• Published 11th Feb 2021
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Changeling in a Changing Land - Podrick Equus



After Queen Chrysalis learns of a faraway island nation inhabited by harmonious changelings, she sends a diplomat to learn more about them, and to make them an offer.

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2 - Lost in Translation

Author's Note:

Green text indicates that the Old Tongue of the Changelings is being spoken.

There were many words that Gerhard could use to describe the city of Blosmport. The quaint streets of cobblestone complimented the small businesses and stone houses that stretched throughout the heart of the city in a semi-circle. At the center was a grand, old-fashioned hive structure that seemed to have been renovated with fine, painted wood over the years. It stretched up about five stories high, which made it the tallest building in the city by far. Past the large hive were more traditional yet smaller changeling settlements, ones that appeared to be dug into the earth, suggesting that they went underground. Looking at them made Gerhard feel like he was walking through a Changelingia history book.

It seemed like most of the buildings closer to the shore were newer, which made Gerhard think that they were in the process of modernizing their city... if such simple structures could be called "modern".

As Gerhard weaved his way through the streets, he paused when he spotted a street vendor that looked like they were selling miniature candies shaped like ponies. The drone running the stand was quite lively, talking so quickly to anyling that passed by that Gerhard doubted that he'd be able to understand the vendor even if he knew the language. Still, it was a good a lead as any.

Gerhard waited for an opening to speak, then trotted up to the vendor, hoping that his Old Tongue was up to snuff.

The vendor's wings buzzed excitedly when he spotted a potential customer approach him directly, rather than give him a passing glance. "Beannachtaí mo chara, ag iarraidh seacláid a cheannach? Déantar iad le grá!"

Gerhard cleared his throat, hoping that he could get his message across. "Hello stranger. Do you know pony talker?"

The vendor raised an eyebrow, looking surprised. "Do you mean a pony, or a changeling that knows the ponies' language?"

Gerhard couldn't have felt more relieved. Oh thank the Hatcher! He hadn't gotten to practice his Old Tongue in years, but thankfully he was still comprehensible. "Yes. I need talker. Please get me the talker." Gerhard's throat felt sore, despite only having spoken a few words. He was just glad that he could at least communicate with the locals, albeit poorly.

"I have a sister who can speak their language. You look like you're not from around here, my friend. Are you from the pony countries?"

"No," Gerhard coughed, "I from my home."

The vendor squinted, no doubt trying to make sense of Gerhard's rough accent. "Right. Well, I suppose business is slow and I have nothing better to do! Follow me and I'll take you to my sister. She can help you."

The vendor threw a blanket over his stand and beckoned Gerhard to follow him. Gerhard was puzzled why the vendor thought that simply covering his stand would offer sufficient protection from thieves, but figured it wasn't worth asking about.

"I will be honest, my friend. You stick out like a sore hoof!" laughed the vendor, "What's your name, by the way? I'm Felim."

"Felim...?"

Felim turned a corner to a less busy street. This one seemed to be filled with homes, rather than businesses. He turned back to give Gerhard a sly grin. "It means Always Good, my friend!"

Gerhard nodded as he followed Felim through the housing district. He almost instinctively replied with one of his many aliases, but stopped as he reminded himself again that this was not an infiltration mission.

"Me Gerhard. Gerhard Kopieren."

Felim paused to gave his foreign friend a strange look, "That is the weirdest name I've ever heard. What's it mean?"

"Uh..." Gerhard stumbled, trying to recall the correct words in the Old Tongue, "Spear... Copy?"

"That's still a weird name, my friend."

Gerhard shrugged. He could have argued on what makes a name weird, but he opted not to on account of the ever-present language barrier.

They continued walking for several minutes with Felim constantly pestering Gerhard with questions, which he begrudgingly answered as non-descriptively as he could. Gerhard was used to being grilled for information and lying his teeth off, but this guy was non-stop pestering him about the most mundane things! What's your uniform made of? Are you right-hoofed or left-hoofed? What's your favorite creature to transform into on a date?

Gerhard was on the verge of abandoning Felim by the time they reached a small wooden house. Like most of Blosmport, it was old-fashioned. The crooked roof looked like it should fall to pieces at any moment, and the drab, tan paint didn't help it look any nicer. Still, the area around the house looked... serviceable. A stone pathway led to the front entrance, complemented by some peculiar flowers on both sides that looked almost alien in origin.

"Tá muid sa bhaile!" buzzed Felim excitedly. He practically leaped forward towards the front door and proceeded to loudly bang on it.

Gerhard frowned slightly. "Not you home?"

"It is! But I always knock, just in case!"

Gerhard was about to ask why Felim felt the need to knock, but the door opened before he could finish thinking of the correct words to say.

"Felim, mo dheartháir!"

Greeting them from inside the door was a cheerful-looking drone. She wore a necklace adorned with simple beads, probably hoof-crafted by Gerhard's guess. She also had a small, pink flower tucked between her left ear and her head.

Felim happily jumped at her, and she reciprocated in kind with a big hug. Gerhard could swear that he could taste... was that love radiating off of them? It couldn't be. That was impossible, changelings couldn't produce love, they could only take it.

Nevertheless, he couldn't deny that the locals here were... unusual, at least compared to back home. The 'lings here in Greneclyf are even stranger than I realized...

Felim and the female drone soon ceased their embrace and started chatting. What they spoke of, Gerhard couldn't tell. A few times Felim gestured back towards Gerhard, but their foreign language kept him in the dark.

Soon enough, the female turned her attention to Gerhard and smiled with a quick bow, "Hello Spear, my name is Aoife! It's nice to meet you!"

"My name... not Spear," choked Gerhard, "Me Gerhard." The sooner he could stop torturing his throat with the Old Tongue, the better.

Aoife chuckled and beckoned Gerhard inside. "Please, we can talk more inside. Felim, would you please brew some tea? The kind that our aunt always used to make?"

Felim saluted his sister and sprinted off into another room, leaving the two of them alone for now. Aoife guided Gerhard inside and offered him a seat on the couch in the living room. He accepted, then took stock of his surroundings.

The house looked somewhat nicer on the inside compared to the shoddy piece of work he had observed earlier. The room he was in wasn't very big, but it did seem cozy. An ornate rug covered most of the floor, and a few simple paintings of the ocean were hung across the walls. There were also some small patchwork tapestries hung between the paintings, each with a unique pattern. A few chairs and a soft couch were positioned in a semi-circle around the biggest tapestry, which had a pink star inside of a pink circle embroidered on it. Judging by the few lanterns hung above his head, he guessed that she didn't have electricity here.

"So Spear... I mean, Gur-hawd, what brings you here?" Aoife climbed onto one of the chairs and sat on it, "My brother said you were a tourist, but you don't look like one!"

Gerhard shook his head, "No. Me... traveler? Not enemy. Want to find Queen Mother."

Aoife tilted her head, "Wow, you're really not from around here, are you? Felim also said that you didn't know our language, is that right?"

He nodded.

"All right then," Aoife hummed, "Do you know the language of the Southern Ponies?"

"Yes." Gerhard sighed in relief knowing that he finally wouldn't have to subject his poor throat to the Old Tongue anymore.

Aoife smiled cheerfully and shifted in her seat. "Well then! Zašto se ne prebaciti na ovaj jezik?"

Gerhard's heart dropped into his stomach.

After Gerhard didn't respond, she looked at him quizzically. "Znate ovaj jezik, zar ne?"

In that moment Gerherd remembered something he'd learned long ago while undercover in Equestria. While it was true that the majority of ponies on Equus spoke the same language, the same could not be said for the ponies in Eastern Griffonia. They'd been there long enough to develop their own languages, each distinctly different from their Equestrian counterparts. Aoife didn't speak Equestrian, she spoke... whatever the Riverland Ponies spoke!

"Hatcher save me..." groaned Gerhard in defeat.