• Published 23rd Jun 2019
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Sunset's Isekai - Wanderer D



Somewhere, out there, there's a bar with a familiar ying-yang sun on the door.

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What to Expect when Drinking (Celestia: The Changeling Queen Series - Post Sequel)

Sunset's Isekai
By Wanderer D
& Vren55
Chapter 10

Stripping off her hospital gown and throwing it over her shoulder, Alternia, changeling queen, and one of Equestria’s three ruling princesses, galloped through the hallways of Canterlot Castle. It definitely wasn’t a pell-mell gallop of a desperate changeling queen escaping a horde of concerned servants and attendants that would try to meet her every need. Muttering under her breath, Alternia spied the janitor’s closet she’d typically used in I need a break from company moments and threw it open.

Once she’d slammed the door behind her, Alternia slipped off her silver and emerald-studded hoof shoes and groaned.

“You are going to be fine, Alternia. You are Equestria’s Changeling Princess, you have ruled Equestria for a thousand years for Celestia and Luna. You have a loving, respectful and reliable husband, supportive family, and the best friends. You can definitely raise a second changeling queen.”

After several long, slow breaths, she straightened and pulled out a mirror from her peytral, similar to Celestia and Luna’s, but silver and studded with emeralds.

Reflected back at her was a changeling queen, but altered. She had a triangular shaped horn that seemed almost blade-like in shape. Her limbs were bulky instead of slender like her sister’s, Chrysalis. Extra chitin was layered over her carapace to make it look as if she wore armor. Blue eyes examined the blue mane that matched its color and she nodded.

“And… there.” She adjusted her silver crown and nodded. “But first, I need a drink. I have not touched one in months.” Blue magic glowed around the door handle and she was about to pull it open, but stopped.

Janitor’s closets didn’t have doors of lovingly worked oak. And she was sure that the door had been plain brown, not this lovely shade of stained red. She took a step back.

Nope. Stone archway. Worn, but nicely fitted stones... Definitely not the door of a janitor’s closet. But a glance behind her showed that she was still in a janitor’s closet, and the only exit was in front of her.

On guard, and wishing that she hadn’t escaped her escort, Alternia opened the door.

The door swung open, making the silver bell jingle and Sunset looked up from where she had been definitely not been trying to take a nap. The night had been annoyingly slow, leaving her with far too much to think about, and not enough to do.

Of course, the moment she just starts to drift into sleep, the door swings open. Sunset pulled herself up, put on her best smile, and blinked.

It was a changeling queen with blue eyes and mane that trotted in, but a few things set her apart from the other queens that she had previously seen. For one, her carapace looked far more heavily armored than the others and her horn was triangular, like a blade. Then there was the silver and emerald regalia she wore, which was undoubtedly Equestrian, based on Celestia and Luna’s own.

And then there was just the fact that even with these differences, she looked so strangely… familiar.

“Oh, hello, I’m sorry for disturbing you. This happened to be the only door I could open from my end.”

Scratch that, Sunset felt the hair on the nape of her neck tingle. That voice. It was familiar. She just couldn’t place it.

The barkeep's silence was a bit odd, especially considering how she was carefully dressed and the bar itself had a sense of formality that would invite a guest to expect a polite welcome at the very least. The little silver bell should have been enough warning, and as Alternia walked in, sensing the confusion of the barkeep, she couldn't help but wonder what to expect.

And then she stepped into the bar proper, noticing the several picture frames on the wall—most empty—and the barkeep herself. She was dressed in a way that reminded her of the west, perhaps Appleooza? Cream-colored blouse and a black vest, tastefully embroidered, and designed. She couldn't see behind the bar, but the attire was certainly stylish and despite its slightly different tone to the bars design, only seemed to accentuate the uniqueness of both the bartender and the aura of the bar itself. The barkeep herself was a surprise.

First off, the barkeep seemed to be one of the bipedal humans Archmage Sunset Shimmer had described in her reports on Starswirl’s magical mirror. Actually, the barkeep was the human version of Archmage Sunset Shimmer—except the changeling knew that the archmage wasn’t good at mixing drinks, and so would never try to run a bar.

Then there were the pictures, which seemed to be of the barkeep with a variety of creatures. Some of them were completely alien, others being human, and then… there were changeling queens. One was unfamiliar to her. The other was Chrysalis. Yet, everything from the expression on her face to her poise, told Alternia that this wasn’t her elder sister. This was another Chrysalis.

There was only one explanation… and thankfully Twilight had just been discussing multiverse theory with her over tea.

“Pardon me, miss… Sunset? Am I in another universe?” Alternia asked, making an educated guess at the identity of the bartender.

The question seemed to shake the barkeep, and Sunset—for who else could it be with that voice?—nodded, managing an unsure smile. "Oh, yeah—I mean, yes! Sorry about that, you just really remind me of somepony." She motioned with her hand at the bar around them. "This is Sunset's Isekai, and yes, you guessed it. It's its own pocket dimension, jumping from one place of the multiverse to another." She chuckled. "I have to say though, before I started this business I only knew of Changelings by reputation, but I keep having changeling customers passing through that door, maybe the multiverse is trying to tell me something?"

“That we like a good drink I hope?” Alternia asked, smiling. She trotted over and pulled a chair, sinking herself into the cushion and onto the bartop. “I gave birth five days ago and have not had a drink in months. I am in dire need of a something stiff and somepony- to talk to. What do you have?”

Sunset tapped her chin in thought. "Hm, well, there's a whole menu of cocktails right here and well, anything that strikes your fancy back there." She motioned with her hand at the several shelves of liquor she had on display. "I have over a hundred types of whiskeys, cognacs, spirits… uh, just ignore the far right area on the second shelf. That stuff is apparently not compatible with most carbon-based life forms." She frowned, and Alternia could have sworn she heard Sunset swear under her breath something about fourth-dimensional bastards.

Alternia levitated the cocktail list, then looked up. "Why is the virgin pina colada crossed out?"

"Safety reasons."

The Changeling Queen waited for a moment to see if Sunset was going to add anything to that remark, but when nothing else was added she simply acknowledged it with a nod. "Ah."

As she read the rest of the list of cocktails, she noticed Sunset shifting in place until the bartender took a deep breath. "Alright, I'm sorry to ask, but this is really bugging me." She paused, eyes widening. "Uh.. no offense."

Alternia felt her lips quirking slightly. "None taken. What's bothering you?"

"Well. You see… back in Equestria… I mean, my Equestria, I was… an apprentice to Princess Celestia… and… well you really sound and act like her."

Alternia chuckled. "Well, Sunset Shimmer, there is a very good reason for that."

"Oh?"

"It’s a long story, so first things first, I need that drink."

Sunset leaned on the counter, frowning. "Alright, so let me get this straight: You are Chrysalis' younger sister. And everything was fine, but she successfully pulled a coup and you were injured… and teleported to where Princess Celestia battled Nightmare Moon."

Alternia nodded.

"And then, Celestia was too wounded by the battle to carry on, so she found you and healed you, and then you had to take over Equestria for centuries, posing as her."

“And eventually I managed to mend my relationship with my sister, help changelings integrate with Equestria and formally became a princess.”

Sunset crossed her arms. "I suppose it makes it easier to solve things since you have an additional vote. I'm actually surprised they took you in as basically family, surprised, but also glad." She smirked. "Other than Luna, family wasn't a big thing for my Celestia. I know it's a multiverse so it's different in many places, but it's always nice to hear about it." She picked up the now-empty glass she had given to Alternia and refilled it. "It's kinda cool that you get the chance to be a mom, congratulations!"

The changeling queen didn’t respond, and the smile on her face twitched. An alarm bell rang in Sunset’s head as Alternia took the proferred drink and chugged it down her throat as if it was liquid love. She didn’t even smack her lips when she finally set the tankard down.

“To be honest, I am absolutely terrified.” She fixed Sunset in her gaze, noticing her start. “Being a mother… I have been one for five years, but I… I’m still so scared that I will make a mess of things. And… well, I don’t know how changeling queens are… built? Born? I don't know how they work in the other universes, but we queens… our power is based on how much love we are given. As such, queens have a lot of responsibility to their hives due to their power.”

“Sounds logical.”

“Yes, but there’s a complication. You see, Sunset, I am the changeling princess of Equestria and was essentially Celestia and Luna’s regent for a thousand years. In the event of my death… which I hope will happen a good long while from now. However, at that time, either of my daughters will succeed me, and before that I know they will be notable figures in Equestria’s governance. I need to raise them right.”

Sunset couldn’t help but wince and frown at the same time. Of course, Alternia made sense, but to pin all that expectation on your children…

“That and raising them is proving to be a challenge. Imagine what happened when my first daughter was born and was presented to the crowd?”

“Oh. Oh Celestia.”

“Oh Celestia was right. It was not fun trying to get her to bed. And now… Kyria is also a queen-daughter.” Alternia’s shoulders sagged, her gaze firmly trying to see through the bar table. “I… I was surprised when Mirage was a queen. I’m horrified Kyria is. If I make a mistake in teaching either of them… raising them… Equestria will pay… or even worse, they’ll pay because I would have made a mistake.”

"Um. Wow." Sunset shifted a bit uncomfortably. "I think I might need to give you something a bit stronger.”

Alternia gave her a half-lidded look and pointed at her empty tankard.

“All that being said…” Sunset set the bottle she was holding down. Isn’t it a bit much to draw out a path for their lives? I mean, Mirage… isn’t even five yet. I dunno." Sunset sighed and turned around, studying the drinks on display. "I never had much of a mom so…" she shrugged. "My personal experience is limited." She frowned, concentrating on the drinks in front of her before grabbing one containing a bright green liquid. "Here, try this. Best from the Stanford Distillery."

Alternia studied Sunset as the bartender slowly poured the drink into her glass. "So. Want to talk about it?"

"Hm?" Sunset looked up. "Oh… there's not much to say. They started about a hundred and ten years ago? But the Bliffe Sector was apparently rather harsh and they couldn't really sell their products that much until they actually produced Ambrosia an—"

"I don't mean the drink," Alternia clarified, giving her a knowing look, "I might have a lot of worries in my mind, but I didn't rule for a thousand years by ignoring signs, however subtle they might be."

Sunset crossed her arms. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Alternia rolled her eyes. "Please. It's clear you have some complicated feelings towards your Celestia.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sunset, in a definitely innocent tone of voice with the blankest expression she could muster. "I've made peace with Celestia. Just a year ago she helped me deal with someone who was abusing Equestrian magic on the other side of the mirror."

“You have mommy issues, Sunset." Alternia sipped the green liquid, eyes widening for a moment before she hummed in appreciation. "This is good."

"I-I don't have mommy-issues!" Sunset gasped. "I don't have a mother to begin with!"

Alternia raised an eyebrow. “I think you aren’t aware of this, but changelings in my universe can feel all emotions to a degree. No thoughts, but with that and a thousand years worth of reading ponies… I can tell.”

"Alright," Sunset groaned, lifting her hands up in a placating gesture. "I have a biomom, but not a mother. No one that was there for me, and I never met her. Once I was—once I became Celestia's student it wasn't important, anyway.”

“Wait. Sorry, Celestia took you on as a student.” Alternia blinked and shook her head. “Sorry, I just realized you did say that earlier, please continue. Perhaps your counterpart is different from you.”

“Oh? How did your Sunset Shimmer turn out like?”

Alternia shut her eyes briefly as a wave of dizziness hit her, and pushed her cup away. “I do not know her that well. I never took her on as a student.”

That took Sunset aback. Yes, the changeling queen came from an alternate universe but Alternia was the “Celestia” of that universe. She frowned. "Any particular reason?"

Alternia frowned. “I promise that I will tell you, once you elaborate on your relationship with Celestia. This is because from what you told me, some of what your counterpart has experienced… I don’t think you will receive well. You are… well something happened between you two.”

Sunset's eyes went wide. "Oh Celes—" Sunset cut herself off. "Don't tell me they're lovers."

Alternia blinked. "What? No! Why would you think that?"

"Because you made it sound like it was something I would dread!"

Alternia opened her mouth to counter the point, but closed it after a moment of thought. "Okay, granted. I did say that in a way that might be interpreted in the wrong way." She sighed. “The Sunset Shimmer of my world is ambitious and authoritative but tempered with a strong sense of justice, patriotism and willingness to serve. She’s worked hard to become an Archmage of my Equestria. Perhaps a bit too hard as it has left her admired but with only a small circle of friends.” Alternia gave Sunset a sympathetic look. “As a result, after my universe’s Celestia finally returned, well… Sunset became a very close friend and advisor to her.”

Sunset studied the table. "That's a very different relationship than mine… or what I expected of my Celestia." She looked up. "Which in this instance would be you. You might be Alternia, but you act, sound and behave a lot like the Celestia I know and love."

“She is not you," Alternia replied. "But if you really wanted to know why I didn't take my Sunset as a student… I can sense emotions. I could tell she was lonely, ambitious and far, far too eager for recognition likely denied to her by her biological parents.”

Sunset chuckled. "Oh boy, I think I'll serve up a drink for myself." She made her way to the shelves and picked a bottle, then turned around, uncorked it and served herself a glass of very dark wine. "Do carry on."

A bit confused by the attitude, Alternia continued, “I felt that taking her on as a student would have been… unwise," she said, "so I imparted some words of advice and reflection and recommended her for mandatory counseling. That, thankfully, guided her onto a good path.” Alternia pointed at Sunset’s chest. “Which I must add, does not mean your path was a bad one. You seem like a fine young mare.”

Sunset took a sip of her wine and pursed her lips. "It took some effort to change," she said. "And Princess Twilight's help. My Celestia and I—she couldn't read my feelings." Her voice lowered. "As much as I sometimes wished she could." She cleared her throat. "In any case, I got better… I eventually forgave her in my heart and when I saw her I—she said she had missed me, and I believed her. I was never what I wanted to be with her, but in the end, I like to think I was finally worthy of being her student at least. It just took longer than anypony anticipated."

"Princess Twilight, huh?" Alternia said, laughing lightly. "Some things don’t change between alternate universes I guess.”

"I guess not" Sunset replied, chuckling.

"Did you let her know?" Alternia asked, her voice softer. "It seems that Celestia meant a lot more to you than she knew. Her not being a Changeling Queen makes it a lot more likely that she just wasn't aware."

Sunset's smirk faded into a sad smile. "Nah. At this point, there's no real reason. She and I will always be teacher and student, and that's all." She swirled her wine in the glass, admiring it. "Sometimes we don't get what we want, as your Sunset found out." She lifted her wineglass in a silent salute. "But sometimes it also sometimes ends well precisely for that reason. Perhaps it was for the best." She chuckled. "The last thing I needed when I left was a legitimate claim to the throne, and I think she doesn't need the additional burden of knowing she wasn't the mother I wanted." She finished the wine and licked her lips clean. "If she didn't know, and I didn't deserve it… what's the point of opening an old wound so much it cuts into somepony else's life?"

Alternia shrugged. "Being tactful will spare somepony’s pain, but secrets are not always the best way to handle things." She met Sunset's amused eyes with her own. "Yeah. I said it."

"But isn't part of growing up accepting that life isn't always going to go the way you want it?" Sunset countered, trying hard not to smile. She sighed. "Look, a part of me will always think that it would have been amazing to be adopted by Celestia, but another part of me looks at where I am now, where I've been and, well… it's also partly because Celestia chose not to do so. Getting hung up in might-have-beens will not lead to happiness. At least I don't think it will."

The Changeling Queen hummed, thinking about Sunset's words."So you don't think your Celestia made the wrong choice?"

Sunset shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe the acknowledgement would have led me down a different path, or maybe it would have fueled my ambition even more. Either way, I didn't have a mom. I had a guardian, and a teacher that loved me very much and I hurt badly before I learned to be a better person." She gave Alternia a look. "And as an adult that has dealt with those issues in the last few years, I think that out of respect for her and for myself I don't need to bring that topic up."

Alternia drank a bit more. "At least I know that if I mess up it's not the end of the world… It’s strange. I've carried the weight of Equestria on my shoulders all this time, and yet being responsible for foals is… terrifying. I question and second-guess myself all the time. I've seen what mistakes can cause and the thought of leading my daughters astray…" she shook her head. "...it's quite frankly paralyzing."

"Ah," Sunset said, "that explains why you want to know so much about my relationship with Celestia… I think you'll be fine. One of the changeling queens I met in another universe had like… a thousand young. If she can manage that many, you can manage two."

Alternia gave her a dirty look. "That is not as encouraging as you might think."

Sunset shrugged, "Neither is telling me to stay the hay out of the Restricted Section of the library, and yet, here we are."

The changeling queen took a long sip from her cup, and fixed Sunset with a contemplative look. Her voice was slurred when she spoke next. “You. You think I'm projecting my worries and issues onto you."

"I think you are," Sunset said, smiling. "And it's… I mean, not okay, exactly, but my job here is in part to lend an ear." She reached across and caressed Alterna's cheek. "I think you'll be a wonderful mom. I think my Celestia could have been a wonderful mother as well, and she still can. I think that you'll get to know your children well enough that you'll make decisions out of love and for their benefit. You'll be fine."

The changeling queen took a sip from her cup, and fixed Sunset with a contemplative look. “Thank you for your reassurance.” Giving the unicorn an only slightly lopsided smile, Alternia asked. “Do you mind if I leave you with some last advice before I ask you to refill my cup?”

Sunset shrugged nonchalantly.

“I believe you need to talk to Celestia. I know what you said about opening wounds, but take it from someone who reads emotions… you need to talk about what them and if the pony you care about is affecting you in a negative fashion.”

“I suppose so-”

“Sunset.”

Although soft, there was a note of grave seriousness in Alternia’s voice and it was all over her face, in her set jaw, in her… haunted, blue eyes. Sunset didn’t find herself scared, but she did find herself wondering… just what had happened to the changeling.

“In over a thousand years of living, I have found myself in far too many situations where poor communication has very literally cost the lives of the creatures I care for, or very nearly cost their lives. With family… or close friends… unspoken resentments tend to fester, even in the best of ponies.” She smiled wanly. “I mean, just as an example, perhaps this happened in your world as well, but Luna, ostensibly the shy, sweet, princess of the night, became Nightmare Moon because of a clear lack of communication between her sister and herself. Don’t force the issue of course, but do address is.”

“I see your point. I promise I'll least feel her out to see if it's appropriate to mention, but no promises on that specific topic unless she brings it up.” Sunset filled Alternia’s tankard, and blinked as the changeling raised it and drank deep. “Are you sure you want to drink all of that, that quickly?”

“I’m about to go care for a baby changeling queen, with all the wailing and extra magic thanks to Equestria’s love. I’m not going to be able to let loose for a while.” Digging into her peytral, Alternia pulled out a large pile of bits and dumped them on the table. “This should cover the costs. Keep them coming, Sunset.”

Weighing the money freely offered and the prospect of a very drunk changeling, Sunset sighed and filled Alternia’s cup. “If you say so… I mean, I guess you are an adult...”

“And hahaha, and when I spat the noodle out, it went into herr… teehee!” Alternia leaned back, a wild cackle bellowing from her lips, and nearly fell off, if not for Sunset’s hand. The changeling wasn’t blushing because apparently changelings of her universe couldn’t blush, but the former unicorn swore the changeling was breathing bubbles.

Either that or Sunset was herself getting a bit tipsy. The bar table was piled with bits, but she was beginning to regret indulging the changeling queen.

“Yeah, Alternia, perhaps we should stop?” Sunset asked, not quite noticing the sound of a jingling bell.

“Oh perhaps, but maybe one more. Pleaaaase?” begged the queen.

“Alternia? Sunset?”

The immediately recognizable voice made Sunset spin around and nearly fall, but for a glow of familiar yellow magic that lifted her onto her feet before her butt hit the floor. She looked up and froze.

Celestia and Luna were standing in front of her, looking understandably confused.

“Is this… a pocket alternate universe?” Luna asked.

“Uh yes. Hi! Welcome to Sunset’s Isekai. Um, Alternia really needed a break and well, she had too many drinks.”

Celestia sighed, but trotted over and used her magic to put Alternia over her back. “Oh I understand completely. Thank you for taking care of her, Sunset.”

“You’re welcome, Celestia!” she squeaked.

“How long has she been here by the way?” Luna asked, glancing at the several shot glasses and empty mugs on the bar. “She’s been missing for but fifteen minutes.”

“Uhh… a good few hours. Time is not directly matched to her universe...”

“Ah.” Luna added a small stack of bits to the pile and dabbed at little bit of drool from the changeling queen’s mouth. “Thank you, Sunset, perhaps we might see each other again.”

"I'm always around when needed." Sunset shrugged and managed a staggering bow as the two alicorns left with the changeling queen. Gingerly standing up, the former unicorn glanced at the pile of bits decorating the table, plus what Luna had added, then to the door, then back to the mess of shot glasses she'd have to clean.

“Well at least they tipped generously.”

End Chapter

Author's Note:

Co-written with Vren55, and taking place in the Celestia: The Changeling Queen universe!
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