Stealing love is very simple if you have a disguise.
The main problem, however, was that the changeling did not, in fact, have a disguise.
Well, he was wearing a cloak and sunglasses. However, it turns out that ponies do not often wear those things whilst going out in public, and his appearance, all wrapped up in a cloak to conceal his changeling body parts, and wearing sunglasses to hide his eyes, was somewhat abnormal.
What made it particularly difficult to gather love in this state was that he didn’t look remotely like any pony in Ponyville. That meant he couldn’t masquerade as any pony, and covertly steal love.
That meant he would have to forcefully steal it. Go up to a couple, use his changeling magic and take their love. With some luck, they might not even notice it.
Okay, a lot of luck. Suddenly having your love going into a different direction than you meant is quite noticeable.
Considering the stares and odd looks some of the ponies were giving him, this might actually be sort of difficult. To steal love, you had to be close, and to be close, ponies had to be not creeped out by you. Wearing a cloak that covers your whole body is sometimes considered creepy, and thus didn’t really provide the changeling an advantage.
The next problem was that there was a frightening lack of actual loving couples walking around outside. As he walked down one of the larger roads of the village, towards the market, he noticed a lot of ponies walking together, but none actually seemed like lovers. Most of the villagers were out in groups of friends, chatting about the weather or something equally boring, or doing their early-morning grocery shopping.
He paused for a moment. Maybe he had to change his plan around a bit. No couples around meant he might have to try a different area of the village. Maybe a park? Or possibly a res-
A sudden impact of what must have been a meteor threw that particular train of thought off track, and the changeling bounded backwards, landing in the debris of space rock that had hit him.
As he stood up, shaking off his dizziness and fixing his cloak, he checked what had crashed into him.
He could see three fillies, all of them in varying states of consciousness. One of them was a yellow earth pony with a red mane and a blue helmet, currently hanging out of a red cart that was attached to a scooter.
Another filly was a white unicorn with a pink and purple, curly mane, and wearing a green helmet. She was currently lying on the ground, propped up against the side of the cart. The changeling recalled that this must’ve been Sweetie Belle, the little pony he had seen the day before, in the... boutique. Yuck.
Yet another of the three was an orange pegasus with a soft purple mane and a dark purple helmet with white racing stripes. Her eyes were lolling about as she was draped over the scooter.
The three stood up and shook their heads to clear the dizziness, probably grateful they were wearing helmets, and regarded the pony they just hit.
“Ohmigosh we’re so sorry!” the white one blurted out.
“We are?” the apparently dumb orange pegasus asked.
“Well of course we are, ya kinda ran him over, Scootaloo,” the yellow filly told her.
The pegasus, apparently named Scootaloo, rubbed the back of her head. “Oh. Sorry.” She apologized with an awkward smile.
“You should’ve watched where you were going,” the changeling chided her.
“What’s wrong with your voice?” Scootaloo asked, almost immediately receiving a whack to the shoulder from the earth pony. “Ow! Apple Bloom, what’d you do that for?”
Oops. The changeling almost covered his mouth with a hoof, remembering just in time that it would botch his disguise. A changeling didn’t merely look like a bug, they sounded like one too; flapping their wings would create a sometimes annoying buzz, and their voices had a low buzz to them as well. It sounded entirely unlike a pony’s voice. “Uh, I have a sore throat. A really, really sore throat?” Okay, that was a terrible excuse, there’s no way they’ll-
“Oh, okay,” Scootaloo said, satisfied by the response. This pony must be especially dumb for a pony.
“Well then, we should be going again,” Sweetie Belle said, “we’re really sorry for running you over, mister...” she trailed off, realizing she didn’t know his name.
“Hey!” the earth pony, Apple Bloom, called out. “Are ya new in Ponyville?” she asked the changeling.
He hesitantly nodded in reply.
The three fillies looked at each other. “Maybe we could try bein’ New Pony Greeters,” Applebloom said.
The other fillies nodded their agreement, and the three yelled out, “CUTIE MARK CRUSADER NEW PONY GREETERS, YAY!” The force of their shout almost sent the changeling’s cloak flying.
“Welcome to Ponyville, mister!” Sweetie Belle greeted him. “I’m Sweetie Belle!” Like he didn’t know that yet. “That’s Apple Bloom,” she said as she pointed to the yellow earth pony, obviously, and then she pointed at the pegasus, adding, “and that’s Scootaloo! What’s your name?”
Double oops. Being disguised as a new pony required a name as well, which he had not-so-conveniently forgotten about. He needed a name, and fast. “Uh, my name is, uh...” Quick, think of a normal pony name! “It’s... uh...” Cloud-something? Blahblahblah-grass? No! Sweat was starting to collect on his forehead. Okay, something obvious... I’m wearing sunglasses! “It’s Sun... uh...” And a cloak! “Sun....cloak. Suncloak!” No, you idiot, that’s a terrible name, he thought, mentally slapping himself. He decided to add a grin. Ponies never thought you were lying if you were grinning.
“That’s a nice name,” Apple Bloom said. Okay, maybe all ponies were this dumb. Or possibly only the little ones.
The changeling, or now apparently named Suncloak, released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Well, I should get going. But watch out next time! Or warn other cha- I mean, ponies when you’re going too fast.” They probably wouldn’t catch his little slip. Still, these were ponies he was talking to, not other changelings. Proper terminology was required.
“Okay,” the three fillies said somewhat somber, and clambered onto the scooter and cart.
As he turned around to leave, his stomach grumbled again. Not eating for more than a week tends to make that happen.
Apple Bloom turned around and asked him, “Ya hungry, Mister Suncloak?”
Suncloak pondered his choices. Maybe these fillies could lead him to a restaurant, or otherwise a household with two parents. A restaurant could have a few couples of lovebirds, and two parents were always a good source of love. “As a matter of fact, yes,” he told them.
“Why don’t you come along with us then?” Sweetie Belle asked, “so we can make it up to you. For uh, running you over and everything.”
Excellent. This was turning out to work in his favour. “Sure,” he said as the two fillies in the cart scooted over. “But I’m not going to sit in that cart.”
Scootaloo turned her head. “But it’ll be a lot faster than just walking.”
Suncloak rolled his eyes. Whatever, as long as he could get a meal. “Fine.” He hopped into the cart, and they sped off.
A few moments later, they came up to Sweet Apple Acres. It wasn’t a place he had thought of visiting, but if there was love for him to eat there, it was worth a shot.
Couldn’t they at least have called it something a bit less sappy than Sweet Apple Acres?
Once in front of a quaint house, the fillies and changeling got off of their vehicle.
Apple Bloom opened the door. “We’re back!” she called out, “an’ we brought a guest!”
An orange mare with a hat came out of another room. Applejack, if he recalled correctly. “A guest? Why ain’t that nice!” She went over to Suncloak and gave him a fierce hoofshake. “The name’s Applejack!” She let go, but that didn’t stop the changeling from shaking like a pair of maracas.
“I’m Suncloak,” he said after he got his shaking under control. Still a stupid name though, he added in his thoughts. Still, he would have to stick with it.
“Nice to meetcha,” Applejack told him, then turned to Apple Bloom. “Ya didn’t tell me ya were bringing a guest though.”
The three fillies told the farm pony what had happened earlier.
As they finished, Applejack sighed. “Ah’m mighty sorry, mister, it won’t happen again.” She glared at three rather guilty-looking ponies. “Am ah right?”
“It won’t,” the three said with a sigh.
“Oh, it could’ve happened to anyling,” the changeling said with a dismissive wave of his hoof.
“Don’tcha mean anypony?” Applejack asked him.
“Yes, anypony! What’d I say? I thought I said anypony,” he corrected himself. Changelings didn’t use words like anypony or everypony, they said anyling and everyling. Ponies and changelings weren’t exactly on speaking terms, so they didn’t use the same terms. Ponies referred to their own species, changelings referred to their own species, that’s how it worked.
Except he’d forgotten for a moment that he was supposed to be talking like a pony now, not like a changeling. Was he always such a bad actor?
Applejack gave him an odd look for a moment. “Well, ya seem trustworthy enough.”
Suncloak breathed a sigh of relief. He was in the green, for now. From here, he could get to know more ponies, and potentially find a few lovers as well.
One thing that still bugged him, though, was that Applejack still seemed familiar to him. Had he seen her somewhere before?
“And Ah think Ah know a bit ‘bout trustworthiness, seeing as Ah’m the Element of Honesty and whatnot,” Applejack nonchalantly told him.
Oooooooooh. So that’s what he recognized her from.
That would probably make this a little bit more difficult. A little.