• Published 1st Mar 2013
  • 4,647 Views, 110 Comments

Love Lost - Eeveexpert

Everypony knows that a Changeling Queen is fiercely protective of every member of her brood, but what happens when that brood refuses her their loyalty?

  • ...

8 - The Queen and The Centurion

The morning sun fell strong upon Chrysalis' closed eyes. Before she could even awake, instinct peeled her lips back in a snarl. This was the tenth morning in an equal number of days that she had not awoken within her hive. It had long grown tiresome. As if she were not mad enough already, the memories that had been filed away to allow for a restful sleep came rushing back.

This was the morning of day two in the flight from Miasma. In the flight from her own hive. So many times during yesterday's retreat did Chrysalis want to spin on her hoof, march straight back into her rightful hive, bury her horn deep into Miasma's throat and watch as the life oozed from her convulsing body. Yet every time she looked back over her shoulder, she was reminded of why she had called for the retreat to begin with; Sylph.

Had Chrysalis been alone at the time of her return, death would have swiftly presented itself to their confrontation. However, with things as they were, there was no way that she could have possibly held her own against the rival queen and prevented Miasma from holding Sylph's life before her as a weapon. Chrysalis' pride may have been sorely damaged, but with Sylph at her side, she could rest easier knowing he was safe.

Without moving her head, the changeling queen gazed down at the branch below her. Curled upon the wooden protrusion, armor gleaming in the morning light, the queen's centurion snored softly. The longer she watched the slight rise and fall of his chest, the more she felt her fury dissolve away. The tears welling in the corners of her emerald eyes softened her normally hard expression. I'm sorry it has come to this. You deserve better than what Miasma has put us through. She may be able to take my hive from me, but she cannot take you, Sylph.

Changeling queens are a strange species in Equestria. Every child born to their hive is loved equally and without condition. With that said, there is a reason that any changeling bearing the title of "centurion" commands a great amount of respect, even amongst those from outside the hive.

Such a title does indeed command respect, but it is much more than a mere title. The connection a queen shares with her centurion is something that cannot be recreated under any other circumstances. For a changeling to be selected from amidst all other soldiers within the hive by the queen herself is an immense honor. A queen will make her choice based on the ideals of the one child she believes will best lead the hive. A centurion answers to none but his queen nor do any others have the authority to overturn his orders. It is knowledge of this trust that creates a mutual, if tentative, respect between all centurions, regardless of hive.

There had not been many opportunities within the last few months for Chrysalis to do any reminiscing. As she watched Sylph, her mind began to drift. Vivid memories from the day of his inauguration returned to the changeling queen.


"At attention, my children! I need not ask if you remember the service of your esteemed centurion, Calyn! I also need not ask if you remember the border dispute with Miasma that took him from us!"

At the mention of the mother of their hated enemies, each and every one of the two thousand changelings upon the hive floor exploded into hisses and shouts of derision.

Chrysalis waited for the jeering to subside before speaking once more. "I stand before you to announce that Calyn's armor has been restored to its former glory and is ready for a worthy successor!" Suspended aloft by the hold of the queen's green magic, a chitinous blue helmet and matching chestpiece followed Chrysalis as her wings carried her to the hive floor. Her eyes made one trip over the mass of changelings before her, though the decision of who would stand at her side had long been made clear. "Sylph, present yourself."

Sylph didn't have an opportunity to present himself. At his queen's command, the group of changelings surrounding him parted, leaving him standing alone. "Wh-what!?" The changeling spun frantically, a confused look plastered upon his face. "M-me!?"


The calm reply nearly caused Sylph to leap from his exoskeleton. He had been so disoriented by the news that he had not seen the approach of his queen. He whirled to face her. "Y-your Majesty!" His bow was quick and rather improper for the occassion.

"Rise, Sylph. With the title I have chosen to bestow upon you, never again will you bow before another."

Sylph shakily broke his bow to return to his hooves at the behest of his matriarch. "As you wish, your Majesty."

"As a child of mine and a member of my hive, I trust that you are well aware of the burden this armor I hold before you carries, both physically and in responsibility, yes?"

"I-I am."

"Then, before your brethren and before me, your queen and your mother, do you accept both this armor and the decision to name you as my centurion? Know that in doing so, you will stand at my side and without equal."

Sylph knew full well the words he wanted to say yet could not stop them catching fast in his throat. "W-why me, your Majesty? Surely there must be others within the hive that are far worthier than myself."

"My decision stands, Sylph. You were with the scouting party upon the day of Calyn's death. You threw yourself into battle without a thought spared for your own safety. It was thanks to your selfless actions that the others within your party returned alive. One who acts upon the needs of others as you do can only bring strength to the hive. Do you accept the helm of Centurion Calyn as it is presented to you?"

Even now, the words still caught in Sylph's throat, leaving his hesitant nod to affirm his decision. "I do, your Majesty. I accept it with all the honor and experience that Calyn wore it with during his life. May it serve me as it did him."

"Then, before the rest of my hive, I name you as my centurion." Chrysalis' magic was replaced with that of the changeling before her as he took hold of the helmet.

Slowly, almost reverently, Sylph's magic lowered the helmet into its new resting place upon his head. "I swear that in your name and in the name of Calyn before me, I will wear this helm in a way that brings glory to the both of you. As long as I breathe, my breath shall profess my loyalty to the hive and to you, your Majesty!" He then turned to face the mass of changelings behind him to make his first delcaration as centurion. "Death to Miasma!"

The voices of two thousand changelings raised in raucous approval of the proclamation shook the very air with their volume. The Chrysalis hive was whole again.


"Death to Miasma..." Chrysalis murmured. Sylph's first official declaration as her centurion. Every day for the past thirty years he had made it a point to live for that order. Now more than ever did Chrysalis agree with those three words.

Sylph shifted lazily, causing the branch serving as his perch to creak under his weight. Now that he was awake to feel it, the sunlight falling upon his black body felt wonderful. So much so that it nearly kept him from remembering the intense hunger wracking his stomach. The instant it hit him, his feeling of peace was gone. "Nngh..." He sat up wearily and shifted his elytra back into place.

"I know you must still be hungry, Sylph, and for that I apologize. When you awake, join me upon the forest floor."

The centurion looked about groggily, spotting his queen as she descended past him to the ground. "Of course, your Majesty."

By the time Sylph's wings carried him to the ground, he found a deposit of nectar spread upon one of the the tree's protruding roots. His eyes hovered over it for but a moment. "Are you ready to continue, my queen?"

"I am, Sylph. But we are not continuing until I am sure that you are of adequate strength."

"Then let us continue! My fangs are thirsty and my mind sharp!"

"Feed." The look thrown over the queen's shoulder with her order would have split solid rock. "I know it is in your nature to sacrifice yourself for others, but I do not require that of you, Sylph. Most certainly not now. I merely wish for you to be prepared. Every step brings us closer to Ambrosia's territory. Feed. Our journey will resume in ten minutes."

"If those are your wishes, your Majesty."

Ten minutes time is rather short, but to a hungry changeling presented with a meal it is more than enough. Half of the alloted time saw Sylph finishing the last bit of his provided meal. "I am ready when you are, my queen. Let us be on our way."

"Let's. And Sylph?"

"Yes, your Majesty?"

Chrysalis nodded quickly, beckoning her centurion closer. "Walk at my side, where you belong." For an instant, her voice lost all tones of authority. This was not an order, it was a request.

The friendliness of the request was not something Sylph expected. "O-of course, your Majesty. It would be my pleasure."

Chrysalis let an hour of travel pass before chose to speak once more. "Sylph, for what reason did you choose to accompany me?"

"I swore allegiance to the hive, your Majesty."

"If your allegiance lies there, why not remain within the hive where you would be safe?"

"When I took this helm, I swore allegiance not only to the hive, but to you as well. As long as I wear it, loyalty bids me walk the same path as you. I hold no fear for whatever lies along that path."

"Your insistence is appreciated, Sylph. But do not risk yourself without due cause; do not be overly reckless. I may have bestowed the title of centurion upon you, but you are my child first and as long as I may lift a hoof, I will not bear witness to the death of another of my children. I want you standing at my side when I confront Miasma for the last time."

"I will be there, your Majesty. You have my word. We shall see the death of Miasma together!"


As the day wore on, so too did the journey upon Sylph's strength. His eyes were beginning to glaze over and he could not help his breaths coming heavy and irregular.

With a sigh, his concerned mother returned her gaze to the path before her. The nectar she bestowed upon her children was enough to keep them alive but only just. Journeys as trying as this were of no particular aid either.

Sylph stumbled along on legs made unsteady from hunger. He was fast approaching the point of collapse. Approaching even faster was an unseen tree root, which promptly turned the centurion's tired march into a struggle to stay upright. He would have fallen flat on the ground were it not for the gentle hoof of his mother that moved to support him.

"Halt your march, Sylph." Chrysalis ordered.

"But what of reaching Ambrosia's hive, your Majesty? I thought it was of the utmost importance."

"It is. But I will not see you run into the ground for my gain. You must have a proper feeding before we continue any further. We will take the time to hunt and find you an adequate meal. Have you strength enough to still walk, Sylph?"

The morning sunlight glinted brightly off of the centurion's helmet as he nodded. "I do."

"Then come with me. We are within a day's travel of Ambrosia's hive. As your mother and queen, I will see you fed and returned to full strength in preparation."


"Ambrosia may present herself as flighty and senseless, but if she percieves us as threats to her hive, she will not hesitate to engage us in self-defense."

With that, Sylph understood perfectly. He was well aware that a queen acting in defense of her hive and her children was not something to be taken lightly. "Understood. Where will we hunt then?"

Chrysalis rose from her child's side and quickly scanned the territory. These woods were still familiar; she knew what lived within them. "We are just about to enter the White Tail Woods. There is a cabin not far from here. Two ponies that love each other very much. We have fed from them when the old hive was in use. The cabin is roughly..." One further survey of the territory was taken for clarity, "An hour's travel in this direction. With me, Sylph."


What should have been an hour's travel was made longer so as to accomodate Sylph remaining strength. The queen called a halt at the edge of a small clearing before signaling the centurion to her side. "You never traveled to this region when we were in the old hive so I want you to pay attention, Sylph."

"Of course, your Majesty." His queen's voice continued behind him as the centurion watched the two ponies standing outside the cabin.

"The light green pegasus is named Mint. You will feed from her in the stallion's place. I will leave you to gather intelligence on him. I shall remain at the edge of this clearing. Do not become greedy with your feeding and do not place yourself in danger if you can avoid it. Return to me when you have had your fill.

"Understood." Sylph's wings opened to carry him to the treetops. He was tired, but the thought of food had given his jumps newfound agility. He quickly caught up to his stallion target. One of the first steps in a successful assumption is learning the target's body language and imitating it without mistake. Sylph had pulled off many assumptions and knew exactly what to look for. He was so focused on his target that the centurion nearly jumped from his perch when the stallion below him pulled a complete about-face.


With his attention broken, Sylph could now hear what the stallion was hearing. Those were indeed the hunting calls of a timberwolf pack. No more than three of them. Mixed in with their excited howls was another cry. One that was far too familiar to sit comfortably with the changeling. No! Not now! Branches creaked from the centurion's quick flight across them en route toward the commotion. He had a good idea of what he would find, but that was hardly preparation for what he did find.

Back against a tree and staring down three fully grown timberwolves, his queen stood, her lips parted in a defiant snarl. The occasional claw or fang wound stood out brightly against her black carapace, but she was still very able.

One of the three predators was just that much braver than his other counterparts and leapt for the queen. Her eyes flashed toward the lunging beast for a split second before she reacted. Her hoof lashed out to bury itself within the timberwolf's wooden chest. Chrysalis swung her attacker's momentum across her body to slam the beast into the ground. In the same instant, the changeling queen withdrew her hoof and plunged her horn deep into the crack she had just created. A burst of green flame ripped down her horn into the timberwolf's body, blowing it to shreds.

Though one lay vanquished, there were still two other timberwolves to contend with. Before Chrysalis could rise from her defeated opponent, another had already launched itself at her. "Aagh!" The wolf's sharpened claws found purchase in the queen's shoulders. Changeling queens are a proud sort. To be dragged to the ground by any opponent is a great blow to their pride. Then again, pride was not high on Chrysalis' list of possessions. She hardly had time to spit the clod of topsoil from her mouth before the timberwolf's fangs were seeking her throat. "Damned beast!" she hissed.

Not surprisingly, the feral animal gave no heed to the vulgarities spat into its face, continuing to struggle with the prone queen. What was significantly more surprising was what came to her aid. A blaze of light and heat, the sound of splintering wood and the weight pinning Chrysalis to the ground was gone. "Sylph!?"

"My apologies, your Majesty. I could not sit by and play witness to your struggle."

A more intelligent creature would have fled from solitary combat with a changeling queen and her centurion, but yet the timberwolf remained. Instinct presented with a distracted target had left the beast with a single course of action.

Eyes widened from horror let Chrysalis see every movement as the fangs of her last remaining enemy locked themselves around Sylph's armor, lifting him from the ground. Powerless, the centurion was shaken back and forth like a scrap of cloth. One final lash of the predator's neck heaved his prey straight into the trunk of a tree with a sickening crunch.

Fire rose within the eyes of the changeling queen. "You would dare to strike down one of my children before me... Damned filth!" Pure force flew from the matriarch's crooked horn to smash the guilty timberwolf into his own tree. The magic seeping into Chrysalis' voice reduced it to nothing more than a guttural growl. "Your kind has already taken so many of my children from me, just like that whore Miasma. I will reclaim my hive, but my children that you have taken... Nothing can return them to me." With each step closer Chrysalis drew to the trapped timberwolf, a small green flame climbed just a little higher upon the creature's thrashing leg. "Not that the life of a pathetic creature such as yourself could ever begin to repay their blood that was spilled at your fangs. But, it is a start." The trapped animal howled in pain as the arcane flame consuming its body spread to its chest. The look upon the face of the changeling queen was one of disgust. "Listen to you. Intelligent enough to know when your life is at an end, yet when death faces you, you scream in fright."

Chrysalis fell silent, enjoying the timberwolf's dying shrieks. The pleasure derived from them was short-lived and they soon grated on her ears. "ENOUGH!" she roared. The queen slammed her hoof into the tree trunk. Through the open mouth of the timberwolf.

When she at last turned from the charred, broken timberwolf to face her child, the queen's expression had abandoned all traces of anger. Since sliding to the ground, her centurion had moved no further. "Please be all right, Sylph..." She knelt beside his armored body, praying that her emerald eyes would find some sort of movement that would allay her worst fears. "Please." It wasn't until she held her ear down to his mouth that she heard the slightest of breaths escape from his mouth. He was still alive.

Chrysalis was quick to retrieve her comatose centurion. There would be no further travel until she knew Sylph was capable of it once more. She would have to find shelter until then. The inside of the long-dead tree she chose was hardly adequate, but injured and exhausted as she was, Chrysalis could not afford to be picky. She lay down, sheltering Sylph within the curve of her body. Sleep tugged relentlessly at her eyelids, but she would not let it take hold. Not while one of her children still remained under her care.

She could not.

Author's Note:

Sorry for the wait on this one, everyone. I was nearly finished with what SHOULD have been chapter 8 when I decided to add a chapter before it that further explains the choices made within it. The entry for EqD's flash fiction event was inspired from the flashback in this chapter and also written whilst working on this chapter, again owing to the time it took me to finish.

As I post this, the new chapter 9 is finished and awaiting the eyes of my regular pre-reader (Carnifex already went through once, and the chapter is far better for it). Expect 9 within the new few days, folks.

Enjoy and stay classy, readers.

*Approved for your viewing pleasure by Spiritofthwwolf.