• Published 7th Apr 2016
  • 3,195 Views, 64 Comments

A Day In The Hives - Shaded Changeling

Celestia wants to learn more about the Hives within Equestria, but since she has a country to run, the Hive Queens allow her student to spend a day within each Hive, and see a single day in the lives of a Queen.

  • ...

Artist Hive

WARNING! This chapter contains French DUN DUN DUUUNN

For those of us who are not knowledgable in the language, I have included Translations behind it.

"Insérer la phrase française ici" (Insert French phrase here) So you need not worry about missing anything important.

I am also not an expert at the language... so some of these may be off.
Thanks to Bigou for helping me with some of the translations.

Twilight had been told, after Blackout had suppressed her memories, the full tale of what she saw, minus some of the details. “For your own good,” Blackout told her. So while she was able to understand, Twilight took notes on that before going to write her reports.

After hearing about, and remembering parts, of the experience, she was thankful to Blackout for the suppression, she was also thankful for the magically locked chest she kept, that only she knew the correct spells to unlock, because otherwise Ovi’s ‘Gifts’ would be found rather easily.

As the days continued, Twilight found herself slightly fearful of where she would go next. After her trip to the Lust Hive, she was getting worried that all Queens had stories like that. Then she read back through Cytes’ iteration of Queen Births and thought it was just a Lust Hive tradition of some sort.

As she tried to find a way to scientifically explain most of Ovi’s Hive without including… A lot actually, Spike walked in and gave Twilight another scroll.

She wasn’t sure what she expected from Celestia this time, maybe she would send her to Acari’s Hive, or possibly some other Hive she never met… What she did not expect, was what she got.

It was an apology from Celestia about Ovi’s Hive, and saying that the next Hive was a bit farther than the others. Inside of the scroll were two tickets for an airship departing from Canterlot the next day heading to…

“Prance?” Spike replied. “But… Neither of us know Prench.”

“And with Rarity visiting her parents…” Twilight began. “Well, no time like the present.” Twilight’s horn lit up as she pulled over a book titled: ‘Foreign Languages and You’ and began flipping through it. “I know that I marked that… Ah, here it is!”

There are many workarounds to learning a full foreign language. One can learn the intricacies themselves or use any manner of magical assistance. The most common of this assistance is the Translation Charm. These charms can be placed onto any number of materials be them necklaces or rings. However, usually they are merely a small workaround certain aspects of the language, such as listening, speaking and reading. These smaller incantations all counteract each other, meaning that it is only wise to focus on one aspect of the language you require.

The only known full translation spell is a very difficult caster only spell and can be found within “Advanced Self-Mind Charms” however, due to the side effects of such a spell, Celestia has confiscated every copy of the tomes.

Twilight sighed. “Well, that was a bust.”

Spike nodded. “You would think Celestia would ha-” Spike’s cheeks puffed up as he released a burp, a green wisp of smoke condensed into a letter in front of Twilight.

“’My faithful student, I realize that you are going to a nation that speaks another language. The Queen has given you a translator and guide until you meet with the others. I am sorry I could not tell you this in the last letter, we ran out of ink.’ Well, that explains that…”

“So… With you having a…” Spike began.

“No Spike, I need you to come with me.” Twilight replied. “Won’t it be fun to travel to Prance? See the Equeel Tower and the Houvre, all the different landmarks and…” She realized Spike was rolling his eyes. “And maybe… You can get a nice gift for Rarity.”

Spike suddenly tensed up. “You think?”

Bull’s eye. “Well, Prance is a very high class country. I’m sure that there will be any number of things you could get for Rarity there. I’m sure that Rarity would be very grateful if you got her something.”

Spike tapped his chin before nodding. “Well, what are we waiting for? We have an airship to catch!”

Twilight giggled as she watched Spike rush down the stairs to begin packing for the trip. “Too easy…” She said as she levitated over her saddlebag and began filling them with supplies.

As she had everything worked out, she walked downstairs to see the door open, a white Pegasus with a poufy yellow mane and tail walked in, her yellow eyes looking around nervously. “Twilight?”

“Good afternoon, Surprise. How was the trip to Pinkie’s family home?” She asked the Pegasus.

“Oh… It was… Fine. Twilight, can I talk to you about something… Kind of personal.” Surprise asked. “I mean if you need to go somewhere I can always ask another time… Actually, never mind, I’ll just…”

Twilight sighed. “Surprise, I have plenty of time. What do you need?”

Surprise took a deep breath before being surrounded by yellow flames, replacing herself with a yellow winged and yellow-eyed Changeling. “It’s… Changeling related… and… You’ve been going to the Hives so I was wondering… Have you seen any others like me?” He asked, tapping his front hooves together. “I mean, if you haven’t that’s fine but I…”

Twilight shook her head. “I’m sorry, Surprise. I haven’t seen any other Changeling’s with your coloration. I promise that I’ll tell you if I find out anything.”

Surprise’s ears laid flat against his head. “Oh… alright…”

Twilight looked at the Changeling curiously. “How long have you been thinking about this?”

“Well… I’ve been thinking about it since I got welcomed to Ponyville… But I’ve been meaning to ask for…”

Spike walked up from the basement with a backpack full of Twilight’s back up supplies. He looked down at a watch and walked over to Twilight. “Twilight, we need to get to the station if you want to get to Canterlot by…”

Twilight looked down at the watch Spike was offering her and practically jumped into the air. “Oh NO!” She grabbed Spike in her magic and plopped him on her back. “Sorry, Surprise. I need to catch the train. I wanted to ask Queen Chrysalis a few things before heading off to Prance. Hope everything goes well!”

Surprise waved back as Twilight dashed down the streets towards the train station. Once there, she quickly ran on board before dropping Spike and pulling out her notebook full of the condensed notes and flipping through them. “Do you think Celestia would want an update while I’m there? I know I haven’t gotten around to finishing either of the reports thus far, there’s just so much and I don’t want to put the wrong information into the official report to Celestia.”

Spike sighed as he pulled out a few notepads for Twilight and slid them over to her. “Promise me you won’t be like this on the Airship…”

“I don’t know, Spike, Celestia said we would have a translator from the Queen, if that’s true, then I can get any number of questions about the Hive before I even get there! That would make it so much easier to get all the information I could need!”

Spike sighed as the train began to pull away from the station. “I wonder what Surprise is up to.” He said to Twilight.

“Oh, I’m sure he’s fine. Pinkie will help him feel better in no time. Now, do you think I should list these in Alphabetical, Chronological, or should I put all of the facts into different categories depending on it’s relevance and quantity?”

Spike sighed. “This is going to be a long day…”

To Twilight’s dismay, Chrysalis was not in Canterlot at the time she arrived. From what Celestia told her, Chrysalis had to handle a rather bad situation that had erupted within her Hive. To quote Celestia: “A few Changelings may be plotting to try and raid a nearby Pony town, she is going to make sure they don’t.”

So with that source of information gone, Twilight instead spent some time comparing her notes of the two hives. Finding very little similar between the two. Each of the Hives has their own style, preferred location, etiquette, almost everything was different. She had spent a lot of time reading through it that she didn’t even notice that Luna had raised the moon until Spike came to check on her around midnight.

Twilight’s sleep schedule aside, she had looked up the travel time for the Airship. If it left when it was scheduled to, and assuming it went at nominal speed the whole time, they would arrive by around seven at night. While Twilight would have liked to get there sooner, the only other option was teleportation, and that was a feat that only a princess or Discord could perform.

So despite that, Twilight spent a lot of the morning looking through Prench travel guides and maps to get an idea for a possible tour if she got the chance. By the time she was walking over to the airship Dock, she had managed to condense what would have been a normal day’s worth of walking and sightseeing, into about four hours of magic using and good detailed sightseeing. “-And then we go to the Notre Mane cathedral and…”

“Twilight, I know. This is only the third time you told me.” Spike replied.

“I’m just making sure, this could very well be the last time we get the chance to go to Prance, I don’t want to leave anything out.”

Spike sighed. “Shouldn’t you be more focused on getting information on the Hive, you know, the reason we are going to Prance.”

“I haven’t forgotten, Spike. First and foremost we learn about the Hive, then we see the sights.”

Spike nodded and looked around the dock. “Which Airship is it?”

Twilight looked up and around, the docks were full of Airships from all over Equestrian and even the world. A few Griffons were unloading boxes, some ponies were fixing up an engine, and plenty of the Airships were just sitting there, waiting to be used.

Twilight pulled up the picture of the Airship she was supposed to be looking for. It was a violet colored ship, the balloon emblazoned with an intricate weaving pattern of creeping vines and flowers. The Airship reminded her of the Griffish variants that were designed for a mix of speed and durability, only without the cannons. The main body of the ship was not the largest, meaning it was only really designed to carry small numbers of passengers, usually those that would have the money to buy the flight.

Twilight lowered the image to look around the area, seeing a ship that matched that description, she and Spike began to walk closer to it. It was then that Twilight noticed the symbol on the ship’s hull. The symbol was of a violet violin, the neck of the instrument pointing up, with an amethyst quill and lilac paintbrush crossed over the body of the instrument. As Twilight got closer, she realized that every small vane in the quill was detailed perfectly and every hair of the paintbrush was detailed, even having small drips of paint remaining on the brown hairs.

“Wow…” Twilight said as she looked at the details on the symbol, every time she looked again, she noticed another small detail she hadn’t before, the small ruffles in the quill, the way the strings of the violin popped out. She only managed to look away when she heard the Airship’s horn blow. She quickly grabbed Spike and ran on board the vessel, seeing a few ponies working on the deck of the ship before she ran down below the deck into the hull. She skidded to a halt when she saw how many ponies were actually on the Airship.

The ship itself, while smaller than most others, had been made with the Canterlot nobles in mind, the marble white walls and light golden accents that were prevalent throughout Canterlot were noticeable here. And the fact Twilight found herself in some sort of lounge area, a full table of food on the far side of the hall, an ice carving of a swan, and multiple different bottles helped show that this was not something she was used to.

There were about twenty ponies around the area, only about five that Twilight knew by name, all looking around and talking amongst themselves.

“Twilight, you sure this was the right ship?” Spike asked Twilight as he looked out at the ponies. “This seems a bit, high class.”

Twilight chuckled nervously. “Yeah… Maybe we should just…”

“Oh, Miss Twilight.”

Twilight looked over at the source of the call, seeing a white unicorn walking over to her, the light violet eyes looking at her in recognition. The light pink mane and violent eye shadow was picked up on by Twilight instantly.

“Fleur Dis Lee!” Twilight said surprised.

“Bonjour.” Fleur replied. “I am quite glad to see you made it, I was worried you wouldn’t be here.”

“Oh… Uh… Why’s that?”

Fleur grinned. “Come with me, I wish to speak with you in private.”

“Uh… Okay?” Twilight replied, she and Spike followed Fleur across the hall, Fleur stopping a few times to greet a few of the passengers before continuing down the hall.

“I must say, I was quite glad to hear that you accepted the invitation, I was worried I would be travelling back home alone.” Fleur said with a sigh. “Not that going home is ever a bad thing, but it is just… Boring to have only the aristocrats to conduct parle with, you understand, no?”

“I can take a guess… Though where is Fancy Pants? You two are normally inseparable.”

“Yes… Well, we can hardly stay together with out busy lives. I am due back home for a bit of business, and hopefully a bit of repos et relaxation. I can never be sure.”

“So, what did you want to talk to me about?” Twilight asked. “Because I should probably get off the ship before we pull too far out of the dock and find the correct ship before it leaves.”

Fleur looked back towards the others in the hall, before looking at Twilight. “Could you check my hoof for me?”

Twilight blinked in confusion before looking down at Fleur’s hoof, seeing a small purple flame surrounding the hoof. Twilight looked back up at Fleur in surprise. “No…”

“Oui.” Fleur replied. “This is the ship you seek. I am here to assist you once we land.”

Twilight was still staring blankly at Fleur. “You’re a-”

Fleur pressed her hoof against Twilight’s mouth. “Please… Do not say it… I do not wish for it to become common knowledge. It could ruin me, and I do not wish for Fancy to be struck by this…”

Spike looked at her curiously. “Why wouldn’t you want ponies to know that you’re a-” Fleur’s magic lit up as Spike’s lower jaw slammed shut.

“Please… I beg of you, do not speak of this to anypony else.” Fleur replied. “I… I’m not ready for this to be known to those outside of mes amis les plus proches.”

Twilight nodded and Fleur removed her hoof. “But wouldn’t that be a huge boon to your modeling business?”

“One would think… But I am more worried about what could happen… past that… I would rather attendes until it is a bit more normal in Canterlot to see Changelings.” Fleur sighed. “I also wanted to catch you before you fled off the ship, after all, the Queen spared no expense for you and your tracteur blindé, small as he may be.”

Fleur’s magic cut off. “Je vous remercie. I am quite sorry… Years of lessons tell me not to tell anypony.”

“Understandable. Oh Celestia, imagine what Rarity would say if she found out!”

Fleur sighed. “Yes… I can understand it is quite a shocking revelation.” Her ears perked up. “I must be getting back to the party, the others may wonder where I went. If you wish for a tour, I am sure one of the domestiques would be happy to assist. Au revoir!

Spike stared back as Fleur walked towards the others. “Well, that was interesting… Are you going to put that in your report?”

Twilight shook her head. “I really don’t want to betray her trust… It makes sense, she is worried about the nobles, and Fancy having dated a Changeling wouldn’t go over very well in their eyes…”

A white Stallion walked up to them. “May I assist you two in some way?”

“Oh hello.” Twilight said. “Yes, um… Do you work on this ship?”

“Yes, but who are you two, you should be with the other passengers.”

“Right, well, my name is Twilight Sparkle and this is Spike, we were just talking with Fleur Dis Lee.”

The Ponies’ eyes widened. “Oh… My apologies Miss Sparkle.” The Stallion was covered in a purple flame before being replaced with a Changeling, his backplate a vibrant violet, with his lilac wings spread out. As he opened his eyes, Twilight saw them as a light Lavender color. “Please accept my apologies.”

“Uh… Apology accepted?”

The Changeling bowed. “My name is Helping Hoof, the Queen asked me to serve you however you require during your flight.”

Twilight blinked. “Um… Okay…”

“Is there anything you require?” Helping Hoof asked.

“Well, if you could give me a little history on the ship, that would be nice.”

The Changeling stood back up. “Very well.” He was surrounded in purple flame and replaced with his pony form. “While I cannot give you a very in depth description, I can tell you that this ship was commissioned by Queen Tettix for use between Canterlot and Prance, it was built by the Hive Queen Aburi.”

“Aburi?” Twilight replied. “I haven’t heard of her.”

Helping Hoof sighed and pointed at a nearby wall, the image of the crew that built it, placed there. “The ship is a luxury variant of the Falcon-Class Airship built in the Griffin Kingdom.” He pointed at a Raven and Snow leopard Griffin on the side. She was leaning against one of the other Griffons, her right claw was shiny and bronze, small metallic pieces were sticking out of the wrist, a screwdriver replacing one of her talons. “That is Queen Aburi.”

“What happened to her Claw?” Twilight asked, noticing that the claw wasn’t natural.

“That is something she refuses to tell us.” Helping Hoof sighed. “She and her crew built the Airship, and the Architects designed it to mimic the Castle halls.” Helping Hoof blinked. “I just realized, nopony has told you the name of our vessel.”

“You’re right, I never even asked what the ship was called.”

Helping Hoof smiled. “Then it is my great pleasure to welcome you aboard Le Cheval Volant. Luxury Airship between Prance and Equestria.”

Twilight looked around. “Well, luxury sure is right. Hold on… I don’t claim to know much Prench, but doesn’t Cheval Volant mean ‘Flying Hor-‘”

Helping Hoof sighed. “Yes… Aburi named the ship, she… isn’t very creative.” He shook his head. “So, is there anything else you wish for me to do?”

Spike looked up at Twilight. “Can I ask him something?”

“Go right ahead, Spike.”

“You got any gemstones?” Spike asked, licking his lips.

Helping Hoof tapped his chin. “Hmm… I believe that there are some gemstones I can get you Monsieur, any preferences?”

“Well, if you have any Emeralds, I’d love to get my claws on those.”

Helping Hoof nodded. “We also have some diamonds, sapphires, and if I am not mistaken, we have a fire ruby, perfectly aged from what the geologists tell us.”

Spike’s eyes widened as he began drooling. “Can you throw some diamonds in there, and maybe the fire ruby.”

“Spike, we don’t have that kind of money.” Twilight warned, she did not want a huge deficit in her balance, that could be disastrous

Spike’s ears fell. “Actually, Miss Sparkle” Helping Hoof replied. “Your expenses are to be covered by The Queen herself, she did not think you would carry around thousands of bits with you, so she offered to pay the expenses.”

“Oh…” Twilight replied. “Well, in that case, go right ahead, Spike.”

Spike’s eyes practically turned into Gemstones themselves when he heard those words. “Can you make it a large bowl?”

“Will a punch bowl fit your needs?”

Spike’s mouth began to drool at the thought of so many gems, all glistening and sparkling, waiting to be eaten. He simply nodded and Helping Hoof walked away.

Twilight looked back towards the hall where the rest of the passengers were still talking amongst themselves. She let out a sigh. “Come on, Spike. Might as well see what the rich enjoy about these flights… Even if I am going to hate it.”

“Come on lighten up, Twi. Maybe you’ll enjoy it?”

“I did say maybe…” Spike replied as the two of them walked in to the Hotel room. Twilight had spent a majority of the party sitting as far away from the rest of the nobles. All the while, they kept trying to talk to her, and during that time, the only thing she could think about was getting off the Airship. If there was one thing she couldn’t stand about her hometown, it was the snobbish elites who thought if you didn’t have an income of over a million bits then you weren’t worth anything.

“Spike, one of them asked if I was a stowaway.” Twilight replied. “Of course it was bad.”

“Alright, so maybe it wasn’t that good.” Spike said, causing Twilight to sigh.

“I just want a little time to relax before we go to see Tettix. Being delayed by that weird storm did not help my plans… Or my patience. I just want a nice, quiet night.”

“Alright, I’ll be quiet then.” Spike replied. “I know that this is going to be a stressful day for you, given what you were like after the last one…”

“I told you, I would tell you when you are older, and when I am willing to talk about it…”

Spike sighed. “Alright, I’ll let you get the bathroom first.”

Twilight felt better after a good night’s sleep, having a comfortable cloud bed probably helped in that respect. She got up, did her mane, woke up Spike, and then the two of them headed downstairs. After a light breakfast, the two of them wandered out to the main reception area, where Fleur was waiting for them, speaking with the receptionist.

Bonjour, Miss Sparkle.” Fleur said as Twilight walked up to her. “Are you prepared to meet with the Queen?”

“Of course, I wouldn’t come all the way here if I wasn’t.”

Fleur chuckled. “Sans doute, now, before we may enter la Ruche, we must stop by the old Conservatorie de Prairiee.”

“Well, I’m not sure, I did kind of want to get as much done as possible…”

“It will not be a long visit, I merely need to speak with my old teacher, it is part of the business I must do while I am home… I hope you do not mind.”

Twilight shook her head. “So long as I can ask you a few questions on the way.”

“Very well, I can answer a few of the questions you have, but my rules about my identity must remain. Ma Mere would tuer me if I was caught here.”

“Okay. I’ll try to keep them… Basic.”

Merci.” Fleur said with a sigh. “Now, it should not be too much of a detour, une demi-heure if that.”

“Alright, well, I guess the first question I have, is what made Tettix decide to set up here?”

Fleur chuckled. “Oh, it was a vast decision made by countless Queens, during the renneighssance, we were based in Equa under Queen Artifex. After that, we began spreading out and observing all the art forms that began popping up. Then before the Prench Revolution, everyony was following Prench trends, so the Queen at the time, Queen Ivoire, decided to build the Hive in Prance… So it became the main Hive complex… Up until the Revolution.” The two of them walked out of the Hotel as they walked down the streets.

Twilight nodded. “So, what happened afterwards?”

Fleur sighed. “After, there were many problems, growing in intensity as we went further, the spread out Hive collected their own styles of art and writing. Then we returned it here, where it was then incorporated into the Hive itself.” Fleur replied. “We have outposts all around the world, replicating artwork and sculptures to the best of our abilities.”

“What do you mean, you incorporate parts of art into the Hive?”

“We base our architecture on the various art styles, the Architects are very skilled.” Fleur said. “All of our artists are, they are such talented creators.”

“What class are you?” Twilight asked.

“Well, technically, Queen Tettix doesn’t believe in the standard Class system. Every Changeling has a skill they are proficient in, if we do not know their name; we call them by their class, all of us must work together for the retention of culture.”

“So you all know each other’s names?” Twilight asked.

“No, that would be ridicule no pony could memorize that many names. Only Tettix would be able to.”

“Why is that?” Spike asked.

“Well, Tettix is quite good at details. While her memory isn’t quite eidetic, she has amazing retention of faces, sceneries, sounds, and even voices. She even surprised Acari once. That was an entertaining day. Regardless, Tettix has a slight problem remembering names, not that she doesn’t try, it just takes her a little time to put the name to the face.”

“Fleur!” Both unicorns looked over to see a Pegasus run up to them. "Je ne peux pas croire que c'est vous, Fleur! Puis-je vous ennuyer le temps d'un autographe?” (I can not believe that you are Fleur! Can I trouble you for an autograph?)

Fleur smiled as the Pegasus pulled out a notepad and pen from her saddlebags, her wings flapping excitedly.

Fleur’s horn lit up as she took the pen and pad. “Bien sûr.” She took the pen and signed her name, creating curls across the ‘F’ and ‘R’ before levitating it back to the Pegasus.

The Pegasus’ wings flapped quickly as she let out a squeal. “Je vous remercie! Je ne peux pas croire que j'ai une signature de Fleur Dis Lee!” (Thank you! I cannot believe I have the signature of THE Fleur Dis Lee!)

Fleur watched the Pegasus for a few seconds before clearing her throat. “Je suis heureux que vous appréciez mon travail, mais j'ai un horaire je dois respecter donc…” (I'm glad you appreciate my work, but I have a schedule I have to keep so...)

“Oh! Mes excuses, je vous laisse revenir à ce que vous faisiez.” (Oh! My apologies, I let you go back to what you were doing.) The Pegasus put the pad and pen back into her bag and took off from the ground, flying off down the street.

Twilight watched the Pegasus fly away. “She asked for my autograph.”

“Huh?” Twilight replied.

“I have many fans here, but I do not return home all that often, even then, most do not believe it is me.”

“What did you say to her?”

“Well, of course I agreed and gave her my signature, then I merely told her that we had a very busy schedule. She understood.”

“It must be pretty normal for you to be flooded by adoring fans,” Spike said. “Remember when Fluttershy was a model for Photo Finish?”

Twilight groaned. “How could I forget...?”

“Ah yes… Miss Finish…” Fleur sighed. “Well, usually should I return home, I disguise myself, one of the positifs of being a chameleon is I can avoid the press should I need to.”

Twilight nodded and looked around the streets; a few ponies were looking over at Fleur and her, some asking their friends, looking at them in surprise. “I recommend we pick up the pace.” Fleur said, keeping her eyes forward. “Only a matter of time before they realize it truly is me.”

Twilight nodded as the two of them began to walk faster down the street; occasionally Fleur would pull her down alleyways or small roads where fewer ponies were located. After some time, Fleur stopped. “We are here.”

Twilight stopped and looked up at the building. “Uh… Fleur, you sure this is where we should be?”

Fleur looked over at Twilight and chuckled. “Oui, I know it doesn’t look like much.”

“Much?” Twilight looked back up at the building. It was rather plain, a slightly dirty looking tan building. It looked like an apartment building if anything. The stone lower to the ground was a slightly lighter color, but it still looks it should be in a poor apartment building. “I think that’s the understatement of the millennia.”

Fleur sighed. “Yes, I know, but it serves its purpose. I also figured one such as you would be familiar with the phrase: ‘Do not judge a book by its cover.’ Being around books all day should have helped in that respect.”

Fleur walked up to the door of the building. “This is the Conservatorie de Prairiee. One of many art collages within Prance, and the one that I personally attended.”

Twilight looked over the building again. “I’m not sure…”

Fleur sighed. “Come.” She said, pushing open the door. Twilight followed after her.

The inside was nearly as bland as the outside, blank walls with a desk near the end of the hall. The Earth Pony working at the desk looked up at the two of them as they entered, and his eyes widened at the sight of Fleur. “Fleur! C'est bon de te revoir!” (Fleur! It is good to see you again!)

“Salut mon vieil ami.” (Hello my old friend.)

“Que faites-vous ici? Canterlot est trop fantaisiete pour vous?” (What are you doing here? Canterlot too fancy for you?)

Fleur let out a chuckle. “Non, non ... Juste une courte visite. En fait, je suis venu pour voir si Mlle Blanceflor était dans les environs.” (No, no... Just a short visit. I actually came to see if Miss Blanceflor was around.)

Eh bien, vous avez de la chance, elle est en pause.” (Well you're in luck, she is on break.)

Merci.” Fleur said before motioning for Twilight to follow. “I am sorry for you being unable to understand what I am saying to Mes anciens camarades de classe.”

“Oh it’s alright, Fleur. I’m out of my element myself, and I guess you are as well.”

Fleur chuckled. “Yes, it is a bit strange… But I can handle this, compared to my first show, this is nothing.”

“I never heard about your first show.” Twilight replied.

“Oh… yes… It was épouvantable, I don’t even want to talk about it… I’m sure that my mother would be able to tell you if you like.” The two of them began to walk up a set of stairs.

“Oh… Well it’s been really well hidden.”

“Yeah, Rarity never told me about it, and she knows all about that.” Spike said.

Fleur blushed. “Yes… Well… I don’t like remembering it… It was a rather terrible time for me…” She sighed before mumbling in Prench. “Elle ne va jamais me laisser vivre que vers le bas ... La seule fois que je...” (She is never going to let me live that down... The one time I...)

She walked up to a door and sighed, a smile on her face. She knocked on the door happily. “Entrez.”

Fleur pushed open the door and Twilight looked in to see a light blue Unicorn with a goldenrod mane looking back at them. The unicorn gasped and ran up to Fleur. “Oh it’s great to see you again, mon étudiante. What made you come and visit me?”

“Just wanted to see the best teacher I’ve ever had.” Fleur said hugging the Unicorn.

The Unicorn looked at Fleur. “My, you’ve gotten big. Monsieur Fancy Pants treating you well I assume?”

Fleur snickered. “Yes, he does.”

“Well you didn’t have to fly all the way to Prance to come visit me.”

“Well, that isn’t the complet reason…” Fleur motioned for Twilight to enter. “This is Twilight Sparkle, she is here to see the Queen.”

“Ah… So this is Celestia’s privileged student. I hope you are enjoying your time in Prairiee so far.”

Twilight nodded. “I am certainly enjoying my time, though I wish I knew Prench…”

The Unicorn chuckled. “Yes, well my name is Blanceflor. I am a teacher here at the Conservatorie de Prairiee, and this one,” she poked Fleur, “was by far the most troublesome.”

Fleur smirked. “Really? Moi? What about Glamour?”

Blanceflor shivered. “Alright, you have me there… You clever Nymph you…” She sighed. “So I guess you want to use the Hive Stone?”

Fleur nodded. “It is still here, correct?”

Blanceflor nodded. “It should be in the basement, this entire idea Celestia has is making many of us a little jittery. Follow me.”

Twilight and Fleur followed Blanceflor out of the room and down the halls. “So Madame Sparkle, when did you decide to come to our Hives?”

“Well, Celestia thought that it would be a good idea for me to see all of the Hives. A new species being discovered in Equestria is quite a new development after all.”

Blanceflor giggled. “Yes… It is. I can only imagine.” She waved at the Stallion at the desk and headed to a side room. “Celestia has had many relations with us, but usually she keeps away from the Hive’s main complex, I suppose that is why she decided to send you.”

Deeper in the side room, she opened a small trap door with her magic and walked down the steps, followed shortly by Twilight and Fleur, who had to duck to get under it. “So just a quick question, these Hive Stones, are these the same as in the Medical Hive?”

“Yes and no.” Blanceflor replied. “Her stones are for quick teleportation between place to place, ours are modified, they are more pleasant than those ones… They also have less of the effects.”

“How does that work?” Spike asked.

“The gems take more time to work, and therefore do not cause the negative effects, but they are also scattered around and make you feel a little weak after. It draws on your natural magic after all.”

As the three of them hit the landing, there was a large amethyst standing in front of them, etched around the purple gem’s surface were images of flowers and ponies dancing. “Now you can handle the tour from here, Fleur?”

Fleur nodded.

“Excellent!” Blanceflor said. “I have a class in an hour, so I really must meet up with Lavande for a little break. Au revoir.”

Fleur waved back as Blanceflor walked back up to the trap door. “Excuse me Miss Sparkle, but you don’t mind if I go first, do you? I… Don’t feel comfortable with ponies seeing me in ma figure nue.” Fleur said, shuffling slightly. “Would you give me a minute or two before you follow?”

“Of course.” Twilight replied.

Fleur sighed. “Merci.” She walked up to the crystal and lit up her horn, placing her hoof on the gem. The etchings around the gem began to glow, the flowers almost dancing in the glow, as the etchings began to glow bright, the center of the gem began to glow before a flash shot out and Fleur vanished.

“So… Should we go?” Spike asked.

“No Spike, we should give her the chance to transform back. We promised we would give her a minute.”

Spike sighed as he looked at his claw in boredom. Twilight’s mental clockwork was ticking away the seconds. 45…44…43… “Why do you think that she wants us to give her time to change?” Spike asked.

33… “I’m not sure, Spike. She may have her own reasons. It’s none of our business, Spike.”

“But do you think there is any reason?” Spike asked.

“I’m not sure, but it isn’t our place to ask.” Twilight replied. 10…

“Do you think she has some kind of disease or something? Maybe it’s a weird birth defect, so maybe she became a model to cover that up?”

Twilight looked back at Spike with a glare. “Spike… Don’t say that about Ponies you don’t know. It’s impolite.”

“I know… But I’m curious. What could make a Changeling be afraid of ponies seeing them? None of the others have trouble with it?”

“We’ll have a talk about that later.” Twilight said before realizing she was on negative twenty-five. She walked up to the gemstone and touched her hoof to it, before letting her magic flow through the crystal. She watched the flowers and ponies dance in the light before the center of the crystal began to glow, and flashed bright. She expected the pull on her snout, but felt nothing; instead, she just felt a change in airflow and a slight headache.

“Madam Sparkle!” Fleur’s surprised voice said. There was the sound of a wisp of flame as Twilight tried to open her eyes, being met with a solid black mass in front of her, obscuring her vision. “Je ne suis pas changé! Accorde moi un instant!” (I am not Changed! Give me a moment!) She said quickly. There were a few more flame sounds before Fleur sighed. “Alright… I am very sorry for that…” The black mass moved from her vision, allowing her to see the Unicorn model in front of her.

“Oh it’s okay, Fleeeeuuuuurrr…” Twilight looked around the white stone area they had appeared in. “Uh…”

Fleur blinked before looking around the area herself. “Oh, you are not used to the Hive’s entrances looking like this?”

Twilight shook her head. “This is a bit… classy?”

Fleur nodded. “It has to be, in order to ensure that we are not located. In case they accidentally activate the gem. This is just a small section, the Hive starts past that locked door.”

Twilight looked over at it. “Just a lock?” Spike asked.

“Well, no. There is also a group of Acari’s Enforcers there in case anypony breaks through.” Fleur walked towards the door and opened it. “Après vous.”

Twilight walked up to the door and stepped through, noticing the few Pink-eyed changelings standing outside the door, two on either side. Twilight looked forwards towards the rest of the Hive, and noticed where they had come out.

Above the entrance to another tunnel, there is a sign that has two ponies posing on either side of the sign; the words “La Modélisation” were placed on the sign.

Fleur walked behind Twilight. “Follow me, Twilight. We need to walk through here and the Surrealist section before we can get to where Tettix is.”

Twilight nodded, her horn lit up as she pulled up another notepad and began writing on it. “How many sections are there?”

“There is a section for every art form and each separate section of those art forms. Film, art, writing, fashion, each one is divided into a section for each art form, some of the larger and more populaire art forms are given their own area. Such as Surrealist, which you will see as we pass by this one.” Fleur began to walk into the tunnel.

Twilight looked around the tunnel, seeing some purple membranes, behind which a few Changelings were standing in a variety of poses, each being looked at by another Changeling. Looking through another Membrane, she saw a few changelings and ponies wearing dresses, the Changelings around them looking over the outfits. “What is going on in there?”

Fleur looked into the membrane. “Ah that is the fitting room. Where the Models try on outfits and the Designers make sure it is just right before we have a factice show. It is a way to get the Models used to the shows before we let them actually take part in one.”

Twilight nodded. “But didn’t you…”

“We are not talking about it.” Fleur replied. “Here is where the Designers make their dresses.”

Twilight looked through the membrane to see Changelings looking over mannequins, magically held needles and thread weaving through the outfits, one of which looked very similar to something Rarity would design. One of the Changelings walked around the room, looking closely at the designs.

“How long would you say it takes them to make a dress?”

“If they are professional, they can create a dress in a few hours. But usually it is about a day.”

“A more, personal question, how long did you spend in the fitting room?”

Fleur sighed. “If I had to put it into a percent, I would say a good quarter of my time in the Hive was spent in there.”

Twilight nodded. “I can understand that. So what art style are we in now?”

“Modern Era, just past here we’ll see the older eras.”

As Twilight and Fleur continued to walk, Spike took pictures of a few of the Changelings through the membranes. Before they reached the older periods, Twilight looked down at a drawing of the symbol from the Airship. “Fleur, what is this symbol’s meaning?”

She levitated the notebook in front of Fleur. “Ah, that’s the seal of the Hive.” She said, her horn lit up as the symbol appeared in front of them. “The symbol of the Hive is a basic representation of the three main facets of the Hive.” The Violin lit up. “Music,” the paintbrush lit up, “Art,” the Quill lit up, “Writing. Each of these three pieces represents the mass majority of the Hive’s specialties. Each Hive has their own symbol, but we are one of the few that displays it.”

Twilight wrote down notes. “What are the other symbols?”

“I am sorry, I do not know that. I am not a Queen,” She sighed, “malgré tout.” She said under her breath.

“What was that?”

“It is nothing, Miss Sparkle.” Fleur replied. “Ah! Here we are.” She pointed to another Membrane, beyond which, a few Ponies were wearing what could only be described as old royal clothing, large puffed out skirts, ridiculous mane styles, way too much make up, and completely neutral expressions.

“This is where our Designers attempt to create accurate clothing for the centuries before. The Actors are also training here, seeing how dedicated they are to a role. They must stay there for hours without attempting to move.”

Inside the room, one of the Ponies’ legs gave out underneath them as they fell to the ground. The Changeling working on the dress called out to the others who ran over to check on the Pony. “Some of them pass out or get too tired, their legs give out, and even that is part of the test, seeing if they can retain their cover even when everything turns terrible.”

The Pony on the floor pushed herself up and sighed, talking to the others before the designer began removing the dress. “They take care to stop once this occurs, she will be allowed to rest for the day until she is ready to try again.”

Spike took a picture as Twilight continued to jot down her notes. The short tour of the Fashion area was still rather informative for Twilight; it showed her where the Changelings created the materials. They either purchased them or in the case of silk, they used specially bred fungus that clung to walls and ceiling, constantly taking in the magic of the caretakers and using that to create the natural hair that was then turned into silk. Something that Fleur had a rather strange knowledge of.

“The Fungus is fed off the magic of the tenders that care for them, that magic is then imbued into the fungus and used to create the fibers of silk. As the fibers grew out, the Tender’s collected them, and brought them to be woven into silk. The problems at first were caused from the Fungus being rather violent and draining Changelings that were trying to handle them. Then Queen Gothique decided to wipe them out and try from scratch. It took a couple more centuries before we came to a symbiotic relationship, the Fungus got food and protection from the natural moss eating creatures, and we in turn got Silk. This silk is finer and more durable than anything that could be achieved from other insects.”

“What did you use before the fungus?” Twilight asked.

“We used specially bred Pupae, though that practice has not been used for many centuries.” Fleur looked out at the rest of the hall and sighed. “We are at the Surrealist section…”

“Why is that so bad?” Spike asked, picking up on Fleur’s annoyance.

“It isn’t bad… It merely… Gives me quite the mal de tête. You will understand once I show you.”

Fleur walked up to the door separating the two sections, the words ‘Artistes Surrealist’ etched into the door.

Fleur pushed open the door and motioned for Twilight to step through the door, as soon as she did, her jaw dropped.

The entire cavern system was covered with impossible architecture, pillars that curved and twisted, some of which looked like large noodles, clouds walking on the ceiling, Changelings were walking around on their wings, seemingly unaffected.

“What?” Twilight said before looking up and noticing the ground above her, and looking down to see a sky. “What?”

Fleur sighed. “Yes… This is rather strange for those who are not quite familiar with it…”

“When did you get wings? On top of that, when did you get antennae?”

Fleur was standing in front of her, her horn having split into two antennae and her back opening up to reveal two dragonfly-like wings. “Miss Sparkle, I know this is confu-”

A Changeling flew up to them, its legs buzzing rapidly while its wings stayed tight against its body. “Afternoon, Fleur.”

Fleur sighed. “It’s Neuf heure du matin…

“Yeah, like I said, goodnight.” The Changeling replied as Fleur’s tail changed to a large flower stalk. “So… We had to move the door again.”

Fleur sighed. “Where?”

“Uh… Twilight…” Spike said, looking at his claws. “Why do I have flippers?” Twilight looked back at Spike to see his claws were growing out.

“I… Don’t think those are flippers, Spike…” She said as the claws spread out and were attached to each other by thin scales. “I think those are wings…”

Twilight looked back at Fleur who was rubbing her forehead with two thin hairy legs. “Stop speaking in riddles…”

“I’m not!” The Changeling replied. “The door is at the bottom of the lake on top of the ceiling. All you have to do is climb through the hole in the cloud.”

“QUOI DU NUAGES!” Fleur shouted.

“That one in Winter!” The Changeling shouted back, pointing at the walking cloud.

“Qu'est-ce que vous voulez dire, insectes dérangés!” (What does that mean you deranged insect!)

The Changeling’s wing shot open and pointed down the tunnel. “It’s that way! Past the buffarinas, if you see the relaxing banana you went too far.”

“Merci!” She shouted back, grabbing Twilight and Spike before launching herself down the tunnel, her tail spinning around like a rotor blade as she quickly flapped her wings, causing all of the strange images to flash through Twilight’s mind. She only barely caught a glimpse of the tap-dancing Buffaloes before Fleur shot herself straight up at a cloud and they both heard the sudden splash of water. Fleur’s antennae lit up before the sound of a drain hit Twilight’s ears. She looked down, or up, she couldn’t tell anymore, to see the water in the direction of the drain being replaced by air.

As the air pocket reached them, they were thrown out of a door that slammed shut behind them with a burping sound. As Twilight’s head stopped spinning she looked over to see Fleur and Spike were both back to normal. Though she also noticed they were in a rather small room. “Where are we?” She asked.

Fleur stood up just as the door opened and a Changeling let out a surprised chirp. “Madame Fleur? Whatever are you doing in there?”

Fleur looked over at the Changeling. “Where is here exactly?” She asked as she looked up at her horn to see it still slightly covered in hair, her horn lit up and burned the remaining fur off it.

“Madame, you are in a broom closet.” The Changeling said, her horn lighting up and pulling all three of them out, along with a small broom. “How did you manage this?”

Fleur sighed. “We were in la section de la Discorde.”

The Changeling sighed. “I thought your mother told you to avoid that place. It is not somewhere for somepony like you to be.” She said. “Nevertheless, Tettix is waiting for you down the hall.”

“Merci.” Fleur said as the Changeling went on its way. “I am very sorry for that.”

“What was that? Because there is no way it is an art form! Nothing made any sense!”

Fleur sighed as she dusted herself off. “Yes… You see, that was the Surrealist section. Surrealism, or Discordant Art, was a popular art form in the time of Discord… and sadly… it remained so.”

Twilight’s eye twitched. “But… The buildings… And the antennae, and the leg wings, and… And Spike! What happened?”

Fleur sighed. “Discord… For you see, Grand-Queen Kunst was stationed in Germane when the Discord incident occurred. Before he was surgelé, the Queen decided to get a sample of his magic, to make the Discordant section to be authentic…” Fleur took a deep breath. “Surprisingly, he agreed and gave a bit of his magic inside of a jar. Once the Grand-Queen released the magic, the entire cavern became what you see… A crazy plane of existence…” Fleur shook her head. “It hurts to think about.”

Twilight nodded and looked around the area they appeared in, it was a rather ornate hall, paintings hung on the walls, each one seemingly made for each of the Artist Hive’s Queens. The pictures of the right were all of the Queens themselves, while the ones on the left seemed to hold a picture of a normal Changeling. “Who are these of?”

Fleur looked at the paintings. “These are the Elder Queens and their Lovers, not all of who were Changeling’s mind you.”

Twilight looked at a few of the pictures before seeing a few Ponies beginning to pop up. “I thought that ponies and Changelings were not compatible.”

Non, that is a common mistake, a fertility spell can be used on the Stallion or Mare to allow interspecies fertility, it was a very crude variant when it first popped up.”

Twilight blinked. “Does… that mean the Queen is related to ponies?”

Fleur mumbled a bit. “In a way… The sire was a pony, however the fertility spell makes it so that the only pieces remaining after are Changeling, so no, they are not related to ponies, they are one hundred percent Changeling. We are one of the only Hives that allows Queens to reproduce with ponies.”

Twilight nodded and continued to walk down the hall, looking at the names of the Queens and the Lovers, counting a total of five Queens that reproduced with ponies. As they came to the last painting on the wall, Twilight decided to look more closely at it.

The painting showed a Changeling Queen, her Amethyst eyes looking at the viewer, a violin under her chin with her long mane pinned into an intricate bun behind her, small purple gemstones decorated in her mane. The Violin was an ivory white with golden flowers working their way across the body of the instrument. As Twilight inspected the portrait, she became aware of a slight musical sound coming from the door at the end of the hall.

Emblazoned on the tall door, right in the middle of it, was the seal of the Hive; around the doorway was a polished marble, interwoven with gold leaf vines that connected at the top of each side of the door. Twilight began to walk up to the door, and could definitely hear a slow melody coming from the other side of it. Fleur walked up and knocked on the door. “Come in.”

Fleur’s horn lit up and the door opened, showing the Throne room beyond. A long lilac colored carpet was placed on the floor leading up to the throne, the edges of the carpet were decorated with golden lace, and the throne itself was made of a polished wood, a large amethyst placed in the center of the throne, etched along the throne were a variety of musical notes. Behind the throne was what looked like a large organ. Though Tettix herself was not sitting in her throne, instead, she was sitting in a small stool, a violin tucked under her chin as she sat in front of a wide array of musical instruments off to the side of the throne.

She turned around to look at them, a smile on her face as she stood up from the stool, allowing the violin to levitate next to her, never once missing a note or even skipping the beat. “Ah, Miss Sparkle.” She said as the two walked up to her. “It is such an honor that you have decided to join me within my Hive.” She gave a small bow. “I hope that you had a pleasant flight aboard my Airship.”

Twilight blushed a little at the bow before reciprocating it. “Yes, it was rather interesting. I am thankful that you allowed me to enter your Hive.”

The Queen nodded before looking at Fleur. “And I am thankful that you decided to come and visit, Fleur, you don’t come to see me very often.”

Fleur sighed. “I know… But can we not talk about this?” She shifted her eyes down to Twilight as if to illustrate a point. Tettix’s jaw hung open.

“Fleur…” She sighed. “Tu ne l'a pas encore montré?” (You haven’t shown her yet?)

Fleur shook her head. “Je crains que la façon dont elle va réagir si elle savait qui je suis…” (I’m afraid of how she will react if she knew who I was…)

Tettix shook her head in disbelief. “Tu vas lui montrer.” (You are going to show her.)

“Mais-“ (But-)

“Fleur, tu ne peux pas continuer à cacher cela, quel genre d'image serait que d'envoyer? Ils sont seulement un poney et un dragon, pas la totalité de Canterlot.” (Fleur, you cannot keep hiding this, what kind of an image would that send? It is only one pony and a dragon, it is not the entirety of Canterlot.)

“Mais elle va le dire Celestia… et si…” (But she is going to tell Celestia… and what if…)

Tettix looked down at Fleur and sighed, levitating the Violin back over to its stand. “Fleur, Celestia est pas une imbécile, elle a occulté le secret de notre existence depuis plus de mille ans, elle ne divulguera pas ces informations, sauf si vous le permettez.” (Fleur, Celestia is not a fool, she has held the secret of our existence for over one thousand years, she will not divulge this information unless you allow it.)


Tettix held up her hoof. “Pas de mais. Fleur, mademoiselle Twilight saura ne pas communiqué cette information aux autres, sauf si tu le permet. Tout ce que tu dois faire est te révéler toi-même. Tu es une belle Changeling, tu ne devrais pas avoir peur de te révéler. Faites cela pour moi, s'il te plais Fleur.” (No buts. Fleur, Miss Twilight will not release this information to others unless you allow it. All you must do is reveal yourself. You are a beautiful Changeling, you shouldn't be afraid to reveal yourself. Do this for me, please Fleur.)

Fleur sighed. “Tu n'insistera plus?” (You won’t bother me about it again?)

“J'espère que tu apprendra à t'accepter avant que je meure, mais oui.” (I expect you to get over this before I die, but yes.)

Fleur just nodded. “Alright…”

Tettix smiled and levitated the violin back over. “Then go on.”

Fleur looked at Twilight. “I want to say, that I am sorry for keeping this from you… It is just difficult for me to think about how ponies would react, being in the position that I am and my proximity to Monsieur Fancy Pants… I thought it would be better to keep it hidden…”

Twilight nodded. “I understand, and I’m sure that it is noth-” There was a wisp of purple flame around Fleur, and Twilight looked at the Changeling in front of her.

Fleur tried to look away from Twilight, to shield her embarrassment, though the Changeling was the same size as the Model, her mane trying to mimic the style it held in her Unicorn form. Though one of the first things Twilight noticed, were the three purple stripes across her underbelly.

She let out a gasp. “No… You’re-You’re a…”

Fleur took a step back, before sighing and looking up at Tettix.

“Twilight Sparkle, I would like to introduce Princess Fleur Dis Lilium, the future Queen of the Hive, and my daughter.”

Twilight twitched. “You’re a… You’re a PRINCESS!”

Lilium took a step back, trying to make herself smaller, her ears pressed against her head as she turned to look away from Twilight, raising her hoof up to cover her face.

“That’s amazing! Why would you hide this? Think about all of the things that could happen if ponies knew you were a princess!”

Lilium’s eyes widened. “No. No! Please don’t tell anypony! I don’t want this to blow up in my face! Fancy Pants would be devastated by the backlash!”

Twilight blinked. “What do you mean?”

Tettix looked down at Lilium. “Tell her, Fleur. She will not understand unless you do.”

Lilium sighed. “I’m… Afraid of what ponies would do… I’m a Changeling, and on top of that I am royalty… You weren’t there when the invasion was over, you didn’t hear what those nobles wanted to do.” She shivered. “They were talking about any number of things… None of them good…”

“Well, that was back when…”

“She isn’t done yet.” Tettix said, pulling over a cello and twisting the keys so that the instrument was in tune.

Lilium sighed. “Oui, as ma mere said… That is not it… I may be a model, but I do not wish to have that kind of attention. My relationship with Fancy would also drop the negative press onto him. I could not do that to him… He does not deserve it.”

“So, let me see if I get this straight.” Spike said. “You want us to keep your identity a secret, because you are afraid of what the nobility in Canterlot will think, and because you are afraid of what effects it could have on Fancy Pants. So you decided to hide this from everypony for years?”

“Yes?” Lilium replied shrinking back slightly.

“Despite the fans you would likely gain from saying you are a Princess?”

Lilium sighed. “Fans… Might be the wrong word, I am slightly more worried about those that wish to… Procreate…”

There was a messed up chord as Tettix’s magic briefly cut out while she was tuning a fiddle. She let out a low curse and looked over at Lilium. “Fleur, is this about the suitors again? I swear, those two Stallions… If they ever…”

“Mom…” Lilium groaned. “It’s fine… I haven’t seen them in years, no need to get all protective.”

Tettix sighed as she fixed the fiddle’s tune. “Cannot blame me for being protective. If any Stallion’s bother you, Chrysalis will handle it.”

She sighed. “Twilight, please, simply refer to me as Fleur, I don’t enjoy being lavished with extravagance because of my title.”

“Alright… Would you mind if we take a picture of you?”

Fleur’s eyes widened. “Well… I uh… I would prefer not…”

Twilight nodded. “I’m just asking because I wanted to se the differences with the Queens and their daughters. I wouldn’t put down your name or anything.”

Fleur looked around the room. “D'accord. But I insist you give me time to change my appearance so that I will not give away who I am.”

Twilight nodded. “You have my word. We’ll wait.”

Tettix looked down at Fleur, “Do you want to speed it up a bit?”

Fleur shuffled a bit. “Oui…”

Tettix smiled and looked over at Twilight. “You may want to stand back a few steps.” After Twilight stepped back a bit, Tettix raised her hoof to her mouth and let out a loud whistle.

A group of five Changelings flew into the room and surrounded Fleur. One of them opened a briefcase that opened up into a vanity mirror, as soon as it was up, the lights around it flashed on as the Changelings began quickly working on Fleur’s appearance. Twilight barely got a look at the changes that were going on; one was working on her mane, another on her lashes, and another on her wings and tail. After the whirlwind of Changelings subsided, one of them levitated over a small crown, made of elegant silver with a floral pattern engraved into the metal, the amethysts were cut into the shapes of lilies.

As the Changelings finished, they looked over the Princess before turning her so that Twilight could see. Fleur’s mane had been curled behind her head, creating a small bun; her tail was straightened out while her wings were glistening, she ran her hoof across one of her bangs, pushing it behind her ear. She turned to let Twilight see her backplate, now covered in purple crystal dust, making the shell glint slightly.

Twilight looked at the Princess in front of her. “You look… Gorgeous.”

“Do you think I look too much like… well, myself?” She asked, looking at her body. “I am worried somepony will see through this…”

Tettix looked over her. “Relax, Fleur, you look beautiful.”

“I’m sure nopony would make the connection.” Twilight replied.

Fleur sighed. “Well, if you are certain… I suppose it would not hurt…”

Twilight nodded to Spike, who raised the camera as Fleur smiled at the lens, striking a small pose that showed off her mane and tail. As the magical flash of the camera caught Fleur’s form, Spike looked at the camera and gave a thumb up.

Fleur sighed. “Well, I think I am finis.

Tettix nodded. “Fleur, don’t you have a job to do back with the models?”

Oui, I plan to head there now.” She turned back to Twilight. “I do hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in the Hive.”

Tettix smiled. “I will do the best I can, now Lily de la Ruche, the designers are waiting for you.”

Fleur nodded and walked towards the door to the Throne room. “I hope to see you on the Airship back, Twilight.”

Twilight waved at Fleur as she closed the doors behind her. When the doors were closed, Twilight turned to look at Tettix. “It is great to finally meet you.”

Tettix nodded and pulled over a Cello and began tuning it. “It is great to have you here, but shall we begin with the questions, I still need to oversee a few preparations before tonight for the Palais Gallop, we are having a few changes made to the seating and light fixtures, I need to make sure they do not interfere with the acoustics.”

“Alright,” Twilight pulled out her notepad. “Well, Fleur gave me a few of the answers already… So the first one, does your Hive have any type of military? Because I didn’t see any.”

“No, we do not.” Tettix replied. “My Hive is based around art and culture, Military is more Pupa’s specialty, we rely more on Acari and Pupa for military assistance.”

She nodded in response. “So, I’ve been curious, have there ever been any High Queens from your Hive?”

“Yes, there was High Queen Pitura during the renneighsance. High Queen Lancifolium, who popularized the art of Flower Gardens.” Tettix twisted the last peg of the cello, rubbing the bow across the strings, letting the chord ring out. Satisfied, she placed the cello back before pulling over an acoustic guitar and began tuning it like the others.

“I am curious, how is a High Queen put in place?” Twilight asked.

“Well, I may not be the best to ask, I do not follow much of the politics, I prefer to keep out of that mess… Plus, Apath has been the High Queen my entire life, I haven’t had to deal with that. Acari may have the answer you are looking for though.”

“Well, in that case…” Twilight flipped through her notes. “How old are you?”

“Eight Hundred and fifty nine.” Tettix replied.

Twilight wrote down that number. “What did you study before becoming Queen?”

Tettix paused her tuning and smiled. “This.” Her horn lit up as she levitated her Violin over and positioned it under her chin, running the bow across the strings in a slow melody, her wings buzzing in tune with the instrument, as she went on, she slowly began picking up the pace of the beats. As Twilight looked over at the other instruments, she noticed them being levitated up by the Queen, each one playing the notes needed at the correct times. Twilight sat down to listen to the Queen as she did the job of nearly an entire orchestra by herself, Twilight could recognize the tune, it came from the compositions of Hoofgang Moztrot, and if she wasn’t mistaken, this came from one of his last pieces he wrote.

Twilight wasn’t sure how long Tettix was playing for, it couldn’t have been longer than ten minutes, but it was incredible to hear a single musician play what would normally take hundreds.

As Tettix levitated her violin back over to its case, she looked over at Twilight. “I spent years of my life studying the works of some of the best musicians in the world. I can play Bethooven, Moztrot, and Bach. That last one took a lot of time to get down.”

Twilight blinked before writing down the information. “Did you ever transition to other art styles?”

Tettix nodded. “I dabble in painting and acting. I’m nowhere near as skilled as with my music.”

Twilight nodded. “Now, what emotion do you primarily feed on?”

“We feed on Admiration primarily, Respect and enjoyment are merely secondary.”

“Something I have been wondering, how does your Hive differ in collecting History with regards to Acari?”

“Acari handles the facts and the reasons. They look at what happened, and why it happened. For instance, the first Prench Revolution occurred due to a food shortage created by the large gap between the Nobility and the peasants. But my Hive is responsible for the Art and culture, the ponies of the time and what they were thinking and feeling. The Prench Revolution was a large deficit for them, none of them had any good feelings towards the rulers, and strong willed leaders that did not like the king for different reasons urged them along. Their art and printings reflect this idea. Does that make sense?”

“Sort of…” Twilight replied, scratching her head with her pen. “You looked more into the effects on the ponies and how they thought, instead of the hard facts?”

“Yes… That does sound better.” Tettix agreed.

“If you don’t mind me asking, who was your mother?”

“My mother was Queen Chiaro, she was a painter that specialized in heavily contrasting light and dark colors. She is why I tried my hoof at painting.”

“I heard about Grand-Queen Kunst, what did she do?”

“My Grand mother was a writer, she wrote on the times of hardship that every Hive needed to face at the time, but used clever imagery to avoid the notion of our existence. She could weave quite the tale when she wanted to.”

“Out of curiosity, where do you get the bits to keep making all of these things, paint isn’t as cheap as it once was, so how do you keep everything stocked?”

“A fair question. Tell me, what use is Art?”

Twilight blinked. “Come again?”

“From a purely financial based perspective, what use is art? Let’s say, paintings, for example. They are simply various oils spread across a sheet, yet so many were willing to spend bits for them. So why would we keep them around?”

“To get a look into the past.” Twilight replied.

“While that is quite true, why do you think we would spend so many bits on preserving old drawings? Simple answer, you don’t.” Tettix winked. “Pick an art Museum, any Art museum! Chances are, they are owned by my Hive. You see, we are tasked with the preservation of the culture of each and every time period, holding onto the drawings, writings, and various other pieces of culture.”

“So… You think that Art is pointless?” Spike asked, scratching his head in confusion.

Tettix gasped. “What? No! I would never say that and honestly mean it. Art is self-expression; it can be used to see into the eyes of one living in that period. The hardships they faced, their fears, ideologies, common beliefs, even their diction is informative! It is one of the purest avenues available to anypony! It allows them to place their own talent into creating something marvelous, something ponies from around the world could see and look at. It can reveal your inner thoughts without even knowing it.”

Tettix was standing directly in front of Spike, almost leering at him. Her eyes scanned over him, pausing briefly at the large scale on top of his head, then looking over the others. She raised her hoof up to his chin and turned his head. “Hmm… You know, you would look good as marble…”

Twilight coughed. “Your Majesty?”

Tettix looked over at Twilight. “Oh… My apologies… What were we talking about?”

“How you get bits.”

“Right…” Tettix cleared her throat. “Well, we get Bits through admission into various art museums, selling some of our pieces, doing artwork for clients, and we cut out on costs by creating our own paints and fabrics from all natural materials. My own Changelings locate our marble, and our gemstones are located by our best and later purified if necessary. Saves us a fortune on importation costs.”

“I can believe that…” Twilight said. “Now… What exactly does your Hive do for Equestria?”

“In what way?” Tettix asked.

“Well, I suppose what good do you do for Equestria, like say, if you suddenly just stopped, what would Equestria lose?”

Tettix tapped her chin, a few string instruments making soft background music as the two talked. “Hmm… That is quite an interesting question. Well, one thing is the growth of the older art forms, retention of efficient and effective preservation methods… And lose some rather special artifacts we’ve held onto.”

“Like what?”

“And here we are!” Tettix announced. “This is where we keep some of the most important pieces of art history.”

Twilight had been asking Tettix questions the entire walk through the Hive, seeing a variety of different art styles. Watching as the architecture change as they walked through the halls. Transitioning from more modern art to ancient gothic and even, confusingly, all glass sections. The building in front of her was designed with a variety of different architectures in mind. There were gothic spires, Romane pillars, a couple of the Discordant pillars were here as well, but made more believable by the steel that seemed to be holding up the winding pillars.

“Come in, the interesting things are inside.”

Twilight followed Tettix into the building, groups of young Changelings being led around by older ones, Twilight picked up a few of the groups’ discussions.

“And here, we have the first attempt at a pony airship by Leonardo De Hoovsi, of course, if failed, and why is that?”

One of the Changelings raised their hoof. “It… Wasn’t durable enough?”

“Correct, however it was also required a constant flow of hot air to remain…”

Tettix nudged Twilight. “Come on, Madame Sparkle, the interesting things are this way.”

Twilight nodded and followed the Queen, some of the Nymphs pointing towards Twilight and whispering amongst themselves before being shuffled along by the others. “Why are there so many Nymphs?”

“We let them have little field trips around the Hive, expand their knowledge, see what is out there. They seem to enjoy it.”

Twilight nodded. “So, a quick question, what do you think the correlation between the art and the time it was popular is?”

“As I said earlier, Art is a pure form of expression by the artist, it is how they viewed the times. Discordant art arose in the times of Discord, when Equestria was under the iron…” She tapped her chin. “Would it be paw or claw? We never documented which he preferred… No matter. With all of the craziness going around, the art style began to reflect it. But it also created the Realist ideology, focusing on the basics of life, the solid matter, nothing fanciful or crazy. Like painting farmers or houses, getting really into the dirty style and focusing on details. Each style is relevant to the ideas that surfaced or were sustained in the era. It is all based around what the Artist thought or expressed, like a look into their minds.”

Twilight nodded and wrote down the rest of the information. “So what are we going to see?”

Tettix smiled. “Well, while there are a lot of interesting things to see in here, I think you would be interested in the artifact section.” She motioned to the hall they were standing in front of. “This is where we hold any number of relics from famous artists, writers, you name it.” Tettix walked into the hall, closely followed by Twilight.

“What kind of relics?”

Tettix motioned to the hall. “Anything you see here. For instance…” She walked up to a small case, inside was a paintbrush, floating in a magical field. “This… Is the brush of De Hoovsi, used to paint the Pony Lisa. And over there, we have Gallopleo’s first telescope and Moztrot’s own harpsichord. We have plenty of old pieces here, all taken care of by our wonderful Changelings.”

Twilight looked into one of the containers, seeing just a normal glass jar inside one of them, a warning beneath it in Prench. “What is this?”

“That’s the jar Queen Kunst used to contain Discord’s magic, sadly it is now contaminated with that magic, so we had to seal it away from everything else.” Tettix shook her head. “Anything else you would like to ask me while we look around?”

Twilight turned to the Queen. “Yes… If I could ask, who did you fall in love with?”

“No, it is no trouble. I fell in love with a photographer named Snap Shot. He was responsible for many of those sport photos you see, he was always doing things in the least safe manner.” She shook her head. “But he was a great stallion, though I will admit, being pregnant does some very strange things to my mind…”

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked.

“Well, I had a phase where I deeply craved the taste of bark from a Maple tree… I don’t even know why, it just tasted good at the time… Then there was the time I ate a paintbrush, a bow, that one Drum, a camera, and if I am not mistaken, I ate several cans of Tuna…” Tettix tapped her chin. “I wonder how Ovi’s breeder felt being a…”

Twilight coughed loudly.

“Right, not something to discuss with company, my apologies.”

“Twilight still won’t tell me what happened at Ovi’s Hive.” Spike said with a huff.

Tettix looked at Twilight and nodded. “A wise move, personally I still haven’t told Fleur about that… I feel she should learn before she ascends, but not right now, in fact I-“

A Changeling looked into the room. “My Queen? Are you in here?”

“Ah, yes. Over here Timekeeper.”

“Who?” Twilight asked.

“Timekeeper, he is my… What do you ponies call it? Schedule keeper. He ensures that I do not forget about engagements, often I get lost in my own world. He helps me remember what needs to be done.”

Timekeeper walked up to her, a watch around his neck that he opened and looked at. “My Queen, you need to be at the Palais Gallop in ten minutes for the renovations, and then you need to practice for the recital tonight.”

Tettix nodded. “Ah, yes… I will be with you shortly.” She turned to Twilight and Spike. “Now, I know that you were expecting to be with me nearly the entire day, but since I am a very busy Mare this time of year, I thought it would be good for you two to get out and see the city.” There was a wisp of purple fire in front of Twilight as two tickets were floating in front of her. “Tickets to the recital, I thought you would enjoy it. The Prench Orchestra is something many ponies want to see but few ever do.”

Twilight grabbed the tickets and looked at them. “These are private box tickets! I can’t just…”

“Twilight.” Tettix said, a small smile on her face. “I own the Palais Gallop, it was no trouble. Now, I know that you wanted to see the city, and with Fleur handling her own engagements with a few of her friends and employees, I decided to get you another Translator.”

A purple Pegasus flew into the room and landed next to Twilight. “Bonjour, my name is Loose Tongue, I will be your Traducteur for your stay.”


“Now Loose, I expect you to answer any questions she has for you.”

“Bien sûr, ma reine.” Loose said with a bow.

Tettix gave a small bow, and transformed into a light brown Unicorn. “Au Revoir.” She walked out of the room with Timekeeper.

When they were gone, Loose gave Twilight a smile. “So, where to first?”

The day had continued rather well, Loose had been a cornucopia of information on not only Prench history, but on her Hive’s history. It was a surprise to find out so much about the buildings throughout the city. It made Twilight realize how much she still needed to learn about Equestria.

Of course, when the end of the day came around, the three of them had gone to the Palais Gallop, a building on the opposite side of the spectrum from the Conservatoire de Prairee. The building was intricately designed; golden statues on the top of the building and millions of small detailed points in the architecture. Supporting the roof were stone pillars that connected to the middle of the arches where the doors were located. Just below the roof were four statues of Pegasi. Down at street level, there were engravings that Twilight swore were portraits of famous writers.

As the entered the building, Twilight looked at the beautiful marble staircase. The entire room was covered in gold leaf that wove in and out of the stone, the ceiling held a beautiful mural that lay above their heads. As they had entered into the main theater, not only was Twilight surprised by the design and architecture of the building, she was also surprised by the number of Changelings within the orchestra.

The Orchestra may not have been an even split of Changelings and Ponies, but it was surprising to see at the very least twenty Changelings dispersed throughout the orchestra, and probably even more in hiding. Tettix was the conductor, and seemed to be fully in her element, simply bleeding elegance and knowledge as she conducted them, almost like she was feeling the music instead of hearing it.

Twilight loved the music, how it swelled, depressed, increased in speed, decreased. Spike on the other hoof, had fallen asleep halfway through it. Twilight had stayed after to congratulate Tettix and thank her, once again, for giving her so much in her time. But she knew what the next day held.

As she woke up, she packed up her writing supplies and various tools, woke up Spike, and had some Crepes, which were kind of like a very thin Pancakes. As the middle of the day came around, she headed back over to the Airship port, and got onto the Cheval Volant, prepping herself for a ride of isolation and work.

Before the Airship took off though, Fleur walked up to her while the other rich clients were still getting on, allowing them to talk a little privately.

“I just wanted to say that I am very thankful for you understanding the problèmes with me coming out and telling everypony…”

“It’s alright.”

Fleur sighed. “I know, but the stress… It is sometimes too much. Being Royalty in such a public profession… It can cause very bad situations… Along with being a insecte changeur de forme… I just worry about the press, you see. If they found out… I would never be at peace… There would be scandals galore… I’m not sure I could dump that onto Fancy Pants…”

Twilight nodded. “Have you told him how you feel?”

Fleur let out another sigh. “I have not… I do not wish to make any rash decisions… I am still young, only thirty… Normally we do not make a relationship until we are much older…”

“So why did you?”

Fleur tapped her hooves together. “You see, it is mandatory that a Queen know as many art forms as possible… I was sent abroad to study the art in Equestria. Fancy Pants and I met… And it just happened… I do not wish to burden him with the idea… But I do wish to give the gossip more fuel should I be found…”

Twilight tapped her chin. “Maybe you should tell him who you are.”

Fleur looked up at Twilight, her eyes full of fear. “But I cannot… I don’t know what that would do. I do not wish to cause more trouble…”

“I’m sure he’ll understand. Just lead him up into it. You told him you were a Changeling, so just build up to the point you are comfortable showing him your true form.”

Fleur shifted uncomfortably. “I do not know, Twilight… I am quite worried about this…”

“Just take it slow. Fancy Pants is one of the more level headed Nobles, I’m sure he wouldn’t leave you just because you got rid of your makeup.”

Fleur blinked, and then let out a little laugh. “I had not considered it that way before. I suppose he wouldn’t mind seeing me un peu au naturel.” She let out a sigh. “Thank you, Miss Sparkle. I will certainly take your advice, and should I finally decide to open up, you will be the first I tell.”

Twilight smiled. “Anything to help a friend.”

Oui, now I must converse with the Nobility. I hope to see you later, and I wish you luck with your expeditions.”

Twilight waved back to Fleur before pulling up her supplies and beginning to sort through the information, she figured that doing work would be better than talking to the nobles any day.

Spike, who was sitting not too far away with a bowl of Gems, looked over at Twilight as he tossed a topaz into his mouth. “Hey, Twi, do you think Surprise got over those negative feelings?”

“Oh, I’m sure that Pinkie helped him cheer up. You know her, she would go to the ends of Equestria to cheer somepony up.”

“I guess you’re right.” He tossed a ruby into the air as it landed in his mouth. “I wonder if she took Surprise with her?”

Twilight snickered. “I’m sure we’ll find out once we get back. But I need to finish up converting these notes. You still have the Camera?”

Spike pulled the Camera that was still around her neck. “Right here.”

“Good. Because I think Celestia will want to see pictures of everything as well as descriptions, it would be terrible if I didn’t have that to help me, what if I messed up with the descriptions of something. I’m sure that Tettix would hate if I got the wrong coloration on the…” She looked over at Spike’s bowl. “Are you sure it is safe to be eating that many gems so soon?”

“Oh relax. What’s the worst that could happen?” Spike asked as he took a claw full of gems and stuffed them into his mouth.

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Alright, but if you need to puke, do it away from my notepads. I still need this for my research.”

“Alright Twi, I’ll try, but honestly, I’ll be fine.”

“Every Nightmare Night says otherwise…” Twilight mumbled.

Before Spike could retort, the Airship lifted off the ground and lurched forward before leveling out at a constant pace, heading back towards Canterlot.

Author's Note:

WOO! My life has been a struggle recently. :applejackconfused: Thank god that's behind me.
A new Blog post will be up for the next Hive Vote shortly after this Chapter is released.

Blog located here

For those curious for the full list, it is located here: *SPOILERS*