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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76. Chapter Sixty-Two—On having standards...

I left the cat house just in time to get to the awards ceremony. I showed up and was given the most kills medal and a medal for tying for the victory. The changelings were given the award for best team, unsurprisingly.

There wasn’t very much cheering this year. The cat delegation and the changeling delegation were both very small, after all. And of course, I was the only human. Thankfully, I had a few friends in the crowd. Kumani might have been a bit upset at what I did, but she understood.

“…and this concludes the Fabulous Flankfurt Festival, everybody!” Celestia’s magically augmented voice rang out. It took me a moment to realize she didn’t say everypony. I followed her offstage, where Pinkie was somehow waiting for us. I know I just saw her in the crowd three seconds ago, but this is Pinkie we’re talking about. “Are you two ready to go?” Celestia asked us.

“All of my stuff is—” I started. Pinkie pointed off to the side, where all of my stuff was piled in a heap. “—right there, apparently. Looks like I’m ready.” It’s not worth questioning.

“Those bags were not there a minute ago,” Celestia calmly said.

“Shhhhh,” I hissed. “Don’t question the Pinkie.”

Celestia shrugged. “Very well. When Shining Armor arrives, we will return to Canterlot. So Pinkie, did you enjoy the party?”

“Yes Princess! It was lots of fun. Though it would be a lot better if my other friends were here. Nav’s fun, but the more friends you have with you, the more fun you have!” That’s certainly an opinion.

“And you, Navarone? Did you enjoy your time here?”

“Enjoy is a word you could use that wouldn’t be inaccurate. I had some kinds of fun, that’s for sure. I got to see old friends, kill some bitches, have sex with all kinds of things… It was alright.”

“You have a serious problem,” Shiny commented as he joined our group.

“I know. It’s fun. We good to go, Sunbutt?”

“What… what did you call me?”

I shrugged as Pinkie giggled and Shiny glared at me. “I heard someone call you that this week. It fits.” There was a moment of silence. Celestia opened her mouth to reply. “I mean, just look at how big it is!” She choked, her face turning red.

Shiny was still glaring at me. “That’s too far even for you, Nav!” he growled. “First you cheated in the competition and now this?”

I crossed my arms. “How did I cheat?”

“You used that cursed ring to push through my shield.”

“Not seeing how that’s cheating. But it doesn’t matter. Celestia, are we leaving?”

She had recovered, at least. “I should leave you here for that. Is everypony—and Nav—ready?” Nods all around. Her horn lit up and we appeared in the throne room at Canterlot. “Pinkie, I will have a chariot brought for you shortly. When you arrive in Ponyville, stop by the library and tell Taya to get on the chariot. She and Navarone are going on a short trip.” I didn’t like the sound of that. “Shining Armor, you are dismissed.”

He saluted before turning to me. “Remember Nav, I want to talk to you before you go anywhere.”

I nodded and he left. Celestia turned to me. “Will you need any assistance getting your things to your room?”

My room?” I asked.

“The one you stayed in when Chrysalis was here.”

I looked down at the pile. “I can probably do it. Pinkie, can you carry my sack of bits home? I don’t think I’ll need all of them.”

“Sure thing, Nav!” She dragged the bag over to her little group of stuff, which included her single clothes bag and the massive bag of bits I forced her to keep.

“Navarone, you go on to your room. I have something I need to discuss with Pinkie.”

I shouldered the bag of armor and slung the bag of clothes across the other shoulder. “See you when I get back, Pinkie.” She smiled and waved as I started the walk back to my room.

I got a number of glares from the servants on the way back, probably because of the whole Cadance love spell fiasco thing. I don’t know why they were mad at me because of it, though; I wasn’t the one that cast the spells. I answered their glares with smiles. Thankfully, I got to my room with no incidents other than glares. I dropped my bags to the floor and flopped onto the comfortable bed, letting my wings just sag.

I knew I needed to go see Shiny and Cadance, I just didn’t want to. I knew I also really needed to see Luna, but she was probably asleep anyway. I wanted to go to the museum to see the spear and to learn more about it, but I figured I could wait for Taya to do that. And I needed to see Celestia about whatever it was I didn’t want to do but was going to have to do anyway.

I was content with just lying on the bed. Whatever they put in the palace beds, they’re really awesome.

Sadly, good things can’t last. I pushed myself up and wandered back into the palace, looking for Shiny’s room. I had no idea where it was, though. Eventually I just stopped and got a servant to take me there. She gave my hands a familiar lustful look before taking me to my destination.

I knocked on the door and waited. Some time later, it opened and a red-faced Shiny looked out. “Come on in, Nav. We were just… talking.”

“So is that what ponies call it?” I asked as I walked in. “Smells like sex to me.” I plopped myself down on a chair and looked up at him. He didn’t meet my gaze. “I don’t know why you’re so ashamed, dude. It’s just sex. Perfectly natural, especially for a loving, married couple. But whatever. What did you want to talk about?”

“Let’s… Let’s wait for her.”

I shrugged and leaned back as much as I could. “You have any clue what it is Celestia wants me to do, then? She said I’m not going to like it, but I have no clue what it is.”

He nodded. “I know it has something to do with catching the griffin that sent the assassin after my wife. More than that, I can’t say.”

“Can’t be too bad, then. What about the war games coming up? How do those usually work?”

“All I know is that it will take place somewhere near Ponyville. I will be in charge of the day forces. Midnight will be in charge of the night troops. We’ll be told more as we get closer to the date.”

“Well, you’re not very helpful at all.” Cadance came out then, sparing us any more small talk. “Sup, Can-can?”

She blinked. “What? Where did that even come up?”

“…I honestly don’t know. Let’s just pretend I never said that. What did you two want to talk to me about?”

Her horn lit up and a teapot lifted from a conveniently placed area on the side of the room. A few tea cups followed, setting down on the table in front of me. Shiny and Cadance sat on a couch facing me as the tea poured. “We have a proposition of sorts,” she said. “But first, can we please talk about Luna?”

I grabbed the offered teacup and nodded. “I reckon we can. You gonna let me explain my side of the story before trying to hit me with love?”

She blushed. “That was… ill-advised. I apologize.”

I waved the hand that didn’t have tea in it. “No problem. It didn’t do me any harm. I imagine Luna had some explaining to do, though. Poor Pip…” I giggled. “But no matter. Long story short, Luna raped me using a unicorn mind link thing that doesn’t work correctly on people with no magic. I had no control of the situation and she did everything she apparently wanted to do to me. Some of that involved blood and stabbing me with a horn. And since the me I was in the mind link was not the me that I really am, I realized that what she loved was not me, but rather the idea of a warrior that she can own. Given that she spent the entire week completely disregarding every limit I set for her, I figured it was in my best interest to cut it off. That’s just how it is. Any questions?”

Shiny looked disturbed. Cadance just sighed. “I suppose that’s that… Now, about our proposition… During the week of our wedding, you and Chrysalis mentioned something called a…. ménage à trois, I think it was?”

I have a bad feeling about this. “Yes, Chrysalis jokingly mentioned that. The actual definition of one of those is a three way relationship, wherein three people are in an actual relationship that goes past just sex. What about it?”

Now they both looked somewhat uncomfortable. “We… we were wondering… Would you be interested in a threesome?” Cadance finally managed to get out. “Not a relationship, just sex!”

I set the cup on the table. “No.”

They waited a moment before sharing a look between themselves. Finally, they looked back to me and Shiny said, “Can you… give a reason?”

“I have very few rules when it comes to my partners. The main rule I hold sacrosanct is no married people ever. That’s one reason. Another is that Cadance reminds me way too much of my sister to even think about her in that way. If it was just an unmarried Shiny, sure, I’d bend you over a bed and fuck you till you screamed my name, but I’m not going to touch Cadance.” They both looked shocked. I don’t know what exactly they were shocked about, though; me saying no, me mentioning that Cadance reminded me of my sister, or me saying I would fuck Shiny. “So no, I won’t join you. I’m flattered by the offer, though. Do you need anything else?”

“Wait wait wait,” Cadance said, waving her hooves. “You would rather have sex with Shining Armor than me?”

I shrugged. “I don’t have sex with people that remind me of family. Besides, just look at him! You know his ass has gotta be tight.” He was steadily turning darker shades of red. “I wouldn’t mind breaking him in. If he wasn’t married, of course.”

“I’M TIGHT!” Cadance screamed. She glared at Shining Armor. “Tell him!”

I stood. “I’m just gonna go.”

Her horn lit up and it was then that I realized I wasn’t wearing my ring. I was forced back into my seat.

Shiny cleared his throat. “Well… Ever since you had the baby…”

I face-palmed. “Shiny, you’re in the dog house tonight.”

He looked at me, confused. I pointed to Cadance, who was looking at him with a shocked rage. “What. Did. You. Say?” she hissed at him.

“I really think I should go…” I commented.

Her head shot my way. “Quiet!” She turned back to Shiny, still glaring.

He gulped. “Well, it’s been… lackluster ever since you had Skyla.” I still say that’s a terrible name. “I love you, it’s just…”

“They obviously don’t teach you common sense at the guard academy,” I idly commented as I strained against the bonds.

“Hmph! I bet I know somepony that would appreciate me!” Her eyes moved to me and her glare lessened. She even put on a scary smile.

“No. Hell no. I’m not getting involved in this.”

She jumped across the room and grabbed me by the shoulders and started shaking me. “TELL ME I’M PRETTY!”

“You’re beautiful!” She smiled and stopped shaking me. “Just not my type.” She grit her teeth and plopped down on my lap, giving me a pouty face.

I looked up at Shiny. “Please bring your wife under control.”

He sighed. “It’s her heat cycle.”

“So? Take her back to your room and fuck her silly. That worked for Luna, when she was willing to be reasonable.”

He looked away and mumbled something.

“Look,” I said, “your wife is in my lap. I am not okay with this.”

“I don’t last long, okay?!”

“I don’t need to hear this,” I sighed.

Cadance gave me a predatory grin from her position. “Luna and Celestia both told me a few stories…” she whispered.

“My answer is final. I’m not going to fuck you. Honestly, you’re beginning to disappoint me, Cadance. I thought you, at least, would be a friend that would never consider something like that. Now please get off me.”

She sighed and hopped down and walked back to her seat. Her rear was shaking a lot more than it should have been.

“Now, do you two need anything else?” I asked when she was properly seated away from me.

Cadance morosely shook her head. Shiny said, “Talk to me before you go on your mission. That’s all I ask, just talk to me later.”

“Talking is easy.” I stood. “I’ll see you both later.” Thankfully, they didn’t say a thing as I left. I went back to my room and just fell onto the bed.

I didn’t move until a furry monster jumped on my back and hugged me. I twisted around and wrapped Taya in my arms. “I missed you too, Taya,” I said. “Good news, though: From the sound of things, you’re going on my next job. That means it isn’t dangerous.” It better not be fucking dangerous. I’d kill a bitch if Celestia was trying to put Taya in danger.

“When are we leaving?”

“Don’t know. Hope it’ll be a few days. I need to fly to Ponyville to make an order with Rarity.”

“You can just do it now. Celestia is talking to her and Pinkie right now.”

I shot up, sending Taya tumbling to the bed. “Where?”

“The throne room, I think. Why?”

I jumped off the bed and walked to my bag. I took out the key and slipped the ring onto a finger. “Stay here. I’ll be back soonish.” As an afterthought, I slung the axe over a shoulder as I opened the door and ran down the hall. Walking to the throne room from that bedroom usually takes ten minutes. I made it in one. I skidded to a halt in front of the door and looked the guards over. “I’m going in.”

“The princess is in a private meeting,” the unicorn guard answered. The pegasus guard looked me up and down and gulped.

I popped my knuckles. “Have we met before?” I asked, my voice harsh.

They shared a look. “I’ll see if she’s free,” the unicorn said in a shaky voice. He pushed the door open an inch and looked inside. He turned back to me in time to see me kick the door open.

It slammed in and rebounded off the wall. I caught it as I walked in. “Celestia, I would like to report a crime.” The guards followed me in, stammering excuses. “Rape.” Both of the guards shut up, staring at me in horror.

Rarity and Pinkie both flinched.

“It’s a little late, I’ll admit,” I commented, walking in farther. Celestia was giving me a pleading look. “A little late… But such crimes are unforgivable, I’ve heard.”

“We talked about this, Nav!” Celestia said.

I crossed my arms and said, “How far are you willing to go to protect them? What are they worth compared to everyone else?”

“They keep everypony safe! I can’t help that, Nav.”

“That’s interesting… You know, I’ve heard you call me the protector of your ponies. Are they truly so much more important than I, that you would let them get away with such an atrocity?”

“If I may—” Rarity whispered.

I cut her off. “You may not. Adults are talking.” She blushed in anger.

Celestia sighed. “Nav… I’m sorry. But you know there’s nothing I can do. As much as I hate to admit it, they’re more important than you are. Their image must be maintained. I can’t take action.”

I smirked. “I never knew the naga were that important to you.” I nodded once. “Sorry for interrupting your meeting, ladies. Rarity, I have an order to make before you go back to Ponyville.”

“W-what?” Celestia whispered, her voice almost gone.

I blinked. “The rapist was a naga. I wanted to report an incident that happened the first time I went to their caves.” I raised an eyebrow and innocently said, “Why Celestia, whatever did you think we were talking about?” Her mouth just dropped. “Hm. I’ll see you all later.”

“Have a fun trip, Nav!” Pinkie answered.

“I hope to. Remember to take care of those bits.” She nodded and I left the throne room, smiling when I got out. The guards hastily closed the door again.

“That was evil,” Flo said.

“Yeah, well, I’ve turned evil,” I answered aloud, getting a look from a passing servant. “It’s not like I really care anymore. There’s no ‘maybe’ at all about me leaving. You and I both know that. It’s only a matter of time.”

“Be that as it may, you do not need to antagonize any of the ponies. Like it or not, they are useful allies.”

“I know. But they are so easy to fuck with. Even Celestia’s getting to be an easy target now. Did you see the look on her face? Completely blindsided.” I paused for a moment. “I probably shouldn’t be talking to myself in the middle of the hall in the royal palace that holds the two people I absolutely don’t want to think I’m insane.” I wish I had a picture of the look a passing servant gave me when I said that.

“That is correct,” Flo answered.

I shut up and swaggered along the corridor. I want to say that I walked down it, but at that point, I think I was swaggering about like I owned the place.

“Again, that is correct,” Flo helpfully commented. “You might want to tone it down.” I did so, sadly. As awkward as it was to have a friend and her husband ask me for a threesome, it still made me feel pretty good that they asked.

I made it back to my room with no interruptions to find Taya sitting there, still looking somewhat confused. “Told you I’d be back,” I said as I pulled the axe off my back. “So what’s going on in Ponyville?” I joined her on the bed.

“Nothing big. It’s still just as boring as it was the day I got there.”

“Glad you think it is. I’m leaving in a year and you can come with me if you want.”

“Leaving?”

“Equestria. Entirely. I want you to stay, but you wouldn’t listen and a unicorn would be useful. You can come with me on a few conditions that we can talk about later. Think about it. And I mean truly think about it. We’ll probably be going into very harsh and unwelcoming places. Just tell absolutely no one. I’ll be making the offer to a few other people in Equestria, but for the most part no one will know about it until the day before I leave, if I even tell them then.”

“Why are we leaving?”

“Long story short, fuck Celestia and fuck Luna. That’s all you need to know. Now, do you want to go to the museum?”

She blinked. “Uh, not really?”

“Well, I’m sure I can find something for you to do while I go. I want to ask the curator about the spear and about my sword. I’ll wait until Rarity comes by, though; I need her to make me some stuff. Well, we’re both going to need some stuff for where we’re going, but that’s only if you do decide to go.” An odd thought struck me. “Oh, and by the way, continue avoiding Cadance. She’s been in an odd mood recently.”

“Don’t worry, I plan to. I don’t want to be forced to play filly games.”

And I don’t want her to be used against me. Although Cadance wouldn’t do that, I don’t think. At this point, I wouldn’t put anything past a horny mare.

“So what kind of job are we doing?” she asked.

“I don’t know yet,” I answered with a shrug. I was going to say more but my door slammed open and a very irate looking Rarity stormed in. “Sup, Marshmallow?”

“Don’t you ‘sup marshmallow’ me!” she raged.

“Taya, activate cuteness!”

Taya hopped on my lap and curled up, peeking out of her little filly ball with big, watering eyes. “You… you aren’t gonna hurt my daddy, are you?” Her voice cracked on the word daddy.

“That’s cheating! You stop protecting that… that human!”

Taya hugged me. “But he saved me! Please don’t hurt him!”

“You get off him right this instant, young missy!”

Cute harder,” I whispered.

Rarity started growling.

Taya let me go and said in a very calm and very cold voice, “If you even think about hurting him, I will end you.”

Rarity’s mouth dropped.

I cleared my throat. “I think I need to have a talk with Applebloom about what she’s teaching you. Now you go wait outside, Taya. I have my ring on, so don’t you worry about her.”

Taya hopped down and trotted to the door. She turned back and lifted a hoof to her eyes before pointing it at Rarity in an ‘I’m watching you’ gesture. With that, she magically pulled the door closed.

“I swear to God, I did not teach her that,” I said.

“We will talk about that later,” Rarity hissed. “You made the princess cry!”

“…Seriously?” She stiffly nodded. “Two down, one to go!”

She jumped forward to slap me, but I fell back onto the bed, caught her leg as she reached out, and pulled her on top of me. “I didn’t know you just wanted to get me in bed,” I whispered.

She reached back with her other front leg and punched me right in the gut. I let her go and she pushed away from me. “I deserved that,” I groaned, clutching at my stomach.

“Is that all you have to say for yourself?” she haughtily asked.

“I also need to make an order,” I managed to get out. I was having trouble breathing… Hooves are fucking hard. I heard her step close to me again and lift another hoof. My hand ripped a dagger out of its sheath and I forced myself to the side in time to dodge the hoof as it came down. I slammed the pommel into her knee and jumped up. I kicked her other front leg out before she realized how much pain she was in. Her front side flopped to the bed, leaving her ass hanging in the air. “Now, are we going to be civil about this? Or should I go ahead and get revenge while you’re in the perfect position?”

“I’ll… I’ll be good…” she whispered, tears forming in her eyes.

I nodded. “Do you want me to get Taya to heal that? I know it hurts.” I slid the knife up.

“No… I’ll let it remind me.”

“Of what? To not pick fights with people that kill for a living?” I walked over to the door and pulled the gong thingy.

A moment later a voice crackled, “Yes?”

“Send a bag of ice to my room, please,” I said.

“Yes, Sir Navarone.”

I turned back to find Rarity had taken up residence on my bed, nursing her front knees. “Now, what happened?” I asked, crossing my arms.

She sighed. “Pinkie told the princess about… what we did to you. A few minutes ago, Pinkie showed up at my boutique saying that the princess wanted to see me immediately. Taya and I were bundled into the back of a chariot that was too small for the three of us and we were brought here. The princess had barely gotten past the civilities before you kicked the door in and…” She looked away for a moment before continuing, “When you left, she was silent for a full minute before she slowly started to cry. We tried to cheer her up before I came here.”

I sighed. “I’m not gonna lie: What I did to Celestia was absolutely evil. I put her in an unwinnable situation. She can’t do anything to you because you’re one of the elements. But she knows that it’s completely unfair after all that’s been done to me for me to be unable to get any justice. I can’t imagine that she’s ever been in a position like this before. Well, except for that one time with Luna.” I shrugged. “Either way, it was fun. For me, I mean, not for her. Now, I need to make an order.”

“Nav… Why?” I opened my mouth. “And you know I’m not referring to your order.”

I sighed. “Luna made the ponies dream about me on purpose. Celestia knew and did nothing. That did not make me happy, as I’m sure you can imagine. After what Luna did, and then to get away with that?” I shook my head. “No, I was not very happy at all.”

“Wait, are you saying that everypony had those dreams?”

“Every single one. Including Taya.” Her mouth dropped. “Yeah. You wouldn’t believe the number of awkward looks I’ve gotten these past few days. And Luna will receive no punishment for it. Even thinking about this pisses me off. Can we talk about my order or anything else?”

There was a knock on the door. I opened it and was given a small bag of ice. I thanked the fellow and let Taya in and closed the door again. I tossed the ice pack to Rarity. She caught it with magic and said, “I suppose…”

“I need some heavy winter clothing. Sub-zero temperatures and heavy winds.” I walked over to my bag and pulled out my goggles and held them up. “I also need some kind of padding around the eyes on these things. I want an airtight seal if possible, but I also need a way to keep the freezing metal from hitting my face.”

Rarity hmmed. “Where are you going, to need all that?”

“Business for the princess. It’s a punishment for something I did, not important. I don’t need it immediately, though I’d prefer to have it sooner rather than later.”

“It’ll take a few weeks… I have some things I have to take care of first.”

“That’s perfectly fine,” I said with a nod. “As long as you don’t bankrupt me and you have it done within two months I’ll be okay.”

“No no no! I couldn’t charge for royal business!”

I smiled. “Silly Rarity. I’m going to pay you if I have to shove the money down your throat.”

“Uh huh. You know, when I felt your stomach, it was awfully empty,” she said in a dangerous tone.

“Don’t make Taya get cute again,” I warned, shaking a finger.

Rarity smirked. “Taya dear, has your father been eating well?”

Taya cast her judgmental eyes upon me and looked me up and down. “I don’t think so…”

“I ate while I was there,” I quickly said. Of course, I don’t think Kumani counts as a nutritious meal. I had plenty of other stuff, though.

“Oh, but you’re still so unhealthy!” Rarity said. “Shouldn’t we take care of him, Taya?”

I’m glad I was still wearing my ring. I’m also glad that the timely entrance of a heavily drunk Cadance stopped Taya from commenting at all.

“Am I pretty enough for you now?!” Cadance angrily slurred. Shiny was trying to pull her back, but she had the magic of an alicorn and the strength of an earth pony, so she was easily ignoring his attempts. I noticed her face was caked with makeup or something and she was dressed in what I would call a slutty outfit if she was a human.

Three mouths dropped when she walked in and said that. Shiny just groaned and continued trying to pull her back.

There are not enough nopes in the world. “Cadance, what the hell?” I finally said.

Her horn lit up and nothing happened. She went cross-eyed to look at it. “Shtupid horn…” she muttered before fixing me with another glare. “Come on, Navi! Don’t you wanna come with me?”

“Shiny, can I knock your wife out?”

His eyes went wide. “What?!”

Cadance was muttering something. “…Clap your hooves and do a little shake!” she suddenly shouted as she turned around and thrust her ass in the air. That was too much for her alcohol-fueled mind, and she passed out with her ass up and her tail on her back. Her head hit the floor with a thump. I was left with an unwanted view that also wasn’t unpleasant.

I looked up at Shiny. “We will talk about this later.” I turned around to Rarity and Taya, who were still staring in complete shock. “We will never talk about this again. Pretend it never happened. Rarity, go cheer Celestia up and don’t forget my order. Taya, let’s go to the museum.”

“Nav, I’m so, so sorry!” Shiny said, his voice pleading.

I turned back to him. “It is not later yet. Clean your wife up, put her in bed, and make sure she stays in your room. Tie her if you have to. If she comes to me like this again, I will deal with her myself. Until proven otherwise, I will assume that her heat cycle is especially harsh because she just had a foal.” I grabbed my sword from its position against the wall. “Come on, Taya.”

She quickly followed me out, skirting along the passed out pony princess perched precariously—fuck alliteration, I’ve been here too long. Taya followed me out, leaving an awkward silence behind us.

“What just—” she started, but I cut her off.

“No.”

“…Okay.” We walked through the palace in silence for a minute or two. “So am I going with you on the cold job?”

“That wasn’t the job for the princess. That was me lying so Rarity wouldn’t ask questions. When I leave Equestria, the first place I’m going will probably be really, really cold.”

“Then why did you tell her two months?”

“To put a sense of urgency on it and so she doesn’t ask as many questions. If she feels that I need it quickly, she’ll waste less time asking questions and spend more time doing it. I’ll also be doing something within two months for the princess, so I’ll be able to say that I used the cold gear for that. And I didn’t lie about the job you’re going to help me with; it really is a punishment for something I did.”

“What did you do?”

“Killed some people while they were down. They had been trying to kill me, so I consider it fair play. Celestia agreed with me, but used the law to make me do something anyway.”

“So why are we going to the museum?”

“To see the spear of destiny and to learn more about it and maybe my sword. I know you don’t want to go, but I’m not leaving you here to plot with Rarity or to possibly get nabbed by a hormonal Cadance. It shouldn’t take too long anyway; from what I’ve heard, no one knows much of anything about the spear.” Really, it was just an excuse to get away from the castle.

Thankfully, it got us away from the castle with no further interruptions. We were walking aimlessly for a few minutes before Taya asked an important question. “So where’s the museum?”

“Absolutely no clue,” I answered with a shrug.

“Then how are we going to get there?”

“Ask a guard. Why do you think we’ve been walking along high-maintenance streets?”

“Because it’s Canterlot?” That’s a valid point; all the streets in Canterlot are high-maintenance. It’s one of the reasons that I hate that city. There is no seedy, red light district. Or I should rather say, there isn’t one that’s easily accessed. I’ve caught glimpses of the underground nightlife of that place, but they were little more than peeks.

I stopped at the first guard we saw and asked, “Can you give me directions to the museum?”

He pointed a hoof down the road, but didn’t say anything.

I looked that way and saw nothing that distinguished that part of town from any other. “Can you be more specific?” I asked, turning back to him.

He sighed. “Go down this road, make a right past the chop shop, a left at the mill hill, ignore the lore door—it just tells lies anyway—take another right at the Proud Cloud, and the museum is right next to the Hen Inn.”

There was a moment of silence.

“Are you fucking with me?” I finally asked.

“Yes. It’s just right down the road. That’s why I pointed that way.”

“Stick to your day job, bro,” I commented as I led Taya along the road.

“Everypony’s a critic,” the guard muttered.

“And that’s why men never ask for directions,” I said when we were far enough away from the guard.

Taya didn’t comment.

When we got to the building that looked like the museum—mainly, because there was a sign that had the word museum on it—we took a moment to look it over. “Ponies sure don’t spend much time on the past, huh?” I said. The museum was not a large building and it didn’t look well maintained. Given Celestia’s habit of covering up the past, it makes sense that things like museums wouldn’t be used often. I would have to mention to her the idea of hiding in plain sight; give the ponies plenty of good history so they don’t question the background stuff and so they don’t look too closely in on the details.

“There’s not much in the history books, either,” Taya said as we walked right on in.

“Welcome to the Canterlot museum!” the receptionist said when she heard the bell ring. She didn’t look up until, “How can I—” She cut off when she saw me and a large blush went across her face.

I was tempted to make a joke about either my rod of destiny or making her dreams a reality, but I didn’t want to get kicked out just yet. I settled for saying, “Hi.”

She blinked. “How can I help you?” she asked, her eyes dipping to my hands and back to my face quickly. She was still blushing.

“Is there a researcher available? I have some questions about two artifacts.”

She cleared her throat. “Um. Which two?”

“The spear of destiny and this,” I said, drawing my sword and setting it on the counter between us.

She shrank back when I drew the sword, but she jumped forward with elation in her eyes when she saw the runes on the blade. “Where did you get this?” she asked, not looking up.

“I found it on an underground shrine, near Appaloosa. It’s enchanted with cold or something.”

She traced one of the runes with a hoof. “Not the same,” she muttered. “Different civilizations, possibly? When did you find this?”

“Fuck, I don’t know. A few months ago? Celestia didn’t know anything about it. Think you can shed some light?”

She looked up and shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. We know very little about the spear and we’ve had it for years. The runes on this sword are more prominent, though. Here, bring it to the research hall.” She put a sign up on the desk facing the door and led us farther in. I grabbed the sword and off we went into the museum. “This is an outstanding find. How well preserved was the location you found it in?”

“Perfectly. It was an underground, petrified forest. In the middle was an altar. There was also an angry giant spider that didn’t want me to take the sword.”

“Filthy bugs,” she growled. “No respect for history! Always trying to eat the tapestries we find…”

“Spiders aren’t bugs. And they don’t eat tapestries. If you had more spiders here, they would probably eat the bugs that do eat the tapestries.”

“And then we’d have spiders here! We already have few enough visitors. Do you want to scare away the few we do have with spiders?”

“If bugs eat all your exhibits, you won’t have any visitors anyway.”

She sniffed. “I’d like to see a bug try to eat the spear of destiny. They’d be zapped instantly.”

“…Zapped?” I asked.

She nodded. “One reason the spear was given its name is because only a very small number of ponies can touch it without getting a painful shock. We let anypony try, if they want to; the shock isn’t dangerous, after all.”

“Have you discovered any correlation between those that can touch it safely?”

“After years of trying, no. Of the small number of those that visit the museum, an even smaller number even try to touch it. Of that number, less than fifteen have not gotten shocked. Most of them were willing to answer questions, but not all.”

“Have you discovered any other interesting properties about the weapon?”

“No, but we also haven’t tried using it for what it was meant for. I know of you and your… career. Have you used the sword?”

“Yeah. It cuts through armor like butter. It destroyed a poorly made sword. I’m sure it can do more, but I don’t purposefully look for fights to test it.”

“Interesting…” We were finally in her research hall or whatever. Some old stallion was reading a book and somehow making notes with his hoof and a quill. He didn’t even look up from his spot over to the side. She led us to the big table in the center of the room. “Set the sword down.”

I did so. She rummaged around in a drawer under the table and pulled some kind of wand out. She held it over the sword and muttered some words. The wand jolted so hard and fast that it flew out of her grasp and clattered to the floor. “Impossible!” She looked up at me. “Do you have any other magic items on you?”

“Yeah. Do I need to take them away?”

She looked from the sword to me. “What do you have?”

“A magic nullifying ring, cursed gender changing stones, and a key that opens any lock.”

The stallion looked up. “Can I borrow that key?” he asked.

I pulled it out of my pocket and tossed it at him. “If you steal it, I’m taking the spear,” I said as he walked out. He lifted a hoof in acknowledgement.

“If that key of yours works, there will be one less great mystery in the world,” she idly commented as she pulled some paper out.

“What do you mean?”

“Somepony dug up a rock chest one day in their backyard. They didn’t know what it was, but anypony could tell by looking at it how old it was. It passed hooves for years until it ended up here. No pony could open it, not even the greatest locksmiths.” She was tracing the runes on the sword onto the paper. “Or maybe he’s opening the jammed filing cabinet. The intern lost the key to that thing months ago and we never bothered unsticking it.”

“So what can you tell me about the spear?” I asked.

“Almost nothing. It was found in Ponitaly a few years ago. It was found in a large buried and destroyed city of a civilization no pony has any records of. We asked the princesses, but they don’t know or aren’t saying. We really don’t know anything about it other than that it exists and it is magical.”

“Can I see it?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Sure. The museum is small enough that you should be able to find it easily.”

I nodded. “Don’t get attached to that sword. I’m taking it with me when I go.”

She shrugged, not looking up. “Not like anypony would come here to see it anyway. It belongs in a museum, but it might as well get used instead.”

I like her. She actually uses common sense.

Taya and I left that research hall behind and wandered around the museum. I quickly realized that this was not an art museum.

“IT OPENED! IT OPENED!” I shrugged and followed the voice. It led me past the spear and to a chest right next to it.

I took a look in. “Dude, it’s empty.”

“I KNOW!” He kicked the chest across the room. “Countless years, spent trying to open it! AND IT’S EMPTY! USELESS!” He fell to the floor. “A waste of time… Like so much…” A faint whistling sound in the room caught my attention before I realized there was nothing in there but the three of us.

I shared a look with Taya, shrugged, grabbed the key from where he had dropped it, and went to take a look at the spear. It looked like your average spear, to me, but then I don’t know much about medieval weaponry. There were runes carved into the handle and into the blade. It looked to have been made for a biped, but then I can’t really imagine a quadruped using weapons anyway. I reached a hand out to touch it and immediately pulled away when I heard and felt a painful zap on my hand.

“Son of a bitch!” I clutched my numb hand and glared at the spear. “Fine, be that way. You look too heavy for me to use anyway.” Stupid spear. “Taya, you want to try?”

“Not really. That looked painful.”

“That’s because it was painful. If this spear wants to be an asshole, I suppose we’re done here.”

“Daddy, why are you talking like it’s able to understand you?”

“To make it feel bad for what it did. Let’s go get my sword.”

“Why would an object feel bad about something?” she asked as we walked back through the museum.

“I don’t know. It made sense in my head. Let’s just call it a human thing and leave it at that.”

She sighed. “Sometimes I can’t help but think that you humans are silly.”

“I think it is you that is silly, and you are trying to compensate for your silliness by projecting it on me.”

This conversation continued until we made it to the research hall. I don’t have many moments like that with Taya, but when I do, they’re usually memorable.

“So what was in the chest?” the curator lady asked, not looking up from her table.

“Nothing. It was empty,” I answered.

She looked up. “That’s… disappointing. How did the spear work for you?”

“It didn’t. My hand is still numb. I blame Taya.”

“…Who?”

“He means me,” Taya answered.

The curator looked to Taya then to me. “And how is it her fault?”

“Oh, I never said it was. Now, can I have my sword back?”

“But… you blamed her.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t say it was her fault.”

The curator opened her mouth, but Taya said, “You shouldn’t try to understand him. He’s being silly, like normal.”

The curator sighed and shook her head. “I took down the markings that I could from your sword. If you aren’t going to be using it for a few days, would you mind if I borrowed it?”

“I’m deploying soon, or I would let you borrow it. I don’t know yet where I’m going or if I’ll need it, so I’ll have to keep it with me for now.”

She sighed. “Oh well. Did you see anything else you were interested in?”

I slid the sword back into my sheath with a shrug. “Bunch of pony stuff. None of the artifacts are really that interesting to me. There’s so little technological progression here that the artifacts of yesterday are close to or the same as the tools of today.”

She sighed yet again. “Yes, I know what you mean. That’s why things like this sword and the spear are so interesting. They predate ponies entirely! We don’t know who made them or how, or even what they’re made out of. We can barely study the spear because so few of us can touch it. We were hoping that when we could open the box, we would find something to explain some of the stranger artifacts that we’ve found. Such is the life of a historian in Equestria…”

“I wish I could help. There’s some ancient history in this place that I would pay very dearly to know about.” Like the Morpheus statue. Or how the spear of destiny here looks like a spear made for a human. I had a suspicion that was slowly digging its way out.

“We always accept donations,” she said with a shrug. “Not that many ponies come here anyway.”

I emptied my coin purse on the table. I always carry at least one with me, but I never pay attention to how much is in it. “If you need more later, let me know. I’m based in Ponyville. I can’t give too much just yet, as I’m saving for something big, but I can give you what I think I can spare.” Even if my suspicions couldn’t be proven, I could at the very least tweak Celestia’s nose by having a few historians dig around in buried history.

She looked rather surprised. “Really? You’re the first po—er, well, nonpony, to show any interest at all.”

“I know what happens when history is forgotten. It repeats itself. My people learned that lesson time and again, not like it did us any good. Who knows what you’ll find when you start looking? If you do happen to find anything that’s pre-pony, let me know. That’s where my interest is.”

She nodded. “I will. Thank you for your donation. Though if you don’t mind me asking, how much is it?”

I shrugged. “Don’t know. I just throw some bits in a bag and stuff it in a pocket. Either way, I should probably get back to the palace. And you should probably go talk to the box guy. He seemed pretty distraught.”

She nodded. “Yes, I heard his voice screaming, but I couldn’t tell what he was saying. I’ll go talk to him.”

With that, Taya and I left the museum. “Is there anything you want to do while we’re in town?” I asked as we walked the gaudy streets of Canterlot.

“What is there to even do in this city?”

“Fuck if I know. Whenever I’m here, I’m usually fending off horny royalty.” Or giving in to horny royalty. “The one time I actually tried to explore the city away from royal guards, I got ambushed. And you know, I never did find out what came of that.”

“You won,” she answered, a hint of smugness in her voice.

“That I did. But I don’t know who ordered it or if he escaped. I don’t think he’ll try it again, though.” I should know better than to say things like that. I hastily looked around, making sure no one was stepping out of alleys. Thankfully, nothing seemed amiss. “So Twilight said some dogs showed up in Ponyville trying to make trouble. Do you know anything about it?”

“She mentioned it, but I didn’t care enough to pay attention to what she said. I usually ignore her when she isn’t teaching me magic.”

“I usually ignore her unless I need her, too. Whenever she starts going on about the magic of friendship, I just shut her out. I can’t use magic anyway, so why should I care if friends make it easier?”

“Have you ever tried?”

“Tried what? Friends? Yeah, once. It didn’t turn out well.”

“No, have you ever tried magic?”

I looked down at her to see she was looking up at me. I shrugged and looked back up. “No. Back home, they tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to. It took me a while to learn that they were lying. Humans can’t use magic. Wanting it wouldn’t change that.”

Do you want it?”

I thought about all the things that I could have done or prevented if I could use magic. “It would be useful. But I would like to retain at least some of my humanity. I’m already a fucking freak now, there’s no reason to add magic into the mix.”

She quietly said, “You’re not a freak.”

I didn’t answer. There was no reason to. I knew what would happen if I ever happened to get back home. If I could keep the wings hidden or cut them off, I could pass as a semi-normal person. I would just have to keep moving constantly so I wouldn’t have to explain why I wasn’t aging anymore. And if I ever got sick, I couldn’t go to the doctor; as soon as they saw my blood, it would be over.

She continued, “It doesn’t matter what any of them think. You’re my daddy and you’re not a freak.”

The rest of the walk back to the castle was silent.

 

Shiny called me to his office soon after I put Taya to bed. I hadn’t seen Rarity or Pinkie since I left the palace, so I assumed they were gone. I sat at the offered chair and tried to make myself comfortable around my wings. “So,” I said after a moment of silence.

He sighed. “You know her, Nav. She isn’t usually like that. It’s just… things have been a bit lackluster recently.”

“Typical post-marriage and post-baby relationship problem. It’s completely normal. Just… why me?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Do you really need to ask? We’re all friends, as much as you try to pretend to hate Cadance. Given your reputation and some rumors we’ve both heard, are you really surprised she would ask you, of anypony?”

I sighed. I suppose I should have known some of what I did would come back to bite me in the ass. “I trust you understand why I said no, then?”

“No, I don’t. I know you’re willing to have sex with pretty much anything that moves. Including,” and here he blushed quite heavily, “me. Which is something else I want to talk about. But why not my wife?”

“Because of the wife part. I have a small number of rules. No married people. In fact, no taken people. No diseased or sick people, if there’s a good chance I can catch whatever they have. No one I can get pregnant unless I can protect against it. My two newest rules are no mares in heat unless they showed a prior interest and I’m not going to stick my dick in crazy again. Your wife fits at least two of those. If you get divorced, we’ll talk.”

“Well at least you have a few standards you stick to,” he muttered. “But you said you wouldn’t do anything to Cadance at all, even if she wasn’t married. Why?”

“No prior interest while she’s in heat. I learned my lesson.”

“Then… why me?”

“To see your reaction, mostly. But after going through some stuff recently, I’m not as afraid of experimentation as I used to be. I wouldn’t mind giving it at least one shot. And from my experience, guys seem to be considerably less crazy than chicks here. I don’t know if it would hold true in a relationship, though.”

“It also doesn’t help that you tend to attract mares that are used to getting their way.”

I waved a hand. “All that aside, why the hell did Cadance barge into my room earlier, drunk and acting like a complete slut?”

He looked away. “The griffin king gave us a gift when we left. We haven’t been touching it, but she decided earlier that she would need some liquid courage before talking to you the first time. She only had a little when we first asked. That little turned into a lot when you said no. She was… quite surprised.”

“Now, the main question: Will she do that shit again? I do not need another crazy princess on my case. I got enough crazy everything else to deal with.”

“Her heat cycle should end tomorrow. It’s as you said, her recent pregnancy has made it hard on her. I don’t think this will ever come up again, aside from when she apologizes to you. Now, I have some questions for you, if you don’t mind answering them.”

“I got time. I’m pretty sure Luna’s going to summon me eventually, but with me wearing my ring, she’s going to have to track me down the hard way. What do you need?”

He grinned awkwardly. “I’m really not good at sex. Can you… give me tips, maybe?”

I sighed and began explaining things. I was hoping what he learned from my mind about Kat would have been enough. Obviously not. I started explaining about foreplay.

 

Some time later, I found myself standing in front of Luna. “You’ve been avoiding me,” she commented.

“Why does everyone think that? Of course we don’t see each other often, we live in different cities.”

“As foreign as the concept may seem to you, my sister and I talk to each other.” See, this is why I don’t trust people.

“I don’t know why that would seem foreign to me. Back when I still had a sister, I spoke to her. Probably not as much as I should have, but I did talk to her.” I really wished I could talk to just about anyone in my family again, too. You don’t realize how much you grow to depend on people when you have someone available at the touch of a few buttons. When you get completely cut off from accessing anyone in your family… It’s pretty terrible.

Luna’s face softened from its relatively cold stance. “That isn’t what I meant. Nav, please just talk to me. I… I know what I did was wrong. Terrible, even. But can’t you look past it so we can at least continue being friends?”

“I already said I could. It’s just hard. As I’m sure you know, the feeling of being betrayed is terrible. It takes some time to get over. But talking is easy. Something you apparently know quite well. Someone told Cadance some certain things and she decided a threesome between her, me, and Shiny would be fun.”

She blinked. “What?” She was pretty much completely surprised.

“Cadance asked me to fuck her.”

She took a moment to process it. “Huh.” Then she grinned. “Trouble in paradise, I assume?”

“Shiny is not good at sex, apparently. A certain someone told Cadance that I am very good at sex.”

She was still grinning. “So when are you going to ruin their marriage? Have you decided on a date yet?”

“I’m not. I told them no.” And she was shocked again. “Seriously? Does everyone think I’m that much of a whore? I mean, even I have some standards!”

“Chrysalis is up to those standards, but Cadance is not?”

“Yes. Chrysalis may be a several thousand year old evil bitch that only lets me anywhere near her because I’m useful, but she isn’t married.”

She shook her head. “You never cease to astound me. So how did Cadance take the news?”

“Poorly. She showed up at my room half an hour later, drunk and caked with makeup and wearing a slutty dress, demanding I fuck her. She did this right in front of Taya and Rarity and her husband. She passed out after doing a little dance, leaving her ass in the air and her tail on her back, giving me an admittedly pleasant view of her goods. While normally I would find that amusing, I don’t think it was good for Taya and Rarity to see it.”

Luna was in the middle of a giggle fit. “She… she what?”

“She came into my room. Essentially told me to fuck her. Then did some kind of dance or something and wound up with her face on the floor and her ass in my face.”

“Oh ho, that’s rich! If only somepony had a camera… She wouldn’t be so quick to go around making me kiss foals if I had a few pictures of her presenting herself in such a manner!”

“How did that go, anyway? We kinda let the fallout of that hit you two.”

She grimaced. “It did not go well. Thankfully, it was easily excused by Cadance’s actions. At least half of the castle was affected. But when you have a princess kissing a foal—making out, as you call it—attention is given to that. Even if half of Canterlot was affected, either of us getting caught like that would tarnish our image. Even worse, in my case. And yet, Cadance wouldn’t even tell me what sparked the chase. Why was she trying to hit you with a spell?”

“Because of how our relationship ended. She’s the love princess, and she thought… Well, it doesn’t matter what she thought. She is not going to be doing that again.”

“I know. I made it very clear what would happen to her if she brought that horrid magic anywhere near me again. Sadly, now that I have you talking again, I’m going to have to send you off. There is somepony you must meet in town. She has been wanting to meet you for some time, but your respective duties have kept you away from each other. I figured it would be prudent to give her time off to meet you now, rather than have you two meet for the first time later.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Setting me up with a date already? I’m shocked.”

She rolled her eyes. “It is time you met my captain of the guard. She was picked for efficiency and skill, not politics. By all rights, she should be in Shining Armor’s position. But Celestia has ever been in charge of ruling, while I was in charge of making sure the country ran. Not even a thousand years changes that, it seems.”

“So where am I supposed to meet her?”

“Return to your room. Sunshine Smiles will guide you to their den. It is a haven for the night guards. Not all of the ponies in the city accept their new appearances. Some have been vocal about it. So now they have a few small places in the city they can go to deal with stress.”

“Sounds cool. Have fun doing your princess stuff.”

She sighed. “It is rarely fun. But then, Celestia’s job is considerably more taxing. If I had to listen to all of those inane requests day in and day out, I would murder somepony.”

“I know that feel. I’ll talk to you later, Luna.”

I left the throne room and walked through the relatively silent halls back to my room. I found Smiles standing outside my door, not in armor. “Are you ready to meet the captain?” he asked.

“Not just yet. Wait here.” I quietly snuck into my room and grabbed my crossbow, my quiver, and a strand of throwing knives. I just as quietly left, hopefully not waking Taya up. I shut the door behind me and nodded. “I am now. Lead the way.”

We were a few feet down the hall when he said, “You won’t need those, you know. I’ve told you before, the night guard is watching you very closely, Nav. We won’t let anything happen to you when we’re in charge.”

“I didn’t make it this far in my line of business by taking chances. Yeah, I know you guys have my back, but I’d rather know that I can protect myself than be forced to rely on someone else.” I loaded my crossbow as a way of punctuating my statement.

He shook his head. “You’re too paranoid. I know you flinch almost every time anypony touches you. Are all of your kind like this?”

“No. Just a good number of us that have seen the elephant. You don’t go through what I’ve gone through and come out normal.”

“…What’s an elephant?”

“A metaphor for war, in this case. It’s actually a giant mammal that’s near on three times my height and twenty times your weight. Seeing the elephant is an old phrase that went out of style for describing going to war or seeing battle. And let me tell you, I’ve seen some horrible stuff out there.”

He sighed. “You aren’t alone, Nav. But I think what is horrible for you is considerably different from what is horrible to us.”

“Not different, just advanced. But that isn’t important, nor is it a fun discussion topic. Tell me about where we’re going.”

“Essentially, it’s a bar in an old royal storage chamber. It’s where a lot of the off duty night guards go. They have all kinds of things. When the princess wants us to unwind, she gives us the best. Most of us stay away from the heavier stuff, though. It wouldn’t do for those of us tasked with keeping the peace to upset it ourselves, after all.”

“So we’re going to a bar. Cool. How many guards do you expect to be there?”

“Around twenty, maybe. There might be more, if they find out that you’re going to be there. A good number of them really want to pay you back for all you’ve done for us. Oh, and one other thing: Not all of the guards we have are ponies. We are less selective than Celestia’s day guard, and prefer efficiency over looks. We have at least one changeling and a few griffins. We didn’t know about the changeling until just recently, but none of us hold the actions of his kind against him. He may once have been a spy for Chrysalis, but the princess had a talk with him and he chose to renounce his allegiance to the changelings in favor of ours. He’s great for undercover operations, not that we have many.”

“Cool, so not many people. Now, what can you tell me about the guard captain? I know we’ve spoken about her before, but we didn’t have much time.”

“She’s probably one of the best guard captains we’ve had in years. By all rights, she should be in charge of the entire guard. Sadly, politics and Celestia ruined that for her. When Cadance started getting a crush on Shining Armor—and when Twilight was made Celestia’s personal student—his family very quickly rose in prominence and power. There was a lot more to it and they almost never exercise any of that power, but Celestia decided it would be prudent to make Shining Armor the captain of the guard. I will admit that he is good at what he does, but he is far from the best. He would be much better as a training officer. He’s way too disciplined and uptight to be leading the guard. That’s the real reason I took Celestia’s offer to join the night guard. But that’s more about Shining than it is about Midnight. Honestly, it’s better you meet her yourself. I will say this, though: She’s a big fan of yours. She’s the only member of the night guard that specifically requested fangs after she learned you had a set when you looked like us. From what I’ve heard her say, she admires your methods and your ability to get things done.”

That wasn’t a good sign. My methods shouldn’t be admired, they should be tolerated. Still, I wasn’t expecting anything that bad. I mean, she was still a pony. “Anything in specific I should know?” I asked.

“Don’t play poker with her. Though now that I think about it, you didn’t have any trouble clearing everypony out back in Gryphus. You might give her a challenge. And please don’t flirt with her.”

“I remember you saying that back in Frankfurt. Is there a reason?”

“The last stallion that tried flirting with her ended up in the hospital.”

“Is that because she put him there, or was that someone else?”

“Well… It started as her and then some patrolling night guards found her and thought she was apprehending a criminal and it all went downhill from there. Blueblood never so much as looked at her after that.”

“Oh, it was Blueblood that was doing the flirting? No wonder she stomped a mud hole in him. You know I’m better than that. But if it makes you feel any better, I won’t do any flirting unless it seems like she would be receptive. Fair?”

“Your funeral,” he sighed.

“Don’t worry about me, mate. I’ve been through worse.” If anything can top Luna, I’d eat my hat. Of course, I don’t own any hats, so make of that what you would. “So where is this place, anyway?” We had been walking through town for a few minutes.

“It’s pretty far away from the palace. We don’t want Shining knowing we have a place outside of his authority. Yes, it is sponsored by Luna, but he still has the power to make our life Tartarus if he gets word about some of what we have.”

“Sounds to me like someone needs to slap his shit, then. It isn’t his problem what anyone does in their off time.”

“Exactly the princess’s opinion. Through from the sound of things, you’ve already had plenty of turns roughing him up.”

I smiled darkly. “Yeah. The first three times he tried to steal things from my mind, it did not end well for him. The fourth time he tried to steal from my mind ended up with him having his trachea collapsed and unable to breathe. It was a good thing Celestia was standing right there to help him. And then there was the tournament.”

He nodded. “And it hasn’t done any good, either. He’s still just as much of a hardass.” We saw a donkey that was taking a late night stroll glaring at us. “No offense to you, of course,” he hastily added. The donkey hmphed and walked off, nose held high. Smiles put his head down sheepishly.

“Eh, he probably wouldn’t have put out anyway,” I commented when I hoped the donkey was out of earshot. “Besides, did you see his ass? Nasty red zit, just sticking out at you.” Smiles demonstrated his name at that. “Shiny isn’t going to bother you for much longer, though. Soon enough he’ll be gone, headed to whatever their place is called. Doesn’t matter to me who’s in control of the guard, anyway; my orders come from Celestia and Luna, no one else. Shiny has tried to rein me in. It didn’t work.”

His grin widened. “I know. I was there when the princess mentioned how she took some memories from him. Shame he doesn’t remember… It would do him good to have his nose tweaked.”

We heard a voice from an alley whisper, “Watch what you say, Smiles.” My crossbow shot up before I saw the outline of a night guard. She nodded to me before melting away into the alley.

“I told you we had your back,” Smiles said with a shrug.

“I don’t know if I like the idea of being watched by guards that report to Luna,” I replied as I slung the crossbow back up.

“She doesn’t know we’re looking out for you. It’s purely volunteer and all off the record.”

“What I meant by that is I don’t know if I like that I’m being watched at all.”

He shrugged again. “You might not like it, but we’re not going to stop. If you’re in Canterlot and you’re walking around at night, it’ll be with some of us around. We will not let you get hurt. After that windfall bonus you gave us and then what you did for me… We aren’t used to high ranking ponies looking out for us. We’re used to being ordered around with no rhyme or reason. When you showed up and made reasonable orders and explained those that weren’t, it was something we loved. We don’t get many officers that know what they’re doing in the field. Too few to risk losing them to something stupid like politics or those hired thugs that attacked you a few weeks ago.”

“I brutally murdered one of those thugs, hurt one so badly that he almost died before we got him to Celestia, knocked one clean out, and made the other run away in terror.”

“And there won’t be a next time, because we won’t allow it.”

I sighed and dropped the point. I could force them to stop if I really felt it necessary, but I couldn’t deny that having some trained guards looking out for me would be useful. “So where is this place, anyway?”

“Oh, we passed it a few times now. You didn’t notice that we’ve been walking around the same block for a few minutes?”

I smacked him in the back of the head. He grinned and led the way down the alley that the other night guard disappeared down. “If you’re leading me down here to rape me, I’ll never forgive you,” I idly commented, making note of how there were several symbols carved into the grime on the walls. Not all of Canterlot is kept clean, it seems. I didn’t go down many dark alleys, but I might start now.

He didn’t answer me. Instead, he somehow grabbed the ring on a cellar door cunningly hidden in the cobblestone and yanked upward. I looked down and saw that it led to a staircase that went down at an angle. I could see lights on at the end and could hear the sound of laughter and chatter come from that way. I shrugged and started going down. He followed me, pulling the door closed behind us.

“And now that I have you right where I want you…” he said, turning to find my crossbow aimed dead at his face. “Joking! Luna’s sake, Nav, I’ve seen what that thing does to a pony!”

“Never joke about raping me,” I said, putting the crossbow up. “I will tolerate many things. That is not one of them. Now let’s go.”

He blinked in surprise as I turned to walk down the stairs. Whatever he was thinking, he quickly caught up. I took a deep breath before I turned the corner and walked right into a scene from a D&D game. At the table closest to the door and the bar sat a cute bat pony playing poker with a white stallion and a dark griffin. The mare had fangs and was obviously winning, and the other two players didn’t look that amused. From her fangs I assumed she was the captain. Behind them was the bar, with stacks of barrels going up to the relatively high roof and a few bottles of all kinds on a lower rung under the barrels. A unicorn was acting as bartender, floating a bottle to a depressed looking stallion sitting on one of the stools. Several tables dotted the room, each with a few bat ponies talking and drinking something from mugs of all kinds. It was at that point that I noticed that not all of the bat ponies had golden eyes. Some of them were green and a few were blue. One of the guys was even wearing an eye patch.

None of them noticed us. I ignored whatever Smiles was trying to do and walked up to the table with the cute mare. “Mind if I join in for a few hands?” I asked.

“Long as you got the bits,” the female griffin sighed, not looking up from the winning hand the mare had.

The stallion that was actually facing me looked up, confusion on his face. “Sir Navarone!” he yelled, jumping out of his chair. Now that got the attention of almost everyone in the room.

“Sit,” I answered as I pulled a chair out for me. “If you’re going to act like I’m an officer, I’m leaving. That goes for everyone except the bartender, assuming officers get free drinks.” With that, I sat down.

The stallion slowly rejoined us. While he was doing that, I took a quick look around the bar, trying to gauge reactions. For the most part, all that they were doing was staring. A few conversations didn’t even stop as I walked in, probably some of the ponies that already knew me. Some of them looked tempted to come talk to me. I saw that Smiles had joined a table near mine, the one with the guard that had the eye patch. He cast the occasional nervous glance over at me as I gathered the cards up from the last game and began shuffling.

“Game?” I asked as my hands continued their motions.

“Poker,” the captain answered. “Unless you can think of a better.”

“Good enough for me,” I said, passing out cards. “Hope you don’t mind if we talk while we play, though. Smiles left a few details out while we were talking on the way here.”

“He probably had his eyes on a stallion,” the white guy said, picking up his hand. “He gets like that when he’s around somepony he fancies.” He smiled and rearranged his hand.

“What do you want to know?” the griffin asked, also picking up her hand. Her beak clenched and she muttered something.

“Your names, first,” I answered, picking up my hand. “He mentioned the night guard had a few griffins and a changeling. I see two of those are represented here. He did not mention the captain was so cute, but I won’t hold that against him.”

All three of them looked up at that. “How did you know I was a changeling?” the stallion asked.

“You looked up when I spoke and your expression was confused before you realized who I was. Changelings have a small ability to sense at least basic moods, and I’m invisible to that ability. That, and you’re the only white guy here. It’s the easiest way to distinguish you while also making sure no one freaked if they came in and saw you.”

They looked impressed. The mare spoke up, “How did you know I was the captain?”

“Your fangs,” I answered with a shrug. “Smiles did mention those. Weird to see on a pony’s face, but they fit nicely with the rest of the bat appearance. I don’t suggest being anywhere near blood while you have them, though. You get… urges. Or at least, I did. That’s why I got rid of them.”

She nodded. “They aren’t as fun as I was predicting. They’re great for scaring the common crooks—I even picked up the name Bat Mare—but there are drawbacks.”

I nodded. “I imagine they don’t do wonders for your love life. I imagine most stallions—or mares, for that matter—would be intimidated.”

She sighed wistfully, not answering.

The griffin and the changeling shared a look. The griffin turned back to me and said, “You never got our names. I’m Shade. He’s Quisling. She’s Captain Midnight.”

I looked at the changeling. “Quisling? Seriously? Were you born with that or did Chrysalis give it to you when you left her service?”

“It was the parting gift from a life I don’t like to remember. Names mean less to us, so it was easy enough for me to take on a new one.”

I shook my head. For those that don’t know, quisling is synonymous with traitor, due to Vidkun Quisling’s actions in Norway during World War II. I could explain it more, but I’m writing this while slightly drunk and fuck you. “Well, nice to meet you three. Though,” I said with a look to the captain, “I think I prefer the name Blossom. It seems to suit you better.”

There was a light blush on her face as she replied, “I’m starting to think you’re trying to flirt with me. I’m not certain Luna would approve.”

“I’m merely stating opinions. You are free to make of them what you would. And Luna does not own me anyway. But if you want me to stop, I can move onto your friend instead,” I said, looking to Shade. “I always did find griffins beautiful, and the night enchantment that makes your features darker gives a wonderful uniqueness.” Quisling barely stifled a laugh and Shade punched him.

“I never said you couldn’t call me cute,” Blossom said.

“But if you’re calling me beautiful then you can forget about her,” Shade said, punching the changeling again for good measure.

“Ladies, ladies, please,” I said. “I’m just here to play a few hands of poker and maybe socialize a little. Unless you find yourselves interested, perhaps?”

They smirked at each other before turning to me. “We know all about you, Navarone,” Blossom said. “The princess warned the mares of her guard, not that we needed it after that party a year ago. As fun as a night with you might be, most of us are looking for more than a one night stand these days.”

Well, that was a bust. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I answered with a shrug. I lifted my cards up a little and said, “I’m just here to talk and maybe steal some of your hard-earned bits. I don’t know what it is you’re implying, but I assure you that I am a gentleman.”

“And a good liar,” Shade said, looking at her hand.

“Well, yes. That just begs the question of what it is I lie about. Like right now, I have a full royal flush.” I looked across the table at the changeling and crossed my eyes.

He grinned. “Now I know that’s a lie. I have four princesses.” Man, don’t even get me started on what they renamed the fucking cards in this place.

I threw some bits to the center. “He seems pretty confident to me,” Shade commented. That didn’t stop her from matching the bet.

“He’s not the only one with a good hoof,” Blossom added, raising. Shade sighed and folded. Quisling and I matched.

“He doesn’t have a hoof at all,” Quisling said, his eyes going to my hands. “I’m sure he could do all kinds of fun things with those, too.”

“I know a few mares—and a stallion—who certainly seemed to think so,” I answered with a shrug. I tossed a few more bits to the center of the table.

Quisling matched with a sigh and Blossom with a grin.

I set my cards down with a shit-eating grin, showing three sevens and fuck all else.

“Doesn’t look like a royal flush to me,” Blossom said, throwing down a flush of diamonds. Son of a bitch. There’s my other seven, too.

“I may have lied about having four princesses,” Quisling said with a shrug, throwing down a full house of three kings and two fours. “But I was pretty close.”

“At least one of the two of us gets to walk away with a net gain,” Shade said with a shrug. “Assuming we leave the officers to their business.”

Quisling nodded. “I, for one, am happy to be in the green tonight. Drinks on me?” Shade shrugged and Quisling raked his bits up as they both walked to the bar.

“Those hooves were pretty unlikely,” Blossom said with an accusatory look to me.

“Yeah. Weird shit like that happens in this world.” And I may have cheated just a little. Then again, I just as easily might not have. I am a liar, after all.

“So how did Luna finally get you down here?” she asked, leaning back.

“She told me about it. This is the first I ever heard about a night guard haven. If I had known, I would have stopped by sooner. I don’t know what it is about you guys, but you’re usually pretty damn chill. Much better than the stuffy day guys. I actually had to beat some of them to let me see Celestia one day.”

She shrugged. “You have to be laid back to work the night shift, especially in a city like Canterlot. Everypony’s afraid of us, so we go out of our way to be helpful and nicer. Even if we do just want to crack their skulls for being stuck up, cowardly fools that care nothing for anypony but themselves.”

“I take it you don’t like nobles.”

“That’s one way to put it. I joined the guard as a recruit. I worked my way up. I’ve been stationed all over mainland Equestria, including near the Everfree. I’m the most experienced guard in Equestria. I know, because I checked when I got access to the records. And yet I was completely unknown to Celestia. She doesn’t know the names of her best and most loyal soldiers. But the lowest member of her court? She’ll get their name right every time. I was overlooked for promotion too many times because of that alone. Shining Armor joined the guard. Two months later, he was an officer. Three months later, he was a captain. Another month and he was in charge. You can’t tell me that’s fair.”

“I know it’s not. I haven’t exactly been given a fair deal here either.”

“And yet you came out on top. And don’t even pretend otherwise. You have the love of at least one princess and both trust you above almost anypony else. That’s why you’ll always have my respect, if nothing else. You took the worst possible situation for anypony to ever be in and you turned it around to one of the best possible situations to be in. Might not have been easy. Might not even have been worth it—and judging from your record, I’d say it wasn’t. But you did it. And I gotta say, I can’t wait to see how you win the war games for us. I’m tired of losing to that bastard, just because his troops have more training working as a group and because the locals in all the places we go to help them over us because of how we look.”

“I have no intentions of ever losing to Shining Armor. I don’t hate him like you seem to, but I know that he has no right to be captain of the guard after how badly he fucked up against Chrysalis. He’s in well over his head and it’s about time someone showed everyone just how far out of his element he is. What is the number one reason you usually lose?”

“His shield. Whenever we start to overrun his forces, he activates that shield and we get pushed back while they recover. All of our wounded are left inside the circle while our actives are pushed out.”

“So as soon as the game starts, we assassinate Shining Armor. Problem solved.”

She smiled. “One problem with that: It takes the fun out of the game. We wouldn’t beat Shining Armor if we killed him first thing. We’d be beating his subordinates, most of whom are more experienced and likely better leaders. But yes, I do like the idea of assassinations. But how do you suggest we get through the shield?”

“Two choices. Dig under it or use my magic nullifying ring.”

I saw her mouth, “Dig?” in confusion. “We’ve never tried that before… Do you think it would work?”

I shrugged. “Worth a shot. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll just use my ring to sneak a small group in and have a field day. You can give me and my team a list of targets of interest and we can take them down. On the way out, we can kill any guard we want as long as we don’t make much noise and get caught. That should be a heavy hit to morale, to know we can get in and kill whoever we want. Or we could just poison their food and water supply. Or we could go on a campaign of terror and just scare the shit out of all of them. I’ll leave it up to you.”

She looked pensive. “There are a number of established rules of warfare… But there are no laws about it. Battles are fought in the open, army to army, pony to pony. What you’re talking about could revolutionize warfare.”

I smiled. “Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” I decided at that point to turn the night guards into the Vietcong. If the war style here was medieval line-to-line battle, I could revolutionize that in a single ambush. My grin grew dark as I relayed my plan and a few scenarios. Her face quickly took on an evil smile as well.

I don’t feel like relaying the rest of that night. There was a saddening lack of drunken orgies, but I did have a lot of fun and I got to meet more of the night guards, all of whom already knew me. Most of them tried to buy me drinks, but there was sadly no booze. The only place in Equestria where you could get that was in Manehatten, where Vinyl dealt it out.

Blossom actually explained that situation out to me: “Yes, I know about it and yes, it’s illegal. I could shut her operation down. However, you don’t beat crime by wiping it out. You beat crime by controlling it. We let that DJ know that we know what she’s doing, and we let her know that it’s illegal. If she goes past the boundaries we give her, we crack down on her. If she keeps her operation small and to select ponies, we don’t do a thing. If it starts becoming a problem, we’ll step in. But if we shut her down, someone will wonder why. That curiosity might lead to places we don’t want it to go. We’d rather have our eyes on the person we know is making this stuff than constantly looking over our shoulders wondering who else might be into the business.”

Made sense to me. But that’s enough about that night.

 

Normally, this is the part where I say that I woke up feeling like shit and hating myself. Sadly, that wasn’t true. I met Celestia and Luna for breakfast since I was awake anyway. Celestia spent the breakfast dropping small hints about that stupid thing I would have to do for her. Luna either didn’t know what the task was or didn’t care to join Celestia in taunting me about it.

When I found out what that task was, I was willing to think the former, since Luna would have seen immediately how fucktarded it was and how vehemently I would oppose it.

 

 

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