• Published 12th Oct 2012
  • 3,466 Views, 141 Comments

The Unlikeliest of Places - Desideratium

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

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Sensory Overload

Queen Chrysalis was shoved into a porcelain vat of steaming, soapy water, much to her disdain. The resulting splash thoroughly soaked the entire room, including the instigator of the action: Princess Cadance. “Hey!” the pink alicorn cried in mocking indignation. She laughed jovially, shaking herself like a wet dog and sending tiny, prismatic droplets scattering across the already-damp tiling.

Chrysalis’s head broke the surface of the bathtub, immediately drawing in a lungful of water-laced oxygen. The unwelcome liquid was expelled from her airways in a violent fit of coughing, and further accentuated the general sopping feeling of the bathroom. Once certain that every last drop of water had been cleared, she shot a venomous look at Cadance, who was still giggling contentedly as she wrung out her multicolored mane.

“I am perfectly capable of helping myself into the bath, thank you,” Chrysalis said pointedly. Now having regained some of her strength, she was once again able to talk fluently, and perform a sort of feeble limp that she utilized to transport herself from place to place. However, the overexposure to the sheer, unfiltered power of pure love had confused her system, and she was still trying to adapt to it. To find a way to absorb the sustenance in such a concentrated amount. “I do not desire any further assistance from you.”

Cadance’s horn lit up and a globule of turquoise magic reached around a particularly thick clump of bubbles. The suds lifted into the air, and propelled themselves into Chrysalis’s face, causing her to break down into another fit of sputtering.

“Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to put up with me for a little while longer, until you’re back up and kicking.” Cadance’s magic released the foamy projectile and moved over to a bottle of vibrantly pink shampoo resting next to the sink. It rocketed across the room, positioning itself above the compromised Changeling’s head. Ignoring Chrysalis’s protests, Cadance upended the bottle, sending a thick stream of fluid cascading down the queen’s mane.

“Get away from me, you fiend!” Chrysalis tried to bat away the floating bottle. When she raised her hooves out of the water, liquid poured in droves out of the baseball-sized holes adorning her legs.

“I’m sorry, but we need to get you clean somehow!” Cadance’s magic took hold of Chrysalis’s serrated mane, rubbing the soap in, almost viciously. “Let me tell you, sleeping in the Everfree Forest for a few months didn’t do anything for your looks.”

“Does it appear as though I give a flying feather about my appearance?”

“Admittedly, no. But I can’t just let you go looking like you’ve been dragged across Froggy-Bottom Bog by the Hydra.”

Chrysalis opened her mouth to make a witty retort, despite having no idea what Cadance was talking about, but was interrupted by a particularly powerful shove on the top of her head, thrusting her under the water and filling her lungs with water once again. The stinging liquid found a way into her eyes and nose, and she forced her way back up to the surface to meet the gaze of a smugly innocent-looking Cadance.

If not for the dampness of the room, the uppity princess would have been lit ablaze by the intensity of the glare from Chrysalis.

Cadance’s contentedness faded a bit as she continued to do battle with the tangled labyrinth of stringy hairs that adorned the Changeling’s head. The conflict was intense, and the princess rapidly began to be overpowered by the hair’s irresolute desire to remain unkempt. Her bouts against the mane became gradually more violent, and soon, Chrysalis was wincing with every attack.

“Stop! Sufficient!” Chrysalis finally snarled. “You are fighting a losing battle, so let me be!”

Cadance withdrew, slumping against the edge of the bathtub. She reached behind her head and rubbed gingerly; she was still sore from Chrysalis’s earlier explosion, where her head had hit the wall.

“Fine. I surrender.”

“Good. And . . .”

“But I think this is a job for professionals.”

Chrysalis, having begun to clamber out of the bathtub, froze in place. The outside air nipped at her wet body, entering her pores and evaporating the dampness. Her long, spidery legs slipped against the slick surface of the porcelain and sent her back into the water.

“What?” The Changeling queen’s voice was dangerously quiet. It was a tone that was usually reserved for the particularly disobedient subordinates who probably weren’t going to live to see the next day. The malice behind the single syllable was lost, however, on the obliviously pink alicorn.

Cadance pushed herself back to her hooves. “Yep,” she decided. “We’re going to go see somepony who actually knows what they’re doing.”

“What?” Chrysalis repeated. Her vision suddenly went completely and impenetrably blank, like all the light in the world had suddenly been erased. Cadance had thrown a heavy towel over her head, and began to rub vigorously, shaking the moisture out of the Changeling’s hair. Chrysalis lashed out blindly, attacking the invisible assailant. “Get off!” Her flailing hooves met only air, and a soft laugh reached her ears, sounding from her left.

“Chrysy?” Cadance inquired cheerily, her voice bouncy and singsong. What followed could only mean bad news.

“You are not permitted to call me ‘Chrysy’. I would prefer you didn’t let my name escape your filthy lips at all, Cadenza.” Chrysalis put special emphasis on the last word, returning the favor.

Cadance ignored the insult. “Have you ever had a makeover before?”

Chrysalis’s eyes burned as the towel was removed from her face in a flourish. The harsh light that she had gotten so used to was now an entirely new sensation, and it grated against her retinas most unpleasantly. She raised a hoof in an attempt to block out the radiance that seemed to emanate from everywhere and nowhere at once. “No,” she replied. “I have not. I would assume that the fact would be obvious, but perhaps I was mistaken.”

“I see.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Oh, Chrysy.” Cadance pulled the damp, uncooperative Changeling into a tight hug. “Take a wild guess, why don’t you?”

Chrysalis was escorted back into her bedroom, where Opalescence was still languishing on the bed clothes, licking her nether region contentedly. The Changeling regarded the creature with contempt.

“How many throats did you have to slit in order to acquire this beast?” she asked, rhetorically.

Cadance closed the door behind them. “None, silly! Rarity needed some peace and quiet, and Fluttershy was busy babysitting the Cutie Mark Crusaders, so I offered to watch Opal for a while.”

“Cutie Mark Crusaders?”

“Yes. They’re adorable little fillies. A little misguided, maybe, but their intention is good.”

Ignoring Chrysalis’s incredulously bewildered look, the princess shoved her down on the bed, moving the blankets aside with magic before she collided with the mattress. Opal hopped aside daintily, landing on the floor and shooting Cadance a look of severe annoyance. “So, how long until you’ll be able to transform?”


“Because if you’re going to leave the house, it won’t go well if you do it as Chrysalis. So how long?”

Chrysalis pushed herself up on elbows, disregarding the pain that accompanied the movement. “I cannot be expected to know exactly how long it will take for your poison to pass through my system, but I would estimate another day at the absolute least.”

Cadance’s magic launched the blankets back over the bed. The edges tucked deep under the mattress, binding Chrysalis tightly from hooves to chin. Only her head poked above the crimson straitjacket that restricted her.

“I was afraid of that.” Cadance said grimly. “Now . . . bed rest for you. Don’t get yourself excited. Sleep, if you can.” Unnecessarily, she bent down and tugged at the blankets with her teeth, pulling it even tighter around Chrysalis’s neck, obstructing her airway and causing her breath to come in shallow gasps.

If she didn’t know better, Chrysalis would guess that the princess was trying to kill her.

Grudgingly though, the cynical Changeling had to admit that the situation she found herself entwined in was unimaginably comfortable. The security of the blankets around her was comforting, reminiscent of a very early memory of hers: back when she was barely hatched, in her larval stage. The sac that contained her then was remarkably similar to the cocoon that Cadance had so effortlessly rigged for her.

The sensation was nostalgic. And nostalgia was an unfamiliar concept for the incapacitated Changeling queen.

The cobalt-maned head of Shining Armor poked across the threshold, his disdain for the bed’s occupant immediately apparent in his clenched teeth and reproachful eyes. “Cadance? Can I talk to you for a minute, dear?”

Cadance smiled warmly. Her entire demeanor appeared to be constantly devoted to appearing ecstatic about life in general. “Of course, Shiny!” She turned, winking, to Chrysalis. “Back in a second. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Was that a joke?” Chrysalis inquired. “I’m not always sure with you. Warn me next time.”

Cadance abstained from a response, but retained her aggravating cheeriness as she trotted out the door. Shining Armor stood aside to let her pass, then closed the door behind him, but not before sending Chrysalis an annoyed look.

As the latch activated with a click, Chrysalis emptied her lungs of a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She watched the shadows darkening the ground fade as their owners departed. Once satisfied that her captors had left her, Chrysalis reclined, pounding her already aching head on the headboard, and immediately fell into a fresh spurt of agony. She leaned back, more gingerly this time.

It was going to be a long day.

It wasn’t the pain that got to Chrysalis.

Admittedly, it was intense. A sledgehammer beating on the back of her brain in a consistent rhythm, with barely any deviation.

No, pain was a sensation that Chrysalis had become accustomed to. During her lifetime, she had experienced enough of it to kill at least a dozen ponies. She had built up a tolerance, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt.

What got to Chrysalis was the itching.

The annoying tingling sensation danced up and down her body, congregating in spots for a moment, then zipping off to aggravate some other region. It took all of the power in her newly-reconstructed mind to resist the overwhelming urge to scratch, to soothe her spindly limbs.

If you don’t start, you won’t have to try to stop, Chrysalis rationalized.

This motif lasted for about five minutes, and then Chrysalis found herself desperately digging at herself with the sharp edges of her hooves, providing herself with the most satisfying sensation imaginable. Sure, after the fact it stung maddeningly, and it left unattractive greenish gashes up her legs, but the temporary relief that scratching provided was enough to counter the following discomfort.

Chrysalis threw the blanket off of her lithe frame, still scratching furiously at one of her hind legs. This itch was so fierce, that when she had slaked the tingling, it left a drop of blood running down her skin, violently green against the rubbery black. At this sight, she paused her hoof’s movement, frowning at the drop of liquid. Frowning at herself for being so weak-willed, caving in to such a minor discomfort.

With a fantastical grunt of effort, she jerked her hooves back from the offending leg and crossed them tightly across her chest. No more. You’re only making this worse.

Chrysalis reclined, trying to allow her brain to focus on anything and everything. Anything but the tickling discomfort that ran rampant across her frame. She even pounded her head against the bed, giving herself a new sensation to ruminate on. It worked, but only partially; the newfound pain was only an addition to her ever-growing list of afflictions, and it still did not completely erase the itching.

Looking up, the walls began to close in on Chrysalis. The claustrophobia, the isolation, was far worse than the physical hardships that her body was going through. Her mind was tense, latching onto every little detail in the room. A miniscule chip missing from the edge of her nightstand. A drop of perspiration slowly making its way down the side of the glass of water that she had drank so greedily. An almost-imperceptible flicker, caused by a slowly dying lightbulb overhead.

For the first time, Chrysalis wished that Cadance hadn’t left her alone like this.

Shining Armor gestured at one of the armchairs, sitting contentedly next to the fireplace. The hearth was currently inactive, but its presence still gave the room a cozy, almost festive feel. Surrounding it was a pair of straight-backed armchairs and a low coffee table, on which a forgotten mug of coffee rested.

Cadance, a little unnerved by the grimness on her husband’s face, complied to his request, sitting down daintily on the chair on the left—the one that she had always sat in since they had moved in. Shining Armor took his place opposite her, meeting her gaze evenly, seriously. His upper teeth played along his lower lip, chewing it uncomfortably.

Cadance broke the silence. “What is it?” she inquired, seemingly cheerful, but at the same time held a hard undertone.

Shining Armor didn’t respond immediately. Instead, his horn lit, sending a magenta probe into the kitchen to retrieve some unknown object. The clatter of metal on tile sounded as the force field dug around the kitchen, searching for what its owner desired. Clearly, it had little regard for making a mess in the process. Cadance cringed as she imagined the cooking utensils, strewn across the once-immaculate floor. What returned to the room was a sheaf of paper, with a royal crimson ribbon clasped to the edge.

“What is that?” Cadance asked edgily, the trademark cheeriness in her voice fading slightly upon seeing the letter. Whatever it was, it looked official. And the fact that the couple was harboring a wanted criminal in their spare bedroom hardly put her nerves to rest.

“Letter from the Princess,” Shining Armor responded, casually. His demeanor was uneasy, and his voice matched it, no matter how hard he tried to insist otherwise. He also didn’t clarify which princess had sent the letter—there was only one who could scare him enough to elicit such nervousness. Celestia. It had to be.

“And?” Cadance prompted.

“Canterlot has recently received intelligence that some of the Changelings that we banished might not have actually made it out of the country. Several eyewitness accounts . . .” Shining Armor left the sentence hanging. His magic relinquished the letter, laying it down flat on the coffee table.


“Before you brought Chrysalis here, somepony must have seen her. Celestia put a special emphasis on her. There’s a bounty and everything . . .” The coffee mug was brought to the stallion’s lips; he didn’t seem to care that it had long-since gone stone cold. As the liquid slid down his throat, though, he cringed, realizing his mistake. He immediately set the mug back down, some of its contents sloshing out from the ceramic walls and splattering on the heavy wood of the table. “And I’ve been requested in Canterlot to lead the search.”

“Shining!” Cadance exclaimed, half-rising from her chair. “But . . . you can’t! You can’t . . . tell them!”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I don’t want to tell them, but . . . well, I’m obligated, being the captain of the guard, you know. And if I didn’t . . . Celestia would probably see right through me, anyway.” Shining Armor leaned forward, an aura forming once again around his horn. A glow formed around the logs in the fireplace. Something sparked, and there was suddenly a raging blaze dancing along the pile of wood. Restlessly, Shining Armor picked up the iron poker and stabbed at the fire.

“But . . . Chrysalis,” Cadance protested. “I mean, there’s no guarantee that Celestia will call you out, I mean . . . she didn’t realize that it was her instead of me during the wedding. You could play dumb.”

“Yeah,” Shining Armor grinned weakly. “I’m good at that one.” A spark jumped out of the fire, landing inches away from his hoof. He recoiled, lifting the limb away from the source of his surprise. He frowned at the small glowing spot.

“But you could,” Cadance persisted.

“Yeah. I could. Celestia might not notice, but Luna sure will. She’s always been a lot better at reading me than good ol’ Celly was.”

“Just make sure you stay out of Luna’s way.”

“Easier said than done, Cadance. She tends to be invisible when you’re looking for her, and in your face when you’re trying to avoid her.”

“But will you try?”

Shining Armor sighed heavily. He dropped the poker, sliding it back into its designated slot on the rack next to the fireplace. His eyes flitted to Cadance’s, then immediately darted away, resting once again on the mesmerizing cavortion of the flames. “Sure,” he said with a sense of finality, like he had to force the single syllable out of his mouth.

Cadance launched herself out of the chair, throwing her forelegs around her husband’s neck. Her throat burned from the concealed tears, and a pair of identical drops leaked out from her squeezed eyelids. The relief was so powerful that it was painful. The relief that she wouldn’t have to lose Chrysalis. “Thank you, Shiny.”

Shining Armor melted into his wife’s embrace. His eyes closed as well, and his breath came slowly, evenly. “I’ll try, Cadance. I’ll try.”

After a long moment of pure affection, Cadance broke away, smiling gleefully. “I’ll make her better. I promise. By the time you get back, she’ll be completely different.”

Shining Armor stood, taking the letter with him. He rolled it up tightly, tying it with the attached ribbon. “Here’s hoping that it’ll work, for both of us.”

“When are you leaving?”

“Celestia wanted me as soon as possible . . . so, now.”

A set of armor shot out of the hallway, barreling across the room and coming to a halt in midair, hovering just in front of its owner. The silver plating was surrounded by a field of turquoise magic, its originator being Cadance’s outstretched horn. The princess grinned toothily, appearing as though she was channeling the Element of Laughter, Pinkie Pie. “Ready to go!”

Shining Armor stuck his head out from behind the armor, looking at Cadance incredulously. “In a hurry to get me out the door? It’s almost as though you want me gone.”

“Duty calls, Shiny! Now go wrangle up some Changelings for me.”

Chrysalis looked up, startled and optimistic as the door to her makeshift room opened. Cadance entered, humming cheerily. She seemed confoundedly happy about something.

The optimism faded.

“What was that about?” Chrysalis asked warily.

“As it turns out, Celestia has reason to believe that you’re still in the country, so Shining Armor is on his way to Canterlot to pick up a squad of guards and start a nation-wide search,” Cadance replied casually. A contended grin played about her lips as she watched Chrysalis descend into horror.

“I knew it!” Chrysalis shrieked. She bristled, every nerve on her body tensed. “You bring me here, act all nice, and then call in the cavalry to take me in!”

“No, it’s not like that,” Cadance added hurriedly. “Shining is leading them off the trail . . . you’re still safe here.”

Before Chrysalis could make a signature snide remark about the thorough unpleasantness that her stay had caused, Cadance pulled all of the blankets off of the bed, exposing the Changeling’s bleeding, scarred body.

Cadance regarded the oozing gashes Chrysalis had torn across herself. “Yeah . . . spa. Now. You need it.”

“On the contrary—”

“Chrysalis, we’re having a girls-only weekend. You might as well make the most of it. Spa first, arguing later.”


“Nope. You’re going to have fun, whether you like it or not.”