• 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.65 "Processes"

Chrysalis Wins

Ch.65 “Processes”

By the end of her address Crone’s voice began to feel the effects of maintaining a raised voice. The general smell of the populous emotions had improved, if only slightly.

She waved in departure and rounded away from the body of her citizens. However, the steps she took were reluctant. For each step deeper into the castle was another step that cemented the reality of the situation. They had a month, or so Shellish thought, before the miraculous shield would give out. Time was no friend as it ticked, and ticked away. Step after step.

With Chrysalis away on the primary quest, it was just Crone. Only her magically disabled ares was left to keep things stable and running smoothly. Before she knew it, her hooves had carried her back to her bedroom, and she remained still in the doorway.

Shellish was awake, and watched the cat-sun and the mouse-moon skitter about the sky, which now used clouds as part of their game of chase. The older royal never turned her head as she spoke.

“Things have definitely escalated beyond what I could have imagined. Rather overwhelming, isn’t it?”

Crone walked over to the bedside, and watched the diurnal’s pursuit of the nocturnal, her demeanor rather stoic.

“I’m trying not to think about it all at once.”

“A fair approach.”

Both of them remained in silence for a while after that. The pair of changelings enjoyed the momentary peace of simply being present with one another. It did good for Crone’s mind as she relaxed into a near meditative state, which brought eventual clarity. With a collection of un-mired thoughts she turned to Shellish and asked.

“Will you come with me?”

The royal with the curly orange mane swiveled her head and answered quickly.

“Ofcourse.”

The young queen led the way as they walked out of the room, down the halls, and took wing to fly the shafts of the palace.

As they soared past the elegant panes of crystal, Crone glanced at the floors far below. A small epiphany struck her, of all the things to appreciate, she still had the ability to fly…

Soon they came upon Crone’s intended destination, the highest pinnacle of the palace. Dark hooves landed on the blue-opaque floor, and carried their owners towards the center of the gazebo-like structure.

There at the center, where Crystal Heart was hibben but a few weeks ago, was the Well of Memories, which floated in spherical serenity. A surprised gasp came from Shellish as she recognized the ancient artifact.

“The well! You, uh, little roya-”

“Yes, Chrysalis kept it safe, and it hasn’t been until recently that we’ve had the time to take advantage of it. After taking the full duties of queen I- hrm, Chrysalis, understands why you didn’t teach from it more.”

The corners of Shellish’s mouth drooped into a guilty frown, and her whole posture began to sag.

“I’m sorry I didn’t make it more of a priority. Most of what I looked into were monologues from Monarch and Emperor FireHeart. I assumed Monarch had died in the civil war. My primary concern after escape was food and safety.”

“I know Shellish, I know how distracted we were. Opportunities are different now. I brought you here because I need your help with this process. Can you reach out to Chrysalis?”

The older changeling put a hoof to her temple as she mentally reached out. The isle of draconequi was very, very far away. Though soon she found the familiar signature or her pupil’s mind.

Chrysalis?

The response was quick and sharp

NOT NOW! I’LL GET BACK TO YOU!

Shellish flinched from the forcefulness of the reply. She spoke aloud to Crone.

“I found her, but she’s busy.”

The clone pursed her lips, then turned to the well.

“Very well, we’ll just move on then.”

After a brief swivel on her nimble hooves, the younger changeling reached a hoof to activate the well.

“The last thing I was looking into had draconequ involved… I think it may be relevant to look into it further. We can share the helpful details with Chrysalis, when she isn’t, busy…”

Shellish perked up with interest, and she made her way over Crone, where she took a seat to watch. A dark hoof was extended, and swiped across the mirrored surface. The ancient liquid sprang to life, and visions and voices of days long gone echoed to the present day.




---


( Draconequus Isle )


Chrysalis and Specter had found a cave along the beach to hide in. For now, they were undisturbed, and began to engage in a heated whisper.

“How long were you here exactly? How are you sure there’s even an answer on this isle?”

She pointedly jabbed him in the chest with a relatively cherry-free hoof, though it was still sticky, and she peeled her hoof off with some effort. Meanwhile he barely acknowledge the gesture while leaned towards her, and took advantage of his height to look down on her.

“I spent a few years hiding here a century ago. I learned a few pertinent aspects of their history and culture. I know we’ll be able to find a replacement. The only thing to discern now is finding a trustworthy candidate.”

“Trust… TRUST! We go no more than a step or two on this isle and we get treated like ragdolls! They don’t know me, and see fit to prank me with the fear of death! Where do I even start! Trust? HA!”





The changeling’s voice broke from whispers into near-hysteric levels. Specter tried to gesture for her to quiet down, but eventually gave up pretense himself, and raised his voice.

“What alternative is there! Do you want your swarm to have a future!”

“How dare you question my love for my swarm!”

The shouting match continued for several minutes, until the sound of a vacuum roared to life, and in another moment all the stone and earth that sheltered the royal changelings was sucked away. The two of them were now completely exposed to the open sky.

This caused them to momentarily stop, and notice the grey draconequus deemed “mop”. He gave a shy wave. However, the changelings proceeded to ignore him and continue the argument they were more invested in.

Mop was content to watch them behind his unexpressive goggles and muzzle cover. It wasn’t until Authority appeared in another blast of lightning that Chrysalis and Specter actually gave serious pause.

“Unorderly, unexpected, and unfashionably inappropriate miscreants! There is a system already in place for visiting this island! But you two just took the uncouth back alley of Silver’s irreverent violation of procedure!”

The tall female leered down on both of them with the air of a disciplinarian chastising her students. Chrysalis, despite feeling disadvantaged in this particular situation, glared back defiantly.

“I wouldn’t be here if I thought there was a better option!”

“DON’T GIVE ME AN EXCUSE! If you plan taking a step off of this beach you are both going to sit here and fill out the necessary paperwork!”

With a small double clap, Authority summoned a desk and several binders. A set of finely trimmed quills and bottles of ink were next to the mountain of paperwork. The changeling's eyes narrowed and she clenched her jaw at being told about like some… some common pony. The only thing that kept her silent was the uncertainty of how powerful this ‘authoritarian’ was.




Satisfied that she received no further rebuttal, the prim suited draconequus finally calmed her tone, and adopted a more apathetic approach.

“Once you have completed the mandatory acceptance of our ground rules, come straight to my office. From there, we can discuss the terms of your solicitation. Promptness will be appreciated, deviation will not. I look forward to seeing both of you… soon. Mop, will make sure you follow procedure, and that none of our rabble disturbs the process.”

Her mouth remained flat as she spelled it out. Once she was done, and gave a brief nod to Mop, Authority vanished in a poof of smoke. Unlike all the other times where she appeared/disappeared, this was quiet. However, the silent moment lasted no longer than the instant she was gone.

“And where is this office suppose to be? And how are we supposed to complete that pile of nonsense in less than a month? Does she have no respect for guests whatsoever!”

The queen’s voice came out in an infuriated hiss, all of this quickly mounted to be too much. Consequences be damned, she’d rather-

The neat desk blew up in a spectacular burst of fire. Shards of splintered wood and ashes fell down on the beach like confetti. For an instant Chrysalis just stood there and gasped, then quickly to turned to Specter to see if he was the culprit. His surprised expression and lack of a smoking horn revealed that not to be the case. Rather, the smoke trail led to the extended claw of Mop.

Neither changeling made a move, cautious of what this creature would do next. But all that happened was a quick removal of the goggles and muzzle cover. After a few blinks, and putting the accessories away, the tall steel grey figure raised his scratchy voice.

“Sorry about all that. We’d never have a guest if any of them were expected to fill that all out. Hrm, excuse me, how about a proper introduction. I’m called Mop.”

He extended a tiger paw towards them. Chrysalis looked at it questioningly, so Specter put his hoof out first to exchange a shake.

“Specter, it’s a pleasure.”

After the exchanged shake Mop pulled out a white damp cloth, and rubbed it over his paw, while muttering something along the lines of “sorry, compulsive habit I haven’t been able to shake.” Then extended the same greeting to the queen. This time she finally had a little receptivity, now that a measure of respect was extended her way.

“Queen Chrysalis.”

“Good, now I suppose we can get to some business. My sister likes to be over complicated and wordy, so I’ll try to be straight with you two, which I think you’ll find to be a rare commodity on this island. So, what would you two like to do while you’re here? I can hazard a guess, but I think it’ll come clearer from your own mouths.”

The teal-maned changeling burst into complaint, feeling safe enough to speak without restraint to this particular individual.

“Oh, I only have a major DISCORD problem. I was buffered here in a flurry by my old mentor and this, questionable individual. Frankly one of you needs to clean up that rampant buffoon. Have you no control over you own?”

She shot an accusatory glare at Specter, then remained questioningly on Mop. The grizzled chimera took the sarcastic hostility in a cool and reserved manner.

“The whole lot of my kind is an uncoordinated mess, but about Discord… Um he’s not a figure any individual on this island would wish to challenge… Not with the way things are at least.”

It felt like a stone just dropped into Chrysalis’s gut, and her anger started to give way to something else. The retributive desire that had been fueling her fizzled, and that fleeting thing called ‘hope’ was flying away.

“What do you mean! You must explain further! That’s the entire point of us coming here!”

Specter chimed in as well, confusion broke his otherwise self-assured expression.

“I agree, I thought one of you could challenge him for his title and power.”

Mop held up both paws defensively against their demands.

“That is true, but no one has wanted to since that other brief return. You must understand, The spirit of chaos is suppose to be the apex of our kind. The passing of that title is supposed to increase the mantle bearer’s potential by a hundred, no, a thousand fold. It was something we thought unstoppable, but ponies with their ‘harmony’ magic proved that otherwise.”

A tone of obvious discouragement leaked through mop’s scratchy voice, and after a brief pause he resumed.

“There was some talk about mantle changing when Discord had his short bout of freedom a few years back, but that was so short an escape, and he ended up right back in stone. We thought the title and mantle of power was lost to us forever. The fact that Celestia wasn’t keen to let any of us to try and take it back only compounded the issue. For some reason she thinks the lot of us untrustworthy…”

A harsh bark of a laugh escaped from the grizzled chimera, which only made Chrysalis feel uncomfortable, her confidence was already on edge as is.

“Well, she won’t be you biggest problem now, and neither will the elements of harmony.”

“Which is precisely why you’ve become a popular figure as of late, queen Chrysalis. Celestia was the symbol of hopelessness over here, but then comes a changeling a changein’ things. Our expectations were blown out of the water, and even Discord has been released again! Most of us agree there’s something quite special about you.”

Though the flattery was nice, and Chrysalis found herself blushing slightly, that didn’t answer the problem at hoof.





“Well, why don’t some of you come and try to take the title back? I’m quite willing to… negotiate some kind of deal.”

The word negotiate tasted like sour milk in her mouth, but things the way they were, she’d bitten into nastier things before. Another bark of laughter from escaped Mop’s chiseled muzzle.

“Because most of us are straight terrified, and skeptical that we even could. You see, some of us have been trying to put two and two together for a while. None of our memories go further back than a few centuries, though I’m pretty sure a few of us are much older than that.”

Mop started to pace back and forth as he recounted his theory.

“I don’t think Mop is my real name, but no one else can tell me otherwise. What was most enlightening was Discord’s first escape from his stone prison. He started to turn those ponies grey as he corrupted their minds…”

Mop looked down, and gesticulated towards his own obviously achromatic figure. The point was painfully clear.

“He changed you?”

Chrysalis muttered rhetorically, while Specter put a fetlock to his chin in thought. The chimera continued.

“If you go around the isle, all of the grey draconequi have been here for centuries, or longer, none of us know specifically. All the colored ones are the younger generations, and have been a constant reminder of our more chaotic nature.”

At this point Specter finally added something to the conversation.

“Why have none of you escaped this isle? Surely the more rambunctious and younger ones would have tried.”

The tall chimera looked out towards the ocean, and the odd colored clouds that formed a large ring around the land.

“The barrier, none of us have been able to leave it. I figure it is a measure Discord took long ago to protect his power. He can’t lose it if none of us can challenge him.”

“But we came onto your island, so there are ways in and out?”

Chrysalis cut in, some hope fighting to get back into her voice. Mops voice was casual in his reply.

“Indeed, as far as I know any non-draconequus can freely enter or leave the island. The only one of us that’s been able to get off the island successfully has been Silver. He even teases us every once and awhile, by dancing on the other side of the barrier with no issue… the conceited jerk.”

That made the queen’s eyes actually light up, and before she could speak Mop interrupted her by raising a paw.

“Silver is not going to challenge Discord. There will be no convincing him, besides I don’t think he’s allowed to. The one source of old information we do have is our, ‘chaotic rock of chaotic traditions’.”

Chrysalis quirked an eyebrow, and Specter nodded as if he remembered something.

“Any draconequus that becomes the ‘Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony’ can not challenge their immediate successor. It has to change paws at least twice, before a challenge of reclamation can be made. From my educated guess, Silver was the last mantle bearer before Discord.”

“Well then, how do we get one of you out there to challenge Discord? You have been, strangely reasonable, Mop. Why don’t you try?”

The queen pressed, and the chimera looked down at her, and was slightly reminded of a pup begging for a treat. He tilted his head, and a measure of concern came over his grizzled features. He extended a bear paw and prompted the changelings to come closer. As they did so he started to walk towards the jungle and lead them along.

“My sister will be expecting you two relatively soon, and besides, there are several other draconequi that want to talk to you besides me.”

Mop pulled out his goggles and muzzle cover again as they began to brush along the plant life. Slightly frustrated, Chrysalis persisted.

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

The reply that came her way was dodgy.

“I know.”


---



(Crystal empire, a secluded building)


Applejack groaned and blinked her eyes, her head felt like it had gone through a washing machine full of bricks, and her vision was very foggy. She tried to lift a leg, but felt something rather slimy restraining it. She sighed in defeat, was she cocooned again? But this felt different, the wet wasn’t everywhere… Besides, the last thing she remembered was… Her eyes blinked rapidly to try and clear away the fog.

There was a rustle and a moan next to her, after a few more blinks her vision came into focus, and she stared at her nearby neighbor.

“Shade? What’s goin’ on?”

There were chains over his body, and a cap over his horn. Something smelled off, and rather toxic about the metal. All the vanguard managed was another grunt of intense displeasure. The earth pony gave herself a once over, and quickly recognized the changeling slime that bound her down to the floor.

“Who? What?”

The room they were in was large, and empty, except for arrays of miscellaneous boxes. AJ tried to keep herself calm, despite the rising panic in her chest.

“Anypony there? Some pony! We need help!”

“Oh, you two are the ones that are going to do the helping…”

The voice came from above, shortly before something dropped from the ceiling, and landed right in front of them. It was another changeling, a measure taller then shade, and similar in form. Definitely a vanguard, though he didn’t bear any patterns common to Chrysalis’s swarm.

Annoyed now, AJ turned a defiant glare to the newcomer.

“What’s this? Some kind of internal dispute? What do ya think you’re doin’ defyin’ your own queen’s orders?”

“NOT MY QUEEN! My queen was blasted past the horizon… You two are going to help exact a toll. A Queen, for a queen… Especially you.”

The sinister vanguard approached Shade, AJ, seeing the situation escalate quickly, tried to intervene. She struggled vainly against her slime bound restraints.

“No, don’t hurt him! I’ll tell what you want to know!”

“No doubt, but I don’t need permission.”

He kicked off the cap that covered Shade’s horn, and tapped foreheads. The chained vanguard was conscious now, and glared back up at his captor with confusion, but resilience.

A brief mental struggled occurred between the two, though Shade was well practiced with the field of mental manipulation, his opponent was on an entirely different level, and soon, he cracked. A glazed, near comatose expression came over the defeated vanguard’s face as all resistance faded away.

At this point Applejack screamed.

“HELP! SOMEPONY HELP!”

It went on for only a moment more, until the captor turned from Shade, and onto her. He slapped a gob of slime over her mouth to silence her. Then smiled as the fire of transformation lit over his body, and there stood a perfect impersonation of Chrysalis’s head vanguard. He laughed, and then stepped towards the terrified orange mare. He extended a hoof, and gave her a faux-soothing pat on the head.

“No need to worry little pony, You’re not the one I hate… and after I’m finished, you won’t have to remember any of this either.”

The imposter turned and left. Now alone, with no way to call out, AJ started to shake, a few frustrated tears began to roll down her cheeks, she couldn’t do anything to help the dilapidated changeling across from her either, just helplessly watch him drool onto the floor.

It continued like that for a little while, and eventually she laid her head down in despair. She didn’t notice when Shade started to stir again. With much effort, the chained vanguard began to lift himself up. There was enough space for him to maneuver, and actually get onto his hooves. The loud rattle of his efforts drew the mare’s attention, and a wave of relief flooded over her as she saw her friend get to his hooves. Her friend? Could she really consider Shade that? Well, he always expressed empathy, despite them being on opposite sides of the fence on a few important things. He was… Alright.

“MmmhmmmMMMM.”

She grunted behind her covered muzzle, which was enough to grab Shade’s attention. Through pain clouded eyes, he spotted her, merely a step or two away. He leaned forward, and found the limits of his chains, if she leaned out he could almost reach-

“Let’s get that off Applejack, I need you to lean forward too.”

The cap was back on his horn, and he had no access to magic, something about the property of the chains prevented him from changing as well. But if he reached forward, and she reached as well, they were just close enough to… bump snouts.

“Just a sec.”

He started to nibble slowly on the spat of slime. It took several minutes, but when he was done AJ’s mouth was free again, and she rotated her jaw to enjoy her small measure of freedom.

“What the hay was that about! I thought you were gonner, you drooled on yourself!”

“Well, getting your mind turned inside out is quite… uncomfortable, but I don’t think he got everything he wanted in that session. To process an entire mind it will take several more, but I’m afraid…”

Shade cut himself off, the realization struck him with fear. Applejack caught it and voiced her concern.

“That villain said somethin’ about a queen for a queen, ya don’t think-”

“I think he’s from that foreign queen’s swarm, Monarch I think it was. Don’t worry AJ, I’ll get us out of here. Or that idiot will get himself caught. Either way, I’ll figure something.”

“But you’re chained down without magic!”

Shade looked over his shackles with something of a resolved, but reluctant gaze. Then a half-hearted smile crept up his mouth.

“Perhaps he was counting on me having a low pain tolerance…”

“Whatcha say?”

AJ’s brow narrowed as she watched the vanguard strain with excessive force against the chain, all of his efforts were focused on his left rear ankle.

“You’re not gonna…”

She flinched and looked away with a cringe as she heard a loud CRACK! And POP! A small string of profanities blew out of Shade’s mouth as the ankle was freed… and now sported an extra joint that should not be there.

“FLAKING SCRUNGE FUNGUS! ...ow…”

“The hay are you doin’ Shade!”

The mare rounded on him angrily, equally impressed and disgusted.

“Getting out of here. Hmm, but here’s a fun tidbit, there’s a phrase some of us got accustomed to on our trips between the badlands and civilization.”

“Do I wanna know the answer?”

Aj shook her head unamused, and clenched her jaw as the vanguard broke his other ankle to slide it free. A few uncontrollable tears rolled down his chitinous cheeks, even as wore a defiant grin.

“You’re not a real changeling until you’ve regrown half your body!”

CRACK!



Author's Note:

Sorry posts have taken such time... I need to stop making promises or guesses.


Anyway, how do yall like the colored art? and another question. Do you guys like it enough that you don't mind i'm publishing slower? Cuz, doing that extra work made me publish this a week later than just doing the text would.

So, would you prefer the story out faster? Or slower but accompanied with the extra material?

Til next chapter, have a good one ;)

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