• 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 XVII

Author's Note:

Three chapters in four days? What sorcery is this??

Edited by DJ_Neon_Lights

He told me his body was ready when I suggested the chapter was ready to publish, so I assumed that was his language for "Yeah, publish it, but don't come crying to me when people with torches and pitchforks show up at your doorstep because you can't type worth a damn".

Or something like that.

Enjoy!

The next day was fairly predictable, as Chrysalis’ use of magic was discovered.

A very unhappy Celestia sat at the head of a long table, her cup of tea hovering just beneath her chin as she contemplated the unrepentant changeling queen sitting at the far end. Chrysalis was busy cooing softly to her daughter as she tried to convince her to take a nap. It had thus far been a futile effort, but the distraction was an excuse to ignore the alicorn as her patience was once again tested by the seeming indifference of the changeling.

It was midmorning. The sun beamed through the tall glass windows of the great hall that dominated the heart of the keep. It illuminated the interior, casting shadows from the sunlight across a room that was mostly empty. It was typically used as a place to greet guests, hold meetings, and on occasion, various local celebrations from weddings to funerals. It also served as a throne room. Locals would come here to voice their concerns or complaints to the commander of the keep, who also served the Crown’s justice as required by law.

“You have my mages baffled,” said the Lady of the Sun just as her cup was about to touch her lips. She sipped delicately and blinked at Chrysalis. “Your magic, apparently, can ignore the inhibitor to some degree. What little trust I had in you seems to have been misplaced.”

Chrysalis was looking down at the bassinet given to her by the ponies. It had been a donation and had once seen prior used. It was still in good condition, made of oak and carved with leaves and flowers. There were a few chips in the wood here and there, but overall, it was a lovely, sturdy, and practical design. Currently, there was a nymph within it who was trying unsuccessfully in convincing her mother she was not tired. Her protests and grunts against the horrible nap had made Celestia repeat herself more than once. It was an exasperating experience for the princess and a cause for glee on behalf of Equestria’s most “esteemed” and secret guest.

The queen tossed her mane and bent deeper into the bassinet, nosing her daughter and issuing a series of warning growls. Atalanta had yet to learn how to behave and Chrysalis was going through the ancient process all mothers go through in getting their children to learn to do what they were told. The nap was important for growing young nymphs and Chrysalis needed her daughter to take a nap so she herself could have a respite from the stress of raising a child.

Celestia sighed, containing her composure. She took another sip of tea, then set the cup down on its saucer. “There is much about changeling magic that simply does not conform to the laws of magic ponies are most familiar with. Luna believes it has roots in shadow magic, but I think it may be something far older and more primeval than that.”

“Is that so?” Chrysalis asked infuriatingly, drawing her attention away from Atalanta at last and settling her attention upon Celestia as though it was the absolute last resort. “How am I to know I am forbidden from using what I was born with when it comes to me as easily as breathing the air? I should think you would be scouring your kingdom for the other changeling hive. I doubt you’ll find anything other than corpses, but at least your little guards will discover what the aftermath of true horror looks like. I’ve seen it too many times myself. I know Taalia. She is using the energy of a captured hive to regain her strength.”

“That is a matter for my sister to look into. She took it upon herself to look into your claims. I seriously doubt you are sincere, as I imagine you are playing yet another game. Whatever it is you have going on, it will not work.” Celestia refreshed her cup. “More coffee?” she asked politely.

“No thank you,” replied the changeling shortly. “I had no idea probing your magic defenses would be so easy. Is it my fault your ponies are incompetent when it comes to securing a prisoner?”

“Warden Nightstorm was compromised because of you,” Celestia said, quite displeased. “He had to resign from his post and be mentally re-evaluated. You quite possibly ruined his career.”

“I doubt that,” said Chrysalis with a roll of her eyes. “As I am sure Shining Armor was unscathed career wise after I had control over him, and that was for six months.” She paused thoughtfully, creasing her brows as an ear flicked indignantly. “Of course, it would explain why he was so...repetitive.” The changeling flashed a predatory grin.

Celestia, however, would not be baited. She clucked her tongue and shook her head sadly, shifting her wings, and sighing. “What am I going to do with you, Queen Chrysalis? Hmm? I have been generous with you. I have given you space. I have respected who you are and what you are. I have done all that I can to make you feel at ease. I do not want to confine you. I want peace with you. What must I do to gain your trust?”

“Don’t make this all about you, Celestia,” sing-songed Chrysalis airily. “I have read the treaty you gave me. How can there be trust when you have in writing one of the conditions for peace between my hive and Equestria a period of twenty-five years of monitoring every facet of my hive’s activities. I’m surprised there’s not stipulation requiring my changelings to ask permission from a pony before wiping their ass.” The queen glowered at the alicorn.

“I am not making this all about me, Chrysalis and you know it!” Celestia levelled an exasperated look at her foil, her antagonist. “You make peace so difficult. Why?”

Chrysalis barked out a humorless laugh. “Peace is a lie, Celestia. Why, even a lowly Lesser queen such as myself knows you have achieved peace through might. Look at you. The world trembles before your power. You possess the sun, the bringer of all life. It is yours to command. You do not hold peace because you are benevolent. No, Celestia. You hold on to this fantasy that all will come to know peace because you believe you are the lynchpin of harmony and goodness. Bah! Your ponies adore you because they would be afraid to rise up against you. There is no such thing as peace. There is but the calm before the next calamity. Then calm. Then again, calamity. There has been and never will be true peace. They cycle goes on and changelings strive to be prepared for the next disaster. It is what we believe. It is our way. You will never understand it.” She let out her last words with a spiteful hiss.

Celestia was silent for a few moments, looking at the changeling from a different light.

Atalanta fussed again after a long and uncomfortable silence.

Chrysalis stared into the eyes of an immortal, remembering the last time she had done so. She found herself drawn into those magenta orbs, and her heart stopped. Sadness flooded over her when Celestia blinked, and the changeling gasped. It was like an autumn breeze that rolled over her through a grove of trees, bringing with them the scent of a fading summer, reluctantly giving way before the onslaught of a deep winter. An uncomfortable shiver of guilt raced up and down her spine as she stared into those eyes.

Celestia blinked again, and Chrysalis felt the alicorn’s hope fall away and crumble to dust. The ancient mare stared right back into the changeling’s eyes, never breaking away and daring Chrysalis to be the first to do so. Celestia’s shattered hope opened into a chasm of despair, threatening to draw the queen in and consume her. Chrysalis did flinch, her eyes going wide as she felt her limbs buckle beneath her. She nearly fell out of her seat and had to slam her hooves upon the table to steady herself. A gasp followed as the air she did not know she had been holding exploded from her lungs.

“I refuse to believe you truly think that,” whispered Celestia gently. “I have gone to great lengths to establish rules and boundaries especially for myself concerning the welfare of the other kingdoms and races. I have peaceful relations with all nations and all rulers and all peoples because it is what I desire above all. I have a love of life that is a responsibility I cherish above all else. War does not preserve life, Chrysalis. War ends life. War corrupts life. War turns good hearts into evil. Strife creates heroes we should not have needed in the first place.

“I strive for balance between all the races, a better understanding and a sense of cooperation. No one race is greater than any other race. The responsibility I share with my sister when it comes to the day and the night is one that is not just for our ponies. No, Chrysalis. Our responsibility is to ensure all mortals have a future upon which they can build upon and create foundations for future generations to grow upon.”

The changeling stared at her. “What tripe!” she guffawed. “You should listen to yourself. What foolish ideals, Celestia.”

“And what, pray tell, did your immortal queens tell you?” challenged Celestia as she raised her head high. Quirking an eyebrow, she regarded the insolent queen. “I have never heard of these...Topaz Queens, as you wrote. You have them at the pinnacle of changeling society, having dictated the terms under which your culture has developed. They seem more aligned towards containing the changeling queens and their hives rather than guiding them towards a better future.”

“They are aware of you alicorns,” Chrysalis retorted. “They have watched you for generations, unsure as to the limits to your power and whether or not they should challenge you.”

“But they seek balance,” pointed out Celestia calmly.

“They demand the changeling race always work to become stronger, to prepare for the End of Days. They prepare for a time when the Hunger is no more and the Void is filled at long last. I was given the task of finding the means to end the curse that has plagued all changelings since the days of the first queens.” Chrysalis turned her attention to her daughter, plucking the now wailing little nymph from her bassinet and cradling her with her forehooves. She looked abashed at having raised her voice around her daughter.

“Is that why you do not treat your daughter so savagely, as you had been brought up?”

Chrysalis’ blood ran cold. She found herself looking at the face of her squirming daughter and remembering flashes of her past. Taalia’s furious face. Her flashing fangs. The beatings. The pain. The suffering. Unconsciously, she held her daughter to her chest and curled her neck over Atalanta.

“You rose up above what was supposed to have been your life,” Celestia went on. “I want to help you realize your dreams, Chrysalis. I want to help you establish a future for your daughter and your hive. But you do not tell me what you need. You demand things you want, but never ask for what you need. There is an enormous difference. I grow weary of the bickering between the two of us. You think of besting me as the pinnacle of what you are capable of, yet you sell yourself short. Such narrow minded thinking will lead to further suffering and the eventual downfall of not only yourself, but your hive. You have an opportunity to rethink life as you know it and try observing and living it from another perspective. When you had me at your hooves, I think you only exemplified the very thing you had fought so hard against in gaining the freedom of your hive.”

“You are prey,” Chrysalis scoffed, but no longer as confident as she used to be. She had a lot of time as of late to think about her original assessment of ponies in general. Having little to go on due to her confinement, she could only assume the ponies here supposedly represented ‘as good as it gets’ concerning the equines.

“No, we are not. You see ponies and associate them as prey animals. If you truly believe the very words you just uttered—” Celestia blurred, then suddenly had her muzzle right in Chrysalis’ ear. “—why did you not kill me then and there?”

The queen yelped and fell out of her seat, clutching Atalanta to her desperately. She never touched the floor as Celestia’ aura engulfed mother and nymph gently. A great wing swept out and around the chitinous back of the queen as she was eased upright. Celestia smiled gently at the shocked changeling.

“Why did you not take the opportunity to strike? Did you fear the fate of the sun if I were to fall? Did you believe I was unkillable? Did you think me a goddess who held back simply because she had so much power that if she were to tap into it, the whole of Canterlot would cease to exist in the blink of an eye? Was I merely playing a part of a play I had set in motion thousands of years ago, practicing my lines until the moment came when you had your big scene? Did you think my death would throw your soul into the very depths of no return?” Celestia reached out with the tip of her other wing and gently caressed Atalanta’s chin. She beamed beautifully at the little nymph, who giggled in response.

“Are you a monster? Was that the question you asked yourself as you looked down upon my fallen form? Did you hesitate at your hour of victory, only to give it away because you understood if you truly went through with your plan, then all the world would rise up against you? Did you come to realize at the last moment, your position would be untenable, your hive doomed to destruction?”

Celestia shook her head, closing her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, Chrysalis found herself looking into the pools of a very ancient soul who, perhaps, felt she knew too much and was all too aware of the rules of life and death. Chrysalis had seen those eyes before. “Oh, Queen of the Changelings, what fear drove you to this conclusion that you must topple the sun’s keeper? Was it the fear of your mother’s memory and what little you have left to remember her by? Was it the fear of what Queen Taalia did to you turning over and becoming passed on to your children and your children’s children? What is your fear, Chrysalis?”

The queen flinched, but could not tear herself from the iron hold of Celestia’s motherly gaze. A blue, chitinous face flashed within those magenta pools, with a questioning look.

“I do not seek to redeem you, Chrysalis. That is not my purpose. Your purpose is only partially laid before you. Destiny has a mark upon you the likes of which I am well acquainted with. I will aid you, because it is necessary to help your hive and give your daughter a future. I cannot say I care about you, for in our times together, you have shown me you have little respect enough for yourself to even consider peace as a possible alternative to a corrosive existence.”

Celestia sighed and released the changeling. “Twilight Sparkle is on a sabbatical from her duties as my personal student, at her request. Your little deconstruction of the culmination of her life has shattered her heart in a way I had never intended nor ever wanted. You have a penchant for cruelty I believe was taught to you by this Taalia creature.” She sighed again, giving off no emotions as she had shielded herself from Chrysalis. “As much as I place the burden of responsibility for the aftermath upon your shoulders, so I must also share the blame equally.”

Then, Celestia moved quickly, engulfing Chrysalis within her wings and pulling the immobilized mare into a tight embrace. She nuzzled the queen and whispered, “I forgive you, Chrysalis. Can you forgive me for being ignorant to who you truly wish to be?”

“What?” squeaked Chrysalis weakly. What do I want to be? A mother? A queen? Why does this feel so comfortable? Why can’t I think clearly?

The door slammed open. Celestia broke from Chrysalis, startled by the interruption momentarily, only to see who had barged in. Her eyes narrowed as one of her generals hurried towards her, his face overflowing with worry.

“Forgive the intrusion, Your Majesty!” He bowed briefly as he trotted towards the alicorn. His metal shod hooves echoed forebodingly throughout the room. The unicorn carried a satchel that hung around his neck and shoulders. As he approached, he produced a bundle of papers and photographs from it. A cursory glance to Chrysalis was all he would give the flushed and flustered changeling. “Our patrols found something. The contact from the hive provided us information of a possible lead to the location of these Ravagers we had been told about.”

“Yes?” prompted Celestia calmly, though worry was clearly showing upon her perfect features. She watched as the general placed the documents and pictures on the table. With her magic, she spread them out and immediately wished she had not seen them.

“You found the hive? The other one?” Chrysalis interrupted. Dread filled her voice. Celestia was staring blankly at the photographs. The queen had been shielding her daughter from outside emotions through the mental link she shared with her. She could easily control what Atalanta sensed. Chrysalis was grateful for the link, especially at this very moment.

Though photographs were not the same as looking at horror up close and personally, they were quite real and graphic. The only thing missing was the smell of death that lingered over such macabre things as what lay upon the table at this very moment.

He again glanced at her, uneasily before his shoulders slumped. “What was left of them,” he said, his reply hollow. “What bodies we found were drained of magic, moisture...everything. Even the li—” A sob was choked back forcibly, the stallion squeezing his eyes shut. “Even the little ones. From what we can tell from the scene, preliminary reports the hive was slaughtered to the last. Six hundred, at least. I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but in all my years in the Guard, no living creature should have ever suffered the way these changelings had. All signs point to a long, drawn-out deaths. Everything was done to the greatest of pain and suffering.”

Chrysalis felt her heart stop. She felt Celestia’s pain and discovered she was again surprised by the compassion of the alicorn.

“You asked to know what I fear?” she ventured quietly and without her bombastic attitude. Chrysalis was subdued, as what she had feared to come to pass had happened.

Celestia gave her undivided attention, her ears perked forward.

“It is what Taalia can do. If she left the remnants of a hive to be easily discovered,” she paused as the general nodded at her suggestion, “then there is little to stop that monster from unleashing her twisted horrors upon your precious ponies. She intends to attack them in order for you to expose me and my hive to her. She will do this to shock the population and cause panic and fear.”

“You mean if she does?”

“It’s not a matter of if, Celestia, but when, if it hasn’t happened already.”

“How do I know I can trust you?”

Chrysalis flicked an ear and hissed, irritated with herself. “It could have easily been my hive, princess. I offer a truce between us. To stop Taalia. She will become emboldened the longer we put this off.”

“Are you sure?” Celestia asked.

The changeling queen looked down at her daughter. Atalanta had fallen asleep despite all the commotion. “I have to trust at some point, don’t I? Besides, now it would seem I have little choice. I also seriously doubt you want what happened to this hive to happen to a community of your subjects.”

Celestia arched a brow at the changeling, her features suddenly unreadable. “You are no stranger to things like this,” she stated.

“No,” admitted the queen sadly. “It pains me to admit, but something like this is how my training under Taalia began so long ago.”

The emotion was there, but it was subtle, barely noticeable. It was an emotion that was always associated with the horror behind a singular word.

Monster.

“Do you still forgive me?” The words fell from the queen’s lips as they twisted to a self-depreciating sneer. “Am I someling that can be forgiven? Are you sure such a thing as myself warrants forgiveness, princess? After all, where I come from, being a monster is the norm.” Her smile was cold, predatory.

Celestia shrugged. “Monster is such a subjective term, Queen Chrysalis. We can discuss the merits of what makes a monster after we have taken care of Queen Taalia. I forgive you because I believe you want what is best for your changelings. You are a builder, not a destroyer. A monster is a destroyer. I will show you the difference.”

Chrysalis suddenly felt a weight taken off her horn. Metal clattered to the stone floor.

“You will not need that anymore, I think,” Celestia said crisply. “Make arrangements for your daughter. You and I are going to war.”

“What?” Chrysalis asked dumbly, blinking in confusion.

“Perhaps Cadence would be up for foalsitting,” mused Celestia as she gathered up the documents and photos in a neat stack. To the unicorn she said, “Thank you, general. Alert the staff. Advise my sister. Mobilize the Solar Guard. Request my sister to do the same for her Lunar Guard.”

He saluted. “At once, Your Majesty!” Turning smartly, he trotted back the way he came with a determined look upon his visage.

“How would we go about seeking out other hives that might be in Equestria?” Celestia asked Chrysalis.

“What?” Chrysalis parroted intelligently with the same consistency as the first time. Her brain was stuck on Cadence.

“Of course, Shining Armor should remain in the Empire. I really do not think it would be for the best if he were to know about his daughter. At least not yet.”

“Cadence?” blurted the queen.

“Do keep up, dear, we have much to do. Come along, then!”