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.


32. Chapter Twenty-Six—The long way home

We left two days after the trial. I gave Kat warning, and her going away gift was quite worth the time it took to find her.

The morning we left was clear, dry, and cool. I had Taya bundled up in a blanket in my arms, my clothes and weapons strapped to various places around my body. The guards carried a bit of supplies on their backs.

We made it to Alexandria in three days, pushing ourselves pretty hard. We saw a few caravans and wandering desert groups staring up at us in wonder, but we didn’t run into any on the ground. Every time we got down, Taya was very happy to get her hooves on the ground. I don’t think she minded flying, but she definitely preferred walking.

When we got to the town, we got rooms at the Salted Mare. The guards wanted to rest a day or two before heading back, and that inn was the friendliest—and cheapest—place in town for ponies and me.

Seeing the friendly faces at the bar did Taya some good, I think. Now that the ponies were free to come and go as they pleased, the mood there was considerably lighter.

As soon as I asked him, the bartender told me of a pony trader that was leaving for “Barkelona” in a day or two. Apparently there was a sizeable dog population there. The ship was probably a smuggler that heard about the opening of trade agreements and decided to come out as a legitimate trader. Not like it really mattered to me anyway. Taya and I stayed with the guards in the inn for a day and bid them farewell the next day, and then went to find the trader.

Thankfully, the boat wasn't that hard to find; it was the only one with a full pony crew, which really stands out in a place like Alexandria. I decided to go unmasked, in case any of them recognized me. Taya plodded along behind me, as close to my heels as possible without tripping me. I had all of my stuff arranged around my body again, with the weapons in easy to reach places. Since I came into the city in the company of the pony guards, I hadn’t been forced to peace bind them.

Now, while I might technically have the power to commandeer a place on the ship, I wasn’t about to tempt fate. I made sure to get plenty of bits from Emerald Script before I left, and I had plenty of pouches secreted all about my body.

When we walked up the gangplank onto the boat, a very large pony looked up from his dice game and said, “What?”

“I would like to talk to the captain about passage to Barcelona,” I said.

Without taking his eyes off me, he shouted, “Captain!”

I saw movement overhead and looked up to see a brown female pegasus dropping from the lookout post. I don’t know why there was a lookout post when a pegasus could do the job just as easily, but that’s Ponyland for you.

The pegasus, presumably the captain, looked to the big pony and said, “There had better be a good reason you’re waking me up. You know what I went through last night.”

He growled, “Passengers,” nodding towards me and Taya.

The captain brightened up at hearing that. “Passengers, are you? You know we’re going to Barkelona?” I nodded. Then the captain shook the haze from her head and looked at us again. “You’re not a cat! What the… You’re that… that thing that keeps doing things to help trade!”

“I am the human, yes. And you are?”

“Captain Sonel, at your service! Who’s that behind you there?”

“Her name is Taya. She’s… shy. How much for passage for the two of us?”

“For you, nothing! I’ve spent years smuggling between pony lands and Egypt, and now I can finally trade legally, and with no fear of repercussions for the things I’ve already done. No more living in the fear that an interdiction ships might find us. No more dealing with back-alley crooks that care more for their own profit than any honorable dealings. No more anchoring a day away from all the port cities for fear of random cargo checks. You’ve done this ship a great service, human.”

I don’t say no to free things. “Where are you headed after Barkelona? We need to get to Manehattan, in the long run, but I figure most ships that are in the Mediterranean will stay there rather than risk hitting the open ocean.”

“It would be nice to see the homeland again, but no. After Barkelona, we’re bound for Mareseille, and then we’ll just make the circuit of port cities around the edges. However, from Barkelona, you can catch a train to a port city on the open ocean, and from there you should have no problem getting what you need.”

“Excellent. When do you cast off?”

“Tomorrow, bright and early. You are free to stay on the ship until then. I can show you to your quarters, if you want. There aren’t many spare rooms, I fear, so you’ll be forced to share one. I hope that’s not a problem.”

“It isn’t,” I assured her. She led us into the underbelly of the boat. “I assume you have a unicorn to speed the winds?”

“You’d be hard pressed to find a pony ship—or any manner of smuggling ship—that doesn’t. Ours is a pretty decent stallion named Phil. He’s a little loopy, but it would take Princess Celestia herself to beat him in wind-making powers.”

“She can definitely move fleets around, that’s for sure.”

“You’ve been on a boat with her?”

“I was with the original fleet that came to the Middle East. We made it from Manehattan to Alexandria in a month.”

“That is impressive, for a full fleet. I suppose she’s in charge for a reason. What’s she like?”

“Kind. Wise. She looks at you like a mother seeing her child. And when you do something wrong, she’ll usually just have that stern look a grandmother gets when she’s trying not to laugh at something you did that was impolite but funny. Until you really piss her off, at least. Then she gets… scary.”

“Anypony as old as she is should definitely know how to twist emotions or how to show anger.” We stopped at a small cabin. “This is your room. Galley’s down the hall. Help yourself but don’t be a pig. I assume you’re able to eat regular pony fare?”

“Salad, some vegetables, fruits, yes. I can’t eat grass or flowers. Bread is fine, if you have it.”

“You’ll be fine. If you don’t need anything else, I have a hangover to go try to sleep off…” I nodded and she swept past me to head back to the deck.

I dropped all the clothing off on the bed. “Well, I suppose this is our home for a little while.”

Taya looked in and just said, “Fun.”

“I’m going to go find a book store. You want to come along?” I don’t even know why I asked. We went off to find one.

An unnecessarily long time later, we returned to the ship with a few beginners’ reading primers. It was going to be a long trip back, and I figured we might as well do something productive on the way. I had never taught anyone to read before, but it didn’t seem that hard. Assuming Taya didn’t get seasick, I figured it would be easy enough.

She didn’t. It was. We made it to Barcelona in a week. The crew was affable enough, and most of our time was spent on the deck, near the back of the ship, out of the way of the crew. We would have done it in our cabin, but staying in that dim place for too long would be killer on my eyes, and being outside on a moving ship is always a plus in my books.

Once she picked up the knack for it, Taya was really easy to teach. I tried to get Phil to teach her some small pieces of magic, but Sonel wasn’t lying when she said he was loopy. After talking with him, I decided to just wait and let Celestia find a teacher for her.

Once we reached Spain, we wasted no time finding a train ticket to the nearest port city: San Sebastian. It took us a few days to get there, and by then Taya had already been through all the primers I got her. We hunted for a bookstore to find some more difficult things for her. San Sebastian and Barkelona were both shocks to Taya, who was not used to seeing so many ponies in one place, nor so many smiles.

While looking for a bookstore in San Sebastian, we ran into the song magic at work. Something about young love or some bullshit like that. I stopped to let Taya listen, wide-eyed, and explained it to her, “That’s something that happens occasionally in pony places. So many unicorns gathered together create a magical distortion that comes out as nearly uncontrollable singing. The only person I’ve met in pony-held lands that was completely immune was a dragon. Hell, if you can imagine it, even got stuck in one of those songs once.” She smiled at that.

We found a bookstore and, even better, a ship that was just minutes from setting sail to Manehattan. My luck sometimes pulls through, after all. However, the fare this time was considerably more expensive. Which didn’t matter, since I was still completely loaded. I probably had enough cash still stored on me to buy all the rooms left on the boat.

We had much larger rooms on this ship, thankfully. That probably explained the pricing, but I really didn’t care. It wasn’t my money, after all. The RMS Princess Celestia was a nice ship, if as old fashioned as all the others we had to deal with. Most of the crew were nervous around me, and some of the passengers were terrified of me, but I didn’t really care. Since it was technically a mail ship instead of a passenger ship, it even had its own guards. It was nice, seeing some of those around.

And it was even nicer when, around the first week in, we were attacked by fucking pirates.

Taya and I were in our room since it was so hot outside and the passengers didn’t care for me. I don’t know how ponies manage to keep the insides of things cold without air conditioning, but it’s just another of those things I have come to accept. She was reading aloud from some dusty old tome I bought in San Sebastian. Something about elements or something, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was lying on the bed, thinking. Why did I let Kat anywhere near me? I had been thinking that a lot lately. After what she did to me, I should have killed her on sight.

My door burst open. “Human, the captain needs to see you immediately!” some random crew member yelled.

I looked up. “You didn’t have to fucking scream,” I said, getting off the bed. I started grabbing weapons. “Taya, stay here. No reason for you to hear him insult me some more.” The captain was not pleased to have me on board. I rarely run into overt racism from the ponies, but it appeared that this guy was an exception. I was starting to think the monkeys from The Wizard of Oz killed his family or something. When I had everything I looked up to see the crew guy staring at me in fear. “Lead the way,” I said, going to the door.

He bolted down the hall. “We don’t have much time!” he yelled as I slowly walked to keep up with him.

“Unless you give me a good reason to hurry, I don’t mind keeping your captain waiting,” I commented as I casually made my way to where he had stopped to wait for me.

“Pirates!” he finally burst out.

“Oh. Well that changes things.” I started following him at a more brisk pace. Namely, sprinting to keep up with him, a worried expression on my face.

Now, back when I had left home there was a massively beautified version of pirates in my world. That’s pretty much a load of shit. Pirates are monsters. If we were getting attacked here, they were probably looking for either food or slaves. And there isn’t a slave in the world better than a one-of-a-kind species like me.

Now, I didn’t fear for my own safety as much as I did Taya’s in that case: If got captured, the princesses would bail me out pretty much instantly. But what would the pirates do to Taya, who the princesses couldn’t save? Or what might they do to me before the princesses noticed I was taken?

We made it to the captain rather quickly. He was at the helm, somehow holding a telescope thing to his eye. “They’ll be here in less than two hours,” he predicted when he turned and saw me. “You are a royal agent, Navarone. Or so you say, at least. What should we do?”

“Can we use magic to outrun them?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No. We’re already trying and they’re still gaining on us. Pirate ships like that often have a large group of slave unicorns controlling their winds. Before long, they’ll be in range to stop our unicorns entirely.”

I sighed. “It’s the job of any agent of the throne to protect the people. Or ponies, I suppose. Tell the unicorns to stop the winds and rest. We’ll need them to fend off the magical assaults of their unicorns when they get in range. We’ll do our best to dissuade their boarders from attacking us, and if it comes down to it we’ll board their damn ship. If they have unicorn slaves, it should be our task to free them.” I didn’t really care about the unicorns or the ship, but if saving this ship meant saving me and Taya, then that was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

He gave a dark smile. “Then I trust you’ll be leading the defense and then the charge?” Right, pass the buck to me. If it goes sour I’ll get the blame on the off chance he survived. And I knew I had to do it, too. Unless…

I shook my head. “I’ll infiltrate their ship and free the unicorns,” I answered. “If we can free them while they’re still in the enemy ship, we can start a two-front attack on their forces. That might create enough confusion that we can take their ship.” And if it goes sour, I have a better chance of blending in with the pirates.

He scoffed. “And how do you propose to get aboard their ship unseen?”

I grabbed his telescope thing and peered at the ship. I could barely make out a few hulking shapes on board. Dogs. I could see a few lithe shapes moving in between them with purpose, readying weapons and boarding lines. I think I saw a naga or two as well. A small number of them were wearing desert clothing, fully garbed.

“Where do they keep their slaves?” I asked.

“Bottom of the ship,” he answered with disgust. “If the ship goes down, none of the pirates want to deal with slaves in their way to escape.” I nodded, understanding the reasoning.

“Those dogs are my size, so I go in disguise,” I answered, snapping my fingers. “Fly in under the bow, slip in through a hole or over the side, and cover my wings before I get seen.”

“That seems… risky,” he commented. I was surprised he said that, personally; I was expecting him to be ready to accept any plan that got me killed.

“Risky, but with great reward,” I answered. “I’ll go get changed. With our wind dropped, how long should it take them to get here?”

“Less than an hour, probably,” he said. “Get ready to go quickly, human.”

I left to go back to my cabin and felt the ship lurch as we slowed down. I got down to my room and began to change. “Taya,” I said as I worked, “do not open that door for anyone that is not me. From the moment I leave until the moment I get back, that door needs to stay shut. Okay?”

She nodded.

“The only exception to that is if you hear a guard yelling to run to life boats. I will not be angry if you leave then.” She nodded sadly.

I hoisted my crossbow up when I was done dressing, looking for any damage to it. Nothing. I checked my bolts to make sure they were the heavy duty ones, made for piercing armor—I’m paranoid, okay? I checked my knife to make sure it wouldn’t fall out while I was flying across the void. I loaded the crossbow and gave Taya a hug. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” I said when I released her.

When I got outside my room, I found that fifteen minutes had passed. The pirates were probably close to us by now. I peeked my head out of the stairs so I could check. Oh my, this is going to be close. They were about fifteen minutes out. Now or never. I popped my neck, ran to the railing, and jumped. I got down as low as I could to the ocean and skimmed the waves, doing my best to not be seen.

It didn’t hit me until I was halfway there that this was a really stupid plan for a lot of reasons. By the time I went through the reasons in my mind, I was already at an open window, trying to force my way in—which was a lot harder than it should have been, thanks to the damn wings on my back.

I finally popped in to find myself face to face with a cat. I shoved a knife through its mouth as it tried to give a scream of warning, nailing its jaw to its head and killing it. I threw my balled-up cape over my shoulders and withdrew my dagger. I casually threw the body out of the window I just jumped in through.

Then I took stock: I was in a small room. There was a massive anchor and chain sitting haphazardly on the floor, so I reckoned that this was the anchor room and the window I just entered was where the anchor dropped. Everything around me secured, I opened the door with no hesitations and marched out with purpose. And immediately bumped into a large dog.

“Watch it,” he growled, not even looking at me as he continued. I didn’t answer, just went the way he came—if he was moving about below, it would probably be to get topside.

I got a few feet down the passage when I saw a cat leading a line of unicorns up to the top. Behind the group was a dog with a massive whip. Jackpot. I gripped my knife with one hand and got ready to bring up the crossbow with the other as I continued down the path, trying to look nonchalant.

I squeezed to the side to let the slave group pass. As soon as the cat got past me I whipped my dagger out and stabbed her in the back of her neck, severing her spine. I dropped the knife to let her fall and brought my crossbow up to shoot at the dog, who was staring in utter surprise. I shot him in the dead center of mass and bowled past the unicorns that were now cowering on the floor to finish him before he could get any words out. I pulled out another knife and casually drew a red line across his throat before he could do so much as utter a sound.

That went well. Then I looked down at the unicorns. Oh come on! Those that could look at me were looking at me with nothing but fear in their eyes. Most were just huddling on the ground, moaning softly. I wiped the knife off on his coat and sheathed it.

“No time for this,” I said, picking up one of those that was staring at me. “We need to take this damn ship over.”

“They have our children!” the stallion I picked up groaned.

“Son of a bitch,” I sighed, dropping the unicorn and going to grab my other knife. It ripped out of the cat’s body with a sickening sound and I wiped it off on her jacket. That clean and put away, I grabbed one of the other unicorns that was staring at me with something that looked a bit less like fear and a bit more like hope. “Where are your damn children?” I asked, holding him up.

He pointed with an infected hoof down the hall, where the slaves had been coming from.

I reloaded the crossbow, saying “Anyone that’s tired of being a slave, come with me.”

Three of the seven stood, two stallions and a mare. Two of those were shaking. I pointed to one at random. “Guard these four,” I said. “We’re going to need them when we take the ship. You two, come with me. We’re going to get your families.”

I heard shouting from the main passage and looked that way. I saw a cat heading our way. Without missing a beat I yelled, “Infiltrator on board! I’ll watch the slaves, you warn the crew!” The cat nodded and ran back the way he came. Stupid fucking cat. I turned back to the unicorn I told to watch the others. “Get some of these cowards to help you if you can. I want nothing to get down this hall alive.” He nodded, determination coming to his eyes.

I began to run down the hall and I heard the other two follow me slower, probably used to being chained. I found another cat that I immediately stabbed through the neck. Unfortunately, I was starting to get covered in blood, so I didn’t expect my disguise would work for much longer. I came to the end of the hall to find a staircase leading down. I couldn’t peek down it without possibly alerting anyone at the bottom, so I just waited for the unicorns to catch up.

“What kind of defenses are down there?” I asked.

“Two cats,” one whispered, his voice hoarse. “One naga.” Shit. Shit shit shit.

“You two kill the naga,” I said. “I’ll take the cats.” The stallion gave a vicious snarl at that. The mare didn’t have any reaction. “Follow me down after fifteen seconds.” I pulled a throwing knife out and readied my crossbow. One shot at this.

I slowly made my way down the stairs, knife held casually at the ready. I scanned the shadows, looking for anything that might spring out at me. I got down to an opening to a large hold and looked inside to find a small group of ponies in chains guarded by a naga and two cats. I strode out confidently.

“What happened to you?” the naga demanded, tearing his eyes away from one of the fillies that was staring into the distance, traumatized.

“Infiltrator,” I hissed. “The captain wants you to search the ship; it appears to be invisible and normal eyes cannot see it. I will take your post.” Naga see in infrared, I think.

The naga cursed, jerking his gaze back to the filly. After a moment, he turned to the door and slithered out without another word.

When he got to the door, he exploded. The two cats turned to face the explosion, surprised. I jerked my hand out, throwing the knife to catch one and shooting the other before she could react. The one I hit with a knife went down while the one I shot was able to move quickly enough to avoid a fatal hit. I dropped the crossbow and drew my dagger to try to finish her before she could retaliate. Before I could get to her, though, she shot across the hold and hit the wall with a sickening thud. I noticed that the other one was melting. I am never going to piss a unicorn off.

I knelt down to pick up the crossbow when I felt myself flatten to the floor. “Now who are you and why are you helping us?” the mare demanded as she and the stallion walked into the hold full of children that were too traumatized to scream.

I couldn’t move and I was being held down hard enough to have difficulty talking, so I just whispered, “Remove… cape.” I felt it jerk aside and heard a gasp.

“What darkness is this?” the mare demanded, not letting me up. “A cat with wings?”

“It’s magic, Sunny,” the stallion said. “And he is obviously not an enemy. At least, not yet. We will see what we see when we take this ship over. For now, release him.”

“No pony just mysteriously appears and saves you!” the mare yelled. “Whatever he is, he’s a monster! We can’t trust him!”

I felt the pressure increase for a moment and it felt like my ribs were cracking before it suddenly stopped entirely. I tenderly sat up. I turned to see the unicorns seeming to stare each other down, horns glowing.

I shook my head and grabbed my crossbow. “One of you stay here and guard the kids. I’m going topside to take this ship.” I reloaded the crossbow as I walked back to the entrance of the hold. I didn’t stop, just trusted that one of the two would follow me. Neither one did.

I got back to the unicorns that were holding the hallway. There were several bodies choking up the passage, and it looked like the rest of the unicorns were up and ready for a fight now.

One looked back as I stepped forward and gasped at my wings. “Wh-what are you?” she whispered.

“Your savior,” I answered. “But I still need your help. These damn pirates are attacking an Equestrian ship right now. We need to take this ship over to prevent them from hurting more ponies. I trust you all know enough about combat to help me?”

They all went tight-lipped about that. The first one that I assigned to watch them nodded after a moment.

“Then lead the charge,” I said. “There is not much I can do in an open fight; I’m not a warrior. I’ll try to watch your backs to make sure nothing sneaks up on you.”

“Watch out for the griffin,” one of them warned. “He’s fierce.” Oh fun. They have a flier.

I nodded. “I’ll be careful. Lead the way.”

The eyes of one of the unicorns in the group began to glow as his horn lit up. He took the lead, rushing past the others. He charged up the stairs at the end of the hall and the door exploded off its hinges, shooting out across the ship and impacting the mast, breaking the door in half. The stallion followed it onto the deck. The rest of us followed.

I got on the deck to find that we were right alongside the pony ship. There were a few boarders on the pony ship fighting against the guards, but most of the pirates’ attention was on us.

“Showtime,” I heard one of the unicorns whisper.

Pirates began to drop. I couldn’t tell what was happening to them, but everything in all directions around us just began to fall. I drummed my fingers on the crossbow nervously at the display. I hate seeing magic used like this when I knew it could just as easily be used against me. As the pain on my chest was witness to, at that.

I began to check the skies, looking for the griffin that was supposedly out there. I saw some shapes flitting in and out of the skies and when I looked closer, I realized some of the pegasus guards were fighting the griffin in the clouds. A gentle rain of blood trickled down from one of the guards as they dived and twirled in their deadly pirouette of battle. I knew I had no place up there.

So instead I took aim with my crossbow and waited for the griffin to stop moving long enough to draw a decent bead on it. I got my chance sooner than I was expecting as he struck one of the guards again and grabbed him by the throat to say a few gloating words, raising his talons. I shot before he could take the killing blow and the bolt pierced him right in the ribs, a killing shot if I ever saw one.

I turned back to the battle as I reloaded the crossbow. More than half of the pirates on the deck were downed, felled by some mysterious spell. I saw the unicorns smiling darkly as they continued their work, facing in all directions around me as they worked their magic. I hefted my crossbow, feeling pretty useless. When I checked up in the air again, I saw that the pegasi and the griffin were gone.

I sighed and turned back to the deck. All of the pirates were now cowering from the onslaught of the ex-slaves. Many of them were trying to surrender.

“No mercy,” I said aloud. “They’d get the death penalty for their crimes anyway. Might as well save us all the time.” The unicorns didn’t need any encouraging, that’s for sure. Although I’m not certain Equestria has a death penalty. It does, however, have a Tartarus banishment, which was arguably worse.

I walked up to one of the first pirates that went down and checked to see if she was alive. The cat had no pulse. Looks like unicorns are more deadly than I thought. I stood to see the battle was pretty much over, aside from the fight on the Equestrian ship, which was winding down as the pirates realized their ship was gone and they weren’t going to be able to take the other one.

The remaining pirates threw their arms down in disgust at having lost to ponies. The guards rounded them up. Not going to be able to kill them. Guards wouldn’t allow it. Not my problem.

“Stand down!” I yelled to the ex-slaves. “Looks like we won.” I turned to the group of exhausted unicorns. “Three of you, go get your kids and bring them up top. Get the two that are guarding them to make sure the rest of the ship is cleared. No reason to have any desperado trying to bargain his way to freedom with a hostage.” Three of them limped back down into the ship. I went to the railing and waved one of the pegasus guards over. “Talk to these two,” I told him. “Debrief them, comfort them, whatever.” He looked at me strangely. “What?”

“Are you… are you okay?” he asked, looking at some of the blood stains on my body.

“I’m fine. I just… don’t like magic. They’ll feel better talking to a pony.” He gave me a wary look before nodding and going to talk to the unicorns that were just now realizing their ordeal might be over. I went to check on more of the bodies.

Dead. Dead. Wait, this one’s brea—no, dead. Dead. Eww, he’s definitely dead. I looked up. “Holy Christ.” The entire crew of around forty was dead, aside from the five survivors that surrendered to the royal guards.

I shrugged and began stripping them of valuables and then throwing the bodies into the ocean.

I was on the twentieth when I heard a disgusted sound behind me. I kept working. “What are you doing?” I heard someone demand.

“No reason to let their weapons go to waste,” I said without turning. I continued stripping weapons and coins from the body and grunted from the effort as I cast it over the side before turning to view the captain of the Princess Celestia.

He was staring at me in horror.

“Did you need something?” I asked, wiping my hand on my desert clothes.

He blinked and shuddered. “We’re ready to cast off and move on,” he said. “The slaves are aboard our ship and the prisoners are secured. It’s time to go, human.”

“We’re not leaving this ship,” I replied.

He blinked. “am in command, human,” he said. “And say it is time for us to go.”

“We are taking this ship to Manehattan, selling it, and giving the profits to the slaves so they can start a new life. With their added wind power, we should be able to get both ships back to Equestria ahead of schedule easily enough.”

He frowned. “If anything, this ship belongs to the royal navy! We can’t just so casually sell her majesty’s property!”

I walked up close to him and his eyes widened when he realized just how much taller than him I was. It probably also helped that I was well armed and showing off my canines with a scowl. “I am Celestia’s word right here, Captain. Do you want to be the one to tell seven battle-hardened unicorns to get the hell out of your sight with nothing when we reach Equestria? Do you want to see them turn to war or banditry to feed their children? As far as I have seen, Equestria doesn’t have much of a welfare program. So you listen to me, you stuck up groundie—” I have no idea what that insult means, but I’ve seen pegasi use it against earth ponies in the past to great effect. “—we’re taking this ship and we’re going to sell it and the unicorns are going to get all of the money. Do we have an understanding?”

He audibly gulped and nodded.

I turned back to looting.

In the end, I gathered up several belts of throwing knives, all manner of interesting daggers, and I replaced my nasty falchion with a much nicer one. I left the other weapons in a room in the pirate ship, to be dealt with as the unicorns chose. Unfortunately, their food stores were emptied of meat, so I couldn’t grab any of that.

I casually walked my way through the ship, seeing if there was anything worth taking. A few bits, some cloth, a few jewels, a few books. I grabbed the books and threw them in a bag and left the rest for the unicorns to take.

I got back to the top just as this one was getting crewed by a few of the guards and some of Princess Celestia’s unicorns. “How’s the guard that got hit by the griffin?” I asked them.

“Still alive,” one of the guards told me. “We thought he was done for when your weapon ripped the griffin out of the air. The guard is hurt and may have trouble flying in the future, but he’d be dead right now if it wasn’t for you.” He smiled darkly. “That’s more than we can say for the griffin.” I shrugged and jumped back to our ship. I was just glad he was able to give me the shot.

When I got back to the ship, I was quickly surrounded by several smiling unicorns that I did my best to just walk past. I wanted to let Taya know I was okay and change out of those bloody clothes.

Their smiles didn’t last long when they realized I was trying to get around them. “What’s the matter?” one of the stallions asked.

I don’t like being acclaimed. “I have business to take care of,” I answered. You terrify me. “I am rather noticeable.” Please ignore me for the rest of the trip. “If you wish to talk later, I shouldn’t be hard to find.”

The smiles returned and they nodded. I noticed the mare that tried to murder me wasn’t among their group. The kids were hanging back, probably terrified of me after having seen me take care of the two cats. Or they were just as traumatized as Taya had been.

I went below, to my quarters, and knocked on the door. “I’m back, Taya.” The door swung open. “My apologies for taking so long.” All in all, I think the endeavor took maybe an hour. Looting took longer than the actual fight. I stepped inside and she gasped at the blood.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she rushed over to me for a hug.

“I’m fine,” I said. “A few others aren’t. And we have some new passengers on the ship. Please don’t go out of your way to talk to the adult unicorns, but feel free to talk to their kids if you want.” I didn’t want her to end up learning any deadly magic on accident. I wasn’t expecting her to talk to any of them anyway, but I wanted to be safe. “And do not go into the cargo hold.” That was where the prisoners were stored. Passengers already weren’t supposed to be down there, but I didn’t want to risk it.

“I won’t,” she promised as she released me.

I dropped the sack on the bed. “I picked up a few more books for you, but I don’t know what’s in them. I’ll give them a look before you can have them, right after I wash and get changed.” She may be traumatized and seemingly mature, but there’s no reason to let her go around reading smut. She’s still a damn child.

She nodded. I started taking off my weapons and setting them down out of the way. I would have to clean them all, but thankfully pirates take great care of their weapons. You know, since their lives and livelihoods depend on them not getting captured or killed. Weapons removed, I peeled the nasty clothes off and threw them into a corner to be dealt with later. I went to our small bathroom. Come to think of it, I still don’t know exactly how that thing worked.

Some things in this world, man… It’s just not worth trying to understand.

Anyway, with the shower done, I walked back into my quarters to find a crew member there. She blushed for some reason when she saw me half naked. What the hell? Taya was staring at her.

“Yes?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

She pulled her gaze from my pasty-white chest—it really wasn’t that sexy, no matter what she seemed to think. “The captain wishes for you to dine with him this night, Navarone,” she said.

“What the hell does that mean? The captain doesn’t even have his own dining room.” He ate with the crew, same as everyone else.

“He said you would be meeting on the deck, so you could talk with the unicorns in private.” It’s kind of sad when you have to be on deck to have enough room to have a private meeting.

“I’ll think about it,” I answered. I would go, of course; the captain couldn’t actually do anything to me, but he could make my life a bit harder on the boat.

She gave me a shy smile. “He thought you would say something like that. He said you can either eat with him or you can eat with me.”

I blinked. What the actual fuck? “Then it’s a shame duty requires me to join him,” I commented with a fake sigh. Maybe she joined the navy to meet new creatures and fuck them. “There will be room for Taya, I assume?”

She gave a real sigh and nodded. “The children of the unicorns will also be on deck. She can eat with them.” I saw Taya tense. I gently put a hand on her head. If I had to guess, she was afraid of meeting other pony children for the first time.

“We’ll be there, I suppose,” I finally said. She gave me the time to meet them and a small salute—and another little smile—and left. When she was gone, I shuddered. I’m tired of ponies thinking they’re sexy.

I started getting dressed.

“Do I have to go?” Taya asked.

“You don’t have to, I suppose,” I answered. “But there will be food. I don’t expect the kids to be doing much talking tonight. They’re pretty traumatized.”

That didn’t completely assuage her fears, but I also didn’t really care. I sat on the bed and began pulling out books. There weren’t many on the ship that I found. Two of them were full of smut. The rest were mostly nautical books that I deemed fit to read, if incredibly boring. I threw the smut into my pack of clothes to give to a friend later—and no, that doesn’t mean I kept them for myself. I actually did plan on giving them to a friend; I just don’t want to mention his or her name.

Now that all of that business was out of the way, I started thinking. How can I avoid seven powerful unicorns for a few weeks? Correct answer: I can’t.

I didn’t like that answer.

Next question… Why am I really so afraid of them? I saved them and their kids. They wouldn’t hurt me, would they?

That mare sure didn’t seem to have any problem with it… But the rest of them would probably help keep me safe, right?

I also thought about the prisoners. Did I really say… no mercy? I guess I really haven’t learned a damn thing from the ponies after all. But… they were pirates. They would have killed or enslaved us. They had enslaved ponies and there’s no telling what other crimes they have committed in the past.

Though I’m not so squeaky clean myself…

I won’t decide anything about the prisoners we have now. The ponies can have them for all I care. It wasn’t my place anyway.

I sighed. Why do I have to deal with shit like this?

I felt a nudge on my arm and I flinched. I looked down to see Taya trying to get under my arm so she could sit across my lap to read. I don’t know why she likes it there, but whatever. I moved my arm and she crawled up. I gently stroked her as she read some book. I occasionally reached down to help her turn the pages.

Dinner came sooner than I would have hoped. I sighed when I realized it was time to go. Taya hopped down and I picked up a few weapon belts just in case. It felt nice to have the reassuring weight of deadly arms on me, even if they were looted from a pirate and I didn’t have much practice using them yet. I would have taken the crossbow, but it got in the way sometimes.

I led the way down the corridor with Taya behind me, as it usually is when we head to dinner. And…. Well, when we head anywhere, really. She just trails passively behind me unless I tell her to lead the way or walk beside me.

We got outside to find everyone else already out there.

There were gasps of surprise from the unicorns. That was when I realized that they hadn’t actually seen me yet, only me with the wrap on my head. They probably thought I was some kind of mutant cat or dog.

I joined them in their little circle near the front of the ship. They were all sitting on the deck, with a few large plates of food in the center. Their kids sat in a smaller circle—there weren’t really all that many kids, about nine—behind us. Taya sat down as close to me as she could get. They were all still staring at me, aside from the captain who was eagerly eating.

“What did you need me for?” I asked him. He didn’t look up. “Captain.” He looked up at that. “Why am I here?”

“To discuss them,” he answered, waving a hoof at the assembled unicorns.

I looked at the unicorns for a moment before turning my gaze back to the captain. “They are not my concern. I told you what we were going to do for them. I leave it up to you to deal with it.”

“From what you said, you made it rather clear that you are the highest authority on this ship,” he casually said, sipping at a glass of water. “I hardly see why that should be my responsibility.”

I glared at him. “Because as the highest authority on this ship, I am telling you that it is your responsibility. Unless you want one of them,” I said with a wave to the unicorns, “to sell the ship for you. Or,” I mused aloud as I turned to face one of the unicorns, “you all want to keep the ship yourself.”

The one I looked at turned a bit pale. “I am done with the sea… whoever you are.”

I turned back to the captain. “There. Sell the ship and divide the profits evenly among the unicorns. If there was a reward for the pirates we killed and captured, keep the reward for the pirates you killed and captured and give the rest to them, since they did so much more to earn it.”

The captain’s face grew darker at each word.

Before he could explode, I said, “You didn’t join the navy to get rich, did you?”

There wasn’t anything he could really say to that without admitting hate for me or his own greed.

One of the unicorns finally spoke up, “So… what are you?” she asked.

I looked at her. “I am a human,” I answered. “A royal agent of sorts.”

They all blinked at that. One of the stallions asked, “Are we… are we going to Equestria?”

“Yes,” I said.

“What will happen to us?” one of the mares whispered, looking like she was on the verge of tears.

“You’ll get the money from selling the pirate ship and if there’s a reward for taking down the pirates, you’ll get that as well. From that point, you’re on your own, I suppose. That money should be enough to get you established somewhere.”

That announcement was met with mixed reactions. As they thought it over, I reached down and grabbed some food and handed the plate to Taya and then grabbed some for myself. Sadly, there was no meat, but by now I was used to that disappointment.

Taya and I began to eat as well, which opened the floodgates for the others. “Don’t eat too much,” I warned, seeing how skinny most of them were. “If you’re on the verge of starvation and eat too much, you’ll get sick.” I don’t think any of them were going to listen to my advice.

After a few minutes of silence, the captain said, “So Navarone, what do you suggest we do with the prisoners?”

I ground my teeth together. “Give them to the guards at Manehattan, since you were dumb enough to let them surrender. We can’t just kill them now, since there are actually passengers aboard this ship. Just be happy that we killed the naga and the griffin already; dogs and cats are vicious, but easy enough to guard.”

He nodded as though he expected nothing else from me. Which to be honest, he probably didn’t. “So you truly are barbaric,” he casually said as he continued eating.

“Yes, I am,” I answered. “And you know what else?” He looked up and raised his eyebrow, smiling slightly. “Celestia uses me anyway, knowing it,” I finished with a vicious smile. His face fell and he quickly went back to eating so he could try to hide his expression. In calling me and my methods barbaric and knowing that Celestia allows what I do, he basically called her barbaric.

None of the unicorns commented.

We continued eating in silence for a little while. Finally one of them looked up at me, a stallion, “You don’t even know our names…” he said.

I looked to him. “You are correct, I don’t,” I flatly said. I didn’t even make it sound like a question. He blinked at my tone and looked back down to his food.

The mare that tried to kill me gave me a nasty look. “You aren’t very nice, are you?” she asked.

“Taya, am I a nice person?” I asked her.

She didn’t look that happy to be called upon to talk, but she quietly said, “Yes… but you’re acting mean because you’re scared.”

What the… How did she… Huh. “There you go,” I said to the mare. “I am nice. Maybe you should just get your panties unwadded.”

Her glowing horn was the only warning I had. I flew backwards so quickly that I hit the railing and flipped over it and was dangling over the water before I realized I had moved. I don’t know why I was floating or what the hell had just happened, but I did know my entire body was in pain. And I did know that as soon as I got my feet back on deck, there was going to be a unicorn in a whole different world of pain.

I very slowly drifted back up until I was standing upright on the deck. I felt the magic release me and saw that all six of the other unicorns had stepped in to save me. The bitch that threw me was on her back with a bleeding nose.

I calmly walked up to the group that was staring at me in horror. I knelt down on top of the bitch and put my knee on her chest, using enough pressure to get her attention. I calmly drew a knife and tapped her horn. “That is strike two for you. I’m giving you three because I know you just went through a terrifying ordeal. If you attack me one more time, I will cut off your horn and throw it into the ocean.”

She stared at me with horror.

I removed my knee and sat back where I was. Sadly, my plate was now resting at the bottom of the ocean, so I settled for using Taya’s since she had finished.

It was around that time that I noticed everyone was staring at me in horror.

“Am I bleeding again?” I sighed.

Taya whispered, “Yes…”

The plate hit the deck. “Fuck it.” I stood. “If you unicorns need anything, it isn’t my problem and I don’t really care. Bother the captain.”

I had time to see them look at each other in confusion before I walked back below, Taya following me. It was then that I noticed each step was an agony. I don’t know how I didn’t realize that before. “Taya, I’m going to the doc. You can go back to the room if you want.” She continued following me as I went past our door.

I limped to the small medical ward and got there just as the doctor was stepping out. “What happened to you?” he asked. “I thought the guards said you weren’t injured in that fight!”

“One of our guests,” I hissed with venom, “has decided to take a disliking to me. I do not have defenses against magic.”

He sighed and gestured me to follow him back inside. I saw a few guards inside, all bandaged up—this guy was a unicorn, but he wasn’t strong enough to heal most wounds as quickly as Twilight or Celestia. “How bad are you?” he asked.

“Fuck if I know,” I said. “I just know my entire back is shooting agony into my mind and that it hurts to walk.”

He looked at me. “I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about you. I don’t know what’s… normal, I suppose, and what’s not. I can relieve your pain, but from the sounds of things, something inside of you is broken. I don’t know if I can successfully heal that.”

“Try,” I told him. As badly as it hurt, anything would be better than nothing.

His horn glowed for a few seconds and I felt the warm glow of healing in me. After a second, it cut off.

“I’m sorry, but that’s all I can do,” he gasped, his voice weary. “With the influx of wounded, I’m running nearly on empty…”

I flexed. There was a little less pain, but it still hurt like a bitch. “Thanks for the effort, at least,” I sighed.

I’m really, really getting tired of this fucking world.

Taya and I headed back to my room. I was still limping, sadly. We got there to find the unicorn that saved me the first time waiting inside. I stared at him. He stared at me.

“What,” I said. Not a question. Just a flat “What.” I was in pain and I didn’t feel like dealing with this anymore.

He looked down. “We’re grateful,” he said. “Sunny… She’s just been through a lot.” He looked up. “And she won’t be bothering you again,” he said, his voice hardening. His voice softened again as he continued, “But the rest of us would like to talk to you and thank you.”

I looked down at Taya who was looking at the unicorn with interest. I looked back up to the fellow. “The only thanks I’m interested in are the kind that heal me. If one of the six of you can heal me, I might be willing to talk to you.”

He noticed me looking at Taya. “She said you were afraid. What are you afraid of?”

“I don’t discuss my fears with strangers. Heal me or get out. Preferably both.”

“I’ll heal you if you promise to give the rest of us a chance.” Shit.

“I am giving you a chance,” I replied. “A chance at a new life. One that doesn’t involve war. One without violence. One without misery. Talking with me raises the chance of all of that changing before it even starts. I am a bad influence on the minds of ponies. Now, if you aren’t going to heal me, get out; talking hurts.”

He shook his head. “You’re not like the ponies here, Navarone,” he said. I narrowed my eyes. “We have seen… Too much. The captain called you a barbarian for wanting to kill those pirates. He is soft. Almost all of the ponies are. We can’t just acclimatize back to a society like that, not if we’re going to Equestria. You obviously live there and can help us. So if you want my help, I want your word that you’ll give us your help.”

There is no way to convey the desire I had to tell him to get out. To wipe that determined look off his face. I don’t know why I felt that way. By all rights, I should be happy to help, as I was with Taya. But… I’m afraid of magic, you see. All seven of them had proven to be rather powerful and extremely deadly. I didn’t want to be anywhere near them.

Taya mumbled something.

“What did you say, Taya?” I quietly asked, trying to calm myself.

“They have foals,” she whispered.

I closed my eyes and would have massaged my temple if moving like that didn’t hurt. After a second I opened my eyes again. “Fine,” I growled. “Heal me now and you can come by tomorrow. Knock first.”

He healed me fully and left without a word.

I sat on the bed, staring at the wall. Why am I feeling like this? I’m going home! I should be happy!

But what’s the point of going home if there’s so little there to look forward to?

I couldn’t help but sigh as Taya crawled her way back up to my lap. “Taya, what do you know of morality?” I asked when she was settled.

“What’s morality?” she asked.

“Someone’s personal system of right and wrong,” I answered. “It is self-determined, often built from parents and your community while you are growing up.”

“Oh,” she whispered. Oh right. Parents. Shit.

I sighed. “I’m just asking because mine seems to be completely gone today. My patience is growing short and my mood is growing darker the closer we get to Equestria, and I don’t know why. I know what I should be doing and what I should be feeling, but instead of doing that I just act.”

“You freed several slaves because of it,” she quietly answered.

“Yeah, I did. And now I’m acting like a total jerk to them just because they want to thank me. You were—somehow—correct when you said I was afraid of them. Magic itself makes me uneasy, even after so long, but the magic I saw them use today was terrifying. And then to have it used against me like that...” I shook my head. “No, I don’t want anything to do with them.” I punched the bed. “But I know I need to. What that fellow said was correct: They will need help readjusting to life.”

I heard her mutter something. Before I could ask what she said, she spoke up, “None of them will hurt you. I won’t let them.” I couldn’t help a small smile at that. She might be a unicorn, but she didn’t know any magic and she was just a filly. She might as well have been reading my thoughts, since she said, “They’ll see me and assume I’m your daughter. If they were doing magic for the pirates because the pirates had their children, they’ll not risk hurting you or me out of sympathy.”

I looked down at the filly in my lap with a mixture of fear and pride. She wasn’t looking at me, but was looking at the closed book in front of her. That plan was devious, something I should have come up with. But her mind shouldn’t be that dark. She was an orphan on the streets of Catro. There’s no telling what she did to survive.

“Celestia is going to enjoy having you in her castle, I think,” I said, stroking her gently. Taya didn’t respond, just opened the book.

I sighed, finally noticing how tired I was. Killing people and getting healed can really wear a guy out, I suppose.

There was a time when I would have been shocked at how blasé I’ve become about the idea of killing someone. Ponyland is not at all as peaceful as I thought. I shook my head sadly as I gently lifted Taya off my lap and lowered her onto the bed.

“I’m going to sleep. Don’t stay up all night, unless you really think sleeping on my lap will make you more effective in convincing the unicorns not to attack me.”

She didn’t say anything. Thankfully, I was well used to sleeping in small areas and with the lights on, so it didn’t take long for sleep to find me.

I awoke some time later to a tapping, as of someone gently rapping—Get the fuck out of my head, Poe. Someone was knocking at the door. My entire body felt sore, so I was quite thankful when Taya jumped down to get it.

I pushed myself up and flipped over and began to stretch, popping everything I could. The normal morning routine, for me. I was sore from sleeping nearly fourteen hours, as it turned out. My body felt dry. I went to the bathroom and drained as much water out of the tap as I could.

Then I went back into the room to see who was bothering me: A unicorn mare, a colt, and a filly. I looked at them with eyes that I imagined looked pretty dead.

“Yes?” I finally asked, trying to make my voice something other than a growl. I saw Taya gently ease the door shut and then trot to my side. I put a hand on her head.

The mare saw that and smiled lightly. “Flash told us to come by today to talk with you. He mentioned you really needed rest and would be more willing to talk in the morning.” There wasn’t a window or a clock in my room, so I had no idea if it was actually morning or not.

I shrugged. “Killing people puts me in a bad mood. So does getting attacked for helping someone. Sit,” I said, waving them to the bed. “I have nothing else to offer other than a seat, so I hope you’ve already eaten.”

They moved to the bed, the children walking as closely to the mare as they could get and sitting just as close when they were down. I moved across the room to the wall and sat against it, leaning forward so my wings didn’t get caught. Taya sat on my lap.

“What did you want to discuss?” I finally asked, putting one of my hands on Taya.

“I wanted to thank you,” the mare said. “Some of us were talking to the crew… Apparently it is common practice for Equestrian ships to flee from pirate ships. And if they can’t escape, they typically can’t put up that much of a fight if the other crew has unicorns.” No wonder there are pirates out there. “One of the mares on the crew said it was your plan to rescue us and use us against the pirates. And when you left last night after dinner, the captain confirmed what you said about giving us all the money from selling their ship and most of the reward money from killing the pirates. You’re a hero…”

A hero in tarnished armor. “I’m not a hero,” I answered. “Just a man that wants to live in peace but isn’t given the option.” I shrugged. “I’m honestly shocked at how many people seem to think I’m good. I am a royal agent that specializes in infiltration and silent removal.” I made that up on the spot because it sounded cool. “Essentially, I’m a murderer. That doesn’t make me good. That makes me useful.”

“Or modest,” the mare murmured. My eyes hardened. “You can say what you want. Nothing you say will put my foals back in that pirate hold. Not after you broke them out.”

“Fine. Have it your way. I grow weary of debating the merits of heroism. How long were you imprisoned?”

“Three years. The things we’ve done… The things I’ve seen…” She sighed and shook her head. “I will never forget them, will I?”

“You won’t,” I evenly replied, gently stroking Taya. “Your dreams will be haunted by them almost every night. You’ll hear the laughter of children one day and in your mind it’ll be screams. You’ll see a flash of light and think it’s an explosion. You’ll see magic being used and automatically assume it’s for a deadly purpose. Every time you let someone who wasn’t there get near you, you’ll eventually push them away. Some days you won’t be able to get out of bed. You’ll try to find some escape, some outlet… But there’s nothing there. Drugs will help you forget, for a time. But you’ll remember when you sober up. You’re finally free, but your mind is still trapped…” Her eyes watered up as soon as I started and she was gently crying by the time I was halfway done. “My people have a name for it. Post-traumatic stress disorder. When I left my lands, there was no known cure. I’ve suffered from a weak form of it ever since…” I thought back. “Ever since my first kill, I suppose. It has gotten steadily worse. I don’t often have pleasant dreams. I grow weary of dealing with ponies. My patience dies. My anger grows quickly.”

It took her a few minutes to stop crying. “What can we do?” she finally hoarsely whispered.

“Be there for each other. Almost none of the ponies in Equestria will understand what you’ve been through. If you make a friend that wasn’t there and they ask you what’s wrong when they find you crying, you won’t be able to tell them. You can try, but the words won’t come. Nothing can describe it. The only comfort you’ll find is with those that were there with you, or those that have been through similar. That’s why I don’t want your thanks,” I said at last. “I’ve freed your body, but I don’t know how to free your mind.”

“Is… is that all we can do?” she whispered.

“The power of friendship,” I said, “can conquer just about everything.” Fucking Twilight and her diatribes against my sanity; she’s always preaching something or another about the ‘power of friendship.’ This is the only case that I can think of where it actually applies. “You can try to dedicate your life to something to help you forget, but… The problem will still be there. Do not take solitude in drugs or pleasure or the like. I suggest taking the money you earn and finding a quiet place that isn’t Ponyville to settle down in.”

She looked at me with her bloodshot eyes. “How do you deal with it?” she asked.

I looked back with my clear, hard eyes. “I don’t,” I answered. And there was my problem, I realized. That’s why I’m acting like a jerk and that’s why I let Kat anywhere near me. I’m going away from the place where so much of it happened and back into a world where no one can understand. The slaves I rescued at least had each other. I had… no one.

How long can something like me survive in a world of pastel colored, ultra-friendly, reality-defying ponies? I guess I’ll find out.

“Why don’t you stay with us, then?” the mare asked. “We haven’t been through what you have, but at least we’re more able to understand your problems.”

“I’m not a pony and I already have a place. I think me being around you would be detrimental to you getting better. Trust me when I say it’s for the best.” I shrugged. “And hell, who knows: PTSD might not even affect ponies. It might just be me that’s damaged. You might just need a few years to get over it. I don’t really know.”

We shared a small silence for a few minutes. Finally, she asked, “So where do you come from?”

“An alternate reality,” I answered.

She looked at me like I was an idiot. Finally she shrugged. “My answer is more boring, I suppose. I’m from Stalliongrad, though I’ve done so much traveling now it’s not like it really matters. I’d like to find a place to settle down…”

“You can get to just about anywhere from Manehattan, where we’re bound,” I told her. “And when the ship sells, you shouldn’t have any worry about money for a little while. I’m sure you’ll find a place in the world.”

She finally gave a small smile. “I’ve heard nice things about Ponyville…”

“Someone lied to you, then,” I answered with a frown. “That place is not good for those like us. It looks like a nice little village from the outside, but if you spend a month there, you’ll probably wind up with at least two near disasters and all manner of terrifying events. There’s this one chick that lives there that defies reality. She can appear anywhere at any time. She uses a fucking cannon for mobile parties.” I shook my head. “No, I don’t suggest moving to Ponyville.”

She sighed. “You just said that friendship can conquer all. But you don’t seem to want to be friends with any of us!”

“I’m afraid of magic,” I said. She blinked. “Terrified, in some ways. I have absolutely no defense against it. I’ve had it used against me several times in the past and I know it might happen again in the future. The fewer unicorns I have around, the less the chance is that I’ll be attacked by it.” I felt Taya flinch.

“But friends don’t… We would never hurt you. We could even protect you! You saw how quick we were to help you against Sunny. She’s just mad at you because you have wings, but she’ll get over that in time. You have our word that she’ll never hurt you, Navarone.”

“She tried killing me before she knew I had wings,” I said.

“No, she held you down before she knew that. She didn’t try killing you until your cover was off. Flash told us that.”

“Fine. Either way, she tried to kill me. Twice, I believe. And both times I had to be saved by another unicorn. I’d rather just not risk it happening at all. So no, I don’t really care to be your friends. I’ll talk with you and help you try to get back into the mindset of living in a pony society, but I’m not looking for more friends.”

She just looked at me. After a long moment of silence, she asked, “Do you mind if our kids wait outside?”

“Yes, I do mind. I am not interested in anything they cannot be privy to.”

She rolled her eyes. “I just want to show you that magic doesn’t have to be bad. Surely there’s nothing wrong with that.”

I shook my head. “Not interested.”

She sniffed. “What, prefer stallions? I’m sure I can talk one of them in here to show you.”

I glared at her. “No, I’m interested in things that aren’t ponies. And if you continue talking about this, you’re going to be leaving my room.”

She met my glare with a very confused look. “You’re not attracted to ponies? At all?” I stiffly nodded. “Well, you just got a lot more interesting.” I reached over to my pile of weapons and pulled a knife out and set it down next to me. She saw that and chuckled. “I’m not going to force you into anything, Nav.” I narrowed my eyes at her use of my name. “I take your threat against Sunny seriously enough. It’s just surprising, is all. I’ll be sure to let Sunny know; she might dislike you less when she learns that.”

“I don’t care how she feels about me,” I harshly said. “When I leave Manehattan, that’ll be the last I see of any of you. I don’t know any of your names but the chick that hates me and the guy that seems to be in charge, and I’m happy with that.”

She gave me a warm smile. “You have a few weeks to change your mind. Longer, if we want; we control the winds of these two ships now, and we’re more powerful than the unicorns already assigned to this ship.”

“I have two princesses that are looking forward to my report,” I said. “I think they might be displeased if I was delayed.”

She giggled. “I think they might understand. Besides, it’s not like they’ll be able to do anything worse to us, after what’s already been done!”

I think the grinding of my teeth was audible.

She got up with a smile. “I think I’ll go for a short little walk. I’m sure your next guest will be here shortly.” She got up, her children following her. “I’ll see you later, Navarone,” she sweetly said as she left.

“It’s going to be a long few weeks,” I said when she was gone.

“You could make it easy on yourself and be nicer,” Taya answered.

I sighed. “I could, but where’s the fun in that?”

It took us about a month to get to Manehattan, and the unicorns were with us for about three weeks. It was early August when we got there, I believe. That was the biggest pony city Taya had yet seen. I got more books for Taya and some train tickets to Canterlot.

I don’t know what became of the unicorns. I upheld my end of the bargain and talked with them all, aside from the chick that tried to kill me; she never came by. Some of them might have even considered me a friend. But they didn’t know where their life was taking them and to be quite honest, I still couldn’t make myself care. I also don’t know what became of the prisoners.

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...