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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161. Chapter One Hundred and Thirty-Four Part 2

“Agreed.” I went and sat back on the bed. “What’s last?”

“Take off the collar.” My hands went back to the clasp and this time successfully removed it. “Excellent! I really didn’t know if that one would work or not.”

“Looks like it did,” I said, holding up the necklace. “So who all can give the person wearing this orders?”

“Just me, but I could likely tune it so that anyone could. Or someone else. I really don’t think the world needs magic items like that, though.”

“I agree. I also don’t think these really need to exist, but I have a feeling you aren’t going to start abusing them.”

“Nope. I was thinking about using them for… well, writing our book together, but then I remembered a few of our conversations about the balance of power during things like that. I don’t want to hurt you or risk making you do something you aren’t willing to do, so I’ll probably just put these away.”

“Wise.” I reached over and hung it on her horn. She rolled her eyes and teleported it away. “So what happens if you put it on and try to give yourself orders?”

She lifted a hoof to explain, then froze. After a few seconds, she lowered her hoof and her horn lit back up to teleport the thing to us again. She fitted it around her neck and said, “Sit.” She immediately sat down. “Huh.”

“What if the person wearing it is asleep and you start giving orders?”

“That is… another really good question.”

“And would it work on something naturally magically resistant, like a dragon?”

She nodded. “It would work, but I believe he would be able to try to fight it.” Her horn lit up again and the light moved to the clasp of the necklace. She fiddled with it for a few seconds before furrowing her brow, then grinning. “Take off the necklace.” Just like that, her magic worked and it popped off. “I’m not too worried about testing it on Spike or someone that’s sleeping.”

“Understandable. So now what?”

“Well, I read through a good chunk of the necromancy book yesterday. I’d like to talk to Watcher and get a unicorn assigned to me so I can begin running magical tests today. In a few hours, I’ll take a break and then we can talk to Rarity and Rainbow Dash. Then I’ll go back to necromancy and when I get done for the day, we can start working on the book, then end up in the dream world to test the lockdown function.”

“Works for me. We’ll probably end up in Africa later today, so you won’t be able to do too much magic soon. Just remember that.”

“What about dream things?”

“Pretty sure we can do that. I don’t think it counts as magic.”

She nodded. “Then at night, I can work on dreams. In the day, I can try to run tests and maybe see why magic doesn’t work as well in Africa. You’ll probably need to keep watch on the deck, since we’re going to be so low.”

“Yep. Oh, and unfortunately, I also have to deal with Spider some. But that shouldn’t get in our way much. Kat’s just being a bitch about it, so I need to spend some time with him.”

Twilight smiled. “That’s good, Nav. You may not think it, but he needs support from all of us. Especially you.”

I don’t think it, I know it. I just don’t want to. “Sure I guess. And don’t forget to eat.”

“Of course.” She teleported the necklace away and then moved forward to hug me, rubbing her warm and furry body across my naked one. “Thanks for helping me with the dream magic, Nav. It means a lot.”

I hugged her back, so I could feel more of her around me. “No problem, Twiley. I reckon it’s the least I can do, given how long you put up with me back in the day.”

“Some days were easier than others.” She finally pulled back and poked me on the nose. “But it was worth it. I’ll see you in a little while, Navi.” She teleported away before I could tell her to go fuck herself.

Since she was gone, I fell back into bed. “So you actually can teach, right? I don’t want that spider showing up and then just sitting around for an hour or two.”

“I can. I already have a lesson plan in mind, too. With his extra legs, things will be interesting.”

“Extra legs but no fingers. I imagine that’s a worse handicap.”

“Perhaps. We shall see. If I had a guitar, though, I would prefer to teach him that.”

“Well, we don’t. I’m gonna go take a shower and then poke Taya a few times. I didn’t see her at all yesterday, which is probably unhealthy since she’s my daughter and lives literally next door to me.”

“Probably. But a shower will be unnecessary.”

“Why? I may not have done anything yesterday, but it’s still healthy.”

“This is why.” She slid under my door and then assaulted me with her body, probably cleaning everything that might have been dirty and making me feel pretty uncomfortable, given that she was completely form-fitting. “And now you’re cleaner than you’ve ever been. Well, aside from the last few times I did this.”

“...And yet I still feel so, so dirty. And why are you still around me?”

“Because you know you like it.”

I started liking it a second later when someone opened my door without knocking. That someone turned out to be Spike, who immediately blushed when he saw Flo clinging tightly to my body in a way that did pretty much nothing to hide what was underneath.

Because he had absolutely no right to complain about anything he might see when barging in unannounced, I didn’t bother covering up to stop disturbing him. “I assume there’s a reason you just let yourself in?” I asked.

He took his eyes away from my wet body and gulped. “Y-yes… I thought you were… feeling bad. Twilight said you were awake, so I figured I’d check on you.”

“I’m feeling a lot better, thankfully. Flo’s just trying to prove she’s useful by being a shittier version of a bath.” She immediately shoved a thick wad of water exactly where I didn’t want one while talking to Spike, stopping me from telling him to bugger off and making me blush.

“That’s good. What was wrong?”

“I was… infected by something,” I said, trying to stop from shaking. I knew Flo would start vibrating if I didn’t behave, so I just said, “Zecora helped me.”

“It wasn’t contagious, was it?”

“Nah. That’s why the elementals were checking everyone yesterday.”

“...They didn’t check me.”

“You also incinerated Brook. They probably weren’t in a hurry to risk the same fate. Anyway, I’m kinda completely naked right now and you’re leaving my door open for anyone walking by, so…”

He did the exact opposite of what I wanted and walked further in, then closed the door behind him. “Sorry about that. So I heard we’re gonna be hitting Africa some time tonight. You want to get some practice in? You know, just in case?”

“That… actually wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s been a while since I had any practice and shit might go south quickly when we get there. Now that said, I do have another point for you to consider: Magic’s messed up in that place, so we’ll be the only two ranged fighters, aside from anyone we put on the ballistas. We’d be better off doing combat shooting drills than we would practicing with swords.”

“...Huh. You’re right, actually.”

“And for that matter, you can breathe fire. So we might be even more better off letting someone else use your crossbow while you torch any motherfuckers that try to board. That way we’ll have three people with some kind of ranged capability, even if yours is only relatively short.”

“Yeah, that’s really smart. But who else would know how to use a crossbow? The naga, maybe?”

“He has one of his own, but he doesn’t use it for combat. I was thinking Kat. She’s small enough and she’s expressed interest in getting one for herself. Teaching her would be smart.”

“What about Gilda, too? She has talons.”

“Not built right and I don’t think she has the patience for shooting. I’m pretty much relegating her to tearing things apart and flying fast. Jak’s gonna be either busy with his golem or on a ballista. Doppel might be able to turn into something, or her changeling magic might not work. And even if it does, I’m not going to ask her to go into combat, because I know she doesn’t have training for it and I don’t think she’s killed anyone.”

“So Kat it is. When are you going to teach her?”

You are going to go find her and ask her if she wants to learn. If she does, the two of you will start now. And tell her to send Spider my way in… oh, fifteen minutes. I have business with him.”

“...Why do I have to do it?” he asked.

“Because I have shit to do today. You, on the other hand, were bored enough that you came by to see if I wanted to practice. That tells me you probably ain’t got much of shit to do. So I’m giving you something. Now go do it.”

“Can I use your crossbow? Er, gun? Whatever it is.”

“Hell no. Teach her with yours, since that’s what she’ll be using. If she gets proficient enough with it, I’ll see what I can do about making her one of her own.”

“Okay, I guess. But if she starts touching my wings weird again, can I stop?”

“Yes. Alternately, rub her belly and see how she likes it. Either or.”

“...I think I’ll just stop.”

“Whatevs. Then get to it, Spike. The sooner I get started with Spider, the sooner I get finished.”

“Okay. I’ll let you know how Kat does later, I guess.”

When he was finally gone and the door shut behind him, Flo extricated herself from my body. “You’re very warm,” she happily said.

“And you’re very slutty. Go get your stupid keyboard while I get dressed.”

“Only because you’re so cute,” she said, reaching over to pinch my cheek. If I thought smacking her or fighting back would do any good, I might have bothered. Unfortunately, the last time I tried that, she read my mind before I could do it and molested me with watery tentacles.

When that little annoyance left, I hurriedly got dressed and then settled down to wait. I had absolutely no interest in what I was about to do, so I figured I could let Flo handle all of it while I retreated back into dreams to do some more policing.

And sure enough, that’s just what I did. Every few dreams, I’d pop back into my own mind and check on things. Spider was being his usual spidery self and Flo was being her usual annoyingly motherly lovingly joyous self, only now she was using my body to do it and probably confusing the shit out of Spider.

So that was my life for what I guessed was two hours. If there was any justice in the world, I would get two extra hours added to the end of my lifespan to make up for it. But since I figured my life would stop rather suddenly at the end of someone’s sword instead of slowly at the end of an era, I didn’t reckon it mattered too much.

When that creepy little bastard was finally gone, I jumped back into my own body and stretched. “So, thoughts?” I asked.

“He can learn. But I’m sad to say he was a little disturbed at how nice I was.”

“It disturbs me too, sometimes. Did he mention the eye color change?”

“No. I’m not certain he perceives color as we do. And he might also not have ever looked you in the eyes. My primary concern is that he might mention something about our lessons when I am not in control and possibly realize something is off.”

“If necessary, just take control during all my dealings with him. You wouldn’t hear me complain. If that isn’t an option, just act as my cheatsheet. And if that isn’t an option, he can fucking cry about it.”

“I doubt it will be an issue any time soon. He is traumatized and will likely take repeat sessions to get over his fear of you. That said, I believe he might be a very social and curious child once we get past those blocks, so when he is no longer afraid, he might start approaching you more freely. That is when it will become an issue.”

“Maybe I’ll get over my aversion to being a good person by then. Or maybe not. Whatevs. Let’s go check on Taya and see why she hasn’t said anything to me in a while.”

“If she’s upset, do you want me to take over your interactions for her, too?” she sullenly asked.

“...Would you?”

“No.”

“That’s what I thought.” I walked next door and knocked on her door. After several seconds, she didn’t answer. “Taya?” Still nothing. After half a minute, I tried the handle. Sure enough, it was locked. I knocked louder and said, “I’m getting my key. I suggest opening this door before I get back.”

“Are you sure she’s even in there?” Flo asked.

“We didn’t get the keys to these doors after we killed the pirates. The only way she could’ve gotten out after locking it is teleporting, and she doesn’t have anything in there to protect. And if she isn’t there, then letting myself in won’t matter anyway. If she’s schlicking, then she can at least say not to come in.” Or cum in, if you know what I mean. I heard the wet slapping sound in my head that I recognized as Flo facepalming. Or maybe her smacking her head against my brain. One or the other.

When I got to where I left my magical artifacts, I noticed that the ring was very horrifyingly and conspicuously absent. It wouldn’t be the first time I left it in a pocket or something, so I didn’t immediately start panicking. Figuring out what Taya was doing took precedent. So I grabbed my key and went back next door.

The door wasn’t open, so I sighed and knocked one last time. “I’m about to come in.” Still nothing. I rolled my eyes, stuck the key in, and opened the door. Sadly enough, I was kinda expecting what I found on the other side. “Alright, so you remember when I said I’d be pissed if I had to come in and untie you because you were doing something stupid to get off?”

Given the tears falling down her face at the moment, I don’t think that was on her mind. Well, the tears and the fact that she was still vibrating. I sighed again and walked over to start untying her. I kinda wanted to remove both the vibrators first, but that might have made her bed even more of a mess. Instead, I untied her legs to get circulation flowing, removed the gag so she could actually get some air (though she was unable to talk), and then pulled the ring off her horn.

It lit up, so I immediately put the ring back on it, making her groan. “Don’t do anything, Taya. You can’t stand after being tied up that long. And you don’t want to take those things out yet, trust me. Just sit tight.” She was finally able to start sobbing, at least. I quickly turned off the toys, bundled her up in her blanket, and then carried her to one of the showers. I’m sure more than a few of the people we passed wondered what exactly was going on, but they knew better than to ask.

When we got there, I set her in the tub, pulled the blanket and ring off, and then turned the water on. “Okay, now you can pull them out. I’m going to go get some water and food.” She hastily yanked the toys out with magic, with exactly the effect I knew it would have, and then curled up so she could cry in the shower.

Before I could leave to get her water, Flo showed up carrying a flask and a plate of leftovers. I grabbed the flask and pulled Taya’s head away from the floorboard, then lifted the flask up to her mouth. She immediately seized it with magic and drained it dry. Flo handed me the plate and then left, completely pawning the awkward situation off on me. Thankfully, Taya stopped sobbing after getting water, but she was still crying.

“Alright, not sure if you’re listening at the moment, but I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way: I’m not actually mad. A little disappointed, but honestly, not even that. I understand. That said, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you not to do that again. I mean, you know, feel free to do most of it again, but not the ring part. When it comes to self-bondage, leave a guaranteed escape route. But there’s probably a better time to go over that bit. Yeah, I’m not mad, Taya. Not sure if you feel like eating, but I have food here whenever you’re ready.”

Somewhere during that painful spiel, the tears stopped flowing. A few seconds after I stopped, she tried saying something that came out as a croak. She coughed a few times and hoarsely asked, “How did you k-know?”

“I didn’t see you yesterday and I didn’t see you today. And every time I passed your door, it was closed. I decided to check on you. I would have done it yesterday, but I had to deal with a big problem. I would have done it sooner today, but I had to deal with a spidery problem. I wish I realized you were in trouble, because I would’ve told everyone else to fuck off.” She seemed to brighten up a little, at least. “Look, I know it’s probably awkward and weird or whatever, but if you do plan on doing something like this later, warn me. You don’t have to straight up say you’re doing weird kinky stuff. Just ask me to check up on you in a few hours or something.”

She didn’t reply. Given what she just went through, I kinda doubt she had any plans on making that a repeat performance. Though I suppose it probably felt extremely good, if you discounted the building stomach pressure and the horrible panic.

Flo brought in another flask and handed it to me without a single word. I set it  next to the bathtub. “I imagine you’re not really in much of a mood for conversing at the moment. There’s more water right here when you want it and there’s food on the sink. If you want me to stay, I’ll stay. Otherwise, I’ll let you take all the time you need in here. You’ll probably be able to walk pretty decently in fifteen or so minutes.”

She whimpered.

“Alright. I love you, honey. If you ever want to talk, remember that you know enough about me that I can never judge.” She whimpered again, so I finally left, closing the door behind me. “I don’t need your silent judgment, Flo,” I said as I walked back to my room. She continued silently judging me anyway.

Two hours later, Twilight brought Rainbow Dash and Rarity to my room. Taya was lying across my lap with a blanket over her, but she didn’t even open her eyes when they walked in. Given that she was probably very sore at the moment with the kind of ache magic couldn’t heal, I didn’t blame her.

“Is now a bad time?” Twilight asked, lifting an eyebrow.

“Nope. Did you already explain the basics?” I asked.

“Just that we want to run a dream experiment.”

Rarity nodded and said, “I think it sounds interesting. I didn’t even know Twilight could do dream magic!”

Dash snorted. “I can’t believe you’re teaching her but won’t teach me!”

“I’m teaching her because I can teach her,” I said. “I can’t teach anyone that isn’t attuned to the artifact. It’s not my fault you didn’t take the initiative required.”

Dash’s eyes narrowed and her wings flinched. Twilight rolled her eyes and said, “So do you want to tell them what we’re doing or not?”

“Sure, sure. There’s a feature in the dream world that no one has tested. It lets a dream be locked down, allowing no one but the person who administered the lockdown to manipulate it. What we want to test is whether or not it stops the dreamer from waking up. Now that there are three dreamwalkers running around, it’s important for us to know what some of the abilities we have do.”

“So why me and Rainbow Dash?” Rarity asked. “Fluttershy seems like a more likely candidate.”

“Because your dreams are easier to control,” I said. “Even entering Fluttershy’s dreams can send her into a nightmare if you aren’t careful. You two usually have good dreams and if you don’t, they’re easy to make good. The plan was to enter your dream before we locked it down, make it a good dream, then watch it periodically after locking it down to ensure it’s still good. That way you won’t risk being trapped in a nightmare or something.”

Dash scowled. “After all the things you’ve done to me in my dreams, I don’t know if I want what you consider a good dream.”

“Hey, I didn’t do anything you didn’t enjoy.”

“Every single one of the Wonderbolts?!”

“When I left, it was just the female members. You can’t blame me for what it became!”

“Oh yeah, sure. What about the time you made us get married, for whatever bucking reason?”

“That one was all you. I just let the dream happen to see where it would take me.”

“Uh huh. And the one with the princesses, Gilda, Pinkie, Nightmare Moon, and that weird water lady?”

“That wasn’t—Wait, shit, I do remember that. Yeah, that one was definitely me. But it didn’t become an actual nightmare until after I left.”

“They all started fighting over me! I ended up having to—”

“Ahem,” Twilight coughed, making Dash’s sick fantasies stop flowing from her mouth. “When in your dreams, I’ll be there to ensure everything goes smoothly. I’ll be the main one overseeing your mind while you’re asleep, to make sure you keep happy dreams. Once the initial phase is over, Nav won’t be able to get in.”

Dash scoffed. “I don’t want him in there at all. Count me out.”

“I don’t want to move Taya. Rarity, can you boop her on the nose for me?” Rarity smiled and gently poked Dashie on the nose, making her glare at me even more. “Thanks. Anyway, what about you? Does that sound like something you might be interested in trying?”

“It mostly depends on one thing,” Rarity said. “You said this might make me unable to wake up. I assume you don’t think it will keep me asleep forever, or you wouldn’t have asked. But how long will I be asleep?”

Twilight fielded that one. “We decided to use three hours after your normal waking time as a baseline. If you aren’t awake by then, Nav will try to physically wake you up. At that point, we’ll count the experiment as concluded and remove the lockdown, letting you wake up. So about three hours more than normal.”

Rarity nodded. “Then I’ll do it. I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately and three extra hours sounds delightful. Navarone does have a… history of doing things in my sleep, but nothing as raunchy as what it appears he’s done to poor Rainbow Dash. And with you there to supervise, I believe I’ll be fine.”

Dash rolled her eyes and muttered, “Better you than me…”

“Then we’ll see you in your dreams,” I said.

“While you’re there, there’s something I’ve been curious about. I’ve heard of a thing called lucid dreaming and was wondering if it might be something that’s teachable.”

“It sorta is,” I said. “Do ponies remember every dream that happens, or just some of them?”

“Just some,” Twilight said. “There are some nights when I sleep and just seem to wake up.”

“Then keep a dream journal,” I said. “That’ll help you remember dreams, which will give you more of a basis to know when you’re dreaming. Once you realize that you’re in a dream, you can start doing whatever you want in it. It’s easier for some than for others. If you have difficulty, Twilight or I can probably visit your dreams once a night to help. Depending on the dream, that could either wake you up or help get you on the right path.”

“Well, a dream journal is something I’ve been considering for a while. I suppose it’s finally time to commit to it, then.”

“Make sure to record your dreams as soon as you wake up, so they’re still fresh in your mind.”

Rarity nodded. “One of my dreams last night was quite vivid. I think I’ll go jot it down now, unless you need to explain anything else.”

“Nothing I can think of. Twilight?”

She shrugged. “You know more about it than I do. If you have any concerns before tonight, come to me or Nav and we’ll talk it over.”

“Very well. If not before, I’ll see you both tonight.” She happily trotted out, leaving Dash and Twilight behind.

“So how’s your research going?” I asked.

“Well. I was already able to perform a successful experiment. It’s not much, but it’s a start. With enough practice, I might be able to do more tests on your dragon armor.”

“Cool. If you can get the evil spirit out of it, I might be able to actually use it again.”

“I’ll see what can be done. I had a different solution in mind, though. But I told the unicorn guard working with me that we would only break for half an hour, and that time is getting close. I wouldn’t want to make him wait. So I’ll see you later tonight, Nav.”

“Peace out, homie.” She smiled and left, leaving just one.

Dash waited until she was gone before walking a little closer and quietly asking, “So you remember the night guard captain?”

“Midnight Blossom? Yeah, what about her?”

“Can you make the next one about her?”

“I don’t know, Dash. You were doing your best to make me look bad in front of Rarity and Twilight. Maybe I should stop doing you little favors…”

She groaned. “Come on, Nav! You know I don’t want to risk having Twilight in my dream when you get there!”

“Yeah, yeah. Probably won’t be tonight, but expect Blossom soonish.” She did an adorable hoof pump. “But I might have a little bit of fun with her interpretation, as revenge.”

“Tch. Do your worst. Nothing can beat what Chrysalis did to me that one time…”

“You mean that time you came to me gushing about how awesome it was and how you wanted to come with me the next time I went to the hive?”

“...Yes. Anyway, whenever you want to cash in on all this, just let me know and I’m yours!”

“I know. If you want a decent facsimile for a hive experience, ask Doppel to teach you all about the breeding chambers. That’ll be fun for both of you.”

“Uh… I need to uh… go do something. Talk to you later!” She bolted out the door. As soon as she was gone, Taya’s horn lit up and the door closed and we went back to chilling.

Some time later, Spike let himself back in, once again without knocking. Taya was lying at my side, reading a book, so I can honestly say I wasn’t doing anything dirty. Still, it rankled.

“Spike, did anyone ever teach you to knock?” I asked.

“Um. Yes?”

“Then start fucking do it. In fact, get out. Get out, close the door, and knock.”

“Oh come on, I’m already in here!”

“Yeah, and I’m telling you to get out. Don’t make me sic Taya on you.” She looked up and her horn lit up. He couldn’t see it, but he sighed and left anyway, closing the door behind him. A few seconds later, he knocked. “Who is it?”

“You know who it is!”

“Not with that attitude I don’t.”

I imagine he sighed again before sullenly saying, “It’s Spike.”

“Come in.” He opened the door back. “I wasn’t expecting you. Did you need something?”

“What do you mean you weren’t—You just…” His shoulders sagged and he shook his head. “I taught Kat the basics of shooting. She picked it up really fast. I think she might be as good as you!”

“I’m not surprised in the slightest. Did you ask if she was interested in getting one of her own?”

“Yeah. She wanted to know if she could have mine. For some reason, she thought I didn’t need it anymore.”

“I’ll draw up plans for something Jak can make her. It’ll probably take him a while and he might need special facilities to make some of it, though. For now, let Kat hold onto yours. I’m going to want everyone ready to fight at a moment’s notice while we’re there. You’re a dragon, so you’re always ready to go. For those of us with external weapons and armor, that isn’t so easy.”

“I was already gonna let her hold onto it. And you know, there’s a spell to turn you into a pony. Do you think there might be a spell that could turn you into a dragon?”

“Yes, because there’s also a spell to turn me into a changeling.” Taya’s ears perked up. “Chrysalis tested it when I was in the hive. That said, you’d have to figure out how to change the spell to turn me into something else, and then you’d have to break through the new magic resistance I got to turn me back. Griffin or something like that would probably be easier.”

“You should totally let Taya or Twilight try!” he said with a big smile. “That would be so cool!”

“I could figure it out, daddy,” Taya said. “And the unicorns on the ship taught me and Twilight how to do something weird to combine our magic, so we could definitely turn you back.”

“Feel free, if you want. I guess it would be fun or something. Just wait until we get out of Africa, because I don’t want to risk getting stuck that way while we’re there.”

“Okay, daddy!”

“So why couldn’t you teach Kat?” Spike asked.

“I was busy. Keyword being was. I guess it might not be too terrible of an idea to make sure my gun is still accurate.” I rubbed Taya’s back for a second before standing up and stretching. “Is Kat still on the deck? If so, I might see what she’s capable of.”

“She was when I left. But her paws are kinda sore from pulling the string back so much. I never really noticed, but…”

“But you have scaley dragon hands, yeah. Hers are probably going to hurt worse in the morning. Oh well.” I grabbed the gun, a few magazines, and a small crate of extra bullets. “You’re free to join me, Taya.”

She shook her head. “My legs still feel… funny.”

“Then I’ll see you in a bit.” Spike was still standing in the doorway, so he quickly backed out of the way when I walked over. For whatever reason, he decided to follow me to the deck. The normal assortment of guards were up there, doing whatever they could to alleviate the boredom of travel. Gilda was flying next to the balloon, staring down at the ocean. Pinkie and Aerie were flying on the other side of it, doing their weird thing. Kat had apparently went back down at some point.

“We were shooting from the top to the front of the ship,” Spike said. “It was the longest place we could find and I figured she would mostly be shooting down.”

“I bet the extra wind made things difficult. You’re lucky she didn’t hit a guard.”

“We made sure they were all out of the way before we shot. It looks like they filled in the space pretty quickly, though.”

“I don’t need any long shots. Just enough to make sure this thing is still on. From mast to mast will work. Hopefully that won’t give the wind enough time to fuck up my aim.”

“Can’t you correct for it?”

“After a few shots, probably. Assuming this thing was accurate to begin with. But pneumatic weapons lack a lot of the speed and damage a gunpowder weapon would have, meaning it’ll be less accurate over long distances and in wind like this. This gun is accurate up to two hundred meters. A good rifle using gunpowder bullets is accurate up to two kilometers.” His eyes widened. “But ammo for those would be irreplaceable here. Or at least, so hard to replace that they might as well be.”

We walked over to one of the masts and I set the crate and most of the magazines down. One of them went into the rifle and I chambered a round. No one was in the way, but I wasn’t going to shoot the mast just yet.

“What were you guys shooting at earlier?” I asked.

“Boxes a unicorn held up with magic. We lost most of the bolts over the side, but we have so many and Sunshine Smiles said they were easy to make.”

“Easy to make when you have the materials. They’re still time-consuming, especially the wooden ones. Go find more boxes. I’m sure someone will be willing to hold them up for me. Should only take a few rounds.”

“Okay.” He walked off again and I began casually inspecting the rifle. It had gotten several scuffs and dents since I first gotten it, but the thing was definitely made to last. Just like everything else in that bunker, for that matter. I was more worried about the scope than anything. The rifle had been dropped several times and I was concerned that the scope might be losing integrity. It probably wouldn’t have been as much of an issue with the stock scope, but the modified one I got stuck out more. But it was removable, so if it failed, iron sights were an option. The ponies could probably make a half-decent regular scope if I asked, but that would be a last resort option.

But it (probably) hadn’t failed yet, so that thing was staying on.

Spike got back with a few boxes and one of the ship’s unicorns a few minutes later. It was the one that had a crush on me, so she was all too willing to assist.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long to ensure that the rifle was still on and that I was still a pretty alright shooter. I didn’t want to waste the bullets or time doing much more.

“Without a way to recover these, I don’t really want to keep going,” I said after expending the last of the first magazine.

“Why?” Spike asked. “These are smaller than bolts. Shouldn’t they be easier to replace?”

“Mine have to be perfectly uniform or they won’t work properly. To do that consistently, you’d need a mold, which I don’t think we have.”

“I could catch them!” the unicorn happily said.

Flo, what’s her name?

“You’re a terrible person. And Amber Night.”

“I don’t want you to hurt yourself, Amber,” I said. “These things aren’t like arrows. They come out of this gun very fast. I wouldn’t even ask Twilight to try catching these things.”

“Can I at least try?” she asked.

I shrugged and loaded up another mag. “Tell me when you’re ready,” I said.

Her horn lit up even brighter and she stared at the end of my gun. “Ready.”

As soon as I pulled the trigger, she flinched and the light around her horn flickered before dying, letting the box fly away in the wind. The bolt actually did stop before it could hit the box and it dropped to the deck right around the same time Amber did.

I pushed the gun at Spike and he barely had time to grab it before I got to her. The first thing I did was check her pulse, which was still beating. Then I held my hand just in front of her nose so I could feel her breath. She seemed to be passed out. Still breathing, but out of it. The captain came running right before I could tell Spike to go get him. “What happened?” he asked, kneeling down to check on her.

“She tried doing something a lot harder than she thought,” I said. “I told her not to, but…”

“But she wanted to impress you. First guess is magical coma. She’ll be out for a day or three.” He used magic to gently lift her up onto his back. “Despite what those pirates believed, not all unicorns are created equally powerful, Nav. It’s certainly possible for us to grow stronger, but we all have different starting points. The longer we go without doing anything heavy, the closer it gets to that starting point. We might have to start training again, if we want to avoid this in the future.”

“I’m not sure I want you guys in fights at all. You’ve done your time in hell. Let the ones who volunteered for it take your place.”

He shook his head. “For our sake more than yours. We have all the knowledge of the magic. I don’t want to risk any of us trying something we could do years ago without remembering that we haven’t actually done enough to be able to do it now. Being useful in a fight is just a secondary bonus.”

“Alright, man. I’m not gonna deny that I’d like having more of you able to blow shit up. Sorry about accidentally putting one of your crew members in a coma.”

“She’ll live. I’m gonna go put her in bed. I’ll have someone check on her every few hours. You want to apologize to someone, apologize to her.”

“That’s the plan. Before you go, are we making good headway?”

“Yeah. We’ll hit the coast some time early in the morning. We’ll probably get to the river around lunch and we’ll start setting things up then.”

“Ballin’. Let me know if things change.”

“Of course.” With that, he finally walked off, the mare hanging limply on his back.

I grabbed the bullet from where it fell and quickly checked it over. Sure enough, it was completely undamaged. She still shouldn’t have done it, but to be fair, I was kinda impressed that she was actually able to. So I guess she got her wish.

“I saw Twilight do that once,” Spike said when I got my rifle back from him.

“Were you scared?”

“More for the other ponies around me. I don’t know how, but she swapped the genders of half the ponies in the palace, and made them think they had always been like that!”

“Huh. Guess you got lucky.”

“...Sometimes I wonder. I mean, none of them could be convinced anything happened. Maybe I actually was—”

“You are what you are. Ruminating on the past only makes you suffer more.”

“Yeah… And they didn’t try to convince me anyway, so I’m not really too worried. Does that mean you’re finally ready to accept being a mare?”

“I’m not a horse.” I started walking back to the lower level. Of course, he followed. “But I accepted that shortly after it happened. That doesn’t mean I’m done looking for a way back.”

“So… you’re ready to start looking for a coltfriend?”

“Just because I occasionally participate in cock-related sex stuff doesn’t mean I’m interested in participating in cock-related relationships. And I’m not particularly interested in relationships at all. Even if I was, there’s exactly one guy on board I could go for and that’s the captain. So stop pressing your heteronormative hangups on me, man.”

“...I don’t know what that means.”

“It means that if I’m going to accept being a girl, I’m going to accept being a lesbian one. So no, I’m not interested in a coltfriend. Or a marefriend, at the moment.”

“Oh. Okay. Coulda just said so… Anyway, I need to go talk to Twilight. She said she wanted my help with something.”

“Have fun.” He continued deeper into the ship and I went to my room.

Taya looked up when I walked in, of course. “That was fast.”

“I didn’t have to do much. And I accidentally sent the mare that was helping us into a magical coma, so we had to stop.”

“Oh.” She went back to reading while I started putting things back up. When I finished, I joined her on the bed and we finally got back to doing fuck all.

Twilight finally came back an hour or so before dusk. Taya was curled up at my feet, sleeping. She probably didn’t get all too much rest with her holes stuffed and vibrating, so she definitely needed it.

“Is now a bad time?” Twilight quietly asked.

“Nah. What do you need?”

“Your help with something.” I tenderly got out of bed, not wanting to disturb my adorably slumbering daughter. Since I had a feeling I knew what Twilight wanted help with, I didn’t bother putting on shoes. When my door was shut, I followed her down the hall to her room. “I spoke with Rarity a few minutes ago. She’s still ready to help.”

“Coolio.”

“I also spoke to Rainbow Dash.”

“You don’t say.”

“I do say. Is abusing your powers really wise, Nav?”

“Dash and I have an understanding.”

She pushed her door open and we went in. When it was closed behind us, she said, “I know. I can read between the lines better than some pon—people think I can. Giving her wet dreams isn’t what I meant. Giving her wet dreams about ponies that aren’t interested in her is.”

“Oh. It doesn’t hurt anyone. Dash knows how to separate fiction from reality. Honestly, it’s about the same thing as having sex with a changeling. I know you’re super racist, so that probably still sounds bad to you, but it’s really not.”

“...Have I been one of the ponies she dreamed about?”

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.” She looked down. “As I’ve said before, you see very different sides of your friends when you look in their dreams. That includes which of their friends they think should be in deeper relationships with each other. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve looked in dreams and seen all kinds of weird pairs. You and Dash, Rarity and Applejack, Dash and Fluttershy, you and me, Luna and Fluttershy. All kinds of weird shit.”

“...Who thought you and I would be a good couple?”

“It pops up mostly in Rarity’s dreams. But I also see it a lot in Applejack, Dash, and about half the ponies in Ponyville. Also Cadance, sometimes. We were living together for a long time. Wouldn’t take much for some people to assume things because of it.”

“Huh. Do you think a good way to make Rarity have a happy dream is to ask her to make wedding dresses for us?”

“That would definitely do it. It would also work if you were Celestia, Fluttershy, Dash, Doppel, or Smiles. She really likes playing matchmaker and she doesn’t seem to have a favorite pair.”

“How much of that will I see if I start looking in my friends’ dreams?”

“Most happy dreams are about themselves. This is more rare. But if you fall into their dream and act like they want you to, they’ll often ask you where your partner is. Surprisingly enough, when I asked Cadance about some of the pairings I found in dreams, she admitted most would make really good couples. Then she told me to stop being creepy and to stay out of her dreams about fucking your brother in the ass.”

Twilight slowly closed her eyes and I swear I saw her lips counting to ten.

“Hey, you know she was writing this shit about your brother when they were young. I confirmed it the last time I spoke to her.”

The numbers started going past ten.

“And I can also say that after a few suggestions from a certain human, Cadance and your brother both have a very great love of strap-ons. Well, your brother more than her.”

She was in the forties.

“When Celestia found out, I thought her wings would be stiff for days. Then I suggested that Cadance get him a vibrating buttplug so she can make him hard whenever she wanted to throughout the day. Both of them loved that idea.”

Her ears started twitching as she got to the seventies.

“Of course, I also made Cadance get one. Celestia made some suggestions, since she’s pretty much always wearing one. In fact, Cadance got to wear it during the Gala. I didn’t get to spend much time with her there, because I was busy being invisible and fucking Celestia. Still though—”

She put her hoof to my mouth. “It’s time for you to stop.”

“Alright.” She lowered her hoof, thankfully. I didn’t want it close to my mouth since it was probably filthy. “So you ready to start?”

“Yes. Please disrobe. I’ll get the paper set up.” While I got undressed, she used magic to pull out a traveler’s desk and then set several thick sheets of paper on it, followed by a few pens. “I’m going to be entirely truthful about every aspect of our relations in this book, Nav. I will not use names, but I will use races and genders, to give any potential readers ideas about what is possible and suggested for which race. To that end, I’ll give you a choice. I can either turn you into a pony for our sessions to protect your identity or I can leave you as a human and let any potential readers know who my subject was.”

“I have some information you might want, then. Chrysalis was able to modify the body changing spell to turn me into a changeling. Spike asked about turning me into a dragon earlier and Taya mentioned it being possible. So I’m wondering if it would be possible to turn me into other races as well.”

“If Chrysalis was able to modify the spell like that… Absolutely. I’ll send a letter to Princess Celestia asking her opinion on the matter first thing in the morning, though I’ll certainly not mention the reason. That will give me a whole new scope of races to work with!”

“And another gender, if we go the changeling route. I can totally become male.”

“...So you can. But for now, I’ll ask again: Do you want me to change you into a pegasus?”

“On one condition: Don’t gag me.”

“Of course. I will act as the dom for this, but for now, I’m learning. I want you to tell me immediately if I’m going too far or if I’m not going far enough. I also want you to suggest different things to try, since I doubt I’ll think of much and I know you have more experience than I do.”

“That’s the plan. Go ahead and turn me.” Her horn lit up brightly and I felt my body changing to its weakest and most pitiful of states. When the horrid transition was complete, I shivered for a few seconds before recovering. “Alright, I’m going to list a few things basic things to start. Listen to them all and let me know which sound interesting.” She nodded. “Pet play. Age play. Orgasm denial. Spanking. Sensory deprivation. Cuckolding.”

“I’m not quite sure what some of those are. Age play?”

“It’s when I pretend to be younger than I am and you take care of me. It doesn’t always involve sex. Sometimes it’s a purely emotional thing. That said, it can also be used to simulate pedophilia, not that I’d suggest it or be particularly interested.”

“Me neither. Sensory deprivation?”

“You blindfold me, tie up my legs, and plug my ears. It also usually involves gagging as well, so they can’t taste. Then you add various sensations. Melting wax on one nipple for heat, ice on the other for cold, and of course vaginal stimulation. Basically, it forces them to focus on their feeling of touch by making it so they can’t use anything else to escape.”

“That sounds fun, but it’s also a little advanced. I don’t want to gag you just yet. Cuckolding?”

“That’s more for people in an actual relationship. But it’s basically when you let someone else be my dom while you watch. Or, alternately, make me watch while you turn someone else into a sub.”

“What if I make another sub toy with you?”

“That’s also an option.”

“An option I will keep in mind for later.”

“There’s also public humiliation or public strutting, which can go along with pet play. But we aren’t doing that until we get to a city where neither of us are known and where guards won’t get pissy about it.”

“...Would you actually be willing to do that?”

“If I don’t get recognized, sure. You can add in cuckolding if you let random stallions take advantage of me. But that’s in the future.”

“Indeed it is. I’m noting a pretty distinct lack of knots in your list, though. I thought a lot of BDSM involved tying the sub up.”

“Don’t get me wrong: You can tie me up and straight up make me your bitch if you want. Make me eat you out, use a strap-on to pound me, use a vibrator to make me beg. I’m talking about specific fetishes, not general BDSM stuff.”

“That’s where I’d like to start, if you don’t mind. Some of those sound interesting and I’d like to get into them later, but I’d like to start slow, to give potential readers a more general baseline of what to expect.”

“Alright. The few knots that I do know how to tie are mostly BDSM things. Or basically, how not to cut circulation while you’re banging.” I lied on my back in the bed and went spread-eagle. “Start with my back legs.”

Super weird and kinky sex with the adorkable Twilight Sparkle was fun, but also somewhat slow and annoying. She was being extremely analytical about a lot of it and spent way too much time writing and not enough time taking my pussy to Pound Town.

But we both got what we wanted out of it, so I guess it wasn’t too bad. When she was done, she turned me back and we cuddled, falling asleep together.

As soon as I got into the dream realm, I popped out and then found Twilight. Just to test something, I wrote her a message. ‘Sup, honeybuns? You mind if I let myself in?’

After nearly a minute, she replied, ‘By all means.’ Just like that, I entered. “It worked!” she happily said, rearing back and clopping her front hooves together.

“I swear, ponies are made to be fucking adorable,” I said, shaking my head. Twilight blushed, though she was still grinning. “Anyway, you ready to blow this joint and go fuck with the marshmallow horse?”

“Yes. But we aren’t going to mess with her. We’re going to make sure she has happy dreams and then we’re going to do an experiment.”

“Yeah, yeah. Sometimes her happy dreams are about having a train run on her by countless royal guards.”

“Uh huh. Sure. I’ll believe that when I see it.”

I had actually only seen it once, and that was just before Valentine’s Day. To be fair, though, a lot of single mares had wet dreams that night, Twilight included. I might have tweaked a few of them to be more fun, but I just as easily might not have. Not like anyone could prove anything, after all…

“So getting out is just the same as last night?” Twilight asked.

“Yep. If you want, I can poke you the whole time so you can get practice doing it while distracted.”

“Maybe later, when I have a better mastery of it. For now, let me just concentrate.”

Since I knew it would take Twilight a while, I started chasing Aqua around the dream with funny hats and lingerie, since I knew it would annoy her. Sure, I could make it automatically appear on her body, but doing it manually was a lot more fun. Especially when she started to kill me and I jumped back into the dream right behind her to begin the process anew.

Finally, Twilight managed to escape the dream, making Aqua poof away right as I pounced at her with a tiny g-string and heart-shaped nipple stickers.

“You’re a terrible, terrible person,” Flo said as the dream dissolved around me. “I absolutely love it.”

I know it, babe.

When I appeared in the anteroom next to Twilight, she looked around and sighed in delight. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over how amazing this place is.”

“Everything can become routine when you deal with it long enough,” I said. She looked down, so I tousled her hair and continued, “But sharing things with others can always breathe new life into them.”

She looked up at me with a big ol’ smile. “Nav, I’m not the only one that’s come a long way.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, little Miss Twilight Sparkle.”

“Of course you don’t, my most favoritest human friend. Now let’s go see to Rarity!” She took my hand and dragged me over to Rarity’s white dream. “What do you think?”

I walked closer and pulled some of the dream-stuff aside to look in. Rarity was at the Gala in a very pretty dress, surrounded by some of the most elite ponies in Canterlot. I had no clue what they were talking about, but she was a major part of it.

“Three things come to mind and all are doable,” I said. “First, the obvious one is getting a sexy hunk of a stallion to start flirting with her and then dancing with her. Second, to let her see me and you dancing together as well, then speak to her and thank her for helping us get together and making us such nice dresses. Third, to have Princess Celestia come and talk to her.”

“How do we do the first and third ones?” Twilight asked. “Can we just ask a dream… character to help us?”

“Nah. Well I mean, we could, but it would be easier to make our own character. It’s the same concept I use in Dash’s wet dreams. It’s easier when you’re making someone you know, because you can just push what you know of their personality onto them. But with a completely new character, you have to invent a personality. Usually I keep it simple, because most dreams are simple and short. Give them an appearance, a few basic characteristics, a purpose, and maybe a name. Then you just will them into existence and let them get to work.”

“Huh. Is that also something I can do in my own dreams?”

“Yeah. Say you wanted to feel all your holes completely and totally stuffed. Just summon three copies of Big Mac and give them the purpose of fucking you.”

“I wasn’t actually thinking of using it for sex, but I’m honestly not surprised that’s where your mind went. Do you mind if I make the stallion for Rarity?”

“By all means. We can appear on the far side of the room so you can take your time. You know Rarity better than I do, so once we get started, I’ll follow your lead. But remember that this dream is probably going to last a lot longer than usual, so put some good thought into him.”

“That’s the plan. Are you ready?”

“Just one more thing to mention. Remember that dreams are fluid. We can make this plan, but by the time we put it into fruition, things might already be changing. For example, her mind might make another stallion to do just what we’re planning. Or she might hear an ill-timed whisper behind her back that spirals the dream into darkness. By all means, make the plan and do your best to stick to it, but know when to give up and when to start adjusting.”

“As long as you’re by my side, I don’t think I’ll have any issues.”

“Gay as fuck. Follow me in.” I looked at a clear spot on the far side of the party and pulled myself into the dream. Twilight appeared next to me as I made myself female and put on one of the dresses Celestia forced me into during her shitty sleepover. After a few seconds of thought, I added the makeup as well. By the time I turned to Twilight, she had conquered Rarity’s influence over the dream and was looking around.

She grinned when she saw me. “That’s a very pretty dress, Nav.”

“Rarity actually made it for me. No fucking clue why, because there’s no way I’d ever wear something like this, but it was nice of her.”

“The green matches your hair and eyes. Do you have any suggestions of attire for me?”

“Nope. Figure something out.”

She shrugged and started dressing herself up in a fairly plain outfit. “I don’t really want to waste time with frivolities and this is close to something she made for me in the past. Now let me start making her a coltfriend…”

While she was concentrating on that, I started watching the flow of the dream. Rarity was still with Fancy Pants and his cronies, so that seemed to be going well. We were in one of the side rooms, so Celestia wasn’t present. That meant we’d have to create her ourselves. None of Rarity’s Ponyville friends were present but me and Twilight and as far as I knew, no one in the crowd knew either of us. All things told, everything was looking perfect.

Right as I came to that conclusion, a large blue stallion appeared in front of us, dressed in a very fine tuxedo. He ignored me and Twilight and immediately walked over to Rarity. “And now we wait,” Twilight said.

“I’ll go ahead and warn you now: If you did it right, things are probably going to start shifting around us. We might suddenly appear on a dance floor with a few couples all around us. Dreams don’t always follow logical sense, after all.”

“I’ll be ready, as long as you lead the dance.”

“I always knew that I’d be the man in this relationship.”

She smirked. “I’ll keep that in mind the next time I make you beg to cum like a mare.”

“...That was under duress.”

“It’s a good thing I used magic to soundproof my room, or I’m sure the others would be disturbed at how loud you cried for me to rut you like a filly in heat.”

“That’s just disturbing. And if you don’t stop teasing me, I won’t hesitate to turn this into a wet dream.”

“You can dish it out, but not take it? Well actually, I know you can take it. Just like a pro, with all that moaning going on.”

“Slut.” She stuck her tongue out at me, then jumped in surprise as our surroundings seemed to dissolve for a second. I quickly stuck my hand on her back so we didn’t get separated, not that it would be hard for me to find her again. After a few seconds, everything was back in order and sure enough, we were on the dance floor. “Showtime.”

She didn’t reply, aside from hopping up on her hind legs to start dancing with me. It was probably super awkward for her, but we had done it a few times when we were still living together and just wanted to screw around. Neither of us were wearing dresses back then, though…

Thankfully, all the dream characters didn’t pay any attention to us, aside from taking the effort to float around us. Rarity’s dream was already picking up a gold tinge since she was dancing with her Romeo, so the dancers were moving perfectly to avoid any possible mishaps. Of course, they were all rotating around Rarity and her beau, so it wasn’t all too difficult for Twilight and I to work our way next to her.

Since it was Rarity’s dream, I was going to go at her pace, within some limits. To that end, Twilight and I stayed in her orbit for one very long song before Rarity finally noticed us. The smile on her face deepened a little and the dream twitched on us again, resolving in her and her dream guy chilling at a table in front of the gardens. There were two seats opposite them where Twilight and I were supposed to be sitting, so I pushed my will on Twiley and forced us both into them, then gripped one of Twilight’s hooves before she could say anything.

“It’s nice to see you here, Rarity,” I said with a sweet smile.

“And it’s always nice to see two friends,” she answered. “This is Zion, a stallion I met a few hours ago.”

The stallion finally looked away from Rarity and smiled toward us. “It’s nice to meet you two. You make such a beautiful couple.”

Before I could say anything, Twilight jumped in. “Rarity’s actually the pony that set us up. We were friends for a while before she helped us realize how we really felt and we’ve been together ever since!” I reached over and gently scratched Twilight behind the ear, making her head lift up a little toward my hand.

“I was delighted to help, dears!” Rarity said, beaming even more.

“And the dresses you made for us were also wonderful,” I said, carefully brushing at mine.

You made those?” the stallion asked, seemingly impressed.

“Well, I don’t mean to brag…”

“It’s not bragging if your work really is great,” Twilight said. “In fact, Navi and I were kinda wondering… Would you maybe be interested in making… more?”

“Anything for my friends! What did you have in mind?”

Twilight looked up at me, seeking approval. I grinned down at her and then turned to Rarity, gripping one of Twilight’s hooves with both of my hands. “Wedding gowns.”

Rarity gasped, holding a hoof up to her mouth, and the entire sky lit up a brilliant gold. “Yes! I would love to!”

She jumped up, sending her chair tumbling into nothingness, but I held up a hand. “Rarity, please! There’s no rush. Our love will last as long as it takes, don’t you worry.” Twilight leaned over and nuzzled my side, a dreamy smile on her face. I wrapped an arm around her. “Enjoy your night with your handsome date. You never know, you might just find yourself making an extra dress, soon.”

She blushed ever so slightly and nodded. “Of… of course. But I’ll get started in the morning, I promise!”

“Thank you, Rarity,” Twilight said before cuddling up to me even more. “You’re always so generous. It means a lot to us.”

“I’ll always help a friend in need,” Rarity happily said.

Twilight flinched slightly and the stallion stood up. “Would you care to let the lovers have the rest of the night to themselves, my lady? I think I’d enjoy a moonlit walk through the gardens.”

“Oh, of course, of course!” Zion’s chair disappeared and he was suddenly standing right next to her. “I’m ever so happy for you two!” Rarity said one last time before the dream twitched again. I grabbed Twilight and teleported us into a tree several meters above Rarity and her fake boyfriend.

“I think that went well,” I said.

“I didn’t tweak his mind just right,” Twilight said, staring down at the stallion. “I wanted him to ask her to dance again, not go for a walk.”

“Don’t overthink it too much. He’s Rarity’s toy, now. You gave him the basics, but she’s expanding on him as they spend time together. Also, what the fuck kind of name is Zion?”

“I was in a hurry. Do we still want to try to bring in Celestia?”

“I don’t think we’ll need to. But keep it in mind later, if the dream starts losing its golden hue.”

“Right.” She looked around and adjusted herself on the branch. “I thought you said I couldn’t affect you.”

“You can’t do anything to me easily. It takes some time and practice to move another dreamwalker. It takes even more time and practice to change one. And if they’re actively defending against it, it’s a lot harder.”

“Interesting… Before we go, I have a question. This stallion asked her into a pretty private part of the castle. Do we need to worry about this becoming a red dream?”

“Are you worried about it?”

“Well… I wouldn’t say worried, per se, but I thought the goal was to make this golden, not red.”

“To Rarity, finding a stallion that she can fall in love with and make passionate love to is pretty much the ultimate happiness. Yes, she might make something of a mess on her bed, but it’ll still be a happy dream. That’s why you get bronze-colored dreams: Happiness mixed with sensual.”

“Oh. So are you ready to go?”

“Not quite. I’m ready for you to go, but I wanted to do another experiment with locked down dreams before we leave. I want to see if a dreamwalker can escape one that someone else locks down.”

“Yeah, that would actually be pretty important to know. But it’ll probably take me a little while to get out.”

I shook my head. “We need to leave quickly. Having a dreamwalker in a dream automatically makes it more vivid and fluid. Things will change a lot faster with one of us present than it will if we’re both gone. Let Aqua take you out, then lock the dream down and come in to let me know. The command for the defenders is ‘access subroutine artificial intelligence defender’. Ask them to lock this dream down so that nothing but you can get in or out.”

“Alright. Aqua, do you mind—” She vanished. A few moments later, the sky turned a much darker gold and I swear I felt a weird weight hit my chest. Shortly after that, Twilight popped back in next to me. “Alright, can you get out?”

I focused and tried to jump out of the dream. Sure enough, nothing I did let me leave. “Doesn’t look like it. Also of note is that the sky got darker and it feels like the gravity got stronger.”

“Huh. I didn’t notice the darkness and I don’t feel any different.”

“Neat. Head back out and disable the lockdown. I’ll jump out immediately if the light dims again.”

“Alright. Aqua?” She disappeared again. Not much later, the sky got brighter again. I hopped out and reappeared next to Twilight, once again male and wingless. “I suppose that answers that question,” she said.

“Guess so. Do your thing.”

She nodded and looked back at the AIs. “Lock this dream down again. I want nothing to be able to get in or out but me.”

One of them said, “At once.” All three of them surrounded it and put their hands against it, turning the thing a few shades darker again.

As an experiment, I walked over and tried to peel the smoke back to look in. I couldn’t. Then I tried punching it, like I usually have to do to get into Celestia’s dreams. Instead of hitting anything, my fist just stopped a few centimeters in front of it.

“Well, the lockdown definitely works,” I said, turning back to Twilight.

“That’s good to know, but I can’t imagine it ever really being useful.”

“Luna forced her way into my dreams several times. I was able to fight her off, but being able to lock her out entirely would have been nice.”

“...True. And now that there are three of us, we can use it to make sure one of the other two doesn’t jump in while we’re trying to help the dreamer.”

“That shouldn’t be necessary, given the number of dreamers we have to look out for, but it’s not a bad idea.” To be honest, I was really thinking more about using it to keep Luna locked up if I ever needed her gone. If it kept the dreamer asleep and it made it so the dreamwalker couldn’t leave, it could be used as an impromptu holding device. But Twilight didn’t need to know about that.

“So what should we do now?”

“Two choices. Dick around in dreams some more or practice doing stuff in your own dream. Dicking around will give you some practice, but not as much as purposefully trying stuff in your own.”

She tilted her head slightly. “For some reason, Aqua really wants us to go to other dreamers, not to mine.”

She probably doesn’t want me to fuck with her anymore. “Well, feel free to remind Aqua that it’s better for you to learn how to get into and out of dreams on your own accord. That’s something you can practice in your own dream.”

“Would you be there with me?”

“If you wanted me to be. I’d get booted out whenever you managed to escape into the anteroom, but we need to check up on Rarity every now and then anyway.”

Twilight nodded once. “Then let’s do that.” She paused for a few seconds and then blinked. “Wait, how do I get back to my own dream? My head isn’t turning toward it.”

I grinned. “Alright, you know how you got here? You need to do the same thing to get into your own dream. So it’s double the practice.”

“Huh. I guess that means it’s even more important for me to learn.”

“Guess so.” I teleported so I was lying on top of her back. “I’ll just chill here until you get it.”

“I love the emotional support.”

“Love you too, babe.” She sighed and started concentrating yet again.

After several hours and one small tweak to Rarity’s dream, our elementals told us that morning had arrived. “So what should I do?” Twilight asked.

“Keep screwing around in here,” I said, finally looking up from where I had been applying makeup to a very pissed Aqua. “I’ll have Aqua tell you every time an hour passes, and you can check up on Rarity then. After three or so of those, I’ll coordinate with Aqua and try to wake Rarity up. Then we’ll go from there.”

“Sounds like a plan. Then I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Yep. Flo, would you kindly?”

I awoke with a jolt. Twilight’s legs were still clamped around me, so I carefully pulled myself away. Her lingerie was soiled with a few bodily fluids and I felt pretty nasty myself, so I skipped putting my clothes on and just grabbed one of her oversized pony towels so I could take a shower.

Once I was clean, I went to my room to get dressed. Taya was awake again, though she was still chilling on my bed. “You know what time it is?” I asked.

“...Breakfast time?”

“Well, that wasn’t the original plan, but that’s probably not a bad idea. Since you were indisposed, I completely forgot to eat.”

“Um. What was the original plan?”

“Exercise time. Since you were indisposed, you definitely weren’t exercising.”

“...Trying to get out of those ropes was really tiring.”

“I bet running a few laps around the ship will be, too. Let’s go eat so we can get to it, hmm?”

“B-but… I’m emotionally traumatized! I should be… um, recovering or something.” I lifted an eyebrow. “M-my legs are still kinda shakey…” I crossed my arms and she looked away and whispered, “I don’t wanna.”

“Cast the translation spell on yourself. I have a gift.”

She grinned, possibly thinking she was getting out of it. “Okay, daddy!” Her horn lit up and a light quickly suffused her ears. While she was doing that, I was pulling out my laptop and looking for something.

A minute later, I found it and a beautiful, topical song started playing. “Listen closely, Taya. This song is your gift.”

She was just staring at the wall in confusion until the chorus kicked in:

“No, you can't always get what you want

You can't always get what you want

You can't always get what you want

But if you try sometime you find

You get what you need…”

A very blank look came over her face. I said, “You might see where I’m going with this. But just in case, I’ll go ahead and let the rest of it play.” The look on her face grew a little more sullen as the song kept going. Every time the chorus kicked in, she seemed to die a little more on the inside.

When the song finally faded away, she sighed and stood up. “Let’s go eat and then run, daddy.”

“That’s my girl!”

And so we did. Seeing Africa slowly crawl by in the distance while we ran was kinda neat, but I was so jaded by traveling at this point that I didn’t really pay it much mind.

Three hours after I woke up, I found myself standing next to Rarity’s bed. She was still slumbering away, a silly grin plastered across her face. Aqua was standing on one side of me and Flo was on the other. I’m pretty sure the only reason one of them wasn’t doing awful things to me is because the other was there.

And I gotta say, I’m glad. If it was just Flo next to me, there’s no telling what that awful woman would do. It was a good thing Aqua was there to keep her in check.

But anyway, Rarity should have been awake about three hours prior, give or take an hour or so. “Aqua, is Twilight standing by?”

She dimmed a little for a few seconds before saying, “Yes. She’s in the anteroom in front of Rarity’s dream.”

“Excellent.” I started gently shaking the mare on the bed, trying to wake her. She was all kinds of floppy, but no kinds of wakey. “Alrighty. Would one of you kindly jump in there and try to forcefully wake her?”

Flo extended a watery tentacle up Rarity’s nose. After several dull seconds, it retracted. “By all rights, her body should be awake. I believe this dream machine has the capability of holding a pony’s mind hostage.”

“It looks like it. This is something we probably shouldn’t tell anyone. Like, ever. Aqua, ask Twilight to get rid of the lockdown.”

“Very well.” She dimmed again. After a few seconds later, she said, “It is done and Twilight will be waking up shortly.”

“Good.” And Rarity was also stirring. As soon as she was able, she stretched out on the bed and yawned. Aqua and Flo decided to leave before possibly freaking her out, so the only one Rarity saw when she pulled away her sleep mask was me.

“Oh, Nav. Why are you… Oh, I remember, now.” She sleepily smiled, then yawned again. “That was the best dream ever…”

“Glad you thought so. Twilight and I put a lot of work into making it that way. We’re done with our experiment now, so you’re free to write the dream in your journal if you want.”

“That’s one I never want to forget.” She finally sat up and used magic to float a small journal and pen over. “You two are always welcome in my dreams, if that’s how they’ll turn out!”

“It’s hard to put that much effort into every single dream, unfortunately. And of course, we had a small cheatsheet for you, so it was easier to hack.”

“I’d imagine so. Though it seems weird that you two would finally get into a relationship for my benefit. Still, I’m happy for the both of you, though I’d certainly urge not rushing into marriage.”

“Rarity, we’re not actually dating.”

She chuckled. “Oh, I know. You’re just so cute when you’re flustered. But you two would be a wonderful match.”

“Go fuck yourself.” I patted her tummy a few times and then started walking out. “See you later, marshmallow.”

“Until then, sweetie.”

Twilight managed to get undressed and was almost to me by the time I finally got out of Rarity’s room. “Well?” she asked.

“She woke up as soon as you removed the lockdown. She also remembers a good chunk of the dream.”

“Technically speaking, one test could do nothing but show that we had a lucky coincidence.”

“But realistically speaking, I’m calling this one proven. The dream lockdown does what we thought it did.”

“Agreed. Are we in Africa yet?”

“Sorta. We’re flying down the coast now, heading toward the river. We should be there shortly.”

She nodded. “If you don’t mind, I want to run some tests while we’re there. It’ll probably involve me and Taya being on the deck. If at any time you think things might become unsafe, I’ll take her downstairs immediately.”

“Ask Dash or Applejack to suit up and watch over you.”

“That’s a good idea. Now, I’m going to go take a shower and get breakfast. You’re welcome to join me in both, if you’re interested.”

“Kind of you to offer, but no thanks. I already ate and showered. I also need to find Watcher and Gourd to make sure things are going smoothly.”

“Alright. I’ll talk to you later, Nav.” I nodded and she started heading back to her room while I went to the deck.

We arrived at the Congo right around the time the captain predicted we would. Somewhat unsurprisingly, there was a village pressed right up against the coast. Thankfully, the river opening probably spanned a kilometer and a half and the village was only on the south side. We stopped at the north side and started lowering the ship there so we didn’t have to deal with the natives. That said, Gilda and two of Watcher’s scouts kept their eyes on them the whole time and we stayed on full alert.

It felt weird to be in armor again after so long of being out of it. I’m not really sure if it was a good weird or a bad weird. Seeing Kat smiling darkly and occasionally stroking the crossbow was definitely a bad weird, but seeing the naga casually running a whetstone over his blade while staring over the side was a good one. Watching Gilda curl and flex her talons while hungrily staring at the village of gorillas and smaller monkeys was creepy, while hearing one of the guards telling a joke to the amusement of Spike and the other guards around him felt good.

It was a very strange dichotomy, one I wasn’t used to feeling while in my mental fight mode.

Zecora helped to break it when she walked over to me. “Many of the more intelligent races we’ll encounter in the first leg of our journey will likely be very territorial. Most will be primates. I’m sure you know of their nature firsthoof.”

“And I know that a good show of force will likely make them back off. Fear is powerful.”

“Indeed it is. Should it become necessary, I know the ways of this jungle and will be happy to assist in scaring them off with as few casualties on either side as possible.”

“That’s what I’d prefer. Do whatever you can.”

“I’ll begin preparing several mixtures. We can likely use the ballista bolts to deliver several magnificent effects that seem like magic but are actually just chemical reactions. That will likely be enough to scare many of them off.”

“Prepare quickly, then. The captain told me we’ll likely be ready to start moving again in an hour.”

“I shall be ready in time. Until then.” She walked back down.

Spike took her place. “Do you think they want to make you queen, too?”

“I fucking hope not. If a gorilla wanted to kidnap me and make me his blushing bride, I very highly doubt telling them I’m already in a committed relationship would work. I’m pretty sure one of those things would split me in half.”

“Yeah, probably. But don’t worry, Nav. We won’t let them lay a hoof on you.”

“They don’t have hooves.”

“...We won’t let them touch you.”

“I wasn’t particularly worried. Well, unless these guys happen to have magic. But Zecora’s on full alert this time, so if they do try to pull some stupid bullshit, hopefully she can wreck them. And if she can’t, I bet Flo will tear anyone apart that tries to hurt me. If not her, then the other elementals, to protect their last living creator.”

“I didn’t actually think of that… I bet you’re the most protected one here, aren’t you?”

“Probably. Hey, maybe this time, they’ll want a dragon king. Wouldn’t you love being married to a big gorilla babe that just loves being on top?”

“That sounds kinda scary, actually…”

“Yeah, I fucking bet. If you weren’t a dragon, she might well break your pelvis. I guess it would be a hell of a way to go.”

“Well, I’m not too worried, either. I know you’d come for me.”

“Yeah. I might let you have some fun first, though.”

The timely arrival of Jak cut off whatever Spike’s response might have been. “Oi dragon, get over here!” Half the deck looked over at his loud tone. He was limping to one of the siege weapons we had pointing over the side. Smiles was walking next to him, awkwardly holding a toolkit.

“Did he always have a limp?” Spike quietly asked.

“No. Go help him.”

“Alright.” He walked over there and the deck went back to relatively silent.

By the time the unicorns and pegasi were done with whatever preparations they needed to make, a good chunk of the villagers were on the river’s shore, staring up at us. None of them seemed to be holding any ranged weapons and from what I could see through my scope, they looked more scared than angry. I had a feeling they wouldn’t be following us up the river.

Finally, the ship started sinking in the air, slowly drifting closer to the water. Since we didn’t know how deep the river was, the plan was to stay just above the water and try to fly as far as possible. If the magic faltered, we wouldn’t have too far to fall before hitting water. If it didn’t falter, well, at least we were careful.

When we were around five meters above the surface of the river, the captain started ringing the ship’s alert bell. When he had everyone’s attention, he called out, “We’re about to start making headway into the continent. All nonessential and noncombat crew, please head belowdecks unless you have permission to be up top.” A few ponies started filtering down, leaving me, the guards, the naga, Spike, Gilda, Flo, Twilight, Taya, Applejack, and the captain. “For those of you that are left, prepare yourself. Nav?”

“We’re heading into the heart of the unknown, people. Fliers, keep your wings closed. Unicorns, use magic only in emergencies. Earth ponies, keep being awesome. Captain, take us down the river of darkness.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

And just like that, our trek finally began anew.

 
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