• Published 10th May 2012
  • 25,249 Views, 1,524 Comments

Visionary - Razorbeam

  • ...

I: Out With the Old

For Those Who Love Writing Negative Reviews of Very Old Things:

Just to prepare you, this story is six years old (and some change) at the time of adding this bit. Visionary is not what I would call a masterful work of any measure. I've had nearly seven whole years to collect feedback on this, so let me just declare the negatives I know up front, as it seems people still to this day insist on reading to the end and complaining that it was a waste of their time. If any of the below are beyond your tolerance, I would advise not reading, and perhaps doing something more useful than torturing yourself and then reviewing a three-thousandfold reviewed story.

The main character is overpowered.
The main character is overly fortunate throughout.
The romance is off-pace and not particularly great.
The story is, in fact, six entire years old, and only getting older.
The villain is very stock and not particularly relatable.
I wrote the entirety of the story in about six months, so I made a lot of quick decisions that turned out to not benefit the story.
I have no intention of altering the existing story, as it's a good landmark of where I came from, so no feedback will be incorporated to improve this particular reading experience.

Also, it is even still at least six years old. Enjoy.

"You think you can simply overthrow me?" Chrysalis hissed, defiant to the end. It was clear though that she had lost, hadn't the power to fight back against her people. She sat in the center of a dark room, lit by sparse torches burning green flames.

Along the outer wall ran a raised ring of seats. This was the Changeling High Council, its main chamber almost fifty yards wide, capable of seating thousands if the need arose. For this occasion, the various skylights had been sealed, for no changelings were to interfere with the hearing of the vile queen's failure. In the dim lighting, green eyes glared down at her from all sides, and even before anyone spoke it was clear that their decision was unanimous. She could feel it, the weakness creeping into her body as she consumed the antithesis of love; hatred.

"You've no power here, 'your highness'. Your people no longer have any respect to give you, nor do we owe you any love. Your entire rule has been a blatant waste of time. A trail of endeavors that stirred the hearts of the people, only to end in failure. And we will tolerate it no longer. Your sharp tongue once blinded us to your selfishness and greed, but no more!" the changeling council chairmen growled.

She sat bound in the center of the room, and hung her head in defeat. It was true; her people no longer loved her, no longer respected her. Without that flow of adoration, she was a perfectly useless wreck, her magical power weaker than that of a baby unicorn.

"Take her away!" he roared, finding no retort coming from the downtrodden changeling before him. The guards came and did just that, quickly bowing to the council before retrieving their old monarch. She was dragged off, limp as a ragdoll, weak and ashamed.

"With that out of the way, Master Korrick, perhaps we can now address her... vacancy?" asked another changeling, his wings buzzing noisily, like those of a beetle in flight.

"Perhaps," Korrick replied idly, eying the youth critically. The council member who had spoken up was a new addition, barely past his twenties and hardly considered a wise changeling. He was greedy, as was their nature, but he had a strange desire for political power that most changelings did not possess. Most of Korrick's people were more obsessed with common things; possessions, wealth. Gerd was different. He was a changeling of action, glad to draw attention to himself, even if it was negative. Reputation carried weight in any form, he often said.

Korrick sighed as Gerd continued to stare at him, his glassy blue eyes practically glowing, his fangs seeming longer for the smug curl in his lip.

"Perhaps indeed. Let me guess, you think the council should take control of the throne?" Korrick said snidely, tapping one of his hooves on the metal stand in front of his seat.

"But of course. Who better to lead the changeling race than a collection of their wisest, most dedicated people?" he asked, scoffing as if he thought Korrick a complete idiot.

The older changeling scowled fiercely, baring his fangs and watching with satisfaction as Gerd's smug grin shrank to nothing. "Clearly there are those in the council who are not wise," he huffed. "You know nothing of how politics work, young one. Our people cannot work like that; the council cannot rule. We all have our own goals, our own desires for the people. Our greed will never allow us to sit unified upon the throne. We would fight amongst ourselves like children until this nation had completely fallen under our own indecision."

"Then what do you propose, wise Korrick?" Gerd shot back, growling the word 'wise'. "That the council be dissolved? You make it sound as if we cannot do good for the people!"

"Of course the council is good, you misunderstand. The council's role is to check the decisions of the monarch. To maintain balance. What if the council were the ruler, Gerd? Who would watch its moves? The council must never sit upon the throne. We are the last barrier between our nation and the possibility of tyranny," Korrick replied, his fellow council members murmuring their assent. As always, he had a way with words, an ability to make his point clear and concise.

Gerd scowled. "What, then? Another power-hungry queen, to lead our people to failure?"

Korrick grinned a fanged grin that took Gerd by surprise. "Of course not. But we do need a ruler, someone who can rally the people. Someone who can undo the chaos caused by Chrysalis' failures. We will do as we have always done, and use the council to search for a leader."

"But this time we will be looking for something quite different. Not a king or a queen. A visionary."

"Aurus, wait!" came an all-too-familiar cry from behind him. The young changeling chuckled to himself as he alighted on a spire of rock, sitting by patiently as a smaller changeling in the distance made its way through the air.

Aurus watched with a warm smile as his younger sister did her best to keep up with him. She was five years younger than he was, barely old enough to be out flying like this at all. He himself was eighteen now, the prime age of all changelings. It was the year of his life where he would be expected to be self-sufficient; to get a job, contribute to the nation.

His thirteen year old sister certainly wouldn't be getting a career in the airborne military, he though with a wide grin. "Aria, hurry up! We're going to be late for dinner again!" he called out, his tone warm and patient, despite his words of haste. A few short minutes later she joined him on the pillar, breathing hard.

"It's not fair," she pouted, blinking her glassy blue lenses out of the way and revealing her beautiful green eyes.

"It is so fair. You're still young, and you've only been flying a year now; don't get so discouraged. Come on then, up you go," he said with a small laugh, pulling his sister up onto his back, just between his wings.

"You don't have to carry me!" she grumbled, wriggling about and trying to get off. Her wings buzzed noisily, but did little to lift her off her brother's back.

"Don't be like that, Aria. If you're tired it's okay to let me carry you," he said, looking back and nuzzling her. Their long fangs clicked together once as she twisted to nuzzle him back, letting it go at that.

"Alright, but don't fly too fast; you know how I feel about that," she pleaded.

Aurus smiled and nodded gently. "Whatever you say." He spread his wings and gave them a quick buzz through, carefully checking that she was situated out of the way before he got airborne.

"Aurus?" she asked, just as he poised to jump.

"What is it?" he returned, folding his wings back down.

"Thank you for carrying me," she replied warmly, smiling at him in that charming way that only his younger sister was capable of.

He smiled back, folding his outer lens back into place in preparation for the flight. "Of course, Aria. What is family for?"

"Spike, come on," Twilight grumbled, glowering at the little purple drake over her shoulder. "I asked for that book almost two minutes ago!"

"I'm sorry, Twilight," he huffed, pushing hard on the edge of the wall to scoot the ladder along to the next shelf. "I really don't think we even own it."

"Of course we have the book, this is a library," she grumbled, trotting over. If she wanted something done right, she would have to do it herself. She magicked Spike and the ladder over a few shelves and pointed to the very top of the bookcase. "It should be right there in the history and mythology section. I highly doubt 'Abnormal and Mythical Creatures' got up and walked away since our last re-shelving day."

Spike flushed as he found the book almost instantly, plucking it and pointedly looking away from Twilight's half-smug look as she yanked the tome out of his claws with magic. "Sorry Twi, I guess I should have known," he muttered, climbing his way down the ladder.

Twilight flushed too as she realized her mistake. "I'm sorry too, Spike. I didn't mean to be so short with you, it's just that-"

Spike cut her off with a friendly smile and an upraised claw. "Don't worry about it. After what happened at the wedding, I can understand why you're so eager to learn about the changelings. To be honest, I kind of want to know too. They were really weird looking. And is it true that they feed on love?" he asked, doing his best to puzzle out how that could be remotely filling.

"I'm not sure, Spike. But hopefully this book will have a thing or two to tell us about them," she said, plopping the tome down on her desk. Spike pulled up a chair next to her and scooted closer to get a better look as she turned to the index. "Hmmm. C, c, c... Aha! Changelings, page sixty-five," she cried triumphantly, glad that there was even an entry at all. That was already several steps ahead of her previous research attempts on dragons.

There was a picture of one, jet black with those strange, translucent wings. Twilight could never get over how odd their jagged legs seemed; the holes would have looked unnatural on any other creature, yet somehow they felt fitting for the changeling. The eyes were what really drew Twilight's attention. The diagram showed one eye completely covered by some sort of glassy, blue lens. The other side of it, however, showed a normal eye, with whites, an iris, and a pupil.

Whatever this little excerpt had to say about them, she had no doubt it would be interesting.

Changelings are a race of creatures who primarily feed on love. It is more accurate to say that they benefit magically from it, not that they feed on it. For nourishment they can consume all of the same basic foods that most ponies can, and have been known in cases of near starvation to eat gemstones the way dragons do.

Their nature is to pursue this growth in magical power above all else, which led to their magical adaptation of transformation. By taking the shape of somepony else, they can benefit from all the love that pony receives when they interact with his or her friends. Though seemingly harmless, changelings often resort to trickery or violence to ensure that their ruse is never discovered, allowing them to feed longer on the love of their 'host'.

It is uncommon, but not completely unheard of, for a changeling to develop actual love for the friends and family of its host. In these rare cases it is nearly impossible to distinguish the changeling from the original.

Their physiology is distinctly suited to their task. The entire point of their bodies is to minimize the amount of energy consumed to disguise themselves. From a changeling perspective it's a simple magical feat, but it is still a spell that must be constantly maintained, so energy efficiency is key. Unicorns have been unable to identify or duplicate this transformation spell, leading to the belief that it is some kind of genetic magic. However, it has been discovered that the spell can be easily undone by completely negating any magical effects on a changeling. Changelings are capable of a wide variety of spells, most of which are either offensive in nature, or designed to cause mischief.

The holes in their legs minimize the amount of energy expended to disguise them. The legs, in most cases, are the most utilized appendage of their target, and so require the most energy to disguise from movement to movement. By cutting the visible surface area down, they have less of their own black hide to cover up. A similar property applies to their wings in the case of a pegasus transformation. In all other forms, the transparency of their wings aids them in hiding them.

Their eyes have two sets of lenses, the outer serving as a sort of 'screen'. In their disguised form they project the image of their target's eye onto this outermost layer. The lens can be 'blinked' much like an eyelid, revealing the changeling's true eye. It is suspected that they use their real eyes to recognize one another when disguised. Many times the easiest way to recognize a changeling is to watch the eyes and see if they shift to green, as this occurs whenever a disguised changeling 'blinks' their second lens.

Uniquely designed to be masters of disguise, the changeling is really no more than a highly intelligent, highly adapted leech. Though harmless in most cases, they often tend to cause trouble for their host when they become greedy for more love. For a changeling, love is power, and they can become power hungry just like anypony else. If you ever notice the signs of a changeling in your community, contact the Royal Guard immediately, or a resident unicorn trained in magic negation. This is the quickest way to reveal a hidden changeling. Once discovered, changelings often flee the community en masse.

"Is there anything else?" Spike asked, awed. Changelings were amazing creatures! He had no idea just how developed they really were. The little ones that he had seen in Canterlot hadn't seemed very intelligent, but then nopony had really bothered to stop and talk to one.

"Besides some references, that's all there is. Still, it explains quite a bit," Twilight said with a small smile. She closed up the book and hovered it to Spike, who quickly scampered off to shelve it. "They're not really evil in nature, or so it seems. They're just greedy."

"Sounds like another kind of creature I know," Spike muttered.

Twilight didn't miss those quiet words though, and just giggled at him. "Spike, come on. You only lost control of yourself that one time. Though I admit most dragons seem to have a nasty habit of hoarding things. I can see where you might think they're similar. But changelings aren't after things; they're after magical energy," she said, pacing about.

"You know, Twi, if the changeling queen had succeeded, there's no telling how powerful the changelings might have gotten," Spike put in idly, coming down the ladder.

Twilight stopped pacing, looking at Spike in concern. She hadn't reflected on that train of thought too deeply yet, so caught up in the wedding and the fact that it hadn't happened. Yet, it could happen again, somewhere else. They couldn't rely on her brother every time the changelings got uppity; that was part of the reason she had begun researching them.

Spike's words made her nervous. He was right, there was no telling what might have happened, or what might happen in the future if they struck somewhere else. Her brother's love alone had been enough to overpower even Celestia. Her face went dark as she considered the possibilities.

"Twilight?" Spike asked, snapping her out of her thoughts.

"Oh, sorry Spike," she replied idly, shooting him a quick, and worthless, smile. "It's nothing."

"Uh huh," he replied skeptically, but he didn't press the issue. He knew that look; she was planning something, and she was going to leave him out of it.

"Continue searching!" Korrick growled. The guards simply saluted and left, taking the councilman's anger in stride.

They were doing what they could, and Korrick knew it. Yet the throne could only remain vacant for so long before the public began to notice, and before certain members of the council itself began to get ideas of grandeur. He was interrupted by snickering to his left.

"Something you wish to share, Gerd?" he asked snidely, distasteful as always of his company.

"Only that you are searching for that which does not exist," he put in idly, rolling his green eyes under his blue lenses. He blinked them aside once his rude gesture was over, and put on a know-it-all grin. "This visionary of yours, what is he like?"

Korrick sighed. He had thought long on this since the decree that the council would search for new blood, a bright and brilliant mind to lead their people into a better era. "All I want for our people is for us to live in peace at last. All my youth was consumed with small wars, always ending in our defeat, fleeing from the communities we farmed for love. I am tired of our disgrace!" he grumbled, and many other changelings his age agreed. "Chrysalis is not the first tyrant to lead us into a fruitless war in search of power."

"What then? A warrior?" Gerd scoffed.

"No! We've no use for new battles. Every city we flee, every people we alienate, only weakens us. We need to be led with wisdom, not with force. Anyone can be trained to fight, to make battle plans and strategies. But you cannot teach a changeling to be wise; what we are searching for is more rare than a leader. I only hope that our cries of hope reach the ears of a worthy one soon," Korrick finished tiredly.

"Soon indeed, though I think your sentiments of peace will eventually crumble when the pressure becomes too great. You will eventually appoint another selfish, greedy politician. Perhaps another daughter of a rich house?" Gerd snickered. "Chrysalis was always well loved; beautiful, intelligent, and very cunning. Until recently of course. She rose to her power through the awe and adoration of those around her, until the council finally realized her might. And you expect it to happen some other way suddenly? This is how it has always been! Those who claim the public eye gain the power. It is like that everywhere; for ponies, for gryphons. The only difference is that for us that power is tangible."

Many in the council began to murmur amongst themselves as Gerd's words sunk in. He had a valid point; love in any form was power, and love from the people was essentially what made a changeling fit to rule.

"Silence!" Korrick growled, drawing the desired effect. The room hushed immediately. "I have said it once already; power alone is not enough anymore. Perhaps you have not noticed, but if we continue doing things as we always have, we will continue to grow weaker as a race. If the public does not love the prodigy we find, they will grow to. A wise leader and his people are as one; they will come to see it in time. As will you, Gerd, should you ever develop any respect for wisdom."

"We shall see," the young changeling hissed. "But times have changed, Korrick. Wisdom is now just a synonym for old age."

Korrick rose in anger, mouth opened to speak, when the doors swung open to the council chamber, the guards entering with a slender female changeling.

They answered Korrick's questioning gaze immediately. "She claims to know of someone who fits your description; a rather strange changeling, from what she tells us."

That piqued his interest. Korrick buzzed up and out of his seat, floating down lazily from the raised ring of the council's outer wall. "Tell me, young one, what is your name?" Korrick asked politely.

She scowled as if she felt insulted by the phrase 'young one'. "Farah, Councilman. Your guards have been asking around for news about strange changelings, correct?" she asked rather tersely. It was clear the guards had dragged her here in the middle of something.

"Of course, though I assume they failed to mention the reward for such information," Korrick said slyly, quick to alleviate any negative feelings from the female. He needed her cooperation. "You will be paid half of your year's wages in return for the information, if it proves accurate."

She grinned at that, her green eyes practically glowing. "Very well then, councilman. I went to school with just such a 'strange' changeling. He was an odd sort, never joining in fights or reacting to bullying like most younglings at that age. He was rather removed, only talking when he had something he meant to say. Suffice it to say he was always very calm, and very polite. He was fairly well liked, never put anyone off as far back as I can remember. He had a sort of energy about him that caused people to smile and forget their troubles," her tone went almost fond at that, something Korrick found intriguing.

"Where is he from, Farah?" Korrick asked politely, not interrupting her, but waiting for a sufficient pause.

"He's from my village to the north, Rikkit. Though he's eighteen, he still lives with his family. Just one more unusual thing about him I suppose," she said with a small smile. "You find him sufficiently 'strange' I take it?"

"More than you know, I think," he replied with a sly chuckle. "Of course we must evaluate him, but if he is as you say, you will be rewarded." He kept a critical eye on her. Mentioning withholding a reward like that often led people to show if they were lying or not.

She only smiled, clearly confident in her information. "His name is Aurus. Aurus Marz." She shuffled as the silence grew, Korrick clearly lost in thought. "Councilman?" Farah asked, nudging him gently.

"Ah, terribly sorry," he apologized, smiling at her. "When you get as old as I am, you tend to lose track of time. Have the guards see you out. Once we have had the chance to meet this Aurus, we will call you back. You will be compensated a small amount for your trouble regardless if he fits our needs or not," he finished, his tone warm and placating.

She smiled at that and bowed gently as the guards formed up around her. "Thank you, councilman. Have a pleasant day."

As the guards led her out, Korrick turned back to face the assembly of wise changelings... and Gerd. "You see, my friends; not impossible to find."

"And how are you to know he is the one?" Gerd asked bluntly.

"Where there is one, perhaps there can be more. I only mean to say that these strange, new minds can be found. They do exist, contrary to your fears." Korrick floated back to his seat, leering at Gerd. Once situated, he turned his gaze back to the guards, who were returning from letting Farah out. "You two; head to Rikkit, and find Aurus. Let him know, politely of course, that the council requires his presence."

The guards snapped to and then promptly left. It was a short enough flight, far less than half a day, and so they weren't about to complain.

Korrick smiled to himself as the council murmured hopefully amongst themselves, savoring Gerd's look of angry defeat. Soon, he would prove just how valuable 'old age' could be.

"Alright, bye mom! I'll be back soon with the groceries!" he called back inside before using his magic to shut the door. Aurus didn't mind running errands like this, though he knew most changelings his age would have formulated some excuse to avoid it.

Any reason to fly was good enough for Aurus, even grocery shopping. He loved it, the wind rustling past the thin membranes of his insect-like wings, the slight pressure against his face as his nose and outer eyes deflected the breeze of his flight. He stashed the money in a side pouch his sister had helped him strap on, and finally got airborne.

He rose as high as he could manage in a few short wing beats, then used the momentum of the resulting dive to burst forward, zipping off in the direction of town. He swerved between the jutting spires of rock that his home was known for. They were everywhere, like red spears trying to pierce the sky; or to pierce him. He imagined he was dodging them deftly, making a game of missing them by mere inches.

The fun ended abruptly as the spires gave way to a clearing, a shallow valley below where the town of Rikkit rested. He spiraled down lazily, doing a few short loops or rolls to make the boring descent a little more interesting. At last he alighted on the red stone of the canyon floor, taking off at a gentle trot to absorb the momentum of his landing. He slowed to a walk as the streets got more crowded.

He was greeted with the usual chorus of salutations. Everyone who caught sight of him wished him a good morning, greeted him warmly, all smiling sincerely. Aurus could feel their admiration charging him, as any changeling could, but he paid it no mind. He knew all of them, they were his friends, and they received energy from him, too. It was simply the cycle of things, and he was glad to be a basic part of that. He waved to changelings here and there, stopping to talk to a few even.

By the time he reached the end of the street and had made it into the market row, he felt amazing. His wings itched to spend the extra energy, but he calmly put the feeling away, as he had been doing for years. He'd get to spend it all once he had the bags of groceries to manage. He went stall to stall, following the list and making his purchases. He was just about ready to head home, when he noticed something strange.

Two new changelings were in town, which in and of itself wasn't abnormal. What was odd was that they were wearing the red sash of the Council Guard. Visits from the council were few and far between, and anytime a guard was present it was usually urgent. Any other news, such as hearing decisions, would simply get passed on to the press and handled from there.

Curious, he made his way over to them, wanting nothing more than to know what the big deal was. They were talking to another changeling who nodded at first, but then shrugged. With a sigh, the guards made their way to the next stall, garnering similar reactions. Aurus cleared his throat loudly, stealing their attention.

"Yes?" they inquired, looking as if they were in a hurry.

"Sorry to bother you, but is there something I might be able to help you with?" he asked politely, setting the groceries down with his magic.

The two looked at each other and shrugged. "Maybe, kid. We're looking for a changeling called Aurus. You heard of him?" they asked gruffly, clearly fed up with not being able to find their target.

Aurus smiled, not the least bit concerned with why the council guards would be looking for him. "I'm Aurus, actually. Sounds like I can help after all," he chuckled.

The guards muttered something under their breath, and all Aurus could hear was the word 'strange'. He just held his smile patiently while they discussed whatever it was they were talking about. At last, they turned back to him. "The council has requested your presence, Aurus. Korrick, Council Chairman, would like to meet you personally."

Aurus nearly lost control of his front legs and face-planted. "Me? I don't mean to be rude, but you must be looking for someone else," he replied once he had regained his composure.

"No sir. If you're Aurus Marz, you're the changeling we've come to find," they returned idly. "Once you've finished your business for the day, please report to the Chamber of the High Council as soon as possible," one guard continued, eying the groceries casually. "Have a nice day."

"You too," Aurus replied automatically, his mind abuzz with questions. The council needed him for something? An unemployed, simple changeling? Whatever it was, he was sure they had their reasons. Determined that he could get his answers from them, and that stressing about it was pointless, he picked up the bags with his magic and launched into the air again.

He made his way home and dropped off the goods, letting his family know what had happened. His mother looked genuinely worried, though by contrast his father looked proud. Aurus had never really done anything wrong, so his father assumed it was more likely the opposite; something his son had done right.

Aria, however, was sorrowfully confused. "Why do they want Aurus? What did he ever do?" she asked grumpily.

"Sis, the council isn't bad or anything. They've just got something they need to talk about. Maybe it's just as simple as someone giving them my name by accident. Whatever it is, I'll clear it up," he said with a smile, rubbing her head with a hoof. That seemed to cheer her up a bit.

"Just be careful, dear," his mother said quietly, hugging him close.

"I will be. Don't worry, I'll be back soon," he replied, waving to them from the still open front door. Closing it behind him with magic, he launched into the air. He still had plenty of energy from his morning full of friendly greetings.

And now he finally had a flight long enough to use it all.