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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27. Chapter Twenty-Two—Dammit Twilight. Also, fuck dragons

I woke one morning to Twilight standing over me with a smile on her face. I really want to say that this was unusual, but she did that a lot. Sometimes her smile was scary, sometimes it was warmer. It always meant she wanted or needed something.

Today, her smile was relatively neutral. “Want to help me dig a trench?” she sweetly asked.

“No,” I said, sitting up. “Let me get my gloves. Where are we putting it?” I started going through my drawers looking for my trusty leather gloves. They were old and getting damaged, but I wasn’t going to use a shovel without them.

“Just outside town,” she answered. “The dragon migration is today, and we all want to watch it without fear of being seen or attacked.”

“Isn’t Fluttershy terrified of dragons?” I asked as I pulled the gloves out and slipped them into a pocket—I don’t sleep in pajamas, just in what I wear during the day. And there was no reason to change if I was about to get sweaty by digging a trench.

Look, I’m a guy. I get to have liberties like this.

“I’m sure she’ll come around. This is a once in a lifetime event!” she answered. I followed her down the stairs and out the door. Spike, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie were waiting for us outside. “Lead Navarone to where we’re going to set up, girls. Spike and I will find Rainbow Dash and go talk to Fluttershy.”

Spike gave Rarity one last look before he walked off with Twilight. Rarity was staring at me in disdain. “Navarone, is that what you wore yesterday?”

“It might not be,” I answered. She was wearing a suit of camo finery. It was somewhat humorous.

Pinkie was grinning ear to ear, as usual. “Leave off, Rarity!” she said. “We’re going to see dragons! There’s no time to worry about changing today!”

“Pinkie has the right idea,” I said. “Now lead the way. I apparently have a trench to help dig.”

Rarity just shook her head sadly and bemoaned the fact that she was surrounded by those with no sense of fashion. It was a pretty whiney speech, and I don’t feel like writing it down. At least she did it while we were walking.

She was launching into another set of complaints when I turned to Pinkie. “I have never asked you this before, and I will deny it if you ever tell anyone I did, but can you start singing to shut her up?”

Pinkie’s smile somehow grew wider as she launched into some song or another. I didn’t really pay attention, but I knew it shut Rarity up. Then Pinkie mysteriously disappeared and started showing up in places that shouldn’t be possible, but I had seen all of that before as well so it didn’t faze me too much. Either way, the song didn’t stop so Rarity was still forced to be quiet, though it didn’t stop her from glowering angrily at me.

By the time Pinkie’s song was over, we were there. Applejack already had a few shovels set up and was working on the trench. I grabbed one and joined her.

Shovels in this world… they seem to be designed for humans rather than for ponies. I have absolutely no idea how Applejack was using it, and I was watching her do it. I just started at the other end of the marked zone and hoped to meet her in the middle.

Before we got there, Rainbow Dash and Twilight showed up with no Fluttershy. Spike apparently went back to grab refreshments or something. Twilight grabbed one of the shovels with magic and started clearing the middle of the trench.

“Why don’t you just magic all the dirt out of the way?” I asked, my voice weary.

Rainbow Dash face-hoofed and Twilight blushed. Her shovel dropped to the ground and all the remaining dirt lifted up and dropped some distance away. Well, that was a waste of effort on the parts of me and Applejack. I just threw my shovel into the ground in disgust and leaned against the trench wall. After a moment, I slipped my gloves off and slid them into a pocket. The ponies jumped in, making the area as homey as possible for some reason. I had a suspicion that as soon as we were done, the hole would be filled in again, but whatever.

We waited a bit, the girls talking of some inane thing or another. I was just watching the skies, waiting to see a large cloud of dragons coming at us. Spike showed up at some point, but I didn’t really pay much attention until he stopped a little trolley full of foodstuffs in front of me.

I looked down at him, to see him casting furtive glances at the sky. “Well Spike,” I said, “you wanted to learn more about dragons. I suggest watching them closely.” I grabbed something off the trolley. “If nothing else, you’ll always be a bitchin’ cook.”

He nodded slightly.

Pinkie was suddenly in my face. “I’ve never heard you use that word before! What’s it mean?” Man, we humans have way too many ways of saying something’s good.

“It’s a thing you shouldn’t say,” I answered. “You’re too young and innocent.”

“And you’re not?” she asked, her hair and smile drooping slightly.

I patted her on the head. “When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.” How old were these ponies, anyway? I had been to several birthday parties, but I had never heard any mention of age.

She was about to say something else when Twilight got everyone’s attention. “They’re coming!” she squealed with glee. All of the ponies hunkered down, trying to maximize their visibility while minimizing their chances of getting seen by a dragon. I don’t know how that was supposed to work, given the dragons were flying above us, but whatever. I just sat down and watched.

It was pretty cool, watching them all fly above us. We got to see a few of them get in fights, jockeying for position. Twilight was taking notes, Rainbow Dash was talking all about their flying abilities to Applejack, and Rarity was commenting on how they looked to Pinkie Pie. Spike was just staring in wonder.

I don’t know how long we were out there, but the dragons just kept coming. After some time, Spike nodded to himself and whipped the covering off the second part of the trolley. He started pulling things out. The others were still watching the dragons, but I turned my gaze down just in time to catch my crossbow being thrust at me. I reflexively grabbed it.

I looked down at Spike and saw the look on his face. I smiled and slung the crossbow over my shoulder. He passed me several belts of knives and a very full quiver. When I had all of my equipment, he started shoving food from the trolley into the cloth he had it covered with. When it was as full as he could get it, he finally looked around for something. With a smile, he grabbed the shovel and bagged the cloth up and tied it to the end. He looked like a grave robbing hobo when he hefted it over his shoulder, but it was funny.

“Are you sure about this?” I finally asked him.

“I’ve never been more sure,” he answered, nodding grimly.

The girls finally noticed what we were doing. “What’s going on?” Twilight asked, looking at all of my weapons in confusion. Her eyes went to Spike’s bindle and widened considerably. “What do you two think you’re doing?”

“Going for a walk,” I innocently replied.

“Yeah,” Spike added. “We might be home late, so don’t stay up waiting.”

Twilight didn’t much care for that. “And what does that mean?” she demanded.

“It means we’re going on a walk, and for you to not expect us back soon,” I said. “We’ll be back when we get back, and not a second sooner.”

“You’re NOT thinking about following those rough beasts, are you?” Rarity simpered.

I looked at her for a moment, turned my gaze down to Spike, and looked back up to her. “I’m not thinking about doing anything. I know what we’re going to do, though.”

“They’ll tear you apart!” Rainbow Dash said.

I shrugged. “Spike wants to go. He might need help getting to them. If he needs my help, I’m going to make sure he gets it. I’m loyal like that, you see.” Nothing she could say to that.

“She’s right, sugar cube,” Applejack said. “Them dragons are dangerous! There ain’t no tellin’ what they might do to y’all.”

Spike’s turn to answer: “I’m going all the same. I want to know more about myself, and if none of you ponies are willing to help me, I’ll have to do it myself.” He paused. “With Nav’s help, of course.”

Twilight looked us both up and down. Spike was glaring at them all. I was just standing easily, leaning slightly against the wall. I was probably wearing a smile, but I couldn’t tell for sure. “This is stupid,” she finally said. “But I won’t stop you.” She thrust her book of notes at me. “Just take notes!” I slipped the book, her quill, and the ink bottle in a large pocket. I love cargo pants.

Most of the others stared at her in surprise. Pinkie just jumped back in my face somehow and dropped a bag of confectioneries on me. “Come back safe!” she merrily said.

“Thanks, Pinkie,” I answered, shouldering the bag of goods. “We’ll be fine.” I stepped out of the trench and pulled Spike up. “We’ll be back when we’re back,” I told them.

Without another word, Spike and I took our leave, following the dragons. Before we were out of earshot, I leaned down a bit to Spike and said loud enough for them to hear, “They’re going to follow us.” He shrugged.

 

We followed the trail of dragons for two days, sleeping where we could and scrounging up food when we ran out. I shot some small game and stripped it down and Spike cooked it as we walked. I know the girls behind us were probably sickened by that, but I didn’t really care.

They were really, really bad at following us. I pointed them out several times to Spike, and we turned and waved several times, to see them scrambling away to hiding spots. I only saw Twilight, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. I know Pinkie and Applejack have real jobs to attend to, so they probably stayed behind. Although… if Pinkie was trying to track us, I would probably never see her until she was right in front of my face.

We finally made it to the edge of a large mountain that looked like a volcano. There were dragons everywhere above us, flying and fighting and whatnot.

“Well, we’re here,” I said. He started climbing the volcano. I grabbed him. “Spike, this is your last chance. If you go up there, things might change. Are you sure you want to do this?”

He looked at me. “Absolutely,” he answered.

I let him go. “Lead the way. I won’t go over the lip unless you want me to, but I’ll at least pull recon with you.”

He started back up and I followed him. It took us more time than it should have to get up the side, but given that it was a sheer rock face I don’t think it was that bad. We were both panting by the time we got there. I would have flown, and flown some on the way in, but I didn’t know if any of the dragons above us would have attacked me thinking I was something worth eating.

We laid against the top, looking down into the massive area in front of us. We saw all manner of dragons doing all manner of things. Some were wrestling, some were actually fighting, some were talking, some were hoarding, some were relaxing, some wer—I turned my gaze away, and made sure Spike wasn’t watching either.

He pointed to a group of dragons that were smaller than most of the ‘adult’ dragons. They looked to be more violent than most of the other dragons, and seemed to be challenging each other to all manner of things. “I think they would be a good place to start,” he said. “They’re only a little bit bigger than I am, and might be more willing to talk because of it.”

“Hold on,” I answered. “Let’s watch a bit longer.” He sighed and his gaze wandered. I watched the group he pointed out. They were definitely doing a lot more physical stuff than the others. They reminded me of… “Teenagers,” I said aloud. Spike’s gaze jerked back to me. “Those dragons down there are teenagers, Spike. Whatever you do, avoid that group.”

“So what’s wrong with teenagers?” he asked.

“They’ll be mean to you for the sake of seeing you suffer, if I judged their group correctly. They might bully you, try to get you to do things you can’t, attempt to steal from you, or who knows what else. Just avoid them, is all. Try to find a small group of adults.” He sighed.

It took us half an hour to find a pair I would feel comfortable sending Spike to. I pointed them out. “They might be a safe bet,” I told him. “They seem like a young couple to me, and might be willing to talk to you.”

“I don’t know, Nav. They seem pretty… boring.”

They did. They were just looking around, seeming somewhat lost themselves. But they were definitely dragons and they were older than Spike, so it would be better than nothing.

“Just talk to them. Maybe they’ll be able to either help you or point you to someone who can.”

He looked at them and then back to me. “I don’t suppose… Can you come with me?”

That was the question I didn’t want to hear. I had no idea what might happen if I appeared. I might get eaten or worse. I licked my lips nervously and looked around one more time. After a moment I reached around and pulled my crossbow out and cocked it. “Be ready to speak out for me, if I am accosted. And if any of the adults tell me to leave, I’m gone. If I do get kicked out, make sure to ask how you get your wings, if nothing else.”

With that, we stood and jumped down into the volcano proper. Most of it was covered in stone, with only the occasional breaks showing magma—or lava? I don’t know which. Honestly, I expected every one of the dragons to immediately turn my way as soon as I made myself visible. Thankfully, none of them seemed to notice us immediately.

We began a steady pace toward the couple I pointed out, doing our best to skirt around the other dragons in our way. I was starting to be noticed, but I didn’t see anyone looking at me in anger. I drummed my fingers along the crossbow nervously, seeing several dragons turn their gazes my way. I wasn’t expecting the crossbow to be able to do much damage to them other than piss them off, but… I wasn’t about to let myself be eaten—at least, not eaten alive.

The two we were walking to noticed us now. I saw Spike was staring dead at them. My eyes were trying to look everywhere at once: I was in dragon country, and there was no stopping here.

We made it to the dragon couple after nearly ten minutes of walking, and I was pretty sure every dragon here had looked us over at least once. I was starting to sweat from nervousness. At least back in Egypt, I was hidden from eyes. Here, I was standing in plain sight and everyone was looking at me.

“Can we help you?” the male dragon rumbled at us when we stopped a few feet in front of them.

We stared at them for a moment. Spike looked up to me. I gulped. “My uh… My friend would like to ask you some questions, if you wouldn’t mind.” Dragons, if you didn’t know, are huge. Those ‘teenage’ dragons were bigger than I am. They were bigger than the naga. These dragons we were talking to were about three times the size of the teens.

The male dragon turned to look at his female companion. After a moment he turned back to us with a smile of sorts. “What kind of questions would he like to ask?” he asked.

I opened my mouth to respond when Spike finally spoke up: “I want to know who I am!” he said. “No pony knows anything about dragons, so I came here to find out more about myself.”

The male laughed. “No pony?” the male wheezed. “You truly don’t know anything, do you?”

The female stuck a claw on the male’s shoulders. She looked down at Spike, “Little one, where were you hatched?”

“Canterlot, in a magic school,” he answered, his voice cracking. I couldn’t stop from ruffling my wings slightly when I heard his voice.

Their smiles dropped. “You don’t know your parents, do you?” the male asked. Spike shook his head, dropping his gaze. I slung my crossbow and put my hand on his head. The male turned to me. “And what is your part in this, creature?” he growled. “Were you one of those that hatched him?”

“No, I know nothing of magic or dragons. He asked for my help to get here, and I got him here. Hell, I’m in a similar predicament as him; the ponies brought me here as well, and I’ve been stuck among them ever since.”

“Filthy magic!” the female hissed. “When will they learn not to delve into things they have no place in?”

“Whenever they start paying for their actions,” I answered. “Would you mind answering questions for him?”

They both looked down at Spike. The male looked up to me and said, “Of course we will. However, some things can’t be spoken of while another race is around. My mate will give you a tour of the area while I talk to your friend.”

I don’t think I could have said no to that if I tried. “I will not be attacked by any of the dragons, will I?” I asked.

“You might be questioned,” the female answered. “But none will attack you if you are in the company of a dragon.”

“Very well,” I said. Before another word could be said, one of the female’s claws shot out, snatched me, and we were suddenly airborne. This was not going at all as I was expecting it to. “I have wings!” I tried shouting up at her. Her only reply was laughter. I just sighed and looked around at the world. It was quite a harrowing sight, as we were moving considerably faster than I could myself.

Thankfully, she set down on a small mountain a few miles away from where we left Spike. She did not, however, let me go. “Tell me more about the little one, creature,” she said, holding me up to her face.

“He is working as an assistant to the unicorn that hatched him with magic,” I answered. “He has several friends where he lives and works. He even has a crush on one of the ponies. I don’t suppose you could let me go?”

“I will. Later. What kind of work does he do as an assistant?”

“Cook, clean, make sure the mind of his unicorn stays down-to-earth. His unicorn lives in a library, and there is a lot of organization to be done. He is quite invaluable. I really don’t like being constricted. Can you at least loosen your grip?”

She did that much, at least. I was able to move around easier, and spread my wings a bit. She noticed that, and drew one of the claws from another hand across them gently. My body went a bit stiff as my mind had flashbacks from Kat. “Feathers are quite interesting little things,” she said. Her claw reached the end of my wings and she gently clamped the end of the wing down and gave it a little pull. I flinched. “Oh, does that hurt?”

“Opposite of hurt, actually,” I said, grimacing. “You have a mate, so I would appreciate you not touching my wings.” I folded them as best I could against me.

“My apologies, creature,” she said, withdrawing her hand. “I did not realize. I have more questions, if you are willing to answer them.”

“Ask. If I know answers, I will give them.”

“Do you know Celestia?”

“Yes, I do.”

“What can you tell me about her?”

“She’s old and powerful and rather kind. She definitely knows how to rule, and I know that I am not in a hurry to piss her off.”

She nodded. “Now what can you tell me about yourself?”

“I am a human, accidentally summoned here by the little dragon’s unicorn. Pretty early on I was involved in a magical accident and ended up with wings on my back.” I shrugged. “There’s really not that much to tell.”

“What is that hunk of wood you carry?”

I unslung the crossbow and hefted it lightly. “This is a weapon. It shoots darts at whatever I point it at.”

She snorted. “And do you really think that would help you against a dragon?”

“No, but I wasn’t planning on using it against a dragon. If I was attacked, I wasn’t going to let myself get eaten alive.”

“I see… Tell me of your life then, human. I believe we have some time before the other two are finished.”

I told her most of what I could tell her. Nothing involving my relationships with the princesses, but she did ask for excruciating details about the Kat thing I went through. It was kind of nice, actually being able to talk with someone about that…

“And you actually want to go back to the ponies?” she asked, shocked, when I finished.

“Stockholm syndrome kicked in some time back,” I answered with a shrug. “And unless I have some way of nullifying magic, I don’t think I could stay away; Celestia or Luna would just pull me back eventually.”

“Even if you didn’t want to go back? I thought you said they were kind.”

“If they don’t need me, yeah, they are rather kind. But when I have a chance of being useful to them I don’t think they’ll let me hide somewhere else.”

“That sounds rather… cruel, to me,” she answered.

“Someone has to help them. I suppose it is better that it is someone like me who has no place than one of her own kind that has a family.”

She shook her head. “Foolish. If Celestia cannot do her own dirty work, why does she deserve to have someone else do it for her?”

“I see where you are coming from, and you do have a point, but just because she doesn’t handle the dark work doesn’t mean she can’t. Being the ruler of around half the planet is a very busy venture. No one can do everything themselves, even if they are as powerful as she is.”

“She has you brainwashed,” the dragon asserted.

“Perhaps. But if I am doing good in the world, does it really matter who I do it for, or why? And if I truly am stuck in this world, it might as well be somewhere that I’m happy and somewhere that I have friends. If the price is that I occasionally have to do hard things, is that truly so much to ask?”

“You young races always seek to find purpose in your lives. You always seek to live for something! Is not the simple act of living enough for you?”

“Maybe if I could live as long as you. But with my limited life, I know I have much less of a chance to affect the world, so I have to do what I can with the time I’m given.”

She shook her head again, saying, “I’ll never understand you young ones. There’s just no reasoning with you.” She tightened her grip. “Come. I’m sure they are done talking by now.” With that, she leapt back into the air. We soared back to the main mountain.

When we got there, we found a large group of dragons surrounding two very familiar looking unicorns, a bundle of shiny cloth that looked like it might have been a costume, and Spike. We landed on the outskirts and she released me. I easily squeezed through the ranks of dragons. “It’s them or us, kiddo,” I heard the male dragon saying. “And from the looks of things, I don’t think they’ll get that far away from here either way.”

I walked out from the crowd. “You’d sentence them to death?” I asked, trying to make my voice sound like something other than terrified. “For what crime?”

Everyone’s gaze shifted to me. I saw that Twilight and Rarity were incredibly scared, and Spike was standing in front of them defensively.

“Spying. The purple one breached the laws of nature to force the hatching of Spike. The white one is ugly.” Rarity huffed rather darkly at that one. “And frankly, they look quite tasty.”

“I can’t deny that Rarity is ugly.” She gave me an evil glare. “But is that really worth sentencing her to death for?”

“No, but it helps,” the dragon answered.

“Could one not argue that all magic is a violation of nature? Why would you not kill all unicorns, rather than just this one especially?”

“Because she used her magic to force one of our own into slavery, and twisted his mind so terribly that he can’t even see his chains!”

“Can’t really deny that either… What’s so bad about spying?”

“We’re a private race,” he answered haughtily.

“Fair enough. Twilight, do you have anything to say in your defense?”

She looked at me blankly. “You’re terrible at this.”

“Well, yeah. You’re guilty as sin. My question is, why the fuck haven’t you teleported away yet?”

She blinked. Without another word, the three of them disappeared, leaving me alone in the center of a group of very angry dragons. “Aw shit…” I looked around. All the dragons were staring at the spot where the ponies had just been. I very quietly started backing into the circle of dragons, hoping to get away before any of them noticed.

“GET HIM!” one of them shouted.

I began running through the group of large monsters, their sizes and relative proximities working in my advantage: They were so large and so close together that they all mashed together as I was running through them. It wasn’t until I got through the group that I started having problems.

Twilight, you traitor! I kept running, but now the dragons could actually catch me, and all of them had wings. I dodged one of the teenagers that was jumping at me, and he impacted an adult that was jumping at me from behind. They collided in midair and hit the ground with a loud thump.

I saw a large pond of magma coming up in front of me, so I just jumped and let my wings carry me over it, hoping the thermals weren’t too bad above it. A few dragons tried to jump on me from a little cliff overlooking it, but they somehow all missed and hit the lava instead. Thankfully, that stuff is so viscous that it can’t splash. There were a few piles of jewels in front of me that I decided to fly over rather than risk flying around.

That was a mistake. A number of dragons jumped out of the pile trying to get me. I swung the crossbow up to the first one and shot him dead in the face with it. It didn’t do any damage, but it did stop him from getting me. After that, though, it was empty and I didn’t have time to reload it.

So this is how it ends. Assloads of dragons on my tail and left by my friends. It could be worse, I guess: At least they won’t rape me before killing me. Though honestly, that doesn’t make me feel much better.

One of the dragons bursting out of the jewels managed to grab me from the air. “And where do you think you’re going, freak?” he asked my struggling form.

“Preferably somewhere away from here,” I answered. “I’ll give you a hug if you let me go.”

“No thanks. I think I’d prefer you more as a snack.”

He grinned widely and his snake-like tongue smacked me in the face. “Yes,” he said, “you taste pretty good.”

And then a blue blur kicked that fucker in the face. He dropped me to the pile and I jumped up as quickly as I could. “Hurry up Nav, I can’t keep them busy forever!” Rainbow Dash shouted.

My hand shot down to the pile to grab a decent sized ruby. I jammed it in my pocket and jumped off the pile to let my wings kick in.

“Come on, slowpoke!” Rainbow Dash yelled, flitting around me. “They’re catching up!”

“These wings aren’t made for speed, dammit!” I yelled. Thankfully, we were approaching the lip of the volcano. That meant there was a pretty steep decline coming up, and once we hit the bottom of that there were a lot of trees. I was hoping we could lose them in that mess.

We cleared the lip easily, but what followed us was a whole lot of fire. I know my clothes were singed and I think I lost most of the hair on my back and my legs. Rainbow Dash lost a large chunk of her tail.

We fell down the mountain with style, just barely managing to stay in the air. Nothing followed us, probably thinking us dead from the fire. By all rights, we should have been. Thankfully, since Rainbow Dash was with me, I was mostly exempt from the rules of life and death. We flew a few miles into the forest before we landed next to slow river.

“That was painful,” I said when we were down and I was in the river, soaking my fucked up body. My legs were blistered pretty badly and I don’t think I could walk that far. My wings were singed but still working.

“You’re just lucky I was there to save you,” Rainbow Dash answered. “That dragon would have eaten you like you were nothing!”

“I wouldn’t have been in that situation if Twilight hadn’t left me behind,” I said, sighing lightly as the water worked its way into my clothes. What she did to me was pretty much a death sentence that I had no right to survive. I wonder if she realized that.

“I’m sure she had a good reason,” she said, jumping in the river with me. She immediately started flowing away until I grabbed what was left of her tail and pulled her over to me. “I meant to do that,” she said with a small blush when I had her anchored next to me.

“Of course you did. So why weren’t you in the circle with the other two?”

“Because I was making sure that dragon didn’t take you away to be eaten!” she answered. “When we saw her grab you and fly away, we knew we couldn’t just let you die like that. So I went to follow you. It’s a good thing we came, too! If I hadn’t been there, I know you wouldn’t have gotten off that mountain.”

“If you three hadn’t been there, the need to get away never would have come up. The crisis appeared when the other two were caught. We were doing just fine until then.”

Rainbow Dash blushed again, and didn’t say anything.

After a few minutes of lounging back in the water and soaking my burns, she said, “We should probably get going, Nav. I don’t know if those dragons might decide to go looking for us…”

I sighed. “I know. I just really don’t feel like moving because I know as soon as I get out, all of my everything is going to hurt.”

“Well… No pain, no getting away from pony-eating dragons.” I don’t think that’s quite how the saying is supposed to go. I gently pushed myself to a standing position and immediately regretted it. I couldn’t get in the air like this, not unless I was already up there.

“You’re going to have to help me get in the air,” I told her. “I can’t run and jump in this state.”

“Psh, lazy!” She jumped out of the water and into the air with ease. She ruined it by grimacing, though. “Well, maybe not so lazy.” I knew her ass was probably a bit singed, as closely as her tail was cropped. She flew up to me and grabbed me under the arms and pulled us above the trees. When we were high enough, she let me go and we started flying back home.

It took us most of a day to get back, and we beat the others home. We both decided to visit Fluttershy’s place to see if she had anything for burns.

“What happened to you?” she asked in a horrified tone when she saw us.

Rainbow Dash gave a sheepish smile. “You were right about dragons,” she answered. I didn’t really want to know. “Do you have anything to fight burns? Nav here can barely stand!”

“Right, and Rainbow Dash can’t sit down,” I added. I heard Rainbow grind her teeth slightly at that.

“Come in!” Fluttershy demanded, her caretaker mode kicking in. “Get comfortable, you’re both going to be here awhile.”

“I can’t be here long, I have weather to control!” Rainbow Dash tried saying.

Fluttershy just looked at her and pointed in her house. With a sigh and some grumbles, Rainbow Dash went in and plopped herself down on the couch. I limped inside, Fluttershy at my side with a worried expression on her face. I couldn’t really sit down either, given that most of my back was pretty crispy. I settled for falling on the floor. I tried controlling it, but when I started down I ended up not stopping until it was a bit too late.

Rainbow Dash giggled until Fluttershy shot her another glare. Fluttershy quickly jumped to my side, making sure I was fine. She propped a pillow under my head and went off to get something or another.

“So what was that thing you grabbed from the pile, anyway?” Rainbow Dash asked me.

I pulled the jewel from my pocket. “Just some ruby or something,” I answered. “I figured I could give it to Rarity to make her shut up when she gets back and starts whining at me for calling her ugly.”

Rainbow Dash gaped. “You called her ugly? You’ll never make her shut up from that, Nav!”

“I’m sure I’ll figure something out,” I said, putting the gem back in my pocket. “I wonder when they’ll get back. Twilight could probably have this mess healed up right quick.”

She just sighed and buried her face in the couch. I quite knew that feeling, and I sagged down further into the floor. It was nice to not be moving again.

Fluttershy quickly came out of the kitchen, carrying some bottles of cream or something. She came to me first since I was considerably worse off than Rainbow Dash. She gasped when she saw my burns. “How did you get back like this?” she quietly asked.

“Painfully,” I answered.

She didn’t say anything else, just began gently rubbing some stuff on the backs of my legs where the pants had burned off. The cream stuff was very cold and I shivered lightly. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Nav,” she said. “This’ll fix you right up!” I think she took longer than she really needed to, applying everything, but I wasn’t going to fault her for being thorough. “You’re so smooth,” she whispered lightly.

“What was that?” Rainbow Dash asked, giggling lightly.

Fluttershy gave off a ridiculously cute little “Eep!” and turned bright red. “N-n-nothing!” she stammered, pulling her hoof away from me. After a moment of hearing Rainbow Dash giggle, she sighed and started rubbing the lotion in again. She finished me up shortly after and started on Rainbow Dash, which didn’t take nearly as long.

“So when can we go home?” Rainbow asked when everything was applied to her.

“When you’re good and healed,” Fluttershy answered with a smile and a nod. “Now, I bet you two are hungry!”

Well, I know I was. I didn’t really feel like intrud—“You bet I am!” Rainbow Dash said with glee.

I sighed. “If it wouldn’t be a bother, I suppose,” I added. “It has been a little while since I last ate.”

Rainbow Dash glared down at me. “Yeah, and it was meat! What’s wrong with you, Nav?”

I opened my mouth to explain, but Fluttershy beat me to it: “Some creatures are omnivores, Rainbow Dash. You shouldn’t judge.”

Rainbow Dash and I were both surprised at that. “But… He was eating animals!” Rainbow Dash cried.

“Turtles eat fish,” Fluttershy quietly replied. Rainbow Dash has a pet turtle, you see. No, I’m not certain how that works.

“That’s… that’s different…” Rainbow uttered.

Rainbow Dash was still looking pretty disgusted. I can honestly understand that, truth be told, but it was still a bit disheartening. I turned to her and said, “If it makes you feel any better, we tried talking to all of them first. In fact, we told each one if they wanted to survive to run away. Not a one of them did; none of them were sapient.” She snorted. I shrugged. “I don’t care what you think of me; I don’t kill to eat sapient species unless I am starving. I’m not a monster, and if you haven’t realized that by now, I don’t think you ever will.”

She sighed. “I know you aren’t, Nav… It’s just surprising, is all.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Now, how about I fix you two something to eat?”

“Just don’t get the meals confused,” Rainbow Dash warned.

“Oh no, I don’t know how to cook meat,” Fluttershy answered. “And I don’t have any on hoof anyway.” With that she went back to her little kitchen.

I turned to Rainbow Dash. “Besides, I’m not the only one that likes to eat mares,” I said with a shit-eating grin. She turned several shades of red and started choking. I giggled and settled back down.

“You can be a real jerk sometimes, Nav,” she said when she finally got control of herself again.

“Yep. It’s a lot of fun.”

After a few minutes she sighed. “This waiting is really going to suck. This is why you don’t provoke dragons, Nav!”

“It’s not my fault Twilight left me behind!” Well, that’s not entirely true. I was kind of mean. Still, it wasn’t my fault Twilight was being stupid enough to stand around when a bunch of dragons were about to attack her.

Whatever she was going to say was lost as Fluttershy came back in with a tray of bowls on her back. She somehow gave me and Rainbow Dash both a bowl of soup. It was pretty awesome tasting.

“Fluttershy, why are you so awesome?” I asked as I finished the bowl off—uncomfortably, given my position on my stomach on the floor.

“Oh, you know…” she whispered, idly pawing at her floor and trying to not meet my gaze.

Rainbow Dash scoffed. “She’s not awesome, Nav. She’s cool. Geez, get it right!”

“We only had one system for that back where I come from. Awesome and cool meant the same thing.”

She looked at me with disbelief. “I bet that’s just what the others told you so you wouldn’t feel left out.” She looked back to her bowl and finished it off with an incredibly loud slurping noise. “Still, this soup was pretty awesome. Keep it up and you might be both cool and awesome! You’ll have to work on your rad score, though.” Fluttershy nodded, wearing a bad poker-face smile.

I set the bowl aside. “So when do you think we can leave, Dr. Fluttershy?”

“Oh! Um…” She looked us both over. “Rainbow Dash can probably leave in the morning. You might be here a few days.”

“I hate being bed-ridden,” I sighed. “Or rather, floor-ridden. I’ve walked off worse. Much, much worse. I think I’ll leave in the morning as well.”

The look Fluttershy gave me.

I cannot ever—EVER—describe it.

I… I don’t even know. Terrifying comes to mind, but it doesn’t do it justice.

I burst out laughing, which caused her and Rainbow Dash both to gape in confusion. I was still giggling when Rainbow Dash finally said, “I’ve never seen that reaction to your stare before!”

“Oh, Fluttershy,” I said. “You’re just too funny. I know you would never hurt me! Glaring at me won’t change that. You’re just too huggable to be mean!” She blushed at that and Rainbow Dash joined me in giggling. “Now, I’m sure the others will be back tomorrow and Twilight can heal me up right proper.”

Fluttershy sighed.

We three were silent for a while. Rainbow Dash finally said, “So… what now?” It was only mid-afternoon or so, and there was plenty of daylight left and none of us were tired.

I turned my head to Fluttershy. “You got any board games? Or any cards? I can teach you a human game called Durak.”

They looked at each other. Rainbow Dash looked at me. “What are cards?”

My jaw dropped. “You damn ponies don’t have any kind of fun, do you?” I finally managed to ask.

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “We get by. So what are cards?”

I shook my head and explained the concept. Fluttershy didn’t seem interested but Rainbow Dash did. “Just another thing for me to be the best at!” she said. “We have a few hours. Fluttershy, do you have any paper or something?”

Unfortunately, the notebook that Twilight had given me was first immolated and then immersed, so it was pretty much useless right now. I’m pretty sure the ink bottle had burst open from the fire as well, but at that point I was doing my best to not look at my legs.

Fluttershy walked over to a bookshelf that I don’t think I had ever seen before and pulled a stack of note cards down from it. “How many do you need?”

“Fifty-two,” I answered. “That’s how many are in a full deck.” Not counting the Jokers, of course. She started counting them out and set them down in front of me. She then walked back over to the bookshelf and grabbed a quill and some ink and set that down as well.

“Alright, normally there are two different colors and four different card suits, but given my limited materials I’ll just do what I can.”

And thus was born the first—really poor quality—deck of cards in Equestria. I taught them every game I knew. And I was incredibly surprised when Fluttershy managed to kick our asses at every game I showed her, as soon as she picked up the basics and the rules. Poker, Durak, Black Jack—somehow, even though it’s mostly luck—Uno, War, and Liar. Hell, she even did great at solitaire! Although I don’t know how she beat me at Liar. Rainbow Dash… She was kind of terrible, and refused to keep playing after she lost everything I showed them. She was much too brash and hot-headed for everything.

As a side note: as soon as I had the first real set of cards made, they pretty much exploded in popularity all around Equestria, and somehow—I still blame Twilight—the rules for all the human games I knew were spread around. It’s pretty interesting what happens when you take stuff like that for granted; honestly I’m surprised I never brought up card games before.

Anyway, that’s what we did until night and we finally all went to sleep. For whatever reason, Fluttershy decided to sleep downstairs with us, snuggled up against me. Rainbow Dash and I both thought it was pretty adorable, so I didn’t say anything.

 

Rainbow Dash and I usually sleep pretty late, so it was no surprise to me when I woke up and Fluttershy had disappeared. Rainbow Dash was still on the couch, snoring softly. My legs felt considerably better, at least. I pushed myself to my feet and was able to stand with almost no pain. I started stretching, though, and that’s when the pain hit. I knew I couldn’t walk back home without ending up in all manner of pain.

Of course, I was planning on doing it anyway because I was stubborn like that. I lowered myself back down to the floor, hoping I would feel better when Rainbow Dash woke up.

As it turns out, I didn’t. She woke up with a stretch and a yawn. “This couch is really not that comfortable,” she moaned.

“I would have traded,” I replied from on the floor. My back wasn’t feeling all that great from sleeping down there, but thankfully the floor was very clean. I don’t know how Fluttershy keeps her place clean with all the animals she has scurrying about, but she manages it.

“Nah, I think the couch was probably better. So where’s Fluttershy?”

“Fuck all if I know. I was planning on leaving when you did, though.”

“I don’t think she’ll like that, Nav.”

“Yeah, well… I don’t really care.”

“We should at least tell her bye, and thanks.”

“Like I said, I was planning on leaving when you did. Though I think she might try to stop me.”

She looked back at my legs. “From the looks of you, she should try to stop you. I don’t think you can get that far, Nav.”

“As I said yesterday: I’ve walked off worse.”

She scoffed again. “When have you ever been injured?”

“Egypt,” I answered. “Do you remember when I said that crazy cat woman went too far?”

“I didn’t know she hurt you, though!”

I started going over the things she had done to me, but Rainbow Dash shushed me after I mentioned the branding. “Never mind! So you’re tougher than you look. That still doesn’t mean you should hurt yourself when there’s nothing to gain from it.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be on Fluttershy’s floor anymore.”

She gave me a dirty smile. “I’m sure you’d rather be in her bed.”

“Well, it would be a lot more comfortable…” She gave me a flat stare. “What? I’m not attracted to ponies, remember?” She rolled her eyes.

“Well, I’m going to wait here until Fluttershy gets back. Now, how about you go over some of those card games again so I’ll have an advantage next time I play her?” I smiled and shook my head, but did as she asked.

After a while, she sighed. “…So what you’re saying is, Fluttershy’s a big cheater?”

“I don’t remember saying that, no,” I answered, not even trying to hold back my grin. “I think we might have found the one thing you’re bad at.”

She blushed lightly. “I’m not bad at anything!” she hotly said.

“You seem to be pretty bad at admitting defeat,” I answered.

“If you weren’t hurt I’d come down there and beat some sense into you!” she growled.

“You aren’t very good at arguing, either.”

“That’s it!” She poised to jump off the couch, but the sound of the door opening stopped her.

“Oh, am I… interrupting?” Fluttershy quietly asked.

Rainbow Dash muttered angrily and stood up. I pushed myself to my feet. “We just wanted to say thanks before we left,” I told her, putting on a smile.

“Yeah Fluttershy. Thanks for helping us and giving us some nice food,” Rainbow Dash added.

Fluttershy’s gaze went from Rainbow Dash to me and back again a few times before settling on me. “But you’re not going anywhere, Nav,” she finally said. “Doctor’s orders.”

“Thanks for the thought, but…” The terrifying glare from last night returned, and this time she actually flew up to my face. I couldn’t help myself and backed up a few steps. She followed.

“You’re going to lie down right now, mister,” she told me.

I reached out and hugged her and she gave an “Eep” of surprise. “I told you that you were too huggable to be mean,” I said. I let her go and her wings stopped working, dropping her to the floor. “But back home I always got told that I need to learn to pick my battles. I can easily win this, but… why? I don’t think I’ll be doing much today anyway, so I might as well spend it on your floor.”

She sighed in relief. “Now you just lay down now and let me take good care of you. You’ll be up and about in no time!”

I gave a long-suffering sigh and sank back down to the floor. Rainbow Dash chuckled before flying off. Fluttershy walked up to me and leaned her head down to my back. She sniffed lightly. “You need a bath, Nav,” she said.

“I know, Fluttershy. It has been a while, and I haven’t changed out of these clothes in a while as well.” I also kind of needed to pee.

“I just need to put this down in the kitchen and then I’ll be right back with some fresh clothes,” she said, heading towards a back room that I assume housed a kitchen. She came back out a second later. “You just stay here and rest. And no moving too much!”

With that said, she stepped back outside and I was left alone for a while. Or at least, I thought I was alone—I soon saw random animals peeping out of small hidey holes all over the room. I looked all around and saw Angel standing at the door to the kitchen. As soon as he saw me looking at him, he smiled. Slowly he raised one of his arms until it was pointing straight up. After a moment, he brought it straight down at me.

Every animal in the building pounced at me.

Thankfully, I wasn’t there anymore: As soon as I saw his arm shoot down, I pushed myself up and onto my feet. I knew I couldn’t move quickly because moving at all hurt, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t afford to move slow; there’s no telling what that psychotic bunny might do to me if he had me trapped. I used to think that rabbit was cool. What the hell was wrong with me?

With that in mind, I began hobbling up the stairs. I was pretty sure there was some manner of bathroom or shower or something up here I could lock myself in, and I needed a bath anyway. Unfortunately, I was hobbling way too slowly. A pair of birds collided with my back, which did nothing at all to slow me down and if the two thuds I heard behind me were any indication, it did more damage to them than it did to me.

Then a freaking raccoon jumped down from the top of the stairs and landed on my face, holding on as tightly as it could. I had just gotten back from running away from dragons, though, so I didn’t fall backwards in fear. I might have—or might not have, I refuse to say—screamed like a little girl and shook my head crazily to get it off. I eventually ripped it off with my hand and dropped it behind me. By then, though, three squirrels were at the top with a trip cord set up that I didn’t see until it was too late.

What the fuck is wrong with these animals? I was lying on the floor of the upper level of Fluttershy’s comfortable little abode, three squirrels and some other critters jumping on my back. I heard what I assumed was an angry bunny bounding up the stairs.

I pushed myself back to my feet, ignoring the squeaks of the squirrels on my back as they tumbled off. “Humanity conquered nature a long, long time ago,” I started saying. “And despite these damnable wings and being forced to live in Namby Pamby Ponyland for several years, I am still a human.” I was pushing my way what I was hoping was the bathroom. “I will not submit.” I put my hand on the door knob. “I will not bow.” I opened the door. “And this is not the bathroom.”

My confusion was met with a flying jump kick from a little bunny to the side of my head that confused me even worse.

“How did you jump that high?” He demonstrated again. “Oh right, you’re a rabbit.” Then his fist collided with my chin in a very amusing display of baby bunny muscles. “Will you knock that off?” He tried one more time but I grabbed him in midair this time and brought his struggling form up to my eye level. “If you show me where the bathroom is, I might forget this embarrassing event happened.”

He struggled on for a few more moments before going limp with a little sigh. He pointed down the hall. I hobbled that way, still holding him. “Seriously, how is this building this large? I swear it looks like a one room home from outside.” He didn’t answer, but then I didn’t really expect him to. You know, what with him not being able to talk and all. I stopped outside of a door and pushed it open with my empty hand. Yep, this was the bathroom. “Now was that really so hard?” I asked him. He just glared at me. “Fine, be that way.”

I set him down and walked into the bathroom. “When Fluttershy gets back, just tell her I’m up here. Or don’t. I’m sure she’ll figure it out herself either way.” I closed the door and locked it.

Man, that bathroom was really girly. But then… I also live in Ponyland, so I was kind of used to that.

The shower was short and painful. I forgot that hot water over burns is bad. At least I got clean, and wiped all the ink and whatnot off me. And I didn’t smell like a smoke-stack anymore, even though what was left of my clothes and weapons did.

I sighed as I began pulling out and wiping down weapons. “Such is life for me in this world,” I whispered. “I left a world of war only to find peace for a few short years until I could get thrust back in.”

Maybe that dragon was right. I looked down at what I was doing, to see my hands automatically cleaning weapons. That dragon was definitely right. But… If something needed to be done, and I was able to do it, shouldn’t I?

I looked down at my ruined clothes and started pulling stuff out of pockets. The only thing of value in there anymore was the jewel, but I pulled the ruined notebook out as well. I was planning on giving it to Twilight with a shit-eating grin and tell her, ‘Here are my notes on dragons.’

I was almost done cleaning my gear when I heard the clopping of a pony coming up the stairs. “Nav?” I heard Fluttershy sweetly call.

“In the bathroom,” I called back. I heard her walk up to the door and she tried twisting the knob—somehow.

“It’s locked,” she felt the need to comment.

“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” I answered, still cleaning something in her sink.

“Can I… can I come in?” I was wrapped in a towel, so I didn’t really see the harm. I reached over and opened it for her. I turned after I finished wiping the little knife down to find her glaring at me. “I thought I told you not to move,” she said through clenched teeth. “You might hurt yourself!”

“Your animals didn’t leave me much choice,” I answered, slipping the blade in a little holster. I pulled out the last one and began cleaning it as I talked. “They came at me from all sides, and since I needed a shower anyway I came up here.”

“My animals wouldn’t do that!” she asserted, too surprised at my accusation to keep her glare or her gritted teeth.

“Okay. I don’t suppose you have my clothes?”

“Well… I don’t know if I should let you have them!” I finally turned to look at her. “You disobeyed my instructions to not move, which might have aggravated your injuries. If keeping you naked will make you stay still, I think not having clothes might be a good thing for you!”

I stared at her. She stared right back. After a moment I let my towel unwind and fall. She turned a very, very bright red, but held her ground. Her eyes shifted a few times, though. “I could walk—or fly—back home like this, Fluttershy. I wear clothes for your benefit more than mine.” That was pretty much a lie. “So how about you give me my clothes so we can avoid that.”

Her eyes went to mine and stayed there. “Then do it.” I blinked. “Go ahead and go home and get your clothes. Naked.” This was a side of Fluttershy I don’t see often.

 

And as I was flying home—completely naked, mind—I remembered my words earlier: Learn to pick your battles.

I’m an idiot.

And when I landed on the balcony of the library, my legs reminded me of that fact very forcefully. It was all I could do to stay steady as I opened the doors and pushed myself in. I limped to my room and pulled some clothes on and fell into bed.

After a few minutes I heard knocking at the door, but I ignored it. Then the knocking moved to my window and I forced my eyes open. Fluttershy was there, holding everything I had left at her house, as well as a bottle of cream or whatever that stuff was. I groaned and pulled myself over to the window and opened it. She daintily flew inside.

“I’m an idiot, Fluttershy.”

She didn’t answer. I shrugged and began limping back to bed, only to have her gently pick me up and carry me there herself. I honestly didn’t think she would be strong enough to carry me when she was flying, but she managed it. She dropped all my belongings on the floor.

“I’m going to go ahead and say this so you can understand why I’ve been acting… Well, yeah. I hate being babied and I hate being helpless and I hate being taken care of.”

“We’re all helpless sometimes,” she finally answered.

“Doesn’t make me feel any better when it happens to me,” I said. She began applying the cream stuff around the parts of my legs she could reach around the shorts I was wearing. “Has anyone ever told you that you were a good person?”

“No, but I’ve been told that I was a good pony plenty of times.”

“Well, you’re that too I suppose. It keeps me sane to think of you more as people than ponies, though.”

“Is it really so bad?” she whispered.

“It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be,” I answered. “I still wake up some mornings and have a panic attack when I realized I’m in a world with talking ponies that have complete control over me, but I get over the attacks faster and faster these days.” And that’s not mentioning the nightmares I get occasionally. I used to think the ‘good’ dreams I had were bad. I didn’t know what bad dreams were, back then.

She finished rubbing the cream on and jumped into my bed and snuggled against me. “You don’t have to be afraid of us, Nav,” she said, looking into my eyes.

“I don’t have to be afraid of you,” I said. “But as to some of the others? I think I’ll hold my opinions on them for myself.” No need to fear Rainbow Dash or Applejack. Pinkie Pie and Rarity still give me some twinges every time I see them, and Pinkie’s ability to violate reality always makes me nervous. Twilight… She was a very, very powerful magic user, and she had too many bouts of crazy to be trusted fully. I liked them all and I considered them all my friends, but… I think I’ll hold off on trusting them.

“It’s good to know you trust me, at least,” she said. We were silent for a while, just being happy in each other’s company. After a few moments of silence, she said, “Nav, I—”

My door burst open, interrupting her. Spike waltzed in and Fluttershy jumped off my bed with another eep and yet another blush. “There you are, Nav!” he shouted, and then saw Fluttershy. “Uh, what were you two doing?”

“She was helping me recover from a volley of dragon fire,” I answered. “Now that Twilight is back, I can get healed.”

Spike opened his mouth to reply, but Twilight walked in and interrupted him. “Navarone, why have you been flying around town naked?”

“Because I’m an idiot. Can you heal me?”

“I don’t know why I should,” she answered. “You did nothing to help us escape!”

“I reminded you that you could teleport! And then you left me behind to fend for myself! Fucking traitor…” The last part was muttered.

“Well, maybe you shou—”

“WHERE IS HE?!” Rarity demanded, barging in and practically foaming at the mouth. Her eyes locked on me and she shrieked, jumping at me. Fluttershy jumped in her way and they went down. “I’LL TEACH YOU NOT TO CALL ME UGLY!”

Twilight sighed and pulled her off Fluttershy. “Rarity, we talked about this.”

I looked at Spike. “Reach in my pile of junk over there and pull out the red gem,” I told him. He did so. “Rarity, you can have this if you agree to not do anything to me.”

She glared at me for a few more seconds before turning her gaze to the red gem. She looked at it for a few moments before her mouth dropped and she let out a ‘squee’ that might have been scarier than her rage.

“A RED DIAMOND!” she squealed.

“A red diamond?” Spike, Fluttershy, and I all asked at the same time. I continued, “I didn’t know there was such a thing.”

Twilight dropped Rarity who pounced on Spike to take the gem. Twilight explained, “Red diamonds are extremely rare and incredibly valuable. I’ve only ever heard legends of them coming from the quarries in Tartarus.” Tartarus, for those that don’t know, is this place’s Australia; it’s where Celestia sends everything she doesn’t like when she doesn’t decide to send them to the moon. And it actually does have the location Australia holds in my world, but there are magical portals to it in a few places. The one on this continent is guarded by the three headed dog Cerberus. “But to actually see a red diamond… Navarone, where did you find this?”

I shrugged. “I randomly grabbed it from a pile of dragon jewels when I was running away in terror. You know, when I could still run. Or move on my legs. Because you abandoned me.” Hint hint.

They were all too busy staring at the jewel.

“It’s a fucking rock!” I said. “Twilight, heal me!”

She shook her head to clear it and blinked a few times. “Right. Sorry.” Her horn glowed for a second and my backside felt much better. I sat up. She turned to Rarity. “I don’t suppose I could borrow that for a few days for study?”

Rarity looked like she wanted to say no, but instead handed it over with the utmost of care. “Be careful with it, Twilight. I have all sorts of ideas for it!”

I stood up and began rummaging through the pile of stuff on the floor until I found the notebook. “And here’s your notes on dragons, Twilight,” I said, holding it up. “I found out that they’re fucking dangerous.” As I said before, the notebook was ruined.

She looked at it with distaste before getting an inquisitive look on her face. “I wonder if I can salvage anything from it…” She magicked it from my hand and took it and the jewel downstairs. Rarity followed, eyes watching the jewel carefully. It was just me, Spike, and Fluttershy up there now.

“Nav?” Spike said, turning to me. I looked at him. “You’re awesome. Thanks, bro.”

“I hope you found what you were looking for, at least. Those dragons were not very happy with me after you three got away.”

He shuddered. “We heard their roars from wherever Twilight teleported us to. I didn’t think anypony could get out of there alive.”

“Most ponies probably couldn’t have,” I said. “Which is why I’m glad I’m not one. Still, I gotta give credit where it’s due: If Rainbow Dash hadn’t been there I’d have been dinner for someone.” I paused. “Of course, if none of them had been there, we probably could have left easily and have gotten more answers in the first place.”

Spike grimaced slightly. “I don’t know if they would have let me leave at all, Nav,” he said. “From the way that dragon was talking, he thought he was saving me! He was yelling at Twilight for ‘keeping me hostage,’ or something.”

“Did you learn what you wanted to, at least?” I asked.

“Not everything, but I learned enough, I think.”

“Good.” I turned to Fluttershy. “Do you know anywhere we could go to hunt animals that won’t be missed, aside from the Everfree?”

She flinched. “Um… No?”

I sighed and turned back to Spike. “Hurry up and grow and become badass so I can safely take you into that place.” Going in by myself was one thing. Taking Spike was another monster altogether.

“Well, there are a lot of ways for dragons to grow, I found out,” he said. “One is giving in to the apparent greed that all dragons have, but that turns us all mindless. One way is…” His eyes flicked to Fluttershy and then to the pile of weapons behind me before returning to me. “Being in the presence of violence. And we can, of course, just grow naturally. There are a few other ways, but we didn’t have time to go into those.”

“So the more violent I am, the bigger you get?”

“Well… Yes. But it takes a lot to get us really big.”

“Eh, I’m sure we can figure something out.” I went back to the pile of junk on the floor and pulled out the shitty deck of cards. “For now, though, you want to learn a few games you can finally beat Rainbow Dash at?”

Spike scoffed. “There’s no such game. She’s good at everything she plays!”

I smiled. “Not good enough to beat Fluttershy here at cards.” Fluttershy blushed and looked away, idly pawing at the floor again. “I’m honestly surprised these games didn’t already exist when I got here, but given that they’re often used for gambling I suppose I shouldn’t be.”

“Gambling?” Spike asked.

“I’m okay with bringing card games here, but I’m not going to bring gambling to this world,” I said. “Now, do you want to learn or not? I’m sure Fluttershy is a very busy lady, and has a lot to do that isn’t helping me teach you.”

“Well…” Fluttershy began, but Spike interrupted with “Sure!”

I looked at Fluttershy. “If you have something to do I can get Twilight and Rarity instead. I know Twilight would love learning some manner of new thing.”

“No… It’s okay,” she quietly answered.

I shrugged. “Whatever. If you’re late for whatever it is, don’t blame me.” I shuffled the deck and taught another person some games. Twilight and Rarity eventually came up to see what we were all doing and I showed them as well. That’s pretty much when it all started to spread, I think. As far as I know, nothing bad ever came from it, so at least there’s that.

Oh, and this little exchange happened before I went to bed: “So why the fuck did you leave me to get murdered?” I asked Twilight, crossing my arms.

“That was a total accident, Nav,” she said, blushing slightly. “It wasn’t supposed to happen! You were supposed to teleport with us. If I had to guess, I’d say being surrounded by so many dragons, who have some magic resistance, culled my ability slightly. I didn’t realize it, so I didn’t cast the field out wide enough. Because of that, you got left behind…”

So I almost got eaten because of a mistake. I guess that makes it better, or something.

 

 

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