• Published 14th Apr 2015
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Chrysalis Wins - Arkolo



Chrysalis's invasion is successful. The challenge of ruling begins...

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Ch.60 "Heart of Harmony"

Chrysalis Wins

Ch. 60 “Heart of Harmony”

The wilderness of the Badlands-

Shortly after Chrysalis’s departure Shellish moved away from her lonely wooden throne, her legs and wings carried her about as she wandered. Aimless in movement as she was in thought.

The breeze in the Badlands was mild, it had the feel and air of springtime. The bluster of whistling winds wouldn’t pass through the region until fall. A faint smile flickered across her muzzle, she loved the fall, because scents from other lands would blow through, and spice the stagnant graininess of the desert. Her mind and eyes eventually turned to the horizon, and she pondered.

Far away, across the lands, the older royal could still remotely sense her former pupil. It was greatly muted with the range however, and Chrysalis hadn’t said anything for some time now anyway. There was a great sense of preoccupation, and Shellish didn’t want to interrupt in any case.

She still had difficulty wrapping her head around the idea that she was alive again. Even though she looked down and saw her hooves take one step after another, felt the sun as it rose, and how the light and heat tickled her skin. But all of it was as a dream. Atleast she felt like she couldn’t tell anymore.


---


Days passed, and the wander never ceased, whether it was night or day. She never felt hungry, she never felt thirsty, she never felt tired, something, whatever it was, sustained her. The lack of those needs only caused her to question her reality even more.

Starvation, as if it was yesterday, plagued her mind with its memories. She remembered the gradual decline, the slow wasting of the swarm. How helpless she felt, how powerless she was, how they turned on her in frustration…

The changeling stopped walking for the first time in days, and her face contorted as she tried to focus. There was a place, there was certainly a place, full of all kinds of sensation, and powerful emotion. She had been to this place, after she had “died”. After a period of time trying to remember it, she gave up. No details came to her recollection no matter how hard she tried to focus.

Something rather subliminal began to happen though, she began to feel a tug, a tug which felt rooted in her chest. It prompted her to move in a certain direction, and even possessed a sense of urgency. In her confused state, this one gut feeling felt like the most stable thing she had experienced since her “return”.

The wings on her back buzzed, and she drifted up some distance. After a large gain in altitude she felt the tug again, it was northwards. She barreled in that direction, and steadily increased the effort she put into her flight.

As the desert passed quickly underneath her, she felt curious about her new limitations. Thinking back about what happened to canyon caves, she wondered if that really was from her. Her horn rippled and ignited as she began to experiment. She tapped some of her latent magic, and used it to augment the speed of her flight.

She caught herself off guard. An explosion of green-white magic caused her to surge forward like a comet, and large tails of brilliant light were behind her. The sudden burst frightened her badly, and Shellish immediately tried to slow down. A fiery energy shield engulfed her and she curled into a ball.

Crash after repeated crash worked to slow down the insane momentum she had built up. Each impact, whether it was a hill, or just a straight track of land, failed to stop her any better than water would slow a harpoon.

After what felt like an eternity, the corralling force lessened, and she eventually rolled into a stop. She released the shield which protected her, and took a look at where she ended up.

There were cherry trees on all sides, some of which caught on fire from being to near the shield. When she looked behind, she saw a long fissure. It was evidence of the landscape’s attempt to slow her as she plowed through it. A voice suddenly caught her attention.

“What in tarnation? My trees!”

A mare with a crazy mane-dew the color of crimson jam, and a coat the color of cream, hollered in dismay and surprise. Shellish’s eyes bolted open in fear, her instincts told her to be afraid of discovery! So before the pony could come and inspect the scene closely, Shellish flew into the air again as rapidly as she could, and continued towards the pull she felt in her chest.

As rapidly as she could meant, blowing things over in a mighty gale, her fear caused her to trigger her magic again, for another uncontrollable burst.

This time she caught on quicker though, and stopped the magical burst shortly after she realized what she did. The burst had taken her straight up, and up, and up, and up, and up… As she tried to take a breath, she felt the air was incredibly thin, almost as if it wasn’t there. Also it was cold, very cold, and frost began to engulf her figure. In a panic her wings flicked back and forth, but did little to propel her.

The sky was significantly darker at this level, and she turned to face the land, which was far beneath her. Shellish tried to slow the panic that threatened to overtake her senses, and focus on using her magic another way. Her horned glowed and a fiery portal surrounded her, and she reappeared much closer to the surface of the land. The rush of air and warmth caused her to gasp in relief. She panted for a minute, then finally calmed.

Done with magic for the moment, she continued her northward journey without its assistance.


---


The pull brought her to the edge of a forest, and a name sprouted to mind, Everfree? She continued on, the desire to follow her gut feeling stronger than any fears of the wild woods. With her wings still active she kept above the canopy of the tree tops, and cruised along. She had no desire to get lost among the labyrinth of foliage, though somehow, she felt like she wouldn’t anyway. The pull guided her constantly.

Soon a large clearing came into view. In the clearing was a large grey gorge. What caught Shellish’s attention was the steps carved into the side of this gorge. She hovered down and landed at the top of the stair case, then proceeded down them on hoof. She felt that directional sensation again. It was strong, and very close now.

There were only four dozen or so steps down the stairs, they weaved back and forth a bit, but Shellish kept her hooves deft. When she reached the bottom she looked on a little further into the fissure. There was a faint blue glow, and she approached it with some eagerness.

The feeling that guided her felt rather like a pulse now, and it confused her horribly. At first she thought her heart had started to act erratically. When she stopped and tried to analyze the situation, she noticed her own heart beat, and a secondary sensation that was separate, but still locked within her chest. When she decided to resume the forward walk, the secondary pulse became stronger still.

The blue glow was now much stronger, and she saw that it came from a cave entrance embedded in the side of the fissure. Her strides were slow and cautious. The thumping in her chest caused her to feel uneasy, but she was compelled to keep going anyway. A deep feminine voice from nearby caused her to jump.

“You seem unsure of your way missy.”

Shellish slowly turned her head to the side to see a rather large figure sit along the wall. The large bushy thing turned its head as well, and underneath a drapery of reeds, a milky white eye and orange tinted eye looked into the changeling’s green ones. The royal kept quiet, the fear of discovery about to overtake her again. Before she bolted away the bushy figure spoke again.

“I haven’t a clue why you’re afraid. Just a whiff of the power leaking off of you says you shouldn’t be fearin’ a thing in this forest… changelin’.”

The tall royal flinched, this creature, whatever it was, knew her kind already. How could this situation have happened? A moment’s thought brought what Chrysalis had said slightly earlier to mind. Changelings were apparently public knowledge now. The thought was still far from a comfort, and actually drove her anxiety up still. The rate of her breaths increased, and she found some words to respond with.

“And who might you be?”

“That depends. By the grapevine, do you know of one called Chrysalis? Formerly, I just knew her as Queen. I see strange things in the dreams of others.”

The information coming out of this stranger took her off guard, and she turned about to face the creature directly. A bit of scrupulousness over took her countenance when she questioned next.

“How do you know my little royal? Are you a changeling?”

That just caused a great belly laugh for several moments, then the mysterious creature shifted onto what sounded like hooves. It took a few steps toward Shellish, and brought it face into the clearer blue light. The features the changeling witnessed didn’t evoke pleasant feelings.

She was equine in nature, though much wider and larger most. A wide breadth of reeds and mossy foliage covered the top of the creature head to tail. The next most noticeable thing besides the off color eyes was a mouth full of jagged teeth. Then scars that predominantly covered the right side of her face, with splashes of healed old wounds scattered about.

“I’m no changeling. Let’s just say I crossed paths with her before. Your appearance however, confounds my understandin’. Are you her mother? If so, what were ya doin’ lettin’ her get lost in the swamps so many years ago? Also was the plunderin’ of pony lands your idea?”

The mossy creature walked past Shellish, and went further down the fissure, straight towards the area of blue light. The royal shook her head as she stayed in stride to keep up.

“I suppose you could say I filled that role for sometime… But I died thirty years ago. Much has happened since then apparently.”

The large swampy equine stopped mid stride, then turned towards Shellish and gave the most quizzical look she could muster. She spoke mostly to herself next rather than to the changeling.

“I must’ve lost more of my mind than I thought…”

Shellish suddenly felt a large hoof tap her side, and she backed off at the touch.

“Please, keep your hooves to yourself.”

She buzzed one of her wings to brush off the grimy feel of the swampy creature. After the contact was made the beastly creature resumed her walk towards the blue light.

“Well, perhaps I may take small comfort that you may be more insane than I. If you’ve been talkin’ this way for the last thirty years I can see why ya wouldn’t be in charge…”

“I won’t pretend to understand what’s happened, so you’re probably right.”

The changeling let out a defeated sigh. The two of them approached the mouth of a cave, and the source of the light was readily apparent. It was a tree. A strange crystal tree that had reeds of gems, pearls, and large stony pockets decorated some of the heftier branches.

The appearance wasn’t so much what caught her attention, though the aesthetics were slightly mesmerizing, no, it was the feeling of the place. There was a projection of calmness, of peace, and it did wonders to relax Shellish’s agitated state. Though at the same time, there were undertones of duress, and urgency. The secondary pulse in the changeling’s chest had now become a steady hum.

“You feel it too, don’t ya.”

The older royal turned to the boggish equine, and wondered what she spoke of for a moment, but she continued before Shellish could remain puzzled for long.

“The draw, I’ve felt the draw for sometime. It was no easy task to leave my swamps back in the Hayseeds. But there is somethin’ so compellin’ I had to journey here over the nights. It’s been a need as strong as hunger, though I have no idea why.”

Shellish no longer listened to what the swampy equine had to say, rather she walked straight up to the tree before them, and brought her face close to the trunk. When she was a mere leg-length away, she looked up into the tree’s core.


---


Her vision suddenly blurred white, and she had no recognition of her surroundings anymore. Everything had become bright, and blinding. Instinctively, the changeling raised her hooves to cover her eyes, and soon another sensation caused her to feel uneasy. There was nothing underneath her, and she floated through the empty space with overwhelmingly bright light.

This continued for what felt like an eternity, and at some point in that eternity, things started to dim. Enough that she lowered her hooves, and blinked a few times. There were endless fields of stars that stretched in all directions, and a harmonic resonance gave the place a beautiful tone. Almost as if the individual points of light sang.

With a twist and a turn Shellish veered this way and that, trying to get an orientation of where she was. The strange sensation of just floating there was still about, her hooves were on no solid ground, but she didn’t feel like she was falling.

Besides the stars she noticed great arcs of light that stretched the vast distances before her. While the stars sang, these ‘streams’ seemed to whisper. Voices old and new, foreign and familiar seemed to flow from them. The bombardment of all the senses caused Shellish to twitch and blink, as she still hadn’t made sense of what any of this was yet.

“Have I died again?”

She questioned aloud. Of all the baffling thoughts that assaulted over the last few days, this one strangely made more sense. As if somehow the bright lighting and harmonic tones of the place were somehow familiar. She was brought out of her reverie of thoughts and reflections by a rather powerful voice, though at the same time it was gentle and soft. It was similar to a dragon hummed a lullaby.

“No, you are not dead Shellish.”

The changeling’s wings flittered as she tried to reorient herself, and find the source of the voice. She quickly became disoriented as she had no way to tell which way was up or down. There was a soft chuckle from that same voice, it bore no malice and the royal changeling didn’t feel mocked.

“It is rare indeed that I have visitors, or rather, allow visitors. Don’t worry Shellish, I’m over here.”

Suddenly there was an invisible force, and it prodded along the confused and frazzled equine. Within a few moments she was right new to one of the whispering streams, and a source of light brighter than any other she had yet to witness resided there. It took another few moments for it all to adjust, and once her eyes had adapted she noticed it was in a particular form.

Before Shellish was the largest pony she had ever seen. This particular individual’s stature would dwarf just about any equine she could think of. After she absorbed the idea of the size, she noticed the other details.

The majestic creature bore a horn, and pair of feathery wings, both of which added to the already substantial frame. A long curly mane and tail flowed about her, the color of deep blue crystal, though occasionally small bursts of the color spectrum would break through. Crystal beads were intermittently woven between the locks, and glowed like the stars about. The hooves had strange root-like markings upon. Also upon the flanks was a very strange mark. A large ring with six stones equidistant from each other, and were colored orange, pink, purple, blue, green, and red. In the center of the circle was a split colored gem that was black and white.

“Shellish.”

The calling of her name brought the belated queen’s attention up to the giant pony’s face. The changeling suddenly found herself full of questions.

“How do you know my name? Who are you? What is this place?”

“I am a watcher Shellish, I’ve known of you for sometime. You are one of many that I’ve had my eyes on.”

The enormous radiant equine turned to one of the streams that whispered. She extended one of her long slender legs and dabble with the stream a little. The changeling looked at the interaction with fascination.


---


From the stream Shellish could see a reflection of herself. The old swarm buzzed busily about, and little royal was there. Soon the older queen recognized what she looked at was a memory. She even heard her own voice.

“Have the vanguard returned from Baltimare yet?”

“No, they haven’t my queen.”

A green eyed vanguard bowed before Shellish, back when she had her crown. The modern Shellish who watched herself suddenly put a hoof to her head, and felt the absence of the crown. A small touch of panic suddenly ran though her. The memory continued all the same.

“I want a round of sentinels to go out and wait at the borders of the Hayseeds. We need them to comeback safely.”

“It will be done my queen.”

The vanguard departed and past Shellish sighed. This memory already showed the signs of physical decay and being deprived of their most important nutrition. ‘Little royal’ decided to speak up when they were alone.

“Why did we leave Prance Shellish? Things were much better over there. We didn’t have to deal with these aggravating parasites!”

‘Little royal’ scratched at one of her legs with a hoof, which had developed pits in the chitin. The older queen sighed, and restrained the irritability in her voice.

“I already told you little royal, we were at a great risk of being discovered. If we’re discovered then we’re doomed. I know it’s uncomfortable here, and all sorts of beasts are giving us problems, but being discovered would be worse.”

The younger changeling just snorted and stamped her hooves in angry frustration, she appeared to want to say something, but held her tongue. The memory Shellish noticed this, and asked.

“What is it? What do you want to say my little royal?”

The memory of the young chrysalis turned and left, while she muttered “nothing you want to hear” under her breath. The past Shellish just stood there, and when the younger royal left, she slumped.


---


A few tears escaped the corners of the modern Shellish’s eyes. She remembered that situation with sharp clarity, and not because she just watched it happen again. It was the look of disappointment and frustration in her little royal’s eyes. Unfortunately that was a very common look from that day forward. The future from that moment was full of disappointments and disparaging events. All of which culminated in…

The changeling suddenly found herself brought into a tight embrace. Large fore-legs wrapped around her and she suddenly felt like a little foal brought into a mother’s grasp.

“I’m sorry your life has been rife with sorrows. One as loyal and protective as you didn’t deserve such a fate.”

Shellish choked, she couldn’t find any words, and she cried quietly while being held. For some time they just remained like that. The queen couldn’t remember the last time she had felt this emotionally vulnerable with any equine. What was so special about this giant pony? After a moment she realized her questions hadn’t really been answered yet.

“Y-you still haven’t told me who you are. Or why I’m here.”

She was released enough from the embrace so that they could look each other in the face. The giant’s voice remained gentle and calm as ever.

“You can call me Harmony. As for why you are here, that is a little more complicated.”

One giant snow-white leg reached towards the whispering stream again. A startling array of visuals coagulated into clarity, and Harmony’s voice explained from the side.

“My interaction with the temporal world has largely been with a variety of other mediums. Regardless of the manner, it has always related towards my purpose, towards keeping harmony.”

The vision of the steam flared as it gave a number of short depictions and images. One of them showed two ponies, one a bright white, the other a dark blue, both of them unicorns. They came before the very tree Shellish had walked up to. The next image showed both of the unicorns, but they had gained wings. Then a short moment later it showed them doing battle with a draconequus. They lost. Quickly they returned and this time they had stones with them, a rainbow lit up the sky and the draconequus was rendered to stone.

“Some individuals I have worked with much longer than others, but I have an appreciation for them all. I can lend tools to aid them. But true harmony only comes from the heart.”

Six ponies flashed before Shellish, all of them wore different and unique gems. She didn’t recognize any of them, but she could tell the giant pony Harmony held affection for each of them. Then suddenly the look on her majestic alabaster face became very weary.

“Unfortunately there are divers’ means and divisions. If harmony is cast aside and rent apart there is little I can do myself. Right now is such a moment. My resources are spread thin, and balance hangs upon a needles thread. My elements were hidden, and would have remained that way.”

More images flashed through the stream. Celestia, and Luna bundled away in pods, the six ponies Shellish had briefly seen earlier were all separated. One flew among the skies, with a dark aura hung about her neck. Another hid in secret places. The others were scattered among an endless crowd.

“I’ve made… some desperate decisions, Shellish, decisions that have muddle a few courses. But I saw no better alternative.”

The vision within the stream twirled and twisted and darkened, as if a violent storm had taken over. The draconequus that Shellish had seen turned to stone just moments ago, shed the gray skin the encapsulated him and laughed madly as he was set free. The changeling’s eyes widened sharply as she looked from Harmony to the cackling draconequus.

“You… set him free? Isn’t that-”

“Discord? Yes, yes it is. Though before you say another word, I want you to pay close attention to what I show you next.”

Harmony pulled both of them forward, and they dived into the whispering river. Shellish struggled for a moment then closed her eyes and held her breath when she realized she wasn’t going to escape.


---


Oddly enough she didn’t feel any wetness or any kind of a splash, when the expected didn’t come to pass she opened her eyes, and realized she felt the ground under her hooves again. Shellish did a quick look about of the area and felt she was in a foreign land.

Nearby was a large crystalline slimy wall, complete with a deep trench infront of it. Hundreds of changelings busily buzzed about it. Also nearby were vast hosts of ponies, several which bore the symbols of Equestria. While yet others glittered with metallic sheen, and wore armor forged by germane hooves. The numbers that surrounded Shellish extended everywhere, the forces caused her to fidget in nervousness, she couldn’t remember the last time she saw so many had gathered in one place… except for maybe-

“This day would have been a pivotal point the dismantlement of harmony. I am not sure I would have recovered from such a blow, but I need you to witness.”

Harmony’s voice loomed above Shellish and the changeling turned to see the giant standing close by. With a gentle proffering, they moved forward and walked along the fields. The pony of harmony was silent and content to let her smaller companion simply observe.

Along the walls stood a changeling she did recognize, and Shellish called out.

“Little royal!”

Her wings buzzed and she flew up to the ramparts, and she called out again, but Chrysalis did not respond. So Shellish reached out a hoof to touch her… and it passed right through. This caused the confused older royal to bumble and bluster at a loss. Harmony’s voice serenely explained from nearby.

“This is just a shadow of things I saw that would be. No creature here can interact with you, for this is simply a vision I had some days ago.”

This did little to refute the building worry in Shellish’s chest, and she rounded towards the giant with a bit of a shriek in her voice.

“A vision? You mean this is going to happen? This, this war!”

“…It would have, just observe.”

With a huff the changeling royal turned her attention back to the environment around her. She blinked twice when she noticed something very strange. There was another “little royal” that stood next to her “little royal”. This other one had some small differences though, such as the correct horn shape, and overall healthier features, and was a little taller.

Shellish landed next to them as them as they spoke to one another.

“Good to see you come to your senses Chrysalis, I think we’re on the verge of having a diplomatic discussion, I wouldn’t want you to miss out.”

The taller twin pointed out towards the fields where Shining Armor and the king Torque currently held a heated yelling match. Chrysalis narrowed her eyes towards the location her clone pointed, and issued a mental command to the swarm around her. Then she spoke directly to her counterpart.

“Shining is undoubtedly here for his precious-shnookums, and the sisters. We might as well bring them up as a bargaining chip. It he wants to threaten my empire then he better know who will be the first victims should any of them attempt to set hoof beyond my walls.”

Chrysalis stuck out her tongue in a distasteful manner as she said shnookums. Crone had raised eye brow.

“But what about the germane? What do you think they want?”

“You know as well I do at the moment.”

“Very well, I’ll keep things orderly on the wall, or would you rather I go down and speak with them?”

“No Crone, I’ll go down and speak with them, in case a scuffle breaks out then and there, I’ll be better prepared for it.”

That answer caused Crone to frown slightly, but she was resigned to stay where she was.

“Ofcourse…”


---



Shellish tilted her head to the side when she heard the taller, more proper looking twin called by name. Crone? Now the older royal really felt like she had missed more than a few important details. Suddenly Harmony’s voice called out from behind again.

“Now, Shellish you need to pay attention over here.”

The giant pointed towards a small patch of woods that appeared to be all the way across the plains and neatly nestled at the bottom of the crystal hills, which was a great distance away. Shellish looked, and suddenly she was there, at the very edge of the brush.

At this close proximity she noticed some movement. There were some changelings among the woods and a few ponies dressed in the décor of prench mages. Shellish let out a screech when she recognized one particular individual. An individual with a long silver mane, topped with a bright orange crest, and in possession of dead green eyes.

“No, no, no! What is she doing here!”

Shellish reeled backward and fell over herself, before she attempted to scramble away in terror. The frightened changeling royal stopped when she hit what felt like a wall. After a brief crash and reorientation she looked up to see Harmony there. The giant possessed a sorrowful look. Shellish’s voice took a crack at the accusatory.

“You have powers don’t you? Stop her! Stop her right now!”

“Worry not Shellish, I only show you this to let you know why I have done as I have done. For now, listen.”

With great hesitation the nervous royal turned back to who she perceived as the most dire of her enemies, and enemy that had been a terror before Shellish was even her own queen.

They hadn’t noticed her, so she calmed a little. Within a moment she noticed that she could actually hear what they were saying as well.

“There are two I see upon the wall, I can indeed confirm they are of royal status.”

A bluish vanguard said in a rather bored voice, his eyes had been altered to resemble that of an eagle. The tall silver queen that sat nearby finished the last blade she toyed and altered, and set it next to the others. Shellish’s curiosity led her to move into the woods next to them, so she could look at what they looked at.

“Let me see.”

Monarch stood up and walked over until she was next to her vanguard. Her eyes also altered so she could see across the distance.

“Why this is interesting. There are two of them? Perhaps one is a decoy?”

“I cannot sense a great strain coming from either one Monny. I believe they are both in their genuine forms.”

“Then who should we suppose is actually in charge? Not that it matters too much, I will have them both, but I might as well make them disorderly first.”

As they watched from their hidden place in the woods a few other events happened. Shining Armor and King Torque both trotted towards the wall with their respective escorts. The germane king called out towards the wall with a deep bellow of a voice. In response to the voice one of the queens upon the wall hovered down, and stood across from the other two leaders. This left one queen on the wall, who stood observant. Monarch smiled at this action, and her magic drew forward one of the blades she had prepared on the stone table.

“Aw, so one of them gets to play messenger, while the other remains upon the wall. I think I know who I will aim for first.”

“The messenger?”

The bluish vanguard questioned.

“No, the one that thinks herself so important, and sits on the wall. If she can get the other to do her bidding, then she is the one in command. Ready the rest of our unit Fetish. Things are about to get ugly…”

One of the pitch-black light-absorbent blades hovered close by Monarch’s head, and the point was aimed across the field towards a target. Magic surged from the silver queen’s horn and the dark blade rotated. Within in moments in was an indistinguishable blurr. The large queen’s eyes narrowed as she prepared to release.

“Over here now, Shellish.”

The building panic within the observant royal was interrupted by Harmony’s voice, and both of them shifted location so that they were right next to the wall again.


---


Chrysalis, Shining Armor, and King Torque stood across from each other in an equidistant triangle. Each of them spoke harshly towards one another with barking words. Even as Shellish was about to pay attention to what they specifically said, she saw three groups of changelings hover behind the wall, they were large burdens that had several split between each.

To her surprised and confusion she saw it was Celestia, what must have been nightmare moon? and some other pink alicorn she didn’t recognize. Each of the pods that contained them were set upon the wall, close by Crone. This was when Chrysalis said something loud enough it brought Shellish’s attention back to the diplomatic triangle.

“You will back off Shining Armor! If you ever want to see any of your princesses ever again!”

“You will surrender them Chrysalis or I’ll have you and your entire swarm crushed!”

“By the motherrr of metal, will both of ya stop talkin’ like that, these arrre not negotiatin’ words!”

Both Shining Armor and Chrysalis turned towards king Torque and shouted in unison.

“Shut up!”

This just caused the massive metallic king to turn bluish gray in the face.

“Arrre both of ya idiots out forrr blood? I would like to be able to walk home today! I want my crystal cousins safe and sound as well.”

“And they will be, if this oaf will show he is willing to come back here with real peace in mind. Not a blundering army on my doorstep.”

“You wouldn’t extend mercy if I groveled before you and begged like a worm, you loathsome witch!”

The bickering continued and showed no sign of slowing down. With Torque being the only one trying to not let a fight break out then and there.

All of the arguments were interrupted however when a darkness breached everywhere around them. The daylight disappeared for all but a moment, and there was a very high pitched swish, as if an arrow had passed by with unnatural speed.

When the light returned Chrysalis’s voice was basically a roar, and her blaming eyes fixated on the white stallion.

“What nonsense are you trying to pull Shining Armor!”

He didn’t respond, but looked up to the wall. King Torque also had wide eyes and held his tongue as his gaze was fixed up on the wall. Both Chrysalis and the observant Shellish both turned to look at what captured such attention.

Upon the wall was Crone, whose eyes bugged out and lost all focus. Right in the middle of her chest was a large gaping hole, which dripped a constant stream of fluid. A moment later she collapsed where she stood.

Shock flared for a moment Chrysalis’s face before her horn ignited and a giant defensive wall of fire erupted between her and the equines she had just been spoken with. Shining cast his own shield spell so as not be burned, and King Torque retreated, singed from the exposure.

Shellish pursued her little royal, the bright green flames did nothing to her as she soared straight through them. The look of shock and hurt Chrysalis expressed but a moment before cut the older royal to the heart.

When she landed on the edge of the wall she found her little royal huddle over the fallen form of Crone, where rather desperate efforts were made. Chrysalis poured out vast amounts of love from her mouth in a hazy mist over the wound. But it was too late, the damage was too extensive, and even as the desperate queen tried harder the fidgets from her fallen sister stopped.

Chrysalis looked into the mirror of her own face, and that mirror was dead. A moment later there was a pop, and Crone dissolved into a puddle of water. All the wasted love still lingered in the air, a vain reminder of the failed attempt to save.

It hadn’t been more than a moment or two for the changeling queen to process what had happened. Her hooves scrapped at where the other changeling had just been. She was gone, there was nothing but a wet spot on the walk of the wall…

A horrified expression was bedecked on Shellish’s face as well. She knew what caused that darkness, she knew who caused that wound… but Chrysalis didn’t. She in fact, had a very different idea of who was responsible.

Dark lips were pulled back as fangs were fully exposed, and uncontained rage ran its course. Her horn ignited even brighter and the wall of fire she had maintained exploded outward even further. When it fizzled out after its violent expansion, Chrysalis’s voice echoed with dominant reverberance.

“SMART DISTRACTION YOU DEVIL! DO YOU STILL WANT YOUR PRINCESSES SHINING?”

A short distance away, but still easily within view of the wall was Shining Armor, who looked just as thoroughly baffled as his compatriots. The next thing he noticed was the three princesses, Celestia, Luna, and his precious Cadance. He saw Chrysalis point her horn at the immobile and helpless alicorns. He couldn’t even shout the words as his mind screamed “NO!”

So stunned at the situation was he that he fumbled about, even as he tried to cast his own spell intercept what was going on. The queen proceeded much faster however, and a brilliant emerald lance of excessive energies blasted forward from Chrysalis’s skull, right at the three cocooned prisoners. For several moments everything she had was poured into that blast. When it subsided, there was nothing left, not even cinders.

Shining just gawked, unable to believe what had just happened, had happened. Even if he had been able to cast his spell, he wouldn’t have been able to repel power of that magnitude. So all he did was stand there, unsure if he could believe his eyes anymore.

Green Light began to cackle from atop the wall again, and Shining found it somewhere within himself to move. He teleported his small escort with him, and they all trotted full pace backward, towards the main company.

As the ponies retreated a strange dimness began to darken the skies. The sun somehow, wasn’t as radiant as it had been just moments before. Blue faded from above until it resembled a sort of twilight, and the sun went a bloody red.

Another blast of deadly energy arced from the top of the wall, this time aimed towards the equestrians. Shining quickly called for a shield, he and his lieutenants poured their magic into a unified spell, which barely came up before they suffered the brunt of the impact. The shield held for all but a few moments, then it shattered like glass. The flow of power from Chrysalis ceased for the moment, and she panted from her place behind the parapet. Her eyes lit up as mental commands were issued to the swarm. Hundreds of chitinous bodies rose into the air ready to battle.

Shining Armor and the other unicorns that had supported his spell had been knocked off their hooves, and all of them suffered from the strain of magical backlash. The stallion burned with anger anew. As much as the despair hung over him like the darkened sky did, so did he boil.

“Lieutenant Skyborn, toss the storm at them!”

A nearby cobalt pegasus saluted before she dashed off towards the rest of the pegasi who circled the prepared storm.


---


Meanwhile King Torque had retreated back towards the host of the germane, general Welding close on his heels. The large metal stallion complained to his subordinate with resignation.

“The flood gates of Tarrrtarrrus have opened this day, as we fearrred. Well, I suppose we’ll finish what’s been starrrted. Welding, get the equalizerrrs ready.”

“As you command your majesty.”

As they ran Welding held a horn up to her mouth and gave two short clarion calls. At the signal several teams of germane who had been rigged up to large machines hefted them forward. Once the fat barreled machines were brought to the front of the company they were loaded with large sandbags and gratuitous amounts of powder.

The barrel ends were pointed both at the changelings on the wall, and towards the equestrians and their storm. A few of the operators closed down on the different functioning ends of their devices and readied flint. They simply awaited orders.

“Tell them to fire freely Welding.”

The general obeyed her king’s order, four brief clarion calls followed, and the real chaos began. The germane “equalizers” were ignited, and thunderous explosions echoed across the fields as their payloads were launched high into the air. When the munitions reached a great altitude they exploded with a brief, but powerful flash of light.

Both changelings and equestrians looked towards the germane and what they were up to, confused about what was going on. The explosions didn’t fall among the troops… so what was the point?

After a few moments of the explosions going off over everyone’s heads, the reason became more apparent. Each explosion created a large smoky cloud which descended upon the rival hosts, and as the smoke smoldered over each a rather disastrous effect happened. The clouds were loaded with particles of null iron, and the spark of magic within either army was severely dulled.

Pegasi started to fall out of the air, earth ponies felt their strength and stamina being sapped, unicorns became dysfunctional. The changelings suffered from various conditions as well, and their natural advantages went awry.


---


As soon as mayor More realized what began to happen with the equestrians, fear kicked into her psyche, and she turned towards her own subordinates.

“We need to leave or we will be discovered for what we are… Damn Armor, he was always more tricky than I gave him credit for.”

With that, More and her congregation of eastern Militias turned tail and deserted the rest of the equestrians to their fate …


---


“Alrrright Welding, let’s get things rrreally rrrolling. Tell the legion to get dug-in.”

A single long clarion call signaled the hosts of the germane to charge forward, as of the moment both changelings and equestrians were disoriented and partially blinded by the thick clouds of null-iron powder. Without any of their magical advantages, they would be caught in an extremely vulnerable position.

When the troops finally collided in brutal melee it was a rather one sided affair. The mass and durability of the germane’s solid metal bodies proved too tough for unamplified weapons. Chrysalis’s swarm was quite crippled by the clouds of null-iron despite being as magically boosted as they were. Some stronger individuals could still manage magic, but the majority of equestrians and changelings simply couldn’t.

King Torque watched the battle progress with a disappointed sigh, his lips contorted into a displeased grimace. Welding remained close by and also watched, her expression remained reserved. She spoke matter of factly.

“If the enemy pulls no other surprises, we should own the empire within the day your majesty.”

Torque growled in irritation at his general’s analyzing.

“That’s the thing, we shouldn’t be enemies. Therrre was no rrreal need for this. What happened a moment ago was a frrrag-blasted misunderrrstanding.”

“What do you mean your majesty?”

“You mentioned surrrprrrises Welding? Well, I think we definitely have some left. I’m not surrre wherrre it came from, but that darrrkness… that’s an older enemy therrre, I’ve seen that before, but it’s been a while.”

“What do you suggest then?”

“Let’s take the perrrsonal guarrrd and rrroot out those bushes overrr yonderrr. That’s the only unaccounted forrr location.”

“You want your guard to scout over there?”

“Yes, and I’ll be leadin’ them myself. You’ll remain herrre Welding, and securrre our cousin’s land.”

“Very well… your majesty.”

Torque didn’t get to turn about and speak to his guard before a loud roar echoed across the plains. When the roar ended it was followed by a shrill laugh, and the howl of fierce winds. A severe gust blew over the plains and the wind whipped away the clouds of null-iron that plagued the fields.

“Our clouds!”

Welding actually let surprise enter her vocal tones. A moment later a gigantic dark figure arose from the wooded area that Torque just planned to visit. A heavy hum drummed from two pairs of large wings attached to its massive back. Barely anytime had passed before the mysterious creature advanced upon the germane, and leapt upon the equalizer machines. The heavy devices were smashed and tossed around until they were damaged beyond function.

The germane king’s jaw dropped when he saw the monster up close. It was a dragon in form, but that’s not what bothered him, it was the dead green eyes, and the large orange fin with white dots that crested its head and neck. Also unlike natural dragons there was a large horn the protruded forward from its head, rather reminiscent of a unicorn.

“Monarch…”

The king whispered under his breath, disbelief struck his countenance, then real frustration.

“Since when in the forgotten kiln could you do that trick!”

He shouted that last part a little too loudly, and he actually managed to capture the dragon’s attention. She rounded about with a massive grin spread across her pearly fangs, while she simultaneous dropped a warmachine from a paw.

“Thank you Armor, for making this so much simpler…”

“Retreat!”

Torque bellowed at the top of his lungs. When Welding heard the command she pulled her horn to her lips right away, and blew five quick notes in succession. The germane hosts, even those engaged in the melee, started to pull back right away.

Also with the null-iron clouds gone, the equestrians and Chrysalis’s swarm quickly began to recover. The dragon Monarch pumped her four wings up and down to close the distance between herself and Torque very quickly. Before she managed to fall upon the stallion and crush him to powder a beam of emerald energy shot right towards the dragon.

Monarch was hit squarely in the back and was knocked out of the air, just short of her target. She let out a screech of surprise and pain. That hit left a large dent in her back, so she turned her head about to find the culprit. It was Chrysalis, who hovered high in the air, and had wild bloodshot eyes.

“You, all of you are going to pay!”

Dozens of sentinels and vanguard hung close by Chrysalis, ready to guard her. Monarch just smiled.

“That was quite a wallop from someone your age… but I’m afraid you and every other royal here won’t enjoy a continued existence.”

Monarch’s eyes flashed white and the nearby woods exploded with activity, another host of changelings charged towards battle, all of them charged with a disturbing dark aura. In another short flash the dragon was gone, and Monarch the changeling queen stood alone on the ground. In the blink of an eye several dark blades were whipped out and fired forward. The same darkness returned, and for the briefest of moments, Chrysalis realized who actually murdered Crone.

When the darkness lifted she immediatly looked down to her chest, fully expecting a gaping hole to be there, but was more than grateful when there wasn’t. When she looked back up she realized a portal was right infront of her, a portal that burned with a purple fire. It vanished right after she noticed it.

There was a shrill shriek from below, and it was from Monarch. Several of the dark blades had fallen from her magical grasp, and she herself was splayed across the ground, one of her front legs severed at the knee.

“Do you still want to continue?”

Specter spoke to Chrysalis, while he hovered in the air right next to her. She charged her horn and jumped in surprise, not expecting it at all. Chrysalis turned on him with anger ripe in every expression.

“Where were you! You, you just-”

“I saved you, yes. I didn’t expect Monarch to pull off that particular stunt… I’m sorry. But we need to move. When she gets back up she’ll be in no mood to toy.”

“Her? I’ll finish her right now!”

Chrysalis looked down on the injured Monarch, who had already regrown the leg and started to get up, and fired another blast of violent energy. What happened next was all within the extremely brief period of time.

The lance of death shot right at Monarch as planned, but the devious queen opened a large portal in the path of the oncoming carnage. Chrysalis’s energy disappeared into a rift between dimensions, then an exit for that energy was opened right on top of the younger queen with a second portal, effectively redirecting Chrysalis’s blast right back at her.

Specter, who was close by, predicted the move right before it happened, and opened another set of purple ringed gateways himself, in an attempt to make the blast go back at monarch. A series of extended dimensional warping quickly evolved between the two experienced royals, as they tried to outdo to other with energy displacement.

Nearly two dozen holes in space were created before another party intervened.

“Enough nonsense!”

An explosive wave of silver energy disrupted and dissolved the myriad of rapidly constructed portal work. Ultimately Chrysalis’s blast ended up ricocheted off into the sky, where it lit up the battlefield like a strike of lightning.

Each of the royal’s heads turned to see where to silver wave came from. A short distance from them, standing next to a shocked general Welding, was king Armor, his null iron plates having been removed and littered to the side. Two horns now bedecked his head, and they sizzled a little.

“Specter…”

Armor gave a begrudged acknowledgement, which Specter respectfully returned. Then the revealed king turned towards the orange crested queen, who simply laughed at the whole interaction.

“You think I haven’t faced five or ten of you at once! I AM THE TRUE ROY-!”

“Shut it ya hag… I’ve been hidin’ forrr farrr too long. This ends today.”

Monarch just gave a sweet smile at Armor despite his interruption.

“That is one thing I can agree with, but first…”

Several changelings suddenly interrupted the affair, one jumped infront of Armor, one infront of Specter, and one infront of Chrysalis.

Each of them had a similar reaction, initially each of them ignited their horns at the sudden motion, then quickly fizzled out when they saw who it was that was infront of them.

Infront of Armor was changeling queen, one that he recognized right away, that dark blue mane, those grey eyes, the pattern of her horn and wings, and when he heard her speak his heart stopped cold. He just gaped at the figure before him.

“Armor its me, Allure.”

Specter’s hesitation was similar and his eyes widened drastically when the form of a particular changeling queen neared him, the solid green mane and radiant red eyes struck him personally. The changeling king was momentarily stunned.

“Specter, I’ve found you! It is I, Clarity!”

The changeling that stopped infront of Chrysalis appeared almost just like her, but with a few tweaks. It was definitely Crone’s body… Chrysalis rolled her eyes and blasted changeling infront of her. It screeched as it was fried. With a sardonic scowl she called out towards Monarch.

“Did you really think that would work!”

But Monarch wasn’t where Chrysalis saw her last, and that’s when something hard struck her from behind, and her world went into a dizzy spiral.

“Apparently it did.”

Monarch flexed the leg that she had just regrown, it had a terrible itch, but there were other foes that needed to be beaten into submission and collected. Both of the changeling kings got past the distractions thrown their ways, but slower. At the moment Armor was the more distracted of the two, so she tried to exploit that next. The rest of the changelings under her control could go about securing the other objectives.

Quickly the large queen descended behind and delivered several lethal and precise attacks both physical and magical. After the first hit Armor realized what had come his way and reacted appropriately. He shifted form and his chitinous body became composed of slime. This made Monarch’s blows more or less harmless, and the magical strikes and bolts were absorbed and caused the slimy substance Armor had become to glow.

A moment later a bright chrome-like Armor formed out of the slime, and he wore a smirk on his face.

“How’d ya like that one! I’ve been cookin’ a few rrrecipes up since our last encounterrr, ya soddy witch!”

“Raw, raw, I’ll remember you fondly on my wall…”

Monarch exploded with energy and shifted back into a dragon, she opened her greatly increased maw and let breathed out a gout of green fire. Armor only partially dodged it, and that’s when his chrome form reacted, quite spectacularly.

The shiny changeling king lit up like a torch, and the metal he was composed of became obscenely bright. Had the sun come down from the sky and hovered just infront of every creature’s eye, that would be an apt description of the effect. More or less, none could see a thing, the brightness blinded all.

When the brilliant flare ended changelings and ponies fumbled about, some that were closer and of common constitution found their condition far worse, and suffered burns as well. The blindness of that moment would never leave some.

Armor himself collided with the ground, the whole surface of his body burnt. A raspy wheeze escaped his lips and his neck cracked as he tried to lift it. Monarch just a short distance away howled as she clutched her over her eyes with her dragon claws.

“Damn you Armor! Curse your tricks!”

The king afforded himself a pained chuckle as he brought himself to his hooves.

“If yarrr earrrs still worrrk I’ve got one morrre forrr ya!”

Monarch hesitated, and quickly tried a telepathic communication with her swarm. All of them had been stunned or disabled by the display. Monarch herself still couldn’t see, and she clenched her jaws in anger. Her healing magic didn’t fix the disorientation as fast as she wanted. Meanwhile Armor barked taunts.

“I darrre ya to brrrreathe firrre again!”

Her ears definitely worked, and the king’s voice definitely gave away his location… She readied her maw and it glowed with heat, but she didn’t let go right away. She couldn’t be sure what other substances Armor might be able to turn himself into. So she blindly reached out with one of her paws.

Standing already taxed Armor a great deal, as he hadn’t recovered from being burnt so badly yet. His body had also changed into another metallic form, one that would have ended all fighting that day if Monarch had just released her flame one more time… but alas.

One of her large claws swiped at him, knocking him off his hooves, then quickly pinned him to the ground and started crushing the life out of him. Monarch blinked furiously, vision had slowly started to return to her.

“I’ve looked forward to having your head for over a hundred years, and now you’re finally, literally within my grasp. Oh, I just want to hear you beg, just once. Give me something to remember you by…”

Briefly she releived the pressure she used to crush his body, and allowed him to breathe. With a few gasps he did choke out some words.

“You’ll-rrregret-that.”

An explosion of energy burst around king Armor as he shifted forms one last time. Monarch’s paw was knocked off by the force of it, and she stumbled back a little. Over the course of a few moments the changeling king grew and grew. His equine form soon matched and exceeded the size of the dragon. Silver energies cackled unstably around his body, and he charged forward, head lowered and his two horns pointed at his partially blind opponent.

Without an accurate means to detect her enemy’s movements she continued to fumble, and failed to avoid to oncoming colossal king Armor. His two horns buried themselves into her side, and she screeched like banshee.

The dragon was knocked onto her back, and the huge changeling instantly began to shrink, in a few moments Armor was back to his original size, which was when promptly collapsed, every ounce of energy in his body expended.

Monarch continued to wail in pain at the grievous wound she suffered. She shrank back down to her proper size and form, and once she did, she immediately began to heal again. When she was strong enough to stand she limped over to Armor’s fallen form. He looked up her and wheezed.

“How? How werrre ya able to maintain that form and not die?”

She chuckled, and the tone surprisingly was not an arrogant. A brief flash illuminated her eyes as she called over a member of her own swarm. The disoriented changeling was Fetish, who still hadn’t recovered his sight, but relied on the more primal senses to find his master. Once close enough, Monarch’s magic pulled something out of a satchel. It was a small glowing white stone, she lowered it and held it infront of the rapidly depreciating Armor.

“This, this is the short answer. My belated husband Fire Heart had vaults of these stored away.”

Monarch popped the little white stone into her mouth and swallowed. The wounds on her side disappeared almost right away, and she appeared overall very refreshed.

“Love stored with perfect shelf life, collected and banked over the centuries from all over. This was meant to be our trump card for the empire. It's just a shame it's primary use recently has only been for our insane civil war. Now that you’re finished Armor, and your fate is sealed. Your swarm has yet to decide what it wants to be. I certainly hope most of them will join me willingly.”

The storm caused by the equestrians continued to thunder ominously in the background, the winds it generated continued to howl. It rolled over the armies stranded by their recent disorientation, many equines were tossed to and fro.

The weather born juggernaut moved towards the Crystal empire, and threatened to wreak havoc their next. Monarch pulled her eyes away from Armor, who had stopped breathing at this point anyway. The transformation into a behemoth without the proper energy had destroyed him.

Chrysalis and Specter were no where to be seen. Monarch only had a slight frown for that, her main attention turned towards the vulnerable empire that was open and defenseless. Several more of the white stones were pulled from Fetish’s satchel and consumed in quick succession.

The triumphant queen flew towards the storm, ready to dissolve, then claim…


---


The vision was pulled away and Shellish was in the star field again next to the bright whispering river, her gaze more than a little disturbed. Harmony’s voice gently chided the stunned changeling out of her stupor.

“What I just showed you did not happen. I found the consequences of that event, and the events that followed too severe for the world to maintain any semblance of balance. Shellish, do you remember Discord?”

“He was a spirit of chaos from legend? Didn’t you just say you released him?”

“I did indeed. I did so that he might interrupt events, and prevent the destruction of my agents. He doesn’t do this out of benevolence, rather his own sense of twisted entertainment.”

Harmony reached a hoof towards the river of light one last time, which caused the image of an arena to appear. Discord himself was center stage, and host over several equines on his stage. Shellish quickly recognized the individuals there.

“He has them?”

“This is where you come into play, Shellish.”

“Me?”

“Yes, the only means I have to stop him fully is when my elements and their bearers are aligned. Unfortunately none of my visions showed that course succesfully in the near future.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t need to understand all the nuances Shellish. There are too many to explain, and not enough time. I cannot work with you like I can proper bearers, but I can help you help others.”

One question in particular had bothered Shellish, and she placed one hoof over her chest.

“Are… are you the one that brought me back?”

Harmony looked down on her with pained expression, and slowly nodded her head. For the first time since the two interacted, Harmony’s eyes drifted away from the changeling. Shellish just pleaded harder.

“Why? Where was I? Why did you take me away?”

Harmony took a deep breath, and made eye contact once more.

“I am sorry Shellish, I would have left you to your peace, but I needed you. Your little royal needs you, she is lost and needs to be guided, and there are few that she would listen to. You have an opportunity to be a hope, and a keystone that others simply cannot be right now. Ofcourse you still have your own choices, you do not owe me anything. But I have given you an opportunity, perhaps a chance to make right if you so desire.”

Shellish bowed her head in thought, slightly irritated with Harmony’s rather indirect way of addressing things, but at the same time processed the implications of the choices before her. She stayed in thought for sometime, and the giant pony across from her never showed any signs of impatience. Eventually Shellish opened her mouth in submissive tone.

“What opportunities did you have in mind for me exactly?”

The changeling lifted a listening ear, and Harmony smiled.

Author's Note:

alright.... bout time i had another chapter out right? hehe... anyway, there's one depiction of how the battle could have played out without discord's intervention. In anycase, I don't think it would have turned out pretty at all. K but enough about that.

Sketches

Somebody sorta familiar is still around...

and then some other big players make their involvement known.

As visions go, the dark initiator is revealed.

crone's death

The germane equalizers

The dragon Monarch

changelings posing as changeling. Allure with Armor

Specter and Clarity

and there were so many other scenes I figured I could have drawn, but things were already getting stacked up, and I don't want you guys to wait forever for chapters. blerg, sorry my jan - feb writing rate has sucked. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the chapter for what it was, and I look forward to doing the next one!

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