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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15. Chapter Twelve—Aftermath Part 1

A day later, I woke up to pain, looked around, saw Rainbow Dash’s worried face looking back at me, weakly gave her the finger, and passed out again.

 

A few hours later, I woke up feeling a hell of a lot better. Apparently my visitor of the hour was Pinkie Pie. The story of what happened was related to me, but since I’m writing this while still in a bit of pain, I’ll skip the added details of Pinkie’s silliness and relate it directly.

The dingonek fucking wrecked my shit for a few seconds before Fluttershy stepped in and used her freaky animal powers to pacify it, apparently staring it down as she stood over my nearly lifeless body until Luna recovered and could murder the shit out of the thing and pump enough magic into me to keep me alive.

Since she wasn’t as good at healing as her sister, Dash immediately started hunting for Celestia while Luna tried to keep me alive. Thankfully, Fluttershy’s courage stepped in fast enough for me to not need the really strong magic, so Celestia just did enough to set me on the track to heal in a few days to avoid possible side-effects.

The first thing I did upon getting out of the hospital was hugging Fluttershy. She was for some reason surprised by that, so her wings flared before she could control them.

Right after I hugged Fluttershy and then left for home, I got ambushed by a speeding Rainbow Dash in a flying glomp attack that almost sent me back to the hospital, and definitely ended in us both in the dirt. Amidst profuse apologies and wailed could-have-beens, she explained what the fuck she was thinking. Apparently, she was just trying to do something really impressive for the Wonderbolts to see.

I should have been angry about that… But I’m a sucker for teary-eyed faces, sadly. “Don’t worry about it, Dash. You crashed into a princess in front of your heroes and almost got me eaten. I don’t think it can get more embarrassing than that.”

And just when I thought I was going to be able to be on my feet for a while, I was thrown off them again by another flying hug tackle. Curse my forgiveness. And curse really bony ponies. At least my earlier prediction about pony-glomps was proven false: No bones were broken.

I was expecting Luna to come by that night to see me, but she never showed up. It was probably for the best, because I had no idea how to handle her apparent feelings for me. And I needed my sleep anyway, since healing apparently takes a lot out of a guy.

However, the next day, an invitation to the royal palace arrived via Spike. I was still asleep at the time and fighting my way through one hell of a strange dream. I wasn’t allowed to suffer its completion, though, since Twilight took it upon herself to wake me when the letter arrived.

“Look,” I yawned, blinking at her from my bed. “I know this is probably important or something, but did it really require waking me up?”

“It’s a letter from the princess to you! Of course it’s important!”

“First off, which princess? Second, couldn’t you have just read it and then responded how you thought I would have? Though, thinking about it, that might well get me put to death.”

“It’s from Princess Celestia. And I did read it, but only because I automatically assumed it would be to me and thus didn’t look at the outside before opening it.”

“Where I come from, that’s a felony. What did it say? Do I get some money for almost dying?”

“This is no time for joking! I have to get you ready for a trip to Canterlot!”

“...What? When?”

“Tomorrow!”

“Oh, cool. I can go back to sleep.” I started to lay back down, but her magic stopped me.

“There’s no time for that! Your transportation arrives tomorrow and I have to teach you how to act around Princess Celestia!”

“I’ve already met her, though. She’s a pretty cool chick. I don’t need to change anything.”

“You are not going to treat the Princess Celestia casually! She’s a princess and my mentor and you should treat her with respect and honor!”

“Eh, whatever. Either way, it means some awesome free food. Who else is going?”

“Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, according to the letter. I think the princess wanted to thank them for helping you. After all, you are an endangered species.”

“Wish that damn monster would have thought about that before attacking me... And I’m pretty sure Fluttershy would be very averse to the attention. Think we could tell the princess to chill on the thanks? I mean, I already talked to them both.”

“I’m afraid not,” she said, shaking her head. “Fluttershy will just have to fight her fear for a day.”

“Whatever. So we’re leaving tomorrow. And are you going?”

“I can’t go. Princess Celestia sent another letter asking me to work on a special project for her.”

“Man, Celestia’s really weird. But again, whatever. Though I don’t really know why she even wants to thank Fluttershy and Dash. They saved me, not her.”

“It’s to show everypony that they care, of course.”

Sounded silly to me, but there’s no real fighting it. And there’s no fighting Twilight when she drags you out of bed with magic, either.

When I showed the letter to Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, they both acted about as I expected them to: Fluttershy was flustered and denying the fact that she deserved any honor and Rainbow Dash was pumped up for all of about five seconds before she realized that she almost got me killed and was going to get thanked for it.

So it was a somewhat morose group that greeted the chariot that arrived the next day. Why we really needed a chariot was beyond me, but I suppose it was better than flying in ourselves.

At least Fluttershy perked up slightly when she realized that she would probably have the chance to visit the gardens and some animals. Though whether or not they’d actually be happy to see her, I don’t know.

The fanfare of our entering the city was nonexistent. The only one to even greet us was the servant waiting for us at the chariot pool, who started leading us into the palace proper.

We were quickly ushered into a familiar sitting room. This time, it had an actual chair designed for me in it. Or hell, designed for any biped. There were still a few sofas and a few bookcases lining the walls. The massive window still covered the back wall, looking into some gardens. We were on the first floor.

I was just looking out the window and wondering if it was large enough for me to get out of when Princess Celestia unceremoniously walked in. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy stopped their little conversation about that bitch Philomena and bowed. I didn’t notice her step in, and asked without looking, “Rainbow Dash, you think I could get out this window without anyone noticing?”

Celestia answered for her: “Why, Navarone? Are you so eager to escape from me?”

As soon as I heard her voice, I turned around so quickly that I almost fell down. “Oh, uh, no!” I tried to remember what was outside the window, and recalled it was a garden of some kind. “I just wanted a closer look at some of the plants outside…” It was a feeble excuse, and the weak tone of voice I had when saying it pretty much gave me away, but she didn’t comment on it.

She turned to Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. “If you want to see Philomena, I think she’s in the aviary. I could have somepony take you there, if you want to go. I know she still thinks of you, Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy looked down and answered, “Oh, um, that would be… nice. If it’s okay with you, I mean.” Hm, I can see where this is going. I started thinking about that window again, wondering if I could maybe get through it before she managed to send Rainbow Dash away.

Thankfully, though, Rainbow Dash seemed to realize what was going on. When Celestia asked if she wanted to go with Fluttershy, she was politely told no. I smiled to myself, before Celestia managed to ruin that. “I think I heard the Wonderbolts were practicing around that area today. You might run into a few of them if you go. But if you’re sure…” Before she could even finish her sentence, Rainbow Dash was gone. Dammit.

“You know,” I said, “that does sound interesting. I think I’ll follow them…”

“Nonsense!” I was told. “Don’t you want to spend some time with your friend?”

Here’s hoping she doesn’t want to crucify me for Luna’s crush. “I suppose I don’t mind. Though you know, those two are also my friends.”

“True. Let’s talk about your hunting trip with my sister, shall we?” Uh oh.

“...What about it?” I warily asked, feeling myself unconsciously backing against the wall.

“Relax, Nav,” she said, walking over to a couch and lying across it. “Relax and sit. We’re friends, aren’t we? There’s no need to be nervous.”

I slowly walked to the chair, fearing what might soon happen. “Not much happened on the trip,” I slowly said, sinking into the chair and wincing as my wings got caught. “Why uh… why do you ask?”

“I’m interested,” she said, smiling in an attempt to put me at ease. “Please, go into some details. What happened? What all did you see in that dark forest?”

“Look, can we drop the pretenses here? If you’re angry or disappointed, go ahead and say it. Because if you’re putting on this act to be condescending, I’m going to be really, really pissed.”

She blinked in surprise a few times. “You… are not a pony,” she finally said.

“Really? And here I was thinking these things at the end of my arms were just multi-hooves.”

“I’m very used to having to… beat around the bush, so to say, with my little ponies. Some of them are so very fragile, after all. And some seem incapable of learning unless I drag them around, so I’ve taken to… Well, that’s not important. Yes, Navarone, I am disappointed. But not in you. I understand that you have needs that must be met, though you could very easily fulfill them in ways other than killing animals. But please, tell me about the hunting trip. It is important.”

What she said didn’t really make me feel any better, but I told her the short story anyway. Since Luna was getting somewhat scarily close, I made sure to tell Celestia about her eating meat, in the hopes that Celestia might put a limit on how much time Luna could spend with me. Yes, Luna was a good and useful friend and I did enjoy spending time with her, but I didn’t want a deeper relationship with her.

“Interesting,” she said when I finished. “Do you think the monster you ran into is the same one that attacked you?”

“No clue. For some reason, it actually looked confused right before it mauled me. Speaking of which, thanks for healing me. I assume you’re the reason I don’t have scars?”

“Yes, that was me,” she absentmindedly said, rubbing a hoof against her chin in thought. “I will have to research some things,” she finally said with a nod. “Anyway, Luna ate meat?”

“Yeah. And she also told me not to tell you, so don’t tell her I did. She said a little wouldn’t kill her and that she liked it, so I figured it wasn’t a problem.”

“It’s certainly not the strangest thing she’s done. Has she done anything else that you would find strange?”

“...What’s going on?” I asked. “Is she okay?”

“Yes, she’s just fine. But do you remember how she acted during the festival towards me? She was somewhat cold and I would like to know if I’ve done something to upset her.”

I shrugged and said, “As far as I know, you haven’t. The only negative comment she made about you is that you aren’t in the habit of explaining things to her. You tell her that things have changed, but not why, and because of that she’s reluctant to accept things.”

“I see. I will have to dedicate a day to explaining things to her, then. Though that doesn’t explain why she was so seemingly hostile during the festival.”

“Can’t help you,” I said. “And I’m not going to spy on her, either.”

“Nor would I ask you to. You’re plenty forthcoming enough as it is. But what of her attitude toward you? Has it changed in any way?”

Oh man. How much should I trust her with?

“By your hesitation, I would guess yes,” she said. “Is she cold towards you as well?”

“...No. Try not to take this the wrong way and please don’t incinerate me, but I think your sister has a crush on me.”

She smiled and chuckled happily before saying, “Why would I ever want to hurt you over that, Nav? That seems wonderful!”

“If you think so, you’re free to seduce her yourself. She’s a good friend, but that’s all she is.”

“...Oh.”

“Yeah. She started coming onto me at the Gala and I thought nothing of it, since we were just pretending to be on a date. She explained it away as normal behavior. Then she practically admitted it at the festival and was inches away from kissing me when we were thankfully interrupted.”

“Hm. Is there any reason in particular that you aren’t interested?”

“Yeah. She’s a fucking horse. I think we’ve been over this. I can’t spend eighteen years treating and seeing horses like big dumb animals and then just be expected to fall in love with them. Especially since I used to help on a farm and had to take care of them sometimes.”

“Is that truly the only thing holding you back from liking her as well?”

“...I don’t know. I mean, she really scares me in some ways. Like, I know I’m a relatively unpleasant person, especially compared to most ponies. But Luna is straight up morbid, bordering on scary. No respect for the dead, not much for the living, and still occasionally treats even me like a servant. I don’t know, maybe if I could look past the horse thing, it could work. But that, combined with the rest? No.”

“I see… And how were you planning on handling this?”

“Ignoring the issue and hoping it goes away.”

She blinked in surprise. “That… doesn’t seem like the best of ideas.”

“Well, I’m worried about telling her that I’m not interested. I honestly don’t think she has any other friends and I’m probably the first guy she’s had a crush on in over a thousand years. If I shoot her down now, there’s no telling what could happen.”

“...True. It could lead to a resurgence of Nightmare Moon.” My eyes widened slightly. I didn’t even think about that! “I believe I need to have a conversation with her. I won’t break your trust, so hopefully she won’t be angry with you. It will have to wait for some time after she wakes up, though. I fear I have some things to take care of after we speak.”

“All I have to do is evade the issue for a little while if she tries talking to me. Simple enough.”

“She’ll probably be excited enough to see you well again. After what happened, I have to say that you’re lucky to be alive.”

“Less luck and more Fluttershy being awesome. Definitely happy she was nearby, especially after Luna for some reason decided to attack the thing with her hooves instead of her magic.”

“Luck or not, it’s good you’re safe. I know I would certainly miss my good friend.”

Oh, now I’m a good friend? I’m starting to think the royalty here is more lonely than they let on. “Not entirely certain everyone would agree with you, there.” That includes me. “But it’s probably for the best. And at least I didn’t lose everything.”

“Everypony will come around in time,” she said. “I know the ponies in Ponyville are getting more accustomed to you. But they aren’t the only ones that need to grow used to things. How are your wings?”

“Still annoying as all fucking hell. But I’m getting more used to them. I’ve upgraded from bitching about them to whoever will listen to burning resentment.” Though that had more to do with a lot of the ponies getting tired of hearing it than me actually getting used to them.

“That’s good to hear. Do you have any new friends?”

“Nope. Doing my best to avoid people does that.”

She sighed, shaking her head. “You’re hardly going to befriend anypony if you avoid them, Nav.”

“Didn’t you just say a few minutes ago that I wasn’t a pony? I have less need of friends.”

She smiled and said, “You know, I wouldn’t mind getting a few more friendship reports every week. Would you like to start sending me some?”

“You know, I heard the griffin kingdom is really nice. I bet I could make a good living there.”

“Is the idea truly so bad that you would leave the country entirely?”

“Yes. The entire idea of ‘friendship reports’ hurts me a little on the inside. It’s like the ultimate condescension and insult all in one, asking someone to do something like that. To Twilight and her friends, who are occasionally criminally retarded, I can understand. But to someone like me, who actually has common sense? I’d be pissed if I had to do shit like that.”

“And yet, it sounds like you would need them most of all.”

“Oh, I know perfectly well how to make friends. I just don’t want any.”

She smirked and said, “Would you like to make a bet, then?”

“Not interested.”

“Oh, but you didn’t even hear the terms!”

“The terms were going to be something like, make a friend in a week or I have to start sending you reports. Am I close?”

“...Yes. So are you interested?”

“Not even a little. I don’t even get anything out of it.”

“I could make it more interesting!”

“Absolutely nothing you could offer me would be worth the absolute misery I would go through every time I would have to write a letter, on the off chance that I lost.” Unless maybe it was a swift bullet to the back of the head instead of writing a letter. “So not interested.”

“I hardly find how it would be insulting. It’s done nothing but good for Twilight and her friends!”

“Where I’m from, we had a thing called cartoons that taught us absolutely everything I’ve ever seen in one of her reports. I already know all there is to know. I just don’t want to apply it. And hell, I’ve given you one of those shitty reports in person once. Do you really want to start getting sarcastic and dark letters every week that make fun of the entire idea?”

“Yes, actually. That sounds quite enjoyable. It would be an interesting contrast from the letters I usually get from Twilight and her friends.”

“Too bad.”

“Oh, very well…” she sighed, slouching slightly. “It truly is disappointing that you’re so recalcitrant about this…”

“I’m used to being a disappointment. Now can we change the subject?”

“I suppose.” She perked up slightly, her smile returning. “Would you like to do me a favor?”

“Depends on the favor.”

“Well, you keep mentioning that you took care of… horses back on your world. Did that include more personal care of them?”

“You name it, I’ve probably done it at least once. I didn’t deal with them often, thank God, but my grandparents liked making sure I knew how to do everything important.”

“Including… brushing them?”

“Yes?”

“Well… I haven’t had somepony else brush me in ages. It always seemed inappropriate to ask a servant or guard to do it and it’s rare that I actually find a friend that’s done it before…”

“And that doesn’t seem… I don’t know, weird to you or anything? I mean, that’s treating you like an animal. Do you really want that?”

“Nav, I know you pet some of the other ponies without even thinking about it. And you give out belly rubs. You obviously don’t have a problem with it. What’s different with me?”

“Maybe the fact that you actually remind me a lot more of the horses I used to take care of than any of the others? You’re about their size.”

“Well, I don’t have a problem with it. If you don’t want to, I won’t press the issue.”

“It’s not that I mind. It’s just… I don’t know, weird. If you really want to, I guess I can. Just don’t tell anyone else so they don’t think to ask.”

“Wonderful!” she happily said, hopping up, her horn glowing. Seconds later, a large fur brush appeared in the air next to her. It floated over to me and I stood to take it.

“If you start moaning, I’m going to stop,” I said, walking over to her.

“Then be careful around my wings,” she said. “Oh, and try not to tell anypony about this. I fear it might cause quite a stir and some would get the wrong impressions.”

“Fine by me,” I answered, taking the brush and beginning. She sighed in contentment. “So, any new problems you want to discuss?” I asked. Might as well talk, try to get this to go by faster. God, these ponies are fucking weird.

“Oh, a few…” And so we gossiped as I treated a very sapient creature like a common animal.

How is this my life?

About half an hour or so later, she was just vocalizing a familiar song while I ran a longer brush through her freaky moving hair stuff, whatever it was.

So that’s the sight Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash saw when they walked in on us. Celestia immediately moved away, barely giving them a chance to see what was going on. For my part, I surreptitiously slid the brush into a pocket, hoping neither would notice.

Fluttershy was thanking the servant that guided them in when Rainbow Dash said, “There sure weren’t any Wonderbolts out there. I just spent a few hours looking at stupid birds.”

Is she really just going to ignore it? After a second of thought, I blinked. Oh right. They’re ponies. If they didn’t explicitly see something, it didn’t happen. Naive as all hell.

“Oh, I know!” Fluttershy said. “It was wonderful! There were so many different types there, more than I’ve ever seen!”

Fluttershy and a slightly blushed Celestia moved off to one side of the room to discuss birds, leaving me and Rainbow Dash alone. Normally Fluttershy is… well, shy, but when you get her talking about animals it is sometimes hard to shut her up. “You know, Navarone, it’s not too late for us to sneak away. I’m pretty fast, even with you slowing me down. They probably wouldn’t notice us gone until we were already home.”

I grimaced at the thought of flying that far. “Nope. I fear we’re stuck here, at least for the time being. We’re in the palace as royal guests, so if nothing else we’ll be treated very well.”

“You and Fluttershy, maybe. I think some of the servants here might be upset with me for a little stunt I pulled back during the Gala a little while back.”

“Yes, I’ve heard tales of that. Still, the worst you’ll have to deal with is a drafty room and ratty bedsheets. And we’ll probably be berthed near each other, so if all else fails you can just go bunk with Fluttershy.”

“What’s that about being birthed? And what makes you think I wouldn’t rather sleep in your bed?”

I raised an eyebrow at that. “Berthing—that’s with an e, not an i—is a naval term for bunk, or bed. And I figure Fluttershy would probably be a lot warmer than I am; she’s considerably more furry, if nothing else.” Yes, I did learn some interesting things from Big Macintosh, but I didn’t learn any names. She might have a crush on Fluttershy or she might not. Either way, I figured she’d be quicker to share her bed than mine.

“You’re right. You’re too bony to sleep with, anyway.” I decided not to go poking my head in doors late at night while I was here.

The lull in our conversation coincided with a lull in the other conversation in the room, and Celestia quickly took steps to get out of talking about more birds: “Would you all like to see more of Canterlot? I can arrange a tour. Sadly, I can’t spend any more time today with you, as I have pressing matters elsewhere to take care of.”

We decided to go on the tour, lacking much else to do. All three of us are famous for some reason or another, apparently. Rainbow Dash is relatively famous for winning some competition a little while ago in Cloudsdale and being the only person to pull off a Sonic Rainboom—basically, she broke the sound barrier and because of the magic here, that released a massive rainbow or something like that.

Fluttershy was apparently a famous model at some point in her life, if you can imagine that. I’m not going to pretend to be a judge of appearances for ponies, so I couldn’t tell you how she looked, but I know she was graceful enough for it.

And me? Well, I draw glances wherever I go, just by being me. It’s like a white guy walking into a black club: The DJ’s disk scratches, the music cuts off, all the conversations die off, and everyone just looks up at you. Put short, it’s awkward. Ponyville had at least gotten used to me, but this place hadn’t had the dubious honor of my presence for as long.

Thankfully, the ponies in Canterlot have a lot more tact than the down-to-earth ‘country ponies’ of Ponyville. While they did stare, they didn’t rush their children inside at the first sight of me or whisper rude comments that I could half hear. That might have had something to do with the small royal guard squad we had with us, though.

It was a nice city, but I was too busy making faces at some of the little colts that were following us to pay much attention. As soon as one got the courage to get close to us, I’d turn around and make a scary face or something and they’d run away again, only to repeat the process.

Rainbow Dash thought it was funny, while Fluttershy was doing her best to pretend to not be a part of our group. The royal guards were all stony faced. I managed to get one to smirk with a particularly off-color joke that I won’t reprint here, but one of his partners hit him and he went back to stoniness.

During that little episode of making the guard smile, I didn’t notice one of the colts getting closer until he asked me a question. “Mister, what are you?”

I started, surprised. Then I smiled. “I’m a monster.”

“What kind of monster?”

“The kind that eats kids that ask questions.”

“Good thing there aren’t any goats around, then.” What the… oh yeah.

“I don’t stop at lamb chops. Sometimes I like to nibble at ponies that ask too many questions as well.”

That got his attention, but he quickly responded, “I don’t think you’d have a royal escort and two pretty mares with you if that was true.” Rainbow Dash cracked up at being called pretty, while Fluttershy just blushed. Suave. This will be fun.

“Maybe these two are just my tribute, and the royal guards are here to see me out of town so that I don’t nab anyone else on the way.”

“If that’s the case, then why should I fear you? They’ll just protect me if you try to eat me!”

“You’re assuming they’ll care. Who knows? They might think it’s a good idea to set an example of those that ask too many questions.”

“Would you be willing to risk that?”

I put on an evil smile, making sure my canines were visible. “The better question is, would you?”

That shut him up for a minute, but he just started right back at it. “I don’t think you’re going to eat those two.”

“Yeah. They’re too skinny. I mean, look at this one!” I poked Rainbow Dash. “Flesh and bone. No meat on there. The other one, though, she might be tender enough.” I patted Fluttershy on the side. All I got for my efforts were one mean look, one scared look, and another hidden smile from one of the guards.

“No, I mean, they’re not trying to escape! If you were about to eat me, I think I’d be running away.”

“Maybe they don’t want to escape. Have you ever tried being eaten? It might be really fun!”

“It doesn’t sound like much fun.”

“I bet both of these two would disagree if I started eating them out.” Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash both kicked me and all the guards burst out laughing. The kid looked completely confused.

Rainbow Dash finally decided to step in. “First things first, look at who’s calling who flesh and bone! You barely even have any skin on you! I know, because I was there when that scaley thing thought you were dinner! And second off, he’s a human. They’re a species of mostly jerks that live in another dimension. And third, he doesn’t eat ponies. He only eats colts. So beat it, before he decides he’s hungry and grabs you.”

With that, and an even more confused look on his face, he fled.

Rainbow Dash looked at me, and just said, “Humans are so weird.” I can’t really deny that, but I think the same could be said about ponies.

The rest of the city was nice. There were plenty of monuments detailing events that I had no clue about, so I guess it’s kind of like what visiting DC is like for most Americans.

The three of us ate dinner with the princesses. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy made sure to snag the seats next to Celestia, showing clear favoritism. Thankfully, Luna behaved, meaning I didn’t have any problem sitting next to her.

Not so thankfully, she dragged me off to the palace gardens after we finished. “Scaring foals is not a good way to make friends, you know,” she said.

Keep her occupied. Don’t give her hints. Be ready to run. Let’s do this. “Yeah, but it sure is fun.”

“From what I heard, though, you didn’t so much scare him as confuse the poor colt. I think he’ll be having an awkward conversation with his parents soon.”

“We all gotta learn stuff like that at some time. I don’t know where you heard about that anyway.”

“I have my sources.” Maybe she spoke to the guards? Or worse, maybe she’s watching me. As though reading my thoughts, she said, “It’s amazing what the guards talk about, sometimes. It appears as though you made quite an impression on them.”

“Well, from the looks of them, it takes something special to get them to laugh like that.”

“Not just that, though. Apparently you were closeted away with my sister again for some time. It’s rare that they leave her alone for so long, let alone twice with the same po—person. I’m somewhat curious as to what she had to do to get them to leave her in peace for so long.”

“What can I say? I’m a disarming kinda guy.”

“I’m sure,” she said in a very dry tone. “What did you two talk about?”

Trap question. It could be a simple question, small talk. Or it could be an attempt to see if we’re talking behind her back.

I decided on an easy answer. “This and that. She doesn’t have many people to talk to and have a conversation with, so that’s what we did.” A true answer, and it opens her up. If she pushes for more, I know something is up. And this way, I look innocent in that I didn’t understand the true purpose of her asking.

“You weren’t saying anything bad about me, I hope.”

“Why lie?” She smiled. My answer could mean a lot, but when a woman has the option of taking something in a way that makes them feel better about themselves, I’ve found, they’ll take it that way. Unless the other option is an insult, in which case they’ll always choose the option that makes the guy out to be a villain.

“Ever the charmer, I see,” she said sarcastically.

“I’m a hopeless romantic, what can I say?” I answered with just as much sarcasm, not quite liking where this was going.

“One of these days, your tongue is going to get you into trouble.”

“That’s why I’m friends with two princesses. They usually have some good sway in whose tongue gets cut off and when.”

“And what if the ponies you get into trouble with are those two princesses?” she asked, lifting an eyebrow.

“I’ll play them off each other and end up scott free while they bicker and fight.”

She snorted and said, “I’ll have to remember that.”

“Besides, surely you wouldn’t want me to lose my tongue. I make much nicer sounds with it than I would without it.”

“I don’t know, all mares like stallions that listen. And without a tongue, you’d be doing a lot less talking and a lot more listening.” Note to self: Talk a lot more often.

“I’ve also heard all girls like a guy that can make them laugh. It would be a lot harder to do without a tongue.”

“We can get you a silly hat,” she answered with a smirk.

“My lady,” I said, feigning shock, “I am no mere jester!”

“We can teach you to play an instrument, so you can serenade us while we talk to the stallions that don’t make us mad enough to cut off their tongues.”

“If I had to listen to a man that boring, I’d rather beat myself to death with the instrument than play it,” I deadpanned.

“We can remove your ears, as well.” This is getting a little morbid.

“Ah, but then I won’t be able to take orders, or tell if I hit a false note. I could play terribly and never hear the order to stop.” She grimaced at that, and I could well agree. If nothing else, it would be a nice revenge.

“Yes, you might drive away the other stallions.”

“I’d be doing you a favor, I believe. Anyone worth listening to will probably manage to infuriate you at least once.”

“That reminds me, you never did thank me.”

“What, for trying to get me killed?” I shot back. After all, you could have killed that thing instantly instead of trying to fight it with hooves.

She looked unduly alarmed at that. “What do you mean? I tried to save you!”

“Yeah, and it was your fault I was in that position at all!”

“How did you… I didn’t know Dash was going to do that! I was supposed to be the pony to save you!”

“…Wait, what?”

“…Um. What did you mean by, it was my fault?” Uh...

I very slowly said, “You could have used magic to kill it instantly… What did you mean?”

She turned bright red, enough so that I was able to tell she was blushing even though it was getting dark out. Instead of answering, though, her horn lit up and she instantly teleported off. Well, at least I’ll have something to talk to Celestia about the next time I see her.

On that note, I decided it would be best if I went to sleep, so I went on to bed. Or I should say, I went to my room, only to find my bed being occupied by a very flustered Fluttershy.

“I thought this was my room,” I said, hastily jumping off of a somewhat lumpy Fluttershy; I didn’t turn any lights on when I entered and just went straight to the bed.

“It is? Rainbow Dash came into my room early in the night, saying her room was cold. She ended up taking over most of the bed and she was really hoovesy, so I came here since I thought it was empty… If… If that’s a problem, I can go find another one…”

“Nah. I’ll just go stay in her room. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much anyway.”

Instead of trying to sleep, I paced back and forth across the floor of Rainbow Dash’s room, trying to figure out what Luna meant. It’s not like she could have instigated an animal attack, right? Although… the thing came charging right at me. It completely skipped the hoedown and ignored Luna even as she attacked it.

Could she have actually been the cause? After thinking for a few seconds, I started putting pieces together. That leaf in her hair, the one from the Everfree. What Celestia said about Luna trying to impress someone. And Luna made it pretty obvious how she felt… Maybe she really was trying to impress me. Why the fuck would she do that? And better yet, why would she try doing it like that, of all ways?

I shuddered as a brisk spring wind blew through the window, shaking me from my deep thoughts. I can tell why Rainbow Dash left the room afte—Wait. The inner FPS gamer in me had noticed all the normal sounds of the palace at night, and something new was added to them. I could hear a slight… flapping, like a bird trying to escape a cage.

I walked over to where I left a lit candle and lifted it up, trying to get a better look but dreading what I would find. In its small, flickering light, I beheld a half-moth half-something all-monster thing that looked a lot more poisonous than I had poison resistance. I’m not going to lie or sugar coat it: I fucking screamed and booked it. Pulling out my knife didn’t even cross my mind. Thankfully, I managed to not drop the candle, so the flame was extinguished in my mad flight.

I managed to rip the door open, almost off its hinges, and I probably slammed it so loudly that I woke half the palace. I was scrabbling on the door for locks when a guard came up behind me, put his hoof on my shoulder, and almost received a bloody nose for the trouble. It was one of Luna’s night guards.

“What’s going on?” he asked me.

“Big... moth… THING!” I yelled, pointing to the door.

He shouldered me aside and slowly pushed the door open. Sure enough, the very big moth thing was definitely still there. The door was quickly slammed shut again, with two of us now scrambling for a lock. Some guard he is.

We were at it until more guards were called and they thought there were enough to take on whatever the hell that thing was. And of course, when they opened the door again, the beast was gone, probably having flown back into the night.

“Shit,” I said, “I thought this place was supposed to be a nexus of happiness and love. What the dick was that?” At least I knew I wasn’t crazy, since there was at least one guard that saw the damn thing.

“Navarone, why are you trying to wake my castle?” a calm voice asked. Celestia had arrived, to her usual fanfare of everyone bowing in her direction. “I hope nothing is terribly amiss.” I quickly noticed something… off about her appearance.

“Nah, nothing too bad. Just some giant moth thing hovering in my room, possibly trying to murder me.”

“Your room is down the hall. I believe that is Rainbow Dash’s room. Why are you outside of it and panicking instead of outside of your room and panicking?”

“Rainbow got cold and went to Fluttershy’s room to sleep. Rainbow isn’t much of a bed fellow and Fluttershy isn’t much for pointing things like that out, so she went to my room to sleep. I wasn’t going to sleep that much anyway, so I went to Rainbow Dash’s room since it was empty and I needed to think. And then some big thing flew in the window with a possibly murderous intent.”

“You said it was a moth. How do you know it wasn’t just drawn to a light?”

“All I had in there was a barely flickering candle. There are tons of brighter things out there. Whatever the beast had in mind, natural moth-like tendencies towards light were not involved.”

“Did anypony else see it?”

“Yeah. A night guard came rushing when I shouted.” I looked around for the fellow, but the excitement, it seemed, had been too much for him for he was nowhere to be seen. “Odd, he was just here. Anyone see one of Luna’s guards walk away?”

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