• Published 14th Feb 2020
  • 3,695 Views, 494 Comments

What have I done to deserve this? - Cackling Moron

Every obstacle in the path of a Queen is the fault of some nefarious other party, and no fault of her own.

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Author's Note:

Ramble ramble ramble making it up as I go along ramble ramble evil squishy bug-face queen ramble ramble etcetera.

After another night in the same bed - so she could keep an eye on him! To keep him out of trouble! The sort of trouble that had got her into this mess to start with! - Richard was turfed out by Chrysalis and sent off with specific instructions for what he should do.

Given that this was typically how most days with her went for Richard (barring the bed-sharing, which was new, he’d admit) this was totally fine.

Chrysalis herself stayed in bed, obviously. Rest was important for queens, and the bed was quite comfortable she might admit. And besides she couldn’t get started on what she had in mind until Richard had completed his assigned tasks anyway, so there was no point in leaving the bed.

So that was where she was, while Richard was dressed and out the house and into the pleasant morning sunshine, strolling briskly along and waving polite to any who crossed his path, most of whom were alarmed by his height and by his briskness but mollified by his friendly politeness.

Today was going to be a day of planning, Chrysalis had said to him. Given that Twilight wasn’t around to browbeat it made sense to use the time for something else, something useful! Planning! A day for getting all her ducks in a row, collecting herself. Drawing up a mind map or two.

Chrysalis was very good at planning. She was very good at most things she might turn her considerable talents to, obviously, but she had spent a good chunk of her life planning (occasionally also scheming and plotting, which were basically just more advanced forms of planning available only to experts like her) and so knew how good she was at it.

So what Richard was getting was the requisite materials for her to do it all properly. She had compiled the list herself and it included such useful planning supplies as flipcharts, pencils, a large corkboard, drawing pins, brightly coloured paper, string, scissors and also more baklava (‘planning requires energy’ had been her internal justification, somehow ignoring that this was not how she got her energy).

As luck would have it, Richard somehow knew where to get all of this and so it was the work of a sliver of a morning to go from here to there and back again and acquire all that she’d asked for - he was nothing not ruthlessly efficient when it came to purchasing baklava and string.

And it was while he was laden with bags and working his way back that he bumped into what was rapidly becoming for him a familiar face.

“Hello there, Starlight! Fancy seeing you here,” he said, beaming as he saw her approaching.

“I live here,” she pointed out.

“Yes, but still! Small world, eh? How are you today?” He asked.

“I’m alright, just going to the school,” she said. She was indeed just going to the school, albeit taking her time in doing it. She had learnt by now that no-one really noticed if she was a tiny bit late.

Starlight then eyed the many bags Richard was carrying.

“That’s a lot of stuff,” she said. Richard glanced down at the bags himself and gave them all a demonstrative heft.

“Oh, this? Just some supplies. For the queen,” he said.

“Like what?” Starlight asked, wondering if she should be worried or not.

“String, pens, flipcharts, that sort of thing. I imagine queens must get through a lot of this in their queenly business,” Richard said.

Starlight had no frame of reference for this, and couldn’t tell whether Richard was just being jokey or not. She realised, belatedly, that she could never tell this with him, even with what limited interaction she’d had with him. A hard man to read in many ways, though easy in others.

A mysterious alien and no mistake.

“Uh, I guess?” She said, going for the kind of smile you get when you share a joke with someone. Richard went for this too, so that seemed to work.

A close call, conversationally speaking. Could have been awkward.

“Is she...okay?” Starlight asked, tentatively.

She asked because she was actually, genuinely concerned, albeit for two different reasons.

On the one hand (or hoof) she really did hope that Chrysalis was okay in the broadest, most general sense. That she was happy, well-rested, in a position to perhaps consider her choices and come to some conclusions that worked out well both for herself and for everyone else.

And on the other hoof (or hand) Starlight was also concerned that if the aforementioned wasn’t the case, that Chrysalis at least wasn’t presently frothing at the mouth in a frenzy for vengeance on everyone and everything that had ever wronged her or been perceived to have wronged her.

The former was because Starlight just felt that it would be best, the latter was because that would be the worst.

“She is - or was, it might have changed - snoozing. Very cute when she snoozes. Her ears sometimes twitch, which I think must mean she’s dreaming. Uh, please don’t tell her I said that. But yes, there seems to be something of a return to the spring in her step, I think. Today she is going to make plans, she tells me,” Richard said.

“Should I tell her you told me that she’s planning on planning?” Starlight asked, this time wryly. Starlight had a variety of ways of asking questions.

Richard inclined his head a little and then - as the conversation seemed to be one that was keeping going - set his bags down and massaged his hands where the handles had started cutting in. All that string was weighty, it turned out, though maybe it was the baklava that had really tipped it over the edge - like the bottle of sherry that breaks the axle.

“If it pleases you. She’d probably be too furious on talking to you to notice me having let that particular detail slip. I get the impression she’s not the biggest fan of you, you know,” he said. Starlight grimaced.

“Yeah…” she said, then to steer the subject back again asked: “Did she say what she was planning?”

“Not specifically, no,” Richard said.

“Revenge?” Starlight probed.

Richard couldn’t deny this and so nodded, shrugged.

“Probably in there somewhere. It did get mentioned once or twice,” he said cheerfully.

Having a little personal experience with revenge, Starlight was less upbeat. Convention held (and practical observation seemed to confirm) that it very rarely had a positive outcome for anyone involved, and generally just seemed to serve to make the world a worse place.

Unless the revenge involved making a point of living a virtuous life in defiance of one’s enemies, she assumed. But that wasn’t an option most seemed to go for, for whatever reason. Too much work, maybe? Or just lacking in the thrill.

Certainly she couldn’t picture Chrysalis going for that one...

“And you’re...okay with revenge?” She asked.

“Personally? No, not really. I’m not a fan myself. Not something I’ve ever been seen to indulge in. Never really had much opportunity, of course, but still.”

Richard’s lifestyle did not lend itself to an abundance of revenge. Or at least there was no evidence and no witnesses to suggest that it lent itself to an abundance of revenge, and he himself would certainly never openly comment on it one way or another, beyond benign denial (as seen above) and careful phrasing.

Starlight, confident that Richard was definitely joking this time, kept things going:

“And what’s your plan?” She asked.

“I don’t have plans, really, I just do what I’m told,” Richard said, this being a useless non-answer that Stralight couldn’t work with. Gritting her teeth a little she pressed on to try and better articulate what she was driving at:

“I mean, what do you hope happens? Ideally? What do you wan- what would you prefer to happen now that Chrysalis is here? And reformed?”

Quick thinking with Starlight’s choice of words, there, and cunning too. Less so on the mention of ‘reformed’, however - Richard still find the subject a little dicey. He did get where she was coming from this time, mind.

“Nothing too spectacular. Just hope everyone can learn to get along comfortably and happily. Hope Chrysalis finds a way of adapting to her changed circumstances one way or another, finds an outlet for her boundless energy and finds continued use for me. Very low-key, I’m afraid,” he said.

Given Chrysalis’s previous occupation and previous behaviour this seemed like something of a step-down to Starlight, thought she supposed there were ways it didn’t necessarily have to be. There was one outstanding issue for her though:

“What if she wants to, you know, continue being evil?” She asked.

Loaded choice of words, Richard felt.

“Oh, well, these things are relative, aren’t they?” He asked in response.

After all, weren’t good and evil just names that signified our appetites and aversions? Things that, in different tempers, customs and doctrines, were different? And, following a similar but not strictly related line, wasn’t it the case that often someone’s conscience and judgement were the same thing and that, as with judgement, so also conscience could also be erroneous?

Starlight had been (and was) thinking in more practical terms:

“Trying to take over the world is relative?” She asked, head cocked.

To say nothing of kidnapping someone and sticking them in a cave, pretending to be them, exerting magical mental domination over your victim’s spouse-to-be, having hordes of your minions come flooding in to cause all manner of fright and mayhem, more kidnap…

The list went on.

Richard actually thought about this for a split second and took that long to realise he wasn’t the one best-placed to argue the issues, so he just waved a hand.

“I’m not really into details. I’m sure you could find someone far better to argue the toss on these things with, I’m far too dense. The point is that I am sticking with her majesty whatever she might choose to do, because I said I would.”

“And because you want to? Stick with her, I mean. Even if you hadn’t said you would?” Starlight asked.

Richard opened his mouth to speak but then caught just the whiff of insinuation that Starlight had laced into what she’d said, at which point he went just the teeniest, tiniest bit pink about the cheeks.

“Well, yes. Lucky how that works out, really,” he said with a restrained smile.

Starlight looked him over.

“Can I ask you a blunt question?” She asked.

“By all means,” he said and Starlight chewed her lip, wondering if there was any way to be less blunt before deciding to just throw caution to the window and lay it out plain:

“Are you in love with Chrysalis?”

Seemed a pretty obvious question, given what had happened and all. Also very much a ‘Is Kelly your wife or your dog’ kind of situation that was in desperate need of clarification as far as Starlight was concerned.

He’d said she looked cute while she was sleeping. That wasn’t the sort of thing you could just let slide on by without picking up on.

Richard however had not expected this question at all and promptly choked, reduced to pounding his chest and wheezing, doubled-over. This drew some alarmed attention from those passing by.

“Ooh, hah -” he said, followed by some more coughing and fist hammering. “Oh my. That was blunt! I - she and I - love is a very strong word, you see, and - well - I can’t speak for her, and - you see - the nature of our relationship is, ah - I’m just a servant, really, it’s not - hmm…”

Richard stopped speaking when he realised he was just making a mess. Taking a breath he straightened out his trousers and allowed himself a moment or two to collect his thoughts and get them in a proper order. Starlight stood and waited.

“The queen - Chrysalis, her majesty - has a powerful sense of self that I find rather, ah, affecting. Arresting? She knows who she is, what she wants, that sort of thing. Someone who expects the world to mould to them, and doesn’t go the other way. It’s very unlike me, but it intrigues me. Even if recent, well, events let’s say might have knocked her for six I still think that same energy she’s always had is still in there. A lot about her might have changed here and there, but she hasn’t changed, she’s still her, still got that motivation. Just now it’s a question of that motivation trying to find something to apply itself to, since she’s in something of a rough patch and lacking a lot of her former resources, as it were. Maybe it can apply itself to something a little less, you know, unfriendly. Ideally I’d like that, as I said before, speaking selfishly. I think it might work out well for her too, possibly? We live in hope,” Richard said.

Quite the mouthful, he felt, and likely not anything approaching a proper answer.

Then he shrugged.

“Or so I like to think. Who knows? Maybe she’s just forever maniacal and will revert back to her old, domineering ways once she’s got through this rough patch of cuddliness. Maybe that’s just who she is. Maybe that’s the way she’s meant to be and I am indeed selfish for wanting otherwise. Whatever works for her, really. I imagine I’ll remain rather fond of her either way. Certainly I’ll stick by her, as I said,” he said.

“You’re, uh, quite easygoing about these things, aren’t you?” Starlight asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Prefer to think of it as flexibility. I take things as they come,” Richard said.

“Still didn’t really answer the question,” Starlight pointed out. He smiled - no pulling the wool over this pony’s eyes, apparently.

“No, I suppose it didn’t, for which I can only apologise,” he said.

It was still probably about as good as she was going to get, Starlight realised, at least for now, and pushing the question further would be an uphill struggle. It would do for now.

“Sorry to throw so many questions at you, it’s just, well, I do wonder and worry about her - and you - and it’s kind of relevant. Twilight is meeting with the other princesses today,” she said.

“So she said. Well, she said she had a meeting, was light on the details. Sounds important,” Richard said. Starlight waved a hoof semi-dismissively.

“Eh, probably not that important. From what I heard they mainly drink tea and eat cake at these things. But it seems pretty safe to bet that they’ll bring up what happened to Chrysalis and how she’s here right now and they’ll probably decide on doing something about it.”

Kind of had to, really. A sad drawback of being in charge of things was often being expected to make decisions. One of the many reasons why Richard personally avoided it if he could help it.

“That would make sense. How very ominous,” Richard said, frowning.

“Doubt it’ll be anything bad. But it’ll be something, and Chrysalis just doesn’t strike me as the sort to sit back and let something happen to her. You know?” Starlight said.

“And you’re worried that she may overreact if she gets the impression that she’s being treated as a problem to be solved?” Richard asked.

“I didn’t say that...but yes. Even you have to admit that that could happen,” Starlight said.

Richard gave this some thought, running through a couple of test scenarios in his head. Her behaviour had been very restrained lately, he knew, but he also knew that everyone had limits.

“...it’s a possibility,” he said. Starlight nodded seriously.

“Like I said though it won’t be anything bad. Probably just be a visit, maybe. A conversation, maybe, ideally. But maybe, uh, just...suggest the possibility of them deciding to come here to Chrysalis? So it doesn’t come as a surprise if they do show up to talk to her?” She said and Richard nodded too, seeing wisdom in this.

“The other princesses: do they make a habit of travelling with guards?” He then asked, apparently out of nowhere. Starlight blinked.

“On occasion,” she said, as after all they had been known to, from time to time.

Richard considered this and ran through another test scenario where Chrysalis opened the window of their dinky little bedroom in the dinky little house they’d been graciously put up in only to find herself confronted with however many other princesses Equestria had (Richard wasn’t entirely sure on the numbers) and a few score guards standing around.

He couldn’t see that ending well. Even as an unlikely worst-case he didn’t like it.

“This is all rather too serious for me,” he said, sadly, shoulders slumping.

“Hey, look, we’re all friends here - or would like to be - so don’t worry. Whatever gets decided on will probably work out fine, everything’s probably going to go fine. Just, you know, mention it to her and take things slow,” Starlight said in tones of warm reassurance. Certainly, Richard felt his spirit buoyed immediately, smiling again and stooping to pick up his bags.

“Sage advice. You’re very good at this sort of thing. You should be a guidance counselor or something, you know,” he said.

Starlight gave him a flat look but, as always, Richard remained utterly immune.

“You don’t say,” she said.

“I do! But anyway, yes, as pleasant as this little chat was I really must be getting on - her majesty’s probably up and awake now and wondering where I am. Wouldn’t do to keep her waiting. I’ll, uh, I’ll mention the possibility of...possibilities to her, gently, and see how things go. You have a lovely day now, Starlight,” Richard said, giving a bob of the body to say goodbye as his hands were too full to wave.

“You too,” Starlight said, waving, because she wasn’t holding bags and so she could.

And they went their separate ways.