• Published 12th Oct 2012
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The Unlikeliest of Places - Desideratium



Chrysalis finds herself powerless. All she needs is a little kindness.

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Unwarranted Assistance

Changelings had always possessed what could be considered as a sixth sense.

Some ponies claimed to be able to foresee events before they happened, or discern what somepony else was thinking. These sideshow talents had always attracted attention from the general public wishing to see something out supernatural, despite living in a world partially populated by magically-inclined unicorns whose talents far surpassed the unnatural tricks. And in the Changelings’ eyes, that was fine, but their own ability did not fall into any of the previous categories.

The exiled race had an eye for love.

Every pony possesses an invisible aura about them, signifying the strength of the love in their heart. That is, invisible to equestrians. Completely visible for Changelings, though, and cats, for some unfathomable reason. It ranged from a skin-tight glow, to an inferno that filled an entire room. Dusty grey, to vibrant pink. The particularly powerful ones, some ponies could even sense, for Celestia’s sake. Every pony had one, but some were simply not quite as loving as the Changelings would like them to be.

During her time in Canterlot, shrouded in the skin of Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, Chrysalis had learned to fully appreciate the usefulness of the aura. By discerning which ponies had the greatest reserves of pure love, it became remarkably easy to decide which citizen to make a meal out of. For instance, most of the guards stationed around the palace possessed very little adoration to spare; their auras barely cleared the outer shell of their golden armor. Hardly a worthy meal for a hungry queen. Some of the princesses’ personal servants, however, were literally glowing with violet or malachite admiration. Much more desirable. Much more delicious.

Thus far, the most powerful auras Chrysalis had yet to witness had been those of Princess Celestia, and her faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. The diminutive lavender pony with an uncanny knack for magic had been unexpected, and had ultimately led to the queen’s downfall. It had taken Chrysalis all the willpower she had not to brutally drain Shining Armor’s little sister’s life force upon her arrival. Something about her had made Chrysalis uneasy, but she couldn’t very well act on her suspicion without making the general public uneasy.

And subtlety was the essence of her scheme.


Chrysalis peered through the thick undergrowth with narrowed eyes. The despicable pink alicorn had bent down to thrust her snout into a particularly vibrant magenta flower. The whistling sound of her inhalation reached the Changeling’s ears. Anger filled her being, hatred toward the pony in front of her. The pony who had played a key part in her banishment. Inadvertently, a low, menacing growl sounded in the back of Chrysalis’s throat; a buildup of sheer animosity that she could no longer contain.

Alarmed, Cadance’s head shot back from the flower, her eyes wide and darting from side to side. Seeing nobody, she lowered her center of gravity cautiously, ready to attack, or retreat, if necessary. “Hello?” she called. “Is anypony there?” Her sharp horn glowed menacingly, but the bearer hardly looked prepared to skewer anypony.

Something clicked in the back of Chrysalis’s mind. A suppressed filter over her vision that she had completely forgotten about snapped to life. The Changeling queen’s eyes slid out of focus, then back in. And something fundamental had changed about her field of view.

The aura.

Cadance’s wraith of love was unlike anything Chrysalis had ever seen. The glow burst away from its owner, shining like a celestial beacon, reaching for the heavens and encompassing everything in between. Warm gold in color, the waves buffeted Chrysalis, sending her reeling, prismatic spots dancing across her field of vision.

The floundering Changeling crashed partially through the bush, getting her midsection caught on the spear-like branches. Several pinpricks of pain stabbed her stomach and legs, the twigs poking into her soft skin. A thin coating of leaves alighted on her head, tangling with her stringy mane and impaling themselves on her crooked horn. Chrysalis continued to writhe, throwing herself out of the bush and landing once more in a heap on the ground.

Upside-down, Chrysalis looked up, peering through the hair that had fallen into her eyes, now thickly matted with foliage, to view the cause of her . . . episode.

Cadance didn’t look frightened; the alarmed expression on her face was simply of surprise. The sudden appearance of the queen of the Changelings barely even fazed her. If Chrysalis wasn’t in such a compromising position, she would have been offended beyond belief. The sheer nerve of the uppity princess; she should have been on the ground, cowering behind her golden-booted hooves.

“Chrysalis?” Cadance asked tentatively. Her voice was musical and tender, just as Chrysalis remembered, but it also held a hard undertone; this was not the swooningly helpless princess from foals’ storybooks. Not waiting in some remote tower, waiting for a valiant stallion to come and rescue her. Ironically for her husband, Shining Armor, it had turned out to be the exact opposite for him. Cadance knew how to hold her own.

The queen didn’t respond . She didn’t dignify her opponent with the honor of hearing her melodious voice. Instead, Chrysalis narrowed her eyes to threatening slits, giving the princess the dirtiest look she could muster. It didn’t help that her stomach was writhing like a tangled mass of Hydra heads. It was also making just about as much noise as the creature as well, now that she considered it. It was most uncomfortable for the queen, and it contorted her face from a glare to a pained grimace, ruining her threatening image.

“Are you . . . okay?” Cadance inquired cautiously. Chrysalis met her gaze evenly, but on the inside, the Changeling’s mind was racing. Searching for possible ways to escape in her weakened state. Analyzing the turquoise glow around the alicorn’s horn, and wondering if Cadance was prepared to use lethal force. And most importantly . . . bewildering over, what seemed to be, genuine concern for Chrysalis’s well-being.

Chrysalis hissed like a cat, a defense mechanism that both species had utilized for centuries. As the noise escaped her, several flecks of saliva shot off of her pointed teeth and spattered on the ground.

Unfortunately, Cadance didn’t seem fazed in the slightest by the outburst.

Chrysalis’s stomach gave a particularly unpleasant lurch, and she felt bile rising in her throat, unpleasantly hot and acidic. The Changeling barely had time to turn to the side before releasing the contents of her stomach in a violent fountain. The substance was poisonous green, and fizzled upon impacting the ground. The pungent stench of decaying body wastes permeated the air, sour and stinging.

“Chrysalis!” Cadance yelped. She trotted to the Changeling’s side and reached out with a gilded hoof, attempting to offer help. Or consolation. Chrysalis wasn’t prepared to accept either.

“Get back!” Chrysalis rasped, bile dripping from her chin in thin ropes. “I don’t . . . want your help . . . Cadance.” She spat the last word, accompanied by a globule of dense phlegm.

“Regardless of whether you want it or not, you’re coming with me. You don’t look well at all.” Cadance pushed aside Chrysalis’s feebly waving forelegs and hauled her to her hooves, much to the queen’s protest. “I can get you back to Ponyville. I can help you there.” She led the protesting queen along, half guiding, and half dragging.

“Unhoof me!”

“No.”

Chrysalis was too weak to struggle against her captor. Her willpower had far from crumbled, but her body was not prepared to act on her intentions. If she had been at full strength, the prissy princess wouldn’t have been able to get near her, let alone drag her away from her makeshift home like a ragdoll.

In order to avoid at least some of the humiliation of the situation, Chrysalis steadied her hooves, and moved them in the faint semblance of walking. Just to make herself feel like less of an invalid, which was basically what she was. And she hated it. Every minute. And being dragged around by a being that was about half her size, and bright pink in color, was doing little to boost her pride.

So Chrysalis was left to intone meaningless muttered threats, to which Cadance responded with determined silence. The princess was clearly stronger than she looked, for she was supporting close to the entire body mass of the Changeling. Admittedly, Chrysalis was much lighter than she appeared–Changelings as a species had less dense muscles and lighter bones than ponies–but still a reasonable effort for the average mare, even with the increased stature of an alicorn.

The light filtering through the trees gradually became more consistent, less patchy. Chrysalis’s heart rate accelerated. The outskirts of the Everfree were approaching fast, and once out of the shelter of the tall, wide trees, she would be on display for every citizen of Ponyville to see.

“I . . . will not . . . go out there,” Chrysalis said, as firmly as she could in her feeble state.

“We won’t go through the town,” Cadance assured her. “Me and Shining are on our honeymoon. We’re staying in a cottage out of eyesight of the rest of the town. We won’t have to pass anypony on our way there.”

“No.”

“‘No’ what?”

“Just . . . no.”

“Tough luck, sister. You’ve made it this far. I won’t have you chickening out now.”

“Mind you . . . I didn’t actually ask to be brought this far.”

“Suck it up. You need help.”

“False.”

“As compelling as your argument is, we need to get moving. I can practically feel you dying right now.”

“No.”

“Shut up. Let’s go.”