• Published 6th May 2019
  • 2,368 Views, 250 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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Epilogue: Leave a Mark

The Princesses had been true to their word. Despite the crystal ponies’ initial fear and hesitation, they were gradually overcoming their doubts and gathering up the courage to approach me. Though there were still some residual difficulties to overcome in that regard, being able to take a walk through the streets of the Crystal Empire with an undisguised face, unaccompanied by guards - and only a month or two after the ordeal in the throne room - was a relief like no changeling had known before! The only thing that could possibly measure up to it would be if Chrysalis herself were to decide against punishing me for leaving the hive! Even Shining Armor was starting to put his preconceptions aside, although we’d had some friction along the way, for example, his returning doubts about my reasons for being here once I’d informed him about the changeling hunters’ conversation I’d overheard in what I’d eventually learned was Starlight’s cave. He’d intensified patrols after that and would have put me in custody had Cadance not interfered, but since no changelings had been found, and with no proof that the hunters’ new mission had indeed been intended against the Empire, he’d decided to cancel full alert and call off the search parties but keep the guards at a slightly higher-than-normal level of readiness just in case.

The day after my acceptance, Princess Twilight had invited her friends to visit the Empire to meet me. I had finally gotten to properly meet the ponies who had inspired my quest! They had been cautious and doubtful at first, but it hadn’t taken them long to accept me as a friend. Applejack and I had both been amazed to realize I’d met her cousin on my first day in Equestria, and Fluttershy had been especially thrilled to learn she’d held me in her hooves once! All of them had since remained true to their reputation of prime examples of friendship. We were exchanging letters regularly: me telling them how I was adjusting to life in Equestria, how many wonderful new things I’d discovered that I’d had no idea existed while still living in the hive, how I had taken up painting in my free time, and they keeping me informed about their efforts to battle the stigma I was facing and suggesting new things I should try. Before the group had left for home, they’d promised that, as soon as they were satisfied the ponies of Ponyville could be trusted not to run from me, I would be invited to visit them in turn, freely undisguised throughout my stay. I’d been so excited to hear that, I’d nearly broken a nearby sculpture leaping of joy!

In the meantime, Applejack had arranged me a meeting with Braeburn and the sheriff. I’d arrived there in disguise and accompanied by a Royal Guard - it wouldn’t have been safe yet for me to travel to the other end of Equestria otherwise - and there, we’d explained the apple-stealing fiasco together like I’d wanted to ever since it had happened. Braeburn and Sheriff Silverstar had nearly jumped out of their skins upon seeing me drop the disguise, but Applejack and the guard had succeeded in calming them down and getting them to listen, and eventually they’d agreed to drop the theft charges. I’d even gotten a moment to reconcile with Little Strongheart, and though she’d assured me that she’d never believed I could be as evil as her father had described me, Chief Thunderhooves still wouldn’t lift the banishment. Thankfully, by now, it had become a minor issue.

Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor, however, had been upset upon my admittance I’d stolen love from a pony during my journey, and rightfully so. I’d expressed my readiness to be punished for the gruesome act - I’d pretty much begged to be punished, actually - but upon much deliberation on their part, as well as some disagreements, they had come to understand I could hardly have done otherwise in the circumstances. Shining Armor had actually thrown me in prison immediately upon my confession, but Cadance had gotten me out by the next day, apparently having spent that time trying to convince her husband that I’d already felt bad enough about it to have done every precaution I could think of against such a thing happening again, and that the time I’d spent starving myself in the frozen cave had been enough of a punishment. With her help, I’d tracked down the poor mare I’d drained; to my great relief, Soothing Dusk had only been harmed slightly by the ordeal and would recover fully over time! I’d visited her in her home in Whinnyapolis; she’d deserved at least an apology! At first she’d refused to let me come anywhere near her - quite understandably - but Princess Cadance had managed to convince her to reconsider and at least let me explain myself. She’d agreed reluctantly, likely just to satisfy the Princess, but hadn’t seemed eager to forgive me anytime soon. I couldn’t blame her, but at least seeing that I hadn’t left her permanently damaged had lifted an immense burden off my heart!

As for the elderly pony from Vanhoover, I’d tried to find him in his orchard to tell him his flower was flourishing nicely, but he hadn’t been there. A pony passing by had told me he’d gone away for a change of scenery. She’d been unable to tell me when to expect him back. I‘d said it was alright; I could always try again! Vanhoover was only a few hours’ ride by train, anyway, and the experience was much more enjoyable now that I was receiving an allowance from the Princess and could buy a ticket to sit with the ponies rather than hide in cargo space!

Cadance and Sunburst had greatly enjoyed my story of how I’d come to care so deeply about one little flower on the outskirts of the Empire. I’d told them about it when they’d started wondering what I was doing on a hill a little outside the city every day. The next day, they’d offered to uproot the flower and replant it somewhere closer, where I could always keep an eye on it. Though tempted by the offer, I’d been reluctant to remove it from the place I’d felt it belonged. A chance remark I’d overheard a florist make to a customer a few days later as I’d been passing by while taking Flurry Heart to a walk had caught my attention and I’d stopped by to inquire about the details, and the florist had suggested a compromise that had sorted out my dilemma: the flower had grown enough by now to allow me to take part of it without danger of losing the plant entirely... and just in case, I’d reapplied the cocoon trick that had worked before on the leaf I’d taken as the florist had instructed me.

So now it was my duty and pleasure to care for two buttercup flowers: one left at its original site on the hill outside the city, and one growing in a flowerpot placed next to Spike’s statue within the city. Visiting the former gave me time to reflect on the path that had led me to where I finally was, and watering the latter brought me near the ponies who were now learning to look past the fear and hatred and becoming my friends.

It had also inspired me to consider my future.

Looking back, I found it hard to believe that I was the first changeling to ever consider the benefits of friendship... or the last. Chrysalis would likely have done everything in her power to get rid of any such drones in the past and bury all knowledge of their existence; to her, friendship was a dangerous idea she couldn’t afford her subjects to harbor! I’d been lucky to escape the same fate! Even if she killed me now, the memory of me would live on in the hearts and minds of ponies - about that there was nothing she could do!

And I’d made a decision that I wouldn’t allow myself to remain the only one.

It had been impossible before to convince other changelings to give friendship a try; but now, with friends by my side and no more hunger to haunt me every step, I might have found the proof I needed to at least shake their convictions loose enough to consider that there might be a better way to live. I didn’t know yet how to start on that, and even when I succeeded in figuring it out and got past the fear of Chrysalis’ retribution, it was bound to be a slow process. I was sure ponies and changelings could one day grow past their differences and learn to live in unity, but it was going to take years in the most optimistic scenario, decades even; most likely, it wouldn’t even happen during my lifetime! But I was determined to solidify the first step: to leave a legacy that would ultimately pave the road to friendship between races that had known nothing but hate!

Ponies had taught me about their belief in destiny: how everyone finds a cause they were meant to work for… how everypony has their own personal mission to find. And even though I wasn’t a pony, I knew as sure as I’d ever known anything, that even without a real cutie mark on our undisguised flanks to seal it, changelings too could choose to have a worthwhile destiny!

This was mine.

Comments ( 31 )

That was a good ending to the story.

Okay! What’s next? (I’m talking about the sequel by the way.)

9891466
i think you/readers can guess, but either way, i won't spoil anything at this point. you won't have to wait too long, though ;)

9891492
So, do you have any idea when it’ll release? Very excited!

9891506
i'll start uploading in about a week

9891567
Alrighty then. Thanks!

awesome ending to this story.
i will be watching for the sequel to start.

"I was sure ponies and changelings could one day grow past their differences and learn to live in unity, but it was going to take years in the most optimistic scenario, decades even; most likely, it wouldn’t even happen during my lifetime!"

Oh Thorax, you precious little bug...

This was a good read. It does suffer a bit from a lack of agency, as we spend thirty chapters getting Thorax to the place we all knew he would find eventually, with the resolution we have already seen. Thus said, it was worth it to see his little victories and defeats along the way, as well as his growing discouragement before his salvation. I enjoyed it overall and found it a neat fleshing out of his story. I hope you continue to write.:twilightsmile:

9932845

I know getting a predictable ending might be a disappointment to some readers, but the idea of the story was to show how he got there rather than to reinvent the outcome... though I do admit having considered writing an alternate ending in which he wouldn't have been accepted. Ultimately I decided against it for a number of reasons, but even if I had written a sad outcome, it would have remained an alternate one for those who preferred it, and the main one would have still gone the way it did.

If you enjoyed this story, maybe you'd consider checking out the sequel? It's called Winds of Change and only has a few published chapters as of right now, but I have a buffer of completed ones and can guarantee they will keep coming regularly :raritywink: (If you're interested, that is. I don't want to force people to read my stuff if they don't like it :twilightoops:)

9974309
Thanks!
As for the minor complaint about it ending where it did, there's a sequel you might want to check (partially published as of now, but written to completion in my unpublished buffer) :raritywink:

9975423
I announced the sequel several times in the comments near the end of the story so people knew it was coming, but I get your point. A few things actually were intended as foreshadowing (the "future mission" the changelings mentioned in Reprieve and Thorax's intention to keep trying to get changelings and ponies to become friends, for example), but I understand if they aren't obvious enough (I may have done it like that deliberately so the story would feel complete even without having to read the sequel). I may or may not make edits in that regard.
I decided to put the rest in a sequel so I wouldn't have to write about what was happening between Thorax's acceptance and the changeling invasion, at least for now. Another story (Dear Small Pony Book by Carapace) is already doing a really good job at that even if it's been at a standstill for a while now and I didn't feel the immediate need to write my own version, though I'm not denying the possibility that I'll do it anyway at some point.

I just read this in 5 hours :rainbowderp:

10066297
He thought (rightfully) that he wouldn't be welcome among ponies, and still hoped that he could find understanding among his own kind if he tried harder. The option of escaping/not returning hadn't yet occured to him.

10066308
I didn't imagine the situation as desperate. They were hungry, yes, but not starving to the point that they couldn't follow Chrysalis' orders, which was all she cared about. Finding food was only part of why they invaded Canterlot, but the bigger reason was simply that Chrysalis wanted more power.
Breeding is controlled not because of insufficient resources, but because Chrysalis wanted to make sure that no "weak" traits would be passed on to the next generation of her soldiers.

10066318
Too bad he doesn't believe in his own capabilities...

10066329
The implication was that Little Strongheart shared some love with him through friendly interactions, and he didn't realize it because he didn't yet know it could work that way.

10066337
Some people overreact to thieves :twilightoops:

10066347
He was bullied and tortured all his life. Who wouldn't develop a mental disorder?

10066829
I wonder... :trixieshiftright:

10067971
Complicated. I like him for his goals, willpower, luck, stury & adorable nature.

I hate him for the broken logic.
He would make more sence if he was actualy a character full of determination to see the Changelings go extinct.

There are a Changeling comic about there origin?
Can you send me a link?! That would be awesome.

Amazing read. I shall enjoy the sequels :ajsmug: Keep up the great writting :pinkiehappy:

The autoreading function is to raw in your story. Hard to let it re-read a area... There huge :applejackunsure:

You forget Zecora... She helped him, healed Thorax deep wound. Did he ever thanked her? Might Befriend her?

Sooo Thorax is a friendly shapeshifter... When do potencial mates are trowing themself at him? Your story is magnificent so i only miss a good romance :ajsmug::heart::rainbowkiss:

10066888
Thanks for all the answers :pinkiehappy:

Hope this story has maby sequels spawning from it :rainbowkiss:

10068101
You're welcome :twilightsmile:

10068096
Sorry to disappoint, but there won't be any romance. There's more to love than romance, and anyway, I don't like shipfics.

10068090
I haven't forgotten her. So far there hasn't been an opportunity to include her more so I'm simply including her in 'ponyville folk', but I have a half-idea for another sequel where that might change, assuming I can figure out the details. (Also, getting the rhymes right is a b***h... even in my own language, and doubly so in English :fluttershbad: )

10068151
I know... Zecora was always so hard to find because of her speech quirk.
No romance ? :fluttercry::raritycry::ajsleepy:

This was a very nice story.

10206765
Yeah. I couldn't remember the name, but Grief is the price we pay is what I was talking about. It wasn't meant as a critique of the story, I was only referring to how relentlessly misfortune seems to be hounding Thorax.

Wow this was a pretty rollercoaster for thorax to go through His journey has been very difficult and yeah Despite that he almost gave up he never did he kept going until he reached his goal It maybe not that easy for him But he Had that determined to keep going that's amazing and with the help from spike This was a fantastic story of thorax keep up the good work

I'm not sure if it's proper to use "zeitgeist" in this manner, but it's the best word I can think of to describe my reaction to this story: It captures the zeitgeist of being a brony. From the fear of how society will judge you for even wanting something as frivolous as sincere and reciprocal friendship, to the anxiety of knowing that you're intruding into spaces that were not meant for you, to the joy of finding friendship there despite all of that, this is why I love changelings. They have such great storytelling potential.

10983720
Good points.

Well... Plot armor was thick with Thorax i guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That was one lovely fic. I am eager to read the sequels :)

I finished this a couple weeks ago and am mostly through Odd One at the moment, and I must say that this fic series is very underrated.

Also, I just love the way you write dreams. You literally can't tell anything is amiss at first, but then things start adding up here or there that just can't make sense before it becomes completely obvious. But!, At no point is it explicit until its already over, so you're always left to wonder "but is it really just a dream? Or is this really happening?" Its just great, and I love it, especially in Odd One Out.

11120374
Thanks! :twilightsmile: (And thanks for watching me!)

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