“We are not trapped by our thoughts. What we generally do, however, is create thoughts that trap us.”
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“There she is! Grab her!” The black mare looked up to see a stallion standing at the end of the alley pointing a hoof at her. Within moments, a few more ponies rounded the corner of the alley and charged her. She tried to stop them, but they were far too fast. She felt a quick blow to her head, and then everything went black.
When she awoke, there was a brown sack placed over her head and she could feel herself being dragged along. Through the small fibers of the burlap, she was able to see the two ponies dragging her along as well as bright floodlights and bedrock.
She tried to speak, but found herself gagged by some kind of rag. She started to thrash about, trying to break free or at least slow them down. However, her struggling didn’t even deter the two stallions holding her. Eventually, they reached the end of the hallway, and a door swung open. From there, she was thrown into a chair and strapped down by her legs and neck.
The black mare continued to struggle, but the restraints were far too tight. All that her struggling managed to do was choke and cut herself on the rough material. Suddenly, the brown sack was torn from her head and the bright white light blinded her, causing her eyes to clamp shut. As her eyes adjusted, the mare could start to make out the figures of a group of ponies.
They were whispering amongst themselves, discussing their plans as they watched the black mare strapped down in her chair writhing and lashing out, just trying to break free like a wild animal.
One of the figures stepped forward enough for the black mare to see that he was not a pony, but a large griffon.
"Now then," he said. The sinister tone in his voice sent a chill running down the mare's spine. "Shall we begin?"
With that, one of the creatures that had captured her pulled a lever beside her, and the black mare heard a burst of steam as the chair she was strapped to began to descend. The griffon walked over to her side, holding one of his claws near his beak as he whispered something into it. With his free claw, he reached over to some unseen table and picked up some kind of needle.
"I will not lie, little one. This will hurt, and it will hurt a lot." With one deft move, the griffon injected the toxin into her shoulder. She could feel it slither through her veins like hot lava.
Chrysalis let out a bloodcurdling scream as she shot upright. A cold sweat poured down her brow as she breathed heavily. For nearly ten minutes, she just sat there staring at an indiscernible part of the wall, catching her breath. Finally, she wiped the sweat from her face and decided to get out of the bed. Taking extra care to not put much weight on her bad leg, she walked over to Caduceus's work bench and drank the glass of water he left sitting there. Her hooves shook as she set it back down.
"What was that?" Chrysalis wondered aloud. Her mind was sending commands to her body that it couldn't process. She wanted to break down and cry, to just scream and scream until her lungs collapsed, but instead she just sat there, unable to do anything.
It was just a dream, right? It didn't really happen... she tried to reason. Then why did it feel so real? She instinctively raised a hoof to the spot on her foreleg where that nightmarish griffon injected the serum and caressed the area where she had felt the needle penetrate her skin. As she traced her way up her leg to the point, she found nothing strange until she got near her shoulder joint. There, she found what felt like a thick, sprawling scar that seemed to trace its way down her veins for an inch or so in either direction.
So it wasn't just a dream...
The realization caused her body to tense up. She felt breathless, as if she was falling from the highest point of the Hollow. Try as she might to catch her breath, it was futile. Her mind was racing a thousand miles a minute while panic and confusion infected her conscience.
Her head pounded as images of her incarceration began to flash through her mind. She could almost hear the ice cold voice of that evil griffon and the fiery sting of the hypodermic needle as it pierced her skin. However, she wasn't able to remember anything clearly and the lack of knowledge frustrated her. Those thoughts gnawed at her, begging for some kind of answer, making her feel even more enraged. Scanning the room, her eyes landed on the pillow resting on the bed.
Chrysalis roared at the top of her lungs as she threw all of her energy into one final punch. As her hoof connected with its intended mark, it let out a thud that shook the small hut and cracked some of the adobe behind it. She held her hoof there, allowing herself a moment's rest as she let the satisfaction of her actions sink in. She was breathing hard and sweating furiously.
I need some more water, she decided. She released the pillow she had been abusing for the past ten minutes and let it drop to the ground. Walking over to what she presumed was the kitchen, she opened the ice chest and found a large pitcher of water next to some other assorted liquids of different colors.
Curiosity getting the better of her, Chrysalis lifted the lid off one of the containers and took a short whiff of its contents. She instantly fell backwards, trying to fight the urge to vomit as she tried to shield her muzzle from the stench. The only way it could be described was like the putrid odor of an old campsite latrine filled with spoiled broccoli and horseradish boiling in the hot sun surrounded by a pack of angry skunks.
The worst thing about this was the realization she still had the lid in her hooves. Using her magic, she levitated the lid and tried to maneuver it back onto the container. However, she couldn't see into the ice chest, so she had to go back over there, peer into the chest, and close the container.
Chrysalis dry heaved just thinking about getting that close to it again, but it needed to be done. Otherwise the toxic fumes would fill the room and gas her out. Even now the potency of the stench was increasing at a rapid rate, causing her head to spin.
Chrysalis took the casing off the poor, defenseless pillow and wrapped it around her muzzle, just as she had watched Caduceus do, and took a few deep breaths through the cloth. The moisture from her breathing dampened the makeshift gas mask and created a weak scent seal around her nostrils. Thankful for the slight relief from the assault on her senses, she then proceeded to approach the ice chest. As she got closer, the air almost seemed to become thicker, almost as if the foul abomination had gained a mind of its own and was pushing her away, trying to keep her from achieving her goal. However, Chrysalis was determined to defeat this foe, and with all her strength, she put the lid on and closed the container.
Slowly, Chrysalis removed the pressure she was applying to the lid, hoping that the jar would stay shut. Once she was confident that the container would not explode, she slumped down and heaved a sigh of relief, removing the cloth from her muzzle. She proceeded sprawled out on her back and smiled triumphantly. After all, she just saved the entire land of Equestria from that abomination. She deserved a medal for her valiant efforts, but being able to just lay down in peace was reward enough.
Chrysalis's head shot up from its position on the ground and turned in the direction of the voice. Through her legs, she was able to see Caduceus, walking out of a dark corner of the room trying to stifle his laughter. Her face completely flushed, Chrysalis twisted her body and jumped to her hooves. Unfortunately in her embarrassed haste, she landed wrong and put too much weight on her bad leg twisting her ergot and folding like a cheap tent.
Just as she was about to hit the ground, Caduceus reached out and caught her. "Easy there, Killer. No need get another injury for me to fix," he joked, helping to stand her up.
She quickly pushed him away and hid her face, trying to keep him from seeing her deepening blush. "H-how long were you standing there?" she asked.
"Long enough to know that I'm going to need new pillows."
Chrysalis shrunk, reprimanding herself mentally. Oh no! He saw everything. Even my reaction to that foul concoction he has brewing in there! Not only that, but he saw me in that undignified position! Me, the Queen of the Changelings! What was I thinking?!
Her humiliation slowly turned into anger. "How dare you spy on me! Why did you sneak in?"
"I didn't sneak in," he said with a hint of humor. "You were just too preoccupied with beating the stuffing out of my pillows to notice me walk in."
This only made her more distraught, "Then why didn't you show yourself?! Why did you stay quiet?"
"You had a lot on your mind. Figured it was just one of those things you had to work out of your system. Although I was a little worried you would hurt yourself with that last punch," Caduceus remarked in a very soft and caring voice.
"Wh-what?" Chrysalis was taken aback by this. She was expecting anger, frustration, impatience. Not compassion and worry.
Caduceus walked over to her and removed his glasses, "I know that you like to keep a lot to yourself, but what got you so worked up?"
"It-It's none of your concern," she said, her gaze dropping to the floor.
"I know, but I am concerned. Just, talk about it. Let me help you."
After a few minutes of bickering, Chrysalis finally decided it would be best to tell him about her horrible nightmare and the chilling discovery of her strange scar.
"May I see it?" Caduceus asked, which earned him a questioning look. "I just need to see something." He added, taking his medical journal out of his saddlebag. His hoof gently traced up her arm to the spot of the injection. His soft touch, although innocent, made her blush lightly. Carefully, he applied a slight pressure to the scar and scanned over his notes, mumbling to himself.
"Well that's strange..." he mumbled.
Chrysalis cleared her head as her ears perked up, "What is it? Is something wrong?"
Caduceus tapped his chin, checking over his notes again. After a few moments, he slid the book back into his bag and turned back to her. "Do you think you would be able to make a trip into town with me?" he asked.
"I-I believe so. Why?"
"Because there is somepony there you need to meet."