A/N: Well this took fucking forever.

Have you ever made someone feel guilty? As in really guilty? Has that someone ever tried to make whatever he or she did up to you by apologizing? Multiple times, in fact? So many times that you finally accept their apology? And then you and that someone continue your relationship as if nothing ever happened, the incident gone from your memory and lost among the strands of time? Have you ever been faced with an apology you just can't turn down? An apology that, in and of itself, is truly a work of art that should be cherished forever? An apology that if turned away, threatens to turn back upon its host, and destroy them from the inside? An apology that comes from the deepest, deepest depths of one's heart?

Then you, my friend, are one lucky bastard.

Let's recap on the situation. I had just come from what was probably the most traumatic Q&A of my life and was now standing in the Books and Branches with absolutely no idea what to do next. Twi, having just recently accused me of being an evil dude who planned to murder everyone, was now making it up to me by apologizing more times than any earthly being should be allowed to. Which was 500 times too many.

Me? I was taking rather drastic steps to avoid said apologies.

Don't listen... don't think... just focus on bunnies... cute, little bunnies... no, not Angel...just cute, little-

"Listen Flame, I'm just really sorry about what happened. Is there any way I can-"


"- maybe I could teach you something about magic, or even-"


"- history! That's a good idea, I could catch you up on pony history! It would be-"


"-a book! You like books, right? I have so many that I could recommend-"

GAAACCCKCKKKAKERWHERLEhegaug hgashkalawerkle... glurg...

Twi rudely interrupted my mental episode by tapping me on the shoulder. "Flame?"

I calmly looked at her. "Yes Twilight?"

"Are you even listening to me?"

"No Twilight."

She glared at me. "Well I'm trying to apologize to you!"

"Which you have already done much more times than necessary. What part of 'I forgive you' do you not understand?"

She stomped her hoof. "But I'm just really-"

"No. Stop." I held up a hoof. "I said I forgive you. End of story."






"I'm not having this conversation, Twi. This line is broken, come back tomorrow."

She stared at me for a couple seconds before closing her mouth. "Fine."

"About time." I turned away. "For a second there I thought I was gonna have to splash you with a bucket of water or something."

"In a way, he's right darling." Rarity put a hoof over Twi's shoulder. "One apology is quite sufficient."

"Yeah. And when you're going on, and on, and on like that, it gets annoying." This earned Rainbow a glare from Rarity. "What? It does!"

While the girls talked, I made my way over to the corner of the room, next to Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and Spike. Each of them had various stages of emotion plastered on their face. Spike looked okay, Sweetie Belle looked grossed out, Apple Bloom looked like me after a math test (completely zoned out with no sense of reality), and Scootaloo looked like she was trying to decide whether to laugh or cry.

I leaned down and whispered to Spike. " So did you guys get all that?"

"Yeah. Yeah we did." He stifled a laugh. "Did Applejack really just KISS you?"

"That's classified information."

"Thought so." He grinned. "You know what's gonna happen if Rainbow Dash finds out, right?"

"Oh." My heart stopped. "Well... uh...

… Shit."

At this, Spike just burst out laughing. "Exactly."

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo seemed to realize we were here, and immediately they were both on me.

"You kissed her?! Gross!"

"Why didn't you kiss Rainbow Dash? She's cooler!"

"I can't believe you actually DID that!"

"Oh, Rainbow Dash is gonna be SO mad..."

I held up my hoof. "To clarify, she kissed me. It was an unavoidable circumstance."

Spike snorted. "Right."

I glared at him. "The point being that if you're going to yell at someone, yell at her, not me."

Man, I was just ASKING for what came next.

Sweets and Scoots, being the little demons that they are, took that as an invitation to immediately run over to Applejack and begin voicing their displeasure about her kissing me. The problem? Dashie was kind of standing two feet away from Applejack. And the kids weren't exactly quiet about what they heard.

"Did you really kiss him?!"

"What did Rainbow Dash do?!"

"That's so GROSS!"

"He LET you?!"

I gotta say, Dash took it pretty well. And by that, I mean she just stood there looking confused. Applejack, being smart, took one look at Dash and immediately tried to shush the fillies. Annnnnd... well, you can guess how well that turned out. I just stood next to Spike with my mouth half-open. Spike himself was rolling around on the floor laughing his head off.

"BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA... oh my Celestia... I can't believe you actually just DID that!"

"Shut up."

"Rainbow's gonna kill you."


"Hey Flame?"

I turned. Dash had sidled up next to me. Over her shoulder, I could see Applejack and the girls talking with Sweets and Scoots, completely unaware of the danger I was in. Great. What are friends for, anyway?


"What are they talking about?" She pointed behind her.

"Oh. Well that is... uh..."

"They're saying you kissed Applejack." She frowned a little. Crap. This is bad, bad, very bad.

"Well... you see, it went like this, she-"

"Is that true?" she interrupted me. I could began to see something in her eyes.

"Umm... no. Well yes, but no."

"Yes or no?" Her face got very close to mine. "Which one is it?"

I backed away quickly. "Now Dashie, I know you're probably pissed, but-"

"Well?" Her eyes. I could see the flame. It was getting closer.

"It was an unavoidable circumstance! I was just-"

"Flame, seriously." Suddenly she wasn't right up close to me. She was sitting there, looking annoyed. "I'm not gonna kill you or anything. I just want an answer."

I blinked. "Oh." Looking over her shoulder, I could still see Applejack talking with the girls. "Well in that case, she kissed me. Not visa-versa. There is a difference."

"I know." Grinning, she turned. "This is great!"

"Great?" Huh? "What's great?"

She turned and looked me slyly. "Well... she kissed you, right?"

"Uhhh..." I dunno. Did she? "... yeah..."

"Great. She did it, which means I now have to get even with her. Which makes you..." Turning, she walked away. "... fair game."

I blinked again. Wait... Then I jumped up and followed her. "Hey! Just so you know, I have a lawyer! You'd better not kidnap me or anything!"

"I make no promises!" she shouted back.


After re-joining the rest of the girls, Rainbow drew Applejack aside to have some 'polite conversation', which I knew was just an excuse for the two of them to either argue or share strategies. Probably both. Did I stop them? No. First of all, because a little arguing is healthy, and second, because I value the well-being of my face. And... well, pretty much my whole body in general.

While they did their thing, I talked with the rest of the girls. Twilight in particular wanted to know what my plan for the rest of the day was (None of your damn business, that's what).

I shrugged. "Probably just gonna go home. I have some things to attend to-wait." I had remembered something. "Gimme a sec, I got to check something."

They all looked confused as I slowly creeped towards the door, trying to be as stealthy as possible. I went into an army crawl (which is surprisingly much more comfortable when you have four legs) and made my way across the floor, until I was right at the foot of the door. I was trying to avoid being seen through the little window on the face of it, or as I like to call it, the 'who-the-hell-are-you' window. Because, y'know, you always look through it to find out who the hell wants into your house. Kind of like a peephole, except I can never see anything with those.

Situating myself underneath the handle, I rubbed my hooves together. I was just about to open it when I was rudely interrupted once again. "Flame?"

I looked up. Twilight and Rarity were looking at me like one of my eyes had turned pink. Couldn't they see I was doing something important? "Yeah?"

"Ummmmmm..." Rarity shook her head. "What are you doing?"

"I'm checking on somethin'." I turned back to the doorknob.

"And what exactly is that something?"

"Well, you see..." I slowly turned the knob. The door creaked open. "... I had some slight trouble in town this morning, and I wanted to see if it'll happen again."

"Trouble?!" Twi looked alarmed. "What kind of trouble?!"

I had opened the door just enough for me to poke my head outside. As soon as I did, the nearest pony saw me and gasped. She poked her friend in the shoulder and pointed at me. He in turn poked the next guy, who poked someone else, who poked someone else, who poked someone else; who got the shit scared out of him and sent his ice cream flying halfway towards the moon.

I sighed. Well, so much for that plan.

As I pulled my head back in and shut the door, I could hear the muttering start up. Most of it was probably about why my head was at the bottom of the door instead of at the top, but at the moment I didn't really care. Staring was staring, and the last thing I wanted was to become another freak show.

"That kind of trouble." I informed Twilight. Dusting myself off, I turned to face her. "Do you have like, an underground tunnel to the Everfree or something?"

"Uhhhhh..." She blinked. "...No."

Crap. "Well then give me a second to figure something out, because I do not want to go out there again."

"Why in Equestria not?!" Rarity was looking through the window at the masses of muttering people with a look that said 'WANT'. "The entire town seems to know you!"

I deadpanned. "No, really, I didn't notice. Think we should go out and ask them just to make sure?"

"I think it's great!" Twi said happily. She had joined Rarity at the window. "Everypony seems to be talking about you."

"Annnnnnnd... remind me how that's a good thing?" I scratched my head. "What, were you expecting something different?"

"Oh yes." She nodded vigorously. "Normally when they meet something new, they all run away screaming."

This phrase served to temporarily rob me of speech. When I got it back, I wasn't too happy. "So you just decided to write me a letter, telling me to come to you, knowing full well that there was about a fifty percent chance that I would become the next fricking Godzilla?!" I shook my head incredulously. "What kind of sense does that even make?!"

Twi was unfazed. "Well I was only really worried about three ponies."

"Lily, Daisy, and Roseluck." Rarity clarified. "The Flower Fillies."

"Exactly." Twi turned to face me. "Let's just say they aren't the bravest of ponies."

I looked at her suspiciously. "Just how 'un-brave' are we talking about?"

"They caused a wide-spread panic when a group of bunnies ate their gardens." Rarity answered matter-of-factly.

I stared at both of them, then proceeded to facehoof. "Why does that not surprise me in the least?"

"Look on the bright side! Nopony's screaming."

"Nope. They just stare at me like I'm the damn Pope." I waved my hooves in front of my face, nearly falling over in the process. "It's like they expect me to transform into a dragon at any moment!"

"Would you?"


"Then stop complaining."

I glared at her. "Can you stop saying logical things? They're interrupting my thought process."

She giggled. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"Whatever." I looked around the library for anything that could help me escape. Dashie and Apples were still battling it out in the corner, Spike and the fillies had gotten bored and had probably left to go destroy something (What? It's something to do), and Pinkie and Fluttershy...

"Hey..." I turned in a circle, surveying the area. "Where'd Pinkie and Flutters go off too?"

Rarity had finally drawn herself away from the hordes of flesh-eating townsfolk. "I'm not sure. Knowing Pinkie Pie, she probably left to go celebrate the fact that you forgave Twilight and Fluttershy... well..." She smiled sheepishly. "... she probably feels mortified for being terrified of you, but is too scared to apologize."

"Another addition to my glorious afternoon." I snorted. "I knew I shouldn't have gotten up today."

"One cannot be a couch potato all the time."

"I know many people who would argue with that."

"I'VE GOT IT!" Wait, what?

I blinked at Rarity. "Did you say something?"

She blinked back. "No."

We both looked at Twilight, who was wearing the most freakishly happy expression that I almost mistook her for Ace Ventura.


No. It's a movie.

Well then stop reading this, and go watch it. No, NOT in a couple of hours, RIGHT NOW.

"Ummm... Yes Twilight?" I ventured.

"I've got the answer to your problem!" She said it the same way you would say 'I've obtained Elysium'.

"So you DO have a secret escape tunnel."

"Nope. Better!" Her grin never wavered. "I can't believe I didn't think of this before!"

"Please, enlighten us." I sat down, tried to look interested, and instead decided to focus on her smile. My expression probably turned out something along the lines of 'terrified'.

"I agree with Flamesinger. What is your... er... solution, Twilight?" Rarity didn't look any less nervous than I felt, which meant Twi's smile wasn't normal. Great. Now we're all gonna die.

"Well you see, we've always been looking for a way to get Flame accepted, right?" Have we? "The problem was that we just couldn't think of a way to introduce him to everypony at plan is just that: we introduce him to the whole town!"

"I love how you're talking about me in the third person. It's not like I'm right here or anything."

"Introduce him to the whole town? How?"

"Simply! We'll use the outdoor theater and tell everyone that an important event is happening there!"

"Hello? Anyone? Am I alone in this conversation?"

"So... we would be introducing him publicly."

"Exactly! We'll even have him talk about himself for a little while so everypony sees he's not dangerous!"

"Is there a way that I can express my immense dislike of this plan? Because I immensely dislike it."

"That... could work. No, that could not only work, it could work FABULOSLY! An excellent idea Twilight!"

"I know! I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!"


This particular outburst, while probably psyching out the neighbors, did get me the attention I wanted. Both Twi and Rarity immediately stopped talking and looked at me in shock.

"Thank you." I pointed at Twilight. "Now let me know if I understand you correctly: You." I pointed at myself. "Want me." I pointed outside. "To give a speech."

It took a few seconds for her to answer. "Well... not necessarily a speech, but-"




"It's perfect!"

"I shun publicity."

"It'll be an hour at most!"

"An hour is 3,600 seconds, A.K.A. a long time."

She groaned. "But why not?!"

"Two reasons: One, because I don't want to accidentally start a cult, and two, because it's stupid."

She glared at me. "Those are horrible reasons."

"Maybe, but believe when I say that neither money nor power nor sports cars will put me on that stage. I'm not talking to anyone, and that's FINAL."


And that is the story of how I ended up here, in the mayor's office, waiting to talk to said mare about a plan that, if I had anything to say about it, would spend the rest of its miserable existence begging it's jailor for an extra scrap of raw meat.

… what? It was a stupid plan.

Now, I'm not so sure what the duties of a mayor are, but you know how last time I was able to just skip the waiting period entirely and talk to her right away?

Well that didn't really happen this time.

"So... fricking... bored..." Each word was punctuated by me banging my head against the wall. "Need... enter... tainment..."

Twi looked up and huffed. "Are you ever patient?"

I turned to her. "I am patient for things that I think are worthy of being patient for." I resumed my head-banging. "This isn't."

"Well at least stop that continuous noise. Find something to do that doesn't involve injuring yourself. It can't be that much longer."

"You said that an hour ago."

She frowned. "No I didn't."

"You said that an hour ago too."

"We haven't been waiting here for-"

"We have been waiting here for 2 hours, 14 minutes, 17 seconds and counting." I looked up. "And I know that because the clock is being reflected in this wall I'm banging my head against."

"Ugh." Twi disappeared back into her magazine. "Conversations with you are so... anachronistic."


"Anachronistic. It means... nevermind."

"My conversations are nevermind?"

"Just find something to do, okay?"


But as it turns out, finding stuff to do inside a lobby is rather difficult. Both Twi and Rares were reading fashion magazines, and had been ever since we got here, so I couldn't rely on them for company. Other than that there was several chairs, a side table, a stack of magazines, a desk complete with receptionist who was pounding away at her typewriter (still have no idea how they do that), a painting of the most depressing house in existence, and a window.

Whoever made this lobby needs to seriously revisit their childhood.

Sighing, I made my way over to one of the chairs and collapsed into it, settling down so that it looked like I was gonna try and take a nap. Closing my eyes, I tried to clear my head.

Manty? Mannnnty? Hey man, you there?

Ugh... grborenssom...burzzum... mumbles...

I frowned. Wait, what?

Grzzz... mumborldjhf...achgomberdon...

Uhhh... dude? Are you okay? You aren't dying or anything, are you?

Zzzzzz... ummumumubumble...

Oh. Oh HELL no. You are NOT asleep. Not when I actually need to talk to you!

Hurmmm... morwha...?

God, I want to throw a rock at you so much right now... WAKE UP!

Ugh... who is it...?

In real life, I sighed and rubbed my forehead. Who the hell do you think it is!?

Mmph... Flame, this better be really important. You just interrupted a three-hour nap.

Uh-huh, that's cool. Are you awake now?

No. I'm still asleep.

Even better. Listen, I desperately need someone to talk to right now. Think you can fill in for the job?

Do I have a choice?

What do I look like, Janus? Of course not.

Ugh... I'm gonna kill you when you get home... what do you want to talk about?

I dunno... cupcakes?

You're kidding me.

What? I've spent the last two hours banging my head against a wall, what'd you expect me to think of?

Just... where are you anyway!?

In the mayor's office. Twi has this idea that she wants to test out.

And that idea is...?

I should introduce myself to the town and let them know I'm not mean.

That's a horrible idea.

I know. Try telling her that though.

Do you need an escape route? I could bust open the side of the building.

Yeah... no. No, that's fine.

You sure? It's no trouble.

You have a really shitty definition of trouble.

Yeah, well-

"The mayor will see you now."

I was snapped back to reality by the receptionist's voice. Shaking my head slightly, I quickly told Manty I had to go and then got up and followed Twilight and Rarity. I sincerely heard both of them heave a sigh of relief as they closed their magazines.

The mayor's office was in total disarray. Her desk was covered in crumpled pieces of paper, empty bottles of ink, quills, and scrolls. Lots and lots of scrolls. The mayor herself didn't look much better either. She had that tired look of someone who has been doing the same thing over and over and over and over again until they eventually want to either quit their job or move to a different planet.

When we entered, she looked up and immediately spotted Twi. "Ah yes, Twilight Sparkle! Just the pony I wanted to see! Sorry I had to keep you waiting like that, but I've just been up to my mane in letters ever since that little incident with the..." Her eyes alighted on me, and her smile turned rather sour. "... dragon."

"Well good goddamn morning to you too." I grumbled. "Anyone else here wanna express their joy at my presence?"

"Flammmmme..." Twi muttered, nudging me with her hoof. I guess she was trying to get me to shut up, but The Double M beat her to it.

"YOU!" Mare's smile wasn't even sour now. It was more... dead. "YOU are the reason for..." She gestured wildly at the desk full of paper. "... ALL OF THIS!"

I eyed the mess. "And this would be...?"

She settled back in her chair, glaring at me. "Letters." she said crisply. "About you."

"Oh! Fan mail!" I snatched the nearest scroll and unfurled it. It was kind of wrinkled, but I could still make it out.

Dear Mayor Mare,

It has come to my attention that there is a so-called 'dragon' running

around town that is disguising itself as a pony and interacting with the population.

Several individuals I know have claimed to have spoken with him, and many are

surprised at the level of, for lack of a better term, 'likableness' that he has shown.

However, following the events of his public appearance and subsequent rescue of the

children at the fire yesterday, some of those same ponies are now having doubts about

whether or not he can be trusted.

So, without farther ado, let me be the first to state that this is absolute bullshit.

What the hay are we, tyrants?! Is it considered normal around here that a perfectly

normal and sentient creature is being shunned because of its abilities and the way it

looks?! I'll have you know that I've been places, and by being in those places I've found that our species is, like, the ONLY species that does this anymore! Why is that? Is it because our education system sucks?! Is because our government is entirely based around two asshats that call themselves princesses?! Hay if I know, I'm just a Celestia- damned kid! How the hay am I supposed to know this stuff!? It's not like I get taught it!

All we learn in school these days is how to add 5 to 6! WHO THE BUCK WANTS TO LEARN THAT!? And furthermore, I-

The page ended there.

"Huh." I muttered. "Deep." Looking back up at the glaring Mayor, I held up the paper. "Is there a second page to this?"

She snatched the paper away and starting furling it up. "ANYWAY..." Turning to Twilight and Rarity, she pasted a smile on her face. "What can I do for you two?"

"Oh... well, uh..." Twi glanced nervously between me and the Mayor. "Actually, I wanted to discuss an idea I had with you."

"Marvelous!" She propped her head up on her hoofs, still acting way too damn happy. "Do continue!"

"Well... you've been having problems with ponies thinking that Flame isn't safe right?"

With that, the Mayor dropped all pretenses and resumed her annoyed look. "You see these?" She pointed towards the pile of letters. "These are all letters from the residents of Ponyville and they are all..." She moved her hoof so it was pointing at me. "... about our dear dragon. And while most of them have contradicted my expectations and have not been over negative..." I grinned. She shot me a glare, then relented. "... I would appreciate it if ponies stopped sending them."

"Exactly! Nopony's certain of anything about him! Which is why..." Twi trotted over next to me and put a hoof over my shoulder. "... I suggest that he tells them himself."

The Double M knit her eyebrows. "What are we talking about here?"

"Simple. A town meeting. We call everypony into one place and have Flamesinger speak to them all!"

"I see... so basically giving everypony a good impression of him?"

"Yes. It would erase most of the worries and make these letters stop arriving." I could tell Twi was getting stoked about it. Even worse, she seemed to be brainwashing the Mayor.

"I suppose that would work..." She glanced at me. "I would have to have a word with him though. In private, if you don't mind."

"I love how everyone's referring to me as an object today." I grumbled. "Really boosts the self-image, y'know?"

Everyone ignored me. Huzzah.

"Of course!" Twilight signaled Rarity (who had wondered off to read more fashion magazines) and they both left the room. Leaving me alone, in the company of The Double M. Great. Now all we need is an interrogation lamp.

The mare in question leaned back in her chair, staring at me. She didn't seem very eager to do anything else, and after a couple minutes I got fidgety.

"Sooooo..." I said, attempting to start some sort of conversation. "This is the part when you call them back in, tell them it's a horrible plan, and to come back when they'd thought of something that doesn't involve me doing a cosplay of The King's Speech."

She blinked. "Wait, what?"

When was I gonna learn to stop making references like that? "Nevermind. It's a dragon thing." I rubbed my forehooves together. "But you should still tell them it's a horrible plan."

"Well that's just the thing." She leaned forward a little. "It's not."

I stared at her. "You think me trying to reassure a bunch of ponies that I'm not a threat is a good idea."

"In theory, yes." She sighed. "Really, you're the only one who can. I'll admit these ponies are not the most accepting of anything they haven't seen before, and most of them have a habit of not listening to each other when they really need to. You're little heroic act yesterday was commendable, but just me or Twilight going up there and saying you're a great guy still won't help. You need to do it."

"Of course." I grunted and rubbed my forehead. "Because apparently I gotta do everything myself."

"You're a dragon." She gave a small smile. "What did you expect?"

The Thu'um and a growth spurt. "This, except a lot less inconvenient and difficult." I sighed. "Do I at least get a microphone?"

She grinned. "I'll take that as a confirmation that you'll do it?"

"Ugh..." I tapped the desk a couple of times. "Well, screw it, why not?"

I mean, what could possibly go wrong?


And so... we did it.

Twi and the Mayor set it all up. They had Dashie, Apples, Pinks, Flutters, and Rares all go around the town to tell people that there was gonna be a town meeting, which is apparently something that freaking everybody wants to attend. Maybe it's cause they give out free candy or something.

In the meantime, Double M and her sidekick Twily-Twil got to work. And by work I mean Twi went off to do God-knows-what while the Mayor decided to give me a pep-talk. A.K.A, a list of things I wasn't allowed to do.

"First of all, no death jokes. I'd rather avoid a village panic because of some half-witted quip you think off. Second, don't try and scare anypony, because trust me, you WILL. Third, don't bare your teeth, Fourth no insults. And five..." She grimaced. "... I'm gonna have to ask you to cut down on the swearing."

I glared at her. "What? No swearing? Are you shitting me?"

"It's rare enough to have a pony do it." She gave a wry smile. "I can't have you go about teaching kids new words."

"Great. So not only am I supposed to make a public appearance, I'm also supposed to do it without any source material."

"Oh don't worry about that." She turned away from me and started messing with something that I guessed was the sound system. "What do you think Twilight's doing anyway?"

I shrugged. "I dunno. Peacing out? Probably what I should be doing."

She laughed. "As a matter of fact, no. She's making you some note cards."

"Note cards?" I blinked. "Uhhhh... she knows that there's absolutely no chance in hell I'm actually gonna use them, right?"

"Oh she knows that." She hummed as she turned a knob. "She just loves making note cards."

"Riiiiiiiiight." I looked around. We were backstage, and it looked pretty similar to other backstages I'd seen. Not that I'd seen a lot. There were boxes overflowing with costumes, lighting equipment, and pretty much any drama-like thing you could think of. I guess this place had an active performance system going. "So when's this thing gonna start anyway?"

"We're waiting for when your friends get back, but really we can start anytime. Everypony's probably out there already."

I trotted up the curtain and pulled it back a little bit. As it turns out, she was right. The place was packed, with everyone from children to old people to mares to stallions to that guy who had hit me in the head with his alarm clock. I spotted Blank Page lurking near the edge of the crowd, and also the guy from 'Quills and Sofas' who had sold me my couch. It was nice to know that I'd gathered such a crowd of minions friends in my few short weeks here.

"Okay, it's all set!" I heard Dashie's voice and turned to see that the girls had returned. "All Flame has to do is introduce himself, right?"

"Yes, just as soon as Twilight returns." The Mayor looked over the group's shoulders. "Where is she anyway?"

"I'm right here!" Twi came running in after the rest of the girls with what had to be the BIGGEST FRICKING STACK OF NOTE CARDS IN EXISTENCE clutched in her magic. Seriously, she didn't expect me to carry all thosecards out with me, did she? I'd look like an idiot! More than I already do!

"Here you go!" Panting, she dropped all the note cards onto my back. "Just follow them from the top and you'll be fine!"

"Uhhhh..." I picked the top one off with the tip of my wing and held it in front of my face. The script was tiny. The singular card probably held over a thousand words. "... I'm pretty sure it'll take several days to do all of these. Maybe just a couple?"

She look disappointed, so I reiterated. "Okay okay, I'll do as much as I can. No promises though." Her face brightened.

"Well I do believe everything is in place." The Mayor smiled. "Me and Twilight will go introduce you Flame, you just transform and prepare to-"

"Wait, wait?!" I jumped, almost dropping the pile of note cards on my back. "Transform?! You want to do this as a dragon?!"

"Well..." The Mayor and Twilight looked at each other, then at me. "... yes. Why not?"

"Uh..." I stared at them both as if they were crazy. "... oh I dunno, sharp teeth?! Big claws?! Three feet taller than anyone in the vicinity?! Any of that ring any bells?!"

They both just laughed. "That won't be a problem. You aren't actually that scary to look at."

This kind of deflated my ego a bit. "I'm not?"

"I'm afraid not, dearie." Rarity put a hoof on my shoulder. "If it's any consolation, you're much more intimidating than Spike is. Don't tell him I said that though."

"Yeah! You're still a big scary monster! You're just..." Pinkie stopped jumping for a moment to think about it. "... not that big and scary."

Trying to salvage a bit of my pride, I trotted a few feet away from the girls and activated my magic. Once again the black cocoon of smoke-like black tendrils surrounded me, and after a few seconds I emerged, back in my dragon form. I turned to smirk at all the awe-struck faces. They had seen me transform at the fire, but not up close. "Well I can still do that." I stuck out my tongue, completely ruining the effect. "So hah."

After a couple seconds, the girls all burst out laughing.


Standing next the curtain, I heard Twilight and the Mayor began to address the crowd. I couldn't really make out what they were saying, and I did manage to catch my name a couple times.

Well of course stupid, the whole MEETING is about you. So don't screw it up.

However, based on past experiences, I can attest that this much easier to say than to do. So as Twilight poked her head through the curtain and informed me I was on, my heart was beating about four thousand times per minute.

As I passed, the girls whispered words of encouragement. "Good luck!" (Yeah, haven't heard that one before), "Break a leg!" (Why? Why would I do that?), "Look your best!" (I find that offensive), "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" (Got it. Don't kill anybody), "Eat lots of cupcakes!" (Eh, how 'bout punch? Ya got any punch?).

Balancing the note cards in one hand, I pushed open the curtain and was greeted by a sea of faces. Before then, I'd never really understood why they used that term, but now I understand that it's really the only one that fits. Faces. Faces everywhere. They filled up about 80% of my vision, and guess what each one was starting fixedly at?

That's right. Moi.

Mentally grimacing, I completed the two feet to the podium and placed my ridiculous stake of note cards on the side of it. Twilight and Double M were on either side of me, and both of them smiled encouragingly. Yeah. That means they think I'm gonna mess up.

Sighing, I picked the first card off the pile, took a breath, and began to read. "Greetings, O' equines of the village titled Ponyville. I am, as you see, a member of the 'draconis occidentalis' species, but I am sure we can still continue to be great friends. Be rest assured, I intend no harm to any of you..." Except a certain purple unicorn. "... and I hope that my appearance will not be enough to scare any of you into unnecessary panic. I possess the ability the breath fire, which..." I held the paper close to my face and squinted. The writing was really small here. "... is apparently illegal in six states, but I promise to never use this ability on you or your homes. I come in peace, and only wish to live amongst you as a normal civilian."

As I continued reading, I glanced over at Twilight. Her face was beat red, and she looked like she was about ready to curl up and die.

"... though I do possess claws, they are unbreakable and thus confirm to law #57 in accordance with The Equestrian Book Of Laws, which can be found in the Royal Canterlot Library under shelf 2B."

I was desperately trying not to burst out laughing at this point, and my face probably showed it. "I don't eat ponies, even though my teeth are strong to break through solid diamond." I was only about halfway through the card at this point. "I'm aware that I am taller than everyone else, but..."

It went on and on. The whole time, all the ponies did was stare at me blankly. Nobody laughed. Nobody cried. Heck, nobody even left. They just sat there. I began to wonder whether they really were minions. I mean, only minions could listen to this kind of crap and not react in any way, right?

Maybe they're just zombies.

Taking a short pause I glanced at Twi and the Mayor. They were still smiling, but by now both of their faces were completely red. I decided to take that as a cue to stop screwing around and actually do something. Which mainly translated into 'stop the reading the pile of shit in your hands'.

"Alright." I stated, tossing the note card over my shoulder. "Let's do this the easy way." Putting both claws on the podium, I raised one and gave the two finger peace sign. "My name's Flamesinger, and I'm not here to kill anybody. Who wants to ask me a question?"

Every single hoof went up.

"Yeah." I muttered, deflating a little. "Thought so."


The carriage soared through the skies, pulled by two pegasi. Both of them wore the simple golden armor signifying them as part of Celestia's Royal Guard, as did everypony else in the carriage.

Differing from the Honor Guard in several ways, the main thing about these ponies was that they weren't just for decoration. Their armor was fancy. Instead it was practical, lean or large, depending on the style that guard favored. Yes, these guards actually knew how to fight, which was the main reason they'd been chosen for this mission.

In the front of the carriage rode Princess Celestia, who was currently gazing ahead, thinking. Mainly about what she was about to do, but also about her student's letter. Truthfully, she hadn't given it much thought, but now that she did she realized she would sooner or later have to deal with her naive little student. It was time she learned the facts of life, and one of those facts was that there were some things that were simply too dangerous to have around.

As Ponyville emerged in the distance, she turned to her troops. It was a standard squad, 9 ponies including Shining Armor with three each of earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns. Each of them carried a spear, or in the unicorn's case, nothing, and in the corner of the carriage stood the chest that contained the Elements of Harmony.

Her gaze lingered on that chest for a minute. She hoped she wouldn't have to use what was inside, if she even could use it. She wasn't an Element-Bearer anymore, and from the sound of Twilight's letter, her and her friends would most likely refuse to use them. Really, she'd just brought them along for intimidation purposes.

"The plan is simple." Shining told everypony. "Find the threat and surround it. Be ready to attack if necessary. Princess Celestia is gonna be handling all of the talking, so try not to say too much." He glanced at at her, and she nodded. "Alright, get ready! We're gonna be landing soon!"

Turning back to the front, she took a deep breath. Hopefully this would go off without a hitch.


"Okay... uhhhhh..." I played an invisible game of eenie-meenie-miny-moe with all the raised hoofs before settling on one. "You."

The guy lowered his hoof. "Can dragons really move mountains using their minds?"

I stared at him for a couple seconds. "No." I decided.

"Dang." he muttered, and passed some bits to the guy next to him, who grinned.

"Okaaaaaay... next." I pointed in some random direction, not really watching my arm. When I looked up, I realized I'd pointed at a thin colt. He was a pegasus, very light brown with the cutie mark of a feather. He had a camera slung over his neck, and looked reallyexcited. "Can I get some pictures of you roaring?"

Now thatwas more like it. "Sure. Just catch me after this, I'm free all day." The kid's grin widened and he immediately stared messing with his camera.

I pointed to a peculiar stallion in the middle with his hoof in the air, waving it as if his life depended on it. He had brown fur, a lightning style mane with a toxic green and yellow colour scheme, and a microphone cutie mark.

"Um, you, over there."

"Hi, Munomana here. Have you ever considered writing a story about yourself?"

"Uhhh..." A story? Yeah, that's a great idea. Terrorize the population, why not? "Well, first of all, my life is insanely boring and uninteresting, something which no one in their right mind would ever want to read (Yeah... that's not a load of bullshit or anything...). And second of all, I have zip writing skills. It would be like if Ferris Bueller decided to re-write 'War and Peace'."

Everyone stared at me blankly.

I sighed. "... of course nobody got that..." Surveying the crowd, I again picked one. I felt I was gonna be doing a lot of picking in the near future. "Okay, you."

It was a mare this time. "What's your favorite color?"

I thought about this. My eyes were blue. My scales were blue. My wings were blue. Even the few horns I had on my head were blue.

"Green." I decided. "Why?"

She shrugged. "Just curious."

"Alright then." I moved on to the next guy. "How 'bout you?"

"That thing you did... when you transformed... and when you absorbed all the fire... what was that?"

Well it's about time someone asked that. "Ah. That..." I tapped the side of my nose. "... was magic."

The dude frowned. "Magic? But dragons can't use magic."

"Well you obviously know a lot more about dragons than I do, so why don't you explain it?"

"But... well I... it's just..."

"Yep. Exactly. And you're actually kinda half-right. Not all dragons can use magic." Holding out one of my hands, I activated my magic. My hand became encased in black, smoky aura., which elected a gasp from the crowd. "This, my friends..." I flexed my fingers, creating a small orb in the palm of my hand. "... is chaos magic. It's basically our kind of magic. Like yours, except creepier." Noting that some of the ponies up front were edging away from me, I clenched my fist, destroying the orb and extinguishing the aura. "Now I know it looks weird, but trust me when I say that it's harmless. It's dark, it's smoky, it's scary, but really it's just like the magic that any of you unicorns have. It just..." I thought about it, then shrugged. "... looks freaking creepy."

"You got that right." I heard a pony up front mutter.

"It looks evil!" a mare in the back shouted.

I raised my hands in the 'surrender' position. "Have I done anything even remotely evil in the past week or so I've been here?"

She had to think about it. "You destroyed my husband's alarm clock."

I waved her off. "Please, he throw that at my head. I had a right to do that." Addressing the whole crowd, I raised my voice. "Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that even if I had done something evil or mean or whatever, it would've been me..." I tapped the podium. "... and not the magic. The point of that, is of course that no matter how weird my magic looks, it's harmless. You have my word. I'll even sign it in ink if you want."

Sighing, I rubbed my forehead. "Now can we please move on?! I've got like fifty questions to answer here!"


Okay, wait.

Now it was true that Celestia hadn't really known what to expect when she met the chaos-user. After all, dragons came in all shapes and sizes and Twilight's letter hadn't really specified any physical aspects of him. However, she'd at least had a pretty good idea. And for the most part, the chaos-user met that idea.

However, something she had not expected was to find the chaos-user in the center of town, on the stage, answering questions from what appeared to be every single resident of Ponyville.

Sighing, she began re-arranging the plan. She would have to go about this a little bit differently if she was to do it in front of the whole town.

"Alright, listen up." She turned to her squad. "Slight change of plans. Half of the squad will approach in full view, acting as my guards. The other half will sneak around back. Both halves be prepared to surround him when I give the signal. Everypony got it?" They all nodded. "Good. Try and avoid attacking unprovoked."

As the team split up, Celestia slowly began approaching the stage. The guards that were staying with her lined up on either side, doing much the same thing that her Honor Guards would normally do.

Soon this whole problem would be done and dealt with.


"The meaning of life?" I stared incredulously at a green pegasus with purple hair. "Do I seriously look like I know what the meaning of life is?! I'm just a teenager, I don't know this stuff!"

"Oh." He looked disappointed. "So dragons haven't figured it out either?"

"No! Well... maybe, but... I don't know!" I mentally groaned. This whole question seminar was just getting weirder and weirder. "I just... can you think of something simpler? Like what color the sky is? I can answer that."

As the guy opened his mouth to speak, something made him stop and turn around. Blinking, I looked up. There was some kind of disturbance going on in the back of the crowd. It looked like the ponies were... bowing?

I frowned. Why the hell were they bowing? I was giving a speech here, dammit!

As the disturbance got closer, I could make out a white figure amongst all the other colorful ones. This pony was tall, almost twice as tall as everyone else, and seemed to be wearing some kind of golden... tiara? Yeah that was it, a golden tiara and chest piece. Not sure what those were called. Whoever it was had a horn, and as it got closer I could see that it also had wings. Horn and wings, like Tienn. What had she called herself? An alicorn or something?

The figure was also surrounded by four guards, two pegasi and two unicorns. All of them were white, and they were all wearing golden armor. They stayed close to the tall dude, and gently tried to ease everyone out of the way.

"Princess Celestia!" Twilight's sudden voice made me jump. I turned to see that she looked excited, and also a little nervous. Jumping off the stage, she approached the tall figure.

"My most faithful student." The tall figure, which I guess was Princess Celestia, smiled at Twilight. "How have you been?"

"I've been great, but..." she looked up nervously. "... why are you here? Why didn't you write ahead? We would've prepared a celebration if we'd known you were planning on coming!"

"Which is precisely why I didn't tell you ahead of time." She chuckled. "You live in a wonderful town Twilight. You most certainly don't need to throw a celebration every time I come visiting."

"But... but... you're the princess!" Twi looked around frantically. "Ohhhhhh... we don't have anything prepared! No cake, no festivities, no-"

"Twilight." the princess said rather firmly. "Really, it's quite alright. Just because I'm a princess doesn't mean you always have to throw parties in my honor. And really..." She looked over Twilight to stare at me. "... I'm afraid the reason I'm here doesn't really deserve a celebration."

Uh oh.

"Wha... what do you mean?" Twi asked.

"I have something I must attend to here. Something that involves your friend Mr. Flamesinger." Crap.

"Oh! Oh, of course!" Twilight stood aside, completely oblivious to the impending danger that my dragon sense was picking up. As she walked past Twi and approached me, I desperately tried to remember everything I knew about Princess Celestia. Unfortunately, I didn't really know a whole lot. All Twi had really told me was that she was A.) her mentor and B.) royalty. Not a bunch to go on there.

As she drew level with me, her expression was blank. I noticed her guards take up positions at both ends of the stage.

Guessing I should probably say something, I gave a polite little nod. "Sup."

Behind her, I saw Twilight facehoof. The Princess however, remained blank.

"Are you the dragon that goes by the name 'Flamesinger'?" she inquired.

"Present and accounted for." I gave a bow this time. "What can I do for you?"

"Yes... well, that's the thing now, isn't it?"

Uh... O-kaaaaaay, didn't mean that literally, but... "I beg your pardon?"

"There is, in fact something you can do for me. But you won't like it."

I raised an eyebrow at this. Well at least she was forward. "And what would this something be?"

She raised her eyes a little so that they were staring directly into mine.

"I want you to leave Ponyville." she stated. "Forever."

This caused a muttering outburst among the crowd, and I distinctly heard a filly's voice (I think it was Scootaloo's) yell "WHAT!?". Twi looked alarmed and quickly trotted up next to her mentor. "Leave Ponyville?! Princess Celestia, this is unfair! Flame has done nothing-"

"Please." She held up a hoof, somehow making the whole crowd go silent. "Let him speak." She looked at me, as if expecting an answer.

I pretended to think about it. "Yeeeeeeeeeeeaahhhhhhno."

She frowned a little. "Will you least listen to why?"

I looked at her for a couple of seconds. Her eyes were hard, and were sending the classic message of 'don't screw with me, and I won't screw with you'. Which was, in this situation, kind of a load of crap, but I relented anyway.

"... Fine." I propped my elbows on the podium and rested my head on my fists. "But this better be a damn good 'why'."

"Thank you." She turned around and addressed Twilight. "He has told everypony about his brand of magic, correct?"

"Y-yes..." Twi said uncertainly.

"He admitted that it's the same magic that Discord wields, correct?"

"Yes, but Princess just because-"

"Just because Discord wields the same magic, does not mean that he is Discord himself?" The whole crowd was listening in on the conversation as she turned back to me. "I would agree."

I blinked. Wait, what?

"Have you told them everything about chaos magic?" she inquired.

"Uh..." I shook my head a little. "Well yeah. I mean, there's not a whole lot to tell, right? It's weird, and can look a little creepy, but other than that it's just-"

"So you claim to have told them everything?" She raised an eyebrow.

I gave her a weird look. "Yeah."

She returned the weird look with a hard one. "Everything?"

I released a breath, exasperated. "Yes! I've told them everything! Everything I know!"

She nodded. "Just making sure."

Turning again, she faced the whole crowd. The next phrase was projected for all to hear.

"Has he told you all that chaos magic corrupts ponies?!"


Everyone looked at each other. There was some slight muttering. Everyone seemed to be asking each other "Did you know that? I didn't."

"Now hold on a sec!" I shouted, trying to get everyone's attention. "That's bullshit right there! Chaos magic doesn't corrupt ponies! It just... "

Suddenly, I had a flashback. It was a while ago, on one of my nights in the Everfree forest, after I'd met Tienn. I'd been reading the section about chaos magic in A Guide To Dragons. One of the excerpts...

'If ponies attempt to use chaos magic it will corrupt them, causing their hates and fears to grow and their love and care to fade. The biggest example of this is when Princess Luna, alicorn princess of the night, secretly experimented with chaos magic. It corrupted her, eventually turning her into Nightmare Moon, an evil version of herself.'


Celestia turned away from the still-mostly silent crown and looked at me accusingly. "You said you'd told them everything."

"Yeah..." I said quietly. "I... may have forgotten about that part..."

"Wait, WHAT!?" Suddenly Twilight was right next to Celestia, looking at me disbelievingly. "You KNEW about this!?"

"Now everyone just calm down!" Crap, think Flame. THINK! You gotta salvage this somehow! "Um..." C'mon, remember the book! If ponies attempt to use chaos magic it will corrupt them, causing their hates and fears to grow... If ponies attempt to use chaos magic... attempt to use... "... attempttouse THAT'S IT!"

I snapped my fingers and pointed at Celestia. "It has to be direct!"

She looked surprised. "What?"

"Direct! It has to be direct!" I waved my hand around. "A pony has to actually attempt to use chaos magic for it to corrupt them!"

"Oh." Her expression went back to normal. "In that case you would be wrong. My student and her friends can tell you they know that first-handed, as each of them was a victim of Discord's corruption."

"What?" I glanced at Twi, who nodded sadly. "Oh..." My face fell for a few seconds, then brightened. "But that doesn't really change anything! You say that Discord corrupted them, but that was deliberate! That's the thing! It has to be deliberate, doesn't it?" I looked at Twi. "C'mon Twi, you know I wouldn't deliberately corrupt anyone, right?!"

"I... I don't..." She looked between me and Celestia. "No, but-"

Celestia cut in. "Whether it has to be deliberate or not, I refuse to endanger the well-being of my little ponies! And that is why I'm asking you..." She glared at me. "...politely, to leave."

I glared right back. "And I'm telling you, politely, to piss off. I ain't leaving until you give me a good reason too."

She sighed. "Okay, then as a princess, I order you to leave."

"Cool." I folded my hands and rested my head on them. "And what makes you think I'll follow this order?"

"Oh, I very much doubt you'll follow it." She eyes hardened a little. "But the thing about orders is that if you don't follow them, then I'll have to use force."

I snorted. "Force? What force?! You don't HAVE any force! You got four little spear-waving shit-nuggets and a golden tiara that looks like it was pulled out of a little girls playhouse! How does that qualify as a-"

Suddenly, she stomped her hoof. At the sound, five guards burst out of the stage and surrounded me, holding spears to my throat.

"...force." Sighing, I raised my hands. "Goddammit."

"No!" Twilight cried. "Don't hurt him!"

"My student is quite right, I don't wish to hurt you." Celestia's eyes narrowed. "But you will-"

"Hey, whoa whoa whoa!" Suddenly, the rest of the girls burst out, right behind the guards. Rainbow immediately started trying to pry one them away from me. "You said you guys were here on Princess Celestia's orders!"

"And they are." Celestia stepped forward a little bit. "Do please stop attacking my guard, Rainbow Dash."

"What?" She looked up, then immediately flew up into the sky a few feet. "But..." She looked confused, looking back and forth. "What's going on?"

"Chaos magic..." Twi looked up at her sadly. "...remember Dash? Discord... it corrupts ponies..." She sniffed. "Princess Celestia is ordering him to leave Ponyville... forever."

"Wait, WHAT!?" Appejack looked shocked. "But... Flame's mahgic..."

"Is still chaos magic, even if he's nearly the complete opposite of Discord. And that means there is still the danger of it corrupting ponies." Celesta stared at me solidly. "Something I will not allow."

"It has to be deliberate!" The spears were about two inches away from my throat, so I couldn't really move, but I could still yell. Loudly. "I told you, it can't be an accident, it has to be deliberate! You guys know I wouldn't corrupt anybody!"

"He's telling the truth!" Rarity looked absolutely terrified. "Get those spears away from him!"

Celestia sighed again. "Those spears are made of iron. His neck is covered in dragon scales." she said irritably. "I doubt they could even hurt him." She looked at Dashie. "Rainbow Dash, you and the rest of the Elements of Harmony know the corrupting powers of chaos magic. He cannot be allowed to simply use his magic freely."

I was in the middle of shoving away one of the guards when I paused. "Wait, Elements of Harmony? What are-"

"But Princess, this is Flame we're talking about here!" She gestured at me as if to emphasis that yes, we were talking about about the crazy blue dragon. "He didn't even remember who Discord was until we reminded him! He can't possibly be in league with-"

"Whether or not his is in league with Discord is beside the point. Right now, all I'm concerned about is the safety of this town. So I'll ask you again..." She took a step forward. "... will you leave peacefully?"

"Peacefully?! PEACEFULLY?!" My eye twitched. "I'LL FRICKING GIVE YOU PEACEFU-"

"Princess Celestia?"

We both turned to look at Twi. "Yes?"

Surprisingly, she was smiling. "Could I and the rest of the Elements talk to Flame in private for a few seconds?"

Celestia nodded. "Certainly."

"Thank you." Turning, she headed backstage. "Flame, follow me."

"Yes mother." Receiving yet another glare, I sighed. "Okay, fine."


As soon as we were all backstage, I wasted no time in informing Twilight exactly what I thought of her all-powerful-and-knowing mentor.

"Bitch." I tapped the table. "All knowing... smug-ass... two-toed... bitch."

Twi bristled. "She is not! She's a kind, caring teacher that has been ruling Equestria wisely for over a thousand years! She's just worried about everypony's safety, that's all!"

I deadpanned. "Uh-huh."

She stared at me for a couple seconds before sighing and rubbing her forehead. "Listen... I know your upset, but... well, for all we know she could be right! I doubt you know any more about chaos magic then we do, so maybe you should just consider-"

"Consider what? Leaving? Yeah, screw that." I jabbed a finger towards the curtain leading back to the podium. "I'm telling you, she's wrong!"

"Let's be honest for a moment here, sugarcube." Applejack put a hoof on my shoulder. "Ya' don't really know that."

"I know, but..." I tried to think of an example. "I've used magic around you guys plenty of times. Heck, I use it around Manty every day! He sure as hell hasn't changed!"

"First of all, he's a manticore. He has no inner magic of his own, so naturally the magic wouldn't affect him." Twilight appeared to be thinking hard. "And second, think about it Flame. You haven't actually used your magic near us much at all, or near anypony other than Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. So really, we have no idea whether she's right or not."

I glared at her. "So what? I should just take her word for it and leave?"

"Not at all." She met my gaze calmly. "If you'd let me finish what I was about to say before, you should consider leaving temporarily. I'm sure we can convince her to let you stay, but it may take some time and now is really not the best place to talk to her."

I stared at her for a couple seconds. Then I leaned back, looking at the ceiling. "Okay... okay, that makes sense..."

"Exactly. It would just be for a little while, though I'm not sure how long. And remember, don't-"

"Wait." I held up a hand. "Wait, I just remembered something. What did she call you guys?"

They looked at each other. "Uhh... what?"

"Her. Celestia. She called you guys something. 'Elements of Harmony'. What was that all about?"

"Oh. That." Rarity looked uncomfortable. "Well..."

"... we'll explain that later, okay?" Twi had one of those smiles pasted on her face. The kind of smile that said 'I really, really don't want to talk about this right now'. Looking around, I saw that the rest of the group had similar expressions. Except for Pinkie, who was off rummaging through one of the prop boxes.

"Fine." I relented. "So what do I do?"

Twi let out a breath. "For now? Just go out there and accept her request."

I stared at her. "What, you mean like... publicly?"

Now it was her turn to deadpan. "Yes."

"Why? I could just send her a letter, that would be a whole lot easier plus a lot less stress-free and-"


"Okay, okay."


As I emerged back onto the stage, all the whispering stopped.

Walking up to the podium, I made a point of crossing my arms and glaring at Celestia. She just sat there, with that smug-ass blank expression she seemed to have all the time. The entire crowd sat breathless, waiting for my answer to her demand.

Sighing, I uncrossed my arms and rested them both on the podium. "I accept your bullshit."

Have you ever been right next to a crowd that's gone from completely silent to rock-concert level shouting in fewer than 30 milliseconds? Well that's kinda what happened here. The ponies just fricking erupted. Thinking back on it, I'm guessing that most of the noise was actually coming from the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but right then I was more concerned with the fact that I was standing two feet from what was about to become a full-blown riot. Or at least a very big shouting match.

Calmly, I held out one hand the Mayor. "Mic please."

Without a word, she pasted it to me. Holding it up to my mouth, I toke a very deep breath.


Now, a note should be made here to clarify that while I was attempting to get everyone to shut up, I was not attempting to destroy everyone's eardrums within a 20-mile radius. Just sayin'. Twi may say otherwise, but you know what, she wasn't there. Not really.

"Ow." I muttered, rubbing my ear. "Kay, when I say 'hand me the mic', I don't mean 'hand me the mic that's turned up to full volume', okay?"

"Sorry," muttered the Mayor, who was also rubbing her ears. "Forgot about that."

"Now then..." I surveyed the crowd. Everyone was doing the same thing: checking their ears for damage or checking their friend's ears to see if they were the lucky ones. Giving a slight cough, I made sure to put the mic as far away from my mouth as possible before I spoke.

"Sorry about that. Slight... uh... technical issue. But anyway yeah, I'm going. Adios and all that." I frowned at the Princess, who of course was unaffected by the sound-blast. "Am I missing anything, Prissy?"

"No." Aggravatingly, she smiled. "Thank you for complying. I'm sure this was a hard choice to make, and I'll be sure to make up for it anyway I can in the future."

I rolled my eyes. "Please. Spare me the political bullshit."

"Aw." She made a sad face. "But this is my favorite part."

Glaring, I cocked a finger at her. "Bitch." Then, before she could say anything, I teleported.



Without farther ado, the chaos-user teleported. Spectacularly, too. Celestia had to admit that the thin strands of chaos magic exploding from his body really added to the effect. He also made sure to blast most of the excess power directly into her face, so that she was forced to take a step back. Under cover of the dissipating blackness, she grinned. Mission accomplished.

When the air cleared, she was all business. As most of the ponies around her began talking, she leaned down and whispered to one of the guards next to her.

"Shining, talk the guards and secure this area. Make sure he didn't just teleport into one of the houses. Also, I would advise against letting Twilight know you're here. I know you haven't seen her in a long time, but these might not be the best circumstances for speaking with her."

Hesitatingly slightly, he nodded and signaled the rest of the squad. As they ran off, Celestia reflected. It had indeed been a good idea to make all of her guards wear masked helmets.

"Now then..." She turned and headed back towards the stage. "... where has my student gone off to?"



Sighing, I punched another tree. Yep, it was official. I was lost.

Remember how I told you how bad I was at teleporting? Well that had come back to haunt me. In my haste to perform a grand exit, I hadn't put much effort into pinpointing where my drop-off location would be. Now here I was, somewhere in the middle of the Everfree, with absolutely no idea which way to go or what path to follow. Not that there were any paths.

Sighing, I continued walking, punching trees as I went. As much as I hated to admit it, that Celestia person had really gotten to me. Maybe it was the fact that she had basically called my magic evil, or the fact that she's just been so damn smug about the whole thing, but at the moment the very thought of her was enough to piss me off. Hence the tree-punching.

Growling, I snapped a twig off a branch. And now I was lost. Great.

Continuing on, I snapped off another passing twig. This one was bigger. Methodically, I began to snap it. Two pieces. Four pieces. It was easy with dragon claws, as they pretty much just allowed me to slice-

-What are you doing?-

Looking up, I saw Tienn standing there. The shadow of the trees made her ethereal form easy to make out. It occurred to me that maybe that was why she made it like that.

Conveniently, it also occurred to me that I was standing in front of the Spirit of the Trees, holding a twig that I had methodically been breaking.

"Oh... uh... hey Tienn."

-Hello Flame.- She eyed the twigs in my hand. -Rough day?-

"Yeah. Listen, uh, sorry about these. I was kinda angry and..." I looked back and forth. "... arrrrrrre you gonna hit me now?"



-They're twigs. I don't care.-


An awkward silence followed. Well, awkward for me anyway. Tienn just continued staring at me. Rubbing the back of my neck, I gestured towards the foliage.

"So... could you, like... show me the way or something? I'm kinda lost here."

She blinked. -Oh. Yes, sorry about that.- Closing her eyes, her horn glowed blue for a few seconds. When it faded, she opened her eyes, look pleased with herself. -There. Push aside the top of that bush.-

Going over to the indicated plant, I brushed it aside. There, in the distance, was my house.

I glanced at her. "Oh, so I'm guessing you want me to believe you did that?"

She grinned. -Believe what you like. You're the one that was lost.-

"Fair enough." Pushing aside the bush, I stepped through and continued walking. Tienn followed, preferring to pass through the bush as if it didn't even exist.

I grunted. "Lazy."

-Look who's talking.- Maintaining the grin, she walked along next to me. -So, what's new?-

"Hmmm..." I pretended to think. "Have you ever heard of a pony called Princess Celestia?"

She snorted. -I should hope so. She's been the ruler of Equestria for a good three thousand years. I'm not completely blind to the outside world, you know.-

"Well if anyone asks, she's a bitch."

-Is she now?- She raised an eyebrow. -How so?-

Sighing, I began to tell her the whole story starting from the moment I got the letter that had killed Bob. She listened intently, never interrupting. In fact, I got so absorbed into telling the story that I didn't really realize where I was until I was standing before my front door.

"... and then I teleported. I wasn't really thinking about where I'd end up, so the next thing I know I'm in the middle of the Everfree with absolutely no clue which way to go to get to my house. And, well, you know the rest." Opening the door, I stepped inside and turned to look at her. "You coming in?"

-I would love to, but...- She appeared to be thinking very hard about something. -Yes... yes, I'm afraid I have some business to attend to first. It might take a little while, so whatever crazy plan you invent to cheer yourself up, don't wait for me to start it.-

I frowned. "Crazy plan? What do you mean?"

She laughed. -I think you know exactly what I mean.- Turning, she began to trot towards the tree line, her body fading as she did do. By the time she reached the first bush, she was completely gone.

Closing the door, I headed towards the living room, thinking about what she'd said. A crazy plan? Cheer myself up?

Collapsing onto the couch, I grabbed my traveler's bag and rummaged through it. Everything I had found it with was still in there, albeit with a lighter coin bag and a diminished supply of gems. Munching on a few, I reflected that I really had to find a source for these things. I'd been running low for a while now.

As I snacked, I brainstormed. What would be a crazy plan? One that was exciting and guaranteed to cheer me up? Well, I'd really liked traveling with Manty. Those nights spent around the campfire during my first few nights in Equestria had certainly been exciting. And really, while a bed was comfortable, it didn't really compare that well.

So where would we go? Last time I'd gone to the dragons, though that hadn't really turned out the way I'd expected.

Yo Manty!


How many interesting places are there close by?

Interesting places?

You know... not boring places. A.K.A. any place other than here.

Oh, okay, I gotcha...well, there's always the dragons, they're only a few days away... not sure if you'll want to go back there again though.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

Hmm... the thing is, there's a ton of places that can be classified as interesting, but not a lot that are close by. You could visit Gryphondale... explore this cool cave that I found in one of the cliffs near Gem Fido... travel to the Arctic North and see what you could find... it's kind of cold there, you may not like it...

All of those places sound awesome.

Yeah... except for the fact that they're each at least a week away, some of them even two weeks. I don't think we're prepared for a journey that long.

Damn... you're right. I would need to find some more gems before attempting something like that.

So really... the only option I see, if you really wanted to get out of here, would be the dragons.

I bit my lip. The dragons hadn't really gone so well the first time. I mean, true, I'd only really spent about forty minutes there, but in that chunk of time I hadn't really gotten a good impression. Going there wouldn't be a good idea. It would be crazy, unpredictable, and most likely dangerous.

Hey, Manty?


You wanna go visit the dragons?


In real life, I grinned. "Then let the cheering up begin."

-End of Chapter 15-

A/N: Anyway, I'm SO SO SO SORRY that this took as long as it did. For those of you that read the latest chapter of Elite, you know that this chapter was supposed to be up two weeks ago. It got delayed when both me and my proofreader, munomana, talked about the ending of the chapter. Basically, we both agreed is was complete crap and I decided to re-write. Hence the two-weeks late.

And for all of you that DIDN'T read the latest chapter of Elite, HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS ARE PERSISTENT. Thank you. Seriously. I'm amazed there's even any of you left, but to those that are, thank you. You guys are the kind of readers every author wishes he could have.