• Published 13th Mar 2020
  • 4,578 Views, 978 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 10. Assumptions and Growing Worries.

Dread and fear filled Cannon Fodder’s soul as he trotted down the hallway to find Emerald. His mind wandered to Lord Skeletor’s choice of words, repeating the ominous message he left Cannon Fodder with before he hoofed over the partially eater bowl of stew.

Waste not, want not...

Cannon Fodder contemplated the meaning of his strange statement, imagining a dozen hidden meanings that could be interpreted as thinly veiled threats. Could the demon have learned about his plots against him? Did it know that he wanted to put Emerald on the throne as soon as Cannon Fodder slew him?

If so, then what guarantee did Cannon Fodder have that the stew he was carrying was safe to eat? What if Lord Skeletor poisoned it using his dark magic and he was planning on having Cannon Fodder being an unknowing accomplice in her death?

Cannon Fodder threw a cautious glance over his shoulder before he tossed the contents of the stew into one of the many crystal pots that decorated the hallway. Like every other plant pot in the Empire, the once beautiful flowers had completely withered to dust, adding an air of dread to the nearly barren halls. Most, if not all of the artwork that depicted Sombra, from paintings to tapestries, were torn off of the walls and burned to keep the crystal ponies warm.

He tore his eyes away from the light silhouettes that the old pieces of art left on the naked walls, staring at the empty bowl in his hooves as he briefly entertained the idea of throwing the bowl itself in the dead crystal pot. After a few moments of consideration, Cannon Fodder put the bowl behind the pot since the dirt inside was too hard to bury it.

Taking comfort in the idea that Cannon Fodder may have prevented an assassination attempt on one of the few friends he had left from the time before Sombra, he returned to his duty to look for Emerald, occasionally asking the sparsely placed guards if they had seen her trot by. It didn’t take long for Cannon Fodder to find Emerald talking to Crumb Catcher in one of the hallways.

Crumb Catcher was busying himself with making one of the empty pots look more presentable by placing small pillars of various colorful crystals into them while Emerald was speaking to him. Once Crumb Catcher noticed Cannon Fodder trotting towards them, he gave the pot full of crystals one last appraising glance before he bided farewell to Emerald and trotted towards Cannon Fodder. Before he left, Cannon Fodder could have sworn that he saw the ghost of a smug smile on Crumb Catcher’s muzzle when he trotted past him.

“Hey Cannon, what are you doing here?” Emerald asked him as his eyes lingered on the retreating form of Crumb catcher for a few moments before he turned back to Emerald.

“Skel… Lord Skeletor asked me to find you.”

“Oh, does he need me for something?”

“Not really, he… He just wanted me to talk to you, see how you were doing, I guess?” Cannon Fodder answered with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Ah… Well, he’ll be happy to know that I’m doing wonderfully, nothing to worry about,” she stated with a less convincing smile on her muzzle.

“You’re sure? Emerald, if something’s bothering you, I’m here to listen,” Cannon Fodder assured her as he reached up to place a comforting hoof on Emerald, before she shied away from him as his hoof came closer to her.

A look of subtle worry flashed across Emerald’s face as she eyed Cannon Fodder’s hoof wearily, as if it were holding a dagger covered in fresh blood. Cannon Fodder was briefly reminded of how Emerald reacted on the staircase when they were looking for the demon, pure fear that he had only seen from ponies who had witnessed the death of Princess Amore with their own eyes.

“Can… Can you please talk to me, Emerald?” He asked as his hoof fell back to his side.

A suppressing silence engulfed them both as Cannon Fodder waited for a reply. He watched one of his oldest friends struggle with an inner conflict that he wanted to help her through. Cannon Fodder stood completely still as he resisted the urge to comfort her with a gentle nuzzle. Ponies were physically affectionate creatures, relying on touch to show each other that they were safe, an evolutionary trait they had received from their ancestors back in the early years of Terra, when demons roamed freely and when the word "Eris" held no meaning.

“I’m fine, I just… I need to find Avid,” Emerald stated before she turned to trot down the hall.

Cannon Fodder felt his body lock up as he watched Emerald trot away, his mind and body arguing for dominance as one demanded action while the other pleaded for a plan. His mouth hung open as he tried to find the right words to say, refusing to let a single syllable escape his throat until he had thought of the right words, until he found the magical statement that would fix everything and make her feel better, but only one word came to mind.

“Wait,” Cannon Fodder said quietly before his voice raised to call out to her. “Wait!”

Cannon Fodder’s legs suddenly moved without hesitation as he trotted after Emerald. “Please I… I don’t know how to help you if we don’t talk. Please, just tell me what’s wrong and I can help,” he told her as he started trotting a few feet behind her.

“It’s… It’s nothing, I’ll be all right. I just need to find Avid and tell him to meet us in the throne room,” Emerald dismissed.

“It’s not all right, Emerald, something’s wrong and you’re hurting. I just… I want to help you, Emerald. I know what Sombra did is still—"

“You don’t know!” She shouted at him. “You…. I’ll be fine,” Emerald quietly muttered as she continued to trot down the hall, leaving Cannon Fodder alone with her words echoing in his mind.

“What did that bastard do to you?” He asked as Emerald trotted out of earshot.

Skeletor braced himself against the wooden dresser of his room as he fought for control of his stomach, swallowing back the building bile that crawled up his non-existent throat at the recent memories of his conversation with Copper Plate.

The things Sombra did should never be said aloud, never repeated under a quiet breath, and never heard. Dark Magic was an entirely different form of magic, one that came at a disturbingly high and grotesque cost, and it freely flowed through Skeletor’s own veins now that he was in the body of a fictional character.

He tried to purge any lingering memories from his conversation with Copper Plate from his mind, drowning them in a sea of kittens and puppies to calm himself.

His vision became hazy as the memories began to resurface with a violent vendetta, driving him to the brink of despair as his imagination took her words and created a vision of death and gore that sickened Skeletor to his very soul. His mind composed a chorus of crying foals, fillies, and colts who were taken from their homes, sometimes dragged out of their beds by their own parents who had fallen under Sombra’s complete control.

Skeletor violently pulled one of the drawers of the dresser open to empty the contents of his stomach, the acidic sting of his stomach burned his throat as his mind took his moment of weakness to attack him with a barrage of disturbing scenes of death and torment to add fuel to his growing fire of disgust and pain.

Skeletor hung his head over the open drawer as he fell to his knees, clutching the edge of the dresser to keep himself upright as his body gave up on him. He breathed heavily as he regained his breath, tearing his eye sockets away from the pool of vomit to look up at the still covered mirror. Skeletor saw the vague shapes of gore and death in the unkempt cloak of crimson fur, causing him to unconsciously paint more vivid images in his mind that built up more bile in his throat.

He stayed like that for a few sparse minutes, collecting enough pleasant memories to bury the death and despair he had imagined under a mountain of distractions. Random catchy jingles and annoying repetitive songs were tossed around in his mind haphazardly in an attempt to drown out the imagined cries of pain, which only caused their cries to grow in intensity until they were the only things he heard.

Tears fell from his invisible eyes as he lost the battle against his mind, allowing the scenes of carnage and bloodshed to dominate his thoughts. Skeletor tore himself away from the dresser and went over to his bed to sit down, burying his skull in his hands as his imagination began to overwhelm him with visions of suffering foals at the bottom of a disgusting pit.

As Skeletor’s imagination plotted to push him towards more dark thoughts, a soft knock on his door that roused him from his thoughts, allowing him a small reprieve from his internal torment. After grabbing his staff and wiping off his jaw with one of the discarded cloaks, Skeletor walked over to the door as the pony on the other side knocked again.

Once Skeletor opened the door, he saw Emerald Secret with her hoof raised to knock again before she quickly put it back down.

“Hello, my lord, are you ready?” She asked.

“Ready for what?”

“For court, my lord. I informed Avid Value and Crumb Catcher about your plan to host court with all of the council members present and I also took the liberty of asking Crumb Catcher to find somepony to spread the news of court being open today. We likely won’t have many ponies coming to court today, but we should expect more later on in the week,” she informed him.

“Court? Oh, right, right, I uh… That’s now?” He asked as he dragged a hand down his skull to banish the last of his disturbing thoughts.

“It’s actually scheduled to be an hour from now, my lord, I just thought you’d like to get prepared, perhaps you could use the hot springs to freshen up?”

Skeletor unconsciously ran his invisible tongue along the top of his mouth at her words, slightly recoiling at the fresh taste of vomit that filled his mouth. “Yeah, I think that’d be good. Um… Do we have any tooth brushes?”

“Is that another word for a chew stick? If so, then I can arrange that to be placed with the rest of your toiletries. If you’d follow me, my lord, I can lead you to the hot springs under the castle.”

Skeletor simply nodded to Emerald Secret before he left his room, prompting Emerald Secret to escort him down the hallway and several flights of stairs. Skeletor’s invisible eyes wandered the halls, following the intricate patterns that naturally formed in the walls. Skeletor was able to catch faint glimpses of his reflection in the many faces of the walls reminding him of his first encounter with his reflection in the dining hall earlier that day.

He saw the skull of a strange monster staring back at him whenever his gaze would flick to a random part of the wall, feeling a chill run up from the base of his spine to the bottom of his skull whenever he would catch the empty eye sockets of his doppelganger. Skeletor moved the hood of his cloak closer to the edge of his face to avoid seeing g his reflection and searched the halls for something to distract him.

His invisible eyes eventually drifted towards the oddly silent Emerald Secret, watching her traverse the halls with ease, unburdened by Skeletor’s plights and silently suffering with her own problems. Skeletor briefly thought how to best approach his question before he decided to throw caution to the wind and act on instinct, too worried that his own “if’s” And “should’s”.

“Hey Emerald, how are you feeling?” He asked.

“Wonderfully, my lord. Crumb Catcher assured me that preparations for the Crystal Fair are going off without a hitch and Avid Value is ecstatic with the progress the alchemists and blacksmiths are making with your creation. They were able to produce the ‘pig’ iron and are in the process of preparing to make the first ever bar of steel,” she summarized.

“That’s nice, but… How are you doing?”

“If you’re referring to my… To earlier this morning, then rest assured that everything is fine, my lord. Cannon Fodder came to speak to me on your orders and I’m feeling much better because of it.”

Skeletor released a quiet sigh of relief at the news and let a small smile touch his strangely malleable jaw which defied nature, presumably a result of his new body being based off of a cartoon villain, though he wasn’t too interested in looking into it since feeling himself smile felt like he still had a face.

“That’s good to hear…. And, Emerald, I’m… I’m sorry for asking an uncomfortable question this morning. Christ, I had no idea about… that,” Skeletor told her, feeling his thoughts begin to stray towards his conversation with Copper Plate.

“That’s… It’s fine, my lord, everything is alright now,” she reassured him with a struggling smile.

Skeletor remained oblivious to her silent plights as Emerald Secret successfully deceived him with very little effort.

They continued walking down several winding corridors and hallways in awkward silence which was only broken by the occasional cough or random noise from one of the many doors that lined the halls. After walking down several flights of dimly lit stairs, Skeletor was led through a pony-made tunnel that was too low for his stature, forcing him to crouch down as he followed Emerald Secret.

Skeletor was able to see a dim blue light at the far end of the tunnel, a dull light that just barely cut through the darkness that blinded Skeletor, the vague shape of Emerald Secret’s body was the only thing that prevented him from getting lost in the shadows. After stumbling through the darkness for close to a minute, the blue light at the end of the tunnel became more noticeable, allowing the outline of Emerald Secret’s body to become more defined.

Maneuvering around an oddly placed pillar of stone, Skeletor shielded his eyes from the sudden explosion of light that appeared from the other side of the pillar. After a few moments, Skeletor looked to see a small cavern completely bathed in blue bioluminescent light from the thousands of glow worms that hung from the ceiling of the cave.

The floor was tiled with dull orange mosaic crystals that were mostly obscured by a thick layer of grime that had fallen from the ceiling. A few yards away from the entrance laid a pool of pristine water that shimmered in the light of the bugs that hung from the stalactites.

“I’ll fetch one of the maids to find you some toiletries, my lord,” Emerald Secret told him as she excused herself, disappearing behind a pillar of stone that obscured Skeletor’s view of the entrance to the hot spring.

Skeletor walked towards the pool of warm water, piping one of his newly monstrous toes into the to test its temperature. He recoiled slightly at the warmth of the water, buy was relieved by a second toe joining the first, allowing his body to accommodate to the now pleasurable temperature of the water.

Without much thought or care, Skeletor stripped himself of his cloak and limited clothing, including the black underwear that offered him only a morsel of modesty. It was an irksome task to maneuver the cloth around his much larger feet, snagging on his larger than average feet as he pulled them off. It was also the first time Skeletor had properly disrobed, allowing him to look at his body in full detail in the reflective surface of the water.

The face of death stared back at him with an expression of fear and hesitant wonder, mirroring Skeletor’s actions perfectly as his hand touched the surface of the water. Light ripples from the contact caused his reflection to shift slightly as he drew closer, feeling his arm sink into the water until it reached his bicep. His hand touched the bottom of the surprisingly shallow pool of water, giving him a brief reminder that everything in the castle, aside from the doors, was designed for the proportions of an average sized pony.

After taking his arm out of the water, Skeletor stepped into it. The water barely came up to his knees while he was standing, and only came up to his waist when he sat down, causing his upper torso to feel incredibly cold by comparison. He slipped deeper into the water, laying on his back as his skull rested on the ledge of the pool so that he could feel more comfortable.

His tense muscles relaxed as the warm water enveloped his body, felling his concerns and worries melt away as his spectral eyes close. A moan of pleasure escaped Skeletor’s throat as he laid in the water, savoring the blissful relaxation that the pool offered him.

His mind wandered to the last time he had used a hot tub, which had been years ago, a crime that he would never commit again now that he had his own personal hot spring. The last time he had felt the luxury of warm water surrounding him was when he first caught a glimpse of Evelyn leaving the pool to go to her room at the hotel he and his family were staying at. He had only noticed her because of her pale complexion and her albino hair, but he thought nothing more of her when she left the room.

They had bumped into each other the next day at breakfast in the lobby, sharing one of the few tables that sat near the beginning of the line for breakfast. Idle chatter between them soon evolved into interested conversation, which miraculously led to them friending each other on Twitter. Months of being friends online led them to exchanging usernames on Steam, Tumblr, and eventually exchanging phone numbers. Skeletor wasn’t sure what had compelled him to ask her on a date to the prom since she didn’t even live in the same town as him. But, somehow, some way, she said yes.

Thinking about that night brought a smile to his face. Prom was absolutely horrible, all the movies that made it look grandiose and wonderful had been extremely exaggerated, either that or his school was being extremely cheap. It didn’t matter that the food, music, dancing, and even the Photo Booth were subpar or horrible, all that mattered was hearing her laugh, becoming lost in her eyes, and being near her.

He briefly wondered if he would ever be able to see her eyes again, if he would ever be able to feel her hand interlock with his. Skeletor unconsciously started to curl his fingers, momentarily tricking himself into believing that the warm water that slipped through his fingers was Evelyn’s warm embrace. The illusion of being near her only lasted for a dying moment of time before his mind started to drift towards the rest of his family on Earth.

He knew that his family would wait for him, but would she? It wasn’t as if he was accusing her of being unfaithful to him, but how long could he have expected her to wait before she believed he was really dead? It wasn’t like they were married or anything, they had only casually dated for around three years. If it actually took him years to get back to Earth, who was to say that she wouldn’t have already moved on by the time he finally got back?

Skeletor quickly chased those thoughts away, sinking deeper into the water until only his nasal bones stayed above the water. He lost himself between thoughts of young deaths and a dying relationship, fighting to keep his emotions in check as his tormenting mind re-doubled its efforts. The only thing that was able to pull him from the brink of despair was the sound of hooves echoing from the dark tunnel.

Skeletor turned to the source of the noise to find Emerald Secret trotting into the cavern with a stick in her front hoof. Glancing down, Skeletor swiftly covered his groin with his hands to hide anything unpleasant from Emerald.

“Apologies, my lord, it took me some time to find a chew stick, I was only able to find it thanks to Crumb Catcher,” she said as she held out a hoof towards Skeletor, causing him to stare at her hoof more than the small twig with a frayed end.

How the hell is she holding it with her hooves? He wondered as he used one of his hands to accept the stick, using the other to discretely conceal his family jewels.

As Skeletor took the stick from Emerald, he noticed that his fingers were more wrinkled than dried prunes.

“Court should start in about fifteen minutes, my lord,” she informed him as she pulled a towel off of her back and draped it over red foreleg. “I trust that you had a relaxing bath?”

“Uh… Yeah, I guess I just lost track of time,” he replied as he looked at the stick he held in his pruny fingers. Lifting the stick to his mouth, he rubbed the frayed ends of the twig against his teeth to remove and plaque and clean out the lingering taste of vomit that his earlier panic attack left him with.

“Do you need me to do anything else, my lord?” Emerald asked in a slightly weaker voice.

Skeletor noticed her sudden change in tone and her slightly fighting legs. He stopped brushing for a brief moment as his incorporeal eyes watched her tail tuck between her legs, something Evelyn had told him scared animals did to protect themselves.

“I just need a little privacy. Would you mind going behind that pillar for a bit?” He asked as he wondered what was making Emerald worry.

Emerald nodded, a bit too quickly for his liking, and she cantered behind the pillar that separated her and Skeletor.

He rinsed the taste of vomit out of his mouth with water from the hot spring, not worrying about any bacteria or germs that were inside of his bath water, before he stood up and grabbed the towel that Emerald left for him. While he was drying himself off, Skeletor became disturbingly familiar with his new skeletal face, having to dry off his jaw from the inside out after letting it soak in the hot spring. Skeletor gagged on the towel a few times as he felt it hit brush up against his teeth and invisible gums.

He noticed that trying to access the inside of his mouth from below his jaw would only lead to him touching bone, while reaching directly through his mouth allowed him to feel his tongue, gums, and, much to his chagrin, his uvula. If he delicately placed a finger in his mouth, Skeletor could feel something that felt like the inside of his cheek, but if he pressed too hard, it would pop like a bubble and reform shortly after. After a few more experimental pokes popped his invisible cheek again, Skeletor stopped playing with his ghostly features and dressed himself with his limited clothes.

Skeletor briefly pondered if any of the staff in the castle would be able to make him a pair of pants, but shook that thought away as he focused on more important matters. He could worry about clothing when he got back to Earth, and getting back there meant not getting killed in the enemy kingdom of the Emerald City from Oz, and the only way to do that was to make sure the ponies were happy. Simple. Easy. Absolutely fucking terrifying. He thought to himself, as he held the cloak closer to his body like a security blanket.

He firmly grasped the Havoc Staff in his free hand, using it as another item to give him a little more distance between himself and the rest of the world. When Skeletor walked around the stone pillar, he saw his new advisor peering into the darkness with trepidation as she watched the small flakes of dust twirl in the air, closely observing it as if a vicious monster would jump out at any moment. Clearing his throat slightly startled Emerald, knocking her out of her worried state and upgrading her to absolute terror as she stared at Skeletor.

Fear flashed across her eyes as she gazed at him, bracing herself as if Skeletor would lunge at her in a moment’s notice to strike her. “Are… Are you alright, Emerald?” Skeletor stupidly asked.

Emerald regained her composure a few moments later, although her mask of calmness had become a warped mess that allowed her true emotions to seep through. “Yes, my lord, everything’s fine,” she replied before she began trotting down the dark tunnel.

Skeletor stayed in place as Emerald’s hoof clops grew more distant before he eventually plunged into the darkness to talk to her. “Emerald, can you please tell me what’s wrong?” He persisted.

He had assumed that her conversation with Cannon Fodder had helped her deal with the memories of what Sombra did to the poor foals that he captured, but clearly something else was bothering her. She had been completely fine until she handed him the chew stick, as if a light switch was flipped, the normal mare suddenly became timider and more fearful of him. Was it his sharp fangs that worried her? Had he done something to scare her without realizing it? He had no idea what caused her to suddenly change but he desperately wanted to know.

“Well… I’m just worried about the Crystal Fair, that’s all, my lord. Nothing you need to be concerned about,” she lied. Or maybe it was the truth? Either way, he’d need to dig a bit deeper to see where the root of the issue laid.

“Really? What’s on your mind then?”

“Just thinking about the festivities, my lord. We… We will be having a celebration, right?” She meekly asked

“Of course. Why, is there something wrong with it?”

“I’m happy to say that isn’t the case, my lord,” she said with a much happier tone prominent in her voice.

Alright, not the festivities then. So what’s bothering her? He questioned. “So, what are you going to do during the fair?”

“Standing by your side, my lord, along with Cannon Fodder and a few of the guards.”

Skeletor paused briefly at that little tidbit of information before he reminded himself that he somehow managed to become king of a bunch of colorful equines. It made sense that there would be guards surrounding him, although the protection they would offer failed to make him feel safe. If anything, the knowledge that a group of highly skilled soldiers would be surrounding him with weapons caused him to feel the exact opposite of safe. All it would take was one well-placed poke with the sharp end of a spear and he’d be a dead man. Yet another thing to add to the ever-growing list of fears that would keep him from getting a restful night’s sleep.

“How many guards?” He asked as he tried to not betray his relaxed and calm facade.

“Half a dozen, not including Cannon Fodder. The guards will create a circle around you while Cannon Fodder personally escorts you from inside the circle. The outer ring of guards is in place to protect you from threats in general, while Cannon Fodder acts as a last line of offense to anything or anypony that gets past them. Though I don’t believe you’ll have to worry about anypony in the Empire attacking you, after all, you liberated us from Sombra,” She said as she led him out of the dark tunnel and up a spiraling staircase.

Skeletor had a few doubts about Emerald’s claim about everyone being happy that the old king was dead. While the disturbing atrocities that he had committed would make him hated by thousands, if not millions, Skeletor knew that monsters like Sombra still had a number of supporters ever after their demise. He was reminded of the many groups and organizations that had devoted themselves to the memories and corpses of monsters like Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Ignoring those worries for the time being, Skeletor directed his attention back to Emerald and her concerns. “Good, so everything will be alright? There’s nothing to worry about for the Fair?”

“None that I can think of, my lord,” she said happily, seemingly forgetting about her own lie as she thought about the Crystal Fair.

So, it’s not the fair, it’s not the foals, Skeletor shuddered at the drifting images of foals being tormented in his mind. so what is it? Should I call her out on her lie? He wondered as he tried to focus on Emerald’s plights.

“I see… Is there anything else I should know? Something I should be worried about?” He asked as he tried to lead her to revealing her underlying problems.

Emerald was quiet for a few moments as she contemplated his question before she finally answered under a quiet breath. “Everything is fine.”

Skeletor wasn’t sure if the answer was directed towards him or if she was trying to convince herself, but he took it as if it was an answer to him. He slightly nodded his head as he followed her up another staircase, inwardly debating the best course of action to indirectly ask her what was wrong before he once again threw away any sense of planning in favor of action.

“Emerald, if you won’t tell me what’s wrong then that’s your decision to make, just know that I want what’s best for you, and if you think you know what’s best then I’ll respect that. Just know that I’m here if you need to talk,” he told her.

Tense moments of silence filled the space between them as they reached the peak of the stairwell. Skeletor could see the debate raging on inside of Emerald’s mind as her ears twitched erratically as they fought to turn towards Skeletor’s footsteps, only earning a few degrees of freedom before they were swiftly returned to their front facing position. Her ears continued to fidget until she finally answered with something he dreaded to hear.

“Thank you, my lord, but, like I said, everything is perfectly fine.”

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