It was a beautiful day outside. Birds were singing...
I sighed. No. No, they weren't singing. Now, I'm not Fluttershy, but if I had to guess, these little pests were laughing their avian behinds off...
And really? Can't fault them. A bit of advice, should you ever find yourself in my situation: Do not, and I repeat, do not attempt to just alternate left and right like a biped to move around. It looks stupid, you fall on your face more often than you'd like and don't even get me started on turning.
Knowing that most of my previous knowledge when it came to walking would be utterly useless, I realized I would have utilize most unconventional means to achieve my dreams of quadrupedal movement, by which I mean I'd have to actually sit down and think about what I'm doing for a change. I could probably brute force my way through and learn by falling on my face for another couple of hours. Alternatively, I could try to abuse the fact that Whitetail Woods was far more traveled by ponies than the Everfree and learn by observing my fellow four-legged sentients.
Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long: Only a few minutes after I've laid down in my new hiding spot (which, given my inability to relocate myself easily, wasn't that far away from my original spot), what I guessed were a mother and her filly decided to go to a place near my location. I had to move around a bit, given that they choose to go to a nearby flower field rather than actually walking the road in the forest I had line of sight to, and it was a real pain to do so, but I had a feeling that it would be worth it, even if me moving meant that the birds got a good laugh again. I wasn't sure if it was just my sanity playing tricks on me, but the birds caws sounded more and more like malicious laughter with my every move.
The two ponies were doing typical family stuff: Playing in the flowers, picking some, sticking them in each others manes and being all around happy. The foal had a lot of energy. I could have sworn I saw her on the show before, but I just couldn't place my fi-I mean my hoof on it.
The pony puns are something I really gotta get used to.
After a short while after watching the filly's every move, I decided to try it out myself, retreating a bit back into the forest. This was the moment of truth, the moment to see what I had learned from watching... whatever her name was. Conjuring up a mental image of the filly walking around, I, slowly but surely, imitated her moves. Setting one hoof after the other, I started to get a feel for it after a while and before I even realized it I was capable of moving full speed! Well... not full speed, but fast enough that it wouldn't take half of my lifespan to get to Ponyville and back. That was probably due to me being a Changeling, at least I that's what I assumed. I mean, what would fit more to a species that is as flexible as the bugponies than heightened learning capabilities? Still, there was one thing that left me confused: Why?
I mean, ok, I couldn't remember how I got here, but the fact that I was here was only a small part of what was weird. You can trust me when I'm telling you that I've ended up in a lot weirder places after a good drink, but when I did, I always was in the same old, and in most cases very hung over, body. This time, however, I wasn't. And as much as I'd have loved to act though in the face of this fact, it was kinda scary when you think about it. I mean, with me being a Changeling, I kinda got a free pass on the whole hormone changes and whatever was involved with a complete body swap, simply because my first transformation set most of my subconscious factors to a more or less human standard, bar the absolutely vital Changeling-instincts. What would have happened if I had become a pony? Would I have had to deal with loads and loads of feelings I don't understand?
...Or I could have arrived as a mare in estrus...
I shivered at the thought. That was nothing I wanted to deal with if I could avoid it! Just after I got this rather uncomfortable thought out of my head space, I found a smile on my face and decided to lie down for a bit. Why was I complaining? Sure, a lot of things could have gone better... Yet, that was just it: My situation could have been better, but also far worse than it is now, but it wasn't. Was that what it felt like to have luck on one's side? If yes... well, that was definitely something I could get used to.
Just like that, I tempted fate. Fate, being what it was, was quick to respond, because it just so happened that I came to lie down below a bird's path of flight... And it had blueberries today.
It took me a good while to get the result of the birds biology out of my face. It took me far less to take revenge for it.
Hehehe... Burn! You hellish Fiend!
...I didn't actually torch the bird. Reason for that was less a noble heart and more my inability to burn things to the ground with green flames of fury! Oh well, I suppose it wasn't all bad, because when I came down to a little puddle to see and remove the damage done by that flying rats admirable ability to do what it did with quite the good accuracy, I noticed a rather stupid mistake on my part: When I said I made my new form have 'Luna's eyes' I got exactly that. Eyes looking perfectly like those of Luna... Eyelashes and all. Needless to say, if I had really gone to town looking like that, that oddity would probably have been noticed by many ponies, given that there probably weren't a lot of stallions with eyelashes carefully tended to. And being noticed was the kinda thing I'd really want to avoid as an emotion-eating shapechanger. Even if I had the bad feeling that Pinkie Pie would not make that easy, given that she's easily... excited by the idea of a new pony. Still, the bird had to pay, and pay it did. By the way, Equestrian Birds didn't taste that good, at least not raw. Especially if it makes you vomit because you are just enough of an idiot to forget that you are currently a herbivore.
Too long, didn't read: I am now capable of walking! Yay me, build me a monument as a reminder to the world, telling every one of my marvelous achievements... achievements every child was capable of when they were about three years old... It really tells a lot about me when that's something I was actually was proud of for a second there.
I should really get my ego in check, shouldn't I?
After moving back to my hiding spot, it appeared the two were still there. Made me wonder what was so interesting in that flower field that they were able to spend... I guess about two hours in there? I didn't exactly have a watch, so this was the best guesswork I had.
While watching them, I simply decided after a while to shut off and consume a bit of their overall happiness. Not in excessive amounts like I drained Bon Bons love, but rather in small amounts they wouldn't miss... At least that's what I hoped.
With that in mind, I shut down a bit, only moving my eyes to follow the foals movements and scanning the emotions around me.
What could possibly go wrong?
Let me tell you what can go wrong:
Imagine you are a guardian, legal or otherwise, watching over a little girl playing in a field of flowers. You have seen her grow up and could never bear the thought of seeing her get hurt. And at the exact moment that thought goes through your head, you see, out of the corner of your eye, a man trying to hide in the bushes, with him watching your charge's moves with far more interest than a random, shady guy should ever have in a little girl. What would you do?
If your answer is to deck the stranger in the face, well, congratulations, you have chosen the same action as the mare I had the pleasure of dealing with. I had this coming, I really did. Had I checked more frequently what her emotional state was, I probably would have noticed the surprise when she first spotted me, then the confusion when she wondered why I was there, and then the anger when she came to a conclusion why I could possibly be there. Which... probably wouldn't have changed the outcome at all, given that other than me this mare had a lifetime of experience in moving around the place with four legs.
The resulting conversation between her and me was rather awkward to me. Not because she was really angry or anything, the opposite in fact: Back home, the only thing that would have happened would be me spending at least a night with the police. However, when I told her that I had never seen someone so happy as the little filly was and how rare it was for me to see someone give a smile that was not bitter or sad (which was a lie, but hey, she didn't know that), she was rather sympatric, seemed to actually be sorry for hitting me and even introduced herself and her charge to me.
Hopefully all ponies are so gullible by default. Would make my job easier.
As soon as she told me the names, I had the urge to facehoof. How could I forget Amethyst and Dinky? So for the rest of the day, Dinky played in the flower field near us while me and Amethyst had a conversation about the most trivial of things. I'm not kidding: You haven't had small talk until you had Equestrian small talk. The things they can talk about for hours on end, it would have been impressive if the topics wouldn't be so boring. Oh well, at least I got some things out of it:
For one, the Summer Sun Celebration was in exactly a week. Which was nice to know, if only because I don't have to ask around in town for it, which would have been pretty weird, given how much of an event it was.
Secondly, there were no inns or hotels in Ponyville. Amethyst told me that if I wanted a place to sleep, my absolute best bet would be asking Applejack, since you apparently could always count on the Apple-family to provide a bit of hospitality for their fellow ponies if they weren't afraid of a bit of dirt.
There's no way around meeting her, is there?
Finally, there was a new librarian coming to town. Now, I knew this, given that I watched the show, but what I didn't know was that the previous owner had left since quite some time. And that meant that a lot of knowledge was now freely available to me, along with a sleeping place for a bit if Applejack turned me away. On that note, I should probably learn some mind-magic if I get the chance to ensure that a slip-up doesn't entirely doom me.
As Celestia lowered the sun and raised the moon up high, the two left. Dinky was apparently trying to ask me something, but Amethyst insisted that they absolutely had to go home this instant.
"Gah, why did I get distracted like this? Mom and dad are gonna be worried sick if we don't come home in time!"
We? So, they were siblings? Who knew? I waited until they were out of sight and checked around, to make sure I wasn't seen.
Now then, for my final trick of the day...
One portal of green fire here and one in the library! It left me speechless how my magic seemed to know the place I wanted a portal to better than I did. What also left me speechless, this time in the physical sense of I was unable to even open my mouth, was the immense power it took me to make said shortcut!
That's when I learned that the more surface your portals cover, the more energy they cost. And let me tell you, pony-sized portals cost a lot of it. Ever wondered why the other Changelings didn't abuse portals like hell during the invasion? Mares and Gentlecolts, the energy-consumption was the answer. As soon as I managed to force myself through, my poor body was drained and tired out to a point where I couldn't move if I put all my energy into it. With a final act of willpower, I managed to sever the connection, closing both portals. And then, everything, from the moon shining through the windows to the books on the shelves and the wooden floor, went black.