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.


40. Chapter Thirty-Three—Weddings to ruin, cheese legs to taunt Part 2

“You know what I meant, Nav. Stop being a grammar griffin.” Well, I guess that sounds better than grammar Nazi.

Heh. “I did Nazi that coming,” I said.



“Nav, you can be really weird sometimes.”

I ruffled her mane. “When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.” Saying that always pisses her off and it’s always funny. “Whenever you want to visit Chrysalis, just let me know. Or let Celestia or Luna know, I guess. I don’t know what her sleep schedule is, though, so you might want to be hesitant about asking Luna.”

“It won’t be any time soon. I don’t know if I can look at her without wanting to hurt her.”

“You don’t have to look at her if you don’t want to; she can change shapes, remember? She answered the door earlier as Princess Celestia in a maid outfit.”

Twilight went bright red.

“Relax, Twilight! I’m sure she’ll probably answer it as Luna or someone else next time. As long as I never see another female version of me, I’m fine with it. Now that almost made me sick.”

“Nav, that’s completely disrespectful!”

“I know! I mean, after all that effort I went through, they still mock me like that? Sometimes I wonder why I ever bother.”

“Sometimes I wonder if you’re really as dense as you act, and just occasionally pretend to be smart.”

“I wonder the same thing. It’s fun, either way. I suggest it wholeheartedly.”

“But I thought you didn’t have a heart,” she said.

“I don’t. I really don’t want anyone else acting like this, trying to muscle in on my territory. There’s not enough room here for two smartasses.”

“I think that’s quite enough of this. My head is starting to hurt.”


“So do you know what a bachelor party is?”

“Yeah,” I answered. “I haven’t thrown one or been to one, though. Why?”

“Well, Spike was supposed to throw one for Shining Armor, but… Spike doesn’t know what a bachelor party is.”

“Oh man, it’s a good thing the queen showed up, then! I can’t imagine getting married for the first time without a bachelor party!”

“Married for the first time? Why would you ever get married a second time?”

“Divorce, widowed, there are probably a few other reasons.”

She grimaced. “Oh yes. I had forgotten about those human customs. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that here.”

“I guess when you have magic and potions that force love, things are a bit easier.”

“You know we don’t do that to each other, Nav.”

“Unless you’re Princess Luna, apparently. I still can’t believe she did that to me. Or rather, tried to do that to me.”

“You know, you never did let me test that on you. I still want to see if I can recreate the effects and test the poison that was made afterwards.”

“That actually gives me a very interesting idea. What if we gave a pony a love poison and let them look at Chrysalis? She would get all the love she could need.”

“But what about the pony? That seems pretty cruel.”

I shrugged. “We can use a criminal or something. Instead of hard time, they can be harvested for love.”

She looked pensive. “If you can sell the idea to the princess, I can make the poison. And I can siphon a bit on the side to test on you.”

“I’ll go talk to her, then. And then I’ll go talk to Spike. Can you look after Taya for a bit?”

“Of course. There’s a spell she was having trouble with that we can work on when we’re done here.”

“Good. Tell Rarity that we can work on the design later.” She nodded. I walked over to the window and defenestrated myself.

It’s times like these that make me happy I invested in a quiver long enough to have a top on it that I can take off when I need to. I fell straight towards the ground and opened my wings right next to the bottom, letting myself glide to the main palace. I landed right at the entrance and let my momentum carry me forward a few steps into the open doors.

I walked to the throne room and asked the guard, “Is Celestia seeing visitors?”

“She’s in a meeting right now. When she is fi—” The door opened and Shining Armor strode out. “You may enter,” the guard told me.

Shining Armor was looking very ragged. Given what he had just been through, I understood that. “Navarone,” he said, noticing me, “I have things to talk to you about. Several things, but some of them are more important than others.”

“I’m heading to the library next. Meet me there in a few minutes; I have to talk to Celestia.”

He nodded. “I will see you there, then.” He walked off, still looking kind of dazed, and I went into the throne room.

“Navarone, I am surprised to see you back so soon. Has the queen been acting up?” Celestia asked.

“Nah, she hasn’t. I believe I might have come up with a solution for her problem, though: Love poison.”

She didn’t look impressed. “Navarone, it is called love poison for a reason. The drinker will be consumed with love for only the first pony they see, and they are unable to act rationally while under its effects. It could ruin the life of anypony that we let drink it.”

“Which is why we use criminals instead. We give them the option of being harvested for love or doing hard time. When we get two that volunteer for the love option, we lock them in a room, give them the love poison, let them drink it, separate them, then bring in a changeling that looks like the other person that drank the poison. The changeling can get all the love it needs and then leave the room so another changeling can get their dose.”

“Navarone, that solution is incredibly cruel, very evil, and exactly the reason I keep you around. You will be the first person tested with it, as soon as a batch can be made.”

“Love poison doesn’t work on me, actually,” I said. “Someone already tried using it on me. My body… reacted negatively.”

She blinked. “Why was I not informed of this?”

“You’ll have to ask your sister about that, I believe,” I said.

She frowned. “I will. Is there anything else you needed to discuss?”

“Well, I really don’t want to be knighted.”

“Too bad. You are dismissed.” I looked around to find that there were no open windows. I think I got addicted to defenestrating myself.

Lacking that option, I just sort of walked out. Like a boss. Okay, I’ll stop…

I went on to the library, wondering what Shining Armor wanted to talk about. I found him and Spike there, talking together. I walked in and joined them at their table.

“There you are, Nav!” Spike said when he saw me. “Shining here says you’re going to be knighted! How cool is that?”

“It’s terrible,” I said. “Celestia won’t even listen to me when I try to give reasons it’s a bad idea and why I don’t want to be one.”

“Well, yeah,” Spike said. “That’s because you’re really persuasive when you want to be. She doesn’t want to be dissuaded from this.”

“She can’t always get what she wants, Spike,” I replied and turned to Shining Armor. “Do you think you can help me change her mind?”

He was grinning. “I’m the one that gave her the idea.”

“I’m going to have to think of a new insult for you. Give me a little while, I’ll think of something.”

“I can wait.” His grin dropped. “But I did need to talk to you.” His eyes flicked to Spike. “Alone.”

“Very well. The garden is usually empty around this time. Spike, I’ll want to talk to you later as well.” I pulled the bag of bits out and dropped it in front of him. “Hold onto these for me for now.”

He opened the bag and his eyes went wide. “Where did you get this?” he asked, voice filled with wonder.

“I won some tournament or something. There’s more, but Cadance is watching it for me. I’ll tell you more about it later. And I have a bit to add about female dragons, too.” He gave a dirty grin at that. “Let’s go, Shining Armor.” He led the way out and I followed him to the gardens. We saw Fluttershy in the distance, playing with some birds or something.

“I really don’t know where to begin,” he started.

“Try at the beginning. That’s usually a good starting point.”

He barked a laugh. “The beginning… Sure, why not. The beginning of my relationship with Cadance… my beloved.” He looked down for a moment, and then looked back up at me with haunted eyes. “We swore to remain pure until we were wed.”

“Not uncommon, back where I come from. Those that swear usually fail to uphold it, though.”

He looked down again. “I know I failed. Cadance—No, the changeling—came to me the night before the wedding… Last night. She tried to get me to… Well, you know. I reminded her of our oath. She laughed and said we were practically married already, and that she wanted it. Wanted… me.” He looked up at me and I saw that he was crying. “I broke my oath with a monster!”

What can you really say to that? “You didn’t know, Shining Armor. And she was messing with your mind the entire time. There’s a chance she used a spell to weaken your mind so you would give in easier.” I didn’t believe that, personally, but it’s what he needed to hear. “It wasn’t your fault.”

He looked back down. “What am I supposed to tell Cadance?” he muttered.

“Nothing.” He jerked his head back up to me. “She’s not going to notice and she doesn’t have to know. If she ever goes to talk to Chrysalis and she rubs it in Cadance’s face, just tell her that the queen is lying. One night isn’t going to make you great in bed, and ponies are ridiculously bad at sex anyway. Cadance will never know the difference.”

“That’s not very honest, Navarone.”

“I’m not a very honest person. If you want better advice on how to deal with something like this, you should have went to Twilight or Rarity. Both of them know the minds of girls better than I do. But I will tell you this right now: Whatever you do, Cadance will always love you. The entire time we were in that cavern, she was moaning about wanting to save you from the changeling. Her heart is yours no matter what you do, oath or not. As long as you aren’t a complete idiot, you’ll have your happily ever after no matter what.” Although, knowing how these ponies are, I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to fuck it up somehow.

At least that got a smile out of him. “So why do you think ponies are bad at sex? And… how do you even know that? Aren’t you single?”

“Man, you really don’t get out much. Let’s just say I’ve been around the block a few times. Of every race I’ve been with, ponies consistently know the least and are the worst partners. Hell, most of them only know one position, the poor bastards. I taught a few of them some things. I’ll say this for your honeymoon: Go slow, because it can hurt virgins. If you want more advice, come to me after your first time together. I’ll not ruin it.”

“I’ll think about it. Now, how about you tell me how you won the tournament? Cadance mentioned it, but was so tired that she couldn’t get the entire story out.”

I told him.

“I was wrong about the reasoning I gave Celestia to knight you,” he said when he finished. “But I wasn’t wrong about actually getting you knighted. Equestria needs somepony like you.”

“I’m still working on my insult for you. I think I’ll just use man whore until I think of the real one.”

“What’s… a whore? And a man?”

“Oh my God, you are innocent as fuck. You really need to get a life, man. Oh, and things with penises are men. A whore is someone that has sex with little or no cajoling.”

He flinched, but countered, “So what does that make you?”

“Oh, it’s not an insult to me. I had sex outside your fiancée’s door at the party.” I giggled. “Kept her awake all night, too. Dragons sure do like to moan.”

He stared at me with a mix of shock and disgust. “You realize dragons mate for life, right?”

I laughed. “Oh man, Cadance tried the same thing on me! I know more about dragons than just about every pony out there combined, aside from maybe Celestia and Luna.”

He stamped a hoof down. “I thought I had you, too!”

I shook my head. “You and Cadance are going to be perfectly fine. Here’s another hint, just for getting me to laugh: Pegasus—and alicorn—wings are very sensitive. Give her a massage before you get started.”

I saw his horn glow for a second and I felt a bit of air run down the side of one of my wings, making me flinch. “And what about human wings? Are they sensitive as well?”

“Yes. Now quit it; I don’t want to get a boner because a guy was molesting my wings.”

He grimaced. “I don’t know what that is, but I don’t think I want to cause it. Now, when is your knighting ceremony? I want to be there for it.”

“Right after your wedding, apparently. It’s ‘kiss the bride’ and then ‘ruin Nav’s life.’”

“Good! The honeymoon won’t get in the way! After all the pain and suffering you put me through, it’ll be great to see you get to suffer a bit for it.”

I sniffed. “And they called me a monster. You and Cadance are both sadistic; she actually laughed when she realized I was going to be fighting alone in the tournament. I swear she just wanted to watch me get my ass kicked.”

“And yet you won anyway. And you won easily, if what you said was any indication.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t change the fact that by all rights I should have lost.”

“Well, it would be pretty funny, watching you get beaten down. As arrogant as you always are, it would be good to have you knocked down a peg or two. Or seven. Or twenty.”

“Have you ever stopped to think that there might be a reason I am so arrogant? I mean, I am pretty awesome.”

He rolled his eyes. “You definitely need to get knocked down a bit. And I know a lot of the guards have been wanting to ever since you beat the princesses in their contest.”

“I’ve already been punished for that, thank you very much. Besides, I just had to spend a week with your bride-to-be, three days of which were locked in an underground cavern with nowhere to go. Surely that’s punishment enough?”

“Are you saying she’s unpleasant to be around?” His voice was rather challenging.

“Let’s just say that we disagree on a number of things. I think I get along with Chrysalis more than I do Cadance, and I think Cadance is the kind of person that would disagree with that statement.”

I am the kind of pony that would disagree with that statement, Nav. Chrysalis is a monster! How can you possibly get along with her?”

“Because I have more in common with her than I do with Cadance, I believe. But I also haven’t spent too much time with her, so I am not yet certain about that. Still, I will have several more conversations with her soon, I believe. Especially since I think I found a way to give her as much food as she needs.”

He looked disgusted at the thought. “The princess explained to me—very thoroughly and for quite a long time—about why the changeling was spared, but must we resort to feeding the monster as well? She tried to kill me and Cadance and take over all of Equestria!”

I’ve written down my arguments for this multiple times already, so I’m not going to do it again. I talked to him about it and he disagreed out of rote. I understand why he did, but that doesn’t mean he’s right. We parted on relatively amiable terms, at least.

That done, I went back to the library, hoping to find Spike. I was disappointed that he was stuck on the whole me being a knight thing, but I was hoping I could skirt around that.

No such luck. “So what are you going to do when you become a knight?” he asked when I found him again. “Go around smiting evil?”

“Oh come now. I’ve only killed one dragon, and even then only if you count little deaths.” Heh. It’s funny because we were in France.

You know, because of la petite mo—Forget it. Fucking ponies don’t know French.

I know Spike sure looked confused. “When did you kill a dragon? Is that how you won the tournament?”

“It’s a joke that you won’t understand. Let’s just say I had sex with a dragon when I was in France. I totally suggest it.”

He looked at me blankly.

“I know you know what sex is, Spike. I’ve explained it to you in the past.” Much to Twilight’s chagrin.

“I’m just… imagining you having sex with that dragon lady we met during the migration.”

“…This dragon was a lot smaller. A little bit smaller than the teenagers.”

He looked pensive for a moment, and then shocked. “Dude, she was probably, like, thirteen!”

Now that he mentioned it... Am I accidentally a pedophile? I waved a hand. “Chillax, bro. She competed in the tournament, and I’m sure they wouldn’t let a child do that.”

He calmed a bit, but still didn’t look that enthused. “Well, how was she, at least?”

I smiled. “She put her snake tongue to incredible use. I could tell you more, but if Twilight ever heard about it, I would probably never hear the end of it.”

“I’m not a hatchling, Nav. You know that.”

“Yeah, yeah. How goes planning for the bachelor party?”

His face lit up. “It’s going to be so awesome! I have it planned for after the wedding, because I know everypony is going to be so busy before it. We’re going to ha—What’s so funny?”

I was laughing. “You realize the bachelor party is supposed to be before the wedding, right? That’s why it’s a bachelor party.”

He was confused by that. “So what’s a bachelor?”

“A guy that isn’t married. Back where I come from, the bachelor party is supposed to be the best man throwing a kickass party for the groom, a way for all the groom’s friends to get their last bit of freedom and partying done with the groom before he’s stolen away forever by his evil wife.”

“Does that mean Shining Armor doesn’t need a bachelor party? Cadance isn’t evil, after all. Well, not anymore.”

“Nah, that’s another tradition from back where I come from. Unmarried men treat getting married like the end of the world, while married men pretend to be slaves of their wives while around their friends. But either way, the point remains: The bachelor party is supposed to be before the wedding. You might want to move it up a bit, bro.”

“Hm… What else does it usually entail?”

“A lot of booze and a lot of strippers. But that shit won’t fly here; Shining Armor is too straight-laced for strippers, and I’m not going to get the only person keeping the changelings out drunk. I suppose the rest of the partiers could get trashed, but we need to keep him mostly sober. Oh, and another thing: No chicks but the strippers are allowed in, unless they’re willing to join the strippers if they get drunk enough.”

I noticed that he was taking notes. After a moment he looked up. “Okay, now what’s a stripper?”

Oh right. Ponies don’t wear clothes. “Don’t worry about it; we aren’t going to do that for Shining Armor and if Twilight—or Rarity, or Celestia, or Luna, or Cadance, or pretty much anyone—hears that I told you to hire strippers it’ll mean my hide. Just go forward with your plans and move them forward a few days. Make sure Shining Armor is free.”

“You said Shining Armor can’t get drunk, but what about the rest of us? I remember that party Pinkie threw for us back when we got back. That was a lot of fun!” Spike didn’t actually get drunk during that party; Twilight wouldn’t let him take more than a few sips.

I scratched at the beard that was coming in. “You breathe a word of it to Twilight and I’ll come down on you harder than she will on me. I think Applejack might have just enough for one more party. You might just want to make sure we’re not going to be in too public a place.”

“You’re going to be there, right? I don’t know a lot of the ponies he asked me to invite…”

“I can if Shining Armor wants me there; it’s a party for him. We just had a bit of a disagreement, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me being there.”

“You mean about that bug lady?”

“Yep. I don’t see what everyone’s problem with her is. I mean, surely you of all people understand, right?”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on, Spike. You’re a dragon. If things were different, you would be eating these ponies as well. The only reason you’re friends with them instead of eating them is because you were raised by one. Did you even see her eyes? The only difference between her eyes and yours is that hers glow.”

He blinked. “But I would never…” He swallowed. “I wouldn’t…” He sighed. “I wouldn’t conquer all of Equestria, though.”

“You’re also only one dragon. She has an entire nation to feed.”

“I… I don’t want to think about it, Nav.” I can understand that.

“Fair enough. In that case, you want to hear how I cheated to win the tournament at the party?”

“You never cheat, Nav. You just don’t… well, play fair, I guess.”

“Didn’t stop Celestia from punishing me. I’m banned from competing next year. But I think it was worth it.”

“Oh come on, now you have to tell it!”

I did. He was laughing before I was got finished, too. “Oh man, Nav, you’re evil! No wonder you got banned from competing again! The others would tear you to shreds!”

“Oh, I’m not complaining. I know exactly what would happen to me if I competed again. I wasn’t planning on it anyway, but the option to have been able to would have been nice. Still, if I go next year, I’m bringing Pinkie, so at least I’ll have someone else to talk to.” I swear I heard laughter when I said that.

Spike didn’t seem to notice. “It certainly sounds like a fun party, if a bit slow at times. I wouldn’t mind meeting some more dragons, that’s for sure.”

“There weren’t that many there, and most of them were younger. I don’t think you’d have much luck if you went.”

He shrugged. “Maybe I’d get lucky.” Once again, I couldn’t help but smile at his word choice.

“Man, I really need to find some darker people to talk to. I wonder if Chrysalis is still awake… Hey, how do you check books out in this place?”

He shrugged. “I usually just use Twilight’s name and the librarian lets me take as many books as I want. He knows she always returns them, even if it takes a while.”

“Well, I don’t want to potentially ruin Twilight’s good name. What kind of books do you think an evil queen that feeds off emotions would enjoy?”

“Cheesy romance novels. Definitely cheesy romance novels.”

“Alright, I’ll tell her you suggested them. I’m sure she’ll be pleased.”

“Go ahead. I never plan on seeing her again.”

I smiled.


Half an hour later, I was carrying a small stack of books back to Chrysalis’s room. Only one of them was actually a cheesy romance novel; I may be stupid sometimes, but I’m not crazy.

I found Fluttershy waiting at my door. She had some saddlebags around her. I pushed my door open with my foot and led us both in. “What do you need?” I asked as I set the books down for a second. I threw the medal onto the bed next to the scale; I was going to show it to Rarity and ask if she could use it in the armor, but I didn’t get the chance.

“I… I was wondering if you could… Well, if you wouldn’t mind… Um.” She hid her face in her hair.

I walked up to her and removed the hair from her face so she couldn’t hide. “What do you need?” I asked again.

“I want to visit the bug lady,” she whispered.

I let her hair drop back down and she jumped back, squealing lightly. “Sure.”

She peeked back out. “Really?”

“Yeah. She can have visitors. I’m honestly kind of surprised how word got out about her being shacked up next to me so soon.”

Her eyes went wide. “S-s-s-he’s r-r-r-right next d-d-d-door?”

“Yup. Come on.” I grabbed the stack of books and stepped back outside. She slowly followed me. I led her next door and gave the door a shave and a haircut.

I didn’t get two bits in return, though. It just opened and we saw a manticore glaring at us. I nodded to it. “We would like to speak with the queen,” I said.

Fluttershy stared at it, horrified. The manticore turned its head inside and said in Doppel’s voice. “Visitors, your highness.”

We heard a frustrated sigh. “Send them in, if they have an escort.”

The door opened wider and the manticore moved, becoming Twilight. We stepped inside. Chrysalis looked at us from her spot on the couch. “The void has returned and brought yellow-quiet. How fun.” She didn’t sound very enthusiastic.

Fluttershy gasped when she saw Chrysalis and flew up to her. “Oh, you poor thing! Here, let Fluttershy help you…” Fluttershy dropped her bags and began rummaging inside.

Chrysalis looked at me. “What is yellow-quiet doing?” she demanded.

I looked at Fluttershy and then in her bag. “If I had to guess, I would say she thinks the holes that cover your body are wounds, and is going to try to patch them up.”


“Just lie back, this shouldn’t take long,” Fluttershy said warmly, pulling out some bandages and disinfectant.

“Void, help me!” Chrysalis was starting to look alarmed.

I sighed and set the books down and walked over to Fluttershy, who was now struggling with an increasingly irate Chrysalis.

“This… is… for your own good!” Fluttershy breathed, trying to juggle a roll of bandages, a bottle of disinfectant, and a very pissed off bug-pony thing.

“Stay away from me!” Chrysalis broke away and got across the room and transformed into me, including all the clothes and weapons. She pulled out the falchion on her back. “Stay back!” she demanded in my voice.

Fluttershy was glaring at her, slowly inching forward. “You’re hurt and I’m going to help you!”

“Fluttershy, stop it. I don’t want to clean your blood off my clothes,” I said. “And I really don’t want to watch myself kill you.”

Fluttershy turned her glare to me. “But she’s hurt! I just want to help her!”

“I’m pretty sure that’s how her body is supposed to look, Fluttershy,” I said.

Her glare dropped. “Huh?”

I thought quickly and made something up off the top of my head. “It’s evolution,” I answered. “Their natural bodies aren’t nearly as strong as some of the other things they can turn into, but they probably don’t gain complete control over their transforming powers until they hit a certain age. Until then, they need some manner of defense mechanism. With holes in their legs, they can make a whistling sound when they fly to scare predators that are chasing them. And I’m sure the wings were just a personal thing.”

Fluttershy said in a very quiet voice, “Oh.” Then she smiled sheepishly, blushing a bright scarlet before hiding in her hair again. “Um… S-s-s-sorry… your majesty…”

Chrysalis was still using my body to glare at her. “I would appreciate it if you left, Fluttershy,” she said.

Fluttershy bolted out the door, leaving the bandages and disinfectant she was still holding spinning in the air. I rolled my eyes and grabbed them before they fell—no, I don’t know how that worked. I carried them over to her bag and dropped them in and then threw it over my shoulder.

While I was doing that, Chrysalis turned back into her own shape and walked over to the pile of books I brought in. “What is this, Navarone?” she asked me.

“I figured you might get bored, so I brought you something to do when you don’t have visitors.”

She kicked part of the small pile aside so the trashy romance novel was on top. “And this?” she asked. “Are you insulting me?”

I shrugged. “I figured Doppel could use some light reading.”

Her left eye twitched. She walked back to her couch. “You do know everything you said to yellow-quiet was a lie, right?”

“Yeah, I know. I figured if she kept it up, she would have killed you, so I thought it best to stop her.”

Her kill me? I believe you might have been knocked a bit too hard on the head.”

“Fluttershy can be very vicious when she wants to be or when she thinks someone she likes is in danger. She actually beat the crap out of a unicorn a few years ago when he was trying to kill me.”

“A unicorn, trying to kill you? I thought you were practically one of these ponies, with the way you act towards them.”

I pulled my lips back and showed her my canines. “I’m a bit like you,” I said, letting my lips fall back. “And I wasn’t always accepted here.”

“I see. Sit.” There was an armchair near the couch. I set the bags down and eased myself into it, cursing my wings. “I saw a little bit from your mind. Enough to know you aren’t from here. Tell me more about your homeland.”

“I don’t know. Your mind might be too innocent for it; I certainly wouldn’t want to scar you.”

“Navarone, I detest jesters. Tell me or get out.”

“I swear, no one is in a good mood today. I just got out of a cavern I was trapped in with an insipid wretch and I feel fine!” She was starting to look angry. “Fine. I come from a fun little place called Earth.” I told her quite a bit about it. From the looks she gave me while I was talking, I could tell that she was definitely a naughty girl.

“Your people sound marvelous,” she said when I finished. “I could hide among them for centuries and I don’t think a single one would notice. All the food I could ever need…” She sighed in desire.

“Well, we think we might have found a way to get you infinite food anyway. There’s something out there called a love poison that creates intense feelings of love in anyone that consumed it. We will probably test it sometime in the coming week.”

“Surely your beloved princess wouldn’t allow any of her ponies to become mindless sources of food for my armies, at least not without some kind of catch.”

I shrugged. “I just came up with the plan. It’s up to her to implement it. I suggested that we use criminals. Either way, if it works, you’ll probably be set for life, as long as you stick to what you are allowed.”

She nodded. “I want what is best for my changelings, of course.” I don’t think she was telling the truth, but I also didn’t really care. “I am sure we can make do with a few ponies, as long as the effects of the poison are strong enough.”

“Good. I would not look forward to meeting an army of changelings on the field of battle. Though I probably wouldn’t be on the field of battle; my talents lie more in assassination.”

She grimaced and rubbed her chest. “Yes, you left a dent on my carapace with that nasty invention of yours. If you had hit me just about anywhere else, it probably would have punched through.”

I raised an eyebrow. “If you are in pain, there is probably something in this bag that would alleviate it.”

“No, Navarone. I am fine. Now, explain something else to me. What is it that you do with your mind that enables you to hide your emotions?”

“I partition it, essentially. With a force of will, I can push back everything I don’t want to deal with and concentrate on the matter at hand. If you dug enough, I’m sure you could get past the barrier that I keep up. Hell, as long as you’ve been doing this, you could probably push past it instantly, now that you know it’s there.”

“I would like to try.” She stood and I followed. She walked over to me and pushed me back into the chair. “I have fought subjects for control before. This might hurt.”

“Then if I tell you to stop, stop.”

She didn’t answer, just lowered her horn to my head. I let my eyes glaze over and stared straight ahead. “Interesting,” she whispered after a moment. “You aren’t actively fighting, just hiding.” She was silent for a moment. “Where oh where would you put something like that… My my, what’s this?” Her entire body shivered. “I’ll have to remember that. Kat, was it? Not quite what I was looking for…” She was silent again. “You are good at this. Have you been mind probed before?” I didn’t react. “Ah, there it is.”

I pushed back, doing my best to lock my mind down. “Oh, now you fight?” she mocked. I saw her hooves rear up as she kicked the chair back. “I see my goal, and I will have it.” Her horn moved forward again as she stood over me. “You might have a strong mind, but I’ve been doing this since before your species owned your planet.”

I felt her in my mind, this time, digging through the defenses I set up. “Now would be a good stopping point,” I forced out of my lungs.

She didn’t stop. “Not just yet…” She dug a little deeper. “I almost see a name. I am curious, now.”

She was concentrating so hard that she didn’t notice what I was doing until I kneed her in the damaged part of her carapace, backing her up a few steps. It felt like my knee was dislocated, but I forced myself to my feet and drew my sword as she took a step forward, glaring at me.

She took another step forward. “You wouldn’t da—” My sword was at her horn.

“Take another step and you’ll starve to death,” I said, my voice empty.

She smiled as her form began to shift into one I hadn’t seen in too long. I heard a sweet voice say, “You wouldn’t hurt your sist—” I reared back and punched her in the face. She fell back, stunned into changing back into the queen.

I took a step forward, to find my way blocked by Doppel. “That’s enough,” she hissed, turning into a small dragon.

I heard the door creak open behind us. “If I ever see that shape again, there won’t be enough changelings in the world to save you.” It felt good to feel anger again. An old friend, in a way, that I hadn’t seen in way too long.

“Am I interrupting?” I heard Luna ask.

I slid my sword into its sheath. “I think I was just leaving, actually,” I answered. “I’ll see you tomorrow, your highness.” I turned and grabbed Fluttershy’s bag as I walked to the door. “I’ll be right next door, Luna. I would like to talk to you before the night is gone.”

“See you soon, Nav. I just need to talk with our… guest.”

Before I had the door closed, I heard a voice say, “I like him.” I assumed it was Doppel.

I walked back up the hall to my room and set Fluttershy’s bag on my floor. I put the scale and the medal on the drawer and went to the bathroom to fill up the canteen. I hooked it on my belt and sat on the bed, letting my mind slowly clear. I stopped before I even got started and began to unstrap most of my weapons, leaving most of them in a pile next to my bed and only the throwing knives on my belt. I walked over to my window, my shirt still off, and let my wings and body soak in the gentle wind blowing in from the gardens outside.

I heard the door gently ease open behind me and Luna’s voice say, “If you are going to let her anger you, Nav, you should not visit her.”

“She chose the wrong form,” I answered, turning to face her and leaning gently on the window sill. I crossed my arms over my bare chest. “She was in my mind long enough to know how it would make me react.”

“Well, you sure made an impression on her, that’s for sure.”

“A good one or a bad one?”

“A physical one. Her chest was already dented from when you shot her. Now the dent is actually noticeable. Or rather, it was; I popped it back out for her with magic, though I was tempted to leave it there as a punishment for doing something to anger you enough to actually strike her. I’ve never seen you do that before.”

“I don’t think I ever have done that before. The insolence of that woman is just… unbelievable. I know I am disrespectful and occasionally rude, but have you ever actually wanted to hurt me because of it?”

“Well, I was kind of tempted to hurt you today when you told Celestia I gave you a love poison. Since it was kind of true, though, I decided to spare you.”

“Kind of true? Or very true?”

She waved a hoof. “One or the other, I don’t remember which. Anyway, I need to tell you the duties of a knight, for your ceremony.”

“About that…” I felt my mouth clench shut as her horn glowed.

“The ceremony is simple enough. Celestia or I—one or the other—will call you forward and you will kneel before us. We will tap you on each shoulder with our horn and present you a new weapon—usually it’s a set of specially crafted shoes, a set of razor-sharp wing covers, or a steel covering for the horn—and you will pledge your life to our service. That part is simple enough.”

I glared at her.

“The actual duties of a knight are nothing you aren’t already doing, really. You act as our representatives in the field. You will have all of our authority behind you and will be supported by any Equestrian you find. Your weapon will be your badge of knighthood, so I suggest keeping it with you. You will have to help the weak, of course. Being noble is optional, but highly desired. You can be devious, but it isn’t recommended. I don’t think that’ll stop you, though, if what I heard about the tournament was any indication.”

Her horn glowed brighter and the medal on the drawer floated to her. She smiled at it. “Yes, you are definitely ready to be a knight.” The medal set itself back on the drawer. She pulled me away from the window with magic and brought me to her and hugged me. “And the best part is, no pony will judge their princess for falling in love with a knight.”

I returned her hug. “You’ve been talking to Cadance, haven’t you?”

“That insipid wretch? I can’t stand being in the same room with her for more than five minutes. I don’t know how you managed to do it for a week.” She let me go and I went back to the window; it felt nice out. “Celestia has been awfully cruel to you.”

“Yeah. Open the first drawer on the left,” I said, pointing at it.

Her magic opened the drawer, revealing the bright clothes stamped with Celestia’s mark. “What is this? Is she trying to steal you now?”

“No, I think she’s just trying to get me used to the idea of wearing stuff like that. Open the middle drawer.”

It opened, revealing the dark clothes with Luna’s mark. She smiled. “You have all these lovely clothes to wear and yet you’re still wearing that horrid getup? I bet your fashion friend was most displeased with you.”

“Yeah, she was. It was kind of funny. Now, about the whole knighthood thing…”

She sighed. “I will give you one chance to explain your position on the matter. One. After that, I do not want to hear you bring it up again.”

“What would it take to get you both to agree to not—and never—knight me?”

“Either a double wedding in a week or a very good argument.” Oh shit.

“Alright… I really don’t want to. I don’t make oaths. I am not noble. I am always devious. I am a cheater, a liar, a murderer, and a few other bad things. I would have no compunctions with stabbing both you and Celestia in the back if Chrysalis gave me a deal good enough and I believed her. There’s a chance I’ll leave Equestria entirely if you try to force me to do this. I don’t think the common people will readily accept me. I don’t want to be tied down by an oath made at the start of a very long life. Pony kind in general is starting to seriously irk me.”

She didn’t look impressed. “Are you done?”

I shrugged. “I can probably come up with a few more.”

“I’ll save you the time. They won’t work. This is going to happen, like it or not.”

“I’ve heard that before. It is usually a prelude to rape.” Or a Pinkie Party. Sometimes I don’t know which is worse.

She grimaced. “It’s not as bad as that, Nav. It’s honestly more ceremonial than anything else. We just want to reward you for all the service you’ve done for Equestria!”

“Are you trying to reward me, or are you trying to reward yourselves with full access to me due to the oath I’m going to be forced to take?”

“Navarone, you aren’t on Earth anymore. Neither of us wants to use you.”

“Bull fucking shit. You both know your way around politics and I’m sure you’ve both used plenty of pawns in the past. How am I to know I’m not just another pawn in your grand game?”

“Because I didn’t love those I used to use.”

I deflated a bit. “I really don’t want to do this, Luna,” I said with a sigh.

“Will you?” She paused a moment. “For me?”

I closed my eyes and leaned back a bit more. After a while I said, “Can you promise me you won’t require me to do something you know I wouldn’t normally do?”

“No. I can’t.” I opened my eyes to see that she was looking down. After a moment she looked up to me again. “But I can promise that I will never order you to your death.” Oh yeah, that makes me feel better.

“I’ll think about it,” I answered.

She leaned back up to her full height. “You are going to be knighted. The only thing for you to think about is who knights you and to whom you swear. Now, I believe I have things to take care of.”

She turned to go. I said, “Before you leave, can you heal my knee? Her chest was painful.”

She turned back and looked at my busted knee and rolled her eyes. “I didn’t leave her in pain, so I guess I shouldn’t leave you in pain either.” She stepped close and brought her horn to my knee. I felt the pain ease quickly.

She pulled her head up and looked at me. I quickly reached around her neck and pulled her in close and kissed her deeply. She fought for a moment before practically melting in my arms. Since she was so unused to it, she didn’t even fight my tongue, just let me dominate her.

After nearly half a minute, I pulled back. “Thank you, Luna. I don’t suggest eating cupcakes for breakfast, though; it’s unhealthy.”

She was blushing rather heavily. “Uh…”

“I believe you had things to do?” I commented, unable to hold back a bit of a smirk.

“Um. Yes. Things. Important princess things. I will… I’ll see you later, Nav.” She walked out in a daze, leaving the door open behind her.

Now, just what the hell was that? Seriously, where did that even come from?

I’m being knighted and I’m going to live forever. The chances of me ending up with Luna are pretty close to one. Might as well get started now.

Yeah, I’m an idiot. I’m okay with that.

I turned back to the window and bumped noses with Fluttershy. “I believe I have something of yours,” I said, fighting back the small panic I was feeling.

She pulled back and I noticed how brightly she was blushing. I backed away from the window to let her in and she landed with her usual grace. I went over to where the bag was laying and picked it up for her. When I turned back she said, “I… I didn’t mean to… I’m sorry, Nav.”

“You already knew, so there was no harm done.”

“Are you two… finally together?”

“Not really. She’s still going to be here for a few years, and my place is in Ponyville for now.”

“But with you as a knight, it won’t cause any problems. So there’s no reason you can’t be happy together.”

“Nothing preventing it but myself, no. It should be interesting, to see how everything turns out.” I handed her the bag and she set it over her flank. “And Chrysalis was not very amused with your attempts to… help… her.”

She blushed at that. “I just thought… Well, never mind. But are you sure she’s okay? She seemed like she was in a bit of pain.”

“She was, actually. When I shot her earlier, it bent her armor. Luna fixed it, though, so don’t worry.” Honestly, I didn’t even notice that she was in pain. I also didn’t care, but meh. And I didn’t think mentioning the little altercation we had would be a good idea.

“And did she hurt you?”

“I think she would have to be an idiot to hurt me.” That wasn’t a lie.

“Then why was Luna healing you?”

“Just how long were you outside my window?”

“Oh, you know… So the healing?”

“I hit my knee on something.”

“I see. And what did you hit it on?”

“What is this, twenty questions? Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

“I think this is important, Nav. If you got in a fight with Chrysalis, it should be reported to the princess at once!”

“If I give you a hug, will you go to bed and just drop this?”

“Well…” I bent down and gripped her tightly, enveloping her with both my arms and my wings. After a moment I stood up. “I’ll just… go to be—Eep!” She was looking behind me.

I whirled around, drawing a knife without even realizing it and almost loosing it before I realized it was just Doppel. Then I almost released it at her anyway. “What?” I asked, not putting the knife away.

“The queen wishes to speak to you, Navarone,” she said, ignoring the knife.

“I bet she also wishes today had gone a little bit differently, but she can’t always get what she wants, can she?”

“One of the benefits of maid training for the changeling queen is a large amount of martial arts training as well. I am her last defense, and probably one of her best. The queen wishes to speak with you, Navarone. Will you go willingly, or will I have to drag you there?”

I was about to respond when Fluttershy jumped in front of me. “Don’t you dare touch him, you monster!”

“Fluttershy, stand down. Even if she was telling the truth—which she’s not—she would still probably kick your ass.”

Doppel was grinning like a fool. “You’re good at this, Nav. Are you going to come with me or not?”

“I will. But if she is in the shape of my sister again, neither of you will survive this night.” I heard Fluttershy gasp. I continued, “Lead the way, Doppel.” She did, and I grabbed a shirt and my sword belt and followed her out.

Fluttershy said, “Nav, you can’t—” The closing door cut her off. Yeah, yeah, I’m a bad person. She said she was going to bed anyway.

Doppel led me the short way down the hall. I slid the shirt on while we walked. I just carried the sword belt; it would be easier to draw like this anyway. Before she opened the door, she said, “You were right about me lying about being trained. But if you lay another harmful hoof on the queen, I will hurt you.”

“Then let’s just hope she doesn’t piss me off.” Doppel pushed the door open and let me enter first. The door closed behind me. Doppel didn’t follow me inside.

“Navarone, come in. Please, sit.” Chrysalis was on the couch again, and she nodded to the armchair I was in before. It was standing up again, and closer to the couch. I walked over and sat. “You are more useful to me as an ally than an enemy.”

“That was the shittiest apology I have ever heard.”

So changelings turn green when they blush. Interesting. “I am unused to… apologizing. You have been… nice, I suppose is the correct term. And you have been understanding. That is more than I have received from most races in a long time. Because you have been so understanding for me, I wish to understand you as well. When I changed into… her… why did you strike me?”

“You insulted my memories. I know what is real and what isn’t. You are no more her than your servant is my daughter when she changes shape. I don’t mind you taking my memories, but I will not have you ever attempt to use them against me. And if you ever find my name, you will never use it; that is one of the few things I hold over those that own me now, and I do not want to give them the satisfaction of hearing it.” That wasn’t entirely true, but I think the only magic that she could use in this room was stealing emotions, so she wouldn’t be calling me on it.

She didn’t look entirely happy about that. “I do not like being told what to do.”

“I have two things to say to that. Welcome to my world, and that’s what you get for losing.”

“I would not have lost if you had not intervened. I was winning that war of the wills, Navarone. We both could have been free if you had just let me win.”

“You don’t have to lie to me, Chrysalis. You would have killed me as soon as you had Celestia beaten; you didn’t see any food in me and I was a danger to you as an unknown element.”

“But if you had helped me, I would have given you anything—or anypony—that you desired. You would have been free to come and go as you pleased. You could have even ruled at my side…”

“You imprisoned me in the caverns without a thought as soon as you saw me. And yet you still expected me to fight Celestia for you? Without even talking about it first?”

“As I recall, when we first met, you were trying to stab me.” Well, she did have a point. She would have had a sharper one if I had my way then. “And now here we sit, both slaves to something that should be our food or our servant.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I am being punished for my part in helping stop you; Celestia is not only forcing me to go to the wedding, but at the end of it I am going to be knighted.”

“You poor thing.” She didn’t sound very sympathetic. “I don’t suppose you could get me an invitation to the wedding? I would very much like to see the two… lovers… wed.”

“I’m not a wedding planner. You would have to ask Cadance, or maybe Celestia. And I suggest not mentioning despoiling the groom; it might not end well for you.”

She smiled, flashing her fangs. “Ah, you heard of my work, then? Yes, he was most pleased with my efforts… By that point, I had him so brainwashed that I didn’t even need the disguise. He was sleeping with Mi Amore Cadenza, but he was screaming my name.” She ran her tongue over her fangs. “These ponies have such outdated concepts of love and loving. Do they all hold to that foolish notion of saving themselves for marriage?”

“Nope. I’ve slept with a few of them. They all suck at sex, though.” I leaned back in my seat. “I must say, I admire your work. To have twisted his mind so far from the true love he feels for Cadance in only three and a half days?” I gently clapped my hands. “Given the chance, how long do you think it would take you to corrupt Celestia or Luna?”

She smiled even deeper. “I do not often attempt the same sex. With them, I think it might take a few years. Most of it would be cautiousness, though. I think Luna would be much easier, given her lonely state.” Her grin turned sly. “But then, she isn’t so lonely anymore, is she?”

I steepled my fingers and met her grin with my own. “You could say that. I accidentally corrupted her in… oh… about six months.”

“And Celestia?” she whispered.

I just smiled.

“My, my. Who is the servant here, and who is the master?”

“I’m afraid I won’t answer that question. Just because I am forced to follow their orders in public doesn’t mean the same applies in private.”

“You know, if you had met me first, we could have had a very profitable relationship.”

“Perhaps. There is much I could do for you. But what could you do for me that I would actually want? Or that I couldn’t get for myself?”

“Power. A way home. Freedom. Anything you desire, really.”

“I have no desire for power. My home is lost to me now, with few regrets. Freedom… Perhaps. But what kind of freedom would I have when I am shackled to your throne instead of Celestia’s?”

Her smile slipped a bit. “I forgot what I was dealing with. You will never support me here, will you?”

“I am supporting you right now, Chrysalis. But I am also supporting the ponies. I am one of the only go-betweens you have. You have burned every other bridge. You made the one cardinal mistake you could make when dealing with Celestia: You threatened her ponies. Luna doesn’t have any real power yet, so sucking up to her won’t do you any good. Cadance is beyond pissed and all of the royal guards hate you right now. Everyone else that has Celestia’s ear is not pleased with you at all. The only two that might have been willing to have compassion on you have been sent away when I tried to bring them. Twilight will probably come by to try to study you, but she is Cadance’s friend and will still be angry at you. I am your only friend right now.”

Her smile slowly slipped away during that little speech. “Friend. I have not used that word in a long time. What would you… What should I do, Navarone? I must be strong to represent the interests of my subjects. But I must be humble to receive aid, since I have no way to steal what I need right now. You say I have… burned bridges. Can they be rebuilt?”

“It will be hard. You won’t like some of what you have to do.”

“If I must, I will.”

“Pinkie Pie wants to throw you a party. The ‘pink one,’ as you call her. The one that is planning the reception for the wedding.”

She grimaced. “Why would she want to… throw me a party?”

“She does that for everyone. It is… annoying as piss, really. But that’s just the way it is. She’ll want to meet you first, though. I can probably bring her here tomorrow, if you want me to. You can use the party to try to talk to some of the others, if they attend.”

“And at the party?”

“We’ll get to that. Do you remember the yellow one from earlier that tried to patch up your legs?” She nodded. “I can bring her by tomorrow as well. Let her look at your chest, where I shot you and then kneed you. I know Luna healed it, but Fluttershy goes giddy over hurt people.”

She sighed. “This is going to be painful.”

“We’re just getting started. Celestia shouldn’t be that hard to win over, honestly. I’ve done half of the work for you, when I told her that you were doing what you did for your people; she is a ruler too, you remember. Even though you and I both know you were doing this more out of revenge and a sick desire to have domination over a weaker species, the fact still remains that in doing so you were helping your own people.”

“I take offense to that.”

“Are you denying it?” She didn’t answer. “That’s what I thought. Applejack should be easy to win over. There’s no point on bothering with Rainbow Dash, Rarity, or Twilight. At least, not until you’ve apologized to Cadance.”

Chrysalis glared at me. “Why would I ever want to do that?”

“Because Celestia is sadistic enough that she might not give you anything until you make peace with those that you ‘wronged.’ A lot relies on getting Cadance to forgive you; you’ll never get Twilight or Rarity without her, and Shining Armor might be a lost cause no matter what you do.” I paused for a moment. “Oh, and you should probably apologize to the three bridesmaids you brainwashed, too. Honestly, they’re pretty much redshirts, but I’m sure it might be important to someone that you do.”

“I don’t remember any of the three of those fools wearing shirts, and none of them were red.”

“It’s a word from my world. Don’t worry about it.”

“So how would you suggest I go about… apologizing… to Mi Amore Cadenza?”

“You know… I honestly don’t know. She is rather upset with you. Maybe she’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ll think of something. And if I don’t, you’re just going to straight up apologize. And I suggest not mentioning what you did to Shining Armor.”

“I am not suicidal, Navarone. I have no defense here aside from my good looks and my carapace.”

“You forgot your winning personality.”

“Quite. At the very least, will you arbitrate our meeting? I know I will not be able to meet alone with her, but I am not so certain Celestia or Luna will be as quick to jump to my defense as you will.”

“I don’t have magic and I have no defense against it. I don’t know how strong a mage Cadance is, but if she starts using magic against you, I’ll have to put her down the hard way. And if she starts using magic against me, we’re both fucked.”

“Do you really think she would do that?”

“On the way out of the caverns, we ran into a batch of that damnable song magic. She was singing about saving her Shining Armor the entire time. I’m pretty sure she’s more than a bit peeved at you. I don’t know if she would resort to attacking you, but she might goad you into attacking her so you’ll get banished.”

“I am a queen, Navarone. I have been queen for a long time. I will freely admit that I am arrogant. But I do have patience and I do have intelligence; she will not anger me enough for me to strike her.” She gave another smile. “Maybe you could learn from me.”

“I told you to stop. You didn’t. You are lucky all you got out of that was a bruised ego; I’ve killed for less.” I still regret what I did to Calix, sometimes.

“And punching me in the face?”

I shrugged. “We all need a few knocks in the pride sometimes.”

“Today I was captured by my prey and locked in a bubble in front of my entire army. Was that not enough damage to my pride for you?”

“Well, I also hadn’t reached my quota for punching things in the face today. You put me at three.”

“And the other two?”

“Two of the three bridesmaids guarding the entrance to the mines. It had been a while since I last got to punch a pony. It felt good.”

“You just like beating up mares, don’t you?”

“After what a few of them have done to me, I think it’s only fair.”

“Ah yes, I remember your friend, Kat. I didn’t get much of what she did, but oh, her well was deep.”

“She was the most physically painful, but not the worst. No, the worst was when two of my friends betrayed me.”

Her lips pulled back in an evil smile. “Can I have a taste?”

I shook my head. “No. I’m saving that pain. I’m keeping it there to remind me why I never trust. You can take anything else from me, but I need to keep that.” Not one hundred percent true, but I was still telling lies to get her to trust me at that point.

She nodded, letting her smile drop. “I understand that, Navarone. I have memories of my own that I keep. Though I don’t suppose you could let me have at least a small snack? I will need to sleep soon, but I don’t like going to bed on an empty stomach.”

“And your maid?”

“She could survive on the morsels I give her. But she has earned a bit of favor for volunteering to be with me in this prison. If you wouldn’t mind, I would ask that you feed her as well, though you’ll find her tastes a bit different from mine.” I felt a strange pulse in my mind. A second later, the door opened. “Enter, Doppel. Our guest has promised to feed us before he leaves.” Her eyes turned back to me. “If you desire to leave, of course. You are… welcome to stay.”

“Several spells have been put over me. One of them disables my ability to sleep in spring and summer. We can have our fun later, though, if you are still interested.”

She smirked. “As long as you are better than that fool Shining Armor. Now sit still. This won’t hurt as long as you don’t fight it.” She stood up and walked over to me as Doppel gently shut the door behind her. Chrysalis lowered her horn to my head and I saw it glow green.

“So what are you in the mood for?” I asked conversationally, letting my mind empty a bit so that everything was hidden.

“You know I can break through your defenses and take what I want.”

“I want you to ask. Surely you can spare that nicety.”

“Hm. I’ve tasted your love and your sorrow. I still have bad memories about anger and hate. What about… happiness?”

My eyes glazed over and I thought back. That’ll do. I pulled that memory forth for her and let the warmth spread.

“Not as concentrated as the sorrow… But yes, it is quite tasty.” After a moment, she pulled back. “Doppel, step up.” She came forth with a massive grin on her face. “Navarone, before I let her at you, there is something I should tell you about changelings: We all have our certain tastes. Most of us prefer love, but a few of us have other tastes. We can, of course, take any emotion, but surely as a creature with refined tastes, you know what it is like to survive on something you don’t like. Doppel here prefers lust.”

Back up. I looked at Doppel. “Why the hell did you disguise as my daughter?”

Chrysalis answered, “She can eat love too. It still tastes good for those that have other preferences.”

Doppel looked at me with wide eyes. “Lust is so much more fun when taken fresh,” she whispered. “I don’t suppose…” Her eyes flicked to my pants.

“No. You will be fine with my memories.”

Doppel sighed and stepped closer. Her small horn gently touched me. I smiled, letting my mind clear. “Should I make her work for it, Chrysalis?”

“I do not want to be here all night, Navarone. Your mind is difficult to traverse even when you give me what I want; there is no order and it is all chaotic. If you want her to find what she is looking for, we will be here until the sun rises.”

“I can do it!” Doppel said, sounding a bit hurt.

“I agree with the queen,” I said. “I don’t feel like being in this position for hours. Here.” I thought of Kumani. “That should be recent enough for you.”

I saw Doppel’s shape shift as I felt a trickle leave my mind. I leaned back and saw that she was now Kumani. “I quite like this form,” she said, stretching her body. “Lithe. Quick. Strong. Strong enough to…” She looked down at me and giggled.

I stood. “I believe that is my cue to leave. If you need me for anything, well… Good luck finding me, actually. My room is next to yours, but I don’t sleep. If you actually need me, Celestia or Luna can easily find me.”

“Until tomorrow then, Navarone.” Chrysalis said. “It has been… nice, talking to someone like you.”

“Any time, Chrysalis.” I let myself out, feeling Doppel’s eyes on me the entire trek to the door.

The trek back to my room was, as ever, short. I found Fluttershy inside, pacing. I walked in and set my sword down. “I thought you were going to bed.”

She looked up at me. “Did you hurt her?” Her voice had a bit of an edge to it.

“Why would I hurt her? Chrysalis is too sweet to ever do anything to anger me.”

Her eyes went wide. “She brainwashed you too!” She looked ready to fly out the window.

“No she didn’t. That was a joke. She apologized for angering me.” Fluttershy slumped a bit. “And I think she wanted to apologize to you as well, for threatening you. But she’s going to bed right now, I believe, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.” I looked her up and down. “You’re pretty weak and helpless, right? Would you be interested in helping us with an experiment?”

“What… kind of experiment?”

“We want to test a love poison with Chrysalis, to see if we can use that to keep her people fed. If we use people that are easier to restrain, the test will be easier.”

“I… I don’t know about that, Nav. It sounds… dangerous.”

I shrugged. “You don’t have to. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find… ‘volunteers.’”

“That sounds… ominous, Nav. You won’t hurt anypony, will you?”

“Well, those under the effects of love poison supposedly forget what happened to them while they were out. So it wouldn’t be that hard to find two servants or something and just slip them the poison. They would never know.”

“That’s evil, Nav!”

“You say that like I should care. I mean, you read my journals. Do you honestly think that something like this isn’t in keeping with something I would do?”

“But… you’re supposed to be getting better! I thought you said Taya was helping you!”

“Just because I’m slowly remembering how to love doesn’t mean I’m going to automatically turn into a good person. The darkness on my soul has etched itself in, now, and I believe it will always be there. It sucks, too; that’s why I’m getting punished by getting knighted.”

“Well, I hope you learned your lesson.”

“Yeah, don’t do favors for princesses. They’ll punish you for it.” She muttered something that it’s probably best I didn’t hear. “You need to go to bed, Fluttershy. You’re getting cranky.”

She gave me a stern look. “And you need to grow a heart, Nav.” With that, she trotted over to the door and left.

I’m a really bad influence on her.

I went back over to the window and looked out. Night had fully fallen. Well, what now? Taya was probably with Twilight, wherever they were. Luna was apparently doing princess things. Everyone else was probably sleeping.

I started searching my room. I found what I was looking for and smiled.

I’ve been meaning to do this for way too long. I started plagiarizing a novel from home. I didn’t remember it perfectly, but when I read books, I tend to remember the plot. I figured I could become a writer and show these ponies some real fiction books, instead of the crap like ‘Daring Do’ that they read.

I smiled grimly and set aside the first paper. On second thought, starting straight at House of Leaves is a bad idea. Romeo and Juliet will be fine, but not even I can capture Shakespeare perfectly.

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