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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159. Chapter One Hundred and Thirty-Three

As soon as I got to the ship, I had Spike send word to Celestia that we were coming so she could tell Twilight and her pals to be ready to bounce as soon as we arrived. We had already spent far too much time in Canterlot and I really didn’t feel like getting sucked into more stupid bullshit.

I didn’t have time to get a response from Celestia before I got snuggled by Taya. That was a worthy distraction, so I wasn’t too upset about it. I had a feeling I knew what Celestia would say anyway. So down we went, into the depths of depravity. Namely, my room.

Right when I was starting to make Taya squirm adorably (by rubbing her cute little belly, of course), Flo rudely barged in. Taya barely had time to push my hand away before Flo washed over both of us, absorbing us in a strange, watery hug.

“So is this gonna be your thing?” I sighed when my mouth was clear.

“Yes,” Flo happily replied, gently patting me on the head with a small tendril of water. “So, are you going to introduce us properly?”

“Taya, this is Flo. The full one, not just the one living in my head. She’s apparently more of a cuddle slut than you are.”

“I’m not a cuddle slut!” Taya grumpily said.

“You were literally just cuddling me.”

“...So?”

Flo giggled and pulled us closer together. “Oh, it’s so good to finally hold you both!”

“Psh, gay.”

She rolled her eyes and forced me to say, “I love you too, Flo. It’s so nice to finally be held!”

Taya smirked and said, “Psh, gay.” Instead of forcefully taking over her body, Flo just giggled and started tickling her. Since that was something we could all enjoy, I joined her.

Well, all of us enjoyed it except for Taya, that is. Sacrifices had to be made, though…

Once we were done torturing my adorable daughter, Flo took it upon herself to drag me around the ship so she could get proper introductions to everyone. I don’t really know why she needed me to do it, but we all know she likes to make me suffer see me interacting with my friends.

Since she had just been to the deck and thus knew some people were still up there, that’s where we went first. The first thing I saw was Spike leaning against one of the railings, watching the door. As soon as he saw me, he started walking over, holding a scrap of paper. “The princess sent a response,” he said when he got close enough.

“I figured she would.” I quickly read over it. Basically, she said it was cool and she’d have the girls ready in Canterlot when we got there, but that she needed to talk with me before we left. “Good.” When I looked back up, he was uneasily looking over my shoulder. “Spike, this is Flo. She’s the one that’s been living in my head for a while.”

“Oh. Uh… Well, I need to go, Nav…”

He started to back up, but Flo shot a tendril over my shoulder and grabbed his arm, making him flinch and squeeze his eyes shut. “I am not Brook, Spike,” she gently said, slowly moving closer. “I am a friend to all life, not just the life I consider important. I don’t ask you to forgive Brook, but I do ask that you not fear us all because of what she did.” By the time she finished, she was pretty close to him.

That argument didn’t seem to be having a great effect, so I walked through her to stand between them. “She’s telling the truth, Spike. She’s been in me for a while now, and I know she wouldn’t hurt someone that didn’t deserve it. If you don’t trust her, trust me.”

“Well…”

“Besides, Brook didn’t even hurt you. She just threatened to kill you if we didn’t act like a couple.”

“And that wasn’t… so bad, I guess… I dunno, it’s just… When are we gonna find an elemental that isn’t creepy or made of water? Aren’t there, like, a hundred elements? Why do we have to keep finding the ones that are dangerous to dragons?”

That one actually stumped me. Flo said, “We’re elementals, not elements. We represent the four basic elemental effects in the world: Water, air, earth, and fire. You should not expect to meet a walking chunk of barium.”

“...Oh. I was wondering where water was on that table Twilight gave me.”

God dammit, Spike. “We’ll work on the fires after we get the waters,” I said. “Probably. Besides, what about Aerie? She isn’t dangerous to dragons.”

Spike shivered. “She’s creepy. She… touches me in… places.”

“Uh. So did Doppel.”

“Not these places…”

Some questions are better left unasked. “Oh. Well, yeah. We’ll probably be getting some fires soonish I guess. Either way, the only water elemental you need to be afraid of is Brook, and even then, you need to remember that you can just evaporate her wet ass.”

“...I can?”

“Dude, the bitch is made of water. You’re made of dragon.” He chuckled. “I mean, I’d prefer you not evaporating her just yet, but if it becomes necessary, you most definitely can. The same is also true of Flo, but you would very quickly come to regret that decision. Neither of us are above spanking you.”

“...You might hurt your hand.”

“I’m also not above getting the naga to spank you.” His eyes went wide. “Yeah. Or maybe letting Aerie play with you some more.” He shivered again. “You’re a dragon, Spike. There’s not much that should make you afraid. Worry about Brook, not the others. And even then, I doubt Brook would hurt you without what she thought was a good reason.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So yeah, this is Flo. She’d be willing to touch you in all the right ways, if you ask nicely.”

Flo shot forward and absorbed me so I couldn’t say or hear anything else. They said a few things until I decided enough was enough and stuck my head back out of her chest just in time to hear Spike asked, “So you know everything she’s thinking?”

“I ain’t no she,” I said. “And yes.” I pulled the rest of myself out of Flo. “And you ain’t never gonna learn none of it, neither.”

When I started that last part, he started counting on his claws. “That’s… four negatives? Don’t those all cancel out?”

“Now look here, you skanky-ass little ho—” Flo decided to cover my mouth again, because she doesn’t believe in properly expressing one’s self.

“I know what Nav is thinking and feeling as he thinks or feels it, yes. I know everything he knows, including things he has told no one else. I know all that he is ashamed of, all that he fears, and all that he worries over. I know his greatest prides, his bravest moments, and his moments of triumph. I know him as no other ever could, and love him with all my power because of it, even though I know he hates me for it at times.”

Spike looked suitably impressed, and took a few seconds to respond. “What’s a skanky-ass little ho?” he finally asked.

Flo sighed and released me again so I could say, “It’s an insult. Or a compliment, depending on how true it is. Basically, it means you’re a slut.”

“Oh. Like you?”

“My ass isn’t slutty, thank you very much. But the rest of me, sure.”

He lifted a brow. “You didn’t seem to mind when I—”

“The changelings were distracting me.”

“...You also didn’t mind when they—”

The changelings were distracting me.

“Well, with that many of them—”

“You shut your whore mouth, Spike.”

He looked at me for a few seconds. I continued glaring at him.

After a few seconds, he cracked a grin and said, “Like yours?”

I hurt my hand, but it was worth it.

The next victim friend on Flo’s list of people to meet was Kat, who was surprisingly lacking her spidery companion. Flo refused to carry me, so I had to walk up to her like a normal peasant. She was relaxing on some of the rigging leading up to the balloon, so she didn’t bother looking down at first.

“Why do cats like resting in hard to reach places?” I asked when I was under her.

“So fewer humans can reach us,” she said, waving a paw. “Though I suppose if you’ve come to offer back or ear scratches, I suppose I could come down. Or invite you up, whichever.”

“If you ever want me to pet any part of you, you know where I sleep. And it’s starting to get cold, so I might like something warm and fuzzy to snuggle with at night.” She snorted. “But I’m mostly here to introduce you to Flo, the water thing that’s been living in my head.”

That got her attention. She rolled off the rigging and deftly landed on her feet in front of me. “So that was the point of coming to this desert.” She turned an appraising eye over to the elemental standing beside me. “You’re the one living inside our human, hmm? Do you mind if I touch you? I’ve long wanted to know what one of you felt like, but I was wary of feeling the others after… some of what I’ve heard.”

“We’re like water,” Flo said. “But by all means.” Kat slowly reached a paw out and poked Flo. Flo instantly turned a slight shade of red and snagged Kat’s arm. “Just remember that curiosity killed the cat.” Kat’s eyes widened and Flo shot one of her arms to Kat’s head, then pushed tendrils into her nose. Kat tried using her other claws to scratch Flo off, but they just got absorbed as well, until Kat was unable to move either.

I kinda wanted to step in and say something, but I also was pretty interested in seeing how far Flo was actually going to go. Kat’s eyes were starting to roll into her head and her struggles were slowly becoming less frantic. Finally, her eyes flashed red, then both them and Flo instantly turned an icy blue. The water holding Kat let her go and Flo quickly leaked out of her nose, fully releasing her and making Kat sag.

After a few seconds, Kat shivered and shot back upright, then looked around in confusion. “How did I get down off the rigging?”

“We hit a bad air draft and you fell,” Flo said. “I healed you.”

“...Thanks. Must have been a bad gust,” Kat said. “Which one are you, anyway? There are so many water things roaming around now and I can almost never tell them apart.”

“I am Flo,” she answered with a nod of her head. “I am the one attached to Navarone.”

“So that was the point of coming to this desert.” She blinked in confusion, but shrugged after a second. “You’re the one living inside our human, hmm?”

“I am. It’s interesting, knowing what he knows and seeing what he sees.”

Kat flinched just a little. “I bet you see a whole lot of mares, then.”

“Among other things. His sexual habits are not as prevalent as he pretends, nor as widespread as the rumors make them out to be. There are times when I act as his conscience and there are, of course, many times he ignores me.”

“The right thing to do isn’t always the best thing to do,” I said with a shrug.

“There is truth in that,” Kat replied. “Though it seems she might know a little better than either of us.”

“...And the right thing also isn’t always the thing that feels best to do. Sometimes it’s nice to just tell someone the truth, you know?”

Kat nodded. “I know that very well. That’s why I was enslaved.”

“Was it worth it?”

“No. It was a kitty’s mistake punished by a monster’s law. Being enslaved for calling a rich noble fat was definitely not worth it. But after murdering him and proving my worth to the assassins that saved me from public execution, I was able to speak much more freely. Sometimes.”

Wonder how many more sex scenes I’ll have to go through before unlocking the rest of her backstory. “Yeah, being a slave fucking sucks. I probably didn’t have it as bad as you, but it was still pretty shitty.”

“Oh? What secrets are hidden in your dark human past?”

“Well, most recently, I was magically forced to follow some bitch’s orders because Twilight had to smart off at the mouth and get us both captured. That ended with me in a French maid outfit and almost raped by a dog. It wasn’t fun. Before that, I was pretty much Celestia’s slave for a while. Occasionally well-rewarded and lavished slave, but still a slave. I was in Egypt because I had to be, not because I wanted to be.”

Kat’s mouth tightened slightly. “I… did not realize.”

Flo snorted. “Would it have stopped you if you had?” That made Kat flinch even harder and look away. Flo grabbed my arm and gently tugged me. “There’s the naga. I would like to speak with him.” Kat sighed and turned to the railing. When we walked away, she was staring out into the desert.

“So what did you do to her?” I quietly asked when we were a few meters away.

“Nothing that will hurt her. Physically.” That didn’t stop me from wanting to know, but I had a feeling she wasn’t about to tell me. And we were getting closer to Ames anyway, so even if she ever would tell me, it could wait.

The naga was actually conversing with Jak, who was apparently taking a much-needed break from Athena. One of them heard me walking up and they both stopped whatever they were discussing to watch us come closer. “So you’re finally back from the dark den,” Ames said. “I take it you found what you were looking for.”

“This is her,” I said, poking my watery leash-holder. “Her name is Flo. She’s been living in my head and making me say and do stupid things for a while.”

Flo elbowed me. “Nav likes blaming me for his mistakes. Really, I’m the only reason he ever does anything smart.”

Jak snorted. “Then you must not stay very busy.” Ouch, my feelings. “The wee lass has a decent head on her shoulders. Sometimes. When she cares to use it.”

“Dude, why are you still calling me a chick? That shit’s old.”

“I’ve seen you when you weren’t in nothing more than your knickers, girly. If that body’s a human male, I doubt that I’m half-human. I dunnae care what your mind is. You look like a lass, so I’ll call you a lass. This big fella here shares the sentiment, I’m sure.” He clapped the naga on the shoulder.

Ames grit his teeth. “You… have the mind of a warrior, Nav. But your body is that of a female. Of that, there is no doubt. Even with your reputation… You will not be allowed to marry one of our females when we return to the clan. Though I doubt there would be any young warriors who would fight for your hand, either.”

“I’ve had my fill of cold, fishy genitals anyway. That bitch was nasty, like eating three day old sushi.” The three of us with heartbeats shivered at the thought. “But like, fo rizzle, Imma bitch slap the next one of y’all motherfuckers that acts like I’m a chick.”

Ames and Jak shared a short look. Flo giggled and said, “She’s just PMSing.”

So apparently, you can smack a water elemental’s head off. The orgasm she gave me for doing it was an unfair punishment, though. And not letting me go change my panties immediately afterwards was even worse.

When we were both recovered (easier for her, since her head popped right back out of her body as the water I slapped away reabsorbed into her), we started heading back down below. There was no one else on the deck that she really cared all too much to meet. Gilda wouldn’t have cared, the captain had already met her, most of the crew and soldiers were annoyed by the elementals pestering them about becoming hosts, and everyone else was below decks.

We did, however, run into Doppel when we were heading down. She winced slightly when she saw me.

“Something wrong?” I asked.

“Not… particularly,” she slowly said, eying me up and down. “I just uh… I see you… spent a lot of time with Queen Chrysalis.”

“Well, yeah. I was advising her.”

Doppel shook her head. “You don’t understand, Nav. I’ve never seen any of the changelings in her harem this covered in her pheromones. Most drones probably couldn’t tell you apart from her if you were both standing side by side. To changelings, that’s a sign of a married couple.”

“...Huh. I’m going to go take a very long shower. No way in hell am I going to go into Canterlot smelling like bug queen musk.”

“That’s probably a good idea, master. But you should probably take at least one shower before we get back to Canterlot anyway, since it’ll take a few days.”

“Yeah, yeah. Oh and by the way, this is Flo. She’s the one that’s been living in my head and the reason we even came here.”

Doppel smiled and bowed slightly. “Any friend of my master is a mistress to me! Especially if she’s been living in him!”

Flo chuckled and said, “We’ve become very acquainted already, my pretty little pet bug. You might not know it, but I’ve explored every inch of you already. And I’d always be happy to do so again…”

Doppel actually blushed. “M-master, what have you let her do to me?”

I shrugged and said, “Anything she wanted. I let her take over occasionally so she can have some fun.”

“And what fun it was,” Flo breathed, reaching a tendril out to caress Doppel. “If Nav’s going to take a shower, perhaps we can spend some quality time together…?”

Doppel eyed the tendril before quickly nodding. “I think I might like that, Flo.”

Flo smiled and moved in to absorb all of Doppel’s body, who just let it happen. Before her head could be completely submerged, Flo said, “Please, call me mistress.” And just like that, Flo started ferrying Doppel right back down the stairs.

Jesus Christ, I really did pervert you!

“Maybe. Or maybe I just like the sound of a woman with all her holes stuffed.”

Is that an offer?

“No, you just get to watch. I like making you suffer. Well, until you deserve to be punished.”

Bitch.

“Skank.”

All things told, it was a nice shower, but I really missed the size of the ones in the changeling palace. Tiny little cabin bathrooms are hell.

The big meeting thing convened the next day in our war room. It involved me, Brook, Watcher, Gourd, Flo, and Zecora. In the middle of the room was a table with a large world map that was missing a lot more than it should have been.

“How are we flying?” I asked as soon as we were all in place.

Gourd nodded and said, “It would take a lot of doing to pull us out of the air. We’re flying straight and true, no issues at all. Still set on provisions. We’ll check again when we get to Canterlot and get anything we might need while we’re there.”

“Excellent. Now, this is Flo. She’s the one we came to get.” Watcher and Gourd nodded at her. I don’t guess they thought any words were necessary, since they kinda sorta already met. “With Flo out of the ground, there’s just one more left. I assume we have a location?” I asked, looking at Brook.

“We do. It is, in part, why I asked Zecora to join us. We are going into Africa, a place that is, in this cycle, thoroughly unmapped. We are able to direct the ship straight toward our sister, but we don’t know what we’ll find once we get there. We also don’t know how long it will take for us to excavate to the point of freeing her. That said, we know that we waters will be fully capable of freeing her without assistance, assuming the lack of previous mining attempts and any booby traps from the element of chaos.”

“How?” Gourd asked.

Brook’s head tilted slightly. “Given eons, unguided water can shape the planet. Given seconds, guided water can shape a parcel of it. We would not risk cutting through rock where there is already a mine, but if it is undisturbed land, we will cut through it ourselves.”

“At least there’s that,” I said. “We’re still left with a problem, though. What’s there and on the way there, and is it safe? Zecora?”

She stepped up and studied our map. After seeing how woefully lacking it is, she shook her head sadly. “There are many tribes and cultures in my homeland. Some are peaceful, some are warlike, some are nomadic, some are stationary. I can guide us around hostile villages and to friendly villages, but nomads are nomads. Each is led by some manner of shaman. Some are more skilled than others. I can guard us against most of what we will face.”

I looked over to Watcher. He said, “Perhaps you’re forgetting that we’re in a flying boat. Is there anything dangerous that can fly? Because we can just fly high and none of their magic would affect us anyway.”

Zecora wryly smiled. “And perhaps you forget, my dear, that you seek to enter my homeland. Do you remember why my land is so unexplored by you ponies?”

It took a second, but Gourd finally flinched and growled, “I remember! We used that damn place as a port dozens of times and my magic never worked right there!”

Our zebra nodded. “Right you are. Your pony magic is fickle in my home. Perhaps your boat can fly there. But perhaps it cannot. How much of its flight is magic and how much of it is science?”

Watcher shook his head. “How did I never hear about this? Nav, isn’t Taya from Egypt? Did she ever mention it?”

“Dude, she didn’t even know how to do magic until I brought her back to Equestria. But the old king guy that we deposed was collecting unicorns. Maybe it’s only fucked in lower Africa.”

“Perhaps,” Zecora said with a shrug. “But it will do what you want just as often as it will backfire. Would you risk flying into it, knowing your unicorn crew would be unable to use their magic to keep themselves in the air should an emergency arise? Or spend the entire time wondering if the magic in your ship will fail?” She shook her head. “If we want to go into my homeland, it will be on hoof.”

“Not quite,” Brook said. “Our sister would not have strayed far from water. Rivers do change the landscape, but we could likely follow one into the continent and get close to where she was. Close enough for my sisters and I to safely leave the ship to reach her ourselves.”

“Gourd, is the ship equipped to float down a river?” I asked.

“Depends on how deep it is,” he answered. “But even without our magic, we can likely use the balloon to raise our boat out of the water enough to keep it moving forward, no matter how shallow the water becomes. I just wouldn’t trust it too far above the ground, in case something goes wrong.”

“Hm. Watcher?”

He shook his head. “I don’t like it, sir. This place is unexplored for a reason. Brook, can your sisters leave us at the coast and go inland themselves? We could fly to the closest spot to your sister, to minimize your exposure.”

“No. It would be a great risk to us. We know not what new magics have been created since our… exile. My monkeys have the skills to permanently harm me, if they had been so inclined. Zecora’s magic seems similar. As unpleasant a notion as it is, we require protection. For now.”

Watcher sighed and nodded. “Then it’s our only option, like it or not. Our flying options will likely be limited as well, so hopefully we don’t run into bad weather.”

“Our ship can handle it,” Gourd said.

“Fighting in wet armor sucks,” I said. “But we’ll manage. Brook, where do we start? The Nile? Senegal? Niger?”

“The Congo.”

Of fucking course. This is all your fault, Flo. Surprisingly, she didn’t comment. “Zecora, where are we going?”

She walked forward and pointed at part of the western coast. “The river the ponies know as the Congo starts around here.”

“What do you know it as?” Flo asked.

“The translation is Heart’s Vein. She carries her depleted children into the heart of our home.”

“I really hope we don’t run into too many of her children on our trip,” I sighed. “Friendly or not, I’d prefer our journey be nice and boring.”

“As do I. I will need to stock up on supplies in Canterlot. Disease spreads quickly to those who are unaccustomed. I will keep as many of our crew from becoming ill as possible and I will cure those who do.”

“Good. Gourd, do you have everything you need?”

“I don’t know, Nav. I’ll need to talk to my crew. Before, I thought we were ready for anything. Now, I need to check on some things. But what we don’t have, we’ll get in Canterlot.”

“Keep me apprised. Watcher, you good?”

“Yes sir. My troops will fight true, with or without magic. But all the same, I’d prefer having it.”

“Same, as much as I hate to say it. Brook, is there any additional information we might need?”

“No. We will guide the ship’s path to our sister, Navarone. Any information you require will be given to you.”

“Good. Then I’m going outside. This damn war room is always stuffy.” There was a general noise of agreement from all those present who could actually feel things and we all filed out.

As soon as I got to the deck, Zecora stepped up next to me. “Do you remember your offer to bring me home?” she asked.

“I do. I made that offer before realizing our ship couldn’t fucking fly you there.” And she took it without warning me that it couldn’t.

“My home village happens to be on the Congo. Should we venture far enough into the continent, we will likely pass by it.”

“...Convenient. Then I guess I might well be a man of my word, even if it is on accident. I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me what actually happened, or are you going to keep it bottled up until moments after I do something stupid that I wouldn’t have done if I had known? Or maybe wait until the reveal would be most dramatic so you can look cool?”

She looked over to the side of the ship and then walked up to the railing. I followed her, since that seemed like the right thing to do. “It is a fairly simple tale, truly. I have been wary of telling it for fear of your… loyalty.”

“I’m loyal to my friends, Zecora. No throne or country. There are times I wonder about the rest of the crew, though.”

“I share the same concerns. That is why I have so far kept my silence. The one who displaced me was a pony trader named Pertz. He convinced my village that he was a demigod and had them cast me out when I tried to prove he was a liar.”

Flo, do I live in a shitty TV show? Be honest. She didn’t reply. “What a dick. Are we gonna deep six his ass?”

“We are going to do nothing to his behind. I am going to disprove his claims of godhood the hard way. With your assistance, my people will not be able to deny me.”

“Well I mean, do you really want to go back? They kinda kicked your ass to the curb for no real reason.”

“I have grown in my travels. I no longer feel the need to act as their shaman. But even though they exiled me, I still cannot bear to think of them following an abusive, insane pony. If my presence is required after he is banished, I will… consider staying. Otherwise, I am content as I am.”

“Cool. I’d much rather have you here than with them, anyway. Why did you think this would cause a loyalty issue?”

She grimaced. “Pertz told me he was a royal trader sent from Canterlot. At the time, I did not know what that meant. Later, I realized he was probably in my land under Celestia’s authority. I question whether the crew would support me if they knew that.”

“Tch. If they don’t, I’ll put that dickwad under myself. It wouldn’t be the best solution, but I bet it would work.”

“As a last resort, perhaps. But now you know my past. Are you content?”

“Not really, but I know enough about your issues in the Congo to not really worry about it anymore. I can get you drunk to learn more about the rest of your history.”

“And perhaps in doing so, reveal more about your own, you mysterious being from the past.”

“Nah, man. Chicks dig a mysterious past. I can’t tell anyone, or I stop being interesting.” She snorted. “I don’t need your judgement.”

“Perhaps fillies enjoy mystery. Proper mares prefer knowing their partner won’t up and leave them.”

“Of course a woman would say that. But you gotta realize, women don’t know what they want. If they did, they’d probably be horrified.”

She shook her head. “You have so little faith in us.”

“Well, most chicks haven’t really given me a reason to have faith. Luna was literally insane and couldn’t decide if she wanted me as a pet or a lover. Chrysalis is just about the same way, minus the completely psychopathic part. Celestia definitely seems to prefer me as the lover, but there was that whole thing a while back when she pretty much made me a slave. Pinkie’s insane, Twilight’s creepy, Kat’s a murderous rapist, Doppel’s a total slut, Gilda’s…” I quickly looked up and saw a cat-like tail twisting down from one of the masts and decided against saying that.” ...Gilda. Taya has all kinds of things wrong in her mind. Don’t even get me started on Flo’s crazy ass. Bitches just be trippin’.”

“That list is far from all-inclusive. It seems that you picked the examples that most support your hypothesis and disregarded the rest.”

“And it seems to me that you’re also trippin’. I’m sorry you have to hear this from me, Zecora, but I’m afraid you also don’t know what you want.” She closed her eyes and shook her head sadly. “There’s no cure, sadly. You’ll have to learn to live with it.” She face-hoofed. “At least you can finally fit in with all the popular girls. I bet Rarity would love to talk fashion with you!” She decided to walk away. Typical woman. Always running when they start losing.

“There are times I wonder about you,” Flo said in my head.

“There are times I wonder about me, too,” I quietly replied.

Some time during the next day, when I finally had some time to just chill in my room by myself, I was interrupted by one of the more annoying and unwanted members of my crew. He was definitely living up to his namesake, smiling from ear to ear when he let himself in without knocking.

“What do you want, Smiles?” I sighed, already tired of dealing with him.

“I wanted to thank you for introducing me to Braeburn. That was an awfully fun trip…”

“Yeah. I bet it would have been better if they let you finish.”

His smile faltered slightly. “Yeah… That’s kinda why I stopped by. Ice and I got to thinking and we came up with what could be a… mutually beneficial arrangement.”

“Let me stop you right there. If the next words out of your mouth involve the two of us having sex, I’m going to do awful things to you that aren’t sexy at all.”

And that got his smile back to its normal size. “I don’t think that’s true at all… ma’am. After all the times you’ve threatened me, you’ve almost never actually hurt me.”

“True, true. I might not. But she will.” He managed to look back in time for Flo to completely envelope his lower half.

“Hello, brother,” she icily said.

Smiles flinched and said, “Oh, dear sister… How may I assist you?”

“My human has repeatedly made his desires—or rather, the lack thereof—clear to your pony. If you or this Smiles character continues to bother Nav, I will make sure your host regrets it. And I’ll have a long conversation with Naiad as well, so I doubt he would be the only one that regrets it.”

“Dear sister, please. We only want to propose—” His entire body spasmed and Flo sweetly smiled. “T-that’s…”

“Precisely what you were proposing to do to him, was it not?”

“Well—”

“Put Smiles back in control.”

“He is my host, not—” His body jerked again and Flo tilted her head slightly. Ice coughed and said, “As you wish.”

Smiles jerked and looked down at where Flo was holding the back end of his body. “W-what are you—”

“Exactly what you want to do to someone else. That’s fair, is it not?” Flo asked.

“That’s not—”

“This is exactly what you did to Navarone!” she hissed, leaning in closer. “And if you even think about doing it again, I will find you and make you just like one of your old Canterlot toys! All you’ll think about is finding a stallion to play with you, just like all you want to do now is find one to play with. You are going to leave Navarone alone. You will not try to sleep with him. You will stick to your hooves or Ice. Am I understood?”

Smiles quickly nodded. “Yes ma’am! Now p-please…”

Flo’s eyes narrowed and she pulled away from his body, making him sag. Then she grabbed one of his ears and forcefully led him out the door, making him whine in pain. When both of them were out, she reached in and pulled the door shut again.

“That’s certainly one way to deal with it,” I said, looking back down to my laptop.

“I’ve been looking forward to that for a while,” she happily replied.

“Is there anything else you’ve been looking forward to for a while that I should know about?”

“We’re going to party with Pinkie and there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m also going to discuss a lot of fashion with Rarity and probably get her off your back. And of course, I’m going to do all kinds of naughty things to Rainbow Dash, if she remembers me from Luna’s dream party.”

“I’m okay with two of those. I don’t think I want you talking to Rarity, though. You’d probably just make it worse.”

“All the better. You’re so cute when you’re annoyed. And you’re even cuter when you’re annoyed and in a pretty dress.”

“Yeah, go fuck yourself. Also, you aren’t allowed to talk to Celestia. I really don’t think I’d like where that would go.”

She chuckled. “Well, you’re certainly welcome to tell me what I may or may not do, but don’t think that will stop me. Celestia and I are due for a heart to heart conversation. Whether or not I rip hers out remains to be seen.”

“I very seriously doubt there’s much left to remove. If you’re really going to be a bitch about it, fine, but I refuse to be anywhere in the vicinity when it happens. And if you get incinerated, I’m going to make a lot of really bad decisions just to spite you.”

“Noted. But Celestia wouldn’t dare harm me, unless it was in self-defense. She would have all my sisters to deal with, after all, and she isn’t sure of our power. But if you’re there to tickle her behind the ear, she’ll do pretty much whatever I say anyway.”

“I have no interest in being in a clash between giants. Especially not when one of them lives in my head and the other feels so good to have sex with.”

“I didn’t know Celestia lived in your head…”

I rolled my eyes. “Flo, you’re usually pretty boring to fuck. No offense to you, but you’re a robot and it kinda shows when we have sex. You’ve been learning, though. You’re definitely better than you were.”

“...Then perhaps I need more practice.”

“Maybe. Doppel would be all too willing to help you study, I’m sure.”

“Hmph. And not you, my dearest, faithful host?”

“Nah. You’re not pretty enough. Maybe if I get really desperate.”

“I am not above spanking you. I can easily turn one of my arms into a paddle.”

“Tch. I think you know the real reason.” Namely, that I was kinda tired of sex at the moment. Chrysalis took a lot out of me, and not in all the good ways. If I had to guess, I’d say she had been draining me without letting me know, so I needed some time to recover. “You could always teach Taya all the life lessons she could ever want.”

“No. It has been a while since we properly made love. Perhaps I’d be better than you remember.”

“Maybe. Either way, it’ll have to wait a bit. Though you could also just rape Smiles some more.”

“You can’t rape the willing. And I was only doing that to teach him that it’s impolite to put things where they aren’t wanted, after it’s been said several times that they aren’t wanted there. Besides, that’s quite rude. Definitely not something I would want to do to anyone.”

“So what do you call giving me random orgasms?”

“Precious gifts. You seem to go out of your way to obtain them from others, so I figured it would be nice to give you some myself.”

“Bitch.”

“Skank.”

“Slut.”

“Ho.”

“Whore.”

“Sexy beast.”

I rolled my eyes and went back to doing fuck all on my laptop.

The day we got back to Canterlot was an overcast and rainy one. Even rich Canterlot assholes need to occasionally water the grass, I suppose. We stopped right next to the palace, since I’m important enough to get away with that, and I flew down to meet Princess Celestia by myself. Watcher was busy gathering his remaining people, Gourd was busy hunting down supplies and testing the ship, and the rest of the crew was probably busy being normal people. I thought about bringing Spike, but I decided I didn’t care enough and Celestia would likely try to get frisky anyway.

The guards probably didn’t want to let me in, but I was wet from the rain and a single look at my face made them decide to stay quiet. They knew it was a losing battle, anyway, and the consequences for even trying it might be dire.

I figured, given what time it was, that Celestia would be in her throne room. There wasn’t a line at the moment and the guards only gave me a glance when I started letting myself in, so I just kept going. Sure enough, the great white horse was conversing with her chief of staff when I walked in. Celestia looked up long enough to see me, then went right back to her conversation, though it seemed like she picked up a hint of a smile. Since interrupting would be rude, I just chilled next to the door until they were done.

When they finally got done talking about the new maid outfits, the fellow in charge of the employees spun around and finally realized I was there. That made him jump slightly, but then he blinked, shrugged, and walked out. I started walking up to Celestia’s dais.

As soon as I got to an acceptably close distance, she asked, “How many of those things are on your ship, now?”

“That’s a very racist way to talk about ponies, Celestia,” I replied.

She rolled her eyes and specified, “The watery things. I believe you called them elementals. How many are there?”

“Twelve on my ship and one more in Africa. That’s where we’re heading as soon as we pick up Twatlight Spankle and her buttbuddies.”

She barely stopped from cracking a wider smile. “Thirteen has been considered by many to be an unlucky number.”

“The only people that talk about luck are those who fail enough to need it. That’s how many water elementals there are.”

She shook her head sadly. “You have a very negative outlook at times, Nav. Maybe you need some cheering up!”

“I think I’m fine, actually. I’m also awfully tired of being sedentary. I’d like to talk about whatever you wanted to talk about so I can get moving again quickly.”

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “How much time did you spend with Chrysalis?”

“Far too much. I think she drained me a little. I’ve been feeling off since I left. I figure I need some time to recover. She’s a damn emotional vampire.”

“Hm. Well, at least it seems that she didn’t drain you of even your will. Though I suppose she drained you of your knowledge. It’s vampony, not vampire.”

“Eternal, actually. But when I come from, it’s vampire. I think mine is a bit more historically sound.”

“...Where did you hear the term eternal?”

“Luna. Seriously though, what did you want to talk about? We have a long trip ahead of us and I’d like to get it started sooner rather than later.”

“Very well. Prepare yourself.” Her horn lit up before I could do anything and we teleported onto a dark raincloud. It was on the top layer of clouds, so we only felt its coolness instead of the wet from the rain. “There. Much more private.” She happily laid herself down and snuggled into the cloud.

I crossed my arms.

She sighed and used magic to make me sit down in front of her. “Doesn’t that feel more comfy?”

“Look, I’m pretty emotionally dead right now and I’m really not in the mood for the bullshit cutesy crap you do with your ponies to try to seem harmless. What do you want to talk about?”

The smile on her face disappeared. “One of my royal traders in Africa went missing several years ago. He’s—”

“Let me stop you right there. His name is Pertz and he went down the Congo to look for ivory.”

She frowned. “Close. Pertz was not sent to look for ivory, however. How do you know of him?”

“Celestia, you read Heart of Darkness after I rewrote it.”

“His name in the book was not Pertz.”

“Alright, here’s the dealio: Zecora was a shaman that got exiled from her home village after this Pertz guy showed up and made the zebras there think he was a god or something. She wants us to go there and oust the douche. I suppose you want me to bring him back?”

“You suppose correctly. He’s still sending back goods, but all missives have stopped. I want to know why and I want him back in Equestria. Especially if he’s been acting as a… god. I want to bring the light of civilization to Africa, not drown them in superstitions.”

“That’s racist as fuck, but I don’t even care. I’ll try to bring this dickwad out, but no promises. My promise to Zecora is more important than any responsibility you might think I have to you.”

“That is fair, Nav. She is part of your crew and I assume this is the condition she laid upon you to join you.”

“Sorta. First she wanted me to help cure her of rapping all the time.”

Celestia shook her head. “Nav, we have hooves. We rap against everything we walk upon.”

“If I could feel anything right now, it would be an intense burning hatred. Fine, she wanted help to stop from rhyming every time she wanted to talk. Does that offend your delicate horsie sensibilities less?” She smiled and happily nodded. “Go fuck yourself. Anyway, we got that taken care of. The second thing she wanted was a ride back to whatever third world hellhole she came from. That happens to be somewhere along the Congo. I figured since we were going there anyway, we could help her with her issue. Least we can do, after all she’s done for us.”

“Once again, understandable,” she said with a nod. “However, if it’s at all reasonably possible, I would very much like Pertz back here in Canterlot. Alive. If you find any evidence of misdeeds, he will be tried accordingly. If Zecora’s report is true, it’s likely he will find himself in one of Chrysalis’s hives.”

“I’m sure she’ll be ever so happy to hear that,” I sarcastically replied.

“Hm. When you finish with Africa, what will you do?”

“Now that… that’s a very good question,” I said, leaning back. “Honestly, I’m not sure what the elementals are planning. After we get the last water, I want to get the fires and then the earth. But I can’t do it without the waters helping and they might not want to.”

“I find myself wanting to meet one of these… elementals. Face to face, not face to a screen, or through a proxy.”

I smirked. “Be careful what you wish for. The one in my head wants to meet you, too. And she probably won’t be very nice.”

“Perhaps I am due for some rudeness. If you bring her to my dining room, I shall converse with her there. There is no need for secrecy, so hiding her will be unnecessary.”

Flo chuckled in my head. “I’ll be waiting when you’re done…”

“I think I can do that,” I said with a shrug. “But remember that you brought this on yourself. And I am not mediating this meeting. You’re gonna get the full, unadulterated Flo.”

“And she will get me. I don’t expect you to make an attempt to rein her in. The one and only time Flo and I have taken time to converse, it was very… interesting.”

“Yeah, I bet you aren’t used to being told off by someone old enough to make you feel like a child.”

She smirked. “It has been a while since somepony could make me feel like a filly.”

“Well, if you find out that you like it, I’m sure Twilight can find some age regression spell that would let you keep your memory. Then I can treat you like Taya or something.”

“I usually prefer being the mother, not the child. But if you’d like, I can find some way to let you be my mommy…”

“Go to hell. Now, is there anything else you need?”

“Information about Chrysalis and the hive, if you’re willing to give it.”

“I’m willing to take questions. Whether or not I’ll answer depends entirely upon the question.”

She pursed her lips. “I’m interested. What has Chrysalis done to earn your loyalty?”

“Not raped me. Or let me get raped. Or put me in a position where such a thing happened.”

“Is that truly all? I doubt your loyalty is so easy to earn.”

“I may be a bad person, but I’m not a dick, Celestia. Aren’t friends supposed to look out for friends?”

“It has been a long time since I would associate the word friendly with Chrysalis. I warned you time and again, but I must do so again. I wouldn’t trust her, Navarone. I know she doesn’t trust you.”

“Oh? How many people do you think she’s told the true story of how she became Chrysalis?”

“Her ‘true story’?” she scoffed. “Thousands. Most of them males of various races, so she could play the sympathy card.” She waved a hoof. “I assume she used the typical one where she was corrupted by love poison? Or maybe she decided to use the unrequited love mixed with a genie angle. Or maybe—”

“Moonbeam made a deal with Discord and he turned her into the mother of changelings.”

Her mouth slowly dropped.

“That one not so common, huh? She was a midwife. You were her student. You were both at a house, delivering Luna, when Discord came knocking. She made you run with Luna while she confronted him. He cut her a deal that she took. I assume she quickly came to regret it, since she helped the two of you defeat him.”

She managed to regain her composure while I was talking and said, “Perhaps I was mistaken. And perhaps you’re a marked stallion. You will keep that story to yourself. Doing so will help ensure your lifespan remains long.”

“I’ve already been warned, trust me. What other questions do you have?”

“What is her technological progress?”

I smiled. “She’s making trains that run on a mix of magic and electricity. Three magic users can make the thing run from one hive to another, pulling several cars at once. No smoke, no hills, no weird bumps, and no risk of bandits or monsters. She also has a good supply of copper for wires and other metals for other things, since their currency is just lumps of metal. And gold’s also a good conductor, and they don’t give a shit about its value. She’s also considering making boats and airships that run off similar magitec so she can begin trading with the world to let her changelings be seen in a less hostile light. The hives are also lit up with electrical light.”

She didn’t look all too happy about a lot of that. “I see. And would you happen to know how this engine of hers works?”

“You could ask her, you know. They’re allies, Celestia.”

“That was a yes or no question, Nav.”

“Then yes. I’m just sayin’. You two could get married to really cement it.”

“Would you be willing or able to explain it to my engineers?” she asked, completely ignoring my brilliantly sexy idea.

“No, but I’d be willing and able to explain it to you. I don’t like your asshole engineers.”

“They don’t like you, either. Very well, then. Explain it to me like I’m five.”

“Where’s your mommy and daddy, little one? Do you need me to help you find them?”

She grabbed some cloud with magic and smacked me with it.

“Alright, you have two electromagnets on rods around a central axis with metal interspaced evenly between them. Use a little magic to power them and they’ll start spinning. That spin will generate electricity that’ll be used to power the train. Do it on a large enough scale and you’ll be set.”

“I see. If it’s so simple, I wonder why my engineers haven’t managed to discover it…”

“Probably because they don’t like you, they don’t like me, and they really don’t want to be working for you.”

“Or because their minds work on a different level.”

“Or because there are only two of them and probably hundreds of changelings. Do note that this is only something I happened to see while I was there. I have no idea what else they might be doing. I was acting as Chrysalis’s advisor and this wasn’t very high on her list of priorities at the time.”

“It might be time to pay one of her hives a personal visit. She has been a visitor at my palace and at my parties several times recently, so perhaps she would allow it.”

“I kinda doubt she’s ever in too much of a hurry to come visit you. But you know, whatevs. You do you, man.”

She lifted an eyebrow for a moment before saying, “Be wary of what you say, Navarone. You have… fans in Canterlot. And elsewhere. A few of them have already begun mimicking some of your speech patterns. I’d wager it won’t be too long before some of your colloquialisms are used in everyday speech, even among regular ponies.”

“Cry me a river. You got any other questions?”

“On what did you advise her? I imagine she has considerably more experience than you. Why would she want your assistance?”

“This and that. I’m not certain she’d want me discussing her reasons for using me.”

“Very well. Did anything of note happen while you were in the hive?”

“Two things, both weird. I ran into a very strange creature made of mushrooms while I was helping changelings clear an area for copper. She spoke to me like I was a very strange creature made of trees. When I explained that the changelings were going to destroy her mushroom copse, she decided to leave and explore.”

“I… see. I did not realize there were still madremontes roaming the world. Or that there were some made out of mushrooms rather than trees. That is certainly a thing of interest and possibly one of concern, but I will deal with it should the need ever arise.”

“What’s a madremonte?”

She sighed. “A guardian of nature. They usually enroot themselves in a forest and guard it. My sister and I have had issues in the past with a few of them. She actually befriended one of them long ago, but they lost touch in the ravages of time.”

“Neat. The other thing of note is more personal. Chrysalis took me to where the changelings lay their dead to rest and some kind of evil spirit tried luring me to my death. I’m still very much haunted and it seems they can partially control my body through Ava. I’m thinking I might need to talk to a very powerful necromancer to help me.”

“...Or a very powerful lich. But they are few and far between, these days. My sister and I made sure of that.”

“I’m willing to bet Grogar’s up and kicking.”

She flinched very slightly. “If he is, he is in Tartarus. Necromancy is an evil magic, Navarone.”

“There’s no such thing as magic that is evil. Magic is neither good nor evil. Its morality depends entirely upon its use.”

“As a magic user, I can safely say you are incorrect. There are dark things in this world, Nav. Binding your soul into an object so you can never be destroyed is evil. Raising the dead and unleashing them upon innocents is evil. Destroying an entire continent’s ecosystem in some mad attempt to make ponies leave the area around your base is evil.” She shook her head. “If your only choices are living with this spirit or finding something like Grogar to assist you, I’d say your only choice would be living with it.”

“Living with it will likely mean dying because of it. But I am in no hurry to go to Tartarus to find Grogar. I’m still looking for alternate solutions. Something just has to be done or it might well kill me. And worse, condemn my soul to join hers, locked in some prison for all eternity.”

“That is… not an ideal scenario.”

“No fucking kiddin’.”

“I am hesitant to do this, but I believe she is ready. I also believe a well-rounded education is very important, even if it delves into things that are… unwise to explore. I will grant Twilight the use of a few forbidden texts, on the condition that you watch her carefully. And if she conducts any experiments into necromancy, I want her supervised by a soldier. With luck, she’ll be able to eventually help you in removing your dark spirit.”

“Do you really think she’d want to? That’s some pretty dark shit, Celestia.”

“Yes, I do. She was quite pleased with learning the smattering of dark magic I taught her before sending her to the Crystal Empire. It’s a dangerous line she will be treading, but I trust that with the help of you and her other friends, she will stay true.”

“Whatevs. I guess if she can get this damn thing out of me, it’ll work. Now, any other questions?”

“One. Would you perhaps be interested in a little… roll in the clouds, so to say?”

“No. Besides, as funny as it would be, I kinda don’t want our fluids leaking into the clouds and then down on Canterlot.”

“True enough, I suppose. I shall teleport us back to the castle, then. Twilight and her friends are ready to go on my word. When we get below, lead Flo to my dining hall and then I shall send her and Twilight to the ship when we are done with our discourse.”

“Flo’s already waiting for you. Remember, she’s in my head.”

“...Very well. I will have everypony on your ship when we are done with our talk.” Before she teleported us down, she quickly leaned in and kissed me. After a few seconds, she pulled away with a smile. “It’s good to see you again, Navi.” And then we teleported back down to the throne room, with both of us on the floor.

I assume she thought I wouldn’t comment on what she said if she put us in a public place. She obviously didn’t know me as well as she thought. “Don’t call me that, sunbutt.” Both of the guards flinched and glared at me.

Celestia smirked as we both stood. “I think it sounds cute. Do you think we should obtain a stallion’s opinion?”

“No, I think you should go fuck yourself. Anyway, I’m—”

She gagged me with magic and turned to the guards. “Don’t you think Navi is a cute nickname?”

My mouth might have been forced shut, but she didn’t stop the rest of me from moving. I turned and stared at the guards with the dullest expression I could, and then loudly popped my knuckles.

It seemed my suspicion was correct. Both the guards nervously gulped. One cleared his throat and said, “N-no, your majesty…” Fear is powerful.

“Hmph. Well, it’s not going to stop me. Now, I need to go have a conversation with Miss Flo. I look forward to our next meeting… Navi.” She used magic to blink away before I could tell her to kill herself.

I kinda had a feeling the guards wanted me to leave, so I just walked on out without even glancing at them. Since there wasn’t anything else I really needed to do in the palace, I started heading to the main entrance. Getting to the ship before I could get sucked into more bullshit was my primary goal.

Of course, I’m not allowed to have nice things. As soon as I got a few steps away from the throne room, I was accosted by a very disturbed looking day guard. As soon as he jumped in front of me, he bowed and wailed, “PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!”

“...Who are you?”

“The dreams… I can’t stop dreaming about it!” He jumped up, grabbed my shoulders, and started shaking me. “Why are you doing this?!”

Since he was already shaking me and his helmet got knocked loose when he jumped, I leaned back and then slammed my head against his, making him let me go and reel back. It probably hurt me just as much, but my forehead against his nose meant I came out on top.

Before he could recover, I jumped behind him, grabbed his tail, and kicked one of his back legs out from under him. One of his front legs was on his face and one of his back legs was down, so when I pushed in his back knee, he crumpled to the ground. Then I grabbed both wings by their lowest joints and pulled them taut, making him completely stop for fear of me breaking them.

“Alright, so who are you and why do I care?” I casually asked.

“P-pointy Hat, sir!”

Who the fu—Oh yeah, that guy! “I gave you those dreams for one night, soldier. Then I kinda forgot about it because I didn’t care enough.”

“Liar!” I pulled slightly tighter, making him gulp. “I-I mean… I’m still dreaming them, sir…”

“Well, that’s not my fault. I don’t control what people dream unless I’m actually in the dream, and I haven’t looked at yours. Everyone’s set on dreams that would make them happy. So I guess getting fucked up the ass by dragons and diamond dogs makes you happy. Slut.”

“B-but—”

“Yes, your butt. Being penetrated. A lot. Guess you like that, don’t you?” He whimpered and his back end flinched slightly.

“You… you can help me, sir! Give me good dreams again! Please, I beg of you!”

“Eh. If I remember tonight, I’ll take a peek. If it looks like you’re having a nightmare, I’ll step in. Otherwise, it sounds like a big ol’ dose of not my problem. I’m not going to help someone hide from his deepest, darkest desires.”

“But—”

“We’ve already been over this. Your butt, being penetrated a lot.” He sagged, seemingly giving up. “I’m going to leave now. Sweet dreams.” When I let go, he didn’t even move, aside from letting his wings fall down to the floor. I shook my head and continued to the exit.

My streak of not being allowed to have nice things continued, though at least the rain had stopped. Fleur was standing at the outer gates, watching the front doors of the palace. As soon as she saw me, her face lit up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pretend to not see her, so I sighed and continued walking to meet her. As soon as I got in range, she happily hopped up to hug me. I awkwardly patted her back, wondering how I could get away from her quickly. The Taya excuse always worked, but I figured I could at least wait to hear what she had to say.

“Thank Celestia you’re back!” she said when she let me go.

“I’m not going to be back for long. Chances are, we’re leaving in a few hours.”

“That is… not as long as I had hoped. But long enough to assist me with an issue. I really need your help.”

I slipped my hands in my pocket, slouched slightly, and started walking into town. She followed, a smile on her face. “I’m listening,” I said when we were out of the guards’ earshot.

She was silent for a few seconds before saying, “I have accidentally discovered a secret that I should most definitely not know. The captain of the night guard is hiding something very dark and very dangerous.”

“...And how many other people have you told this secret?” I slowly asked.

“None, for two reasons. One… she knows that I know. I discovered it last night, so she hasn’t yet had time to do anything nor have I had time to fully process it. Two, I very dearly need advice. This is something that should not be, yet I cannot help but feel that the princesses know.”

“It’s something you’re going to continue telling no one. It’s something you’re going to forget.”

She looked up at the sky, where we could barely see the sun setting behind the minimal cloud cover. “The night is coming, Nav. And with it will come… her. She knows that I know and I’m quite worried I know exactly how she’ll react.”

“Your guess is incorrect.” We were coming up on a pair of guards, one of which was a reassigned night guard. Fleur ducked slightly behind me, but I walked up to them. “I need to know where Captain Midnight lives,” I said to the night guard.

“Do you have a crime to report, sir?” he asked. “You can do that with any of us.”

“She’s a friend of mine and I’d like to visit her before I go,” I said. “But I never got her address. I don’t think she bunks with the most of the guards.”

“1875 Croglin Grange, sir. Do you need a guide?”

“No, I know where that is. Thanks.”

“Happy to help,” he replied with a nod.

When I turned to start walking toward Croglin, Fleur gripped my arm with a hoof, but didn’t say a word until we were away from the guards. When we were, she hissed, “What are you doing?!”

“You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to, Fleur. But if she knows that you know, I think it would be prudent for me to speak to her quickly and assure her that you’re not going to say a word. Assuming, of course, you’re not going to say a word.”

She either heard the hint in my tone or saw my hand clutching my dagger, but she quickly nodded. “My lips are sealed. She… she isn’t dangerous, is she? I mean, I know she must… obtain nourishment somehow…”

“She isn’t. How did you find out?”

“I am accustomed to knowing everything about everypony. Captain Midnight was an anomaly, an anomaly that I sought to correct. Suffice it to say, I have decided that some anomalies are not worth correcting.”

“Yeah, I fucking bet.”

She was silent for a few more blocks before asking, “And how did you discover her secret?”

“She told me. Once again, you don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to.”

“I… She won’t… she won’t hurt me, will she?”

“No. She’d have to go through me first.” From the way she smiled, I’m pretty sure she thought I would be willing to put myself in harms way to save her. I would be doing it to protect Blossom. But I suppose protecting Fleur would be a bonus, or whatever. “I very highly doubt it will come to that, though.” I wasn’t on my period, so Blossom wouldn’t be smelling fresh blood. Hopefully that meant she wouldn’t go berserk.

“I certainly hope not. I’d hate for either of you to get hurt on my behalf.”

Then maybe you shouldn’t have been sticking your nose where it didn’t belong. “She may be very skilled and have some interesting abilities, but I’m just as skilled in other areas. It would definitely be an interesting fight.” One that would make me regret leaving my sword on the ship.

At least that made her shut up.

When we got to Blossom’s creepy-ass house at the end of a creepy-ass street, we found a single very well armored night guard standing directly in front of her door. He saluted as soon as he saw me.

“I don’t recognize that insignia,” I said, looking his armor over. “It’s not night guard and it’s not day guard.” His badge was an eagle, strangely enough.

“I am a member of the Deathwatch, sir,” he calmly said, lowering his salute. “We normally never leave Tartarus. My presence was requested here by Princess Luna, before she fell.”

“Do you trail Captain Midnight, or just guard her home?”

“Her home.”

“Is she currently in there?”

“Yes.”

“Cool. Am I allowed in?”

“You are. Your companion is not, unless I am given approval by Captain Midnight. The only order I have for you is to not enter her inner sanctum without being invited, Navarone. I will put this trust in you.”

“It’s a trust I won’t abuse. Fleur, wait here. Or go home.”

“I shall remain here, Nav. Knowing this business is over with will be very comforting.”

The guard stepped back and pushed the door open for me, then moved aside so I could enter. To save him some trouble, I pushed it shut behind me and pretty quickly regretted it. My weird eyes can see pretty well in the dark, but this place was nearly pitch black. The only thing stopping me from having a panic attack about being back in the bunker was the presence of two small cracks of light that framed a sealed skylight. It didn’t help that the entire place smelled somewhat moldy.

It gave me enough light to barely see around the entrance room. It was unsurprisingly bare. The floor was some kind of hardwood and seemed to creak with every step. Two dusty couches sat next to each other in one of the corners. If I had to guess, I’d say neither had been used in a while. A single bare coffee table sat between them. One of the walls had what looked like some kind of mirror, but I could see several glints from the floor in front of it that told me the thing was shattered onto the floor. Against another wall was a table with something on it. I couldn’t identify it from where I was, so I walked over and picked it up.

It was some kind of stick. A very hard stick. I don’t know what its purpose was, but one end was very sharp. The door slowly eased open behind me while I was contemplating it. Around its midway point, the thing let out a creak and I whirled around, automatically lifting the stick up in defense.

Blossom’s bright eyes opened as wide as they could when she saw me holding that thing. “By the night, she sent… she sent you…”

“What?”

She backed up a step and almost slammed the door shut, but then closed her eyes and quietly walked into the room. “I… I ask that you give me a chance, Navarone. Let me go to Tartarus. I will do it willingly. You don’t have to kill me. I can still serve.”

I blinked a few times and then looked at what I was holding. It was a wooden stake, perfect for plunging into a vampire. When I realized that, I quickly put it back on the table behind me.

“I won’t fight you,” she said, opening her eyes again. “I just ask that if you do choose to kill me… Please make it quick.”

“I’m not here to hurt you, Blossom. And I’m not here to take you to Tartarus, either.”

“Are you here to… to help me escape? I won’t run from it, Nav. This is my due.”

“Fleur found out your secret. I’m the only one she’s told. And I’m the only one she’s going to tell. I’m here now to tell you that it’s been taken care of and that you don’t need to hurt her.”

She blinked. “Fleur… didn’t tell anyone? But I thought… She tells everyone everything!”

“Not this. She’s outside right now, scared out of her mind. She assumes the princesses know and doesn’t want to say anything she shouldn’t because of it.”

“I’m… surprised.”

“Well, I hope you’re not disappointed. I’m curious though. How did she find out?”

“I made a mistake while apprehending a very inebriated deer last night. It was a creature I hadn’t tasted before and… Fleur witnessed it. It is a mistake I will not be making again.”

“Good.” She looked away, so I walked over to one of the nasty couches and took a seat. “So—”

“How did you get in?” she asked, looking back at me.

“The Deathwatch guard told me I could come in, but that I couldn’t go into your inner sanctum without your permission. I was only here for a minute or two before you came in. He made Fleur wait outside.”

“...I wonder why he let you in. I was told his orders were to allow none but Princess Luna herself into my home.”

“You don’t have to talk across the room, you know. There’s another couch right here.”

She looked at it for a few seconds before walking over to it and lowering herself into the dusty thing. “Normally, visitors wait for permission before making themselves at home.”

“Somehow I doubt you have many visitors. Also, it’s pretty dim in here.”

“I can see perfectly fine.”

“You’re also a fucking vampire. We’ll need to open the skylight before we invite Fleur in.”

Her eyes opened wider. “What do you mean, invite her in?! She isn’t going to tell anyone and I’m not going to ever bother her again. I’m going to do my best to forget she even exists!”

“She’s nervous because she thinks you might be dangerous. If you show her you’re a perfectly normal pony that’s only more adorable than average, she probably won’t feel any risk in keeping your secret.”

She slowly lifted a hoof to massage her temple. “It’s too early in the night for this…”

“I can spare some blood if you need a quick pick-me-up.”

“No. No, if we’re going to bring Fleur in, I’ll… accept your offer when she’s in here. When she… found me last night, the deer was in pain. I want to show her that it’s not a painful process, and that I don’t accept it from others unless absolutely necessary. Even then, I’ve only taken it willingly from two sources.”

“Luna?”

“Once. I was so ashamed…”

“...I wouldn’t be.”

“I said was.” She cast a quick look over her abode. “What do you think needs to be done before we invite Missus Fleur in?”

“I don’t suppose you can sweep up that broken glass?”

She winced slightly. “No. I… don’t have a broom. Or any other cleaning supplies. I don’t spend much time here, aside from when I sleep…”

“Shit. Well, what about the skylight? Is it nailed shut or just closed?”

“If I’m awake, the sun must be down, or near enough to it…” She closed her eyes, then burst into some kind of dark smoke that drifted up to the ceiling and then over to the opening. When she was right under it, she regained her normal form and started flapping her wings. That made it easy enough to open the roof, letting the little bit of remaining light from the setting sun in. She flinched slightly again, but landed while leaving it open. “There.”

The extra light gave me a much better view of her house, allowing me to discover that there were cobwebs all over the place. A rat quickly scuttled away from the light. Blossom eyed it for a moment with bared fangs before shaking her head and returning to the couch, which had a bat-pony shaped imprint in the dust from where she had been sitting before. She paid it no mind and fell right back into the imprint, sending up a small cloud of dust.

“...Next time I come to Canterlot, I’m bringing Doppel and we’re cleaning your house,” I said.

“No you’re not. Can you think of anything else I might need to do before greeting this awful mare?”

“Well, do you have any flowers or anything? We could put them on the table. Or maybe put one in your hair.”

She gave me a very dour look. “I may technically be dead, but I know I do not stink.”

“That’s not what I… Whatever. Without taking a lot of time to clean this place, I guess we’re pretty much done. I’m not sure we can convince Fleur you’re entirely normal, but at least we can make her realize you’re mostly harmless. But you’re probably going to have to tell the guard to let her in.”

She nodded and stood. “Should I be nervous?”

“Nah. Fleur won’t tell anyone no matter what happens. This is just to give you peace of mind that she won’t, so you don’t have to take my word for it.”

She rolled her eyes and walked over to the door. When she got there, she took a short moment to compose herself before opening it. The guard was still standing in front of it, with a very nervous Fleur looking like she was wondering whether or not she should just go. “She may enter,” Blossom quietly said. “If she would like.”

The guard stepped aside without a word. Fleur gulped, took a deep breath, and joined us in the musty house. I saw her nose immediately scrunch at the slightly moldy smell, but she didn’t say a word about it. Blossom slowly pushed the door closed behind her, making Fleur flinch.

“No need to just stand there,” I said, patting the couch next to me. I had conveniently sat to where I would act as a sort of buffer between Blossom and Fleur, so neither would have to worry about the other.

“Make yourself at home,” Blossom dully said as she walked back to her couch, not even sparing Fleur a glance. Fleur eyed the couch with no small distaste, but sat next to me anyway.

“Thank you for your… hospitality,” she replied, almost managing to hide the disgust in her tone.

I shook my head. “Cut the crap, Fleur. We all know this place is filthy. We all know you’re terrified. She can probably hear your heart beating and I can definitely feel you clutching onto my arm.”

“You… you can’t actually do that, can you?” Fleur asked, eyeing the captain.

“I can, but not because you’re afraid. Normally, it’s a dull thump that I put in the back of my mind to let me know where everyone is. I can never hear Nav’s. But yours… Right now, it sounds like you just ran a marathon.”

“Then… it’s true. It really… It really is… You’re one of them.”

Blossom looked away.

“She is,” I said. “And that secret is going to stay quiet. If she was dangerous, neither of the princesses would have let her stay as the captain of the night guards.”

Fleur gulped again and nervously said, “You didn’t see her last night, Nav. She… Dear Celestia, she—”

“I made a mistake,” Blossom said, locking her eyes with Fleur’s, making the mare flinch. “It is not usually a painful process. Nor is it a process I usually use on something living. Most of my… nourishment comes from blood donations. I can subsist off a single bag a night. However, sometimes there are fewer donations available than others, and I must… make do. And sometimes when I do… accidents happen.”

Fleur still looked pretty conflicted, so I started talking. “She’s fed off me before, Fleur. Three times. Once I was asleep, so you know it’s so gentle that it doesn’t even wake someone up. And I’m willing to let her do it right now, to prove that to you.”

Fleur’s eyes opened wide and her grip on my arm tightened even more. “No! I wouldn’t… I couldn’t ask that of you, Nav! I trust you, I do!”

“All the same, she does need to eat,” I said. “And this serves a dual purpose.”

“No. If… if I am to truly believe it hurts nopony, I would have her do it to me.”

Blossom’s eyes opened slightly wider and my eyebrows shot up. “Are you sure about that?” I asked.

“No… but I’m sure that I will trust her if she does.” I shrugged and looked at Blossom.

“I question the wisdom,” Blossom said. “But very well.” She slowly stood and walked over to Fleur, who looked just about ready to bolt in any direction. “You might feel a minor sting at first.”

“Will… will it scar?” she asked.

“Only if you jerk away. But that will not be an issue. Look into my eyes!” Blossom’s eyes flashed and Fleur jumped once, then instantly relaxed. “Bare yourself to me.” Fleur lifted her head and leaned in further, pushing her neck toward Blossom. She leaned in and licked the area around the carotid for a few seconds before quickly thrusting her fangs in. Fleur didn’t even flinch. Her eyes were closed and she had a small smile on her face.

After a few very long seconds, Blossom removed her fangs and began licking Fleur’s neck again. To my wonderment, the wounds quickly sealed shut, looking like she had never even been hurt. One of my hands went unbidden to my throat, where Blossom has visited three times. Of course, I couldn’t even feel the bumps from what should have been small scars.

When the captain finally pulled away, Fleur sagged and then leaned onto me. I held her up, of course. It didn’t take her too long to recover. When she did, she lifted a trembling hoof to her neck, trying to feel for blood. She pulled it away clean. “What… How did…?”

“My spit has healing properties,” Blossom said as she sat back down.

“You uh… have some blood on your chin,” I said, pointing at my own. Fleur gripped onto me again as Blossom extended her weird vampire tongue to lick it off. “Alright, so was it painless?” I asked.

“...Yes. Strangely calming, in fact.”

“Alright, cool. And are you still afraid of our adorable night captain?”

Blossom sighed. “Why do you keep calling me adorable, Nav? You know I’m a killing machine and even more of a predator than you are.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that you’re a cutie pie,” I said, reaching out to boop her nose. She bore it with a resigned stoicism, though that didn’t stop her from glaring at me.

Fleur finally smiled. “No, I don’t think I’m afraid anymore. You have… different needs, but if what you said about getting blood from donations is true, then I don’t believe you make a habit of harming anypony. Especially if those you take live donations from feel so calm when you do it. I do have a question, though. If your curse is such a nonissue, why is it secret?”

Blossom grimaced and looked away.

I didn’t know the actual answer for that, but I could take a few guesses. Before Fleur could backpedal out of politeness, I said, “So no one would be encouraged to bother her. You wouldn’t believe how many fetishists want to experience new things. I know that from experience. Sleeping with a vampire would be one hell of a new thing. She also doesn’t want anyone coming to her begging to be made into a vampire. And of course—”

“I’m illegal,” Blossom said, rudely cutting me off. “Undead are banned in Equestria. Even the sapient undead. I’m not even supposed to be in Equestria, let alone be the captain of the guard…”

Fleur smiled even wider. “I’m actually happy knowing that the guard captain is a tireless vampony. Well, now that I know you better. I’m sure you have all manner of useful skills and powers you can use to protect everypony!” Blossom blinked. “And Navi is right, you know. You really are quite cute. I bet we could fix your dark reputation up quickly if you let me help!”

“NO!” Fleur flinched at the outburst. Blossom seemed to withdraw into the couch slightly before shaking her head. “No. I must spend as little time as possible around… normal ponies. None of them can ever know.”

“They already know you have fangs, dear. If you just spend some time around them, I’m sure you can make several friends. And then it won’t matter as much if your secret ever got out, because they’d be there to help and defend you!”

I don’t know if a vampire can go any more pale, but Blossom might have managed it. Her eyes quickly went to mine for support. I shrugged and said, “Up to you. But the last time I was here, you mentioned how your social life was dead. Ponies are extremely social creatures, but you have no one to talk to. Having a few friends would be good for you. Fleur would be able to introduce you to the people in Canterlot worth being friends with. Not for their power, but for their personalities. So if all you want out of this is Fleur’s assurance that she’ll stay silent, you have it and we’ll leave. But if you want an improvement to this…” I waved my hand around her room, encompassing the lonely, dark mess. “…then Fleur can help you. And I’ll leave. Because unfortunately, I do kinda need to go.” I think Flo was keeping me awake. Otherwise, I’d probably have fallen asleep on that nasty couch already.

Blossom bit her lip and slowly looked around the room.

“Attending one party won’t hurt you, will it?” Fleur asked. “Many of my companions have expressed an interest in meeting you face to face. You’re usually very absent at the royal parties…”

“I suppose one… wouldn’t hurt,” Midnight finally said.

“Cool,” I said, standing. “I’m gonna head out, then. I’ll see you both the next time I’m in Canterlot.”

Of course, that was Fleur’s cue to jump up and hug me, since that’s just the kind of person she is. When she let go, I absentmindedly brushed off the dust from her coat that got onto my shirt. “I’m looking forward to it,” she said with her typical smile. “And uh… sorry about the dust. I suppose I’ll need to take a shower before bed.”

“Yeah. See you, Blossom.”

“May the shadows shroud you, Nav. And… thank you.”

“Creepy as fuck. And no problem.” With that, I finally started leaving that nasty fucking house.

Before I could close the door, I heard Fleur say, “Now, what kind of cute dress should we get you?” As much as I wanted to hear where that particular conversation was going, I really did need to get back. The Deathwatch guard paid me no mind at all as I walked away from the house and then jumped into the air.

By the time I got to the ship, I really should have been in bed. Flo wasn’t back yet and neither were the girls, so thankfully they weren’t waiting on me. Most of the guards were on deck, either staring out at Canterlot and talking or training. Gourd was up near the wheelhouse, so I landed next to him.

“Anything happening?” I asked.

“No sir. Why do you smell like must and mold?”

“Because I just got out of a tomb. Weird, long story that also isn’t important. As soon as everyone gets aboard, cast off.”

“Aye aye. Are you heading to bed?”

“Oh yeah. I should have been there at least half an hour ago, but people in Canterlot are so needy. If anything big comes up, handle it. If anything you can’t handle comes up, you better be prepared to hit me with an energy spell to wake me up.”

“I know. Goodnight for now, Nav.”

“See you in the mornin’.”

None of the guards were all that interested in talking and no one else was between me and my bed, so I just got to my room, locked the door, stripped out of those nasty fucking clothes, and fell into the mostly uncomfortable bed.

“Flo, you better not get yourself killed.”

“We’re having an extremely civil conversation. Assuming you consider extreme passive aggression and very veiled threats civil.”

“It’s the basis of civilization, so sure I guess. Have fun or whatever.” With that, she finally let me fall asleep. Though of course, I immediately beheld her again anyway. “Want to go torment a day guard?”

“Happily.” Just like that, we entered the dream world and began searching for that Pointy Hat fellow.

“Are we bad people?” I asked as I gazed upon his red dream.

She waited until I gently peeled it open to answer. “Yes.” Of course, he was dreaming about stallions. Not that it was my fault, of course. I meant what I said; I really only did mess with him once. But that’s because I only had to do it once. Every night after that, he did it for me.

“I’m okay with that.”

“Me too.” Since we were both fine with being terrible people, I went on to find other dreams to play with.

 
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