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.


96. Chapter Seventy-Nine—Bed rest with no sexy nurse? Blasphemy!

I don’t know how I woke up. I’ve survived too many things that should have killed me. Getting stabbed in the heart should have fucking done it.

I groaned, a hand automatically going to my head as my eyes opened and the light flooded in. At this point, I knew better than to even try sitting up; I’ve been in enough hospital beds to know that sitting up before the doctor tells you to is not a good idea.

The hand that wasn’t blocking the light from my eyes was nuzzled by something furry. I gently caressed it, happy that I could feel no pain. “Taya?” I whispered, expecting the furry thing next to me to be her.

“Yes, daddy?” she just as quietly answered.

“I get healed yet?”

“Not quite,” another voice answered, stepping into the room. I actually didn’t recognize that one, but I didn’t bother trying to look up. “You aren’t in pain because we were able to seal it off, but Blueblood was using a magic we have never seen before. Your wound is unhealable, though it seems to be doing well on its own.”

“I was wearing the ring,” I said, my voice picking up in volume. “I was immune to magic.”

“It seems that your ring is imperfect,” the pony answered. “Even Princess Celestia was surprised by this. If there had been anything left of Blueblood, he would have been questioned very thoroughly.”

“…Anything left?” I asked, my eyes finally opening. Without sitting up, I couldn’t see much more than the ceiling, but it was good to see again at all.

“Yes, anything left. There was little but ash. I will go tell Princess Celestia that you are awake. I believe she wants to speak to you.”

Before I could say anything, I heard the pony walking out. So instead I sighed. “Taya, what happened?”

“It… it was horrible, daddy.”

“Trust me, I know. I got stabbed.” Speaking of which, I made sure I could still move my legs. When they responded to my demands—sluggishly, though I attributed that to the painkillers—I knew my spine was okay. “So what happened?”

When she didn’t answer, I used the hand that wasn’t on her head to prod the area around my wound. I knew it would have been expertly taken care of, but I was somewhat interested in pony healing methods when magic failed. From the feel of things, they were very similar to human healing methods. I think I was stitched up, but I could barely feel them with the bandage in the way.

“I would not pick at that, were I you,” Celestia said, walking in. “Though I must say, it is good to see you moving. Taya, would you wait outside, please? I will not take long, I promise.”

I could feel her tense up at my side, so I said, “I’ll be fine, Taya. I’m not going anywhere. It’ll be just a moment.”

She slowly walked out without a word.

“Well, there is good news and bad news, Navarone,” Celestia said when the door slid shut. “Your daughter has a cutie mark now. She got it by killing Blueblood.”

I sighed, feeling my body sinking into the bed. “Such disappointment… I wanted better for her. Now she’ll be defined as someone that specializes in… killing. It seems I truly was a terrible father.”

We sat in silence for a few moments before she continued, “I don’t suppose you would happen to know anything about the chaos at the Gala?”

“Is that the part where I got stabbed?”

“No. The part where everypony was drugged.”

“Then no.”

“Uh huh.” I saw something float toward me until it resolved itself as a close-up of her freaky face, hair jutting out. Not shown was Fleur or where her hair was. “And I assume you know nothing of this, either?” I let my vision zone out to see that it was on the front page of a newspaper.

“It looks like someone took a picture of you in the middle of sex,” I said.

“And who, exactly, do you think took that, Navarone?”

“No clue. Look, can we stop with this twenty questions bullshit? I just got stabbed in the fucking heart. I have no clue where I am, I have a hole in my chest, and I’m not in the mood to deal with your shit.”

“You’re in the unicorn tower outside of Canterlot. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The magic Blueblood used to put you here has some unpleasant implications. Tests were and are being run on you to see if my suspicions prove accurate.”

“When can I leave?”

“You’ll be allowed to check out tomorrow. You’ll still be bed-ridden, but at least you can be at home. I believe you’ll have a number of caretakers there. And if the griffin princess was as taken with you as she seemed, she’ll likely be one of them.”

“I seem to have a thing for high-class women. Is there anything else you need?”

“Nothing in particular. Get well soon, Nav. I fear you’ll need your strength for the coming storm.”

That was ominous and I knew she wanted me to ask about it, but I was down to the naga’s level of fuck’s given, so I just closed my eyes again, trying to get some manner of rest. I wasn’t in pain and I didn’t feel particularly tired, but at the same time I also didn’t really feel like moving.

When she was bored of waiting for an answer, she left. Taya immediately let herself inside, walking over to my bedside. “How do you feel?”

“Heartbroken.” She let out a giggle before she could stop herself. “I’m fine, Taya. I’m not really in any pain thanks to the magic. I also don’t really feel tired, oddly. Hungry, though.”

“I can go find a nurse!” I don’t know if she was eager to help or eager to get away so she didn’t have to see me like this.

Flo finally made herself known with, “You need to eat, Nav. I was only able to do so much. Without more materials to work with, I can’t accelerate the healing process.”

“That would be nice, thank you. Tell whoever you find to bring me something high in protein. I think I’ll need the energy.”

“Yes, daddy.” She bounded out of the room, happy to help.

“Now that the immediate danger is gone,” Flo said, “we need to talk about what Blueblood did.”

“He stabbed me in the chest. What more do you want?”

“I know that. I was there, after all. But a magic that I’ve seen before lingers in the wound. The same kind of magic that seals my prison. The kind of magic used by the element of chaos. Yes, it is possible that it spread and it’s used elsewhere now, but I believe it more likely that the element of chaos is still working in the background.”

“The same element of chaos that presumably killed the humans.”

“And is known now as Discord,” she added. “Without talking to Reginald and gathering more information, we can’t know for sure. But from the looks of things, Discord is active in the world, not confined to a statue.”

“One piece of evidence does not make proof.”

“His statue is hollow, Navarone. An ally of the pony that put him in that statue was attacked with chaotic magic by someone that was healed of a malady the princesses couldn’t cure. This same person was corrupted away from Celestia somehow. And yourself, Navarone. You had dreams of this Discord before we met, though you may not remember him. Do you truly consider all of this coincidence?”

“I’ll wait until I talk to Reginald to decide. If it is true, what can the ponies even do about it? I’d rather know more before doing anything.”

“So be it. Having the elementals to help them in the fight with Discord would be a huge boon for the ponies.”

“And even if he is free… Well, there’s nothing I can do about it. Once I tell Celestia, I have no part in that fight.”

“I know, Navarone. You are intelligent, strong, and useful, but you cannot fight Discord.”

“The worst part of being a pawn is being expendable…”

“But if you live long enough to get to the other side, you might just become the most powerful piece out there.”

“If.” I was saved further answering by the entrance of Taya.

“I found a nurse,” she said. “He’ll be here soon with food.”

“Thanks, Taya. Do you know what time it is?”

“Almost night time. After you eat, you should get some rest.”

“I will.” For the first time since I woke up, I gingerly lifted my head up, testing the waters. When I felt no pain, I tried lifting my upper body. I went slow and steady, since there was no need to hurry. When I could finally look around the room well enough, I looked over to my daughter. My eyes immediately went to her new cutie mark, two blue lightning bolts crossing over each other. God, what have I done? “How’s it feel?” I asked.

“It was… warm, at first. But now it just feels the same as before.”

“That’s not what I meant. Your first real kill. Like so many things, you can never go back. How does it feel?”

“He was bad. He deserved it.” No regret, no looking back. Should I be ashamed of the path I led her on, or proud that she’s taking it as well as possible?

“You should always be proud,” Flo told me. “You didn’t want it for her, but it’s what she has. You need to support her in it.”

“You feel better than I did after my first. I didn’t even know his name… He has plentiful company now, though. I hope you will learn from my mistakes and learn that while killing may be easier, it is almost never the best option. Their eyes will be with you forever, though the guilt and pain will fade in time. But that’s enough depressing talk, I believe. I trust Twilight knows of your new talent?”

“She does, and she’s happy that she has a whole new range of things to teach me.” I can’t very well ask Twilight not to teach her combat magic now that her cutie mark is fucking combat magic.

“I’m sure. Do you have a room here?

“I’ve been sleeping next to you.”

“Where’s all of my stuff?”

“Some of the unicorns are experimenting with your sword. They tried taking your ring, but I wouldn’t let them.” She reached a hoof up to her hair, where I saw the ring dangling.

I grinned down at her. “Thank you, Taya. Hold onto it for now. I don’t want to risk the painkilling spell disappearing if I put it on.”

“Okay, daddy. And Featherweight was very happy with those pictures you gave him. It was… kind of creepy. His tiny wings were all extended and pulsing.”

“Do you know what was in the pictures?”

“No, and I didn’t care. I was happy enough to be away from him, especially when he started begging me for more.”

“At least your debt is paid, then. Do you know if the griffin princess is still in Equestria?”

“She and her father are both still here. They decided to wait until you woke up to leave.”

“That was certainly nice of them. There’s a pretty good chance the princess will be staying with us for a few days.”

She sighed. “Another one? Daddy, I think you might have a problem saying no.”

“Hey, I don’t want it known that I’m a tease. So what if that means I give in a little easily?”


“Human joke. Don’t worry about it. What’s taking that damn nurse so long?” I mean, Blackberry was crazy as fuck, but at least she was always in a hurry.

“You want me to go look for him?”

“Nah. So who all knows what happened, anyway?” Taya used her magic to pass me the newspaper that Celestia left behind. I flipped it over from Celestia’s crazed sex face to find a headline screaming, ‘Past Prince Pikes Passive Paladin!’ “I hate this alliteration bullshit,” I muttered as I read through the article. “Well, it looks like this Gala was a failure for all parties involved.” Except maybe the griffins.

I flipped the paper back over and took a minute to read the article about Celestia. From the looks of it, Fleur was very vocal about her enjoyment, though she didn’t like that she was cheating on her husband. I snorted at that and smiled at the fact that Celestia and her public relations team—if she even has one—issued no response at all.

When I finally set the paper down, I saw that a nurse had entered and apparently left a tray of food that Taya was now levitating. As soon as she realized that I saw it, she gently landed it on my lap. “Thank you, Taya. Though from the looks of things, hospital food has not increased in quality since the last time I was in one.”

“If you don’t eat, I’ll have to feed you,” Taya warmly said, making her horn light up. I sighed and began forcing down the mush, whatever it was supposed to be. It was more tasteless than anything, but I really didn’t want to be force-fed with magic.

When I finished, a thought occurred to me. “Hey, when’s the last time you ate?”

“Before you woke up.” That was a little bit too quick. I narrowed my eyes, but she didn’t budge.

“Don’t lie to me, Taya.”

“It was before you woke up!”

“How long before I woke up?” She looked away and mumbled something. “Go to the cafeteria and get something to eat. I need some rest anyway. Trust me, I ain’t going nowhere in this state.”

“Do I have to?”

“You can’t take care of me if you get sick from not eating.”

She sighed and looked down. “Okay, daddy… I love you.”

That was unexpected. “I love you too, Taya.” I rubbed her head affectionately for a moment—hugging would be a bad idea—before removing my hand. “Now go on. The sooner you eat, the sooner you can come back.”

She took a moment to stand up and grab my tray before sighing again and walking out. She did her best to do it in a petulant manner. When she was finally gone, I let myself sink back into the bed, the simple act of sitting up and eating exhausting to me. “I shouldn’t be this tired,” I whispered. “What did that spell do to me?”

“Navarone, you can’t just recover from something like that, not without magic,” Flo answered. “Even with the help of me and your biology, this is going to take time. Just get plenty of rest and try not to do anything overly strenuous. I suggest against engaging in anything carnal for a few weeks.”

“You’re killing me here, Flo.”

“I did not bring you back from death’s edge to watch you kill yourself on Doppel, as amusing as it is to watch you treat her like that. Just don’t have sex with her for a few weeks, Nav.”

“I’ll try. If she holds me down and forces me, though… Well, you won’t hear me complain.”

“Ugh. If you truly need to be satisfied, I can probably help. I don’t think your doctor will require you stay up all night if you are just going to be in bed. You will probably get something to make you sleep.”

“You say that like you wouldn’t enjoy it.”

“I mean what I’m about to say with all due respect. Navarone, you are a slut. I don’t want to anger you, but what the therapist in the bunker said was correct. You need to begin abstaining. You are using the sex as a painkiller. This will not help you get better. I would suggest getting mental help, but there doesn’t seem to be any ponies that specialize in it. You may have to go to the land of the griffins to find someone to help you, but it would be worth it.”

“I know. And you’re right. But to be quite honest, I don’t care. I like to think that I have earned the right to do as I please.”

“If you refuse to do this for your own benefit, as foolish as that is, then what of Taya? How do you think she feels, to know her father sleeps with so many women? How does she feel to have no mother and a father that considers her second to his own base desires?”

“Want me to ask her when she gets back? You know I will.”

“You’re shameless.” I think she meant that as an insult. “You and I both know that she would tell you whatever she thought you wanted to hear. That girl is devoted to you. You can think you deserve whatever you want, but that does not change the fact that you are a parent with responsibilities. You spend as little time with her as you can and justify it by saying she needs to make friends. That’s true, but you know what would be better for her? Having a father who gave a damn. Having a father who spends time with her. Having a father who was better than yours.”

I didn’t answer, but I was rather displeased at what she said. I didn’t ask for the responsibility of a daughter. I know that doesn’t change the fact that she is my responsibility anyway and that I need to take care of her, but fuck, man… I was hoping she was old enough to not need or want me around too much, but in the time that I was waiting, I was left with no option but that of thinking.

And so I thought back, remembering my interactions with Taya. My limited interactions… I didn’t spend nearly enough time with her. Oh, I usually had good reasons for not doing it, but that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t spend enough time with her. I already knew that I didn’t, but what I didn’t realize was that Taya wanted more time with me. I thought she was mostly okay with it. Thinking back, she obviously wasn’t.

I sighed to myself, knowing that there were really only three options. The first was spending more time with her. The second was getting her a mom—which wasn’t going to happen any time soon, at least not by marriage. The third was staying the path and trying to make her get friends instead.

Given that Twilight was going to be taking up a good chunk of her time by cramming combat magic in her head, there was really only one option I could take. I knew I had to make a choice and that I had to make it soon.

Thankfully, I had an indefinite amount of time of bed rest, wherein I would be able to spend all the time she was willing to give me with her. Who knows? Maybe we’d find something in common that would make me actually want to spend more time with her instead of seeing it as a responsibility.

God, I’m such a terrible person…

While I was attempting to think of amusing things we could do while I was stuck in bed, the door cracked open. I lifted my head to see if Taya was back, but it was only a nurse. “It’s time for your sleep, Sir Navarone,” the guy said, walking in further.

“Do you think you can wait a few minutes? My daughter should be back in soon.”

“I’m afraid not. Doctor’s orders.”

I sighed and let my head back down. “Do what you have to do, then. How long should I be out?”

“Until your body wakes you up. It’ll be between eight and twelve hours.” I could see a smattering of light from his horn as he approached me. “Sweet dreams…” he quietly said before I felt unconsciousness tugging at me.

I woke up on top of Flo. “So you said you could help me with a few certain needs these next few weeks,” I said, gently swirling my wings in her watery mass.

“I might be able to help you. I’ll have to watch your heart rate, to make sure it doesn’t pick up too much while you’re asleep. With the wound’s location, you can’t afford to get excited or let your heart rate spike at all.”

“So basically I’m fucked.”

“Nope.” I just sighed, settling in.

“So, suggestions for what to do?”

“Well, I could make this process seemingly instantaneous, like your nights in the bunker. Or I could show you calm things from my…” She slowly stopped talking. I looked up at her, wondering what the problem was. She was looking around her glade in confusion. “Something’s wrong. Someone is trying to force their way in.”

“Someone is what? Do you think Taya is trying to wake me up?”

“No, that would be different… This is… Luna.” My eyes jerked open wide and I tried sitting up before her water trapped me. “Stay calm, Navarone. I can keep her out for a few minutes. I would make you wake up, but I can’t, not without risking spiking your heart. Remember, Nav: This is your dream. She may be more experienced with dream walking, but you have all the same powers she does. The machine is attuned to you, after all. I will help as I can and I can still communicate with you through your thoughts.”

“Help me up,” I said, my voice sounding strangely calm for as terrified as I felt.

“Are you sure you can stand?”

“Yes. Just help me up. Be ready to help me if I need you.” She slowly pushed me to my feet, making sure I stayed on balance. When I was upright, I envisioned a shotgun loaded with buckshot and pulled it to me as I had in the dream world. It wasn’t a bolter, but it would do the job just as well. “Let her in.”

The glade seemed to grow darker as a hole opened somewhere outside of the trees. I could feel some of Flo’s watery form sliding up my pants legs, embracing my body and helping to hold me upright. Luna slowly walked through the trees around the glade, pushing branches out of the way.

I think she might have been surprised when she found me standing in the center, alone. She grinned and opened her mouth to greet me.

I was suddenly five meters forward, the barrel of the shotgun in her mouth and me in a shooting stance. “You have defiled the one thing I hold sacrosanct. The one place I allow no one. You have until the count of three to leave, or we’ll find out what happens when you die in a dream.” Her horn lit up and I cocked the shotgun, rattling the barrel in her mouth and breaking her concentration. “One.” She pulled away from it and I clicked off the safety. “I swear to God I will do it. Two.”

“You wouldn’t da—”

I pulled the trigger. Given that it was no longer in her mouth but in front of her face, the front half of her head exploded into a fine red mist, throwing her body backwards. It disappeared before it hit the ground, taking all the blood and gore with it. I dropped the shotgun and fell to my knees, a hand supporting me and another on my heart.

“Deep breaths,” Flo whispered, slithering out of my clothes and embracing me. “Deep, slow breaths. A shotgun wasn’t the best weapon of choice.”

After a few breaths, I fell back on my ass. “Yeah, it wasn’t. But fuck if it didn’t get the job done. You want to bet the headlines tomorrow will say that Princess Luna had a brain embolism and died unmourned?”

“I’m afraid not. She is almost definitely still alive. I don’t think she will ever try approaching your dreams again, thou—Oh.” Her eyes narrowed. “Oh, it’s on. I trust you won’t mind if I take over this matter, Navarone?”

“Knock yourself out.”

“A certain princess is going to learn why you don’t mess with an elemental.” A small pool appeared underneath me and I felt myself being laid backwards. “Just relax. I will wear her out shortly.”

I nodded, closing my eyes. “Just be careful. If she finds out there’s someone else in here, she’ll ask questions.”

“I know.” I envisioned a camera over the new arena and connected it to my mind, letting me watch whatever was happening. Another hole opened and Luna entered again, fury written across her face. As soon as she stepped inside, she fell into a pit full of bubbling and steaming water. Her shrieks of pain and surprise were cut off by the hole sealing shut.

“One,” an angry Flo announced, as though she was counting victories.

Seconds later, another hole opened and Luna reentered, immediately catching a spike of ice through an eye, going completely through her head.


Another Luna appeared, her horn glowing and a shield immediately forming. Less than a second later, she started leaking blood from every orifice she had. Three seconds later, blood ripped away from her body, pulling away from her and dropping her to the floor, dead.


And another Luna, who began sprinting as soon as she hit the ground. She was caught with razor wire.


Another Luna, falling into a pit that looked like it led to a grinder.


Death by trip mine.


She sprinted again and tripped on a fallen log, breaking her neck.

“That counts. Seven.”

Electrocution. Explosive decompression (somehow). Mustard gas. She kept coming and Flo kept thinking of ways to kill her. It was the most amusing thing I had seen in a long time.

Finally, after over twenty attempts, she stopped. Flo brought herself back to where I was and slid over me, covering me up to my head in water. “I believe she will leave us alone for some time. I told you that I would protect you and your mind, Navarone, and I meant it.”

“And I thank you, Flo. I want as little to do with that crazy bitch as possible. Any words she has for me can be given to my waking face, while I’m wearing my ring or at least not injured. I gotta say, that was a pretty inventive use of sunflower seeds.”

“I had a long time to think about things,” she said by way of answer. “Now, shall we—Not again!” She pulled away from me but stopped. “This is… different.” She looked up at the sky for a moment. “Navarone, open your eyes.”

I did so and saw that there was a message written in stars: “I just want to talk.”

After thinking about it for five seconds, I closed my eyes again. “I don’t see a thing.” Flo apparently agreed, as she drifted back over me, giving me a watery blanket. “If Luna can invade my dreams like this, can I invade someone else’s? I wouldn’t mind giving a few certain people horrible nightmares.”

“It… might be possible, Nav, but you would need training to do it safely. What Luna just did to you, with the constant forced invasions and getting killed, was extremely risky. You would need someone to teach you how, and the only one that knows how is Luna.”

“Oh well. I suppose I have no real business in the minds of others anyway. Hell, how did Luna even get in here?”

“Now that I know this was her, I can tell that she’s been prodding around for a while, trying to figure out where your dreams were. It seems that she finally figured it out and let herself in.”

“She better not make this a common thing. If she starts bothering me again, I’m going to Celestia.”

“Do you really think Celestia will do anything to stop her sister?”

“No, but I would rather tell her anyway, just in case. Who knows? Maybe she’ll decide that I need some fairness.”

“Unlikely, but it’s cute that you think so.” I felt her body begin to warm up, the cocoon surrounding me heating my weary body. “I can protect you from Luna’s nightly intrusions, at least. The more she tries to attack, the more I will learn her methods and be able to stop her. If she continues, I might well be able to learn how she invades in the first place.”

“That’s a tough trade-off. Risk getting raped in my dreams for the possibility of being able to invade the dreams of others.”

“To be quite honest, I don’t think she wanted to do anything to you.”

“Should I let her in?”

“No. Do you let the wolf in the sheep’s pen if he promises to behave?”

“If I have a rifle against his head, I’d consider it.”

“Then it’s a good thing you were never a shepherd. You kill wolves on sight, Navarone. Except for Freki, I suppose.”

“For being a peaceful and loving water elemental, you’re very violent.”

“Maybe you rubbed off on me, then.”

“No, I just rubbed off in you. Speaking of which…”

“Ugh. No. I will not risk your health, not if the simple act of dealing with Luna put you on the ground. Just lie back and relax. Let me serenade you with something beautiful…” I sighed and did as she asked, letting her begin to sing as I slowly used clouds to cover the message Luna left me.


I woke up feeling stiff and sore, a dull pain slowly stretching across my chest. I tried moving both of my arms to clutch at it, but only one of them moved. I turned my head to the other arm, finding Taya clutching it as she slept. I really wanted to comment on how adorable that was, but I was in the middle of being in pain, so I abstained.

Instead I looked around for any way to call for a nurse or something. After some time of semi-frantically searching, I gave up. Flo, can you help me out here?

“I’m already doing everything I can. I could probably pull you back into your center if I absolutely needed to. It would slow your healing, though. Just relax and try to drift off again, if you can.”

I began trying to take deep breaths, hoping I could zone the pain out. However, you can’t zone out the pain of having a large hole in your chest. When the door finally opened, I was clutching at my chest and on the urge of waking Taya up to get me help.

The heavyset pony rushed to my bed and I looked up to see Luna’s horn lighting up. A moment later, a cooling sensation rushed into my chest, quickly dimming the pain. I slowly sighed, letting my hand fall away from my chest. “Thank you,” I whispered, closing my eyes and slowly relaxing again.

“You are hard to find alone, Navarone,” she just as quietly said, looking down at the sleeping form of Taya. Her gaze slowly moved to me and she continued, “Why did you not let me in?”

“My mind is my own. You and your sister have destroyed my body, my temple, but I will never allow you to break my mind. There are fates worse than death, and I promise that you will find yourself in one if you make another attempt to enter my mind without permission.”

“I see.” She didn’t sound very convinced. Her horn lit up and a flickering of magic surrounded Taya’s ears. Luna’s voice picked up in volume as she said, “I suppose it was impolite. I apologize, Navarone. Now, how do you feel?”

“Like I lost in a fight with an Aztec. Whatever that asshole did to me, I’m down and out. Probably will be for a while, too. Any spike in my heart rate and my vision starts darkening and I lose all my energy.”

“I can assign a caretaker and a regent for you and your land.”

“Pass. I’ll have Doppel, the naga, Cadance, and Taya. I think I can manage. I’ll be bedridden for a few weeks, but I can still make decisions.”

“Are you certain? I can—”

“I’m quite certain, thank you.”

“…Alright.” There was a silence that built up for a few seconds before she said, “So Bloodbeak and his daughter are still in Equestria. I believe they wanted to visit you before they left.”

“I know. Celestia told me. They’re both always welcome at my house, and since I’ll be going home today they can find me there.”

She jerked slightly, surprised. “You’re going back so soon? I thought they were doing more experiments!”

“Nope, or at least not according to Celestia. She said I’d be heading home today. Bedridden, of course, but I’d rather be in my own awesome bed than this one. I’d also rather be served by a changeling in a sexy nurse outfit than some random stallion.”

“It would probably be a great help to the doctors and unicorns here if you stayed. I could arrange a change in your bed and your nurse.”

I’m pretty sure she really wanted me to stay close enough to Canterlot that she could get away with visiting me. I was slightly tempted to take her up on her offer for the sole reason that I would have a constant visitor. But since I knew that at home I would have a few friends, Taya, and everyone else in my house, there was really no competition.

“I’d rather be home. If they want to do tests or whatever, they can do them from there. Being in a hospital is detrimental to my health.”

“That doesn’t even make sense, Nav.”

“My mental health, not my physical health. And it isn’t doing Taya any favors, either. She doesn’t like seeing me like this, and if I’m at home, it’ll help her forget that I’m on death’s edge.”

“I see. If there’s anything I can do to help you get better, just let me know.”

“I will. Before you go, there is one thing I’m wondering. I’m attuned to the dream device as well, correct?” She nodded. “Is it possible for me to learn to dreamwalk?”

Her eyes lit up and she quickly nodded again. “I can teach you! We can begin tonight, when you’re put to sleep!”

I quickly shook my head. “Dealing with your attempts to break in last night almost killed me, or at least made me lose control. I can’t do a thing right now. Another question: How did you even find my dreams? I thought that device was attuned to ponies only.”

“It is, in a way. But since you helped me break it in, it is also set up for humans. However, your mind is… vastly different from that of a pony’s. It took me months to figure out how to get inside. I was going to wait for the first day of fall to show you, but I figured this would be better.”

Yeah, that didn’t work out well for her. “Interesting. I trust you won’t make the same mistake again.”

She sighed, looking down for a moment. “Would it kill you to let me in, just once? Your mind and dreams are so interesting, Nav. The surface is a field of chaotic lava, a stream of wasps tearing my body to shreds as I tried to make sense of it. The deeper I got, the more insane and nonsensical things became… until I hit the center. I want to know how a center of serene calm that would put even my sister’s dreams to shame can exist in the mind of something so chaotic.”

“The eye of the storm,” I whispered, clenching my hand tightly. “When there is so little in your life that you can control, you feel your fist tightening around what little you have left until you own it so thoroughly that nothing can ever break in. That is my mind and I very much suggest you not touch it again.”

“As you wish… Do you think you will be healthy by Nightmare Night?”

“I honestly don’t know, Luna. I’ve never been this bad before, not without a way to fix me up. I’d say that I’ll probably be bedridden for another week, aside from short jaunts. After that, I’ll probably be on light duty for a few weeks, not doing much. I should be fine by then, yes, but honestly I don’t know. Those times are just estimates. For all I know, I’ll be out of things for months.” I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to months. I had too much shit to do to prepare for that.

“Hm…” Her eyes went back to Taya. More specifically, her cutie mark. “Navarone, I believe you know that Twilight Sparkle is my sister’s personal student.” Her eyes went back to mine. “I, too, can take a personal student.”

“The answer is no.”

“It’s not your choice to make. It is hers.”

“And her answer would be no.”

“I will ask her personally, thank you.” Before I could say anything, her horn lit up and her eyes went grey. Taya twitched in her sleep, clutching tighter at my arm. I used my other hand to gently brush at her hair until she calmed down and Luna returned to her body.

Luna turned around and left my room without a word. I really wish I knew what Taya had said.

A few minutes after Luna left, Taya woke up, stretching and finally letting my arm go. I tried reclaiming it, but she dropped her stretch and latched on again. “Hey, daddy,” she whispered.

“Hello, Taya. I’m going to need my arm back eventually. It’s too handy to let someone else have.”

“I can’t let you do too much, daddy. You need your rest, after all.”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. I am still very capable of doing most everything I need done.”

“Only if I let you.”

“Don’t even joke about that, Taya.”

“Who’s joking? It seems that you can’t take care of yourself and you don’t have much self-preservation, so maybe someone else should take care of you.”

“And I’m sure you’d nominate yourself for the job.”

“Of course.”

“I’ll take your nomination into consideration.”

She shook her head. “Nope. Remember, you can’t take care of yourself. As your only family, it’s up to me to make decisions for you. I accept my nomination as your caretaker, and will begin immediately.”

“I don’t remember ever agreeing to this!”

“It wouldn’t matter if you did or didn’t. Remember, you can’t take care of yourself.”

“Taya, stop it.”

She let my arm go and rolled out of bed. “No. I’m going to take care of you, like it or not.” I reached for my pocket and my ring before I realized I didn’t have it. She lifted a hoof to brush at her mane, grinning as she emphasized that she still had my only salvation. “Now you just lay back and relax, daddy. I already got all the information from the nurses that I need to make sure you get nice and healthy, so we’re just waiting for you to get checked out now.”

I sighed, since there was no way I could deal with her delusional fantasies at the moment. And hell, it’s not like she would force me to do nothing all day. I just let myself ease back and relax, waiting for anything to happen.

It didn’t take nearly as long as I was expecting, thankfully. Some ten minutes later, a nurse walked in. “Ah, you’re both awake. Well, Sir Navarone, are you ready to check out?”

“I’m going to want all of my stuff back first.”

“Everything but your sword and your clothing was already sent home, sir. You will be given your sword as you leave.”

I slowly sat up, stretching and popping various joints as I did so. “Well, help me up. I don’t suppose you have a cane or something I can use?” The nurse’s horn lit up and a wheelchair rolled in from outside. “That also works. I gotta get over there first, though.” Taya’s horn lit up without warning and pulled me out of bed, removing the blanket from me. I tried to stay relaxed, but I really don’t like being handled by magic. When I was seated and the magic dissipated, I sighed. “Warn me next time, Taya. You know I don’t like being held like that.”

“Okay, daddy.”

The nurse walked over behind me and for some reason stood on his hind legs to begin pushing me. “The princess arranged for transportation for you and your daughter. You’ll be going by air, since the magic required for teleporting might be detrimental to your health after what you’ve been through.”

“Whoa, what about putting me to sleep or blocking the pain? Or hell, even Taya moving me?”

“Teleporting requires considerably more magic than any of those, Sir Navarone. You have a large buildup of it in your body at the moment after we tried and failed to heal you, and it needs to dissipate before anything large like teleportation is done to you.” He wheeled me to one of the teleportation circles they have set up in the tower. When the three of us were in the circle, he said, “Hangar.”

My eyes opened wide the instant before we teleported up and out. “Didn’t you just say I couldn’t fucking teleport?” I yelled when we reappeared.

“I forgot that you are unschooled. What we just did was blinking, not teleporting. Relax, Sir Navarone. You’ll be fine.”

I tried to school my heart rate and relax, but I was understandably pissed. I held my silence, though, since I knew complaining at this point would do nothing other than make me look like a dick.

When we got in front of a large door, a unicorn standing to the side of it stepped forward, floating my sword in its sheathe. “This is a remarkable weapon, Sir Navarone,” she said. “It belongs in a place where it can be properly studied.”

“If you want to study a magic weapon that isn’t being used, take the one from the museum, the spear. This sword is mine and is being used.”

The mare’s eyes narrowed slightly. “You’re lucky Princess Celestia agrees with you.” The sword floated over to me and I pulled it out of the air, setting it across my lap. “If it were up to me, that sword and that ring would both be here until we could replicate their effects.”

“That’s nice. Now get out of the way.” She huffed loudly and walked back the way we came without a word. The nurse pushed me through the door into a large hangar room. “She won’t be a problem, will she?” I quietly asked.

“There’s nothing she can do to you without the princess’s consent,” the nurse said, wheeling me toward a carriage with the royal insignia on it. When we stopped outside of it, the nurse walked over in front of me. “Now, I can’t stress this enough: Whatever you do, attempt to stay calm. You may not have a traditional heart anymore, but until you heal, you still don’t want to risk upsetting it more than it already has been. You’ll be bedridden for some time and because of that, you’ll need to be wary of bedsores. Your daughter here has been informed of what they are and how to prevent and deal with them. Apparently you don’t commonly eat that much, but that is going to change until you get better. You need a steady diet to keep up the energy your body needs to heal itself. And listen to your daughter. She knows what to do.”

“Most of that sounds easy.” The part about listening to Taya might be a pain, though. “Now, can you help me into this thing?”

Taya stepped forward, her horn starting to shine. “Up we go, Daddy.” My body lit up with an orange glow and I lifted off the wheelchair, carefully flying into the carriage. She followed me in and sat me down on one of the benches. The door clicked shut behind us and she took a seat, using magic to hold me steady as we began accelerating.

“It’s going to be a long few weeks, isn’t it?” I asked.

She grinned. “Time will just fly by!” I couldn’t help but sigh at that. She giggled, probably thinking I was joking. A week or more with no sex, hardly any moving, and probably minimal social contact did not sound fun to me.

When we got home and Taya got me outside of the carriage, one of the pullers got our attention. “Will you be alright here, sir?” he asked.

Taya turned me back around so I could answer. “Yeah. And thanks for the ride, guys.” They all nodded and the four of them started running again, pulling the carriage up and into the air.

Taya floated me through the gates and into my yard, where the naga and Cadance were waiting for me. Cadance was wearing a bright grin and the naga actually looked rather remorseful. “Welcome home!” Cadance happily said. I imagine she would have rushed forward to hug me if the bandage across my chest wasn’t glaringly obvious. No one had stopped to give me a shirt when I left, so I assumed it was forever lost. Not that it mattered, with two extra holes in it, but still.

“Hello, Cadance, naga. I trust you managed to not destroy anything in my absence?”

“Your house is fine, Nav,” Cadance said. “Doppel is making sure your room is ready right now.”

“Excellent. Naga, what’s wrong?”

He bowed low, arms across his chest in an x. “I failed you, brother. You offered to take me with you and I refused. Because of this, you were nearly murdered.”

“That’s not correct for a lot of reasons, but I know you’re not going to listen to me no matter what I say. So long story short, I forgive you. Now chill out. You have a few weeks off while I get back on my feet. I suggest going back home to visit your family. You haven’t seen them in a while and I’m sure they miss you.”

He shot back up straight. “And neglect my newfound duty of guarding you when you are most weak? Never.”

“Alright, whatever.” I know how arguing with people like him turns out. “Taya, get me inside.” We began moving again. “Cadance, I want you to know that it would be very bad for my health if there was a surprise party waiting inside for me. The shock could kill me.”

“Nopony knows you’re home but us,” she said. “We were waiting to tell anypony else for that very reason.”

“Thank you. Give me some time to get acclimated and then we can see about visitors. Unless Bloodbeak shows up. I’ll want to see him and his daughter whenever they get here.”

“They’re still coming by?” Cadance asked, following us in.

“According to Celestia, yeah. The princess and I have business and Bloodbeak probably just wants to make sure I’m well. Now, I’ll probably be bedridden for a week or two. Cadance, you’re in charge of everything the naga isn’t in charge of. Naga, you’re in charge of everything Cadance isn’t in charge of. I trust you two can sort that out.”

“And I’m in charge of you!” Taya happily said, still floating me ahead of her.

“If thinking that makes you feel happy,” I answered, rolling my eyes. Cadance smirked at that. “Cadance, how do you feel about sexy nurse outfits?”

“If you want to dress Doppel up like that, it’s your prerogative. I would only dress that way for Shiny, thank you.”

“More likely dress him up, I’d say.” That would be somewhat amusing to see and would be great for blackmail material. Especially if I threatened to give a copy of the picture to the night guard.

“What we do is hardly any of your business, Navarone.” Until you invite me to join you again.

When we finally got to my room, Cadance used magic to pull the blankets back from my bed while Taya gently placed me down. I assume it was Doppel that put a mountain of pillows or something so I could sit up and not spend the entire time on my back. As soon as I was down, Cadance opened the blinds and pushed the window open, letting sunlight and fresh air pour in.

“Thank you, both of you. Cadance, Taya never got breakfast. Would you kindly make sure that she eats?”

Taya glared at me for a second before looking to Cadance. “He hasn’t eaten either. The nurse said he can’t miss any more meals. And he also needs more protein, whatever that is.”

“I’ll make you both something,” she said with a cheeky grin. She left before I could say anything, though it’s not like I would stop her. Her cooking is pretty awesome, though I don’t know how well she would do with meat.

So it was just me, the naga, and Taya now. “Taya, go get my laptop. You’ll need the master key.”

“Yes daddy. If you move, you lose your self-feeding privileges.” She left, giving me time to wonder just what the fuck she meant.

“Ames, how much meat do you have stored?”

“Plenty. When I heard you were injured, I had little else to do but hunt.”

“Excellent. I trust you kept the pelts?”

He frowned, not really liking the idea of leather. “I already ‘cured’ them. Your instructions were not that difficult. I still say rope would work just as well.”

“Noted. So you’re not seriously going to go full tribal warrior life-bond on me, are you?”

“If, through one’s inaction, someone else comes to harm, the one that did not act is honor-bound to ensure the injured naga comes to no harm until they are fully well, and longer if the state of injury was as severe as yours.”

“So how long we talking here? Don’t get me wrong, you’re good company, but I’m going to a place where I don’t think a naga will be suited soon.”

“Then well-suited or not, I will be going with you.”

“Well, I can’t say I’m disappointed. You’ll hopefully be useful wherever the road takes us.”

“As do I, Cain.”

I was just about to ask him for some kind of battle story when Taya walked in, my laptop and the charger floating next to her. I didn’t like seeing it handled with magic like that, but since she didn’t really have any other way to hold it, I didn’t say anything. She levitated it over to my bed.

“Now, I need you to promise me you won’t do anything on it that’ll increase your heart rate,” she said in a disturbingly motherly tone.

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” I said, grabbing at the laptop. She jerked it away from me. “Fine. I won’t kill myself with my laptop.”

“That’s better.” She gently set it down on my lap.

“Little hellion,” I muttered, turning the device on. It turned on quickly and my ‘to-do’ list immediately popped up. I moved ‘blackmail the naga into going with me’ to the done list. That was mostly on there as a joke, but it didn’t really matter anymore. Now I just needed a griffin, a pegasus, a trustworthy changeling, and a diamond dog and I would be prepared for anything. I was still planning on asking Gilda. Rainbow Dash went off my list when I found out that she was an Element of whatever. I had no clue where to find a trustworthy changeling, so I would probably use Doppel instead. I’d see what I could do about getting a diamond dog before I left the Europe party, though honestly I couldn’t care less if I didn’t manage to find one.

My list updated, I turned some music on and set the thing aside. “Naga, you are welcome to do whatever you desire. Keep an eye on my window, if you really feel the need to protect me. If you see anything sneaking in, do something about it.”

“Of course, brother.” He bowed his head for a moment before leaving. I reached over and made a note on my laptop to ask him why he kept calling me brother.

Then I leaned back, wondering just what the fuck I was supposed to do. “Taya, you ever heard of chess?”

“What’s chess?”

 I grinned, finally having an idea of how to spend at least some of my time.


By the time the griffins came by, I had already sent Doppel into town to make an order with a carpenter for a chessboard and some pieces. I was actually somewhat happy she wasn’t back when they got here, because I didn’t want needless conflict that I couldn’t get up and stop with threats. I believe I had the issue settled, but you don’t live as long as I have in my business by taking unnecessary risks.

“Ah, it is good to see you awake, Navarone,” Bloodbeak said, entering my room. I had been warned of his arrival, so I had the laptop away.

“It’s good to be awake. That was a closer call than I like dealing with.”

“And dishonorable,” he said, stepping in further to let his daughter enter as well. “I trust your wound is well?”

“About as well as something can be when it’s caused by a magic that not even Celestia can circumvent. It’s going to be a long and boring few weeks.”

He grinned at that. “I have a solution of sorts. My daughter is interested in staying in Equestria for a little while longer. It would put my old heart at ease if you would allow her to stay here.”

“You’re welcome here, Gilda. Don’t expect a princess’s treatment, though. I would offer to show you to a guest room, but I’m somewhat indisposed. Taya, would you kindly show her to an empty room?”

She sighed. “Yes, daddy…” I don’t think she wanted to leave me at all, but I figured Bloodbeak would have words for me in private. Taya led Gilda away.

Bloodbeak turned his dangerous and calculating eyes to me. “This is my daughter, Navarone. Not some trumped-up noble’s daughter. If you take her to bed, it better be on your honeymoon with her.”

“You don’t need to worry about me. If I even tried having sex right now, I’d probably have a heart attack. Trust me, your daughter is safe from me.”

“And your maid, I trust?”

“Doppel is harmless. But if you want, I can order her not to seduce your daughter.” He didn’t seem at all amused by that. “She’ll be fine. I’m sure she’ll get bored of me soon enough, since I can’t do anything but lie here in bed.”

“I hope not, for both of your sakes. You need something more to tie you to this world and she needs an anchor from her lofty goals.”

“Taya is more than enough to tie me here, I do believe. That and these horrid wings.”

“Obviously not, if you are as suicidal to turn your back on an enemy. I don’t mean that you need to be tied to Equestria. I mean that you need to be tied to life. Maybe it is a melancholy old man speaking, but it seems to me that you are less than enthused with the life you have built for yourself. Maybe something like a romantic partner—a loving partner, not someone just for sex—would give you a more positive outlook on life.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He’s right about at least one thing: I really need a more positive view on life. I didn’t know if getting a girlfriend would help with that, but I figured I would find out when I bumped into Kumani again.

“I will admit, it may not be as true for humans as it is for griffins; your mind works very differently from ours, after all. But I know I was much happier when my Helga was around.” Oh boy, here we go.

Thankfully, our daughters came back in before things could get depressing. “The room is just fine, father,” Gilda said.

“Excellent. I trust you will represent us well. Mind your manners and make sure not to disturb Sir Navarone too much as he heals.”

“Of course, father. Now, I believe you should let Navarone get some rest.”

Bloodbeak grinned. “If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were trying to get rid of me. I do hope you aren’t trying to seduce poor Navarone. But you are correct, and I do need to leave anyway. I may not make every decision anymore, but my place is still at my throne. I bid you a hasty recovery and a good farewell, Navarone.”

“Have a safe journey, Bloodbeak. And thanks for visiting. You’re always welcome here.”

He lowered his head for a moment in a gesture of respect before hugging his daughter. I could hear them whispering, but I have no clue what they were saying. He let her go and left soon enough, anyway.

I waited until I could no longer hear his talons clicking on the floor before nodding at Taya. “Close the door and lock it, please.” Her horn lit up and the door slid shut. I pulled the laptop from where it was hidden. “Simply put, Gilda, all of the plans and schematics you so dearly want are right here on this device. There is one problem: It is all written in a language that only I know.”

“Then you’ll be teaching me this language?”

“I have no idea how to go about teaching a language that’s been dead for who knows how long. No, I’ll be translating. Unless…” I looked down to Taya. “Do you think you could get Twilight to teach you the translation spell?” That would have made dealing with those artists a lot easier, that’s for sure.

She nodded. “I probably could. But… she’s been asking me a lot more questions about you recently. About things you have and about your world. She would probably get pretty curious if I asked her to teach me that spell. With you unable to stop her… Well, she might be curious enough to go snooping.”

“So I’ll give the naga the order to kill any intruders on sight. Get her to teach you the damn spell. When you do so, mention that the naga is getting very protective and that bad things might happen to anyone that tries breaking in. Until you have it, I can begin putting together a list of things you’ll need, Gilda. What kind of devices do you want to build?”



“Figures… Communication, then. Letters are slow.”

“Radio, then. I’ll add telephones as well, though that’ll probably come later.” I opened the laptop up again, letting the music cut back on. Gilda flinched back as the laptop serenaded us with some old Dream Theater stuff. When I saw her discomfort, I paused it. “Don’t like the sax? Damn Viking cat-birds…” I loaded up something that I was hoping would be more to her liking from a band called Damnation Angels. “You and your people seem in tune with the warrior’s way.”

“It sounds… better. I don’t know if I like your choice in music, Navarone,” she slowly said.

“Meh.” I started going through my folders, looking for things that would fit what she wanted. It didn’t take long for me to find the basic plans. “Alright, I have something here you could probably make with what you have. It would be basic, but once you understand the concepts behind it, improving on it is easy. Especially when you have the plans to do so. Beyond communication, what do you want?”

“Let’s see… We don’t really need transportation with our wings. No weapons… How about construction? Sturdier building materials?”

“I know the ponies have steel and cement. I assume you guys have that?”

“We use steel for tools. We don’t usually build things with it, though. Outside contractors built Gryphus. Griffins… We don’t build much.”

I lifted an eyebrow and added cement and building design to the list of things to give her. “Medicine?”

“Pony healers are expensive, but medicine is not really what I came here for.”

“Do you want ways to help your people or what? Even if you don’t want that information, you can give it to someone who does.”

“Fine, whatever. But I’ll take it last.”

I added medicine to the list. I also added electricity, because I should have thought of it sooner. I pointed at my ceiling light. “What do you think powers that?”


“Wrong. Electricity, a human invention. I’ll add that to the list, making and generating electricity. I’ll also add light bulbs and shit. Heh, might as well add heaters. How good are you guys at farming?”

She gave me a dull look. “Navarone, none of this is really what I came here for. I want something big, something like that device you’re on right now. How do I make that?”

“You don’t have the tools needed to make the tools you would need to even repair this thing, let alone make one of your own. For something like revolutionizing your people, you have to start slow. You need the building blocks of industry before you can start making the special stuff like this. Electricity is the number one thing you’ll need. With that, you’ll be able to kick start factories that can make products to make other products that’ll let you start finding the materials and yada yada. Basically, you aren’t anywhere near the level required for this. I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t before you died of old age. But I can put you on the right path, which is what I’m doing.” I added lighters and central heating to the list, because I remember it being really cold in the castle.

“So what you’re saying is that I’ll never see the fruit of my labor.”

“What I’m saying is that you have to start somewhere. Given that Celestia and Chrysalis both have some information as well—incomplete, thankfully—you’ll need whatever you can get if you want to stay ahead. If you don’t want what I can give you, I’ll go to the cats or dogs instead. I have contacts in both kingdoms.”

“I was not aware that you had given this information to anyone else.”

“I haven’t. I gave them other stuff, incomplete things. This is raw and complete data, uncorrupted by faulty memories. Despite their head start, with some of this, you can probably stay about even with them.” I shrugged, leaning back. “It’s up to you. Either way, you’re probably going to have to learn a lot of math and you probably won’t be able to get started easily until whenever Taya gets the translation spell. So are you in, or are you out?”

“I’m in. I refuse to get left behind by both the changelings and the ponies. It is disappointing that I will probably not live to see my griffins come out on top, but such is the way of things.”

“Excellent. Taya, when is the earliest you can learn that spell from… Actually… I bet Rarity learned it to cast on herself. She already knows I have the laptop. When is the earliest you can go to learn the spell from Rarity?”

“Whenever she can come here to teach me. I’m not leaving you, daddy.”

Gilda smirked. “Admirable. You said you had another princess living here. Would she not know the spell?”

“I don’t know. Cadance isn’t very useful once you go beyond the realm of being a housewife. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to ask. If she doesn’t know it and Rarity doesn’t know it, just tell Twilight that you want to learn the spell for our trip, just in case.”

She nodded. “I can do that.”

Gilda snorted. “You should not teach hatchlings to lie to their elders, Navarone. It inspires the growth of further bad habits.”

“Meh. Let’s see, what else can I give you guys… Like I said before, what about farming? One of the most important parts about keeping a country stable is having a food source. If you guys rely on hunting, about half of your population will have to be constantly hunting. The time industry in my world truly kicked off was only after farming became much easier and workers from farms could migrate to the cities, where most of the factories were. So no, farming isn’t what you came here for, but without good farming, you won’t have enough workers to make what you want to make. With that comes a number of historical pitfalls I’ll have to warn you about when we get to it.”

“I don’t like pitfalls, Navarone.”

“Then you’re barking up the wrong tree for technology. Humanity had so, so many failures. We are an imperfect race. With every new invention came hundreds of problems. Some got fixed, some didn’t. I have a feeling that the very same thing would happen to your people if they follow in our footsteps. The only thing I can do is warn you as best I can about what those problems will be and how we mitigated them. And even then, I’m imperfect; I may miss things or forget them. It’s the risk you take.”

She sighed. “This is coming with more caveats than I’m used to. Nothing in life is ever easy, it seems.”

“Damn right. I’ll add farming to the list. Your people might be hunters and gatherers naturally and some may resist the change to the new ways—but who’s to say they’re right or wrong? I’m not going to bother adding philosophy to the list.” I have to admit, it feels strange to be industrializing the world. It brought about a few moral problems that I didn’t really like thinking about. Am I doing the right thing? Should I force this world into the future and risk driving them along the failed path of humanity?

Flo answered, “You can only do what you think is right, Navarone. Humanity only failed because of this Discord thing. There is no telling what the future might bring for this world or what it might have brought for humanity.”

“Well… I think that’s enough for now. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to add shit like math and physics on here, though.”

“I always did enjoy mathematics,” she mused, a talon going to her beak as she mused. “Though I don’t see why I would need to learn more of what I already know.”

“Because honey, you ain’t scratched the surface of what you can do with math. Unless whatever you guys have is more advanced than what the ponies have, there is stuff here that’ll blow your mind. Now, I can’t teach you math. I forgot most of what I learned, after all. But I figure there will be things on here that can help you learn.”

“Now you’re making me excited! You better be able to actually deliver, Nav. I’d hate to be so disappointed.”

“And as ever, I’d hate to disappoint a beautiful lady. Any other information you want?”

Her tail twitched at ‘beautiful.’ “I’d prefer you not say that. My father may think you wish to court me, but I believe we both know that isn’t the case. But we’ll see what more knowledge I want when I have what you’ve offered.”

“Alright. Taya, go on and ask Cadance if she knows the spell. If she does, cool. If not, well, it wouldn’t hurt Gilda to go exploring the town. If she happens to bump into Rarity, she can ask her to come on by. Even if she doesn’t know the spell, it wouldn’t hurt to get some actual sleeping clothes since I’ll be bedridden anyway.”

“Okay, daddy. You better not try to go anywhere.”

“I don’t think I can even stand up.” She barely waited for a response before opening the door and trotting out.

“I am unused to being ordered around, Navarone,” Gilda said, clicking her talons on the floor.

“I told you not to expect to be treated like a princess. And I wouldn’t tell Rarity that you’re a princess, either. That might not end well.”

“Is she dangerous?”

“No. She likes fashion and if you aren’t dressed like she thinks a princess should be, there’s a good chance you won’t leave her boutique until you are. She also likes gossiping, which wouldn’t end well.”

“I don’t see what the problem is if everyone here knows that I’m here. I have no enemies.”

“Yes, but it wouldn’t be much of a leap for Rarity to assume why you’re here. Do you want everyone and their mother to think we’re an item?”

“Not particularly. Very well, Navarone. I shall hold my silence. But if she does ask why I’m here, what should I say?”

“Tell her that you’re a friend of the other Gilda here to visit. That’ll probably be enough to get her to leave you alone. If not, threaten to spank her.”

“…Why would that ever seem like a good idea?”

“She’s afraid of violence and pain. Hopefully it won’t be a problem.”

Taya reentered my room at that moment. “She doesn’t know the spell.”

“Well fuck. Guess you’re going into town, Gilda.”

“Very well. It shall be interesting to see how normal ponies behave in their towns. I’m used to a princess’s welcome wherever I go.”

“I’m sure that must be so tiring. The building you’re looking for is called Carousel Boutique. It’s the most gaudy and hideous building in town, so you shouldn’t miss it if you’re flying over it.”

“Your descriptions are awe-inspiring, Navarone. I’m sure if I somehow miss it, I can get directions from a local.”

“Good luck. Come back whenever. And be very sure to tell Rarity that I do not want any more visitors right now. Make sure that she knows it could be detrimental to my health. For the love of God, if Pinkie gets in here, she could very well kill me.”

“I will ensure she is careful, then. You are too useful to me to let you die so soon.”

“Your concern is touching. I’ll see you when you get back. And for reference, Cadance usually makes us eat dinner around seven.”

“I’ll be back when I get back, then. Rest easy, Navarone.”

And then there was just me and Taya. “So… How have things been with your friends?”


“Come on, give me more than that. Unless you want to just stand there while I mess around on the computer, we’re going to have to find something to talk about.”

“Why aren’t you dating someone?”

I blinked, not expecting that. “Well, we’re leaving soon. I would hate to get in a relationship with someone that I’m just going to abandon. And I wouldn’t want to ask anyone else to come with us, because I don’t want anyone to be forced to choose between their old life and their possible new, terrible life.”

She quietly said, “Did you just call yourself a terrible person?”

“Uh, no? Life on the move just isn’t for everyone. Most ponies here would probably call it terrible.”

“Uh huh. I’ll let you get away with it this time, daddy.”

“You’re such a kind, merciful daughter. Another reason I’m not dating anyone is that I already promised to give someone else a chance the next time I see her. I hope you like dragons.”

“Spike’s okay. Kinda annoying, though… Are you sure a relationship with a dragon is really a good idea? Aren’t they… kinda possessive?”

“Yeah. I’ll admit that it does worry me. She already showed some signs of it when I last saw her. But it shouldn’t be so bad, I hope.”

She shrugged. “Your life.”

“But your life is connected to mine. Your opinion matters to me, Taya. Say you were in my shoes. What would you do?”

“Get Fluttershy to go on a date with me.”

“Alright. If things don’t work out with my dragon or I don’t find anyone else that’s right for me on our trip, I’ll ask Fluttershy out. My word as a father.”

“I’ll remember that, daddy.”

“And that doesn’t mean you get to sabotage any relationships I have in hopes that I get with Fluttershy. Don’t get me wrong: I like her, but she has a lot of emotional baggage and mental problems that would take a lot of effort to deal with. And I would have to put up with all those damn animals.”

“Some things in life are worth it.”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. So, your friends?”

She sighed and began telling me some of the things she had been up to. She even admitted to enjoying a few things despite herself.

Of course, that led into her asking me what else she could try doing with her friends. I had to tell her a few of the things I did with my friends before I stopped having any.

By the time I finished with my few tales, we heard a gentle tap on the door. It opened a moment later, Doppel poking her head in. “Hello, master. You have a visitor. Rarity.”

“Let her on in.” Doppel pushed the door open wider. Freki trotted in first, followed quickly by Rarity. I think the wolf was about to jump up on my bed, but took a look at Taya and decided against it, instead standing at the foot of the bed.

Rarity, on the other hand, rushed over to my bedside instantly. “Oh Nav, I heard all about it!” I opened my mouth to say something, but she jammed her hoof in my face. “No, no, don’t waste your weary breath on me. I know how horrible it must have been, being accosted by that brute, Blueblood. I can’t believe I ever saw anything in that monster! I just wish—Wait, where’s everypony else?”

Taya gently picked Rarity up with magic and moved her away from me. “We didn’t want them to disturb my daddy,” she answered for me. “He just wanted—”

“And you trust me to relay your condition to everypony else? That’s… surprising, but I am up to the task! Rarity will not let you down, Navarone!”

“Rarity, shut up,” I sighed. She jerked away, taken aback. “You’re the first one we contacted for a few reasons. First, Pinkie could give me a heart attack if she showed up and started doing her Pinkie shit. Second, I need to make a quick order for some soft sleeping clothes, since I’m bedridden for some time. Third, did Twilight ever teach you that translation spell?”

“She did… Why?”

“Taya needs to learn it. Sooner is better than later. When can I expect those clothes?”

“For you, I’ll have them here before night falls. I don’t suppose… would you mind if I brought somepony else with me? Not Pinkie, of course; I’ll make sure she knows full well that you are in a very bad state before bringing her by.”

“Sure. Just make sure you and the other person are fully aware that if my heart rate starts picking up, bad things happen. So no strippers or whores.”

“You need not worry about that from me, Navarone. Ugh. But how are you feeling, really?”

“I feel fine, as of right now. I have some magic in me to kill the pain since the wound can’t be healed. I can’t do much of anything and that’s annoying, but I have Taya, Cadance, Doppel, and the naga if I need anything.”

“And your griffin friend, of course.”

“I’m not stupid enough to ask much from a griffin, even if I am letting her stay here. She’ll be my last resort, trust me. If anyone in town is worried, tell them I’m fine, just that I’m not accepting any visitors until tomorrow.”

“Of course, Nav. Taya dear, step into the hall with me for a moment so I can show you the spell you need. Then I can get out of your father’s mane and let him rest.”

I nodded at Taya, who followed Rarity out into the hall and down a ways. Without Taya’s watchful eye on him, Freki hopped up onto the bed and trundled over to me, collapsing onto his stomach when he was near. I put a hand on his head. I would scratch at his ears, but he’s made of fucking wood. “Don’t worry, Freki. I’m down, but not out. It’ll take more than a sucker stab to keep me down.”

He seemed to smile at that, but it was entirely possible that I was mistaken. Either way, I did take some manner of comfort in it.


Rarity came back around six hours later, accompanied by Fluttershy. My clothes were done and I had my first welcome visitor. Though in hindsight, I’m not certain it was a good idea to bring kind and motherly Fluttershy to the bedside of a wounded friend.

As soon as she stepped inside, she bounded over to my bedside, sticking a hoof to my head. “Too cold,” she declared, forcing my blanket up around me and tucking me in despite my protests. “There, that’s better.” She looked over to Taya and Rarity, grinning sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“Quite alright, dear,” Rarity said. “We understand that it’s in your nature. And really, anything that helps Nav feel more at ease is good.”

“Ahem.” They all looked over at me. “Being manhandled and forced around does not at all make me feel at ease.” Fluttershy blushed at that. “Still, the concern is touching, even though I feel that you would do the same for anyone.”

“Oh, um… Sorry…”

“Chill. Just make sure Taya doesn’t pick up your bad habits. She’s already threatening to torture me. I don’t need her to get any worse.”

Taya huffed. “It’s not torture and it’s not unfair. If you misbehave or do something that might hurt you, I start taking away your right to do things yourself. You’ve already lost your self-washing privileges. Don’t make me start feeding you, too.”

“I just moved to adjust my wings!”

“Yeah, and I saw that grimace you made. You start behaving, we’ll see about giving you privileges back.”

I looked over to Rarity and mouthed, “Help me.”

She giggled. “You’re on your own, Nav. I suggest you behave.” Her horn lit up and one of the packages she had on her back floated over to me. The other floated to Taya. “There you both are! I trust you’ll both be very satisfied.”

“Thank you, Rarity,” I said, patting the package that was resting in my lap (if you know what I mean). “I trust your work is its usual quality, though I didn’t know Taya was ordering anything.”

“It was a special order, Nav. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

“So, um, how are you feeling?” Fluttershy asked.

“Fine, thankfully. I can’t get too excited and stuff like that, but I’m doing alright. I’d be doing a lot better if my caretaker wasn’t being such a Nazi.”

“You’re just about to lose your self-feeding privileges, daddy.”

I just gave Fluttershy a flat stare, a silent beg for help. She cleared her throat and said, “Well, if you need another caretaker, I wouldn’t mind…”

I sighed. I didn’t want ‘another’ caretaker; I wanted a different one. “If you could make sure Taya knew for sure what she was doing, that would be nice.”

“Oh, I can do that!”

“Actually, daddy, it’s just about bath time.” She smirked and continued, “Unless you want Miss Fluttershy to assist me?”

Oh, you bitch. “I was thinking I could let Doppel do that. You’ve been with me all day and I’m sure you need a break.”

“No, no. I’ll do it.”

Fluttershy was very flushed, at this point. Her wings were even starting to twitch. “I-I can help!”

“I wouldn’t mind lending a helping hoof either,” Rarity added, reminding everyone she was there.

“Alright, this shit is getting out of hand. Fluttershy, Rarity, thank you both for visiting. You can tell the others that I’m fine and that they can come by tomorrow—preferably at a decent hour, if they feel like coming by at all.”

Rarity nodded. “Of course, Nav. Come along, Fluttershy. Let’s leave them to their bonding.”

Fluttershy sighed and whispered, “Bye, Nav,” before following Rarity out.

I unwrapped the parcel of clothing Rarity brought me and pulled out my new bedclothes. Surprisingly enough, she actually made them from black satin. “Awesome. I knew there was a reason I hadn’t murdered her yet.” I set the clothing back down to see that Taya had also opened her package and was in the middle of putting on a very light pink nurse outfit. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

Her head poked out of it and she shook it. She finished putting on the costume and the nurse cap. “There. Now, are you ready for your bath?”

My wings twitched involuntarily, not happy with that idea. “I don’t usually take a shower until after dinner.”

“You aren’t taking a shower, daddy. You’re taking a bath.”

“The point remains that I ain’t going nowhere until after dinner, at the earliest.”

“Someone sounds grumpy. When dinner gets here, do you want me to feed you?”

I narrowed my eyes. “I’ve been willing to put up with this so far because you’ve been through a lot. You keep treating me like a child, though, and I’ll make sure you remember that you are one.”

“I’m just trying to make sure you get better, daddy. The nurse said you weren’t supposed to wash yourself since too much movement can tear open the wound. Someone’s gotta do it, and that someone is gonna be me. Doppel and I came to an… understanding. I know how you are when it comes to her. Even being around her could be bad for you.”

God dammit. I at least wanted to see her in a sexy nurse outfit… “Whatever. Just stop treating me like a child, like I’m weak. If there’s one thing that pisses me off, that’s it.”

“Well, maybe you need to be reminded what happens when you do something that stupid!”

“I think getting a fucking hole in my chest is enough of a reminder.” My hand unconsciously went to my chest as I continued, “Any more of a reminder just pisses me off.”

The somewhat angry look on her face was immediately replaced by concern as she saw me rubbing at my wound. Her horn lit up and the pillows behind me disappeared as I was lowered onto the bed. “Shhh. Relax, daddy.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, slowly letting it out. Is it really so easy to get my heart rate up? For some reason, Flo decided not to answer that.

“I’ll be back with supper, daddy,” she said, turning my lights off with magic. “Get some rest.”

I sighed into the darkness as my door clicked shut. I could hear the wolf padding around the room and I could see his eyes glowing in the corner of my eye. “I hate this feeling of helplessness,” I said to no one.

“You of all people should know that you’re not helpless, Nav,” Flo said. “You’re just in a rough spot. You’ll be good as new in a few weeks. Just give yourself some time to get well.”

“Yeah… But you know what it’s like, Flo. Being a voice in the dark, only able to talk as someone acts for you. Surely you don’t like it either.”

“Oh, I don’t. And it does get annoying, watching you make so many obvious mistakes even after I warn you about them. Still, it is a rich and rewarding experience, at times. Being helpless puts you in a unique position to learn. And you always keep saying you need to spend more time with Taya. Now you are dependent upon her. You have nothing to lose. Think of it not as you being helpless, but rather as an opportunity to spend more time with her.”

“I’m already trying to do that. She isn’t making it easy.”

“Either way, like it or not, you need to avoid getting angry. I know you think it’s emasculating to be bathed by your daughter, but she is correct: moving too much could tear open your wounds. Especially if the stitches get wet. I’m sure she knows enough about anatomy to make sure she doesn’t do anything she shouldn’t. And you know that Doppel would; that’s the only reason you want her to do it.”

“So I’m a man. Sue me.”

“An incorrigible one. At least promise me that you’ll make an attempt to behave for your daughter.”

I sighed and nodded. “I can try. My success depends on her, though. She starts getting insufferable, my bad mood starts coming back.”

“You don’t need to tell me this, Nav. After all, I know you better than anyone.”

I wanted to answer that, but the door opened up and Taya walked in, carrying a tray of food. The light clicked on as she walked up to my bed. “Cadance was almost finished when I left. Are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah.” I wanted to sit up, but I didn’t dare move too much where she could see me. After a moment, I felt her magic wrap around me and pull me up into a sitting position. I hated it, but I couldn’t really do anything to stop her. She sat the tray on my lap and let it go, watching me. “I trust that you’re going to eat as well?” I said, not touching anything in front of me.

“I will after you do.”

Fuck it. I started eating. It was like that situation where I was a baby: I have the option of hating it and I have the option of possibly having fun. Why spend weeks hating everything?


However, that bath was probably the most awkward thing I have ever done. Having to explain to Taya why she needed to be gentle with my wings and a few other areas was not enjoyable.


Sometime during the middle of the night, Flo warned me that I was not alone in my room. This warning was accompanied by the low growling of an angry timberwolf, and Flo gave me a jolt to wake me up.

I immediately reached over to where I had Taya leave my rifle before I noticed who my guest was. “…Is that you, Watcher?”

“In the flesh,” he confirmed, casting wary eyes at my pet. “I request that you call your hound off, sir.”

“Freki, heel. Watcher, why the hell are you in my house?”

“Multiple reasons. The first, to give you a ‘get well soon’ from the night guard. We failed you and your family, and many of us feel obligated to make it up to you somehow.”

“Well, there’s really not much of anything that I can think I’d need from a bunch of soldiers.”

“You are going on a trip soon. A long, possibly dangerous one. You have a small crew of battle unicorns. I’m offering you a squad of hardened guards, quite used to dealing with strange circumstances.”

“What makes you think I’m going anywhere?”

“The fact that you hired an airship. Don’t worry; as far as I know, Luna doesn’t know. I can’t say the same about Celestia. Now, I don’t mean to assume too much, but an individual like yourself doesn’t usually spend enough money to outfit a boat with plated armor and supplies that will allow it to survive in the worst of places. You’re going somewhere, and we want to help make sure you come back.”

“When I leave on that boat, I want everyone on it to be loyal to me. Not Luna, not Celestia, not any other king or queen. You’re smart, you did your homework. Yes, I’m going somewhere. Yes, I need some people who are experienced in fighting. But until you’re ready to drop whatever loyalty you have to Luna and give it to me instead, I don’t need or want you on my boat.”

“I’ll talk to my troops. Your boat isn’t even halfway finished yet, so they’ll have some time to decide. Most of my squad has nothing tying them down, though, and would be happy to have a job where they actually get to work instead of being stuck on guard duty.”

“Give me an answer before winter is halfway over. Make sure everyone you bring can at the very least tolerate the other races, because there will be plenty more.”

“Intolerance doesn’t survive long in the guard, but very well.”

“Now, you said you were here for multiple reasons. What were the others?”

“The first is an offer for your daughter to consider. I know she is being taught by Celestia’s apprentice, who is I’m sure skilled in all manner of spells, even the combat ones. However, I can send a battle unicorn here that will double as a protector for you and a teacher for her. I’m sure now that you are injured, your daughter doesn’t want to leave the house much. This way, she wouldn’t have to.”

“I’ll give her the option in the morning. If she says yes, how do I contact you?”

“Put a yellow flag on the wall of this house. The unicorn will be here the next morning.”

“Strange, but okay. Anything else?”

“A warning. Things are moving, Navarone. We can see the signs and I’m slowly building a picture of events over time, but no one knows what everything is pointing to. But things are definitely moving, and this event just proved that you are a major player, like it or not. Heal quickly, for I fear you will need your strength in the coming months and years.”

“…Okay? Can you be more specific?”

“Sadly, no. My contacts are coming up dry and I’m running blind.”

“I… have someone you could try talking to, but you have to swear to tell nothing to the princesses until you come back to me.”

“I’m listening.”

“There’s a dragon in some caves in the Everfree by the name of Reginald. He’s an old friend of Luna’s. Ask him about Discord.”

“Strife? Fighting amongst ponies?”

I shook my head. “No, Discord as in a name. Reginald can explain better than I can. Tell him Navarone sent you.”

“I’ll look into that… It wouldn’t be the strangest tip I’ve responded to. We will speak again, Navarone. For now, you need your rest. Sleep once more.” His horn lit up and I was out.

The next day found me, Gilda, and Taya around a computer, trying to make sense of something math related.

“Look,” Gilda said, getting tired of this shit, “didn’t you say you could show me presentations or something? Like I was being taught?”

“Yeah, I did say that. But I don’t know how to fucking do it. If you’d just give me five minutes, I could figure it out. If you’ll recall, you just fucking barged in here and started demanding shit.”

“Bah! I’ll be back in half an hour, then. Have your device ready to teach me when I get back.”

I muttered darkly as she barged her way right back out. “She keeps giving me lip, I’ll send her ass home,” I said when she was hopefully out of earshot.

“You could just send her home anyway,” Taya said. “Something feels wrong about her.”

“Meh.” I started fiddling around with the settings, looking for whatever the tech guy did back in the bunker when he showed me the map. I knew this thing had some kind of projector on it, I just didn’t know how to work it. After about ten minutes of fucking around, I finally figured it out. “There. That better be good enough for her. If not, I don’t fucking care.”

Someone knocked on the door and I grunted, shutting the laptop and turning off the projector. “Yeah?” I called.

Doppel pushed the door open. “Spike is here to see you.”

“Really? Let him on in.” I slid the laptop under the covers so he wouldn’t see it. Doppel stepped aside and let Spike in. “Sup, man?”

“A lot. I’m going with you.”

“That will be all, Doppel. Thank you for bringing him up.”

She lifted what should be an eyebrow in surprise. “…Okay, master.” She slowly left, pulling the door shut behind her.

“Taya, would you kindly blockade the door?” Her horn lit up and a glow infused the door. “Alright, Spike. So you want in. Are. You. Sure?”


I grinned. “Well alright then. Open my closet and reach around to the left.” He blinked in surprise before going and doing so. He started giggling as he pulled out my old falchion. “If you’re going with me, you aren’t going to be useless. Taya, pull that metal bowl down from the top there.” Her horn lit up and my naga shield lifted down where Spike could take it. “There is your sword and there is a shield, if you can lift it. So here’s the deal: You learn from the naga how to fight. You leave that sword and that shield here, since if Twilight finds out what you’re doing, she’ll probably freak out. Still interested?”

He grinned, showing off his set of dragon chompers. “Even more than I was before. I thought you’d have me cooking for everypony or something.”

“Hey, if you’re the best cook on the ship, I won’t say no. So whenever you get some free time, come here and ask the naga to help train you. Tell him that I said it was okay. And as soon as I get better, I’ll introduce you to a dragon that’s older than Celestia and Luna. Hopefully, he’ll be able to answer any of your questions.”

His mouth dropped. After a second or two, he said, “Y-you’d do that?”

“Uh, yeah? The only reason I haven’t done it sooner is because honestly, I didn’t think about it. Now that I have, it’s a no-brainer. Just once again, don’t tell Twilight any of this.”

“Dude, you are probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had.”

“Then you’ve had some shitty friends. I’ll see what I can do about upgrading your arsenal after we talk to Reginald. Until then, practice with what you have. I have no clue where the naga is, but he’s probably somewhere around here. If you have time now, feel free to talk to him.”

He looked down to the sword and shield in his hands before looking back up, a massive grin on his face. “I will. Thanks for everything, Nav. I would hug you, but… Well, I don’t want to risk hurting you.”

“No problem. Now go on. If Gilda tries getting in here with the door blocked, she might get pissed.”

“Of course.” The glow around the door disappeared and Spike quickly left, saying, “I won’t forget this!” happily as he started navigating my halls.

Gilda walked in a few seconds later, looking behind her. “What was that about?” she asked.

“Just a friend of mine. I got the projector working.” I pulled the laptop out again and set it up. “This is probably going to take a good long while, so let’s get started now, shall we?”

“With pleasure.” I pressed the play button and let the laptop project onto the wall across from my bed. It didn’t take her long to get absorbed into the lesson about whatever the fuck the guy on the screen was talking about.

I gestured Taya close and whispered, “I have a proposition. I can get a unicorn here from the royal guard to teach you all kinds of combat magic. He’ll be coming here, so you don’t have to worry about leaving me to go learn. He’d also probably know more about combat shit than Twilight would. Are you interested?”

“Yes. Very, very interested. When can he begin?”

“Go find a yellow scrap of cloth and affix it to the wall. If you do that, he’ll be here tomorrow. Just know that I’m expecting you to be on your best behavior.”

“Of course, daddy. When do I ever misbehave?”

“Yeah. Right. Go find something yellow and put it on the wall. Get back here soon; I don’t know how long I can last with Gilda.”

Her grin spread from ear to ear. “I’ll be right back!” Her horn lit up and she teleported away.

Why do I have a feeling I just did two things that might have been a bad idea?

Flo giggled. “Only time will tell…”



A note from the Element of Chaos


I have to say, I was not expecting the outcome. Blueblood had one job, a job that honestly wasn’t that hard: Goad Navarone into a fight and make him strike the first blow. Of course, at that point, Blueblood would die, but that’s hardly important.

I massaged at my temples, wondering why I keep getting idiots to do my most important jobs.

Now, don’t get me wrong, getting Navarone out of commission for some time is about as much as I was hoping for. However, HE WAS SUPPOSED TO STRIKE FIRST! The best way to make Celestia think that he’s unreliable is to get him to snap and attack someone. Doing that in the middle of a party of esteemed guests that he drugged would be enough to cast doubt on every action of his.

Instead, Taya got a cutie mark and would get the chance to nurse him back to health. I was somewhat tempted to remove the chaotic magic digging its way into Navarone’s heart, but I decided against it. It’s one thing to put it there, but another thing entirely to remove it. Questions would be asked.

Thankfully, Blueblood was weak. The magic should dissipate within a month and what damage wasn’t already healed by then could be finished off with magic.

But still… To make an error like that, to have allowed Blueblood so much free reign… I’m slipping. I’m slipping, and it might cost me the entire gambit. The thought was enough to make me shiver in fear. I don’t like losing, especially when so much is at stake.

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