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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84. Chapter Seventy—War Games Part 1

A week after I got my ridiculous awards and hid the armor so well no one would ever find it, I had a working crossbow thing for the naga.

“So how does this work?” he asked, hefting the large hunk of wood.

“Well, my first pitfall in making it was the almost immediate realization that you don’t have a foot and thus can’t reload it the normal way. After that, I had to figure out how to make it gear operated. That took me a lot longer than I was anticipating. Long story short, turn the thing that looks like it’s supposed to be turned.”

He put a hand on the wheel and turned it back toward him, making the string move accordingly. He continued twisting it until the string locked in place. “And now?” he asked.

I grabbed a very long bolt from the quiver I made for him. “Lock this in place. Odd colored feather goes down.” He did so. “Now, there’s no safety built into this, so don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready to fire. I did put sights on it, but they’re going to be very different for you than they were for me. Aim it like I do with mine and shoot the target.”

He pointed it downrange, aiming more or less at the target.

“Hold the crossbow tighter against your shoulder,” I warned him. “I don’t know how this thing will kick yet.” I did test fire it, but not against my shoulder.

His grip tightened before he fired and completely missed, shattering the bolt against my wall.

“Oh wow. So uh… you probably don’t know how to shoot, do you?”

“Point one end at the enemy and pull the trigger,” he answered, lowering the crossbow.

“There’s more to it than that. A lot more to it than that. Load it up again and I’ll run through it.” He pulled the string back and grabbed a bolt from the case, reloading it. “Alright, lift it up to an aiming position but don’t touch the trigger.” He did. “Now, completely even out your breathing. You’re not in a hurry because the target’s not going anywhere.” I heard and saw him start taking slow breaths. “The point of this is so that you’ll always know how the weapon is going to move. If you start breathing quickly, you might lose it. Now I know from your shooting stance that you’re right-handed. Look down the sights with your right eye.” His body shifted. “The front two sights have a small slot between them. Put the middle dot that’s farther down the crossbow on the middle of the target. My grandfather always told me to keep both eyes open while shooting with iron sights, but fuck that noise. Once you feel you have a good fix for how the crossbow is moving with your breathing, put your finger on the trigger. Wait until you are breathing out to shoot.”

After a few more seconds of aiming, he fired and actually managed to hit the target.

“It’s off by a lot, but it’s a hit,” I said, smiling. “In hindsight, I should have just made you a longbow, but this was more fun. Now reload and try again. Let’s see if you have a grouping or if that was just luck."

“This weapon is strange,” he said as he reloaded. “It takes so little skill to use and yet is just as lethal as a sword. I think I might go so far as to call this one of the most evil weapons ever created.” What are you, the pope?

“Not entirely true. You’re shooting in just about pristine conditions. The crossbow is clean and waxed. There’s not much weather going on. And there’s no noise or exhaustion distracting you. If you try to take your time like that in a battle, you’ll get run through unless you’re well hidden.”

“I would not use this device on a battlefield. This is for hunting, nothing else.” He aimed it again and fired, hitting near where he did the previous time.

“One more shot in that area and I’ll adjust the sights. So why don’t you want to use this in battle?”

“Because this weapon is dishonorable. It is unfair to your opponent to be able to kill them from so far.”

“You’d hate my world, then. When I left, the record kill was a shot over a mile long. Now that takes skill.”

“Hm…” He fired again, putting it in the general area of the other three.

“Alright, close enough. Hand it back.” He passed me the very large and heavy weapon. I set it on the ground and pulled out a small screwdriver. I made some small adjustments to the front sight before handing it back. “See what that does.”

Close enough to center. The next two were as well.

“Alright, good enough,” I said. “Go collect the bolts and we can see about getting you some broadhead bolts for hunting.”

He pulled another one out of his quiver. “I can’t use this?” he asked.

I shook my head. “That’s for target practice. As it is, it would go straight through whatever you’re shooting at and come out the other side, leaving a small hole for them to eventually bleed to death from. Unless you got a headshot or a heart shot, it would take them forever to die. A broadhead bolt will penetrate and then cut up everything in between it and its exit or stopping point.”

He went to go collect his bolts, hopefully pondering the potential damage the weapon I gave him could cause. He got back just as Cadance came out to see what the hell we were doing.

“Oh Celestia, there’s two of them now?” she asked, looking at the crossbow.

“Yep,” I answered. “Hey, lift your wings up. I want to show the naga something.”

“He has a name, you know,” she answered. “Wait, do you?”

“I do,” he said, nodding. “What am I looking at, human?”

Cadance had lifted up both of her wings. I pointed at an area right behind her shoulder, on her side. “This is where you want to aim when you shoot an animal. Right behind the shoulder, so the bolt goes into their chest cavity and destroys all of their important organs.”

Cadance jerked away from me, slamming her wings down. “What’s wrong with you, Nav? Why would you use me for that?!”

“Because you’re shaped like most quadrupeds, duh. That’s pretty much all he’ll be hunting. Hey, where’s your demon spawn?”

“If you mean my sweet and beautiful foal, she’s peacefully sleeping.”

Probably dreaming about choking me to death. “Whatever. Now, I need to go into town to make some special orders with the blacksmith.” Who, by the way, loves me for bringing him so much business. I haven’t had the heart to tell him that he’s making weapons. Maybe one day I’ll bring him a list of the things I’ve killed with the bolt heads he’s made me. “You can continue practicing, if you like. Cadance, I suggest you stay inside; I have paparazzi after me now that might snap a picture or two of you.”

“They don’t usually bother private property,” she said, looking up in the air.

“And if they do,” the naga said, “I will put this new toy to a good use.”

“Don’t fire it toward the town,” I warned. “If you miss, the bolt might land and hurt someone important. Anyway, I’ll be back when I’m back.”

When I landed at the blacksmith’s shop, I couldn’t keep a smile off my face. I had a little bit more to order than just broadheads. I ordered a metal tube with circular etchings inside.

For those of you that don’t know what that means, it was my first step in building a gun.

My second step was flying out to Zecora’s house and picking up some chemicals and ingredients that I had her promise not to reveal to Twilight. Hopefully my order of the rifled tube would be done soonish.

It was. A week later, the naga and I once again stood in my backyard, looking over at a target.

“Now, I don’t know if this’ll explode in my face or not,” I told him. “So I think by all rights you should fire it first.”

He looked down at me. “And in what way does that logic possibly make sense?”

“In the way that I got a little bit drunk before doing this so if I died I wouldn’t care as much.”

“…Hand me the gun.” I did, almost reluctant to pass my shitty little pistol over. He aimed it downrange, slowed his breathing, and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happ—BOOM!

The gun jerked backwards since the naga wasn’t expecting such a bad kick. The bullet slammed into my wall and I heard it ricochet back and fly off to who knows where.

Sometime during all that, the naga’s mouth dropped.

“Well… It works,” I said, loud enough to get over the ringing in my ears.

Cadance burst out of my back door. “What happened?! Is everypony okay?”

“Yeah, we’re good,” I told her. “Just testing an experimental weapon, is all.”

Before she could answer, a blue blur landed in front of us. “What happened?” Dash asked, looking around. “I heard some kind of explosion over here!”

“Nothing much,” I answered. “Just testing something. Shall we try again?” I asked the naga.

His mouth finally closed and he cleared his throat. “That was definitely something. And you say these weapons are common where you come from?”

“Yep. Hand it over so I can reload.”

He did and I started reloading, the two ponies watching with curiosity etched into their faces.

Before I could fire again, a third guest joined us. “Um, is everypony alright?” Fluttershy quietly asked as she landed next to Dash.

“All good here,” I said. “I can’t believe you heard that all the way over there.”

“Hear what?” she asked. “I just felt something fly by right in front of me and found this.” She held up a very flattened lead bullet. “I saw that it came from this way and then saw everypony gathered around here, so I thought I would make sure you were all okay.”

Oooh, that could have been bad. “Alright, I’m not firing this gun next to a stone wall. Or at least, not directly at one. Wait here.”

I flew up and sat on my roof, so that I was aiming down at the target. I adjusted my aim properly, said a quick prayer, and pulled the trigger. After a second, the gun fired.

Fluttershy jumped, screamed, and hid under Dash. The other three flinched. I didn’t hear any ricocheting that time, so I flew back down and checked out the target. “Missed again,” I sighed. “Then again, this pistol is pretty crappily made. It’s more of an emergency backup weapon.”

“What is that?” Dash asked, stepping over Fluttershy to take a better look at it.

“Human weapon,” I answered. “I’ve been wanting to make one for the longest time. It’s not a good weapon and it’ll probably never help me, but it’ll feel good to have just in case.”

“What’s it do?” she asked.

I held up a lead ball. “It uses an explosion to fire this at an insane speed so that when it impacts the target it does a ton of damage.”

“Cool! Can I try?”

I smiled and ruffled her mane. “Silly Dashie, you don’t have fingers! You couldn’t even pull the trigger.”

She glared at me before taking a short second to shake her head, undoing any damage I did to her hair. “Twenty bits says I can do it.”

“No deal. I know you fuckers are good at doing things that shouldn’t make sense. Hold on, let me reload it.” I did so and held it out for her. “No sights on this one. Just aim down the barrel and hope for the best. But do it on my roof.”

“Why up there?” she asked.

“The thing that almost hit Fluttershy was a bullet that he shot from here to the target. The bullet bounced off the wall and flew back all the way to wherever she was. If you shoot down, it’ll have a higher chance of embedding into the ground.” Probably.

“Whatever.” She took the gun and flew up to my roof. She sat down and gripped the gun with her two forelegs and lifted both wings to the trigger. She took a second to aim or whatever before jerking her wings back.

Now, for those of you that have never pulled a trigger on either a gun or a crossbow, jerking the trigger is exactly what you don’t want to do. The gun fired, sending the bullet over my wall and into the forest, where we heard it bouncing around the trees.

Dash fluttered down to us, looking somewhat abashed. “I don’t think I did it right…” she said, looking at the gun.

“Yeah, you aren’t supposed to jerk the trigger. I only had twenty bullets made. Cadance, you want to try it?”

“…No thanks. I’m not really a fighting pony, Nav.” Tell that to the changeling you murdered.

“Fluttershy?”

Her eyes opened wide and she started backing away, shaking her head.

Dash grinned and slapped her on the back with a wing. “Of course she does!” She pushed Fluttershy forward despite her wishes.

“This is her choice,” I said. “If she wants to, she can. If not, she doesn’t have to. Hell, I remember my first few times shooting a gun… Heh, some fucker accidentally shot me. I was so pissed. But yeah, do you want to or not?”

“I don’t!” she hastily assured me. I shrugged and slipped the gun into a pocket.

“In that case, anyone up for a celebratory succession of drinks?” I asked. “Vinyl got me a shipment of alcohol recently. I wouldn’t mind getting trashed.”

Cadance quickly shook her head, probably remembering the last time she got drunk.

“What is alcohol?” the naga asked. “You mentioned drinking before, but I do not know what you meant.”

“It’s stuff that makes you feel and think differently,” I told him.

Dash grinned. “If Fluttershy’s in, I’m in.” I’m not entirely certain that I liked the sound of that, but I’m sure Cadance would step in if Dash goes for the date-rape route.

“Um… I’m not so sure…”

“Come on, Flutters!” Dash said, wrapping a foreleg around her neck. “My first time was loads of fun!” She then added a muttered, “Until I woke up…”

“What was that last part?” Fluttershy asked.

“Nothing,” I answered. “You in or out, Fluttershy? I ain’t wasting my time by getting drunk alone, so either you two join me or I don’t bother.”

“Well… okay.”

“What about you, big guy?” Dash asked the naga.

He looked down at me. “Navarone, is it a good idea?”

I shrugged. “It would be interesting. Might help loosen you up a little. Cadance, you’re in charge. Make sure we don’t do anything that’s too illegal.”

Flo spoke up for the first time in a long time. “Nav, this is going to end poorly.”

Oh, trust me, I know. She just groaned.

 

I started us off light, just a few mugs of the lighter stuff. Having magical organs or whatever meant it took more for me to get drunk, so I was probably about on par with a pony.

Fluttershy had a faint blush after a few rounds. The naga didn’t look like he was being affected at all. Dash had a smile on her face, knowing what was coming. Cadance wasn’t in the room as she was making sure her hell spawn was alright.

It didn’t take long for me to pull out the heavier stuff. Soon enough, Fluttershy was tanked and I was well on my way. The naga’s tail was slowly starting to curl. Dash was just openly smirking at Fluttershy, who was staring at me with a very flushed face.

I don’t remember much after a certain point. I do, however, remember waking up nibbling on Rainbow Dash’s wing. We were both in my bed and neither of us were wearing clothes. We were snuggled up tightly against each other.

“Dash?” I whispered, spitting out some bits of feathers.

Her eyes creaked until she realized she was staring me dead in the face from a very close and personal area. After that, she shot out of bed, her face quickly reddening and her eyes slamming open. “Ohmigoshohmigoshohmigosh did we…?”

I sat up, pressing a hand against my forehead. “I have no clue. I say we pretend this never happened.”

She looked around the room and I took a moment to do so as well. My clothes were strewn about it. A number of blue and white feathers also dotted the floor.

Eventually our gazes met again. “Yeah,” she said, nodding. “I’m okay with that. Just… what the hay happened to Fluttershy, then?”

I shrugged. “I’m sure she’s fine. Now, let’s get something for our heads. I know mine is hurting.”

“Nav, you know Fluttershy! And you live right next to the forest! There’s no telling what the pony could be up to!”

Flo whispered through the pain in my mind, “She’s fine, Nav. And you did not have sex with Rainbow Dash, though when you get something for your head, I will have to tell you something about Fluttershy.”

Well, that’s ominous. “Dash, she’s fine. Trust me. Not even alcohol would make Fluttershy go into that forest without a good reason. And at the very least, you aren’t very useful to her with a splitting headache. Let’s just go and make Cadance give us something to ease our heads.”

I grabbed the set of pants on the floor and shook the feathers off before pulling them up. “So why is she here, anyway?” she asked.

“We didn’t tell you? Long story short, Skyla almost got assassinated. I managed to kill the assassins, but Cadance and Shiny are worried there might be more. She’s staying here in secret until they’re all rooted out. So yeah, don’t tell anyone.”

“…Sometimes I really want your life, Nav. Now hurry up.”

I muttered darkly as I stood up. I started walking, but kicked something hard and metallic. I pulled the offender up before I realized what it was. I quickly tried to hide it, but Dash saw it. “Is that my cutie mark?” she asked, peering at the blue boot in my hand.

“No.” I shoved it under the bed. “Now come on.”

“No, I wanna see this!” She jumped to her side of the bed before I could stop her and jammed her head under it, leaving her ass shaking in the air. After a moment, she gave a cry of triumph before pulling herself back out, wielding that blue boot. “This is my cutie mark! Nav, what the hay? Why do you have something like that?”

“It’s part of a set. Now put it back and let’s go.”

“Whoa whoa whoa, you have a set of metal clothes with my cutie mark on it? That’s creepy, dude!”

“No, not all of it has your cutie mark on it. Now seriously, stop asking questions that I don’t want to answer.”

“Not until you answer them! Now what do you mean, not all of them have mine?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

I quickly found a rainbow maned pony standing on my chest. When I realized she was standing on me, I found that I was on the floor. “Tell me!”

The door swung open. “Are you two still going at it?” Doppel asked, eyeing us with distaste. “At least you put your pants back on, though I’ll admit it was funny watching you wiggle around.”

We were both staring at her with the most ‘what the fuck’ looks we could manage. “What are you talking about?” Dash asked, not getting off me.

“You don’t remember? The two of you spent hours last night wrestling. You two kept saying something about bros and finishing that contest from years ago.”

“Well… that explains the feathers everywhere,” I said.

“Where’s Fluttershy?!” Dash demanded, finally jumping off me and getting all up in Doppel’s face.

Doppel grinned. “Ah, the yellow one. I got quite a tasty treat from her last night.”

That was precisely the wrong thing to say to Dash. She grabbed Doppel by the throat. “If you hurt her, I swear I’ll—”

“Dash! Put her down!” I grabbed her by the tail and yanked her away from Doppel. Dash glared at me, but I was glaring at Doppel. “You have exactly no time to explain what you did to Fluttershy.”

Doppel quickly assumed an innocent expression. “Nothing! She’s curled up on the couch! But the waves of lust she was exuding… I could taste it.”

“Oh… Huh.” Well, that was surprising. I could see that it shocked Dash as well. Her mouth was dropped.

“Uh… who was it for?” she eventually asked.

Doppel gave us a cheeky smile. “Why, if I told you that, it would ruin all the fun!”

Flo giggled. “She does have a point.”

Dash didn’t seem to like that answer. And honestly, neither did I. But whatever. “Fine, keep your secrets,” I said. “My head still hurts. Dash, you coming or what?”

She narrowed her eyes at Doppel. “I’m watching you.”

Doppel rolled her eyes. “Watch me if you must. But someone has to clean up the mess you two made last night, and the longer you linger in here, the longer that someone will have to be me.”

Having a maid is awesome. Dash and I thankfully walked away from the room without any more questions about my armor. “…Wish I had somepony to clean my house,” Dash was muttering to herself.

“Hey, it’s not all that great,” I said. “I have to pay her with sex.” I was silent for a few seconds. “Well, I guess it is pretty great. If you want, I don’t think she’d mind if you gave her a quick tip.”

“I think I’d prefer my own luck to doing anything with that whorse. The nerve of that mare…”

“You get used to it. I deal with enough headstrong mares, after all.”

“Yeah, because you live in Ponyville. If you lived in a place like Stalliongrad, you’d find more subdued mares.” I wish I had known that. “But I don’t think I could ever get used to her.”

“Hey, you got used to Gilda.”

“Heh, yeah… How has she been, anyway? I haven’t seen her in a few days.”

I nodded. “She needed to go back to her estate. I figured she had told you.” With her went some extra information requested by the king, who would soon lose most of his power.

Dash shrugged. “Whatever. She’ll be back when she’s back. She always was like that.”

We finally got to the living room, to see Fluttershy on the couch. “Should we wake her up?” I whispered.

Dash shook her head. “She needs the sleep, as much as she deals with her animals. Let’s just find Cadance.”

She was where she belonged: In the kitchen. Taya was also there, holding a frying pan with magic. “Now just flip it,” Cadance said, smiling her typical smile.

Taya did so while Dash and I practically collapsed into chairs.

They both looked up when we walked in. Cadance quickly took to blushing, and she looked away.

“I don’t reckon we could get some healing on us?” I asked.

And now Cadance was narrowing her eyes at me. “After your behavior last night? You’re lucky I don’t use a different kind of magic on you instead!”

“I don’t remember anything of my behavior last night, past the part where we got drunk. Dash is in the same boat. So if you would kindly unwad your panties and heal us, that would be great.”

Dash whispered, “What are panties?”

“Later,” I quietly answered.

“You knew the consequences,” Cadance huffed. “This is your own fault.”

“Yeah I knew the consequences. I also knew that I could get around them because I have two unicorns living in my house. Given that half of those unicorns is an alicorn and living in my house on sufferance more than anything, I figured she would be okay with that.”

“Normally, yes. But after what you did last night… and your total obliviousness, I decided it might be best if you deal with this one yourself.”

I’m not nearly as oblivious as she thinks. Just apathetic.

“Whatever. Taya, you’re good to heal us, right?”

She looked back at me, still levitating the pan. “Kinda busy here, daddy.”

I waved a hand. “It’s cool, we can wait a few.” I lifted a wing up and started cleaning and fixing all the fucked up feathers. After a second of awkwardness, Dash joined me in preening, fixing up her wings as well.

“So aren’t you two curious at all about what happened?” Cadance asked, watching us work.

“Nope,” I answered. No reason to let her know Doppel already told us. “We’re good.”

“Besides, that ugly bug thing already told us,” Dash helpfully added. I just shook my head. “What?”

“What exactly did she tell you?” Cadance asked.

“That Dash and I nakedly wrestled around the house.”

“So… she didn’t mention the naga or Fluttershy?”

“No,” Dash said. “She mentioned Fluttershy. Didn’t tell us what she did, though.”

“Let’s just say that my signature spell wouldn’t do much for her.” I sighed internally, my suspicions confirmed.

“And just what the hay does that mean?” Dash asked.

“It means that Fluttershy has the hots for someone,” I answered, moving onto my other wing.

“Oh… Who?”

“Answering that would ruin the fun,” Cadance answered. I already knew the answer anyway.

“Whatever,” I said. “I’m not in the mood for this. Dash, go wake her up with a kiss and see how she reacts.”

Her wings jerked as though they should be standing up straight. “I uh… I think it can wait…”

I shrugged. “Suit yourself. It’s probably the naga anyway. I mean, have you seen that guy? Totally muscular. I bet he makes all the mares wet. Speaking of which, where is he?”

“Absolutely no clue,” Cadance answered with a shrug. “I spent all last night making sure you two didn’t break anything. And making sure Fluttershy didn’t jump a certain somepony’s bones. He wandered away some time last night. I think he mentioned something about slaying a great beast.”

Well, that isn’t ominous at all. There was a plate of pancakes being levitated my way, though, so I just assumed the naga would be okay in favor of eating.

“Hey, what about me?” Dash asked.

Taya nodded at the stove. “Pan’s still hot.” She joined us at the table as Dash crossed her forelegs and muttered.

“What’s the matter, Dash? Mad you aren’t getting light and fluffy pancakes made by a kind and loving daughter?” I asked, merrily devouring one of them. She huffed. “Well, there’s a kind and loving Fluttershy in the next room that still needs to be woken up. Way I figure, she has a one in three chance of being willing to cook you morning-after pancakes.”

“Nav, will you stop trying to hook me up with my friend? If anypony, I think she’s more than likely set on you.”

I shrugged. “Thank you, Taya. These pancakes are considerably better than what I was planning to have for breakfast this morning.” Namely, nothing.

“Daddy, you don’t usually eat breakfast.”

“I know.”

“So… my pancakes are just better than nothing?”

I stopped eating for a moment and gave her a deadpan stare. She giggled and I went back to eating.

Just as I finished, Cadance put more on the table. There was plenty for her, Dash, Taya, and presumably Fluttershy.

“Now I don’t reckon you can heal us?” I asked.

Taya’s horn lit up and my pain disappeared.

“Thank you. I’ll go wake up Fluttershy.” I stood and took a second to stretch. “Feels good to properly wake up.”

“So… what about me?” Dash asked as I walked out of the kitchen and to the living room.

I heard Fluttershy muttering in her sleep. I didn’t want to hear anything incriminating, so I just started poking her. She flinched a few times before rolling over and off the couch. She hit the ground with an amusing ‘eep!’

“That’s one way to wake you up, I guess,” I said. “Breakfast is ready, if you want it.”

She was too busy clutching her head. “Oooh, it hurts!”

“Yep. Taya and Cadance are in the other room, though. You need to get there before you can get healed.”

She had a look of determination and pain on her face before realization struck her and she blushed. “Um… do you remember anything about last night?”

“Nope. You coming or what?”

“Um… I guess…” She tenderly got to her hooves before slowly walking toward the kitchen.

“Well, at least she didn’t throw up,” I muttered. As far as I know, none of us did. I went down to the cellar to see if the naga was there. If he wasn’t and he wasn’t in or near the house, I was thinking we might have a problem.

I made my way past the generator and into the pool area to find a noticeable lack of naga. “This could get ugly…” I walked back upstairs and outside, flying up and around the house. No naga. “Where the hell did he go?” I asked no one, looking around.

Thankfully, the naga’s interesting form of walking means he tends to leave a semi-noticeable trail wherever he goes. I landed in front of my gate and eyed the ground. There were several instances of him going to and from the forest, but one broke off and headed somewhere else. I jumped into the air and followed that one.

After several twists and turns, it eventually led me to a very familiar lake. This was the lake where the giant squid lived.

“…I’m sure he’ll be fine.” Just to be sure, though, I flew over the top so I could look down and try to spot him.

I did, near the middle of the lake. He was coiled around the squid, holding onto it. Neither was moving. I took a deep breath and dove for it, propelling myself deep into the lake. When I got down there, I shook the naga until his eyes popped open.

His head jerked around and he quickly noticed his odd position. His mouth dropped and he did his best to untangle himself as I swam back to the surface. I broke free and began lazily paddling my way to the edge.

The naga joined me when I got out. “Cain, what happened?” he quietly asked.

I looked down in the water. “Is the squid dead?”

“It is not.”

“Then buddy, I think you just fucked a giant squid.”

“…I am never touching alcohol again.”

Before I could answer that, I saw something large swimming out of the water. “Dude, run!” I fucking booked it. The naga looked behind him and somehow paled before slithering away as quickly as possible.

I looked back when I was far enough away and saw the squid surface. It waved its tentacles around and made clicking noises with its beak.

I turned and kept fucking running.

When we could no longer see the lake, we slowed down. “Cain, we will never speak of this again.”

“Yeah… that seems fair.”

“Good. The yellow quiet pony wants to lie with you. I believe that if you do not want a naga, she would be a good mate. Nice and quiet, subdued… She is much better than that annoying pink pony.” I didn’t know if he meant Pinkie or Cadance, but either way the point was the same. And he was right, in a way. If I wasn’t leaving in a year I would give Fluttershy a chance.

It wouldn’t be fair to her to just start something like that and then leave right in the middle of it. There’s also the fact that I’m broken, but if anyone had a chance of dealing with that it would be Fluttershy.

We made it back home soon enough. I was mostly dry when I stepped through the door. The naga immediately went to the cellar and came back out a few minutes later with his crossbow and sword. He said nothing as he left.

“What got him in a huff?” Cadance asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I answered, sitting back down at the table. The others had finished eating by then, and were awkwardly trying to not push the subject of just what the hell happened last night. I saw an opportunity and took it. “So I think we can all agree that pretending last night never happened is a good plan. All in favor?”

Dash nodded. Cadance and Fluttershy didn’t move. Taya shrugged.

“All opposed?”

Cadance and Fluttershy lifted their hooves.

“Okay, that’s three against two. Majority rules, silence and forgetting wins. No one mentions it.”

“Who was the third?” Cadance demanded.

“The naga. He told me that we would never talk about what happened. That sounds enough to me like he never wants to talk about it.”

“That doesn’t count!”

I sighed and looked at Taya. “Work with me here, dear.”

“…Not talking about it is good.”

“There, three against two.” Fluttershy sighed and looked down at her plate. Cadance pursed her lips but didn’t say anything. Dash and I brofisted. “Alright, now I just need something to do today. Any suggestions?”

Cadance’s horn lit up and an envelope flew over and smacked me in the face. I opened it up and pulled out the letter, quickly reading through it.

“…Oh yeah. I forgot about that.”

“What is it, Nav?” Dash asked, squeezing next to me to try to read it.

“The war games start tonight. I need to get my shit ready. I gotta be in Canterlot by… Oh fuck. Taya, meet me out back in half an hour.” I dropped the letter and ran upstairs. I put my armor on as quickly as possible. The black armor, not the gay armor.

I then grabbed a bag and started stuffing clothes in it, because I didn’t know how long I would be in the field. With the clothes went a number of human weapons and a dark cloak that I could stuff things in and wear over my armor.

Then I started putting weapons on. Sword, daggers, throwing knives, crossbow and bolts… My key went on a sling about my neck. My ring joined it, for the moment. A few minor explosives, all of which couldn’t actually hurt someone, went into the bag.

About twenty-five minutes after I got upstairs, I made it back downstairs. I found everyone waiting out back. Doppel, Dash, Fluttershy, Cadance, and Taya. I pulled the ring necklace over my head, loaded my crossbow, and said, “Taya, put a shield around the target. I’ve been wanting to test this for ages.”

She did. I put the ring around the bolt and fired it at the target. The bolt went right through the shield.

“Awesome. Dash, if anyone asks, tell them I’m out of town on business. Fluttershy, keep being awesome. Cadance, listen to the naga when it comes to keeping you safe. That dude’s insane, but good at what he does. Doppel, keep being sexy and make sure the house stays clean. Taya, love you and I’ll see you when I get back.”

I didn’t even stop to listen to their replies, just quickly flew over to the bolt, pulled it out, grabbed my ring, and flew off. I assume they read the letter and knew I was due in Canterlot in an hour and a half, and thus didn’t want to slow me down any.

It was a thankfully uneventful flight. I landed in Canterlot castle where there was a large group of unhappy looking bat ponies. I assume they were unhappy because they had to be awake during the day.

When I touched down, one of them approached me. “Princess Luna is waiting for you in the room you hate, wherever that is.”

I nodded. “Thank you.” I spread my wings and took off to the courtyard adjoining that room. I landed in it, looked in the window, and saw Luna carefully balanced on a bookshelf that was right next to the door, presumably so that she could tackle me when I walked in.

I pushed open the window and hauled myself inside. She glared at me from her perch. “You were supposed to use the door.”

“And princesses are supposed to be above petty pranks.” Luna teleported to the floor. “What do you need?”

She looked me over. “Where is your knightly weapon?”

“Why would I use an axe if I have a magic sword? Come on, Luna.”

“How else is anypony going to know you’re my knight?”

I crossed my arms. “The fact that I’m the only human on the planet, maybe?”

She rolled her eyes. “At least you aren’t wearing that hideous armor my sister insisted we give you. I hope you had it destroyed.”

“Hidden, actually. Just in case, you know?”

She shrugged. “No matter. I need to give you the proper look before you meet your opposing knight, though I think you already know him. Sir Fancy Pants, I believe his name is.”

“Oh man, I love that guy! He’s the only rich fuck in this place that’s worth dealing with. It’ll be a shame that I’ll have to murder him.”

“Quite. Now stand still.” Her horn lit up and I felt my wings slowly hardening to become bat-like. I also tasted blood as my fangs grew. I grinned at the taste, letting blood spill from my smile. “By the moon, that’s creepy… I do not think you will have any problems with scaring anypony, Nav.”

“Good. I don’t suppose you have a towel or something?”

Her horn lit up and a dark blue towel popped into place. She dabbed my face with it, jerking it away whenever I tried to take it. I rolled my eyes and waited until she was finished. “There. Now, come along.” I followed her out of the room and fell into step alongside her while we walked.

“So what kind of rules do I need to know, anyway?” I asked, tossing a dagger up in the air for the fun of it.

“Officially, there are none. Unofficially, though, there are a number of unspoken rules and regulations in place, much the same as it is in regular war. Don’t mistreat prisoners, don’t use poison, and treat your opponents with honor are the three main ones. The knights each team fields are expected to aid their team and treat their counterparts with honor and respect. However, I have a feeling that Fancy Pants will not be holding his breath while expecting that from you.”

“Will I get anything for winning?”

“The recognition for beating the day soldiers. And you might get a… personal prize from me, if you are interested.”

I was not. We continued in silence, until I asked, “Do you want me to win this campaign, dark and dirty? Or do you want me to make you look good and risk losing by playing honestly?”

“Navarone, I want you to humiliate Shining Armor. Do that however you see fit.”

“The best way to do that would be to beat him at his own game. But that ain’t how I roll. How long do these games usually last?”

“Two or so weeks, unless an emergency comes up.”

I nodded. “We’ll see about that.” If their ranks and fighting style was the same as I was expecting, I could probably take them out within a week, depending on the number of troops they had. “What numbers are we looking at?”

“Each side will use five hundred troops.” At my barked laugh, she looked over. “What?”

“Five hundred? That’s ridiculously small. Shit… Well, at least it won’t take long.” Three days will be my goal. I grinned as plans ran through my head.

“I know that look,” she said. “That’s the look of you winning.”

“Let’s just say that this is going to be a bloodbath.” If, of course, I was right about a few things.

We soon arrived to the room where Celestia was waiting with Fancy Pants. “So you finally deigned to join us, Nav,” she warmly said.

“Hey, I got that letter with less than two hours to get ready. I got trashed last night and had to pick up the pieces. I’d say me being here at all is pretty good.” I nodded at my counterpart. “Sup, bro. I didn’t know you were a knight.”

“I am indeed. And I was quite happy when I heard you joined our ranks, though I admit to some disappointment when I heard you joined the ranks of the night. No offense to you of course, Princess.”

Luna didn’t answer, which might have been a good thing. Instead, she cast her gaze on Celestia. “When will the games officially begin?”

“The troops are leaving for their staging area in one hour. The game will begin half an hour after that. The playing area will be in and around the forest to the east. Now, the two of you should probably go back to your teams. I’m sure you have preparations to make.”

I shrugged and started walking to the door. Fancy Pants took a moment to bow and all that fun stuff before following me.

We started walking side by side down the hall. He said, “It will be interesting to see your fighting style in play, human. I have one request, though I don’t expect you of all ponies to hold up to it. Should we ever meet in combat, try to give me a fair fight.”

“I’ll think about it.” And I actually meant that. Fancy Pants was a pretty cool dude. Aside from the fact that I was planning on going in and assassinating every single officer except for Shining Armor on the first night, I would love to fight him in a fair fight with no consequences.

“Well, at least that isn’t a refusal. I am somewhat surprised that the princess chose me for this, of anypony. I may seem dapper, but I’m getting up there in age. Still, I must say that it’s an honor, even if a dubious one, to be facing the Defender of Harmony himself.”

“Please never call me that again.” Seriously, how is that a real title?

“Oh? Humble, are you?”

“No, it’s not that. I just think that it’s a shitty title and I don’t like titles anyway. I also don’t like being honored, especially when Celestia turned around and told me that the honor was a punishment for pissing her off. And God, did you see that armor I got? Hideous.”

“…Navarone, you are not a pony.”

I nodded, smiling. “Thank you. That means a lot to me.”

He sighed. “I can’t even tell if that’s an insult or not…”

“Let me put it this way: The princesses have a spell that can turn me into a pony, and I absolutely hated every minute of the experience.” We stopped at a large courtyard full of bright white ponies. I held out my hand. “Good luck, bro. I have a feeling you’re going to need it.”

He shook my hand. “We will see about that, Sir Navarone. I’ve longed to see you truly fight, and this will be an interesting way to do it.”

“Then I will see you on the field of battle, my friend. Until then.” He left to join his group and I continued on my way until I realized I was lost and stepped outside to fly to my group.

I was quickly escorted to Midnight with her command group. “There you are,” she said, relief in her voice. “We were beginning to wonder if you were going to show up. Alright, do you remember the group you had when you raided the castle?” I nodded. “You will be in command of that force, along with a few other squads. I expect you to report to me what you’re doing when it’s convenient, and to be ready to cancel your plans on a moment’s notice if something big happens. Any questions?”

“Can I have the changeling and the griffin?”

“You can have Quisling. I have plans for Shade and the few other griffins she has. Anypony else have questions?” There were none. “Alright. Go to your groups, everypony. Navarone, wait here for a moment.” We waited in silence as the others broke off. “I’m giving you a lot of autonomy here, Nav. Before I leave, I want to know what your game plan is for winning this one. And why did you want the changeling and griffins?”

“My plan is to kill every officer they have except for Shining Armor and one other, and then have Quisling disguise as one of the killed officers. Then create a ruckus so it looks like the assassin was caught before he could finish his work so no one will be suspicious. From then on, we’ll just harass the shit out of them.”

“And you are sure you can get around Shining Armor’s shield?”

I nodded. “Very sure. Maybe we’ll even poison their food supply while we’re in there.”

She shook her head. “No. I am okay with assassinations, but we will not risk actually hurting somepony with poison.”

I shrugged. “Whatever. How many officers is he going to have, and how will we be able to tell who is who?”

“You’re going in at night, so expect them to be in tents. The common troops will be sleeping outside, probably.”

“And our camping arrangements?”

“We’re taking the suggestion you made some time ago. There will be five camps, all within range of quick response to the other. Officers have been unmarked since the troops know them well enough. We will have no tents, since we’ll be camping inside the actual woods. I believe Shining Armor will camp outside the forest.” That might make things a little harder, but it might also make them easier. “Your fifty troops will be billeted with my command group. Come, I’ll take you to your ponies.”

I followed her. “So what’s the plan for the other groups?” I asked.

“Once again, I’m following your suggestion. The groups are mostly autonomous, though I expect runners from each group so I know who is doing what. I expect patrols, ambushes, raids, and a number of other things. I will order everypony to stay away from the enemy base while you’re working there tonight.”

“Thanks, Blossom.”

“It’s Captain Midnight, Sir Navarone. I expect professionalism while on a mission.”

I shrugged. “That’ll be easy enough to fake, I suppose. I only have one professional bone in my body, though.”

“And if you keep talking about it, I am going to break it.”

“Hey! I like my right index finger! I have a load of good memories with it…”

She gave me a level stare before stopping. “Here are your troops. You have three groups of fifteen and five runners. Quisling will be sent this way shortly.” She nodded at a pony that sidled up next to me. “I believe you know Sunshine Smiles. He will be your cheat sheet for the army, since you probably do not know many of our terms and orders.”

I looked down at him. He beamed up at me. “Shut up, Smiles.” His grin widened and I looked back to Midnight. “Anything I need to know before we go?”

“Everypony should have all the rations they need already. If you’ve never commanded this many troops before, you need to make sure they have time to eat and to rest. I’ve heard tales of your vaunted stamina. These ponies are soldiers, but they aren’t super ponies.”

“Chill, I got this. As long as no one starts an impromptu orgy, I should be fine.” Although I’d be pretty good in that situation as well. “You can head on, Captain. I’ll be fine.”

She nodded. “Very well. May the shadows be with you, Sir Navarone.” She left to join her own group, leaving me with fifty troops that were all staring at me.

I crossed my arms behind my back. “Alright. Some of you have worked with me in the past. Some of you have not. For those of you that haven’t, know this: I expect you to not be completely retarded. There is a good chance I will ask you to do something that will require some manner of intelligence. Please do not let me down. That would be very disappointing. Another thing you might not know if you haven’t worked with me is that I am rather unconventional. This group will be doing things that are unfair, cruel, violent, and thoroughly underhanded. And I expect to get results. Any questions?” A random pony raised his hand. “Yes?”

“Why not just fight the way we usually do?”

“Because I like winning. Any other questions?” Some chick raised a hoof. “Yes?”

“Can I have your autograph?”

“…What?”

“My son wants your autograph, sir.”

I blinked a few times before shrugging. “If you’ve got paper and something to write with, sure. Any other questions?” The mare scrambled away, presumably to find something to write with. Someone else raised a hoof. I wasn’t actually expecting questions… “Yeah?”

“Whose group are we staying with during the day, sir?”

“Captain Midnight’s. Intermingle if you must, but remember that we’re probably going to be on the move a lot. Or at least, I will be. There are three groups of fifteen here, so I’ll probably go out with one group while the other two get rest.”

The mare from before came running back with paper and a pencil. I bent down to Sunshine’s level to write on his back and made out my first ever autograph. It was… odd. I handed the paper and pencil back to her. “Thanks, Sir Navarone!” She rejoined her unit, tucking the paper into her armor.

I was about to ask for more questions when I heard someone blowing a horn. All the court unicorns that had been using magic on us to make the game nonlethal were finished. “That’s the signal to move,” Smiles told me.

I nodded. “Load up into the chariots. Unicorns, help the pegasi get attached. This shouldn’t be a long flight.”

It wasn’t. Finding suitable landing spots for the chariots, though… Well, it didn’t take as long as I was honestly expecting. There were a number of clearings just large enough to fit some of them in. Soon enough, we were all unloaded and had the chariots hidden as we melted into the trees.

I got a messenger from Midnight before we even got a camp set up. “The captain wants you to send two scouts out to look for the enemy’s landing site. Every other group is sending them out as well.”

I nodded, looking around the ponies for the five pegasi that didn’t belong. I soon found them clearing out a small area for themselves. “Go back to the captain. I’ll have them sent out soon.” He saluted and left as I walked over to the five pegasi.

They saluted when I reached them. “Can the saluting shit, we’re in the field. You two scout the empty land for one hour and come back here. If you find any large group of enemies going anywhere near the forest, one of you come back to me immediately while the other tails the group, trying to stay unseen. If you find the enemy camp, watch for as long as you can before coming back. Do not get knocked out. I need all five of you alive.” They nodded and took off. “Carry on.” They went back to clearing a spot on the forest floor as I went to find Smiles or Quisling.

Quisling was much easier to spot. He straightened up from his position on the ground when I came near. “So I heard you had a special job for me,” he said.

I nodded. “I do. How good are you at assassination?”

“Let me borrow one of your daggers and I’ll be very good at it. Getting me through the shield, though… I assume you have a plan?”

“I do. I’ll let you feed off some of my memories before we go, because you could be there for a few days if this goes off well.”

“Feed off… memories?”

“It’s a human thing. I don’t feel like explaining it. Be ready to go with the group at two in the morning.”

He shrugged. “Yes sir.” I left him and went to find Smiles. Given that almost all of the stallions looked the same, that was a lot harder than it looked. I found him soon enough by calling out his name.

“Sir?”

“Go find my three group leaders and bring them here. I need to know their names and any specialties.” He went off to do my bidding. Soon enough, I had three stallions and a mare in front of me. “You all know me. Who are you and does your group have specialties?”

One of the stallions, a pegasus, said, “Steel Rain, sir. My group is good for lightning raids. We get in quick and get out faster.” The mare and I cracked up at that and he blushed. “You know what I meant!”

“Keep telling yourself that, Steel,” the earth pony mare said. “I’m Panzer Wagon. We are one of the best groups of fighters out there and can take and dish a load of punishment.”

The last one was older, a grizzled unicorn. I looked at him and said, “And you’re the mage group?”

He shook his head. “No sir. Well, we do have a number of powerful unicorns, but we specialize in… unorthodox missions. Things the princesses do not want anypony to know about. You may call me the Watcher.”

“Well that’s creepy as fuck.” Looks like I have a tank group, a damage per second group, and a group that is possibly made up of green berets. “Watcher, have your group ready to go on a mission at two in the morning. Panzer, set out pickets. Give them either a signal or a password they can use to alert everyone else if there’s any sign of enemy movement. Rain, have your troops take up the slack in building the camp. Set up a latrine trench somewhere away from the main group.” He grimaced in distaste at the idea, but they all nodded and went off to do as I commanded.

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