"Where is he?"
"Did you see which way he went?"
"He's over there, get him!"
Wanted by the royal guard, as usual. You notice the white stallions clad in gold armor approaching behind you...and you didn't feel like getting caught today. Dashing into the fields behind the castle, your legs carry you faster than you thought they could go, but you couldn't run forever.
To your left, salvation. You run through a large gate of bush and shrubbery, and enter the Labyrinth.
"He went into the Labyrinth again!"
"He always escapes into that wretched place."
A guards sighs. "You two wait outside for him to leave."
After instructing his fellow guards, he runs into the Labyrinth after you. But he won't find you. He never does.
Being a child at the royal palace is a pain, sometimes. You're well aware your upbringing is more lucrative, priveliged, and probably envied by most ponies.
You're not a fan, however.
Being 14 now, you were only 7 when taken in by the Princess. You have no clue how you managed to end up in this place, but after a year, crying for your mommy stopped being useful. Now you just like to spend your time alone.
The Princess liked to keep you close, being an 'endangered species', as they called you. She always set up playdates with their students and relatives. But you always felt out of place, and would constantly ask why she never brought other humans.
Then she told you why.
The want to be alone only increased. The royal guard always tried keeping a close eye on you. It gets old, fast. Thus, you began your daily routine, escaping the guards line of sight, dashing to the Labyrinth. The other ponies hate this structure, but you love it. You've memorized it's twists and turns, as you come here every time you want to be alone. Which is quite often.
However, you wouldn't get to be alone today.
As you make your way into the Labyrinth, you recount the twists and turns necessary to reach your favorite point. Left, right, right, left, straight, left...It was clockwork by this point. One last turn, and your destination was reached. The center of the Labyrinth, occupied by a brilliant stone statue of the Princesses. Well, others thought it was brilliant. You liked it because of the stone bench where you could relax.
Taking your favored seat, staring at the statue. Luna and Celestia. She wanted you to call them your 'Mom's. You know who your mom is. She's not them. You still miss her...and you've never even SEEN Luna. But you quickly toss that fleeting emotion aside. You know there's no way to send you back. You asked almost every day for the first few years of your life here. Surely they would have tried to get rid of you by that point. Since you're still here, they failed.
You reach into your jacket pocket and pull out a shiny apple. Taking a bite, you relax on the stone bench. No matter where you are, apples taste awesome. Lying back on the stone slab, you rest your hand behind your head. Eyes closed, you relax. Another day of solitude.
Another bite of your apple is gone. However this time, it wasn't you biting it. You peek open your eyes to see a pair of dark green ones staring down at you.
Unperturbed, you sit up. So much for being alone. The being with green eyes takes a seat next to you on the bench. Well, as much of 'taking a seat' is when lying down on the bench aside you.
"I'm still hungry..." It whines.
She's always like this. Reaching into your jacket pocket, you bring out a second apple. You learned to bring extras after she kept eating yours. You playfully stick it on her horn.
She conjures some green magic, her horn disappearing momentarily, the apple falling into her hooves. The horn reappears, and she happily starts eating.
This apple-eating nuisance is no other than a changeling, Chrysalis. Well, THE changeling, to you. She tells you there are others, but they are disguised at other ponies. That makes you a bit paranoid. Well, it would, if the changeling in front of you could actually change into other ponies. She doesn't seem to be good at changing yet. This one, at least, happens to be your friend. She's been your friend for a few years now. One of your only friends at that.
Well, there's Cadenza and Shiny... But they're just there because the Princess tells them to be. Makes you feel REALLY wanted.
Back to the black thing full of holes.
"Running from the guards again, are we?"
You nod. She knows you come here when being chased. Off in the distance, a cry is heard.
"Anon! Come out wherever you are..." The guard is still looking for you.
Chrissy laughs. "Allow me."
A flash of green overtakes her throat for a second. She then yells in the direction of the guard.
"I found the boy!" She sounds remarkably like a fully grown male guard. Impressions were always her strong point.
"Yes! I'll be bringing him to the castle immediately." She jabs a holed hoof into your side. Oh, right, this is a two man act.
"Yeah, I'm coming back!"
The guard remains silent for a moment. "...very well."
You hear hoofsteps as the guard gets farther and father away...Then closer for a moment. Then farther again.
Once he's out of earshot, Chrissy explodes into a bout of laughter. She still sounds like the guard though, so it's mildly disturbing. Realizing she forgot to change back, she bashfully covers her mouth with her hooves. After a brief awkward silence, you two both laugh. Which is good, the mouth covering bit was futile anyways. You can always look through her hooves.
The hours pass, you spend your time talking, as usual. Nothing in particular, just life in the castle, being an outcast. She can relate to the second one, at least. The sun starts setting, the Princess' doing of course. It's also a sign you really should be getting back.
"I gotta get going."
You get up from the oddly comfortable stone slab.
"Oh come on, so soon?" You look down to Chrissy, who is still on the bench.
"I've been here for a few hours, isn't that enough? Besides, the Princess is gonna be mad if I'm not back soon."
"Well I'm a Princess too, and I say you have to stay!"
You chuckle. She did say she was the Princess of the Changelings. Though, with not seeing any other changelings around, you're hesitant to believe her.
"Okay, 'Princess', but I'm pretty sure that the sun holds a bit more sway than walking cheese."
That struck a chord.
You zip up your jacket, and start walking away.
"See ya later, Chrissy."
"Yeah, see ya..."
Goodbyes are never pleasant with this one. You make your way out of the Labyrinth. Right, straight, right, left, right, right, left...and the gardens appear in front of you. Like clockwork.
You make your way into the castle, past the steps into the throne room, which is empty. Past the hallways that lead to the library. Up the stairs, past the balconies, into your room.
As expected, a certain Princess of the Sun was waiting for you.
"Anon, you're back."
You trudge into the room, dropping your jacket on the floor. Without even glancing at the large white mare in your room, you plop down on your bed.
You hear an audible sigh.
"I worry about you...I knew you were in the gardens."
"Then why didn't you come get me?"
"I want you to come back on your own, you know."
"Well I didn't."
You were being a brat, you know it. But you never cared for the Princess' nagging you. Finally, she gives up. She walks towards the door.
"Anon, you shouldn't spend all your time alone."
You don't respond...as you aren't always alone.
"You're spending the day with Cadenza tomorrow."
Still no response. Another playdate with the younger Princess. Whoopee.
She closes the door, leaving you to solitude once more.
You hated being alone. You hated being TOLD you're alone. You hated being forced to play with others as if it would ease your loneliness. But it doesn't, and you hate it.
The only thing keeping you moderately happy would be apples. Apples, and the odd thing you share those apples with.
At that exact moment, a young changeling falls asleep with her clutch.
She hated being an outcast. She hated being TOLD she was an outcast. She hated being forced to deal with others because she was special. But they don't get her, and she hated it.
The only thing keeping her moderately content were apples. Apples, and the odd thing that gave them to her.