• 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 9: This is How We do It

They would travel by airship, Silent Wing and Atalanta soon discovered. It was over a thousand feet long, on loan to Equestria from one of the other pony nations who was eager to see a peace agreement between Equestria and the Changeling Kingdom. She docked only after swarms of changeling soldiers inspected every inch of her lines. The great ship hovered over the castle. A basket was used to load supplies and hoist non-flying passengers. She was shaped like a great silver trout with windows for her passengers at her amidships. Eight evenly spaced stabilizer fins protruded from her tail. Four engines sprouted underneath the ship; two side-by-side ahead of the passenger cabins and two side-by-side behind it. The bridge was just above the nose of the great ship.

She was called the Aurora. Her canvas skin magically imitated one.

Queen Chrysalis was impressed with the size of the airship. Silent Wing and Atalanta both were eager to get aboard and explore. There was an envoy who arrived from Canterlot. Of course formalities would have to be made, as well as a dinner for the guest of honor (it was doubtful she would attend). On the day the ship docked, the throne room was decorated modestly. Everything was made clean to a shine.

At her balcony, the Queen awaited for the dog and pony show to begin, not exactly pleased at the prospect of meeting a certain pony. She sighed as her maids continued to fuss over and put the finishing touches to her regalia, patterned after her daughter's dress and far more extravagant. She had loved Atalanta's dress so much she immediately put in an order to have one made like it. Save for the intricate interwoven gold and silver embroidery added to her version of her daughter's dress, they were nearly exact copies of each other. As a last touch, the queen wore a black mantle trimmed with white ermine.

Next to her an excited Crown Princess watched the throng of changelings in the courtyard below. Atalanta was glad to wear the new dress sent to her the week before. The princess was upset Silent Wing had lied to her, but she forgave him when her mother actually sounded excited to see her put it on. Chrysalis asked her to wear it, having been well pleased at how well it complimented everything about her daughter. The little filly was quite pleased when the Queen gave her blessing for her to wear it, sticking her tongue at Silent Wing.

Meanwhile, at his own balcony, Silent Wing had just put the finishing touches on his formal cadet military uniform, a dark suit with gold pleated braids and gold buttons. It was trimmed with red and looked very sharp on him. There were holes for his wings, which he was currently flexing and unflexing to make the coat fit a bit more comfortably. It felt a little tight and it itched, but the Queen had insisted he look smart.

As he stood on his balcony, he checked to see if she was watching him from her own perch. Luckily she was not, perhaps already downstairs making sure every changeling was doing everything right. No delegation had visited the Changleing Kingdom since the infamous Canterlot debacle. She had the whole castle in an uproar since the announcement a month ago to begin negotiations for normalized relations with Equestria.

The chamberlain avoided the young prince the whole time. The old changeling had never so much as given the colt the time of day, his disdain for him had never been a big secret. When he was little, Silent Wing had been terrified of the old changeling. If Chrysalis was the pinnacle of changeling beauty and power, Phillip was by definition a living picture of a dead stallion walking. He hobbled when he walked, spat drool everywhere when he talked, and always looked like he was up to something.

He was nowhere to be seen now. As a matter in fact, as Silent thought about it, good old Phil had not been seen for the past three days. Apparently he was not feeling well and was staying old. Part of Silent hoped the old stallion would just die of old age already. Rumors had bounced around Phillip had a terrific argument with the Queen and she had demanded his resignation. Silent hoped this was true. Maybe he would ask her the next time he had a chance.

"It's time to meet and escort the guests, you Highness." Marek trundled out, carrying Silent's ceremonial sword.

The colt turned, looking at the thing and sighed, "I hate wearing that."

Unruffled, the servant clipped the sword on the belt around Silent's waist, the sword itself hanging over his left side. "Let's have a look at you," he said, taking a couple of hoofsteps back.

The prince stretched his wings, turning a little to his left, then to his right. "How do I look?" He preened a primary feather he thought was out of place.

"Like a prince." Marek grinned. "You look fine, your Highness. You'd best be off now before you delay your mother's guests. Do you have their names memorized?"


"Are you sure? This is important, your Highness. You look unusually calm."

Silent chuckled. "All right, something's up. What is it?"

Marek produced a folded sheet of paper."The Queen asked me to give this to you before you went to welcome our esteemed guests," he said as he started to pale slightly.

The prince furrowed his brow suddenly feeling apprehensive. "What is it?" he asked as he took it.

Marek took a hoofstep back.

Silent opened the note and read it:

My dear and darling adopted son. You are about to escort the beautiful Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle. Try not to stumble over your words. Kisses, Your Mother the Queen.

He blinked, his eyes going wide.

Pupils dilated as he jerked his head up from the paper. "Oh, no. She would not do this to me. This is a joke, right? Marek?"

"She told me not to tell you on pain of death, my prince!"

The colt began to pace back and forth from one end of the balcony to the other. "No. No, no, no, no, no, no!" His eyes went to his mother's balcony. Queen Chrysalis was there.

She waved at him.

Clenching his jaw, he waved back at her weakly, turned to Marek and handed the note to his servant. Silent Wing took in a deep breath, closed his eye, and blew out slowly. The colt straightened himself, stomping both his front hooves as a sort of self motivation before opening his eyes again.

Without a word, he stepped over the edge of the balcony and dropped. Halfway through his fall, his wings snapped out and he banked up hard and to the left. Powerful strokes of his wings brought his speed up, his forehooves close to his chest while his rear legs trailed behind. He zipped up within a few feet of the Queen's balcony, zooming past and startling the mares in waiting who attended to Chrysalis. A few of them screamed as they never heard him coming. Atalanta squealed in delight at seeing him. The Queen, however wore a taunting smile.

Silent Wing spun about and hovered in close to his mother. She watched, shaking her head slightly at him as she assumed an innocent expression. Chrysalis was sipping on a cup of tea. "You'll miss greeting our guests."

The colt hovered in, his face an unreadable mask.

Chrysalis arched a brow. "Well?"

"I'm furious with you," he growled, his ears flattening. Well, put out would have been a more suitable phrase.

Atalanta wisely kept her mouth shut and stood as still as a statue. She fought the fit of giggles threatening to erupt.

The Queen sipped her tea delicately. "Oh? Do tell."


The Queen set her cup down calmly and brushed a strand of her mane from her eyes. "You'll have to face it sooner or later. I decided to make it sooner. Do be a good colt and don't make a fool of yourself."

"Fine!" he grumped.

"Look like a prince, my little morsel."

He straightened, feeling embarrassed.

Towards the gardens he went, the very same ones where the attempt on his life had been made years before. Guards were everywhere, lining the battlements and bearing great spears with bright pennons streaming in the breeze. They snapped to attention as the prince swooped in and under the great shadow of the airship. Hundreds of peasant changelings waited in eager anticipation, cheering loudly. As he landed, two of the Queen's guard took up positions on either side of Silent Wing.

By now he had time to think of his mother's antics and had worked himself up to a simmering anger. The prince was very upset at Chrysalis for putting him in this position, tricking him. The more he thought about it, the more he smouldered.

She wanted him to fail, he decided.

"Not going to happen," he growled under his breath.

He noted the basket slowly working its way down. A dozen Equestrian Royal Guardsmen were already in position, six to each side of the designated disembarkation zone. They timed it perfectly to be in position just as the basket touched down. Two crewponies opened it and out stepped the guest of honor and her entourage. There was a great fanfare and the crowd cheered politely, stomping holed hooves on the ground in applause and welcome for the newly arrived guest.

Before him stood an Alicorn with a mulberry coat. Her sapphire blue mane was as the pictures had it, straight, with a pair of violet and rose streaks. The tail was the same way. A golden tiara with a large gem within it was nestled neatly in front of her horn. Violet eyes regarded him guardedly.

Still thinking of his mother laughing at him, Silent Wing stepped forward as he had been instructed to do during rehearsal. "Princess Twilight Sparkle," he stated in a voice warbling between a colt and a stallion's, "I Prince Silent Wing welcome you to the Changeling Kingdom in the name of Chrysalis Regina. Please accept our humble hospitality." He bowed low, spreading his wings out stately as he bestowed the greatest honor any flyer could give at a formal event. It was very archaic and was rarely used anymore.

Twilight Sparkle appeared more apprehensive as she stared at the imposing fortress looming in front of them. However, the princess stepped forward gamely, appearing for all the world as though she belonged. She was clearly impressed with his display and returned the favor with a curtsy and a more reserved display with her wings.

"I, Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Equestria do accept the hospitality of our esteemed hosts and hope this is a beginning of friendship between our two nations." She gave him a strange look for a brief moment, before recovering with a smile.

Silent Wing realized he wasn't stuttering in the face of an Alicorn mare he had only heard stories of. Obviously she was older than the prince and was taller. He had never imagined he would be meeting one of the fabled Alicorns of Equestria. Mother had kept the identity of the Equestrian representative for a reason. For him, this was beyond his wildest dreams. Twilight Sparkle bore a bookish beauty about her. Maybe it was the fact she appeared only slightly less nervous than Silent Wing. He felt his heart skip a beat or two before he realized he was supposed to be angry at Chrysalis.

"Your Highness, I would be honored if you allowed me to escort you to my mother, the Queen." He stiffly offered a hoof, suddenly feeling nervous. Why were his legs getting rubbery?

She sensed his discomfort and smiled. Her own colt was like this. "You're doing fine, your Highness. Princess Celestia sends her warmest regards and hopes to meet you in person. She was right when she said you are a handsome colt. I hope we can be friends." The Alicorn spoke slowly as if trying to coax a frightened deer down from a tree.

Silent Wing swallowed hard, settling his wings against his sides and sliding to the princess's right side and offered her his left hoof. "Shall we?" he asked.

Twilight wanted to give him a sympathetic smile, but was not sure if he would be insulted by it or not.

Chrysalis reached out and stroked her daughter's mane as she sat on her haunches, quite pleased with herself. Sometimes a mother had to do unpleasant things to get a certain young colt over his unreasonable fear of speaking to the fairer sex. The Queen knew the colt better than he knew himself, and why not? His problem was far from over. It would simply not do to have him thinking his anger would let him survive a filly who wanted to see more than his clumsy side.

"Are we going now, mother?" asked Atalanta, wanting to meet the pony. She liked it when Chrysalis was nice like this. Mother always looked prettiest when she was happy.

The Queen tapped her faithful spyglass and set it down on the table next to her and rose. "I suppose it would not do if we were late after I just reminded my little morsel to not do the same. Stand close to me, child."

The Crown Princess nodded and slid next to her mother, excited magic was going to be used. "This is fun!" she chirped.

"Behave yourself, child," her mother chided with the slight raising of an eyebrow. "Be a princess when we meet our guest. Best behavior. Remember!" Her horn glowed the familiar green and the two disappeared from the balcony in a flash of green flame and smoke.

They reappeared several hundred feet away in the Great Hall of the castle, a vast room capable of holding a thousand changelings easily. It was packed with the members of the noble houses at the front by the entrance. In the back of the hall sat the majority of the gathered changelings, commoners separated by a heavy line of guards in gleaming ceremonial armor. There was thunderous applause when she appeared with her daughter, all nobles rising from their seats and stamping their hooves politely while the common crowd simply went insane with love for their Queen and Crown Princess(1).

Atalanta had never seen so many changelings before in her life. The peasants had been allowed to attend the ceremony, much to the annoyance of some of the aristocrats. The noise of voices and buzzing wings hummed like a bee hive. She almost shied away from the sheer number of faces turned up at her mother. Hoofmaidens scurried up to her, straightening her mantle and arraying it around the throne neatly until it appeared as a black lily around the monarch. Chrysalis stood, bringing her full majesty to bear as she was told the chariot was pulling up.

The Crown Princess emulated her mother as last minute adjustments were made to her gown. Her little heart was pounding in her chest as she felt tiny next to the regal queen. Her little chair was right behind her an on her mother's right hoof side. An empty one for Silent Wing waited for him on the left side of the queen.

Trumpets blared as a hoofpony announced the arrival or Princess Twilight Sparkle of Canterlot. The audience turned to watch as Silent Wing escorted her properly, his face remarkably calm and full of pride. As soon as the first hoof crossed the threshold, the Great Hall again resounded with applause in greeting to the princess from Equestria.

Queen Chrysalis allowed herself quick little smile of relief. Her little morsel was handling himself remarkably well. Perhaps the Alicorn had said something to him. The queen would not have been at all surprised at all if it were the case.

Behind the prince and the Alicorn princess strode two dozen guards, twelve each behind the pair. The bright golden armor of Celestia's Royal Guard marched in single file behind Twilight Sparkle while their counterparts did the same behind the colt. These were the very changelings whom had trained with the prince for the past eight years and shared his discipline. Each one of them was proud to be able to officially serve their prince.

"Wings do look good on her," Chrysalis marveled to herself. No, this was no longer the filly she had last seen fifteen years ago. Twilight Sparkle carried a sureness about her. The queen suspected the Alicorn had quite the magical punch, too.

The stately pace continued until Silent Wing had led the princess to a single seat set before the Queen. Twilight thanked him with a graceful tilt of her horn. The prince bowed to her and assumed his place at his mother's side. The trumpets sounded one more time. The Alicorn curtsied deeply to Queen Chrysalis. Most changelings assumed the queen would give the minimum of responses.

She did not. Queen Chrysalis knelt as Celestia had knelt upon presenting Twilight Sparkle to her friends as an Alicorn for the first time all those years ago.

Angry rumblings tittered through the room, entirely from the nobility.

Chrysalis flashed annoyance, her harlequin eyes hard as she cast them over the gathering. Her wings buzzed as she rose like a dark cloud into the air. "SILENCE!" she commanded, her voice dark and terrible. "We welcome Twilight Sparkle the Alicorn in hopes we might repair past wrongs and work for a peaceful future at this present. It begins NOW. We will not allow rudeness in the presence of a guest WE invited into OUR home." She projected her royal voice with unmistakable authority.

The whole hall went as silent as a tomb, save for the sound of the queen's wings.

"Bloody nobles! Can't have nice things because of the bloody nobles!" called out a hidden face among the every day changelings.

Chrysalis smiled at that. "Ah, but you all know that is but a root of the problem!" Her voice resonated throughout the great hall. "Which is why We have reached out Our hand to the royals of Equestria to put to rights our tattered homeland."

Twilight Sparkle wondered what was going on. This had not been in the program. She had seen Chrysalis before as a deceptive conqueror, preying on what she thought was nothing more than a source of power for her changelings.

Chrysalis leveled a hoof at the Alicorn. "This one comes bearing the good will of Princess Celestia. We shall receive her as a friend."

"You would bring outsiders to meddle with affairs that are none of their concern?"(2) demanded at noble from one of the more powerful houses. His name escaped the Queen at the moment, but the changeling was gaunt and dressed in ridiculous frippery best suited for a carnival.

Chrysalis sneered in his direction. "I would do so when those within these borders refuse to realize the damage caused by your personal greed for the past twenty year," she said, stamping her a holed hoof emphatically. "You think I do nothing, have done nothing, and am willing to do nothing. My children, I assure you those beliefs could not be further from the truth."

"You did raise a gelded foal!"(3) called out another hidden voice from the aristocracy.

Silent Wing bristled, but did not move. He knew better, having heard all of this before. The growl rumbling low in his throat and twitching right eye earned him a stern harlequin ice dagger to be still.

Poor Twilight Sparkle had no clue what was going on, but it took very little imagination she was looking at a part of the problem in the Changeling Kingdom.

"Guards, seize him!" the queen commanded in a bored tone. "Have him encased(4) until I decide what to do with him." Her horn glowed and a rather fat changeling with a painted face rose squealing into the air. "Lord Gahs. One cannot hide when one has a hideous voice like yours."

She flung him to the wide aisle Twilight Sparkle had just been escorted through. Two guards swooped down on him. "You can't do this! It's against the law!(5)" he squealed as they grabbed him.

"I AM THE QUEEN OF THE CHANGELINGS!" Her royal voice shook the very foundations of the castle. "I AM THE LAW OF THIS LAND. MY WORD IS ABSOLUTE.(6)"

She was striding down the dais, slamming each hoofstep down hard and deliberately. Chrysalis swept by the staring Alicorn, her mantle billowing about like the black storm of her wake.

"Too long have you foals taken me for granted. For too long have you glutted yourselves on the power we need as a nation to become strong, not sharing with those to whom you owe your very claim to noble blood." She was on top of poor Gahs, who was now blubbering incoherently as the guards held him up for their queen. He looked like an insect before her wrath.

"You can't do this!"

She hissed, withdrawing her face away from him. "What?"

He stared at her stupidly.

"How do you properly address your queen?" she asked him in a slow, dreadful voice.

"Y-Your M-Majesty!" he wailed.

Chrysalis thought about slapping Gahs, but seeing his disgusting, pitiful fat frame repulsed her. "Encase him," she snarled. The guards dragged the openly weeping noble away, his hooves dragging pathetically on the stone floor. Queen Chrysalis barked out a short laugh of contempt. "Is that all it takes to be of noble blood? Is that what the aristocracy has become? Is this why we have not made one significant contribution to the betterment of our race? I shall have words with the matriarch of your house, Gahs."

It was very hard for Twilight Sparkle to maintain her composure. From her perspective, it appeared as though Queen Chrysalis had no control over the upper class. She noted the guards and wondered if their numbers normal or if they had been increased for this event alone. It was intriguing and also terrifying. Princess Celestia was worried about this and was not sure of the extent of the damage. Perhaps her favorite student might be able to shed a bit more light on the matter.

As she mused, her guards wondered if a fight was going to break out. They would have moved towards Twilight Sparkle, but the Changleling Queen was next to her as if she herself sensed the possibility. They knew if the approached now, then her guards would move to protect her.

Myzanum was about to land by his queen, but she waved him off. Twilight Sparkle waved off her guards with a shake of her head.

"What now?" the Alicorn asked Chrysalis. "This wasn't what I expected in discussing peace with you."

"We finish the welcoming you," the queen said affably.

The rest of the ceremony went without interruption. A certain portion of the crowd had grown sullenly silent. Twilight Sparkle discovered the changelings to have a rather wild and robust approach to formal functions. The common changeling cheered and stomped their hooves constantly, stopping only when the Queen or her two children spoke. Little ugly fights constantly broke out among them, which the guards only stopped if one of the royals was about to speak.

The Alicorn could pick up easily the love they had for Chrysalis, but their adoration for Atalantia spoke volumes. They hung breathlessly on every word the little filly spoke. Silent Wing appeared to be something of an enigma to them(7). He had the angular features and fangs of a changeling, but the rest of his body was of a Pegasus. His two left limbs bore the pits and holes all changelings bore near their hooves, but his right side was unblemished. To the Alicorn, he appeared a white flower in the middle of a great brier patch.

Her gaze kept drawing to his golden dragon eyes.

She could do nothing but watch and listen, smile at the right time and look royal. The Alicorn found herself shifting her curiosity from the colt to the queen who had unexpectedly adopted him. Before then, his existence had been a rumor. A mixed breed foundling raised by one of the most deceptive monarchs in recent memory. A creature seemingly thought to believe love to be nothing more than a source of power upon which she could feed had raised a foal to which there was no blood relationship.

Perhaps there was more to the dark queen than met the eye. Perhaps her mind was as much a chameleon as her ability to change her outward appearance. The mare's first impression was to be even more confused by what was going on. At one point, Chrysalis caught Twilight studying her and simply stared back, her gaze unreadable. Twilight was forced to break contact, an apologetic smile cracking.

Then she found her wandering eye fall upon Crown Princess Atalanta. She was adorable, a pretty filly about her own colt's age. She was almost an exact copy of Chrysalis, save her eyes were slightly darker and her mane fuller, with a bit more body. The little filly had a constant smile, showing her little fangs and being a bundle of barely restrained joy. The Queen kept a small smile for her little daughter, very proud of her princess.

How Chrysalis looked at Silent Wing was odd. There was no animosity there. There was affection to be sure, but it was restrained. Was it because he was not a pure changeling? Did the queen show no public affection for the half breed colt she had adopted? What was the story behind those two? Clearly he was fond of her, as much as he was fond of his sister. Perhaps on the trip to Equestria there would be answers to her questions. There would be a day here, then departure the following morning for home.

Twilight remembered how uninviting the fortress appeared when she first saw it. It was magnificently built, but had a foreboding aura about it. The castle reminded her of a paper wasp nests glued together with bridges spanning between the gaps at different intervals. Great spiraling towers from the original construction stretched into the sky. It all looked so organic and horribly beautiful.

She was having reservations halfway through the speeches. Several representatives from the five most powerful houses had sent somepony with a self important air to make a flowery and eloquent speech on their behalf. Loudly he proclaimed how they welcomed the esteemed Princess Twilight Sparkle with open arms and regarded her as friend. As the arrogant blowhard droned on, the Alicorn caught a few phrases here and there to make her pause and read between the lines. Already they had their hands out.

The Queen caught this too, narrowing her eyes slightly before sighing and rolling her eyes.

When the loudmouth was done, Twilight politely replied, "I thank you on behalf of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. I have no doubt the support you offer will be well received within the walls of Canterlot." She tried very hard not to come off as sounding sarcastic.

Finally, after nearly two hours of speeches, counter speeches, and a general brawl breaking out among the common changelings. This was received boisterous cheers from the nobility.

Twilight thought she was beginning to understand. She couldn't risk it here, it would be obvious to everyone if she started using magic. There was something odd about the changelings. She could not be sure, having no idea about changelings and their society. The books she had used to research them had turned up little more than past invasions into Equestria and other kingdoms and nations over the past five hundred years. Changelings were easily one of the more aggressive races across the land. Judging by the raucous behavior, it was easy to see why.

Guards took up their positions along a separate aisle leading off into the private chambers of the royal family. Without looking at either the nobles or her commoners, Chrysalis strode with measured royal strides with her daughter beside her. Prince Silent Wing stepped off the dais and resumed his duty as Twilight Sparkle's escort. Everypony rose respectfully, the nobles out of fear after watching one of their own get dragged off and the commoner changelings cheering wildly. Another fight broke out among them. The brawl stopped long enough for hooves to wave at the passing queen (who ignored it) before resuming in full swing(8).

The guards did not care as the fighting did not appear to be spilling out anywhere else anytime soon. A few were even enjoying it. Wagers were placed until Captain Myzanum arrived and began barking at them to stop the brawl.

Twilight was escorted to her quarters, two of her own guards falling in step behind herself and Silent. As they went down the hallway, the colt asked the Alicorn if she would be interested in knowing about his home.

"I'd love to!" she replied with genuine interest. Her ears perked forward as she listened to him eagerly. "I know so little about the changelings. Our books are rather vague about your ponies."

"I'll do the best I can," promised the prince. If he could talk about subjects he enjoyed, he could forget about his nervousness around fillies, or in this case and Alicorn princess.

Just ahead of him, Chrysalis turned an ear towards his voice and smirked.

Once she was settled in, a hoofmaiden knocked quietly on the door. Twilight's only assistant, a purple dragon named Spike padded over and opened it after a moment or two clearing his throat and making himself puff out as a proper assistant should. He had grown in fifteen years and was already twice as large as Twilight. He was a formidable body guard as well. His green spines were harder, less rounded along the tips. Spike could easily walk on either four or two legs, whichever suited him. His flame breath was far more powerful as well. The dragon was currently undergoing the gangly awkwardness of being a teenager, however long that lasted for his kind.

Normally Spike would have happily gone anywhere with Twilight, but he had to stay behind with the customs official and declare almost everything. They were quite stingy on what came into their country, these changelings. Spike suspected this was just harassment for harassment's sake. He would have found the experience in the Great Hall to be interesting, to say the least.

"How can I help you?" he asked the changeling mare politely and nervously.

"I have a note from the Queen for the Princess Twilight Sparkle," came a barely decipherable whisper.

He noted she was elevating a small silver platter with a neatly folded not sealed by wax up to his eye level. "Oh, thanks!" he chirped, snatching it. Spike turned, waving the note as he called out, "Yo, Twilight! Note for you from the Queen!"

He started to close the door, but a dainty holed hoof stopped. Startled, the dragon looked up at the changeling mare who had an apologetic expression.

"I have to wait for the princess' direct reply. Queen Chrysalis' orders," she stammered, averting her eyes. For all intents and purposes, her tensed body suggested she wanted to flee.

"She can come in, Spike!" Twilight called out as she approached from the balcony. She had just finished her supper, finding it odd she had to dine alone. However, based on what fare changelings often had at their table, she was better off not seeing who they dined on.

Spike sighed, opened the door, and waved the filly servant in. He then went over to Twilight, who was smiling at the changeling filly in an effort to be friendly. She was greeted with a very shy response, almost reminding her of one of her dearest friends, Fluttershy.

"Here, Twi." Spike waved the note at her.

Her horn glowed and she took it gratefully. "Thanks, Spike. Let's see what—" she glanced at the servant, "—Queen Chrysalis wants." The note remained unopened.

The filly blinked, her eyes starting up and staring horrified at Twilight. "I-I-I'm sorry? Me? Oh, no! No, no, no!" She backpedaled, her solid blue eyes going wide. "Shapeshifting is not allowed on palace grounds, your Highness. Please, the Queen will be very cross with me if I don't get an answer." Fearing the wrath of Her Majesty was more than enough to push the shyness from the hoofmaiden's words.

Twilight looked at Spike. He shrugged. "Kinda weird the one thing changelings do that we know of isn't allowed in their own capital," he said.

"I'm sure there's a reason for that," Twilight murmured, not at all convinced. Chrysalis had fooled everypony before and the Alicorn sensed some sort of revenge was in the planning.

The hoofmaiden was nodding. "Begging your pardon, your highness, but the reason is because the prince cannot shape shift. He used to do it as well as any other changeling his age, but about the same time he learned to fly, he had great trouble holding his altered form."(9)

"Is this true?" Twilight asked as she broke the seal and flipped the note open.

The filly fell silent and lowered her chin. She nodded.

Saying nothing more, Twilight read the note. "Tell her I'll come," she said to the servant.

"I am to escort you, princess," said the hoofmaiden quietly. "Please follow me when you are ready, your Highness."

Twilight took in a deep breath. "All right, lead on."

"What's the note say, Twi?" Spike asked her curiously.

"Just to go stand on my balcony."

"Does it say why?" He was trying to peer over her shoulder at the note. She handed it to him.

Twilight went after the hoofmaiden, who was already passing out upon the balcony, moving towards the railing. She turned and waited expectantly. The Alicorn followed, peering at the same night sky she had just had dinner beneath not five minutes ago.

"What now?" asked Twilight to the servant.

The servant's form shimmered, green magical flames dancing about her form. The hoofmaiden shrank, became smaller until she reformed into the tiny form of Princess Atalanta.

"We go to my momma, silly!" she said with a happy grin. "Follow me, slow poke!"

She took off into the night, giggling loudly.

Spike had seen the whole thing, the note dangling from his claws, a flat expression going with a jaw hanging open. Shaking his head at Twilight, he muttered, "So much for rules around here."

"Must not extend to royals," mused Twilight as she spread her wings. "Be back soon!" She sprang into the air and after the daughter of Chrysalis, wondering just what she had gotten herself into.

And how was Atalanta flying without using her wings? Her little body glowed green. Chrysalis' magic.

Author's Note:

(1) Think Mosh Pit when going to see your favorite metal band. Changelings are a very emotional race. The common changeling is a study in 'rough and tumble' lifestyles, having an innate need to live for the moment. It's a leftover oddly enough from the hive mentality outsiders think they still have. They are more likely governed by mob rule when together than by any actual mental link.

Changeling Politics: Not to be outdone by the common changeling, naturally the aristocratic (or nobility) pecking order is constantly changing as greed and avarice drive the more powerful changelings in society to leap frog each other and gain favor in the eyes of the Queen. Once a primary reason to jostle and jockey each other for positions, the major houses of the Emerald Kingdom of the Changelings now do it as a matter of pride and family honor. As mentioned before, the Queen has been relegated to little more than a public figure head in recent history. Her favor is, however still sought for the prestige. As a result, discussions can become quite lively, even violent when discussing even a single point of law.

(2) Changeling nobles are typically xenophobic.
(3) The xenophobia extends to Silent Wing.
(4) Celestia in that chrysalis in part 2 of "A Canterlot Wedding". Yep. That thing she was in.
(5) One of the few perks allowed still by the Queen is absolute rule over ceremonies. Here, her word is unquestionable law.
(6) She realizes this is not true, but this is spoken as a matter of pride. She oozes pride. Hence, her current problem and the reason why Twilight Sparkle is paying a visit. She's just shelved it to seek help.
(7) This is the first time Silent has appeared publicly before the commoner changelings. It's sort of like seeing a liger for the first time.
(8) It was a heated discussion on the Queen's flank and how to respect it. Don't ask. Both participants were drunk.
(9) Completely not true.