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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80. Chapter Sixty-Six—I never was good at pranking

I squared off against the naga, barely holding the stick he gave me to use against him. I have no idea what they were made of, but I know mine was small and his was huge and his hurt whenever he hit me. I imagine that he barely felt mine. Well, assuming I could ever hit him. If I hadn’t been wearing my armor, I would have been sporting several bruises. As it was, my wings felt like they had been beaten and plucked and I could feel various aches from where the armor stopped blows from that massive hunk of wood he was using.

“That is not a proper stance,” he told me.

Bitch please, you don’t even have legs. “Well, I’ve never been told what a proper stance is. Maybe you should show me.”

“Or you could experiment until you find it. The best stance differs from fighter to fighter.”

I rolled my shoulders. “Then how do you know that this stance isn’t proper for me?”

Before I could react, he lunged and lashed his sword against the shield I was using, throwing me off my feet. “Because if it was proper, you wouldn’t have fallen.” He reached down and grabbed the lip of my shield, pulling me off the beaten grass. I’m glad I didn’t have any work put into my yard. We were currently in my backyard, away from the prying eyes of anyone that might want to ‘help’ me if they saw my ass getting beaten by the naga. “Now, try again.”

I sighed and backed away from him, pulling myself into a better stance. I had my shield facing him and my sword over the top right of it, pointing at him. My legs were in what I was hoping was a suitable fighting stance.

“It needs work,” he said with a nod. “But it’s considerably better.” He pulled his hunk of wood up in a two-handed stance. “Now, see if you can hit me.”

This isn’t going to end well. I slowly walked up to him, my shield not wavering. When I was within his range, he swung his sword down at my head and I barely made it out of the way. It stopped from hitting the ground and shot toward me. I barely jumped over it, knowing it would trip me if it hit me. I lashed out with my sword, but he somehow moved his up to intercept it before pushing back on it, throwing my sword and hand back hard enough to spin me. I lashed out with my shield as I spun, hoping I could hit him. He grabbed my shield with one hand and swung the sword down with his other. I let the shield go and pulled my arm free, dodging the sword. I shot mine at him before he could correct, but he slammed my shield across the side of my head and I went down hard.

I found myself in that glade Flo seems to like so much. I knew my body had to be fucked up if I was here. I walked to the center and found Flo waiting. “What’s the damage?” I asked her.

“I can’t tell all of it, but you have a pretty bad concussion. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were missing teeth. Nav, I’m going to put this in words you can understand. You aren’t a tank. Don’t even try to be one. You are the ‘damage per second’ member. Stop trying to use the shield and use your speed and dexterity to your advantage.”

I nodded. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. It leaves me with a shield that I can’t use, though.”

“And? I could tell from looking at it that it had been there for at least a century without being moved for anything more than cleaning. You know some of the history of that place, Nav. It’s probably a leftover from the city that used to be there ages ago. No one else would have used it, so it’s hardly a waste. Now, are you ready to try to wake up?”

I looked around the glade before asking, “How much pain am I going to be in?”

“A lot. I have no objection if you want to stay here with me…”

I nodded. “I like that idea. Let me know when my headache is gone and I’ll wake up.” I wrapped my arms around her and saw that pretty pink glow return to her. She carried us to the ground.

A few minutes later, she sighed. “It’s time for you to wake up, Nav. Taya’s healed you.”

“Send me away, then. I’ll see you again in a few months.” With that, I woke up.

My gauntleted hand went to my head as I sat up. I was quickly hugged by Taya. I lowered my hand when I realized I wasn’t in pain and pulled her against me. “Did I get hit by a truck?” I asked.

The naga chuckled. “Not quite. I just forgot how different you are.” I looked up and saw him holding my bloody helmet in one hand.

Taya spoke up and said, “You’re going to need a trip to the dentist, daddy.”

I swirled my tongue around, flinching when I felt broken teeth. “Yep… Fucking Colgate.” I let go of Taya and she backed away. I got to my feet, stumbling a little out of dizziness. I quickly recovered. The naga passed me my helmet and I put it on my belt before walking over to my shield and grabbing it. “I’m changing first. No reason to go into town looking like this.” I looked over at Taya. “Hey, did I ever take you to the dentist?” I saw her ears lay down and she quickly nodded. I lifted an eyebrow and she looked away. “Then you’re coming with me. I ain’t letting you do to your teeth what I did to mine.” I didn’t treat my teeth well as a child. Bad things happened. “Colgate may be terrifying and possibly a serial molester, but she knows her stuff. I think. Get ready to go.”

She looked down at herself before looking up to me. “I am ready.”

I shrugged and went to go change.

When I got back out, Taya looked somewhat worried. I rubbed her head as we left the gates. “What do you know about Colgate?” I asked.

“That she’s… weird. I’ve seen her looking at my teeth. And she looks at yours a lot. I don’t think she’s all there.”

“Let’s just say that there’s a reason I’m not going there alone. No matter what she says, don’t leave me alone with her. The last two times, I got drugged and ended up passing out. I have no idea what happened after that, but I woke up both times hours later being carried out by someone else, with a minty taste in my mouth that didn’t leave for days.” Not this time, though. The last few times I went, I was disgusted by the idea of fucking a pony. Now, I had a plan.

“So does that mean she isn’t going to look at my teeth?”

“No, she will. No child of mine is going to have fucked up teeth. Even if that means dealing with Colgate. Also, how mad would you be if I put a limit on the amount of time you were allowed to be home?”

“…Why would you do that? That’s just cruel.”

I shrugged. “The idea is that it would force you to socialize. It would give you a good chance to learn how to do so before we leave.”

“But the ponies here are so... ugh! Why would I ever want to spend time with them?”

“Because they can be amusing. Rainbow Dash, for instance, is almost always amusing to be around. We don’t have much in common, but most of her persona is just amusing to me. I don’t know why. Same for Fluttershy.” Well, I did know why for both of those, but I knew Dash had a bad habit of sleeping on low flying clouds and could be listening in. Fluttershy’s innocence was fun to play with and Dash was just really fun and easy to tease. She usually took it reasonably well, too.

“But the little fillies you keep trying to pawn me off on are so annoying! They constantly try to get me my cutie mark in the most ridiculous and off-the-wall ways! I know it’s something that will come in time, but they don’t seem to like that idea.” She put on a bad southern accent for this next part. “They want it now!” She huffed and her voice went back to normal. “It’ll come when it comes.”

“Well, if you don’t like them, then make different friends. I know there are plenty of kids in Ponyville. Or if the kids annoy you, there’s nothing stopping you from going after older game. Just avoid some of the teens, because I can imagine they’d be dicks. Either way, you need to talk to ponies outside of the small group you’re forced to interact with. It would be good for you.”

“Even if we’re just going to leave soon?”

“Yes.” You know, I honestly never thought I would be telling my daughter to go talk to strangers. Most ponies are pretty chill, once you get past their fear of the unknown. Most. “Now that it’s been a few days, what do you make of Gilda?”

She grimaced. “I know she’s in a bad mood, but that’s no reason for her acting like she is.” Gilda hadn’t been too bad, all things told. That said, I would rather her not be in my house than be in it, the way she had been acting. The whole general bitchiness thing was getting old. I had an idea to either piss her off enough to make her leave or finally settle her down. I was looking forward to it.

We were on the outskirts of town and getting noticed by several ponies, who didn’t really care. Taya and I walking was a normal enough sight, and since I washed the blood off my face, there was nothing odd about it. That said, Rainbow Dash quickly joined our group, hovering next to us. “Hey Nav, what’s with Gilda? She’s been in the worst mood I’ve seen since she freaked out and left Ponyville a few years back.”

“If she isn’t saying anything, I’m not saying anything. I made that deal with her. It involved her father, if that helps.”

She growled. “It would. That jerk’s always on her case about something or another! I’ve never even met him and I hate him.”

“I have met him and I hate him. He’s a right proper prick. Serious misogynist. I got to threaten to break him in half, though.”

“Good going, Nav.” She continued floating next to me for a few moments in silence. “Soooo… you doing anything today?”

“Gotta get my teeth fixed.” I pulled my gums down and showed her how fucked up they were.

“Sweet Celestia! How did that happen?”

I shrugged and casually said, “I talked back to Taya and she got mad. She hit me in the face with the first hard thing she could find.”

Rainbow giggled awkwardly and Taya cast a disdainful eye at me. “That’s a good one, Nav…” Rainbow warily said.

I looked at her, trying to put fear into my eyes. “Do you think I’m joking?” Her smile dropped and her eyes darted to Taya. She gulped loudly and opened her mouth, but I cut her off with, “Because I am.”

She kicked me in the arm. Hard. “Don’t do that! You know some of us can’t tell when you do things like that!”

I chuckled at her baleful glare. “Dash, make of this what you will, but you’re really cute when you’re angry. No bromo.”

She snorted, but couldn’t hide a blush. “And you’re pretty much always ugly. So what are you doing after you get your teeth fixed?”

“Well, the plan was to go back and get my ass kicked around my yard some more by my naga friend, but I think he would understand if I took the rest of the day off. But it takes a long time to regrow teeth. This isn’t my first time.”

“Oh yeah, back when AJ thought your head was an apple tree for a second. You’re a lot more talkative this time!”

“Less swelling. And I actually have some teeth, so I’m less worried about showing them off. I am, however, worried about Colgate. The last—and only—two times I’ve been there, she drugged me and I have no idea what happened. That’s why Taya is here.”

“Wellll, it has been a long time since I had my teeth checked… I guess I can go too.”

Taya and I both looked at her. I asked, “Are you really so bored that going to the dentist sounds better than being alone?”

She looked away and muttered something that I barely caught. All I heard were the words Pinkie and heat and couldn’t help but flinch.

“Yeah, come on Dash. You’re sticking with us for now.” Taya gave me a questioning look. “You’ll understand when you’re…” I stopped, blinking. “Hey Dash, when do mares start going into heat?”

“I dunno. I started getting mine short after I got my cutie mark. Considering that’s seen as a sign of puberty among us ponies, that’s probably what caused it. I never cared for any of that science stuff, you know that.”

I shrugged. “Either way, you’ll understand when you’re older, Taya.” And won’t that be fun to explain.

We made it to Colgate’s business building, so I was saved from having to expound on what I meant. I looked at the door for a few seconds before sighing and pulling it open for the two ladies.

Dash scoffed. “I’m not going in first.” She grabbed me and pushed me in. Mares just don’t appreciate politeness…

Either way, it meant I was the first to see Colgate’s shiny smile as she was staring dead at the door from behind her desk. She was sitting in the exact same position she was in the last time I came by. I shivered as I led my small group inside. Her grin only widened when she saw the three of us, and her eyes fixated on me with an extra intensity.

“How can I help you today, favorite patient of mine?” she asked in a voice that just screamed ‘crazy.’

“I need more fixed teeth. Taya needs a checkup. Dash thinks she has some carpet stuck in her te—” A kick in the shin shut me up.

With a short glare to me, Dash said, “I need my teeth cleaned.”

“Welllll… As much as I’d like to let Nav go first, cleaning teeth doesn’t take nearly as long as regrowing them. If the two of you would just follow me, I can get you started right away.”

She hopped right over her desk and somehow managed to wrap a single foreleg around both of their necks and started dragging them off to the back room. I followed. Colgate reached out and opened the door to the back room before unceremoniously pushing them both inside. “Sorry Nav, but you gotta wait. It shouldn’t take too long!”

I started to debate the point, but she jumped in behind the two and slammed the door shut. I reached for the handle to find that it was locked. I jerked my hand to where I occasionally put my key to realize I left it at home.

I sighed and walked back to her ‘waiting room.’ All of the magazines were months old. Most of the books were for kids. The newspaper was for Trottingham. If there had been a TV, it probably would have been playing some kind of silly judge reality show. In short, it was exactly like a waiting room back home.

I settled into a chair to wait. Some time later, Colgate popped her head back out and said, “The dentist will see you now!” For some reason, that made her giggle.

I stood and walked to the door. “What about Dash and Taya? Where are—” I stopped when I stepped inside and saw them curled up in the corner, smiles on their faces as they slept away. I sighed. Guess we’re doing this the hard way. “So do you give all of your patients laughing gas?”

“Oh no, I try to keep most of that for myself. But some of them are more unruly than others and don’t like listening to their dentist! Now, to the chair.” She made a motion to the dentist chair I was well acquainted with.

I turned to her and lifted my hand to her head, scratching at her ears. She flinched in surprise, but the smile didn’t disappear. “You know, with the two of them asleep, we could… find something else to do.” I was using my seductive voice. My other hand started scratching under her chin. “I bet that chair will hold two…”

She looked at me for five seconds before it clicked. Her pupils shrank to pinpricks, her ears drooped, she started hyperventilating, and she backed away. “I-I-I d-d-don’t… I m-m-m-mean… You…”

I grinned and stepped forward, pushing my arm out again. She shrank away from it. “Come now, my dear. Don’t you think it would be fun?” I wiggled my fingers and she let out a funny scared sound. “I bet you have something that would make you very sensitive…”

She finally hit the wall and turned away, squeezing her eyes shut. “P-please…”

I blinked, looking down at her. “Holy shit, you’re actually terrified.” I pulled my arm back, stepping away. I decided to give her even more room and went to sit on the edge of the chair until she recovered. It took her a minute. When she realized I hadn’t said or done anything in a while, she forced an eye open, scanning the room. She saw me looking at her with concern from halfway across the room and flinched. She didn’t take long to take a few deep breaths to fully calm down. “Soooo…”

The crazy smile and wide eyes came back as she merrily trotted to the chair. “Now just you lean back and I’ll take gooood care of you!”

“I don’t suppose there’s any way we could do this without me getting drugged?”

“That would take most of the fun out of it, though! Laughing gas sure is a hoot.” She giggled at her own joke. I just gave her a deadpan look until her mirth passed.

I let the moment linger for awkwardness’s sake. Finally, I said, “Whatever you’re doing to me that requires me to be here for several hours needs to stop.”

“You don’t like having your teeth cleaned?” It sounded like she considered that the ultimate blasphemy.

“I know you didn’t knock me out and keep me here three hours last time to clean my teeth.”

She giggled again. “Sure I did! I cleaned them and brushed them and scrubbed them and flossed them… Oh, it was so much fun! You just have such great teeth! I wonder if I can get little Spikey to let me do his…”

“…So you didn’t molest me?”

Her mouth dropped.

“Just checking.” I folded my wings up and sat back in the chair. “I can clean my own teeth. I can’t, however, regrow them. Do whatever you want.” I heard muttering and the clip-clopping of hooves as she marched around the room, grabbing things. “Oh, and if you do plan on gassing me, I probably have a higher tolerance than I did before.”

Flo whispered, “Are you sure that’s a good idea to tell her, Nav?”

With as scared as she was, I don’t think she’s going to do anything to me. And even if she does, well, at this point I don’t really care. As long as she doesn’t hurt me, she can do whatever. Now it was Flo’s turn to mutter incomprehensibly.

Soon enough, Colgate was back to her bubbly self. She walked over, bent her horn down to my mouth, and I felt my teeth begin elongating back to where they should be. “You really need to stop breaking your teeth. They’re such a pain to get back to normal. But it does mean I get to play with your teeth, so I guess it’s worth it!” Her horn stopped glowing and she pulled away. “Now, leave your mouth open. Do not close it. I’ll be right back!”

I decided it would be a good idea to not close my mouth. I really wanted to run my tongue over my teeth, but I didn’t want to cut it if any of the edges were sharp. It wasn’t a long wait, though. She came trotting back in, floating a box next to her. She set it down on a table next to me and opened it, pulling out some kind of plaster.

“Now, we can do this the quick and painful way or the slow and uncomfortable way. Which would you like?”

I tried to say quick and painful, but it’s hard to talk with your mouth open. Thankfully, she was still very fluent in open-mouth speak.

“Well, if that’s your choice… Hold still.” She floated the plaster over to my mouth. I was able to see that it was grooved with my teeth, presumably taken from the first time I was here. It slowly fitted into my mouth, not touching anything. “Slowly close your mouth until you’re just barely touching it with your teeth.” I did so. I felt one of her hooves grab my hand. “On the count of three, bite down as hard as you can.” I did not like where this was going. “One.” I was about to ask if it was too late to reconsider. “Two.” But I also didn’t want to be there all day. “Three.” I bit down and started screaming in pain as I felt my teeth grinded down to their proper shape in the span of two seconds. Thankfully, my mouth was kind of forced closed so the screams weren’t that loud.

The pain lasted for three minutes as I just laid there, panting. It took Colgate a full minute to get her hoof away from my clenching hand. She busied herself around the room, humming a song that sounded somewhat familiar.

When the pain finally eased enough that I was able to think again, I reached a hand up and pulled the plaster out of my mouth. “Holy fuck,” I groaned, holding it up. Slimy chunks of teeth slid down it.

“Most ponies take longer to recover than that!” she said, hopping over. Her horn lit up and the plaster pulled away. “You should have seen Big Mac the last time he was in here. Whimpering and crying like a baby the entire time, and he only had one tooth to fix!”

I sat up, rolling my shoulders. “So is that it? Am I good to go?”

She whirled around with that smile, her horn glowing and making several cleaning things fly up around her head. I saw a few brushes, several things of floss, and a set of those pokey things with the mirrors. I sighed and fell back into the chair. “That’s the spirit!”

Have you ever sat in a chair for an hour while someone lovingly caressed your teeth? While they were constantly singing the word ‘brush’ to the Inspector Gadget theme?

It was maddening. I swear she started saying ‘butt scratch’ around the halfway point. I think I preferred the idea that she was molesting me, honestly.

Anyway, when she was done with all of what she was doing, she finally let me get up. “Now wasn’t that fun?” she sweetly asked, shoving what looked like a mouth guard and a toothbrush in my hand.

“No,” I answered, popping my neck and sliding the things into a pocket. “How did those two sleep through that?”

“Laughing gas is a lot of fun.” She walked over to a canister, put her mouth where the gas gets out, and turned the valve. She sucked in a lethal amount of it before turning the valve closed and turning back around, her eyes bright red and a dreamy smile on her face. “Oooh yeah, that’s the stuff. You want a hit?”

I was looking at her in horror. “I’m good. I’m just gonna…” I quickly walked over to the two sleeping ponies and started poking them. Taya was quick to wake up, but Dash just rolled over and muttered something. I rolled my eyes, pulled her wing up, and ran my hand down it. She woke up with a moan and I let it drop against her.

“Whe-where am I?” she asked, rubbing her eyes as she sat up. When she saw me standing above her, she jerked straight. “Dude, why are you in my house?”

“If your house looks like a dentist’s office, I’m going to help you redecorate,” I answered.

“Hey!” Colgate shouted. “That’s not… What were we talking about?”

Taya and Dash both looked at her, confused. “Is she… okay?” Dash asked.

I waved a hand. “Yeah, she just had what should have been a lethal dose of laughing gas. Let’s go.”

Taya looked at me with concern. “Did you say lethal?”

“Yep. Let’s go. I’m sure Colgate is a busy mare.” At the moment, she was just looking at Rainbow and giggling.

“Hey uh, you two go on ahead,” Dash said. “I think I want to stay and talk a while.”

I leaned in next to her and whispered, “Dash, I’m not trying to beaver dam you here,” beaver dam being the female version of cock block, “but Colgate is beyond fucking crazy. I don’t think you want any part of her.”

She licked her lips. “I can think of one part I wouldn’t mind having…”

I shook my head. “Trust me. I tried flirting with her and she almost pissed herself in fear.”

She grinned. “That’s because you ain’t the Dash. I’ll be fine!”

I shrugged and stood up. “I’ll be home, if you still want to chill later. Good luck. Come on, Taya.” We thankfully got out of that place and started back. “So how was getting your teeth cleaned?” I asked.

“I… I don’t remember. She stuck something over my face and told me to breathe deeply.” She looked down. “Sorry, daddy.”

I ruffled my feathers. “No worries, Taya. I handled it well enough on my own. I don’t think I’ll be having problems with her again.” She still looked sad, though. “You want anything out of town before we go back?” She shook her head and we just kept walking. Until I thought of some stuff I needed, that is. “Well, I do. Let’s go to the hardware store.” I had my trusty bag of bits. It was time to get some tools and some wood to start building shit from Earth. I wouldn’t mind building a trebuchet that could throw a rock to Ponyville from my house. It would be fun to have in my front yard. Then there was the ballista for the naga.

We went to the store and got what we needed, Taya mercifully teleporting it all to our front yard to be dealt with later. We left Ponyville with a considerably lighter pouch and plans of fun carpentry projects in my head.

When we got to my house, I very quickly got the feeling that something was wrong. That was probably because there was a fucking standoff in my living room. The griffin king and a few of his guards were on one side, with what looked like Gilda’s dad. The naga was on the other side with his weapon bared, standing in front of a terrified Doppel. Cadance was in the middle, glaring at them both.

I slammed the door behind us, making everyone turn our way. I crossed my arms. “And just what the fuck is this about?” I demanded.

“Why is that… bug here, Navarone?” the king asked.

“She is my maid. And her name is Doppel.”

“And just why do you have a bug as a maid?” he asked, his voice considerably less than pleasant.

“Because the changelings are the only race that have not fucked me over. Now what the fuck do you want?”

Gilda’s dad spoke up, this time: “I want that bug’s head! There’s no telling what she did to my daughter!”

I narrowed my eyes and let my arms fall. “If you touch her, you will not leave this house alive.” Cadance gasped and the griffin jerked back.

The king said, “And you would risk war for the sake of one of these bugs?”

“Equestria can fucking burn, for all I care. If you dare hurt someone loyal to me, I will kill you myself. Do we have an understanding?”

Gilda’s dad was shaking in rage. The only thing stopping him from acting was my threat and my reputation. The king was oddly calm. Cadance looked terrified. The naga didn’t give any fucks. Doppel had wisely chosen to make herself scarce when everyone’s attention was no longer on her.

The king snorted. “Fine. There’s no sport or honor in killing a maid anyway. Navarone, I have a deal for you.”

My eyes flicked to Cadance for a second and I had a small glimmer of hope. I looked back to Bloodbeak. “I’m listening.”

He looked at the naga. “I’d prefer to discuss business without bared steel anywhere near me.” The naga looked to me and I jerked my head to a door. He put his sword up and left the room. “Better. Shall we sit?”

I walked over to an armchair, taking note of all that was happening. Cadance, Taya, and the king were the only three moving to any kind of seating. Taya ended up on the floor next to me. The other two picked couches. The other important griffin clearly wanted to sit, but was too busy glaring at me. The two redshirt guards took up positions behind their king.

“So how can I help you?” I asked, steepling my fingers.

The king sighed. “It has been made painfully obvious to me,” he glanced at Cadance for one second before looking to Gilda’s dad for another, “that your culture does not practice arranged marriages and that attempting to force you into one might not have been the best move.” He grinned. “However, I knew this might have been the case when I did it. That is, in fact, one of the reasons I did it. If you married Gilda, you would become part of my family and be obligated to help me. Or at least, that is the way it would be in the griffin culture. Obviously that isn’t the same where you come from. But if you really didn’t want her, I had the idea for a deal. Would you be interested in hearing it?”

“Do you really need to ask? Yes, I am.”

“I want you to draft my country a constitution and build us a parliament. Give us the government of the United Kingdom from your world.”

There was silence for almost a minute. Eventually, I said, “And in return?”

“The engagement will be canceled.”

My eyes went unfocused as I thought. It would piss Celestia off something fierce, so that was one good point. But I don’t know why he wanted it at all. “Why?” I asked. “I know we talked a lot about it when I was in Gryphus, but why do you want this?”

“Several reasons. One is because of the war that almost happened. My idiot cousin almost talked me into a war that would ruin us. No one griffin should have the power to ruin his entire country. The second reason is because I think your world is more civilized than ours in that respect. I thought about it for a long time when you left. A free-thinking population is better than a population that supports you out of indifference. I would rather know that I have the support of my country—or at least the majority—by having them vote on something than just assuming and acting. And the third reason is that it would anger Celestia greatly.”

I slowly nodded. “All good reasons…” Still, it seemed like a trap. “Two conditions. One: Gilda can stay here if she wants. I won’t marry her, but that doesn’t mean she has to go home. Two: If this goes wrong, I will take no blame for it.”

Gilda’s dad didn’t seem happy with that. “Now wait just a min—”

The king cut him off with, “Done. When can I expect the first draft of the constitution?”

“When are you leaving Canterlot?”

“Three more days.”

“I’ll have it to you tomorrow. When was the last time you did a census in your country?”

“…A what?”

I sighed. That made it a lot harder. “A census is when every person in your country is counted. A lot of other information is also collected. In my country, it was done by mail. A survey was sent to each house and it was filled out and then sent back. I don’t know how you would do it in your country. But basically, those surveys were used to form voting districts, which is how representatives for our congress were picked. I think the UK worked in the same way.”

He nodded. “When you bring us the constitution, give us a list of things to ask our citizens. I will give my country a census, have my scribes gather the data, and send you the results along with someone to teach. It will take some time to get my griffins used to this change anyway. Is that acceptable?”

“Yeah.” I leaned back. “Of all the things you could have asked from my world, why did you pick this government? Why not technology? Or something else?”

“I noticed something from your world while we were talking. Of all of the countries in power, almost none of them have totalitarian rulers or kings that make most or any of the big decisions. Most of the countries that you mentioned with single rulers use technology to oppress their subjects and those countries are weak. It appears to me that your society has to develop before your technology does, or else you run the risk of having a government that enslaves you based on the ability to keep you under their thumb with technology. A leader should rule through respect, not fear.”

Gryphonia was now on my list of possible places to live.

The king grinned at the expression that was probably on my face. “I can see you agree. I thought you would, from the way you reacted when we threatened your subject. Navarone, if ever you need a new home, you are welcome in my castle and in my court. Although I fear my court will soon stop existing, so I do not think that is the best offer I could give. Now, where is Gilda? I think it would be best to give her the news as soon as possible.”

I shrugged. “I have no clue. She’s been in a very pissy mood lately and has been roaming around the area. She’ll be back before night falls. I’ll tell her when she gets here.”

Her dad let out a shout of fury. “You let my daughter freely roam? In a place full of PONIES AND MONSTERS?!” He turned to the guards and screamed, “ARREST THIS APE!”

They didn’t even flinch. The king was looking at me to see how I would handle it. I was calmly looking at the griffin. “Remove yourself from my property,” I said, my voice cold.

He launched himself at me and was caught in the air by a lightning bolt from Taya that threw him into one of the guards. Cadance and the king jumped to their feet. The guard pushed the griffin off him and stood. Gilda’s dad weakly pushed himself up, his plumage smoking. I don’t think he was hit hard enough to be killed.

“Maybe you did not understand me,” I said. “I told you to get out.”

The king nodded to the guards, who grabbed him and dragged him out of my house. He turned back to me, grinning. “I’ve been looking for an excuse to strip him of his titles for years. Everyone knows he beats his wife, but there was never any proof. Now I don’t need it. If Gilda ever goes home, it will be to a large estate that she owns.” He looked down to Taya. “That was a remarkable shot. I applaud you.” He looked back to me. “And you should be proud to have her as your daughter. Or at least, I assume this is Taya?”

“Yes she is and yes I am.”

Cadance finally let her voice be heard. “You shouldn’t applaud that or be proud of it! Little fillies shouldn’t know that kind of magic, Nav!”

“Oh, I agree,” I said. “She shouldn’t know it. But she does know it and she knows it well enough to use it. And for that I am proud. I will have a talk with her later about it, don’t you worry. Now, Bloodbeak, do you have anything else for me?”

“No, Navarone. And it is about time for me to return to the castle. I do not want Celestia suspicious about what I am doing.” I stood and offered him my hand. He grinned and shook it. “It was good doing business with you.”

“Same here. And I’m glad you were able to see reason. Now go devise an excellent punishment for that bastard.” He grinned and left, leaving Cadance behind.

I turned to her before she could say anything. “You are now best princess,” I said. “Now come here.” I wrapped her in a hug. “You need anything, give me a call and I’ll come.” I let her go and fell back into my chair. “So how did you do it?”

She grinned, taking her seat back on the couch. “I threatened to follow him back to Gryphus and talk to him about love every day until the engagement was broken.”

“Oooh, no wonder he gave up.”

She rolled her eyes. “You know the power of love, Nav, even if you like to pretend you don’t. You may not have had the best experience with it, but you’ve spent enough time with the changelings to know that it is a force to be reckoned with when enough of it is taken or given. Everypony should feel that. It should not be denied by a marriage neither partner seeks.”

“You won’t hear me deny that,” I sighed. As much as I’d like to… “How did Celestia and Luna take this news?”

“They don’t know yet. I will tell Celestia when I get back. I imagine she’ll tell Luna tonight. And Navarone, you need to talk to Luna. She is absolutely livid. I do not think she has been this angry with anypony since she gave in to Nightmare Moon.”

“Yeah, I had a feeling she would be pissed at me. How do you suggest I deal with her?”

She looked around the room for a moment before settling her gaze on me. “Navarone, I don’t think there is anything you can do to alleviate her anger right now. The existence of this lovely house offends her. The fact that you went to Chrysalis instead of her offends her. That it was me that decided to help you get out of this engagement enrages her. She is your liege lady and yet your life has nothing to do with her anymore. If you don’t come to her by the week’s end, I imagine she will be sending guards to get you and force you to come to her. And Navarone, if that happens, you will not be able to expect aid from either me or Celestia. We can’t interfere with whatever penance Luna would assign you if she forces you to come to her.”

“Whoa whoa whoa, penance? As in, forcing me to do some bullshit task to reearn her favor? Fuck that shit!”

“I understand that it is not an idea you are comfortable with. However, I know you are smart enough to have realized that asking Chrysalis for aid was not without repercussions. You may not have known what they were, but you knew they were coming. As much as I hate to say it, you brought this one on yourself.”

My shoulders sagged. “Yeah. I suppose I did, this time.” It’s what I get for purposefully pissing off the two most powerful people on the planet. “I’ll see her tomorrow, when I drop off the information for the king. Tell Celestia that, but not Luna. See if you can get her to put off sending guards after me. Also, it would be awesome if you could avoid telling Celestia any of what happened here with Bloodbeak, but I understand if you can’t stay silent about it.”

She shook her head. “Celestia won’t hear a word about it from me. I had a long talk with Shining Armor.” She looked away. “It hurt. I want to say it hurt more than you could imagine, but I know better now.” She looked back at me. “Whatever it’s worth, I’m here for you. Remember that.”

“I know, Cadance.” I let the silence settle for a moment before grinning and saying, “As long as it’s not estrus, at least.” She blushed a bright red and I giggled.

Still blushing, she said, “As… fun… as it would be to continue this, I think it’s time I went back. Shining Armor will be missing me, I’m sure…”

I shook my head. “Nope. First you’re going to go visit Twilight. Then you can go back. If she finds out that you came to visit me but not her, I’d never hear the end of it.”

“I can take a few minutes out of my busy schedule for that… I will see you later, Navarone.”

And just like that, my visitors were gone. I sighed closed my eyes for a moment before I heard Taya failing at sneaking because of her hooves. “Sit down,” I told her, not opening my eyes. She sighed and hopped up in a couch. “Why would you use lightning, of all things? Telekinesis to hold him. Air to just toss him back. A shield to block him. But you chose something potentially lethal. Why?” I finally opened my eyes to look at her and found that she was almost crying. It was at that point that I realized, holy shit, she’s probably terrified at what she did. I wasted no time in jumping over and hugging her. “He’ll be okay, Taya. They’ll fix him up right proper.” I remember how I was after my first kill. I imagined it would be even worse for a little filly, even one like Taya.

“It… it just came to me… I didn’t even think about it… Just… zap…”

I knew this next question was risky, but I had to ask it. “How did it feel?”

She was silent for so long I thought I judged wrong. Finally, she said, “Right. It felt… right. He was a bully that was looking for a reason to hurt you. He deserved what he got.”

I pulled away. “Remember that. He was a bad person. But also remember this: We are not judges. We do not decide who should live or who should die. If you ever had to make a split second life or death choice and killing the other person is your only option, do it without hesitation. But when you can avoid killing, do so every time. You didn’t have to hurt that griffin. I understand that it was just something automatic for you, but in the future, you need to be more careful and judge your responses better. There was no harm done this time, but you might not get so lucky if there’s ever a next time.” Which there probably will be, with my career.

“How… how will I know when to do what?”

“We can talk about that later.” Honestly I figured that would be more of a common sense thing. Maybe it isn’t for ponies. “Are you okay now?” She nodded and I backed away, giving her space. “I still remember my first kill. It isn’t easy. It gets easier with time, though.” And being able to convince yourself that you were in the right makes it even easier.

“What was your first time like?” she quietly asked.

“Whoa!” Doppel said, surprised as fuck. “What did I walk into?” I looked up and saw her and the naga standing in the hall to the kitchen.

“A conversation about my first kill,” I answered. “A conversation that will sadly be put off. The griffins didn’t hurt either of you, did they?”

The naga snorted. “Those feathered cowards wouldn’t dare try to attack someone I protect.” Shit, I wouldn’t either.

“Good. Now how did they get inside?”

Doppel answered, “I went to the door when I heard knocking. I saw that pink princess and considered slamming the door in her face. Before I could, one of the griffins squawked, pointed at me, and yelled something about changelings. The other griffins forced the door open.”

“Well, they didn’t get you. That’s what matters. All these fucking griffins everywhere are starting to piss me off. Next thing you know we’ll get a damn dog in here and he’ll start trying to kill you too.”

She shivered. “I hope not. I still get a bad feeling whenever I see Gilda looking at me.”

“Well, I now have the power to kick her furry ass to the curb. The engagement’s canceled and she owns an estate back in Gryphonia.”

The naga and Doppel were both confused by that. “Engagement?” they both asked.

I shrugged. “We weren’t going to tell anyone. We were forcefully engaged. Now the engagement is broken. I’ll give her the choice to stay here, on the condition that she stops acting like a bitch. Any objections?”

“You keep using that word,” the naga said. “I do not think you know what it means.”

I had a terrifying flashback that I blinked my way out of. “What word? Bitch? It has a different meaning where I come from. It means that the person is not fun to be around and is a jerk. Now like I said, are there any objections?”

“Can’t we just skip the wait part and make her leave?” Doppel asked.

“No. I’m giving her the option. I don’t think she’ll take it, since she has her own estate now, but still. God knows this house would feel lonely enough anyway.”

The naga chuckled. “You would rather have a… bitch as company than be lonely? I worry about you, human.”

“I worry about me, too,” I said with a nod. “But as I said, as long as she cools off, she can stay. Now, I need to put all the stuff in the yard away and then I need to start writing something. I wish I could continue practicing, but I need to start on this now or I might not finish in time.”

The naga shrugged. “You owe me tomorrow, then.”

“I can give you some of it. Unfortunately, I have to go to Canterlot sometime tomorrow, and after that, there’s no telling what’ll happen. I really hope things will calm down soon. I swear, I never want to go to another party again if this is the kind of shit that happens after them. When I put my tools and materials up, I’ll be upstairs. Send Gilda up when she gets back.”

I went out back. Doppel and the naga followed me. None of what I got was really that heavy, but I wasn’t going to complain about help.

“You really are tiny, human,” the naga commented as he casually pulled something that I was carrying with two hands away from me. “And yet it seems everything here is afraid of you. When I threatened the griffins, they paused but were edging to attack. And yet when you stepped in, they backed down. Why is that?”

“A few reasons. Bloodbeak is a friend of mine. He needed something from me. I have a reputation. And I was in the right. I’m not going to let anyone hurt anyone that’s loyal to me, as I said before.” I patted Doppel on the head. She was fighting a smile by pretending to glare at me. I wanted to reach down and pinch her cheek, but that was really close to her fangs and she had a carapace anyway.

“I will keep that in mind, human,” the naga answered. “So what are you going to do with all of these tools?”

“Build weapons. I won’t have time to learn blacksmithing, but I should be able to find what I need for a one-shot pistol in town. It won’t be too accurate, but fuck if it won’t surprise the hell out of anyone I shoot it at.” The only reason I didn’t build one before is because I knew Twilight would be snooping around putting her nose where it did not belong.

“What is a pistol?”

“Human thing. Don’t worry about it. I will also attempt to build you a ranged weapon, but no promises about how accurate it will be.”

He shrugged. “Anything is better than nothing. It will be amusing to show to the rest of the clan, if nothing else.”

A few minutes of putting stuff up later, I was sitting back in my office, forging a new government for the griffins. This involved a lot of back and forth with Flo and it also involved some alcohol. I’m not going to lie: I don’t know much about the United Kingdom, its government, or its constitution. I knew there was a Magna Carta. That was pretty much it. So instead I was bastardizing all kinds of things from my world. The basis was the United States constitution, because that’s what I knew the most about. That and honestly, it covered most everything it needed to. I made sure to include a disclaimer at the top that mentioned it covered all sapient races.

I was writing at a pretty good clip when my door flew open. I finished my sentence and looked up to see Gilda. “The engagement’s broken, your dad’s in jail, you own his estate. Stay or leave, but if you stay stop being a bitch.” I looked back down and continued writing.

She reached across the desk, grabbed me by the shirt, and pulled me up. “What did you say?”

“Cadance came through for us. The king canceled the engagement. When he came here to tell me the news, your dad tried attacking me. The king said he is removing your dad’s titles now and that you would be given his estate. You are free to stay in my house if you want, but I’m kicking your ass to the curb if you don’t stop your shit. Now put me down.”

She didn’t put me down. Instead, she pulled me into a very tight hug. “I hope you taught that bastard a lesson!” I found myself thrown onto her back. “I know just the way to celebrate, too!”

“Well, I can take a break…”

 

In the morning, I had the draft finished and waiting for the king’s approval. He might not have liked every part of it, but I was ready to debate it all. I also had a list of detailed instructions for how the first parliament should be chosen until the people got used to the idea of voting. And the most important piece of information I had was a draft for a peace treaty with the changelings. I was going to give that to him and see what he thought. I wouldn’t try to force him to do anything with it, though.

I was leaning back in my chair with a small smile on my face and glazed eyes when Doppel walked in. “Breakfast is ready… master.”

I blinked. “What did you call me?” I noticed she was back in the maid outfit. “And why are you wearing that?”

She looked away. “I did some thinking. I’ve been working as a spy for the queen all of my life, usually spying on various high ranking officials. I’ve seen how they treat their servants. You are better than the vast majority of them by a very large margin. And… so far, you’ve treated me better than Chrysalis would have even considered. I think I like working for you better, and since I have no real choice on the matter, I’ve decided to give it a go.”

“That doesn’t require you to call me master or wear that outfit.” She shrugged. “I can’t talk you out of this, can I?”

“Nope. You made the mistake of being nice. I’m yours, now.”

Sometimes I hate myself. I just sighed and said, “Whatever. You said breakfast is done. What about you? Have you been able to go into town to eat?”

“See? That’s what I’m talking about. Chrysalis wouldn’t care, she would just assume that I was keeping up with myself. No, I haven’t been, but I’m also not hungry. I don’t know why.”

“Well that simply won’t do. You need to eat, even if you’re not hungry.” I stood up and walked over. “If you refuse to take it fresh, you can have some memories. Lord knows I have enough by now.”

“Are you trying to make me fat? I told you that I’m not hungry.”

“You are still a biological creature and you need some manner of food. Now come on, take some memories or something.” I knelt down.

She thought for a moment. “I’ll eat if you eat. Taya told me about how you don’t take care of yourself.”

“That’s different.”

“Oh? How is it different?”

“Because I don’t actually need to eat all that often. You just don’t feel hungry. I eat when I think I need to.”

She shrugged. “That’s the deal, Na—master. I’ll eat if you eat.”

I sighed. “Fine. You better know how to cook, though. If you made some kind of swill, the deal’s off.”

Her horn lit up and nothing happened. I pulled my ring off and felt a tug at my mind. I drew up a memory of the night before and let her have it. “So that’s why she was walking funny today…” she commented as the light around her horn died. “Hm… I might have to try your lust from the tap one day.”

I grinned and stood. “Wouldn’t that be me taking advantage of a maid? I thought that was frowned upon.”

She turned around and walked back off into the hall, tail lifted high to give me a nice view. “I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.”

Things are finally starting to look up.

 

Gilda flew with me to Canterlot. She said she needed to talk to her mom about the estate. I don’t really know why she decided to fly with me, given that I’m apparently really slow, but I welcomed the company. It was pretty fun, given she had some insane distance to her vision and kept pointing out things I never noticed or paid attention to.

We got to Canterlot around one or so. “Remember, meet me at the maze at three. We can start from there,” I told her.

“Yeah, yeah. Just be there on time; I don’t want to be left waiting.” She went off to find her mother while I went off to find the king.

It didn’t take me long to find him sitting in the garden outside the room I hate. He looked up as I approached. “One thing I miss,” he said, “is having any time off. To just sit and relax. Being a king does not give you that luxury. But being an old king occasionally demands it anyway. Sit, Navarone. I assume you brought me the documents?”

I passed him the folders. “One constitution, one set of instructions, and one draft of a peace treaty with the changelings. Consider it your second-to-last gift to your people while you still hold the power to give it.”

He set the treaty folder down, but didn’t comment. He opened the other two and began to read. He looked up half an hour later to find me leaning against the tree, juggling knives. “Most of the terms here are acceptable. I don’t like some of them, but I recognize their importance. Navarone, we spoke of some things in our discussions, but you kept one thing unclear to me: Time. How long did it take you humans to develop that which you are freely giving?”

As soon as he began to talk I put the knives away. “‘You humans’ is a broad term. You know we aren’t unified. The easiest answer is that when I left, no one knew the answer. It also begs the question of who the first republic or whatever was. I don’t know the answer to that. If you want to go the easy route and start at what we consider year zero, I can say that it took… Shit, seventeen hundred years for my country to be formed. There were democracies or republics before that, though. Long story short, it took a long damn time and more spilt blood than could fit in an ocean.” I shrugged. “There ain’t nothing wrong with a monarchy, as long as the king or whatever is a good ruler. Humans… We had some not-so-good rulers. A good number of them died of unnatural causes.”

He looked away to some flowers that were in bloom. “Do you think we would have ever evolved to what you have naturally?”

“Not while Celestia was alive. Take from that statement what you want.”

He looked back down to the folders in front of him and picked up the treaty folder. “What do you expect from me, Nav? The lion within me demands bloodshed and slaughter of the parasites. The eagle within me relishes the thought of hunting down such weak prey. But the king in me desires peace. I know it would probably be an unpopular choice, but… I am not going to lie: I do not like changelings. At all. But what you said the first day we met was true. They are very useful in a fight. They are just as useful when fighting against you as they are fighting for you, as long as they are led well.”

“Think about it,” I said. “And don’t just think about it from the perspective of a griffin. Think about it as though you were Celestia. What seems like a very good way to keep two species that border your country that use ponies as natural prey under control? Keep them at war with each other, or at the very least, keep them to the point where they know as soon as they declare war on the ponies, the other power will attack them when they’re weak. If you are constantly in a state of contention with the changelings, you will forever be weak against your neighbors to the south. The same goes for the changelings.”

“…You’re right. By my feathers, are you ever right.” He closed his eyes, muttering several things very quickly. “She must think me a fool! And I was, for so long… But now I see her game. So many minor incidents, all leading up to the kidnapping of Hestra…” He looked over to me. “She used you. Used me. That dark sister of hers knew exactly what she was doing and they both knew exactly what your punishment would be!” He grabbed all three of the folders and stood. “But these will damage their filthy plans, whatever they might be. I see the pieces being moved, but I do not know to what end. Be careful, Navarone. In the game of thrones, pawns are only useful as long as they are in a good position. And when their use ends… Well, sometimes sacrifices must be made. Now, I need to get back to my rooms and prepare to leave. I have a feeling we will see each other again, my friend.” He spread his wings and shot into the sky.

“Flo, what just happened?”

She took a few seconds to respond. “One of two things. First, he just cracked. Second, he just realized Celestia has a plot going on involving the griffins, the changelings, and you.”

I rolled my shoulders, turning to go back into the palace. “I wouldn’t say either of those was impossible.” I started looking for Cadance. A few questions and mindless flirts later, I found her playing with her kid. “Want to help me prank Celestia?” I asked.

“What kind of prank?” She was understandably a little nervous; pranking the princess didn’t always end well.

“It’s a safe one. It shouldn’t do much more than annoy her.”

She looked down at the wee one and bit her lip. “Can it wait a few minutes?”

I looked over at the clock on the wall. “I’m not planning on starting it for another hour. When you’re ready, meet me at the maze.”

“I’ll see you there, then.” And now I had the mage I needed. I knew that Celestia would either be in Day Court hearing all manner of problems or she would be closeted away with a diplomat or something. Either way, she wouldn’t be able to bother us. I would only have to worry about nosy servants.

I went to the front of the maze and started walking around, looking at the statue garden they had set up out there. One of the statues there struck me as eerily familiar. It was some kind of fuck-ugly amalgamation of monsters, set into some kind of exalted pose. “Why do you look so familiar?” I muttered, walking around it. I reached out and rapped it with my knuckles, finding that for some reason the damn thing was hollow. “Well, whatever the reason is, looks like it’s show time.” I could see Gilda and Cadance both approaching from different sides. They came on over to me.

“So what’s the plan?” Gilda asked.

“Long story short, I want to transfer all of the furniture from her bedroom into one of her sitting rooms and vice versa.”

“That’s a stupid prank,” Gilda answered. “Let’s do something bigger.”

I held up a hand. “Now, now, there’s a reason I want to do that sitting room. Long story short, it’s the place where she makes me go every time we want to meet. That place is evil and I want it to suffer. But if you can think of a better idea, I’m listening.”

“The basic idea is alright. Boring and simple, but alright. I’m just thinking… bigger. That dark princess is asleep right now, right? Move all of the sitting room stuff to Celestia’s pad, move all of Darkie’s stuff to the sitting room, move all of Celestia’ stuff to Darkie’s room.”

I scratched my beard. “Luna is a pretty heavy sleeper…” I looked over to Cadance. “Think you can teleport that much stuff without it being too problematic? I say we clear out the sitting room and put all of its shit into the courtyard, teleport Luna and her room, then teleport Celestia’s room, and then put all of the sitting room stuff in Celestia’s room.”

“I can do that. But why Luna? Wouldn’t that just make her even more angry with you?”

“That bitch stabbed me with her horn. I owe her more than this.” I pulled out my key and passed it to her. “If you find a locked door, use that. You go wait near Luna’s room. I’ll send Gilda your way when we get the sitting room cleared. You teleport in as soon as you get Luna and her stuff our way. We can situate that room so it looks exactly like hers, then Gilda and I can fly to Luna’s room and you teleport the stuff to us so we can start arranging it. We’ll meet back in Celestia’s room when all of the sitting room stuff is there. Questions?”

Gilda asked, “What do we do if we get caught?”

“Depends on who catches us. If it’s a day guard, tell them we’re helping Cadance. If it’s a night guard, tell them you’re helping me. If it’s a female servant, hope to God I can seduce or bribe her. If it’s a guy, hope we can bribe him. If it’s a princess, we’re boned. Ready?” They shrugged. “Let’s go, then.”

A few minutes later, Gilda and I had the sitting room cleared out. It wasn’t exactly an easy task, but it was a fun one. I was about to poke my head out the window to tell Gilda to go tell Cadance to start with Luna when the door opened and a maid walked right in. She looked around, blinking, before her eyes settled on me.

“Hi,” I said, quickly turning around and leaning against the window.

“Sir Navarone… why is this room empty? I was supposed to clean it today.”

I shrugged. “Well, I guess your job got a lot easier.”

She looked behind me. “Why is some of the furniture out in the garden?”

I looked behind me. “Huh.” I turned back. “You know, I don’t know. I didn’t even notice. I’m sure it’s there for a good reason, though. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”

“Sir Navarone, are you… doing something you shouldn’t be?”

I gave her my most winning grin. “What do I have to do to get you to not say anything?”

She eyed my hands and gave me a smile I knew very well. “I’ve heard a few rumors about you and your… hands.”

“I’ll prove those rumors true if you promise to stay quiet.”

I bet Gilda was very confused when she started hearing moans through the open window. A few minutes later, I left a satisfied maid to clean up a small puddle and joined Gilda in the garden. “Go tell Cadance,” I told her, licking my fingers clean. I gave her directions to Luna’s room.

“Nav, what were you doing in there?”

I shrugged. “Maid walked in.” She eyed my wet fingers and grinned before flying off. A few minutes later, I heard stuff start teleporting in. I poked my head inside and saw Luna curling away from the sudden brightness, somehow still sleeping. Probably should have thought about that one before we teleported her in. I shrugged and watched the rest of her stuff teleport in. Cadance and Gilda followed all of the crap. As quietly as we all could, we rearranged all her stuff to look like it usually did.

It wasn’t nearly as much fun as I was hoping.

Anyway, Cadance took off to Celestia’s room and Gilda and I went to Luna’s room. We repeated the process there and finally finished it off with the sitting room stuff. Cadance passed the key back as we all got comfortable.

“So what now?” Gilda asked, reclining on one of the couches.

I tilted my head, looking at the couch. “I think we had sex on that once…” Gilda just shrugged. “Now you make up your mind about what you want to do. Go back to Ponyville or go with the griffins. Or something else. I need to go into town. Cadance can go back to torturing her foal.”

“I don’t torture foals, Nav. I tenderly love them.”

Gilda and I shared a look. “What’s the difference?” I finally asked.

Cadance snorted. “For your mind, I somewhat doubt there is one.” Ouch.

“Point for you. I’ll see you both later.” I hopped out the window and flew off into town. My first stop was the night guard alley barroom. There was only a single sleepy guard inside, but he was able to give me the information I needed.

I flew to the travel agency and realized how fucktarded I was as soon as I got near it. “How did I not notice that giant flying ship?” I asked no one.

Flo decided to answer, “Because you weren’t paying attention.”

Can’t really deny that… I flew up to the deck of the ship and landed. I slipped my ring on in case I ran into the crazy bitch. With that precaution in place, I began searching the ship. I found the chick that had been trying to seduce me all those years ago. “Where’s the captain?” I asked.

“Navarone? What are you doing up here?”

“Looking for some information.”

“Well, as far as I know, he’s in his cabin. All the way in the back, on the right. Say… are you doing anything tonight?”

“Sadly, yes. I need to get yelled at by Luna and then I need to go to the Everfree forest. Is the captain alone? I really don’t want to walk in on him plowing some mare.”

“He should be. Why is the princess yelling at you?”

“Long story. I pissed her off. I might tell you later. Now, though, I need to talk to the captain. I’ll see you later, my dear.” She smiled at that. I walked on down the hall and knocked on the captain’s door.

A gruff “Come in” answered me. I pushed the door open and recoiled at the briny stench inside.

“Holy shit,” I whispered as I walked in. The place was just riddled in salt. The captain’s eyes were bloodshot and his lips and nose were shriveled. The bloodshot eyes widened when they saw me. “Dude, what the fuck happened?”

“N-Navarone… I…” He looked away. “No pony wants a ship with a bad history.”

I crossed my arms. “And even fewer want a captain with a drug problem.” He looked down. I sighed and dropped my arms. “I told you not to turn to drugs. It’ll make you feel better in the short run, but in the end it’ll just make everything worse. Christ…” I ran a hand through my hair. “I was going to offer you a job. A big job. At least a year’s charter. I don’t know if I can trust you to be reliable now.”

His head jerked up at the mention of a job. “I can get clean. I just need a chance! We barely get enough jobs to keep this boat in the air.”

I looked around the room. On one hand, I really needed this guy and his crew. They were the only ones I could trust. But on the other hand, I really didn’t want to trust a drug addict to come through for me.

I looked back at him. “Meet me on the surface in half an hour. Directly under this boat. Bring all the salt you have.”

He looked around, licking his lips with a dry tongue. “Alright,” he finally said. “Half an hour.” I nodded and left his room.

I just sighed as I walked back out. I saw the crazy one on the deck, looking off the side. I walked to the side she wasn’t on and jumped off before she could yell at me or whatever. It wasn’t until I was halfway to the ground that I remembered I was wearing my ring.

Let me tell you, that was a very frantic two seconds.

I hit the ground hard, just barely bringing my wings up in time to slow my descent. Thankfully, I hit legs first. Not so thankfully, it still felt like I broke something. I limped to the nearest bench and sat down, ignoring all the looks I got from the ponies in the street. Flo was chastising me the entire way, even though I’m pretty sure she already knew just how much good it would do.

Twenty-five minutes of pain later, a rope ladder was thrown down the side of the ship and the unicorn descended, carrying a large canvas sack on his back. I had no idea why he didn’t teleport. When he got down, he quickly walked over to me, dropping the bag in front of me.

“I don’t suppose you could heal me?” I asked.

“What did you do?”

“Landed badly. Fucked my leg up. I don’t think it’s broken, but I know it hurts.”

His horn lit up and sparks flew out. He grimaced and squeezed his eyes shut, lowering his horn to my leg. It took about half a minute, but he finally managed to get something through and I felt the pain subside. He collapsed on the bench next to me, panting.

“You healed me once before,” I said. “What happened between then and now?”

“I’m heavily dehydrated, my head is killing me, and I haven’t practiced healing magic in months.”

“Whatever.” I stood up and grabbed the bag of salt, slinging it over a shoulder. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?” he asked, sitting up and pushing himself off the bench.

“A small restaurant I passed on the way here. We’re going to find out if they’re any good.” Thankfully, he shut up and just followed me. It didn’t take us long to get there. It wasn’t quite dinner and it was well past lunch, so we were quickly seated.

I barely spared the menu a glance. He didn’t seem that interested either. He spent most of his time looking at me when he thought I wasn’t paying attention. With our orders and menus taken, I leaned back. “In a little less than a year, I want your ship. Right at the start of spring, to be exact.”

“Do you have any destination in mind?”

I paused as the waitress refilled his cup of water for the fourth time. When she was out of earshot, I answered, “Several. All around the world. That would include the Arctic and possibly Antarctic. It would also include the continent to the south of this one, where I’ve heard almost no one has ever successfully visited.”

He looked down at the table. “That’s a pretty hefty destination list…” He looked back up. “Why?”

I shook my head. “I won’t answer that until we’re underway. Until then, you’ll have to be content with the reasoning that I’m paying you, and that I’m paying you a lot.”

I heard him drumming his back hooves on the floor. “It’s risky, Nav. You’re asking us to go to places our boat wasn’t really designed to go.”

“Can you do it?”

“…It’ll cost you. In advance. We have to modify the entire ship if we’re going to go into the icy gales of the arctic.”

“Give me numbers.”

He closed his eyes, moving his head to face the ceiling. I could see his lips barely moving. After a minute, he said, “At least seven thousand bits. That should cover everything, including your year.”

“How much would it cost to make sure neither of the princesses ever hear about this?”

“Nothing but you asking. We owe you that much.”

I nodded. “I’ll have the bits to you before the week is out. Just note, though: I won’t be the only passenger. We’ll have at least one filly joining us. We might also have a dragon, a griffin, a naga, and a cat, but none of those are certain yet. Knowing my luck, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were others.”

He shrugged. “We have rooms aplenty. Keep it under thirty and we’ll be fine. Although… how big is the dragon? Our cabins aren’t that large…”

That could be a problem… “She can sleep in the cargo hold, can’t she?”

He shrugged. “Yeah. It might be a little bit tight with all the supplies and ballast we’ll be carrying, but I imagine she can make it homey. Getting in and out of it might be a problem, though.”

“We’ll figure something out. As long as the boat is ready to go come spring, I’ll be happy. And I’ll be coming by periodically to make sure you stay clean. You may be getting an advance pay, but if you fuck me over by either letting the princesses get wind of this or by picking up another bad habit, I’ll make you pay somehow. Now, let’s eat.”

When I was finished with the unicorn, I grabbed his bag of salt and dropped it off at the night guard bar. Supposedly, most of them don’t use that stuff, but I figured it could save the barkeeper some money.

And then I finally got to return to the palace. I went straight to the library and read until it was around the time for Luna to wake up. How did I know what time she was waking up?

I think half the palace heard her scream of rage. It did not take me very long to decide to continue reading in silence for a few hours.

When I deemed it safe—or at least, as safe as I thought it was going to be—I went to the throne room. I peeked my head in and saw her glaring at the wall with a face like she had eaten a lemon. I said a quick prayer, made sure my ring was on, and let the rest of myself inside.

Her glare at the wall was transferred to me. “Yoooooou!” she hissed. It sounded like a curse. She jumped down from her throne, stalking toward me. “Yoooooooooooou!” She stopped right in front of me, just staring at me with eyes full of hate.

I grinned and booped her on the nose. She tried to slap me across the face, but by now, I was pretty good at dodging those. “Jeez, what crawled up your ass and died?”

In hindsight, that might not have been the smartest thing to have said. I wasn’t in any kind of mood to try and fight Luna, but that seemed to have pissed her off enough that she stopped listening to my attempts to reason with her.

So it was that the majority of the guards that night saw me running away from a raving moon princess as quickly as my human legs would take me. She was, on average, faster than I was, but I was leading the chase, so I was able to stay ahead through dexterity, dodging down halls, and occasionally bursting through open windows.

It finally ended when I misjudged the distance between me and a window and got plowed in the side just as I was trying to jump through. I ended up being held down by a panting, pissed pony princess precariously poised on the precipice—dammit, not again! I got held down by an angry Luna.

I mentally prepared myself for the beating of a lifetime until I realized she was giggling. “It’s been too long since I had that much fun,” she sighed, collapsing on top of me and pushing me all the way to the floor. “Don’t think you’re off the hook. But that was fun.” She reached a hoof up and slammed it into my stomach. “That is for going to Chrysalis instead of me.” She pulled another hoof back and slammed it into the floor where my torso had been a second earlier. She corrected her stance and held me down harder before punching me again. “And that is for disappearing for a week without telling anypony.” She slammed another hoof into me. “That is for asking Cadance for help.”

“I didn’t! She said she was going to!”

“Then it’s for not telling her to stop helping.” She punched me one more time, this time in the chest, the exact spot where she stabbed me. “And that is for making me wake up in that horrid sitting room.”

As I’m sure you can imagine, I was in a lot of fucking pain at that point. I wasn’t in enough pain to not be pissed, though. “You deserve nothing better, after those dreams. Don’t even try to pretend that was an accident.”

She lifted another hoof to strike me, but brought it down to the floor with a crunch. “I can’t try to justify it,” she weakly whispered. “No pony deserved that.” She sighed and pulled herself off me. I lifted a hand to rub at my chest. “Things have changed so much,” she whispered, looking away from me. “You take things for granted, Nav. Things I consider normal are now taboo. Things I considered forbidden are everyday. It will take years for me to figure out all of the smaller nuances I’m missing.” She finally looked to me. “When I think I’m ready, are you still willing to give me a second chance?”

“As of now, no. There are no words and no redemption for what you did. While the ponies that experienced it still live, I don’t know if I can ever forgive you.”

“I suppose I can expect nothing better…” She was silent for a short moment before saying, “In the winter, I am restarting an old tradition. Celestia has her Gala. Europe has its party. I… used to have something like that. But I went down the path of being ignored a long time ago. Now that I find myself in a world where the young prefer the night and... different kinds of parties, I decided I would change the theme of my party. You are invited to the… ugh, Rambunctiously Radical Rave. Attending that is one option for your punishment. The other is you taking a squire.”

I hate being a knight. “Party it is, then. Send me details or something when it’s time.” I felt my wings sag. “I’m tired of fucking parties…”

“Welcome to the life of luxury. However, unlike some of us, I have duties.” She sighed. “Navarone, know that while I am angry with you, you are still my knight. If you ever get into an emergency like what happened with Twilight, please come to me. You don’t know how insulting and painful it is that my knight went to another nation’s ruler for aid when he hit hard times.” Actually, I do. That’s exactly why I did it. “I wish I could at least visit the house you obtained, but I am still trapped in this city.” She paused, hoping I would say something. I didn’t. She sighed and continued, “One day, you will need to get a squire. But I suppose you can push it off for now. When you do… How about Spike? I know a pony would look better for my reputation, but I would love to have a dragon as a knight again. The last one was killed when Ponero burned…”

“I am not looking for a squire right now. I don’t think I could train a pony anyway. I don’t fight like one.” Besides, I would probably take Pip, anyway. I don’t want Spike to get tied to the ponies like me. I stood, finally getting off the floor. My front body hurt, and I decided fight back the next time she tried that shit. “I need to get back to the forest. Back to work with you.” After all, I can just imagine the line of ponies waiting to talk to her.

She seemed to be thinking the same thing, the way her face seemed to fall. “I’ll see you later, Nav. I… I don’t suppose you can come and visit more often? You know I get lonely and I’m sure you do as well.”

Not with Flo in my head, I don’t. “I’ll think about it. I’ve been doing stuff for friends recently, though.” Ah, the casual implication that I didn’t consider her a friend. I know it has to feel good. “Have fun, Luna.” I pulled my ring off and hopped out the window that thwarted me before, flying away and back to the forest.

 

 

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