• Published 26th Oct 2019
  • 1,934 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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Friends in Need

Even with wings pushed to the limit, I was nowhere near Ponyville by nightfall. I wanted to keep flying through the night, but my strength failed me, and I was forced to land and take a break. I allowed myself a short nap in the forest, having come to the realization that I would collapse if I kept pushing myself. The team of changelings would have had to take a break at some point, too… unless a fresh-and-rested team was waiting at a prearranged location to take over. That thought snapped me instantly out of my half-sleep and made me keep going, no matter how tired.

I spent the next day travelling as well, running and flying in turns. I finally reached Ponyville a few hours into the night. The castle was easy enough to find; it was the largest, tallest building in town, and I even if I hadn’t seen it once before during my journey, its appearance was unmistakable. The streets I flew over were peaceful enough, so if anything had happened, it must have gone unnoticed. The aura of love suggested no worries, but it was considerably weaker than that of the Crystal Empire, so I wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t missed anything; but then again, it had been pretty much the same the last time if I remembered correctly.

So far, so good, I reassured myself.

Having reached the castle, I hid in the nearby bushes to survey the area and plan my approach. There was no movement outside, and no unexpected objects in sight, save for a traveller’s wagon parked at the base of the castle. It didn’t look like something the changelings might use, but nevertheless I decided to keep my eye on it.

The outside may have been perfectly tranquil, but something was going on in the castle! Though I could sense some love within it, its aura was tainted with the same murky chill as the one I’d felt in the Crystal Empire! I had no doubt about what would have caused it!

I hid deeper in the bushes. What should I do? Who to ask for help now?

But before I could figure out what to do next, there was a flash of magic near the wagon, and Starlight appeared with a blue unicorn, both of them wide-eyed and panting frantically.

“We can’t deal with this,” moaned the blue mare. “We’d need to get the princesses! But they’ve all been taken! What are we going to do?!”

“Relax,” Starlight attempted to soothe her. “That changeling only mentioned Celestia and Luna! And yes, okay, they’ve got Twilight and the girls too, but they said nothing about Cadance! I think I can teleport us there in a few jumps, but we-”

“It’s too late for that,” I interrupted her before she disappeared into what could easily become her undoing.

Both mares let out a shriek upon hearing my unexpected statement. Starlight lit up her horn.

“Don’t blast me!” I said as I got out of the bushes.

“Why shouldn’t- wait… Thorax? Is that you?”

“Yes. Look, there’s-”

“You know this guy?” Eyeing me suspiciously, the blue unicorn turned to her friend.

“Yes, he’s… wait a minute…” Starlight’s horn lit up menacingly brighter. “What happened to the crystal pony?” she demanded.

“I needed the wings to get here, but then the crystal eyes weren’t convincing, so I had to modify them,” I explained, understanding what she’d meant, but her friend obviously had no idea what we were talking about.

“Did I accidentally have one of Zecora’s experimental potions for dinner?” She threw her hooves up in the air. “What’s all that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, right,” I mumbled sheepishly, remembering I was still in disguise. “Is it safe to show her?” I asked Starlight.

“The only changelings we saw were inside, so I guess it should be,” she said. “But I’ll cover you in case I’m wrong!”

Only after that reassurance did I dare to revert to my own form.

My magical burst hadn’t even fully dissipated when the blue unicorn went into a screaming fit. Starlight caught her in a magical bubble that muffled the sound, then we both looked around for any signs of trouble. Finding none, she turned back to her friend, whose mouth was closed now, but her eyes were still wide open and she was pressed up against the opposite wall of the bubble, cramped defensively, shivering all over.

“Calm down, Trixie!” Starlight spoke to her. “Thorax is a friend! I met him in the Crystal Empire last time I went there with Twilight!”

Trixie didn’t say anything, but apparently she could hear what had been said, as she shifted slightly, but did nothing to suggest that she was convinced.

“You do trust me that I’m not a changeling, right?”

A nod came in return.

“I’m going to drop the spell now, but you can’t scream, or those other changelings will hear you! Do you promise not to scream?”

Another nod.

“Okay.” She released Trixie from the bubble. “Look, I know this is hard to believe - I didn’t at first - but Thorax is on our side! He escaped from the hive because he wanted to make friends and couldn’t as long as he was around other changelings! He’s been a citizen of the Crystal Empire for months now!”

“Wait- you live there? Cadance let you live in her own land after what your kind did to her and Shining Armor?”

“Yes, although it took some work to convince them that I wasn’t there to cause harm. I actually have Spike to thank for breaking the ice.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute…” Trixie rubbed her temple. “You live in the Crystal Empire, and now you came here to, what, tell us the changelings took Cadance?”

“Yes, and-”

“So why should I believe you’re not in on it? How do I know your reason for going there wasn’t to prepare the grounds for your friends to take her?”

“If that were the case, why would I come here to tell you about it? And they’re not my friends! They even hunted me while I was on the run!”

“Okay, Thorax, so they got Cadance,” Starlight interjected. “But Trixie has a point. Why come here? Why not go to Shining Armor?”

“He’s been taken too, and so was Flurry Heart! I’ve been trying to tell you, but you both keep interrupting me! Sunburst and I decided that Princess Twilight and her friends might be able to help and that I should come here and get them, but obviously it’s too late for that, and I’m practically out of ideas!”

“This is bad,” Trixie moaned. “Starlight, you’re a smart one. What should we do?”

“I have no idea! If Twilight were here, I’d probably go to her, but I can’t think of anypony with magic powerful enough to handle this!”

I’d barely opened my mouth to reply to that when I got interrupted again.

“Why is it that, when ponies talk about powerful magic, they always leave me out?” said a surreal creature that had materialized out of nowhere, now lounging on top of the wagon, rearranging the stars painted on its roof and picking up a few of them to connect them into a chain. “If I weren’t so reformed, I might take it personally!”

I recognized the newcomer immediately. Though my training in the hive had been too basic to familiarize me with a number of creatures, Chrysalis had made sure all drones would be able to recognize this one if they ever crossed paths with him. Though she admired and envied his power, or maybe because of that, she knew that he was extremely dangerous and unpredictable… and so powerful that, though I’d only learned it from Pharynx’s rambling one time, she may have been concerned that even the best defensive measures the hive had at its disposal might be ineffective against him!

And now, here he was, offended that Starlight had forgotten about his power! This couldn’t end well! I braced myself, ready to flee or to come to whatever pathetic attempt of aid I could come up with in case he decided to unleash his wrath on her, but then the rest of his words registered in my mind: he was reformed! I couldn’t believe it! I said a silent praise to whoever had accomplished that admirable feat! Maybe there was some hope left after all!

“Discord! Boy am I glad to see-”

“Oh great, you just know how to pick the perfect moment, don’t you?” Trixie interrupted her friend. “Where were you, like, a day or two ago when your presence might have averted a disaster?!

“I’ll have you know this isn’t the only space-time continuum in my domain! In fact, I just returned from a rather splendid adventure in another plane of existence!” He took off one of his horns and looked through it into the night sky as if using a telescope. “Too bad it’s beyond anything you could ever imagine!”

“Think again! My cousin’s neighbor told me all about that other world you almost threw her in over a misunderstanding!”

“And who made you the advocate of right and wrong? You weren’t even there when it happened!”

“Watch your mouth, you-”

“Guys, we don’t have time for this!” I tried to reason with them.

Enough!” Starlight screamed at the same time. She was more successful in snapping them out of it, possibly thanks to a force field she’d put up between them.

“Oh, fine!” Discord relented, taking the force field and folding it into an origami boat, then throwing it away; it continued to bounce around us, which was even more admirable because Starlight had extinguished her horn in the meantime! “I was going to visit Fluttershy anyway!”

“Well, you can’t!” Starlight stopped him as he was about to boomerang himself in an unknown direction.

“And why would that be?” he frowned at her.

“She isn’t here, and neither is Twilight or any of her friends, or Celestia and Luna, or Cadance and her family! The changelings took them!”

Having heard that, Discord snapped out of his antics and into a state I wouldn’t want to come across in a dark alley...or any kind of alley.

Where?” His eyes breathed fire and his voice shook the ground.

“We don’t know!” she replied.

“I have no way of being sure,” I interjected, “but my best guess would be the changeling hive!”

Not waiting to hear another word, Discord snapped his claw and we disappeared from the castle grounds.

Author's Note:

I'm guessing at least some of you will get the reference in this chapter, and all I have to say about it is that this chapter (said reference included) was written before The Big Mac Question aired.