• Published 19th Sep 2015
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I, Chrysalis - Scarheart



Imprisoned, Queen Chrysalis writes the story of her life, her legacy. But not for those pathetic ponies! Gifted with a daughter, she cherishes what could be the last changeling she will ever interact with...

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Chapter XIII

Author's Note:

Edited by DJ_Neon_Lights.
Pre-read by DJ_Neon_Lights.

In case you did not read the blog post, I will not have humans in this story (thought I do suggest them). After discussing heavily with my editor, I decided humans are apparently too much of a distraction from the main plot.

Ah, well...there's always the next book. I wanted to get the ball rolling on the Sunverse. I guess I should make it a point to tell readers that was the intention from the beginning. My bad on that part.

So, without further adeu (and human free!) I present the continuation of I, Chrysalis!

(No humans were harmed in the writing of this episode. It was considered too inhumane to do so.)

Onwards!

The home where the Twin Queens ruled was a towering black spire of changeling construction, countless generations of changeling construction constantly adding to the imposing mass. A strange energy emanated from the tower as it jutted from the flat landscape. It pulsated through the air. I could not only feel it, but to some extent see it.

Taalia took me to a small bluff overlooking a dry river bed. Beyond it was the Spire.

“That,” she told me with pride, “is the Tower of Queens. Not only do our Goddess Sisters live there, but also the most powerful and influential queens. Whole armies are always camped at the base of the tower. There are always battles between Lessers to amuse the Twin Queens. There is the place where the most arcane secrets of all queens are kept, given out to those who find favor in the eyes of our beloved goddesses.”

She smiled. It was a terrible thing to see on her face. “This is the year of the Culling, little one. This year we cull the weak from our bloodlines and purge the Lesser queens of undesirable spawn. It is here you will learn your place. I will teach you. I will break you. I will mold you. I will show you what might become of you should you displease me.”

Queen Taalia ordered one of her Ravagers to pick me up. She knew this frightened me to no end because they would always pick me up on their jaws. As they carried me, with those jagged daggers a mere flinch of a muscle away from biting me in half, I would feel their hatred for me and how eagerly they would relish devouring me alive. One particular one, ‘Fluffy' Taalia affectionately called him, seemed to have a personal agenda against me. Every time he carried me in his mouth, he would drool excessively. I think he smiled when he did it, I’m certain!

Once Taalia had foisted her prizes upon another changeling slave, our group moved with the swiftness of deadly shadow. It was a regular one, bearing her colors and an odd mark upon his flanks. It was the mark of Taalia’s own mother, a very powerful changeling queen by the name of Jerrida. Her hive was actively engaged in slave trading, no matter what species.

Here in the shadow of the Tower, I could see the slavery in full force. Entire hives were hurled at each other at a whim. War was very much a practice in the most literal of senses. Larger changelings, much like the Ravagers under Taalia’s command, battled swarms of Lesser changelings. I could not watch the slaughter as they systematically ripped apart every ‘ling hurled at them. The glee was sickening.

I could not bear to look anymore and closed my eyes as I dangled helplessly in the jaws of one of the changelings that had murdered my hive. Thankfully, we were far enough away I could not hear the screams of the dying.

Our journey continued without pause.

Our underground journey towards a particular colony was long. I discovered it had a rather dark purpose. I could feel the pain and suffering the likes of which I sensed to be ancient and ongoing. It specialized in one thing. Taalia seemed to take a great deal of pleasure at the foreboding showing on my face. I wanted to die. I had wanted to die since seeing my mother die before me. I wanted to die when Taalis ripped the love that had been given to me by that pony maliciously.

Such peace was not meant for me.

I was brought into a darkened chamber of one of the many colonies beneath the Savannah. Here was a place where monsters were made. Striped changelings of all sizes darted about, quick to do whatever duty commanded of them by their queen. They shied away from the tiger queen and her monsters when we entered the colony. Small changelings came to tend to the vicious queen, cleaning her dusty and grime-encrusted body. Taalia wore upon her visage one of cruel desire and pleasure. She cooed to her Ravagers and they gathered around her lovingly, fawning over her. Fluffy had dropped me unceremoniously at the hooves of his mistress and I had to curl up under her body to avoid being trampled to death. After she ministered to them hate (imagine having spiders crawling up and down your spine with the tips of their legs like hot little pokers...under your chitin!), they dispersed, disappearing down the scattering of corridors.

She peered down at me wolfishly. “I promised to show you something, did I not?” With a kick, she shoved me roughly in front of her. Bending down, she took me up in her massive jaws and trotted merrily down another tunnel. She hummed over my body and more than once as she adjusted her maw. I felt like I was being rolled in a bed of nails. Very large and serrated nails.

I was brought to another room. A green glow filled it. The eerie light illuminated everything to a sickly sheen. I could hear a constant hiss followed by a grunt. It repeated. Over and over, in a slow and steady rhythm. Small changelings, only slightly larger than me slowly moved around the room, each one toting an egg. I watched as they carefully placed them on the wall, using their spit to glue them in place. There were hundreds of eggs! I had never seen so many! Every inch of wall, eggs. The ceiling, eggs. The floor was kept mostly clear, but there were broken eggshells everywhere.

My attention was drawn to the middle of the room. Taalia lowered her head to my level, her fangs gleaming in the gloomy green light. I shuddered as they flashed while she spoke. “Do you see, little one? Do you see what lays before you? Tell me what you see.”

I looked. I was immediately sickened and horrified.

Before me lay a changeling. Her front appeared normal, but as my eyes trailed towards her flanks and belly, bile lurched into my mouth. She was massive, with bulbous chitin layering out from beneath her carapace. It pulsated while smaller changelings crawled over her, always cleaning and nipping at her. They chittered quietly to each other, sometimes poking at the mass of changeling flesh. I looked to the face of the grotesquely shaped mare and saw her face a mix of pain and dull awareness. Her fangs had been removed. The horn had been sheared off long ago. There were small stumps where her wings had once been. Chains held her in place. She grunted with ragged breaths. The broodmare looked horrible. Mother had two broodmares in our hive and they had been treated like queens themselves, but this…

This was a nightmare come to life. This broodmare had suffered so much it had become a dull memory, as dull as the light in her eyes. She was practically dead inside. Several changelings swarmed her backside, plucking up her eggs as she lay them steadily.

Mother had treated her broodmares like little sisters. Broodmothers were not leaders, but they were mothers to the whole hive. Every nymph loved their broodmothers, even if they were not of the same bloodline. Broodmothers bred soldiers, protectors of the hive. That was their purpose. More importantly, they chose to breed defenders for the hive.

This one clearly had not chosen this sort of life. Her agony had long passed, her soul having been shredded to near nothing.

“This will be your fate if you displease me,” Taalia hissed into my ear with a cold laugh. “This one will soon be of no use to my mother and I will need to find another strong, willful mare to take her place. She will be held down and she will be broken, just as this one was. What you see is but one tool with one purpose and one purpose only. I would rather have you as a more subtle weapon of shadow and deception, but there are other uses for you should you fail me.”


Why me?

The question itself was perhaps as old as time, having been asked innumerable times by innumerable individuals when faced with bad luck and ill fortune. Queen Chrysalis was no exception to the rule as the question greeted her the moment she had full control of her mind and was aware of it. As her senses came back under her control from her endless sleep, the changeling came to realize she was in her room and on her side. She could feel Atalanta curled up against her belly. A quick check revealed a sleeping hatchling, fitfully uncomfortable as she was very close to her first molt.

I have not missed it! Her mind gleefully proclaimed while she heaved a great sigh of relief. It was one thing to miss the hive singing her daughter’s hatching. It was completely another for a mother to miss her child’s first molt. Her own chitin was already beginning to flake off and her body itched. It was beginning. She could feel new additions to her body down between her legs, already swelling with milk. Through the dull pain and the aches caused by her healing wounds, Chrysalis felt a sort of satisfaction only surviving a near death experience could produce.

Which soured her disposition as an angry snort flew through her nostrils. Slowly, she sat up, gathering her legs beneath her and folding them as much as the still healing flesh would allow. Thankfully, there had been a lot of magic put into mending her flesh, so there was no threat of stitches breaking or skin bursting open. She felt odd on the inside, as if something alien had been put in her. She knew her body and the sensations she felt was beyond the normal pain or pleasure she was used to feeling from within herself.

Everything stopped as she backtracked the events since the attempt at her life. How long had it been? Hours? Days? Weeks? Considering her daughter’s condition, Chrysalis mentally calculated it had been four, maybe five days at the most. Atalanta would begin molting any day now. Her own molting had already begun. Which meant life was going to be miserable for the next week.

Chrysalis sighed as she began to backtrack, remembering the conversation with Luna in her dreams as well as the curious vision of Celestia in a bed next to hers. What was it the Night Princess had told her? Celestia had given her blood to the Queen? Preposterous! Imbecilic!

Luna must have lied to her, as she had lied about the mansion. Why would the night alicorn offer her enemy such a place? What was with the story about a mad noble? Why would the pony sisters continue to torment the Queen with such games? There was no point to such offers, unless…

“Why do they need me?” she mused to her daughter. Atalanta slept on. She made a gurgling sound, her discomfort darkening her little face as she squirmed. The poor thing. Chrysalis nuzzled Atalanta. “Why do they think I have some use to them?”

She ached. Oh, how she ached!

Nothing was making any sense to the Queen. The ponies spouted their need for harmony with the changeling, yet they tortured her mind and allowed assassins to do as they please. Even the other queens she had met throughout her long life did not use such confusing tactics when trying to glean information from their prey. Herbivores were such strange creatures. Perhaps their natural herding instinct affected their ability to interrogate their prisoners effectively. Everything made sense to Chrysalis as she examined her own logic.

Still, she was confused on a couple of things. Make that everything, she mused.

The door opened, which surprised the changeling. There was no disembodied voice to tell her to stand in the circle. Then again, the ponies were more than aware Chrysalis was unable to move, much less get up. Sitting up had already taxed what little energy she had.

Celestia entered quietly, her head hovering at a level to suggest she was unsure as to the Queen’s condition. Seeing Chrysalis awake and staring at her neutrally, it came up and she offered a soft smile. “Good. You are awake. I was worried for you.”

Chrysalis stared at the alicorn. Something was off about her. As the two mares locked eyes, the changeling stared, then squinted. “What is wrong with you?” she rasped despite her parched throat.

Princess Celestia produced a thick tome with her magic. It was embossed in black leather and looked very old. “Whatever could you mean?” she asked, maintaining her smile. The beautiful mare moved forward gracefully. “I ensured your daughter never left your side for as long as was physically possible. However, we did have to separate the two of you while healing magic was applied to your body. I do apologize, but Cadence arrived the other day and she was more than happy to supply love to your daughter.”

Alarmed, the Queen looked to Atalanta. She sniffed her little girl and noted a faint scent. It was an easily recognizable one. A thousand questions screamed to life in her mind as she became even more alarmed. Focusing on Celestia’s magenta orbs, she noted the slitted pupils.

Chrysalis remembered Luna’s words with sudden clarity. The Royal Voice was suddenly throbbing through her head, the dream’s memory making her groan involuntarily. Shoving it aside proving to be difficult as the image of an angry Luna filled her imagination. The Queen shuddered. Blasted alicorns and their unholy abilities! Dreamwalking? Not fair! “Your eyes,” she said pointedly, shaking her head.

Celestia paused, then sighed. “I’ll admit, they are impossible to not notice.” She made a face. “I haven’t been able to get them to go back to normal. I tried everything, but—” The Princess sighed and rolled her eyes. “I should imagine you think of this as some form of petty revenge, even if unintended.”

Chrysalis was shocked. “Don’t tell me you allowed my blood to flow within your veins.”

“I used my body to filter your blood. Most of the poisons had no known antidote. Despite my sister’s protests, I used my body as a living filter. I am completely immune to all poisons. You yourself are highly resistant, but there was enough of a dosage on those blades to kill two dozen ponies.” Celestia fluffed her wings and readjusted them. “It was not a pleasant experience, but it did save your life and gave me a new perspective on changeling anatomy.”

The changeling was dumbfounded. “Why would you do a thing like that?” she demanded, only to fall into a fit of coughing.

The alicorn saw a pitcher of water and an empty glass on an end table near the bed. Wordlessly she filled the glass using her magic, watching the pitcher intently as she poured. The Queen watched as the full glass was floated to her.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” Celestia sighed. “I made assumptions. I see you and I see a being capable of inflicting pain and suffering. I still remember quite plainly the screams of my subjects while I hung helplessly in that pod you put me in. I wanted to punish you, a part of me even wanted to hurt you.” Shame filled the room.

It was bittersweet for Chrysalis and she found the taste not to her liking. She had always hated shame. Bad memories tended to surface. This moment was no exception.

“Don’t,” she said quietly. There was no hiding the emotions. Celestia was opening herself. Chrysalis did not know why, but the alicorn was dropping her defenses. She took the offered glass and drank slowly. The water was cool and did wonders for her throat. “Don’t,” Chrysalis repeated. “Don't even start. Don’t wax poetic. Just don’t.”

Celestia watched her silently.

The Queen held out the empty glass. It was refilled without prompting. She downed that, too, in one long pull. “Words are wasted on me, you should know that,” hissed Chrysalis tiredly. “You want something from me, yet you won’t ask me directly what it is. You want to read me, to understand me, when I can simply trot circles around you and lead you nowhere. I choose to do just that because I simply do not like you. You put yourself off as being too perfect and better than all others. You let your ponies put you on an unreachable pedestal. At least your sister I respect. She does not hold back. She speaks her mind. You. You do not.”

The white mare simply watched her, the smile having faded to a ghost of a frown.

Chrysalis set the glass down, her eyes becoming heavy lidded from mental weariness. “What is it you want, Celestia? Luna promised me a kingdom. Are you aware of this?”

“I am aware.”

“And you are willing to agree?”

“It was my idea.”

“I see.” Chrysalis noted the book. “What is that?” She weakly threw a hoof at what was in Celestia’s possession. The book was floated before the changeling.

“A book.”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “What did I just complain to you about? What kind of book? Why do you think it would be of any interest to me?”

Celestia set it on the bed next to the Queen. “I would make a proposal to you. Your help in exchange for freedom and a place for you and your hive. You will be protected from this Queen Taalia and her monsters. We have spotted them and we are watching them.”

“You found them?” Chrysalis asked, stunned.

“Taalia approached one of our guard outposts under a flag of truce. She claims you are a wanted mare and your hive are all fugitives from her queen as well as several other queens. She claims you are a heretic.”

The news was devastating. Chrysalis reeled for a moment as she wrapped her head around this revelation. “H-how?” she demanded, mindful of Atalanta. To herself, she mused, “That means she can’t find them.” The Queen grinned wolfishly. “She can’t find them and she is frustrated!” she cackled with glee.

Then she fell into a fit of coughing.

Celestia had not moved. She merely observed as she was as still as a statue.

“I told you my changelings knew how to hide from that bitch and her pets! Ha!”

Atalanta woke up with a groggy series of chirps.

“And you let Mi Amore Cadenza hold my hatchling.” Chrysalis suddenly changed the subject, which caught Celestia off guard.

“Yes. She needed to be fed love. You were in no con—”

A harsh hiss interrupted her. “It’s fine, Celestia.” The Queen glared. “I am not happy about that, but it’s fine. There was little I could do, but you let her be in the same room as my daughter.” She was angry, but had neither the strength nor the will to pursue it. “I’m tired of dealing with you, Celestia. I am tired of dealing with you ponies. I simply want to take my changelings and leave Equestria.”

“Can I do nothing right in your eyes?” asked Celestia plainly.

“Not beating around the bush would be a damned good start,” snapped the Queen as she attended to her hatchling. She cooed gentle words into her daughter’s ear and nuzzled and licked Atalanta. The poor thing writhed as she tried to push off her undersized skin.

“You and your kind possess a unique gift when it comes to converting mana.”

“We do,” agreed Chrysalis. “We have certain advantages.”

“As ponies have certain advantages over you changelings.”

“Yes.” She was not happy to admit that fact.

“The Badlands. They are voids to ley lines. Yet you and your changelings thrived there before you invaded. Most ponies avoid it. It was once the site of an ancient battlefield. Magic was rendered useless there long ago. Magic comes from our world. It is the world’s gift to all ponies. It is our connection to life. Yet, in the Badlands, we cannot use our magic. Ponies are vulnerable. Only alicorns can tap into their magic. Yet, you changelings are still able to use magic. You are not connected to the earth. You make your own magic. You can go to places where magic cannot exist and still convert emotions to your magic. Pony magic comes from a combination of what is within us and also what is without. Changelings, I have discovered, charge all of their magic from within.” Celestia smiled again, gently and nodding respectfully. “By gathering emotions, you take them and convert them to that which gives your magic a base from which to form.”

Chrysalis blinked. “Your point?”

“I need your changelings to go somewhere magic is unawakened.”

“Unawakened?”

“It has slumbered for aeons. Its inhabitants are almost completely unaware of its existence.” Celestia gestured with a hoof at the book. “This is one of their religious works. It is but one religion of many, but they all have some origin to them and I would not bore you with the task of reading into more than one. This will give you an idea of the mindset of many of them.”

“Many of who?” Chrysalis noted Celestia was being cryptic again. Perhaps it was a chronic failing of the princess. It was infuriating. “What religion? Do they worship you?” She noted the title of the book. The Ugly Duckling. Her left eyebrow twitched. This is a religious book?

“Don’t be silly, Chrysalis. Beings such as you and I would be considered mythological creatures. I would recommend you read the book. Perhaps something you may be interested after we have dealt with the needs of you and your hive. In the meantime, I shall make arrangements for you and Cadence to make nice.”

“What?” The changeling’s eyes bulged. “No!”

“I will have peace between us, Chrysalis. I apologize for everything that has gone wrong for you. Twilight is remorseful. I had a long talk with her. I made many mistakes, but I never made the mistake of making her my student. She is meant for greatness. I am beginning to realize you, too, are meant for greatness. It would be a mistake for me to not help you realize your dreams for you and your changelings. I have decided to help you. The Hunger and Void are your greatest enemies, not me—not my ponies.” Celestia sighed and became forlorn. “I regret the choices I have made regarding you, and how I should handle you.”

“Why should I trust you?” hissed the Queen.

Celestia considered her for a moment. Then, with a flick of her horn and a flicker of magic, Chrysalis felt the weight at the base of her horn disappear. Confused, she stared stupidly at the white mare. “What are you doing?”

The alabaster epitome of perfect equine beauty straightened herself to her full regal glory. “Queen Chrysalis of the Changelings. I, Princess Celestia, diarch of Equestria, and Lady of the Sun do hereby free you. Once your wounds are healed and you are whole, you are free to go. I will leave you to face your enemies alone and will not interfere. Once you are well, you are to leave Equestria, never to return on pain of death.”

“What?” asked Chrysalis intelligently.

“You are free, is this not what you wanted?”

Chrysalis went to open her mouth, to respond with her clear and obvious answer. Yet, no words came out. Her breath came out hollow, an exhaled breath of frustration. She found there was no answer to be had. Instead, she merely nodded, blinking as she stared at Celestia. She was numb again.

Before she could utter a word, Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings, mother of Crown Princess Atalanta, and supposedly dead to the world beyond her prison, passed out.