• Published 19th Oct 2021
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Accepting Change - drFraud



Well... it seems I'm a changeling... Decades before the first episode of FiM.

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CH 9 (meeting the shadow)

Patchwork

Another book joined the ever-growing pile that was taking over one of my bedroom corners. Another book with nothing about the Elements of Harmony. Nothing worthwhile at least.

Oh sure, the Elements are mentioned, but only as ‘unknown’ artifacts Celestia and Luna used to battle Discord and later to banish Nightmare Moon. Oh sure, there were theories and ideas aplenty, but nothing conclusive. It was obvious Celestia kept a tight lid on this.

I sighed, putting ‘Magus’s Miraculous Magical Artifacts’ onto the pile. I lied down on my back, shifting a little to get comfortable in the bed without pressing on my elytra.

I can’t just go to Celestia and ask her, not without revealing both the future of this world or how much I know about it. I simply couldn’t risk my own future… Not yet anyway. Maybe I could go and find the Tree once I'm out. Maybe.

I got up and jumped off the bed, trotting over to the large bookcase in the living room. I picked out a book on general equestrian magic and trotted back to the bedroom.

I passed by the newly hung calendar and noted that I have been looking for the Elements for almost two weeks now. With little success.

Oh sure, I learned just how much damage Discord has done, causing such chaos that even centuries after ponies are still discovering pieces of their past, either in the form of lost magic or artifacts and even buried villages and statues. From what I managed to dig up, Discord has cost the world an entire century at best.

What I also learned is that Discord was the main reason why ponies started to stagnate, embracing peace and harmony as their main creed, pushing everything that doesn’t conform to the wayside out of fear. The wars and conflicts that followed after, between the other races that tried to pick up the leftover pieces, did not help matters either.

Which is why I started looking into something that had my attention for a while now. Magic.

More specifically, magic that is not related to unicorns.

Before I laid down with the book I changed my mind and went to the kitchen for a snack. I have been eating a lot more recently, and I have been steadily gaining a bit of height and bulk, telling me that I am in for another growth spurt. I should let the others know before it happens.

Opening the book and reading through it showed me just how little I knew about magic in general.

Unicorns, I learned early on, had no limitations when it comes to how their magic affects the world around them. But they are limited by their imagination as well as their ability to apply it. They are fully aware of the magic around them and little of it is based on pure instincts. This is why all their spells are written down, stored, and cataloged. Which is also why they suffered the most during Discord’s era. So many spells have been lost to that madman.

Earth ponies are the complete opposite of unicorns in that regard.

Their magic is based on pure instinct, and if it weren’t for the studious unicorn chroniclers ponies wouldn’t even know about it. Which is quite fascinating really.

Ancient earth ponies taught their magic through the word of mouth. And they learned about it only when necessary. The most fascinating thing, however, is that even if the written knowledge about earth pony magic was lost the earth ponies would still manage.

The book even gave an example: in a brutal experiment, centuries ago, a young earth pony who was separated from his parents by the unicorns, was locked away in a deep underground prison for study. The unicorns made sure that the poor colt was completely separated from anything that would allow him to learn about magic in any way, shape, or form. After months of study and monitoring via scrying orbs, it was learned that he had started to develop a deep connection to the natural magic of the earth. In the end, he got so capable with it that he managed to escape, ripping the entire facility asunder with tremendous strength and self-taught ability to manipulate the plants and tree roots around him. They never found the colt afterward, and there was barely anything left to salvage of the site.

What’s even more incredible, is that EVERY earth pony is capable of such feats, but unless they are like Little Zap they simply have no wish or will to learn most of it. They will simply develop higher forms of nature magic on their own through simple instinct should it be required, but otherwise they have no need for it beyond farming. Which is why earth ponies are also the most content of the three races, as they need little to be happy.

Pegasi, on the other claw, are in-between. They are both aware and active when it comes to their magic, but they also rely on instincts to guide it.

Their weather magic aside, it seems pegasi of old could manipulate elements of nature to some degree. A good example of this is what was written down in the book.

The Buccaneer Blaze is a single part of a three-part ‘trick’ that if performed correctly allows the pegasus to create a temporary fire field around them, which can then be used in other ‘tricks’ to, say, summon a tornado wreathed in fire. The full ‘’trick’’ is called The Flaming Loop, and it hasn’t been performed in centuries.

And that’s only one ’trick’ of hundreds that have been banned by Celestia outside of war situations, as pegasi ‘tricks’ made them too dangerous and devastating to perform.

This is why pegasi today, unknowingly, practice those same tricks either in segments or without the devastating fields they could create.

Fascinating really.

Makes me feel weak in comparison, as I cannot bring any of these awesome powers to bear. But, if I master my ability to shift, maybe I could find a way to protect myself better, or others for that matter when the situation calls for it.

I decided to read for another few hours before I go to bed. Tomorrow we are looking deeply into my ability to fly.

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I have spent most of the morning thinking about what I want to be when I leave this room, and I think I managed to finally settle on something. The royal guard. The pay is good, the training would only make me stronger, and most of all, I will be able to protect others and myself when the whole changeling thing comes to a head. Which I hope it doesn’t for a while yet. Chrysalis will probably lose her mind when she finds out that I helped the ponies learn about Changelings.

I stepped out of the shower, dried myself up, and oiled the parts of me that needed it, and then happily exited the apartment.

Stepping out I spotted two new arrivals.

A large and powerful-looking griffon and a unicorn stallion, standing near the entrance and talking to Shield Strike.

The griffon had a rich brown coat that spilled into his plumage, making the tips of his feathers a nice, dark brown. I couldn’t see much in the details, but it was obvious that he was taking care of himself.

The unicorn’s coat was steel-grey and his mane and tail a nice cherry-red, with his mane cut short.

I was taking my time, slowly approaching them when a sudden wave of nausea hit me. At first, I couldn’t identify it, and it caused me to stagger slightly. I stopped fully and sat trying to figure out why I suddenly felt so sick.

Sniffing the air got me my answer: hatred. Deep, powerful hatred, mixed with loathing. It made me feel like I was trying to quaff poison, making me curl into myself in pain.

Looking around the room through tears in my eyes, I tried to spot the individual this was coming from. By the time I managed to find the source of it, I was approached by its cause.

“So, you are the little insect we are meant to keep an eye on, hmm.”

I raised my head, only now noticing that I had spectators.

Shield Strike was quickly approaching me with worry etched on her face. The griffon was cautiously studying me, with barely anything from negative emotions coming out of him.

The offending unicorn, however, looked at me with barely restrained disgust. His nose was turned up and he had a sneer on his muzzle making him look like he just spotted something lesser than shit.

“Oi, bug-colt, you doing ok there.” Strike was rubbing my back while I tried to keep my breakfast inside.

“This, is who you wanted me to teach, Shield Strike?” He asked, venom dripping from his voice, “When you told me you had a capable individual THIS is who you meant!”

“Not now Impulse!” Strike snapped at him.

“Is he going to be ok?” Asked the griffon. I could barely see him from my periphery as I was intensely focused on the stallion in front of me.

I tried to pull away from him, but Shield stepped in front of me, holding me in place with her hooves. I started to hear some shouting from the side, but I was too focused on the threat in front of me to pay attention to it.

“Oi, Patch, breathe colt, breathe. Flush it out of your system, as we practiced. C’mon, you can do it.”

It was a trick we learned when they were studying my ability to sense emotions. Changelings have two stomachs, one for raisin and the other to process emotions. We have learned that if an emotion doesn’t sit well with me, that I can purge it from my secondary stomach should I get too much of it in me. Especially if it's negative emotions. If I’m careless and if my concentration wavers I can absorb some of it and it tends to wreak havoc on my insides. It is unfortunate that my control isn’t perfect, and I tend to always absorb some outside emotions. Sometimes ponies have a bad day and, well, anyway.

I closed my eyes, shutting out my empathic abilities, and tried to breathe, getting my body to calm down enough till I can get to the toilet and empty this vile emotion. I could hear my heart beating in my ears and my whole body was convulsing from the poison I carelessly absorbed.

“Honestly, you expect me to waste my time on this pathetic creature, how dare you, Captain, I held you to a higher standard than this.” Came some more venom, and my insides churned again. I felt the bile rising and tried to move away from him. I felt strong hooves turn me around and guide me back to my apartment.

“Shut it, Impulse, I’ll deal with you in a minute.” Came a response through Shield’s grit teeth.

“You are actually protecting it!? How low will you fall, Captain?”

This time I managed to raise my head and look at him. I opened my mouth to tell him to fuck off when I felt a weight fall over my head.

“Be quiet, insect, your betters are talking.” Came the immediate response.

I had barely a moment to spot a muzzle over my mouth before a fresh wave of nausea and pain hit me and I threw up all over the floor.

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My head was placed on top of the kitchen table in my apartment. I held a bucket close to my chest, half full of black, tar-like goop. My ear occasionally twitched as the other occupant of the kitchen rummaged for stuff.

I didn’t hear much of the shouting after I threw up. The muzzle that was placed on my face was quickly ripped off and I was swiftly removed from the testing room and into my apartment. I was too dazed to care much about the in-between.

An unknown talon suddenly entered my vision, as well as a tall glass of water it held. I raised my head and regarded the griffon offering it to me.

“Thank you.” I rasped. Using my shaky hooves to pick up the glass and gulped down the refreshing, cool water. There was a sudden gurgling noise, and I threw up again, filling the bucket with some more goop.

“Does this happen often?” Was the question. His voice was surprisingly gentle, with nary any roughness to it.

“Which part?” I lifted my head from the bucket after another heave. I looked at him waiting for the answer when he just waved his claw in my direction. I took the glass off the table and pushed it in his direction before I began explaining.

“Changelings rely on the emotions of others for sustenance. Me not so much anymore, but I still nibble every now and again. And while most emotions are edible, hatred is like poison to me. What’s worse it spoils any other emotions I may have stored inside.” He gave me the refilled glass and I gratefully took it with a quiet thank you. Gulping it down and feeling no compulsion to throw up further I put my head back on the table.

“It won’t kill me immediately,” I continued, “but it hurts like Tartarus, causes painful convulsions and I need to purge it out of my system before it causes actual damage to my body.”

“I see.” It was quiet for a moment, then he continued, “So his hatred effectively felt like feeding you rotten food?”

“In a way. I can block it, but when it’s too much it feels like being thrown into a pool of water. Even if you don’t want to do it, you will swallow some of it down.” I said quietly, staring at the empty wall. I looked to my right at the griffon.

His fur was light brown while his feathers were much darker, almost chocolate in colour, as were his wings. His eyes and beak were golden-yellow and the plumage on his head gave him a wind-swept look. He just sat there, looking at the ground deep in thought. The only indication of his emotions was his tail, which was angrily swishing and twitching left to right.

“I never got your name.” I suddenly asked, having enough of silence.

He twitched, raising his head to look at me. He regarded me for a moment, moving his head like a bird before shrugging. “Name’s Gabriel. I was supposed to go over your flight tests and instructions.”

“They got a griffon to cover that? No offense, but I kind of expected a pegasus.” I questioned. Another gurgle told me that more was to be thrown out, but it was barely enough to be called spit. My stomach settled after that though.

Gabriel shrugged again before answering, “No offense taken. I’m kind of surprised myself; with how hush-hush this whole situation is I expected them to pick somegrif higher on the food chain.” He scratched his chin before continuing, “But I was told that an instructor with more experience with non-ponies would be better. And since I was told that I am one of the best non-pony flight instructors, here I am.”

I nodded silently and we lapsed into more silence.

I don’t know what Gabriel was thinking, or why he was here. I was more focused on today's events.

I have never felt so much raw hatred and disgust radiate out of a pony of all people. My empathic abilities were one of the first things we tested and examined, and during those times I was subjected to many different emotions. But nothing like this. Tartarus, most of the ponies I practiced with had difficulties even focusing on anger, to begin with, let alone hatred. I had to ask Celestia for help with some more negative emotions since most ponies seemed to be outright incapable of producing them.

“So why would someone hate another like that,” I whispered sadly. “Even to such a degree.” I sniffed, turning my head to the bucket under me. Its content being unnervingly still.

“That’s just the way some ponies are.” Gabriel suddenly said with a despondent sigh.

“Huh?” I raised my head surprised. ‘How did he even hear me?’

“That’s just the way some of them are.” He said with more conviction, anger tinting some of his emotions. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, most of their kind are the nicest, kindest, and friendliest creatures on the planet,” he put his head in his left talon, “but some of them are still clinging to old pony superiority idea.” He regarded me from the side. “Oh they won't hurt you physically, they think themselves above that, but degrading you? Muzzling you, as he did? Making your life as miserable as possible? They will gladly do that, and more just to prove that they are better. And while you will rarely find these kinds of ponies outside of Canterlot, they fester here like an old wound that Princess Celestia has issues stamping out.” He was silent for a few more seconds before shrugging, “Thankfully most of that old pile of feather bags are gone now. You just met one of the unfortunate few that are leftover.” He was looking at me intently now and I couldn’t hold his gaze for long.

Before we drowned in our own thoughts the front door of the apartment opened up with significant force, banging the wall next to it. Shield Strike came in looking pissed, her features rigid and her eyes were blazing with magic in a way I never saw before in a pony. When she spotted me her face relaxed, and her eyes stopped glowing.

She regarded the griffon for a moment before she approached me, “Go home for today Gabriel, we will do the rest of the stuff tomorrow morning, okay?”

Gabriel shrugged his wings and got up to leave, “Sure thing, ma’am. I’ll see you tomorrow then Patchwork.” He offered me his right talon and I shook hands with him. “Sorry you had to go through this today, hopefully, tomorrow will get better.” He closed the door behind him, and I was left with Shield Strike. She still looked like she would much rather turn someone to mulch.

Strike suddenly took a deep breath and sat down hard next to me, putting her head in her hooves. She looked years older. From what I have found out she was in her forties, still a bit young for an earth pony but easily at her prime. Now however she looked like she put on at least thirty more years. The shadows of the hanging light dancing on her features making her battle-worn scars stand out even more.

I raised my claw and placed it on her shoulder, making her raise her head to look at me.

“You okay, Captain?” I asked softly.

She looked at me incredulously for a moment before snorting loudly. She stood up, grabbed herself a glass of water, and downed it in an instant. She kept looking at the wall in front of her.

I pulled the bucked full of sludge away from me and put it to the side, waiting for her to speak. She obviously had a lot on her mind, I could be patient.

“That was my cousin you just met today. Impulse Strike. Knew him since I was a filly. Sweetest colt I knew, never a bad word out of his muzzle.” She took a deep, shaky breath before continuing. “He just told me that I put too much care into insignificant pet projects and that I should consider my behavior if I intend to spend my time around things like you.”

My ears pinned themselves to my head at that. Apparently, I was a thing now. Funny how one being can make you feel so low.

She suddenly laughed and turned to face me, “Anyway I made my choice and broke his nose. He’s lucky he can teleport else I would have broken his legs as well. Bucking clod-horn.”

She approached me and pulled me into a surprisingly gentle hug. She held me for a moment before pulling back. I tried to look away, but her hoof sprang up and gently turned my head to face her.

“You are not a thing or it, Patchwork. Ya hear?” She started off softly, but with conviction, “There are plenty of buckers like him out there that would gladly trot all over you just to prove their point. Don’t let them. Most of them are worth less as ponies than the dirt they walk on. We were hoping you won't get to see something like this until much, much later, but unfortunately, today happened.” Her eyes landed on the half-full bucket next to me before looking at me again. “How are you holding up?”

I was halfway to nodding my head when I decided to be honest. Shaking my head, I noted that my body was still cramping painfully, but it was manageable now compared to thirty minutes ago.

“I can imagine.” She shook her head ruefully. Suddenly she leaned forwards and gave me a peck under my horn, my eyes bugging out in surprise before she raised her hoof and started messing up my mane.

I chuckled and was about to tell her off only to notice that she was halfway out of the kitchen.

“I’ll send somepony over to keep you company till you get better.” She told me over her shoulder. “You are cleared for today, so rest up and get this crap out of your system ok bug-colt?” She was about to leave when her head sprang up like she had a sudden idea, “I’ll get Sunshine to visit you so you can talk it out, she is better at this than I am, I promise. And don’t worry about anything, ya hear? NONE of today was your fault.” With that, the door closed.

I was left alone with my thoughts, but not for long. The door opened and a very tired-looking White Light came in.

“Heard you had a banger of a day, son. Care to talk about it?”

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