Changeling Courtship Rituals

by Codex Ex Equus

The Epilogue

Canterlot was an old city. Like any old city, no matter how splendid and beautiful it might be, it had certain areas that respectable ponies didn't venture into. This bar, The Black Alicorn, was smack in the middle of one of those areas. It was the kind of bar where at least one ambulance stopped by per night, where the owners had an abnormally high mug budget because the patrons tended to eat the glass after they'd finished drinking out of it, assuming they hadn't shattered it over the head of another patron by that point.

Despite that, the bar's current crop of patrons were nervous, casting constant glances back at the booth in the corner. It didn't matter how bad of a pony you thought you were, one thing you didn't want to mess with was a changeling Queen. Especially not one that seemed to be falling apart, equal parts giddy, furious and melancholy.

"And there you go," finished Chrysalis with a sigh. "There's the full, complete tale of my foolishness and naïveté."

She tipped her wineglass up, found it empty, and used her tongue to probe its bottom. When that also failed to produce wine, she reached for the bottle, only to have the pony sitting in the shadows on the other side of the table snatch it away with a cauliflower-blue magical aura. Chrysalis pouted, an expression that quickly melted into a real frown.

"I messed everything up," she moaned miserably. "Really, really badly. And I may have lost the love of my life because of it, the only pony who could ever make me happy."

She took a deep breath. "That's why I invited you here. This is important, the most important thing in the world to me. So important that I'm willing to ask for your help, even after everything you've done. I know a lot about love, but only how to use it, twist it to my needs, and consume it. What I don't know is how to create it... but you do."

A chuckle slid out of the darkness.

"Twilight Sparkle, you say?" mused the voice. "I'll admit, that is a tempting offer. I've had that little pony on my list for a long time indeed."

"So... will you do it?"

There was a long moment of silence, and Chrysalis began to droop down. But she perked back up when the answer came.

"Yes, I will." There was another chuckle. "This isn't quite what I'd planned, but... I think I can make it work."

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" Chrysalis leaned forward, reaching her hooves across the table, then hesitated.

"This is really important to me," she said, voice somber again. "I'm going to be relying on you for everything in this. I'm talking about the pony I love more than any other, the pony who consumes all my thoughts. Do you have any idea what that's like to be so close to losing someone you care about so much?"

"Oh, I think I understand. And don't worry..." Princess Mi Amore Cadenza leaned forward out of the shadows, firelight glinting off the teeth exposed by her wide, eager grin. "You can trust me. Your date is going to be perfect."