• 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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3 - Tea Time

"I'm sorry Gur-hawd, I didn't realize that the language of our Southern Ponies and your ponies were different."

Gerhard was rubbing his temple in frustration. Not only was he annoyed at his current predicament, but he couldn't even fully explain how angry he was with his superiors to Aoife. The more he thought about the situation, the more it didn't make sense. VOPS was one of the best, if not the best intelligence agencies in the world, how could they have neglected to consider the possibility that a foreign nation might speak a foreign language? It just didn't add up!

He grumbled to himself a little more, then sighed once again. "Me upset. Me not good talker."

Aoife offered him a consoling hoof coupled with a comforting smile, "Don't be, it's not your fault. I should have realized that a changeling from a faraway land like you must not know the languages of our neighbors." She paused, her smile turning into a thoughtful expression, Though I am curious, what land do you come from?"

Gerhard almost said Equestria, but caught himself before falling into old habits. Fortunately, he knew the name of his homeland in the Old Tongue. "Changeling Lands."

Aoife frowned, "That's... I guess that makes sense. What language do they speak there?"

"Changeling."

She rolled her eyes, much to Gerhard's confusion. "I should have expected as much. Where is your homeland?"

"Beyond ocean," said Gerhard.

"I see... in which direction, though?

Gerhard suddenly realized that he didn't remember the words for cardinal directions. After a moment of deliberation, he firmly pointed in the direction that he assumed was east, leading to the confusion of Aoife.

"I think you may have your directions messed up, Gur-hawd. There's nothing but death in those seas."

Seas of death? Gerhard wrinkled his brow, What did she mean by that?

Suddenly, Felim returned from the kitchen with some drinks in his telekinetic grip. "Here you are, Spear! And one special for you, my favorite sister!"

Gerhard hesitantly accepted the drink, then eyed it carefully. He didn't have time to check it for-

He stopped himself again. He kept having to remind himself that he was not their enemy. They had no reason to poison him. He took a sip from the cup, and-

Hatcher below...

His eyes began to water, his hooves trembled, and his wings buzzed. Gerhard quickly began downing the rest of the drink. It was glorious. Beyond that, even! The tea was infused with an exceedingly potent amount of love, and it seemed like it was not even harvested love at that. It was the purest love he'd ever tasted. With each gulp he could feel more and more affection; it was an overpowering warmth and tenderness, the likes of which he hadn't experienced since...

...Since he'd hugged the foals of a pony he had once masqueraded as.

Gerhard dropped the cup and hugged himself tightly, trying to preserve the feeling for as long as possible.

A worried, feminine voice brought him back to reality. "Are you okay?"

He opened his eyes to see that both Felim and Aoife were staring at him like he was a hatchling who had tasted a pony's love for the first time. He coughed and stood up to straighten himself out, only to notice that the cup he was drinking from was now shattered on the ground. He smiled sheepishly, "Sorry about that."

Felim and Aoife briefly looked at each other, then returned their attention to him. Aoife rose from her chair and took a step towards Gerhard, concern written all over her face. "Gur-hawd... are you starving?"

He shook his head, remembering to speak in the Old Tongue this time. "No. Why you ask?"

"The way you drank that tea, it was almost like you'd never tasted love before," Aoife leaned forward, "Are you sure that you're okay?"

"Yes. Drink good. Very good," said Gerhard. He made a mental note to get the recipe for that tea later, there was no way he was returning to Vraks without it. For now, his thoughts returned to his mission. "Do you know pony talker beyond ocean? Or where Queen Mother is?"

Felim piped up, "Oh, Queen Gytha? I think she's in Blosmport currently! She's not seeing anyling, either!" He winked.

Aoife gave her brother a solid punch, then corrected him, "What my brother meant to say was that Queen Gytha is very busy with recent events and doesn't have as much time as she used to. Her schedule is probably booked for some time."

Gerhard nodded. Considering his predicament it wouldn't be wise to rush to see the queen. "And pony talker... pony language talker?" His throat cracked as he tried to pronounce the new word. He knew that this would be an uphill battle, but the Old Tongue was absolute torture on his throat.

"I'm sorry, but I don't know anyling, or anypony for that matter who might know your language," Aoife paused, then raised her hoof, "But I may know someling who could get you in contact with one. He lives in Bugsmere, actually!"

Felim grinned and buzzed his wings excitedly. "Bugsmere? I love Bugsmere this time of year! Can we go, sis? Please?"

Aoife sighed, "You don't have to ask me. You're a fully-grown drone, you can make your own decisions."

"Where that?" asked Gerhard. He didn't recall any town by that name from his briefing.

Felim's grin grew even wider. "Oh, not too far! You have see it! Bugsmere is my favorite place in the world! The flowers are beautiful, everyling is friendly, the hives are bustling with 'lings from all around Greneclyf, there are parks and shops everywhere, and the queens there are so prett-"

"I think he gets the point, Felim." chuckled Aoife, "Why don't you take him there? I'll watch your shop while you're away."

Gerhard's eye twitched at the prospect of having to spend more time alone with Felim. He'd known him for about an hour and he was already at his wit's end. Not that he found Felim annoying, but he supposed that he wasn't used to being around such an... energetic changeling.

"Wow sis, you mean it? Thanks!" Felim practically lept towards the front door, then paused as he reached it. "But wait, who is that changeling you wanted Spear to see?"

Aoife stifled a giggle. "Wow, you actually remembered something important before rushing out the door. You really have grown, Felim."

"And yet mum still treats you like a hatchling!" countered Felim, earning him another look from his sister.

"Who the changeling?" asked Gerhard. He didn't mind a bit of sibling banter, but he didn't want to intrude any further. Aoife was already being too kind to him by inviting a foreigner and complete stranger into her home. He was starting to feel uncomfortable being around her.

Gerhard frowned. He felt uncomfortable due to another's kindness. Hmm...

Before he could ponder on that further, Aoife answered his question. "His name is Ciaran. He is a good friend of mine who works for the Greneclyfian Cartographer Society! They know all sorts of things since they travel a lot; they would probably be able to help you find a proper interpreter. Normally he'd be here in Blosmport, but he got injured recently at work, so he's resting at his family's hive in Bugsmere now." She turned to Felim, "You remember where our aunt's old hive was? It's right next to that one."

Felim nodded, still as excited as ever. "Yes! I know exactly where that is! Let's go!"

Though Gerhard could have tried to say that it was rude to not ask a guest if they were ready to leave, he decided that it wasn't worth the effort. He stood from his chair and thanked Aoife for the tea, then headed for the door where Felim looked like he was about ready to bolt.

"Felim, Gur-hawd?"

Gerhard and Felim both glanced back at Aoife, who was now cleaning up Gerhard's broken cup.

She simply smiled at them. "Please stay safe."

Warmth rushed over Gerhard, throwing him off balance. What was that? These 'lings got weirder by the minute. He'd definitely need to return to interrogate- er, ask her about their culture later. He felt like Felim wouldn't be a very good source, considering that...

"So, wanna play Bug or Bush while we walk?"

This was gonna be a long trip to Bugsmere, wherever that was.

Author's Note:

Since I joined the Equestria at War team as a Writer, I have become privy to a lot of knowledge regarding the (at the time of writing) upcoming rework for Greneclyf, so I decided to incorporate as much of the new lore as possible for the remainder of the story.

Thanks for understanding, and I hope you continue to enjoy the story.