• Published 27th Oct 2013
  • 14,976 Views, 335 Comments

Change of Life - Goldfur



Zevan was a loyal changeling and did his queen's bidding, although he questioned why she had broken the peace. After being badly injured though, he had to reconsider his future, and a unicorn mare with a broken horn was a surprising part of it.

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Epilogues

To be totally honest, perhaps Cogs was not the best father the village had ever seen, but considering that he had been born a changeling and raised in a hive, thus having exactly zero prior experience with it and no natural instincts either, he managed very well. What he lacked there, he more than made up for with determination, dedication, and considerable love. Lavender patiently coached him in the finer points of pony parenting, and he was a fast learner. In fact he got perilously close to spoiling the child until Lavender reined him in. After nearly two years, she decided that he had learned enough, and it was time to have another foal.

Mystery Mare thus made a return, and Silver Heartbreaker was once again the unwitting donor, not having changed his ways in that time. In due course, they had another daughter, but a unicorn this time. She even had a coat color resembling her mother’s. However it was more than obvious what trait she had inherited from her father because her mane was an exact match for Cogs’ blue and green one. They had a much longer debate over what to name her than with Dandelion, but eventually they settled on calling her Sky Fern.

The birth of Sky Fern was slightly marred by an announcement from Healing Hooves. As with Dandelion, she had been the midwife for the birth. While Lavender was resting from her labor, the healer had taken Cogs aside for a private talk. She went straight to the point.

“Five nights ago, I woke up in my natural form,” she informed Cogs. “It happened again last night.”

Cogs looked startled. “You lost control of your shape-change overnight? But that only happens to the very elderly.”

Healing Hooves smiled crookedly. “I may have given you the impression that I am younger than I actually am. In fact I was fairly old before I even came to Whitetail Meadows. I chose this village because I wanted some place less hectic to spend my later years. Now it looks like my time has nearly come, and I will have to start making preparations for a successor.”

“Another changeling? Or a real pony this time?”

“A changeling. I've had an application for an internship with me by a recent graduate. I've received them before but I knocked them back. This time I will be accepting the applicant, and I want you to give them some help fitting in here.”

“Of course, but won't you be able to do most of that yourself?”

“I don't know how much more time I’ll have. Once automatic control of one’s alter-form starts happening, the loss of the ability to change can happen in as little as half a year, or several years. I need to plan for the worst.”

“I suppose you must. What are you going to tell Lavender though? When you return to the hive and never come back to the village, how do you think she will feel? In fact, how will you feel?”

Healing Hooves looked distant for a long moment before replying. “She has always been like a daughter to me, and it will tear me up to have to say goodbye with some of my last words being lies.”

“Then tell her the truth. You know that she was more angry with me than anything else for hiding my nature from her. She will be angry with you too for not having told her sooner, but she will also be more understanding of you having to leave. You know how smart she is, and the publicity that changelings have been getting over the past years has certainly skewed the perception of us a lot more in our favor lately.”

The healer turned her gaze towards the room where Lavender rested, considering his words. “I feel a strong resistance to the idea of revealing myself after all these years, but perhaps you are right. We are changelings, and it's in our nature to change, not stay static.”

Healing Hooves chose to wait until her new intern arrived before speaking to Lavender about the matter. She introduced Soothing Touch to Lavender and Cogs on a visit to their home to check up on the foal’s progress. The new healer had also taken a unicorn form, but that was very common for those who practiced medicine due to the number of healing spells that it facilitated. Then came the moment of truth.

“Lavender dear,” Healing Hooves began with an affectionate smile, “it’s time for me to tell you something that you deserved to know long ago. Your husband is not the only changeling in the village. I am also a changeling, and my real name is Hurax.” She stopped and waited for Lavender’s reaction to the news.

Lavender just smiled back. “Or perhaps I should call you Sun Shower?”

Healing Hooves merely arched her eyebrows in slight surprise. “When did you realize that?”

“Right after I learned that Cogs was a changeling, I started thinking about his ‘sister’ and how well we got along, and then I went back further and wondered how you could have missed that Cogs was not a real pegasus. Other little things started to add up, and I pretty much guessed that you might be a changeling. I figured though that you had the right to your secret. Who am I to question someone who has been like a second mother to me?”

“You flatter me, dear. A changeling’s alter ego is very difficult to discern for the average unicorn, and only if they're looking for it. Usually it takes a highly trained professional to notice any discrepancies, which is why Cogs never went to see one to get his wing fixed. Nevertheless I am proud of you once more. You continue to prove yourself an exceptionally perceptive mare, and I truly wish that I had been your real mother.”

Lavender stepped up to hug Healing Hooves. “I would be proud to have you as my mother, whether you are Hurax or Healing Hooves.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much, Lavender.” Tears glistened in the normally stoic healer’s eyes as she returned the hug fervently.

When they finally parted, Lavender said, “I presume Soothing Touch is a changeling also?”

Soothing Touch nodded. “My birth name is Xanis, but I've hardly used that name lately. Like Hurax, I have been devoted to a career in medicine and wish to spend my life with ponies. I am also very impressed with your relationship with Cogs, and I hope to talk to you about it sometime. I am attracted to the thought of having such a close relationship with a pony too, and I could use advice from both of you.”

“If you think we can help, I'd be delighted,” Lavender replied. “First piece of advice though – be truthful. Deception may be second nature to changelings, but it can be deadly for relationships.”

“Chrysalis’ actions have caused great changes in the past few years. I foresee a time when changelings become an accepted part of Equestrian society, and we won’t have to hide behind our alter egos if we do not wish to do so. It will be easier to be honest with a potential partner when that day comes.”

“It takes many small steps to make the big changes,” Lavender agreed. She then turned back to Healing Hooves. “So why have you finally decided to reveal your secret?”

“I am old, dear, and the signs are that my life is drawing to a close. Some time in the not too distant future, I will be leaving for my hive and I won't be returning. As Cogs pointed out to me, I could not just leave you like that without you knowing why I could not come back.”

“My husband has learned some wisdom in the past years. So how long before you have to go?”

Healing Hooves shook her head. “Just as with ponies, it varies, so I can’t answer that accurately. It could be mere months, or some years. I did not wish to leave telling you until the last moment though.”

“Then we'll spend whatever time you have left together with us more. After all, you're both a second mother and a sister-in-law to me, so you’re doubly qualified as family.”

“Family – yes, I’d like that.”

Healing Hooves ended up spending at least one night a week as a guest of Cogs and Lavender. Thirteen months later, she said farewell for the last time. Cogs spent much of that evening consoling his wife.


The years passed and saw great changes both far and wide. Whitetail Meadows grew from a quiet little village into a small town, and Soothing Touch was instrumental in establishing its first hospital. Work for Cogs grew to such a degree that Square Deal Renovations took him in as a business partner and appointed him as the manager of his own section. He needed help though, and got an apprentice – a young unicorn stallion named Steel Wrench. Set Square’s two oldest children had gone into the family business, so Cogs had not been needed there for a while.

Shock was felt throughout Equestria upon the appointment of the first undisguised changelings to the Royal Guard by Celestia and Luna, but the education programs that Twilight had set up had done their work, and soon the novelty and uncertainty both wore off, and changelings started appearing elsewhere in other roles throughout the towns and cities, emboldened by the actions of the Princesses who had shown such confidence in them.

Despite this, Cogs never revealed his true nature to any others. However, it was not because of fear anymore, but because it was irrelevant. He was a pegasus, a husband, and a father, and that was all that mattered. He knew that he would have to tell his children some day, but he put that off for another time.

As his foals grew into teens, it became obvious that Dandelion not only loved her father a lot, but also very much liked doing the same kind of things as him, and so he decided that he would offer her the chance to be his next apprentice. He saved up that news for her fifteenth birthday party though. When that day came, they threw a party for her with the usual feast of fish that she loved, a cake, and lots of presents. Cogs left his offer until last.

“Dandelion, I've been very pleased with your school work, and also the aptitude that you've shown with mechanical stuff. If I'm not imagining things, I believe that you'd like to get into my line of work too. How would you like to be my new apprentice?”

Dandelion’s face lit up with joy. “Yes! I’d love that! I want to be just like you!”

Suddenly there was a flare of green fire, and Cogs was left facing a mirror image of himself.

Dandelion looked down at her now grey fur, screamed and fainted, reverting to her normal self when she did so.

Sky Fern excitedly exclaimed, “Can I do that too?!”

Cogs turned to Lavender who was just as stunned as him. She said, “Don't look at me – she’s obviously your daughter.”

“Oboy,” was all Cogs could say.

* * *

Author's Note:

While I might add more tales of Cogs that occur both before and after this epilogue, for now his story has come to a close. Perhaps his daughter's has only just begun though! See Growing Up Dandy.

There is now a prequel to this story called Prelude To Change.

Have you enjoyed this story? Consider giving me a tip via Ko-fi!

Comments ( 104 )

I KNEW it that Changeling Magic was an 'aspect' of him that could be transmitted

3645821
And you nearly gave it away too! :fluttercry:

Perceptive of you though.

Well, I just randomly found this story, and I quite enjoyed the read, so now it's time for the critique!

Slice of life is, for a lot of people, a very difficult genre to write. Since there aren't any real "action" scenes and no daring capers to keep the audience's attention, a lot more depth and work has to go into the development of the setting and characters than what some other writers can get away with. In this case, there were a lot of those elements that you included very well, but many others that could have been improved.

I like the personalities you gave to Lavender and Gears in the beginning of the story. Having Lavender as the unfortunate but strong-willed heroine is a bit of a cliche, but in her case it worked quite nicely since the focus was always on her positive outlook and the ponies in town, though some of them might have looked down on her for her disability, they never turned to outright harassment. The balance of her character there was very nicely done. Likewise, Whirring Gears' portrayal as a changeling more concerned with his job as a mechanic than his role as an infiltrator helped make him endearing and unique. Unfortunately, those well done early characterizations made the big problem with the story that developed later on all the more obvious.

The story felt very rushed, and the beginning of those deep personalities you created in chapters 1 and 2 made it stand out. There were so many opportunities to really bring that pair to life that were passed over, and that really weakened a lot of the big impact moments towards the end of the story. You told us that Gears struggled with whether or not to actually do anything about Lavender's feelings for him, but we never really saw any of it. And having them suddenly be engaged the moment they got together only added to that rushed feeling. Again, there was a lot of emotional conflict in the development of their relationship, their lack of experience, and Gears' internal struggles that was just sort of skipped over.

You sort of built up a friendly relationship between Gears and Goldie, but it never went anywhere or had any real impact on the story. You could have taken out all of their interaction and the only thing that would have changed is one of Gears' lines when Twilight was healing his wing. Same with the guy who was his best man at the wedding, except that his removal wouldn't have even needed the retraction of one line past his immediate scene. And not to beat a dead horse (heh....horse jokes....), but the crowd at the wedding had a similar problem. You tell us that all of these ponies from the town showed up to support him, but we never see him actually be involved with even a single one of them.

The writing itself was entertaining, and the characters were interesting, but the biggest factor that holds this story back, making it merely "good" instead of "great", is the lack of detail and development given to the interactions between the various characters you created. The slice of life genre lives and breathes solely through those interactions. That's where all the drama, tension, and action of the story happens. Hopefully some of that was helpful, and I look forward to seeing what you'll write in the future. Changelings always need more love (hue), so it's nice to see writers including them in their stories and doing it well.

3645859 still I really enjoyed the story. Was one of the ones I looked forward to seeing updated email for each time.

Very nice ending, I would like any inbetween stories you write for these characters

I wanna find out what happens now that gears hasta reveal himself to his daughter, since she just discovered her inherited changling magic :pinkiecrazy:

This was really fun to read!

"Al! Why am I a pony?!?"

"Well Sam, Ziggy says..."

Oh, I hope we get to see the misadventures of Dandelion learning how to shapeshift. It's gunna be so much FUN! :pinkiehappy:

OH nonononono! This was an amazing story and cog's story may be over but you've simply GOT to tell Dandelion's There's too much hilarity here to mine! :pinkiehappy:

:pinkiehappy:I've been following your writing for a long time. And I've seen your work evolve. It has been the pleasure of seeing consistent improvement. This is one of your best to date, even if it's a bit outside of the material I have seen from you before. Its great to see that you can walk in another world with such respect for the marital, and honesty to the character. This is every bit as good as your original creation.
:twilightsmile: I never thought I would look at the changelings this way. Please write more about these characters, PLEASE. Their kids or their friend or some other related. I eagerly await anything else you write.

This was a great story, I really enjoyed it! I hope you do get a chance to add more tales. :)

The only critique I can think of that hasn't already been covered by 3641183 and 3646080 would be this:

Sometimes, your characters get a bit too "talky", explaining things to the reader via "as you know..." dialogue, or filling in events by "telling" each other (and by extension, the reader) about them instead of showing the event itself. Not egregiously so, but enough to occasionally take me out of the story a bit. Try to make things a little more event-driven and a little less dialogue-driven, as it were.

This reminds me a lot of the Affliction of the Heart series... And that's a good thing. :) And it's also it's own unique story, a lot more than just another "me too" changeling fic.

Put in different words: great job! I'm looking forward to reading more. :pinkiehappy:

3646080

I tend to agree with this comment. Other than the general rushed nature at times (like this chapter or the last), I feel like most of the conflict is never really handled. For example, Lavender isn't bothered by the fact that Cogs is a changeling, or the fact that he's going to have to cheat on his wife in order for them to have children. Both cases present excellent chances for conflict and story, but in both cases they're just glossed over. I mean, you spent more time dressing Cog up as a mare than discussing Lavender's feeling or whatever reservations she might have.

3646080
Thanks for your feedback. I tend to agree that I do occasionally rush events, but unless I have something specific to relate, I have a problem with filling in those gaps. Nevertheless, there were a couple of things that I felt could be improved, and I have added some additional material to the revelation scene, the marriage scene, and when Lavender was preparing Cogs as a mare. Not much, I admit, but I feel the significance of Goldie's friendship with Cogs was explained.

As for the rest, I suppose I just have to admit to being a mediocre writer. Even knowing what is wrong isn't always enough for me to know how to fix it. Good thing I don't write for a living. :twilightblush:

3680274
Nobody starts out being amazing at things, that whole saying about how practice makes perfect is a thing for a reason. :raritywink:
Even with its flaws, it was a good start. Just keep writing, keep practicing, and you'll get better the more you do.

Awww :twilightsmile:

Man, I'm so glad I read that. :pinkiehappy: Great work! A solid piece of literature, and a fantastic plotline! There need to be more changeling stories of this caliber!!!

3725853 Many thanks for the compliments!

3726087 No problem at all! Thank you for writing such an excellent fic! :pinkiehappy:

Also, I greatly enjoyed the illustrations!

P4

OMG THAT PICTURE ALMOST MADE ME DIE FROM CUTENESS. SHES SOO ADORABLE. .
also
Nooo why did if have to end. But there will be more to come so I am kinda okay.

3845977
Making changelings compatible with ponies sure would make things easy, but I reckon it's more interesting this way. besides, they're so different in so many ways that it isn't very likely.

Dandelion looked down at her now grey fur, screamed and fainted, reverting to her normal self when she did so.

I would have laughed my ass off if I saw that!

3846179 Not really all that different at least I don't think so. I would say they come from the same family maybe a subfamily. There at least not that far apart in my world. Some might even say they're closer maybe in the same genus. Anyway I would like to say great story!

3851452 Must be some reason for the occasional view of ponies fishing that we glimpse! Various fanfics have pegasi especially liking fish. For these reasons, I thought it made an interesting quirk.

3852314 [Goldfur]- Your welcome, glad I could help!:twilightsmile:

I just got finished reading this story and I loved it. The story was great and the artwork really brought out the characters that were shown. I will now get to reading the sequel.

This is such an amazing story, very enjoyable. I think it's well written, the characters draw your empathy, and I like how the interactions and dialogue between the characters seems very natural... Eagerly awaiting more...

Thank you for this story!

This was great. Was a little confused at the mismatch between this version and the offsite one, where this one is 'missing' its prologue, but I see you split it into a separate story for Fimfiction.

Now for the sequel...

4278964 Well, it's more a case of the other way around. I combined the prelude and the main story for my website and book version.

This... this story is the one that brought me here...
Thank you for adding another to our ranks
We were missing one who could use some form of magic
plus, well, we had more bright colored ones than darker colored ones...
...Thank you...

4289230

book version

I would buy that book in an instant if I could without raising suspicion from my family...:raritydespair:

4296298 Okay, I have to know - suspicions about what? You like ponies?

4296322 Sort of...
Only person in my family that is into ponies... so... ya... then it might get traced back to Chakats and then I would have all kinds of explaining to do and I've got enough stress in my life at this time with Senior year in High school, meeting the expectations of my parents (I REALLY don't want to let them down...) in terms of Math and Science, etc.

Translation:
It would be better for all parties involved if this stayed behind their backs for now...

3852275 wait... they don't say in the show that Pegasi tend to love fish?:pinkiegasp:
hm...
well... okay then...

3851452 Personally, just the Pegasi...
besides, it's probably similar to how you can eat fish during lent but not meat...
... Crap I just brought some religion into this didn't I...

One question from the story description...:

pariahs

what?:rainbowhuh:

Anyway, TIME TO REREAD THIS GLORIOUS STORY ONCE MORE!!!

My only real complaint with this story is that it only takes me about one hour to read non-stopped...
CURSE YOU SPEED READING!!!

Well, I finally read this story.
I once saw this comment on your stories: ""Forest tales is like having sex with wife - still fun, but the end of a long-known" Same problem here - it's a good romantic\slise of life story, but it dont'have any action or good plot twist - standart pony\changeling relationship story with discovery and acception of true changeling form in the end Good, nice and light-to-read, but it's kinda boring.

It's late, but you know what? FUCK IT!!! I'M GOING TO REREAD THE STORY THAT BROUGHT ME TO THIS SITE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :pinkiecrazy:

4297138 "Pariah" is another term for outcast.

Well! You know what time it is!
IIIIIIIIIIIIT'SSSSSS RA-
REREADING TIME!!!
oh... so not Rape time?
no

4481348 Okay, I have to work on "voice". Got it. :applejackunsure:

That was fun.

4326348 (Alondro spices it up) And then, the evil Hyoomans invaded from the 'Dimension of Evil and Nazis' and started blowing up stuff up and kidnapping foals to sacrifice to their Dark Lord, Bill Gates, and the ponies and changelings and dragons and griffons and every other race had to band together in a cataclysmic omniverse-spanning war (that included every imaginable crossover and even some that could not be imagined) that lasted for 16.5 trillion words and took 5 million years to write.

:trollestia::trollestia::trollestia::trollestia:

I love a good Changling story and this is no exception.

Pretty good. Likable characters, very nice world-building. Your biggest issue is definitely pacing, though. The story was incredibly rapidfire in parts.

And now, to the sequel.

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