I have woken up for the past two mornings to Mystel and Orla still in bed, so of course, today is no different. I wander to the kitchen and see a note taped to the outside of my kitchen window. It is from Twilight, telling me to meet all of them at the castle. It also says that Twilight will have told the others about Mystel and Orla before I get there. I teleport to Twilight’s castle and appear in the map room.
“What’s going on Twilight?” I ask, making Fluttershy jump a little at my unannounced appearance.
“I wanted to gather everypony because we are going to the Crystal Empire; to give it the best shot of possibly hosting the Equestria Games."
“Well, I’ll be Twilight. You’re sayin’ we are all goin’ to the Crystal Empire today?"
“Yes, because we are in charge of making sure that Ms. Harshwhinny is treated to the best day ever and is thoroughly impressed by how amazing and prepared the Crystal Empire is to host the Equestria Games. We know that Ms. Harshwhinny will have flower luggage, and will be arriving two trains after ours. To give us time to prepare our tour, ending with a spa treatment and meeting with Cadence and Shining Armor at the Crystal Castle.”
“That’s great Twilight, but what am I to do with Mystel and Orla while I am gone? I can’t leave them by themselves, now can I?”
“No you can’t, that is why I asked Big Mac, Applebloom, and Granny Smith to keep them company. They can share my bed while I’m gone. Mystel can help Big Mac a little bit and Orla can help Granny cook.”
“That would be amazing Applejack! I’ll go get the girls and meet you at Sweet Apple Acres.”
I teleport home to get the girls and head back to the farm. Applejack, Big Mac, Applebloom, and Granny Smith are all waiting for us outside the house. I introduce the girls to the Apple family and tell them that they will be staying here while I am gone. I tell them that they will be well looked after and that I will get them when we get back. Once the girls are settled into the Apple farm, I teleport Applejack and I back to Twilight’s castle to meet up with the others. Then, off we go to the Crystal Empire.
No matter how many times I come to the Crystal Empire, the radiant blue gemstones of the castle and the plethora of colors of crystal houses never ceases to amaze me. We leave the train station and head towards the castle to meet with Cadence to go over what Ms. Harshwhinny should see around the Empire. We make it to the castle, managing to avoid any Crystal ponies seeing me. We enter the castle but I am immediately stopped by the guards.
“Let me in.”
“Sorry, no Changelings are allowed into the Crystal Castle until Princess Cadence has had the baby.”
“I’m so sorry Styx, please come in!” I hear Cadence yell through the door, more to the guards than myself I’d wager.
The guards humbly apologize and move out of my way. I enter the castle and make my way towards the main throne room. “Styx, you made it! Are we all ready to go over what we are going to do?”
“Actually Twilight, I feel it would be best if I didn’t help all of you out. Seeing as I am, well, an unreformed Changeling.”
“That shouldn’t change anything darling. After all, aren’t all races of ponies expected to compete at the Games?”
“Actually Rarity, no. Changelings have never been included. Nor do I think they are very eager to join. I don’t plan on being at the games unless I am needed for security reasons. Cadence, what do you think?”
“As much as I hate to agree, as I feel you need to be included, I also think it would be best if you didn’t help. But, would you consider sticking around to have dinner with us?”
“I would be honored Cadence. I will be out enjoying the many things the Crystal Empire has to offer while trying to avoid Twilight and the gang. Maybe I’ll go see Sunburst.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea. Starlight and Spike can go with you, show you around,” says Twilight eagerly.
“Sounds like a plan to me.” The three of us make our way out of the throne room. “Although, I should warn you two that the Crystal ponies might be very excited to see a Changeling like me.”
“Why would that be? It’s not like your a hero in the Crystal Empire. Are you?” asks Starlight, pondering why they would be excited to see an unreformed Changeling.
“Actually, seeing as I am an unreformed Changeling, like the ones that fought for Sombra in the War of Crystal, they might be ready to worship me for my bravery and managing to live under the radar of Celestia and Luna without being caught.”
“Oh, well I this will be interesting. Honestly, I think that I would enjoy seeing how a hero is celebrated in the Crystal Empire.”
“Haha Starlight. I don’t know what they do, or if any will recognize me.” We exit the castle and start our walk to Sunburst’s house. On the way we decide to get food and stop by the library to see if there are any books on the Crystalling ceremony. Since Cadence and Shining Armor are going to need to hold the ceremony after the baby is born. We surprisingly make it to the library without any Crystal pony seeing me, let alone seeing a baby dragon. As we enter, the librarian doesn’t acknowledge us until Starlight asks where to find information on the Crystalling. The librarian looks up and stares at me in shock.
“Styx?” The librarian hesitantly asks.
“You are alive, how is this possible? I thought that none of Sombra’s Changelings survived the war, especially one as young as you. Didn’t you go into a pony foster home?”
“No, I was allowed to live with my adoptive Changeling parents. They were allowed to live after the war. They died about two years ago. I honestly didn’t think any of you would be able to recognize me.”
“Of course we would recognize you. You were known as King Sombra’s adoptive daughter. Although I guess now you two probably would be more of lovers, eh?”
In that moment I am so glad that no one can see me blush. “Well, that is up to a lot of interpretation, but one could fantasize I suppose. How have you been with the Crystal Princess taking over?”
Rosetta’s appearance turns full crystal as she spoke, “It got better knowing that one of Sombra’s trusted Changelings survived this long under the rule of Celestia and Luna without yielding.”
She starts hootin’ and hollerin’ so loud that Starlight, Spike, and I have to cover our ears. It isn’t long before a mass of Crystal ponies barge in the library doors. Apparently loud yelling signals to every other Crystal pony that a dark Changeling has survived. In seconds, I am surrounded by a bunch of cheering ponies, leaving Starlight and Spike in the dust.
Sombra, any way to help?
I can try to use your body as a vessel for speaking, but I can’t guarantee it will work.
Good enough for me, do it!
You will still be able to see, but I will be moving, talking, and your appearance will change to look like me.
That’s fine, just do it!
A large surge of dark magic courses through me as Sombra projects his voice, mind, and body to mine. A weird sensation, but almost comforting, a king embracing his queen.
A hush falls over the crystal ponies as they realize that their King is now who stands before them. They all immediately take to a bow in honor of their king.
“That’s better, now Starlight and Spike, please stand up. You don’t know me as a King, so I expect no respect from you except as my equal. As for my loyal subjects, I would expect better behavior towards the would have been Queen, especially one that has made it unreformed for over a thousand years. Now I expect you to act civilized, do not make me do this again.”
“Of course King Sombra,” all the Crystal ponies say in unison.
Thank you Sombra.
Of course, any time my love.
As my body returns to my control I bid the ponies to rise. A small foal rises first and asks, “How did King Sombra do that? If he is trapped in Limbo?”
“While his physical body and soul are trapped in Limbo, a piece of his soul also lives in me. When he is released from Limbo his piece in me will go back to him.”
“I see, thank you Styx. One more question, how did you escape from reforming?”
“I lived in the Changeling hive in solitude for that time, growing up and practicing dark magic, until the Crystal Empire returned.”
“Thank you. When will King Sombra come back to rule?”
“Unfortunately, he will never rule as set by Celestia and Luna. Besides I think Princess Cadence is doing a fine job. However he will definitely come back to visit all of his subjects, and catch up with you once he returns.”
A unicorn stallion pipes up, “But King Sombra is the rightful ruler of the Crystal Empire!”
“Don’t let Princess Cadence hear you say that. What is bad about her rule other than you had yet to turn crystal until I showed up?”
“That’s just it, until you showed up we have just been living mundane lives. Nothing good has been happening.”
“What if I told you here soon a royal baby is going to be born and a Royal Crystalling will happen?”
“What!?” yells the group of ponies.
“Yes! I promise Sombra agrees with this and understands why Cadence must continue to rule. For if she doesn’t than Equestria will spiral into war again. Once was enough, don’t you think?”
“Yes it was, I think that Princess Cadence’s rule is prosperous, but we have shut ourselves in our houses and not wanted to participate in the world. Maybe it’s time to change that,” says Rosetta.
“Now would be the time to start as the Equestria Games Inspector is here to deem if the Crystal Empire is worthy of hosting the Equestria Games. If you start participating in bettering the Empire I can promise life will look up, and I may even come visit more if you do. I can at least tell you I will be back for the Royal Crystalling. So go, better the Empire to show King Sombra that no matter what has happened you will make the best of life. Show your King you will continue to better the Empire even though he no longer rules it!”
As the Crystal ponies run out of the library cheering they all turn crystal. I smile at the way I handled them, and turn back to Starlight and Spike, both of whom are still standing in their spot staring at me.
Well done my queen.
Thank you my king.
“Starlight, you in there?”
“What did I just witness?”
“A body manifestation transfer, very complex dark magic, achievable only when a pony is in Limbo or trapped where the other doesn’t know. Sorry, something you will never be able to learn.”
“That’s okay, I was just trying to process how you and Sombra did that.”
“I can say with utmost certainty, magic. Now care to finish leading the way to Sunburst’s house?”
“Of course, this way.” We walk out of the library to see almost all of the Crystal ponies out and about, cleaning, opening the shops again, and having everyday conversations with each other. We head towards the northern edge of the Empire to arrive at Sunburst’s surprisingly simple house, orange gemstone, with yellow gem accents. We spend the next few hours musing over his library until we receive a letter to go back to the castle for dinner. We bid Sunburst goodbye and head back to the castle at a quick gallop.
We arrive at the castle and are directed towards the dining hall. As the doors opens I see it will just be all of us and Ms. Harshwhinny, no other unexpected guests. “Princess Cadence! Why is there a Changeling being invited into your dining room!?” exclaims Ms. Harshwhinny loudly as I take my seat, directly to the left of Cadence.
“This is Styx, and you can thank her for all of the merriment and liveliness of the Crystal ponies today. As I heard that her return to the Empire made quite a large impact on the spirits of the Crystal ponies. So I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss her as just a Changeling.”
“Well, I’m impressed. Now tell me, Styx, why were the Crystal ponies so excited to see you exactly?”
“Well, seeing as the Crystal ponies were protected by Changelings during the War of Crystal, and they all knew me very well from when I was young and often was with Sombra when he checked in on all of the Crystal ponies. So, I am kind of a hero to them for making it over a thousand years without submitting to Celestia and Luna’s rule.”
“Interesting, well I think it is safe to say that the Crystal Empire has more than earned the right to host the Equestria Games!”
We finish dinner in peace and I am so excited that I helped contribute to making it possible to have the Crystal Empire host the Equestria Games. All of us return on a train to Ponyville that night. I go and collect the exhausted girls from Applejack’s simple and of course, apple themed bedroom at the farm, and take them home. Putting them to sleep in my bed, leaving me to once again sleep on the black velvet couch.