s the difference between him and Taya? Both abandoned in dangerous cities. Both at risk of becoming a slave. Both abused. Truly, what’s the difference?” My eyes widened slightly, but then I found my answer.

Taya isn’t a monster that was specifically bred to be evil!

“Arachne said that most of her offspring would be evil. Surely there are some that can be good.”

Should we take the risk that this is one of them?

“Should you take the risk that he’s not? Navarone, you are about to murder a child. And don’t think for a moment that you will follow him, because I will not allow it. If you drop him, his death will stain your soul for the rest of your very long life. I won’t stop you from doing this, but you shouldn’t.”

The spider was just whispering, “Please,” over and over again, shaking in my grasp as he held on for his life.

My eyes narrowed once again. But before I could let him go and shake him off, Kat shouted from behind me, “NO!” She jumped over the ground and ran up to me, grabbing one of my legs. “I’ll take responsibility for him, Nav! I swear it! But don’t kill him!”

I slowly looked away from the spider, down to Kat. She actually looked scared, horrified over what I was about to do. Then I looked behind her, to the crew. Most of them didn’t really seem to give a fuck, but Twilight and her five friends looked scared. Taya’s eyes were wide. Spike was shaking his head, his eyes pleading with me.

My wings sagged and I stepped back onto the deck, then threw the spider onto the deck. “Kat, you take care of him. You have one week to prove that he’s both not evil and won’t be a burden. If he so much as looks at someone hungrily, I’m throwing him over the fucking side. You hear me?”

She hastily nodded, running over and clutching the spider against her chest. “I’ll make sure he behaves,” she hastily said.

I looked back to the crew. “The fuck y’all lookin’ at?” All the redshirts shrugged and went off to do whatever they were supposed to be doing.

Everyone else walked up to me. “Nav—”

“Shut up.” I started walking to the door leading down. “Just leave me alone.” I think some of them probably wanted to follow me to do the opposite of what I said, but the others stopped them.

When I got below and locked my door in Taya’s face, I slid the ring on and just pressed my head against the wall, wondering just what the hell I was going to do.

After a few minutes, Flo said, “I know this is a bad time, Nav, but… your period’s about to start.”

I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Celestia could have heard my scream of primal rage. Sadly, Flo stopped me before I could break anything and made me just fall into the bed instead. Before I could squeeze my eyes shut, they focused on the book Athena gave me, dropped to the floor in my blind rage. Your Changing Body and You: Welcome to Womanhood!

I tried to kill myself again, but Flo slapped me across the face and forced me to read the book instead.

And so it was that the first of three curses came to pass. In the horror of being forced into a body that I despised, I never once considered what horrible fates might be forced upon me with the other two items.

After all, if something has a good use, it’s easy to forget that in time, it will betray you.

 
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