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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150. Chapter One Hundred and Twenty-Four—The Herald of Change

Doppel and I made it back to the palace as the sun was rising. Her legs were very shaky and she was stumbling slightly. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d be slurring slightly, but my legs were unfortunately fine. Captain Blossom hadn’t been there, but I knew anything I did would have gotten back to her eventually, so I behaved myself like a good little girl.

Taya was still asleep when we got in, unsurprisingly. It was still ‘fuck you’ early, so I didn’t bother waking her up. Before I could ask Doppel if she wanted to find something else to do in the city until we had to meet with Fleur, I got yet another message.

When I opened the door to find a maid standing there, I crossed my arms. “If Fleur wants to see me again, tell her to fuck off.”

The maid cleared her throat slightly before saying, “Princess Celestia would like you to join her for breakfast, Lady Navarone. Shall I tell her you are with your…” She looked behind me, where Doppel had fallen onto the bed with her ass hanging in the air. “...escort?”

“Psh, Doppel wishes she was getting paid for this. Is Celestia in her breakfast room?”

“Of course. Shall I tell her you are on your way?”

“She’ll figure it out when I get there. I know the way.”

“Very good, my lady.” She bowed and left, wagging her cute little tail behind her. If she hadn’t been so insistent on calling me a lady, I wouldn’t have been so insistent on staring at her ass.

Anyway, before I got into the creeper territory, I turned back to Doppel. “I’m apparently having breakfast with the horse queen. I would offer, but you don’t really like watching normal people eat.”

“And I need to take a long hot bubblebath,” she sighed.

“I probably need one too, but fuck that. Too much work. Remember that I’m going to need your help at noon.”

“Of course, Master. Or is it finally Mistress, like that servant was saying?”

“I’d prefer Nav. But if you must be annoying, it’s still Master.” She giggled and slid off the bed to start walking toward the bathroom, though I don’t know why she was in my room to do that. Anyway, I began walking down the hall. Surprisingly enough, I was actually feeling somewhat hungry. It was probably just the booze, but I still wanted to fill that void.

The halls were unsurprisingly empty. Most of the servants were probably still asleep or doing things in important areas, and the visiting hours weren’t in so not even normal people were wandering the halls. It was a quiet walk that not even Flo wanted to interrupt.

Celestia was already in the dining room when I entered, though she didn’t have any food yet. She smiled when I stepped in and used magic to push out one of the chairs next to her. “I thought it might take you longer to get ready since you’ve been spending your nights here painting.”

“Last night was spent getting drunk at the night guard bar. And I also helped Doppel get a train run on her.”

“You… murdered Doppel?”

“What? No, I got half the guys in the bar to fuck her, one after the other. What did you think getting a train run on someone meant?”

“...Tying them to train tracks?”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Like the other definition is any better!”

“Hey, at least it isn’t a prelude to murder. Anyway, how you been, babycakes? Miss me much?”

“More than I’d like,” she sighed, lowering her head onto the table. “I’ve begun teaching Twilight magic, against my better judgment. I feel that she isn’t ready, but at the same time, I feel she needs to know anyway. And unfortunately, she’s horribly stubborn and I’m out of practice.”

“Well, she already knows the theory. All it takes is forcing yourself to apply it.”

“If it was as simple as it sounded, making it die out would have been impossible. You yourself know how difficult it is.”

“Yeah, shit sucks hella hard.”

She rolled her eyes. “Once again, I haven’t the slightest what you just said, yet somehow I feel you share the same sentiment.”

“Close enough. So are we gonna eat or am I gonna have to throw you on the table and make you breakfast?”

“As nice of a thought that is, I told the servants to wait a few minutes before sending the food out because I assumed you would take longer. Had I known you would be getting here this quickly, we would already be eating. Besides, I doubt you could throw me.”

“No, but I don’t think I’d have to beg too much to get you to hop up for me.”

“True.”

“So anyway, if Twilight’s been bugging you, why isn’t she here? I figured you would have invited her, too.”

“I slipped her a sleeping aid last night. She’ll wake up in a few hours, giving me some peace and quiet. I hope the immunity she slowly built up before has slipped back down in her years of absence from the palace.” Guess she doesn’t quite know about Aqua yet.

“Ah. I suppose she can eat breakfast with Taya, then.”

“Indeed, should they awaken at the same time. Now tell me, why are you back in town so soon? I thought you were staying in Ponyville longer.”

“Fluttershy went full creepy and then Pinkie was throwing a party, so I figured it was time to bail. Besides, we still got a date in what, four days?” She nodded. “Figured I could get here early or something. Hope you don’t want me to dress up all fancy-like for you.”

“I would be so very, very happy if you went in a nice dress. I would definitely make it worth your while…”

“No thanks. God, what is it with everyone and wanting me to wear dresses? I can assure you that I am not at all attractive.”

“You might not be attractive, but you are beautiful.” Before I could tell her that was too cheesy for even an Italian, she leaned in and smooched me.

And of course, Twilight picked that moment to walk right in, still yawning. “Good mor—Really?”

Celestia jumped away from me as though burned, staring at Twilight in shock. “Oh, Twilight! Um… Good morning. How… are you feeling?”

“Tired still.” She started walking around the table to the other seat. “Please, don’t stop on my account.” Celestia cleared her throat somewhat nervously and then used some magic to ring a hidden bell. Moments later, servants began bringing food in for the three of us, though I imagine they only expected to be feeding two at most. “Ever so good at changing the subject, it seems.”

“There was hardly a subject at hoof, my dear Twilight,” Celestia said with a warm smile. “Although now that you mention it, I did have a question for Nav.”

“And what might that be?” I asked, almost instantly wary.

“Can you take a look at the dream machine? I’ve been hearing more reports of nightmares recently and I believe that without my sister here to maintain it, the machine might have fallen slightly off course.”

“I don’t know a thing about it and I don’t have a horn to use as a makeshift I/O device. At best, I’d be able to talk to it through Flo. Which, now that I think about it, isn’t a bad idea. It might have some records stored hardware side that I can’t access on the network. At the very least, it might have a timer or something that can count higher than the long double that gave the AI problems.”

“...It’s like you’re speaking in a language that’s merely similar to Equestrian,” Celestia whispered, shaking her head slightly in wonder.

Twilight was also pretty curious. “So you’re saying Flo and Aqua could interact with Luna’s dream device? Why?”

“Because it’s a human machine made to assist the dreams of human-designed species, like you guys. In theory, I could get it working on the dreams of other species, if I knew how.”

“Human-designed…” Celestia whispered, her eyes looking away from me.

“Do you mind if I help you get it running for other species?” Twilight asked. “Just think how close it would bring all the species if we all had the same dreams!”

“But at what cost?” Celestia asked, losing her faraway look. “We don’t know what manner of power source it has or if increasing its workload like that would drain it faster. Luna has said in the past that there are fewer and weaker dreams in the ponies far away from Canterlot. This device has some manner of limit, and I fear that increasing its net would decrease that limit.”

“So?” I asked. “Dreams are usually nice, yeah, but they aren’t something you guys really require. Might as well see what you can do to reap all the benefits you can from it while you have them. And since I’m the resident dream expert at the moment, I get to decide what’s done with it.”

“...Then what are you going to do with it?” Celestia slowly asked.

“First, I gotta see what can be done with it. I’ll decide from there. And yes, Twilight, you’re free to come with me when I play with it some time tonight.” She did a cute hoof-pump. “But for now, I’m still slightly drunk and hungry.” I grabbed something off one of the many platters the servants brought in and started eating. The other two joined me, of course.

“So what else do you have planned for today?” Celestia asked a few minutes after we started. I assumed she was trying to get me to do something with Twilight to spare her some time.

“Got a meeting with an enemy at noon,” I said with a shrug. “Hopefully I can put the matter to rest.”

“...An enemy?” Twilight asked. “Who do you know in Canterlot that doesn’t like you?”

“Fleur, perhaps?” Celestia asked. “I can’t imagine her being so willing to end the matter, after some of the whispers I’ve heard.”

“She’s the one that approached me with the offer of a cease-fire. I’m supposed to meet her alone today at a cafe. Of course, I’ll be sending Doppel ahead of me.”

“Naturally,” Celestia said with a nod. “It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out, I suppose. Any other plans?”

“Fix the dream machine. Maybe do some stuff with Taya. Most of my time will just be spent bumming out. Don’t worry, I won’t do much to get between you and Twilight. I know how highly you think of your bonding time.” The look she gave me promised retribution in the future. I think it was worth it.

“I don’t know, Nav,” Twilight said. “Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you when you talk to Fleur? I could go with Doppel.”

“Fleur isn’t the kind of person to do something to me directly, and she has to know I’d tell some people where I was going and who I was meeting. I’ll be fine. The only reason I’m taking Doppel is because Taya would worry if I went alone, but she’s too indiscreet to come with me.”

“Well… if you’re sure. I’m not quite confident Doppel is the best choice, but if you trust her…”

“You seem to be forgetting that she was a professional spy before she was forced to be my maid. And what you probably don’t realize is that she was spying on me while she was my maid.”

“Did she… tell you that?”

“No, I’m just not literally retarded and know how to think.” She blinked a few times, a small blush coming to her face. “I realized it as soon as Chryssy left her with me.”

“...Chryssy?” Twilight sighed.

“Yeah, she’s a big cutie pie,” I said with a shrug. “Might as well give her a cute nickname. Like Sunny-D or Twatlight Spankle.” I think they were both a little offended by that remark, so I decided it might be time to bail. “Anyway, this was fun.” I started to stand, but a purple aura forced my chair back in.

“Leaving so soon, Navi?” Twilight asked with a smirk.

Celestia’s smile quickly matched hers. “Cute nicknames aren’t the only way to show that somepony’s a cutie pie, schmoopy.” I shivered at her tone and that awful name. “In fact, I can think of one perfect way for us to show you how cute we think you are…” In a horrifying flash, we were back in her room, where she pulled the closet door open and removed one of the outfits she had from the awful sleepover. “Twilight, would you care to do the honors?”

“I hope you don’t mind being pretty, Navi,” Twilight said with a smile.

As soon as I saw her pull out some makeup, I started begging.

It didn’t do me any good.

Some time later, Doppel and I were sitting on a roof a few blocks away from Sun Cafe. It was thirty minutes to showtime and we were discussing plans. “So do you just want me to go in there and wait, Master?” Doppel asked.

“You’re gonna need to be a unicorn, first. Young rich spoiled mare or stallion, up to you. You’ll fit right in. Go with blue eyes. If the time comes and it seems safe, change them to green. If you have a bad feeling, change them to red.” That would be a lot less noticeable than a walky-talky.

“Easy enough. What should I do in the meantime?”

“Order some tea or something.” I handed her a small bag of bits. “You should be able to drink that without getting sick, right?”

“We don’t really get sick from eating normal stuff, we just don’t get any nourishment from it. I guess if we ate too much, though… But that won’t happen.”

“Right. And here.” I handed her a book I also had in my pocket. “That’ll give you something to do, so you aren’t just sitting there staring at people.”

“What, I can’t flirt?”

“I know you. Flirting would lead to fucking, which would lead to you not paying attention. I really hope I don’t need a chastity belt.”

“Don’t worry, Master. I’ll behave.”

“Good. I’d hate to have to not spank you when you get back.”

“Ooh, you’re going to reward me for helping?”

“Only if you beg.” I turned to look over the cafe again real quick and flinched. “Damn, she’s early!” Doppel and I both ducked down behind the large sign on top of the shop we were on.

“Are you sure it’s her?”

“Fleur’s pretty fucking noticeable.” I pulled my scope out and eased up to get another look. She was sitting at a table, letting a waitress take her order. “Yeah, that’s definitely her.” I got back down behind the sign. “You’re the spy, here. What do we do?”

“You wait here.” She morphed into a nondescript, stereotypical snooty Canterlot unicorn. “This will be my disguise,” she said. “Fleur would probably take note of any stallion that doesn’t pay her much attention. I’ll go down a few blocks away, find a place to change, then slowly amble down to the cafe. I’ll be there by five ‘til.”

“I’ll check then. I’d like to be right on time, or something close to it, so don’t make me wait too long.”

“Don’t you worry, Master, I won’t let you down.” She morphed into a pegasus instead of a unicorn and spread her wings to go, then stopped. “But if she does catch me, I can’t promise not to be seduced again.”

“I understand.” She nodded once and hopped off the side. I eased back against the sign, trying to get more comfortable. “Being famous sucks.”

“You know you love it,” Flo replied.

“Some of the perks are nice, yeah. But a lot of the downsides are just miserable. And having a super-powerful sort-of girlfriend sucks.”

“You should remember that before teasing her next time.”

“Yeah, but usually her punishments are fun and sexy. Not, you know, making me go for a walk around the castle in a fancy evening gown while covered in makeup.”

“Well, now that she knows how to get at you, I suggest being careful. Next time it might be a walk around the city, instead.”

“I think she knows how well that would end for her. Now, thoughts on how I should handle Fleur?”

“With a paddle.”

“Alright, normal thoughts for how I should handle Fleur?”

“Tactfully. She invited you here for a reason. Hear that reason out. Just be diplomatic and do your best to not mention the knives you have hidden about your body. And you should at least pretend you were raised somewhere other than a barn.”

“Pretend I was raised in a cave. Got it.” She smacked me. “By wolves?” Smacked me again. “By extremely abusive parents and I became like Genie?” Third time’s the charm. “You never let me have any fun.”

“That’s because your definition of fun is just begging for punishment. If you weren’t such a punishment queen, I wouldn’t have to punish you.”

“I think I accidentally surrounded myself with sadists. I bet you’ll lock me in your ‘fun’ cave when we free you.”

“No, I’d lock you in Twilight’s fun cave, since she already has one made just for you. You’ll love every minute. ”

“Oh boy.” I leaned up and peered over the edge, using the scope to get a better view of the cafe. Doppel was already making her way there. Surprisingly, she was managing to not walk like a complete slut. She didn’t have quite the same haughty gait that most of the Canterlot ponies did, but she was managing a decent enough facsimile. I didn’t really want to blow my cover, so I eased back behind the sign. “Being careful is boring.”

“But smart.”

“Yeah, yeah. Time?”

“11:50.”

“I shoulda brought tobacco back with me,” I muttered as I peeked back over the edge. Doppel was at the cafe now and a waitress was walking toward her. Fleur was watching the skies somewhat anxiously, probably expecting me to fly in.

“Smoking isn’t cool, Nav,” Flo said. “You just have an oral fixation.”

“I just want something to do during down time, aside from mares. And, you know, it would help me die faster.”

“Maybe I need to start telling Celestia every time you have a thought like that. I bet a little negative reinforcement would help keep your mind pacified.”

“Maybe, just maybe, you should eat a whole bag of dicks.” Doppel’s eyes turned green, but it wasn’t quite go-time yet.

“I’m sure if such a bag was presented, you would be all too happy to devour them yourself. That is, if your thoughts last night were any indication.”

“Hey, I can’t help that I’m horny and this shitty body likes dudes. I’d be just as happy with a mare between my legs. Or you, for that matter. The way you seem to be acting, I’d imagine you’d be all too happy to comply.”

“Maybe. You seem to be quite a negative influence upon me.”

“If you’ll recall, you were the one that asked for sex when we first met. When, you know, I was inches away from dying.”

“And somehow I doubt it would have been a request you would have denied if circumstances were different.”

“Denied it, no. But actively asked for it? That’s what a slut does, right there.”

“Tch. Three ‘til. Time to make your move.”

“Oh yeah, way to change the subject. Maybe you got something to learn from Celestia after all.”

“Don’t compare me to her.”

“I don’t know, you have a lot of similarities. You both like making me suffer, you’ve both drained my cock dry, you’re both hella old, you’re both holier-than-thou… I imagine you two would get along perfectly if I wasn’t in the way… Or maybe you’d kill each other.”

“And yet you don’t seem to be in any hurry to date me.

“God, do you know how creepy that would be? You know literally everything about me. There’s no way in hell a relationship could work between us.”

“Such is the curse of an elemental,” she sighed. “Forever are we above, forever are we alone.”

“Sucks for you,” I said, taking one last look at my upcoming battlefield. Doppel was still showing green and Fleur was staring into her teacup. “Shall we?” Of course, Flo didn’t have any choice in the matter, so I didn’t bother letting her answer and just jumped over the side.

Since Fleur was expecting me from the air, I hit the ground in front of the shop I had been on and sauntered down the road, hands in my pockets and hunched over slightly. It was my way of being invisible back home, but I don’t suppose it worked as well in a place where I was the only human. Still, old habits are easy to fall into.

She was looking up behind her when I silently slid into the seat across from her. She sighed and turned back, then jumped in surprise when she saw me. “Yo, what’s up?”

She sighed in relief. “You… surprised me.”

“In my line of work, it pays to not be seen until it’s too late. Why am I here?”

“Because I invited you out for tea,” she said with a smile. “Would you care to join me for a cup?”

“I’ve had more tea in a week in this damn place than I would have had in a lifetime back home. I really, really wish coffee was a thing here.”

“Hmm, coffee? Is that another of your… human things?”

“Yeah. Anyway, why am I here?”

“As I said, because I invited you. Would you care for anything, Sir Navarone?”

“An explanation of what you want would be great.” Her smile almost instantly disappeared.

“I would… prefer to discuss this over some manner of equal grounds, but if you aren’t interested…” She used magic to lift her cup and sipped rather daintily before continuing. “I have an interest in the books you wrote, as well as other… human things.” I slowly pulled out one of the letters she wrote and put it on the table. Her eyes grazed over it for a moment before returning to mine. “Yes, I wrote those letters.”

“So you’re a fan.”

“I am. Your human books have a… charm that our books lack. And I’ve learned that you also helped many musicians by giving them human music. And now you’re starting to redistribute art.”

“All true.”

“And, after another, more heated, conversation with my husband, I learned that you have written other books that our dear princess deemed… inappropriate for ponies.”

“...And?”

“I, like my husband, want those books. And more.”

“What you want and what is beneficial to me to provide are very different things. Yes, I disagree with how Celestia is ruling her subjects. But I think I would find it rather unhealthy to try to get in the way of what she wants done.”

“I had a feeling you would say as much.” A sly smile once again came to her face. “But I have another proposition in mind. How would you feel about a sponsor?”

“I don’t know why I would need one. I spent time writing those books because I didn’t have anything else to do. I don’t have any further need for money and I don’t care if they really get read.”

“...I see. Then how would you feel about a discussion?”

“That depends entirely upon what we’d be discussing. And if it would actually be a discussion instead of an interrogation.”

“Well, you’d hardly be forced to answer. But if you’d prefer, we could make something of a game of it. A question for a question, perhaps?”

“There’s not too much about you that I’d like to know, but alright, whatever.”

“Excellent. Then let’s clear the obvious elephant in the room. Sir Navarone, why do you dislike me?”

“Because you’re a fucking cheating slut. Having sex with anything that moves, no problem. Doing it while married? Awful.”

“Then may I suggest that your first question be why?”

“That’s what I was planning on asking anyway. Why are you a fucking cheating slut?” She took a long moment to say anything, probably thinking of a way to answer tactfully.

“Politics in Canterlot are… rather severe, Sir Navarone. For a mare or stallion that are not the first in their family line, finding a place can be… difficult. Generally, marriage and siring offspring are the most viable courses of action. However, when one finds his or herself… biologically incapable of such a thing, finding a mate is quite difficult. Secrets such as those are usually held tightly to one’s self. Another thing that might surprise you about the Canterlot elite is about how… closed-minded they are to certain things, and how damaging to a reputation and one’s power they can be. The head of a family is expected to marry high to have foals. But when one’s desires do not conform to those that would bear foals, such a thing is difficult. A powerful stallion can discover many secrets when his own dark secret is at risk. Proposals and arrangements are easy to make and easier still to agree to, when neither side has much of a choice.”

Holy shit, he actually is gay! “Huh. That answers part of the question, but not all of it.”

“...Part of the arrangement we made is that I find… certain stallions with tastes similar to his own. One can assume many things about a stallion that would turn down a mare such as myself, after all. There are many difficulties with such a task, as most stallions expect what they’ve been so freely offered. I’ve taken to accepting any manner of comfort I can find, though these days, there seem to be fewer and fewer willing to provide me such a thing.”

So Fancy is gay and uses his hot, slutty wife to smoke out other gay guys so he can have his way with them. Interesting. “Well, that explains things.”

“And I hope it’s an explanation that doesn’t get shared.”

“I’m not in the habit of sharing secrets.”

“Nor am I. True friends are hard to come by in the upper circles and harder still to keep.”

“I’m not here to be friends.”

Her lips pursed. “Hm. Tell me, why do you deny me? I know you do not desire stallions. If a mare freely offers, why would you turn her down?”

“No deep dark secrets here, I’m afraid. You’re married and I don’t fuck anyone in a relationship.”

“Even if the marriage is one of convenience rather than love?”

“Marriage is marriage. Call it a human thing, if you want.” That’s not quite accurate, but she doesn’t have to know that.

“I find that somewhat difficult to believe. Many of the characters in the books you wrote were all too willing to sleep around, married or not.”

Fuck. “Then call it an honor thing. A moral thing. I don’t fucking care what the term for it is, I’m not sleeping with a chick that’s married.”

“You are very vulgar, Sir Navarone.”

“I’m not a knight anymore. It’s not sir. Now why am I here? The real reason, not some bullshit about sponsorship or questions. You asked me to come here for a reason.”

“Is it so hard to believe that a fan of your work would like to meet you?”

“You’re a high ranking Canterlot mare. I know you have an ulterior motive.”

She sighed. “I want to discuss some of the things you wrote and talk about what you might write in the future. Truly, there is nothing more to it than that.”

“We’ll see.”

“Now, why did you say you were a female in the forewords of your books? Most were published before your… affliction.”

“I didn’t want to be found. I figured any extra layers of protection I could add would be good.”

She smiled so sweetly. “How amusing it is, then, that your vaunted gender is the reason I sought you. Had you been yet another stallion, I wouldn’t have bothered.”

Dude, weak. “Well, you found me. What you’re going to do with that information remains to be seen.”

“I am also not in the habit of sharing secrets. You did your best to hide it, so I shall keep it hidden.”

Maybe. “Why’d you seek me out if you thought I was a chick?”

She shrugged. “I wanted a friend and I thought the author of such books would be willing to at least hear me out.”

“Maybe she would have been if you hadn’t been so persistent in seeking to ruin her life.”

And that got her to chuckle. “Oh Nav, you should know that’s not how wars are fought in Canterlot. At least, not our little war. If I truly wanted to ruin you, I’d have you arrested for murdering… Oh, what was his name? Calix, I believe? Princess Celestia would be hard-pressed to protect you if everypony knew that you were a murderer.”

“I had a feeling this was just a game to you.”

“Oh, it was a lot more than that, Nav. Such… games, as you call them, decide the balance of power here in Canterlot. You’ve inadvertently risen far above where you should be. Only part of your status is because of your relationship with the princesses. Part of it is your uniqueness. But much of it is because of how you act and what you’ve said and done. You’re lucky everypony knows you’re under the protection of the night guards, or you would likely have crooning cronies surrounding you at all times, no matter how abusive you were to them.”

“I hate this city.”

“Everypony hates this city. But we play the game Celestia gave us. If we start trying to rise above our station, she begins to take notice and starts playing games of her own.”

So Celestia took a note from Louis XIII. Wonder who her Richelieu was. “...That makes a lot more sense.”

“I hoped it would. Just remember that I never desired to ruin your life or even truly harm you in our little tussles. It’s all about reputation and minor annoyances, something I truly thought you understood.”

“I began figuring it out yesterday, when you gave me Doppel. I just didn’t realize the rest of the people here played by the same rules.”

“They most definitely do. It is quite useful to have… let’s say allies in higher circles, should you stay in Canterlot for an extended period of time.” I just snorted. “Now, it’s my turn. You said you have no interest in money, power, or fame. Why did you start writing?”

“To share the works of my people,” I replied with a shrug. “Most of the books I translated were ones I enjoyed when I was younger. Some of them are books that were just famous for one reason or another. Truth be told, I didn’t expect to pick up an audience.”

“Given the subject of some of your novels, I find that belief understandable.”

“Which, of course, raises the question of why you became a fan.”

She paused once again, looking down into her cup. I thought for a second she wasn’t going to answer before she quietly began talking.

“I detest this life of mine, dear Navarone. I hate my beauty, I hate that I married for convenience—though I’ve come to stop hating my husband—I hate the ponies in this city, I hate the gaudiness and flashiness of this city itself. I… hate.” She sighed. “Is it truly so strange to you that I would seek any method of escapism I could find? Fleeting moments of comfort from stallions. Books and art. Surrounding myself with the weak and playing them off each other. Games such as the one we played. I found a strange joy in your books, when reading about the rich in your world that seemed to have the same problems. I find myself transitioning from the beautiful Daisy Buchanon to the awakened Edna Pontellier.”

“...Finding yourself is good, but I suggest you keep Edna’s fate in mind.”

“The best part about reading is that you can learn from the mistakes the characters made. I have no desire to throw myself under the waters. To more fully answer your question, I became a fan of your works because I can sympathize more with your characters than I can with any pony character.”

“Is that why you want more romance novels? More self-inserting escapism?”

“...Perhaps. But it is not your turn to ask a question. What would it take to convince you to write more instead of painting?”

“A fan asking me to. I figured there weren’t all too many people religiously reading the books I put out. Truth be told, I was surprised when your husband told me he was.”

“I introduced him to them.”

“Well. Any requests? More romance, maybe? You seemed to enjoy Pride and Prejudice.”

“I did, but I’d prefer something that makes me think. Something… sad, perhaps.”

“I’ll do you one better. Tess of the d’UrbervillesWuthering Heights… and maybe The Scarlet Letter. Two of them won’t make too much sense without understanding religion, but they’re all some kind of romantic and all quite depressing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I can have them done before I leave. I’ll make sure these go to my ah… other publisher, because I rather doubt Celestia would be all too happy to see these on the market.”

“All the better,” she said with a dark smile. “Though I don’t suppose you could let me read them first?”

“If you have a printing press hidden in your basement and can make me a copy before you smudge the original with your filthy hooves, sure.”

“I take offense to that,” she said with a small smirk.

“Too bad. I trust you know how to get a hold of books I send through the less official channels?”

“Such matters hold no secrets from me, I assure you. We have more than a few forbidden items hidden in our home.”

“I’d be more surprised if you didn’t, though Fancy Pants seems to be a very… faithful subject.”

“He is still sore from having to have a wife, though that is no fault of the princess. I am not the only one that seeks comfort wherever it can be found.”

“Life sucks for those on top.”

She sighed yet again and looked down. “It is… relieving to never have to work a day in one’s life. But at the same time, finding purpose in such a life is impossible. There are times I feel I merely exist to wait until my demise. And when I go, what will be said of me? I am beautiful now, but beauty fades. If I die of age, I’ll be but a husk and my beauty will be forgotten. What else is there?”

“When someone is gone, all that others remember them for is who they were, not what they were. Your beauty doesn’t define you. Sleeping around, instigating fights from the shadows, attacking those that don’t sleep with you. Those are what people will remember.”

She flinched slightly. “...I’m afraid you are right.”

“It’s never too late to change. You have wealth. You have power. As it is now, you’re squandering both of those, holding lavish parties for people you don’t care about and then trying to play them off each other. What do you and your husband—what does all of Canterlot—contribute to the world? You said you hate everything here. Well, what’s keeping you here? What’s stopping you from changing something? And using your wealth and power to get other people to do the same?”

“My position—”

“Means nothing. You said you hate everything here. Did you really mean that? Or are you just looking for an excuse to hide from what you could be doing?”

“I… don’t know…”

“At the end of the day… At the end of your life, will you be able to look back and say you had a life worth living? Or will you look back and only see a slowly decaying body merely existing until it shuts down?” She slowly looked down yet again. “Nothing will change until you change it. And if you hate what you have, don’t you owe it to yourself to try something else?”

She was silent for another long moment before uttering, “It is… an undertaking.”

“No one said you had to change all at once. And, for that matter, no one said you had to change at all.”

“...What can I do?” she asked, finally looking up.

“Man, fuck if I know,” I said with a shrug. “You don’t like being a petty bitch, so maybe try being a kind lady? Feed the hungry, help the poor, build sacrificial altars in the name of the elder gods, start a charity, fund helpful inventions.”

“...What was that third one?”

“Start a charity.” I resolved then to translate some Lovecraft and have it sent to the secret publisher. “Those are just things you can do outside of Canterlot, in places where people actually go hungry. Closer to home, you could start all kinds of social reforms. Get gays like your husband accepted. Find a way to stop the petty politicking. Find ways to bring all the sapient races closer.”

“...None of that sounds easy,” she sighed.

“Change never does. And it isn’t easy, I can assure you.”

“Do you have… suggestions?”

“Having your husband come out, and encouraging his ‘friends’ to do the same, would help with the first one. If enough came out at once, no one can really do anything or say anything about it. Besides, it’s perfectly legal here, right? It would just be a little faux pas. Boo fucking hoo. No clue about the petty politicking. That’s your problem. For bringing the races together… As much as I’ll regret this, what about a Miss Universe pageant? Like the Miss Equestria thing, but for all races. I dunno, I don’t really care.”

“Hm… Convincing Fancy to do that would be difficult… But I know just the ponies to talk to about the Miss Universe idea.”

“And that’s another thing. Stop saying that ‘pony’ bullshit. Be like every other race and say anyone or anybody. That anypony bullshit is straight up exclusionary.”

She finally smiled. “I will… keep that in mind.”

“Cool. Now, I lost track. Whose question was it?”

“...We’re still playing that game, hm? I believe it might be yours.”

“Alright, then. How did anime become big here?”

“Blame your friend Rarity for that. Personally, I despise it.”

“Well, at least we have that in common.”

“Indeed. But because it’s popular at the moment, I must cater to it. Or rather, I once thought I had to cater to it. Now, I’m quite regretting the bits and time I spent planning that accursed party. Now, my question. You’re going to be here to help me change, right?”

“Psh, hell no.” She blinked in surprise. “That shit is far too much work. And it’s not my problem. Besides, I’m leaving soon and won’t be coming back for who knows how long. I’m sure you’ll manage.”

“But… you must be able to do something!”

“Sometimes getting the ball rolling is all anyone really needs. If you actually get started, you’ll forget you ever wanted my help. Now, you want anything else?”

“Surely you have books that can help me, at least!”

“Yeah, some. Some that Celestia already blacklisted. I’ll see what I can do.” I finally stood and pushed my chair back in. “If there’s nothing else…?”

“One last question…” I arched an eyebrow. “Will you be my friend?”

Ugh. “Only if we can start over and put that stupid feud bullshit behind us.”

She stood up as well and I offered her my hand. She bypassed that entirely and hugged me. After a moment of internal debate, I hugged her back. “It feels… warm,” she whispered.

“I gotta say, this is pretty fucking gay,” I said into her furry back.

“We ladies have less to worry about when it comes to that,” she said, though that didn’t stop her from releasing me. “Would you care to join me for tea? As friends, not as cooperating enemies.”

Flo finally decided to get me back for taunting her earlier and said, “I would be delighted to.” Oh, you bitch. She just giggled as Fleur clopped her front hooves together in glee. Since I was stuck with it now, I forced a smile to my face and sat back down across from her.

Doppel was giving me a very sly look with the kind of smirk that told me she was thinking I was out for some pony poon. I surreptitiously gave her a signal that she could bail, so she left a coin on the table and saw herself out.

Leaving me alone with a ‘friendly’ Fleur de Lis, who was already starting to chatter up a storm.

God fucking dammit, Flo.

 
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