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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158. Chapter One Hundred and Thirty-Two

All that changing seemed to take a lot out of me. When I finally woke up, Chrysalis wasn’t in her room and I had that strange hollowness in me again. I also wasn’t a tentacle monster anymore, but I kinda expected that. My first order of business was heading to the bathroom. My body may have been changing a lot, but some parts of me were probably still covered in sex fluids or something, and I didn’t want to risk running into any ponies that might smell it.

Chrysalis was soaking herself in her luxurious bath. All the goop from our activities was gone, so I assumed it was more for relaxation than getting clean. Her eyes briefly opened when she heard me walk in, but closed right back. “So you’re finally awake,” she murmured.

I shrugged. “Even great heroes get to sleep in sometimes.”

“Well, this so-called great hero has made his queen very sore. You may bathe yourself next door. I will be here until I can walk easily again.”

“...Was it worth it?”

“Absolutely. And you will never do it again. I shall turn you back before we greet the day. Leave me.”

“Sure you don’t want me to massage your insides again?” I asked, turning one of my legs into a tentacle and holding it up. “Might help you relax…” She threw me out the door with magic and slammed it behind me. I giggled the whole way into the bathroom next door.

Being able to transform hooves into hands makes cleaning a horse-like body a lot easier. Normally, showering as a pony takes half an hour just because it’s damn near impossible to actually do anything. This time it only took half an hour because I had a feeling Chrysalis would be in the tub for a while. Sure enough, when I got back to her room, she was still locked away in the bathroom.

“Think we went too far?” I asked as I hopped into the bed.

“Nah, she enjoyed it. And she could have stopped you at any time. Probably. And after going full diamond dog on you, I think she deserved it.”

“Alright, cool. I wouldn’t mind doing it to Celestia or Twilight, though…”

“Well, it’s the same spell they use when they turn you into a pony. All it would take is turning you into a changeling instead. Though you might not want to do it to Celestia. There’s a very good chance you’ll regret learning what emotions she exudes.”

“...I think I’ll stay human forever, actually. Some secrets are better off not known.”

“It could be pretty advantageous, though. Especially the ability to change at will.”

“And has the downside of requiring stealing emotions. I can’t have sex with the crew because Watcher would kill me and I can’t just drain Taya because I would kill her.” It also has the downside of secretly being a creepy bug thing that everyone’s afraid of.

“And they aren’t afraid of the real you?”

“I’ve earned my place in horseland. There are probably those that still fear me, but there are more that don’t. Though the whole lusting after me thing is kinda old.”

“Well, if you weren’t such a slut—”

The bathroom door slammed open and Chrysalis walked out in all her regality. “I’m tempted to punish you for this,” she said, limping over to the bed. “Perhaps show you in person what it’s like to have that much penetrating the wrong hole.”

“Hey, you told me to ravish you!” I quickly said. “Besides, you wouldn’t want to hurt innocent little me, would you?” I rolled over onto my back and tried my best to look as cute as possible.

She stared impassively. “You being adorable only makes me want to break you more.”

“...Alright, that’s not something a good person would say.”

She lifted her hoof up to my stomach and started rubbing it, making me flinch slightly. “I’m working on it, my dearest subject. Now what would you like to do on this fine morning?”

“Getting turned back would be nice,” I said, turning away from her wandering hoof.

“Oh, you don’t want to eat first? I thought you might enjoy it.”

She pulled her hoof away, so I rolled back over. “I don’t enjoy taking what isn’t freely offered. You said yourself they feel some revulsion, deep down. I don’t want anything to do with that.”

“Some of them feel revulsion,” she said, slipping her hoof back onto my belly. I tried to turn away again, but she held me in place with magic. “Some seem to enjoy being perfect little pets. Not many, though. Sometimes I wonder what it must feel like, to be so happy. To fit into your place so utterly. Do you?”

“...No. Can you stop that?”

She didn’t. “The next time you come to my hive, can we try it? For a day, maybe. You’re immune to love poison, but I doubt I am.”

My ears drooped down. “The last time I was involved with love poison, I got raped by Twilight. It remains the third most horrifying sex I’ve ever had.”

“The potion given to her was made from an adult pegasus in heat. It was designed more as a lust poison than a love poison. I will go out of my way to ensure that wouldn’t happen.”

“...There’s also the problem of me getting away. In order to break love poison, the lovers can’t gaze in each other’s eyes for an hour. You’re pretty powerful, both politically and magically. If I tried to get away, you could order me hunted down or teleport me back, if I couldn’t get my ring on in time. Or, you know, true magic.”

“True…” She sighed and finally stopped molesting my stomach. “Very well.” She narrowed her eyes and my body suddenly morphed, turning me human again. Then she reached up and booped me on the nose. “Get ready for the day, unless you plan to greet it nude.”

“I doubt your changelings would mind, but if any of Watcher’s crew saw me, he’d get all pissy with me.” I sat up and walked over to the bag of clothes Taya prepared for me. “Thankfully, I have a loving daughter that…” I opened the bag and saw nothing but pink. “I’m gonna force feed that little slut the nastiest vegetables I can find.”

Chrysalis poked her head over my shoulder and instantly caught a case of the giggles. “The great hero Navarone, decked out in a tiny pink skirt and a pretty little blouse… I’m sure my changelings will be so happy to look up to you now!”

I closed the bag and stood. “I’m going nude. Watcher can suck it.”

“...Really?” she sighed.

“I get stared at anyway. If I’m next to you the whole time, no changeling will try anything.”

“As amusing as it would be, I’m afraid I won’t allow it. Where are the clothes you wore originally?”

“Over there,” I said, waving to the wall where I threw all the dirty clothes. “But I’ve been wearing them for a while and sweated a lot in the heat.”

“We can’t smell anyway.”

“...I can.”

She rolled her eyes, grabbed the clothes with magic, then flashed them with some kind of ray. “There. Better?” She floated them to me and thrust them in my face. They actually smelled like vanilla.

“Much. Thank you.” I finally started getting dressed.

“Did you really just call your daughter a little slut?”

“You can’t prove a thing.”

She smirked and floated a lacy pair of panties out of the bag. “They really aren’t bad clothes, you know. Though I’m surprised you have them at all…”

“I have a fashionista on board that likes to see me suffer. She recently came upon a source of fresh spider silk and went a little overboard.”

“I advise staying on her good side,” she said, slipping the awful things back into the bag. “It would be wise to have the one making your clothing happy. Otherwise, things like this happen.”

“If she wasn’t so fun to tease, I’d agree.” I finally slipped the last shoe on. “And I’m ready.”

“Excellent. Let’s go.” We started walking out to the hall. When we got to the window leading into the hive, she said, “Meet me in the throne room. I shall be there shortly.”

“Alright. Can I cuddle one of the guards to make him feel awkward?”

“Yes.” She hopped out the window and flew up. I jumped and slowly descended. When I got to the ground floor, I let myself inside and walked straight to the throne room. As tempting as it was to confuse the shit out of a changeling, I decided not to mess with them, and instead just sat in the uncomfortable stone throne.

Though that seemed to confuse them enough. Half a minute after I sat down, a retainer walked in and bowed. “Your majesty, you have a few… special guests. Would you like me to show them in?”

“Give me a few minutes,” I said with a shrug. Maybe she has enough pheromones in this chair that they can confuse anyone that sits here with her.

“Yes, your majesty. Would you like to begin seeing your other petitioners?”

“No. Give me a few minutes.”

“Very well. I will come at your call.” He bowed again before walking right back out.

Sometimes I wonder about changelings.

“How many times has Chrysalis used you to sub in for her?” Flo asked. “Before, they treated you exactly like her. It’s possible he just assumed it was happening again and was acting accordingly.”

Neat. Wonder if I could get them to bring me tons of bitches.

“They’d probably bring ponies that would be all too happy to act like them.”

...Never mind.

Chrysalis finally decided to show up, walking in like she owned the place. “It is unwise to sit in my chair,” she said as she walked closer. “Some changelings might assume things.”

“I noticed. I told him to wait a few minutes.” I got out of her way and let her plop her skinny booty down. “Apparently you have special guests.”

“Hm. I was not made aware of this.” Her horn lit up and I heard a bell ringing. That retainer fellow walked in immediately. “What guests are here for me?” she asked.

“I’m… not really sure, your majesty. I don’t know what they are.”

“...Send for the elite guards and have them hold positions outside the palace. And then send the guests in.” He bowed and left. “Navarone, your ring?” I slid it on. “I very highly doubt these guests of mine will be trouble. But if they are, duck behind the throne. Things will get very unpleasant very quickly, and I will not have you in the way.”

“You know I can handle myself, right?”

She smiled. “You have not seen me truly fight, Nav. If things get dangerous, I will eradicate the menace immediately. I don’t want you in the way.”

“Right. I keep forgetting you’re older than Celestia.”

She shrugged and stared at the door. “Over such a timeframe, a few years matter very little.”

Flo finally broke her silence. “I believe you have nothing to fear. The guests might be my sisters.”

...Might? You don’t know?

“They didn’t exactly have a chance to tell me. And at such a close range, I can’t tell for sure exactly where they are. But I believe it’s them.”

What would they even want?

“If I had to guess, I’d say they were going to offer to advise Chrysalis.”

This’ll be good.

Sure enough, five water elementals oozed into the room moments later. I recognized Brook and Aqua, but not the others. Aqua and one of the randoms stopped a few meters into the room. Brook and the other two continued on. Brook stopped at an acceptable distance while the other two slithered right up and then onto me, which made me realize quickly they were Rain and Raine.

Chrysalis watched them with a raised brow before turning to Brook. “I take it you are a water elemental?” she asked.

“You are correct,” Brook said. “My name is Brook. Those two are Rain and Raine. The two behind me are Aqua and Naiad.”

“Why are those two accosting Navarone?” she asked, sparing me a glance. The two of them giggled.

“Because Navarone saved them and they are fond of him. It does no harm and he hasn’t asked them to stop, so I see no need to put an end to it.”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “Very well. Nav has told me you seek to free another of your kind nearby, but I have already given permission for that. What do you need from me?”

“How much of our history has Navarone discussed with you?”

“Very little. He has informed me that you are ancient enemies of Discord. That is all I know. I can assume that if you are so old that not even I have heard of you, you must truly be ancient.”

“We are. Ancient and wise. Did he tell you that we are able to leave a part of ourselves inside a host and communicate directly with him or her?”

“Yes. I have heard him communicating with the one within him.”

“With age comes wisdom, Queen Chrysalis. With great ages comes great wisdom. You are a queen with a history of troubles, beset on several sides with enemies. Only recently have you fallen into a life of peace. My sisters and I would like to offer you an advisor. One of us would take you as a host and assist you in any way possible.”

Chrysalis leaned back in her seat and lifted a hoof to her face. “That is an interesting offer, Brook. Tell me, did Celestia take it?”

“So far, you are the first to whom this offer has been made. Navarone and Flo have spoken to us at length about Celestia, and we believe it unlikely she would take one of us as an advisor.”

“And yet you thought it likely that I would do so?” Chrysalis asked.

“They have not spoken to us of you.”

“But he has spoken to me of you,” Chrysalis said, leaning forward again. “He told me you threatened him and a friend of his, Brook. That doesn’t seem very peaceful to me.”

Brook turned a slight shade of red. “Peace at a reprehensible cost is still peace. You are not unfamiliar with that concept, I’m sure.”

“I knew full well what I was doing was wrong. My act was primarily of desperation, not a warped sense of right and wrong.”

Brook seemed to sigh and turn back into her normal blue. “I am not here to debate morality. You are young and would not likely understand—”

My turn to jump in. “Being young isn’t what makes her not understand, Brook,” I said. “Being sympathetic does. You’re so old you lost sight of what it means to be human. The rains and Aqua were trapped, so they lost a few years. But you’ve been free and in charge for far too long and you’ve become so warped by it you don’t even know right from wrong anymore. You see lives as numbers to control, not people to rule.”

“I did what I thought was for the greater good,” Brook said. “Your opinion on the matter is biased.”

“And yours isn’t? How many years did you pretend to be a god? Think that didn’t go to your head a little?”

Her ‘eyes’ narrowed and she leaned forward slightly. “My mental well-being has nothing to do with this conversation, Navarone,” she said.

“I disagree,” Chrysalis said. “How can the blind lead the blind? You tell me you can assist me in being a better ruler, but you are too far removed from anything a normal sapient being would call good. What advice could you, or another of your kind, give me that would make me better? You count yourself blameless and perfect, but that is not what a queen is. I have made mistakes. I have lost lives that could have been saved. I have done wrong. And I can admit it. To me, that is the mark of a good ruler. I make mistakes and I learn from them. I do not make mistakes and make excuses for them. The time of the elementals is over, Brook. I have no need of your ‘help’. I suggest you take a long look at yourself before deciding someone else is worse off.”

Brook was starting to turn all kinds of funny colors, but with a main shade of a very dark red. “I would not necessarily be the one acting as your advisor. Naiad is wise and has been ruling for as long as I.”

Chrysalis looked past Brook and stared at the two elementals behind her. “One that has ruled as long as you is just as likely to be lost. A long life has warped my sense of right and wrong. I will freely admit it. You have not had long lives. You have likely had lives so full that you can’t even count the years. I have no interest in taking such a being inside myself. The only reason I am allowing another to be freed near my territory is because I fully trust the one that asked. I do not need or want your assistance. I do not need or want something living inside of me, seeing my memories and second-guessing my actions. I do not need or want something living inside of me that has so little sense of right and wrong that they can’t even see that threatening an innocent bystander only harms the greater good.”

Brook flashed a very bright red before turning icy blue. “There are other alternatives,” she quietly said. “Those that have not ruled for eternity. Rain and Raine were trapped in ice, unable to sense time as it passed. Aqua—”

Chrysalis held up a hoof, stopping Brook’s excuses. “I am not interested.”

Brook’s body started quivering slightly. Naiad watched that for a few seconds before moving forward. “Perhaps I can suggest a compromise, Queen Chrysalis. I spoke at length with the two changelings that lived in my underwater kingdom. They told me there is a subspecies of changelings, the drones. Given their… limited capabilities, one of my sisters could move inside and take it over indefinitely, since it would likely be incapable of fighting back. If you would like an advisor that has no way of exercising authority over you, and cannot see your memories, that is an option.”

Chrysalis leaned back again and lifted a hoof to her chin. After a few seconds, she said, “Wait in my anteroom. I will discuss this with my current advisor. But know that if I do allow this, I will place rules upon you.”

“That is acceptable,” Naiad said. “Come, sisters.” Brook lost her form and fled the room as quickly as possible. Aqua and Naiad sketched a shitty bow before departing. One of the rains groped my ass and then they both slithered off without a word.

When they were gone, I let out a shiver. “I hate those two creepers.”

“It seems the feeling is not mutual. You have lived with one for a while now. What do you advise I do, Navarone?”

I leaned against the wall and crossed my arms. “From what Flo told me, water elementals are generally kind and revere all life. From personal experience, that’s fucking bullshit and Flo is smoking crack. That said, these things are hella old and really well experienced. And on the off chance any of them actually are still kind, you could use them as a moral compass in lieu of me.”

“Hm. Given the options, who would you suggest?”

That is the question,” I said, nodding. “Naiad suggested it, so she might have an ulterior motive. Aqua has her hands full with Twilight. Definitely not Ice or Brook. I don’t really know the others that well yet. Flo?”

She took a moment to consider before saying, “I am likely biased, but I would suggest Naiad. She has ruled, but Mist and Ice kept her more grounded. She is also an old friend, so it would be easier for us to keep in contact with Chrysalis, should it be necessary.”

“Hm.” I shrugged and said, “Flo suggests Naiad.”

Chrysalis snorted. “Does that suggestion come to assist us, or out of loyalty to her sisters?”

“I reckon that’s up to you to decide. Honestly, it doesn’t matter too much. As long as whoever we pick stays in the drone, there won’t be any issues. She can make all the suggestions she wants, but she can’t do a damn thing in that body to enforce them. Just don’t pick Brook, because she’s a total tool.”

“She is not useful enough to be classified as a tool. I will take my chances with Naiad.” Her horn lit up and I heard a bell chime from a side room. Moments later, a drone walked in and bowed. Her horn lit up brighter and another bell chimed from the main entrance. The doors opened and yet another drone entered. “There are things made of water out there,” she said. “Send them in.” It bowed and walked back out. Soon after, the elementals made their entrance. Thankfully, my two stalkers kept their distance.

“I trust you made the right decision?” Brook asked without prompting.

“I did not,” Chrysalis said. “Naiad, you may take this drone. Spend the day familiarizing yourself with the hive. I will have need of you when Navarone leaves.”

Naiad bowed slightly, but said, “I will know everything the drone knows, your majesty. There is no need for me to familiarize myself with anything it would know.”

“Drones know very little, water. He knows how to follow the correct pheromone trail to get to where he is ordered. I doubt he knows enough to recognize a building on sight. As a royal drone, you will be mostly invisible in my hive. Stay out of the way of my citizens, but learn as much as you can about what they know. And do not speak unless it is to me.”

“...Very well, your majesty.” Naiad drifted over to the drone and shoved her entire body into it. After a few seconds, most of her flowed back out and the drone twitched. “This shape is…” The drone shivered and actually started to speak. “This body is strange, its memories confused and muddled. Such a poor, pitiable soul… I would not wish this fate even upon the element of chaos.”

Chrysalis snorted. “After what that thing has done to me, I would wish any ill fate upon it. We will discuss the rules of this arrangement later. Leave me.”

Brook, Aqua, and Naiad’s main body left without a word. The rains both waved at me and one said, “We’ll see you soon, our precious little human…” Then they bailed. The drone followed in their wake.

“Creepy bastards,” I muttered. “So now what?”

Her horn lit up and a louder bell went off. A sentient walked out of a hidden side door. “Tell the elite guards they may return to their posts, then begin sending in petitioners.”

“Yes, your majesty,” he said with a bow, then walked out.

A few moments later, a party of three sapients walked in. “The delegation from Lost Gamma, I assume?” Chrysalis said.

“We renamed our hive Gocco,” the fellow in the lead said. “But we were once called Gamma. We have come to discuss terms for returning to the changeling empire. We would prefer doing so without a nonchangeling present.” His eyes flicked to me for a moment.

“Then you are free to discuss them with an empty room,” Chrysalis said. “Navarone is my current advisor. If he cannot be here for the negotiations, there will be no negotiations.”

“So be it. Should we return to your leadership, would we be guaranteed a stable food source?”

“Yes,” Chrysalis said with a nod. “Surely you noticed our arrangements on the way in.”

“We noticed that this hive has food. That does not mean we will get any of it.”

“You will. I will not let my subjects starve, not when food is available. It will stretch the other hives slightly, but we will survive.”

The random changeling nodded once. “And you are now friends with the ponies?”

“I wouldn’t say friends. We are no longer enemies, nor should we ever have been.We are also no longer enemies with the griffins, though their opinions of us remain low. As long as you release all the food and breeding ponies and griffins you currently have, those alliances will transfer to your hive.”

“And upon what conditions would you accept us back into the hive?” he finally asked.

“Releasing your pony and griffin slaves; swearing loyalty to me; submitting your tithe in soldiers, mages, and thinkers; and allowing my archivists to go through all the records you have kept. I will likely also swap groups of changelings into and out of your hive, to more quickly integrate you back into the fold.”

The changeling’s ears drooped at that last one. “I find that last condition disfavorable, Queen Chrysalis. We have bred out drones, and would not want to risk tainting our hive with more of them.”

Chrysalis slowly leaned forward. “You bred out the drones?”

“Yes. We’re currently working on breeding out the sentients as well. We have a higher than average number of magic users, based on our old records, and we have no changelings incapable of rational thought.”

“Has your hive efficiency decreased?” she asked.

“Yes. However, happiness has increased, despite a general lack of food.”

Chrysalis nodded once. “This bears studying. I will not move populations around. Your hive will be integrated into my kingdom, with all the perks that involves, as well as all the responsibilities. You will return to your hive and inform your ruler, then come to a decision. When you have done so, return.”

“If we decide to rejoin the hive, will we retain our old leader, as a form of governor?”

Chrysalis leaned back again. “That will be decided based on the records you provide me, as well as a few other factors. However, if he is a descendent of the one who decided to abandon my rulership in the first place, he will be replaced, though he will be allowed to keep an advisory position.”

“That is acceptable, Queen Chrysalis. Are there any other details of which we should be aware?”

She smiled. “I sent an open offer to all the rogue hives after our treaty with the ponies. You are the first to reply. I will certainly keep that in mind, especially if you agree to my generous terms. However, if you deny my offer, I will not make returning to the fold as easy should you decide to ask again.”

The lead changeling looked to one of his followers for a moment before turning back to us. “We left your leadership to seek a more friendly relationship with the ponies because we believed obtaining food would be easier as friends than as enemies. We were wrong. There are few that are freely willing to donate their life forces to creatures like us. You have done what we could not. Your offer will likely be accepted. I, at least, will push for it.”

Chrysalis nodded. “Return to me when you have a favorable answer. I look forward to greeting you again as a friend and subject.”

The fellow bowed. After a second, his two companions did as well. “And we look forward to rejoining our brethren.” With that, they all stood back up and walked on out.

When the door shut behind them, I asked, “How many rogue hives are there?”

“Two in the mainland. All three of the hives across the sea went rogue. I haven’t heard any news about them in a long time, aside from what my messengers reported when they delivered my offer. I knew Gamma was considering sending a delegation, but I wasn’t expecting it to arrive this quickly. The others will likely come around in time.”

“Is there anything particularly valuable in the rogue hives?”

“Apparently, yes. Ever since I signed the treaty with the griffins, I have considered working on breeding out the drones. Now I know it’s possible. I can study how Gamma did it and see the benefits and detriments on a closed society. I believe I can also find valuable resources in the hives across the sea, though transporting them without using powerful magic would be difficult.”

“You could make boats.”

“I could. Now that my kind has come out of the darkness, so to say, it would be wise to do so anyway. Truly, we have little need of trade. However, we do have need to be seen by the ponies and other races. They need to know we exist and that there is no need to fear us. Having us enter the world of trade would get us seen more than anything else.”

A thought came to me, one I knew I’d regret. “I’m probably gonna kick myself for this later, but do you remember hearing about a changeling that got caught at the Miss Equestria pageant thing?”

“I do.”

“In my world, there’s this thing called the Miss Universe pageant. Women from all over the world compete in it. It’s basically the Miss Equestria thing, but on a global scale. If this world had something like that and the changelings competed in it, that would also be a great way to be seen, especially if it blows up in popularity. I spoke to Cadance about it and she got some interest stirred up, but it didn’t go anywhere. I also spoke to some fluffy Canterlot noble about it. She seemed a bit more interested.”

“That is a very unconventional idea, coming from you. However, it is a good one. I will send a missive to the organizers of the Miss Equestria pageant, as well as Celestia and perhaps this fluffy noble of yours.”

“Her name’s Fleur de Lis. Her husband is Fancy Pants.”

“Ah, I remember him. Yes, I will do that soon. Being at the Europe party and the Gala helped our image already. Anything else I can do will be good.”

“Well, you could also get caught making out with Celestia. That shot Fleur’s reputation through the roof.”

She slowly turned to glare at me. After a few seconds, she just as slowly turned back to face the entrance. Her horn lit up and another bell went off, signifying the entrance of the next petitioner.

Right before lunch, a very familiar petitioner came to see us. Or more likely, came to see me. Spike nervously walked into the throne room, his claws bundled together in front of him. His wings were twitching slightly with each step. Thankfully, he had the sense not to wear a sword. Or he possibly had it taken when he was allowed in.

When he got just a few meters away, he paused for a moment before flinching and quickly bowing. He held it for an uncomfortable amount of time before Chrysalis decided to have pity on him. “Rise, dragon.” He shot back up and almost went unbalanced, but caught himself. “You are familiar, but I believe you have grown since I last saw you. Remind me of your name.”

“I’m Spike, your majesty,” he said. Thankfully, he seemed to relax slightly by her casual demeanor.

“That was it. Congratulations on earning your wings, Spike. Tell me, why do you come before me?”

“W-well, I actually wanted to… speak with Nav. If that’s not a problem, I mean!”

“I am going to recess soon for lunch. Navarone need not join me. Wait in my anteroom. He will join you shortly.”

Spike finally smiled and quickly bowed again. “Thank you, your majesty. See you soon, Nav!” With that, he quickly walked on back out, no longer nervous.

When he was out, Chrysalis looked over at me. “What do you think he wants?”

“Probably to check on me. Twilight had all manner of unkind things to say about you after what happened here before. She probably made him think you were dangerous or something.”

She snorted. “I am extremely dangerous. I assume she also made him think I would harm you?”

“Man, I don’t know. Twilight’s really, really racist. There ain’t no telling what she said. I know Spike was worried about me being down here, though.”

“Assuage his fears. The sentient that shows in petitioners knows my schedule for the rest of the day. When you are done with Spike, come and find me.”

“You got it, Chryssi.” She grabbed me with magic, dragged me over to her, and kissed me. Since I’m a slut, I let her tongue in my mouth and shivered as it slid down my throat.

After about half a minute, she pulled away. “I’m going to do that every time you use that awful nickname.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Chryssi.” She forced me in for another kiss. This time, she used one of her hooves to grope my ass. When she pulled away, I said, “This isn’t a punishment for me, Chryssi.”

She sighed and said, “I’m also going to blue bean you once for every time you say it.” My eyes widened right as she pulled me back for another kiss. This time, she didn’t give me a chance to talk after pulling away. “I’m going to eat. Speak to Spike.” With that, she magically abandoned me.

“Well, if she does decide to use cum denial on me, at least I know I have a loving water elemental that’ll be all too happy to fix that for me.”

Flo’s giggle did nothing to comfort me.

Neither did Spike’s big ol’ hug when I stepped out of the throne room. I returned it anyway, though. “I was getting kinda worried about you,” he said.

“No reason for it,” I replied, pushing him back. He was still grinning. “Chrysalis wouldn’t do anything to hurt me and all the changelings are incredibly polite.”

“I know, but after they attacked Canterlot…”

“Out of desperation. They aren’t desperate anymore.”

“Yeah… I don’t know. It’s just so… dark down here. I know they’re supposed to be our friends, but they still seem kinda menacing. And didn’t something bad happen to you the last time you were here?”

“What, the giant ants? That was just bad luck.”

“And the giant spider?”

“That led to Flo. But yeah, that was also just bad luck.”

“You have a lot of bad luck. Everypony knows it. You haven’t had anything bad happen to you since you came down here?”

“No, of course… Well, okay, nothing that the changelings caused. I ran into more ghosts, but that was entirely Ava’s fault.”

“...I knew we should have guarded you. They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

“No, no.” Just almost killed me. “They definitely weren’t happy to see me, though. Hopefully it’s taken care of. And besides, it’s not like you can really hurt ghosts.”

“You did, though. Back when you were in the bunker, right?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. But that was with my sword, either way. I don’t think you have an enchanted weapon just lying around.” Though he probably could have pulled me away from the abyss.

“True…” He took a moment to look around the palace anteroom for a moment before focusing back on me. “What do you even do down here, anyway?”

“I’m helping Chrysalis and the changelings with whatever they need. That’s usually either advice, help with solving problems, lots of kinky sex, or killing things that need killing.”

“You have… sex with Chrysalis?”

“Dude, you don’t even know. Anyway, I’m fine, Spike. Thanks for the concern, but it’s not really necessary. Though I’m kinda surprised Taya didn’t come with you.”

His ear spines twitched slightly. “That might be because I didn’t tell any of them that I was coming.”

“Yeah, that would do it. Well, do you need anything else?”

He brought his claws together again, somewhat nervously. “I wouldn’t mind just… I dunno, hanging out. We haven’t really had much time to spend together recently.”

“True. And I did kinda want to talk to you about what you discussed with Reginald.” His ears twitched again. “You want to walk? The hive is very large and there’s plenty to see.”

“Well… I wouldn’t want to get in the way.”

“You won’t. Most of the changelings fly. As long as we either stick to restricted airspace or the ground, we’ll be fine.”

“...Alright, I guess. Twilight might be mad, though.”

I smirked. “Then don’t tell her. Let’s go.” I started walking out. He immediately followed. “I just have a warning. You might see some ponies doing weird things. Ignore them.”

He blinked. “Ponies? In a changeling hive? What are they…” His eyes widened slightly and I swear he turned a little green. “Are they… food?”

“Yeah.” His eyes went even wider and he grabbed my arm. “None of the changelings are gonna hurt you, Spike. The ponies here are all criminals. Really, really bad criminals. The kind of people that should be sentenced to Tartarus. They chose this as their punishment instead. They’ve been hit with love poison and exude love for everyone around them, so they’re also harmless.”

He relaxed a little. “But the changelings could… dragon-nap me and use me as food?”

“Spike, you’re a dragon. Literally everything is food to you. But I don’t see you taking bites out of random people or objects.” He smiled slightly. “Just because you can eat anything doesn’t mean you’re going to. The changelings don’t need you as food. They won’t take you as food. They have all they need and they’re not going to expand their selection on the unwilling.”

“I don’t think random ponies would taste very good.”

“Not uncooked. Are you alright now?”

He finally let go of me. “Yeah. I just… I don’t think I’ll go too far away from you…”

“You were fine before you got to me, right?”

“...Yeah, I guess I was, though I was kinda nervous. You’re just really calming.”

“Weird. You ready?”

He finally smiled. “Yep. Are we gonna go see anything in particular?”

“Nah.” We finally stepped out of the palace gates. “I don’t really know the city all that well, myself. I mostly stare at Chrysalis’s ass whenever we go places.” The guards standing at the front doors twitched, but neither did anything. “I know where a few neat things are. How do you feel about mushrooms?”

“They taste alright, I guess,” he said with a shrug.

“Alright, cool.” I started walking toward the mushroom cave. “You were with Reginald for a while. Did he tell you any history, or was it all dragon stuff?”

Spike sighed. “Mostly dragon stuff. There’s a lot of dragon stuff, apparently.”

“I figured. Anything useful, at least? Aside from being able to make your tail spikey.”

“Kinda sorta, I guess… A lot of it was about managing myself. And not falling in love with other races…”

He sounded rather sour about that last one. “That rule is probably there for a reason, but the heart wants what it wants. If you make a go at a pony, I’ll probably support you, unless you go full retard and try to get Rarity again. You’ll live a lot longer than any pony, but better to have loved than something something.”

“...Something something?”

“Yeah. Long story short, you want to bump uglies with a pony, I’ll be your wingman, as long as I don’t think your choice is retarded.”

He gave me another small smile. “What if it’s… not a pony?”

“Same thing. But I mean, you know the things they can do with their vags. I haven’t found another race that can replicate it yet.”

That got him blushing. “What if I already have somepo—one in mind?”

“Then I’ll help you, as long as I don’t think your choice is retarded. It’s pretty simple, Spike. The way you were talking before you went to see Reginald, you did have someone in mind. You ever gonna tell me who?”

“H-here? With all the… changelings?”

I looked around. We were currently getting into the midst of the city itself. The only group of changelings moving around was a small guard patrol lazily flying well above us. “Even if the changelings did care, which they don’t, there aren’t any around. Most of them are working right now.”

He sighed, grabbed me, and started pulling me closer. Right before he mashed his face into mine, he moved me slightly right so he could whisper in my ear. “Rainbow Dash,” he very quietly muttered.

When he finally pushed me back, I saw that he was blushing like crazy. I blinked a few times and slowly said, “She’s a lesbian, dude.” He blinked. “Like, she isn’t interested in dudes at all. You’re barking up the wrong tree, man.”

“What?!”

“Dude, how do you not know this? She munches carpet like crazy. You’re shit out of luck, with her.” His entire body seemed to sag. “I gotta say, I really wasn’t expecting that.”

He kicked at the ground and sighed. “What were you expecting?” he morosely asked after a few seconds of silence.

“I dunno. The way you’ve been acting, I kinda thought it woulda been me or something.”

He flinched back and his eyebrows jumped up. “What?! You’re a guy! And a bro! I love you, but not like that!”

“Oh. Cool.”

He shuddered and then relaxed a little. “I’m just… I don’t know, I don’t interact with stallions much. I treat you like Twilight treats her friends, I guess. Is that weird?”

“Sometimes. But if it’s what you do, it’s what you do.”

“If it ever bothers you, just let me know, Nav. I don’t want to annoy you.”

“Alright. So I gotta ask, why Rainbow Dash?”

He sighed and sagged even further before saying, “She’s loyal and awesome and funny and she’s always helped me out. She would take me flying before I had my own wings and she never treated me like a pet or much like a foal. I think she also tried to warn me about Rarity a few times, but I never got the hints…”

I nodded. “Decent reasons, I guess. Is that why you didn’t want to sleep with Gilda?”

“Yeah… I knew she’d tell Rainbow Dash and then… Well, I guess it doesn’t matter.”

“I hate to be the bearer of that particular bit of news. She told me ages ago. I’m really surprised you didn’t know.”

“How would I? I never asked!”

“Eh, true.” I looked up and down the street we were on. There were still no changelings present. “Well, now that that’s out of the way, you want to get your dick wet?”

“...What?”

I wrapped one arm around his shoulder and waved the other forward. “There’s a brand new brothel out there just waiting for us. If you want to fuck a professional changeling hooker, all we have to do is go find it.”

“Uh… I didn’t… I didn’t bring any bits…”

“They don’t have sex for money, Spike. They have sex to harvest your lust. Or love, possibly. I was there when they were discussing plans for it.”

“Uh… I’m not so sure, Nav…”

“Well, we don’t have to.” I let him go and shrugged. “I just figured it would make you feel better. Sex releases a lot of endorphins and helps keep you healthy and happy.”

He looked away and started fiddling with his claws again. “Well… Do you remember how you mentioned… threesomes?”

“Yep. You could probably grab two changelings, if you wanted. Or three. Or ten. I wouldn’t judge at all, unless I walked in on you and found a changeling with my body sucking your dick.”

He flinched again. “I meant you… and me, with a changeling. Just to try it, you know?” After saying that, he looked away.

Oh boy. “Spike, as much as I hate to say it, I’m in a girl’s body. If we end up in a threesome, there’s a chance we might end up doing some strange stuff.”

His ears started twitching a lot, but he said, “S-sex is natural, right? And it feels good and is healthy and stuff. If we d-do that, it wouldn’t be… wrong, right? We’re not in relationships and we’re both friends, so… it’s okay. Right?”

“Alright, cool. Just wanted to make sure you were okay with that. Let’s go find that whorehouse.” He fell into step behind me once again as we continued wandering into the city.

A few hours later, I found myself back at Chrysalis’s side. I was hot, sweaty, blushed, extremely satisfied, and no longer worried about Spike feeling depressed.

“And what took you so long, hmm?” Chrysalis mused, barely sparing me a glance.

“Remember the brothel you approved?” She looked back at me and lifted an eyebrow. “Spike was feeling down, so we went to test it out. I say you should put that thing on the surface and let ponies come to it.”

“That was the end goal. I just haven’t decided where to put it. In the interim, they’re practicing here. Though since you have me, I hardly expected you to make use of their services…”

I shrugged. “Didn’t figure you’d be interested in Spike. The main goal was to get him laid. I was just a bonus.” She rolled her eyes. “So anyway, what are we up to now?” I actually got lucky and found her flying to her next destination, so I didn’t even need to head back to the palace.

“We are going to the school. There is a joint magic and technology demonstration in which I am interested.”

“Neat. What is it?”

“A way of laying railroad tracks in sheer rock and a way of moving a train using your human technology mixed with our magic.”

“Magitec sounds pretty cool to me, but I’d prefer straight technology.”

“...Magitec. I will keep that name in mind. When we properly debut in the outside world, it will be on boats and airships that rely only on magitec, not on wind. My race shall not be shackled solely by magic. We shall not stagnate and rot. We will progress and leave the rest of the world behind.”

“How about you progress and help the world move forward?”

She pursed her lips and didn’t answer.

When we got to the large school, there were already several guards present. They immediately parted before us and we waltzed right on into the main entrance. There was a single changeling waiting directly inside for us. “Where is the demonstration?” Chrysalis asked.

“Auditorium 3F,” she answered with a bow. “Do you need me to guide you, my queen?”

“No. Come, Navarone.” We started walking left. Most of the doors were shut, but the few that weren’t contained several smaller changelings being lectured by an older one. In some cases, they were working on projects.

But we didn’t pass too many doors before turning right and heading down another path. We were apparently in the three section. Getting to F took a while, probably because all the rooms we were passing were soundproofed auditoriums. Guards were posted at a few, but not many.

When we got to F, Chrysalis quietly bypassed the guards and entered. She didn’t seem to want to disturb the presentation, so we both sat in the back without anyone even noticing we were there.

It was already underway on the stage. A group of drones were using the modified version of the railgun Celestia’s pet inventors created to shoot rails into the stone stage, locking wooden planks into place. As soon as they shot the first one, I covered my ears to try to block the horrible racket. Even after that, I flinched every time.

When the planks were in place, they began adding metal rails. If I had to guess, I’d say they were steel, but I don’t know metals and it was too far away anyway. Them nailing that to the stone stage was loud enough to make even Chrysalis flinch.

Honestly, I don’t know why they bothered. It was only about five meters of track, since the stage wasn’t exactly huge. And better yet, they could have done most of it beforehand and just demonstrated a single bolt or two with the railgun.

Anyway, when it was all in place, the main presenter chick started talking. “As you can see, this machine allows rails to be easily placed in sheer stone. It is durable, lightweight, and simple enough that even drones can be trained in its use. This alone would allow us to more easily move supplies across our hives using our underground routes. But combined with our other invention, moving supplies and changelings around is now a complete nonissue.”

As she was speaking, a group of five sapients was floating in a small train car. It looked kind of like a normal conductor’s machine, but it didn’t have a smokestack and it had to have been at least half its size.

“This is a train that uses an electric motor. We don’t yet have a stable source of electricity without magic, but with it…” The sapients carefully lowered the car onto the tracks. One of them hopped in and a few seconds later, it started to move. “We can use magic to generate enough electricity to activate this small engine and move this small car. With enough resources, we could build larger cars and entire trains that run off this motor, allowing us to get between hives very quickly without the use of magical teleportation.”

The car slowly petered to a stop as it started to run out of track. The fellow inside hopped back out and joined his companions, who were all watching the crowd. One of them finally noticed us and blinked, then surreptitiously pointed us out to the others. The speaker didn’t notice.

“And, adhering to the new socialization directive, we can offer rides to ponies in nearby settlements. Our trains will move faster and cleaner than theirs. The rides are less bumpy and less hilly since our tunnels are straight and focused. There is also no chance of being attacked by bandits since we’re working in tunnels. The only issue is that we have very few tunnels in places that ponies frequent. We already have a full-sized working prototype. At the moment, we are only waiting on permission to build tracks to our closest sister hive to test it.”

Chrysalis stood up. “You have it. Begin constructing the rails and planks you need to make the tracks. You will have a timeline to me in two days.”

To her credit, the sapient leading the demonstration didn’t blanch for long. After a few seconds of stunned silence, she bowed and said, “Yes, your highness. Is there anything else you require?”

“I am interested in how this machine works. Is it simple?”

The demonstrator stood back up and nodded. “Surprisingly so. It uses two electromagnets to pull and push a circle of metal around a central axis, creating energy we can use to move the train. One changeling can power a small engine for several miles at a time. I believe that if we use larger trains, it would take three to seven changelings to power it, depending on the distance traveled. They could swap out as needed, and could change with a fresh batch of changelings upon reaching their destination.”

“Excellent, though that will put a slight strain on our magic users. Can it be made more efficient?”

“Every piece of technology can be improved upon, your majesty. However, we are working with…” Her eyes flicked to me for a moment before returning to Chrysalis. “...memories. Half-forgotten and half-useless memories that were spread by just a few changelings. Perhaps if the one that experienced these events spent more time looking at useful books than at skirts—”

Chrysalis held up a hoof, shutting her up. “You have done well with what you have. Improve it as best you can while the tracks are being built. If you need more resources, submit a proposal when you submit your timeline. But you will only build enough to set up one track, to and from the nearest hive, until we test it thoroughly.”

The lady bowed again. “Yes, my queen.”

“And put one of your sapients on a way to generate electricity without magic. Magitec is all well and good, but sparing even one magic user would be useful.”

“Of course, Queen Chrysalis…”

Chryssi nodded once and we started walking out. Once we were back in the hallways and walking to the exit, she asked, “What did you think?”

“That’s an interesting way of combining magic and tech. I’ve been on pony trains where they ran out of coal or had a malfunction and had to actually pull the damn thing. It’s an interesting idea, that’s for sure. And it’ll be even more interesting to see it working in bulk.”

“Interesting and very useful. Oftentimes when changelings need to move from one hive to another, they must disguise as ponies and use their trains. Or if they aren’t in a hurry, they can walk or fly our tunnels.”

“That would suck. Also, I’m not a fan of being insulted.”

“Would you like me to send her to our bedchambers tonight? You can do unto her as you’d like.”

“First, that would only prove her right. Second, I don’t like rape. Third, that’s not a nice person thing to do.”

She shrugged. “Baby steps, right?”

“Right.”

She smiled darkly. “So, you want to go see your babies?”

“That’s actually pretty high on the list of things I don’t want to do.”

“I can make this relationship go both ways, Nav. You are trying to help me remember how to be good. I would happily do the same for you. Neither of us are as good as we should be.”

“The difference is that I don’t care. I’ve been sliding down this razor since I got to Equestria and the fall has only gotten slicker, easier, and less painful.”

She shivered slightly. “That is a very disturbing mental picture. Come on, let’s go see your little ones.”

“Nah. I’m not joking, Chrysalis.”

Her horn lit up and we both teleported into her room. “Why do you not want to see them? I don’t want to hear you dodge around it by saying you’re a terrible parent. There’s a reason. What is it?”

I immediately pointed behind her. “Look over there, a distraction!” She didn’t even flinch. My hand dropped back down. “Alright, what are you gonna do to me if I don’t answer?”

“Nothing.”

“...Oh.” I sighed and sat on the bed. “It’s not just that I’m a bad parent. It’s that I’m afraid of being a bad parent. I don’t want anyone to turn out as… broken as I am. I wasn’t raised right and I know it. I don’t want kids. I’ve never wanted kids, because I knew I wouldn’t have any idea what to do. And the ones you had… I’m ashamed. Not of you, but that I wasn’t there. That I had them without knowing and wasn’t there for them. You say it’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Children need parents, and I knew I couldn’t be there for them. Knew that I wouldn’t be there for them, even if I could.”

She smiled. “I am giving you the chance to be there for them now, Nav. Forget about the past. Forget what you should have done. Think now about what you can do.”

I slowly shook my head. “I’m leaving tomorrow, Chrysalis. I’m not going to show up only to leave them again. It’s better that they never know.”

Her smile disappeared. “Better for them, perhaps. But not better for you.”

“As a father, I have to do what’s best for them. This is it.”

And just like that, her grin reappeared. “That shows you aren’t as bad of a parent as you think, Nav. You may not want to see them, but at least you still want the best for them. Over even yourself.”

It was more that I was afraid to see them than wanting to protect them, but whatever got her off my back. “Can we just… not talk about it? There’s a reason I push it aside. It’s not easy to discuss.”

She walked over and pulled me into a hug. “The hardest things to talk about are always those that are most worth discussing.” After a few more seconds, she let me go. “Does Taya know yet?”

“That I have kids? I don’t think so.”

“No, that you never wanted kids. Does she know?”

I sighed and nodded. “Yeah. And she’s bitter about a lot of things. Most of what I was afraid would happen actually happened with her… And more, besides.”

“Well. I can’t help you be a father, but I could always try to teach you to be a mother. A parent is a parent, no matter the gender.”

I shook my head. “What I really think I need is someone to help me raise her. But even then, I’m afraid it’s too late. And hell, no offense to you, but you’re not all that great of a mother yourself.” Her eyes narrowed slightly. “You don’t raise your kids. You pawn them off on others. I know you have a kingdom to run, but still.”

She averted her eyes and sighed. “That is unfortunately true. I have not been the mother I have always wanted to be. I’m afraid it might also be something that I’ve forgotten…”

“Well, it’s never too late for you to find some useful sapients to run your hives and retire to an advisory position. Ooh, or you could get married to Celestia to cement your alliance!”

She looked back at me with disgust. “You are one sad, strange little being.” Her horn lit back up and we teleported to the throne room. Of course, I immediately fell on my ass as she walked over to her throne. Moments later, her horn lit up and the flow of business continued.

The day of days and moment of moments came quickly and early the next morning. Chrysalis and I were chilling in the throne room, waiting for the next petitioner. She was all happy and smiley while I was all mopey and upset that she fucking bluebeaned me three fucking times, the bitch. And worse, Flo just laughed at me the entire time.

So only one of us was in the mood to really deal with shit at that point. When a commotion started coming from the other side of the door, I was content to ignore it and hope that it sorted itself out. Chrysalis, however, did some magic to signal the fellow that was supposed to be on the other side of the door.

As soon as it started to open, a blast of water slammed into it and the regular doorman flew in. Before either of us could react, that same blast of water slithered straight toward me. Right before it reached my feet, it exploded into a humanoid shape that snagged me in a hug. The force should have knocked me back, but her watery tail continued around me and reinforced my legs and back, keeping me steady.

“Oooh, it’s so good to be free!” Flo said both in my head and out loud. I could see a few guards running into the throne room through her body, but Chrysalis waved them down.

“Oh, that was today?” I asked.

She pinched me. “You knew full well it was going to be today.” Then she went back to hugging me. “And it’s so nice to hold you in person again… By the five, I feel so free!” Her body shot out in all directions, thinning her out and encompassing nearly half the room, before looping around and covering me entirely for a few seconds.

“I thought you’d enjoy it. Is everyone back on the ship?”

Flo scoffed. “I can feel your happiness, Nav. You don’t have to hide it for Chrysalis’s sake. Stop being so taciturn.”

I rolled my eyes. “Woo hoo.”

“If you keep it up, I’m going to release a lot of dopamine in your brain and make you unable to hide being happy.” Chrysalis started giggling.

“God, Flo, you’re such a bully. Way to embarrass me in front of my side girl.”

“SIDE girl?” Chrysalis growled. That gave Flo the cue to start giggling. “If I’m your side girl, just who is your main mare? After everything I’ve let you do to me, I should be the only girl in your life at all!”

I finally broke out of Flo’s grasp and turned to face my glowering bug queen. “Well, it was nice of you to host us, Chryssi. Unfortunately, it’s time for us to get back to traveling. So…” She started standing up. “Um…” She started walking toward me. I began slowly backing up, until I bumped into Flo, who wrapped me in another involuntary hug that I couldn’t escape.

When Chrysalis reared up on her back legs, I flinched back slightly. Then she very gently wrapped her forelegs around me and began kissing me. As strange as it was, it was also really relaxing. Being loved on while it feels like you’re relaxing in a cool bath is oddly satisfying.

Then she pulled away and slapped me. If she hadn’t turned her hoof into an actual hand first, I probably would have been a little more upset. “You may leave me,” she said, waving a hoof and turning to walk back to the throne.

As much as I wanted to reach over there and cop a quick feel, Flo physically carried me out of the palace. “It’s so nice to see all of this in person,” she happily sighed when we were out into the hive proper. “Your eyes perceive things very differently than mine, so it’s nice to finally, finally, finally see things as I should!”

“And I really am happy you’re free as well,” I said. “It’s been a long time coming, and I definitely feel better about the coming years, now that you’re actually by my side. Also, can you put me down.” She smiled and started spinning and doing the opposite of putting me down. “Flo? Come on, man.”

She took me by the hands as she sped up, letting the rest of my body freely spin around her. I don’t know why she was treating me like a child, but if that’s what gets her wet, whatever.

I want it known that she hit me for writing that.

After spinning me just long enough to get me dizzy, she actually tossed me into the air. I had just a moment to panic before she shot her body forward to ensnare me again. When we hit the ground, she picked me right back up and snuggled me long enough for my dizziness to end before setting me on my feet and letting me go. “I just wanted to hear you say it,” she said. “Go get your stuff from Chryssi’s room. All of your troops are already on board, so we can leave as soon as we get out. I’ll begin leaving as well.”

I looked up for a moment before looking back at her. “How exactly are you going to get out?”

“I’ll climb the wall, like my sisters.” She pointed up and to the left, where I could just barely make out a large mass of water slowly slithering up the wall. “I can dig into the rock fairly easily, but it will take me time to get out.”

“Neat. I’ll see you on the ship, then.” I spread my wings to take off, but she grabbed my arm before I could. “What?”

Her smile deepened and she said, “Nothing. It’s just really, really nice to finally hold you again. I’ll see you on the ship, Nav.” With that, she let go. She didn’t turn to start climbing until I took off. Even then, though, she didn’t quite leave me. “No, I’m not trying to be creepy,” she creepily said in my mind. “And no, I’m not going to touch you in your sleep without your permission. And yes, I am a mind reader. Don’t make me come up there and hug you some more.”

“I didn’t say a goddamn thing.”

“I am not being passive aggressive!”

“Using what you think I said instead of what I actually said in order to get upset is, like, the definition of being passive aggressive.”

You know, I can honestly say that I didn’t think a water elemental could stretch that far. I can also say that being forced to breathe liquid because you were hugged so hard that you slipped inside of someone’s body is the opposite of fun.

Not too long after that, we were back on our way to Equestria proper, to pick up the passengers we left behind. The horrible feeling of unease I had in the back of my mind since the journey originally began was left behind in that dark cave, strangely enough. Perhaps Flo’s optimism was rubbing off on me in some strange way.

But I can say that it did me no good on our journey into the heart of darkness.

 
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