• Published 13th Nov 2015
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Changeling Courtship Rituals - Codex Ex Equus

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Chapter Six: The Afterparty

"Chrysalis? Are you in there–yipe!"

Twilight pulled her hoof back just in time, as fangs snapped together right where it had been inside the dark cupboard.

"Well, if that's how you're going to be, maybe I won't give you any coffee," she huffed, moving away to another part of the kitchen and starting to pour a pair of cups.

There was a groan, and slowly the mighty changeling Queen emerged from the depths of the cupboard, blinking unhappily at the sunlight streaming in through the windows.

"Sorry," she said hoarsely. "It's the hiving instincts. I guess I decided to make that my new hive last night when... well, at some point last night. I can't quite remember." She glanced back into the cupboard. "There's a little bit of slime in there, but at least I didn't have any eggs to lay."

"Speaking of things you don't remember about last night..." said Twilight, passing Chrysalis a cup of coffee as she sipped on her own, "When exactly did you get my cutie mark?"

"What?" Blinking, Chrysalis turned bleary eyes to her flanks. On them were crudely tattooed replicas of the mark on Twilight's own flanks.

"Oh, that's just great," she groaned. "If that's something permanent, I'm going to have to molt again before the wedding."

She took a long slurp of her coffee, considering Twilight. "I probably got this around the time you shaved your mane and put my crown around your horn."

"What?!" Twilight ran a hoof over her head, feeling nothing but smooth fur. "Ugh, I didn't even notice because I was so busy looking for you. I hope Rarity still knows that hair-growth spell."

"So, where did you wake up?"

"In the library, where I had once again reconstructed Fort Book." Twilight grimaced. "A drunken, wobbly, unstable Fort Book, that collapsed as soon as I moved."

"Is this normally how Pinkie's parties end?" inquired Chrysalis curiously. "I'll admit, it seems like my first impression of them was completely wrong."

"Well... not exactly?" Twilight winced, then gave a toss of her head, beckoning Chrysalis to follow her as she began to walk down the main hall of the castle. "I mean, she has crazy parties. Crazy parties. But I don't usually end up so..."

"Blackout drunk?" suggested Chrysalis, drawing a frown from Twilight.

"Princesses do not get 'blackout drunk'," she sniffed, raising her nose into the air.

"Then what did you do last night?" asked Chrysalis innocently, then giggled when Twilight scowled and angrily puffed her cheeks out.

"Well it couldn't have been anything too crazy," replied Twilight. "I mean, the castle looks fine..."

Pushing open the tall front door with one hoof, Twilight trailed off as both her and Chrysalis's jaws dropped. Their mugs followed suit, shattering upon the top of the castle steps.

At some point the night before, the grounds of Twilight's castle had apparently been replaced by a battlefield. Ponies and changelings–not to mention griffons, minotaurs, yaks, and the occasional zebra–lay strewn about the lawn. The entire eastern side was blocked off by an unconscious dragon, who, to judge by the enormous divots that had been dug out of the ground, had been attempting to dance the night before. Speaking of dirt, a deep furrow led from one side of the lawn to the other, with Rainbow Dash sticking out of the end, also passed out. Further down the path to the castle, what appeared to be Luna's tail stuck out of a bush, flowing gently. Overturned tables, popped balloons, confetti, and bottles–lots and lots of bottles–were scattered about among the living beings; occasionally, in the case of the bottles, they formed mounds. In a few spots small fires burned, smoke twisting its way up into the sky.

"Remember when I talked about the battle with Tirek? This is kind of what it looked like afterwards," said Twilight faintly.

"Wasn't there..." Chrysalis peered over the wreckage, rubbing her chin in thought. "Wasn't there some kind of divider here last night? My memory of the whole thing is fuzzy, but I remember a wall between us, separating the two parties."

"Of course," said Twilight, pointing a hoof about the lawn. "See how there are planks of wood all over the place? It would have only been a temporary wall, and it must have fallen down at some point."

"My earlier question still stands," said Chrysalis. "Is this what Pinkie's parties are normally like?"

"No, no, but..." Twilight's eyes suddenly lit up, as she made a connection. "Critical mass! One party is fine by itself, you can even have two in rather close proximity. But if they combine, you get something exponentially more powerful than either of them alone. Like you said, we tore the wall down at some point, and then... boom."

"I would be very interested in knowing what happened last night," said Chrysalis, starting down the stairs. "And I know just who to ask."

To one side of the stairs was Pinkie Pie. Or rather, the back half of Pinkie Pie, sticking out of the ground. Snoring could be heard faintly, coming up through the earth. Grabbing the pony's tail with her magic, Chrysalis gave a mighty tug, only to fall back panting.

"Here, let's try together," said Twilight, trotting up next to the Queen.

They both wrapped their magic around Pinkie's tail, and, straining, yanked her out of the ground, showering dirt in every direction.

"Now we–oh, my." Chrysalis stopped as she got a look at Pinkie's face, which sported a full, bushy beard and glorious handlebar mustache.

"How did..."

"Ah," Twilight chuckled weakly. "That would be me. She always asks me to cast that facial hair spell on her, and I always refuse. Unless I'm really drunk. She must have taken advantage of that last night."

"Hmm. Would you ever use such a spell on me?"

"Of course not, I wouldn't want to ruin your face," said Twilight absently, inspecting Pinkie. She missed the beaming smile Chrysalis turned on her, as she gave Pinkie a few shakes. All that did was make the beard flop up and down, and momentarily increase the volume of Pinkie's snores.

"I don't think we're going to get any help from her," said Twilight, lowering the party pony back down to the grass. "At least not until she wakes up. Come on, let's see who else we can find."

They had only gone a few steps before Chrysalis stopped, eyes wide and staring. "What is that?" she asked, pointing at a pile of scales, fins and orangeish ponies.

"Well, that would appear to be Sunset Shimmer, a couple of Flash Sentries, aaaaaaand the Sirens," said Twilight, voice full of mock cheeriness.

"The Sirens?" spat Chrysalis, disgust suddenly on her face. "I know what you're going to say, but can't we–"

"Chrysalis, we've talked about this–"

"They're anti-changelings, Twilight! They spread hatred to feed off of, and we eat love! It has to be either us... or them."

"Chrysalis, you are the last one to be upset about reformed villains. Well, I assume they're reformed, or Sunset wouldn't have brought them. Unless she did it after getting really drunk." Twilight shrugged. "In any case, they're her responsibility now, and I trust her to keep them in check. And even if she doesn't, we destroyed the crystals they get their powers from, so they should be completely harmless now."

"You promise that pony can keep them under control?" asked Chrysalis finally, after a furious silence.

"Yes, Chrysalis," replied Twilight, with an inaudible sigh of relief.

"And they'll stay locked on the other side of that portal? From now on, at least."

"Yes."

"And after they go back we can push all the mirrors off a cliff and burn that book you used as a link?"

"We're not going to go quite that far, sorry."

They trudged further up the path leading from Twilight's castle, winding their way around unconscious beings of various races, the remains of the annihilated divider, and pools of... well, they didn't look too closely at what those were pools of.

Twilight sighed as she experienced the ruins of her lawn up close, but took comfort in the fact that she'd signed the Pinkie Party Contract. That guaranteed that any property damage resulting from a party would be personally fixed by Pinkie, and was in fact the only reason Pinkie was once again allowed to serve alcohol at her parties after many years. Twilight was grateful for that contract in more ways than one; drawing up the template for it had cemented her friendship with the party pony.

"My idea didn't work out so well. What now?" inquired Queen Chrysalis as they walked.

"Simple," said Twilight, nodding at the flowing blue tail sticking out of a bush some distance down the path. "We'll just ask Luna."

"An excellent plan. I wouldn't mind talking to Moon Princess again–I mean Princess Luna," Chrysalis quickly corrected herself, wilting under Twilight's glare. "I'm sure she'll be able–"

"Oh thank goodness, you two are here!" called out a voice off to their side.

Twilight and Chrysalis stopped and stared, then walked over curiously. A curving metal pole stuck out of the ground, a golden bird cage hanging from the hook on its end. When they drew near, they saw a tiny Discord standing inside, clutching at the bars.

"So, if you could help me–"

"What are you even doing here?" demanded Twilight. "I don't remember inviting you, and I'm sure Chrysalis didn't either."

"We call the time he ruled 'The Great Famine', so that's a no from me as well," said Chrysalis dryly.

"I may have crashed your parties a tiny bit," said Discord, holding the fingers of his hand apart so they were barely touching, which made the gap invisible at his size. "And I may have tried to turn the pony–and changeling–of honor at the parties into certain waterfowl–"

"And that's why you didn't get an invite," said Twilight, rolling her eyes.

"You need to at least fix this!" cried Discord indignantly. "You two cast some sort of shield spell that reflected my magic, and it did this to me!"

Chrysalis and Twilight looked at each other, wordless communication passing between them, then they turned as one and continued on their way.

"Oh, you're... you're going to get help?" asked Discord desperately. "O-okay, I'll just... I'll just wait here."

Hurrying along, the two managed to make it to the bush with Luna in it without being distracted by any of the other various hints at the previous night's debauchery.

"Finally," sighed Twilight, poking the body in the bush with her hoof. "Luna, we need–"

Nightmare Moon rose from the bush, midnight black and clad in silver-blue armor as always. Twilight and Chrysalis retreated several steps, moving together in mutual support and shock. Looking down at them, Nightmare Moon's lips curled back in a snarl.

"Bleeeeeah!" she cried, sticking her tongue out and then pulling it back in to smack her lips distastefully. "Ugh, Darkness, what did I do last night?"

She peered with bleary, bloodshot eyes at the pony and changeling pressed up against each other. "This is what you like? This sun?" she croaked, gesturing at the sky with a hoof. "Sitting up there, trying to kill us with all that light... augh, my head hurts so much..."

"Y-you..." Twilight tried to say.

"Yes, yes, you want to stop me from bringing eternal night and all that," sighed Nightmare Moon, rolling her eyes and making a dismissive gesture with her hoof, then groaning and putting that same hoof to her forehead. "Look, I can't deal with you while I've got a hangover like this. Let's just call the battle off for now, yes? I'm going to go merge back with Luna."

She stepped out of the bush on wobbling legs, unfurled her wings, and took off, flying unsteadily back towards Canterlot.

"So... that was Nightmare Moon," said Chrysalis, as the two slowly moved apart.

"Yes."

"And she can apparently just come and go as she pleases."

"Yes."

"...want to just pretend we didn't see that?"

"Absolutely," said Twilight emphatically, then sighed. "Although now we're back to square one."

"A camera."

"Yes, it would help if someone had taken pictures last night."

"No–well, yes, that would help, which is why I'm pointing out that there's a camera over there."

Twilight looked in the direction Chrysalis was indicating, where a camera lay on the ground next to a tree. They galloped over in a rush, Twilight scooping the camera up in her magic.

"I'm not sure why a camera would just be laying here, but–"

A snore from above interrupted her. Looking up, they saw Photo Finish hanging upside down from a branch in the tree.

"Okay, now I really want to see what's on this thing."

There was silence as Twilight turned on the camera's screen and began to page through the stored photos from the night before.

"Well, it just looks like a typical Pinkie Party so far," said Twilight after the first few pictures.

"Yes, although I'm surprised by your drinking abilities," replied Chrysalis, grinning. "I've never seen someone do a reverse keg stand before."

"Then you've never seen Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns after finals week," said Twilight, nose in the air. "And you've never seen what magic-using grad students do when they want to blow off some steam."

She flipped through a few more photos, then froze.

"That looks like you with a stripper," said Chrysalis, with a little giggle. "A tall, white, female stripper. One who looks a lot like a Princess I know–"

"I-I just spent a lot of time around her growing up, and maybe I had kind of a crush on her as a teenager, and hey let's look at some more pictures–" Twilight stopped. "And that looks like you with a stripper," she growled. "A white, male, unicorn stripper."

"I can explain–" Chrysalis started to say. "Wait, I don't have to explain anything to you! Your party had strippers too–"

"Yes, but mine didn't look like someone I almost married! Or like someone you're related to!"

"Well, actually–"

"No, you know what? Never mind." Twilight sniffed and started flipping through pictures again, mouth tight and eyes narrowed.

"Are you mad?" asked Chrysalis after a moment. There was no response. "You're mad, aren't you? You seem mad."

"No!" snapped Twilight "Why would I be mad? If anything, I'm surprised. Surprised that you're still here, seeing how my brother is right there in Canterlot and you find him so attractive–"

"Come on, you know that's not true. I mean, I even left him for you–"

This time both froze as a new picture came up on the camera.

"Oh."

"Wow."

A few more photos scrolled by in silence.

"I think we've identified the moment when things went out of control," said Twilight carefully.

"That may be an understatement."

"I, um, apologize for what I was saying before." Twilight's face was now bright red, as she tried to look away from the camera screen. Her gaze kept being drawn back, though.

"Oh, don't mention it," said Chrysalis, the chitin on her face darkening as she blushed and tried futilely to avert her gaze as well.

Twilight started flipping through the pictures at a constant rate, trying her best not to tarry too long on any one photo. Even then, there were still times when she couldn't resist, as the camera seemed to contain more debauchery than either pony or changeling had seen–which was saying something, considering how long Chrysalis had been around and the things she had done to feed. There were still times, though, when Twilight stopped the slide-show out of fascination and sheer morbid curiosity.

"I never knew Fluttershy was so flexible!"

"Applejack looks surprised too."

A few more pictures went by.

"Our changelings do a nice chorus line."

"Well, it's not like coordination is a problem."

Another dozen or so photos passed.

"I guess your teacher decided to join the party."

"Look at her go! I suppose she wasn't able to drink while Luna was banished, and she must have stayed sober out of habit afterwards. This was probably the first time in over a thousand years that she's had a drink."

A few photos later...

"Huh. Looks like she wants to teach you something besides magic."

Two pictures after that...

"Well, that's not me that she's got her wing around!"

There was a moment of silence as the next set of pictures came up on the screen.

"Okay... there's when Nightmare Moon showed up..."

"And there's Celestia confronting her..."

Twilight flipped forward one image, and her and Chrysalis's eyes shrunk to pinpricks, their manes standing on end.

"It looks like they're–!"

"Are they really–?!"

The last few pictures flew past.

"Is that even legal?!"

"I-I don't know!"

"It doesn't look legal!"

"She's a Princess; maybe it's legal if you're a Princess?!"

"Does that mean we could do something like that?!"

"I don't know!"

There was another moment of silence.

"No one can ever see these pictures," said Twilight finally, her tone definite. "It's a good thing I dropped the camera."

"You did?" asked Chrysalis.

"Yes." Twilight let her magic fade, and the camera fell to the ground with a thump. "And then you accidentally stepped on it."

Dutifully, Chrysalis stomped her hoof down on the camera, smashing it apart and then grinding the pieces into the dirt.

"And then it started on fire."

They both lit up their horns, and flames began crackling among the shattered wreckage of the camera.

"I guess now nopony will ever know what happened last night..."

"But–"

"Nopony."

They stood silently, looking back out over the devastation the party had wreaked upon Twilight's lawn the night before.

"We're still going to hire Pinkie for our next party, though, right?" asked Chrysalis after a moment.

"Oh, absolutely!"

Author's Note:

A silly little bit of filler that I couldn't resist writing. Plus, this gives me more time to work on the final chapter...