• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,088 Views, 268 Comments

Walk Where There Is No Path - theOwtcast

When everything you’ve ever known goes against everything you believe in, can leaving help you live with yourself?

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New Plan

A couple of hours had passed since Spike left. At first I was hopeful about his plan; he’d seemed so confident he’d be successful! But as time passed and he wasn’t returning, I started to wonder if it really would be as easy as he’d made it sound. Changelings had been invading towns and stealing love for centuries - millennia, even - which was more than enough time to earn a nasty reputation and ingrain fear in ponies! It was hard to believe that fears so deeply rooted in everyone could be overcome in a single afternoon! Even if they agreed to give me a chance to prove myself that quickly, how long would it take until they got past their doubts completely and started to trust me? Would they ever truly, honestly call me a friend?

I was pacing nervously when I finally noticed Spike descending the tunnel. A spark of hope flickered in me for a moment, only to be extinguished by his sullen posture.

“Well, how did it go?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Not exactly the way I thought it would,” he sighed.

I waited for him to elaborate, but he just stood there, avoiding eye contact.

“Aren’t you going to tell me?” I tried giving him a nudge.

“Oh, well… um…” he hesitated.

“Tell me,” I insisted.

“They wouldn’t hear of it,” he finally confirmed my doubts after a pause. “First they laughed, thinking I was tryin to make a joke, but then they realized I wasn’t and lashed out at me as if I were crazy. I’m so sorry!”

“It’s alright, I understand,” I reassured him. “I’ve been there more times than I care to count! I didn’t really think it would go very differently, anyway.”

“Maybe you’re right, but I still had to try.”

“And I appreciate it, I really do! No one’s ever been so kind to me!”

“And a whole lot of good it does if I’m the only one who can claim that!”

We just stood in silence for a moment, unsure what to say to each other to brighten the mood. I could tell that he genuinely wanted to help me but didn’t know how, and it was eating his heart out. In turn, I wanted him to stop feeling so bad about it; I’d honestly have been surprised if the ponies had accepted me so quickly, even at a word of someone as famous and influential as Spike claimed to be! But if he really was that influential, it only made sense he wouldn’t take this failure lightly, and it would probably take time for him to accept it.

“Remember a few hours ago when I asked if anypony has ever been nice to you?” he suddenly asked.

“Yeah. What about it?”

“You said nopony who ever saw your true face was. But what about ponies who didn’t see your true face? The ones who saw you in disguise?”

“Well, they were nice enough, I guess… most of the time, anyway. But keep in mind that most of them only saw me in passing, without actually interacting with me.”

“And those who did interact with you, they treated you fine, right?”

“Yes... except for one incident when a pony thought I was stealing his apples and I failed to convince him otherwise, but it only makes sense he wouldn’t have been friendly in that situation... but the others were okay, I can’t complain about that.”

“And that gives me an idea!” His face brightened.

I motioned him to continue.

“The crystal ponies - and ponies in general - may have a problem befriending a changeling, but they have always been fine with befriending other ponies,” he explained. “And the ponies elsewhere obviously had no problem with you being around as long as they thought you were one of them. If you tried it again here and got them to like you for who you are, I bet they’d think twice before blindly chasing you off for being what you are once you reveal yourself to them!”

“I don’t know, Spike,” I hesitated. “I don’t like lying to them, and anyway, such a strategy has always backfired in the past. How do I know it would work now?”

“Honestly, you can’t predict it. But this time you have a friend by your side who can at least try to help you if things go wrong. Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“It does,” I agreed. “But I’m still nervous.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll take it slow. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to!”

“Right. Wait, which disguise should I use?”

“I don’t know… Which one makes you most comfortable?”

“Well, so far I’ve preferred to go as a pegasus so I could fly away if there’s trouble. But I didn’t see any pegasi here that aren’t members of the Royal Guard. So, a crystal pony might blend in a little easier, maybe?”

“Crystal pony it is, then.”

A burst of my magic made it so. We were ready to get going, at least physically. I still had my doubts about the likelihood that this would work, and as much as I tried to relax, these doubts still kept me on edge a little. I hoped such a mental state wouldn’t give me away before it was time to reveal myself. But like Spike had said, this time I had a friend to back me up, and that was more than I could have ever claimed before!

Things were starting to look up, after all.

“By the way, you weren’t really stealing those apples, were you?” Spike turned to me once we were out of the tunnel.

“What - no, of course not!” I protested. “Why would I do such a thing?!”

“Hey, I’m just teasing you, okay?” he winked at me.

I chuckled.

“So Chrysalis isn’t your mother?” Spike asked after I told him a little about my life in the hive as we walked to the Crystal Empire.

“No, I don’t even think she laid a single egg in her entire life,” I added. “She’s probably been too busy commanding others to care for creating her own offspring... but, honestly, I sometimes wonder if she might have avoided it deliberately, thinking it would become a weakness.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“She may be worried that one or more of her children would try to overthrow her at some point. Or - this may sound crazy - but maybe she’s afraid she might start to care about someone... that she might start to love her children... and then she’d risk her subjects deciding to feed on her if she were to produce enough love and they were to become desperate enough - and she likes to keep us desperate for food! There’s enough changelings in the hive to drain her in less than a second, even if only a fraction of them got brave enough to try!”

“She sounds more evil than I imagined!”

“Believe me, she is. She used me as an outlet for her wrath more times than- hey, come look at this, Spike!” I suddenly brightened upon arriving to a familiar spot.

“It’s a flower,” he said flatly.

“A pony gave me that flower shortly before I came here. He was reminiscing about his daughter he’d abandoned years ago, a daughter he was starting to miss immensely, and I talked to him and encouraged him to go look for her. So when I came here, I planted the flower so it wouldn’t wilt and die.”

“Well, it seems to be flourishing nicely,” he smiled.

“I know, right?” I couldn’t hide my joy. “I was unable to come take care of it while the guards were searching for me. I was so worried something might have happened to it, and it’s such a relief to see it’s doing fine! It’s grown so much since I saw it last!”

“In that case, I’ll take it as a sign of good fortune that we’ll succeed in finding you some new friends,” Spike winked.

I grinned back.

We continued walking.