• Published 20th Apr 2016
  • 13,416 Views, 1,370 Comments

The Village Called Respite - Carapace

There is a hidden village deep within the untamed forest surrounding Neighagara Falls. Should one ever journey to this village, the changelings who live there will welcome them for a simple price: love.

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Epilogue: A Stray Cloud Blows in From the East

Esalen felt quite pleased with herself.

She couldn’t help it, really, everything she set out to accomplish the day she and Aspire met Sure Stroke at the gate had gone just as she hoped. Even better, actually, aside from one or two little hiccups. The urge to give her brother a good swat for his antics in the forest still arose every now and again, not to mention when she added in his willingness to gamble with Enticier.

But she resisted. How could she not? Looking at them, as she was now, was there any doubt the nervous little pegasus who moved to Respite had adapted for the better?

Just the sight of the pair laying together beneath Sure Stroke’s favorite tree, her chin resting on his hooves, and his upon the back of her neck, was a sight so adorable, so pure she wagered she could take a quick nibble o the love they shared and be fed for a week.

Not that she would. Their love was theirs, it wasn’t her place to ask for a taste, no matter how delicious it might be. The love of friendship, however, was another story. But that could come later.

She turned her attention to Toola Roola and Nimble Hooves, a smile played upon her lips as she watched the sisters go through one of their dance routines again. Or was it gymnastics this time? It was hard to tell, in her opinion. The pair implemented so many flips and cartwheels one could hardly be faulted for mistaking one for the other and with such flawless execution no less!

Especially Toola.

Esalen felt her breath catch in her throat as she watched the bubbly filly stand on one hind hoof and hold the other in the air, at head level. Such flexibility! Such grace! Such a risk of pulling or tearing a muscle if not properly practiced and warmed up, not to mention damage to tendons, as her massage therapy books told her.

Yet Toola didn’t seem bothered at all. There wasn’t a sign of pain or discomfort on her beautiful face. In fact, she seemed oddly at peace, like a changeling basking in the afterglow of a good drink of love. For her, this was her element. Her natural state. The little smile tugging at her lips was utterly sublime. The very picture of serenity.

It was with no small effort that Esalen battled back the urge to walk right up and plant a soft kiss on her lips. Her own seemed to dry at the mere thought, and wetting them with her long, forked tongue did little to help.

By love, she realized. Her heart hammered in her chest. She puffed out a defeated sigh through her nose and resigned herself to the truth. Aspire, Doodle, and Nimble are never going to let me live this down.

Nimble and Toola finished their routine with a bow to one another, then Esalen. They didn’t bother with Aspire and Sure Stroke, but not out of disrespect or slight.

Just that the pair weren’t exactly observant of the world around them—their world only had two inhabitants.

Esalen clapped her hooves dutifully. “Very nice!” she praised. “Are you practicing for the variety show, or—”

“Nope!” Toola chirped, cartwheeling over to stand before her and landing with a happy little bounce. She leaned down, grinning as she nuzzled Esalen’s nose. “Just for fun and giggles!”

“As if you’re full of anything else,” Nimble quipped. “Giggles and love.”

“Shush!” Shooting her sister a quick glare, Toola turned to Esalen with an eager smile. “Esalen doesn’t mind, right Essy?”

Mind? There were many things Esalen minded. Seeing Toola Roola smiling, dancing, and bouncing about wasn’t one of them. Although there was something she could stand to take care of.

Esalen licked her lips again, a light, fluffy taste teased her tongue. Her ears twitched. Love. Affection. Toola’s. And it was aimed at her.

Toola’s cheeks colored, she shuffled her hooves in place and ducked her head, her bright smile turned a shade nervous. She knew what Esalen tasted.

By Morrigan, did Esalen want more.

She returned the nuzzle, maneuvering her nose in a slow, gentle circle around Toola’s. Their eyes met and seemed to close almost in time as each filly tilted her head and began to lean in.

A loud explosion of thunder split the air. Toola squeaked and toppled over in a tangle of flailing hooves.

Esalen pinned her ears. “What in Equestria?” she yelped, scanning the horizon.

“Storm coming?” Aspire asked, halting his affectionate nuzzling long enough to join her search.

She frowned. There were clouds, certainly. But not nearly enough for a storm, even in the middle of Neighagara Forest. At most, it might be another of Breezy’s pranks.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sure Stroke stand up and walk toward down. The filly’s eyes were narrowed and a frown marred her face. “There,” she muttered, pointing east.

They followed her hoof. There, hanging in the sky like a splotch of dirt on her mother’s pristinely clean counters, was a lone thunderhead hovering over the eastern part of the forest—as dark as coal, and sparks of lightning buzzing like a hive of angry bees. But there was something else, something off about part of it.

A dusty blue dot, barely discernible against the sky.

“Is that … a pegasus?” Aspire mumbled.

Nimble joined him. “Doesn’t look like Breezy. Or any of the villagers.”

“Lost weather pony, maybe? No, wait, this is way too far out.”

The dusty blue figure toppled off the cloud in freefall, but managed to catch and right himself after a few seconds. Esalen could almost see the pony shaking its head to clear the cobwebs.

Sure Stroke gave a low growl. “That … how did he … I’m going to beat the feathers off that colt!” Without further explanation, she unfurled her wings and shot into the sky like a bolt of wrathful purple lightning.

Aspire and Esalen shifted into their favored guises, adding wings instead of horns, and gave chase. “Sure Stroke! Was a minute!” he called. “Slow down, dang it!”

“What’s the—huff—rush?” Esalen called.

But Sure Stroke didn’t slow or reply. She accelerated, her wings pumping with all the power and fervor of a Cloudsdale pegasus, one who flew more than she walked for a good portion of her life. Within seconds, they were close enough to see the figure playing with the wild thunderhead. And they weren’t alone. Every flier in the village, pegasus and changeling alike, seemed to have come over to investigate.

At the forefront were Drizzly Day, Skydancer, Cool Breeze, and Queen Euphoria, each regarding a colt of singed, dusty blue coat and frazzled purple and white mane with varying looks of disbelief and, in the case of the Cloudsdale family, indignation.

But he hardly seemed to notice. The newcomer was too enamored with the cloud he’d commandeered. He reached into one of three large bags resting on the fluffy, buzzing cloud, and withdrew a journal and pencil. Licking the tip, he scratched out a few notes. “Lightning shock from wild thunderhead greater than factory made thunderheads,” he muttered. “Consider the possibility of comparing—request sample from Manehattan Weather Team and Respite Weather Patrol Team for further study.”

Then Sure Stroke landed behind him, her wings flared in challenge. “Altocumulus Stratiformis Translucidus Lacunosus!” she yelled.

Esalen’s ears twitched. Wasn’t that … She shared a look with Aspire, who furrowed his brows. “Isn’t that?”

“I think so,” he hissed out of the side of his mouth.

The pegasus turned to peer at Sure Stroke through a pair of black-rimmed glasses. He blinked twice, then smiled. “Oh, hello, cousin! How’re you?” Alto patted the thunderhead. “Isn’t this baby a beauty? I think I’ll name her Sparky. Careful though, she’s stronger than the ones back home.”

Sure Stroke’s feathers bristled. She stomped forward and pressed her nose against his, huffing a breath in his face. “What,” she growled, “in the name of Celestia are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in school!”

“School is boring. I can do that stuff without some fancy piece of paper,” he scoffed. “Besides, I wanted to visit. So I started to pack, then I realized home is boring and nothing happens, so now I have all of my things and I’m here.” Alto paused a beat, taking a moment to glance about. His eyes widened. “You brought a welcoming party to see me? That’s nice of you, cousin Sure Stroke. Or, rather …” He fixed her with a sly smirk. “Cousin Doodle.

Aspire chittered at her side and let his disguise drop. “Oh, Morrigan,” he wheezed, “it is! He got that from my letter!”

His mirth got Alto’s attention. “Your letter?” The newcomer blinked again, adjusting his glasses as if it would help him see Aspire more clearly. Then he looked at the gathered villagers again.

Seconds passed like hours.

At last, he looked straight at Drizzly, then Skydancer, then Sure Stroke again. He tilted his head. “Cousin?” he asked. “Did you know some of your villagers are changelings?”

Esalen couldn’t help it. She just couldn’t. She burst out laughing, her disguise fell as she held hugged her hooves to her barrel, even as Sure Stroke let out a long-suffering groan and clipped her cousin’s ear with a deft swipe of her wing.

“Ow! What did I do? Some welcome this is! I come to visit you and check out the clouds, and then I ask one question and you hit me!”

Oh, love, Esalen thought as the pair bickered back and forth, with Drizzly and Skydancer landing to join their daughter’s side, and Aspire desperately clutching her side as he fought to stay aloft. With a sigh, she brought a hoof to her face and shook her head. Here we go again.

Author's Note:

Thank you for reading the misadventures of my ponies and changelings in this strange village called Respite! If you like the story, please consider reading my other works and donating to my Patreon.

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Comments ( 49 )

Ch50 made me swell with the feels, and the epilogue made me grin. I love this story so much, Carafluff. :3

Will there be a sequel to this? Or is Respite a stand alone story?



This story was amazing.

I... What? Is over? But kissing! A-and weddings!

Good story! Great, really! But, you leave a reader wanting more... I don't know if I like you now. (Kidding!)
I do hope there's plans for more fluff. Your characters are wonderful! And superb writing, not once did I do my usual speed reading.

Until I see Aspire & Doodle and/or Essy & Toola pop back up ill contend myself with your other works.

Happy and sad to see the story end. Very lovely and fluffy, and rereading those bits of Shield's Protector feels more substantial knowing what's behind those not-quite bit characters (who have now had more screen time than that entire story!).

Thank you :twilightsmile:

A wonderful story. Thank you for the ride.

I'll admit to being worried that this tale would end up being mostly fluff about 5 chapters in, but GEEZ you wove some coming-of-age themes in VERY nicely. Hit a couple key character realizations and did some fantastic worldbuilding too.

wonderful story, characters this good should keep going .
thank you for sharing this with us.


But seriously, I knew that was gonna happen, but that didn't make it any more amazing or satisfying to watch it. Excellent end and I look forward to your future works :twilightsmile:

Good ending, was a nice soft and fluffy ride. Will definitely be looking for the sequel if you make it. :pinkiehappy:

Got plans for a followup?

...I never know what to say at the end of a story.


Good job.

dis storeh is gud

This is one of the most deserving books of a favorite I've read
Even if you don't decide to do a sequel, I'd love to read some highlights of A Doodle's Guide to Respite or whatever the book she's writing would be called

If that isn't the hinting at a sequel, I don't know what is. :rainbowlaugh:
Carapace, damn fine work on this story, this was one hell of a read and I loved it! :heart: Start to finish, one hell of a good read, good read indeed.

Keep it up!

Alto either doesn't comprehend fully that he's basically surrounded by changelings right bow or he doesn't care or maybe he's just not as prejudiced. Who knows. Or maybe he's just dense, that's also a possibility. :3

Fantastic story, and most likely heading into the sequel territory. Got to follow the author so that I don't miss anything now. ^^

Woot!! Great read!! Going into my faves for a reread in the future.

Welp, Doodle's gonna be embarrassed.

Nah, it was pretty obvious, I'm just dense as lead

This story was lovely! It really was a true slice of life tale, but/and it was a pleasure to read even at its length! The only thing that frustrates me was that I know what happens in the show, with Canterlot Wedding and Return of the Crystal Empire, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I hope you keep writing in this universe and cover all of that eventually!

Awesome, Carapace!

I love it when authors correct minor errors readers point out :heart:

Love this fic.
was considering asking for a OC insert.. but then stuff..
now thinking of making my own fic about a tiny hidden village of Omnivore changelings and batponies.
(like the batponies in Darth Vulcan but less vamp-y)

oddly at the piece

This should be "oddly at peace".

Other than that, brilliant story, I've very much enjoyed read it, and looking forward to a sequel (whether one is planned or not).

This was a great story. And with that epilogue, I'm curious if there are going to be any more in this setting.

we were wondering when he'd show up. First test case for Doodle's new book?
Keep going! ;)

Well despite me not wanting it to end, you have made an excellent ending point.
This story is fantastic! :pinkiehappy:
What else do you want me to say. "Make a sequel"? I think more than enough people want that to make that obvious. But Hell Carapace this story is awesome on it's own.

I think you said it best I couldn't agree more love the story kind of want a sequel so I can have even more of it of course but it's good the way it is.

Positively wonderful. I was a wonderful experience and further more, I'd certainly read it again. It was nice and had a great balance of everything I look for in these stories. I thank you for this. :twilightsmile:

Sorry I still have 6 chapters to read. I've been busy.

Awesome story - I really enjoyed reading it :twilightsmile:

That was a truly amazing story and I've enjoyed reading it so much
I hope there will be a sequel someday

I had to go back to read this now that there are 3 other stories of Respite. I positively loved every bit of it! The terrible twins are a blast, while all the fluff as they each fall in love is just as delicious to read as it is for themselves to taste. :heart:

Now to go read the sequels

Hell of a story. One of the best I’ve read on this site so far

Will Starlight Glimmer appear in this story?

Would love to have a story where Twilight and the Mane Six discover the village of Respite and - at first - freak out because changelings!, but then after things settle down they're treated to what real Changelings, not those horrible Canterlot invaders, are like. Culminating in a certain Princess of the Sun being summoned and she has a very, very long chat to Queen Euphoria about just what the hell is going on here!

I loved the story, it was a good read.

Here's a thought for those among you who wish to entertain it: What would happen if a pony (or other sentient creature) with a Mental problem like something from the Autistic spectrum came along? What would the Caretakers taste? I ask because many locations on the autistic spectrum mute emotions to the person that has Autism. Would the Caretakers taste muted emotions? Would they taste the emotions in full, because the person with the Autism just could not feel and tell them apart him/her/itself?

Hey, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'll have to read it just to make sure I'm not stepping in any toes; it looks a lot like a project I've been writing off-and-on called An Insect in Amber... not to mention, of course, that it also looks like a great read.

Oh, hey, no problem!

I compared it to TSP because both are long form stories written by you, and your work is probably best compared to your work if I'm describing the reading experience I've had with this particular story. While they were totally different stories, I still thought it would be best to use that story to compare in terms of pacing and other developments.

this is the story of a bunch of 13-15 year old kids helping a filly adapt to a strange new culture that she has no basis in and frankly turns everything she knows on its head.

This actually makes them way older than I thought they were. Algebra and stuff aside, they tended to act much more like pre-teens? So, I had ended up placing them at about maybe 10-12. Kinda Gravity Falls Pine Twins aged because they haven't seemed to have a lot of teenage worries or displays of emotion that really struck me as adolescent so far. Still, it's obviously not impossible, I'm just surprised they're that old! So many of them act so much younger!:twilightblush:

Also ... they're kids? Life is kinda idyllic and sweet and not all that "gogogofix!" right now.

Fixing part aside, I can see why these particular kiddos would be fairly idyllic. (At 13-15 I was certainly far from that, and most people I was exposed to, through school, family, friends, fiction, or really anything had already been out of that phase for a while.) They live in a sheltered village where there's very little outsiders and nothing quite goes wrong. Their queen rules them in their hidden village and they have sweet shoppes and school problems. I don't actually find anything wrong with the biggest 'problem' in the story being very light shades of culture shock and what it's like being the new neighbor from a very fuzzy perspective filled with lots of playful changelings. Again, while this isn't the story for me, I can think of people that I could recommend a story like this to.

Yet Toola didn’t seem bothered at all. There wasn’t a sign of pain or discomfort on her beautiful face. In fact, she seemed oddly at the piece, like a changeling basking in the afterglow of a good drink of love. For her, this was her element. Her natural state. The little smile tugging at her lips was utterly sublime. The very picture of serenity.

Oddly at peace

Somebody needs to do a dramatic reading of this. I don’t have the time or means so anyone who does please.

I wish I could praise this story more than a quick few words, but all I have to say is, this is one of the best changeling fics I've ever read. I'm glad you are working on a sequel, I'm sure it will be amazing!

I love this story! Really well done.

Just favoriting this story feels like a slight against it. I need to make a new bookshelf for Elite Stories, and this will be #1. Thanks for the adventure!

Which sequel is a direct sequel to this?

If the main OCs in this story were voiced, what would they sound like?

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