• Published 13th Mar 2020
  • 4,637 Views, 979 Comments

Skeletor, Master of The Empire. - Hotel_Chicken

A monster was dethroned and a demon was thrusted into a position of power he never wanted. Now, the Displaced Lord Skeletor finds himself in the Frozen North of Equestria, fighting frigid temperatures and an evil king.

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Chapter 9. Things Left Unsaid.

The sun slowly peaked over the distant horizon as it began its ascent into the sky, signaling the coming of morning and the end of a calm night. The golden glow of morning caused the shadows that fell from the still standing buildings to stretch across the Empire, creating a series of arrows that pointed towards the Crystal Castle.

The few citizens who were able to wake up at the break of dawn occupied their time by embracing the warmth of the sunrise, enjoying their ability to once again bask in the warm light of the sun with their own volition. Many of the citizens couldn’t remember the last time they got to watch the sun rise or were able to enjoy the beautiful stars that dotted the sky at night.

They embraced the simple pleasure of watching the sun rise with overwhelming joy. Many of them were unable to fight the tears that threatened to spill past their eyes as they stared at the horizon. While most of those tears were tears of joy, some of them were made of bittersweet sorrow as many of the crystal ponies began to believe that one or both of the Alicorn sisters fell to Sombra’s hooves. The unfamiliar rise and fall of the celestial bodies was a sign to them that something had happened to them, and it was all too easy for them to believe that the princesses had truly died.

The ponies who still held onto their faith in the Almighty Weaver, Faust, either prayed to her for the safety of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna or prayed that they were able to rejoin their cousin, Princess Amore, in heaven. Many of them sent a prayer of thanks to their goddess for delivering a beast that could deliver divine judgment onto the old tyrant, believing that Faust had used the fires from the depths of Tartarus to weave a monster that could kill the demon in a pony’s coat.

Some claimed that he was the son of Faust, others believed he was Faust’s antithesis, and a very select few had been bold enough to assume that it was Faust wearing a disguise. None of them would ever guess that their dark lord was a human turned into a fictional character, leaving the origins of their master a mystery that would be debated until the end of time.

As many of the citizens stared at the rising sun in awe and wonder, one pony had his attention pointed directly towards the Crystal Castle. Cannon Fodder’s eyes struggled to stay open as he stared at the broken window outside of Lord Skeletor’s bedchambers. Cannon Fodder barely got an hour of sleep before a vivid nightmare of King Sombra made him wake up in a cold sweat.

Unlike the usual nightmares that revolved around Princess Amore’s murder, his newest nightmare was almost solely devoted to the blue demon he was forced to call his lord. The demon stood on a pile of corpses that led to his throne, letting the monster look down on Cannon Fodder as he mourned the death of Emerald Secret. Cannon Fodder woke up as soon as he felt a golden ram horn pierce his withers and refused to go back to sleep after he woke up.

He spent the rest of the night patrolling the castle, often asking guards if they saw anything suspicious. One of the guards, Stone Wall, had reported that Lord Skeletor appeared before him when an orange colored portal opened up in the hallway early on into the night. At first, Cannon Fodder was quick to dismiss the guard’s claims as hallucinations brought on by sleep depravity since he, like everypony else, knew that there was no such thing as portal magic. And even if there was such a thing, instant teleportation was a much more efficient and practical means of travel for the most skilled unicorn and ruva mages.

If the demon knew magic to open portals, then he would have known about proper teleportation. However, there was no guarantee that the creature could use magic like unicorns and ruvas did, it didn’t even have a horn to channel its magic through. Unless it was using the ram’s skull as a conduit for magic, but if a pony could ever figure out a way to do something like that then more than just unicorns and ruvas would be lifting things with their mind. Earth ponies, crystal ponies, pegasi, and thestrals would all be using magic to teleport and cast spells if it were possible. And since nopony had ever discovered a way to channel magic through something to imitate unicorn magic, even with the most powerful mages on Terra looking into it. then it was almost impossible for Lord Skeletor to do it.

“Almost” being the operative term since Cannon Fodder still had no idea what Lord Skeletor was capable of. Ever since Lord Skeletor was dragged into the throne room, he had been a complete anomaly that Cannon Fodder couldn’t figure out. He was clearly a magic user and he clearly knew some spells, yet his methods for casting spells were crude and different from ponies, hitting a door with his scepter and using his own raw strength to beat Somrba to death. There must have been at least a dozen less messy spells that could have killed Sombra much quicker, granted Cannon Fodder wasn’t opposed to the violence and brutality of Sombra’s death, but he was confused by it.

Maybe his new lord was a sadist, and he simply found pleasure in hurting his enemies without relying on magic? It would explain why he didn’t launch any noticeable spells at Sombra, but wouldn’t explain why he hit the vault door to open it. A simple wave of his scepter or hands should have been enough to send a spell at the door and remove the enchantments Sombra placed on it, so there was no real reason for him to hit it with the ram’s skull.

Skeletor was an anomaly wrapped in a mystery, more importantly though, was that he was a threat to the crystal ponies. Cannon Fodder couldn’t have the luxury of questioning Lord Skeletor’s actions, he simply had to observe him and learn more about the monster before he enacted a plan to kill it. Traditional weapons such as spears and arrows were thrown out the window since Cannon Fodder wasn’t sure those would work on Lord Skeletor. Using fire was also thrown out since Lord Skeletor was clearly a demon from the deepest depths of Tartarus, meaning that he might have actually enjoyed fire. So, the only thing that could reasonably kill Lord Skeletor would be a ruva or a unicorn, and the old tyrant, Sombra, made sure that there were no other ruvas in the Empire.

Lord Skeletor would rule unopposed until the unicorn guards from Dream Valley could arrive to avenge Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. The possibility that the Alicorn sisters died in an epic battle against Sombra seemed to grow by the day, as more and more ponies became convinced that their technical demigoddesses were killed. Sombra had managed to kill one Alicorn, and even if they outnumbered him, it wasn’t too far of a leap in logic to think that Sombra got the upper hoof and used his momentary advantage to strike them down.

It was unthinkable, almost sacrilegious to believe, and yet it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. And what did that make Lord Skeletor as a result? A demon that killed a monster that murdered demigoddesses? Would that make Lord Skeletor stronger than Alicorns, or did he just have an advantage at fighting monsters like Sombra? Maybe he just got lucky in his battle with Sombra, it did look like Sombra was caught off guard, and Lord Skeletor didn’t give him any time to cast any spells either.

That was another odd thing about Lord Skeletor. Magic users such as Alicorns, unicorns, and ruvas preferred to fight at a distance to give themselves time to cast spells. However, instead of staying back to give himself the opportunity to launch any offense magic at Sombra, Lord Skeletor decided to fight him head on.

It would have made sense for a none magic user to attack in close quarters to prevent the unicorn or ruva from casting a spell, but for a magic user to fight a magic caster head on? It would be like a meteor creating another crater on the moon, there would be some damage but overall it would be a waste of time and energy on the attacker’s part while the other could throw up a shield to keep themselves safe from the assault. If Sombra had managed to put a shield around himself at any point during the fight, then things would have probably turned out much differently.

And yet, he didn’t. Or maybe he did and Lord Skeletor shattered his defenses? Or perhaps Sombra was about to but then his horn shattered? Cannon Fodder desperately hoped that it was the latter of the two options, since breaking a shield with strength alone would take a force equivalent to a dragon’s might. If Lord Skeletor had the strength of a dragon, then fighting him would become a much more arduous, if not impossible, task.

Cannon Fodder turned his attention away from the castle, watching the sun rise as it marked Skeletor’s technical second day as lord of the Empire. He wondered how many more sunrises he would see before the demon’s true intentions were revealed, before he would enslave the crystal ponies like Sombra did, before he would start to torment and kill them.

He watched the sun rise, committing it to his memory like it was the most precious treasure. It could have possibly been the last time he would ever see the sun rise.

Skeletor dragged himself out of bed as the light of morning poured through his completely shattered window. He felt his sore muscles scream out in defiance as he moved out from under the comfort of the blankets.

A cold breeze from the window nipped at Skeletor’s bare skin as he stood up to examine his new room. The mess of wood chips, shattered glass, and singed papers were scattered around the room haphazardly by the wind that drifted in through the open window.

Skeletor winced at the mess that his fit of rage left behind, wondering how the ponies outside his door would react if they saw the room.

Just… Just gotta relax. You can’t get beheaded for a messy room, right? Skeletor reasoned as he tried to calm his nerves.

Glancing at a small pile of paper that was lying on the floor near his bed, he subtly pushed the mess under his bed with a foot.

Better safe than sorry. He thought as he cleaned his room by pushing more of his mess under the bed or, in the case of the smashed cupboard, cover it with a few well-placed cloaks and blankets.

As Skeletor busied himself with cleaning his room and rearranging the bookshelf from least damaged to spare confetti, his eye sockets roamed the many titles of the tomes.

Magic Theory, Dark Arts, Forbidden Spells, wow, what a blatant title. I wonder which one of these has a cleaning spell… Or an immortality spell. He wondered as he looked at the books relating to magic.

If he was going to be stuck in magical pony equivalent of the North Pole then there was no reason not to take advantage of it. After all, what was the point in having dozens of spell books if you couldn’t exploit it? Not to mention, knowing an immortality spell would greatly reduce the chances of being killed and beheaded by angry multi-colored ponies.

Granted, there was no way to know for sure if he could still use magic once he got back to Earth, but there was no harm in seeing if he could do something besides making a vomit inducing portal to seemingly random places.

Thinking about the mind-altering portals caused a shiver to run up Skeletor’s spine as he picked up the book he started reading the night before. Unfortunately, the book didn’t offer much that made sense to him, delving into philosophical questions and theories about magic that completely went over his skull and made him question the meaning of life. Before he could fall into the pit of despair that would make him ponder his own mortality and the thin veil that hides the terrifying unknowns of the afterlife, Skeletor placed the book back on the shelf and preoccupied himself with hiding cleaning the rest of the mess.

The rest of the glass, paper, and wood chips were swept under the bed quickly after he reorganized his now sparse bookshelves. With nothing else to distract him, his invisible eyes drifted to the covered mirror that rested on his dresser. Memories of his missing reflection danced in his mind as he stared at the cloak that separated him from the strange mirror.

Skeletor debated whether or not he imagined his missing reflection, and steeled his nerves to confirm that his reflection was still missing by walking towards it and tearing the cloak off of the mirror. Skeletor held his breath as he clenched his invisible eyes shut, slowly peaking one eye open to look at where his reflection should have been.

Just like the night before, his mirrored self was completely absent. Skeletor looked at the mirror from different angles, searching the corners of the mirror in the vain hopes that it was somehow hidden from him.

He hesitantly reached out towards the reflection of his room, touching the smooth surface of the mirror as he examined it more closely. Skeletor’s fingers only rested on the mirror for a second before he suddenly felt his fingers start to burn from the contact and he quickly pulled his hand away from the mirror as he felt it singe his fingertips.

“FUCK!” Skeletor let loose a yelp of pain before he instinctively blew on his fingers, desperately trying to cool off the burning sensation in them.

Skeletor felt the lingering sting that mirror left on his fingers, the pain faintly reminding him of the time he accidentally touched a hot stove when he was younger. He quietly cursed under his breath as he tried to dull the pain by waving his hand frantically as if he could somehow shake the burning feeling off of his hand.

Fucking stupid mirror, fucking piece of shit, I—“ Lord Skeletor quietly muttered before a knock at his door interrupted his silent tirade.

Grumbling to himself, he quickly threw the cloak back over the mirror before he grabbed his Havoc Staff and went to answer his door. Once he opened the door, he saw Emerald Secret standing on the other side with a bright smile on her face.

“Good morning, my lord, how did you rest last night?” Emerald Secret asked in a chipper voice.

“Uh, good, good. What about you?”

“I slept wonderfully, my lord, thank you for asking. I’m sorry to wake you up so early, but there are a few issues that need your attention. If you could please follow me, my lord, I can explain everything on the way to breakfast,” Emerald Secret said as she stepped aside to let Skeletor leave his room.

Skeletor threw one last glance over his shoulder to look at the covered mirror and the mess of his bedroom before he nodded and followed Emerald Secret down the hallway.

“So, what’s happening?” Skeletor asked.

“Well, firstly, the alchemists have been attempting to take the information you gave them to create a small amount of steel, and I think you’ll be happy to know that they've been working all night to work on the process. Secondly, some farmers were able to make some headway into the overgrowth in the subterranean farms, and gathered a decent number of crops for feeding the Empire. Oh, and Crumb Catcher and Avid Value were able to come to an agreement regarding the Crystal Fair and the expenses. If it would be alright, my lord, the rest of the council was thinking about celebrating the Crystal Fair by the end of the week.”

“Well, that’s good to hear. Is there anything I need to do for it?”

“Aside from providing your seal of approval, we need you to participate in a few events such as judging the pie eating contest and overseeing the jousting tournament. We’ll unfortunately have to forgo the petting zoo since all of the livestock in the caves were… Well, for lack of a better term, mummified, so this year we were thinking about gathering extra blankets to hand out.”

“You found extra supplies?”

“There were a lot of ponies who fled or… died during Sombra’s reign, leaving their houses and their possessions to be taken by him.”

“Fucking pony Hitler,” Skeletor stated as memories of documentaries surrounding the hordes of stolen property the Nazis stole during World War II. “So, what did he do with them?”

“He created large and odd collections. Sombra had several different chambers for his collections, including one that was completely covered from the floor to the ceiling in blankets, and another that was completely stuffed with pillows. We handed out a good amount of them during your initial in-disposal after finding the Crystal Heart, but we still have a large surplus of them. We’ve also expanded the medical ward by converting the diplomatic bedchambers into makeshift infirmaries. A few of the noble families that are still around have also allowed regular ponies to take up residence in their homes, since most of the Empire has been reduced to rubble. I hate to say it, but the Empire is more like a kingdom now.”

“What’s the difference?”

“An Empire is made up of many kingdoms that answer to one leader, my lord. The Crystal Empire was originally made up of the Ruva Kingdom in the Diamond District, the Thestral Kingdom in Pearl Paradise, and the Crystal Pony Kingdom in Sapphire Sector. These three kingdoms made up the Crystal Empire, and they all directly answered to Princess Amore. The Ruva Kingdom was ransacked after Somra stole the throne, and most of the thestral kingdom flew away once Sombra started his genocide of the ruvas. With no more thestrals or ruvas, Sombra tore the kingdoms apart for materials, wealth, and to get rid of any areas where his enemies could gather. All that left was the Sapphire Sector where the Crystal Castle was built.”

“So most of the Empire is just rubble then, along with most of its housing as well.”

“Correct, which is why some of the remaining noble families allowed the commoners to stay with them. The crystal ponies in the castle right now are either your personal staff, your guards, or heavily malnourished or exhausted from being forced to do strenuous and heavily taxing work. I’m sorry to say that we’ve lost nearly a hundred ponies so far,” Emerald Secret grimly informed Skeletor, causing him to stop mid-step as he took that in.

“Oh my god… How… Oh Christ, Emerald…” Skeletor said as he buried his face in his free hand. “How many… Oh fuck, how many of them were kids?”

“ ’kids’? What is that?" Emerald Secret asked.

"What? They're-they're children. You know, the thing that pops out when a mom and dad have... sex," he explained as he braced himself for the number of children casualties.

"Ah, you're referring to foals. Un… Unfortunately, there aren’t… any foals in the Crystal Empire,” Emerald Secret told him as terrible memories began to flood her mind.

"Wait, what!? What do you mean there aren't any children? What happened?”

"Well... our... The tyrant king used foals to... to..." Emerald Secret chocked on her words as a cascade of tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Emerald? Emerald, are you alright?" He asked in a panicked concern as he kneeled down next to her. When the lord placed his claw on Emerald's withers she went completely ridges and quickly swatted it away with her hoof.

“NO!” She shouted as she backed away from Skeletor with a look of pure terror on her face. “I-I’m sorry, my lord, I-I just don’t like being touched. I didn’t mean to, I ju—"

“It’s alright, Emerald. I…” Skeletor stopped when he was about to reach out to her again, noticing the panic and fear that danced behind her eyes as she flinched at his movement.

Skeletor’s hand fell back to his side as he slowly backed away from Emerald Secret, making himself look as small as possible as he did so. “Everything’s okay, Emerald, no one is going to hurt you,” Skeletor softly said as he gave Emerald Secret the space she needed to feel more comfortable.

“I… I’m sorry, my lord, I… I’m fine now,” Emerald Secret lied, with a painfully forced smile on her muzzle.

Skeletor looked at her with sympathy in his invisible eyes, one of the few emotions that couldn’t come across clearly with his skeletal face. He waited in silence as Emerald Secret fixed her mask, hiding the emotions that threatened to bubble to the surface. Skeletor’s mind raced with a thousand words, a hundred hypothetical conversations, and no real idea of how to console her. He had no idea how to help her and he was too scared of hurting her to try.

One slip up, one wrong word choice, could have caused irreparable damage to her, hurt her in worse ways than he could even imagine. With no idea of what he could say to try and take the first steps to help her, he chose to stay silent, he decided to be pathetic and let her work it out herself, he chose to be selfish.

Skeletor wore a mask of calm patience as his heart pounded in his chest, fighting the urge to help in the fear of hurting her.

“Alright,” Skeletor quietly said as he willfully accepted her lie.

If she would reach out to him, then he would help her, but if she wouldn’t, then he’d keep his thoughts and worries to himself, like a coward. A sickening silence filled the halls as Emerald Secret led Skeletor to the dining hall, only broken by the occasional sniffle from Emerald Secret as she fought to keep on her own mask to hide her pain. Skeletor tried to look anywhere but at Emerald Secret as he followed her, drowning out her silent sorrow as he lost himself in his own thoughts.

Idle chatter filled the dining hall as many of the guards and maids seated at the tables ate their breakfast rations. Nearly every table was filled to the brim with ponies sitting down to eat their breakfast, the only exception being the table for royalty that sat at the end of the room, completely secluded from the other tables.

At the royal table, Copper Plate sat across from Cannon Fodder as she ate her crystalberry jam stew, listening to Cannon Fodder drone on as he used the monotonous conversation from the other tables to hide his hushed conspiracy with her. The waiters had already set plates for the council and their lord, leaving their lord’s stew under a shiny platinum cloche that kept his food warm.

“Don’t you think you’re jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly?” Copper Plate asked in a bored tone as she stopped another spoonful of crystalberry jam stew into her muzzle.

“I’m not jumping to conclusions,” Cannon Fodder scoffed. “I let my guard down once, and I ended up letting a monster disguised as a pony get too close to Princess Amore, I’m not turning my back to an obvious monster.”

“An ‘obvious’ monster? May I ask what’s so monstrous about returning the Crystal Heart?” Copper Plate skeptically asked.

“I’ll admit I was wrong about the Heart being real, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about him,” Cannon Fodder argued.

“And you want to be right about him being evil?”

“I want to be prepared.”

“Whatever. Why don’t you talk to the others about this?” Copper Plate incredulously asked.

“Avid Value’s too enamored with that dumb mythical metal, Crumb Catcher would tattle to Skeletor—"

“Lord Skeletor,” Copper Plate corrected.

“So that he could kiss up to him,” Cannon Fodder continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “I need you to help me convince Emerald to take the throne once we get rid of that demon. You were on the council before either of us and you spent more time with Princess Amore, she'll listen to you.”

“And why should she take the throne?”

“Because she’s the only qualified pony I can think of. There are a few nobles left from Princess Amore’s reign, but I don’t know enough about them to trust any one of those brown snouts to hoof over the Empire to them. Emerald’s the best choice—”

“Aside from the one we already have?”

“The one we have now is a literal demon! Li-ter-uhl dee-muh-n! We need to get rid of him before he kills us all!” Cannon Fodder quietly argued as he tried to keep his voice below a hushed whisper.

“Look, Cannon, I’m old, and I’m tired,” Copper Plate stated bluntly. “I’m not going to spend the last few years of my life fighting a battle against a demon I know we can’t beat. Besides, Lord Skeletor hasn’t given us any reason to doubt him.”

“He’s a demon! That’s reason enough.”

“And Sombra was a pony. If a regular ruva can turn into a monster, I don’t see why a monster can’t be a decent pony,” Copper Plate reasoned. While she wasn’t entirely sure what Lord Skeletor was, she didn’t think Cannon Fodder was too far off with his assessment of Loed Skeletor being a demon, mainly because of the fact that he had an actual skull for a head. But, just because he was possibly a demon didn’t mean that he was evil... Probably.

“Somra wasn’t a pony, he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Skeletor is just a wolf out in the open,” Cannon Fodder stated firmly.

Before Copper Plate could offer a retort, the conversation from the other tables that hid their conversation abruptly died as dozens of eyes locked onto the doors of the dining hall. Lord Skeletor stood at the doors with Emerald Secret at his side with a weary smile that struggled to reach her eyes. While many ponies may have missed such a minor detail, being too fixated on the large creature that was next to her, Copper Plate was able to see the sadness in Emerald Secret’s eyes.

Lord Skeletor said something to Emerald Secret and started to walk towards his seat, taking long and deliberate strides to cross the room quickly, falling and catching himself with each of his long legs, similar to how minotaur and dragon diplomats walked when they came to the Empire. Copper Plate compared his movement to the slithering of a cockatrice, observing the mesmerizing spectacle with curiosity and interest as she watched him walk with only two legs.

Lord Skeletor awkwardly shuffled into his seat as Emerald Secret took a seat between Cannon Fodder and Lord Skeletor, her smile slightly growing by a hair as Lord Skeletor fumbled around in his large chair.

“Good morning, Lord Skeletor,” Copper Plate said with a polite bow.

“Good morning… I’m sorry, what was your name again?”

“Copper Plate,” she informed him, watching her lord silently repeat that word to himself as he dedicated it to his memory.

“Thank you. And you’re Cannon, right?” He asked as he pointed a finger at Cannon Fodder.

“Yes…” Cannon Fodder curtly replied before turning his attention towards his stew.

Copper Plate resisted the urge to roll her eyes at Cannon Fodder’s lack of tact. For somepony who planned to start a coup, Cannon Fodder had no ability to hide his thinly veiled disdain to most ponies. Cannon Fodder made it his job to make sure ponies knew how he felt about them, refusing to dance around his opinions with fluffy words and usually being extremely blunt with no regards for what happened. While that usually worked against nobles and criminals, his blunt attitude wouldn’t do him any favors if he actually decided to go along with his inane plan to overthrow a creature that reportedly beat Sombra to death with his own skull.

Thankfully for Cannon Fodder, Lord Skeletor either didn’t notice his attitude or wasn’t concerned enough to point it out. In fact, it seemed like Lord Skeletor wasn’t too concerned with anything around him, as he became completely mesmerized by the reflective cloche that covered his food, staring at the warped reflection of his skull with a strange look on his face that sat on the borders of fear and astonishment. The other two council members soon took notice of their lord’s odd fixation and broke him out of his trance with a light cough from Emerald Secret.

“My lord, is everything alright?” She asked.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m fine. Fine,” Lord Skeletor dismissed before he hesitantly reached towards the cloche to unveil his stew, throwing a quick glance at his reflection before he placed the cloche next to himself.

A lull of silence swallowed the ponies and demon at their table as Lord Skeletor ate his morning meal, occasionally looking back at the distorted reflection of himself in the cloche. Regular conversation from the other tables soon filled the air once again as some ponies stole quick glances at their lord, watching in a mixture of fascination and awe as he poured the contents of his goblet down his jaw.

Copper Plate’s eyes lingered on the visible hole under her lord’s jaw where the water from his goblet should have fallen through to pour down on his chest. She watched the water disappear into thin air as it went into his mouth, subtly observing her lord’s eating habits with intrigue as she mentally added her lord’s digestive system to her list of growing questions and quandaries.

Clearly uncomfortable with the growing silence between them, Lord Skeletor cleared his throat to speak to his present council members. “So, are the other two council members going to be joining us?” Lord Skeletor asked as he looked at the several empty seats for council members and diplomats.

“Avid Value is still busy with counting our finances and checking in on the alchemists, and Crumb Catcher is busy setting up preparations for the Crystal Fair,” Emerald Secret informed him. “We told him to wait for your decision regarding the Crystal Fair, but he was too excited to even entertain the idea that you wouldn’t approve of the fair.”

“Speaking of which, Lord Skeletor, what is your decision for the Crystal Fair?” Copper Plate asked.

“If we can do it, then I don’t see a reason not to,” Lord Skeletor replied easily with a shrug of his shoulders. “I know I just have to sit there and look pretty…” He trailed off before the stole another glance at his reflection. “Or just sit there… Emerald, is there anything else that needs my attention?”

“Hmmm… Well, some of the citizens have requested to reopen the court,” Emerald Secret told him.


“An allotted time where ponies can come to you with grievances ranging from the mundane to the most paramount of problems.”

“So, ponies come to me with problems and I try to fix them… Huh. Just like in Game of Thrones…” He quietly muttered.

Copper Plate raised an eyebrow at his strange comparison to throne games, feeling an urge to ask her lord to elaborate on it before catching a quick look at Cannon Fodder and Emerald Secret who seemed to tense up at those words. Copper Plate chose to ignore his comment about throne games since inquiring about it appeared to draw a negative reaction out of the other council members, and planned to ask them more about it once they were in private.

As the other council members sat in silence, Lord Skeletor mulled her words over while chewing his lower jaw. Copper Plate felt a shiver run up her spine as Lord Skeletor’s fangs became more prominent as they nearly reached the edge of his bottom jaw, a clear sign of a predator that mainly used meat it its diet. If it weren’t for the fact that she had just seen her lord eat crystalberry jam stew, Copper Plate would have been more skeptical towards Emerald Secret’s claims of him being an “omnivore”.

She had seen a few references to animals that had a similar diet in the many tomes that filled the archives, and some of the few stories they had regarding minotaurs claimed that some of the lower class minotaurs lived off of a diet of vegetables and livestock. She imagined that Lord Skeletor’s large fangs would easily tear through flesh and that his black claws could shred a pony to ribbons with ease, making the fact that he was an omnivore all the odder. His body was clearly made to be a predator, to hunt for food and devour it with gusto when they caught their prey, and yet he seemed completely content eating something that had no meat in it.

Copper Plate was soon knocked out of her wandering thoughts by her lord’s voice as he gave an order to his royal advisor.

“Alright. Emerald, go prepare whatever we need to start court. Find the other two council members and prepare seats for them in the throne room. I want all council members to be present for whatever decisions I make.”

“With pleasure, my lord,” Emerald Secret said before she got out of her chair and trotted towards the doors.

Copper Plate noticed that Lord Skeletor’s skull subtly turned to watch Emerald Secret trot away, until she disappeared behind the doors to the hallway. His gaze stayed on the door for a few sparse moments before he turned his attention to his two remaining council members.

“Is everything alright, Lord Skeletor?” Copper Plate asked.

Her lord remained silent for a few seconds before answering, seemingly debating his choices before he gave her an answer. “.. No. I… I need your help,” he finally replied before he turned his skull towards the ever-stoic Cannon Fodder.

“Something’s wrong with Emerald. Cannon, you’re her friend, right?”

“We could be classified as such,” Cannon Fodder formally replied with a raised eyebrow.

“… If you don’t mind, I want you to talk to her. You know more about her than I do so you probably won’t say anything to set her off,” Lord Skeletor told him.

Copper Plate watched a range of emotions dance over Cannon Fodder’s face as he appeared to struggle with the order. Whether it was because he was uncomfortable talking to other to fix problems or because of something else, Copper Plate wasn’t sure.

“… Yes sir,” Cannon Fodder quietly said, as he got out of his chair and trotted toward the doors of the dining hall.

“Before you go, take this to her,” Lord Skeletor told him as he held out the stew that Emerald Secret left. “Waste not, want not, am I right?” He rhetorically asked with a smile as his upper jaw appeared to raise a hair of an inch.

Cannon Fodder eyed the small portion of stew with skepticism for a brief moment before he accepted it and went to find Emerald Secret. Once Cannon Fodder left the dining hall to search for Emerald Secret, Lord Skeletor turned his attention to the only council member that still sat at his table. Copper Plate felt a twinge of instinctive fear flare up in the back of her mind as her new lord focused solely on her, ignoring everypony else in the room as he stared down at her.

“Mrs. Plate, I have a few questions I need to ask.”

“I’ll answer them to the best of my ability, Lord Skeletor. And if it would please you, you can call me Copper,” Copper Plate quickly responded as she tried to keep herself composed by convincing herself that there was nothing to worry about or fear. She wore a pleasant smile on her muzzle as she awaited her lord’s questions.

“Thank you, Copper… I… I want to know why there aren’t any children-er-foals in the Empire. What happened to them?” Lord Skeletor asked her.

In a matter of seconds, Copper Plate’s cheerful smile died as she was confronted by the memories of foals being ripped away from their mothers' hooves. The Crystal Mines. Those... things that came out. Copper Plate felt bile build up in her throat as she tried to force herself to forget those tragedies.

She swallowed thickly as she felt a shiver run down her spine, mentally preparing herself to tell her lord about the dark rituals that Sombra preformed to increase his power.

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