• Published 8th Nov 2014
  • 8,091 Views, 627 Comments

An Affliction of the Heart: Volume Five - Anonymous Pegasus



A newly christened Queen attempts to reign in the changeling race and inegrate them into pony society. Even though there are those who would prefer such an effort fail...

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Magical Intervention

“I’ll have you know, if you open that door, you’ll likely not leave with your head attached,” Warden said, not looking up from the magazine he had open between his forelegs. He was laying on a couch outside of the door to their private chambers.

Spectre paused, hoof lifted to knock on the door, before he lowered it, frowning slightly. He adjusted his glasses, sniffing once. “Why is that?”

“Kuno just spent the better part of two hours tending to the registration of the changelings. She’s barely slept the last few days. It’s taking its toll on her. Can I pass along a message?” Warden asked, closing the magazine.

“Tell her that I have cross-referenced alibis with various changelings, and those without any conflicting stories will be able to come and go from the compound as they please, provided they have their identifier on.”

“She’ll be happy to hear that,” Warden responded, resting his chin on crossed forehooves.

“You were close to her, yes?” Spectre asked simply.

Warden nodded, giving a soft sigh. “I had… have a child with her.”

“The foal does not live with you?”

Warden shook his head sadly.

“His only remaining parent?” Spectre pressed.

“He lives with his father-in-law… Stepfather? That’s probably the word I’m looking for. He thinks that he’s his real father,” Warden admitted, scratching at his forehoof with the opposite.

“Indeed. Would you say that the victim was a strong tether for your affections?” Spectre continued.

Warden’s gaze lifted, and he gave the batpony a long, hard stare. “Don’t even go there.”

“It is my job to assess all possible outcomes,” Spectre said calmly.

“Consider the outcome of me beating you senseless,” Warden said flatly.

“Are you prepared for the very real possibility that it was a changeling that did this?”

Warden nodded silently.

“And you understand that it might not be the first?” Spectre pressed.

“The possibility did not escape me,” Warden stated flatly, lifting his wing to reveal the hilt of a dagger tucked close against his side. “I’ve given it a lot of thought in the last few hours.”

Spectre nodded once. “I can only hope that Kuno is so reasonable.”

“I don’t know what she thinks. But I know that she will handle it if it comes down to it,” Warden stated bluntly. “She’ll handle it herself if need be.”

“I am sure that she will,” Spectre said with a respectful. “If you would please deliver my message to Queen Kuno, then that would please me. The list of changelings and ponies with alibis will be in the folder on the back of my door, when she awakens.”

Warden nodded stiffly.

Spectre turned, and then paused, looking back over his shoulder. “I know that it is none of my business, but… There are many craftsponies currently held as a captive audience at your estate. It would perhaps be more meaningful if the casket were to be fashioned specifically for her and not chosen from a magazine. Adieu.”

Warden stared after the batpony as he left, and then crossed his hooves. He closed his eyes and turned his head, so that soft tears wouldn’t land on the cover of the casket brochure.


“Why aren’t you at your appointment?” Kuno asked sternly, nudging Warden awake.

Warden gave a groggy sound, blinking slowly up at his wife. “I fell asleep.”

“I can see that,” Kuno said, picking up the cup of stale, cold coffee at Warden’s side and placing it on the table where it wouldn’t be knocked over. “You have an appointment with the doctor.”

“Appointment?” Warden asked blankly.

“Yes, your appointment,” Kuno said, nudging him firmly with a hoof. “I scheduled you one, during all that chaos.”

“For my things… because I can feel things again,” Warden said quietly, frowning to himself, looking down at his hooves. “How… how am I supposed to go talk to a doctor at a time like this?”

“It’s easy,” Kuno said, lifting a hoof to point towards the door. “Walk out that door, go down the drive, down the road, get to Canterlot, wait in a waiting room, get some tests done. I’d prefer you not be in crippling pain again.”

“I’m already going to be in crippling pain. The moment they take the aurora away I’m going to be a wreck,” Warden said, lips pursed. “I feel like I’m at a zone right now where the amount I’m taking is perfect to get rid of the pain but not enough to remove all sensations entirely.”

“And in a week or so when it stops being like that, you’re going to wish you went to the doctor right now,” Kuno said with a shake of her head. “Don’t make me use my royal commands to force you to the doctors.”

“But how can I?” Warden asked plaintively. “Green Hoof’s killer could be lurking around here right now.”

“And if we find out who did it, I promise we won’t kill them until you get back. You can’t help with the investigation. All you can do is get on with your regular life and schedule and let the experts do their things.”

Warden grumbled darkly.

Kuno tutted, whacking his nose lightly with a hoof. “No backtalking, mister. Now, to the doctors. I have to talk with the craftsmen about the extensions to the west wing.”

“How can you be so… normal?” Warden asked plaintively.

Kuno frowned deeply, and then shrugged her shoulders helplessly. “Changelings don’t grieve like ponies do. We’re just… different. I am sad that Green Hoof is gone, but my changeling nature tells me that influencing my day-to-life unduly with musings about her passage would be a disservice to her memory.”

“That’s so… practical,” Warden said quietly, staring down at his hooves. “Where’s the anger? The pain?”

“Green Hoof was a good friend, and I will tear her killer’s limbs from their body. And I will enjoy it, immensely,” Kuno said, her eyes flashing. “But expending emotion before that point will merely frustrate me. And I have so many more things to focus on.”

“I understand,” Warden said hollowly. “I wish I could compartmentalize so easily.”

Kuno frowned deeply at her husband’s tone, and then grabbed his chin with both hooves, lifting his nose to give him a gentle kiss. “Just try to do normal things. Even if everything feels different now. Give the investigator time to turn up some more evidence.”

“Fine, fine,” Warden said with a faint sigh, wrapping a single hoof around Kuno’s neck and giving her a firm kiss, resting his nose against her own. “Don’t be expecting any good news when I get back.”

“I never do,” Kuno said cheerfully. “Do tell the doctor that we already had a gravestone picked out and everything, when he gives you the bad news.”

“The one that says ‘here lies Warden: Finally’?” Warden asked bluntly.

Kuno nodded. “From your birthdate to ‘about bloody time’.”

“You don’t actually know what year I was born, do you?” Warden asked after a moment’s thought.

Kuno shook her head. “I don’t know my own, either. Now hush. Doctor. Go.”

Warden gave a long-suffering sigh. “Fine, fine. The edgy investigator batpony said that some changelings can come and go, so long as they’ve got their bits and bobs on. The ones that have alibis. He has a list somewhere.”

“I know,” Kuno said, waving a hoof. “I have been awake at least half an hour now. Now, you. Shoo. Go!”

Warden nodded, heaving himself to his hooves and stretching lazily. “Fine, fine. The west wing needs to have a private bathhouse of some kind. Or stalls. Or something. We can’t have visitors over with your changelings fornicating with ponies all over the damn place.”

“Forniating rooms, got it,” Kuno said with a bright smile, before pushing her husband bodily towards the door with her hooves. “Go!”


Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

Warden was going to go crazy.

The sink in the corner was leaking, and a bucket had been placed underneath it to catch the water. And the steady drip, along with the ticking of the clock on the wall, was beginning to make him feel insane.

“Forty three,” the tired old nurse said, dinging her bell once.

Warden leapt to his hooves, and almost bolted from the waiting room and into the doctor’s office.

An older pony in a doctor’s coat and with a stethoscope around his neck turned to look at him as he entered.

Warden carefully sat himself in a seat, ruffling his wings self-consciously. “Hi doc.”

“Good day young colt,” the doctor said, chewing on a toothpick idly. “What seems to be the problem?” As he spoke, his horn lit, and a folder levitated its way over to his table, opening up to show Warden’s medical history.

The doctor’s face started to get more and more perturbed as he read further down.

“Aha. Yeah,” Warden said, rubbing at the back of his neck with a hoof. “I’ve been through the ringer a few times.”

“I’ll say,” the doctor said, frowning and perusing the file a little more closely. “What is this pertaining to?”

“Well, my uh… my acute magical poisoning?” Warden said, shifting uncomfortably. “I understand it’s excessively painful.”

“And you are being medicated with aurora. Is it losing its potency?” the doctor asked calmly.

Warden nodded. “I believe so. I can feel things again. No actual pain, but… things. I uhm… I,” he made a motion with his chin. “With my wife. I couldn’t do that if I was under aurora properly.”

“No, I suppose you could not,” the doctor said emotionlessly. “Yes, I do suppose the aurora is losing its effect. And yet you are already at the maximum allowed dosage. I assume your previous… ah, experiences with the drug,” the doctor said, squinting at the top of the report, “Have rendered it rather ineffective?”

“That’s what I’m thinking,” Warden said with a heavy.

“I am going to administer a rather primitive test,” the doctor said with a soft hum.

“Oh, and what would that b-”

Warden was cut off as the flyswatter swatted him right across the cheek with a very audible slap.

“...OW! Whatinthebuckwasthatfor?!” Warden cried, holding his cheek and squinting through one eye. “That hurt like hell!”

“The aurora is not affecting you at all,” the doctor said calmly, placing the flyswatter back on his desk.

“What?” Warden asked blankly, rubbing his cheek.

“Aurora works as a painkiller. It suppresses all sensations. Be they good, or bad. Your condition, acute magical poisoning, causes extreme pain within patients due to magical signals overwhelming your natural bodily signals. If you were to feel anything at all, it would be agony. The fact that you can differentiate pain at all tells me that the aurora, and the poisoning, is not the culprit here.”

“You got all that from whacking me over the face with a flyswatter?” Warden asked, growling under his breath.

“I admit, the flyswatter was not needed, but your reaction was quite priceless. In any case, we will need to run some tests,” the doctor said calmly. “The first of which will happen now. I also must take samples. Please enter the examination room and remove any vestments you may be wearing.”


“How very peculiar,” the doctor said calmly, staring at the black screen. “This is the third time this has happened.”

“Is something broken?” Warden asked with a long sigh, sitting awkwardly on an examination table with a lead bib draped over his midsection to somehow protect his future progeny from seeking rays of magic.

“Indeed. And it would appear to be you whom are broken,” the doctor responded.

Warden blinked once. “Okay, yes. I’m broken. But please be more specific. There’s a lot of broken things around me to be fixed.”

“Well, from what I can tell… you are no longer poisoned,” the doctor said calmly, stepping out from the little office where he had been developing the scans, and then making a motion towards Warden. “Please pick up the pillow.”

Warden arched an eyebrow, but did as told, picking up the pillow.

The doctor’s horn lit, and he frowned deeply, his expression turned thoughtful and then concentrated as he focused intensely. And then, he relaxed, and the glow at his horn faded. “It is as I surmised. Something is draining magic away from you.”

“Draining… magic away from me?” Warden asked blankly.

“There are devices that could do so. I believe your time in the royal guard would have exposed you to crystals that can be tuned to absorb magic.”

“Oh yeah, I’m glad I was unconscious when they dug the shards of those out of my ribs. But I’m not carrying one of those. And they only work on really powerful, offensive magic, anyway. If it worked on what I had, I would have been cured months ago.”

“Indeed,” the doctor said with a deep frown. “Whatever it is, is also absorbing the simple magic I was trying to use to lift the pillow from your hooves.”

Warden blinked once. “So I’m a magical battery now?”

“I do not know,” the doctor responded, his tone mildly alarmed. “And that bothers me. It is not often that I cannot pick an ailment. Tell me… did they get all pieces of the crystals?”

“They sure did,” Warden said with a wave of a hoof. “At least, they told me they did. Anyway, they were all overcharged and exploded. They couldn’t absorb any more magic.”

“No, no I guess not.” Frowning deeply, the doctor rubbed his chin with a hoof. “Have you come into contact with anything of a magical nature? Herbal remedies from sellers of ill-repute, such as powders, dust, or somesuch?”

“You think I took a unicorn-horn tonic?” Warden asked, aghast.

The doctor gave a helpless shrug. “It would not be unheard of.”

“No, no I haven’t,” Warden said firmly. “The only magical thing I come into contact with on a daily basis is my wife. Are you saying she might be doing this?”

The doctor waved a hoof. “Your wife is not here. She is not the source. Though… have you imbibed any of her… chitin?”

“You know she’s a changeling?” Warden asked with a tired smile.

“Everypony knows,” the doctor said bluntly. “Now, answer the question.”

“No, no I have not ‘imbibed’ any of her chitin. That would be a little bit weird,” Warden said, before frowning deeply and biting his bottom lip. “Hey doc… what would you expect it to feel like if I did eat some of her chitin by accident or something?”

“If it was absorbing magical energy, you would feel it as heat. And pain. Depending upon the location, and ultimately the proximity to major nerve clusters, it could be quite excruciating.”

“Can you… can you try to take the pillow from me?” Warden asked hesitantly.

The doctor’s horn lit up. “Certainly.”

Warden frowned even deeper. “Okay, stop.”

The doctor’s magic faded, and he arched an eyebrow. “Is there something you wish to tell me?”

Warden bit his bottom lip, and lifted a hoof to trace the scar on his chest, just to the side of his foreleg. “I felt it… It tingled. Inside me.”

“You have found the source of the magical drain?” the doctor asked hopefully.

Warden nodded. “After the surgery… they told me they couldn’t get everything. Some of it was too close to my heart. They told me they’d have to wait for me to be healthier before they tried to extract it.”

“Extract what, exactly?”

Warden sighed faintly, rubbing the back of his neck. “A sliver of Chrysalis’ horn.”

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