• 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.

  • ...

Lead by Example

I felt myself lighter than air as I floated in the calming warmth of the neverending expanse of light. Time and space meant little, and the shell I’d once known as my body was almost fading away, but not quite; I felt it flow at the brink of existence, both material and ethereal at once, shifting ever so slightly at the fluttering ripple of this unworldly plane.

Memories surfaced and faded out; feelings flashed in painful intensity, stronger and clearer than ever. All my life, everything I’d ever been, was bound together and focused into this one point of infinity. My whole world, right there within my hoof’s reach, deep within my soul.

All of it, good and bad.

Crystal Empire and the Changeling Hive.

Pharynx and Chrysalis.

Exile and acceptance.

Hunger and Love.

Tears of pain. Tears of joy.

All of my friends.

But I was alone... so terribly alone!

Finally, I knew: this was Eternity.

Until it wasn’t.

The light faded; the shell of my endless void broke, and sounds and sensations seeped in as I was pulled back into the familiar world.

Standing up shakily on my hooves again, I opened my eyes. The throne was still there, holding Chrysalis’ unconscious body. Starlight had awakened at some point and was starting to get herself out of the pool of melted changeling slime that had kept her stuck in place.

All around the throne room, newly-formed boulders rose from the floor, but after a confused moment of wondering how they had formed in a room magicked against shifting, I realized they weren’t new: though the domed ceiling was still there, it had cracked and parts of it had fallen down, and stars on the night sky shone through the holes.

All of the changelings were still there, frozen in place, staring wide-eyed at me as if they’d seen the impossible.

Unsure about why they were so baffled, I looked myself over. I couldn’t believe my own eyes! My carapace was green, the holes in my legs had healed, and my wings were shiny and beautiful! I’d never seen anything that had looked the way I did now, and though I’d momentarily suspected this to be a disguise I’d randomly put on without realizing, a failed attempt to dispel it brought the realization this was my real form now. But how had it happened?

It must have been the love I’d given away! Starlight had already noticed the change in my old wings that must have resulted from sharing love! This had merely completed my transformation!

“You collected all that?” one of the guards spoke to me, snapping me fully into focus. “By sharing love?”

His words struck me with the full meaning of the implications of my act. I’d never realized love and friendship could be that powerful!

“I guess I did,” I sighed happily.

“And if we shared love… we wouldn’t be hungry anymore?”

“That’s right,” I nodded.

The said guard closed his eyes and focused. Nothing happened at first, but a moment later, he apparently realized what he had to do, and the aura of love began emanating from him, weakly at first, but soon it grew strong enough to form visible tendrils swirling around him, until it finally exploded in an orb of bright light that then wrapped around him like a magical cocoon.

Another guard did the same, and another; soon, more and more changelings were joining in, until the whole room was shaking itself apart, pieces of the domed ceiling falling down, dropping the cocoons that had formed the chandelier in the center, and crashing into the throne that was already bursting apart under the force of the collective shared love.

Starlight’s horn lit up and created a force field around the two of us as the throne split into a thousand fragments, saving us from the rain of the pieces of the shattered dome.

Once the dust had settled, I saw the cocoons were bursting open, both the magical ones, letting out the new, colorful - and, I hoped, benevolent - changelings, and the ones that had formed the chandelier, releasing the imprisoned ponies.

I went to help Starlight free herself, but she was already blasting the slime that had begun to harden again, and was free before I knew it. We both rushed to the fallen chandelier and tore at the cocoons still holding tight until everypony was free. They were weak and feeble, but apparently not too damaged! They were going to be fine!

They hadn’t forgotten the attack on them, though. As soon as they saw us, they flinched, took a defensive stance or lit up a horn, and cast glances around themselves, from one of us to another, then to their just-released friends, then to the mess around them.

“What is this?” Shining Armor demanded, holding Flurry in his grasp. “Who are you? Where did you take us?”

Though relieved to see them all right, I swallowed a lump in my throat at this. I should have expected them to be suspicious of us! They had every reason to; the very changelings whose love had just freed them had been the very reason why they were here in the first place!

How am I going to explain all this?

“Don’t worry, you’re safe!” I told them. “You’re in the changeling hive, but we’re not evil-”

A salvo of magical blasts from Celestia, Luna, Twilight, Shining Armor, and Sunburst interrupted my speech… and might have ended it permanently if it hadn’t been for Starlight’s quick reflexes and the magical barrier she’d erected between them and me.

“Thanks,” I said to her.

“What are you doing, Starlight?” Twilight yelled at her. “Are you crazy?”

“I’m not crazy! I know he looks different,” she said, pointing at me, “but don’t you recognize his voice? He’s Thorax!

That only helped a little; they relaxed somewhat at the mention of a familiar name, but still kept their guard.

I stepped closer to Sunburst, who had all but extinguished his horn.

“Blue vase,” I said.

“Purple meander,” he whispered absent-mindedly, then shook his head. “But… how…”

“What was in the vase?” Discord chimed in, hugging Fluttershy but ready to unleash his worst if I gave the wrong answer.

“Buttercups and fear,” I replied, and he relaxed.

I still had a few others to convince. I addressed them one by one.

“Princess Celestia, I know we’ve never met in person, but you announced your intention to visit the Crystal Empire a few days prior to getting captured, and you sent me an addendum expressing the desire to meet me, to which I responded that I would be delighted to answer all your questions about my journey, including the full explanation of what had happened in Canterlot about a year ago, even though Shining Armor had already told you the gist of it. Princess Luna, the last time you visited my dreams, you eased my worries by telling me about your own experiences after the return from your banishment. Princess Twilight, you told me once that standing up against your own brother in order to defend me was one of the hardest things you ever had to do. Princess Cadance, you convinced Soothing Dusk to let me give her my apologies for having drained her love that night when I lost control over myself. Spike, you-”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Thorax, I believe you!” Having interrupted me, he disengaged himself from Rarity and ran up to me, only to be stopped by Starlight’s force field. “C’mon, Starlight, drop this thing so I can hug him!”

The princesses nodded to her. They believed me! They weren’t going to blast me again!

“It looks like we missed a great deal,” Celestia said approaching me. “Can you tell us what happened?”

“We came here to rescue you when we realized you were taken,” I began, “but our original plan failed, and… well, long story short, I ended up teaching the other changelings about the benefits of sharing love… these new forms are the result of it.” I looked at the new changelings standing around the room, sensing the aura of love in them that had never existed before. “I don’t think they’ll be bothering ponies from now on,” I added with a content smile.

“And I’m sure they will obey your wishes! After all, they do have a history of following their leader unconditionally,” she winked.

I stared at her blankly. What was she talking about?

“What do you mean? Chrysalis didn’t-”

Starlight cleared her throat.

“Sorry to interrupt, Thorax, but I think you may have missed one little detail!” she said with an amused grin.

“Allow me,” Discord said and conjured up a large mirror in front of me.

I didn’t know what I’d been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this! My new face looked back at me with deep purple eyes, my fangs were nowhere to be seen - something I’d completely neglected to notice until now - and, most notably, a pair of tall antlers rose from my head. No other changeling in sight had them!

Could this mean…?

No, surely it couldn’t! How could it?

But why was I different from the others, then?

Celestia stood next to me and touched my shoulder. Seeing her in the mirror like that, I realized one more thing I’d ignored: I was about as tall as her now. That would also be about as tall as Chrysalis…

No, get a hold of yourself, Thorax! Pull yourself together!

“I think it’s obvious you’re their new leader now,” Celestia finally spoke it out loud, “King Thorax.”

King… King Thorax?

How will I ever get used to that?

All around me, the changelings bowed gracefully. Some of the ponies did, too, as well as Discord, even if a bit theatrically.

I still struggled to wrap my head around it. How could this have happened? All I’d ever wanted was friendship and peace! I’d never dreamed of taking command of anything, let alone a country! I didn’t even have the skills for that! Was I really capable of leadership? Could I figure it out quickly enough to justify everyone’s apparent trust in my abilities? What if I failed? Would that be the end of friendly changelings?

“But… but I-” I fumbled.

“No buts!” Starlight said. “You’ve earned this, you deserve to be the king, and you know it!”

Before I could protest further, a pile of debris stirred and Chrysalis lunged out furiously, horn spattering with magic.

“Traitors!” she hissed, waving her sword around.

Where had she pulled it from? Had it been thrown to her in all the commotion?

She froze in place at the sight of everyone, ponies, changelings, dragon and draconequus alike, turning against her, lighting their horns whoever had one, readying for battle. Even I sensed new magic stir in me and kept it at the ready!

Chrysalis dropped the sword, called off her magic.

We all stood like that for a tense moment.

“Aren’t you going to kill her?” one of the changelings, a green and yellow drone with pink wings, finally dared to ask.

Slowly, I took Chrysalis’ sword in my magic. As I did so, I felt everyone’s expectant stares on me.

A new king with improved magic? Let’s see what this magic can do!

Holding the sword in the air, I bent and twisted it until the blade snapped in half, then tossed the fragments away.

“No,” I declared. “There’s been enough hatred! It all ends right now!”

“You’ll pay for this yet, traitor!” Chrysalis roared, then ran off to the edge of the plateau that had until a few minutes ago been the throne room, transformed into a bat, and was lost to sight in the darkness of the night by the time we ran to the edge ourselves.

Where would she go? What would she do now that she was alone? Would she be a threat to us from now on, or would she find the part of herself that was missing and join us in friendship?

Only time would tell.

Would we welcome her back?

I didn’t know. Fortunately, I didn’t have to decide right away.

And I had more pressing matters to take care of.

“Which one of you has the highest security clearance?” I spoke to the changelings.

A blue drone stepped forward.

“Acting First Commander Psycho reporting, Your Highness,” he saluted.


Your Highness.

I didn’t know which of those made me cringe more.

Psycho had beaten me up more times than I could remember.

And now he was under my direct command, calling me the high titles that I still didn’t think I deserved!

If we’d ever known our roles would reverse so epically, Psycho…

I pushed it out of my mind. It could wait!

“I want you to coordinate the release of all captives held in prey cocoons,” I commanded. “Start as soon as possible and make sure they all reach their homes safely. If any have perished, find their families and return their bodies to them with sincere condolences.”

“Yes, sir!” He turned to go.

“I’m not finished!” I said, and he turned back. “Second, release all lamps. We’ll find another way to light up the hive from now on. Use healing cocoons if you have to, or ask ponies for help, whatever you need, but I want those animals free and healthy and back where they used to live!”

“Animals?” Fluttershy gasped in horror.

Oops. I’d promised Discord we wouldn’t tell her!

Discord shot me a murderous look - yes, I know, I’m sorry - and explained it to her. She broke out in heart-wrenching tears.

“Will you give them to me?” she pleaded between sobs. “I’ll nurse them back to health if it’s the last thing I’ll do! The poor things!”

“Of course, Fluttershy! Psycho will find you later and you can discuss the details with him. Third,” I turned back to the commander, “all infiltrators are being recalled to the hive and all pending missions are being cancelled. I’ll also want a list of all deployed drones, together with locations and orders they’d gotten. Fourth, I want a list of changelings in foreign prisons. Everyling not confirmed dead should be included. Fifth, ponies are welcome guests from now on, and are to be treated as such. Do you understand?”

“Perfectly,” he nodded.

“Good. Go now! I might have some more tasks for you later.”

He saluted again and left.

“Um, Thorax,” Fluttershy spoke out shyly. “Can I tag along with him? The sooner I can figure out the details of how to help those animals, the better!”

“Sure, if he doesn’t mind,” I agreed.

“I’ll come with you,” Discord offered her.

They left too.

“My friends,” I turned back to the remaining ponies, “I know I don’t have much to offer you at the moment, and I understand you may want to return to your homes as soon as possible to undo any damage your impostors might have done in your absence, but if any of you wish to stay a little longer, I’d be honored to have you! Whether or not you stay now, I hope you’ll care to come back at any time!”

“Count me in!” Pinkie said eagerly. “I’m always up for hanging out with everypony! Ooooh, we should totally throw Thorax a Becoming King party while we’re all here! Hey, we could also have a super-duper uncocooning party for all of us, with streamers, and balloons, and confetti, and cake! Lots of cake! Wait, wait, wait… we could also invite the ponies that are still in cocoons! But what if they want to celebrate with their families? I could throw each one of them their very own uncocooning party when they get home! But how would I know who they are and how many and what they like? Gotta go meet all of them and ask!” Then, as she dashed away faster than I thought possible, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Psychoooooooo! Wait for meeeeeeeeeeeee!

It took us all a moment to recover from this outburst of energy.

“You bet we’ll be back!” Trixie nodded, continuing where I’d left off before Pinkie had gotten in her element.

“As if I would refuse!” Spike grinned.

“Do you mind if we observe the changeling culture up close?” Twilight and Sunburst asked in unison.

I grinned widely. Of course we didn’t mind!

“Now that you mention it, I might use a few tips about running a kingdom if you’ll have the time,” I added.

“We’ll be there for you,” Cadance said. “Write or come visit us whenever you want!”


“Goodness!” Celestia gasped. “What time is it? Does anypony know?”

“It should be morning, Princess,” one of the drones told her. “I think it’s about an hour past sunrise. Chrysalis would have raised the sun like she’s been doing since your capture, but she had more pressing matters today... and now I don’t think she cares anymore...”

“I’d love to go back to Canterlot immediately,” she said, “but I should really raise the sun first!”

She lit up her horn, but found she was too weak to bring forth the day.

“Her attempts to gain enough power to raise the sun must have drained you too much, sister,” Luna came up to her. “Tap into my magic! I feel it should be strong enough to assist you!”

They touched their horns together.

We stood around reverently, watching as the two sisters’ united magic brought the break of the new dawn.