• Published 30th Dec 2016
  • 9,329 Views, 456 Comments

The King of Love Bugs - NavelColt

Embracing the power to share love rather than steal it, the changelings seek to reinvent themselves and their kingdom, while Thorax works to introduce the idea of changelings in Equestria, one escapade at a time.

  • ...

The Crossroads of Friendship and Love - Part 3

Spike was a manly dragon, or at least he liked to think so.

Spike didn't make cute sounds when he saw cute things, and he didn't ogle at cute things when they occurred. Well, unless you counted Rarity fussing with her hair. Or sewing, definitely sewing. Oh, and talking. Pretty much anything Rarity did at all tended to be an exception.

However, even a manly dragon like Spike couldn't help but beam at the touching scene laid before him.

Like a magnet, Thorax had drawn in the other changelings without a word. Where before the half-dozen drones had evenly spread themselves around the table, now they had all converged around Thorax, pointing out aspects of the game and board for him. The impatience they harbored for each other mere moments before had melted away, replaced by an eagerness to help the large changeling learn the rules of the game, even an eagerness to watch him play.

And it wasn't just Spike who had taken notice of the subtle moment. Twilight once again put quill to paper, watching the bug ponies with a scholarly fascination. It wasn't from a sense of obligation in the presence of royalty that the drones flocked to Thorax, like many ponies did with herself and the other princesses. It was something more. It was a genuine love and respect they seemed to harbor for their monarch past simple rank. Just by being around Thorax, the air about the changelings had relaxed, become more positive.

Was it shared love magic? Was the metamorphosed changeling leader capable of somehow influencing mood through it?

The feathery tail of her quill caressed the peak of Twilight's chin. This elusive force, intangible and undetectable by any species but the changelings continued to tease and elude her, wetting her already insatiable appetite.

"'Papa Thorax', indeed," Twilight whispered aloud, biting her lip in adoration of the thought.

"And this is my character, Thorax," a drone proclaimed, making sure he had the alpha changeling's attention before proudly pointing a hoof at one of Spike's claw-drawn game pieces. "He's called 'Phrixus the All-Seeing', and he has a crystal ball thing that lets him see into the near future. It also happens to shoot lightning bolts."

"Lightning bolts?", Thorax repeated with a chuckle, comfortably sitting back on his haunches. "Isn't that a bit much?"

"Nah, more than half the characters have magical abilities in the land of Spiketopia," Spike stated with matter-of-fact. "It's all about your level. 'Phrixus the All-Seeing' is only level 4, so he's not very powerful yet. His lightning bolts could charge a light bulb, but it won't fry a beast charging at him."

"Not yet, anyway," 'Phrixus' changeling added. "Just wait, I'll be causing thunderstorms to rain down and obliterate all opposition in no time."

"Well my character is Sir Demonax," another changeling declared, "and he has the power to summon lost souls to fight for him. No beast, big or small can deal with an army of the undead!"

"So what you're saying is he's a coward and can't fight his own battles?", a neighboring drone taunted.

"Hey, buzz off!", 'Sir Demonax' replied with a hiss. "There's nothing wrong in having helpers in battle. Always fighting alone is foolish and arrogant, kinda like you."

"Well, I think it's pretty cool you all have such different characters," Thorax offered, addressing the entire table with his eyes. "Everyling has something different to offer, which just means we're all the better when we work together, right?"

A few smiles were unearthed in response, give or take a few persisting scowls.

"So I guess it's my turn, now? Is there anything the team needs most? What's the roster so far, Spike?"

"Well, Tibia is a monk, and he's our healer - even though everyone else signed a blood oath to never accept his assistance in battle," Spike said flatly, focusing on the book in front of him. "Otherwise, including me we have two wizards, two warriors, a warlock and a rogue."

"Thorax should definitely be a paladin," the drone to Thorax's left stated.

"Then we'd have three wizard types, three warriors, one rogue and one monk," the changeling on Thorax's opposite side replied. "Imbalance, much?"

"It doesn't just matter what the classes are, it's about your roles," the first drone shot back, leaning across in front of Thorax and resting his front hooves on the rocky table. "If you had been paying attention to Spike when he explained the rules, you'd know that."

The pair of changelings resumed their earlier bickering, and Thorax surrendered to simply shaking his head between them.

Spike turned his attention to Twilight, who had been comfortably sitting out of everyone's thoughts, organizing her stacks of notes. The small dragon cast an aching look of pride.

"Twilight, they've learned so well!", he whispered, glee brimming from every word. "Even down to the arguing over class-to-role ratios!"

"You're a very good teacher, Spike," Twilight quipped with a giggle, her eyes not once leaving her notes. "All those games with Big Mac and Discord sure paid off, it seems."

"Oh please, I was a master of Ogres and Oubliettes way before I made it cool," Spike boasted, sitting down again and picking up his dice. "Now then, Thorax, it's totally up to you. A paladin is a mighty and holy warrior, they are pretty cool. But you could also be a monk or another healing type, or maybe a wizard like me."

"Yeah, be a paladin, Thorax!" a drone urged.

"No way, be a rogue! We get to sneak around and collect treasure!" another said.

"Be a wizard, Thorax!" a third offered. "We can start a wizard guild with Spike!"

All eyes turned to Thorax. The big changeling looked rather unsure of what to do with himself. He glanced around the table, at the various faces all watching him with gripped anticipation.

"You guys never make things easy for me, do you?" he chuckled. "Well...I guess I'll go with-"

"Thorax, we finished the last of the watch towers! The hive is complete!"

The bated breath held across the table was condemned, and all attention turned upwards. Leading a small squad from a morphing hole near the ceiling was a red and yellow drone, grinning brightly as he descended the chamber. His company followed him to the hive floor, where they saluted and stood before their surprised monarch.

"Wait, it's done?", Thorax repeated, blinking in disbelief. "But, we didn't have any work on it scheduled for today. Didn't you guys hear me when I announced that Princess Twilight was visiting today? Everyling had the day off."

"We couldn't wait!", the lead changeling replied, the drones behind him nodding in extension of his thought. "I hope that's okay. It was just a couple of towers, no big deal. We saw that Tarsus and Tibia stopped work when the princess got here, so we wanted to surprise everyling. And now it's done! Our new hive is finally done!"

On cue, the group broke into cheers, quickly dragging the drones seated at the table into their impromptu celebration as well.

Though his game was effectively put on hold once again, Spike clapped for the accomplishment. The sight of a dozen or so bug ponies tackling and embracing each other infected even Twilight, who had been effectively part of the background scenery for a while, now.

"I'm so happy for you all!", the purple alicorn expressed, emerging from her nest of knowledge and joining Spike by his side. "It feels wonderful to put the finishing touches on a new home. I found that out first-hand quite some time ago, myself."

"That deep tissue massage still gives me aches and pains, some mornings," Spike mumbled, rubbing a claw along his back.

The cluster of fluttering drones landed by their king, clamoring around him excitedly. Chuckling at the sudden assemblage, Thorax laid a hoof against each head in sequence. While some changelings shied away, staring up at Thorax with disoriented stares, others nudged into the hoof, accepting the affection like a badge of honor.

"I guess tonight we have an announcement to make to the rest of the hive," Thorax said, beaming at the varied crowd of elated changelings. "Thanks for finishing the towers, guys. I can't believe how hard everyling's worked. You finished remaking the hive so quickly, and that's on top of the damage it took."

"You're telling me, the entire throne room blew up!", a drone in the crowd exclaimed. "Which, by the way, still doesn't make sense to me."

"You've helped us stay energized, Thorax," the drone currently receiving head pats credited. "And you've been helping us stay organized and efficient, too. It was a group effort, and you're a part of that group, now."

The drone's attention was quickly stolen as he was jumped on by another drone, and then another, and another. A heaping pile of changelings twisted and rolled at Thorax's hooves, losing themselves in a high of laughter.

Thorax spectated the play with a paternal fondness. He was a part of them now, wasn't he? Just another of many things he had to regularly remind himself of, these days.


The large bug pony shook himself from his stare, turning to the princess.

"I just talked with Spike, and we've decided that we'd like to stay the night, if that's alright with you," Twilight began, a nodding dragon visible from behind her back hoof. "I planned on the possibility of not returning to Ponyville until tomorrow as it was, just to be safe. I'd love to understand what changelings do during nightly routines. We also have much to discuss regarding your future plans, and now you also have an announcement to make to your subjects, which I definitely wouldn't want to miss. Would that be alright with you?"

"Of course!", Thorax replied with no second thought. "Honestly that's what I thought you'd wanted to do, all along. I had imagined that after Spike's game, you and I could break away and have discussions, and we can go from there."

"I think Twilight just wants to see cuddling changelings, I mean let's be honest," Spike mouthed off, swiftly rendered a dart board to Twilight's piercing eyes.

"That is not true!", the alicorn tried to defend, her frazzled voice obvious. "I happen to have shared love magic as the main topic of my next chapter of notes, mister smarty dragon."

Thorax broke into a fit of laughter that Spike quickly shared.

As the golden sun neared the end of its journey across the sky, the excited group of changelings eventually settled down.

Thorax, to the pouting disappointment of several changelings had decided to go the path of the holy paladin. Rallied by 'Xalvador the Noble and Just', Garbuckle the Magician and his crusade managed to save Gadaric the Gallant from the hungry hydra, and proceeded to storm the frightful castle of the evil squizard. Though still inexperienced, their teamwork proved to be too powerful for the calamari's evil minions, and they were pushed back until all that remained to oppose their cause was the demon, himself.

In a climactic and legendary duel to be remembered for generations to come, Xalvador engaged the evil squizard atop his tower. With the aid of his trusty healer, and a little luck on the side of the dice, the evil creature was run through by Xalvador's Sword of Light, banishing the squizard to darkness for all eternity. Thorax had never seen so much cheering from the drones.

Having successfully taught bug ponies how to play his favorite game, and having witnessed his friend vanquish his in-game nemesis, Spike could scarcely contain his glee.

With the game packed away, and having heard about the hive's hot springs from Thorax, Spike ventured off for a bit of rest and relaxation. A judgemental stare was waiting for a certain alicorn for failing to mention them, earlier.

With the victorious changelings having dispersed to various parts of the hive, Twilight accompanied Thorax outside for a much needed breath of fresh air amidst the virgin summer night.

"You know, Thorax, there's something that just fills me with a sense of joy," Twilight said softly, enjoying the chilled breeze against her face and the tickling grass beneath her hooves. "It's that the changelings were never meant to be monsters. All this time, ponies and other species of Equestria have lived in fear of changeling attacks. They feared for their lives, their freedom, believing this menace they feared to be truly evil. But in the end it would appear only one was truly evil, all along."

Thorax's vibrant colors dulled in the shroud of the moon. When he turned to examine Twilight's thoughtful face, his deep-set eyes seemed to glint.

"I can't say whether or not Chrysalis will ever see a way of life without conquest," Thorax began, shifting his observation to the swaying blades of grass. "What I do know is that the shrewd and dark creatures that attacked and tormented others were taught from birth that they were outcasts, and that the only means to obtain food was through dominance. I may have been the first to actually escape and seek out a better way, but a lot of us simply never conceived a better way. Chrysalis was all there ever was, and for all we could tell, was all there ever would be."

Twilight drank in the night air. She'd really have to commend Luna for her masterful work.

"I think you were born different for a reason, Thorax," Twilight expressed, resting a hoof across his back. "You sought out a better way because you had a spark no changeling has ever had. Seeing you all so happy, so full of life today is proof enough that your actions have lead to a better future for your kind. I think I speak on behalf of all Equestria's princesses when I say that Equestria is happy to be a part of that future with you."

His attention salvaged, the bug pony thanked her with a meek little smile.

"Now then, to that end, what's on your mind?", the alicorn followed up. "You've helped me so much today, please allow me to help you, now. As a princess of Equestria, and as your friend, I am here to support you."

"Well, one of the things Princess Celestia brought up was the Crystal Empire," Thorax recalled, running a hoof along his now chilly foreleg. "It'd be a good place to start introducing my kind to the public eye. I planned on contacting Princess Cadance as soon as the hive was completed, but that's happened a day or two sooner than I had planned, now. I'm just not sure what the best approach would be, yet. Rebuilding our own hive was easy, but relations with other lands still has me nervous."

Thorax fluttered his transparent wings against his form. Just thinking of the daunting work ahead of him was both exhilarating and terrifying. The bug pony bit his lip, trying to calm an upsurge of anxiety.

"To be honest, Twilight, I'm so new to being a leader, and it's really intimidating at times," Thorax admitted. "I want to do what's best for my kind, but I don't know what that is. The changeling empire was built around Chrysalis, by Chrysalis. I don't even have changelings I can turn to for advice, because Chrysalis never had use for advisers. I mean, I can appoint some, but they'll be learning along with me."

Still and calm, Twilight sniped features of her friend with her gaze as he spoke. Of those few topics she could relate to personally, not just intellectually, anxiety topped the list.

"Well, first of all, I think the Crystal Empire is a great first step," she said at last, her voice caught somewhere between patience, and the burning desire to spout paragraphs. "In fact, I'm sure the changelings and the crystal ponies have a lot more in common than you might think. If there's any species in Equestria that knows a thing or two about evolving when happy and full of love, it's the crystal ponies."

Once more Twilight's comforting hoof found its way across Thorax's back.

"And Thorax, I completely understand," Twilight said quietly, her mane flowing in the evening wind. "When I was first crowned Equestria's fourth princess, I was confused, too. I was unsure of myself and the role I was meant to play in Equestria. Granted, from the start I had the support of the other princesses and my friends, but in the end it was still my own quest to discover what my purpose was, and it was intimidating."

Twilight laid against the grass and Thorax followed suit. The stars had begun to pierce the darkening sky above their heads.

"You may not have any changelings to help guide you, Thorax, but you do have us," Twilight offered, relieving tension with a show of her teeth. "We can help you get started on your journey to discover yourselves, in the same way that Princess Celestia once guided me to establish myself as the Princess of Friendship."

The king's quivering lip nearly boasted invisibility in the dark, but his sullen stature did not, and it was something Twilight knew all too well. With the help of the her hoof rubbing along his magenta shell, Thorax slowly digested the princess's words, and calmed down. The cool air filled his lungs, and he labored a deep sigh.

"Why don't Spike and I accompany you to the Crystal Empire, tomorrow afternoon?", Twilight threw out. "Not only is Princess Cadance my sister-in-law, but Prince Shining Armor is my brother who made her so. And of course, we're both aware of Spike's reputation there. I'm sure with two princesses and a local hero with you, every pony in the Crystal Empire will be happy to give your subjects a warm welcome, right off the bat."

Thorax looked on at the pony with puzzlement. "But it's already nightfall, how can we possibly get in touch with Princess Cadance before tomorrow?", he inquired. "Won't it be rude to show up without prior notice?"

Twilight giggled to herself, which only served to deepen the changeling's bafflement.

"It'll be fine, Thorax. I'll have Spike send a scroll to Princess Luna tonight before we all turn in. Princess Luna is rather special, you see. She protects the night in Equestria, and she can communicate with ponies in their dreams. I'm sure if we ask Luna nicely, and explain the reasoning, she'll let Cadance know of our visit without even waking her up."

Bafflement skipped right on past hesitation and embraced its good friend, shock.

"But, isn't that invasive?" Thorax asked, a crack in his voice. "That almost seems kind of rude. Are you sure she wouldn't mind?"

"Oh, not to worry," Twilight assured, waving the end of her hoof dismissively. "Luna visits ponies in their dreams all the time, and usually for reasons not nearly as large-scale as this one."

"Well...alright," Thorax caved, again speaking to the grass blades. "It sounds like a good plan, to me - well, the you coming with me part, at least."

"Excellent!", Twilight replied, gleeful anticipation now strangling any hope of a good night's rest. Not only was she assisting her friend with a first major step in introductions to Equestria, she'd also be paying a surprise visit to her brother, sister-in-law, and absolute favorite niece.

"Let's hold off on diving deeper into things until tomorrow then," the alicorn suggested, getting to her hooves and enticing Thorax to do the same. "Princess Cadance is even wiser than I am, I'm confident she'll have plenty of ideas of how to integrate changelings with the crystal ponies."

Thorax nodded, once more finding an alicorn's logic to be flawless.

"That sounds great. If that's the case, would you like to head back inside, now?"

Twilight gave a slight shiver before smiling sheepishly. Thorax mirrored it.

"I think now might be a great time to show you just how well the walls of the new nesting chamber work as insulators."

Situated at the core of the hive, slightly below sea level, the communal nesting chamber was impregnable. Not only did it boast the capacity to house every changeling within its walls, it was also a heat trap. With walls three feet thick, a mere three tunnels acting as entrances/exits, and over thirty feet of earth separating it from open air, not even a Windigo-fueled snowstorm could inconvenience a cozy night in.

With such open space, of course, came recreation as well. Roughhousing, mock fights and all manner of aerial activities during bad weather were common occurrences. The acoustics provided Thorax a great deal of assistance in giving hive announcements, and addressing the hive during cluster naps. Even the nymphs benefitted - the hive nursery sat just east of the chamber, providing adult drones the ideal place to spend time while awaiting young ones to wake from naps.

As late evening turned to dusk the once empty chamber began to flood with bug ponies. In they poured like a released river from each available tunnel, their wings blending into a loud, monotonous buzz.

Positioned at one side of the cavern, Thorax watched and waited as group by group, changelings seated themselves on their haunches in long rows. Every now and then a drone would accidentally bump or shove another, and a resulting hiss or grumble could be heard from somewhere amidst the sea of compound eyes.

Tarsus and Tibia stood before the front row, keeping an eye on the crowd and ensuring that everyling remained calm. While Tarsus stood tall and proud, firm as a statue, Tibia paced to and fro, dropping his serious facade periodically whenever he spotted a bug he knew.

From between them, Thorax stepped forward, signaling the crowd's attention with a wave of his hoof.

"Thanks for coming so quickly, everyling," he began, distributing meaningful eye contact like tree sap candy. "This will be a very brief announcement, actually. Some of you may have already been told by other changelings, but I wanted to make it official because I believe it's very important."

In an ocean of blank expressions a handful of faces were bisected by grins.

"This afternoon a squad of changelings decided to finish work on the last of our watch towers, as a surprise. That's why I'm excited to say that, almost two days ahead of schedule, our new hive has been fully completed!"

The resulting explosion of sound made Twilight jump from her modest corner of the room. Every changeling in the cavern erupted into cheers - hooves stomped, surprisingly intricate aerial displays launched, and the unrelenting chirp of hundreds of rubbing wings stabbed the air. This assault on the ears went unperturbed for almost a minute, before a combined effort from Tarsus, Tibia and Thorax at last managed to regain calm.

"I'm really, truly thankful for all the work everyling has done to rebuild our hive," Thorax continued. "Just know that I'm proud of all of you - all of us - and that I couldn't be more excited to see what we can accomplish next."

Another round of cheers and stomps, albeit far more tame.

"And now, before a lot of us turn in for the night, our gracious guest, Princess Twilight Sparkle from Equestria would like to say a few words."

Twilight blinked. Wait, what? Her? In front of every changeling in the entire hive? But she hadn't prepared a speech, or-

Her anxiety wasn't even given time to meltdown. Thorax was smiling and beckoning her on, and now every pair of eyes was on her, the vast cavern once more completely silent.

"Um...well, hello, everyone," Twilight began with a shaken voice, taking a few steps forward. "A lot of you may know me - I'm Princess Twilight, also known colloquially as the Princess of Friendship. I'm sure I've met at least a few of you before. A few of you may have even been me, before."

Absolute silence. Sweat boiled off her forehead.

"Well, um, I guess the most important thing I'd like to say is that my friend Spike and I will be having a sort of...sleep over tonight with you all, to try and better understand how changelings share love, especially while you sleep together in mass groups."

A brave hoof erected from near the back of the room.

"...you mean you're going to watch us sleep so you can understand how we sleep?"

A few changelings snickered.

"Well, sort of," Twilight acknowledged. "You all gain energy through communal resting now, and you all share love instead of taking it, and I know the ponies of Equestria would find that information fascinating. I know I sure would, or do, rather. For those who normally sleep in clusters with Thorax, please feel free to do so tonight as well. Spike and I will be here too, but please don't let our presence bother you."

A valiant effort, but Twilight could only manage her most awkward smile to date. The throng of drones blinked back, many of them exchanging confused looks with one another and shrugging their hooves. Eventually, however, Twilight was bailed out by her status, and the room filled with nods of understanding. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

"I'd just like to say 'thank you' to everyone for having us today, it's been a pleasure," she concluded, casting a glance to Thorax in hopes that he'd catch on. Thankfully the large bug pony had already stepped forward again, drawing every changeling's attention with a flare of his wings.

"Alright everyling," Thorax addressed, once more casting a benevolent eye through the crowd of drones. "For those of you who'd like to turn in, please remain here with Princess Twilight and myself. If the rest of you could please make use of the other main chambers for staying up, I would greatly appreciate it. Oh, and don't forget who's night shift for the nursery, please!"

Thorax dismissed the patiently seated drones with another wing flare, and they took to the air in a synchronized takeoff, briefly obscuring the cavern from view as they filtered out through various tunnels. A fair number stayed on the ground, standing up and venturing over from their spots on the floor as soon as the path had been cleared.

"Twilight! Thorax!"

Twilight's attention was shaken. She turned to find a waterlogged dragon emerging from a side tunnel, holding his knees and gasping for breath.

"Spike?", the alicorn said, her voice peaking. "What happened? Where have you been all this time?"

"Asleep...in the hot springs...didn't realize...what was going on until...I woke up and everyone was gone," he panted. "One changeling came back and got me, said he saw me and wanted to make sure I didn't get lost trying to find this place."

"Well, you're just in time," Twilight declared, snaking a hoof around the young dragon and pressing her cheek to his. "The changelings are about to go to sleep, and so are we. We're going to have a big day tomorrow - we're heading to the Crystal Empire with Thorax, before heading home. But first, I'm going to try and document the phenomena of shared love magic, in person!"

"I knew exactly where your priorities were at this whole time," Spike chided, accepting his fate as an obscene facial growth. "Poor Thorax and his struggles are just the day job. You're here to see cuddling changelings."

The mouthy dragon was gently discarded, not to mention ignored. In a brilliant flurry of magenta magic, quills and books danced from Twilight's saddlebags on a now established routine. Laying down near where Thorax had staked out a spot, the fourth Equestrian princess swirled her belongings around an orbit before slowing them to their writing stations in the air by her head. Once there, quills merrily spun in anticipation, while open journals gently rose and fell like breaths.

Somedragon coughed. Twilight continued to ignore the glare she knew was assailing her from behind. No, she was absolutely not showing off.

On a seemingly first come first serve basis, a modest group of drones seemed to 'claim' Thorax. These select few pressed into his sides, securing their sleeping spots for the night. A few even shot mocking tongues to those unable to do the same, nuzzling Thorax extravagantly as a means to taunt them. Grumbles emerged from a few jealous individuals, but the majority of bug ponies settled just fine for resting nearby.

Thorax exhaled, accepting the notion of merely existing a moment before sleep. He stretched his gossamer wings and laid them across the shells of those few changelings closest to him, and playfully ensnared the drone by his hooves in a cuddle. A few wings ventured to chirp in a display of contentment, and a few drones unable to reach Thorax settled for embracing a receptive neighbor, instead.

One by one, bug ponies surrendered to the night and ceased all motion - all but Thorax and his immediate company, who watched the observing princess with heavy eyes.

Twilight experienced every waking moment, her toothy grin as subtle as a strutting peacock.

"So precious!", she squeaked.

"Aaand we've lost her," Spike announced quietly, laying down against his backpack and sealing his eyelids.

"From what I've been able to gather, the closer we are, both physically and emotionally, the faster we regain energy," Thorax explained, promptly gifting Twilight's quill ammunition. "Regaining energy through being close can't completely substitute actual sleep, but the amount of time you need to sleep, per day is greatly reduced when being close while being asleep. Um, if that makes any sense."

"Fascinating," Twilight whispered to herself, her nose firmly planted in her journal. "Do you know if being close is the only form of affection that works?"

Thorax cocked his head in thought. The drone trapped between the monarch's hooves twisted about in his sleep, and abruptly clutched the big changeling's leg as a comfort object. He let out a lengthy yawn before growing still once more.

Twilight suffered an out of body experience.

"Good question," Thorax eventually replied. "I'm pretty sure even simple gestures like hugs or head patting work, but since they're so short-lived they probably don't do anything substantial."

"Makes sense," Twilight cooed, twinkling eyes darting from drone, to cuddled leg, to Thorax. "Oh, how about distance? Have you noticed any trends regarding effectiveness of energy transfer?"

"Well, I'm not sure if there's a limit," Thorax said, giving out a small yawn of his own. "I guess as long as I care about them, they can receive some kind of energy from me if they're at least within my view. If they have any close relations with their friends also nearby, that helps too. That's why sleeping in large clusters is so effective, it multiplies the love magic exponentially."

"Like an intermingled web of power sources," the princess muttered. "Oh, this is just so amazing! I can't wait to have these notes published!"

As dusk turned to night, only Thorax and Twilight remained awake, the curious princess's questions acting as a siren against the changeling monarch's onset fatigue.

But Thorax could feel his alertness dropping steadily, anyway. The noble cause of science was not the only force pining for his attention. Five bug ponies firmly pressed up against him as heated pillows, their rhythmic breathing and soft snores hypnotic, lulling him closer and closer to sleep, himself.

Thorax gently laid down his head upon the awaiting shell of his captured drone, and his fate was decided. When a ceasefire arose between Twilight's questions, the young king was gone.

Amidst Twilight's racing thoughts, her quill nearly stabbed through her theorem on shared love magic field intervals. Her grin receded to an ugly realization.

In all her earnest, the alicorn had forgotten a rather important factor.

"Spike, Spike, wake up!", Twilight hissed, prodding the young dragon with a jittery hoof.

Spike turned over. The rules of the ignore game had been reversed.

"Spike, please? I really need you to help me with something, then you can go to sleep, I promise," she begged, prodding him a few more times and levitating an empty scroll from one of her saddle bags.

With a head turn as slow as molasses, Spike turned to the sheepishly grinning alicorn with a look of death.

Elsewhere, in the majestic city of Canterlot, a magical scroll burst into life from thin air, right in front of a blue-hued alicorn's nose.

"A letter? From Twilight Sparkle? At this hour?", Princess Luna trailed dramatically, focusing on the letter at once and untying its decorative ribbon. Her brows suddenly furrowed.

"Actually no, she is up into the central hours of my domain quite often, isn't she. This makes too much sense."

Unraveling the pristine parchment, Luna began to read. As she did, her lip slowly steamrolled to a perfect edge, while an eyebrow peaked to a nasty, jagged point.

An oceanic aura crumpled the offense and hurled it from her view. Luna snorted.

"Pray tell, Twilight Sparkle, when did I become little more than a mail pony?"

Author's Note:

The final part of the Twilight Saga! :trollestia:

Tally-ho, readers! Here's a beautiful artwork made by an artist I met recently. We had a brief conversation about the changelings and my story, and we both agreed that 'Papa Thorax' was a great nickname Thorax's new subjects might call him, whether teasingly or legitimately. :pinkiesmile: They posted this artwork just as I had begun to write this chapter, so I wanted to commemorate it and give it a spot here in said chapter. :twilightsmile:
Papa Thorax by RossmaniteAnzu

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