• Published 5th Sep 2015
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Equestria’s Changeling Queen and the Abyssal Empress - vren55



After Alternia, changeling queen and former regent for a missing Celestia, is coronated as Equestria’s third ruling princess, she must face her first crisis in the depths of the Eastern Sea. Sequel to Princess Celestia: The Changeling Queen.

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Chapter 1: A Discussion of Heraldry and New Roles

I admit that when I accepted Celestia and Luna’s offer to become Equestria’s third ruling princess, and not just a princess by title like Blueblood and Cadance, I was certain that it was the right choice. At least for myself.

Right now though, as I slumped over a desk littered with hundreds of sketched-out designs, I had to admit I slightly regretted my decision to accept the offer.

Luna actually seemed to agree with me as she sunk into her velvet sofa.

“How is it possible that heraldry is just as complicated and tedious as it was a thousand years ago? We have looked over so many symbols, devices, and designs, and yet none seem to fit for Alternia’s Royal Insignia,” groaned Luna.

I shrugged, watching as Celestia, whose mask I had worn for so long, copied Luna and sunk into her pile of silk-covered cushions. She could never seem to gather enough of those cushions to hoard around her these days. I attributed her quirk to the fact she had never felt silk prior to her sleep.

“Finding the right insignia to represent a new ruler is important, Luna. The Royal Insignia that we choose today can last Alternia for a thousand years,” said Celestia, her voice ever so regal, but this time, exhausted beyond belief.

Yet, as tired-sounding as Celestia was, I couldn’t help but flinch as Celestia spoke. It was quite disturbing to watch the form I had worn for a thousand years move in front of me, and speak with a different tone and inflection than I had, not to mention wear the crown that once had been mine.

A bright idea popped into my mind and I pulled myself up from my couch.

“Maybe we might need to ask for another pony’s opinion.”

“Come again?” Luna asked.

Levitating quill and parchment in front of me, I lazily spun them in the air, watching the feathers oscillate. “The mark represents me, but it must also be recognized as a symbol by the common pony. It might be useful to ask a few others of their opinion,” I suggested.

“Whom would you suggest we meet?” asked Celestia.

Rising to my hooves, I levitated the parchment and quill after me as I trotted to the doors of my room.

“Just follow me, Celestia, Luna. I know who to talk to.”


Opening the door of my room, the three of us trotted out into the hallway, passing the doors to Luna’s room. However, Celestia stopped briefly in front of a pair of open golden-leaf doors to watch the construction ponies work on renovating a spare guest room next Luna’s room into Celestia’s new abode.

I had opted to keep my old room with its sun motifs and blue, white, and gold color scheme. I intended to change that later, but for now it was a familiar sight to remind me of how some things hadn’t changed. Particularly since everypony else saw fit to remind me of how different things were.

As we started walking again, I couldn’t help but notice ponies’ reactions to me. They may not have stopped to gawk, but nopony could fail to notice how my subjects now flinched at my presence, how their eyes shot to my crooked horn, or how they cringed at my prosthetic carapace.

“Did I remember to have my new regalia’s chestpiece to be made bigger than the old one?” I whispered to my co-rulers.

Luna nodded. “You did,” she said simply.

“Indeed. We personally thought that thou could have used more steel instead of silver, but we remember your insistence to make the chestpiece larger,” Celestia said.

My eyes narrowed slightly. “Increased silver content means the chestpiece can be better inscribed with runic enchantments of protection, which would protect me against spells like the one that necessitated this prosthetic.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Steel is far more versatile and would grant you better physical protection.”

“You forget that we’re plating the regalia with chrome, which would greatly increase the surface hardness of my regalia,” I pointed out.

Blinking, Celestia’s mouth formed an “o” as she was struck silent. “Right. Forgive us.” She winced. “We have had a lot on our mind as of late.”

I smiled in understanding. As part of our old arrangement, Celestia had agreed that because she forced a copy of her memories on me, she should accept a copy of mine. Hence, she was experiencing the same memory problems I had suffered in the early years of my reign in her stead. Apart from short-term memory loss, symptoms also included sudden flashbacks and gaps in memory, but still Celestia had shouldered my memories in her usual stoic, regal fashion. With more than a little consultation and help from myself and Luna, of course.

It was then I spotted one of the ponies we needed to talk to walking down the hall. Calmly levitating a notepad and pen, the white unicorn was peering at the pages so intently through her dark-brown semi-circle glasses that she was completely oblivious to our presence.

Unable to resist smirking a bit, I waited until the unicorn was close enough, and suddenly coughed loudly into my hoof, making the unicorn jump almost an inch into the air with an absolutely adorable squeak. With my magic, I grabbed her notepad and pen before they hit the ground, and waited patiently as she heaved in deep breaths, her brown eyes glaring at me.

“Princess! I’ve told you many times! No surprises! No coughing! And no sneaking up on me!” stammered the mare as she straightened her white collar and red tie.

I couldn’t help but giggle. “You told Celestia not to surprise you, not me.”

The actual Celestia glanced at me, bemused, as Luna rubbed her forehead with a hoof, and the unicorn groaned.

“Forgive me for not actually knowing your real name at the time, Princess!” snapped Raven, my longtime aide and Court Assistant. She attempted to look exasperated, but her quivering lip undermined that effort.

Chuckling, I forced myself to get back onto the topic that I wanted to talk to Raven about.

“Raven, do you mind giving us your opinion on something?”

Raven shook her head. “Ask away, your highness. I am at your service.”

In short terms, I explained the dilemma we had in choosing my Royal Insignia. Particularly the part where we had no idea which devices should be part of my symbol.

“So in essence, you are trying to figure out what your cutie mark would look like, Princess?” asked Raven.

I opened my mouth to say “no” and explain patiently that I could never have a cutie mark in the first place, and immediately closed it as my eyes widened.

“Why it appears I am,” I said softly. Celestia and Luna appeared to have come to the same realization as well, judging from Celestia’s exasperated groan and Luna’s self-depreciating murmurs.

Raven chuckled, shaking her head. “You still like to overthink things too much, Princess.”

“I do not— why are you laughing, Luna? I really don’t....” I groaned as Raven joined Luna in her fit of giggles, as Celestia looked bemusedly at the three of us.

“We do not understand what is so humorous. Is this one of those ‘in-jokes’ ponies in this era tell each other?” asked Celestia.

I purposefully ignored Celestia, lest our current endeavour get even further off-track.

“So what you are saying is that I should try to make it reflect my talents, and my very being, instead of pandering to traditional codes of heraldry where the leading pony’s cutie mark would be modified or added with additional symbols?” I asked.

Stifling her laughter with a gulp, Raven nodded. “Yes. Perhaps there is an object or device that symbolizes your nature in a heartbeat, and summarizes your abilities.”

My eyes widened as a shape popped into my mind. “I think there is.” Grinning, I stood back up. “Thank you, Raven that was most helpful.”

My assistant bowed, her magic taking back control of her notebook and pen. “You’re welcome, your highness.” She then trotted away, while we continued walking down the hall.


The next pony I sought advice from was not actually a pony, and she was less an advisor, and more family.

A large smile burst upon her dark changeling features as she galloped up to me and wrapped her holed hooves around my forelegs. “Auntie Alternia!”

I nuzzled Cyndra, Chrysalis’s youngest daughter and my niece. “How was your trip to your mother’s hive?” I asked.

I’m not sure how, but Cyndra’s smile widened even further. “It was good! I spent a lot of time with mom. By the way, she’d like to accept your invitation to your coronation.” Cyndra then put a hoof to her mouth to stifle her giggles. “She also mentioned that she, Belladonna, and Simulacris would be bringing you a present there.”

Though I was completely mystified, and admittedly slightly worried as to what my mischievous sisters would be bringing me, I nodded. “That’s very nice of them. By the way, Cyndra, I’d like to ask your opinion on something.”

I explained the situation to her and told her what Raven had told me. Cyndra listened to it all quietly, her eyes contemplative.

“That makes a lot of sense. I don’t know how much help I can give you, though. I’m still getting used to being my mother’s representative and your Lady-in-Waiting,” said Cyndra, rubbing her head sheepishly.

I chuckled. “And I think you are doing a fine job, Cyndra.” And I wasn’t lying. Cyndra had thrown herself into her duties with the thoroughness I’ve come to expect from ponies twice her age, whether it be simple errand-running or accompanying me as Chrysalis’s ambassador to meetings with the ministers of Equestria’s government.

“Thank you,” said Cyndra. Swallowing, she took a deep breath and looked me in the eye. “So, what do you have in mind now?”

I levitated a piece of parchment I sketched out after talking to Raven and showed it to Cyndra. It was a drawing of a mask, a black, half-faced mask like those worn by popular comic book heroes, particularly Zorro, who used the black mask with his cape and rapier to defend the commoners of Las Pegasus, but also of Mare-Do-Well, and the Power Ponies. Hence, the mask would be easily recognizable and speak to the public, while paying homage to my changeling abilities and my history with Equestria.

Luna, peering over my shoulder, nodded. “Nicely chosen, Alternia, I think it requires another device to offset it though. Maybe a pair of changeling wings to further mark your heritage?”

“Perhaps,” said Celestia, her brow furrowed in thought. “Maybe a sword to represent your power, or a crown to confirm thy status as Queen?”

“I was thinking of a heart, actually,” said Cyndra.

I looked to my niece, intrigued. “Can you elaborate further, Cyndra?”

My niece hesitated for a moment, noticing that Luna and Celestia had turned to watch her as well, but she raised her head high and pointed to the mask. “The heart is a positive symbol of love and devotion in Equestria, and will tell everypony of your love for Equestria. Not to mention that the heart pays respect to the heritage of changelings to use love as energy and to power our magic.” Cyndra bit her lip. “At least, that’s what I think.”

I grinned and levitated my quill to the paper. “Well, I like how you think, Cyndra.”


The trip was proving to be far more productive than I could have ever imagined. The coat of arms looked almost finished, and while I still thought it was missing something, it was more than Celestia, Luna, and I had managed to come up with.

An eager, familiar voice interrupted my thoughts and I stopped, my ears shooting up.

“Teacher!”

I smiled and turned around to see a brown-colored mare in bronze armor gallop up to me and salute.

I mock-pouted. “Not going to hug me, General Hanna Belle?” I asked my former student.

Hanna Belle chuckled. “Okay, for old time's sake.” And she grabbed my forelegs briefly, while I nuzzled her blonde mane.

The tapping of a vinestick on marble floor interrupted that moment.

“Oi! Hanna Belle, we have some important things to talk about with your old mentor, so would you mind releasing her for a second?”

Hanna Belle let go of me, and glared at the new arrival, an older, white-coated pony carrying a vinestick and dressed in a toga.

“Caesar Salad. How have you been?” I asked.

The old general growled at me, even though his eyes were filled with mirth. “Busy. Your revelation a month ago still has me reassuring the rest of the officers that we aren’t being infiltrated by changelings, and that, yes you were the Celestia we knew about.”

I winced. “I’m sorry about—”

“Don’t apologize for the actions of fools, Alternia. It is unbecoming of a princess,” snapped a harsh voice.

My smile didn’t waver as a wizened green pegasus in a blue naval uniform limped up, leaning heavily on her silver-tipped cane. “Admiral Marenitz, how is your le—”

“Bloody awful thanks to you!” snapped Marenitz. My eyes wide, I took a step back as the high commander of the Royal Equestrian Intelligence and Naval Service pointed her cane at my face.

“Marenitz, put that thing down,” ordered Caesar, a narrow-eyed Hanna Belle backing him up. Luna and Celestia had also slowly flanked me, their expressions stern.

Marenitz didn’t back down, though. In fact, to my alarm, she seemed to snarl.

“Do you have any idea how much work you’ve added to my plate by keeping me out of the loop of your damned secret? I’m supposed to know everything that happens in this country, down to when you go to the seats of ease, and you feel completely fine not to tell me about the fact that you are a changeling queen!”

I opened my mouth to respond, but Marenitz kept talking. “Thanks to that, we nearly landed in a political mess. If not for Cadance, Blueblood, Luna, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, Captain Armor, we’d be more screwed than sitting in a leaky dinghy in the middle of a hurricane.”

Marenitz suddenly found herself facing the narrowed eyes and gritted teeth of Celestia, who had been doing her best to hold in her tongue but found her patience exhausted.

“Thou impudent little pony, the situation was far too delicate for Alternia to tell anypony, much less thee!”

“Celestia.”

Celestia briefly glanced at me, one of her eyebrow raised as I fixed her with a calm look.

“I thank you for defending me, but let me talk to the good admiral,” I said, keeping my face neutral.

Celestia, still glaring at Marenitz, complied, backing away.

I sighed. “You are right, Marenitz. I should have told somepony, many ponies, including you, but I was afraid.” I looked Marenitz in the eye. “You know what fear does to ponies.”

Marenitz glared back at me, but slowly put her cane down and broke contact, her eyes looking off the side.

“Yeah, I know.” She looked back at me, a wry smile on her features. “You taught me that, your majesty, when I was a much younger, and more foolish pony. Do you recall?”

I did remember that young mare from long ago. She had been crying in my hooves as she broke down, her resignation letter on my desk. A letter I had torn up, and never regretted having done so since.

“You weren’t that foolish, Marenitz.”

Marenitz snorted. “You know who to tell that to.” She raised her cane again and pointed it at me, a wicked grin on her face. “Just don’t you bloody try to hide something so big from all of us ponies ever again.”

“I don’t think you would let me,” I said smoothly as Marenitz dropped her cane’s point and leaned back on it again. I coughed and pulled out the parchment paper. “Now before I get further off topic, I would like to ask you all something.” And once again, I laid out the conundrum my two to-be-co-rulers and I had come to my generals and admiral to ask about.

“There’s something that seems missing from this Royal Insignia. I’m not sure what, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter,” I explained.

Hanna Belle blinked and glanced to Caesar. “Shield?”

Caesar nodded and turned to Marenitz. “Shield?”

Marenitz nodded and tapped the parchment with her cane. “Shield.”

“What dost thou mean? We know that a Royal Insignia can sometimes go on a shield to make a coat of arms,” said Celestia, peering closely at the sketch of the mask leaning against the heart.

“Well, we think the shield should be part of your heraldic device itself. To represent your constant and continuous protection of… of…” Caesar closed his mouth, at a loss for words.

“All of us?” asked Hanna Belle, a cheeky grin on her face as she nudged Caesar.

The older general rolled his eyes at Hanna Belle, but nodded. “Well, yes.”

I nodded. That was a good idea. “What kind of shield?”

“A kite shield,” said Caesar confidently. When I glanced at him questioningly, the old general shrugged. “Ponies like tradition, and kite shields tend to be depicted as the shields of heroes.”

It was a good suggestion. “Where should the shield go then?” I then asked.

“Perhaps the heart and mask should be centered within the shield?” suggested Hanna Belle.

I took a moment to picture the image of that in my head and I found I quite liked it. But the shield was missing one rather important descriptor.

“What should be the color of the shield?”

Marenitz chuckled. “Emerald, your majesty. I mean, it’s the color of your eyes, the color of grass and trees, and the color of life. It has to be emerald.”

I smiled as I drew in a kite shield shield onto the parchment and showed it to the nodding Celestia and Luna.

“Good suggestion, admiral.”


We had been on our way back to our respective chambers, when Celestia made a pensive comment that nearly made me trip.

“It amazes us even now how loyal thy ponies are to thee.”

As soon as I had recovered my balance, I stared at Celestia in disbelief.

“I am not sure what you mean, Celestia. More than three quarters of my personal staff requested a transfer to your service.”

When I made my first appearance the ponies of Equestria had met my announcement with some joy, but many had been suspicious. While my generals and the ministers whom I had worked with on a day to day basis quickly recognized me for whom I was, others who had only seen me once or twice were afraid.

So, when a multitude of maids, butlers and secretaries requested transfers into Celestia’s service, I could not help but oblige them, despite how it tore at my heart. Raven and Cyndra were indignant on my behalf, but understood my decision.

Hence, I couldn’t comprehend Celestia’s comment.

The alicorn raised an eyebrow. “Thou art correct, but hast thou not noticed that the ponies to whom thou wert closest, the most talented of Equestria’s mares and stallions, have continued to stand by thee? Ponies like Admiral Marenitz, Hanna Belle, Caesar Salad, and Raven.”

I silently conceded that Celestia did have a point, but shook my head regardless. “Marenitz, Caesar, Raven, and I have a history. Hanna Belle is my former student. You can’t take those as an accurate measure of how much loyalty I can inspire when everypony else turns anyway.”

I flinched, eyes wide as Celestia roared at me. “But in spite of it all, thou still hast companions in this world!” Her voice was filled with immeasurable anguish.

“Celestia…” whispered Luna, draping her wing over her sister’s shoulders.

Her head bowed, Celestia closed her eyes and leaned into Luna, as if to burrow under her wing. “We are sorry, and we are ashamed of our jealousy, but when we saw thee with thy friends, we could not help but recall those whom we had left behind.”

I nodded, wincing as I thought of how Celestia felt. While I did not have her memories anymore, I vaguely recalled the content of some of them. Unlike Luna, who hadn’t been as popular or as social a thousand years ago, Celestia had been loved, had many companions. And now, almost everypony that she had known, and all that she was familiar with, was gone.

It was a sobering thought.

Tentatively, I placed a gentle hoof on Celestia’s shoulder. She didn’t flinch away, but her eyes narrowed slightly.

“Your friends and companions all lived full lives,” I said with a knowing smile.

Her eyes widening, Celestia stared at me. “Did they?”

I nodded and opened the door to my room. “Your friends became my trusted advisors, and as you know, I take care of my friends.” I paused, and turned to Celestia. “Would you like me to tell you of what happened to them?”

Celestia trotted out from under Luna’s wing, nodding eagerly.

“Yes”


The three of us talked for a long time of days long gone, until dinner came, and we had to separate to see to our own duties. Officially I had none, but there were still many a report I could read on various Equestrian matters to help Luna and Celestia.

I had just set down the final report when a fwoosh echoed through my room as a scroll popped into midair beside me. A smile on my face, I opened it quickly with my magic.

The letter was obviously from Twilight, a reply to the one I had sent to her just before dinner. I had wanted her and Rarity’s opinion on the subject of my insignia, and had sent a colored sketch of the current version to her. I hadn’t expected such a swift reply, but now that I considered my faithful student’s eager to please nature, I honestly should have known better.

Dear Alternia,

I did as you asked and checked with Rarity and my books on heraldry so that we could give you a final opinion on your idea for a Royal Insignia.

Rarity thinks the design is simple but elegant, and especially meaningful. She liked the use of the black mask and the pink heart to symbolize your abilities, and she says that the shade of green you chose for the shield was very nice, even if she says that: “Green isn’t my usual color.”

Rarity would also like to voice her opinion that pairing the Royal Insignia with any banners or livery of orange, red, pink, or even black would be a bad idea. Silver and green banners would be far better match apparently.

Hmm. Coincidence or not, Rarity seemed to have mirrored what my Royal Designers had chosen. I wonder what she would think of the regalia I was having made…

Shaking that thought out of my head, I continued reading.

Personally, I think that the design looks great! It certainly is something rather unconventional according to the research I have done. For example, my copy of A Thousand Heraldic Devices of Equestria notes that the heart tends to be paired with flowers, wings, or a crystal-related object. But considering your changeling nature, I think that the use of the heart paired with the theatre mask fits perfectly, while having positive heraldic connotations. The shield is also a very meaningful touch, as its universal meaning of “protection” will serve to represent your vision and goal for your reign.

Actually, now that I think more about it, the insignia fits your character so well, I’d say that if changelings had cutie marks, this would be yours!

Hope this helps with your decision.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

Feeling immensely satisfied with my choice, I rolled up the scroll and tucked it into a safe where I stored the rest of Twilight’s letters before I headed for my bathroom to brush up.

Which was when Philomena landed rather heavily on my shoulder, cawing loudly.

“Philomena? Is something wrong?” I asked, confused and worried. My pet would usually never do such a thing.

But my phoenix only jumped back off my back and pointed to the insignia design which lay rolled up on my desk. I instantly realized why.

Chuckling, I opened the scroll and showed it to Philomena, who stood on my desk, scrutinizing the design with narrowed eyes. For a long while, she turned her head this way and that, looking at the drawing from different angles.

I rolled my very tired eyes. “Come on, Philomena, I’ve entertained you for quite a long time. What is your verdict?”

If phoenixes could grin, Philomena would be doing so right now as she looked at me and gave a single nod, making a soft churring sound as she did so.

“Excellent. Now if you don’t mind, my mischievous pet, I’m going to have a wash up. Goodnight.”

I swore I heard Philomena cackle-cawing from my bedchamber as I scrubbed myself clean, but there was no way to confirm it. I guess I would have to be satisfied with knowing this one insignia slash cutie-mark was finished and done with.

Huh, I suppose the use of cutie-mark to refer to my Royal Insignia was rubbing off of me.


The Depths of the Eastern Sea…

Deep beneath the ocean’s surface, a vaguely pony-shaped being awaited her nemesis, having been summoned via magical message to a ceasefire. A ceasefire to a centuries-old conflict. The late hour combined with the lack of light penetrating this deep rendered the water quite chilly, so the seapony cast a spell to warm the water around her.

As the light faded from her horn, she looked to her bodyguards before repeating the spell for them as well. The last thing she needed was for them to be too sluggish to respond in case things went wrong. Barely had she finished before another chill swept over her as the beast she had been waiting for finally arrived.

“Hail, Empress Samudra,” it said, its flat tone falling dead in the nearly pitch black water. Samudra had to squint to see the monster approaching through the burgeoning darkness. Like herself, the new arrival was also vaguely sea-pony shaped, and yet the four legs and the long, shark-like tail denoted the abyssal as something completely different. Lighting her horn, curious to finally see her foe’s face, the Empress merely glimpsed a creature with flat black eyes and too many tentacles before the horror pulled out of the light with a low laugh. The sight disgusted her.

“Hail, Abyssal. It has been quite some time since you last attempted to treat with me. Getting tired of our little game?” She declared to the darkness and the creature undoubtedly circling just out of visual range.

“Aren’t you?” Came the voice suddenly from her left, forcing her to flinch back. “We’ve fought each other for centuries, outliving even our best soldiers. I really can’t complain, but does that not make you wonder how the two of us have remained the sole constant of our conflict after all these years?”

The Empress frowned, not sure where the creature was going with this line of talk. “They are soldiers; it’s their job to fight and die if need be. If all you have to offer is this inane prattle, you have spent your last ceasefire poorly. Begone. Next time I will simply have my soldiers impale you on sight.”

A laugh came from below her. “Oh? Well I will appreciate the meal. You must really like writing those condolence letters for their families. How many have you sent now?”

The trembling guards looked to their liege for guidance as she spat back her reply. “Get to the point, Tethys.”

All movement in the water ceased, and all humor left the creature’s voice as it delivered its ultimatum.

“Queen’s Challenge. Between the two of us.”

“Queen’s Challenge?” Samudra repeated, surprised, before allowing a smile grow across her face. “The prior rulers of your monstrous species have issued that same challenge to me before and every single one of them died at my hooves.”

“Oh, I am fully aware of that,” said the creature in a smug tone. “Do you accept? It’s the single best chance you’ll have to be rid of me.” The monster sneered. “Besides, you are running out of forts to hide in, food to feed your armies, and, speaking of armies, you’re running out of warriors to shield you.”

Samudra lip twitched and she snarled. “Usual stakes, I take it?” she asked the surrounding water, only to back off as a face out of a nightmare moved into sight directly in front of her. The mage light of Samudra’s horn highlighted rows of sharp white teeth.

“Yes.” A sudden movement in the water pushed Samudra back, and the teeth were gone. “To the death.” The voice became softer, as if the monster was moving away. Samudra knew better than to trust in voices, however. “Come tomorrow evening, there will be only one of us left.”

Samudra snorted. “Agreed.”

Author's Note:

All I can say is this.

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Also, some alternate, more heraldic versions of Alternia's new Royal Insignia/Cutie Mark made by my fantastically talented pre-reader Cosmic Cowboy

Personally I prefer the blue one XD

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