Novel Tale sat behind a table just inside the entrance of the Canterlot Bookstore. His latest book in a series of mystery novels had come out just a few weeks before, and that meant book signing time. Every book of his had a book signing or two to go with it, something he had been doing since he first came to Canterlot and started writing, about ten years ago. The book signing was going to end in another hour and there wasn't anypony with a book for him to sign at the moment, but he had a strong feeling that was going to change very soon.
Sure enough, a lavender unicorn mare with a deep blueish mane with a pink and purple stripe in it walked through the door. It always pleased Novel to know that he had a minor celebrity and the personal student of Princess Celestia as one of his fans.
She looked around for a moment before she saw Novel and her eyes lit up. A book levitated out of her saddlebags as she trotted up to the table.
“Hello, Novel! I've got your latest book here, ready to be signed!”
Novel smiled, always happy to see his biggest fan. “Hello, Twilight. The book signing is almost over. I was starting to think you might not show up." His smile turned to a smirk as he took the book and a nearby quill with his magic. "That would have been a first!”
“Oh, I'd never miss one of your book signings!" Twilight said excitedly. "I just decided to visit my parents while I was in Canterlot and it took a little longer than planned. You know how doting parents can be!”
Novel nodded knowingly. “That they can. I take it you enjoyed my latest story?”
“Very much so! I found the story to be just as engaging as always!” Twilight said enthusiastically.
Novel chuckled. “Twilight, you have no idea how much I appreciate your enthusiasm.”
Twilight grinned. “In fact, I think this may be my favorite one yet! I especially liked that changeling creature you introduced!”
“Really! I thought it was so interesting, I decided to do some research on them! However, even the Canterlot Archives only had some vague references to them as mythological creatures. It seems that their being shape-changing emotion-eaters is the only point that anypony can agree on. Descriptions of them were extremely vague and conflicting beyond that.”
Novel passed the now-signed book back to Twilight. “Well, yes, that was where I got the idea from.”
“That just makes it so much more amazing that you were able to flesh them out so well! I mean, looking like insectoid ponies with wings and horns? Legs full of holes? Ruled over by a queen changeling? However did you come up with those sorts of things?” Twilight asked as she put the book back in her saddlebags.
Novel waved a hoof dismissively. “Oh, you know, just a very active imagination is all."
"Well, that active imagination is what makes you one of my favorite fiction authors, Novel! You shouldn't sell yourself short like that!"
Novel gave Twilight a sincere smile. "Thanks, Twilight. That means a lot to me. I hope to see you at my next book signing!”
“You can be sure I'll be there, Novel!” Twilight responded as she turned to leave.
Twilight wasn't the first pony to ask him about the changeling creature he had introduced in his latest story. They all were convinced that he had a fantastic imagination to be able to come up with such a thing, even if he did have a basis in mythology to work from. He didn't think so. He had a good imagination, sure, but it wasn't that great.
Really, it was just a matter of writing what he knew.
Novel Tale arrived back at his home in Canterlot. He took off his saddlebags and left them on the couch in his living room, passed through his kitchen, and headed down a set of stairs into his cellar. Now sure that nopony could see him, a green fire began at the tip of his horn and rapidly raced down his body. His light grey coat, black mane and tail, and book and magnifying glass cutie mark were replaced by the black, hole filled carapace of a changeling with a light blue upper carapace plate and magenta eyes.
He trotted over to a pair of barrels against the far wall and opened one up, revealing it to be full of a green, semi-transparent, gel-like substance. His horn glowed and he began the process of transferring the emotional energy he had gathered at the book signing into the gel, just like he did after every book signing.
He meant what he had said to Twilight. She really didn’t have any idea how much he appreciated her enthusiasm and she hopefully never would. Every time he had a book signing, she was there, always giving off plenty of emotion, all directed at him. He had never met a mare, or any other pony for that matter, as enthusiastic about books as Twilight Sparkle and a lot of that enthusiasm for books thankfully transferred over to ponies who wrote them.
He grabbed a small jar of the green gel off a nearby shelf with his magic and trotted back upstairs, shifting back to Novel Tale as he did so. He levitated two slices of bread from the pantry and a knife from a nearby drawer and sat down at the table as he started spreading some of the green gel on the bread.
He took a bite of his gel sandwich and his eyes widened slightly. He looked to his sandwich in confusion. He didn’t remember having gathered any ambition lately. How long had that jar been sitting there? He shrugged as he continued to eat and his mind wandered to his most recent book.
It had been a calculated risk to introduce a changeling character in his latest story. There were some expectations on how much emotional energy he would bring back to the hive and interest in his series of books had been tapering off. Well, mostly tapering off. Twilight and a few others had still been loyally following his stories. He had needed to do something to renew interest. What better idea than to put a changeling in a mystery novel? He had realized his queen might dislike that idea as being too risky, so he hadn’t run it by her first. The way he saw it, as long as changelings remained creatures that, as far as ponies knew, only existed in mythology and old mares tales, nopony would think anything of it, and he’d be perfectly safe.
It would take something crazy, like changelings in their natural form attacking ponies in broad daylight, for his plan to backfire and for ponies to become suspicious of him. And there was no way that would ever happen in a million years.