• Published 4th Dec 2016
  • 10,252 Views, 750 Comments

Dear Small Pony Book - Carapace

Princess Cadence and Prince-Captain Shining Armor have given Thorax a journal to document his days in the Crystal Empire so they can help him learn from his experiences. This can only go well.

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1. Vases Don't Tremble

Dear Small Pony Book,

Today did not start start out well. I reflected on how things had gotten to such a nasty place as I hid from my gracious hosts and friends, Princess Cadence and Prince-Captain Shining Armor. My china body trembled on the crystalline mantle, making a shrill rattling noise. I tried in vain to force myself to sit still. Any movement would give me away. The ponies in the Crystal Empire had very keen eyes.

They learned to watch for all the little ticks with me around. Anything that might betray something out of sorts became a hint that I was up to my tricks, satisfying the natural urge we changelings have. Granted, things were a bit difficult since I gave my word on Name and Eggshell that I would choose only one pony form to wear along with my natural one, but allowances were made for drastic times.

This morning was such a time.

Though my ears had morphed into loopy handles, I could hear the familiar clippity-clop of a pony’s hooves against the floor echoing throughout the hallway. By sound alone, I knew it wasn’t a crystal pony—their hooves made a sort of clackity-clack sound in the Crystal Palace. This, of course, meant it was either one of the guard officers, Sunburst, or my hosts.

By the cadence of the pony’s stride, I could guess exactly which one.

I managed to fight down a nervous chitter as the steps drew closer. I heard the tinkling sound of magic float through the air. The latch jiggled and clicked, and the door hinges squeaked as he pushed the door open.

“Thorax?” Shining Armor called. He trotted into the room, no doubt searching every nook and cranny for the missing changeling in his palace. “Thorax, come out. I know you’re in here.”

I prayed to the First Queen that he didn’t hear the rattling or the little gasp that sounded from the mantle above the fireplace. Squeezing my china eyes shut, I tried to send silent word that I wasn’t in the room. I was somewhere else in the palace, somewhere in the North Tower or the Wine Cellar, and not in my favorite hiding room.

The Prince-Captain heaved a sigh and approached. His steps stopped just a few strides away from my hiding spot. “Thorax, please.”

I didn’t move. He might have found my general location but, with changelings, that wasn’t worth the slime from a month old cocoon. As long as my disguise held, he wouldn’t find me.

Shining sighed again. I could almost imagine him rolling his eyes. “Okay. Have it your way, buddy. I guess we’re playing hide and seek again.” The tinkling of magic floated through the air once more, I could feel the static tickle as a tendril reached out to grab something. “Let’s see if this is Thorax today.”

My china body was lifted into the air, I fought back a startled yelp and kept the act as best I could. His magic held me fast, leaving no hope for escape even if I should try.

“Hmm, no response. Maybe this isn’t Thorax after all.” I dared to crack open an eyelid to sneak a peek at my captor. His lips curved into a crooked smile and his bright blue eyes shone with amusement. The pink glow around his horn shone brighter. “But let’s check just to be sure.”

I realized what he meant almost the instant he said it, but far too late to stop him. The static tickle spread all over my body, until I felt as though I was being attacked with soft, downy pegasus feathers. I squirmed and writhed, trying to maneuver my china body free, but to no avail. My control failed.

My disguise dropped in a flash of arcane fire, chittering laughter bubbled forth from the back of my throat as I kicked my hooves and buzzed my wings, pleading between giggles for him to cease his assault and show mercy on this poor, innocent changeling.

“Well, well! Look who I’ve found!” he said as he released me from my ticklish torment. I looked up to find him grinning down at me with an eyebrow raised, the very picture of a bemused father. He greeted me in a tone as though he hadn’t just spent his morning searching for me, “Good morning, Thorax.”

I found myself quailing beneath his gaze. “Good morning, Shining Armor,” I muttered. My eyes fell to the floor. I bit my lip and tried to find the right words to say. After a moment’s thought, I ducked lower and said, “I’m sorry. Is Flurry okay?”

“Flurry Heart is fine, Thorax. A little frightened, but fine.” His magic washed off my body. Shining Armor stepped close and rested a hoof on my shoulder. “Sunburst says it was an accident.”

A mournful chitter threatened to escape. “I scared her.”

“She hit you in the face with some hot oatmeal and you hissed in pain, Thorax. Not to hurt my child. I can hardly blame you for that.” He squeezed my shoulder for a second, then let go. “Come on,” he said, “Cady’s got her calmed down, and I’m sure she’ll want to see you again.”

Glancing around at my hiding room, my gaze settled on the mantle I’d hidden myself. No doubt I would have to put the real vase back once I’d made amends with little Flurry and satisfied my hosts. With a sigh, I rose to my hooves and changed forms. “Okay,” I reply sullenly.

Shining fixed me with a quizzical look. “Crystal Hoof?”

“Don’t want to scare her again.”

“I see.” He furrowed his brows and sucked in his lips. For a split second, I worried that I angered him. But rather than lash out and strike me across the face as punishment as the Queen would have done, he simply took a deep breath, then turned to lead me out of my hiding room. “Well, come on. Let’s get you two to kiss and make up, so you can go back to being friends again.”

I gave an anxious little whine in reply, which earned me a sidelong look—a tool pony parents use to cow their foals without saying a word, as I learned from watching the crystal ponies. With a sheepish smile, I tried to think of something to change the subject, anything to put myself back in good graces.

My mind wandered back to my hiding room. Shining Armor had found me far too easily. “How did you know I was the vase?”

For a moment there was silence between us. Then, I noticed his shoulders shaking and his ears pinning back against his scalp.

Was he upset? I tilted my head and craned to get a better look. “Shining?”

Shining turned to meet my gaze. His smile was strained and cheeks puffed, his eyes seemed to dance with mirth. His reply came tinged with poorly restrained laughter, “Vases don’t tremble, Thorax.”

I followed Shining through the glimmering hallways. His laughter finally abated by the time we passed by the third or fourth set of guards stationed in the corridor. While they had been rather cold and wary of me at first, they’ve since come around. Quite a few of them even smile and nod when they greet me in their “gruff, tough guard voice”—which Princess Cadence assured me was an act and that they’re all sweethearts when out of their armor, so fear not, Small Pony Book.

That aside, I still felt a bit of dread as I trotted through the palace alongside Shining Armor, even as we drew nearer to the Royal Suite. What if Flurry Heart was so frightened of me she started to cry the instant I walked into the room? Would that mean she would never ask me to make silly faces for her again? Would I be barred from feeding her? Or reading her stories and doing my best character voices for her? Or, worse than that …

Would Princess Cadence be cross with me? I had, after all, frightened her beloved foal.

My breath came in short, ragged gasps. I stopped in mid-stride and tried to reign in my racing heart. I took several deep breaths in rapid succession, my eyes as wide as dinner plates.

Shining turned to face me. His lips twitched and curved into a small frown. “There’s no need to panic, Thorax.”

“I would argue that there is every need to panic!” I replied hastily. My eyes fell to the floor again, staring at my reflection upon the cloudy surface of quartz. “Is Cadence angry?” I asked, so very much like a newborn hatchling trying to impress his clutch mother.

He shook his head. “She’s concerned for both of you. So come on.” A pink glow wreathed around his horn once more as he sent out a tendril of magic to wrap around the door’s polished brass handle and pull it open. Shining gestured me inside with a little shooing motion. “She’s waiting for you.”

Torn between the inspection of my own reflection and a want to check on Flurry Heart, I bit my lip. My knees quivered, and I felt as though they might give out at any second.

But my hooves began to move toward the door, almost as if they had a mind of their own. I swallowed a mouthful of spit and sent silent prayer to the First Queen that though She ignored my plea to stay hidden, She might show mercy upon this poor hatchling and grant me a chance to make amends for my inability to control my natural outbursts.

My heart raced like a nymph on his first scouting mission as I hesitantly entered the room. I poked my faux pony head around the corner, and my ears drooped as I glanced at each pony in turn. There was Sunburst on the far side of little Flurry’s crib, his sunset orange coat and fiery red beard cleaned, but still looked matted from the oatmeal assault. On the other, was the living embodiment of Love herself, Princess Cadence.

I don’t know how to adequately describe her beauty to you, Small Pony Book. How does one go into detail about how her soft pink coat feels like silk when she wraps you in a tender hug, or praise how her mane—a beautiful blend of purple, magenta, and soft, creamy yellow—flows and captures the light of Princess Celestia’s sun? Or how her smile lights up the room and radiates enough love to make any changeling stop in place to behold her splendor?

It’s simply impossible, Small Pony Book.

But with all that love comes the fury of the pegasi, her former race (or so I’m told). The fires of Hurricane’s wrath burn hottest within her chest when her loved ones are threatened. I have had the dubious honor of witnessing such firsthoof.

She did not go quietly when Queen Chrysalis took her captive before the wedding. I would wager Libellula still has cracks in her faceplate from the bare-hoofed beating she got—which is quite the shame, for she was a beautiful changeling. I confess that I would have liked to court her after the invasion, if she would allow it.

Just as I suppressed the image of poor Libellula’s battered face, Princess Cadence turned to face Shining and me. Her deep purple eyes met mine for a moment and my heart promptly leapt into my throat. Then she turned to Shining with a knowing smile and said, “Thank you for finding him.”

Shining trotted over to her side and wrapped a hoof around her shoulders. “No trouble at all,” he replied, dotting her with a quick kiss before he turned and leaned down to nuzzle Flurry.

Princess Cadence returned her attention to me and walked over. Instinctively, I bowed my head and tried to look smaller. The Queen was less likely to discipline through pain if she knew the offender was contrite and acknowledged her unquestioned authority.

A gentle hoof touched my shoulder, along with the cool touch of her golden shoes. “How is your faceplate?” she asked softly.

I didn’t look up. “Doesn’t hurt as badly now,” I muttered in reply. “How is Flurry?”

She gave a bell-like giggle and patted my shoulder. “She was startled, but fine now. As a matter of fact, she’s been babbling about you.”

My earfins perked up. I raised my head to meet her gaze. “Really?”

“Really.” Princess Cadence smiled back at me. “It seems she wants ‘Tora’ to make silly faces. If you’re not too bothered, that is.”

I must have been so surprised that I dropped my Crystal Hoof disguise. Either way, I approached Flurry’s crib slowly, more like I was walking toward an angry manticore than the giggly, babbling little foal I helped watch while her parents worked.

There she was. The instant I set my polished and holed hooves on the edge of her crib, and poked my head over to look at her through teal eyes, little Flurry Heart squealed and reached out to me. Her bright blue eyes lit up like a Hearth’s Warming tree. “Tora! Tora!” she squeaked, calling my name in her baby talk. She babbled and stuck out her tongue, a sign I knew to be her request for a performance.

Though my tiny host had seemingly forgiven me for startling her, I was still a bit uneasy, Small Pony Book. I bit my lip—mindful of my fangs—and glanced at her parents.

Shining Armor rolled his eyes almost playfully. “Go ahead, entertain our tiny over-lady,” he teased. “We’ve got to have a talk with you later today.”

A sinking feeling crept into my chest. “Am I in trouble?”

“No trouble. Just a bit of curiosity on our part. A few more questions about where you are for education.” As I made to reply, he held up a hoof. “Play with her for a while. It’s not too urgent.”

A quick glance to Princess Cadence earned an approving nod. I gave a hesitant smile, then turned back to Flurry Heart. My hosts had given permission, and the youngest demanded that I entertain with her with my race’s unique ability.

Bringing a hoof to my chin, I hummed in thought. What face would Flurry like best, I wondered? She loved it when I stuck out my tongue and put on googly eyes, so, naturally, that was my opener.

Her peals of babyish laughter warmed my heart. I do love this job and my new home, Small Pony Book. The company here is far more appealing.

Even if some of the things they do can be strange.

Author's Note:

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