• 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 XIV

Dreams! Nothing but dreams! It did not take long for the queen to figure out what was going on. She felt separated from the dream, from the looming form of Celestia and her ultimatum. A sneer pranced across her muzzle and she glared about for the one she felt responsible for this.

Mirrors appeared before her. Chrysalis growled. This was her dream! This was her mind! No relic of nightmares past would ever control her thoughts and dreams! Her reflections —the multitudes of her visages sneering back at her— all became uncertain as she sought in vain for the alicorn.

Mommy, don’t be an idiot.

"Luna! Damn you! Why do you do this to me? Is this your idea of ‘friendship’? I fail to see how you grasp this as a penchant of such a relationship!” Chrysalis laughed, though it was not a very convincing one. Deep down in her heart, she was very much afraid.

“I did nothing of the sort,” replied a disembodied voice. “There are rules to walking dreams. Rules I made. Rules I abided by even when I was Nightmare Moon. I am and always have been a guide and nothing more. I am a protector of dreams. I do not control them. I will not control them. I cannot control them. To do so would be catastrophic to not only the dreamer, but any who would disturb the balance of the Realm of Dreams. There are beings beyond the waking world, horrors beyond imagining that would tear the fabric of reality should a dream be abused against the will of the dreamer.”

Chrysalis jabbed an uncertain hoof at the mirrors and shook it at them. “What are they? What do they mean?”

“You asked a question. You received an answer.” Luna appeared from behind one of the larger mirrors and tapped at it daintily with a hoof. “You are in denial, and I do not mean the river.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“My apologies,” Luna said with a faint smile and light blush. “I sometimes forget some sayings I am familiar with in other dreams have no meaning beyond confusion here and elsewhere. When I enter the Dreamscape, I am sometimes privy to other minds and other worlds. Some are fascinating. Others, horrible. Yet they are still dreams. I go where I am needed. The need is often great and not necessarily confined to my ponies.” The mare leveled a meaningful look at the changeling.

The mirrors faded away and became a vast room. It was a great hall with spiraling columns and a gracefully arched ceiling. Flying buttresses carved with great care into black marble showed off the touch of an undisputed master. The whole of the room was a work of art, a mixture of black and white blended evenly.

“Is this me?” Chrysalis asked hesitantly. “I mean, am I doing this?”

“Partially,” replied Luna as she swished her tail. “I am guiding your dream to something a little less stressful. I am here to help you. I gave you my word. I intend to keep it.”

Trembling, the queen gave the princess a hard look. Several times she tried to speak. Each time she failed. Her voice failed her and she had to fight to find it. Patiently, Luna waited, politely looking away while keeping an ear tuned to the struggling changeling. Flintiness grew in the eyes of the queen and she straightened herself. Coming to bear upon the alicorn she blinked away the weakness that had been threatening to burst from her heart.

Luna seemed to deflate when she noted the prickly pride of Chrysalis rear its ugly head once again. She decided to take a different approach. “Would you like to play a game of chess?” she queried innocently. “You do know how to play chess, do you not?” Luna tilted her head to one side as Chrysalis gave her a confused look.

“Why?” asked the queen slowly. “Of course I know how to play chess. Any strategist worth their salt could learn from the lessons the game teaches. I should imagine your sister is a master at the game. Would not surprise me if she cheated and any time she thought she could get away with it!”

“Celestia does cheat,” Luna admitted unabashedly. “Life has taught her at times she must cheat if she intends to win. I will cheat at times. You cheat.”

“I feel I must cheat if I am to win.”

The alicorn nodded. “Perhaps.”

Chrysalis chuckled darkly. “Were the circumstances different,” she lamented wryly.

"You should consider yourself lucky, given your circumstances,” Luna began, trotting past Chrysalis. Her horn ignited, a black marble table appearing out of nowhere. “Personally— well, you know how I feel about your position," Luna sighed, sitting down opposite Chrysalis. “However, Our sister had different plans for you. And, although We do not always agree with them, We respect our sister enough to follow her wishes."

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. As much as she enjoyed hearing Luna lapse into her archaic speech, this instance was trying her patience. “Your sister’s methods are a joke! ”

Luna ignored the comment, her horn lighting up once again as a chessboard appeared on the table. “Again. I will ask you: Care for a game of chess?”

The Queen raised an eyebrow. “You are serious, aren’t you?”

“It is a game of minds, something I believed that you would enjoy. You may have the first move, if you wish.”

Chrysalis was quiet for a minute, before taking a seat opposite opposite Luna. “Okay, I will play a game.” She shrugged. “It is not as if I have anything better to do. I choose white.” Her horn ignited, spinning the board until her pieces were on her side. Without hesitation, she moved her first piece, a pawn.

Luna takes out her Knight. “It is an old game, one that I had played countless times in my youth. It prepared me for war. Strategy, sacrifice, and victory.”

Chrysalis nodded, moving her pawn. “Yes, but, in real war, you can’t see all of the pieces.”

The princess moved deliberately, considering moves far ahead of her current turn. “This is also true, but—” She moved her own pawn “—I always prefer to show all of my pieces. Though my sister may puppeteer from the shadows, I prefer to look my enemy in the eyes when I strike.”

“You differ much from your sister, Luna.” Pawn took pawn. With each move, each player was making quicker decisions. The game was gaining speed.

Luna nodded, her knight taking Chrysalis’ victorious pawn.

Chrysalis picked up her fallen piece, looking it over. “My favorite piece was always the pawn. Yes, it may be weak, but, even so, it can become a queen.” She put it down, moving another pawn forwards.

Luna took a step back, looking over the board. Her lips curled into a smile. “You strike fast and hard, yet carelessly.” Her bishop struck down a pawn. “Check.”

Chrysalis growled, moving her bishop to protect her king. “Sometimes the best option is to strike hard and fast, Luna.”

The black bishop advanced. “Yes, but haste always harms the fool.”

The white bishop slid from danger, guided by its master's aura. “You speak from experience?”

Luna inclined her head, moving her pawn. “Yes, but not from my own.” She ignored the glare from her opponent, focusing intently on what was in front of her.

Queen to D5.

King to E7.

Queen takes Knight. “Check.”

Bishop to E6.

Knight to F3.

Pawn to F6.

Queen to C5. ”Check.”

Knight to F7.

Knight to H4.

Rook to D8.

Chrysalis stopped her movement, resting back and regarded the chess board with a frown. “Luna, have you ever lost a war?”

The alicorn removed her eyes from the board. They settled upon the queen, who did not meet the stare. Or could not. “What do you mean?”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “I meant just that: have you ever lost a war?”

Luna hesitated, pondering the question. “Well, we have lost battles when an army was under my command, but I have never lost a war, no.”

Chrysalis considered her next move. She selected her bishop. Celestia’s words were still ringing in her mind. “Have you ever retreated, running away before the battle is won to escape defeat?”

The black bishop claimed the white queen. “We have retreated when a battle is sure to be lost, yes, but only so that we can live to fight another day.”

Chrysalis Castled. “That is another difference between Changelings and ponies: Changelings never retreat. We keep fighting even when the battle is more than lost. This is why most most queens only fight those who we know we can beat. Those who flee are cowards, and there is no room for cowards in the changeling race.”

“Then why are you running?” She moves her Castle.

The white player growled, grinding her teeth. “I am not running. I have nowhere to run to. I am searching, while being followed.” She moved her knight. “There is a difference.”

“I would imagine so,” conceded Luna.

The eye of the storm passed over the two players, its absence bringing with it an uncomfortable silence. Neither could tear their eyes from the game, yet no move was forthcoming.

“Luna?” The queen’s voice wavered.

The princess gave the queen her undivided attention. “Yes?”

“Would- would your sister really expunge me from Equestria and leave my hive to die at the hooves of Taalia? Would she do that?” Fear. It burst from her heart. It put words she did not want to say on her tongue. They tumbled out unbidden and without thought. “Would she wipe out my children out of spite of me? Does she hate us? Does she hate me?” Her eyes widened as her brain caught up with her words, the expression frozen upon her face.

Luna, to her credit, did not flinch. She remained neutral. Her wings then shifted at the shoulders and she adjusted her seat ever so slightly. Hope gleamed in her eyes.

“Celestia would never turn her back on those in need,” she said quietly. “She never forgot me. She was forced to wait a thousand years to save me and she did just that. You. You have a chance to make things right in the here and now; not a thousand years from now, not when this generation must still suffer when they can find hope before the flicker of life escapes them and passes on to the future. Such bleakness can be dispersed before it can grip the hearts and break the spirit.”

The queen gave a single, wooden nod. Her eyes had never left the board. They brimmed with a wetness. Focus wavered. She was losing the battle. Thoughts drifted away from what was before her. Thoughts of her daughter, her hive, and her life. Two out of three, she felt, was well worth fighting for.

The changeling rose up from her seat, staring Luna dead in the eye. “King to E1.”

The alicorn matched steely gaze with one of her own, her expression neutral. “Queen takes castle, check.”

“King takes Queen.”

“Knight to H6, Check.”

“King to G7.”

“Knight takes castle.”

“King takes Knight!”

“King takes Bishop,” Luna announced, taking her eyes off of Chrysalis and down at the chessboard. She smiled, nodding her head. “It seems like it is almost time for you to wake up.” She rose demurely, and began to walk away. “Remember, Chrysalis. Though the King is more mightier than the Pawn, they both end up in the same box.” Her form shimmered and faded to nothingness, leaving nothing to indicate she was ever there.

Chrysalis’ cheek curled into a slight smile, before she glanced down at the miniature battlefield before her. Two kings standing alone in endless stalemate, their armies laying dead at their sides. “Well played, Luna… well played.”

She would have words with Celestia.

Author's Note:

All credit to the chess match goes to DJ_Neon_Lights.

I do apologize for the delay.

Hopefully, this is a convincing turning point.