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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85. Chapter Seventy—War Games Part 2

I started walking around the area we took over, noting good locations to hide in trees. That might not make sense to most people, but think about it this way: Horses are natural prey animals that tend to live in prairies and open areas like that. Thus, any that would wind up in a forest would probably never think to look up to spot an ambush. I mean, their predators usually come from the ground, not from the air. I was hoping griffins and dragons wouldn’t have rendered that potential advantage worthless.

I was about to test some of the spots to see if they would hold me up when one of my scouts came zooming back into base, flying straight to me. “Sir, a large scouting group is entering the forest!”

“Numbers.”

“Thirty.”

I nodded once and yelled out, “Steel Rain! Get your group together! Quisling, you’re coming too.”

Less than two minutes later they were all standing in front of me, with some others watching the group. I picked out the messengers and waved them forward. “A large enemy scouting party just entered the woods. We’re going to intercept them. You,” meaning a messenger, “go tell the captain what we’re doing. You,” another messenger, “come with us. Everyone else, follow this guy.” Meaning the one that brought me the message. “Take us to where you think they’re going to be in fifteen minutes.”

“I can… try, sir.”

“Then lead the way.” He started loping off into the forest. We all followed his pace easily enough.

Rain paced me. “Sir, what kind of numbers are we looking at?”

“Thirty. Trust me, soldier, we’re going to be fine.” I really hope. “When we get to where we’re going, have all of your troops get into the trees and do their best to hide.”

“…Trees?”

“Yes. What kind of ambush plays things fair?”

He slowly grinned wickedly. “Yes sir!”

I nodded once. “When they start panicking, have all the unicorns shoot down flames for fifteen seconds and then have the pegasi drop the earth ponies into the enemies. Prisoners are not a priority, but I want at least one to escape.”

He nodded once and we went to running in silence. Until… “What will I be doing, sir?” Smiles asked, materializing next to me.

“Bait.” I didn’t know he was following us, but I wasn’t about to complain about him being there.

“Um…”

It didn’t take us long to get to where the messenger was hoping was the correct location. Steel Rain made sure all the ponies knew my instructions as the pegasi helped everyone get into the trees.

“Quisling, over here,” I called, waving him down. He flew over and landed next to me. “Turn into a wounded enemy soldier.” He did so, a questioning look on his face. “Smiles, fly up and try to find the enemies. When you do, land a little ways in front of them and get spotted. As they chase you, lead them a few yards from here, over that way.” I pointed to our right.

“I… yes sir…” He didn’t sound very happy about it, but he stretched his wings and carefully flew out of the forest.

“Quisling, on the ground.” He casually flopped down. I pulled my gauntlet off, put my ring on, and loaded my crossbow. I then took aim at a squirrel that was in the wrong place in the very wrong time and shot it. I walked over, grabbed the squirrel that had been completely cut in half, and walked back over to Quisling. I held the squirrel’s body up to my face, soaking my mouth and teeth in blood and letting it drip down my chin.

“Sir… what are you…”

“Shhh. You’re being eaten, Quisling.” I tossed the dead squirrel aside and knelt down. “When you hear the enemies stop, I want you to start screaming in pain.”

“Uh… Yes sir.”

Soon, only the gentle creaking of limbs could be heard, which could hopefully be confused for wind blowing through the branches.

About fifteen minutes after we got into position, I heard something crashing through the woods, heading our way. The noise slowly got louder and grew in volume until I saw Smiles running for his life. When he got where I told him to go, he spread his wings and jumped into the air, just in time for the scattered group of day guards to show up.

“We lost him, sir,” one of them said to the guy with the biggest hat.

“I am well aware, soldier,” he growled. “Everypony back into your ranks. He was running this way, so we can assume his camp is this way. Flankers out, eyes open.”

Right as they started to comply, Quisling started screaming. I bent in and grabbed his leg, lifting it to my mouth. The day guards starting running my way, trying to see what was happening through the shadows of the woods.

As soon as they got close enough, I jerked my head up from his leg, meat and blood from the squirrel dripping down my face. I snarled at them, standing and drawing my sword.

“HE’S GONE MAD!” one of the redshirts screamed, turning and trying to bolt. Since he was in front of a long line of ponies, all that did was knock a few others down.

However, it did enough to start the panic I wanted. The officer was trying to get his troops in order so they could ‘put me down,’ but a number of troops had no desire to get eaten. I started running at them and as soon as I struck down the officer, flames started shooting down from the trees onto us. Since I was immune to magic, they didn’t do any damage to me, but they cut through the day guards and killed swatches of them. I continued butchering the panicked troops.

And when they saw Quisling get up and join me, boy did they freak out. The night guards dropping down on top of them from the trees did wonders, and the few survivors started bolting in terror. Unicorns took potshots at them until we couldn’t see them anymore.

I wiped my face off as much as I could and walked over to Steel Rain. “Casualties?”

“None, sir.”

I nodded. “Good. Have your pegasi help the unicorns off the trees. Messenger, send word to the captain that we took out a thirty strong scouting group with no casualties. Return to camp afterward.” He saluted and took off as the previous two scouts walked in front of me. They were both messy from having run through the woods. “You two stay with us. I think that’s good enough of a blow for the starting hour. We can rely on the other groups to find out where the enemy base is.”

“Yes sir,” they both said, nodding thanks.

I called out, “Did anyone see how many of them got away?” They all look at each other and shook their heads. “Well, it was probably enough. Alright, let’s get back to camp. There’s a pretty good chance we just got the first kills of the game. Let’s keep this up.”

They all shouted a “Hoorah!” as Smiles rejoined us and we started jogging back to camp.

“So we won?” he asked, still catching his breath.

“Yep. Good job, Smiles. You managed to not die long enough to do something useful.”

“Uh… thank you, sir?”

I didn’t actually know if that was a compliment or not. I also didn’t really care either way. We continued our run in silence.

When we got back, we found the forest floor very well cleared out, with Watcher’s men sleeping and Panzer’s men standing guard. The messenger was waiting for me. He trotted over when we got into camp.

“Sir, Captain Midnight sends congratulations. She also had her troops help clear us a spot, since so many of ours were busy. She ordered that our pickets link up with hers so they’ll know where their friends are.”

I nodded. “Thank you, soldier. Tell Panzer to take care of it; it’s her troops that are out there.” He nodded and went off to find her.

Steel Rain came over to me. “Orders, sir?”

“Have your men rest. They did an outstanding job. Tonight I’ll want you and Panzer to be ready to bail out me and Watcher’s group when we do our mission, so they need to be well-rested. Hopefully it won’t come to us needing a heavy extraction, but if it does, I’d rather it be with the full group.”

He nodded. “I understand, sir. We’ll be ready for you.”

I nodded and settled in to wait. As it turns out, soldiering is a very boring business when you aren’t actively fighting or planning. I ended up sitting with a group of Panzer’s veterans and swapping stories with them.

A few hours after the ambush, I got a messenger from Midnight who gave me a map of the surrounding area, with all of the camps marked. It also showed Shiny’s army outside the forest. Up in the top right of the map, there was a count that read “Us: 498. Them: 465.” I assumed we lost two scouts, or maybe there was a minor skirmish or something.

I looked it over and realized that it would be hard to get to Shiny’s camp easily, assuming he had any guards at all out and about; they were in flatlands. I was hoping Watcher’s team had a fix for that.

With a map in hand and a relative plan in place, I settled back in with my troops and continued talking and telling stories to pass the time. After what felt like hours—because it was hours—it finally hit one in the morning. There had been a few more skirmishes of which none of my troops were involved, and the count was about 490 to 458.

I was about to decrease their count by a lot.

Watcher’s group was already awake and Rain’s group had taken over the pickets. Quisling was waiting for me. I walked over to him and knelt down. “Go ahead and take your fill,” I told him. “Assuming this works, you’ll probably be undercover for a while.”

“Do I just feed off you normally?” he asked. I nodded. He shrugged and his horn lit up. His eyes opened wide as he perused my open emotions. I felt something drain out of my mind as he sated his hunger. After nearly a minute, he pulled away with a smile, rubbing at his belly. “You taste good, sir.”

I nodded. “That’s what your queen said, if you know what I mean. Now join Watcher’s group; we’re moving out soon.” He nodded and joined the others. I waved the messengers over to their group as well and joined them, squatting down and pulling out the map. “Okay, this is the plan: We get Quisling in close enough to the shield. If there are any sentries awake inside, two of you will go to the edge of the shield and try to draw them out. We’ll silently ambush them. I need at least one sentry alive. I’ll quietly get some answers from him before Quisling takes his shape and goes through the shield. Then he’ll kill a number of high ranking officers before taking on the shape of one himself and remaining inside. We will then create a disturbance and get a small number of troops following us to an ambush set up by Panzer.” I came up with that last part on the spot. “Any questions?”

Quisling asked, “How am I getting inside, sir?”

“I have a magic nullifying ring. Don’t ask how I got it or where. I also have a way of making sure I get a true answer from the sentry. Any other questions?” There weren’t. “Alright, Watcher, do you have a way to get us quietly and invisibly to their camp?”

“Quietly, yes. Invisibly, sort of. We can cast a veil of darkness spell over ourselves. We won’t be invisible, but they won’t be able to easily see us.”

“Good enough.” I turned to one messenger. “Tell Panzer and her group to set up an ambush just inside the forest near the enemy’s base. We might be coming in hot when we exit. Tell her to get her ponies into the trees, if possible. Two other messengers, stay here. Everyone else, let’s move. Two pegasi, stay in the air and make sure we don’t bump into any enemies.”

We began slipping through the trees toward the enemy camp. You could only move so silently through a full forest, though. Not like it really mattered that much, I suppose.

We made it to the edge of the forest without running into any enemies. Panzer’s group caught up to ours shortly after we left. She didn’t seem overly pleased that I so suddenly included her, but she didn’t comment on it. She began setting her troops up as we quietly made our way out into the open, invisible to all but the most careful of watchers.

Shining Armor’s shield was a beacon in the center of the grassland, a big ‘attack here’ sign that I was just waiting to take advantage of. Soon enough, we were a hundred yards away from his shield, all crouched down and waiting to pounce.

I turned and whispered, “I need a pegasus volunteer.” One hand shot up. “Go over to the shield and find a way to get a single sentry out here. I would go, but he’d probably call everyone out to take me down.”

The soldier nodded. “Yes sir. Lead him this way?” I nodded. He sketched a small salute and spread his wings before jumping out of the cloud of darkness around us. We watched as he flew over to the shield. He flew to the center and landed on it. I couldn’t tell what he was doing. I soon heard a shout from inside and saw a pegasus flying out at the soldier, who quickly spread his wings and flew back at us. He landed just behind the shadow we were hiding in.

Watcher grabbed the enemy pegasus as he was flying over us and pulled him into the darkness, shoving magic into his mouth to silence him. I whispered, “Make his voice quieter so he can’t yell.” Watcher’s horn lit up again and he nodded at me. I pulled my key out and whispered, “What’s the watch password?”

The pegasus was glaring at me, but answered, “The day is clear.”

I passed my dagger and ring to Quisling. “When you get inside the shield, gently toss the ring outside. I’ll pick it up before we leave. You have to be wearing it for it to work. Don’t kill Fancy Pants or Shining Armor if you can help it. When you finish or if you get caught, throw this into a mass of sleeping soldiers and then turn into an officer.” I passed him a tear gas grenade.

“Yes sir.” He took everything and left the veil of darkness, turning into the pegasus as he walked back to the enemy base. The distraction joined us.

I finally noticed something and sniffed a few times, looking down at the pegasus. “Why do you smell like piss?”

My soldier giggled. “My fault, sir. I needed some way to get him and only him out of the shield. So… I peed on him.”

“…Well, that’s one way to piss someone off.” The pegasus was still struggling in his magical constraints. I poked him with a knife. “Look, if you don’t stop trying to fight, I’m going to remove you from the game. I mean, that would be better for you in the end because we’re about to win this, but still.” He sighed and stopped struggling. “There, isn’t that better? Now just relax and watch the show.”

There was silence for nearly half an hour before we heard the screams. I smiled, knowing their entire camp was on alert. “Watcher, ready your unicorns. When I yell, shoot a three second sustained burst of some kind of magic against the shield. Don’t worry about hitting me.”

Before he could answer, I took off running toward the shield, hoping to God I saw correctly where the ring landed. Thankfully, I was right. I grabbed it and yanked my gauntlet off, slipping the ring on and then replacing my glove. “RUN!” I yelled, and the fireworks began as I started sprinting across the field toward my group.

With the magic show hitting the shield, Shining Armor probably knew exactly where we were. If he didn’t, it was as obvious as Fluttershy’s crush on me to everyone else.

When I got to the troops, I very quickly said, “Dispel the veil, grab the prisoner, run like hell!” One earth pony secured the prisoner to another’s back and we hoofed it, easily seen in the flare that was shot into the sky, lighting up the entire field.

It blinded everyone enough that the pegasi that were already following us had to swoop up for fear of hitting the ground. Some of ours spread their wings, but I yelled, “DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN! RUN!” They closed their wings and kept going. I knew that if we got caught in the open field, we were fucked. A few of us might get picked off on the run back, but whoever stayed was definitely going down.

However, I didn’t have to follow my own rule. I stopped to make sure we weren’t leaving anyone behind and saw a three-pony squad getting harassed by a pegasus. I drew my sword and sprinted that way, killing the pegasus and freeing the group to run again. I played interference for a few other groups on the way in, managing to kill three pegasi and keep two more at bay until we made it into the forest.

And then the fun truly began…

I looked back and saw at least fifty troops running across the field at us, and heard a few horns blowing calls. I stopped just inside the forest and pulled my crossbow up, aiming it at a random unicorn. With a quick trigger pull, he went down. I reloaded and shot at another unicorn and somehow missed. Thankfully, the bolt managed to take out an earth pony instead. I knew I wouldn’t have time to reload and get another shot off, so I ran further into the forest before I stumbled upon a group of my troops bunkered down. I joined them, kneeling down and waiting for them to enter our killing zone.

It happened quickly. We let about twenty get into the forest proper before I called out, “KILL THEM ALL!” I jumped up, lifting my sword over my head and yelling a battle cry. All of Watcher’s group jumped up as well, joining my cry and charging the enemy.

I waded into the melee, trying not to get into any one-on-one fights and using my sword’s long reach when I did. Most of my work was taking out enemies that were fighting my troops.

And when Panzer’s group joined the fight, it turned from a fight into a bloodbath. Soon enough, enemies were running away instead of pursuing us.

When all was silent on the edge of the forest but ragged breathing, I slid my sword up. “Quick count, I need casualties!”

Watcher took one look around the group and said, “Four total lost, sir. I don’t know from what groups yet.”

“Good. Everyone, let’s get the hell away from here before they regroup. Grab any prisoners and let’s fucking go.”

They were very quick to comply with that order. I had us jogging or trotting through the forest less than a minute later. I grabbed one of the messengers while we were moving. “Go tell Midnight the mission was a success. I have no clue how many we killed, but we only lost four and the spy was planted.”

“Yes sir.” He lifted his wings and took off, getting above the branches and flying to home base. The rest of us continued running.

We made it to camp quickly enough. “Alright, five of you take those three prisoners to the captain. She’ll know what to do with them. Everyone else, take a breather. Watcher, you and your men replace Rain on the picket in three hours. I suggest you all get some rest.” They all broke off into smaller groups. Watcher approached me.

“Three of the missing ones are from my group. One’s from Panzer’s. If I had to say, we probably killed over thirty troops in the forest, though I have no idea how many the changeling got.”

“Thanks, Watcher. Sorry for your losses, but at least we took out a bunch.”

He nodded. “I know, sir. I’ve been in this business for a little while. I know how good the element of surprise is. Thankfully though, this is just a game.”

“Yep. You should get some rest, man. I think we’ll probably have a busy day tomorrow.”

“Yeah. A suggestion, if I may: Do not forget that we are not alone. Don’t run us all ragged trying to hog the glory. I know the princess is expecting a lot from you, but you are only as good as your troops.”

“I know. But this is probably going to piss Shiny off, and if he makes a mistake, I want to be able to exploit it. And that’s why I’m trying to make sure you all get plenty of rest. If you ever think I do start running the men too much, let me know immediately. I’ve never commanded this many for this long and I might not notice.”

“Yes sir. And while you remember us, do not forget about yourself.”

“Let me worry about me, Watcher.” The messenger I sent to Midnight did a fucking dive bomb landing next to me.

“Sir, the captain wants to see you right away.”

I pulled my gauntlet off and removed my ring before replacing the gauntlet. I slid the ring into a pouch and said, “Lead the way.” His wings shot out and I followed him into the air. We didn’t go too far, but it was far enough that I was happy to be flying. He led me to a hole in the ground. I could see a few troops watching us, but none said anything.

I looked down at the hole. Then back up at him. “Are you fucking with me?”

“No sir. She’s down there.”

I shrugged and jumped down the hole. I came face to face with Princess Luna. “Navarone.”

I nodded. “What’s up, Luna?”

“I am here to investigate allegations of cheating. Did you cheat, Navarone?”

I crossed my arms. “I want you to ask Shining Armor how he’s going to handle a battle against the griffins when they do something unexpected. Is he going to come crying to a princess about how the enemy cheated while his men get slaughtered around him?” I shook my head. “There is no cheating in war, Princess. There is victory or loss.”

Midnight stepped up. “He’s right, Princess. There are no official rules of this contest anyway. Cheating is impossible.”

“Oh I know,” Luna answered. “Which is why I am wondering why I am even wasting my time with this. What did you do, Navarone?”

“I sent Quisling into their base disguised as a sentry and had him kill almost all of the enemy’s officers except for Shining Armor, Fancy Pants, and one more. I then created a distraction and led thirty or forty of his troops straight into an ambush.”

She nodded. “I apologize for wasting your time, then. I will go and talk to Shining Armor.” Her horn lit up and she teleported away.

Midnight turned to me. “Did you tally up your losses yet?”

“Four. I don’t know what happened to Quisling, but I assume he successfully integrated. One of my group leaders believes we killed over thirty in the ambush, but none of us knows how successful Quisling was.”

“Well I wasn’t expecting to have to dip into estimates already… I’ll send out a revised number count once I deal with the prisoners.”

“Speaking of prisoners, what do you do with them?”

She shrugged. “They’ll be hidden away until the end of the game. If they were unicorns, I’d just quietly have them disposed of, since we don’t currently have the resources to imprison them. What other plans do you have?”

“As of right now, none. I’m going to give my troops some time off. We’ve already taken out more than our fair share of the enemy, so I’ll let them rest before we do anything major, unless something comes up.”

“Fair enough. If anything comes up, I’ll send word your way. For now, you’re dismissed.”

“See you later then, Captain.” She nodded as I pulled myself out of her bunker. My messenger was already gone. I shrugged and started walking back to base. Not like I really had any reason to hurry. It would probably take Shiny hours to figure out what happened and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was unable get his force organized at all without any officers.

In the meantime, I was expecting easy pickings from every patrol he sent out.

 

From the looks of things, my attack demoralized Shining Armor’s entire army. We had ponies in the woods watching them all that night and all the day, but not a single enemy troop left the shield.

Right as the sun was falling, I got another message from Midnight, a summons. I padded my way through the forest to her area. She was waiting outside of her hole in full armor.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I don’t want to explain it four more times. We’ll wait for the others.” I shrugged and kicked a spot clear on the ground before easing myself down. Thankfully, I took some time to clean my armor a few hours before I got summoned.

I don’t know how far away the other group leaders were, but it took fifteen minutes for them all to arrive. Midnight stood in front of us and looked us all over. “As a few of you might know, last night Navarone and his troops managed to kill off almost every single officer Shining Armor has. Shining, naturally, called this cheating and complained to the princess. Princess Luna was sent to find out what happened. Navarone explained himself and explained some facts of war. The princess accepted this and teleported to explain the situation to Shining Armor.” She grit her teeth for a moment before continuing, “Shining decided that if nothing constitutes cheating in this kind of battle, then capturing our princess might be a good idea.” There was some gasping, but she held up a hoof and it was silenced. “I was not informed of this until half an hour ago by a messenger from Princess Celestia. We are going to rectify this immediately, and when we do, we are going to get Princess Luna to fight with us, because she was forced into the conflict. Navarone, do you still have a way to get inside of Shining Armor’s shield?”

I nodded. “It only works for one or maybe two people at a time, if they move right.”

She nodded and looked around. “Freeing Princess Luna is now top priority. And it seems that, to Shining Armor, keeping her imprisoned is his top priority. None of our scouts report much movement in his camp. Suggestions to get her out?”

I lifted my hand immediately. She nodded at me. “Do we have any unicorns capable of casting an invisibility field for fifteen minutes?”

“Not in my group. Anypony else?”

One of the group leaders nodded. “We have somepony that can. She can project a small field, maybe two meters in every direction.”

“That’s enough,” I said. “I can use her to sneak in and bust Luna out. She can get us out or we can just say fuck it and go on a full rampage in the middle of their base. With Luna on our side, I imagine we could probably take out a good three hundred of them.”

Midnight shook her head. “No. Rescue Princess Luna and use her to assassinate Shining Armor. I will not have a repeat of this incident. If Quisling is still impersonating one of their officers, we should have no problem either getting them to surrender immediately or be much easier to beat.”

I nodded. “If Luna gives me different orders, I’ll have to obey her, but otherwise that’s what we’ll do.”

She looked over to the other group leader. “Get your unicorn to Navarone’s group. She’ll be under his command for now. He’s the only one with any real losses so far anyway. Everypony else, be ready to move your groups to the edge of the forest. When Nav makes his move, we might be charging the enemy base.”

They all nodded and departed. I pulled myself to my feet and walked back to my group, calling my three group leaders over.

“We got a problem,” I said. “Don’t tell any of the troops this yet, but Shining Armor captured Luna. Don’t ask how and don’t ask why. I’m going to be getting her back soon, or at least I’m going to attempt to.”

“Which group are you taking?” Steel asked.

“None. It’ll just be me and a single unicorn. Watcher, we’ll both need to be muffled before we get out of the forest.”

He nodded. “I volunteer to be the single unicorn,” he said.

I shook my head. “Unless you can project an invisibility field and hold it up for a good while, no. This is going to be raw stealth.”

He sighed. “I think we only have one or two unicorns that strong. None in my group, either.”

“Yeah. She’ll be here soon. We’ll still need the muffle spell, though.”

“Very well. You shall have it. And you’ll have another spell of my making to help darken your path, on the off chance you do get seen.”

“I won’t say no to that.”

“Good. I’ll need every unicorn in this group to pull it off, though.”

I looked at the other two. “Thoughts?” They both nodded. “You have your unicorns. Have them ready when the mare gets here.” He went off to go get together the people he needed. “You two have all the other troops ready to march with us. The captain wants everyone on the forest’s edge in case Luna goes avenging angel and we need to help her.” And me, of course.

They both went off to gather everyone else. That left me with Sunshine Smiles breathing down my neck, asking, “What’s going on?”

“Big things. Join Panzer’s group. She lost a pegasus last night.”

“Sir, you’re breaking into the enemy’s base. I want to help!”

“Help by staying back. That’s an order, Smiles. I don’t need to risk three people bumbling about in that place. Two is risky enough.”

“…Would it help if I said please?”

“It would not.” He sighed, hung his head, and turned around to go. A few paces after he started walking away, he turned and tried giving me puppy dog eyes. As soon as I saw that, I turned around and walked away.

And bumped into a tiny unicorn. “Pardon me,” I said. “Are you the mare I’m waiting for?”

“Yes sir.” I looked her up and down. I swear she was about the same size as Sweetie Belle. “Trooper Dew, at your service.”

“…Right. You’re the invisibility expert?” She nodded. “Okay, this is how it’s going to work: You and I are going to be hit with a muffle spell, which removes our ability to make any sound at all. You will then cast your invisibility field and I will lead you by the horn to their base. Follow me exactly and be very careful about any enemy soldier. When we get to their base, I am going to slip something onto your horn and we’re going to walk through the shield together. When we do that, we are going to go visible for a very short amount of time, so we have to be quick. We are then going to search the enemy base for Princess Luna. When I go to let her out, I’m going to become visible again for just long enough to get her free. We might get new orders from her. If we do not, we will move on to kill Shining Armor. Questions?”

“When do we leave?”

I grinned, liking that answer. “As soon as my group’s ready to move.” I looked around me and saw them all in a formation. “Which means now. Everyone, to the edge of the forest! Double time, now!” We all began jogging to the edge, not worrying about scouts or flankers. We made good time, and were soon spread out along the edge, looking at the bubble. Dew and Watcher were next to me, one on either side. “Whenever you’re ready, Watcher.” His horn lit up and I felt a cool embrace around me. I slammed my gauntleted fists together and made no sound. I thought of something really quickly and took my gauntlets off, leaving them on Watcher’s back; I needed quick access to my fingers.

“I’ll watch them for you, Sir Navarone,” he said. “Now, for my little surprise. Unicorns, focus your power on me!” Several horns lit up all around us and I saw a few beams hitting Watcher. His horn lit up very brightly and then pulsed dark black as a wave of black fog drifted from his horn, slowly blanketing the grassland.

That is fucking awesome.

Flo whispered, “And dangerous. Be careful with the unicorn you are guiding, Navarone. There is something wrong with that fog.”

I gripped the mare by the horn and nodded at her. It lit up and we vanished from view. I began walking through the fog toward where I last saw the bubble, hoping I would be able to get there in the extra darkness given by the fog.

I set a brisk pace, fast enough to cover ground but not so fast that the short unicorn couldn’t follow. She followed easily enough, and soon, we were at the edge of the bubble. I pulled us as close as I could without actually touching it, pulled out my ring, put it to the tip of her horn and put it halfway on my finger while partially on her horn. We both went visible and I quickly pulled us through the shield. As soon as we were inside, I pulled the ring away from both of us and we became invisible again. I stopped and looked around, making sure no one had seen us.

Thankfully, the pickets seemed more concerned with the black fog than with two people suddenly appearing right inside the border of their base. I began leading Dew into their abode, skirting around the worried looking sentries. Not so thankfully, I had completely forgotten that putting the ring on would turn off the muffle spell. Still, the guards were too lax; they knew something was about to happen, but they had no idea what. We were able to sneak around them silently and easily even without the muffle effect.

It didn’t take us long to find Princess Luna. She was looking very enraged and was surrounded by a full fifteen troops.

Welp. Flashbang time?

Flo said, “Throw it away from them, because if it blinds Luna, it would be hard to get her to move.” I nodded, reached into my cloak, and pulled out a flashbang. I pulled the pin and lobbed it out of the field before moving my hand from Dew’s horn to her eyes, covering them as I looked away.

A second later, it went off with a horribly loud bang. The officer in charge of guarding Luna yelled, “Guards, investigate! I will watch her myself.” They didn’t hesitate an instant, all running off to see what the disturbance was. The officer quietly said, “Hurry! That won’t distract them long!”

I pulled Dew up past Quisling and put my ring on, pushing my hand through Luna’s barrier. I let my ring slip off my hand onto her horn and had the unique experience of having my hand thrown backwards at a terrifying rate, pushing me onto my ass just inside the invisibility field.

Luna, of course, was free. She removed herself from the bubble shield she was in as I stood up and walked over to remove the ring around her horn. “Navarone, I want you to go find Shining Armor and tear his throat out with your fangs.”

“My pleasure. Dew, you ready?”

She was breathing pretty heavily. “I… need a moment or two, sir.” I nodded.

Luna looked over to the officer and said, “Quisling, I believe that after this your cover will be blown. I leave it up to you on whether to stay or leave.”

“I’ll stay, princess.” She nodded once.

“Navarone, when the deed is done, return here and I will teleport us away from camp.”

“Awesome. Dew, you ready?” She nodded. I pulled her away from Luna, who cast another veil of invisibility on herself, hiding from view. I led my little unicorn over to where I threw the flashbang, since I heard a lot of yelling over there.

And that is where I saw Shining Armor tearing into the troops for leaving Luna almost unguarded. I let go of Dew, tightly gripped my ring so that it was ready to slip on, and sprinted away from her. I jumped onto the guard in front of me, using my wings to propel me up and over him and the others right into Shining Armor. His face dropped as soon as he saw me and his horn lit up. I had pushed my ring on as soon as I used my wings, though, so I managed to slam into him with no problems. With my force and his surprise, he ended up on his back with me on his stomach.

I immediately turned my head sideways and bit into his throat before tearing up and out with as much force as I could. He almost immediately disappeared and I jumped up, pulling out my sword and a knife and facing down the troops.

They were all staring at me with complete shock on their face. My face was actually dripping blood that I got from piercing his throat or something.

I took one step toward them and they all bolted.

Of course, there was even more bedlam than that in the camp right now, given that the shield was now down and the black fog began seeping in. My little murder did have quite a nice effect.

I pulled my ring off and ran over to where I left Dew. I almost tripped over her, but she pushed a hoof out to steady me and I caught myself. I grabbed her horn and started walking back to where we left Luna. Quisling was gone. I couldn’t see Luna, but I was hoping she was still there. “Dew, make us visible.” We reappeared from thin air. Luna appeared a moment later, before all three of us teleported back to the forest.

“Thank you again, Navarone and Dew. That was not very wise of Shining Armor.”

I shrugged. “But why didn’t we destroy their camp while we were there? I figured you could have done it.”

“Oh I could have. And had this been an actual war, I would have. However, I want to see what the day guards will attempt to do now that they have been demoralized and almost completely beheaded. And with Quisling there as one of the only officers… This will be quite interesting.”

“So what will you do?”

“It is fully within my place to stay here and aid in the war effort. Any noncombatant that is pulled into combat on either side has every right to join whichever side they wish, or no side at all. However, I will return to Canterlot. If you need my aid to win this battle now, there is a problem.”

“Very well. I might just dictate orders from the back and let my officers do the job for me, since we’re probably going to win either way. It will be good experience for them.”

“Do as you would, Navarone. I will see you shortly.” She teleported away before more could be said.

“Thanks for the help, Dew. Shall we go look for our regiment?”

“Sir, I’m really tired… That spell took a lot out of me.”

“I see. Hold on, I’ll be right back.” I stretched my wings and flew through the tree branches so I could get a fix on where we were. I saw the edge of the forest and the black fog a few hundred yards away. I landed next to Dew, who looked about ready to collapse. I reached under her and gently picked her up, thanking the naga for making me work out so much. “Come on, Dew. I’ll get you back to your platoon.”

“Thank you, sir.” I started walking toward the edge of the forest. We made it quickly enough and I found a group of troops I could leave little Dew with. I set her down with them and got directions to the command group. I flew over to them and saw a few officers arguing.

Midnight looked over when she saw me. “Navarone, how did the mission go?” The arguing died off as everyone turned to me.

“Well. Luna is safe, Shining Armor is dead, and the enemy is or was in panic mode. Luna decided to return to Canterlot, saying that we could handle this without her.”

“…Why is your mouth bloody?”

I grinned a toothy smile. “Luna had a request for how I deal with Shining Armor.”

I heard Steel Rain say, “That is awesome.”

Midnight shrugged. “Whatever works. Do you have any suggestions on what to do now?”

I nodded out to the fog. “The enemy is in that mess and in complete disarray. If we charge into it, we might be able to catch them by surprise and finish this quickly. We would have losses, but the enemy is demoralized, terrified, and they know something bad is going to happen. If we wait, Fancy Pants might take control and continue the games. He could attempt to build an actual temporary fort with palisades and all that. Either way, he could turn this into a defensive game and then we could be here for who knows how long. Or he might go raw offensive, thinking that’s his only way to win. My suggestion is take them out now, while we know we have the upper hand. We might take more casualties this way, but victory is almost definitely assured.”

“I do not like casualties, Navarone. I want this victory to be as one-sided as possible.”

“Then let’s get everyone loaded up onto chariots, fly over the enemies, dispel the fog, and then shoot magic onto them. Then we can go back to the forest and wait to see what happens, or we can charge them.”

She nodded. “Anypony else have any ideas?”

One officer held up a hoof. “We’ll need to make sure any pegasus resistance is minimized if we do that. We’ll need to make sure we have ponies guarding the chariots.”

I nodded. “Just like World War II. Chariots are bombers and pegasi are fighter pilots. He’s right.”

Midnight nodded. “Everypony, send pegasi to get your chariots and get them here. Navarone, your pegasi will be the guards since it is your unicorns that are charging the fog. When we get everypony into the air, have the fog shut down.” All the group leaders nodded and ran off to do their thing.

I turned to Steel Rain. “You’re in charge of the pegasi guarding the chariots. Make sure they stay safe. Hopefully you won’t get much resistance. If you do, stay with the chariots. Don’t fall for a feint.”

“Yes sir. We won’t let you down.”

He ran off to find our troops. “Panzer, make sure Watcher and his unicorns stay safe. I don’t expect any of the enemy to make a run for the forest, but if they do, I want you to put them down before they find our tired unicorns.”

“We’ll keep them safe, sir.” She ran off to organize them.

I turned to find Midnight watching me. She said, “I thought you weren’t a soldier before.”

“I’m not. I just know some history and I have common sense. Or at least, I have what is for humans common sense. Winning a battle against prey animals isn’t that hard, no offense.”

“I suppose it wouldn’t be. Are you going to be joining the attack?”

“Nah. I want to see what my officers can do.”

“In that case, I’ll leave you in charge of all the earth ponies we’re forced to leave behind. If you think the enemy is breaking or broken, I want you to lead them in a charge. I’m like you; I want this to end tonight if possible.”

“Then I’ll do my best to make that happen. I assume you’re going with the attack?”

She nodded. “I’ll join the guards around them, just in case.”

“Hey, if you want the glory of the final charge, I can go with the unicorns instead. It’s past time you saw some action.”

“I would like that, Nav. I do not think the enemy’s pegasi will be doing much. In that case, you are in charge of the attack. I will charge if I think it is a good time. If I do charge, feel free to send your pegasi down to the ground to attack enemy unicorns. I’m going to have almost nothing but earth ponies, so we’ll need some way to even it out.”

“You got it. See you when it’s all over, then.” I spread my wings and flew off to where my group was to meet up with the pegasi. I landed right next to Steel Rain.

“Extra orders, sir?”

“Nope. The captain wants me to go as extra muscle. You’re still in charge, though. I’ll just be flying with you.”

“Yes sir. You’re welcome here, that’s for sure.” And thus began the wait. Thankfully, it wasn’t a long one and the chariots quickly joined us. Unicorns started loading up right on the edge of the fog. When they started taking off, Rain said, “That’s our cue! Into the air and follow them! Stay on the chariots, everypony.”

I guess that doesn’t apply to me. I spread my wings out and followed the group into the air and we began trailing behind the chariots.

The fog slowly seeped into the ground, leaving the ground clear of obstruction and showing us the enemy spread out among the grassland. There were a few pockets of troops that were standing in circles with their backs to the center, presumably being careful to watch on all sides in case anything showed up in the fog. Guess it’s a good thing we didn’t charge.

Their odd formations made it rather easy for the unicorns to send down all manner of destructive magic on them, though. The casualties very quickly racked up. I saw a few of their unicorns trying to fire off spells at us, but since we were all moving, it was much harder. Some pegasi also tried coming at us, but Rain’s group kept them well clear of the chariots.

Soon, the moderately disarrayed enemy was extremely disarrayed. Magic shots lit up the night as they flew down at them and up at us.

We were doing extremely well when one of the enemy unicorns got lucky and managed to clip one of my wings, sending me spiraling to the ground. I fell twenty feet before painfully landing in a chariot.

“I got you, sir,” the unicorn said, steadying me.

“That fucking hurt,” I groaned, pulling myself to my feet. “How’s the battle look, soldier?”

“Good, sir. They don’t know what hit them.”

“Excellent.” I pulled my crossbow up and loaded it, taking a shot at a unicorn and removing him from the game. “Let’s continue hurting them, shall we?”

“Yes sir!” His horn lit up and he went back to it. He shot magic, I shot bolts, and the enemy died.

About three minutes after I unexpectedly joined the ranged battle, I heard a thundering sound getting closer to our location. I looked out toward the woods and saw about a hundred and seventy earth ponies charging the enemy, Midnight Blossom at their head with a feral grin on her face. There were five griffins flying above them, looking like they were just waiting for a pony to rend. I had no idea how many enemies there were left, but they were probably broken enough to easily take out.

I would fly down and join the melee attack, but with one useless wing, I couldn’t. I could, however, get my chariot down low enough that I could jump out. “PEGASI, TAKE US LOW!”

One of the pullers gave me a ‘you what mate’ look. I pointed down. He shrugged and started angling to the ground, forcing the other with him. When we were finally about five feet from the grassland, I jumped out, using an enemy earth pony to break my fall.

I slammed a dagger into his surprised back and sent him away just as the friendly troops hit the first group of enemies. I slid my ring on before jumping to my feet and drawing my sword, striking down another enemy before he even realized that his friend was gone.

That’s when the fun began. I was in a few large battles with the slaves, but I was usually doing my best to avoid getting hit and avoid the fight more than killing the enemy. This time, I was actually trying to kill.

For those of you that have never experienced killing anything bigger than a bug, know that it gives you a rush unlike any other. I admit that I don’t much like putting myself in danger, but in a game like this where there’s no chance of actually getting hurt? I was having the time of my life, using what the naga taught me to lay into the terrified ponies around me.

I was fighting like a madman, throwing my blade to and fro and killing anything that got within range. Flo was whispering in my mind to tell me whenever she heard an enemy trying to get behind me.

Now I’ll admit, normally if I went one-on-one with any of these soldiers, they would probably kill me. But at night, while they were scared out of their minds and seeing enemies everywhere they looked, I was a god of battle, a whirling dervish of death and horror.

I actually stayed a few steps ahead of the main body of friendly troops so I didn’t accidentally hit any of them. Because of that, I was the first one to find their last line of resistance.

Fancy Pants stood ahead of me, decked out in bright gold-colored armor. Behind him stood rank after rank of day guards, a mix of all three flavors. Behind me stood rows of disorderly night guards, all rearing for a fight. We had gotten plenty of sleep. They had not, from the looks of things. A number of enemies had bags under their eyes, though they still seemed ready for a fight.

We stood off against them, my soldiers forming up behind me. They didn’t bother with ranks, though they probably could have if they so chose.

Even the chariots landed down on our lines, the unicorns jumping out.

Fancy Pants took a few steps forward, his men not moving. I walked up to him. “Ah, Navarone. It’s good to see you again, though I wish it was under more pleasant circumstances.”

I shrugged. “Eh, you know how it is.”

“Hm, indeed. You have a little something…” He pointed at his chin.

I rubbed my bare hand across it, my gauntlets still with Watcher. “Yeah, Princess Luna had a request for how I took down Shining Armor. She wanted me to bite his throat out.”

“Nasty bit of business, that. Me and the other officer, whatever his name is, tried to get the captain to release her, but he would hear none of it. I suppose it came back to bite him.”

We both grinned at the pun. “Yeah. I don’t suppose you and your men are ready to surrender? It would save everyone some casualties, and don’t think you’re going to win. If I had to guess, I’d say you have less than a hundred troops behind you. I have over three hundred with me. Both sides are tired. Let’s just call it, shall we?”

“I’m afraid that it isn’t that simple. I can’t as a knight in good standing surrender without at least making an attempt to fight back. A deal, if you would?” I know where this is going. “We duel. If you win, my troops surrender. If I win, we fight to the death. Is that fair?”

“It’s really not. You know your men are going to lose no matter the case. Why drag them to their graves? If you just want to duel me, we can have a friendly bout later, with no risk to your men.”

He looked around the battlefield. “Navarone, this is a friendly bout. Nopony will die here.”

“Yes, but we’re supposed to pretend this is a real war. Why care about honor and dueling when you can make sure your men go home to see their families? If I lose, they die, as do more of my troops. There’s no reason other than a last stand to do that, and I know that ponies do not have the emotion of spite.”

“Correct. We do, however, have honor.”

“Then do the honorable thing and surrender so that you and your men might live and go home.”

He sighed, kicking a hoof onto the ground. “You have a silver tongue, Navarone. I know it has to get you in trouble with the mares.” He turned his head to his men. “STAND DOWN!” There were looks of shock etched into all of their faces as he turned back to me. “We surrender, Navarone. But I want that sparring bout you promised me.”

I put my sword and dagger away. “You’ll have it.” I looked behind me and waved Midnight forward. She came trotting up to me. “He and his men surrender.”

“Unbelievable…” she whispered. “Very well. Sir Fancy Pants, I accept your surrender. You and your troops will be treated with honor, as prisoners should be.” There was silence for a moment. “Well, I suppose the games are over.”

He sighed and nodded. “Indeed they are, Miss Blossom. Princess Celestia is going to be disappointed, I believe. Shall we begin loading up the chariots, then?”

“Yes, have your remaining troops load up. If you need any assistance with getting excess chariots back, let us know. We might have enough spare pegasi to pull some,” Midnight said.

“I’ll leave that up to my remaining officer,” he said, waving forward Quisling.

“That’s actually a changeling working for us,” I said as Quisling joined us.

“Well. I suppose I will see you in a few minutes, Sir Navarone. I would like to talk to you, if you would have me on your chariot.”

I shrugged. “Sure. Go take care of your business. We’ll be over here, I suppose.” He rejoined his rather depressed troops and we went back to our joyful ones.

When we were right in front of the lines, Midnight stopped and called out in a voice that carried, “Victory is ours, everypony.” There was some happy cheering and all that. You know, the usual. Eventually, Midnight started calling for silence. “Now, we need to get all the chariots and troops over here. We also need to pick up the prisoners we had and get them back. Everypony, you know your jobs. Get to it.”

Most of the pegasi jumped into the air, flying around to get either chariots or the troops we left in the woods, not that there were many. Steel Rain landed next to me. “Any last orders, sir?”

“Make sure Watcher and Panzer get out here. I don’t want to leave them behind. And make sure we get our chariots back as well.”

“Yes sir.” He saluted and flew over to his group of pegasi.

I walked over to Quisling. “My knife?” I said.

He pulled something out of his armor as he melted back to his normal disguise. “That is an excellent knife, sir. Where did you get it?”

“The naga. They make very good weapons.”

“That they do, sir… Also, do you mind if I eat some more? It’s not always easy for me to find food in Canterlot.”

“Go ahead.” I knelt down and let him into my mind. He hummed something as he fed.

Eventually, he pulled away. “Thank you, sir.”

“No problem. Rejoin your normal unit, Quisling.” He saluted and trotted off.

I looked around the empty area and saw Fancy Pants talking to Midnight. I assumed it was about appropriating pegasi, and when Midnight nodded a few of them over to the day guards, I was proven right. Fancy Pants nodded a thanks and started wearily walking to me. I met him halfway.

“I am not as young as I used to be,” he sighed, stretching. “Not getting much sleep last night and none this night is taking its toll on me.”

“Imagine how they feel,” I said, nodding at his troops. “Some of them saw me use my teeth to tear out their commander’s throat. I imagine their morale is going to be quite low for a while.”

He nodded. “Yes, this wasn’t exactly our best moment. Celestia will have some words for both me and Shining Armor when we see her again.”

“Hey, if she gets mad, just tell her to chillax. And then scratch at her ears or rub her belly. She loves that.”

“It disturbs me that you know that, but honestly, I am no longer surprised by anything you do.”

One of the chariots pulled up in front of me and we both got on. “So what did you want to talk about?” I asked as I got as comfortable as I could on the contraption. I quickly found my gauntlets there, presumably left by Watcher.

“I assumed you would be interested in what was happening in our camp during the game.” The chariot slowly took off and thus began our trek back to Canterlot.

“Yeah. What was Shiny up to?”

“Before I continue, I want it known that I do not think Shining Armor is as useless a commander as this exercise made him out to be. He is under a lot of stress with his wife’s attempted assassination, after all. And he did have a number of surprises planned for you that he didn’t get to use.”

“Right.”

“Yes. Well, the first indication that I knew this was going to be a short game was when two troopers sprinted back to base screaming and raving about night troops falling from the sky and the murderous monkey that was eating a guard that turned into a zombie.” He chuckled. “That was a surprise, let me tell you. And Shining Armor was not pleased at losing so many troops so quickly into the game, including his most talented scouting officer. He decided to take the rest of the day off to let the panic simmer down from what the two returning troopers had said and reported. Of course, that night is when you struck. I have to say, if you had chosen to go after Shining Armor, this game would have turned out very differently. He was waiting for you, Navarone. And I mean you personally. When you did not arrive and the screams started, he knew you had out-planned him by going after another target. So he rushed out, expecting to find you running through camp causing chaos. Imagine his surprise when he saw nothing but a cloud of extremely painful gas.”

I nodded. “Tear gas. Used for crowd suppression.”

“Whatever it was, it caused a panic among the troops. Some of them heard you yelling from one side of the camp and a number of troops automatically started charging that way. Shining Armor was expecting their officers to tell them to halt. He didn’t realize yet just what you had done. When he did, he galloped to the order-callers and had them blow the trumpets for ‘hold your position.’ Most of the troops continued charging, following you across the field. And then you hit them with that marvelous ambush. It took us an hour to pick up just what had happened, though we didn’t know you planted a spy. When Shining Armor found out that you had killed almost all of his officers and used an actually dangerous weapon, he reported your actions to the princess. Princess Luna sided with you and assured us that Princess Celestia would do the same when she woke up. So Shining Armor decided it would be a smart idea, since there were no rules in war, to capture your leader and hold her over you.”

“Bad idea,” I said with a smile.

“Very. He ordered all of his troops to stay in camp while he did his best to reorganize everypony under the commands of the two officers he had left, me and your spy. And then night fell.”

I grinned. “And Celestia told us that you had our princess. The end for you.”

“Indeed. Once again, this was not our finest moment. I believe that might have something to do with you, though.”

“Yep. I have a ring that makes me immune to magic, meaning I was able to slip through Shiny’s shield. All of the troopers were too dependent on it, so they didn’t even see us as we broke in. I had a number of other dirty plans, if this game had continued to run on. Hell, I almost wanted it to.”

He nodded. “And so did I, so that I might have fought against you. But this might be for the best.”

“Eh, maybe. It just means I get to use my plans later instead.”

“And I look forward to the fight next year, if I am to be used as Celestia’s knight.” Not that I would be there, of course.

Well, that brought in the awkward silence. “So how’s the wife?” I eventually asked.

“Expensive, as always. I knew what I was getting into when I married her, so I can’t complain. Still, I wish she wasn’t as blatantly obvious with her boy toys. It makes me look bad that I don’t care about her behavior.”

“…You knew about that?”

“Of course I knew. You don’t think an older stallion like myself expected to keep her satisfied, do you? Once again, I knew what I was getting into when I married her.” He barked a laugh. “I’ve only heard of two young stallions that ever denied her, and she trumped up charges to get one arrested. I heard he did a few… heh, favors for the princess and got freed.” Holy shit, Rarity actually went with my excuse. “She is a troublemaker, but she can be fun and she definitely has her uses.” Uses that I don’t want to think about. “What of you, Nav? Do you have a special somepony yet?”

“Nope. After a few bad encounters, I think I’m done with mares. I’m looking at other races, now.”

“A shame, but I don’t suppose it is my loss.”

Man, I don’t feel like writing small talk. It’s called small for a reason. We kept up a light conversation the rest of the way back to Canterlot. We landed, shook hands/hooves, and he left to see Celestia while I left to look for Luna. Since Celestia was probably asleep, I imagine he had a longer wait than I did.

As it was, Midnight and I got to Luna’s throne room at the same time. I graciously held the door open for her and followed her in. We walked up to Luna’s dais. Blossom bowed and I nodded.

Luna was grinning. “You both did wonderfully. Defeating Celestia’s entire army with just over twenty casualties… That is a record. And all in two days, yet another record.” She nodded. “You succeeded in what I told you to, Navarone. You definitely embarrassed Shining Armor.”

Blossom jerked back. “I thought the goal was to win, Princess. Not just… embarrass Shining Armor.”

Your goal was to win, Captain,” Luna said, nodding. “Navarone’s goal from me was to embarrass Shining Armor.”

“That… is unorthodox, Princess,” Blossom tactfully said.

“Yes, it is. If you require nothing else, Captain, would you mind leaving me and my knight alone? I have words for him.”

Captain Midnight saluted and turned to go. She grabbed my arm and pulled me down to whisper, “Party in the Shady Trough as soon as you get free.” She let me go and left. The Shady Trough was the bar the night guards had. It sounded like it might be fun.

Of course, her leaving meant I was alone with Luna. She grinned down at me from her throne. “How shall I celebrate this glorious victory with my favorite knight?” she mused, stepping down from the dais and walking over to me.

“I can think of a few things.”

“Ohhh? And what might those things be?”

“You sitting back down and me leaving.”

That definitely stunned her. She gave me a confused look. “What?”

“That’s the reward I want. Me leaving the castle. Or a few thousand bits, whichever.”

“…You don’t want something we’d both enjoy?”

“Not really. I’ll see you later, Luna.” I turned and walked out, leaving her very confused form standing there in front of the throne.

I went straight to the bar and had fun with my troops. It was awesome.

 
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