Chrysalis could hear her heart pounding in her chest as she gazed upon a white ceiling. She took a shaky gasp of breath. She was unable to tell if it was sweat or tears on her face. Chrysalis lay there for a moment, trying to calm her racing heart.
Was it just a dream? she pondered.
She sat up and observed her surroundings. She noted that she was on a bed in some sort of lightly furnished room. There was a small dresser next to her, on which sat a lamp and a clock slowly ticking away. There was also a bookcase with various books upon its shelves. In addition, she noted a large mirror off to the corner. Turning to the mirror, Chrysalis, instead of seeing the majestic black queen of the changelings, saw a light tan earth pony with a silvery white mane. Chrysalis’ eyes widened, and the pony in the mirror did the same. Her heart began to thump faster. She jumped out of the bed and ran to the mirror, watching in horror as the reflection mimicked each of her actions. She slowly brought a hoof up to the mirror; the mirror image did the same. Chrysalis would never have imagined that the pony she was seeing was her if it was not for the reflection’s eyes. They were a dark, rich emerald green. There was no doubt—they were her eyes.
What is going on? Why am I like this? Okay, calm down. Just change back. Focus and change forms like you have done a million times before, Chrysalis thought.
She closed her eyes and focused, trying to concentrate her magic to her horn. Nothing happened. Again she focused, trying to grasp her magic. However, to her dismay, she could not even feel her magic, let alone her horn.
“What is going on? Why can I not change forms?” Chrysalis shouted out loud.
“Simple, dear—because you are no longer a changeling,” said a familiar voice behind her.
Chrysalis instantly spun around and found herself face-to-face with Princess Celestia herself.
“Sir, do you really think this is a good idea? The Princesses have already made a judgement. It is not wise to question them, Captain.” Lieutenant Ironhoof spoke somewhat nervously, trying to keep up with his superior.
“I do not care, lieutenant! I want to know why that thing is not buried six feet under!” Shining Armor roared back, his pace quickening as he made his way towards Princess Luna’s chambers.
“Sir, I implore you to reconsider. Princess Luna is about to retire from her shift. It is unwise to bother her. Don’t you think that you are taking this issue a little bit too personal?” Ironhoof replied nervously.
“Personal? The changelings almost took over Canterlot! Of course I am taking things personally! I am the captain of the Royal Guard!” Shining Armor said sternly.
Lieutenant Ironhoof looked around nervously. He knew his captain was headstrong, but he stood by him to make sure he did not go too far out of line. They continued walking through the castle, eventually reaching Luna’s private chamber. Shining Armor gave a quick nod and the two guards stationed there moved aside. He gave a quick series of knocks. His lieutenant gulped and braced himself.
“Yes? Do come in,” Luna replied. Shining Armor and his lieutenant opened the door and entered her room. They found Princess Luna resting on her bed, a quill and parchment floating in front of her.
“Ah, Shining Armor, what a pleasant surprise. Nice to see you too, Ironhoof. What brings you two here at this hour? I am just getting ready for the night shift,” Luna said with a soft smile.
“Captain, stop this while you have the chance,” Ironhoof whispered. Shining Armor, however, ignored him.
“I am here to talk about the recent trial of our prisoner,” Shining Armor said in a stern voice.
“Oh. You mean her,” Luna answered, her mood instantly changing as she lowered her parchment and quill. The soft smile on her face vanished, replaced with a serious and grim look. “What is the problem, Captain?”
“Why is she still alive?” Shining Armor replied flatly as he tried to hide his own anger.
Luna was shocked at first. However, her expression soon changed to sadness. Her mane and ears dropped slightly. She looked down at her forehooves for a while as a silence filled the room.
Luna turned her head away, looking outside at the night sky and sighed. “We do not wish to talk about it. If you really want to know, go ask my sister. We wish to be alone right now, so would you two please leave?”
Shining Armor was speechless. However, before he could reply, he was already pushed out of Luna’s room and into the hallway by his lieutenant.
“Her highness did not look happy about your inquiry, captain. I would again suggest you drop this endeavor. I do not think Princess Luna or her sister wants to be questioned on this decision. So please just let it go,” Ironhoof said in a soft voice.
“No,” Shining Armor replied, his face hardening as he turned around and trotted down the hall. Ironhoof looked at him with a worried face before quickly catching up to him.
Chrysalis jumped in surprise, instantly turning around and assuming a defensive stance. "Celestia! Where am I? Why are you here? I cannot change; what did you do to me?" she yelled, her heart racing.
Celestia, in return, only gave a soft smile back as she sat down. "Why hello, Chrysalis," she replied cheerfully. "Well, I suppose I can answer your questions. First, you are in one of the guest rooms in my castle. Second, I thought I would give you a visit so that I can explain what has happened. Finally, you cannot change forms because you are no longer a changeling."
"WHAT?" Chrysalis shouted.
"It is as I said: you are no longer a changeling," Celestia replied.
"Lies!" Chrysalis roared back. She closed her eyes again and focused with all of her might, trying to draw in magic as she had done so many times in the past. Her face scrunched up in concentration as she desperately tried to change form. She continued to try for a couple of minutes before she tired out, panting.
"Careful now; you may hurt yourself,” Celestia said.
“SILENCE!” Chrysalis yelled. She tried once more, putting all of her mental effort into transforming before finally giving up.
“What did you do to me?” she asked once again in a strained and injured voice.
“You cannot change forms because you lack that ability now. Instead, you are now a member of the proud earth pony race,” Celestia explained.
“How could you do such a horrible thing? How could you disgrace me in such a way?” Chrysalis yelled back, stomping her hooves.
“How is sparing you a horrible thing? Also, I have not done this to disgrace you. I did it so that you will learn an important lesson. I want you to realize why your actions were wrong. My little ponies are not a food source—they are so much more than you realize. To have somepony stolen away from you is very painful. Lastly, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, Chrysalis. Maybe now you can see that accepting a helping hoof is okay,” Celestia replied with a calm face.
Chrysalis was dumbfounded. She fell to her haunches, looking at her hooves, shaking. I am stuck like this, stuck as a lowly pony. What do I do? I am a queen, damn it, not some peasant pony. How will I live like this? Chrysalis thought.
“Being a pony is not a bad thing, Chrysalis. Look, you even have a cutie mark, the theatrical mask of comedy and tragedy. It is quite fitting, if I do say so myself,” Celestia said with a hoof over her mouth, trying to suppress a giggle.
Chrysalis turned to look on her thigh. Sure enough, there were two masks as her cutie mark. She knew about cutie marks was that they were supposed to symbolize a pony’s special talent. She rubbed a hoof over it to see if it would go away to no avail. Chrysalis sat there, completely dejected. In the span of a few days, she had gone from a powerful queen to an average pony.
“Why couldn't you just have killed me? You could at least let me die as a proud queen,” Chrysalis said softly.
Celestia sighed. “Chrysalis, I do not like killing or harming anything. Being merciful is more important to me. When you were brought back here, you seemed afraid. It seemed as though you were scared of dying. It is true that many ponies around here wanted you to be executed, but to me that is just barbaric. So I decided to spare you by changing you into a pony. There are only three other individuals who know what actually happened. I am giving you a chance to redeem yourself and have a new start.”
“I do not fear death! I wanted to die; I do not need your mercy,” Chrysalis retorted angrily.
“Is that so? May I ask what your dream was about? It did not seem very pleasant, from what I heard,” Celestia said, raising an eyebrow.
Chrysalis’ eyes widened, and her head jerked up. “W—What? Were you watching me?” she gasped.
“Oh my, heavens, no. It is just that it was hard not to hear you. It seemed to be a really bad dream. Would you like to talk about it?” Celestia answered with concern.
“I do not need your pity! Why couldn’t you just kill me now and save me from any further humiliation?” Chrysalis asked, shaking a hoof at Celestia.
“Tell me this: why do you want to die?” Celestia asked, her face impassive.
“So I can be feared and remembered! At least my reputation would still be intact. I would be remembered forever as the queen that almost conquered Equestria. Ponies would fear my name. I could live forever in history,” Chrysalis affirmed, standing up and puffing her chest out.
“And what if you were not remembered or feared? Then what would your death mean? Or what if history decides to mock you for your failure? My sister got much closer than you did to taking over Equestria, yet her name was shortly forgotten, even when her image was plastered on the moon. I am glad most ponies have forgotten her past; that means she can have the clean slate she deserves. If the Nightmare Moon incident was forgotten, what makes you think your failed attempt will not be?” Celestia mused.
Chrysalis chest deflated as she fell to her haunches. The memories of her previous dream came flooding back—the way the ponies mocked her and what they were doing to her body. She shivered at the thought. Doubts began to creep in; she was not as confident as was previously. Much had happened to her in a short amount of a time, leaving her confused and disoriented. Before she had time to gather her thoughts, she heard a ‘pop’. Looking up, she saw a opened scroll and quill floating before Celestia.
“Ah, good. It is here,” Celestia remarked. Using her magic, she opened the scroll and lifted the quill as she began to write. “Hmmm...”
Chrysalis was even more confused. Looking up, she asked, “What is that? What are you writing?”
Celestia lowered the scroll, her eyes meeting Chrysalis. “Just finishing your documentation. You are now a citizen of Equestria; as such you need the proper paperwork. Let’s see. ‘Coat:’ light brown or tan. ‘Mane:’ white/silver. ‘Eyes:’ green—which look great with your coat color, if I may add. ‘Birthplace:’ I’ll just put down Canterlot. ‘Date of Birth:’ hmm, just about to make one up here. ‘Name:’ what should your new name be?”
“Why can’t I use my name?” Chrysalis demanded, disgusted at the thought of being called anything else.
“Well, given your history, I doubt that will be a good idea. We do not want anypony to figure out who you are. I am rather sad to admit, but some ponies are just not as forgiving as they should be. I cannot guarantee your safety if your true identity is revealed. So for your best interest, a new name will be given,” Celestia replied, her expression more serious.
Chrysalis turned away, unable to look Celestia in the eye. Thoughts of Shining Armor’s hatred came to mind. She was afraid of what Shining Armor would do to her if he had the chance. She did not want to think about what would happen should she fall into the hooves of a mob that harbored the same hatred for her.
“Now let’s see. We need a name. Any thoughts?” Celestia inquired.
Chrysalis was silent, looking at the ground while her ears flicked with annoyance. The thought of cooperating with Celestia sickened her.
“Aha! From here on out, your new Equestrian name will be Silver Skip,” Celestia remarked cheerfully while writing it down.
Chrysalis rose an eyebrow, looking at Celestia with suspicion. “What kind of name is that?” Chrysalis asked. “That sounds nothing like any name I have ever heard.”
“There is a species of butterfly called the silver-spotted skipper. It is very fitting if I do say so myself. From chrysalis to butterfly—it is a very poetic idea. You can consider it your metamorphosis.” Celestia said cheerfully. With a flash of her horn, the scroll she had been writing on teleported away.
She jumped up and pointed her hoof at Celestia. “What do you want from me? You capture me, and instead of granting me my rightful death, you shame me by forcibly turning me into a pony. How am I supposed to live like this? How is this a new start? To me, this seems more like torture than a lesson. Why can’t you just put me out of my misery now?”
Celestia sighed. “As I have already said, I want you to learn the value of friendship. You need to realize that ponies are more than a food source, so I have decided that you will live in Canterlot like a normal pony so that you may have a chance to learn the importance of friendship. You need to build real relationships if you want to live. You can no longer fake them.”
“And what happens if I refuse to make friends or relationships? Then what?” Chrysalis retorted.
“Then you will live a very lonely and sad life. I am giving you a chance to have a happy life. However, that does not mean there are not restrictions. You are not allowed to leave the city, and you will be on constant surveillance by the Royal Guard. I have already set up an apartment with the first month paid for and enough bits to last the month. It is up to you to secure bits after that. Hopefully you will learn the value of other ponies and friends.” Celestia slowly stood and made her way to the door. “With that said, I will take my leave as I have other things to take care of. A guard will come later and escort you out of the palace and give you your supplies,” Just before she left the room, she turned her head back towards Chrysalis.
“Remember what I told you earlier, Chrysalis. I will crush any threat against my little ponies. If you harm one, I will not be so lenient next time. This is your first and only warning,” Celestia said with a stern voice. With that, she exited the room and closed the door behind her, leaving an astonished Chrysalis alone with her thoughts.
As Celestia quietly closed the door behind her, she began to walk down the hallway. I hope that Chrysalis would see the magic of friendship. If she could make a friend, she would know how wonderful ponies are, and she would realize what she did was wrong. If she does not, though, she will be miserable. My sister could find friends—I think she can too. Oh, Luna, you have no idea just how happy I am to have you back. It has been too long, Celestia thought to herself.
Her train of thought was interrupted when she saw Shining Armor and Ironhoof waiting at the end of the hall. “Captain, Lieutenant—what brings you here today?” Celestia asked.
“We need to talk,” Shining Armor answered flatly.
Celestia could tell by his expression that he was serious and not in a pleasant mood. She sighed quietly. “Very well. We shall discuss this in my chambers,” Celestia said.
They walked silently to Celestia’s private chambers. The guards stationed there opened the doors for them and then closed them quietly behind them. Celestia walked to the middle of the room and sat on a pillow. Shining Armor stood there, his face cold and hard. Ironhoof, however, looked even more nervous than before. Silence pervaded the room.
“What would you like talk about, Shining Armor?” Celestia finally asked.
“We need to talk about that,” Shining Armor replied.
“You need to be more specific, Shining Armor. I have a lot of things going on right now,” Celestia said.
Shining Armor finally snapped, his anger and hatred finally getting the better of him as he took off his helmet and threw it to the ground. Ironhoof looked mortified. Shining Armor, however, showed no signs of fear, his face contorted in anger. “Stop playing games with me, Celestia! You know damn well what I am talking about! Why is that thing still alive and not buried in the ground? She invaded our city and almost took control of it! Her crimes demand that she be executed on the spot!” Shining Armor roared.
Celestia composure remained unchanged, however. “Tell me, Captain, is that the only reason you want her dead?” Celestia asked, her tone more serious.
Shining Armor was startled by the question, but it was short-lived as his hatred came flaring back. “Fine! I will admit it that I want her dead for what she did to me, but personal feelings do not matter. She broke the law and threatened the safety of Equestria, so she must be executed!”
“So let me get this straight. If someone threatens the safety of Equestria, they should be killed? Personal feelings should not be involved, is that correct?” Celestia said.
“Yes. Personal feelings do not matter. If something threatens the safety of Equestria and its citizens, it should be executed,” Shining Armor asserted.
“So tell me, Captain, should have I killed my sister a thousand years back?” Celestia asked sternly.
Shining Armor was shocked, his stance faltering by Celestia’s question. “Of course not! She is your sister,” he replied quickly.
“But as you said, Captain, personal feelings do not matter. By your logic, I should have killed my sister for her actions,” Celestia said back.
“B—But that was different! It was Nightmare Moon, not Luna, who wanted eternal night,” Shining Armor stammered.
“Nightmare Moon was the physical manifestation of Luna’s anger and jealousy. Luna let her anger and jealousy consume her. Nightmare Moon was Luna, Captain,” Celestia replied, her voice unchanging.
“Chrysalis attacked the city; she wanted to conquer Equestria,” Shining Armor mentioned, his voice faltering.
“Luna was much closer to conquering Equestria than Chrysalis. Luna and I destroyed the old capital in the Everfree Forest in our battle. She and I did much more damage than Chrysalis ever did,” Celestia answered back.
“But Chrysalis harmed other ponies. She harmed me,” Shining Armor said weakly. He could not look at Celestia anymore; he could only stare at the ground.
“And Luna hurt me and a lot of other ponies too,” Celestia said.
Shining Armor fell to his haunches, defeated. “I—I...”
Celestia got up and knelt in front of Shining Armor, her expression and voice softening. “Shining Armor, you must not let your anger and hatred consume you. I have seen what it has done to other ponies. I have seen what it has done to my sister. I knew my sister’s actions were wrong, and I could have punished her more severely, but I knew, deep down, that she was good. That is why I sent her away until she could be saved. I know what Chrysalis did was wrong, and I know she hurt you. We need to ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be. Do we want to be a country that strictly follows every rule to the letter, or do we want to be a country that shows mercy and kindness? Yes, I could have punished Chrysalis more severely, but instead I chose the lesser punishment so that she could have a chance to redeem herself. You must learn to forgive others even when they have harmed you. I know it is hard, but you cannot let your anger and hatred consume your being. What would your wife—the very symbol of love—think? Can you live a life of hate and love her as well? What about your sister Twilight, the embodiment of the magic of friendship? Should Twilight hate my sister for trying to harm her and her friends? Did she hold a grudge for the rest of life, or did she offer her hoof in friendship at the first opportunity, even after the trials she underwent? Should I hate my sister for the pain she has caused me, or should I forgive her transgressions? You are Captain of the Guard of Equestria, the very nation that I have worked so hard to symbolize peace and love—yet here you are, consumed by hatred.”
Shining Armor froze. He opened his mouth and then closed it. His shoulders and head slumped. He had shamed Celestia and both his beloved wife and little sister. His head sank lower as tears began to form, rolling down his face. Cadence, Twily, what have I done? I have let my anger get the best of me. I have shamed you both. I am sorry.
“I—I am deeply sorry, Your Majesty. I have brought dishonor to you and Equestria. I will put my letter of resignation on your desk by morning,” Shining Armor said weakly.
“Oh Shining Armor,” Celestia said softly as she gently lifted Shining Armor’s head with a hoof. Her soft magenta eyes met Shining Armor’s tear-filled eyes. “I do not want you to resign. I know you are a good pony, and I know just how much Chrysalis has hurt you. I did not want to see you consumed by your emotions; I have seen that too many times. How about we make a deal? You do not have to resign if you promise me that you will not let your emotions consume you and that you will give her a chance at redemption. You do not have to like her, but you can at least show her mercy. How does that sound?”
“P—Princess... Thank you. I promise that I will not disappoint you again,” Shining Armor stuttered.
“My little pony, I know you will not, because I know you have a good heart,” Celestia said softly. She gently brushed away his tears with her hoof. Her horn glowed as she levitated Shining Armor’s helmet back on his head.
“Come on, Captain, let’s get you some water,” Ironhoof said gently as he helped Shining Armor to his hooves.
As the two made their way out the door, Ironhoof turned around and gave a deep bow to Celestia. “Your Highness, thank you for your mercy. I was afraid I was going to lose my captain. Thank you,” Ironhoof said. Celestia gave him a soft nod and a smile. Ironhoof got back up to help Shining Armor out of the room.
As the doors slowly closed behind them Celestia was left to her thoughts. Now I wonder if another pony will take the chance that she has been given.