• Published 2nd Aug 2013
  • 13,581 Views, 182 Comments

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.

  • ...
19
 182
 13,581

RotDK Chapter 8: Wheels of Betrayal

Her name was Draccaria. She appeared as a Unicorn, save for her large golden eyes like a dragon's. Her pale coat was shivering in the cold air as she waited in the darkness of a cave. Delicately she adjusted her bouncing fiery mane, maintained in a single large loose braid dangling over her right shoulder. Draccaria was a young mare, her eyes cold and her body rigid at having to wait in such a horrible place. Father had commanded she act as the contact for the pony on the inside. Draccaria obeyed.

She was in an old and forgotten mine, having last seen activity well over a century ago. It had once been worked by the changelings, mined out and abandoned. Now it was a place where she and a certain somepony would meet for scheduled reports to ensure the grand scheme was going according to plan.

The very moment Father's body disintegrated, it was a signal for all of his sleeping children to awaken. All would be serving, save one. The Failure. There were five other children of the Dragonking, each one making preparations in their region. The responsibility fell upon his offspring to gather power while the world heaved with uncertainty. Petty little wars flared up here and there, political sabotage, assassinations, and anything disruptive to the peace. It was hard work. Not everything had gone to plan.

The seventh child was split in two, one half sleeping while the other lived under the false presumption he was exactly where he needed to be. Indeed he was the Failure. Yet he had adapted remarkably, not even aware of what he was. Not that it mattered. His power was gone. He was a mere mortal, his form imperfect, impure. Still, he had enough power to save himself from death by imprinting himself to that bitch of a queen, Chrysalis.
Draccaria seethed as she thought of it.

Father had prized the changelings for the ruthlessness, their greed, their insatiable lust for love. Yet their queen had failed to perform her duty and now there was a danger of her heart softening. All because of the Failure. Unconditional love had shattered the remnant of Father's will from the queen, saving her life.

Now there was a Crown Princess.

This would not do.

Where was that contact? Mentally she sent a question to one of her body guards, asking if they could see anything. Any changeling willing to turn on his monarch was one not to be trusted. Though she was more than capable of defending herself, Draccaria felt such a creature was beneath her claw to bother with. The response was an apologetic no.

Draccaria plucked at her mane with her magic, her horn glowing with a red aura. How she hated this form! She felt so small and insignificant in it. The only saving grace for it was the beauty. The mare so enjoyed looking beautiful. Turning this way and that, she peered over her shoulder and admired her own curves. They were perfect. She had forgone with the usual cutie mark all ponies had, seeing it as a blemish on her perfect coat. No, such a thing would not do on her perfect form.

An apologetic intrusion gently brushed in her mind. He was here.

"Finally," she muttered. Draccaria arrayed herself in a way to appeal to her guest, as he was easily distracted by her physical charms and gave up information cheaply when he could ogle her. Stallions were such foals.

She heard hoof steps coming down the dark shaft, echoing as a green light preceded them. Within moments a cloaked changeling emerged, his hood removed and his solid eyes glowing the soft blue most changelings had. The figure was large and powerful, a stallion projecting confident strength. He spied her and bowed.
"My apologies for the delay. The Queen was in rare form this evening," spoke Her Majesty's Captain of the Royal Guard and Most Trusted Protector. It was his official title. A bit windy, perhaps, but Myzanum had borne the mantle since Chrysalis had come to power.

He was among the first recruits to fall before Father's offer to restore the Changeling Kingdom to its rightful place as the most powerful nation in the world. The failure of the queen had started the slow downward spiral of the changelings. The good captain was easily influence and convinced perhaps another replacement should be made. A new queen had to be found.

"I do not want excuses," she snapped. "How goes the planning?"

"We're ready," he grunted, eyeing her greedily.

"Don't even think about it or I will geld you here on the spot," Draccaria warned with a sneer. "Then again, please do try something so I can geld you!"
Myzanum recoiled from her, his ears flattening. "Apologies."

Draccaria's voice became a dreadful whisper. "My dear captain, you are in a position both dangerous and potentially fatal if you do not play your cards correctly. You have two powerful mares who will utterly destroy you if it is discovered you betrayed either one of us. One would think this would require you to be on your best behavior at all times. Rest assured, anything Chrysalis can do, I can do far, far worse. Do I make myself clear?"

As she spoke, her horn glowed and her magic gripped the changeling by the throat, lifting him up into the air until the tip of his horn scraped the rocky ceiling. The cavern was too small for him to be lifted completely off the ground, but his forehooves wear easily a foot off the floor. There was a vice at his throat, the changeling gurgled as he choked. At the last possible moment she released him.

Captain Myzanum fell to the floor, rasping as he coughed violently. He lay there for a few seconds. Gasping heavily, he sat up and rubbed his throat with a hoof. "Crystal," he managed hoarsely.

"Good. Now with that stupidity out of the way, can we proceed or shall I show you the different ways a leg is not supposed to bend?"

"Prince Silent Wing was officially recognized as the Queen's adopted son last week," began the captain once he had recovered and was standing. "Her Majesty has started to take an interest in his activities other than those she assigned him. She has tasked him with aiding in overseeing the overhaul of the army. He intends to start with the officers."

Draccaria frowned at this. "Not the General Staff?"

"The Queen does not trust herself to give him that authority yet. Nor will the matriarchs allow for it."

"That could be a problem." The mare chewed on her bottom lip. "Do nothing to him for now. Let him have his little victories for now, but hinder him. There is not enough time for him to make anything significant."

"He is remarkably intelligent and resourceful. No changeling thinks like he does." Myzanum was careful to keep his eyes on the mare's face as he spoke.
Draccaria barked out a short laugh. "That is to be expected."

The changeling knew the mare was not going to like what he was about to say. "Equestria has formally asked to begin negotiations to establish friendly relations with the Queen and her kingdom."

"WHAT!?" She caught herself, knowing Chrysalis -

"The Queen has accepted the proposal," he finished quickly and immediately began to physically shrink from Draccaria.

- would accept?

Draccaria closed her eyes, her body trembling with rage. Her mind spun through a thousand scenarios, played a thousand possibilities. She caught herself with a short little gasp when the obvious answer appeared. Of course. This would be easier than she thought.

"Perfect," she practically purred as a smile danced across her face. Her teeth were perfect, white, and lovely. Draccaria regarded the good captain. "You will need to convince the whole Royal Family to go to Equestria."

"What are you suggesting?"

"Captain, what do you think would happen if there was suddenly a war with Equestria while the other nations invaded your kindom from the opposite side?"

"It would be enought to push the general populace to turn against the nobility." The captain and his other allies had done a remarkable job of hiding most of the civil unrest from. "The only reason they do not rebel now is because of the love they have for the Queen."

Draccaria began pacing, her delicate hooves tick-tacking beneath her lovely frame. She had the idea, but now she needed to refine it. Crude attempts were distasteful when it came to scheming. The obvious one appealed to her, but there could be no mistakes.

"What if the Royal Family were assassinated while within the walls of Canterlot?" she asked, tapping a tiny hoof to her perfect chin.

Myzanum shrugged. "War would have to be declared on Equestria."

"Would it be enough to push the nobles out of power if it also sparked a rebellion?"

"I believe it would be the final straw."

Her eyes narrowed. "Can you do it?"

"Murder the Royal Family?" the captain was visibly shocked by the idea. "I thought the Queen would remain as a figure head."

Myzanum dearly loved his queen and felt himself a true patriot. She meant a great deal to him and often used him to sate her desires. He had wanted the nobles swept aside as they were destroying the kingdom from the inside with their corruption and feeding their queen false information to make her believe all was well. She rarely left her castle anymore. There was always a reason to keep her home drummed up. Then again, she simply seemed disinterested. Perhaps magic? Was this Draccaria's doing? The powerful stallion was shrewd enough to understand it could be possible.

She had not been the same since Canterlot, to be sure.

"But we would need a queen. The line has been unbroken for thousands of years."

"Spare the princess. She is earmarked for something else. I'll take care of who to put on the throne. I don't care how you do it. In the meantime, the chamberlain will on the throne as regent until I place the new queen." Draccaria turned a hoof over and over as she spoke as if dealing with a colt, her tone dripping with contempt.

"Chamberlain Phillip?"

"You don't know everypony under my hoof," she said in a sweet mocking tone. There was nothing sweet about it. "Answer my question: Will you kill Queen Chrysalis?"

He hesitated, terrified of the prospect of bringing down one of the most powerful monarchs in the world. "I would if I but had the power to do so."

There. He had just committed an act of treason by conspiring to kill his Queen. Myzanum knew he had just crossed the line by even considering this proposal. Little did he know his mind was being manipulated by Draccaria. Though she was nowhere near the level of mental control her father had been, she could still worm her way in to a weak mind. All she had to do was find her victim's vice and exploit it.

She cursed under her breath. He was in conflict with her command and his loyalty to his Queen. Slowly she advanced on him, her eyes becoming heavily lidded as a seductive smile played across her lips. Nuzzling the startled stallion on his neck just under his ear, she whispered, "I'll make all your dreams come true if you do this for me." She took his ear in her teeth and nibbled playfully. "All of them," she promised.


The chamberlain stared at the stack of paperwork on his desk. It was getting late and he had done everything he could for the evening. The old changeling rubbed his temples, his pale blue and failing eyes flickering with the reflection of the lone candle lighting his room. Rising to all fours, he went over to a small table where a crystal decanter half filled with a cherry liquor awaited him. Turning over a glass, he filled it to the rim and quaffed it. Over the years his mane had fallen away, his tail nothing but a stub.

As much as he tried to tell his Queen about the corruption of the nobles, the more she pushed him off. She refused to believe it. Even that abomination she had recently adopted had spent years trying to tell her she was surrounded by self-serving power mongers who had spent the last two decades slowly siphoning the seat of power from beneath her.

All according to plan.

Everything had been set to utterly crush the nobility in the kingdom and prepare it for the master's return. Everything had been arranged. Everything was ready. All that remained was the straw to stir the drink. Silent Wing would have to be eliminated, of course. The little colt was being groomed by the Queen for reasons she had not felt free to divulge to her chamberlain, supposedly her closest and most trusted adviser.

Of course, shortly after the birth of Atalanta, Phillip shifted his original plan to include the possibility of using the Crown Princess instead. Her young mind was still not set in its ways, making her malleable. He had suggested this to Draccaria recently and she liked it enough to allow him to pursue it as an option. Layers must be placed upon layers.

The carefully crafted food shortages, encouraging the nobles to abuse their powers, slowly eroding the infrastructure of a nation already rife with corruption. It was not hard to push the peasantry towards completely washing themselves of the privileged. Taking action to keep the Queen unaware had proven more difficult.
The solution had been simple.

Tired, wanting to go to bed, but unable, Phillip considered taking a walk down the darkened halls to clear his head. He did so, throwing on a light robe before heading out of his door. It had to be past midnight. Sighing to himself he slipped out and walked the stately walk of an old stallion, head bent as a thousand thoughts battled for his attention.

He nearly barreled into Chrysalis. She stopped him by clearing her throat. Phillip looked up and immediately began stammering his apologies. "I'm sorry, your Majesty! I'm so lost in my thoughts. So much going on. Very clumsy of me!" He bowed, scraped, fawned.

He realized then how much he had grown from loving her to hating her.

It was the expression she wore as she loomed over him, her harlequin eyes half open, her smile half a sneer of contempt, her fangs gleaming from the moonlight streaming in through the open air window. But there was the other half of her he could also see, the one he had hated so much. He wanted his cruel queen back, the one who would stop at nothing to grind the weak beneath her hoof. This other part of her, grown the past fifteen years knew pity, showed compassion. Worst of all was kindness. This other side of the queen spoke of reform, to seek peace with all the enemies of the changelings.

Peace!

"Perhaps it is time I asked for your resignation, old friend," she said to him simply. The Queen's face was an unreadable mask, neither cruel nor kind.

Phillip straightened, stricken by the suggestion and insulted. "No, your Majesty!"

She regarded him for a moment, toying with a chuckle. Swiveling her hind quarters around and with a great swish of her long, straight spiderweb tail, she faced the same direction he had been going, coming along side him. It was a movement so smooth the old stallion caught a lump in his throat.

"Start walking and start talking," she said.

He shook his head, offering his smile apologetically. "Surely you have better things to do than talk to an old foal."

"Phil," she sighed, leveling him with a tired look and grinding her teeth. "Start walking. Even your Queen needs someone to speak with from time to time."

Knowing she had trapped him for what ever reason she had in mind, he had no choice but to play her filly game. "It's this Equestria matter, my Queen," he began, searching for something completely unrelated to what was really on his mind. "I do not think opening relations with Celestia and her ilk bodes well for our kingdom's future."

"Ah, I see," she replied as she walked with him, tall and regal, her narrowed eyes looking straight ahead. "Why is that?"

"Must I recount what happened at Canterlot, Majesty?"

"That was seventeen years ago, old friend." Chrysalis sighed. "The nobles are useless to me. I have incompetent generals. I can't get rid of the nobles because they've bought the generals, which means I have very few officers who are loyal to me. I'll admit, I need help."

"Are you suggesting a move is being made against you, Majesty?" he asked carefully. "By the houses?"

"I don't know. Something is dreadfully wrong," she paused in her step, chewing on her bottom lip. "I can't quite put my hoof on it, but I don't like it. My head's been feeling so fuzzy during the meetings. Those hags have certainly taken advantage of my problem. My power is all but gone now. I am now little more than a figurehead."

"So what does this have to do with Princess Celestia? She is not somepony you can trust. She could simply be trying to lure you into a trap." Phillip turned a corner, the Queen right next to him.

Chrysalis laughed harshly. "She is many things. A treacherous nag is not one of them."

"Surely your adopted son's little group of warriors should be able to serve your needs," he suggested, remembering hearing about the little demonstration. Another reason to eliminate the little foal.

She shook her head. "They're years from being ready. You know as well as I do Silent is not ready for combat. He's too young. Far too young. I am not going to risk his life simply because I fear for my crown."

He suddenly stopped walking, his wrinkled old face contorting hatefully, remembering his queen for what she once was in his eyes. "Why do you cater to that foal, my queen? He is not of your blood and has tainted you, Majesty! I remember the way you once were, when you let nothing stop you!" Phillip burst out. He suddenly realized his mistake and shrank visibly from her.

The sudden outburst caught the Queen by surprise. Her eyes went wide, her pupils becoming pin points before she spoke. "What do you mean? I'm still the same mare I've always been."

Bitterly he spat, "No, you are most certainly not." Tears welled up in his solid blue eyes. "I miss the Queen Chrysalis who bathed in the blood of her enemies and sucked deeply the very love from their beings. I miss the mare who ruled through fear and power. I miss the mare who did not allow a- a- an ABOMINATION strip away her identity! He's a monster, Majesty! To this day the houses whisper in fear of that night."

He was suddenly lifted off the ground and slammed against the nearby wall. The Queen's face was in his, her eyes boring into him, swirling with fury. Her massive horn scraped against his little one.

"Don't stop now, Phil," she whispered dangerously. "I think you were getting to the good part."

The old stallion swallowed hard, his throat suddenly dry. He knew his life depended on what came out of his mouth next.

"You are still a great queen and I adore you and have worked tirelessly to please you," he said, suddenly as calm as he had ever felt in his life. "I do not know what Silent Wing did to you, but when you first brought up from the forgotten depths of the castle all those years ago, we accepted your decision without question. You had a new plaything, something to amuse you while you waited for your changelings to recover from their losses. When we started going to war again, we hoped you would lead us again as you had in the past. You did not.

"You chose instead to become a mother to a...a...thing. We waited for you to lead us again to glory, but instead we were left with incompetent generals who only earned their station through their bloodlines. We begged you to change things, to see what the nobility was doing to your nation, yet you did nothing. Even that little bastard colt pet of yours could see it when he was old enough. Why could you not, my Queen? The old Chrysalis would have stamped out the foals who had allowed their own corruption infect the government!"

Chrysalis drew back from him, her jaw locked open in shock. The old stallion was openly weeping now.

"And now you wish to run to the open arms of your greatest enemy. What is to become of the kingdom, my Queen? Please answer this old foal who has dedicated his life to serving you without question. Before you kill me and send me into that oblivion, please answer me. It is the last request I make of the only Queen I have ever loved."

She staggered back from him, every emotion imaginable dancing across her features. She worked her jaw soundlessly. Chrysalis found herself looking at a broken changeling who no longer cared if he lived or died. She hesitated, wondering what her old self would have done. A reflection of her violent tendencies flashed before her for a brief moment. Deeply she inhaled, calming herself. Exhale.

Phillip found himself set to the ground gently, his Queen regarding him thoughtfully. Her gaze was cold and unfeeling.

"I see a larger picture, chamberlain," she spoke, her voice a pit of vipers. "I leave for Equestria in a week. I will leave you in charge of the kingdom until I return. When I do, I want your resignation and a list of competent replacements on my desk. You'll have had ample time to tie up any loose ends. You've earned your retirement. Enjoy your sunset, old friend."

With that, Queen Chrysalis turned and stormed down the hall and into the darkness beyond.

All according to plan.


A sparrow flitted through the night air, its destination an open window in a round hive-like construction added on to the ancient fortress hundreds of years ago. It was nearly impossible to tell where the ancient construction ended and the changeling additions began. It might have appeared odd, but it was functional and had its own beauty about it. The window was round and had been left open on purpose despite the cold air.

She landed, hopped about the sill, peered in. Inside the sparrow went, regarding the old bald changeling with the bad eyes. Phillip was writing something, glasses perched precariously on the end of his muzzle. He heard the sound of little wings behind him and turned.

"Milady," he said to the golden eyed sparrow as she landed on the floor.

The bird shimmered, blurred, and grew, becoming a Unicorn. She took a moment to reaquaint herself with her surroundings. Draccaria hated coming to this dreary room. The whole changeling kingdom was dreary, for that matter. Why did everything have to be dark and functional?

"Care for a drink?" Phillip indicated the second empty class by the decanter, turning it upright with his magic and filling it before she could reply.

Her horn glowed the color of her eyes as she accepted the offering. "Is it done?"

He filled his own glass and brought it up. "I am to turn in my resignation when she returns, make a list of suitable replacements, and retire into my sunset on the day she returns."

Draccaria touched her glass to his with a smile. "Good news."

"Indeed."

They both down their drinks and set their glasses aside.

"What of our good captain?" Phillip asked as he offered the mare a seat with a wave of his hoof. He would have stood, but his joints were flaring up again. Being slammed against a wall at his age tended to make certain parts of the body rather sore, he noted dryly.

"He'll do it. I had to persuade him, but he'll see that it is done." She made a sour face.

The chamberlain blinked, his thoughts not exactly what he wanted burned in his imagination. "You didn't-"

"No! Of course not. Only he thinks anything like that is going to happen. Don't be absurd." Draccaria was blushing furiously. "You are a horrible changeling." She giggled.

"Considering I am about to overthrow the government, depose the queen, and start a war with Equestria, I suppose I am," he admitted. Phillip found himself looking anxiously at the door. Part of him expected Chrysalis to come tearing through the door with murder in her eyes.

"No one can hear us," Draccaria reassured him.

Nervously he nodded. "With what I've experienced in my life, one would think nerves would be the last thing I would fear losing."

She refilled his glass and floated it to him. "How long is the Royal Family scheduled to be in Canterlot?" Draccaria asked.

Phillip accepted the drink eagerly. "Seven days. They should be leaving in a week. I was hoping we could wait until the third or fourth day of their visit to start." He drained his glass again and rubbed his temples with his hooves. The mare was fascinated at watching his face through the holes in his legs.

"We'll go on the fourth day," she said firmly. "The good captain will have all day to find a prime time to strike in addition to the time needed to figure out the Queen's schedule by then."

"Wednesday it is, then." The changeling suddenly grinned, his old eyes twinkling with an evil gleam. "I feel like a colt again."

"It's not every day you get to watch a catastrophic collapse," she smiled at him. "Father will be pleased."

A curious thought passed by the chamberlain. "How is he, anyway? Will the master be returning to us anytime soon?"

Draccaria regarded him slyly. "That, my friend," she stated with a purr, "is a secret."

Author's Note:

I think about this time my writing style began to smooth out and I was really feeling a rythm to the story. I still had no idea where I was going with it (I think that was the general problem with the previous chapters). Once I wrote this, an idea started in my head and I just ran with it.

Critiques are, of course always welcome.

Thank you for reading!