• Published 20th Jul 2013
  • 3,202 Views, 61 Comments

Bottom Of The Ladder - GeodesicDragon



Sequel to Top Of The Charts. Freshly released from jail, Anon has returned to Ponyville. The townsponies don't want him back — but there is another, far more pressing, issue to contend with.

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The Overseer

You follow Slasher through the twisting maze of tunnels for another fifteen minutes, before the two of you finally come to a stop in front of a door. Two things make this door different from the others you have seen: the fact it is made of solid steel that looks to be a good six inches thick, and the two guards standing outside.

While most of the guards wear mostly leather armour, with the occasional chainmail vest or helmet here and there, these guys are decked out in full plate. If it wasn't for the fact they are carrying different weapons – a large hammer and what looks to be a very sharp axe – you would never be able to tell them apart.

Looks like this is the Overseer's – ahem – 'office.'

If that's the case, then those two must be his bodyguards. You swallow nervously. Holy shit, I hope I don't have to tangle with them; I really do value my life... such as it is.

"Let us through," Slasher demands. "I wanna talk to the boss."

The guards look at each other, then at you.

"What did you bring the monkey for?" one of them asks. "He ain't supposed to be here, Slasher, you know that."

Slasher puts a paw on your shoulder. "I have an idea I want to talk to the Overseer about, and Anon here plays a part in it," he replies. "Our friend here has also had an idea of his own about how to punish the prisoners, and I want the boss to hear it. Now, are you two gonna get the boss for me, or do things have to get ugly?"

"You're already ugly, Slasher," the axe guard mutters. "Give us a minute; we'll go and let 'im know you're here."

Both guards walk over to the door and produce a key from around their necks. Each key is placed into a keyhole and turned at the same time, at which the door unlocks and opens with the shuddering screech of metal grinding on stone.

"Who are those guys?" you ask of Slasher, as the guards disappear into the newly-opened room. "They seem important."

"They're the Overseer's personal bodyguards," Slasher says. "The one with the axe is called Dicer, and the one with the hammer is called Crusher." He narrows his eyes. "I don't think I need to explain to you how they got those names... right?"

You shake your head. "No, no," you reply. "I totally understand."

I'd wager that it involved a lot of blood.

Slasher nods at you, just as Dicer and Crusher re-appear. The former takes his position at the door, while the latter beckons to you and Slasher. "Follow me, and don't do anything stupid."

"As if I would," you snort. "I really fancy the idea of keeping my internal organs internal, thank you very much."

Crusher rolls his eyes – at least, you think he did; hard to tell under the massive helmet he wears – and you follow him down the corridor, through another door, and into the Overseer's office.

Everything in the room is covered in gems, from the torch sconces to the seats and even the stone goblet on the desk. Crusher and Slasher both give the Overseer a salute by putting their right paw on their chest, then raising it into a clenched fist.

The Overseer himself seems like most of the other Dogs you've seen during your time here, except he's not wearing tatty leather armour. Instead, he's decked out in a pure silk suit with a gold trim along the shoulders. On his chest is a stone badge depicting a paw.

"Overseer Rockpaw," Slasher says. "Thank you for agreeing to see us on such short notice. I know your time is valuable, but I assure you that we are not here to waste it."

Rockpaw looks up from his desk. "Slasher, my most loyal lieutenant." he looks at you. "You are a very curious case, Anonymous, but Slasher here seems to like you. Now, please, take a seat and let us discuss these 'plans' of yours."

You and Slasher both sit down, Rockpaw dismissing Crusher with a simple wave. He pours himself a drink – from yet another keg of Berry's finest – and leans back in his chair.

"Okay, boss, here's what I was thinking," Slasher says. "As you know, Anon here brought us that new unicorn we've got working down in the pit. Now, what if we got him out there gathering up more slaves for us? Those ponies seem to trust him, so he could easily lure 'em back here for us to nab."

The ponies trust us? Yeah, and you're Celestia's long-lost son.

Rockpaw takes a sip of his drink. "I like your idea, Slasher, as having Anon doing our dirty work would make things a lot easier. The ponies have almost quadrupled the number of Royal Guards they've got patrolling Ponyville, so we need another method. We are so close to our goal, but we need more slaves."

"But not all of the ponies like me," you reply. "In fact, most of them hate my guts; there's a petition to have me exiled from town."

"Really?" Rockpaw thinks for a moment. "Not to worry, Anon, we could still use that to our advantage."

You give him a puzzled look. "Really?" you ask. "How?"

"Simple," Rockpaw replies. "All you have to do is tell them that you know where their loved ones are, and then lead them to a nice secluded part of the forest; we'll take care of the rest."

"With the greatest of respect, Overseer, I don't see how that would work. They hate me, so I doubt they'd listen to what I have to say."

Rockpaw laughs. "I think the mere fact you mentioned knowing about their loved ones would be more than enough cause for them to give you the benefit of the doubt," he replies. "And then, as an added bonus, you'll get to see the look of betrayal on their faces when we bundle them up and drag them back here by the tail."

Remember, Anon, you are trying to be as convincing as possible here. Start agreeing with him, or you'll be joining the slaves!

"That's a good point," you reply quickly. "I guess they would be more than willing to listen to me if I was to mention their loved ones; the look of betrayal only sweetens the deal even more."

"So we're agreed, then?" Rockpaw reaches into his desk and pulls out a map, marking a location on it. "You will return to Ponyville and see about getting some of those stupid ponies to follow you back to the spot I've marked, where we have a camp located." He passes the map over and you take it, folding it up and tucking it inside your jacket pocket. "Now, I understand that you would also like to discuss something regarding the prisoners."

"Yes, sir." you take a deep breath. "You need to stop beating them."

"I see..." Rockpaw forms a pyramid shape with his claws and starts tapping them together. "And why, exactly, should I agree to that?"

"Think about it, Overseer," you say. "Injured slaves need to recuperate, during which time they aren't working. Now, I don't know what it is you're looking for, but the more slaves you have out of commission, the longer you need to wait to find it. What I suggest is starving them for a day or so, instead of kicking the shit out of them. The sudden change in your attitude also has a psychological side effect; since the prisoners have more than likely grown used to beatings by now, they will be unsure of how to react to this new punishment. This in turn might make them more wary of causing trouble in the future."

"He has a point, boss," Slasher interjects. "We've got about sixty slaves recovering from their beatings just now. Raiding Ponyville is getting riskier by the day, and it could be a while before your plan for Anon bears fruit, so we're not operating as well as we could be."

Rockpaw nods slowly. "Your arguments are valid, Anon," he replies. "Very well, I will put this new idea of yours into action and let you know how it goes when you return." He stands up. "I hope to see you again soon, preferably with new 'staff' for us."

You stand up as well. "You can count on me," you reply. "In fact, I know just the pony to bring out on a little 'outing.'"

Lyra?

Lyra.

Rockpaw grins a big, toothy, grin. "Glad to hear it, Anon." he offers his paw, which you shake. "I always had my doubts about you, my boy, but now... I'm glad you're on our side."

"As am I... boss."

Rockpaw produces two more glasses and pours wine into each of them. "A toast," he says. "To new friendships!"

You and Slasher pick up a glass, raising them in the air. "To new friendships!" you say in unison.

The resulting clink of the glasses fills the room — but at that moment in time, you only have one thing on your mind.

Looks like my plan is coming along nicely...

Author's Note:

Sorry for the slow update; other things have been higher up on my list of priorities.

So, what does Anon have planned?

What are the Diamond Dogs actually looking for?

Will Lyra actually follow Anon?

All of these questions - and more - will be answered soon.