• Published 9th Mar 2014
  • 35,082 Views, 7,352 Comments

The Changeling of the Guard - vdrake77



Not all changelings are fit for life in a hive. But that doesn't mean they're capable of life outside it, either. Join one such changeling as he tries to find his place in Equestria, and what the difference is between survival and living.

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PreviousChapters
Incomplete Sentence

Being incarcerated was relatively new to me, having always been on the other side of matters. Equestria has few career criminals, and truthfully, most of the justice system is built around recompense and rehabilitation. Sticking somepony in a jail cell for long periods of time is considered pointless and wasteful, though I have always wondered why keeping them sealed in a celestial body or even trapped in stone is considered better.

It does make one wonder at the Princess’s collection of statues in the royal gardens. Perhaps it is something exclusively in the purview of the royal family. Perhaps higher ranks of guards are kept informed as well.

Being kept as a statue on display would be fitting, I decided. I could, in some small way, still serve. Of course, it would be by announcing my shame to forthcoming generations. A considerably less appealing prospect, albeit one beyond my control.

Although… I did not have to stay. I had been put here, true. But… I was no longer a guard. That was… was a raw thing, within me. The Queen had taken that from me, torn some part of me asunder. It is difficult to put into words. Was it merely my mind that fuzzed away from recollections of duty? My knowledge of… if not law, at very least most rules had been acute, I thought, but now… I saw a vast mass of conflicting rules and consternation and simply did not care. Did such things even still apply to me, or had I cast aside Idol Hooves and returned to being just a changeling?

Some might revel in such a thing. I grieved the possibility, but then… it was entirely possible there was no Idol Hooves to return to. I had failed in such fundamental levels. I had proven a poor friend many times over, a poor guard… even a poor caretaker. Cersus. The little changeling would be better off without my flawed input. She never truly needed me, only what I could provide…

And I could provide no longer. I would be of no use to anyone. I had failed my princesses, my obligations, my people, my friends, had even gone so far as to stand in opposition to the Queen’s will… and then there was Topaz. I could not fully understand how it had all gone so wrong.

I detested what was left of me. I rubbed the portion of my leg where my foreleg stopped being mine. It itched terribly. My rear legs were likewise replaced, one above the knee and one below, but for reasons I could not guess, they felt fine. Such a waste. I could not begin to imagine what the Queen’s reasoning had been to replace parts of me, to snatch me from the jaws in the darkness. Perhaps to leave me unaware of my own failings until it was too late? Perhaps to fail willingly and only become aware after the fact? Or perhaps she cared as little as I now did…

Mine

No. No, I did not dare think that she did not care. I had tasted so much emotion in that, and the recollection had left me shuddering in my cell, trying to deny it. But it left me with only one possibility that made sense. I knew precious little detail of what had happened in the days of my dereliction, only the vaguest understanding of events. Princess Cadance had been captured. Shining’s mind overwhelmed. An invasion by an unknown foreign nation. The Elements making a futile attempt to fight said invasion off. Princess Cadance and Shining, together, ejecting all said invaders from Canterlot. I had faith in Shining and the Princess being quite capable of that, but… a changeling invasion? That was unreasonable. We could not invade and harvest love in such a way, it would be… burning a field you had not even fully harvested. No matter how I considered, only one explanation fit everything I knew.

The Queen had gone mad. Perhaps not entirely, but… but there were signs even from my exile. I had never understood her reasoning for sending me out as she had. Why some exiles received more or less crystals, seemingly at random. Some recent exiles had left the hive for reasons that seemed increasingly petty and harmless. I had tried not to question, such was not my place, but now I had little else to do but question, without sure answers.

But that was an answer. Her choices and actions were random. And the Queen was slipping. Perhaps she had fallen utterly.

It is not a changeling thing to pray, in earnest. But I begged any that might listen to me that it would be not so. That it would not be so, that I could still just be wrong.

There were no answers. Which… to my understanding is a pretty traditional response. So be it.

Bah. I had been imprisoned less than a day and already I was aggressively tired of feeling sorry for myself. My oaths were gone. I could just leave. Start anew, someplace else. Exiled again. There was nothing that could stop me, and this cell was… well. It was stone. I was a changeling. Even half starved and possibly all-mad, I had been a shaper of dirt and stone all of my life. That would be easy.

With oaths in mind, I was not even sure I was bound by my Orders anymore; they felt… fragmented, in my mind. The prohibition on reproduction was, well, shattered, yes, but I knew with a certain horrible certainty that abrogating the Queen’s will in this regard would have lasting, hideous ramifications. The Frozen North? I dreaded the idea of exploration of it, but could likely force myself through the discomfort. Returning to the Hive... was a brief spike of agony. The mental equivalent of trotting through broken glass. That one seemed to have been reinforced, if anything. I had rather explicitly rejected that opportunity, it appeared. Still, then and likely forever, an exile. Twice over, perhaps. Even my memories of the Hive were difficult to examine. I knew it existed. Knew it was… vaguely south-ish? I could no longer recall drones I had met there, rooms. A location. Barely anything beyond my last interactions with the Queen, and what had led me to my initial exile. Surely, some of that was the passage of years, but it felt more like something denied than something lost.

A barred square of bright sunlight peeked into my cell. I watched it slowly begin to traverse down the wall.

But… if I was to be as a fresh exile again, I would do it the right way. I would do it my way. The way I would be proud of, regardless of the cost.

I looked out the barred cell window, where the sun was still making its trek into the sky, guided by the solar princess.

“I, Idol Hooves, do solemnly swear to uphold the laws of Equestria, the lawful orders of the Princesses-”

The oaths were not long. In spite of having them torn from me, the memory of making them once, before a similar rising sun, some ten years ago, with what was unquestionably the worst hangover of my life, remained crystal clear. They were not particularly complex, though they were powerful. Perhaps not powerful in spite of the simplicity, but due to it? I had no idea, nor did I truly care. They were a fundamental part of myself. Limiting perhaps… but also defining.

And yet… and yet that ‘self’ had failed. Had betrayed. It could not be fully trusted. If not myself, who?

Shining. Shining was exemplary. He had sacrificed immediate gratification to pursue his princess in the proper way. Above all else, he I could trust. I was making these oaths as a changeling, and as a pony. Breaking new frontier. I would need his judgement, if I was ever to even begin to make right of this.

“I swear that I will follow the will of Prince Shining Armor, abide by his decisions, and serve him in lieu of my own inclinations. And these oaths I will uphold until the day I die.”

I do not know that it hurt. Everything already hurt. But… perhaps it was enough. Enough for today. And having replaced one part of myself that had been torn away was soothing, in its own right. Or so I endeavored to convince myself.

I rested my head down near the bright patch, not quite letting it strike me, but along its path. If the Princess was offended by my oaths, she would, I hoped, strike me down as I deserved.

And if not, I would begin making recompense however I was seen fit to do.

And until that time, I would wait.


And apparently I slept. Or passed out. Regardless, I seemed to be falling into old habits.

Then again, I was chained now. An interrogation room, under the castle? A table and pair of chairs bolted down to the stone, it even had a candle in a jar hanging under a bucket-like sconce, very professionally done. My movement as I took all this in felt sluggish, I was not usually so drowsy; a sleep spell, perhaps, to keep me from getting excitable as they moved me? Not exactly standard procedure, but an understandable one given recent events. I was shackled to the table with chains that I did not think were steel, nor was it the alloy the guard used in our armor. Curious. Quite heavy. Not iron, surely?

The door to the small room opened, but the doorway itself was filled with pink light. A pony I could not make out stepped through, the shield seeming to ‘cling’ to them, puffing out into a small bubble only after they were almost fully through. A clear sign of Shining’s involvement, even if I could not see the newly raised Prince. The figure, now merely heavily obscured instead of entirely so, marched over and sat down in the chair opposite my own, the bubble phasing through the bolted down table and chair, though the candle and its sconce were pushed aside to hang slightly askew.

It showed an abundance of caution that I had not expected. Perhaps… perhaps things had been even worse than I feared.

The voice was gruff and hoarse, completely unfamiliar. “Alright. I’m going to make this simple. I’ll ask a question, you answer it. Say anything else, and you stay in here until we decide to come back. Understood?”

I gave a tight nod, feeling as though the slime in my saliva had suddenly gone dry.

“State your name.”

I blinked, then scowled.

“Are you able to speak like that?”

“Yes.”

“Good. State your name.”

I scowled harder.

“Are you refusing to answer the question?”

“No.”

“Then why don’t you?”

“...I was specifically told not to speak unless answering a question. That was not.”

“I-” A faint profanity escaped the bubble. The voice was considerably less gruff. “I-ignore that. What is your name?”

“Idol Hooves.”

“What is your real name?”

“That is the only one I possess.” I hesitated. “I once went by ‘Sandy’, though I did not like it.”

The shield warbled around us.

The pony in front of me looked about briefly, but continued their questioning. “Where are they, and where is he?”

“Where are who, and…is whom?”

“Don’t buck with me right now, bug. The foals. Where are they? Now.

“I legitimately have no idea. I do not even know which foals you mean,” I confessed, shifting my hooves. The chain rattled slightly, and the pony pulled back. I blinked, realizing suddenly that they were not just afraid, but afraid of me, even with all their protections. Carefully, I shifted into pony form, but my legs felt… wrong. The change had not fully come over them. I scowled at the maulwurf scar, then made a second attempt and everything felt right again. That… did not help matters with my interrogator, who had watched my shameful struggle.

“Y-you shouldn’t be able to use magic on that side of the table!”

Taken aback, I careened my head around as I tried to establish, first off, why I should not be able to do such a thing. The voice had slipped again, and I thought I recognized it. One of Blueblood’s crews, then. Sweetie something. I… probably was not supposed to know that. Quickly I dropped the disguise. It didn’t help.

“H-How many others are there in Canterlot like you?”

I watched them dolefully, unable to help trying to make out the figure behind the shield. “I would hope there are none like me.”

It was too much. My interrogator fled the table, and I sighed. This was not how I hoped this would go.

The door flung open again as Shining Armor stepped through, looking even more haggard than earlier. “Where is he?!” His hooves pounded the table, and I was startled to see it crack. His emotions were… magmatic. Fury. Hatred. Disgust. All under a crumbling veneer of barely maintained professionalism. It was anything but fair that he had been put through so much. “Where is Idol?!”

I sighed. “Gone, I fear.” I looked up at the light, finding myself melancholy already. “I do not think I can be him anymore, can I?”

“He’s not gone until we have a bucking body. Where is he? Where did you put him?” He choked on the words, and I felt grief and misery wash off of him

“...Ah. There is a matter of confusion. There is no Idol Hooves. He was, and always has been, myself.”

“You can’t be Idol Hooves. I’d… I’d have known.”

“With respect, sir… you would not, and you did not.”

“Prove it,” he spat, absolutely livid. “Something only Idol would know.”

“I cannot say what I know that no others do.”

“Then you’re staying here until you do think of something!” He surged out, a living thundercloud, and I heard his demands of the guard. “Back to his cell. No one sees him. You tell nopony about this. It’s a matter of national security. I’ll… arrange relief.”

I listened to my friend leave, and knew not what I could say to relieve his pain. It was fair. I had betrayed him, even if he did not fully understand my failings. I would give him time. A pair of guards entered, my shackles removed, and I was again given the benefit of soporific magics.


I awoke some hours later. Hay had been provided, and water, but precious little else. The guards did not speak to me, and their obfuscation was maintained even as they checked on me from time to time. At the moment, they were apparently dealing with something, but the voices did not penetrate stone well enough for me to make out.

I did, however, recognize the familiar sound of distinctive metal shoes on the stone. I bowed, and stayed lowered.

“...Idol…?”

I lifted my face, only to be immediately beset with a sinking sense of dread. “Princess Cadance. You are well?”

Her voice was hoarse. “I’ve been better. I…” She looked me over, flinched, then looked away. “What… what happened? I remember you telling me things, but then…”

“You do not remember?”

“I remember someone trying to stomp on my head. I’ve had nightmares of it! I thought… I wasn’t sure what was going on. It was… just so fast. None of it made sense, so I thought… I thought I made up some of it in my own head because I didn’t even want to remember what actually happened. You… you fell apart…” She sounded lost. “I thought you… I thought you were dead. I thought she… or maybe that I…” She trailed off.

I considered my leg again, holding it up for her inspection, though I realized with some embarrassment that it would mean little to her. “I did. I do not know the mechanism of my survival, your Highness. Or if it was even intentional. Whatever you did, it did not seem to cause me any harm beyond discomfort. I do not think you were responsible for the rest of it. As for what happened...” I considered a long moment. “A drone approached you, I intervened. I saw a second, tried to bring you to a location I thought might throw them off until I could deal with the matter. The Queen had somehow gained entry to my room and was draining my stockpiles. From there… I disobeyed her. The rest is mostly the result of that.”

“Cady, Idol. Please, at least give me that. We’re friends. So… she didn’t… turn you into this? I… I thought she did.” Unlike Shining, she seemed desperate for reassurance. “It really is you, right?”

I hesitated, but this was a sworn liege lady, “I do not… actually know. I am not entirely myself, anymore, I do not think, your Highness.”

“What do you mean?”

I wanted to dissemble, though I had sworn obedience. That felt… wrong, but I could not explain why. “I know you, your Highness. But I do not know you.” I continued to look at her, feeling my heart sink still further. I looked at her, the princess of love. Someone I… could remember befriending. Could remember joking with, sharing some small secrets.

I felt nothing but hunger at such a bounteous meal, awe at her presence, though not nearly so much as when I first met her. But this mare was as a stranger to me. For her, personally… I felt nothing. “I am truly, truly sorry, your Highness. But… I think maybe some part of me has died.” I hesitated. “Or maybe I am not Idol. Much is… wrong with me, right now. I do not even trust myself. I have done things I would not do. I think things I would not think. I feel things I am not allowed to feel.” I do not think I could have hurt her more if I had reached through the bars and slapped her. “Forgive my offense, your highness. You wanted reassurance. I… cannot give that.”

She only watched me, tears in her eyes. I hated that I had made one of my princesses grieve. For a friend… for a friend, I felt… almost nothing. I could recall many events with Princess Cadance, but they were without emotional context. As though I witnessed them happening to another. I knew that once this would have devastated me, and yet, today… merely an annoyance. I had no explanation for any of this, except the alicorn. Except feeling myself drained and falling apart. “I think… I may have used it to save you. From the Queen.” I admitted, chagrined, but a shiver went through my chitin. “It was important to me at the time, but I do not think I am supposed to be able to do it in the first place. I believe I have been corrected on my impertinence in the matter.” The shivering would not stop. “...I do not think anything would be left of me if I tried it a third time. Even if the Queen deigned to intervene on my behalf again.”

“Idol…”

I forced the emotions down, then met her eyes. “I must beg forgiveness, your Highness. I will serve you better in the future. I swear it.”

“...We’re going to fix this. I’m going to fix this. I’m going to… I just need to…” And in a move very much like Twilight Sparkle, she wandered off on the conversation.


“Cadance just vouched for you. Said you saved her life.”

“She remembers, then?” I was growing used to ponies appearing out of nowhere. I could not decide if there was some magic at play or if the cell was truly just so boring that I was able to get completely lost in my own melancholy.

“Said it all came back to her; you fought other changelings and tried to hide her, ran right into the Queen. In our room. Eating those damned crystals of yours.”

I hesitated. That was not… entirely accurate, but… “...That is roughly correct.”

“Why didn’t you say something, damn it?!”

“I fail to see how traumatizing the princess with my failings is a proof of my identity.”

“...What happened in Everfree? When we were recruits?”

“We swore not to talk about it.”

He nearly exploded. “You dumb bucking-”

“It would have been a very poor fresh start to begin by breaking an oath we swore.” I hesitated. “Meaning no offense, sir. Your Highness.”

The white stallion stared at me, and then the fury in him… collapsed, like a house of cards. Now he was just tired. “Tartarus. It’s you. Nobody else would sit here in a cell because they promised they wouldn’t talk about something, when that something could have remained absolutely confidential because I already know about it!”

“It is me,” I agreed. “To some extent or another. And you said ‘we never talk about this’. Which we are still doing.”

“Faust’s fetlocks. Topaz was here, you know. Wanted to talk to you. I told her to go home, you were involved in an investigation! How could you do that to-” His face went blank. Then he slowly put his face in his hooves. “Oh, Discord and damnation, she knows, doesn’t she?” The hooves dragged slowly down. “Of course she knows. She’s one of you, isn’t she? That explains a bunch of things-”

“She. Is. Not. Sir. Her oddities are purely her own.”

He looked up at me in clear annoyance. “How in Tartarus am I supposed to believe you? You walked into the office you helped me achieve and set the place on fire. ‘By the way, Shining, I’m a spy for the people who just invaded the nation we swore to protect!’”

“That is not at all what I said.”

“Is it true, though?”

“I… do not know, actually. Not willingly, but I cannot say for certain that it is not so. The Queen has a level of control over my people I am not sure I can fully explain. I am… reasonably certain I could not truly stand against her.”

“Then how did you help Cadance?”

“...What the Queen was doing did not serve my kind or yours in any way I could determine. Stopping the Queen was ultimately for her own benefit.”

“You can disobey her to protect her,” Shining stated flatly, in clear disbelief.

“Would our oaths not permit you to assault Celestia in the course of getting her away from an assassin?”

“Assault no, but I could definitely use reasonable force…”

“The difference lies purely in intent. I had no desire to harm the Queen; only to stop her. It was a… grey area. If you slap a foal’s hoof away from a hot stove, have you abused them?” I hesitated. “I am unsure if more knowledge of the situation would have improved or impeded my efforts. If the Queen had an unassailable reason why this was beneficial for the changelings, I may not have been able to intervene. Nor am I at all certain I could do so again, even in the same circumstances.”

“You don’t know if you’re a spy. You do know you’re bound by conflicting allegiances. And you don’t know what the rules are…” His face went slack. “That thing, at Hearthswarming! The thing about the north, what was it?”

“An Order. It was, until recently, something I was incapable of breaking. There are several. Some are broken. Some… damaged. Still others are even worse than before. I cannot even think of the Hive anymore. It is… like grasping sand. Even my own life there has become… vague.”

“Convenient.”

“I would disagree, sir. It is actually quite upsetting. I fear for the stability of my own mind.”

“Welcome to the club.” Shining grunted, and there was nothing more to be said on the matter. He simply watched me for a long minute. “...I have to verify this. I can’t trust your word.” A small shrug. “Or maybe I just don’t, anymore. I don’t know. One of my best friends turned out to be a lie. Doesn’t even exist. How am I supposed to feel? Huh?”

“I… do not presume to know, sir.”

“Wish you did. I’d at least have something to go against out of sheer stupid spite.”

“That does not seem productive.”

“Yeah, I know. I guess I’ll let you know if I can corroborate your story. And if I can’t… I suppose you can get comfortable. Or don’t. Celestia might order you exiled for treason.”

“With respect, sir. The royal guard is immune to exile.”

“Well, fantastic news for you.”

“Not exceptionally. The law for treason amongst the military actually calls for hanging.”

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PreviousChapters
Comments ( 147 )

HOLY FRICK YAY. Also oh frick no that last sentence.

“Yeah, I know. I guess I’ll let you know if I can collaborate your story. And if I can’t… I suppose you can get comfortable. Or don’t. Celestia might order you exiled for treason.”

Isn't it 'corroborate', not collaborate?

Other than that, excellent. Sad, harsh, and darkly comedic, but excellent.

10719373
You are CORRECT, sir.

Dang it. Fixed

Shining: "It seems miss Topaz that Idol may be hung."
Topaz: "I could have told you that."
Shining: "Wait, what?"
Topaz: "Oh... You're talking about a sentencing. Sorry. My bad."

That last line, ouch...

Sweet mercy...

Or perhaps a lack thereof.

Portraying Chrysalis as mentally unstable makes a fair amount of sense.

"We might exile you."

"Actually, the proper course would be death by hanging."

"Well, that proves it. Only Idol would correct the legal system to his own detriment..."

:rainbowlaugh:

I can't wait until one of the princesses thinks/remembers to ask about his Saiyan tansformation. I hope at least some of that comes through Cadance's memories. Or maybe the spell defense systems of Canterlot.

...Oh no Idol you fool. You are Idol. You are Shining's friend, that's not a lie! Idol may not exist, but you care that you don't care! You feel emotion for them! Please, you dunderhead, hear me through the 4th wall!

Please don't make us wait another month for the next chapter. I 'm not certain that my heart can take it.

I love this. I had wondered how you would handle the wedding and after. I am excited to see the next!

So the foals that Cersus saved are still thought of as missing. That is not good.

Feel bad towards Idol when he finally achieve a semblance of being a true individual, it was all snatch from him in a moment. He has no idea who he is anymore, he just go back to the same position he was ten years ago.

Welp... Guess it's back to the cliffs for now, it's fine... my arms weren't getting tired at all from hanging off the cliff for so long or anything~

Thanks for the chapter, looking forward to the next one.

Oh my god, new chapter!!!! And I'm glad to see that at least Shining and Cadance believe he is and always has been Idol.

“Are you refusing to answer the question?”

“No.”

“Then why don’t you?”

“...I was specifically told not to speak unless answering a question. That was not.”

If that's not proof that Idol Hooves and this changeling are one and the same, I don't know what is. :rainbowlaugh:

“Don’t buck with me right now, bug. The foals. Where are they? Now.

Oh crap, didn't think of that implication, but now the reason for the previous chapter's existence makes even more sense now than it did before. Of course they would jump to this conclusion in light of that. :twilightoops:

“Where is Idol?!”

Right there under your nose, dummy. I mean, I get why you're doubting that given circumstances...but still. It still is what it is, is it not?

“Prove it,” he spat, absolutely livid. “Something only Idol would know.”

Ooh! Ooh, ooh, ooh, tell him about the timberwolves incident! That ought to do the trick!

“Tartarus. It’s you. Nobody else would sit here in a cell because they promised they wouldn’t talk about something, when that something could have remained absolutely confidential because I already know about it!”

Told you. :ajsmug:

“You can disobey her to protect her,” Shining stated flatly, in clear disbelief.

Actually, it does weirdly make sense. If there is one rule of the hive that overrules all others, it's the aspect that it must be for the universal good, or at least betterment, of the hive. As Idol already noted to himself, the Canterlot invasion would've achieved the exact opposite of that, so Idol attempted to act for the betterment of the hive by standing in opposition to the mastermind of said invasion.

It's a pity Chrysalis didn't seem to recognize the significance of that at the time, to understand what he was effectively trying to tell her by acting against her as he did...or maybe she did, in a way, just enough to coax her to do...whatever it was she did...in order to save him, recognized enough to see what his intent behind it was at the very least and found she couldn't totally fault him for it, even if she clearly didn't agree with his assessment.

In any case, it sadly doesn't help all of this that Idol's having a bit of an identity crisis himself...probably one that's overdue and not without overall reason, in retrospect, but...heck of a time to go about having it regardless. :twilightoops:

Well that's not a good situation to be in... hope he gets at least some of the emotional capacity back.

Ah, this is the good stuff I decided to keep an eye on this story for.

We've finally finished the moody spiral of "everything gets worse for Idol", and entered the arc of "secrets revealed, consequences follow".

The "I swore not to talk about it" is one of the most Idol things to have happened in the fic so far, too.

The fact that he clearly seems to have burned large swathes of his personality as a fuel to save Cadence though...
Oof.

I dearly hope he keep on interacting with Cadence/Shining/the Other Princesses and regains those emotional connections to the existing memories with time, lest it all becomes another mood-spiral of doom

Awesome chapter! I still can't wait for more

Well. This is quite the problem. Hopefully Idol takes some time to rebuild his mind, though that may only be possible with new emotional experiences to replace what he lost. Also, Cersus really should get those foals out of the sewer at some point.

But yeah, the ponies are dealing with a mindset almost completely alien to them. Idol needs to advocate for himself and essentially can't. Hopefully some more interviews will help them understand precisely what they're dealing with, and make sense of the strange stallion they've known for so long.

and then a bunch of exiles come out of hiding and show they were ponies all along!

Idol is at least a little back, but is Chrysalis still riding?

If Idol is still Idol, he just might complain if he is NOT punished!

“...What happened in Everfree? When we were recruits?”

“We swore not to talk about it.”

He nearly exploded. “You dumb bucking-”

YES YOU IDIOT.

Damn, I have been waiting years for that to come back around. And of course Idol's gotta Idol.

This chapter was really good. That last line was very idol and quite poignant.

Im glad that Shining is such a good friend that he understands Idol's quirks to that degree.

I think Idol and everyone need a good sit down a discussion of his journey but it seems sadly that his mind is too jumbled right now.

Thankfully Cadence remembered what he did for her.

Being kept as a statue on display would be fitting, I decided. I could, in some small way, still serve. Of course, it would be by announcing my shame to forthcoming generations. A considerably less appealing prospect, albeit one beyond my control.

Still, hopefully you won't be petrified.

I could not begin to imagine what the Queen’s reasoning had been to replace parts of me, to snatch me from the jaws in the darkness.

Man, I haven't a damn clue.

But that was an answer. Her choices and actions were random. And the Queen was slipping. Perhaps she had fallen utterly.

That, would explain a lot.

But… if I was to be as a fresh exile again, I would do it the right way. I would do it my way. The way I would be proud of, regardless of the cost.

I faced it all, and I stood tall, and did it my way...

“Then you’re staying here until you do think of something!” He surged out, a living thundercloud, and I heard his demands of the guard. “Back to his cell. No one sees him. You tell nopony about this. It’s a matter of national security. I’ll… arrange relief.”

He's, not taking this well.

I hesitated, but this was a sworn liege lady, “I do not… actually know. I am not entirely myself, anymore, I do not think, your Highness.”

I, do not follow.

I knew that once this would have devastated me, and yet, today… merely an annoyance. I had no explanation for any of this, except the alicorn. Except feeling myself drained and falling apart.

I think, doing that, did some brain damage.

“...What happened in Everfree? When we were recruits?”

“We swore not to talk about it.”

... You dumb motherfucker.

“Would our oaths not permit you to assault Celestia in the course of getting her away from an assassin?”

Not necessarily assault, but, point taken.

“I would disagree, sir. It is actually quite upsetting. I fear for the stability of my own mind.”

You and him both.

“Yeah, I know. I guess I’ll let you know if I can collaborate your story. And if I can’t… I suppose you can get comfortable. Or don’t. Celestia might order you exiled for treason.”

“With respect, sir. The royal guard is immune to exile.”

“Well, fantastic news for you.”

“Not exceptionally. The law for treason amongst the military actually calls for hanging.”

... I, have a hard time believing Celestia would still have capital punishment be a thing.

10719460
Agreed, but I think punishment for those who are most trusted is going to have to be higher. Guards are given a lot of faith. Purposefully breaking that faith is probably something that hasn't happened in her entire reign; why change a law that the Guard is exceptionally pleased they've never had to enforce?

10719389
I mean did you not see her in the forest talking to trees as if they were her friends... It makes sense

Oh Idol :facehoof:
Seems emotional burn out is something decidedly different for Changelings :twilightoops:

10719484
Nah, it's been a few years since I've seen the show. I dropped off watching it somewhere during season 5 I think.

His mind is more hurt than I thought. The disconnect he feels toward his previous self is severe. Is it a form of shock or a mental disorder created because of the trauma?

I hope Topaz will be able to shed a lot of light for Idol life and action in the last ten years and influence Celestia and Luna decision. I mean, he gathered a lot of good will with his services to the diarchy.

10719534
You missed out on some great Chryssy then. That was a good ep.

10719539
I'll have to catch up on the show sometime then =) Enjoying this story so far though!

Well, this has gone interesting places. Is the Idol we know going to come back, like someone can after a traumatic concussion? Or will what happened to him at the hooves of the queen leave him slightly different, someone sort of new?

I think getting Topaz and the nymph (brain skipped her name here) to him might really help.

Oh, and a therapist. Definitely a therapist.

Hmmm, now I'm a little confused. He said that he'd essentially burned through part of his personality in order to save Cadance, but he still seems to consider Shining his friend, and didn't seem to notice anything wrong with his relationship with Topaz when they woke up together. Did he just not notice that something was wrong at the time, or did he specifically just burn his friendship with Cady? I wonder if Cadance's power will somehow be able to restore him in a similar manner that it did Chrysalis during the fight?

In any case, amazing work as always, and I can't wait to see how things will snowball from here!

Dang. That's one hell of a cliffhanger

The thing about mental issues, is that it’s extremely difficult for the individual to tell what is his own emotional response, or brain damage.

Until we dive further into what exactly the heck happened to Idol, I have to wonder what parts of his rule changes were in fact Chrysalis’s actually doing and what parts are the result of Idol Hooves being essentially traumatized by having his entire life ripped out from under him.

I know for a fact I would have zero interest in going back to my homeland if it had just screwed me over and attacked everyone I cared about.

Idol’s lack of emotional connection with his memories is extremely worrying though....

10719556
Could be a case of the fine details being the most damaged, while the overarching network remains whole. Essentially, he knows that he know them, but that part of him is damaged sufficiently that, while he knows he should know them, he just doesn't. Maybe a bit like remembering the overarching parts of a memory, but not the fine details.

“Not exceptionally. The law for treason amongst the military actually calls for hanging.”

Noooooooo please don't do that him he is a good bug

10719378
Happy to help. The story's always an enjoyable read and usually excellently written, after all.
That said, I think I'm going to have to take it from the top; there are a few details I need to refresh. Not that it's exactly an onerous task or anything. :twilightsmile:

Alright, so while the identity part is out in the open, the emotional identity is now in question. That some pieces of him are either dulled or burned away is upsetting, although the real question is what caused it, and if it's at all... mend-able. I wonder if the gathered characters will need to help Idol along a path of recovery of sorts?

And it appears Cersus' adventure is continuing. God, at least idol was found out before her, let's just hope enough Idol remains for him to properly help her, as I doubt the guard would take the other foals word that she helped them over all else.

This bug needs a hug.

We had a lot of Luna action, and she did not participated in the wedding, so she just might be in his side.
Technically he never did lie, aside from hiding his appearance and diverting the topic.

Oof.
Every time I read a new chapter from this story, it leaves an emotional impression.
This story is worth the wait in my eyes.

Yesssssss

I consistently drop everything when one of these chapters gets posted. I hope you’re happy. I’m a bit confused though, what’s going on with idol’s legs? Are they stuck in changeling mode? If so why weren’t they noticed a couple chapters ago?

10719595
They just don't always change when he does now.

10719595
Im thinking its more like frankenstien's monster. His legs were replaced, potentially with new legs or the legs of another changeling

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