• Member Since 11th Mar, 2012
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It's fanfiction all the way down.


This story is a sequel to The Virgin Princess

"I won't forgive you," Flurry Heart said, moments before she turned Cheval to stone. She didn't think about what she would do with Cheval after.

Years later, Cheval has come back to life, and Flurry must decide if she meant what she said.

The last story in the Third Wheel series. Thanks for sticking with me everyone. It's been a great ride.

Chapters (17)
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Comments ( 606 )

Amaryllis is gone, and Shining Armor's comfy chair is missing. Why do I think those two facts are related?
(No, I don't mean she was disguised as the chair. Sigh.)


Oof! Fifty-two Year’s! That’s quite a bit to be petrified for! Definitely tracking this one!

Holy Shasta! What an opener!

Fav'd and eagerly awaiting there next chapters!

Amarylis is dead and i hope this bullshit about changeling reformation is over.

Ah, no surprise that this is also going to be a tough one.

Fifty-two years.

Twilight was thirty-six when the war started. Shining must have been... I don’t know. Forty? Forty-two? Maybe even forty-six, I don’t know.

Fifty-two years.

Reading this today was a terrible idea.


I swear on all that's holy this one has a completely 100% happy ending. Not bittersweet, not dark happy, 100% happy.

I’ll be fine. There’s just a lot that happened in the last 24 hours.

I’m holding you to that claim, though. You’d better not be lying.


This story is the reason I kept saying all the other stories end well (when I know others didn't feel the same way). This doesn't just wrap up Cheval's arc -- it concludes Light Step's story, Double Time's, Twilight's, and all the others. It's the true capstone of the series.

And it's happy.

Ah, well, this arrives. :D And you're welcome. :)
Though any particular reason for calling it the Third Wheel series rather than the Sparkle Family Series?

On to the chapter...
(Oh, though nice-looking cover art. I wonder if it means the time period of the story is earlier than I'd been expecting?)

Hm. Cadence and Cheval, together somewhere that looks like the Crystal Empire's palace? Curious. Before Cadence's banishment, after it's lifted, during an exception... or somewhere that just looks like that room?

"First, mom doesn’t call me"
"First, Mom doesn’t call me"?

"day when I was kid"
"day when I was a kid"?

"the window opened the outside"
"the window opened to the outside"?

Well, interesting start, unsurprisingly. :D

...Oo. Aye, sorry, if you're thinking of what I think you are. And if not, too, really, since clearly it's bothering you through some vector.

...See. I'm not saying I expect it to not have a good ending, nor that I'm not looking forward to enjoying the story. But "happy" is somewhat in the eye of the beholder, and with this series's track record, I'm afraid I'm kind of skeptical just how widely accepted the interpretation of a happy ending will be. Though I hope at least the majority of the readership finds it satisfying one way or another, of course. :)
Oh, interesting, though. :)
Well, we'll see how things develop!


Ah, well, this arrives. :D And you're welcome. :)
Though any particular reason for calling it the Third Wheel series rather than the Sparkle Family Series?

Not everybody follows my blog. If I ever put these into a book (Bronycon Bookstore maybe), it'll be called the Sparkle Family Series, but for this description I wanted to make sure nobody got confused.

On to the chapter...
(Oh, though nice-looking cover art. I wonder if it means the time period of the story is earlier than I'd been expecting?)

Not so early as that, but the cover art will become specifically relevant! I was quite lucky to find cover art that fight so well.


Hm. Cadence and Cheval, together somewhere that looks like the Crystal Empire's palace? Curious. Before Cadence's banishment, after it's lifted, during an exception... or somewhere that just looks like that room?

In fairness to Cheval, this isn't quite the room she grew up in anymore.

And the typos are corrected, again with my thanks!

Ok, but why 52 years? Why Cheval was a stone so many years?

52 years? Shining is gone. He was an alright pony :(


I thought only mimics were allowed to be furniture, like chests and gazebos. Unwritten Law and all that.

52 years as a statue. I'm curious as to Flurry's reasoning as to why such a long time was necessary.

Ah, thanks. :)

Oh, interesting. :) Though you say you just found it? Also interesting; I wonder what it was from originally, or if someone just thought it was a neat idea. Maybe the HoIIV pony mod...
And aye, I typed the text into Google Translate. :) (Which was fortunately able to inform me that those leading letters were Zs in English transcription.)


And you're quite welcome. :)

The last story in the Third Wheel series.

Oh. And here I was hoping there'd be even more.

Oh well.

I would expect it was not due to strictly rational reasoning, but emotional reasons.

Oh...what the Hell, I was suckered into reading Virgin Princess, may as well finish this whole thing out.

Fifty-two years? Clever. Such a huge time skip allows you to gloss over the impossible situation you left for everyone at the end of the last two stories; you can summarize and show biased perspectives from people without complete knowledge and without going into too much detail, which is where A Foreign Education and Virgin Princess faltered on the world building front. Functionally we’re in a whole new world now, which is the only reason why I’m giving this a shot. You built a compelling world once, lets see if you can do it again.

Though the cover art does have me worried that instead we’re going to get a lot of flashbacks. Which may or may not be problematic given your Doolittle analogy from the last story plus your promise that the other changeling grubs from Courtesans would be relevant here.

Don’t put in a Stauffenberg expy. That’s all I’m asking. The world you built doesn’t have room for one.

The title has also worried me since the moment you revealed it. I want to know what happened to Thorax, Chrysalis, and the Badlands Hive. Because I want to be wrong about where I think you’re going.

You said that about both your previous stories when nothing could have been further from the truth for either of them, so I’ll just be over here handing out grains of salt to passers-by. Which reminds me, Dzamie had a post where he laid out basically all my problems with Virgin Princess now that I’ve given it a full read-through, and you said there was a lot to unpack there...but never did, in fact, unpack anything, vis-a-vis what you say about what being an alicorn does to Twilight verses what you actually showed her doing in the fic.

I’d also like to add that you made Twilight impossibly arrogant, but that was a whole fic ago so let’s move on past that.

Mainly I still want to know how you square Cadance being caught at one moment in time with the fact that the very first thing we ever saw her do was be emotionally abusive towards Light Step in snap retaliation for her mouthing off to Shining Armor, and then spent much of the next fic doing the same to Double Time, but more methodically over the course of days rather than in a single moment of anger, using Double as a proxy for her obvious hatred of Amaryllis.

They don’t jive well and it’s the reason why I said I didn’t assassinate Cadance’s character in Another Road. You can’t kill something that’s already dead.

Which also reminds me, something that’s been bothering me about Twilight since Third Wheel...why sixteen?

Ponies don’t age like humans (or real ponies for that matter); Pinkie’s “Monthiversary” song is proof positive of that. Plus the show has been notoriously vague on age, with the only concrete thing known for sure about our main characters is that Fluttershy is a year older than Pinkie. But in spite of that, we do know that the Mane-6 were intended to be adults. Rainbow Dash manages weather for an entire town, Rarity owns her own business, Fluttershy and Twilight live by themselves with no parental supervision, Pinkie lives far from her home, and Applejack is obviously the “lead” mare of her farm. Sure, the ponies may act childish sometimes, but that’s because it’s a show made for children, so the intent is to make them relatable to children

But “sixteen” in the context of your series (presumably not written with the 8-12 year-old target audience of the show in mind) was pretty obviously supposed to equate to the human age of sixteen. Fair enough...but why did you do it? Why did you make Twilight younger than she is in the show?

“I felt like it” is a fine answer, by the way, if that’s the case, though it does raise some questions about why a teenager was hanging out with adults...unless the Mane-6 were aged back as well, but that raises a lot of questions too. Like, how did a teenager like Rarity open her own business.

Still, I am interested in the logic behind it. And not in a vitriolic way.

Of course Shining is gone, he’s a pointless character at this point. His major character trait from Courtesans, that he looks for the good in people and finds it, was given to Cadance instead; he didn’t even have a single spoken line in A Foreign Education, being about as essential to the plot as Flash Sentry was to the third Equestria Girls movie, and the only real thing left for him to do, avenge himself on Amaryllis, happened some fifty years ago.

Cheval didn’t even think about him or imply that she missed him or cared about him in Education. If she thinks about him or really does anything regarding him now at all it’d be extremely out of left field. Shock at his age if he’s alive, or a dull sense of loss if he’s dead. Maybe start to finally build a relationship with him at the end of his life. But that’s it.

We might get flashbacks with him, I guess, but Jaxie made it pretty clear that he’s not really part of Cheval’s arc, and I retain enough faith in him as a writer that he wouldn’t try and clumsily weld him into place now.

That’d depend on Flurry’s emotional state when she got her cutie mark and whether or not getting it froze her in that moment.


If I had to guess, she wasn't released until some specific event happened recently to get the ball rolling. Probably a death. Probably the reason for the story title, if there is a reason that would happen with the reformed changelings (assuming it wasn't a deception all along).

My guess is some kind of Red Dwarf scenario where it wasn't possible to release her without her dying from some lingering spell effect that removed all other changelings.

Wait... is this an Equestria at War story or not?

If it’s supposed to be happy, then why does it have a “Sad” tag on it?

This is the same guy that thought Twilight being emotionally trapped as a sixteen year old arrogant enough to believe that only she can be a good enough friend to others to help them through their trying times and unable to grow past that point, with a sister who decides to leave her trapped in that state because I guess happiness is happiness even if you lose your ability to be a person, was a happy ending. Jaxie did say that he processes happiness different from most people (“differently” in this case being “you know, the Toclafane in Doctor Who were on to something”). It’s why, like I said, I’m gonna be standing off to the side handing out free grains of salt to passers-by.

Given the title, as well, there’s a pretty good chance that Thorax’s entire Hive is dead, either through violence (which depending on the circumstances I may be able to tolerate) or else because without a Queen they couldn’t reproduce (which means Jaxie didn’t have Chrysalis reform, which...fair enough, but I’d bet my life savings that’s not how the show will play out). I am REALLY hoping that calling Cheval the last changeling is a metaphor here. Like, she’s the last “classic” changeling and the reformed ones are fine.

But, more broadly, you can have a sad story with a happy ending. Schindler’s List has a happy ending, but there’s not a whole lot of happiness on the way there.

Incorrect, Twilight was 16... Twilight IS 16... Twilight will forever be 16... Oh god, that still hurts.

Well now. Great-Aunt Luna may have a few words for Cheval when it comes to adapting to this kind of temporal displacement (inasmuch as an alicorn can adapt to anything in this setting.) It will definitely be interesting to see how you bring it all home. Looking forward to seeing where you go with this, and precisely what you have in mind when you say it has a truly, unequivocally happy ending.


Don't take this the wrong way, but...


I'm probably going to be proven wrong (and I hope I am), but at this point I can't help but feel a bit suspicious.

Well let's see how this train wreck unfolds.

Oh, also, just noticed a minor thing.

Eventually, a pink glow surrounded her

Cadance’s magic is actually blue; just double-checked it against the Tatzelwurm episode, among others.

Quick way to remember: Since Season 2, magic color almost always matches the major color in the cutie mark (and usually but not always eye color), since that creates a nice color balance. The only major exceptions I know of are Trixie (pink magic, blue cutie mark, but then her mark is often obscured by her cape and so the magic is intended to compliment that instead, plus it does match the eyes) and Sweetie Belle (green magic, weird cutie mark, but then it again matches her eyes and the magic color was solidified by the show well before the cutie mark was granted).

Of course another way to remember specifically with Cadance is that Shining Armor has the same pink glow as Twilight, and Cadance’s color is the opposite of his to form a nice contrast.

Unless the intent is to hint that this isn’t actually Cadance. The original Season 2 finale did this with Chrysalis’ green magic while in Cadance’s form, and in my own Crisis on Two Equestrias it was a major hint to Applejack that the Trixie she was talking to, who’s magic was blue instead of pink, wasn’t the Trixie she knew.

I hope Shining's alive. Old, but alive. Losing her father like that would hurt, even if she still has a mother and sister.

Light Step has something close to 90 now. Probably alive (Twilight would find a way to extend her life if she wanted and that's even remotely possible). But the grandparents are certainly dead :pinkiesad2:

Ain't Flurry's magic pink?

Then dunno, to make Shining live forever they turned him into an Alicorn, but he came out as a copy of Cadence? Did Shining call her sweetie, I can't remember.

I’m pretty sure it’s just a typo.

Good job on the paranoia and cheval pointing out what she thought were flaws.

Fun fact, Sunset Shimmer's magic actually changed color. It was originally teal to match her eyes, but in more recent specials it's red.

Aaaand instantly put on the list of stories to track. Definitely looking forward to this one.

Which matches her cutie mark. Pottery. Plus they probably wanted to give her a totally distinct magical color from the other girls, none of whom use red (usually Dash’s color, though).

In my own writings it’s possible for a unicorn to change the natural, reflexive color of his or her magic, but it’s described as being kind of like training yourself to be a lefty instead of a righty. Lunaverse Trixie originally had pink magic just like her Maneverse counterpart, but worked to make it blue so that it’d be more like Luna’s.

But the main thrust of the matter is that Cadance’s magic is supposed to be blue going by canon, so either there’s a typo up there, or something fishy is going on.

Oh, also, it’s canonically spelled “Cadance”, not “Cadence”, but I’ve decided to let that one go.


A bit happier chapter. Still depressing but it's a start.

You know, it’s probably weird to ask at this point, but where is Chrysalis in all of this? Did she die a long time ago?

That's heavy. That question from Cheval, though, nailed home the fact she's just a teenager still. A child that the day previous made sleeping coffee for her father, and now woke up to his death some fifty years ago.

Flurry's gotta some questions to answer.

God dammit I hate being right all the time.

First, by my count that would be the third major time that Shining and/or those around him were poisoned. Reallllly want to hammer home that he's incompetent, don't you?

So I've just gone back and counted. In A Foreign Education, Cheval only once directly interacts with Shining Armor, a throwaway bit of narration where Shining hugs Cheval after Cheval reveals that (but not why) she's pregnant.

In fact, in the entire fic, Shining Armor is mentioned just fifteen times, and as I've observed in the past, does not have a single line of spoken dialogue, nor anything to suggest that he's much more than someone who just lives with Cheval. Oh, sure, he hugs Cheval (once) and cried when Cheval rebuked Amaryllis in the first chapter, but Cheval herself never gives the impression of caring about him or his opinions or even his love beyond calling him "dad", which I guess is more personal than "father", but then I still called my father "dad" even though I spent about seven years hating his guts. It's reflexive, not indicative.

Shining is, as I mentioned, a nonentity. A large number of his few mentions could have been replaced by a visiting Twilight Sparkle and they would have worked exactly the same. Now for reasons of conservation of detail I suppose this makes sense: Cadance identifies in chapter 3 of Courtesans that one of his defining traits is the ability to forgive just about anyone for anything, that he doesn't really have it in him to hate people. But you've given this trait to Cadance as of A Foreign Education with your desire to trap every alicorn in what by any sane definition is Hell, so it makes Shining redundant as a character.

But nevertheless, it's for this reason that I do not buy Cheval caring all that much about his death here. Sure, a little bit, yeah, that makes sense. He is family. But this talking to Amaryllis' ghost here? It actually appearing to affect her this deeply even if she doesn't really want to admit it? I don't buy it. I can't buy it, not because the scene isn't good enough on its own - in a standalone fic it would be fine - but rather because it does not work with what you established of Cheval and Shining's relationship in A Foreign Education. The worst part, though? It's a simple fix. You just need one or two scenes of direct interaction, something to suggest that Cheval actually cared about him. The first coup in the Crystal Empire, the one where Cheval and Flurry have a little childhood scuffle and Cadance comes in and can't tell them apart and she loves Cheval just a bit less, and it seriously frightens a young Cheval? Replace Cadance with Shining Armor.

Exact same scene, exact same point is gotten across, but it establishes Cheval actually caring about Shining. And given how much the rest of A Foreign Education focuses on Cheval's relationship with Cadance, it hardly takes anything away from her.

but Flurry wouldn’t allow it.

Also I guess now we know which daughter he loved more.

Alright, that's enough of that. Let's move on.


First, by my count that would be the third major time that Shining and/or those around him were poisoned by changelings. Reaaaaaly want to hammer home that he's incompetent, don't you?

He wasn't poisoned by changelings he was poisoned by communists.

The chapter says that specifically. That's what "The International Party" means. The communist international movement.

To think about the daughter he didn’t save

Flurry, not Cheval. We established which one he loves more.

Mea culpa. I'll fix it instead to "the third major time that Shining and/or those around him were poisoned", and remove the "by changelings" qualifier. It doesn't exactly undercut my point.

Speaking of. This chapter reminded me a little bit of my favorite scene in Courtesans, which is when Shining Armor and Double Time meet for the first time and end up swapping war stories. Aaaand...that's it, actually. Within the context of the hate you feel for Shining, it's actually otherwise good, if sad. Good job.

Nevermind Chrysalis, where was Thorax? You'd think that the number-one ally that Equestria and the Crystal Empire would want would be the Badlands Hive. They'd presumably be approximately as good and capable at infiltration and espionage and would form a vital spy corps that the two nations otherwise lack, and I can't think of a good reason for them to want to stay out of this, or to have stayed out of the previous wars.

I can think of plenty of bad reasons, though. Including one tied to why I really, really, really hope is not the reason why this fic is entitled The Last Changeling.


Shining Armor is a good pony. And that makes him special.

He doesn't have to be anything else to be worthwhile.


In this continuity, Chrysalis died some time ago. Thorax is around (he's been mentioned in the other stories) but mostly sticks to his own territory. The Badlands Hive isn't a very political entity, and is a bit isolated.


Chrysalis died some time ago

Don't do it, Jaxie. Don't do what I think you're going to do. You want to kill Chrysalis, fine, but don't take that one extra step that I know you're going to. I want to be wrong, I want to be wrong.

Your changelings are eusocial: without a Queen, the Hive can't reproduce. Without Chrysalis the only way the Badlands Hive could continue would be if one of the changelings there was already going to grow up to be a Queen; if Chrysalis is dead and none of the extant grubs were Queens, then there's no more Badlands Hive (or at most a lot of increasingly elderly changelings) - and given how rare you established Queens to be, there happening to be a grub one in the Badlands HIve seems vanishingly unlikely.

I'm holding out hope that either Queens are more common than A Foreign Education led us to believe (when Gia remarked that she's only ever seen three changelings with hair: Cheval, Chrysalis, and Amaryllis), or else like many species of bees the changelings have a way of making an "emergency Queen" should the extant Queen die, and thence have the "emergency Queen" give birth to an actual Queen.

Or maybe that Thorax is a Queen now, or Pharynx, or let's go for contrivance and make Ocellus turn out to be a Queen. That'd be fine too. Or even the Badlands Hive having been wiped out by Amaryllis or communists or a meteor strike or something. Really just anything other than the Badlands Hive having died off due to not having a Queen.

Another entry in the Contagious Depression Saga. BRING IT.

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