Chip woke up like he never did before – rested, head burrowed in faintly scented pillows and sprawled amongst a sea of blankets. The sun greeted the changeling with its gentle warmth, pouring through the high window.
In all his life, he never felt so secure and relaxed. He realized that no matter the circumstances, his life would always be in some kind of danger or under pressure – be it the hostile northern lands, his nights with Chrysalis or in the forest, he had to be at least somewhat vigilant. Here? He didn’t have a care in the world.
Optimism overflowing, the colt jumped out of bed and begun scanning his surroundings. There were a lot of drawers and wardrobes here, filled to the brim with pink accessories and clothes, rarely a blue or green material peeking out. He tried putting some of them on and didn’t feel any more pretty or special – another thing that he would have to ask a pony. Just why in the hay did they dress?
One of the furniture pieces was exceptionally interesting, though – it was a low cupboard on which sat an oval, filled with what looked like a copy of this room. There was a blue colt in the middle of that picture, staring back at Chip. Both of them got closer, bumping their noses against the cold surface of the object between them. Small puffs of mist settled on the surface where their noses sniffed, trying to understand what it was. Maybe the pony on the other side could answer that question.
“Hello!” said Chip . The stallion on the other side seems to have said something at the same time. “Umm, I didn’t quite catch that.” There he was, talking again as he did! Was the intruder mocking him?
A sudden thought struck Chip – that character behind this strange window was none other than the colt the changeling was imitating!
“So you got out safely! Thank heavens! How did you get out?” Chip was getting really annoyed now. Come to think of it, that pony was mimicking everything he did. He raised a hoof and so did the other. He stuck out his tongue just to see one stuck at him.
“I promised Celestia I wouldn’t cause trouble. But you are bothering me. Stop, please.” There was no reasoning with that creature. As a last resort, Chip trotted over to the doors of his chamber, from the corner of his eye seeing the annoying pony do the same in his room.
Now was the hard part. Was he supposed to knock to let the guards outside know he wanted something? Did he just have to shout? As delicately as he could, he tugged at the door knob – it was locked tight.
“What’s going on?” sounded from the other side, making Chip jump back a bit. Seconds later, the voice continued: “Hello? Is that you?”
“Khem, yes! Yes, it’s me! I have an, uh, problem!” yelled out the stallion.
“Well, what is it?”
“There is somepony in my room and I don’t like the way he mocks me. I don’t want to cause any trouble… But he is really annoying me!” As he finished his sentence he ran up to the flat window-like oval and looked the prankster in the eye. There was fire in his eyes as well – it was on.
“There is another pony in there?!” Quickly, the doors were unlocked and two guardsponies barged into the room, their heads low and weapons high. They swept the room with their gazes, but there was nopony there – only the prisoner, or as Celestia wished for him to be called, “guest”, staring at a perfectly polished mirror. The changeling pointed an accusing hoof at it.
“There! You see? He’s mocking every single thing I do! I swear to Chrysalis, if you won’t settle him down, I’ll go in there myself and kick his flank!”
The guards were first taken aback, then found themselves rolling on the floor with laughter. Through spasms, one of them managed to pronounce the word “mirror”, followed by “stupid”.
A light bulb illuminated the damp cellar of Chip’s skull. A mirror. He read about such things in a catalogue. 135 bits on sale, whatever that meant. Mirrors were used to see one’s appearance, just as somepony else would see him or her. Huh, would you look at that. Celestia was kind enough to give him a mirror!
Now the colt felt kind of silly, panicking over nothing. He didn’t appreciate the guards who were now struggling for air on a colorful carpet. Chip snickered, imagining that it would be easy for him to now escape, maybe stunning or binding the funny ponies to the ground with some spell.
He patiently waited until the chuckles were over and tears of joy were wiped. He then made a curt bow and apologized for causing the disturbance.
“Haha, I haven’t laughed like that since…” the rest of the guard’s sentence was shut off by the door slamming and the lock clicking. Chip’s words seem to have been ignored altogether. But it didn’t matter. A plan was hatching in his head as he looked through a shelf containing some colorful pictures of mares and stallions in classy poses.
The mirror image of Chip was looking at him with mild disdain. There was way too much eyeliner on his face, and not only around the eyes. Lipstick didn’t suit him well, and licking it off didn’t yield good results. He wiped it off on an accessory that had a color similar to the crimson red he used.
His attempts at styling his mane without using magic were horrible as well, and what was supposed to be “the mane that shines like a thousand stars” now looked like “a sky that bears a thousand meteors coming at you”. Maybe too many beads? And the colors were all too red, whereas the picture had explicitly silver star shaped adornments.
He looked ridiculous as it was. The suit he mocked up from what was available only sealed the deal. Pink ruled on his torso, along with frills and a too short skirt that went only as far as his cutie mark. All this was very exhausting to wear – both uncomfortable as well as suffocating, due to a too tight collar.
Still, maybe despite the inaccuracy of his dress (that hurt his changeling shape shifting pride in a way) he would be considered a normal citizen of Equestria? Maybe in this outfit it would be easier to mingle? It read in the magazine that everypony was doing it and that it was the current trend, to wear clothes that shouted out “It’s me! I’m fabulous!”
He felt reluctant to ask the guards for advice, and rightly so – when he requested to be let out to take a tour of the city, he was refused near instantly. Chip begged, pleaded and reasoned, finally asking for Princess Celestia to speak to.
The doors opened and one of the guards was going to say something when his face got struck by a severe case of jaw drop. From that position he did a backflip and nearly choked himself to death, fighting for breath each second. His colleague already had a smirk on his face when he peeked inside, but only when he saw the stunningly pink-blue mess with a tornado on its head did he fall over and laugh his lungs out.
Angry, Chip shut the door with force; a couple of times in fact, as they bounced back from the excessive treatment. When he was finally shut off from the roars outside, he nearly tore off his failed attempt at trying to be more like a pony. This is what he got for trying to be nice and friendly here.
He missed the honest way Silver Heart accepted him as he was, even after he had his little accident (which even now made him peek suspiciously at his flank). She wouldn’t laugh, or at least not so bluntly. Chip could bet she would tell him how to dress better.
Several hours passed, along with the changeling’s good mood. He was bored. He already read all the flashy magazines, all of them calling out to him to be more hip. How did each of them manage to call different things the “top trend for this year”, Chip did not know. Maybe there was a lot of room for those things at the said top.
The stallion was bored to the point of stacking random items until they collapsed. The self-imposed challenge of creating the highest clutter-tower kept him occupied for some time, but eventually even that became tedious. Chip concluded he could do that in a jiffy with magic and it was pointless trying to do that otherwise, anyway.
The fake pony was close to actually calling out for the guards again, when a commotion broke out on the other side of the doors. He heard one of the guards saying something and a voice he did not recognize responding. There was some shuffling and raised voices, until suddenly the doors glowed light blue and flung open.
“Please, don’t trouble yourself, I’m sure aunt Celly won’t mind. I’ll be here just a few days and I can get along with anypony. Hi there!” The last words were directed at him.
The owner of the pleasurable voice was a pink, tall mare, probably the same height as he was. She had a horn and wings, which made her an alicorn. On her flank Chip noticed a teal heart within a gold lace – most likely her cutie mark.
What struck the changeling almost immediately, apart from the strong aroma of flowers, was the mouth-watering scent of love, passion and friendship. There was so much of it emanating from the pony that Chip almost toppled, subconsciously extending his head towards the newcomer, but forgetting to move his hooves while at it.
“Are you alright?” asked the pink mare, smiling gently. It was the same smile Celestia had, but her purple eyes made it look more playful and youthful compared to the Princess.
“Uhg. Ye. Hi,” spat out Chip, struggling against the alluring treat barely a hoof away from him. He could barely make out what the guards outside were saying in raised voices.
“Eh, I told you, don’t worry!” the pony turned around, closing one wing of the door. “I’m sure we’ll get along fine. I’m going to meet Shining Armour in just a while, so I’ll just leave my stuff here and go, okay?” And with that she swiftly levitated a briefcase inside and shut the doors, cutting the protests of the guards.
“Oh, where are my manners!” giggled the mare, extending a hoof. “My name is Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, but you can just call me Cadence, okay?” She winked, blowing away a rogue dark violet hair. Her mane actually was composed of three colours – violet, pink and cream, all neatly combed and perfectly styled.
“Uh… Chip,” mumbled out the colt, shaking the hoof absent-mindedly. He felt drool gather at his lips and then break free.
The Princess frowned slightly at the sight, but was courteous enough not to point out the puddle that sank into the carpet. “Umm… I’m sorry I barged in like this… Hehe, this is usually my room when I visit Canterlot. It happens so rarely it seems auntie decided to longue her guest here! Hope you don’t mind me staying here for a short while?”
“Wha? Uh, no, of course not!” Chip shook his head violently, trying to shoo away the ungodly scent of emotions. “You may stay here… Uh, as long as you like! I was bored anyway…”
“Splendid!” Cadence smiled and begun unpacking her stuff. She paused and cocked her head when she saw the messes that were present in the wardrobes. Her mouth formed to ask a question, but instead she shrugged and threw everything out.
“Sorry for the mess! Somepony seems to have made a poor job at cleaning since I was here last, haha.”
“No problem,” grunted Chip, relieved she couldn’t see the blush on his face. Just a few hours earlier and she would have caught him in the act, stuffing fabric forcibly until the doors would finally close.
“So, who are you anyway?” asked the pony without turning. She was folding the dresses and pieces of clothing with speed and expertise.
“Umm… I, uh…” Chip stuttered. Just how much was he supposed to say? Who was this aunt Celly she spoke of? “I’m… A guest of Celestia…” he finally concluded, slowly pronouncing each word.
“Figured as much,” she smiled closing the cupboard and opening the next one, from which an avalanche erupted. “Really, I’d think the mares and colts responsible for cleaning would do a better job. Don’t you agree?”
“You seem tense, Chip. Are you sure I’m not bothering you?” the alicorn stopped her folding and approached the changeling, making him almost black out from the intensity of emotions wafting from her body.
“I’m… Fine… Just…” He stopped to draw in the gushing drool. “Hungryyy…”
He couldn’t take it anymore. His senses were literally on fire and it hurt restraining himself from sinking his magic and extracting her untainted, pure, delicious love for somepony.
“Are you okay? Wow, you got me worried there. You should’ve said earlier you needed to eat!”
“Huuuh?” mumbled Chip with a dry mouth. Oh no. He didn’t remember lying on the floor. What was he… No memory. He blacked out. Did he do something? That overpowering smell – did he cave in?! Oh nononono…
His eyes opened, revealing the head of Cadence. She looked fine, albeit a bit worried. So she was okay. Chip didn’t reach for her succulent, delicious, luscious… STOP.
He violently shook his head and stood up.
“You don’t look good. I’ve sent one of the guards to get a medic – you made the most bizarre of faces at me and then just collapsed!”
“I just… Sorry,” apologised Chip. “Didn’t mean to scare you… You just smelled so nice,” he blurted out in a hushed voice.
“Oh my… I didn’t know I had that effect on colts. I’m afraid I’m taken, though,” she winked at him, approaching the door. “Well, now that you’re feeling better, I really have to get going. I’ll be late for a date!” she giggled like a filly and pranced outside.
The doors closed behind her, once again leaving the changeling alone. He looked around, finally managing to focus his thoughts. There were still some clothes lying on the floor, and the luggage the pony brought in was unopened. She seemed like a really nice mare – as much as he wanted, though, Chip would not allow himself near her anymore. Too high of a risk and torture for him. He would have to discuss the matter with Princess Celestia before Cadence comes back. But in the meantime…
“How did she fold that again?” he mumbled to himself, approaching the heap of clothes and beginning to fold them one by one.