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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21. Chapter Sixteen—The march to freedom!

Now, I know a lot of movies and crap have the heroes get clubbed in the skull and from there they can wake up in a few hours feeling fine.

That shit ain’t true. I was out for over a day with a concussion, nodding into and out of consciousness. When I finally woke up, I had the worst headache of my life. I leaned out of my bed and vomited what little I had in my stomach up, and then gagged until there was no bile left in my system at all. I still felt like shit, and I passed out again shortly afterwards.

I woke up again to a cat woman trying to feed me broth. I took what I could, though my head still felt like a horse had kicked it. Which, as I found out later, wasn’t that far from the truth: It was a zebra that knocked me out.

When I finally woke up for good, I found I was in a small camp on the western bank of the Nile. It was definitely a war camp; I could hear some sounds of smithing being done in one area, and I heard troops calling cadences in another area. My leg was chained to the floor, with the weight buried under hard-packed sand.

Of my weapons or Spike there was no sign, though it did appear that someone was sharing the yurt with me. Another rumpled cot sat against one of the walls.

Seeing nothing I could do, I settled back to wait. My body was cramped from the long time spent in bed, so I did my best to shake it loose. There was only so much I could do with my wings, but I did what I could.

I had my back to the tent door, wings completely outstretched, when someone pushed the tent flap in and gasped. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, because it’s never crossed my mind or seemed important, but my wingspan is… well, large. I’m around five foot six, myself. My wingspan is probably eight feet, stretched completely out. Pegasi have more magic in them than I do, meaning their wings are a hell of a lot smaller despite them weighing more than I do. It means I’m good at gliding but mediocre at actual flying. I can imagine someone that has never seen anything with wings would be surprised to see them stretch so far.

Anyway, when I heard the gasp behind me, I retracted my wings and quickly turned, surprised at being caught off guard. I can’t imagine how I looked; I had been away from a mirror since I left Ponyville, and so I hadn’t bothered to shave since then. The rubber band was out of my hair, meaning it was thrown about wildly when I turned. My face was filthy from sand and dust and grime. I probably looked like an angel after a serious yearlong bender.

“Uh, hi,” I said, not sure what to do. The person that disturbed me was a female cat. A very buxom female cat, of the like that I wouldn’t have been too surprised to have seen working with some of the ponies back in Alexandria. She had a bucket of water in one hand and a bowl of broth in the other. I couldn’t tell if she was going to call the guards or come the rest of the way in, so I didn’t make any sudden movements. I just very slowly sat back down on my bed.

“We… we are surprised to see you awake so soon,” she said weakly.

“Yeah, that happens with me.” Humor sometimes works, but with no context this one fell flat. “I don’t suppose that food is for me?”

“…Yes. It is. And the water. For drinking or for washing. We are near the river, it is easy to find.” So nervous. Am I really that ugly?

“If you’re afraid of me, just leave it right there and I’ll wait until you’re gone to get it.”

That seemed to prompt her into moving, and she brought me the bowl and left the bucket by the bed, then sat on the other bed in the room. I murmured thanks and began eating what I could. I still felt like shit, but I put down as much of it as I could bear. After a day or two in bed, I was feeling very weak and knew I needed to eat something.

When I set the bowl aside, she started talking. “Our leader wants to speak to you. We thought you were a simple mercenary, a sword for hire, but when we started searching your belongings we found some… interesting letters.” Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit.

Instead of showing any distress, though, I forced myself to calmly say, “Then you know who—and what—I am. I trust I am not a prisoner?” with a pointed look at my chain.

“That is there merely so you will not try to flee or fight before we have a chance to talk with you. We read your journal entries.” This just got a lot more interesting. Thankfully, I left most of them back in Equestria. All I had here were the things I had written in the time since we left. Nothing that painted me as too much of a coward, so I could easily fake being an absolute badass agent of the crown. I mean, Celestia ruled more than half of the world. Why would she send a coward and a weak fighter into a place like this?

“Where is Spike?”

“Your dragon friend? He is being safeguarded.”

“Let me see him.”

“Not until you talk with our leader.”

“How can I trust you that he’s still alive?”

“You will just have to take my word.” Dammit. These cat people were starting to piss me off. “He told us some interesting things about you, too. He seems a lot more talkative than you do.”

“That’s probably because he didn’t get knocked out and wake up chained to the ground.”

“That wasn’t my decision.”

“Your people didn’t even ask if I would come quietly. I was unarmed!”

“Perhaps. We still didn’t know if we could trust you. But now, you don’t know where we are.”

“Your recruiting policy is shit. Tell that to whoever is in charge of it. And tell Anton that he can suck a dick, if you ever see him again. Last time I take a job from a fucking pony with a violent fucking cutie mark.”

She smiled at that, and was about to respond, when the tent flap was wrenched open and a large, hulking cat walked in. Now, I have been in the presence of some violent people. The naga, for example, were violent. Theirs was an honorable sort of violence, though; unless you really pissed them off, they would fight fair. I’ve been among gang bangers back home. They were violent, but if you were their friend, you were their friend for life, and they would always back you up.

This cat, though… this fucker looked like he was just looking for any excuse to fly off the handle toward anyone. His hands were large enough to grab my head in one and my feet in the other and just pull. And he looked strong enough to actually rip me in half, too. His face was a mass of scars, and his back was just as bad. He was missing one finger on his right hand and half of his right ear looked chewed off.

I didn’t want to do anything to piss this guy off. I was afraid to even look at him. But I knew my stance here depended heavily upon what little authority I had from Celestia, and how I acted. So I met his gaze evenly, even though my feet felt like they should be quaking.

When he saw that, he openly sneered, twisting the scars on his face into obscene shapes. “Come on, you winged freak. We’re going for a walk.” With that, he bent down and ripped the chain out of the sand, pulling up a rock the size of Spike with it. I stood up, but before I could move, the cat lady pushed me back down.

“That’s no way to treat our guests, Rock.”

“Until it speaks to the boss, it isn’t a guest. It’s a prisoner.”

He is a guest in my tent. And you will treat my guests with honor.”

I honestly thought he was about to punch her in the face and drag me off, but astoundingly he bowed his head to her. “As you want, Kat.” Then, to me, “Come along, guest. You have a meeting with the boss.”

I stood again and waved my arm forward. “Lead the way.”

It was a rather disorderly camp. Little cubs ran about our feet, gazing in wonder at the ‘Sphinx,’ they called me. That did not bode well, in my mind at least.

I was itching for my desert clothes, to hide my humanness to these people. And to hide my wings, of course. All I had on right now was a pair of pants that they probably found in my belongings. The sun was beating down on my exposed flesh, already making me feel overheated.

The leader’s tent was in the center of the bunch, and we were on one of the edges. It didn’t take us five minutes to make it there, but the half of the camp we passed through was abuzz with gossip as soon as they laid eyes on me. I didn’t know how far the news that I was from Equestria had traveled, but these people definitely knew something was up. I kept my head held high, at least pretending to have a bit of dignity. I might be walking to the executioner’s block, but at least I could give them a show.

When I got to the leader’s tent, I was made to sit down and wait. He was writing some manner of note or plan or something. As soon as I sat down, I realized exactly what was happening. Thankfully, I knew I could outwait any cat any day, and set about proving it.

While I was waiting, I took some time to study the cat in front of me. He was small, not overly old, but I could definitely feel some intelligence there. As I studied more of his body, I started to realize that this wasn’t exactly as much of a ‘he’ as I originally thought. She shifted once, and I could tell that I was correct in my new assessment: This dude was a chick. Her whiskers were long, her eyes were dark green, and she was a deep coal black color. She wasn’t scarred like her hulking fighter behind me, nor as buxom and noticeable as the Kat next to Rock.

No, their leader was someone you could lose in a crowd and never find again, or someone you could meet and know all your life but never able to describe well. Very nondescript, you know? It’s hard to describe.

After half an hour of waiting, she gave up on that method and looked up. “So, Navarone, we meet at last.”

“You know my name, but I don’t have the honor of yours.”

“Oh, you’re going to be a fun one, aren’t you? We know quite a lot about you, Navarone. Working for the horse queen of the ponies, set to flee east with as many of her ponies as you can bring with you, and with as many of my cats to use as cannon fodder as possible. Tell me, did you really think we would be so foolish as to take that offer?” Oh man. Full overgear into lie mode.

“I can understand why you might think it unwise to trade one type of slavery for what you might see as another.”

“Tell me, why should we flee east and beg for asylum from an eternal princess? Why should we not instead fight for our freedom here in our own land?”

“You might know I’m not from this world; I don’t remember how much is in that journal you read. But either way, I’m not. I’m from a world where war is common and rebellions are everyday things. Do you know what happens in my world to civilians with weapons that try to go up against standing governments with large armies?” Before she could answer, I said, “They die. They die fast and they die hard. Even if they get outside support from powerful nations, they still tend to have an attrition rate that is simply unacceptable to any good commander. If you want to fight your government, you will lose, unless you can turn almost the entire population against them.”

“And what makes you think we can’t?”

“Because many of your people have already fled east. They wouldn’t be running if they were winning, or had a good chance to.”

She stood up, beginning to pace behind her desk. “Some fools don’t see the big picture. They think that by running, their problems are solved. What of their families and their clan that are left behind? What of their people that are left to suffer? Why should we few who escape be the lucky ones who can leave our hard lives behind? Why can’t we all break out? Or better yet, change the system?”

“Because that isn’t how life works. You can’t butt heads with the hardest skull in the area if you are the weakest. You can try to fight if you want, but it won’t do you any good. Better to grab as many people as you can and flee to the nearest safe area as quietly as possible. Nowhere in this country is safe for you, not for long anyway. This is a nomadic style camp, I could tell when I walked through it. You can’t fight a government with these numbers. But if you flee east, you could build a safe haven there for any escaped slave that can make it to you, and build a network to funnel slaves through.” I could see Kat preening behind me, while Rock seemed to glower darkly at my back. A quick guess told me that I just suggested what Kat wanted and what Rock feared.

The leader looked to Kat, “Did you feed him this idea before he came here?”

“He woke up and not five minutes later Rock came in and grabbed him. I barely had a chance to feed him.”

The leader looked back to me. “And would your queen be willing to help us in this?”

“I don’t know. I can’t answer for her.”

“Then what good are you to us?”

“Give me some paper, a pen, and let me meet with Spike alone for half an hour.”

“How can I trust that you won’t magic yourself away?”

“What does it matter to you if we do? You’d be in the same boat you were before we met.”

I could see the debate on her face. Finally, she assented. She turned to Kat. “Go get the dragon.”

The leader gave me paper and a pen. “When the dragon gets here you have fifteen minutes.” I started writing.

When Spike arrived, he whooped. “Navarone, thank Celestia you’re alive!”

“Yeah, they aren’t kind with their recruiting options.”

The leader chick ahemmed and said, “Fifteen minutes.” They all filed out of the tent.

I wrote ‘respond asap’ on the letter, then handed it to Spike. “Send this to Celestia.” He did. “We’re in a mess here, mate. These people don’t trust us or Celestia, and they’re divided on what they even want to do. Some want to stay and fight, some want to flee and build a refugee network as they go.”

“Why can’t they all just go north and let Celestia pick them up in boats?” Good question with an easy answer.

“That would be tantamount to war. It’s one thing to offer asylum, it’s another thing to steal people from their own country. Remember, there are ponies here that can’t leave; if Celestia starts helping slaves escape like that, the government here will have a reason to start oppressing ponies even more.”

“That’s cruel!” Immediately after saying that, he belched out a response.

“That’s politics,” I said as I grabbed the note.

It read, “Could I, through you, teleport the leader to me to talk?”

I wrote, “Negative. Locals too paranoid. Negative on you coming, either. Can’t risk a pony life here due to a misunderstanding. Give me one answer or another. Sorry.”

I gave that to Spike.

The response said, “If their refugee network will include allowing ponies to escape east, they can all come if they want. Help them however they need it.”

“Thank God,” I said, letting out a breath. I stuck my head out of the tent, and told them we were done and had a response. It was a subdued group that came in.

When they were all settled, I told them the news: “If your escaped slave network includes ponies, you can stage all you want in her territory.” Kat, at least, was pleased at that. Rock and the leader were less so, but only Rock expressed actual disappointment.

“So, now that we’re done with that business, how about letting us get out of your hair?” I asked. Spike nodded happily.

The leader frowned. “Not quite that simple. You know our plans. We can’t just let you roam the desert freely.”

“I don’t plan to roam the desert. I plan to head directly east and get the hell out of this fucking place.”

“We still can’t let you do that. I’m afraid you’re coming with us, even if we have to chain you and make Rock drag you.”

“Will you at least let me have my weapons back?”

“You can have that hunk of wood and one of your knives. The rest are needed.”

“And my bolts? My gloves? My journals? Pretty much everything else I had?

“Everything we didn’t keep, we left with Spike. Speaking of which, you two can see each other once a day, but otherwise you are to be kept apart. As long as you behave well, Navarone, you can continue to stay with Kat. Just obey her orders. Otherwise… Well, I’ve heard cages do interesting things to winged creatures.” Oh hell no.

“If you cage me, you will die.” It was not a threat, not a warning, just a direct statement of fact, and it was said as such.

She nodded, as though that was what she was expecting. “Then don’t make it necessary.”

A silence came over us until an odd thought occurred to me. “Tell me, why do the cubs outside call me Sphinx?”

“There is a massive statue the slaves were forced to build down outside of Catro. It has your type of body, your type of wings, but the face of a cat. The slaves and the common people who built it thought the naga that commissioned it were mad. But then you show up. What would you think, Navarone?”

“As long as no one asks me for a riddle, I’m okay with it.”

“That reminds me. The question you asked me at the start of this discourse, my name. I am called Jocasta.” Son. Of. A. Bitch.

That requires some understanding of strange human mythology to get. One of the legends of the Sphinx was that Oedipus answered her riddles and the Sphinx fell in love with him because of it. But Oedipus loved a woman named Jocasta, which was his mother—it’s an odd story.

Anyway, the Sphinx ended up killing herself to try to get Oedipus to love her or something like that. I don’t know much, but that sounded right. Either way, it was a terrifying coincidence that I would run into a group of people that call me Sphinx led by a woman named Jocasta.

With that bombshell, she had my chain removed and sent us back to our tents. I asked Kat about letting me fly, but she said no. “You would be the only flier in the air, and they are not a common sight. We are not too far from Catro, and you might bring retribution upon us.”

My crossbow and naga knife were returned to me in Kat’s tent. With them came everything else I had on me: Letters, journals, about half of my bolts, the alcohol, my gloves, and one of the fire starters. I didn’t even bother asking what they did with the rest.

With the bucket of water that was still untouched next to my bed, I started cleaning my face and shaving with the finely honed edge of the well-made naga knife. Kat looked up when I was about halfway done and said, “If you do that, the kids might stop calling you Sphinx.”

I looked at her and said, “Good,” and then continued.

Since I wasn’t used to shaving with a knife or without a mirror, I nicked myself a few times, but it was nothing too bad. Kat mentioned it, though, “Doesn’t that hurt?”

I shrugged. “Nothing major.” I think she smiled at that for some reason, but I wasn’t really paying attention to her. When I finished, I went to put on my desert clothes. She watched for a while, but stopped me as I was throwing on the cape. “You are to leave your wings uncovered, unless told otherwise.” I sighed. “Why would you be so quick to hide them?”

“Because nowhere I go do I fit in at all. Among the ponies I am an outsider. Among the naga, I was welcome after I proved my prowess in battle, but they hated my wings as soon as they saw them. In that port city, I was almost drugged and then who knows what just for being different. It was only when I was able to cover myself completely, hiding the wings and my skin, that I was able to stroll the streets relatively unmolested.”

“How are you able to live among the ponies, knowing they did that to you?”

“It was an accident. And it was only the fault of one. They are a truly peaceful people at heart, and no one sane craves war. I’d love to live in peace, even if the fire in my blood would desire action of some sort. I might live alone among them, but at least I would live in peace.”

“It sounds like a nice dream.”

“Until recently it was a reality, at least for a while. My services were requested by one of my friends there, to deal with what we thought was a hostage crisis. It turned out to be a siege of one group of naga against another, with the ‘hostages’ being kept for their own protection. I ended up sneaking into the enemy camp and killing most of the naga there, with either my knife or with fire. There was a single survivor. My soul had seen some of the atrocities of war firsthand, then, and my hands had held the knife that snuffed out several lives, not with a shout, but with a whimper in the darkness. I killed in cold blood, and then set fire to their tents to distract them while I fled. I didn’t realize their women and children were in the tents…”

“You aren’t the only one that has done horrible things. But as you yourself said, accidents are forgivable. And so is killing, as I am well aware.” I should have questioned that. Instead, I went back to self-pity.

“I wish I could believe that…”

“Then allow our people to be your redemption, if that is the way you feel. Your experiences with the naga led you here, and here you have the ability to save thousands, to redeem yourself from your hundred killed.”

“But at what cost? What level of blood will my hands be drenched in by the time we reach the border? Especially if you all do as I fear and lollygag about in fleeing!”

“And why would we do that?”

“You need to build connections and steal more slaves as we run. That can’t be done quickly, unless you want to just go in and kill anything that moves in larger slave camps.”

“And what’s wrong with that?”

“It would be suicide. This group of people is, what, fifty strong? Give or take a dozen. You could smuggle that number out with no problem, even if you did have to split up. Keeping that number of people fed and with water isn’t impossible, either, though it might be hard; you’d have to raid a caravan or two on the way, unless you have stockpiles. But if you start freeing every slave between here and the Suez Canal, that would force a response from the government and the people would be impossible to feed. And I don’t know what you were told regarding the spirit of the warrior, but that is complete shit. The enemy has weapons and training, we don’t. And if we’re forced to fight our way across the border, we will lose too many troops pushing it. You can’t force a river front like the Suez without massive support squads and engineers trained in pontoon building. If that was your plan, you’d be better off guerilla fighting with a group about this size and just doing damage as you can here and there, working to destabilize the government. A full scale fight is something you would lose.”

“That was basically my argument. Rock wouldn’t buy it, and Jocasta really wants to free everyone. With the support of the ponies on our side, though, we can possibly force the government to give over on its slaves and release everyone peacefully.”

“I hope so. I know if Celestia is forced to push the issue, I’ll probably be either on the front lines or behind the enemy lines, causing what havoc I could in the back. Either way, it would be dangerous for me. I just want to get home, or at the very least among friends.”

“What makes you think that you would be the one sent? It might be one of us; we look more like we belong here than you do.”

“Trust, of course. That and I think she secretly hates me and wants to get me killed.”

“If you are so useful, why would she feel this way?”

“I have made life difficult for her, for reasons I am not at liberty to say.”

“Maybe you will tell me more of your secrets in time, Navarone.”

Not this one. “I don’t know what more you want from me. I’ve told you pretty much everything about me that you asked. Hell, not like you can use any of it against me.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that. You said that not many ponies know of your activities. What would you do if we were to threaten to reveal them? They might not let you back.”

“And why would you want to do that?”

“To keep you here, where you can help us fight.”

“What makes you think I’d want to help you after you ruin my chance of returning to peace?”

“Where else would you go?”

“I could go to your enemies, if nothing else. If the ponies disown me, I have some plans in place that could easily destabilize this world, in more ways than one.” Not entirely true, but I did have a few ideas to take down Celestia that I didn’t mention to anyone. And if I had to go about wiping out slave groups for a corrupt government, I had methods of doing that as well. “Basically, it would not be in your good interests to betray me.”

“You talk big, but you have little proof to back up what you say. What makes you think you could even go to our enemies? They would probably never take you.”

“A mercenary that brings the head of a leader in the enemy force would be rather highly praised. I told you some things about me, but not everything. You bastards may currently have me neutered, with a blade against Spike’s throat, but if that dynamic was gone, you would never see me again. Or at least, not until it was too late to run.”

“So why should we even keep you alive, if you could be such a great threat?”

“Because I won’t be until you turn me into one.”

“You know, Navarone,” she said, walking to me. “You aren’t the only one with trump cards,” she said, with a caress to my face that suddenly turned sharp as she bared her claws. “I could do anything I wanted to you, and you would be forced to sit there and take it.”

“You could, but I don’t see why you would.”

“Ah, confusion in his eyes at last,” she whispered, turning away. “So you aren’t as smart as you think you are.”

“There would be nothing to gain for you. Unless you’ve planned to be found out, and want me to take the blame for it.”

“You always seem to think of politics. Never of fun. Tell me, when was the last time you laid with a woman?”

Oh, that’s what this is about. “As far as I know, about a month. A naga woman.”

“I see. Stretch your wings for me.”

What the fuck is wrong with this chick? I gave her the look you would expect when you’re thinking something like that.

“I wasn’t asking, Navarone.”

I did as she said, stretching them as far as I could. She walked back up and ran her paws over them, sighing with pleasure as she caressed them. I felt dirty, but I couldn’t help a little moan… What the fuck? Why does that feel… good?

And then she nodded once and walked out of the tent.

I had finally found someone crazier than Pinkie Pie. And I was living with her until we got back to the ponies.

I was tempted to act out to end up with Rock instead, but I was more afraid of any of his fetishes than I was of Kat’s. At least if push came to shove, I could resist Kat if I had to.

But seriously, what the fuck?

 

The next day, we broke camp. For basically being a large band of nomads, they were surprisingly professional about it. Everything was squared away in under two hours and we were on our way.

And of course, instead of going east across the river, we went fucking south.

“Why are we going the wrong way?” I asked Kat.

“Because we can’t cross the river here.”

“Why not?” I swear to God if you say it’s because you’re cats…

“The river is… unsafe.”

“Why don’t we go north instead and use rafts to travel along the coast? We’d avoid any military patrols and we could easily just skim around the border and the Suez Canal.”

“We have our reasons.” Dammit, they’re going to attack some camps.

 

Dammit, I hate it when I’m right. I was in the middle of running a mission, basically doing the same crap I did with the naga: Fly in and either wreak havoc or release slaves.

Since the cat people were stealthier and lighter than the naga, I was able to fly a small fighter in with me. His name was Miguel, a dirty little fighter that I hand picked because I knew he would be slitting throats and would probably get caught and cause enough of a distraction to let me get out unscathed.

While he was gleefully killing guards, I was using the keys from a belt loop that I casually ‘borrowed’ to release slaves. I pointed them to the entrance of the camp, where Miguel had already dealt with the guards. A few more ‘freedom fighters’ were making their way in, but we couldn’t risk bringing in too many.

Dammit, whose idea was this? Kat was reasonably sensible when it came to stuff like that, I had found. I was guessing Jocasta, because Rock would have just ordered us to attack the place up front, in plain daylight, with no planning.

I pulled the lock on the last slave pen and pointed them to the exit, then went looking for Miguel and the rest of the fighters. All I had to do was follow the sound of the general alarm that just started going off. Son of a bitch. I grabbed the nearest friendly and yelled at him, “We have to get out!”

He shook out of his bloodlust and nodded numbly, pushing and pulling his comrades back. In an effort to hasten the process—before the gates could be closed and our troops locked inside—I did my best to light some of the empty slave pens on fire. That probably wouldn’t kill any guards, but it would provide a distraction. There was little wood in the pens, as they were made of mostly clay or something like it, but I burned what I could.

When I saw that most of the fighters got the message, I leapt into the air to see what more I could do. There was, of course, general bedlam. I saw that the last fighter was Miguel, and he was doing an insane dance with two long daggers. Nothing got near him and lived. I was tempted to leave him, but I swooped in and grabbed him just as he pulled his daggers out of a newly made cadaver. He almost stabbed me before he returned to his senses.

Instead, he yelled, “Good fight, Sphinx!” Kat was wrong about that name. It did stick, even though I shaved. “We killed many today!”

I didn’t answer.

 

When we got back to the camp, the mood was ecstatic. They had won their first battle against the enemy and were high on their success. I didn’t want to ruin their party so soon, so instead I went to Jocasta’s tent. After a brief altercation with the guards, I was allowed inside.

“What in the hell was that?” I accosted her.

“That was restoring hope to my people,” she answered with a shiny smile across her black face.

“Tell me, where are we going to get food for these people? Or water? And what about the old, the young, the infirm? If we stop, we die. If we slow down too much, we die. If we run out of food or water, we die. I thought I made that clear!”

The smile disappeared and in a cold, calm fury, she said, “You are not in charge of this camp. You are an agent of a foreign power. You were promised to us as aid. You will obey my orders or you will die. Is that understood?”

“You’re going to get us all killed.” With that, I left, not letting her respond.

I stood at the edge of the party, not belonging there and yet somehow wanting to join in on the happiness. We had come a ways from where we had started, at least; we finally got across the river, at a bridge not too far north of Cairo. Thankfully, the group we were in was small enough to be classified as a ‘roaming nomad group,’ as I had predicted, and we weren’t searched that hard before we were allowed through.

We were making slow progress, not wanting to alarm any patrols that might be tracking us. At the time, I was predicting making it to the Suez Canal in at best two weeks, if we went in a straight line.

And then came the attack on the enemy camp. Now we were up to over three hundred people, many weak from slave labor or too old to be useful. We could no longer be seen as a nomadic group; we were too large and we had sacked an enemy area. Basically, any patrol that ran into us now had to be wiped out before they could report us.

And just to show that whatever god is watching over this mad world wasn’t paying attention to me, Kat decided she wanted to celebrate that night.

 

(Sex is coming. Ctrl+f Sex is over to skip)

I got back to our tent shortly after I left Jocasta’s. I don’t know why Kat and I were given a tent; maybe Kat was a leader of sorts, or maybe the cats thought I was important enough to warrant one.

Kat was there, surprisingly. I hadn’t thought much of her threat; she hadn’t mentioned it since that day, so I was thinking she decided against it.

I was wrong.

She was sitting on the bed—the bed, mine was gone for some reason. Next to her was a… collar. And next to that was a leash.

I turned around, about to step right back out.

“If you leave, I’ll tell Jocasta you haven’t been obeying me.” I stopped. I just pissed Jocasta off; she’d side with Kat and smile while doing it. I turned around again. “That’s better,” Kat said, smiling. “Now why don’t you come over here?”

I slowly walked to her.

“Ooh, trying to make me excited?” she purred, seeing my slow advance. “We have all night, you know.”

I was right in front of her, towering over her.

“On your knees, Navarone,” she casually said, stroking the collar. I jerkingly lowered myself down until I was kneeling in front of her. My head was about at her stomach. “Look at me,” she whispered.

I turned my eyes up at hers. Our eyes met. She reached around my neck and I heard the collar snap into place. “Your journals said you didn’t think sex with a slave was fair, Nav. Rape, you called it. What does that make what we’re about to do?”

I didn’t answer.

She stood and walked behind me, holding the leash. I felt it clip onto the collar around my neck. She tugged it gently to make sure it was attached.

“I remember seeing you when you were knocked unconscious,” she said, still behind me. “Stripped down. Helpless. Like a little wounded bird…” She gently caressed my wings. “I wanted you.” I felt her caresses turn sharp. “I am going to make you sing, my sweet little bird. And you are going to love me for it.” She pulled the leash harder, upwards. I stood and turned. I looked down at her. I could crush you.

“Strip me,” she ordered. I began untying and removing her clothing, doing my best to not touch her actual fur, but I know my hands had to graze it a few times. When she was completely nude, she sat back on the bed, pulling the leash down. I kneeled again. “You’re good at this, human. I almost think you’ve had practice.”

I didn’t answer.

“I don’t need you to talk, Navarone. I think I’ll like the sounds you’ll be making soon more anyway,” she said, grinning. I just looked down at her body. I knew what I was about to be doing. It wouldn’t be so bad… She looked a lot more human than the ponies or the naga. And I knew that if I absolutely had to, I could resist. But… it was still rape.

She opened her legs. “What are you waiting for?” she whispered. I looked at her hidden gem. It was smaller than a mare’s or the naga’s. There was the hint of a clit jutting out with her slowly growing arousal. Thankfully, there was a general lack of fur around the part I knew would be getting most of the attention.

When I raised my hands to pull her closer, the collar tightened as she pulled the leash. “No hands, Nav,” she said. I lowered them, sighing gently. Since she was making me go to her, I leaned my head in and breathed out some warm air against her folds. She shuddered lightly. One of her paws went to the top of my head and I knew I was about to be forced in if I didn’t stop delaying. I moved my head a bit closer and took her clit into my mouth, tweaking it with my tongue.

She let out a deep moan, beginning to purr. Oh God, it’s like I’m having sex with a ca—Oh right. I continued playing with her clit, and felt the hand that was on my head slip down to my wings, gently caressing one of them. It felt really nice, but the entire situation felt… wrong.

After a few minutes of toying with her clit and hearing her deep moans, I began to lick the lips of her small pussy. I could taste the juices that were beginning to flow with more and more force; slightly sweet with a bitter aftertaste. How is she staying clean? Some questions are better left unanswered, I suppose.

After half a minute of that, I moved my tongue inside. Holy fuck, she’s tight even on my tongue! I swirled around, trying to find any good spots but not really knowing what I was doing. This was, after all, only the second time I’ve done this, and the first was with a naga that was so cold my tongue felt frostbitten.

I heard her say, “After this night, I’ll have to teach you how to do this properly…” She ruined her assessment with another moan. “But for now,” she sighed, “your amateur style is refreshing.”

Amateur? Well, technically… But I know a few tongue tricks, and I’ve seen the tongues of cats. Since I began, I had narrowed my tongue out to make the contact area smaller so I would suffer less. But if she was going to taunt me… I flattened my tongue, widening it considerably and stretching her folds apart, making her gasp. I gave her insides a long lick from a wide tongue and felt an influx of fluids as she came.

Her moaning increased in volume and depth until I could feel it resonating in my chest. Holy fuck, that actually feels… good!

And then I felt a sharp pain in the wing she had been caressing. I flinched and pulled back from her, but the leash didn’t give me enough slack to see what the fuck she just did to me. She was riding the last waves of her pleasure, and was finally able to speak coherently again. “Aww, did I hurt the little birdy?” I looked up at her face, my mouth still lightly dripping from her juices. She was looking down at me, smiling. “I know just how to make you feel all better!”

She stood, letting the leash hang loose, and moved behind me again. She put one of her paws on the center of my back, right between my wings. With a surprising show of strength, she pushed me onto the low bed, leaving my legs on the floor so I was bent over. I swear to whoever is listening, you do what I think you’re going to do, and your ass is grass. Spike can take a knife to the spleen before I’ll take anything up that hole.

I felt her straddle my back. Slowly, she began to unwind the desert clothes I was in, until most of my back was uncovered. “Prop your head up,” she ordered. I moved my arms to do that. Then she began to rub my wings.

Rubbing them a bit turned into rubbing them a lot. That turned into a full blown wing-rape, and before I knew it I was having to hold moans in. Why didn’t anyone tell me these wings were so sensitive?

“Stop hiding your pleasure,” she whispered in what I thought was a seductive tone. “I want to hear your music, my pretty little bird.” Fuck you, bitch. I couldn’t hold them in anymore, though, and let out a small moan.

I’m not good with moans of pleasure. It’s a good thing I was a different species, or she probably would have been concerned with my health.

As it was, she increased her efforts, saying, “I knew this had to be getting to you. I’ve dealt with wings like this in the past…”

When I felt like I was finally about to give in to the pleasure entirely, she stopped. I sighed, unable to tell if I was actually disappointed. She got off my back and used the leash to force me back up into a kneeling position. “Can’t let you get too excited,” she said. “You aren’t finished.”

She stood to my side and grabbed one of my wings. “Stretch out your wings again.” I did so, and noticed that the one she had grabbed was hitting some resistance. I heard her moan lightly and looked over to see what the fuck she was doing.

My wing was between her legs. I pushed it harder up and she answered with another little moan. I ruffled my feathers and she gasped. She began to grind against me, coating my feathers with her juices. Eww.

She did that for a while, sliding up and down my wing and coating the entire thing with a thin film of cat juices. She finally said, “You may lower your wings now.”

It was actually hard to do that… They seemed to want to keep themselves up. I forced them down with a measure of will.

“You feel it, don’t you?” she whispered with a smile. She used the leash to make me stand. “Drop ‘em,” she commanded, looking at the pants. I did. “I thought you’d be happy to see me…” she said, looking at my fully extended manhood. I didn’t want to, but… her moans were sexy as hell. She gently put one of her paws on it and traced it lightly. “Different from a cat’s, that’s for sure… No spikes.” She gripped it. “And much bigger.” She let it go. “On the bed.”

I looked at the bed. I looked back at her and fluttered my wings. She noticed and understood. “Deal with it,” she said with a smile, shoving me down.

I hit hard, smarting my wings rather fiercely. Before I could move, she was on me. And before I could notice that she was on me, I was in her. She growled deep in her throat. “Nice… tight… fit…” she whispered, adjusting slightly at each word. Holy fuck, she’s tight. When she was finally adjusted, she pulled my leash until I was closer up, removing some of the weight off my wings. “I have been… well trained, Navarone. I don’t expect you to keep up.” Her eyes narrowed. “But if I find you cum before you absolutely couldn’t hold it in any longer…” she pulled me as close as she could get and leaned down the rest of the way so our eyes were right next to each other, “…I’ll borrow some toys from Jocasta so I can teach you how a real tom pleases a molly.” What? She leaned down even further and kissed me deeply, pushing her tongue in my mouth and brooking no resistance from me. When she pulled back, she was wearing a tight smile. “I’m glad to know you can be so pliable. I’m sure your princess loves that as well.” Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with the girls in this world? And why does everyone think I’m fucking Celestia?

She dropped the leash and I fell back, letting my arms catch me before my wings got caught in the bed again. Then she began to ride me. With her juices flowing as they were, she had no problem taking all of me in, even though I was apparently so much larger than the typical cat. The only sounds in our little tent were her deep moans and the thwapping sound of wet fur against wet skin.

I felt the pleasure build very quickly, but knew that if I came too soon I would very deeply regret it. I did my best to hold it in as long as I could, but she wasn’t lying when she said she was trained; she was squeezing me in just the right places at just the right times. I don’t know how she knew how to pleasure a human, but holy fuck, I wasn’t complaining.

I didn’t realize how much I was getting to her, though… Apparently she wasn’t quite used to someone with my apparent size. She was still going just fine, but was now lying across my chest. I looked in her face and saw either pain or pleasure, it was hard to tell. I was guessing pleasure, since she was still going just as happily as she began.

And her fur and body felt great against my bare chest. She was really, really soft, and squishy in all the places a human would be. I would have wrapped my arms around her if she hadn’t already told me to not use my hands. Or if I wasn’t holding myself up. Or if she wasn’t technically raping me.

Either way, with her lying across me, every motion she made brushed her clit against me, giving her even more pleasure. She actually came before me, and her contractions caused me to finally lose it. When she started, I felt her arms go to my back. Oh, how cu—HOLY SHIT!

I arched my back, pressing myself further against her. I felt and heard blood dripping onto the bed behind me. HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS BITCH! I tried to push her off of me, but her claws were actually dug into my back now.

When she rode out the wave of pleasure, she pulled herself gently off my chest and looked up at me, her claws still in my back. I was looking at her with horror, my eyes wide. She smiled. “You’re mine now, my little birdy. And I know just how to take care of you… And if you don’t give me what I want, when I want,” she said, her eyes narrowing, “I think I know just how to take it.” She pulled one of her paws off of my back and brought it up to her face. It was covered in blood. She smiled and took a little lick. “This is just the beginning,” she promised me.

Oh shit…

 

The next night began her… lessons. Over the nights, she taught me how to properly go down on a chick, how to hit all the right spots in every thrust, how to last as long as possible, how to make the girl beg, and more. It was informative, but each night ended with more scars in my back, less sleep for me, and another rape. I quickly learned to dread nights.

The lesson she taught me that she didn’t want me to learn was how to be silent. After the fifth night she didn’t get a peep from me until she scratched me at the night’s end. I couldn’t resist her or fight back for fear of retribution, but by God I could make her lose by not singing for her.

One week. Every night. I have no idea how much blood I lost. After the third day, I tried postponing my visits with Spike until the night to try to get her to go to sleep waiting for me, but she got Miguel to look after him and teach him things whenever I tried to visit him. I gave up on that tactic quickly, since it was my daily talks with Spike that kept me sane.

“You know, my little bird,” she was saying one night, “it would be so much easier if you just accepted this.” She ran a claw down my chest and onto my dick—not scratching anything, just making my skin tingle.

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t, with my mouth gagged; I let off a scream one night when she went way too far and now she kept me gagged for these sessions—when my mouth wasn’t being used for something else, that is.

“Oh, I know, you give me whatever I want and I take what you’re not willing to part with,” she continued, “But you still aren’t fully mine.” She patted me gently on my cheek. The one on my face, I mean. “Don’t get me wrong, mind: Your body is what I really enjoy. But would it hurt you so much to put your all into it? To really start looking forward to it?”

Fuck you and fuck your Stockholm syndrome.

She sighed and casually swiped her claws across my face, drawing blood. Another noticeable scar. It can join those on my soul. “I’m starting to think you don’t enjoy this!”

(Sex is over)

After that one week mark, I was beyond tired, completely exhausted. In the day, I walked. When we stopped, I was forced to fuck. And usually after that, I had to do a mission of some kind. So I was running off almost no sleep, little food, little water, and a lot of blood loss.

I snapped.

When I entered the tent, Kat was waiting for me, as usual. That same smile I had grown so familiar with was on her face. The tent flap closed behind me as I stepped inside, neither of us realizing what was about to happen.

“Mm, are you ready for our next little session?” she sensually asked, standing and holding up the collar.

In my weariness, in my weakness—or perhaps my strength—I casually said, “Nah.”

The smile on her face deepened. “It sure would be a shame if something were to happen to your dragon friend, wouldn’t it?”

“Fuck him. I’m going to bed.”

“Oh? So you don’t care if we… hurt him?” she asked, stepping closer.

“I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m in pain. I’m not doing this tonight.”

She chuckled, taking one more step up to me, reaching a paw out to my chest.

My right hand shot out and wrapped around her throat before her paw was even halfway there. Both of her eyes jerked open wide as I squeezed and lifted her off the floor. “I’ve been thinking,” I said, walking closer to the cot, her body dangling off the ground in front of me. Grunts were coming out of her mouth, like she was trying to say something. “I’m a lot bigger than you. A lot stronger than you. And you know, you absolutely require Equestria’s help if you want to survive. Hurting either me or Spike… Well, let’s just say that would be a bad idea.”

She was over the bed at this point. I leaned back slightly and then suddenly forced my arm and upper body down, slamming her into the bed on her back. As soon as she touched down, both of her paws went to my arm, trying to scratch me. I barely even felt it, since I was so high off adrenaline, starvation, and sleep deprivation. But either way, I lifted a leg up and put my knee on her stomach, immediately increasing the pressure until her arms pulled away. When they did, my knee lifted.

“So you don’t really have anything on me. After all, you can’t hurt either of us without some extreme consequences. But you know what? Equestria doesn’t need you. And you know what’s funny? The whole camp knows we’ve been fucking.” My other hand reached down and tore her pants down. If it was even possible, her eyes went even wider. “So I could do whatever I wanted to you right now. If you told anyone it was rape, who would believe you? After all, you came back night after night… And why would I take what’s freely given? What you’ve bragged about? So what do you think?” As I asked that, I loosened my grip around her throat.

“P-please!” she hoarsely whispered.

“Oh? You want me to?” I asked. "‘Please fuck me hard, you big strong human’?”

“N-n-no!”

And why shouldn’t I?” I hissed, tightening my grip and leaning in close to her face, my eyes narrowing. “After all you’ve done to me, who would ever say this isn’t fair?” I loosened my grip again, letting her speak, but she had no words to say. “You’re very lucky in one regard, Kat. I. Am not. You.” With that statement, I sharply stood, dragging her up again. Then I threw her aside, away from me. “If you so much as look at me funny again, don’t expect any guards to get here quickly enough to save you,” I growled, glaring at her.

She was still too terrified to look at me at all, at this point. All she could do was huddle on the sandy ground, curled into a ball and gently clutching at her throat. She might have been crying, but I didn’t care one way or another.

“I’m going to bed,” I finally said after a few seconds of glaring at her. She still didn’t make a sound or barely move a muscle as I fell onto the cot, clothes and all.

Things changed a little after that. Kat never so much as looked at me. The other cot that went missing from our tent before reappeared and she slept on it instead. I still had to do missions, but I wasn’t getting abused anymore.

Things continued reasonably well, though extremely slowly, for the next week. At least we were still heading northeast, even if we were liberating slave camps left and right.

Seriously, we were pushing two thousand by the time we actually saw the Suez Canal. And the funny thing, at least if you have no sense of humor: The Suez Canal isn’t even the fucking border of Egypt and the Middle East. We still had, like, a hundred miles to go.

But, as I was assured by virtually everyone, the going would be easier once we passed the canal. And our doing so would be good for the morale of every slave left on our side: We would be the first group to successfully force the canal. Emphasis on successfully.

Of course, it wasn’t as easy as just fording the thing. No, these cats had to be difficult about it. I offered to fly across a few ropes or something to create a rope bridge, but noooo, they wanted the morale boost of taking one of the bridges themselves.

I very seriously almost told them to fuck off, consequences be damned. And if it was just me there, I would have. But with Spike involved… I was rather pissed at Celestia for telling him to come along.

Speaking of Spike, he was having a blast. These cat people did respect dragons, apparently, but not enough to fail to use him as a bargaining chip to attempt to keep me in line. He didn’t see what my problem was with the whole thing.

“Stop worrying, Navarone! We’ve made it this far. What more could they throw at us?” That was worrying me as well, actually. They hadn’t really done anything against us. Sure, we lost a few fighters when we attacked camps, but there hadn’t been any big attacks against us. Just sorties from the occasional patrol.

That made me think they were planning something big, probably when most of our fighters were away dealing with the bridge. They could hit our camp, kill the defenseless weak, and be gone before our fighters even knew there was a problem.

And when I broached the subject to Jocasta, she told me not to worry about it, that it was taken care of.

Oh, and for anyone wondering: I was right. We were starving. And we were mostly dehydrated. It had taken us damn near a month to get to the fucking Suez Canal. After the first two weeks, Celestia didn’t even bother asking for progress reports anymore.

We were almost completely out of food, almost out of water—the canal water was not good to drink without some preparation—and we were all tired. I actually passed out once, near the end of the journey. I woke up being dragged by a few of the warriors I had helped in the past.

The plan for the attack on the bridge called for a two-pronged assault on both sides, the attack on our side led by Rock and the attack on the other side led by me, with some hand picked fighters renowned for their skills with daggers.

Basically, my job was to keep the bridge down. It could be lowered or raised from one side or the other, and we had to secure the control rooms for both, while the rest of the group attacked and led most of the guards away.

When we held one side, we were supposed to signal another group of fighters, who were supposed to dash in from the enemy’s side dressed as enemy reinforcements and hold the bridge. We could tell them apart from the enemy troops by a headband. I predicted a few friendly fire casualties, but not many. Another group of assassins were spread out across the city with orders to kill guards if possible when the fighting started, and if not possible, at least delay them from reaching contested zones.

At the time, we had upwards of seven hundred fighting-fit soldiers. Fifty were to be ‘enemy’ reinforcements. Twenty were to be my assassins. One hundred were to guard the camp. I don’t know how many general murderers there were. The rest were a part of the big fight.

My group went into the crowded city at midnight, when most people were asleep. Some scaled the walls, some went in through the gates, some hid in carts or wagons. Miguel and I did a short flying jump over the gates. Our goal was the tavern of a friendly ex-slave. We weren’t going to actually meet there, but rather, each was to leave a mark on the door that showed that he had been there, and then get into position to wait for the signal.

Why, you ask? Because I watch movies. Everyone has a price. No reason to risk betrayal.

Miguel and I were watching the tavern from across the street. Just two cats that were tired and wanted to rest but had no money, one with his face covered and the other glaring enough at anyone else that none bothered us.

When the last mark was placed on time, we moved out, sticking together. Everyone here had a buddy, just in case, and everyone had a different objective. Their markings showed that they were all clear and on the move, ready to move on the signal.

At 2:15 AM, Miguel and I successfully scaled a bell tower, and waited for sunrise. When we predicted it was time, we forced the mechanism to turn, ringing the bells before they were due.

As some people scratched their heads, confused as to what was going on, nine different groups of assassins killed all the guards covering the bridge on our side of the Canal. I don’t know a definite count, but I was betting it was about forty guards.

No alarm was raised.

There were still guards in the city, but none were covering our side of the bridge. It was currently down, since there was no reason to raise it.

Miguel and I glided down the tower, keeping mostly out of sight. From start to finish, that phase took five minutes.

On the other side of the Canal, around five hundred fighters were now attacking the town, roaring battle cries. Another group of assassins were supposed to take out the gate keepers so the gates would stay open, but I didn’t know at the time how that fight was going.

We still had half a bridge to take, and we couldn’t dedicate all of our men to attacking it. We were able to wave our ‘enemy’ reinforcements forward, to take the spots of the sentries that we had killed. Their disguises wouldn’t survive a close examination, but it was enough to fool a quick look.

I took most of my assassins across the bridge. This side was going to be messier; the guards would be on an alert of sorts due to the city being attacked, but they still wouldn’t be expecting us. And we wouldn’t have time to plan a massive signal. Basically, it was kill silently if you could, and if you couldn’t, then just kill.

My men were good, though. Only one short alarm was called, and it was dealt with by a quick fake out, pretending to be the guard when asked what was happening. Lazy, unprofessional bastards. And thank God for it, too. My assassins were to hold this side of the bridge, while the other side was to be raised so as to prevent any real enemy reinforcements to get across for as long as possible.

We predicted a total of seven hundred and fifty guards in the city, and we killed about eighty or so at the bridge. The murderers that were at work throughout the city were also building up an impressive count.

I couldn’t afford to leave the bridge, or I would have reported to Rock that we held it. That and I honestly didn’t care anymore. The camp should be moving into the city now, though; part of the plan had them follow the fighters in and grab what food and water they could while heading in basically a straight line behind the main mass of fighters.

Of course, city fighting is a bitch. Especially in a city like this: Mazelike, unplanned, with hidey holes and whatnot all over the damn place. We would probably lose some people just from them getting lost, and we couldn’t afford to wait for them on the other side; once we got moving, we had to stay moving.

I checked behind me, and the other side was still up. I nodded to myself and sent Miguel off for a message to Rock: “Bridge is secure. No casualties. Hurry but take your time.”

Then I sent another assassin team with the same message, because Miguel was going to be too busy killing to deliver it. It was set to be a good day.

 

Four hours later, I was proven wrong.

There was a large, large mass of soldiers outside the walls on the east side. Enemy soldiers.

We held the town. There were no guards left alive that weren’t disarmed. Most of the citizens were locked in their houses. Most of our people were locked in a circle right behind the east walls, where arrows couldn’t hit them.

Rock had been injured in the battle. I had no idea where Kat was; she had been in one of the wandering murder teams for the main battle. Jocasta was on her way up the wall when the enemy soldiers held up a parley flag.

One of our troops asked if we wanted to raise the gates. Jocasta said yes and I said hell no.

“Let’s just fucking fly down there. We don’t want them rushing the gates.” She couldn’t deny the logic in that, so off we went. Just the two of us. In the middle of a no-man’s land. Right in front of a mass of at least fifteen hundred enemy troops.

Yeah, that good day went really shitty really quickly.

The enemy general was a pompous looking little twit. His demand was basically our immediate surrender, yada yada.

We presented a counter-argument. “We own this city now, but we don’t really want it that much. We’d much prefer to keep going east. If you march your men north and leave us be, we’ll just keep going east.” It was a nice argument, with a hint of a threat and an easy solution for both sides.

Sadly, he didn’t make it easy. “That would mean my head. I’m sorry, but I cannot let you leave.”

“What if a foreign power got involved?” I asked.

“Yes, I’ve heard tales of you, pony-lover. Tell me, why should we care what the Equestrians think of us?”

“Because Celestia wants this group of slaves alive and in her borders. And she has a large army a few hundred miles that way,” with a point east, “that she can magically teleport here in the blink of an eye.”

“If she knew I’m here—which I don’t believe she does—what proof do I have that she can do as you ask?”

“She’s the eternal queen of more than half the planet. You know that unicorns can teleport, because it happened when ponies were banned from leaving. Well, as it turns out, Celestia is rather displeased at that ban. And she’s more powerful than any unicorn in existence. Even if she just teleports herself in, do you really think she would hesitate to deal with your little army?”

“And what proof do you even have that you’re one of her agents? I’ve heard talk that you are nothing more than an upstart mercenary that betrayed his first job to the rebels, and then forged a tale of lies that you were an agent of the crown.”

“The fact that I’ve made it this far. What manner of ‘upstart mercenary’ could lead so many sneak attacks on your slave camps so successfully? What manner of ‘upstart mercenary’ helps lead a group of slaves out of desert when it would be more profitable to sell them off? What manner of ‘upstart mercenary’ takes over a fucking town with the help of an army?”

He harrumphed. “I will consult my officers. You will have one hour to do the same.” With that, he turned on his heel and strode off. We flew back up to the wall.

“I need Spike, right now,” I told Jocasta.

“Why?”

“Because I wasn’t lying about getting Celestia here. It has reached the point where I think we need a bit of intervention. In an hour I’m guessing his answer will be flying at us in the form of a rock from a catapult.”

She led me to Spike.

Writing quickly, I explained the situation to Celestia and asked her for assistance.

Her reply was brief: “Get airborne.” I immediately took off.

Not a minute later, Celestia appeared, flying next to me. I could not explain the relief I felt upon seeing her. If we weren’t both in the air I would have broken all decorum and wrapped my grubby arms about her.

“We’ll talk later,” is what she said. “Take me to this general.”

We landed to grab an awestruck Jocasta, then took off again. We settled in the no-man’s land and waited.

I feel like it would have been a beautiful picture, if there had been a camera around. A lightly clothed cat woman standing with claws fully bared, glaring hate at an approaching army. A winged human cradling a dusty, cocked crossbow in his arms, covered in desert rags from the neck down, wind shifting his long, greasy hair in the wind. A sheathed sword was on his back and a covered quiver of bolts was on his hips. Daggers and knives lined his body. And between them stood a majestic alicorn, taller than both her honor guards, practically radiating the sunlight she was named after. Behind us, a massive, smoking desert city, walls of light clay and manned by a ragged slave army nervously fingering weapons. Before us, a massive army, rank upon rank of well-trained desert fighters just waiting for the order to charge. It was three against fifteen hundred. I felt good about those odds.

“So… what do we do if they charge?” Jocasta asked.

“We cover the princess until she’s in no danger. Then we fucking bail.”

Jocasta snorted. “You can guard the back of your precious princess. If they charge, I’m running.”

Princess Celestia didn’t say anything.

The wait wasn’t long. The enemy general abandoned his officers and came sprinting to us. When he reached us, he took a look at Celestia, rubbed his eyes, and looked again, still speechless and gaping. She was just smiling sadly.

Without a word, she lowered her horn and touched him lightly with it. He went rigid with shock, and his army started shouting and readying weapons. But then he relaxed and waved them down. She had just completely refreshed him, to prove that she was real.

He nodded slowly, saying, “We’ll be gone in an hour.”

And they were, too. It was quite a sight. I heard later that the general was commissioning a statue there that detailed that moment. It was pretty much the turning point in the entire ‘war’, for what little it’s worth.

Our group of slaves was free to leave and the army was no longer enforcing any slave laws. It was a military coup of the most interesting kind: A relatively peaceful one.

 

Eventually, of course, the general we left went back and reentered the town, restoring order. He didn’t stop there, though; he went farther, to Catro itself, and ousted the terrible government that was in place. I heard he finally confronted and killed the king in front of the Sphinx, which ever after became known as the symbol of freedom for Egypt.

All Celestia had to do was show up at the right moment, and all we had to do was build that right moment up.

Relations are still somewhat strained between them and Equestria, but my month of hell was over. With the coast clear, Jocasta let me and Spike leave, so Celestia took us with her. There were no words to describe my relief.

 

 

A little tidbit from your Master Discord

While Celestia, Jocasta, and Navarone were staring down the enemy general, Miguel was huffing and puffing, spitting out blood. He had just taken down an entire squad of guards and received a spear through the lungs for his trouble. The guard that cast the spear lay dead at Miguel’s feet.

Slowly, Miguel started to slouch. Blades fell from nerveless fingers. Their clattering to the cobblestones was the only sound on the deserted street, wet with blood. He started to collapse.

I caught him and picked him up, then brought us through time and space, bringing him to my safe haven in the forest. “Just enough to keep him alive for a few more minutes, Trixie,” I whispered into her mind.

Without a word, she poured a haunting mix of true magic and bastardized spells into the cat. His body convulsed in the shock at the improfessional healing, forcing his eyes opening.

Before he could say anything, I poured light into the room. Just enough so that he could see me and Trixie. “Miguel,” I said, “you are a murderer. A sociopath. A monster.”

He smiled. “I may be a monster, but at least I’m not a freak,” he answered, looking at me.

I answered his smile with my own. “I may be a freak, but I am a freak with power. I can give you life. I can let you live forever. I can let you kill forever. There is, of course, a price.”

“I know of prices,” he said, coughing lightly. “I’ve paid plenty. I’ve ducked out of paying more.”

“There is nowhere you can run to hide from my eyes,” I said. “But I don’t think you will mind my price, since it also involves killing.”

“I’m listening,” he hoarsely answered.

“In time, I will call for you. I will have need of your services. When I call, you will answer and you will do as I say. In return for doing as I say, I will save your life now and I will give you an ageless life.”

“How do I know you can keep your promise?” he asked, rightfully so.

I put a finger to his forehead and showed him what his future could be. And then I showed him what his future will be if he didn’t do as I commanded.

He slowly nodded upon seeing both. “Once a slave, always a slave,” he said in a whisper. “I am yours, freak.”

I snapped my fingers, healing him completely and sending him back to his miserable little city.

“He would happily betray me,” I mused aloud, stretching.

Trixie looked at me with concern. “Then why would you trust him? Why would you give him anything?”

I rubbed her head affectionately. “Because, my dear, he will give me what I need first. After that, his use will be expended.” I turned and began to walk further into the sanctum with Trixie at my heels. I knew what she was thinking before she asked it.

“And me? What will I be to you when I am no longer needed?”

A footrest, perhaps? I did have a few ideas of what to do with Trixie when she stopped being useful. “I will always have need of a steward,” I answered. “And there are always functions a loyal mare can do for someone like myself.” If there’s a Lord Discord, why not have a Lady Discord? Of course, I had absolutely no interest in things of that nature, but if she wanted to think that, why not?

I knew she was beaming at me. “I will do anything you ask, master! Anything!

“I know, Trixie,” I said, running an eagle talon down her throat without turning to face her. No real interest, but… if nothing else, I might get bored.

Eternity is a long time, after all.

 
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