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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95. Chapter Seventy-Eight—And it was all going so well...

The days went by quickly and easily. Vinyl stayed for much longer than she was expecting, and ended up turning my home into an impromptu musician’s paradise, though thankfully the number of people she trusted with my information was relatively low. Given that Cadance was still in my pad, I couldn’t give any of the others rooms, but they didn’t seem to mind. One of them even said the walk between the town and my house was “rustic and inspiring.”

Fucking ‘artists.’ They were an interesting bunch, but I was happy to see their tails for the last time. So was Cadance, because she was getting tired of being cooped up inside while I had them chilling in the backyard. Not that I cared that Cadance was pissed, since she was freeloading and naggy, but still.

I heard nothing from Spike or Twilight, which was probably for the best. Rarity never bothered me about watching the modeling show.

Hell, everything seemed to be going just swimmingly, until the inevitable invitation to the Gala showed up.

I looked down at the royal letter with disdain. “Yeah, not going,” I said, pushing it and the golden tickets aside. “Twilight forced me to go to that damn party enough times.”

“It’s expected,” Cadance said from her position at what she was calling the family table. “You’re both the Defender of Harmony and a knight. If Princess Luna has any guests, you are expected to be there to escort them. And knowing Princess Celestia, she’ll probably have something for you to do as well.”

“All the more reason not to go. Have you been to one of those damn things? Boring as hell. Maybe I can send Doppel in my place…”

“After the changeling model incident, everypony entering will be checked for being a changeling. If Doppel tries to enter in any shape but her own, it wouldn’t end well for her.”

“Well that’s just discriminatory. Either way, I’m not going.”

She sighed. “Nav, if you don’t go, I can’t go, and I very sorely wish to see my husband again. And to get out of this house, of course. It’s nice, but I am quite tired of being trapped here.”

“Why would I have to go for you to be able to leave? There are plenty of guards at the palace. The assassins are dead and gone. Right now, you’re just freeloading here to torture me, I’m sure of it.”

“Shiny and Princess Celestia both think it would be better if you were around while I was there, just in case.”

“And if I’m still not interested in going?”

She grinned widely. “Then I’m authorized to forcibly turn you into a royal babysitter.”

“It amuses me that you think that would work. First, royal authority means nothing to me, especially since you’ve been staying here the last few months free of charge. Second, your foal is the spawn of Satan and no amount of watching or sitting would make any difference. Third, fuck you.”

“Vulgar as always, I see. Well, I’ve also been authorized to tell you that a few of your friends will be there. I know the griffin king will be making an appearance for the first time in a long time. Apparently he doesn’t have much to do anymore, and spends his time making public appearances. There might also be a dragon or two there.”

“What about my favorite queen?”

“I’ve heard nothing about that bug, no.”

“What about the cats?”

“It would take a month for them to get across the ocean and another month to get back. I’m not sure Celestia would even allow them here anyway, the barbarians.”

“That’s probably a good choice, though racist. Anyone else important? More rulers to seduce or befriend?”

“Not that I know of. So you’ll go?”

“I’ll think about it.” I already knew the answer, of course. If Bloodbeak was going to be there, I might as well show up. It’s free to attend and if I really got bored, I could just leave—assuming Celestia didn’t appropriate my services.

Celestia… I slowly grinned as a plan came to my mind. I know that pot can’t or doesn’t seem to hurt ponies. Bloodbeak and most dragons wouldn’t be eating cakes and stuff like that. Pinkie can make pot brownies. I was wondering if she knew how to make anything else with it…

“I know that look,” Cadance said with a frown. “Don’t even think about whatever you’re thinking about, Nav.”

“Oh come now. Those parties are always so dull. There’s nothing wrong with giving them some more life, is there?”

“Tell me what you’re planning or I’ll tell Shiny that you’re up to something.”

“Ungrateful bitch,” I muttered. “Fine. You know what pot is. I’m thinking about getting Pinkie to make some pot stuff and set it on the buffet tables.”

She nodded. “Then I’ll be sure to eat before we leave. Just let me know what you put it in so I can make sure Shining Armor gets some of it.”

“And that is why you are the best princess.”

“And don’t you forget it,” she said with a smile.

 

With a week left until the party, I still had done almost nothing in preparation for it aside from getting Pinkie to help me. Her price for doing so was me getting her a ticket, which I was able to do easily enough. I assumed she wanted to watch the incoming chaos, but there’s no telling with that one.

What was even more surprising was what happened during a break between sparring bouts. “Are you going to the Gala this year, daddy?” Taya asked, levitating a glass of water for me.

“Yeah. I should just be gone for a few hours. You won’t even miss me.”

“Can… I come?”

“You’ll almost certainly get bored. Unless you’re just going to sit in the library?”

“I’ll find something to do.”

I sighed. “Well, do you know what this means?”

“…No?”

“It means a trip to Rarity’s shop.”

Her look of horror almost made me pity her. “W-we don’t have to do that! I can just go like this!”

“Not as my daughter you can’t. If I’m being forced to dress up, so will anyone that goes with me.” I looked up to the naga, who wasn’t winded, tired, or thirsty at all. I was getting better, but I was by no means anywhere near his equal. “I need to turn this break into a stopping point. Gotta help Taya with something.”

“You have hit me once and you plan to leave already? I expect more from true trainees of the naga.”

“Yeah, but most of them don’t have kids. I’ll be back when I’m finished helping her. Take a chill pill or something.”

“I do not need ice to cool me down, Navarone.”

I fucking hate you sometimes, Pinkie. I achingly stood from the ground and stretched my body before reaching around and unbuckling my breastplate, letting it fall off my body. I quickly removed the rest of my upper body gear and the boots, leaving on my metal greaves. My chest and feet were uncovered because that armor is hot and walking in those boots is a pain. I was barely decent under the lower armor and I could see Rarity kicking me out of her shop if I walked in with just that stuff on. And god, getting through town would be awkward.

Anyway, Taya and I started walking into town, though she was definitely reluctant. I don’t know if it was because she didn’t want to see Rarity or if it was because she didn’t want to see Rarity in one of her moods. Both seemed equally as likely.

Hell, I was hoping that she was even in. Ever since she started using Twilight to help her translate that damn manga, she seemed to spend a lot more time in Canterlot. I had quite a bad feeling about what that meant.

We got through town with no trouble. Since Rarity isn’t the kind of person to put signs in her window or on her door if she’s open or closed, I knocked and waited a few seconds before slowly pushing the door open.

“Why knock if you’re just going in anyway?” Taya asked.

“It’s a sign that you’re not a burglar and it lets them know you’re there,” I answered, stepping inside. She followed me after a moment’s hesitation and regret. “Yo Rarity, you open?” I called. When there was no answer, I said, “I know you’re here, because you lock your door when you’re not. Is this about the spanking? I know you’re mad, but this is a matter of fashion.”

Yeah… There were a whole lot of rumors when she came into town with several red handprints on her ass. And apparently Big Mac actually tells things to his family, so when all three of the Cutie Mark Crusaders galloped into town to ask Rarity what a spanking fetish was in the middle of the marketplace, things went from humorous to hilarious.

Come to think of it, that might be one of the reasons she spends so much time in Canterlot these days. At least there she had plenty of other mares that had apparently fucked me, so she was in good company.

“I am trying to wallow in embarrassment, Navarone!” Rarity wailed, poking her head out of the door to the stairs to her room.

“That’s nice. Can you make Taya a dress for the Gala?”

“Only if you apologize and pay me back!”

“Apologize, maybe. Pay you back, probably not. How about this: You make her a dress, I apologize, and I don’t tell everyone at the Gala that my daughter had to attend naked because the great seamstress Rarity was completely unable to come up with any designs.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” I crossed my arms and smiled. “So it’s come to this. And I thought we were friends.”

“Forced acquaintances at best,” I said with a shrug. “You make me do things I hate and I torture you for them. That hardly seems friendly.”

“It’s a give and take relationship.”

“Yeah. You take whatever you can and I give you whatever punishments I can. That’s hardly equal.”

“Call our relationship whatever you want. It works, and that is enough. Now deliver your heartfelt apology and I shall begin making Taya a wonderful dress!”

“Whoa, it has to be heartfelt? That wasn’t part of the deal!”

“It is hardly an apology if you don’t mean it, now is it?”

“You’re just asking too much… How about this: I’m sorry for accidentally revealing to the town that you have a fetish for being spanked.”

“Daddy, what’s a fetish?”

“Not now, honey. Well, Rarity?”

“That is not what I meant when I demanded an apology!”

“Well an apology is hardly real if it’s demanded.

“Oooh! Fine! Taya, come along. I shall measure you at once and begin your dress immediately. Let it be known that Rarity will deliver even if not all parts of the deal are upheld!”

“Hey, does that mean I can tell the people at the Gala that you’re out of ideas?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Only if you want to assist me with a live reenactment of the yaoi tentacle hentai I brought back. Stephen Magnet and his partner would love to have you.”

“I would kill you so hard that you died to death. Speaking of which, you better not dress my daughter up like something from any of that anime shit.”

She grinned innocently. “Why, I would never do that!”

“Yeah. It sure would be a shame if we had a live reenactment of that spanking scene in the middle of the marketplace.”

Her ears twitched awkwardly when I said that. “Yes… It would.”

I nodded. “Good. Taya, listen to Rarity. She’s usually useless—”

“Hey!”

“—But she knows her fashion. Okay?”

Taya sighed. “Okay, daddy…”

“Excellent. Rarity, make her adorable. Now, I need to get back before the naga gets antsy.”

I was out the door before either could ask what I meant by ‘adorable.’

I giggled to myself as I flew home, hoping Rarity would actually make someone want to ask Taya to dance—if there was anyone else her age there, of course.

…Nothing ever tends to go my way. When I got back to my humble home—humble if you go by how much I paid for it, that is—Cadance immediately stopped me. “Nav, can you go into town and drop off a note for me?”

“Why can’t Doppel do it?”

“She’s cleaning the armor you so carelessly threw about the yard. Really Nav, you should know better than to just leave that stuff in the grass.”

“Taya can flash her horn and make that stuff clean in an instant. I usually let her do it and count that as her chores.” Though I think I’m going to have to figure out how ponies cut lawns soon. I don’t think Doppel will be amused if I make another joke about getting her to do it with scissors.

She rolled her eyes. “So can you go into town for me or not?”

“Sure, whatever. Where am I going?” I asked as she passed me the note with magic.

“Rarity’s boutique. I don’t have my normal dressmakers available to help me. Shining Armor was going to see about sending them to me, but it appears they’re swamped.

I shrugged. “Alright. That’s a quick and simple flight.” I tucked the letter into a pouch I held on my belt. “I’ll be back in a bit. Don’t expect an immediate response.”

“I don’t. I expect that she’ll come by soon enough.”

“Whatever.” I stepped back outside and took off toward town again. I didn’t want to interrupt Rarity’s dressmaking scheme and possibly bump into an unhappy Taya, so I had a different idea in mind. I landed near the first kid I saw, some red-headed filly with a candy cane cutie mark. “Hey kid, I’ll give you two bits if you drop off a note for me.”

“S-s-shir Navarone!” I winced internally at the filly’s lisp. Her voice seemed to take on a dreamy tone as she said, “What can I do for you?”

I quickly reached into my pocket and pulled out the note. “Deliver this to Rarity in her boutique. If she’s not there, just leave it where she’ll find it.”

“O-of courshe!” She snatched the note out of my hand and bounced from hoof to hoof, waiting for me to give the word for her to go.

This is getting somewhat creepy. I reached down into my pouch again and pulled out two bits. “For your trouble. Thanks for the help.”

“No, no, I don’t mind!”

“Look, I’m paying you, like it or not.” I reached out and set the coins on her head, accidentally brushing her hair. She seemed to freeze at the contact. I quickly pulled my hand back, fighting the urge to rub it off on my metal pants. I settled for nodding. “Thanks again.” With that, I took off, happy to get away from what I knew was going to be increasingly common as my good and bad reputations grew and Luna’s dreams of me continued to fester.

Since there was little I could do to stop the daydreams and crushes of silly fillies other than finding a special somepony, I didn’t worry about it. Much. Instead I focused on getting home to continue getting my shit wrecked by Ames.

 

When Taya got home that night, she looked somewhat traumatized. She wandered in like a victim of shell-shock, her eyes wide and seemingly looking forever. When prompted, all she had to say was, “I hate dresses.”

Cadance seemed to have the opposite reaction when Rarity brought in enough dressmaking gear to take over our entire living room for her. I think Taya had a relapse when she woke up and found her nightmare was downstairs waiting for her. She immediately squealed and pile-drived me in the chest in a hug, trying to hide from the dressmaking menace. It took most of the naga’s forced physical training for me to not slam into the ground.

All in all, it was rather humorous.

 

I have to say, I somewhat wish that the day of the Gala had been rainy and miserable, but when you can control the weather, you don’t let the biggest party of the year get rained out. So instead of the dark and gloomy skies I was hoping for, the summer day was bright and clear, warm but not too hot. It reminded me of a typical spring day back home.

It’s not very fitting, given that this is the day I almost died. Again.

Twilight, Pinkie, and Rarity each managed to find a different way to the Gala. Twilight got a ride from Celestia. Rarity used her influence to score a ride. I don’t want to know how Pinkie did it.

Cadance used her princess powers to get a nice chariot for me, Taya, and herself. I offered to let Doppel go, but after learning she had to stay in her own form, she wasn’t interested. I also offered to let the naga go. He laughed in my face.

I didn’t want to be affiliated with Luna or remind anyone that I was her knight on this trip if Bloodbeak was going to be there, so I decided not to wear my armor. I could have worn the extra gay harmony armor, but fuck that noise.

So I suited myself up in some nice-ish clothes, my sword, and a few daggers here and there. I wanted to bring my gun, but I knew Twilight would probably attend and I didn’t want her to get a close look at it. Cadance and Taya took forever to get ready. Taya, because she didn’t want to be seen in her dress. Cadance, because she’s a woman and therefore slow.

When Taya came down, my eyebrows shifted up in surprise. I hadn’t seen her dress, since I knew Rarity wouldn’t fuck up. It was a bright white dress with puffy sleeves and a few pink frills around it. She had a tiara with what looked like sapphires and a matching necklace. It looked like something that might be in an anime, but I don’t know shit about that stuff, so it didn’t really matter. And hell, I didn’t want to drag Rarity into town to spank her.

“Looks more like a wedding dress,” I said, crossing my arms. “But it’ll definitely do. So where’s Cadance?”

I think she was listening and waiting for me to say that, because she started stately walking down the stairs, trying to do that thing you see in the movies where everyone turns and looks at the woman coming down the stairs to see her grace and beauty.

“Hurry the fuck up. As slow as you’re walking, we’ll be even later.”

Her eyes jerked open and she looked at me with a mix of surprise and indignation. “Navarone! I have to practice!”

“You’re already married. Unless you plan on offing Shiny, you don’t need to ever do that bullshit again. Now come on, the carriage is waiting.”

She rolled her eyes. “He just doesn’t understand, Taya. Shall we?”

“…Understand what?” Taya asked with no prompting from me.

Cadance sighed and said, “I weep for the fillies and colts of this day and age…”

“You’ve been reading too many shitty romance novels,” I said, walking over to the front door. “Now come on.”

“If I recall,” Cadance said, finally moving her ass, “you were the one that didn’t want to come.”

“That was before I learned Bloodbeak was going to be there. That dude is awesome. And a dragon or two is even better. Maybe it’ll be Reginald and he can tell me more about the suppressed history of Equestria that Celestia doesn’t want her ponies to know because it makes her look bad.”

“Nav, you’re starting to sound like one of those crazy Old-Earthers, talking about how pony kind is built upon the ruins of many great and mighty civilizations and how Celestia is always trying to cover it up.”

The things I could teach you… God, I could make Cadance the perfect subversive agent. Either way, I didn’t answer and we all boarded the chariot in relative silence.

“So Taya,” I finally said, “why are you going, again?”

“I have my reasons.”

“If you keep deflecting, I’m going to follow you around all night and act like an overprotective father. You didn’t ask to go because you wanted to party, I know that for sure.”

She sighed and used her horn to make a camera appear. “Remember that annoying colt, Featherweight? The deal was that I get pictures of anything interesting happening in the Gala and he pretended to be my friend for a little while. Even if it didn’t work as we planned, he still did as he said he would.”

“Don’t make trouble, then. If anyone asks you to put the camera away, do so until that person is gone and you don’t think you’ll get in trouble for it.”

“Nav!” Cadance was glaring at me for my good advice. “That’s terrible advice!” Everyone’s a critic. “Taya, it’s good that you’re upholding your end of the deal—though it’s deplorable that such a deal existed at all—but you shouldn’t risk getting you and your father in trouble like this.”

“I’ll be careful,” she answered, making the camera disappear again.

“Well, be sure to keep an eye on Celestia, either way,” I said. “With what a friend and I have planned, this is going to be one hell of a party. Speaking of which, don’t eat any of the sweets here. I know Pinkie supposedly spiked something that will almost definitely be served to Celestia, but she also said she went a little overboard with her gypsy magic, or however she does her Pinkie stuff.”

Cadance massaged at her head with a hoof. “Nav, you didn’t restrain her? There’s no telling how many ponies could get that stuff in them!”

“That’s the fun part, isn’t it?” I asked with a smile. She groaned. “Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?” One of these days I’ll learn, I swear…

 

“Invitation?” the doorman droned.

“I swear to God, are there any doormen that ever have their eyes open?” I asked, looking the guy over.

His eyes opened angrily before he noticed who he was dealing with. “S-sir Navarone!” He took in my small party and his eyes opened even wider. “Princess Cadance! Please, come in, come in! My apologies for making you wait.”

“No problem,” Cadance said with a smile before walking past him, into the door with the light pink barrier. She crossed it with no trouble. I assumed it was some kind of bug net for changelings. Taya and I walked through it without anything happening, though I think I saw it jerking away to let my body in when I stepped through with my ring on. Last time I checked, I wasn’t a changeling, so I didn’t say anything.

As usual, the palace was decorated even more than usual, changing it from quiet and regal to warm and welcoming. Or at least, that was the goal. From the state of things, I could see that the spiked sweets hadn’t been wheeled out yet.

I walked inside a few feet, smiling at the warm atmosphere of the palace. The palace always seems so empty during normal days, especially after seeing the festive setup of the Gala. It looked right, seeing it full of seemingly happy ponies, even if most of them were rich fucks that were just putting on a show.

I almost panicked when I felt something strong and finger-like grab me from behind and wheel me around, but then I saw that it was just Bloodbeak. That was all I had time to notice before he pulled himself up for a very surprising hug.

I awkwardly patted him on the back, unsure of just what I was supposed to do when a king randomly started hugging me. Thankfully, he didn’t make it a long one, and released me shortly after. “Hello again, Navarone. It is wonderful to see the one that made my life so much simpler.”

As I’m sure you can possibly imagine, there were a large number of shocked faces around the two of us. Most of the ponies were somewhat horrified and his guards looked stunned. The female griffin standing next to his guards also looked very surprised.

“It’s good to see you too, Bloodbeak. I take it you are enjoying your new government?”

“Most definitely. Say, when you have a moment, I have some things to discuss with you.”

I looked around me to see that Taya was gone, presumably off to take as many pictures she could as quickly as possible so she could find somewhere to hide. With her gone, my only responsibility for the night was not a problem. Or at least, it wasn’t a problem I could deal with. “This night is all mine,” I said with a shrug. “What do you want to discuss?”

“Come, walk with me.” That’s a bad sign. I fell into step beside the aging king as he started walking toward one of the castle’s many verandas. He was talking about what he’s been up to since he got so much time off, most of which involved dicking around and taking a well-needed break. When we got outside into the night air, I found that a single griffin guard was waiting there. He saluted and joined the other three near the doors, surreptitiously keeping anyone from joining us.

“So what’s this about?” I asked, leaning against the railing.

“Navarone, I would like you to meet my daughter, Gilda.” This is a very different Gilda than the other one.

I nodded to her. “I remember seeing you when I was in Gryphus, but we were never introduced. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Navarone.”

“Everyone knows who you are, Sir Navarone,” she answered.

“Drop the ‘sir’ and we’ll get on fine,” I said before turning back to her father. “I know you didn’t bring me out here to introduce me to your daughter.”

“Not just that, no,” he said. “I know you did not enjoy the idea of a forced marriage—” I preemptively facepalmed, knowing where this was going. “—But I was wondering if you would at least consider my daughter. All I ask is that you get to know her.”

“I’m really not looking to get married.”

“I’m not asking you to marry her. I’m asking you to get to know her and consider her.”

“Why me, then? I’m just a knight that can’t even give you grandkids. The only reason you could want me to marry her is for some kind of political advantage.”

“You think so little of me as a father that all you see in this is political contrivances? I have more than one hatchling, Navarone. They are all married off except for Gilda here. Is it truly so wrong to find someone that she might be happy with?”

“Then you are definitely barking up the wrong tree.” I looked over to the princess. “What about you? What do you want?”

“To not be treated like a feather-brained idiot for once. When my father insisted I meet you, that is what I was expecting. It seems I was mistaken.”

Son of a bitch. Although… “You know what, what the hell. I have nothing to lose. I’m almost certain nothing will come of it, but it looks like neither of us has a date anyway.” And it might piss Luna off if she sees me with her, so there’s a nice little bonus.

“Excellent. Thank you for at least giving her a chance, Nav.”

“Hey, maybe by the end of the night I’ll be thanking you.” Extremely unlikely, but you never know. “A quick question before we go. Do you know if there is actually a dragon here? I heard one might make an appearance this year.”

A new, familiar voice surprised me with an answer: “There is, Navarone,” Luna said, coalescing from the shadows around us. The griffins were quite surprised at this, but I was relatively used to it. “And I think Reginald would like to talk to you, if you have finished your business here.”

I looked down to the griffin princess. “Would you like to meet an old dragon?”

“Old is relative, but I would certainly be interested,” she answered.

I nodded and looked back to Luna. “We’ll find him, then. Surely he won’t be hard to miss, being about half the size of the palace.”

“I could take you and your… friend to him,” Luna said, a tinge of hope in her voice.

The king corrected her with, “His date, you mean.” Most of the griffins probably missed the small twitch Luna made, but I didn’t.

I knew pushing my luck with her would be a bad idea, so I didn’t comment on it. Instead, I said, “We’ll be fine. I would hate to take up some of your valuable time. Shall we, Gilda?” I spread my wings in anticipation.

She didn’t disappoint, winning a point of favor. “Let’s,” she said, jumping into the air. I quickly followed her. “I take it you are avoiding your princess?” she asked when we were far enough away.

“Yeah. Long story.” She alighted on a parapet and I landed next to her, sitting on the edge of the wall. “Now that we’re away from your dad, if you really don’t want to do this, I won’t even try to make you.” Lord knows that I don’t need another possible romantic interest.

“If not you, then it’ll just be someone else, probably a pony. At least I’ve heard of you! Though I haven’t heard much of your dealings with your… ugh, special someponies.”

“That just means censorship is still working well here. Well, shall we go find Reginald?”

“No need. I know where he is; I saw him on the flight over here.”

“Well alright then. Lead the way.” I know I don’t mind following griffins since you can get such amazing views when doing it. Going after the king’s daughter would normally be a bad idea, but since she came to me like that, it’s only fair. I wasn’t planning on actually fucking her, but a nice little view never hurt anyone.

And that’s exactly what I got when we took off and I began following her. Thankfully, she wasn’t in any hurry, which gave me both ample time to watch her and made it easy to follow her. Even knowing how to properly fold my wings didn’t mean I could fly that quickly.

When we landed, I saw that we were near the giant maze where there was plenty of room for a giant dragon. Reginald had a few ponies around him, but for the most part, the area was abandoned. After all, why go to a public part of the palace if you could instead go to the parts that aren’t normally open to the public?

“So that’s him?” she asked, looking over to the large dragon.

“Yeah. He’s a pretty cool guy, but he seems to have a thing against thieves. I was planning on spending all night to talk with him, but that was before I got a date.”

“So considerate of you,” she dryly said, starting to walk toward the dragon.

I quickly caught up to her and said, “I don’t mean that as an insult or that you’re a burden. I just figured you probably wouldn’t want to be around two guys talking about history.”

“If it was war history, I would definitely be interested.”

We were close enough now that Reginald noticed us. I would have answered her, but instead we were greeted somewhat loudly, “Ah, Navarone! It is good to see you yet again. Tell me, who is your new companion?”

“Princess Gilda of the griffins,” I said. “Gilda, this is Reginald, an old hero of Equestria and the naga.”

“Old, am I?” he rumbled, a small grin on his face.

“Your words, not mine,” I said with a shrug. “When we met, you were rather desperate to make me know that you were older than the princesses.”

“True enough. Has anything important happened since last we met?”

I was tempted to tell him of my foray into the past, but there were still too many ponies around and I didn’t want to risk getting word out. “Thankfully, no. My life is calming down. It’s admittedly boring, but boring is more enjoyable than someone trying to stick sharp things into me.”

Reginald tapped his claws onto the ground, leaving indents in the ground. “I suppose for those of us not used to being made of scales that double as armor, that is understandable.”

“So have you been catching up on your sleep these past few months?”

“Nay, catching up on the world. Much happens when your slumber lasts as long as mine. Most dragons do not bother with the world of mortals. I am not most dragons. However, much has been forgotten—usually on purpose. I will have more words for you on that subject later, when there are less prying ears around.” He cast his gaze around at the ponies, glaring at them. “A few of these were sent to spy on me by Celestia. She forgets that I have the hearing and eyes of a dragon.” One or two ponies quickly and awkwardly shuffled away and Reginald chuckled. “I knew that horse was up to something. She does not trust me. Meet me in my cave, when you get the chance.”

“Sure. The forest holds no real dangers for me anymore. When are you going back to it?”

“After this party, probably. I might leave early, unless something interesting happens.”

I grinned darkly. “Oh, something interesting will be happening. A friend and I had a little bit of fun with the food. If you can get a look inside the palace, I wouldn’t be surprised if the drugs are already starting to work.”

“What?” both the dragon and Gilda asked.

“Nothing dangerous, I assure you,” I quickly answered. “But I suggest against eating any of the food tonight, unless you want to have a very interesting night.”

“You probably should have told my father,” Gilda said, smiling in spite of her words.

“He probably shouldn’t have done it, actually,” Reginald corrected, neither smiling nor frowning. “But it is done and thus can’t be undone. Maybe I will stick around to the end of this party after all.”

“Cool. Say, something I’ve been thinking about. Do adult dragons ever dance?”

“No. The terrain does not take kindly to it. Why? Do you wish to dance with me, Navarone?”

“Not quite. I met a dragoness in Europe that knew how to dance. I was wondering if they continued dancing once they grew to dangerous sizes.”

“Well now you have your answer. What do you know of the dragons in Europe, Navarone?”

“Not much, other than that they are apparently led by someone named Pyrite. They also seem very uptight about a few laws they have, namely those against having sex outside their species.”

“Pyrite… He must be over eleven thousand years old by now. It might be worth flying across the ocean to see how he’s doing these days. Surely if there would be anyone that could give me a straight answer, it would be him.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that. According to some of the dragons I talked to, he’s going eccentric.”

“That’s normal, an old curse from Discord. I know how to handle a bit of strangeness.” When he said that name, Discord, I remembered something from back on Earth.

“When we meet again, you need to tell me about Discord. That name keeps popping up, but I can’t find him in any history book other than that he used to rule and that there’s a statue of him here.”

He shook his head. “That statue isn’t ‘of him,’ Navarone. That statue is him.”

“Alright, you’re going to have to explain that later, when we talk. For now, I think we’re boring my date.”

“Hey, I don’t mind,” she quickly said. “Someone named Discord can’t be too boring.”

The dragon snorted out some steam at that. “If that is the case, I consider Nav to be correct about preferring boredom to interesting things. I have no desire to return to Discord’s rule. It was always interesting and something new, but those are not always good qualities to have. And since he happened to cause the downfall of the alicorns and their corruption into changelings, he does not have the favor of anyone that was alive when he was around.”

“Oh yeah, you’re explaining this in detail later,” I said. “Chrysalis mentioned her past in passing, but I was a little too preoccupied to ask her about it.”

The dragon leaned back, the area around his eyebrows raised. “You know Moonbeam? Though I suppose she goes by Chrysalis now. It’s probably best you not mention her real name, these days.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t already know. Yeah, I know her. She’s evil, but very useful.”

“I wouldn’t go so far as to call her evil,” he said with a shrug. “Tragic, yes. Desperate, definitely. Evil? How far would you go for something that you desire more than life itself? She sold her soul for her desire, though I think that she regrets it to this day.”

“Man, how do you know all this stuff? Was whatever she did really that common knowledge?”

“No. However, I happen to know her old apprentice and her last charge. But that is a story for another time. Go back to the party, Navarone. I might keep an eye on the proceedings, to see if anything interesting occurs.”

“God, that just raises more questions… Alright. I know what to ask when we meet again, then. It was nice seeing you.”

“And you, Navarone. And it was nice meeting you, Gilda.”

She nodded at the giant lizard and the two of us started walking back to the palace. “I would pay dearly for his knowledge,” she eventually whispered when we were hopefully far enough away from him.

“You and me both,” I just as quietly answered. “I imagine we have different reasons, though. Thankfully, he’s a pretty cool guy, so I don’t really have to pay him.”

“And you. You say you know Chrysalis, the queen of the changelings. You also know my father and both of the princesses here. You seem to know a number of people in power. And yet you’re merely a knight. Why is that?”

“I don’t want power. I’m happy enough living on my little estate and keeping to myself. Making yourself powerful brings enemies. Enemies bring pain. Being powerful also brings responsibilities. No offense, but you’ve probably had a life of relative luxury and ease. Born a princess and raised in a royal palace. I’m sure it was probably boring and you yearned for excitement and all that bullshit; everyone did as a kid. I quickly learned that excitement is not fun at all.” We finally got inside. “Do you care to dance?”

“I really don’t. I’d much rather sit and talk.”

“Well ain’t that a first. You’re the only noblewoman I’ve met that didn’t want to dance. Well, let’s find a quiet area of the party and chat, shall we?”

“If it makes you feel any better, you’re one of the few noble… men that asked me what I wanted to do. There is less love to be gained the higher rank you have, especially if you are the king’s youngest daughter.”

“You could try getting disowned.” I pulled out a chair for her at an empty table for two, hoping that not leaving any empty chairs would discourage people from bothering us. She took the seat with a gracious nod and I pushed it in, thankful that griffins didn’t weigh all that much. I took the seat across from her.

“That has its own drawbacks. Despite everything, being a princess is useful. It may not always be enjoyable, but the positives outweigh the negatives.”

“If it’s working for you, it’s working for you. I can’t imagine myself ever being royalty. I’m too much of a dick to people and I couldn’t get away with that if I was too important.”

“You can get used to anything…”

I was about to answer when I felt a hoof on my shoulder. I turned to find Fancy Pants giving me a rather grim look. “Hello Navarone, Princess. Nav, I have… interesting news: Be wary of my wife. She’s on the prowl and I believe she would not mind adding your name to her list.”

“You don’t have to worry about me. I know how to deal with people like her.”

“Do not restrain yourself for my sake,” he said. “I was just warning you that she may disturb your little rendezvous.”

“Noted. While you’re here, is there anything you can do about Rarity and her influence here?”

He shook his head sadly. “It’s too late. I may be socially and politically powerful, but what she has created is too widespread. Trust me, I did try to contain it, but that mare is very single-minded when it comes to such things.”

I sighed. “Well, as long as no one bothers me about it, I won’t mind too much.”

“Oh, they would all be too circumspect to bother you about it here, but I’m not certain that respect will go to you if they ever see you in the city or in a less upscale setting.”

“I’ll deal with it as it comes. Thanks for the warning and for attempting to stop Rarity’s stupidity.”

“Anything for a friend, Navarone. Now, I must beg my leave; I would hate to keep interrupting.” He quickly made himself scarce as I turned back to Gilda.

“He seems so familiar,” she said, watching him leave. “How did he know who I was?”

“He’s an old knight. He probably met you when you were younger.”

“What was that about his wife?”

I shrugged, leaning back. “Proof of why marrying for looks is never a good idea. She’s basically a slut, looking to score whoever she can find that’ll have her. Looks like I might be next on her list.”

“Surely this behavior is not seen as acceptable! I know that the ponies have looser morals and fewer qualms than we griffins do, but this must be too far!”

“Depends on the person—or pony, I suppose. Fancy treats it more as an annoyance than anything else.”

“Then he is a fool, and hardly deserves respect or to be married. But enough on him. Tell me of you, Navarone.”

“I have a feeling you already know plenty about me. How about you tell me about you instead?”

“The life of a princess is hardly an interesting one, though being the youngest princess meant I was allowed rather… different hobbies. Where most griffins would prefer to hunt and destroy, I learned and built—or attempted to, at least. There’s only so much you can do when your country is built as a mirror of another.” For those that don’t know, the castle at Gryphus is based very much on Canterlot’s castle, though it has a much darker general theme.

“So you’re an engineer of sorts.”

“Of sorts, yes. It was more for explorative purposes than it was for practical purposes; I do little of consequence. But I hear you and your people have machines and knowledge the likes of which we could only dream.”

“We do.” I felt the beginnings of a plan tugging at my mind. “If I had to guess, I’d say you were more interested in what I can give you rather than me.”

“I am a king’s daughter. I’ll admit that you are incredibly interesting from a number of perspectives and that I would definitely like to get to know you better, but you judged me correctly.”

Hm… “What would you say if I told you that I could get you the plans for every major human invention made in the last two thousand years?”

“I’d ask what your angle was. Something that valuable can’t be free. You said you don’t want power and you don’t seem to want marriage. I can’t imagine you’d need bits.”

“What I would need is an assurance that a few certain someponies don’t find out about this. There are a number of parties that would be quite interested in the knowledge I have to give out. Both the ponies and the changelings have begun to mimic human technology in some ways, but they didn’t have access to nearly the amount of blueprints and raw data that I have now.”

“Surely you want more than that. My silence is already assured; the projects of the griffins shall remain the business of the griffins.”

“Have you heard of the Zone of Alienation?” This was the name of the place Luna supposedly got the dream machine from, the place that I assumed was the old Google bunker.

“In passing. It is said to be a heavily guarded vault, though no one knows what exactly is guarding it.”

“I want in. Be it a war team, a stealth team, or anything, I want to get inside of that vault.”

“It might take time to get such a team together, especially if I want to do it without my father’s notice. I’ll be going too, of course.”

I shrugged. “I don’t care who all goes, as long as I get in. I’ll be leaving Equestria soonish on business and I don’t know when I’ll return. When do you think you can have the team ready?”

“It shouldn’t take me more than a year. I can have them on standby until you get back.”

“How long can you stay in Equestria? It will take you time to copy out the schematics I allow you to have.”

“As long as I tell my father that I’m staying in Equestria because of you, I can stay for as long as I need.”

“Excellent. Now what is your opinion on changelings?”

She blinked at the sudden topic change, but answered, “The squealing sound they make when boiled is most delectable. And the noise their carapace makes is also funny.”

“I have a changeling maid.”

“Being a princess means learning to deal with all types. I do not like changelings and they do not like griffins, but if it means having access to your knowledge, I would kiss your maid.” I’ll have to keep that in mind. “Are there any other tenants that I would be interested in?”

“My daughter, a naga sword trainer, and another two princesses, one of which is a baby.”

“Interesting company. You know, when I had this idea, I didn’t expect it would end like this. With your reputation, I figured I would have to do more to get what I want.”

“First, that’s insulting for a number of reasons. Second, you’re lucky I can help you at all. I’m no engineer. I only have the plans and blueprints because I got lucky. Third, just because I’m a massive slut doesn’t mean I’ll demand sex from someone as payment. I mean, I wouldn’t say no, but only after it was understood that it was for fun and not for whatever they wanted.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she dryly said.

I had a feeling the conversation was about to lull, so I was somewhat happy to have a servant drop a note off for me and leave without a word.

“Passing notes?” Gilda asked, grinning around her beak.

I rolled my eyes as I opened it. Meet me in your favorite sitting room in ten. Bring your cute friend. ♥ - Big C.

I looked over to the throne room to see a heavily blushed and probably drugged Celestia giving me a rather creepy look. She winked when she saw me looking. I slowly turned back around.

“Anything important?” my griffin friend asked.

I folded the note closed and stuffed it into a pocket. “Not really. Want to help me prank some people?”

“Surely you’re above such childish tricks.”

“Hey, you’re never too old for revenge. You want in or not?”

She sighed. “Oh, very well. I have a feeling you would do this without me anyway.”

I hopped out of my chair and pushed it in, looking around the room for my target. It didn’t take me long to spot Fleur de Lis in a rather fancy yet somehow slutty dress watching me from nearby. When Gilda was out of her chair, I gently put a hand on her neck and began circumspectly leading her around the room to where Fleur was waiting.

“I heard from a little birdie that you were looking for me,” I quietly said to the tall gazelle-like Fleur.

“That little birdie knows what he’s talking about,” she said, a sultry tone in her voice. “I’ve heard quite a lot about you, Sir Navarone. Rich. Mysterious. And you definitely know your way around a mare.” Her eyes twitched to Gilda for a moment before she added, “And many other races, it would seem. Tell me, would you happen to be interested in a little lover’s tryst? You can bring your friend, if you want.”

Gilda bristled at that, but I gripped the back of her neck as a warning. “It would be our pleasure,” I said, smiling. “And yours too, I believe. I know just the place we can meet, assuming you don’t mind missing the rest of the party.”

“Ooh, a stallion that has stamina. I am listening, Nav. Tell me of this lovely little spot of yours.”

I gave her directions to the sitting room where Celestia would soon be waiting. “Meet us there in ten minutes,” I said at the end. “We’ll be waiting…”

“With a baited breath that I’ll be all too happy to take away, I hope,” she answered. “I’ll see you both soon.” With that, she whirled around, walking away in a way that shook her tail and her hips in a way that told me I would probably regret sending her to Celestia instead of taking her for myself.

“So, great,” Gilda said, turning on me. “You got us in a threesome with a whore. How is that a prank?”

“That is merely the first step. Come, we have a daughter of mine to find.” If I was correct, I was about to both make Featherweight’s balls drop and also get frontline news for months.

“Where are you going with this, Navarone?” she asked, following me.

“The note I got was from a prominent citizen asking me to meet her in the place I just told Fleur to go. This prominent citizen is also baked off her mind with drugs, meaning that whoever goes into that room better be ready for the time of their life. My daughter brought a camera for pictures for a newspaper. So if I take pictures of what will be happening in that room, those pictures will be plastered all over the news. That is my prank.”

“You know, you could use those pictures for blackmail instead.”

“I could, yeah. I like my idea better, though.”

“Whatever. What does your daughter look like?”

“She’s a purple unicorn with a white dress. Last I saw, she was wearing a sapphire tiara and a matching necklace.”

“Wait here. I’ll do a circle around the palace and see if I see her.” Before I could answer, she used her feline speed to bound out of the palace and take off.

I shrugged and grabbed a drink from a passing waiter, hoping it wasn’t one that Pinkie had spiked. I took a moment to lean against the wall, folding my wings so they didn’t ache, and listened to the music. It was something from my world, but I couldn’t place it offhand. I saw Octavia playing in the band, but she was too engrossed in her music to notice me.

Whatever the drink was didn’t taste like it had been treated, so I sipped at it as I continued looking around. The effects of the drugs were definitely noticeable. I could see a number of confused and presumably drugged ponies ambling around like zombies, though few others were paying attention to them. Some were staring off into space, pupils heavily dilated. I think a few were asleep standing up, their heads drooping and small rivulets of drool creeping down from their mouths.

“Well, Nav?” a familiar voice said, popping out of nowhere at my side.

“I think we did good, Pinkie,” I answered, nodding. “Do you happen to know where Taya is?”

“Nope! Say, wanna dance?”

“Nah. My date’ll be back soon and I don’t want her getting the wrong idea.”

“Oooh, can I meet her?”

“I’d rather you didn’t, but I’m hardly going to stop you. She’s Princess Gilda, a very different Gilda than the one you know. Do you know if Rarity or Twilight have any drugs in their system yet?”

“They both do. I made sure of that personally! The smiles they have on make this totally worth it!”

“Cool. And whatever you gave Celestia, make sure you never use it again. From the look on her face, she’s about ready to fuck anything that moves.”

“That sounds fun to me, though. I remember that one time at the Europe party when she was in heat and I was a stallion and you abandoned me. It was a lot of fun for everypony!”

“True. But she can go overboard very quickly. And I really, really hope you didn’t give whatever you gave to Celestia to Luna.”

“Uuuh…”

I immediately dropped the half-smile I had. “You didn’t.”

“Well, I don’t know if she actually ate it… But I did.”

My wings twitched, trying to unconsciously escape. “What do you mean, she might not have eaten it?”

“Well, I heard Luna wasn’t much one for sweets. Or at least, not nearly as much as Celestia. I made sure it was in Luna’s dessert, though. It helps mask the taste.”

“Oh great. I have both Molestia and Lunaughty on the loose.” I sighed and twisted the ring on my finger, grateful that there was little they could do to me while I was wearing it.

“Sounds like a chance to score sisters to me!” Pinkie said, her usual good mood shining through.

“If I was interested, sure. But I’m here with someone, and that’s just bad form. And there she is now.” Gilda was ambling back in from the door from which she left.

“Found her,” she said as soon as she was close enough. “You ready?”

“Yeah. One thing, though: This is Pinkie, a friend of mine. She wanted to meet you.”

“And be your friend!” Pinkie yelled, being her normal self.

“Uh huh. Well, you’ve met me. Shall we, Navarone?”

“Lead the way.” I wasn’t about to subject anyone else—or myself, for that matter—to Pinkie any longer than I had to.

“Aww…” Pinkie groaned as we quickly left. I regretfully slipped my ring off to follow Gilda into the air, letting her lead me to where Taya was hopefully waiting.

“You really don’t lack for the company of mares, do you?” Gilda asked as we flew.

“Nope. A few bad decisions and a few fun decisions and you build up a reputation. Mix that with a relatively open society and I get laid a lot.”

“I imagine that does wonders for your love life.”

“Hey, you came looking. But for the most part, the women I run into don’t want anything more than sex. And a few of the older ones don’t want anything at all.”

“Well isn’t that unfortunate. I’m sure you can always find a bug that might be willing.”

“No chance in hell. Changelings are fun to fuck, but I don’t think I could be in a relationship with one. Ah, there’s Taya.”

“It is weird to see a predator with such poor eyes,” she commented as we began descending. “Are all humans like this?”

“Some are better, some are worse. I think I’m a little above average, but I could be wrong. We don’t really need eyes that are so sharp when we can make things that magnify our vision and kill from a distance.”

“And you could give us schematics for such things?”

“The magnifiers, sure. Hell, you guys already have those, in the form of binoculars or telescopes.” We finally landed next to a rather bored looking Taya. “There you are.”

“Hi, Daddy. This isn’t as easy as I was hoping.”

“It might be easier if you were in a place with a lot of people instead of out here in the garden.” She looked around, sighing. “Either way, I can get you the pictures you need. I just need to borrow your camera for a few minutes.”

She wasted no time at all using magic to pass me the camera. “Have fun.”

“Cool. Meet me back in the entrance hall. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll be leaving after I get these pictures. I just want to let Cadance know before we jet.”

She grinned, nodding. “See you soon, daddy!” she quickly said before galloping off, presumably hoping I wouldn’t change my mind and make her come with me.

“I figured any daughter of yours would be more lively and social.”

“If only. Now, one more quick trip left. Let’s go for a short walk in a nice, secluded garden.”

“I trust there’s a reason for this other than your carnal desires?”

“There is.” I spread my wings and took off, trusting that she would follow me. She did, not that it really mattered one way or another. I led her to the garden courtyard that had the window that pointed into the sitting room that I despised. I waited for Gilda to land before slowly and quietly walking up to the window, peeking inside. What I saw instantly made my wings shoot out.

Gilda snorted, not even making an attempt to look through the window. I tried bringing my wings under control before giving up and lifting the camera to snap a few pictures. Thankfully, Taya doesn’t know how to work a camera, so the flash was off. I was able to get a few shots of Celestia using her hair to pretend to be a tentacle monster to Fleur, who couldn’t decide if she should be pleased beyond belief or horrified.

When I deemed that I had enough footage to give the newspapers years of material, I backed away from the window. “Let’s go. Quickly,” I whispered.

She looked at my wings, grinning. “Can you even fly like that?”

I answered her question by taking off. I punctuated that answer by getting only as far as a courtyard over before being forced to land. She landed next to me, laughing her ass off.

“Yeah, very fucking funny. It’s not my fault I have pegasus wings.”

“I-I could help,” a new voice quietly said. I had my hand on my sword and positioned myself in front of Gilda before I even realized what I was doing.

“Wait… Is that you, Smiles?” I asked, looking at the night guard that also seemed to have some very extended wings.

“Y-yes sir! And… ignore that. I’ve been having these terrible urges for half an hour.”

“You looked pretty alone out here before we showed up. Just deal with it yourself.”

“I’m on patrol, sir, and Princess Luna herself knows I’m out. She was even nice enough to give me her dessert when she heard my stomach growling.”

I flinched internally at that. “Well, good luck, and I hope your patrol route takes you near one of your boy toys. I need to get the princess here back to the party.”

His ears jerked straight up before drooping down. “Yes sir…” After the adrenaline rush I had when he spooked me, my wings were back to their normal state. With that, I was able to take off. I thought I heard him muttering, “Stupid!” as I left, but I could have been mistaken.

“You pick up the strangest companions,” Gilda commented as we lazily flew over the palace. “Or perhaps that was more than a companion?”

“I don’t swing that way.” Aside from that one time. “It just happens to be useful to know a few people that you are leading.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

We landed back in front of the palace and let ourselves back inside. I slid the ring on as we walked through the pink shield, feeling safe again. At that point, I knew that Luna didn’t end up getting the drug, but Celestia still had it in her and Fleur might not have been enough to sate her.

All things told, though, it was looking to be a good night.

I easily spotted Taya standing against the wall, looking very out of place in the party that was populated almost entirely by adults. It also helped that she was one of the only people there that was alone and acting reasonably sane; at this point in the party, most of the guests were baked off their ass. There wasn’t any chaos, but nor was there really any order. As we walked over to Taya, I took a picture here and there, documenting what was probably going to be the most well-remembered Gala in a long time.

By the time we finally got over to Taya, Cadance was waiting there with her. “Are you ready to leave, Nav?” she asked, looking around the room. “You’ve done a very good job ruining this Gala, and I believe it is time for us to go.”

I handed the camera to Taya, nodding. “Yeah, I’m ready. How’s Shiny?”

She grinned. “He’s having fun talking to a lamp that he thinks is me.”

“Excellent. Cadance, this is Princess Gilda. Gilda, this is taffy-pony.”

“We’ve met,” Gilda quickly said. “I did not know her as taffy-pony, though. I take it this is to be one of my temporary housemates?”

Cadance sighed, massaging at her head with a hoof. “Nav, did you take yet another mare into your house without asking me?”

“This is a princess. Chill the fuck out. It’ll only be for a few days anyway, and that’s just assuming her father even gives her permission. Hell, aren’t you supposed to be out of my house by now anyway?”

Cadance just sighed, shaking her head. When she looked back up at me to answer, her eyes went wide and unfocused, staring somewhere behind me. After a moment, her mouth dropped.

I knew that look. I whirled around, a hand to my sword. I was quite surprised at the sight I beheld: This stallion looked like Blueblood before his fall, though his coat and hair were muted and darker. His eyes seemed to have an intensity to them that they were lacking before. And of course, they were fixated dead on me as he slowly walked through the hall on legs that seemed to have more joints than they should.

I quickly turned back. “Now would be an excellent time to leave,” I said. “Let’s find somewhere that isn’t here to be, shall we?”

“Navarone!” In his voice was a hatred and in my name, an accusation. “Or is it Sir? Sir Navarone, Defender of Harmony. Some defender you are, though.”

I turned back, crossing my arms. “Is that all?”

“I did not go through what I went through and make the deals I made to tell you that, fool! I challenge you to a duel to the death, Navarone, winner takes all the loser possessed.”

“Not even a little bit interested.”

“Oh, so you show your cowardice! What a big surprise, seeing the human show his true colors after so long!”

“I have learned one very important thing about people like you: They thrive on attention. Goodbye, Blueblood.”

“That’s Prince Blueblood, you dirty ape!”

Cadance jumped to my defense, though I figured Gilda might have done the same if she was quick enough. “Any so-called prince that abandons his ponies and his kingdom in a temper tantrum deserves neither titles nor respect. You are a prince no longer, Blueblood; you lost your titles a week after you left.”

I took a small amount of satisfaction in seeing the look of horror on his face before making what was almost a terminal mistake and turning around. “Now that this is dealt with, I think it’s time to—”

“MOVE!” Flo screamed, trying to warn me.

I had no time to move before I felt something tearing through my chest. My eyes opened wide, staring down at the red and white grooved horn that was protruding a few inches out from where my heart was supposed to be. In my shock and horror I didn’t feel it, but Blueblood used a hoof to push me away as he pulled back, knocking me to the floor.

I couldn’t even feel the pain, just a dull emptiness as my amber life-fluid tried to close the gaping wound that I was almost positive would kill me. The last thing I remembered was a massive flash of heat and light before I woke up in Flo’s cool embrace.

“I… I’m not getting up from this one, am I?” I quietly said, barely able to feel myself conscious even in my mind.

“Shh, Nav,” she whispered, gently patting at my hair. “I’m here for you. I’m here, and I won’t let you die. Not like this.”

I could still feel myself slipping. My body was augmented and mutated, but when you get stabbed in the heart, there’s only so much you can do.

“Don’t think like that,” she quickly said. “I’ll take care of you.” I was barely able to hear her at that point. I let myself drift away, almost feeling relief.

 
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