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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154. Chapter One Hundred and Twenty-Eight

Making a day guard dream about having sex with a lot of dudes was more fun than I thought it would be, and I originally thought it would be pretty fucking fun. I was looking forward to the next few nights, though Flo was trying to convince me not to since she’s a spoilsport not a child. Though I suppose I should remind her that a child wouldn’t make someone dream about sex. That’s what an immature adult pervert does.

One of these days, I’m going to learn how to stop her from taking over my hands.

When I woke up, we were already above the rendezvous place. I didn’t waste too much time getting out of bed and ready for the day. Somewhat surprisingly, Taya wasn’t out and about. But then, I figured she was probably still pouting and being angsty, so I went up to the deck.

The pitter-patter of eight horrifying feet behind me told me that Kat and Spider were up and about near the steering thing, so I walked to the captain, who was standing at the front of the ship and just looking down. “Any news?” I asked.

“Not really,” he replied, sparing me just a glance before looking back. “We’re where we’re supposed to be, but that blacksmith guard says they aren’t here yet.”

“I can’t imagine they’re really used to rushing, at this point. What’s a few days to an immortal? I just hope they have enough empathy left to realize that we don’t want to be sitting here for fucking ever.”

“They better get here soon enough, either way. We can stay in the air as long as we need to, but I’d prefer not to need to for very long.”

“Hell, we’ll have to land to pick them up anyway. Why are we up here and not down there?”

“Dealing with small winds buffeting the ship is better than dealing with constant waves. We can land when we need to and then get back up. Besides, if we don’t know how long we’ll be staying down, we’ll have to deflate the balloon, and getting that thing pumped back up again is annoying.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Did everyone decide to come, or did we leave anyone in Canterlot?”

“All but four of the guards are accounted for and all the crew’s here. We’ve done nearly a hundred runs over the wastes so far, and we’ve only been attacked once. We repelled that one easily enough, even with just the seven of us. I don’t expect any problems.”

“Good. And I imagine anything we run into out there will be scared off by the naga once we pick him up, anyway. He said his clan did their part in making the monsters of the wastes afraid of civilized areas.”

“Fear is powerful, but death is stronger. If we scare the monsters away, they’ll come back as soon as they think our backs are turned. But if we kill them, they’re gone for good.”

“...I keep forgetting you guys were pirate prisoners for a while.”

“We don’t. Sometimes, it seems that staying on this ship is both therapeutic and damaging.”

“Yeah, I bet that fucking sucks. I know having to be around Luna for any length of time was pretty bad. The wounds Kat put on me are slowly knitting closed, but it’s a long, lonely road.”

“It’s not that lonely for us. And it doesn’t have to be, for you.”

“There are some things a man has to fight alone.”

He finally actually turned to look at me. “To us, you aren’t just a man. You’re a leader. A savior. A friend. And friends don’t let friends suffer alone.”

“That’s pretty gay, dude. I’m going to go find Watcher, see if he has any news or whatever. See you later.” I saw him shaking his head sadly before I turned and walked back to the door leading below. That gave me a chance to see that most of the guards were on the deck as well, doing exercises and all the other boring stuff guards usually do.

That meant no one was in the main hall leading to Watcher’s bachelor pad, so I slipped through and quietly knocked, hoping I wouldn’t wake him up or interrupt him doing the nasty with Zecora.

The door magically opened a few moments later, revealing Watcher also doing some basic calisthenics. “You need something?” he asked when he saw who it was.

“Any news. And if we’re leaving anyone important behind. Gourd said we got eleven of the guards with us.”

“I told three to stay behind for news and to find some things for me. The last one stayed because he had the resources he needed to translate that elemental book in the Canterlot library.”

“The wh—Oh yeah, the air elemental location list. How’s that coming?”

“Better, now that he has all the resources he needs at hoof. Not like it’s going to matter for a while anyway. I can’t imagine you’re in too much of a hurry to free the airs, after what happened in Ponyville. And from what the others have said about them.”

“How did you know about—Wait, you’re Watcher. Never mind. Yeah, I’m not really in a hurry to have more of them floating around. But since you do know about it, how do you feel about the cloning pool?”

He stopped doing pushups. “There’s a cloning pool?”

“...What were you talking about when you mentioned something happening in Ponyville?”

“The air elemental damaging a few buildings and striking the Apple farm while you were harvesting. What are you talking about?”

Oh boy. “You probably aren’t going to like hearing this. Or at least, if you have any moral compass left. Long story short, there’s some kind of magical cloning pool in the Everfree that makes a complete copy of your physical form, with almost none of the actual memories. Somehow, Pinkie knew about it and Aerie convinced her to go clone herself. Within six hours, there were hundreds of Pinkies roaming throughout the town.”

“...How did I not hear about this?”

“Celestia wanted it kept really, really quiet. She had to murder the shit out of all the clones and that’s not the kind of persona she wants to project.”

“Yes, I imagine so. Where’s the pool?”

“In the Everfree. I showed it to her, and she practically admitted to having used it to create soldiers before.”

“Did she destroy it or hide it away?”

“Hid it, at my advice. I was wondering if you had any thoughts.”

“...Destroying it would have been the right thing to do. But hiding it was the smart thing to do. That’s truly the extent of it.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured that’s what you would say. Maybe we should get someone that isn’t absolutely fucked up on this ship and start asking them before we do things.”

“I suspect very little would ever get done, were we to do that.”

“Yeah, probably. Anyway, what kind of exercises would you recommend for Taya? I’m trying to get her in some kind of shape so she can run away if needed.”

“There’s not exactly much room to do laps on the ship, but she could manage. Basic things like pushups and crunches are good. One of my troops used to be a drill instructor before he realized how boring it was and went back to active duty, so you could ask him. Grey Boulder.”

“One of the earth ponies, then?”

“Yeah. The biggest one.”

“I’ll give him a talk. Taya’s all angsty right now and I suppose getting her mind off being a teenager’s a good idea.”

“There’s definitely a reason I never had kids.”

And a reason I never wanted them. “Understandable. Anyway, any other news?”

“Nah. But I do suggest checking up on Jak, if you have a moment. Gourd says he hasn’t been out of that book in over a day. He seems like the type that’ll get so focused on something he’ll forget about eating.”

“Should be Smiles’s job, but I guess he doesn’t really have a way through the book. Where is it?”

“His shop, probably. Ask Smiles.”

“Ugh, that means I have to talk to Smiles… Maybe he’s still asleep. I’ll go check, I guess.”

“Good luck. If you need to, smack him on the nose with a newspaper. It works for you, at least.”

“Only because I gave you permission to. It shouldn’t come to that. Usually threatening to kick him in the dick works.”

“I suppose there’s at least one good thing about being trapped in the body of a female.”

“Dude, have you ever been kicked in the cunt?” He lifted an eyebrow. “That shit hurts just as bad as being kicked in the balls. It’s just a smaller target that’s harder to hit just right. And I can also get kicked in the tits, which also hurts like hell. And I’m just thanking god there ain’t no one that can get me pregnant, or I might never have sex again. If abortions were an option, maybe, but I already know Flo ain’t gonna put up with that shit.”

“Oh, human females can’t autoabort?”

“...I forgot you guys can do that. No, we can’t. There’s a special procedure where… actually, it’s pretty nasty. We have to do it by hand.”

“I like knowing many things, but please don’t go into detail.”

“Yeah, I felt the same way after I looked it up. Anyway, I’m gonna go find Jak. Have fun.”

He snorted. “Yeah. Right.”

Since he was gonna be like that, I went ahead and left, heading down to Jak’s shop. It seemed that Smiles was being lazy again, as I didn’t feel any excess heat start picking up on the way. It seemed the fires were off. Though I suppose having no one to work for gives you plenty of time to finish up your backlog.

When I got there, the place was actually empty. I wasn’t about to push my luck, so I went on into Jak’s main workshop, where the book was resting on a table. After mentally preparing myself to deal with Athena’s crazy ass, I opened it up and got sucked inside.

A quick look around told me the upper floor of her weird library didn’t have anyone or anything moving. But when I turned to hop over the railing, Athena was standing inches in front of me. Before she could say a thing, I mused aloud, “You must have been from a culture that stood very close to people when talking and encouraged physical contact.”

“The Greeks fit that description, yes,” she said, not missing a beat. “What information do you require from me this time, Lady Icarus?”

“I get the wing thing, but why Icarus? That doesn’t really seem… accurate.”

“The way the sun gazed upon you when you brought her to me, I believe you might have flown quite close to her more than once. I wonder how she perceives your… transformation.”

“With annoyance. She enjoyed me having a dick. But she’s also enjoying me not having one, so at least there’s that.”

“So again I ask, what do you require, Lady Icarus?”

“Where’s Jak? He hasn’t been out in a while and I don’t want him to starve.”

“There is no hunger in my domain. He may waste away, but will never die. You never wondered why husks roamed my halls, always seeking but never finding? Undying yet dead, lost but not aimless? They are the bodies of those who suffered deathblows in my home, but will never find peace.”

“...Even after Twilight and I wrecked their shit?”

“Perhaps you gave some peace, but the only true death here is vaporization or being returned to the world of life and rot. You may have disabled some for a time, but they’ll slowly shamble back together as the magic seeps its way deeper into their very souls.”

“Spooky. Anyway, where’s Jak?”

“He is below, with his automaton. It is as yet incapable of handling stairs, so it remains there. Staring at me. While I sleep.”

“Fun stuff. I’m gonna go say hi.” Before I could even blink, the two of us were standing next to Jak. He was poring over a book, maybe trying to find wisdom from the ancients, or maybe trying to learn how to make toilets that work properly. You never really know, with him. “Hey Jak, you still alive?”

He blinked once before slowly lifting his large head up to gaze upon me. “Forerunner. While I was navigating the maze of this realm, I found many history books pertaining to the human race. This is one such book.”

“Cool. You need anything? Watcher said you’ve been in here for a while.”

“I excused myself to sleep, though I did not leave my workshop. She has plenty of foodstuffs hidden away, though all of it is preserved. I will be trying to instill extremely fine control in my golem so it may be used to obtain more delicate things.”

“Maybe you should be working on that instead of reading history books.”

“If this history didn’t pertain to writing glyphs, perhaps. According to Athena, this book was written several thousand years before your birth. It might well be something that would interest you, as well.”

“It’s always good to learn from history, but magic really ain’t my thing. I have faith in my sword and my armor. I don’t have faith that some mysterious force will come to my aid when I need it. I gave up believing in miracles a few years ago.”

“These runes are hard magic, forerunner. Magic you can see, magic you can feel. I share the same suspicions when it comes to magic that is performed, though I admit to having faith that I could learn it if I so chose.”

“Well, feel free to carve some good ones into my metal armor. I’m getting rid of that dragon scale shit. It’s haunted.”

“...How so? Is it dangerous?”

“Hell yeah it’s fucking dangerous. That shit came alive on me while I was fighting and took over my entire body.”

Athena placed an arm around my shoulder and leaned in really close to me. “I would like to see a piece of this armor, my lovely Icarus.”

“Twilight has it,” I replied, trying to fight the revulsion I felt from her touch. “She wanted to do experiments on it. I kinda have a bad feeling she’s going to get me to wear it and then try to make it take over again.”

“Yes, that seems like something she would do.” Athena seemed to lose interest in me and wandered away, letting her arm slowly trail off me until it went limp. Before she disappeared from sight, she said, “Bring a piece to me when you can.”

“That lady really worries me sometimes,” Jak quietly said before looking back to his book. “I am well, forerunner. I am not so old or so focused that I would quickly forget to take care of myself.”

“Just be wary about this place, then,” I said. “I don’t know what it is, but it always seems…”

“Off?” he finished. “Yes. It drove her mad, though I suppose she had plenty of time to fall into it by herself. But her madness is reflected in this place. Orderly but chaotic, always moving and yet so dusty and frail that it seems immobile. Rife with danger. Remember, forerunner: I walked the maze, too.”

“True enough. Well, if you don’t need anything, I’m heading back.”

“If I need something, I will be perfectly capable of getting it for myself. Though I suppose your concern is noted.”

“Alright, cool. See you later, Jak.”

“Forerunner.”

I really had no need to talk to Athena, so I walked over to the stairs and let myself out. Eerily enough, aside from my own footsteps, I didn’t hear any other noise. I just opened the book and let the calamari take me on home.

My chores for the day were done, so I went back to my room. After a moment’s consideration, I left the door open and just pulled out my laptop. That way, anyone that wanted to talk to me would have to make the choice between bothering me from something I was interested in or not getting whatever they wanted.

I had a feeling I knew exactly what most people would choose.

I gotta say, though, the one who actually chose to visit me was a surprise. Spider managed to creep halfway to my bed before I noticed him, but he froze when my head jerked up and I suddenly lifted a knife above my head. As soon as I realized it was just the creepiest fucker in my crew, I relaxed. Slightly.

“What do you need?” I sighed, putting the tool away. His beady black eyes (probably) watched the knife until it slipped away, then (likely) moved up to my face before jerking back down. It’s hard to tell when someone doesn’t have pupils, after all.

“Canterlot was nice, high mistress,” he quietly said.

“Glad you liked it. And you don’t have to call me that.”

“It… comforts me, high mistress.” Weird. “The caring one… Kat, said I should ask you something. If you would find it acceptable, I would like to do so.”

“Depends entirely on what you’re going to ask, I guess.”

“Why does the high mistress dislike me?”

Oh boy. “Spider, I don’t dislike you at all.” Technically. “I don’t even know you. However, I was mistreated by the spiders while we were there and some of them said some things that made me… wary of the rest of you. So far, you haven’t done anything that’s made me worry too much.” I also haven’t really been paying attention.

“The caring one told me to ask if there was any way I could earn your favor…?”

“Continue behaving, I guess. I don’t really need anything.”

“...Earning favor is much easier here than it was back there.”

“Yeah, I bet no one here’s asked you for sex.” And if anyone has, Kat and I are going to be having a long talk about it.

“The… caring one got upset when I tried… pleasing her. The royal dragon was very confused and pushed me away. The black prey bug seemed excited, but refused after a moment. Is… is it truly… not something that is done here? The use of lowlings for pleasure?”

“It’s very uncommon and kinda illegal, I think. Depends on what you mean by lowlings, I guess. The age of consent in Equestria is a lot lower than I’m comfortable with, but I don’t think many people really take advantage of it. Having sex with servants and people ranked lower than you is kinda fucked up and heavily discouraged, but I’m not certain it’s actually illegal. Just stop asking to please everyone.”

“The caring one said the same thing. It is… a habit.”

“It shouldn’t be one that’s too hard to break. You might should ask Kat to teach you to fight. I could see that helping. Maybe give you more of a backbone, too.”

“She… was going to ask you to help with that, high mistress.”

“Seems to me that you’d benefit from an assassin’s fighting style much more than mine. Chitin is tough, but brittle. You don’t have much of a place in an upfront fight. But your web, poison, and ability to climb anything would make you very useful at sneak attacks.”

“She didn’t think you would want me to learn stuff like that…”

“You’re behaving. That means you’re part of the crew. You’re free to learn whatever anyone here is willing to teach. And besides, I’m still learning from the naga how to fight, whereas Kat’s already a master at her craft. You’d be better off learning from her than trying to learn anything from me.” Unless it’s how to be a slut. Though Doppel would be better for that.

“High mistress… if you are unable to fight as well or kill as well as others, why are you in charge?”

“Leading isn’t about your ability to kill. It’s about your ability to make others want to follow your orders. Being able to kill can instill fear in someone, but rarely loyalty. You make someone afraid, they’ll try to stab you in your back. You make someone loyal, they’ll follow you anywhere. That said, there are better leaders on board. Honestly, I have no idea how or why I ended up in charge. It just sorta accidentally happened one day and I’ve been rolling with it ever since.”

“The outside world is… different.”

“Man, you don’t even know. Kat teach you to read yet? Once you start doing that, you’re gonna figure out quick how different things really are.”

“I have been learning. It is difficult with my eyes, but it is… doable.”

This fucker hesitates far too much. “You could always try closing all but two of them. Honestly, I don’t really know how they work. Either way, it’s definitely a thought. If you want to try any different books, let me know. I keep a collection with me, but they might be a bit… out there for you.” And if it keeps your creepy ass from bothering me for a while, even better.

A sudden sensation of the ship moving was my first warning something was off. The next was a guard’s head poking in my door. “We’re headed down, sir. Elementals are here.”

“Excellent.” I set the laptop aside and hopped up. “Spider, head back to Kat. I have to greet our guests.”

“Yes, high mistress.” He seemed to bow slightly before scuttling back out the door. The guard quickly took a step back to avoid him and let the creepy bastard enter the hall undisturbed.

As soon as he was gone, I sighed. “Do I really have to go greet these things?” I asked the guard.

“I think Watcher might be upset if you don’t.”

“Do you want to pretend to be me for a few minutes? Just stand on your hind legs and don’t smile. Should be easy.”

“My voice isn’t as cute as yours… sir,” he said.

“Fuck you.” I finally started walking out. He chuckled and followed along behind me as we walked up to the deck. We weren’t all the way down yet, but it looked like all the guards and crew members that were awake were on deck. “Status?” I asked Gourd, since he was right by the door.

“Looking good and heading down. Sunshine said they’d be here soon. They… aren’t all gonna be like Brook or Ice, right?”

“God I hope not. But they’re both going to be here, unfortunately. Speaking of which… where the fuck are we gonna put them all?”

“I was wondering when you’d ask that,” he replied with a smile. “Some of them will fit in the cargo holds. Aqua and Ice are staying with Twilight and Sunshine Smiles. The others will flatten themselves down and stick to the bottom of the ship. That’s apparently a thing they can do.”

“That’s cool I guess, as long as they don’t peek into any windows. Though honestly, I guess it doesn’t much matter. Not like they really feel anything anyway.”

“That’s not entirely true,” Flo said.

The captain shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter much to me, honestly. I don’t always get to have as much fun as you do.”

“I’m sure you have enough fine magic control to give you a decent enough facsimile.”

“It’s never as good as the real thing. Speaking of which, if you’re open to the idea…”

“It’s an offer I’ll keep in mind,” I said, actually meaning it. There were few enough dudes I could fuck on board with no consequences and I figured the captain was probably one of them. I’d have to be pretty desperate, though. “Any thoughts on how to greet them?”

“Warmly. Aside from that, I have no clue.”

“Well, hell, I already know most of them. Not like I can really fuck it up too badly.”

“Great, now we’re screwed,” he sighed.

“I like the optimism, but I’m still thinking about it. I’m gonna go see if Watcher has any final thoughts.”

“Good luck. I’m heading up to the wheel. I might have a few extra seconds if things go poorly.” Thanks for the vote of confidence.

When I got to Watcher, he was, unsurprisingly, watching over the front of the boat. “Trying to get a glimpse of them before we land?”

“Trying to get a glimpse of any hostile intentions. From what you, Twilight, and Smiles have said, these things are very used to getting their way. When they realize that we… or perhaps you, are running the show, they might be somewhat reluctant to assist us.”

“I’d be perfectly willing to let them give the orders, if I thought they’d give orders that would get shit done. Waters are fucking bleeding hearts. Revere all life and all that jazz. Being peaceful is all well and good, but sometimes that shit just don’t work, and you gotta be willing to fuck shit up.”

“Human speech is really interesting. But I share the same assessment. I would not want to take orders from something as old as they are purported to be. Even if they are empathetic or caring for all life, I don’t trust them to hold the lives of individual troops in a high regard when it comes to what they might consider the greater good. And to them, I might be one of the individual troops. Nor do I trust them to have the same goals as ours. If they try to push you or take over, don’t even give them a chance to solidify any power.”

“I have no intention of it. I’d like you backing me up, if you don’t mind.”

“That’s the plan.”

Before I could reply, the helmsman’s magically augmented voice cut in. “WE’RE LANDING. GRAB ONTO SOMETHING.” I put both my hands on the rail and Watcher’s horn lit up to anchor him down. Thankfully, we slid into the water easily, so the precautions weren’t needed.

When nothing immediately happened, I relaxed. “So now we play the waiting game, it seems.”

“That’s the way of soldiery, sir. Hurry up and wait. But I told Smiles not to have us start landing until they were close, so it shouldn’t—” Several large tubes of water suddenly shot over the side and landed on the deck, making whatever he was about to say pointless. My hand immediately shot to where my sword should have been, but I thankfully left it in my room.

Soon, the elementals all took proper shapes, most emulating humans. Man oh man, a deck full of Cortanas. “Welcome to the Second Chance,” I said before any of them could speak up. “For those of you who have yet to meet me, I am Navarone.”

Two of them started to surge forward slightly and I heard them whisper something about humans, but the one closest to me stuck her hands out to block them. “Hello again, Navarone. I trust you have been informed about our planned itinerary.”

“If by your route, you mean the one my crew and I came up with, yes. We’ll be leaving for our destination as soon as you’re all aboard and ready.”

“We are all present.”

“Gourd, take us up!” I called across the ship.

“You got it!” he called back. Shortly thereafter, we started ascending.

“And I trust you know your accommodations?” I asked.

“We do. Though Aqua reports that Twilight is missing.”

“As are all of her friends. For the time being, you’re welcome to shove as many of yourselves into their rooms as you’d like.”

“Many of my sisters would like a turn in your room, perhaps interviewing you. The ones that were trapped are quite interested in how a human came about in this late age.”

“I’m not a fan of interviews. Or fangirls.” Unless they’re sexy. “I might consent to answer a few questions, though. For now, feel free to get comfortable. Meet the crew, find a place to idle, or whatever. We’ll be making a few detours before we head to the hive, but nothing that’ll slow us down too much.”

“Are we free to make hosts of the crew?”

“If you explain every aspect of being a host and are given permission beforehand, feel free. And by every aspect, I specifically mean the part about being able to take over their body at will.”

“Such conversations are usually standard, but I imagine Flo took a few… liberties with what she told you. Desperation brings lies more easily to one’s lips.”

“Yeah. Sure. That was the reason.” Flo smacked me, of course, but she at least did it gently. “So are we gonna do formal introductions, or are we just gonna learn who’s who when we do?”

“I am Brook, as you should know. Though I suppose it is difficult for you to tell us apart. You also know Mist, Naiad, Aqua, and Ice.” Each of the named elementals nodded at me, telling me who was who. Though Ice was kinda obvious. “The ones you don’t know are Cascade, Waterfall, Rain, Raine, River, and Carl.”

“...Did you just say Carl?”

“I did. Do you have a problem with her name, Anonymous?”

“...As long as you don’t call me that again, I won’t mention... hers. The two Rains are gonna be somewhat difficult, too.”

“Unlikely. You won’t often see one without the other. Now, as virtue of being the oldest, I am the technical head of this water elemental group.” Of course it would be the bitchiest one. “You will, I’m sure, want to stay mostly independent of our control. Just know that we want to stay mostly independent of your control as well. And by your, I don’t just mean when we’re on this ship, Navarone. We know of your future plans involving the past.”

“That’s something we can discuss later, if it ever becomes pertinent. I can’t see the need to give any of you guys orders that you wouldn’t want to follow anyway, so I’m perfectly willing to let you stay independent. I just don’t want to hear too much bitching if we do things you don’t like.”

“I rather doubt you’ll have the chance to do much of that before my sisters and I can have a long conversation with Flo.”

“You’re perfectly welcome to, but don’t expect it to do much good. At least, not if you’re thinking about trying to get her to rein me in.”

“We shall see. But it certainly wouldn’t do for the resident human to die. Athena is unreachable and Arachne is still a monster, so neither of those can have near the impact that you can.”

“I ain’t checkin’ out just yet, don’t you worry.” Aqua snorted. “Now, I don’t reckon there’s really a need to be standing around, yammerin’ about. Y’all need anything, I’ll be below.”

“Ah, interesting. So you drop into an accent when you get annoyed. I figured I would have noticed that by now.”

“Given your tendency to annoy me or piss me off, yeah, I figured you probably would have. You know, what with you threatening to murder one of my friends and all.” She flinched back and turned a shade darker. “Once again, feel free to introduce yourselves around, ladies and Ice,” I said to them all. “We’re probably going to be spending a lot of time on this boat together, so you might as well meet everyone sooner rather than later.”

Unfortunately, they were all between me and the door leading down. That meant I had to try to walk around or through their group to get where I was going. It was going well right up until the point where I started, when Brook stopped blocking the two elementals from surging toward me. Creepily enough, they both wrapped around my body in an interlocking fashion until they covered all of me but my head.

“We’d like to ask questions,” one of them said, whispering it right next to my ear.

“So many questions. About all kinds of things,” the other added.

“You pulled us from the ice.”

“So we also want to thank you.”

“And she’s Rain.”

“And she’s Raine.”

I sighed and started walking again, dragging their wet bodies with me. “This is gonna be a long fucking trip. Gourd, we’re flying to the mountain in the Everfree.”

“I’ve seen it,” he said with a nod. “We’ll be there shortly.”

The other water elementals started petering off to talk to the crew, leaving me to my two new tormentors. Well, them and Watcher, who ignored the attempts the elementals made to talk to him so he could follow me. When we got down to my room, he stopped at the door. “Brook called you Anonymous,” he said.

“She did indeed,” I replied.

“One of the prisoners that I believe had contact with Discord said that word. When I told you before, you recognized it and said it was a human thing. What does it mean?”

“Well, hell, I suppose it’s time someone found out. When Twilight brought me here, I lied about my name. I didn’t know if she was hostile or not, so I gave her a fake name, just in case. What you just heard was my real name.” Or rather, the real-fake name that I put in here so Celestia doesn’t learn the real one.

“I see. Why would it be in the mind of that prisoner, then?”

“I’ve been wondering the same thing.”

“Hm. This is… worrying.”

“Yeah, kinda. But I have a more pressing, present concern in the form of two clingy water elementals that don’t know what personal space is.”

They both giggled and one said, “Certain liberties can be taken with such a unique specimen…”

“And you’re warm,” the other happily added, squeezing tighter for just a moment.

“I’m afraid that’s something I can’t help you with,” Watcher said with some measure of distaste. “I believe I should have a talk with Brook, actually. Excuse me.” He left before I could excuse him, leaving me with two elementals that wanted to know all about me.

Life is hard.

When we got to Reginald’s cave, they still refused to let me go. Thankfully, they didn’t restrict movement, or I’d be pissed instead of just really annoyed. I flew on down to the ground alone, aside from the two of them.

“If you two don’t get off me by the time I go to bed, I’m going to have you burned off,” I warned as I walked to the cave.

“If you take us both to bed, you might not want us gone,” one said.

“We both have such pretty voices. You’d love to hear us sing…”

“And we’d quite like to hear you hitting a few high notes, too.”

“It might take a few training exercises first, though…” The two of them started giggling.

I can’t tell if they’re talking about fucking me or actually training me to sing. I also don’t know which would be worse.

“I certainly won’t allow either,” Flo said. “They’re trying to take you from me and I won’t let that stand. Anything these two upstarts can do, I can do better!”

Alright, if you three want to get in a contest to see who can give me the most orgasms, I won’t complain. Much.

“Slut.”

Just sayin’.

By that point, we were walking into the main cavern of Reginald’s cave. Thankfully, the two pests finally stopped giggling, but I could still feel them gently writhing around my body. They weren’t doing anything sexual, but it still felt really weird.

Of course, no one goes into that fellow’s cave without him knowing, or at least, not for long. I only got a few dozen meters in before I could see Spike sitting on top of a mound of treasure, idly kicking his heels. Moments after I saw him, Reginald’s massive head snaked out of a side tunnel. “Visitors?” he rumbled. “Ah, Navarone. You’re covered in water.”

“Yeah, I kinda am.”

As soon as he said my name, Spike finally caught sight of me. And after I finished talking, his face lit up with a smile and he hopped down to sprint toward me so he could hug me. I probably should have ended up on my back, but the elementals braced me and then wrapped themselves around his body, too.

“I was waiting forever for you to come back!” Spike happily said, still holding me. “I didn’t think you’d bring an elemental, though.”

“These two won’t leave me alone.” I finally reciprocated his hug, hoping it would give him incentive to let me go. Sure enough, he did.

“So are we finally going back on the ship?” he asked.

“Yep. We’re here to grab you. Gonna get the naga next. Then we’ll head right to Chrysalis’s place.” Well, after a quick stop in Appaloosa.

“Finally!”

Reggie took a step closer. “So you return once more to the road. And you’re going to visit little Miss Moonbeam?”

“Yeah. There’s something I need near her hive and I figure it’s better to ask before I start digging for it.”

“Yes, that would be wise. As much as I would like to assist you in your journey, I have one of my own to plan. Who knows where Luna may be found?”

“Celestia, of course. They have some kind of communication going on. I hope you’re a little more calm now.”

“I am. And I must thank you, Navarone. If you had not made me wait, I fear I might have done something hasty and ill-advised. My blood still boils at the news, but I will confront her calmly before ripping her limb from limb.”

“That’s all I can ask. Just, you know, don’t mention to Celestia the whole killing her part. Though the common theory in Canterlot right now is that she’s back on the moon, so you might not be able to do much to her anyway.”

“We shall see. There is more than one place prisoners of her power can end up. I just hope I do not find her hidden away in Canterlot, living in luxurious isolation.”

“If you do, smack Celestia’s shit up for me.”

“I will most definitely be displeased as well.” He turned his giant eyes to Spike. “Gather up your belongings. When I depart, I’ll be sealing off my cave.”

“Oh, right!” He spread his wings and took off, quickly flying deeper into the cave.

Reggie looked back at me. “So why are you covered in water?”

“Long story. These things are sapient and apparently like my body or something. If they don’t knock their shit off, I’ll knock their shit up.”

“I will never get over how interesting your speech patterns are. You seem to use the word shit for a lot more than we do.”

“Yeah, English is kinda bad about reusing words for stuff. Fuck and shit are both used for a ton of stuff. And then we go around and make words that mean the same thing. Shit’s crazy.”

“I take it English is what humans call common?”

“Yeah. The ponies call it Equis because they’re still going through that nationalist, exceptionalist phase.”

“Inspired by the leader they believe to be moving the sun. Though I suppose the illusion was somewhat lessened when that old lich ruined Equestria-that-was, not that it really did much in the long run.”

“...Was that lich’s name Grogar, by chance?”

“It was, yes. He rained ice down upon the ponies and forced most of them to move. Did you find out about him in your journeys?”

“Yeah. And if he actually went full lich, I bet that bastard’s still kicking.”

“I would not be surprised.” He snorted smoke and shook his head. “There were many times that Luna and I sought permission to wipe his filthy dark magic from the face of this land. We should have done it anyway.”

“...You know, another thing I found was one of Luna’s diaries. What Celestia made the two of you do ended with Luna absolutely despising herself.”

His eyes narrowed and he grit his horrifyingly large teeth. “That white horse has much to answer for.” Spike was finally walking back, so Reggie gently grabbed me and started walking to the exit. “I hope for the sake of her kingdom that she’ll be able and willing to answer my questions. She can’t be everywhere at once, and there are few settlements able to withstand a full grown dragon’s attack.”

“I can’t imagine any answers are worth genocide.”

“Young human minds and old dragon minds work very differently, my friend,” he said as he set me down. Spike was hurrying to keep up on his stubby legs. His bag, crossbow, and quiver were bouncing with every small bound, up until he remembered that he could fly and sailed the rest of the way out.

As soon as the entrance was clear, Reginald grabbed his large door and covered the entrance to his cave, then blasted it with fire. As close as I was standing, I really should have been singed, but the elementals moved to cover the rest of my body, blocking any damage.

Soon, the deed was done. “Is there anything else you need from me?” Reginald asked.

“All I can do is ask that you not hurt anyone. I was mistreated, but violence begets violence. The cycle has to stop somewhere. I can definitely say that there’s a time and a place for killing and maiming, but this isn’t it.”

“I shall… take your words into consideration,” he said. Then he swung his head to Spike. “As I suggest you do with mine.”

“As many times as you said those same things to me, I don’t think I’ll forget them any time soon,” he sarcastically replied.

“See that you don’t. Now, I will wait until the two of you are aboard your ship to leave. The downdraft from my wings would be discomforting.”

“Thanks for the thought,” I said with a nod. “And I’m already looking forward to seeing you again. One of these days, we’ll have a talk without a schedule, and we can discuss what really happened in the past.”

“Perhaps. Farewell for now, Navarone. Friend.”

“See you when I see you. Come on, Spike.” I didn’t wait for any other response, and just took off for the ship. Spike followed me a few moments later, probably saying his goodbyes or whatever. As soon as I landed, I held my arms up. “Alright, your free ride is over. Get off.”

“You know, your heartbeat picked up quite nicely when that dragon held you,” one whispered in my ear.

“Does a certain human have a thing for a large dragon?” the other asked.

“Or perhaps it’s dragons in general?” Of course, they waited until Spike landed next to me to ask that, making him blink in shock.

“Or, you know, I freaked out because the fucker’s hand is huge and could crush me on accident.”

“Perhaps,” one said while the other chuckled. Either way, they both finally slithered off me and fucked off to who knows where.

“Weirdos,” I muttered, shaking my head.

“So what’s with those two?” Spike asked.

“Like I said, they’re weird. And they like humans, I guess. Anyway, welcome back on board. Twilight and her friends aren’t here, so things are going to be quiet for a little while.”

“Princess Celestia let you leave them behind?”

“Psh, if only. Chrysalis hates them, so I just left them temporarily. We’ll be picking them up when we leave the main hive.”

“Oh. So, what have you been up to?”

Ugh. Even with those two gone, it’s still gonna be a long bloody trip. Most of the crew that were on the deck were staring over the side at the massive dragon under us, but the helmsman was still at his place. “We’re heading to Stone Falls,” I called up at him. “Gotta pick up the naga.”

“Aye aye, sir. It’ll take us a good few hours to get there.”

“Let me know when we do.”

“You got it.” The ship kicked into motion, so I started leading Spike below while answering his questions.

It didn’t take all that long to get to the naga’s place. Answering a bunch of questions made it feel longer, though. At least Taya finally came out of her funk long enough to go with me down to the naga cave. That was a simple pickup, since one of the naga scouts saw our ship and sent word to Ames. He was waiting for us by the time we got to the cave’s entrance.

Thankfully, he didn’t care about what happened, so I didn’t have to answer a bunch of stupid questions. Unfortunately, almost every single one of the elementals decided it would be fun to watch the two of us spar. Normally I don’t mind people staring at my body, but their gazes were a lot less sexual and a lot more… protective.

“It’s been a little while for me, naga,” I said. “I hope you’ll be gentle.”

“I know you like it fast and rough, human,” he said with a smirk. “And with the way you’re dressed, you’re just asking for it.”

“Protection takes half the fun out of it. But from the looks of your stance, it’s been a little while for you, too.”

“Not so long that I can’t give you what you deserve.”

“Well then, what are you waiting for, big guy? Give it to me.”

“With pleasure!” He suddenly shot toward me, stabbing with his massive wood. I dodged toward his weak side and slashed with my blade, trying to catch him under his extended arm. He saw it coming and twisted away.

Since playing defensive is a good way to get stabbed, I followed him, staying well inside his possible swing arcs, and tried going for his large neck. He lifted his sword to block it and then used one of his hands to push me back so hard I fell on my ass. He swung his sword down, but I scooted back and opened my legs wider, making his blade hit the deck.

While he lifted it for another swing, I hastily got to my feet. By the time I was up, he was already slinging the blade in a wide arc in front of him. I jumped back from it and then jumped in for a stab. He used his freaky snake body to pivot away from it, leaving his lower body in the same spot. So I sliced down, finally biting flesh… and catching a greatsword to the face on his backswing.

Of course, I went down hard. Before he could either taunt me or tell me where I went full retard (or mention how I killed him at the cost of killing myself), half the elementals on deck surged toward us. One immediately put her hands on my head, one covered my body entirely, and the others all started accosting the naga while I was being ‘taken care of’. I kinda wish I could hear what they were saying, but I had a pretty good guess.

As soon as the one with her hands on me killed my pain, she let go and said, “She is well, sisters.”

“He does not need to be coddled!” the naga growled.

“She is the only remaining human, the last hope of their race!” Brook shot back. “She must be protected.”

“Oh hell no,” I said, struggling to free myself from the one encompassing me. “Y’all ain’t gonna pull that shit on me! And bitch, you better get up off me!” The elemental holding me down finally relented, seeping away and reforming herself as a humanoid, letting me stand. “Any one of you bitches tries pulling that shit again, I’ll have you evaporated. I got a dragon on board and plenty of unicorns that would be all too happy to make you steam. Don’t tempt me.”

“You need us too much to risk harming a single one of us,” Brook contemptuously answered.

“You know my species,” I said, narrowing my eyes. “You know what spite is. You saw it in play. You better believe I wanna kill that Discord bastard, but don’t think I won’t have you killed if you cross me. He may have killed my species, but you almost killed my friend. Don’t think for a second I’ll forget that and don’t think for a second I’ll let you start any of your fuckery on this ship. You try me, I. Will. End. You.”

“Words spoken in haste and anger,” she said, shaking her head. “We will be watching, Navarone. Do not think we will let you come to harm.”

“Taya, if any of these try to stop us from sparring again, light them on fire.”

I didn’t have to look at her to know she was smiling. “With pleasure, daddy!” Brook’s eyes narrowed for a moment before she and her sisters went back to their original positions.

I nodded once and grabbed my sword from where it fell, easily falling back into a fighting stance. The naga matched me and we began again.

It took all night, but we finally made it to Appaloosa. Early fall or not, the weather was just as hot as I remembered it the last time. And despite kinda sorta wanting to see Braeburn’s reaction to my involuntary changes, I didn’t bother getting off the ship. The crew didn’t suffer from that decision, however, and most of them went and enjoyed the normally-famous earth pony hospitality. Especially Smiles, because I made sure to tell him to ask around for Braeburn.

I was considerably more interested in the response Doppel was bringing from Chrysalis, myself. Honestly, I kinda wanted to see the pretty little bug queen again. As much of a bitch as she is, she has a strange… charm.

Or maybe my mind is just somewhat addicted to her devouring my feelings.

Either way, a smile came to my face as soon as I saw Doppel flying back to the ship. “So what did she say?” I asked as soon as she touched down.

“Queen Chrysalis said we’re all welcome,” she replied with a grin. “She isn’t even all that worried about any of the ponies knowing where the hive is. She just wants to meet us on the surface before any of us go down there.”

“That’s easy enough,” I said. “I doubt we’ll need all the ponies with us anyway, so we can probably leave most of them behind. And honestly, no offense to the changelings, but I’m not really sure I want to risk twenty ponies down there without me or any intelligentsia watching them.”

“Won’t most of them be at the dig site?” Doppel asked.

“Most of the time, probably. But Watcher and Gourd were talking like some of the guards would want to go sight-seeing. Which I suppose I can understand, because the hive is definitely beautiful.”

“Queen Chrysalis probably won’t mind assigning guides,” she said with a shrug. “And since you’ll be living in the palace, you probably won’t need me much. I’d be happy to take them anywhere they wanted to go.”

“Yeah, but don’t you want to see family or any of your friends again? It’s been a while since you were last home, hasn’t it?”

“No, I don’t want to see any of them ever again,” she very matter-of-factly said. “Ooh, I wonder if she would let me show them the breeding chambers…”

“The what?”

She blinked a few times. “You uh… You didn’t know about those?”

“...No?”

She awkwardly cleared her throat and looked away. “Then don’t worry about it.”

“Every time you start talking about the hive, I get a little more worried.”

“Nothing to worry about at all, master!” she happily said, looking back at me. “Think we should get moving?”

“Yeah. I’ll talk to Watcher, see what he thinks. I wasn’t expecting Chrysalis to be fine with letting everyone down there. I would tell you to start packing, but I don’t guess you really wear clothes all that much.”

“I’d definitely get stared at a lot down there if I did… And not the fun kind of stares, either. Or at least, not many of them. But I do need to mentally prepare myself for it. The hive is very different from the outside world.”

“Different is definitely a word you could use for it. Anyway, I’m heading below.” She turned tiny and flew up to my head so she could plop down. I rolled my eyes and walked on down to Watcher’s room. When I got there, she fluttered away and I let myself inside.

Thankfully, he was alone and not doing anything I didn’t want to see. “Got a reply from Chrysalis,” I said. “We can apparently bring everyone we want. She just wants to talk to us on the surface before we go below.”

“Well, that’s interesting news. Most of my troops really want to see the hive. I didn’t think she would let us, though. But then, if we’re going to be digging, she might not expect us to do too much sight-seeing.”

“Well, we still don’t really know how happy she’s going to be to see us at all. She’s usually all too pleased to assist me with anything, but I upset her a little the last time I spoke with her. And if she knows that we don’t have direct ties to Equestria anymore, there’s no telling what she’ll try to do.”

“She’s too smart to attempt to hurt us. I very highly doubt that this is a trap.”

“Well, not a trap designed to hurt us, at least. She was very interested in making me king, the last time she saw me.”

“...Oh. Well then. I suppose if all else fails, you can attempt to seduce her to gain access.”

“I’ll probably be doing that even if everything goes right. I just kinda don’t want to marry her. Especially now that I can’t even put my dick in her.”

“That’s understandable. Just uh… be careful with letting her put her ovipositor in you.”

“Um. What?”

He blinked a few times. “You don’t know? I guess she didn’t show you the breeding chambers. Though for all I know, those are just rumors. They only use the stallions once, then occasionally let them go, but they’re pumped so full of… something that their reports are usually really out there.”

“Alright, what the fuck?”

He sighed. “From how I understand it, changelings have two primary ways of giving birth. Normally, they can keep one egg inside of themselves until it hatches. But when the population is low, they need a higher birth rate than that to pick themselves back up. So they use an ovipositor to put an egg into another species, usually ponies. We still aren’t sure why they only use stallions once, though.”

“That’s extremely disturbing and I would have preferred never knowing it. Now I kinda wonder why Doppel wanted to show some of the soldiers the breeding chambers.”

“Some questions are better left unasked. If she offers, my troops will be saying no. Now, we need to gather them all up so we can go.”

“I’m not welcome in Appaloosa. It’ll have to be some of the troops that stayed on board.”

“Then I’ll go tell them. Though I have to ask, what did you do here?”

“The last time I came here, they had one of the diamond dog miners as a prisoner. I spoke with the undercover changelings and got Chrysalis involved, because he was trying to attack her and her people. They didn’t like that I gave a dog away to what they considered monsters, even though that dog attacked what they thought was a perfectly normal pony. And I was also kinda being a dick. But only kinda.”

“...What you consider only kinda, or what normal ponies consider only kinda?”

“Well, I don’t like being talked down to or considered an animal, even if it’s by accident. But I mean, if some dude walked off a train wearing clothes and wielding weapons, would your first thought be that he’s a pet?”

“No, probably not. I suppose I can understand some amount of frustration about that. And these back-country earth ponies are usually the most racist ones out there, so I can’t imagine that helped, either.”

“Some of them seemed to be, some of them didn’t. At least they weren’t as bad as the crystal ponies up in Cadance’s new place. They absolutely despise dragons and really look down on almost everything else, too. They learned to be cool with humans after I helped deep six Sombra, at least.”

“If I remember my history correctly, the crystal ponies are earth ponies that were even more racist than usual, so that makes sense. They’ll have to learn to get over that quickly if they want to make it in the new world. Anyway, I’d rather get to the hive sooner rather than later. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll begin talking to my soldiers.”

“You’re excused this time, but don’t let it happen again,” I replied with a smirk. He rolled his eyes and I let myself out, knowing my job was done.

Appaloosa wasn’t all that big, so it didn’t take too long to pick everyone up. The hardest one to obtain was Smiles, and that’s only because he was balls deep in Braeburn. I kinda wish they just left him there, but I’m not allowed to have nice things.

At least they didn’t let him cum, so he had to help Jak work on something while hella blue-balled.

About thirty minutes after we left Appaloosa, we arrived over the hive. Chrysalis and her entourage were all standing below us, right at the edge of the hole leading down. Since I’m a nice guy, I flew on down to meet her. Watcher sent me an escort of two guards, probably just to make an appearance.

Of course, Chrysalis smiled widely as soon as she saw me. “So the prodigal human returns to me once more,” she warmly said.

“I just can’t stay away, Chryssi,” I replied. “Sometimes, Doppel just isn’t enough bugpony for me.”

“Well, it’s certainly nice to know you’ve been thinking about me. Though I’d definitely prefer to hear that you’ve been thinking about my offer instead.”

“I’m afraid it’s an offer that’s impossible, at the moment. I can’t be a king because I don’t have a penis anymore.”

Of course, that got her attention. “What?”

“I pissed off some dick named Discord and he used a cursed artifact to turn me into a female. I’m still trying to find a way back. But until I do, I can’t really be a king.”

As soon as I said the name Discord, her smile just disappeared. “Discord. You’re sure?”

“Yep. He stole some stuff called the elements of harmony from Celestia and hid them along my path. I’m here to grab something else that’ll hopefully help stop him.”

“...Discord. And you want to help stop him?”

“Yeah. Dude’s a fucking prick. Turned me into a chick, killed off the alicorns apparently, killed off the human race, messed with Taya, and honestly, he’s really kinda ugly. I want to fuck that bitch up.”

“...I see. Well, all the resources of the changeling kingdom shall be at your beck and call. I… and the entire changeling race… have a large desire and need to see him stopped.”

“What did he do to you guys?” I asked, hoping to finally hear more of that story.

“He created us,” she quietly replied.

“He what now?”

She shook her head. “We can talk later. Let’s get you and your troops into the hive. There’s not enough room to accommodate them all in the palace, but there are other places they can be housed.”

“We’re going to need some help getting them all down. Most don’t have wings. Some can teleport, but without knowing where they’re going…”

“I can send more drones to the surface to assist. If you would like, you may come with me while I get them.”

“Works for me. I doubt Watcher or Gourd will need my help moving a few people. Shadow, Fog, head up there to let them know what’s what.”

“Yes sir,” they both said with nods and spread wings. Right after, they took off.

I turned back to Chryssi with a smile. “Well then, want to show me your moist, dark cave?”

“Happily.” She spread her cute dragonfly wings and started flying into the tunnel. Half of her guards and I followed. We took the same curves and zig-zags as last time and finally ended up back above the large hive. “Welcome back to Alpha Hive, Navarone,” she said with a large smile that perfectly showed off her fangs.

 
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