• Published 2nd Aug 2013
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Rise of the Dragonking - Scarheart



The era for peace is over. Despite the best efforts of the Alicorns, an ancient enemy has returned to resume a war forgotten by even Princess Celestia. A world is plunged into darkness. Old foes must become allies if they are to survive.

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RotDK Chapter 16: Canterlot

Queen Chrysalis stared out the window of the magnificent guest quarters provided to her by Princess Celestia, her eyes swirling with thoughts of the report from the battle. It explained a few things she had suspected, but added to the lingering and ever present question of why. Atalanta was napping on the bed, curled up into a little adorable ball, her little form rising and falling slowly with every breath. She had been told her brother had been badly wounded just last night and the little filly did not take it well. The Crown Princess made demands to see him, bawling in her mother's hooves until she fell asleep exhausted half way through the night.

The Queen turned her gaze to the room as if seeing it for the first time. It was magnificent, the decor throughout the castle having not changed much since her last...visit.

The walls were in white pastels and trimmed with gold. Lovely and colorful flowers had been placed in several vases positioned perfectly in selected spots on little standing tables. They were lilies and lilacs with assorted wild flowers set to welcome the Queen with open arms and budding friendship. It was an old Equestrian tradition when establishing new relations with old foes.

Chrysalis flicked her eyes towards the closed doors. Two guards were positioned outside and a patrol maintained a tight pattern near her balcony. She was being watched closely, as were her guards.

The Queen smiled at the irony as she delicately plucked a white lily from a bouquet with her horn and sniffed it. "Open arms, eh Celestia?" she chuckled, knowing the princess was treading around her carefully.

She turned, he hooves rustling against the soft red carpet and brought the flower to her daughter. Carefully, without waking the little filly she set the lilac in her hair and behind her right ear. Admiring her handiwork, the Queen then kissed Atalanta on the forehead and resumed her observation of the room.

Captain Mysanum was watching her curiously, an odd gleam in his eye. He had just finished reporting the status of the other changelings settling into their quarters.

"Is something wrong?" she asked him bluntly, almost rudely. "You're staring at me. Have I grown a third eye below my horn? Hm?"

He shook his head with a start. "No, my Queen! I worry about the Prince," he stammered, seeming different than from his usual dark confidence.

Ah, yes, Tseng Tzu's 'dragon'. Doubtful. How she so wanted to strangle that blind, old white foal of a griffon. Nothing but grief! Silent Wing deserved a better teacher than one who was obviously senile.

She narrowed her eyes at him, then indicated the door with her chin. "Go worry about him outside. I wish to be alone with my daughter."

"As you wish, my Queen." He opened the door and was gone without making a sound. The good captain was well aware of the sleeping filly on the bed and was not about to irritate his already irritable Queen by wakening Atalanta.

Chrysalis explored her room, noting the finery and opulence Canterlot had to offer in the confines of this very large room. Everything of course was functional, as the Queen had requested, but still appeared a bit extravagant to her tastes. There was the round bed large enough for five ponies with four posts supporting a canopy of blue silk. Atalanta was the dark center of a red flower there, sunken deep in the soft blankets and sheets.

The rest of the room was a dance between hues of reds and blues. The chairs were plush and comfortable. There was a decanter and tray with the finest crystal on a low sitting coffee table made of dark mahogany in front of a red and blue couch. Sweet wine made from a mix of berries had already been tried upon the Queen's palate. She found she liked it, having at the time of the tasting to make a note to inquire about its origins. The last object in the room was a large desk with a marbled top and made of solid oak. It was enormous, enveloping almost an entire corner of the quarters by itself. Behind it was a high backed chair as solid and practical as the desk itself.

Several scrolls were set neatly upon the desk, mostly welcome letters from the ambassadors from other nations in token politeness. Few would actually desire meeting the Changeling Queen face-to-face. Most of them would be too terrified if they thought she the same changeling as fifteen years ago. For the most part, she was.

"What about now?" Chrysalis found herself asking the question as she idly batted at the scrolls, pondering if she should read them at all some point during her visit. This would have been something Silent Wing would have handled...

Tears welled up unbidden. Chrysalis quickly wiped them away with an angry sniffle. She never used to be like this!

Her baby was wounded! The foal had gotten himself in a nasty battle. His bodyguards had slipped off in the night to find him, found him, and the lot of them went looking for a fight! Of all the stupid things to do! All those years of schooling at military academies and private tutors to develop that brain of his and he goes out with his little friends to test their mettle as if it were a barroom brawl. Her mane was going to go prematurely white because of her adopted son. Though she was surprised the casualties had been extremely small, even miraculous given the reports and how accurate they were, it was due mostly to Princess Luna. He would be arriving later today, in the middle of a thousand Pegasus guarding him as well as under the watchful eye of Luna.

She owed the life of her colt to the Princess of the Moon. Chrysalis wanted to make everything right with her son. She wanted to hold him as she never did when he was growing up. The Queen blamed herself for the whole chain of events. If only she had chosen different words or had not said anything or timed it better.

The old Chrysalis dared to rear her head in her sleepless mind, the one that would have simply abandoned the foal to his fate, let him die for his stupidity. The old Chrysalis would never have adopted Silent Wing and his partial changeling form, his Pegasus wings, and those golden dragon eyes. The old Chrysalis would have simply left him in the wilderness to die from exposure and would never have looked back.

No!

It was not his fault the matriarchs(1) of the most powerful noble families had taken her power from her, leaving her nothing more than a national figurehead. Silent Wing was not responsible for the greed of those who had grabbed power for themselves and now pushed for open war. The queen's decree years ago had been upheld, but only because the army had been devastated. Now there were threats coming from all directions, whispers of an invasion from neighbors who sought retribution. Nothing concrete. The nobility only fed her information they thought was relevant.

Chrysalis knew better. There was no threat. Her own spies had gone out over the past two years and told her the issue was quite different. Xenophobia was being preached to the common changeling. The queen found out about the lie long ago, yet could do nothing about it. Everything was under strict control of the military now. Even the newspapers. Propaganda spewed out every day while the generals rebuilt their armies and prepared for war.

But against whom?

What was Draccaria planning? She was very good if she had not been seen since working on her nobles and turning them against the monarch. Princess Celestia had promised to explain everything to her, but Chrysalis had decided to wait until she saw her son safely returned to her. She had bluntly told the maid who had brought her the note to inform Her Highness under no circumstances would she be interested in entreating the Princess of the Sun until she was certain Silent Wing was in Canterlot.

A day and a half later, she was still waiting. Chrysalis would wait a year if she thought it meant she would get her son back to her side and safe.

Her thoughts shifted as she found herself sampling the berry wine again. Why was her captain acting so strangely? Myzanum was a pillar of no nonsense militaristic dedication to honor and duty and had earned the Queen's respect and admiration. His unflappable nature and bluntness made him a breath of fresh air compared to the fawning advisors and nobles who licked her hooves for her approval. A fat lot of good that had served.

He and Chamberlain Phillip were the only changelings with any pull she respected(2). The others were either too sunk into their meddling and power struggles or too weak in stature to be of any use to the queen in getting her out of her predicament.

Now he seemed edgy and had been since the announcement for a state visit to Canterlot. Captain Myzanum continued to give his queen a queer look when he thought she was not paying attention. Perhaps he was nervous having his queen within the walls of a nation he hated above all others. Myzanum hated ponies with a passion. Chrysalis imagined if he was not bound by his oath to not act without command, he would happily start a personal war to exterminate every pony he saw.

Now he seemed apprehensive. Chrysalis would have expected him to casting suspicious glares at anypony who came near, but he appeared to be completely out of character. Maybe the tension from the falling out the Queen had with Silent Wing was taking its toll on the changelings who had come on the trip.

Oddly enough, Atalanta thought the fight between her mother and brother was stupid. She even told her mother exactly that and asked when they could be together again. Such a sweet, sweet filly! No mother deserved a daughter this wonderful. She set her unfinished drink down and padded quietly to her now stirring Atalanta.

The little princess was stretching her legs out and yawning mightily. Smacking her lips over her tiny fangs, her eyes fluttered open to see Chrysalis put her snout to hers and bop it gently.

"Is Silent here?" she asked Chrysalis sleepily.

"Not yet. Soon."

"You will let me see him. You promised!" Huge eyes pleaded imploringly up at Chrysalis.

"I did and I shall keep that promise," she said. "Get up. I'll have food brought up so you can eat. First, you'll need to take a bath." Chrysalis tugged on a bell pull near the bed. She remembered which one did what of the four there from the last time she had been in Canterlot.

"I'm very hungry," said Atalanta in a small voice as if the admission would get her in trouble.

"Perfectly all right," Chrysalis assured her.

The door opened and Captain Myzanum let a maid through. She was a Unicorn, older than the usual fillies with a dark gray coat and a white mane and tail. "Yes, your Majesty?"

The command given was crisp, as if speaking to one of her own changeling maids. "Lunch for me and my daughter. Remember to use the menu supplied to your chefs. And do not forget the the Love Spheres!" Chrysalis offered the maid a hungering smile. "It would be a pity if I had to feast on the love of the unwary." She bared her fangs.

Her ensuing mad laughter chased the pale maid now scrambling for the door while trying poorly to maintain her dignity. She had managed to nod and hurriedly blurt, "Yes, ma'am!" through the sudden fear brought on by the flaring harlequin eyes and flashing teeth of the Queen.

"Fast food," Chrysalis giggled under her breath as the door hurridly closed behind the frightened maid. "Must have been here for my first impression on Canterlot."

Atalanta was fully awake now, looking at her mother curiously as she sat up in bed. Her wings fluttered restlessly. Tilting her head to one side, she blinked away the last remnants of sleep and slid lazily to the floor, backhooves first. Smacking her little lips, she was finally on all four legs, turning and making her way to her chuckling mother.

"You're being mean again, Momma!" she accused as she leaned against her mother's leg.

"You need your love, my little filly," Chrysalis said sternly. "That's where your magic comes from. It's what gives you the ability to turn into anypony you wish. You'll need it to grow big and strong." She was arching an eyebrow as she spoke, her discerning gaze offset by the little upwards twist in the corner of her mouth.

Adjoined to the quarters was a bath with all the modern amenities; toilet, sink, large iron bath tub, shower, hot and cold running water. Chrysalis had such a luxury in her own apartment in her castle. She started running the water in the tub, thinking it would be about an hour before the food would arrive. Atalanta needed her bath if she was going out in public today. It was the first fully day since arriving late yesterday afternoon.

She had to think for a moment to remember it was Monday.

It was a rare moment for Chrysalis. There were servants who did that back home, but the Queen had wanted to travel light and unencumbered with the logistical headache changelings in numbers created. She was satisfied having just two dozen of her personal bodyguard selected by Captain Myzanum as well as her son's small contingent. Having already bathed last night after putting her daughter to bed, this would be for the Crown Princess. The Queen would only let her guard down completely for Atalanta. Even Silent Wing could never get her to completely be at ease.

"Bathe yourself," she ordered Atalanta after she turned off the spigots. Chrysalis poked her head from the bathroom as her daughter approached.

"Do I have to?" whined her daughter, laying her ears back.

"I could simply dump you in the water and be done with it," threatened the Queen, half serious. She loved her daughter dearly, but she was in no mood for foalish games at the moment. Atalanta was to be bathed before lunch arrived. "Be quick and don't dawdle."

Her gaze followed the filly as she sighed, bowed her head in defeat, and did as she was told without complaining.

Chrysalis allowed herself a victorious little smile.

Atalanta was not in very long, her splashing brought the occasional checking of a suspicious queen's eye peering in to ensure soap and scrubbing was involved. It was strange not having servants around to pamper the royals, but Chrysalis had gotten it into her head to try and establish some independence for herself. She had realized recently all the pampering over the years had taken that old edge she once had. Chrysalis was determined to get that back, to get her country back, and be rid of those responsible for the kingdom being in the sorry state it was currently in.

Self reliance was a good place to start.

There was a knock at the door just as Chrysalis was helping her daughter with a simple little dress the color of a sunflower with little pink bows around the collar. A robin egg sash encircled the little filly's waist. The Queen was undecided if she wanted to go with pigtails or a simple ponytail. Silent Wing would look pretty good with one, she thought idly as she settled on that for Atalanta. She had seen some of the young colts go with a topknot on their manes as it was in fashion for young stallions this summer.

Chrysalis asked her daughter what she thought of Silent Wing with a topknot.

Atalanta shook her little head. "Haircut," she answered with a huff and a sniff.

The Queen herself had also settled for simplicity, choosing a simple light green cotton summer dress just long enough to cover her body but leave the lower half of her legs exposed. She did so love showing off her legs. Around her waist went a thin blue sash. Satisfied with the simple yet elegant looks of both herself and her daughter, Chrysalis was pleased when there was a knock at the door.

Lunch was served by one of Celestia's guards. The maid who had taken the order was trembling on the other side of the door and nearly pressed against the opposite wall in the hallway. She was trembling visibly, shaking her head violently from side to side when Queen Chrysalis smiled and waved at her.

"Your Majesty," started the soldier politely. He had to be an officer if he was speaking so boldly to Chrysalis. "You are an honored and welcomed guest here in Canterlot. Please refrain from frightening the help."

"Are my Love Spheres with my lunch?" she asked as she lifted the large glass cover with her horn. She ignored the question as if it had never been uttered.

Not bothering to wait for a reply, her eyes darted. There they were! Brought with the changelings from home, they were each the size of an apple, mysterious little pink balls of swirling thick liquid contained within a bubble secreted from changeling saliva. It was pure love, diluted in fruit juice for flavoring. Purring in anticipation, she replaced the cover and smiled at the soldier.

"That will be all," she said pleasantly.

"But ma'am," he insisted while still attempting to be polite.

Captain Myzanum half entered the room, his blazing blue eyes narrowing as they focused on the officer. Chrysalis waved him off with a slight shake of her head. Lifting her chin, she arched an eyebrow, crinkling her nose a bit as she waited for him to leave. The captain retreated, leaving the queen with the reluctant officer.

"Well?" Her eyes flashed at the pony.

He lost his nerve. "Enjoy your lunch, your Majesty." The officer bowed and left the room, no doubt fuming at his treatment and the treatment done to the poor maid.

Mother and daughter shared a sphere, each one taking turns biting and sucking the juices. Then they ate the rest of their lunch, consisting of fried prawns, baked fish, and steamed vegetables. As ponies were strictly herbivores, Chrysalis knew the chefs who had prepared their meals were more than likely griffons hired to cook meals more suited for changeling diets.

Princess Celestia had taken quite an effort to make her unusual (and largely unwelcome) guests comfortable.

"I'll give the old girl that much credit," she admitted as she crunched into a prawn.

"What was that, Momma?" asked Atalanta after swallowing her bite.

"Oh," Chrysalis sighed happily. "Never you mind. Your mother is just talking to herself. Hurry up and finish your lunch. We're going for a walk." She helped herself to another Love Sphere. Using her horn, she lifted the bowl containing them, counted five left and set it on the coffee table.

She had planned to take Atalanta to the Royal Gardens, if to just get outside and into the sunshine. The day was already proving to be pleasant. There was time yet before Silent Wing and the others would arrive. At least there it would be easy to see a thousand Pegasus arriving. Knowing the ponies here, she would more than likely be given a wide berth. There was some concern from Captain Myzanum in regards to her safety, but Chrysalis was not worried. She was the second most powerful mare in the castle.

Mother and daughter finished eating and headed for the door. Chrysalis opened it with her horn, the green glow of her magic turning the door handle and pulling. Captain Myzanum snapped his hooves together at attention, bowing as his queen passed followed by the little princess.

"We are going to the gardens," the Queen announced to the Equestrian guards.

"Of course, Queen Chrysalis," said one of the guards. "If you'll follow me-"

"I know the way," she cut him off sweetly, giving him a wink. The Queen strutted by, her head held high as she flowed along with smooth grace. Atalanta tried her very best to emulate her mother's stride.


The Alicorn Princess Celestia, Mistress of the Day and co-ruler of Equestria listened to the terrified maid's story between barely restrained sobs from her royal couch with a sympathetic ear. She knew inviting the Queen of the Changelings would be an open invitation for some types of abuse, but thus far the results had been far tamer than what the princess had expected. The vaulted ceiling and flying buttresses echoed the voice of the mare speaking in a barely controlled tone bordering on hysterics.

Instead of her throne, she lay on what someone might describe as more of a day bed than a couch. It was lined with colorful throw pillows matching the color of her sunrise mane. It had a very thick and comfortable goose down mattress she lay upon.

"Please, Princess," begged the mare as she practically flung herself at the royal hooves. "I beg you, please don't make me serve that horrible nag! She's so mean."

"Who would you recommend to work in your place, Speckle Dust?" asked Celestia gently. "And please do remember who you are calling a nag. She's my guest, even if she isn't the most polite or welcomed pony in the world."

"She'll eat whoever you send to her, Princess! I just know it!" Speckle Dust fretted, turned her tear streaked face up to her kindly ruler. Realizing she was still being rude about Queen Chrysalis, she shrank a little. "I apologize for my lack of manners. I-I-I still remember the last time she was here."

"As do I," reminded the white Alicorn with a gentle smile. She shifted in her seat, her neck uncomfortable from staying in one position for so long. With her working muscles trying to compensate for the ones no longer functioning, fatigue could not be helped. As her horn glowed with her magic, her body shifted beneath the blue blanket she favored to cover her hind quarters. Once she felt settled, she offered an apologetic little laugh. "I need you to do this because you have always been the best pony for handling new dignitaries. You know how they can be sometimes."

"She said she'd eat me," wailed the maid. She was wringing her hooves now.

Celestia decided she had enough, her expression becoming like a stern mother's. "You'll do it because I asked you to. Nopony is going to have their loved sucked from them. Chrysalis agreed to my terms and I will hold her to them. I give you my word on that. We'll hear no more of this. I shall speak to her on the matter when I see her. Fair enough?"

Mutely Speckle Dust nodded, knowing the audience was over.

As the slightly mollified maid left, a guard entered through the doors of the throne room and passed her, going straight to the couch and its royal occupant. He stopped at the base of the steps leading up to it and bowed.

"Your Highness, Queen Chrysalis and her daughter are currently in the Royal Gardens."

"Isn't that where Twilight Sparkle is with Star Journey?" Celestia wondered in amusement.

The guard nodded. "I believe so."

She cast her eyes to one of the stained glass windows depicting the Mane Six defeating Discord. "This should be interesting," she murmured.


Twilight Sparkle and her son Star Journey had were under the shade of a cherry tree, lying on a blanket with a picnic basket and several thick books scattered around them. The Alicorn had a rare moment to spend time with her son and had decided to spend it having an early afternoon study session in the Royal Gardens. Her less than enthusiastic son rather reluctantly had his book opened and was only half listening to his mother as she read to him about the history of the founding of Canterlot.

Star Journey had his mother's lavender coat and his father Flash Sentry's blue mane and tail. The colt bore the sapphires eyes favoring his father. He was also leaning a bit towards the hefty side, with a round belly and enough pudginess to almost be considered obese. The colt bore an expression on his puffy little mug suggesting he would rather be doing anything other than reading at this moment. Mom had promised to teach him some magic. He wanted so to learn how to use his horn!

Splayed out on his belly, he blew at the corner of the page. Star's head was propped up on his left hoof and he kept on staring off into space, not paying attention to his mother's voice or the face she had stopped speaking and was staring at him with terse disappointment.

"Star," she said in a louder voice. Her colt did not respond. Frowning, she used her magic to yank his hoof out from under his head.

Star Journey's head fell into his book. The colt made a startled yelp, then stared wide-eyed at his mother as he realized he had been daydreaming again.

"I've told you before to pay attention," she sighed, not wanting to raise her voice. It was rare he duties afforded her time to spend with her only child and she felt it was important he learn how to study. He was doing poorly in his lessons as it was.

Dejected, Star shoved his book away. "I want to learn magic," he complained in a nasal whine. "Books are stupid, mom!"

"Star Journey," Twilight Sparkle said firmly, "Without proper study and reading books, magic is very dangerous. You should know this." She tapped her open volume before her with a hoof. "Reading is amazing! I do wish you'd appreciate it." She shoved his book back before him with her glowing horn.

"Having problems with your offspring, Twilight Sparkle?" asked a disjointed voice with an almost sincere air to it. "I can relate to some extent."

Queen Chrysalis appeared from behind one of the neatly trimmed rose bushes, having made no effort to conceal herself. She had watched the exchange between mother and son and had even felt a kindred moment there as she thought of Silent Wing. She paused long enough to pluck a rose and bring it to her nose, inhaling the fragrance. From between her holed legs bounded Atalanta, who had not seen Twilight and Star. She skidded to a halt, recognizing Twilight, but not knowing who the fat colt was.

Star Journey was already staring at the little princess with intense curiosity.

"He just hates to study," Twilight said with an uncomfortable laugh. She had not expected Chrysalis to arrive. Was that an anxiety attack coming on? She fought to suppress it, managing a weak smile as her mind did flip-flops at the unexpected appearance of the dread monarch.

"So let him play," suggested the Queen amiably. "My poor Atalanta has been distracted with the recent news and I think it would be a good idea to let the children play together for a bit. After all, we do need to patch things up in regards to the past, do we not?" Chrysalis smiled.

Twilight wanted to recoil from that smile. She could not help but think there was something sinister behind it. Then she noticed the wide-eyed and innocent expression on Atalanta's face as she stared in curious fascination of her son. The mesmerized colt stared right back at her, clearly intrigued by the appearance of the new little changeling filly. Star Journey actually appeared interested in something for a change.

"I guess it couldn't hurt," she relented, curling her forehooves under her. Against her better judgement but remembering the purpose of the changeling's visit, she added, "Care to join me on the blanket?"

"How very kind of you, Twilight Sparkle. I do believe I'll accept."

Star Journey found Chrysalis to be big, intimidating and hungry when she looked at him. To him she seemed to be sizing him up on a dinner plate, ready to suck everything out of him. He had read the stories about the time changelings nearly took Canterlot. He had heard the stories of how they ate a pony's love, leaving a lifeless husk of a green-eyed zombie. Star Journey didn't want to be a green-eyed zombie.

He visibly recoiled from the queen.

"Star Journey, don't be rude!" chided his mother.

Chrysalis settled down on the blanket, unruffled, even amused. "My reputation precedes me even unto the next generation," she chuckled. "Trust me, I take it as a compliment." To Star Journey, she indicated with her hoof her daughter. "This is the Crown Princess of the Changeling Kingdom Atalanta and my daughter."

The little princess curtsied to Star Journey politely. "I am pleased to meet you!" she chirped.

He stared in dumbfounded silence. The Queen Zombie Maker had spoken to him and he wasn't a zombie! Star managed a nod and something awkward resembling a smile. It could have been confused for him passing gas or a grimace, but for some reason it was accepted as just a smile.

"Do be a good girl and play with the colt," Chrysalis suggested to her daughter. "You may stay in the garden and not beyond. I wish to speak to Twilight alone."

Twilight nudged her offspring. "Go play, Star. And be nice to Atalanta! She's a very nice princess."

Glad to not have to study, Star Journey stood on his hooves, his ears perked forward. Atalanta had his full attention again. Cautiously he approached the filly, sniffing as his pudgy body waddled. "Want to go see the pond?" he offered shyly. "It's got some big fish in it you can see."

The pony and the changeling headed off into the sunshine towards a small koi pond.

"I don't get to see him much," Twilight admitted sadly.

"Duty is a heavy burden for some," noted the Changeling Queen philosophically. "I should like to think there is an easier way to raise foals than the methods I have used." She curled her lip away from Twilight. The Alicorn was closing her book, setting a hoof on top of it.

"He just needs more friends," she was saying, her eyes still on her son.

Chrysalis detected a twinge of fear and doubt in the Alicorn's voice. "Perhaps Atalanta will be a good friend?" she offered. "I know I shall never change my ways, but she would be more inclined towards friendly relations with other nations once she is on the throne. I should like to think this might be a good start for her."

Twilight took in a deep breath. "Tseng Tzu told me a lot about prince Silent Wing," she began, feeling the statement out to the dark monarch. Fishing into the picnic basket, she produced two bottles of cola. One was offered to the Queen.

Chrysalis accepted it graciously. "I suppose any conversation regarding him won't be helped, no matter where I turn," she sighed. "I was hoping to discuss this with Celestia, but you have met my son and have been able to form your own opinion of him." Not familiar with twist caps, she held the bottle up to Twilight, who obliged with a smile. "So that's how you do it. Fascinating."

"I think he's an intelligent colt," started Twilight with some relief. She had expected an outburst, yet the queen appeared unusually calm. Was that good or bad? "He's dedicated, headstrong and complicated."

Chrysalis paused with her bottle tilted to her lips. "Complicated?"

Twilight held up a hoof. "It's not a negative thing, Chrysalis."

"Call me Chrys," offered the Queen. She flashed her fangs in a dangerous smile.

The Alicorn knew she was trying to unnerve her. "He was created by Flamespyre, wasn't he?" she asked. "It's his son. Silent is a Battlesinger." Twilight wanted to maintain a balance in the conversation, so she pushed immediately into her primary concern.

The Queen set her bottle down slowly, her left eye twitching as she stared at it. "What leads you to believe that, Twilight?"

"Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and myself have spent the past fifteen years finding everything we could about Flamespyre and his origins. We found it as well as a few other things. Celestia showed me last night what she had learned," Twilight said with a voice not wanting to believe the truth as she spoke it.

"What other things?" Chrysalis shifted her body to her side, facing Twilight as she lounged almost nonchalantly. The queen folded her forehooves to her, back legs stretching out on to the grass. "My ears hunger for your application of logic."

Twilight was not at all comfortable with the way the Changeling Queen regarded her, feeling as though she was a white mouse just placed in the cage with a cobra. Steeling herself under those hard eyes masked behind a crocodile smile, she obliged the queen.

"Flamespyre created the changelings," she said, narrowing her own gaze and matching cool arrogance with her determination and the truth she had spent over a decade uncovering. "You and your kind are a product of his madness."

"Interesting," was all Chrysalis said, her form never breaking except for taking a small sip from her bottle of cola.

"That's it? 'Interesting'?" Twilight shook her head, crinkling her nose.

"It's interesting you ponies never knew that," Chrysalis said. "My old master certainly left his mark upon us. What does this have to do with Silent Wing, little Sparkle? Since we're having this out here in the open and under this beautiful sky, please enlighten my poor intelligence and knowledge of my own changelings' origins." She sniffed, setting her bottle down again.

"I didn't mean that," Twilight snapped. "Would it be too terribly difficult to at least try to be civil?"

"Seven," Chrysalis interrupted her, her eyes widening with intensity. "Seven are the Children of the Master. They are each Battlesingers, each owing unquestioning obedience to Flamespyre, Master of Shadows and Lord of Hate. Know ye them well, lest ye know the despair of a thousand years. Harken unto them the changeling hordes, for they are the Heralds of Doom. The world shall tremble at the coming of the dark dragon, Creator of the Dark Armies and his children. Watch the horizon and know when the living black cloud comes, all the world is doomed!"

The changeling monarch relaxed, noting the absolute shock registering on Twilight's face. She smiled, enjoying the reaction.

"Those are words in the prophecies only the Royal Family has access to, as well as a few trusted changelings. As much as I wish to deny Silent Wing is a dragon in my heart," she said, suddenly quiet and no longer smiling. Chrysalis became sad, feeling isolated. "I know it to be true, Twilight Sparkle. Everypony is sensing a cataclysm coming, but none know when or how it will come. I told you Flamespyre is an Immortal. Did you not bring the question up to Celestia?" Her eyes searched those of the Alicorn.

"I did," replied Twilight. "She told me you were right. Why won't you see her?"

"Not until my son is here," said Chrysalis with a note of finality.

Suddenly there was an explosion over by the pond. Bits of shattered wood and pond water rained down upon the two startled and alarmed mares. As they stared at each other, wondering where, two little voices began to cry for their mothers from the direction of the fish pond.

Author's Note:

(1) All the noble houses are run by matriarchs, miniature queens who supply the Queen with her armies, her tax revenue from their properties. Think Amazon society with Napoleonic feel to it. Book 2 goes into more detail, but essentially all the females in the Emerald Kindgom (Chrysalis's country) run the whole show. Males have no rights and can only represent and speak the will of their respective matriarch. As the heads of houses never insult each other directly out of protocol and politeness, it is not uncommon for male changelings to be ordered to heckle mares at the risk of life and limb. Most noble fatalities occur this way.

(2) Males are selected to the Queen's staff to prevent any sense of favoritism if mares are chosen. Each house offers a list of capable males to fill in positions when they become available. Generals are typically male, as are heads of government as matriarchs tend to think the actual process of running the government is beneath them as they worry more about the status of their families and constantly jostle with other matriarchs for the favor of the Queen. The do love war and will often order their daughters to war in order to 'season' them in preparations for becoming matriarchs of their own houses (or replace the current one).