• Published 15th Apr 2018
  • 2,884 Views, 25 Comments

Equestria at War: Worlds Apart - GIULIO



Chrysalis has traveled to request refuge from Queen Gytha of Greneclyf after being defeated by rebels back home. Gytha knows about her reputation, and though there might be some value in Chrysalis, Gytha must still remain vigilant...

  • ...
8
 25
 2,884

Prologue—A Queen Disgraced

Breathe slowly.

Gytha’s poise was imperfect, and she knew it. Her lips twitched ever so slightly; her wings flittered every now and then; her head hung low and too forwards. This was no way for a Greneclyfian queen to sit upon her throne before receiving a foreign dignitary. The Changeling wanted to blame the heavy regalia that she was unused to wearing, but she knew the real reason behind her poor composure.

A Changeling Queen was the foreign dignitary.

Slowly exhale.

The sensation was different from when Gytha had first learned of the Changelings living on a continent across the great ocean. The mood had almost been festive back then. Now though? She was about to receive a queen in exile, and if the reports were true…

Breathe in.

The Queen tried once more to straighten herself to a more suitable stance, though she couldn’t quite manage it. It had to be the crown that kept her posture just that tiny bit hunched over. Yes, it had to be that.

Her eyes drank in the throne room. It had been refurbished for the occasion. With the ancient banners of Gytha’s house newly washed and standing proudly above her and her throne. Greneclyf might not have had the wealth or raw power than the foreigner’s former realm, but it had a history that lived in the aging heraldry and the somewhat opaque finery that Gytha wore; this, she felt, would impress her guest.

At least, that was the hope.

Breathe out.

With all of the ceremonial guards prepared and the nobility ready, the Queen gave a subtle nod to the herald by the entrance of the throne room. The tabard that the little officer of arms wore was perhaps a size too large, but she carried herself as was expected from her post and managed to make the discrepancy almost entirely insignificant. She bowed and began the ceremony.

“Rise, noble Greneclyfians!” The herald fluttered her wings, lifting herself to stand on her hind legs. The few Changelings that weren’t guards followed suit. “We open our doors and hearts to welcome our most dignified guests from across the seas.”

The horns of the two guards by the decorated wooden doors lit up, and the doors with them. These opened slowly, and the hall beyond the entrance was revealed along with those waiting there.

“Presenting Queen Chrysalis of Vesalipolis and her entourage.”

A tense silence gripped over the chamber as the newcomers entered. Muted hoofsteps rang out along with the droning of buzzing wings. Queen Gytha’s breath quickened as she observed the group walking in formation.

They were large; even the smallest drone stood at about eye level with the burlier guards, and the largest one of the retinue was just shorter than Gytha. Despite their sizes though, these Changelings were gangly and scarred at the limbs, typical symptoms of starvation. Still, despite their haggard and emanciated appearance, they carried themselves in a manner that befitted their role as those closest to royalty. The retinue not once slouching or straying from their positions around their leader.

And Hatcher below, their leader!

She was a full head taller than Gytha, and had a lean build that held a quasi haunting quality to it. Her matted cerulean mane, riddled with holes similar to those upon her hooves, still held a sheen that complimented those startlingly sharp eyes. In spite of her ashen look, the approaching royal still held her head high and proud, as was expected of anyone of royalty.

Chrysalis did not bow when she came to a stop, and so did her followers. The only one of the group who did was one of Gytha’s own.

Mild irritation trickled along the back of her neck, but the Queen merely tightened her smile. She’s another queen, Gytha reminded herself. No amount of training could have fully prepared her for hosting her racial equal, and no guidelines detailing such a procedure existed. She’d have to play this by ear.

Gytha lifted her head slightly. “You may rise,” she declared aloud to the group, even though only the Greneclyfian responded.

“Queen Chrysalis wishes to express her sincerest thanks to thee for allowing her into thine lands,” the small translator began. The fact that Chrysalis’s eyes were wandering about the chamber didn’t escape Gytha’s notice.

“State your case,” Gytha said with a friendly wave of her foreleg.

The translator turned to the strange Changeling and spoke haltingly in a foreign tongue. Only then did Chrysalis’s attention seem to focus on Gytha. She replied in a loud and fluent voice, her tone both exotic and oddly familiar, to the members in the audience. She never took her eyes off of Gytha.

The translator’s lips thinned, but he did not miss a beat. “Milady, the noble Queen Chrysalis beseeches thee to open thine heart to offer asylum for her and her retinue.”

Gytha’s eyebrow rose somewhat. Chrysalis’s words sounded few for what the translator had provided. “From whom?”

The question was relayed and the guests’ mood changed. So far, both parties had closely guarded their emotions, but a wave of anger crashed upon Gytha. It wasn’t directed at her, but its intensity made it seem otherwise.

Chrysalis sneered and spoke many words in quick succession. The translator was continually interrupted before she was finished.

“A ah, a traitor, Milady,” he explained. “A miscreant who led the Queen’s own against her and has aligned his rogue state with Equestria.” The Changeling shot a sideways glance towards the foreign Queen. “She… details many atrocities committed by the rebels upon her loyal subjects.”

Gytha met the steely eyes of Chrysalis and saw no faults through the determined gaze of the Queen. Gytha was almost inclined to believe her were it not for the numerous accounts that her own agents had brought back. There had definitely been atrocities, but not as the royal claimed.

A part of her wanted to call out the blatant lie right then and there, but the thought was overshadowed by her fascination of the current circumstances.

“We see,” Gytha began slowly, speaking directly to Chrysalis. “We are prepared to offer you refuge within Greneclyf, Queen Chrysalis. Our homes and our food shall be provided to you as if you were one of our own.”

A smile grew on the guest’s muzzle as the translator related Gytha’s words. Before he was allowed to finish, the Queen cut off any response that Chrysalis had in mind with a raised hoof.

“However, your actions and ways are known to us,” Gytha said with a firm voice. “We may be ignorant of the greater political schemes in your lands, but do not pretend that you are a friend to Greneclyf.” She rose to her full height. “You may stay, but only under the condition that you and your kin shall abide to Our ways, and work under Our rule.”

Much to everyone’s surprise, Chrysalis did not bother waiting for the translation and explicitly addressed Gytha.

“Queen Gytha,” the royal said in a heavily accented form of Gytha’s tongue, impolitely taking further steps towards the throne, “you are naive, and I don’t blame you.” She paused when she noticed the guards menacingly tightening their grips on their halberds, but turned once more to face Gytha.

Chrysalis took a breath and spoke once more, far less heatedly. “There is a certain order to things that must stay inviolable, such as a royal being the leader of a hive.” She tilted her head to the side. “Surely you know this.”

In spite of the guest’s rude manners, Gytha reluctantly nodded. “Aye, that is true.”

“The traitors back home have profaned upon the natural order, and I have the Equestrian Principality to blame.” Chrysalis brought a hoof to her chest. “They have been my enemies for years, and have done everything to destroy our way of life, including supporting that rabble rouser Thorax.”

Gytha didn’t need to be an empath to feel the venom that the royal had laced upon that name—she had almost spat it as if it were poison.

Regardless of the spiteful words, Chrysalis’s features softened and almost looked... relatable, as if she were just another one of Gytha’s subjects.

When she spoke again, the anger was gone. Instead there was a calmer and sober quality to Chrysalis’s voice.

“I have been cut off from world affairs for some time,” she said, narrowing her eyes, “but your missions abroad have been failing, correct?”

In response, Gytha’s lips thinned. So she knew. “The concerns of our foreign policies are not yours to bear,” she said slowly.

“Perhaps not,” Chrysalis admitted with small tilt of her head, “but my Changelings and I know about the outside world.” She took one additional step. “We can share our knowledge with you and your people and prepare you for this hostile world.”

The Queen took in a sharp breath. What is she playing at? Gytha wondered. “We…” She ran her tongue along her teeth. “We thank you for your offer, Queen Chrysalis. Though Greneclyf is doing well enough as is.”

A small spike of annoyance accompanied the hitch in Chrysalis’s poise, but they both quickly melted away into the neutral mask from before. Eventually she added, “My offer is still on the table—” She bowed her head. “—Queen Gytha.”

The foreign Changelings behind the royal had been impassive for the most part, but the words and tone of their queen had earned a response in the form of widened eyes from them. In truth, Gytha herself was pleasantly surprised, though she had kept a better grip on her emotions. Still, she allowed the corners of her mouth to rise just a tad.

“We’ll keep it in mind,” she replied. Sitting back upon her throne, Gytha said, “In the meantime, you shall be housed and fed for the foreseeable future; Our homes and food will be yours.

“If,” she added slowly, “there is nothing more to discuss, We can end this audience.” All eyes fell upon the deferring guest.

Chrysalis worked her jaws for a moment before answering. “No, there is nothing else.”

“Very well then,” Gytha said before loudly stamping a hoof upon her throne. “You are free to leave, Queen Chrysalis.”

The foreigner deeply bowed her head. “I thank you for your time, Queen Gytha.” She flicked a wing and her loyalists parted slightly to allow their leader to be surrounded by them. They had begun to take their leave when Chrysalis stopped to turn her head.

“Remember, Your Highness,” she said, putting on a toothy grin that was far too large for Gytha’s liking. Even the fangs were longer and sharper than Gytha’s! “We are ready to help.” She continued on without waiting for a response as the doors closed behind them.

The chamber fell silent once more as the Greneclyfian elders and nobles began to file out towards their own exits, while Gytha remain sat upon her throne.

She’s dangerous, she decided, noting Chrysalis’s surprising insight on the matters of state. With the reputation that Chrysalis had earned herself, Gytha would have to keep careful watch over any machinations that she might try to pull. The Queen could not allow a potential enemy in on her own plans.

Still…

Gytha let out a slight sigh as an assistant eased her out of her jeweled dress. Perhaps there was some value in Chrysalis’s offer. The Griffons on the continent had already chasen away Greneclyfian envoys, though that was to be expected. The ones sent to Farbrook and the other Pony nations had not yet returned, which was both a good and bad sign. If the others turned her away, would Gytha still find a friend in Cenhelm and his kin?

She dismissed the notion of Farbrook closing its harbours to Greneclyf. The royal knew Cenhelm; he’d come through for her. She could feel it.

Making for her own exit, Gytha’s mind focused on Chrysalis once more as one question stood out.

What am I going to do with you?