• 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 XX

Atalanta attacked the red ball half her size with the ferocity and skill of a six week old kitten. Her little hisses and buzzing of her wings filled her mother’s ears. Chrysalis found the noise to be not bothersome and often looked up from her writing to watch her daughter play with her new toy. Changeling nymphs absolutely loved red objects. Bouncy red objects were irresistible. The young princess was no exception to the rule as she bit and scrapped with her new favorite toy.

A simple ball, much like the one Chrysalis remembered her mother giving her so long ago. A red ball could be found in the den of any mother with nymphs. They were a wonderful aid in helping developing young to hone their skills and discover their balance. A few times Chrysalis picked up the ball with her magic and tossed it to the corner of the room and grin broadly as Atalanta immediately took after it with a challenging little hiss too adorable for words.

The truth was, as the smile faded and Chrysalis pulled her emotions into herself, the ball was little more than a distraction. A bribe and a terrible one at that. Atalanta was given the red ball as a present this night before the queen was to follow the alicorn and her army the next day.

They’re all going to die. Those idiot officers haven’t listened to a thing I’ve told them. They don’t understand! Taalia knows how to hunt herds! Her Ravagers would rip through the Guard like scythes through fields of wheat. Fools! All of them, fools!

“I may have to carry the field,” she said to herself with a sigh. Atalanta heard her mother and perked her large ears as she turned from her game and stared. “Play on, my little morsel,” Chrysalis bade her daughter with a wan smile. It grew wider and more honest as the nymph grinned unabashedly at her, wagging her tail and buzzing her wings excitedly.

“Ma!”

Chrysalis chuckled. “Well, don’t look at me! The ball is right there!” She picked it up and tossed it with a flick of her horn. Atalanta squealed in delight and went after it. The little nymph found her target and assaulted it with extreme prejudice, snarling and spitting in her play. Rolling around with all of her hooves wrapped around her prey, it made her mother laugh suddenly at the display of mock ferocity.

Laughter. It had been a thing of such short supply throughout her life. Hardships and suffering had seemed to dog her every step. Was that not life? Was it nothing more than a play on survival, from birth to death? Everything that happened in between hinged on success and failure. Victory or defeat.

Kindness. Changelings knew so little of such a concept beyond their hive. They looked out for each other, for as one, a hive could be a powerful force. They cared for their own, took in the young of fallen mothers and let the elderly and infirm stay at the center of the group when they traveled. Old changelings had wisdom and the young ones were the future.

Generosity. A mostly foreign concept, if only because Chrysalis had never seen much of it, unless it was the pain and suffering given by Taalia. Oh, she could be generous, but almost always at the expense of some poor unfortunate. The Chrysalis remembered being ‘generously’ given as a reward to the Ravagers to vent their sexual frustrations. But, there had been few true examples of one of the pillars by which pony society was built upon for changelings. In Equestria, the queen noticed it had a far gentler, more noble meaning.

Loyalty. In a hive, all changelings were loyal to their queen. Rarely were her orders questioned. Broodmothers did that. It was part of their own duties to do so. But it was because they were loyal to the hive and felt responsible for the colony, if there was one. A queen’s soldiers were devoted to her, gifted through great ceremony from their brood mother to the queen when they were old enough to begin their training. Loyalty began and ended with the hive. Outsiders were never trusted and barely tolerated, if at all.

Honesty. A changeling had to be dishonest. Survival depended upon it. However, when in the colony, changelings could not help but be honest with hivemates. They were trusted. They were family. They deserved nothing less but honestly. The broodmothers were honest with their queen. They had to be, as some of her commands required questioning and sometimes overturning, if there was a chance of a risk for the safety of all the changelings of the hive.

The five pillars of pony society had led Chrysalis to believe Equestria was weak and soft. Her own observations had reinforced that belief and she felt she could have the entirety of ponykind at her hooves if she but take the heart of the nation. Take down the bringer of the sun, and the world would be hers!

But, drunk with emotions, she had lost sight of the bigger picture, the true purpose for coming to Equestria. Her own bloated ambitions had made her lose sight of finding the Cure. There was no one else to blame but herself. Her changelings had suffered massive losses, the hive’s army obliterated from existence in a matter of moments.

Her guilt weighed heavily. Broodmother Anise no doubt had felt the loss of her children. Most of them had been seeing their first action. Chrysalis had few veteran soldiers to call upon for the incursion. She was certain her more experienced warriors had a better chance of surviving the unexpected explosion of love, but for the younger changelings…

They had all been like her own children. Every moment she looked upon her own daughter, she was reminded of her own failures as a leader...and as one to whom her changelings looked upon as the perfect mother figure. Chrysalis loved her changelings deeply. She had mourned, felt the pangs of the deepest loss. Each one she had at least known their names. Even now, unbidden, they came to her thoughts, names with faces. They had followed her loyally, believed in her cause. Few had questioned. Most believed this was a part of finding and end to the Hunger, to at last fill the Void and know freedom of their souls.

With victory would come the Cure.

And she misled them horribly.

Why are my cheeks wet?

Atalanta was there, at her hooves, looking up at her mother. The ball lay forgotten behind her. The nymph gave a worried little chirp. “Ma?”

She was swept up by the queen, forehooves gathering up the little one and pulling her to her chest. The long suffering changeling sobbed uncontrollably, finding comfort in holding her daughter. Atalanta squirmed, uncomfortable with the sadness and grief, but seeming to understand her mother needed her. Such thoughts no doubt confused the nymph, as her only thoughts were of play, sleep, and food. Something deep within the recesses of her developing mind told her Mommy was very sad about something and needed her to make things better.

So, the suddenly upset changeling adult in turn upset her uncomprehending nymph who, of course, cried along with her as there seemed to be no other option available to her.

Chrysalis had led them to their deaths.

Chrysalis had broken an oath she had sworn herself to.

Chrysalis had left her hive defenseless against Taalia.

Chrysalis had opened herself to be at the mercy of prey, finding she in turn needed them to save her changelings. Changelings she felt no longer fit to rule. How could she? Her failure was catastrophic. At some point, she believed, the damned ponies would take Atalanta away from her, and it would be for the best.

The fallen queen felt her life had culminated to this failure because that was all she was good for. Queen Taalia had seen to that. In the morning, her final journey would begin. Celestia would have her revenge, the ponies would confront Taalia, die horribly, and leave the alicorns to pick up the pieces in the bloody aftermath.

“Mommy loves you,” Chrysalis managed, pulled her head up and tilting it to one side so she might fix an eye upon her crying daughter. “Mommy is so happy to have had you. You are going to be in good hooves. Maybe a better future for you.” Fate had a funny way of turning the tables on the changeling. “One day, you will be a queen. You will have your own hive. You must be a strong queen, stronger than I. I have written all the things I have done for you. All my failures. The few triumphs. I was never truly free, my little morsel, but you will be. You will keep your changelings happy and safe. Be better than me, my daughter. When I am gone, when all of this is over, you will be innocent against all the things I have done. I leave you a legacy.” One of pain and suffering, sacrifice and failure...

Atalanta stared at her mother, sniffling, not understanding. She chirped, cocking her head to one side, her ears flopping forward, locking on her mother’s voice. "Ma?"

The changeling studied her daughter, forcing her own tears away. She cooed and gently bounced the crying nymph until she began to settle down. Atalanta looked up at her mother and chirped again. For some reason Chrysalis smiled. Her daughter made her smile. Atalanta made her feel bad for making her cry. Of course seeing her daughter unhappy only added to the guilt seeping into the heart of the Queen. It took a moment of clearing the turmoil from her mind, but Chrysalis came to a startling realization as the nub in the center of her daughter’s head glowed with flickering blue light as her eyes squeezed tightly. Love flowed in itty bitty spurts from the little nymph to her mother. It came with an eager hug, as Atalanta thought one must be appropriate for this very moment.

“Oh, you dear little thing!” she exclaimed, unable to help the laugh that forced its way up her throat. She was supposed to be feeling sorry for herself! Chrysalis felt her daughter’s love brush up against her. It was a tiny, laughable amount, but the queen accepted her daughter’s love without hesitation. Atalanta did not want her mommy to feel sad.

“My life...I have never truly had control over my life.” Chrysalis sighed, nuzzling her nymph. Tiny holed hooves wrapped around her muzzle and she felt her daughter rub her cheek against her snout. “Be it Greater queens or meddlesome ponies, it seems as though I am always driven away from the direction I need to go.”

Atalanta gurgled and nipped playfully. Her mood had shifted rapidly and once again she was a happy little bug.

“I can’t give in to them,” Chrysalis whispered softly. A tiny nuzzle was the response. “But at the same time, I need them. I need them to protect my changelings. I must compromise from a position of weakness. I have thought much about how I can strengthen my position. But I am at a loss, my little morsel. What should I do? It’s not enough I must give you over to the Princess of Love. It’s not enough they demand I go with them to a potential slaughter. Her generals, they do not listen to me. I am not trusted. I am considered the enemy, even though Celestia specifically told them to listen to me. Their ignorance will be counted by the number of the dead when all is said and done.”

Sighing to herself and nestling down, she let her daughter crawl over her head and neck and let her mind wander over her day. It had been a miserable one.

She had spent the day trying to speak sense into three unicorns who represented the commanders who would be leading the expedition. Chrysalis had honestly tried to make an effort for the fools to know what they were getting themselves into. They paid her little mind. Celestia was not there, as she had gone to do other duties elsewhere. Chrysalis had not seen the princess since the day before. Cadence had made herself scarce as well, as she was not inclined to listen in on war talk. The last of the troops had arrived and they were already resting, preparing for the long march tomorrow.

Three thousand ponies. One thousand of each tribe was represented. This did not count the swarm of ponies milling around the encampment outside the fortress walls. Camp followers. Mothers. Foals. Farriers. Blacksmiths. Prostitutes. Merchants. Their number alone was comparable to the force itself. Most of them would travel with the supply train. Chrysalis had been adamant about leaving them behind. Speed and stealth was of the essence, she tried to explain.

“I know how to run a campaign,” one of the generals had told her rudely. “You may have the sympathy and protection of the Princess, but you are still nothing more than a parasitic leech who thrives on the suffering of others!”

At that point, Chrysalis stormed from the room, hissing with fury, her horn crackling with malevolent energy. Thankfully, she kept her temper in check and found solace in a cup of spiced wine and some cheese and bread. She spent the remainder of the day on the ramparts, sheathed in the form of a white unicorn, thinking.

The truth was as plain as the flash of fangs before the killing bite. They were all going to die. The Ravagers would notice them from miles away and set up an ambush. They were very good at such tactics. Queen Taalia would have her fill of blood and it would only serve to embolden her to do something worse. Chrysalis wanted to see the site of the massacre. There were some things she wanted to look for and there was still time. Not much, she surmised, but just enough. Something might still be salvaged from the loss of an entire colony and its hive.

Shortly before sunset, Chrysalis returned to her quarters, where Atalanta had been becoming acquainted more with Cadence. Naturally, the Princess of Love attracted the little nymph with her easygoing attentiveness and cheerful demeanor. The love from Cadence was intoxicating to Chrysalis, as it would be for any changeling. It was like basking in the glow of the very essence of love itself. It was pure, unbiased, and open.

Upon seeing the princess and her daughter, Chrysalis recalled what Cadence had said about the queen’s mother. No words were passed as the nymph was hoofed over to her mother with a loving nuzzle and a cool glance and nod given. No words were exchanged between the two mares, but Cadence did promise Atalanta they would play again tomorrow. The nymph was sad to see her go and sighed wistfully before her stomach told her it was dinner time. After nursing, the ball was introduced. It had been a few hours since and the hour was growing late. Atalanta had relentlessly played with her newfound toy. As Chrysalis had just noted to herself; changeling nymphs love the color red.

Bribery was a time-honored tradition among changelings, in all of its forms. Greater queens were known to have used entire lesser hives and their queens as a barter for services, depending on their reasons. Then again, something as simple as a red ball meant as a distraction felt like a preamble to a betrayal.

Chrysalis felt her mood spiraling again.

Atalanta wanted to nurse again. Her mother complied, positioning herself on her side and stretching her legs from her body. As the nymph crawled over her side and belly, Chrysalis’ thoughts wandered again, trying to focus on something positive. She tried to imagine what Atalanta would look like as an adult, picturing her with a male of her choice and surrounded by a throng of nymphs, some hers, most belonging to the hive proper. Most importantly was the smile she imagined her daughter to be wearing. Not a care nor worry etched upon her face. Just happiness and a contentment with her world Chrysalis had never been able to experience for herself.

“My pride is my weakness,” she admitted. To do so felt wrong. She knew her pride was enormous. It had also cost her a great deal of pain. Taalia had never been able to crush the queen’s pride. If there was anything positive to come from it, the queen could only think of the day she decided she had enough of Taalia and fled from the tigress’ territory with a small swarm of changelings who were slaves like her.

That had felt like another lifetime, in another world.

The chase had gone for years. Chrysalis became a magnet for those who had no hope. Broken, battered changelings came to her in all shapes and sizes, looking upon her as a final bastion of hope. The queen ascended to queenhood with no ceremony. She did not realize she had become a queen until she noticed how all eyes fell upon her with awe and reverence. As minds joined with hers, changelings began to appear as she did, becoming her hive and her swarm. They became an extension of her will and Chrysalis grew into understanding what it meant to be a queen. The burden of new responsibilities altered her, making for many sleepless nights. Her unruly mob of changelings soon began to fall under the sway of her thoughts and machinations, and she gave over to them her knowledge learned from Taalia.

Chrysalis was a far kinder teacher. She needed loyal changelings who followed out of love and duty instead of fear and terror.

Such reflections made the queen wonder.

One day, she was an escaped slave. The next, queen. And she had never even seen it coming. It simply...happened.

The Twin Queens had commanded Taalia to do no harm to Chrysalis. The tiger changeling queen had obviously ignored it. She was punished, as the opportunity for escape had been provided by the elite guards of the goddesses. The raid was punishment, and the queen under whom Taalia answered to was utterly destroyed, her hive shattered as the shadows of the goddesses fell upon them in judgement. Chrysalis thought she felt immortal eyes looking down upon her, through the smoke and confusion so many years ago, willing her to go and laughing in her mind.

It made Queen Taalia a rogue and without a leash.

Such a realization back then had easily spurred Chrysalis to make as much haste as possible. The goddesses reminded her quietly of the task they had bestowed upon her, pointing in the right direction and saying nothing more.

“So long ago,” she mused sleepily. “Feels so very long ago.” Atalanta suckled and Chrysalis felt at ease. Feeling the little hooves pressing into her belly for purchase and hearing the little sounds of a feeding royal nymph gave her world a sense of calm, if only for a moment.

Oh, the look on Cadence’s face the moment she has to let her little morsel have a teat! Chrysalis wanted a picture of that moment. It would be a petty, amusing victory. Of course, given the princess’ disposition, she would do it with little complaint, if any. Perhaps she would even enjoy it! Tapping into that maternal instinct to nurture a small one… No, Mi Amore Cadenza was the sort of pony who would love nothing more than to leap headlong into the embrace of motherhood as though she was destined to it.

Celestia had made the obvious and only viable choice.

But why?

Chrysalis sighed, eyeing the lone candle lighting the room. For several moments she gazed upon the little flame. It reflected in the pools of her large, luminous eyes as she basked in the afterglow of nursing her daughter. Atalanta had by now finished feeding and had curled up against her mother’s stomach. The changeling pulled her legs in and curled her body protectively around her daughter, pausing for a moment to snuff out the with a flick of magic from her horn. Before putting out the light, her eyes searched. She noted the forgotten red ball on the floor. The glow of her horn shifted its hue of green subtly as if to adjust her telekinetic grip from the candle to the ball. Picking it up gently, she deposited it neatly into Atalanta’s hooves. The nymph purred and grabbed her toy instinctively, adding a possessive coo.

First light the next day she would be gone. Before embarking with Celestia and her gaggle of idiots, she would place a sleeping spell on Atalanta before hoofing her over to Cadence. Chrysalis already knew her daughter would cry when she discovered her mother was gone. She nosed her daughter, feeling another pang of guilt. She did not want to go. Taking Atalanta was out of the question. If Taalia knew about her, Chrysalis was certain the tigress would make an effort to snatch the nymph.

Already the steady breathing of her daughter told the queen sleep had overtaken the nymph. Safe, warm, and happy, the nymph was oblivious to what was going on beyond the world she knew.

There would be no sleep for the queen this night, though her thoughts did drift to the blue changeling and how familiar she was.

Author's Note:

Made in Taiwan.

Unedited.

Next chapter: What can be found in the shattered remnants of a changeling colony? Maybe a Honus Wagner baseball card?