Five hundred and thirty years. Celestia had been dogging Ragar for five hundred and thirty years. He currently held the record for the longest running villain in her life by a wide margin. The fact that he had made each successive lair exponentially harder to crack was quite annoying, and she still had no clue as to the deeper ramifications of his necromancy-themed parks. Ragar seemed content to study the tomes he retrieved from whatever ruin he had built his lair before leaving them in a neat pile whenever he moved to the next one, although the books always had doodles and notes filling the margins. She wasn’t even sure why he wanted all the lost knowledge he could get.
She was in her study pondering the true intent of her greatest rival when he called. She looked to the orb as it played a distressed beeping instead of its normal calming music. Guessing the call was urgent, she quickly patched him through. “Yes, Ragar? What seems to be the trouble?”
Ragar was in a decidedly odd set of clothing. She had seen him in all sorts of outfits when she called; bathrobes, overalls, and once in a full snorkeling outfit. But when he called he was always wearing a robe in either black or purple. Today, he wore a simple shirt with an unknown design gracing the front and a pair of simple denim pants. He cleared his throat a few times before speaking. “Yes, it is I, Ragar. Master of the unknown, wielder of the infinite, and the undying overlord of EVIL!!” He then shuffled from one foot to the next. “Today, Ragar is also an asker of awkward questions.”
That got Celestia’s attention. Ragar had always seemed at least mostly sure of himself, but now he was acting like a foal caught with his hoof in the proverbial cookie jar. She moved her paperwork to the side and focused on him. "What seems to be the issue? A great necromancer such as yourself should be able to deal with any issues in your land."
Ragar's shuffling increased, causing Celestia to worry. Ragar cleared his throat. "Well, princess. Ragar had sent some of his most loyal minions out to find rare and dangerous alchemical ingredients. While they did find them, Ragar's minions also found a small colt wounded in the woods. Ragar, being a MASTER OF EVIL!!, healed the colt thinking he would then head on his way. However, the colt now seems attached to Ragar, and his parents were apparently lost to the same monster attack which wounded him."
Celestia nodded. It was an easy enough issue to fix. The next necromancer hunt was only a week away; simply moving it up would allow the guards to return the colt to Equestria. From there, finding him a family would be five minute's work. Seeing this plan unfold in her mind, she was blindsided as Ragar threw a wrench into it. "Ragar would like to adopt him. Ragar has obtained the necessary paperwork. There is the issue that Ragar is not an Equestrian citizen, however. Ragar was hoping the princess knew of a way to bypass this restriction."
Celestia took several deep breaths. The necromancer she had been forced to wage a nearly silent shadow war against was asking her to let him adopt a foal. Not only that, but he had somehow already obtained the paperwork for it. Thinking it through, however, she wasn’t sure it was actually a bad idea. Ragar had never really harmed anyone, and if the colt truly had become attached to Ragar splitting them apart might make things worse. Plus, it would allow her a look into Ragar's home; the safety of the colt was the most important thing, but she wasn’t going to turn down information about her opponent. "As a princess, I can remove this small barrier. However, I must first ask to interview the child and send a pony to your current lair to make sure it is safe for a child to live. I trust this is an acceptable compromise?"
Ragar nodded quickly and bolted out of sight as he yelled. "INDEED! I SHALL FETCH HIM NOW!" Celestia waited a moment and heard the quiet voice of Ragar on the other end. "Now then, you're meeting the princess. Remember to stand up straight, be polite, and let her speak first. I have some dinner cooking for as soon as we're done." Celestia heard a smaller voice speak afterward, but couldn't make out the words.
A small colt appeared in her vision, at most eight years old. He had a light blue coloration - so light that he was almost white aside from a streak of bright red in the part of his mane currently covering one eye. Celestia smiled as warmly as possible at him as he stood as tall as he could under her gaze. "Hello, my little pony. What's your name?"
The colt smiled while waving excitedly, the action causing his mane to switch the eye it covered seven times before finally settling in the exact middle of his forehead. "Hi, princess! My name's Black Sun!"
Celestia smiled at the young colt's antics, letting out a small chuckle as she pulled out a scroll and quill. She quickly wrote down his appearance and started taking notes on the conversation they were sharing. "It's very nice to meet you, Black Sun. I had a few questions, if you don't mind."
Black Sun nodded with just as much overzealous abandon as before. "That's super-di-duper okay Princess. As long as you don't ask where Mr. Bones’ super secret lair is. He said that the princess has to crack a really hard code to get to a lair while he's still here."
Celestia paused in her writing; she couldn't remember a code Ragar had given her. She had made notes of all conversations with the necromancer, and couldn't think of a single hint he had dropped. But that was a thought for later - first came the young foal in front of her. "So, Black Sun, what have you been doing with Ragar the Ageless?"
The colt's smile widened. "We played tag today! We even got to watch as some of his friends built some new games for a competition next week. He said I could give them tickets when they walked up." The young colt puffed out his chest, immensely proud of his important job.
Celestia smiled at his joy. She marked that down and continued. "So, what type of meals does Ragar make you?"
Black Sun raised a hoof to his mouth in thought. "Well, he had to get a cookbook for making pony food, but he tried to make me hayburgers the other day. They were kinda burnt, so he made spaghetti instead. For lunch today we had sandwiches, though." He then smiled widely and asked, "We have some leftovers, do you want any?"
Celestia giggled and shook her head. "No, thank you. I believe that is all I need from you. Would you mind sending Ragar back in?"
He shook his head and ran off. Celestia heard Ragar ask, "Did you tell the princess goodbye?"
Black Sun sprinted back into view. "I'm so sorry, princess. Goodbye!" He waved his hoof a few times before sprinting back out of sight.
Ragar calmly took his place in the image, waving his hand to the invisible colt. "Have fun, young one. Make sure to stay in the house until I'm done." Then Ragar turned to face Celestia. "He was a good little pony for you, correct?"
Celestia smiled. "Of course, Ragar. Truly, you are a masterful evil parent."
Ragar nodded, his skeletal mouth opening into a wide grin. "Ragar is a GREAT PARENT!!! Ragar had a daughter long ago; she made excellent pizza."
Celestia was surprised, to say the least. Ragar had a daughter? Ragar had a daughter who was a pizza chef? While one was confusing, when combined it was somehow the oddest thing she had learned about the strange necromancer. She pushed it aside; she couldn't focus on the small details of the conversation now. "I'm sure she's a great mare. Now, about that pony I'll be sending to your lair."
Ragar nodded. "Of course. Send them with the group of heroes. Ragar himself shall give them a private tour of his lavish estate. Also, make sure they bring a few recipes. Ragar has lost the ability to cook over the ages."
Celestia smiled. "Of course, I'll make sure to send a representative that knows how to cook. In exchange, I would like to make a simple request."
Ragar reached into his pocket, pulling out a small metal square. "Sure thing. Ragar is always in a good mood when guests are going to arrive."
Celestia watched as he made several taps against the box."Yes... Well, could we possibly move this year's little hunt up a week? It would allow us to finish the adoption all the sooner.”
Ragar nodded emphatically. "Of course. Ragar will have the gauntlet prepared post-haste. The DUNGEON OF DAMNATION shall be finished tonight!"
Celestia smiled and nodded towards Ragar. "Very well. I shall have my group ready tomorrow morning. Say, ten or so?"
Ragar smiled. "Of course. I shall send a runner with the finished paperwork right now." With that, the call ended. Celestia smiled, writing a few quick messages for her guards to pass on to the adventurers and adoption bureau. The whole thing should be easy to arrange if Ragar’s runner managed to get the paperwork to her before the group got back from the challenge; she’d need to wait for her representative to return with their review of Ragar’s home before finishing the adoption.
She was never sure how far away Ragar’s lairs were; how the contestants were transported there was an eternal mystery. It only seemed to take them hours after exiting the front gates of Canterlot, but none of his lairs after the first had been within a day’s trot. One of the many mysteries surrounding Ragar. Her thoughts were interrupted by a thump from the ceiling; when she looked up to see what had caused it, a small collection of bones lodged themselves in her mane - followed by a massive stack of paperwork that slammed into her muzzle.
Celestia's door guards were veterans; they knew not to interrupt her work with non-urgent matters. It was a strain not to check on her, however, as she began loudly grumbling as calming music flowed from her room. The music cut out, and they learned why she had been upset.
"RAGAR, YOU MISERABLE EXCUSE FOR A LICH!! WHY IS THERE A BIRD SKELETON REFORMING IN MY BEDROOM!!?!”