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.


81. Chapter Sixty-Seven—I just can’t hold all this responsibility

Midday the following day saw me getting my ass kicked by the naga again. We had been going at it for hours and I was blindingly hungry for some reason. Hell, I was even getting tired.

As I sit and write this, I believe I have figured out more of my physiology. The main reason I avoided needing to eat so much is because I didn’t really do much of anything. Go on walks, occasionally fly around, read, and write. Now that I was forced to work out, my body was using considerably more energy, more than I could get from the sun with just the hair on the top of my head.

So when Applejack and Pinkie showed up and asked if I was down for a picnic, I jumped on the opportunity. They forced me to bring Doppel and Taya and would have tried forcing me to bring the naga if he would have let them. Gilda went home with the assurance that she would probably be back as soon as she got her land sold and her mother taken care of.

The four of us went to a nice patch of land between the town and my pad and joined a small picnic that was mostly set up. Rarity, Fluttershy, and Dash were already there. “What took you so long?” Dash asked, lifting up her sunglasses to peer at us.

“Nav here had to get cleaned up,” Applejack answered.

Rarity nodded approvingly and replied, “At least some of us understand the necessities of cleanliness.” She cast a disapproving glance at Rainbow Dash. “You could learn a lesson from our good friend Nav.”

Dash scoffed. “Clean up just to get dirty at a picnic? Why waste the time?”

“Normally, I agree with Dash,” I commented, joining them on their checker blanket. Doppel awkwardly hung back, probably not feeling like she belonged. Taya sat next to me. “But I didn’t want to get blood or a ton of sweat over anything.”

Normally that would be an invitation to a ton of questions, but a very frazzled looking Twilight and a normal looking Cadance joined our group. You can always tell when Twilight’s having one of her little breakdowns because her hair starts to get very messy and her eyes take on the look like she’s going to cut you if you open your mouth. Because of this, I was extremely well-versed in her monthly heat cycle, and today was not supposed to be one of those days she was like this.

“Jesus, what the hell happened?” I asked her.

She flinched when I spoke. “I think the library might be haunted…” she whispered, looking down.

Most of the ponies rolled their eyes at that and Cadance said, “I tried telling her that ghosts aren’t real, but…”

“Actually, ghosts are real,” I said. “I’ve met one. He said he was going to the griffin kingdom, though, so this probably isn’t him. I don’t have any crosses, but I can probably dig up the Lord’s Prayer from my memories if you want me to go perform an exorcism.”

They all looked at me like I was stupid before turning back to Twilight. Rarity said, “What’s wrong, dear?”

“Books keep changing order! Every time I turn my back on my quills, they move. Owlicious keeps hitting weird pockets of air and falling off course… It’s just been a really weird few days.” She sighed, pulling herself together. “But this is supposed to be a fun day. Spike should be here soon with some more food.”

“Well that’s good!” Pinkie said. “Cupcakes are great, but they’ll only last us so long. Especially with the way Nav’s been eyeing them.” Pinkie gave me one of her signature fake scary looks that basically amounted to ‘touch my cupcakes if you dare.’

Cadance smiled at that. “I didn’t think you even had a sweet tooth, Nav.”

I shrugged. “I’ve been exercising a lot lately and it is increasing my need for food more than I thought possible.”

When I mentioned exercising Dash looked up. “You’re finally trying to get in shape? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m trying to get in shape, not kill myself.”

“Well shoot,” AJ said. “You shoulda come to me! We got all kinds of work on the farm that you could do to help you get back in a good shape.” She poked me in the side. “A shape other than a line.”

I raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with my shape? I thought you country folk were supposed to like line dancing.”

That got Pinkie to perk up. “Oooh, a new dance?” Everyone averted their gaze, not wanting to be volunteered by Pinkie for a dance. I hope Doppel was smart enough to not be looking at her.

We were saved by the timely arrival of Spike with food. Cadance’s horn lit up and grabbed the overly large basket from his hands, not that he needed the help. I felt a weight settle on my head as the basket floated to the center of the group. I poked the thing on the top of my head and found that it was a small bug pony.

“Hey Rarity, what do you think of my new fashion accessory?” I asked.

She lifted an eyebrow at Doppel. “It could do with a bit of sprucing up. Black is out this season, darling.” I heard something shift on my head and fought the urge to look up. Rarity smirked and I saw smiles from some of the other ponies. “Pink is more in style, I suppose.” I didn’t want to know.

Rainbow didn’t pay much attention to me or my hat. She was looking at the two baskets of food. “So what’s on the menu?”

Spike shrugged. “I didn’t go all out. A few sandwiches. Some potato salad. Something else for me and Nav.” Dash’s ears sunk at hearing that, but it didn’t stop her from opening the basket and pulling out a sandwich.

“Something for us?” I asked. “You been doing something I told you not to?”

“Nah, I haven’t been in the forest.” He grabbed the basket Rainbow didn’t touch and pulled it toward himself. “Gilda has, though.” He sat next to me and pulled out a steak. This can’t end well… He held it above his head and shot some fire at it before trying to hand it to me.

I gave him my best ‘what the fuck’ look. “Really Spike?” I whispered. He blinked, confused. My wings sagged before I shrugged, pulled a knife out, and let him impale the steak. I really don’t like eating meat in front of pony friends, but the cat was pretty much out of the bag on this one.

None of them commented as we ate, though we both got more than a few looks.

“So what’s with that naga, anyway?” Rainbow finally asked me. The ponies had been talking amongst themselves, bickering and bantering as only friends can. Dash finally decided to join my small group. “He looks cool and all, but why’s he here?”

“He’s teaching me how to use a sword. I have no idea how to fight and given my line of work, I figured it was high time to learn.”

“I bet you’re giving him a nice what-for, huh?”

I shook my head, smiling. “Other way around. He’s the reason I had to go to the dentist.” She shivered when I mentioned that. “I told you it wouldn’t end well.”

Rainbow sighed. “Four hours, Nav! Four hours in the dentist’s chair as she poked and prodded my teeth. That mare ain’t right in the head.”

I patted her on the head, earning myself a baleful glare. “I had the same luck, Dash.”

“Who are you two talking about?” Spike asked.

“Colgate,” we both answered. I said, “She mentioned wanting to play with your teeth, Spike. Avoid her as much as you can.”

“Hmmm… That sounds like it could be fun,” he said.

“Dude, don’t,” Dash said. “Nav and I both struck out with her. She’s crazy.”

He blinked a few times. “I’m talking about getting my teeth cleaned. My normal brushes get torn to shreds. What were you two talking about?”

Dash and I looked at each other before smirking. It was hard to talk and not laugh, but I managed to say, “Nothing, bro. Have fun with that.”

“Yeah. I’m sure you’ll have good time. Maybe if you’re lucky, she’ll give you a happy ending!”

“A lollipop would be nice…” he commented. “I may not be a kid anymore, but that doesn’t mean the simple things in life aren’t fun.”

He may not be a kid, but that doesn’t mean he’s grown up.

“So where’s Gilda, anyway?” Rainbow asked. “She didn’t come by today.”

“She left for home in a hurry yesterday. Something family related came up. She said she might be back soon.”

She shrugged and was about to say something else when AJ interrupted our small gathering. “Hey Rainbow, you up for frisbee?” We looked over and saw her somehow whirling one around her hooves.

“Sure.” She hopped up and flew over. The last thing I heard from her was something about “making it a competition.”

Spike turned to me. “Nav, you gotta come back to the library. Twilight’s going nuts.”

“Dude, I have a house now. Why would I go back to the relatively cramped library?”

“Somepony needs to calm her down and everything that used to work isn’t. Ever since you left, it’s getting disorganized. The funny thing is that I don’t remember you even doing that much. I don’t think it’s a ghost, but whatever it is, it’s running Twilight ragged.”

An uncomfortable thought came to mind. “Are you sure it isn’t just a call for attention? She really wanted me to come back. Maybe she thinks she can convince me to go to the library if she acts out.”

He shook his head. “We both know Twilight isn’t like that. If I didn’t know any better, I would say Rainbow Dash or Pinkie was pranking us.”

“Either way, I’m not coming back.” I shrugged. “If she drives you too far up the wall, you’re welcome to stay with me for as long as you want.”

He grimaced. “I think we both know how that would end. If you think she’s frantic now, wait until you see how she gets when she thinks everypony is abandoning her.”

“…Has that happened before?”

He sighed. “We don’t talk about those days, Nav. Now come on, let’s go join them at frisbee.” He hopped up, but I didn’t move.

“Nah, man. My bones hurt from all the exercise,” and beatings, “I’ve gotten lately. Relaxing sounds much better right now.”

“Psh, whatever. What about your hat? Or is she asleep?”

I shrugged. “Doppel?” No answer. “I guess she’s out.” He shrugged and ran off to go join the girls. “You’re welcome to go too, Taya.” She didn’t grace that with a response. I didn’t figure she would, sadly.

I also wasn’t expecting Fluttershy to plop down where Spike was, though she sat much closer. She eyed the picnic basket Spike pulled the meat out of. “Nav…”

“I’ll talk to him,” I answered. “I expected him to be smarter than that.” It was considered seriously poor form to eat meat in front of ponies when you were in an Equestrian social setting. Political functions, sure. At a picnic with pony friends? No.

She nodded and slowly closed the basket. I don’t think there was any meat inside, but ponies have more sensitive noses than I do. If not more sensitive, they were different; she might have been able to smell it.

I rolled my shoulders and said, “I figured you’d be with the others. Weren’t you complaining about how you felt left out?”

She looked toward the group playing with a frisbee consisting of Dash, AJ, Pinkie, and Spike. Rarity and Twilight were watching. “I’m not very athletic… And Twilight and Rarity are watching more than they’re talking.”

“Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and be with them,” I commented. “If it’s been a while, you should do that.”

“And leave you and Taya alone?” She darted a quick look to Doppel. “Well, sort of alone. You’re just as welcome to join them as I am, but you’re still here.”

“Taya is too young to watch them play that game; they get too violent for her innocent eyes.” That earned me a ‘hmph’ and a baleful glare from an annoyed daughter. “Hey, where’s Cadance?”

I heard Cadance answer, “Right behind you.” She didn’t stay there for long, opting instead to be in front of me. “Is that normal for her?” she asked, looking at the top of my head.

“It isn’t the first time she’s done it, no. I suppose it’s warm, or something. I have to admit, I’m surprised to see you out here again so soon.”

“Well, when you forced me to visit Twilight, she invited me to a picnic with all of her friends. It has been a while since I just took some time off, so here I am.”

Took some time off? That implies you have a job. “Having fun?” I asked.

“Some. It’s nice seeing you interacting with friends.” She plopped down in front of us. “Since I usually bump into you in Canterlot, it’s easy to forget you have a normal life.”

I put one hand on Fluttershy’s back and the other on Taya’s. “Yeah, I’m surrounded by them. It’s a good way to keep warm in winter, as fluffy as they are. As for a normal life… It’s nice to pretend.”

Cadance rolled her eyes. “You know, the biggest component for a normal life is love.”

“Yeah, and look where trying that got me. Stabbed in the chest and treated like trash. I’ll take a nice little break from that, thank you.”

Fluttershy whispered, “Romantic love isn’t the only love.”

I scratched Taya’s back. “I know. I have Taya here to remind me.”

Cadance grinned, perhaps using her innate love powers to sense weakness. “Friendship is only possible because of love, Nav.”

“You don’t say.” I had been over this love shit with her before. This was a new tactic, though.

“In fact…” She looked at the arm connecting me to Fluttershy. “All those talks about how you couldn’t love… I dare say you’ve been in love since you got here.”

“…Cadance, have you been smoking crack?”

She blinked a few times and was presumably about to reply when Doppel butted her way in. “She’s right you know,” her squeaky tiny voice said. “It all tastes the same.”

“New rule: If you’re using me as a bed, you aren’t allowed to help people that are trying to torture me.” I heard tiny wings flutter to life and she flew over to Fluttershy’s mane, settling amongst her pink tresses. “Okay, another new rule: If you live in my house and feed off me, you aren’t allowed to help people that are trying to torture me.” She sighed but didn’t rejoin me, preferring instead to crawl deeper into the caves of Fluttershy’s hair.

Cadance was grinning at me. “I think the princess of love and a changeling know what they’re talking about when it comes to love, Nav.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re smoking crack. Fluttershy and Taya, pay no attention to Cadance. She’s a drug addict.”

“Daddy, don’t make me hug you.”

I turned to Fluttershy. “Do you see the abuse I get? You wouldn’t treat me this badly, would you?”

Taya hopped up. “That’s it.” Before she could hug tackle me, I got blindsided by Fluttershy, who dragged me down. Doppel tumbled out of her hair and landed on my face. Taya joined Fluttershy in the assault.

Cadance walked over to where I could see her from my position on the ground. “See that, Nav? The true love of friendship.”

I sighed. “If I asked you to kill me, would you grant me that mercy?”

She grinned and called out, “PONY PILE ON NAV!” before joining the group hugging me.

As I heard Pinkie and Applejack galloping my way, one thought flashed through my mind: I hate everything.


As I was building a giant crossbow late that night, I got one of the worst messages I could have gotten. It was delivered by an exhausted Scootaloo.

“Sweetie Belle… Applebloom… Everfree… Timberwolves!”

That certainly didn’t sound good. “Where?” I grabbed the sword from where I had it resting against the wall—I live against the Everfree forest, forgive me for being cautious.

She waved a hoof at the forest. “Look for the fire.” She took a few deep breaths. “I told Applejack and Rarity first.”

I sighed. “Stay here.” With that, I leapt into the air, quickly rising and flying over toward Applejack’s farm. I had no idea what was going on, but if it involved Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, timberwolves, and the Everfree, it couldn’t have been good.

As I slowly soared over the Everfree, wishing I had better wings, I did my best to think of what reason the girls could even have to be in that hellish place. Visiting Zecora was my first thought, but they had no reason to see her this late at night.

Not two minutes into my search, I saw a beam of light shoot into the sky off to my right. I angled that way, knowing it was a unicorn in distress. When I got to the area I saw the beacon, I quickly spotted a torch between some of the sparser leaves. I knew there was no easy way for me to land in the swampy mess, getting through all the leaves and branches, so I settled for landing the hard way.

Unfortunately, that involved closing my wings and falling through trees that actually did want to hurt me; trees in the Everfree are fucking violent sometimes. Also unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing a shirt because building shit in summer gets hot as hell, even at night.

So when I crashed into the small, muddy clearing right between a group of terrified and angry ponies and some circling timberwolves, it was with a very bloody appearance. I managed to slow my fall by shooting my wings out right as I cleared the trees, but it still hurt.

I drew my sword and backed up closer to Rarity, who was wielding a burning bush with murder in her eyes, and Applejack, who was whirling a lasso above her head with a very similar expression on her face. The two girls huddled under their sisters. Their backs were to a low wall.

“Hold, wolves!” I called out. “Surely we can negotiate this.”

Flo whispered, “I don’t think that will work here, Nav.”

The wolves didn’t look like they wanted to talk, that’s for sure. They were snapping and snarling like mad, kept away only by Rarity’s fire. One of them got close enough to snarl, “We want the orange one and her youngling. The others may leave with you, two legs.” I should note that these wolves were about the size of the ponies. There were five of them. I don’t think it was the same group that I ran into before, but they could be.

I shook my head. “Not happening.”

The leader threw himself at me with no warning at all. One leapt at Rarity and another went after AJ. I couldn’t see what the other two did, given that I was preoccupied with trying to not get my throat torn out by a massive monstrosity of wood.

I knew I couldn’t give any ground because I was right next to the girls. With that in my head, I for some reason thought it would be a good idea to grab my sword with both hands and try to slice into his face.

It was a good idea in that it killed the wolf. It was a bad idea in that it left my sword stuck in his face as his dead body collided with mine, throwing me into the small wall the girls had been backed against. As I’m sure you can imagine, a wolf made of sticks hurts like hell when it rams into your body.

Thankfully for me, whatever magic was holding him together dissipated a few seconds later, collapsing him into individual sticks and leaves. My sword was still stuck in what comprised his face, but I knew slamming it into another wolf would fix that.

I thanked whoever might have been listening for the pain resistance that let me ignore the sticks that were stuck in my upper body as I returned to the fight. Applejack was using her well-toned body to beat the shit out of one of the wolves and Rarity was doing her best to light one of them on fire. Applejack managed to kill one while I was watching and turned in time to catch the other from flanking her from the side, but Rarity didn’t have that leisure.

I put a hand on her back and vaulted over her, trying to kick the wolf coming from her side in the face. That turned out to be the worst idea I had all night, as he caught my foot in his mouth and bit down, tearing through the cloth shoe and into my leg.

And then he started shaking, doing his best to rip my foot off. Not even pain resistance allowed me to ignore that shit. Thankfully, the rest of my body had hit the ground by then, serving the dual purpose of getting me covered in mud and allowing me to reach up with my sword and try to stab him around my own leg. Holding onto me became too much of a problem for him with me trying to poke him, so he let go and backed off.

I sat up, trying to get to some manner of fighting stance so I could at the very least continue guarding Rarity’s side. The wolf saw that and snarled, lunging before I could get set up. I reflexively jerked my sword up, spearing the wolf on it and sending the sword and wolf flying into me and then into Rarity.

She skidded a few inches before the wolf fell apart. I ended up with my back to Sweetie Belle, holding a sword that was less than an inch from bisecting my nose. The only sound in the area was deep breathing.

Eventually, Applejack asked, “Is everypony alright?”

I tried saying no, but it just came out garbled. I coughed a few times and tried again, “No.” I let the sword fall to the ground and used Rarity to pull myself up. “I’m going to need a crutch.” I shook the mud off my sword and slid it up as Applejack walked around to my side of Rarity to get a look at me.

She whistled when she saw the damage framed by the fire of a burning timber wolf. “Looks like you came outta this worse than anypony, Nav. How’re you even standing with a foot like that?”

“God graced me with a spare. Zecora’s hut is… oh, about a mile or two away from here. It’s closer than the edge of the forest. We can stop by there for the night and leave in the morning.”

Rarity looked me up and down. “You aren’t walking a step like that, Nav.”

“I know. That’s why I asked for a crutch. Just find me a long stick or something.”

Rarity rolled her eyes and knelt down. Sweetie Belle wisely got out of the way. “Hop on, Nav.” I gave her a rather dubious look. “Applejack needs to be mobile in case we run into any more of those… creatures. I can use my magic, but as you saw, I’m no good up close. With you on my back, you can keep anything that gets close away.”

Can’t fault the logic… “Hold on, this is going to be awkward.” I fucked up my right leg, but she was on my left side. Swinging my left side over her would leave me standing on my right leg for a second, which would end with me on the ground again. With that in mind, I turned away from her and sat down, then rotated and threw my left leg over her head, putting me on her back the right way. “Be careful, now. I don’t want to eat mud again tonight.”

“After coming to help us like that, I have no intention of letting you fall,” she replied as she carefully stood. “Come along, gir—wait, which way is it to Zecora’s home?”

I closed my eyes, picturing the forest. After a few seconds, I pointed left. “That way. Try not to make too much noise, all of you.” Applejack took point. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle both picked a side of Rarity and stuck to it as we followed AJ.

I heard them muttering in quiet voices about how they really wanted to go home as they cast furtive glances into the woods.

We stopped not a minute later when Sweetie Belle screamed and pointed at something moving in the undergrowth near us. I had my sword out and pointed at it very quickly and Applejack pounced that way just as fast.

She backed away from the area quickly. “It’s… a tiny timberwolf,” she said, confused.

“A puppy,” I said, putting my sword up. “I bet we just killed its pack.”

Rarity and Applejack shared a look. Applejack shook her head. Rarity shrugged, pushing me up for a second. With that, Applejack went back to the way she had been going, leaving it there. Rarity turned to follow, but Applebloom and Sweetie Belle stopped us.

“We can’t just leave it!” Sweetie cried.

“It ain’t hurt nopony!” Applebloom yelled.

Applejack sighed and turned back. “Girls…”

“They’re right,” I said. “You can’t blame the sins of the parent on the child. Zecora will know what to do with it.” Letting her kill it will be a kinder death than letting it starve in the wild.

Applejack rolled her eyes. “Fine. You can carry it, then.” She went back where she found it. After a small struggle, she came out somehow carrying a very unhappy acting timberwolf in one of her front hooves. She walked over to me and Rarity and held it up. I grabbed its struggling form, wrapping one hand around its front legs and the other around its back legs.

It seemed to recognize me as being not a pony, and just stared at me with its glowing eyes. Rarity started moving again and said, “Do be careful with that thing, Nav. I don’t want it biting at my back.”

“And I don’t want it biting at my anything,” I said. “I’ll be careful. If it gets too out of hand, I’ll just save Zecora the trouble."

By the time we got to Zecora’s humble hut, all of my wounds but my foot had stopped leaking amber ooze. I still had a few sticks pointing out of my stomach that I didn’t pull out because I didn’t want to risk fucking my body up too badly without a way to heal it. The pup had done nothing but growl. The pain was starting to get to me, sadly; I was fighting to stay upright, since falling forward would throw the wolf into Rarity’s back and falling any other way would end in me on the ground.

Applejack had to bang on Zecora’s door for a minute before she finally opened up. It’s understandable, given that it was probably around three in the morning. She squinted out the door at us. “Who is that at my door I see? Why do you come to disturb me?”

AJ rubbed the back of her neck with a hoof. “Sorry for coming by at such a late hour, but we’re in a bit of a pickle here. Do you mind if we stay for the night?”

Zecora peered past Applejack and saw two terrified fillies, a very hurt human, and an unhappy looking Rarity. She probably couldn’t see the wolf in my hands past Rarity’s head. She fixed her gaze on me. “Ah, human, I see that you are hurt. Come in, come in; all are welcome in my yurt.”

Applejack stood aside and let Rarity walk in first. I almost hit my head on the door and remembered to duck at the last moment. The fillies followed us in, with Applejack taking the rear. Zecora swung the door shut behind us. All in all, the little hut was very crowded with all of us in there.

“I do thank you for the hospitality,” Rarity said, looking around the stereotypically Voodoo-esque hut. “And we’re all terribly sorry for tracking in mud.”

“Yeah, sorry about the mess,” AJ said, looking down at her very muddy hooves.

“And sorry about the blood,” I added. “It should stop soon enough.”

Rarity jerked. “You’re bleeding, Nav?” She looked back at me in the light of Zecora’s hut and gasped. “Why didn’t you say you were this badly hurt?”

I blinked a few times. “I thought you saw. The only thing that’s hurt bad is my leg, though.” I looked over at Zecora. “If you could spare some bandages, that would be awesome.”

She was looking at the wolf in my hands. “Were you all attacked by the wolves of wood?” She reached over to a shelf and pulled out a flask, holding it up to me. “Drink from this, if you could.”

“And how do you expect me to hold the wolf and the flask at the same time?”

Applejack walked over. “I got it, sugar cube.” She gently pulled the wolf away from me.

I grabbed the flask and took a sip, then quickly gagged. “Why can’t your herbal stuff ever taste good?”

“Drink it all, you must. In me should you trust.”

I sniffed. “It ain’t you I don’t trust. I don’t like the taste, is all.” I downed more of it, shivering as I did so. “What’s the point of this, anyway?”

“To put you to sleep.” I blinked a few times before falling off Rarity. The last thing I heard was, “Now, none of you utter a peep.”


I woke up to a pounding head. I groaned as I sat up, rubbing at my eyes. I looked to my right and saw that I was sleeping next to a dirty Rarity. I made a ‘huh’ noise before looking left and seeing a sleeping Applejack. “What the fuck did I do last night?” I groaned.

“If I had to guess, it was making a mess.” I looked over Rarity and saw Zecora holding a docile timber wolf pup and sitting at a table. “You will remember in time, as sure as every sentence of mine must rhyme.”

“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.” I tried pulling myself up, but I quickly realized it would result in pain. That didn’t stop me; I just leaned away from the bad foot. “What’s up with the rhymes, anyway?”

She looked away. “It is a curse of mine. Now, would you care to dine?”

I saw that there were a few places set up at her little table. I limped over and took a place. “So why did you knock me out?”

She patted the wolf on its back. “There is poison in their bite. The cure would give you a fright. But there is something odd in your blood… In a way, it made me think of mud.”

“Sap would be closer. I’m relatively immune to poison.” Some of the night came back to me, then, and I looked around to room. “Where are the girls?” I asked.

“In my room do they lie. As soon as you were out, they began to cry. I gave them a sleep aid and immediately down they laid.”

I grinned. “That one was a stretch.” She shrugged. “Any indication of why they were in the forest in the first place?”

She waved a hoof to the two ponies. “They intend to find out. Until then, do you like trout?”

I looked down at the plate in front of me. “What the fu—Yes. I do.” How the hell did Zecora get a damn trout? She had even cooked it and had silverware set out. Ivory silverware. “If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get all this?”

“There was much travel in my past. There have been many a fishing rod I have learned to cast.”

I snorted. “You have a princess’s skill in avoiding the question.” She just grinned. “Fine, have it your way. I’m not about to complain about free food.” I dug into the fish with the fork and knife she had laid out. When there was nothing left of the fish but eyes and bones, I said, “Thanks for the fish. You ever think of traveling again?”

“A cure I need for this curse of mine, so often for the road do I pine. Of all the ingredients I need, I lack but a single seed. Far to the south it lies, but the plant only blooms if somepony near dies. The sacrifice needed is too large, or I would be on the first barge.”

I scratched at the growth on my face. “Far to the south, you say? You talking Antarctica far, or South America far?”

“Navarone,” Flo whispered in a warning tone, “what are you doing?”

“Those names I do not know, but it is on the land mass below.”

“I’m leaving Equestria in a year. When I go, I’ll be heading to the continent under us within a month or two. I can’t promise to kill someone for you, but you’re welcome to join us. Who knows, maybe you can figure out a loophole?” And it would give our group a seasoned traveler, which would probably be needed.

“I will think on this. There are many here I would miss. Tell me, for why are you going? It would put me at ease, knowing.”

I grimaced. “Time changes all men. And ponies, I guess. It’s a long tale to tell and from the stirring I hear behind me, I don’t have much time to tell it.”

She nodded. “I too know much of long tales. We can share as our ship sails.”

I heard Applejack muttering and turned around just in time to get a face full of ass as she stretched. Now, I try not to abuse the fact that none of the ponies wear pants or anything, but when it just gets thrown in my face, it’s impossible to not notice. And since AJ works out so much, her flank is very well… toned. I hate to say stuff like this because it means I’m starting to find ponies attractive, and that means it’s probably too late for me, but God can strike me down if it’s not true.

…Man, I just had a terrible coughing fit.

She didn’t seem that bothered when she turned around and saw me looking. “I can’t believe you woke up before me, Nav,” she said. “I’m a pretty early riser.” I took a moment to appreciate her look without her hair tied up and with no hat on; she really looked completely different.

I ruffled my feathers. “And I don’t usually sleep at all. Whatever she gave me probably doesn’t work as well on me because my blood is sludge.”

“That is all too true,” Zecora confirmed. “It barely worked on you.”

Applejack joined us at the table. “Well, whatever. Whenever sleeping beauty over there wakes up, we can get the girls and get out of your hair.” She eyed the wolf in Zecora’s grasp. “Do you think you can take care of it for us?”

“This task I’m afraid I cannot do. It is something I would come to rue. The spirit of the wolf needs something it knows.” She eyed me up and down. “Your spirit is the same, through its highs and lows. The blood of the survivor is in your veins; you should be the one to take his reins.”

I looked over at Applejack. “Translate that, please. My head is still fuzzy.”

“She says the wolf is yours now.”

“Tell her I said fuck that.”

Applejack gave me a look like I was stupid. “She can understand you, Nav.” I gave her a blank stare and just pointed at Zecora. AJ rolled her eyes and turned to her and said, “He’s not interested.”

“If he has no guidance, he will surely die. In this you can be guaranteed I do not lie.”

I shrugged. “Ain’t no skin off my back. Those timberwolves, they lost a lot of points with me last night when one of them tried to tear off my foot.”

Applejack gave me a flat stare. “If I remember right, you were trying to kick him in the face.”

“Only because he was trying to tear a chunk out of Rarity.” I ran a hand through my hair, looking back over at Zecora and the pup. An idea struck me. “How about this: I hold onto the little pest for now, until I can find a pack of wolves to pawn him off on. I give him to them in exchange for information. Do you think that will work?”

“I do not think this plan of yours will work,” Zecora said, shaking her head. “It would be quicker to stab him with your dirk. Unless he is smarter than I think, the other packs cannot form a link. With such a great lack, he can’t join a pack.”

I rubbed my temple, trying to make sense of what she said. “So you’re saying each pack of timberwolves has a mental link, and this little fucker is retarded so he can’t form new links? Then why can I take care of him but another pack can’t?”

“He has the mind of nothing but a pet, though admittedly smarter than any I’ve met. A pack would kill him for he is too dim. But a long-lived life with you is better than death or a zoo.”

I sighed. “Fine, I’ll take the fucking wolf. The minute he so much as snaps at Taya will be the minute I stab him in the throat. What do these things eat?”

“What do wolves in your world eat? His diet is full of meat. Normal dog food is a second best, but you must give it a meaty zest.” She gave me a few more instructions for taking care of a wolf made of wood. I don’t feel like remembering the rhymes and I don’t feel like paraphrasing since I made her write a list and then made Applejack write it in English.

By the time Zecora ran out of things to say in her shitty English equivalent, Rarity woke up. I got another view of pony ass as she stretched right in my face. Either she knew I was looking or she was just being careful, because she shot her tail out and smacked me in the face with it. Normally that wouldn’t hurt, but this time it was covered in dried mud and a few sticks poking out of it. I turned back to see a smirking pony and zebra. I mouthed, “Worth it,” to them. Applejack rolled her eyes.

“Terribly sorry for sleeping in,” Rarity said, taking the last spot at the small table. “Are you feeling alright, Navarone?”

“Better than I was last night.” And I’m sure I looked better, with all of the sticks out of me and bandages over everything. “Our host was polite enough to bandage me up. I have to say, I’m having a better time here than I did last time.” I gave a pointed look at Applejack, who met it with a blush.

“C’mon, Nav. We don’t need to be talking about that, now…”

Rarity grinned, sensing juicy gossip. “Oh? Why, what ever did I miss, dearest Applejack?”

Applejack’s ears lowered and she very quickly said, “Imma go check on the girls.”

She scurried away from the table, leaving at least two grins behind. “She really should let her hair down more,” I said when she was in the other room. “It looks much better.”

“I’ve tried telling her that,” Rarity sighed. “But she just doesn’t seem to care. I swear, that mare will never find a stallion.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You don’t seem to have been looking either, Rarity. Or if you have, even I have had better luck.”

“That’s preposterous! Are you even into stallions?”

I shrugged. “Not really. But some of them seem to like me. Braeburn, for example. And one of the night guards might have a small crush on me.”

She hmphed. “If that’s all the… luck you’ve had, then I believe I’ve had better luck than you.”

I shrugged. “Good for you, I guess. But I don’t think you’ve gotten farther than I have, relationship wise. I managed to get engaged. How far have you gotten?”

She gasped. “Who with?”

“Gilda. It was a political thing and we got it canceled, thank God. It still counts.”

She rolled her eyes. “Keep telling yourself that, Nav.” She looked over to Zecora. “Have you ever had a special somepony, Zecora?”

“Once upon a time, I did. But on that story, I keep a lid. It was in a land far from here and the soul I loved was most dear. The story does not end well, so on it I do not dwell. And I see your sister is awake, so I believe their breakfast I should make.”

Rarity leapt up. “Please, allow me to help you.” Zecora set the wolf down on the floor and they both walked less than two steps away to a large pot. I zoned them out as the wolf slowly inched its way to me.

He eyed my bandaged leg before rubbing up against my other one. It didn’t exactly feel that good, but it also didn’t really hurt. I lowered my hand down and he licked it, looking up at me with his glowing green eyes. It was almost enough to make me feel bad for my plan of trying to give him to Fluttershy.

As I was greeting the wolf and he was trying to get used to me, the hustle and bustle around the small room increased, with Applejack joining the cooking effort.

It didn’t take long for Zecora to get pushed from the two, leaving Applejack and Rarity to fight over recipes. Rarity was trying to make some hellishly complex thing while Applejack was trying to make something simple.

“If they are not careful, they will burn down my house,” Zecora sighed as she joined our table. She jerked her head over to the two mares as they poured something into the bowl. “No, no! That is something you must souse!” A tiny rainbow explosion shot out of the bowl, leaving the two mares next to it with very Rainbow Dash-esque hair.

They looked up at each other. “We will never speak of this again,” Rarity said.

“You got that right. Now, why don’t you go ahead and cook us up something nice, Rarity?”

“No, no Applejack, I insist you make us something simple.”

I face-palmed, knowing where this was going. Zecora just put her head on the table as the two girls shared a haunted look. After nearly a minute of them trying to be nice and let the other one cook, I looked to Zecora and asked, “Do you have potatoes and eggs?”

Fifteen minutes later, they were all eating hash browns and scrambled eggs, courtesy of me. I have no idea what kind of eggs she gave me, but I know they weren’t chicken eggs.

A few minutes after that, we were getting ready to go. I found my belt with my sword and dagger hanging on a peg near the door. The ponies were thanking Zecora for letting them stay. Rarity was apologizing for the mess. The wolf was following me.

As Zecora showed us out, she said to me, “I will think long and hard on your offer, but I would hate to deplete your coffer.”

“Price is no problem for me. If you want in, let me know and you’re in.”

The others were curious about this, of course. “What’re you talking about, Nav?” Applejack asked.

“Nothing that need concern you,” I answered. “Now let’s get out of Zecora’s hair. We all need baths and these two have some explaining to do,” meaning Applebloom and Sweetie Belle.

“You’re quite right about that!” Rarity confirmed. “Just what were you two thinking?”

“I reckon that can wait until we ain’t in the Everfree,” Applejack said, looking around the woods that are rather close to Zecora’s hut.

“We won’t get there until we start,” I sighed, taking the lead. I made it two steps before Rarity jumped in front of me.

“You can’t make it back with your foot like that, Nav.” She knelt down again. I sighed and slung my leg over her back, sitting on her yet again. She stood back up. “I know you aren’t healthy, as light as you are. There’s no way anypony this light can be eating right.”

I didn’t comment.

“If you don’t want to answer, I bet Taya will tell me all about it,” she slyly commented.

I grimaced. “How about we go back to being mad at the girls? That was fun.”

“Oh, don’t you worry about them,” she said. “Sweetie Belle will get quite the tongue lashing when we get out of here.”

“And that goes double for Applebloom,” Applejack said, giving her sister a look. The two fillies had their ears down, knowing they were up shit creek.

“Hell, I’d prefer a tongue lashing to what my parents did when I fucked up. The first time I missed curfew, my dad beat me bloody.” I sighed wistfully. “The second time was worse. I didn’t miss curfew again after that. Of course, I didn’t have to worry about getting eaten back where I came from, but I did have to worry about getting shot or stabbed.”

Rarity turned back to stare at me in horror when I mentioned getting beaten. “Your parents hit you?”

“Nah, just my dad. My mom never needed to, since my dad was so good at it. Besides, she had other ways of punishing me. She was the one that gave me the tongue lashings, much good they ever did. Is hitting not a common way of dealing with kids here?”

“Heavens no! That’s simply… barbaric! What could ever possess a parent to do something like that?”

I shrugged. “Worked on me. Of course, it probably also contributed to me being so fucked up, so I guess that’s something against it.”

Rarity hmphed and turned back around. “If I ever see your father, I’ll give him what-for. To do that to a foal…” She descended into dark muttering.

Applejack watched that little back-and-forth with a smile, shaking her head when Rarity finished. She looked over to me. “It ain’t that uncommon here, Nav. My parents didn’t beat me, but they sure knew how to stripe a hide when Big Mac or I misbehaved. Of course, with them traveling all the time, the task was usually left to Granny Smith. Now that you mention it, I might have to break out her old collection of switches for Applebloom here.”

Applebloom’s ears drooped and she looked over to me, mouthing ‘why?’ before turning on her sad face. I shrugged.

Rarity hmphed again. “Terrible. I can’t believe any parents would ever do that.” She eyed Sweetie Belle. “Of course, I’m not your parent, just your big sister. If Applejack and Navarone both swear by it, maybe it works.” And now Sweetie Belle was using her sad face on me, but she wasn’t as good at it as Applebloom.

“If you two switch them, you shouldn’t forget about Scootaloo,” I said. “It’s only fair.”

“Don’t you worry about her,” a new voice said. “I’ll take care of her.” Rainbow Dash swooped down from the trees, landing in front of us. “What happened last night?” she asked. She then actually looked at Rarity and Applejack and cracked up. “And what happened to your hair?” Referring to how it was still rainbow colored, I assumed.

“Long story short,” I said, “we fucked up some timberwolves and I got a new pet.” I jerked a thumb at the wolf still following Rarity. “We’ll get more details from these two when we get back,” with a nod toward the two girls.

“Looks like the wolves weren’t the only ones that got bucked up,” she said, looking at my leg. “Is everypony else alright?”

“We’re all fine,” Applejack said. “Are the others still trying to find us?”

Dash shook her head. “Twilight sent me to talk to Zecora first, to ask if she’s seen you. The others are waiting at Nav’s house.”

“Why would they be there instead of at the farm?” Applejack asked.

“Because my house has a fence and a giant naga that’s honor-bound to come to my aid if I require it.”

“Those are pretty good reasons,” Rarity confirmed.

I nodded at Dash. “Go tell them we’ll be out in about fifteen minutes or so. And tell them to wait. The bigger the group we have, the more attention we’ll draw.”

“You got it, Nav.” She hopped back into the air, darting through a break in the trees.

I smiled down at the girls. “There you go. Now you won’t be so alone when you’re getting punished.”

“Doesn’t make me feel any better…” Sweetie Belle whispered, the first words I had heard out of them yet.

“Me neither,” Applebloom sighed. The three of us that were adults shared a smile—at least, I think the other two were adults; I still don’t know how age in this place works. I mean, shouldn’t Applebloom and Sweetie Belle be young adults by now? Either way, I don’t think Rarity or Applejack would actually switch their sisters. They’d talk about it, but they wouldn’t actually do it.

We continued walking, Applejack and I still eyeing the surrounding forest warily. I had no intention of getting jumped, that’s for damn sure.

Thankfully, we weren’t. We got out of the forest muddy, tired, hurt in my case, and rainbow-maned in the cases of Rarity and AJ. Also thankfully, we were very close to my house when we got out; I had no idea the path to Zecora’s house was that close to my place. We started walking to the gate.

The first one in was Applejack, and she was quickly smothered by Pinkie’s hug. My gate was large enough for Rarity to get past Applejack’s struggling form, so I got to see the other three girls staring at us. The naga, Taya, Scootaloo, and Doppel were with them, though Taya quickly abandoned her position when she saw me enter on Rarity. I slid down, landing on my good leg, and caught Taya in a hug.

The wolf cautiously stepped forward, sniffing at Taya. My hand slipped to my dagger until he withdrew. I pulled away from Taya and stood, noting that Rarity had slipped away, standing closer to Twilight. Fluttershy, however, was right behind me, staring at my bandages.

“Nav, you’re hurt.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed. Hey, do you want a unique animal?”

“What kind of animal?”

I pointed at the wolf. She followed my finger and her eyes went wide. She opened her mouth to presumably tell me no, but hmmm’d instead. She bent down to it, making it back away, baring his fangs. “I don’t think he likes me,” she whispered.

“Then you’re not trying hard enough. You’re good with animals, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

“Um…” I was already limping away toward Applejack and the girls. I limped about a step before I found myself lifted in an orange aura that I recognized as Taya’s.

The bandage around my foot was unwrapped by a brighter orange aura. She gasped when she saw the damage. “I can’t heal this,” she told me. She picked me up and carried me toward Twilight.

“Taya, this really isn’t necessary.”

“I know.” She stopped when we were next to Rarity and Twilight, who were talking. Taya just stared at Twilight with a burning intensity until Twilight decided to stop ignoring her.

“Sweet Celestia, Nav! What happened to you?”

I shrugged. “I made one too many jokes about Rarity’s hair and she decided to teach me a lesson.”

“That is not true!” Rarity said, scowling at me for a moment. That quickly changed into a smile. “He got bitten while saving me from getting mauled.”

“Yeah, whatever. I don’t reckon you can heal me?”

Twilight smirked. “Anything for the big hero.” The glow around me turned purple as Twilight’s horn lit up. She floated me over to herself and stretched out my leg. I felt an insane itching as the tendons in my foot mended and the torn flesh reknitted itself. She was panting slightly by the time she finished. “There was more damage there than I thought.” She looked over to Rarity. “Does the fair lady want to reward her handsome knight?”

I butted in. “I think carrying me out of the forest was reward enough, thank you.”

Judging from the looks I saw passing between Rarity and Twilight, they had something else in mind. Just as Twilight started to float me closer to Rarity, we heard Fluttershy give out a shrill “Eep!” The aura around me dropped as everyone jerked their heads toward her and the wolf that was now chasing her.

I managed to catch myself before falling, thankfully. I watched with amusement until I saw Rainbow Dash getting ready to pile drive the wolf. “HEEL!” I yelled out. The wolf immediately stopped, looking over to me. “Holy… That actually worked?” I looked around and saw that Fluttershy was huddling next to the naga, staring at the wolf fearfully.

I sighed and walked over to it. “We do not try to eat ponies. Especially Fluttershy. Now go apologize.” He whimpered, trying to use puppy dog eyes. However, his eyes were green and glowing and he was about as far away from being cute as something could possibly get. I just pointed at Fluttershy.

His tail dragged as he walked over to her and the naga. Dash was ready to move as soon as he showed any signs of being aggressive. Twilight was watching him with curiosity. Fluttershy was watching with fear. The naga, as usual, didn’t give any fucks. I could tell he was ready to grab the wolf if needed, though.

The need didn’t arise. The wolf stopped near Fluttershy and whined, dropping his head. I could see the fear leave her when he did that. She stepped forward and gently patted him. “It’s okay, boy.” He looked up and pounced. Everyone caught their breath before we realized he was just licking her face.

“Now that that’s out of the way,” Applejack slowly said before turning to her sister. “JUST WHAT THE HAY WERE YOU THINKING?!”

“Hold on,” I said, stepping up. “Might as well save some time and yell at all three at once. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, stand next to Applebloom.”

“Good thinking as always, Nav,” Rarity said before looking to Sweetie Belle and pointing at Applebloom.

“You heard him, squirt,” Dash said to Scootaloo. The girls both sighed before joining Applebloom.

Applejack nodded at me. “Thanks for looking out for us, Nav.” She cleared her throat before turning on her Big Sister face again. “NOW JUST WHAT THE HAY WERE YOU THREE THINKING?!”

I zoned out whatever their answer was as I walked over to Fluttershy. “Like I said, you figured it out. According to Zecora, he eats meat or dog food. She gave me a list of instructions, whenever you want it.”

“Oh, no. I couldn’t take away your pet, Nav! I can tell he has a bond with you.” She let the pup go and he quickly rejoined me. She grinned. “I knew a canine would be right for you! I figured it would have been a fox, but a wolf is fine too. If you ever need me to puppy-sit, just let me know!”

I crossed my arms as the puppy tried rubbing against my legs. “Can you puppy-sit it forever?” The wolf growled. “Fine.” I sighed. “I keep getting saddled with all this stuff… Fluttershy, I suggest against following in my footsteps.”

“Oh, I could never do that. It would be awkward, trying to match your two feet with my four.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s like you’re just begging for me to hug you.”

“Um… What does hugging have to do with walking?”

“That’s it. Just remember that you brought this on yourself.” I reached down and pulled her into a hug. I quickly remembered why I liked snuggling against mares; they’re really soft and squishy, especially when you’re not wearing much in the way of clothing. Her fur brushed up against my chest in a very nice way. I didn’t hold the hug for long, but she was blushing when I pulled away. “I hope you learned your lesson,” I told her. “Now come on, pup. Let’s show you the house.”


For those of you that are wondering, it was explained to me that the three girls went into the woods to find out why the timberwolves are so attracted to the zap apples. They assumed that since I was able to talk to the wolves, the wolves would be willing to talk to them.

They did not take into account the fact that I earned the respect of the wolves by killing one in combat. They also casually forgot that Applebloom was part of the family that stole the zap apples in the first place. Even if wolves didn’t know her from looking at her, they would be able to smell the farm on all of them.

And no, they didn’t learn the reason for the wolves’ behavior.


However, I did. The night we got back, I started to go into the forest. I stopped when I realized that I did not need to; there were five wolves right outside the doors of my house, waiting for me. I spread my wings and drew my sword as I pulled the door shut, watching them.

“You will not need that, two legs,” the wolf in the middle hoarsely intoned.

“We are here to talk, not fight,” the one to the right of him said.

I didn’t put my sword away. “What do you want?” I asked. I could see more of the wolves now, arranged all around my house. I’m not leaving that gate open at night anymore.

“You killed one of the pack leaders,” the middle one said.

“In self-defense,” I hastily answered.

“This isn’t a trial,” the one on the far left barked.

I ruffled my feathers. “Then why are you here?”

“You have one of ours,” the middle one answered. I jerked a hand to the door but he continued, “We do not want him back. He is nothing but muscle; with his pack dead, he is forfeit. However, his pack is not entirely dead. Two still survive, felled by the ponies with you rather than your mystic weapon. They will regrow and rebuild the pack. When they succeed, they will come for the pup with you, who will likely not be so much of a pup any longer.”

“...Okay.” I put the sword away, not thinking I’d need it. “I have a question, if you’ll answer it. What’s your feud with the apple farmers?” The one on the far right growled at the mention of the Apples.

The middle one snarled too, but answered, “They hold our family fruit, two legs. When one of us eats of that tree, we are able to breed for a short time. Each pack guards a tree, for without the fruits from that tree, the pack cannot survive. They bloom whenever a tribe is ready to grow, either because hunting is good or because one of the tribe was lost.” He narrowed his eyes. “The trees will go in bloom within the week because of your actions permanently killing three. They’ll stay in bloom for twice as long so lost can be replaced. But it will take some time for their new pack leader to come into his own, so expect it to take months for them to come for that little one you hold.”

That’s certainly interesting. “What happens if a pony or something else eats a raw zap apple?”

“They go mad.” Well, that explains Granny Smith’s behavior. “We do not know if it is permanent, since we kill most anything that dares affront us so.”

“So… how the hell do you breed, anyway? The wolves we killed turned into kindling when they died, not bodies.”

“It is not how most animals breed. We are not alive, but made animate through chaotic magic. When a pack sees the first of the signs of the trees, we begin gathering fallen branches and leaves from certain trees, depending on what we are trying to replace. Different wood makes different wolves. When the tree is ready, each member of the pack eats the fruit of the tree and sacrifices part of themselves to animate a new member of the pack. The young start small but slowly grow as more magic and life is absorbed.”

“So how long can any of you live?”

They all looked around at each other before the middle one spoke again. “I have seen over ten thousand turnings of the moon.”

Turnings of the moon… That’s about twenty-eight days. I did some math and realized this dude had been alive for over nine hundred years. “Holy fuck, dude. How long does it take for a wolf to fully grow?”

“That depends on the breed,” one of them answered. “The wolf you have will grow quickly. He will be strong, fast, and ferocious, but not much for thinking. He will never know how to talk.”

“Does he have a name?”

“We do not give names to each other. We instinctively know each other because of the feel of their magic.”

“Okay… Does he have a gender?”

“He does not.”

There are a bunch of other questions I really wanted to ask these guys, but I had a bad feeling that some questions might be bad for my health. Questions such as, “Don’t you care that I helped defend the apple farmers from some of you?” and “How did you know I had one of you?” and “So does that mean I can’t get raped by any of you?”

So instead, I settled for asking, “How did the timber wolves get created as a race?”

Four of them growled before the middle one answered, “That is a tale we are not allowed to tell. The sun fell from the sky and gave us the warning that we were to tell none of how we were made.”

That answered my question, actually. “How worried will I need to be about the wolf I have hurting anyone?”

“He will sense your mood and your feelings. If you are near someone you do not like, he will be defensive. He will be friendly to those to which you are friendly.”

What kind of weaboo anime bullshit is this? “When his pack comes for him, will they be violent or will they just take him and go?”

“They will just take him and go, unless you try to keep him from them. I do not suggest such an action. Should any of us get too far from the chaotic energies of the forest, we will break down.”

Definitely can’t come with me, then. I found myself smiling, happy that I wouldn’t have to deal with him for long.

The wolves noticed that and growled. I remembered what showing teeth meant to dogs and I removed the smile from my face. “If I have any other questions for you in the future, how will I find you? I swear, you guys are fucking elusive when I actually want to talk.”

“Search for the trees like those on the apple farm. We will never be far.” Sensing that I was done, the wolves turned away and gathered their packs with a few barks and snarls. They left a few howls as they charged out through my gate, into the night.



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