• Published 26th Oct 2019
  • 1,945 Views, 91 Comments

Winds of Change - theOwtcast

Only months after being accepted in the Crystal Empire, Thorax puts his life on the line to help his friends and save Equestria.

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The muffled voices gradually became clearer as I crept along the hallways, approaching cautiously but steadily to the large cavern they were coming from. Soon enough, they were recognizable.

One was Starlight’s.

The other I’d hoped to never hear again, but ever since embarking on this rescue mission, had feared I’d end up having to face.

Though the echo garbled some of the words, I was able to make out the gist of it: my friend had been captured, and though questioned at length about how she’d managed to get past all the soldiers and under what insane illusion she’d been expecting to get out of there alive, Starlight held herself bravely and refused to satisfy Her with a meaningful answer.

When I was almost there, I saw that I’d been right in my expectations: the two weren’t alone; every hallway opening directly into the throne room was packed with guards. I wanted an empty one, or at least one with only a few guards; only that way would I dare to come close enough to assess the situation and try to think of what to do about it! I found one empty passage eventually, very high up, opening almost onto the domed ceiling of the throne room.

As I peered cautiously over the edge, my heart sank into a cold, unforgiving grip of hopelessness.

Every gate into the throne room, from floor to almost-ceiling, was packed with the guards I’d seen from the tunnels. Only a few were empty; they may have been occupied earlier, but those guards were now swarming the floor of the throne room, and some were standing on lower parts of the walls or hovering at a relatively low altitude. Among them, her hooves stuck to the floor with resinous slime, stood Starlight, downtrodden and trapped but not conquered, head held high, staring proudly and defiantly at the imposing throne in the center of the room and the embodiment of unforgiving ruthlessness that was its owner.

Queen Chrysalis.

Above the throne, at the highest point of the domed ceiling, was the main goal of our journey, stunningly horrid, yet fascinatingly beautiful in an utterly morbid way: an elaborate chandelier made of prey cocoons, each cocoon containing one of the captured ponies we’d come to rescue.

At the top, Princesses Celestia and Luna.

Below them, Princess Cadance, Shining Armor, and little Flurry Heart.

In the central cluster, Princess Twilight and her friends.

And Spike. My dear friend Spike!

And the lowermost section, completing the chandelier, held Discord and Trixie... and, hidden from view from my vantage point until Discord had stirred in his cocoon, Sunburst.


Never before in my life had I felt so hopeless, so defeated! Sunburst of all ponies should have known to be careful! All the others could be excused by having been rendered defenseless or caught by surprise, but Sunburst had known from the start what he was up against! He was smart, and knew his enemies, and had magic - and they’d still got him!

What did you do, Sunburst? What mistake did you make?

And with you out of the way, who will defend Equestria if I fail?

I stifled a wave of tears. Think, Thorax, think! You can cry later!

My three friends had held themselves bravely, and though Starlight hadn’t yet fallen, all she could do now was to keep everyling’s attention on herself, and from the looks of it, she was doing an admirable job… for now, anyway.

Did she know I was here? Or was she merely hoping, doing what little she could from her unfavorable position to give me a chance to at least attempt to do what we’d come here to do in whatever way I could think of?

It didn’t matter. It was all up to me now, and I had to do it quickly while I still had the chance!

My options were very limited. I could only see two: one would take a lot of time, but if I could pull it off, there would still be a slight chance of getting the captives out of here before anyling realized what had happened; the other would be much quicker, but it wouldn’t go unnoticed, and I wasn’t sure if I had the magic I would need to attempt it.

I got out of my hiding spot and stepped gingerly onto the throne room’s ceiling. Starlight and Chrysalis were still in full swing, having moved on to insults, but I tuned them out. I was going to need all the focus I could get!

Slowly and steadily, I was approaching the center of the domed ceiling where the chandelier was anchored. I was leaving my options open until the very last moment, having chosen to act on whichever of my two half-plans would seem more feasible once I got in position. Then it dawned on me that I could try a middle-ground solution: instead of starting from the top and carefully opening the cocoons to let Celestia and Luna out first, I could start with Discord at the bottom, thus minimizing the risk of the chandelier tearing itself off at one of the weakened spots under the weight of the full cocoons below, and immediately after that, I could attempt to fire a magical blast at the throne, a blast which was one of few spells taught in combat training, or any other training as far as I knew. With the throne destroyed, Discord would regain his magic, and could instantly turn the whole hive into soft cheese and make the changelings dance unstoppably until everypony was safely at home, or whatever else he fancied!

Only, two problems: Discord’s cocoon was hanging low enough for my antics to get noticed sooner than I was ready, and I’d never successfully performed the blasting spell in training and had completely forgotten about it after having been kicked out of the training program.

Still, it was all I had, and Spike had once said that Twilight worked best under pressure… Maybe I would too? Only one way to find out, and it wasn’t like I had much choice by now!

Almost there… just a few more steps…

“Up there!” A guard’s cry broke my focus and interrupted Chrysalis’ quibbling with Starlight, and suddenly all eyes were fixed at the spot on the ceiling where his outstretched hoof was pointing.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Chrysalis roared at me from below, grabbing me in her magic as she took to the air.

Now or never!

I gathered up all the might and focus I could find in myself and quickly unleashed it all in a blasting spell. My horn hurt from the effort, but as much as I tried to maintain the spell, it quickly fizzled out, and I couldn’t reestablish it.

The throne was undamaged.

Chrysalis shot her own spell at me. This one was notably more successful: I was left stunned, and my disguise collapsed.

“Well, well, look who we have here!” she smirked as vindictive triumph glinted in her eyes. “Come to beg for mercy?”

The room erupted in celebratory laughter and hissing.

I flinched at Chrysalis’ superior grin and penetrating gaze. I wanted so badly to gather up the courage to face her openly, to stand up against her and defend my friends; though I’d worked hard to overcome the lingering consequences of my previous experiences with her, though I’d hoped I’d gotten past the fear and helplessness, my old wounds now reopened before her, and I was once again the puny, timid little drone that the whole hive had despised and that she had grown to be ashamed of, for I was the one warrior she had failed to create!

And now, having betrayed the hive through my search for friendship and shared love, I was about to face the full extent of her wrath.

“He doesn’t need mercy from you, Chrysalis!” Starlight rose in my defense. “You can do your worst, but he’s proven there’s a better way, and there’s no going back from there, and you know it!

Better?” Chrysalis snorted. “Stooping down to the level of your prey can hardly be called ‘better!’”

“Even if it helps you get more food?” Starlight smirked.

“Ridiculous! Taking what we need drains a pony completely, and it’s never enough to satisfy a changeling’s hunger!”

“But that’s stolen love! Thorax proved that even a little bit of love gives significantly more nourishment as long as it’s shared!”

“And I suppose he told you that? Are you really that stupid to think a changeling wouldn’t do or say whatever it takes to deceive others for their own benefit?”

“That includes yourself, doesn’t it?”

“Watch your tongue, pony!”

“Can’t admit the truth, Chrysalis? You said it yourself that changelings would say or do anything to deceive others! Well, you are one! And you haven’t just been deceiving ponies! You’ve been lying to your own subjects, keeping them in the dark about such important information because it gives you more power over them!”


“Admit it, you know that shared love is more filling than stolen love! Whether you’ve known it all along or just learned it recently doesn’t matter! A leader who truly cares about her subjects and wants the best for them wouldn’t dismiss suggestions for possible improvement; she would listen to them and accept whatever is promising! She wouldn’t hide beneficial knowledge from her subjects; she would announce and share it with them! But you didn’t do that! Why? I bet you’re afraid they might use that knowledge to gain enough power to stop putting up with your tyranny! That’s why you hate Thorax so much: not because he escaped, not because he made friends, but because in doing so, he showed your other subjects that they can have a normal life, the kind of life you don’t want them to have because you enjoy watching others suffer!”

“And who made you the Queen of Changelings and let you decide what’s best for them?”

“You still won’t budge, will you?” Then, Starlight turned to the many drones around her. “Do you enjoy starving in the name of your queen? Didn’t any of you ever want to be sated? You can! Thorax proved it!

Chrysalis had had enough. She unleashed a blast of magic at Starlight, who fell unconscious.

I gasped and tried to get to her. It was futile; Chrysalis was still holding me firmly in her magical grip. With Starlight silenced, she moved on to me.

“I can deal with her impertinence later,” she said, “but you’ve been a thorn in my side for too long! In hindsight, it’s hardly surprising that a useless wimp like you would want to get away from us - I should have seen it coming and dealt with you long ago - but how you got your brother to help you is beyond me!”

Pharynx? What was she talking about? He hadn’t done anything to help me! Had she misinterpreted the disguise I’d used on my way out?

I looked around the throne room, trying to spot Pharynx, wondering if he would give me a hint of what this was about. But I couldn’t find him! Shouldn’t he be here, overseeing the security of the most fiercely defended part of the hive?

Why wasn’t he here?

She didn’t…

Or did she?

Seeing the confusion in my eyes turn to fear, Chrysalis burst into a long, maniacal laugh.