• 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 XXIII

Edited by Chapter 13, Kudzuhaiku, and TuxOKC.

The camp was unmolested. Chrysalis was certain their return would be greeted with death and destruction. This irked her. It was not to say she had hoped or even desired for Queen Taalia and her minions to fall upon the camp; far from it. Her urgent insistence to Celestia and Luna to make all haste back to camp seemed to have been for naught.

Armored pegasi fanned out in the sky on unspoken orders. They assumed search patterns and altered their approach to camp as a precaution. Scouts had reported nothing out of the ordinary. The sights and sounds of a perfectly ordinary military camp with its followers greeted her senses. There was no carnage. There was no chaos beyond what was normal. This was what worried her.

Chrysalis stayed near the carriage bearing her precious cargo. Her ears were on swivels and her eyes roamed watchfully. Her heart betrayed her outward calm, thudding against her ribs as her old friend fear preyed upon her thoughts. Where was she? Where was that monstrous bitch? A slaughtered hive was nothing more than an afterthought to the murderous queen. It was her pleasure. Her pastime!

“Chrysalis,” the voice of Celestia hissed with a crisp sharpness. The queen spun on her with a feral growl, her mane whipping around her face, making her for a memorable moment to appear leonine. Celestia was caught off guard. “Calm! There is nothing here! Look! All is well.” The smile emerging was warm and inviting, even motherly.

“No, it is not,” the queen insisted. “Taalia used the hive as a distraction. I know her! I have lived many terrible years under her shadow. You do not know! You refuse to believe!” The snarl fell away and morphed into concern. Her wings buzzed with renewed vigor. “She can seem to be everywhere. She could be anywhere!”

Luna, who had been bringing up the rear in the off chance of an attack from the rear, came up on gliding wings. With lazy flapping, she pulled up next to her sister, eyeing the changeling before shifting her attention to her older sister. “My scouts report nothing amiss,” she said, “and that worries me.”

“Where is she?” Chrysalis asked, casting her gaze over the camp. The group moved past her and towards their base. The queen moved to block the pair of pegasi hauling the sky carriage containing the future. “Assume nothing, princesses.” She glared at the alicorns, raising her head high and daring them to argue with her. The two pegasi reared in their harnesses, their eyes wide with fear as the impressive and daunting form of the changeling queen filled their visions.

“Chrysalis,” Celestia began, moving on smooth wing strokes to impose herself between the agitated changeling and the carriage. “Chrysalis, you are scaring my ponies. Calm yourself.”

“A calm changeling is a dead changeling,” was the counter. “I need my wits about me. Fear gives me insight to what is amiss.”

“All the more reason reason to remain calm.” Luna dared to move alongside Chrysalis’ left side. “She has you rattled, this Taalia. You are not thinking clearly. I know this game she is playing. She wants to wear you out mentally. She will strike when she believes you are at your weakest.”

Chrysalis opened her mouth to argue, but was interrupted.

“We have given you trust. Now, you must give us trust in return. We believe your concerns are valid. However, we also believe she will not attack Our ponies. She does not know Our strength. She does not know Our weakness.” Luna gave the queen an imperious glare. “She does not know Our wrath.”

“Wrath?” Chrysalis asked with an incredulous lift of a brow. A short laugh barked from her lips. “You ponies faint at the sight of rampaging bunnies!”

Luna sighed and rolled her eyes. “Not all of Our subjects share our nerves of steel. Civilians are not soldiers. Ponyville will never live that one down. One would consider the one township that encounters the most frequent of happenings would enjoy a more robust sense of courage.” The alicorn shook her head. “Come. Let us land and retire to Our tent. There is much to discuss. What we have witnessed today will be added to what we have learned to this point. Time is short and the initiative still lays with Our enemy.”

“You’re talking like that again,” Chrysalis snorted, looking for something to direct her ire upon.

“We speak in the Royal Voice,” Luna said with a huff. “Come. Let us adjourn.”

“Come, Queen Chrysalis,” Celestia invited, “it has been a long day. I like my sister’s suggestion. It is necessary. We need to understand what Queen Taalia is planning.”

Hissing in frustration, Chrysalis followed after the alicorns, casting a dangerous eye at the two pegasi one last time. “If any harm comes to them,” she warned with a voice as cold as ice.

One stallion shook his head in vigorous denial while his companion bobbed his up and down with enthusiasm born from pure fear. Chrysalis spat in disgust and turned her back to them. “Idiots,” she fumed.

Instead of tea, Chrysalis opted for a dry red wine. She needed a drink after today. The crystal in which the wine swirled was enchanted to keep her drink chilled. With idling thoughts, she swirled her wine even as Luna and Celestia poured over a map spread across a large, square table in the middle of the tent. To one side stood the generals, who to varying degrees, cast furtive glances at the fuming queen as she lost herself into her nursed drink. She ignored them more so than she ignored the polite squabbling Luna and Celestia had fallen into. The pair spoke to each other in hushed tones, their ears flicking at each other.

She was reclined in a field chair, feeling certain decisions were made against her will as her rage was walled up against the helplessness growing in her heart. The ponies at first ignored her, now they yearned for her knowledge. Taalia was out there, growing stronger. Her forces were moving in the shadows, poising to strike. More than likely, they had already done so. Chrysalis knew it. She understood Taalia: how she thought, what she wanted. The changeling queen knew her former mentor wanted her. Hundreds of years and a journey over half the world was more than testament enough. Taalia was probing. Taalia was seeking for a weakness to exploit.

Taalia was enjoying herself.

An ear rose when she heard her name called. Breaking from her contemplation of her wine, Chrysalis looked up, blinking her large eyes as her pupils adjusted. The world around her broke from a muffled haze to crystal clarity.

“What?” she demanded flatly. Chrysalis assumed the voice that had called her belonged to Luna. She assumed correctly.

“We need your thoughts as to what other options Taalia might consider attacking if it was not this camp,” the Princess of the Night said in a voice of tested patience.

“Hrm,” Chrysalis hrmed. She sipped from her glass once, twice, then quaffed the remainder with no hesitation. “She wants a soft target. She wants a target you assume to be safe and secure. She wants you to spread yourselves thinly. Taalia will strike where you are not. If I were her and I knew what I know, then…”

“Then?” Luna prompted, earning a concerned look from Celestia.

Chrysalis closed her eyes. “Not all of her changelings are Ravagers. She will have others in her employ. Ones that can do what her Tartarus spawn can’t. Spies. Changelings that are unchanged and can infiltrate. Perhaps even survivors from the hives she wiped out in her travels. She adapts. She learns. She does not stagger blindly into the unknown.” She inhaled from deep within her lungs and through her nostrils, then let out a slow, calming exhale through her mouth.

The generals looked at her expectantly. A servant appeared and refilled her wine, then disappeared as though she had never existed. Silence reigned like a heavy fog for a few moments as many eyes focused upon the contemplating queen.

“I should like somepony to check up on my daughter,” she said with unnerving quiet tones. “I should like to know that she is well and in good hooves. Cadenza had better be nursing her properly.”

“Consider it done,” Celestia said in placating tones. Her attention shifted to an earth pony among her general staff. “General Hard Tack, please see to it at once. There are missives that need to go out anyway.”

“Of course. Adjutant,” the general nodded to a subordinate behind him and against the tent wall. The junior officer saluted and disappeared out the door with nary a word.

“I need to see to it the eggs and little ones are safe and secure,” Chrysalis decided as she hopped to her hooves. “Right now, I do not know what to think. I am confused. I need to be around a calming environment. I want to be with my daughter, but I understand that is impossible for the moment.” Without waiting for a response, she was already moving, gliding like a shadow with purpose.

“Your Majesty, I protest,” one of the generals complained. “How can we plan if the source of our information has no desire to give us the assistance we need?”

“Surprising, considering you ignored my pleas the other day and assented to my words only after being scolded by your motherly princess,” Chrysalis noted without looking back. She emerged into the world to see the sun on its way to the western horizon. There was perhaps an hour of daylight remaining.

All Chrysalis had to do was follow her nose. None of the ponies had bothered to tell her where the eggs were being kept and she had her doubts when comparing the words of the princesses and the actions followed up by their ponies. Saying was not doing, so far as the changeling queen was concerned with matters concerning Equestrian handling of changeling affairs. It was, in her opinion, severely lacking. Few ponies were honorable and noteworthy, she had observed to this point. The memories of that awfully pleasant doctor and his accursed bedside manners still sent shivers down her spine whenever she recalled the experience.

Ponies were for the most part, useless. They were prey. They had a herd mentality Chrysalis was certain was rife with some forms of retardation.

She moved through the camp, followed by a pair of guards. Suspicious looks were cast in her direction. Chrysalis ignored them, maintaining a regal poise and making long and regal strides. She moved like flowing water, with no bounce in her step. If one were to observe, it appeared like a high prowl, her prey already sighted and focused upon. Her ears flicked and shifted from voice to voice, catching snippets of conversation. Some were directed at her while others deliberately tried to ignore her existence. They feared her, as well they should.

But, for now, Chrysalis could not afford to regard them as her enemies. She knew their place as prey in the natural order of things had to be suspended, for she knew she needed them. Where as her own hive did not have the might to confront Taalia and her ilk, Equestria had a far deeper pool of resources to draw upon. The question remained as to how far the Princesses would dip into it.

She found herself in front of a temporary structure, one made from fabricated walls and sporting an oilcloth roof. It was a portable medical facility of sorts. A pair of guards stood as silent statues, one on either side of the entrance. They regarded her curiously, but said nothing as they gripped their spears a little tighter. Giving them little more than a passing glance, she strode inside and into a gloomy interior.

The lighting was dim. The queen’s eyes adjusted with little effort. Before that happened, her nostrils caught the scent of three mares within the medical tent. She imagined they were nurses. Once her eyes caught up with her other senses, she could make out uniforms, confirming her assumptions. One of the nurses had a clipboard in her magical grip, along with a scribbling pencil as she used a delicate touch to rotate an egg nestled securely in its basket. The baskets had been set upon simple and sturdy wooden tables. The other two were quietly going about their duties, pausing only when the queen appeared. They were staring at her and wearing brave faces. The pony with the clipboard noticed their staring and followed their line of sight.

“G-good evening, Q-queen Chrysalis,” she said with a nervous hitch in her voice. “C-can I help you w-with something?”

“How are my children?” Her tone was gentle, taking into account she was in a room full of innocence. Without waiting for a reply, the changeling queen was already moving towards the first table. Her horn flared to life as she began to infuse love into the first egg she came to. The hatchling within responded. It was a positive response. Chrysalis smiled and felt a knot in her heart loosen a little.

“There is n-no visible d-damage to the eggs,” the nurse replied, backing away as the queen stepped towards her. “The foals appear to be healthy. I-I don’t understand t-the magic k-keeping them in suspended s-s-stasis.”

Chrysalis ignored her presence and her fear, focusing instead on the next egg. It too was healthy and reacted well to the love she gave it. Chancing her reserves, her horn flared again, brighter and with a brilliant flare. Love surged from her horn, arching branches launching from the tip of her crooked horn and to each of the sleeping changelings in the room. The ponies yelped at the display, staring with wide eyes at the sudden emerald glow of their charges. They pulsated like heartbeats. Chrysalis poured more of her will into the love she gave, grunting in the effort. Thirty one souls fed upon the love she bestowed upon them. The queen gasped as the effort in feeding so many at one time had the immediate effect of draining her energy. She reached through her magic and touched the hearts of the nymphs and hatchlings.

“Awaken, my little changelings,” Chrysalis crooned in a soft tone. “Awaken from your sleep. Come. Come to me, my children.”

At first, there was nothing. A cocoon cracked and split open. Then, the sound of a tiny gasp, followed by the cries of a lonely child calling for her mother. Chrysalis moved swiftly, all traces of her arrogance gone. Her snoot touched the wailing hatchling, followed by her tongue as she soothed the little changeling filly with a motherly touch. Other sounds began to fill the tent as life resumed, ending a nightmare. Chrysalis could feel their fear and she called to them. Moving to the center of the room, she lay down, folding her legs beneath her. The queen chirped, her horn never ceasing in feeding the little ones. Life went from her to them, and they responded. They freed themselves from the cocoons. Little wings and tiny legs struggled to bring them to the source of life. Reborn, reclaimed, and given more love than they had ever had before, the children came to her, chirping and crying, ever hungry. The Hunger and the Void was stymied as Chrysalis poured her soul into them through love.

She purred, inviting them. She crooned, consoling them. In response, her new children, the newest members of her hive butted against her sides and shoulders, rubbing their cheeks against her neck and face. They climbed over her, their voices falling from the fear that had terrorized them and into the sense of comfort and safety. Chrysalis claimed them as her own, her magic still pouring from her and into them. They were hers now, as many before had become. Atalanta gained brothers and sisters at this moment, and Chrysalis was happy for that.

The three mares stared, having gathered together as Chrysalis called out to her adopted children. They had no idea the infamous changeling queen could have such gentleness. They gasped as the eggs were lifted from their baskets and floated in the queen’s aura towards her. Chrysalis shifted her body, gently moving the tiny swarming changelings around her legs in an impressive display of multitasking.

At the entrance stood a pair of alicorns, having arrived just as Chrysalis sorted out her brood. There were far too many eggs and far too many wriggling little bodies around her. The form of the queen was hidden beneath the mass of chirping, hissing, gurgling children. The eggs were placed gently between her legs. Chrysalis became a brooding queen, her eyes becoming feral and protective. Her possessive gaze fell upon the nurses and she gave a warning growl. Her nostrils flared as she caught a whiff of alicorn scents, her face snapping towards them. Her eyes narrowed and a slow, don’t-come-any-closer hiss was thrown at them.

“We should hear something from the keep by morning,” Luna told her, nonplussed. A nervous smile graced the stoic mare’s visage. She had seen many strange things in her long life, but witnessing Chrysalis in Overprotective Mother Mode had been, to this point, something she had only read about in the reports. Blinking in disbelief, she found herself rethinking her personal thoughts in regards to the queen.

Celestia appeared as serene as ever, as if the event before her was old hat. “I imagine you will be spending the night here?” she asked.

Chrysalis responded with a hiss.

“Very well then!” Celestia chirped. “Ladies, please leave the queen to mind her family. Thank you very much for all of your hard work.”

The mares filed out quietly, bowing quickly to the alicorns before leaving under the air of hushed voices as they whispered to each other.

Both alicorns shared a knowing look before bowing politely to the queen and leaving her to the newest additions to her family.