Changeling Fate

by Nightmare Rift

First published

The Changelings are good and feed off of any positive emotion, but happens when one Changling decides to pick one form and never change form again. Night Crystal decided to become an Alicorn forever, but what if someone finds out she's a Changling.

Night Crystal had always kept to herself and never bothered to make friends. No one knows her real name, because no one has bothered to ask. So she decides one day she wants to become an Alicorn and try to fit in to society and make friends. She discovers the Mane 6 and the CMC. But when she realizes Alicorns are rare beings, what happens when she comes up with a fib to tell every pony that seems believable.

Note: Not my art, I give credit to whoever made it, but this is what I would imagine Night Crystal to look like in Alicorn form.

Prologue: A Past Untold

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Twilight's POV:
Changelings are a daily part of life in Equestria or mainly Ponyville. Ten live in Ponyville, another ten live in Canterlot, the rest live in the hive. Mala is my favorite, as she is excellent with the fillies, and I often see her helping put Cheerilee at the school house. Tomorrow I have a meeting with all of the Princesses about random stuff, but I also get to hang out with Mala. She doesn’t do anything on the weekends as school doesn’t run, but we enjoy reading and studying magic together. She almost always stays in Changeling form, but occasionally she will pick a form if we go somewhere that isn’t use to seeing Changelings.

"Hey Twi, whatcha thinking about, since ya obviously haven't been payin' a lick of attention to Rainbow Dash's story?" Applejack questions me as I jolt back to reality.

"Oh, wondering about the Changelings, speaking of which, I haven't seen any of them today. Where are they?"

"You don't remember Twilight? It's their day of mourning for those they lost in the War of Crystal. Remember?" Fluttershy pipes up quietly from across the room.

"I completely forgot about that, thanks for the reminder Fluttershy."

I start to wander home thinking all the while that tomorrow will bring no surprises out of the ordinary. I make it home to see Spike dusting as he usually does Friday nights, and I go to make him Gem Hot Chocolate, just to let him know how much I appreciate him. As the day starts to end, Celestia lowers the sun, Luna raises the moon, and sleep will soon come. We all go back to our home to get some sleep, but I lay awake pondering if there are Changelings out there that believe that everyone shouldn’t be together, and if there are still evil Changelings out there?


Night Crystal's POV:
As my fellow Changelings all finish up their mourning period, I start to wonder what it must be like for them to do that every year. I've never done so because everyone in my family died when I was little, and ever since that, I had been raised by two Changelings that were too old to leave the hive. They both died about a year ago. I miss them every day, but not in the same way the others feel the loss of their kin. No one in the hive ever sees me or notices me, so I just keep to myself and not talk to anypony. A group is arriving back to the hive to join in the mourning, the group that goes to Ponyville everyday. I can’t imagine trying to fit in, especially with the way we look, reformed or not. I see a flash of yellow and pink in my vision and wonder what I just saw. I find the blur again and realize that an actual pegasus came to join the mourning. I wanted to go ask who she is, but I don't want to blow my cover for my new plan tomorrow. A plan to turn into a young (1327 year old) Alicorn and try to make friends in the real pony world, without being found out. Well, that sounds easy in my head, but I don’t think it is going to be.

Chapter 1: Meeting Some Normal Ponies

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Night Crystal's POV:
I woke up to the sound of all of the Changelings departing the hive and starting their daily walk to Ponyville. However, in my case I will be making it look like I'm coming from the Unicorn Range, which holds Smokey Mountain, as not to be associated with the Changeling hive. I change into my Alicorn form and fly off towards the mountains in hope to make it to Ponyville and make some friends.

On my journey to the mountains I start to ponder how many Alicorns are in existence. With my limited knowledge I only know of three: Princess Celestia, Princess Luna (who I first knew as Nightmare Moon), and Princess Cadence. I've heard rumors of another one called Twilight Sparkle that was recently coronated. I hope there are more, because I would really love to become friends with another Alicorn.

As I land on the path fairly far distance from Ponyville, I see an earth pony with a cart coming down the brown gravel, white fenced road. I turn around to see a farm behind, and imagine that is probably where the earth pony is going. I start trotting in her direction in hopes to ask for directions to Ponyville to make it seem like I've traveled for awhile.

"Hello, I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of Ponyville? I don't know if I am still going the right way. I've traveled far and I am in need of some rest and food," I asked the kind looking pony, making my voice seem a little weary, as if I have actually traveled far.

The traveling mare, in great cheeriness, says "Of course sugarcube, ya keep headin' down this road nice an’ straight, and you'll be in Ponyville in no time. Safe travels,...?"

"Night Crystal. My name is Night Crystal. And may I ask your name kind pony?"

"Applejack, and if your looking for a good place for food, I'd recommend Sugarcube Corner."

"Well then, thank you Applejack, I hope I'll be seeing you around."

"Your most welcome Night Crystal, I hope we can talk at a later date."

As we part ways I wonder if all ponies in Ponyville are as nice as that Applejack fellow. I follow the path and come upon a building that looks like a boutique. I wonder if there is a cloak there that I can get for a decent price. All black is preferable, due to my Changeling nature and upbringing.

I walk towards the purple boutique and enter the door. I hear a bell ring and jump at the sound.

"Can I help you dear?" A white pony with a purple mane says as she approaches me.

"Yes, I was wondering if you have a black cloak for sale? I'm in need of one, for I lost my old one in a storm on my way to Ponyville from my home in the mountains," I lie easily to the beautiful mare.

"Well yes, but wouldn't you prefer a color other than black? A purple or turquoise would suit your complexion better. Oh, by the way darling, you can call me Rarity."

"Night Crystal, and no, black will do fine, as I want to cover up my wings; but also to be able to take them out if need be. I would prefer to not draw attention to myself by having a bright cloak. Thank you for the suggestion though Rarity. "

Rarity saunters to the back room. I hear some crashing and a shrill meow of a cat, then she comes to me with a black cloak. She looks a little disheveled, but I don’t say anything about it as she speaks first, "Alright darling, well here is a black cloak. I hope your travels finish up well Night Crystal, come back anytime. And no need to pay me darling, I have many black cloaks for weary travelers."

"Thank you Rarity!"
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I leave the boutique and put on my cloak. I lift up into the sky to see if I can find Sugarcube Corner that Applejack mentioned.

A blue pegasus with a rainbow mane and tail comes flying up next to me and says, “Hello there newcomer, what are you looking for? Tell me what you’re looking for, and I'll know where it is because I'm awesome. Name is Rainbow Dash, by the way."

"I'm looking for Sugarcube Corner, a pony named Applejack said it was a good place to grab a bite to eat."

"Heh, good old Applejack. Well Sugarcube Corner is right down there," Rainbow Dash says as she points out an almost edible looking building.

"Thanks for the help Rainbow Dash!"

"No problem slick. Hey what's your name?"

"Night Crystal," I yell back at her as I fly down to Sugarcube Corner. It seems that so far every pony I've met is as nice as that Applejack fellow, which is good for me since I still need to feed off of positive emotions. Even though I can get a little off by eating some good food.

I land and enter Sugarcube Corner and make sure to tuck my wings inside my cloak, but let my horn be visible. I walk up to the counter and ring the bell; nobody comes so I ring it again just in case nobody heard it for some reason.

"SURPRISE!!"

"Ahhhhhh!"

"Haha, got you! My name is Pinky Pie, what's yours? How is the weather outside? Is it warm? Is it cold? Tell me, I haven't been outside in 5 hours. So what do you want?" The pink mare says really fast as she leans over the counter.

"My name is Night Crystal, the weather outside is warm, and I would like a plate of raspberry muffins please. How much do I owe you?" I say in the most polite tone I can manage, trying not to lose my temper at this pink poofy ball of joy in front of me.

"Hi Night Crystal, good to know the weather, your total is 15 bits, here are the muffins. Come again soon."

I pay the 15 bits, take my muffins, eat them, and then notice a yellow pegasus with pink hair sitting at a table by herself. I wander over to her table and ask to join her. She looks at me with a puzzled look on her face before exclaiming, "Oh, of course, I didn't mean to stare. I only was trying to figure out if I had met you before. My name is Fluttershy."

"Nice to meet you Fluttershy, my name is Night Crystal. I was wondering if you were at the Changeling mourning yesterday night?"

"Yes I was, but how would you know that? Your a unicorn."

"I have Changeling friends that said they saw a pegasus that looked like you."

"Oh, well I didn't know I was such a disturbance there. I thought that they would be okay with it."

"Oh no, they were fine with it, they just thought it a little odd. Well, I best be off to see if I can find someone that knows Princess Celestia and Princess Luna."

"Oh, I know them, but Twilight knows them better, as she is an Alicorn. You should go to her castle and tell her I sent you. She would be more than happy to talk and have you get in touch with the princesses."

"Thanks for the help Fluttershy, I hope to see you around soon. Bye now!"

"Bye," Fluttershy whispers as I leave.

As I walk out of Sugarcube Corner, three fillies come rushing in and I have to take my wings out to steady myself. I hear a few whispers behind me as I leave, whispers about them not knowing that another alicorn was in existence. "What does that mean?" I think to myself.

I strut off towards the big castle near the edge of Ponyville, which I assume is where this Twilight Sparkle lives.

Chapter 2: Meeting Five Alicorns

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Night Crystal's POV:
As I reach the front of the castle, I see that it is completely made mainly of a light blue crystal, violet purple towers stemming in three directions, dandelion yellow roofing topping off all of the peaks of the crystal. Five honey colored balconies of varying sizes, a pink banner with a purple star waving in the wind at the tallest point, but most impressive was the Alicorn tall gold doors with two raspberry colored stars on each one. The crystal looks like it stems from the Tree of Harmony. The only reason I know about that is because of all of the heroics that I have heard about being done by the bearers of the Elements of Harmony. Which I have no idea who they are; I know the elements are honesty, loyalty, generosity, laughter, kindness, and magic. As I approach the door to the castle I look around and see the chariots of Luna, Celestia, and Cadence. All of the Alicorns that I know of have now arrived at Twilight's castle.

I rap on the door and wait for someone to answer it. After about a minute, a purple Alicorn mare opens the door and looks at me in utter shock, then immediately slams the door in my face. I stand there for approximately ten minutes before the door slowly reopens.

During those ten minutes of waiting
Twilight's POV:
I slam the door shut in panic and the princesses come over to me to see what the commotion is about.
"Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Princess Cadence; are there any more Alicorns besides us and Flurry Heart?" I say without much hesitation.

"Well none that I can think of, even going back to when Luna and I were fillies," Celestia says puzzlingly.

"Why?" Cadence asks with a turned head, while holding a blubbering Flurry Heart.

"Well you see, there is an Alicorn standing outside of this door right now, and I don't know who it is."

"Well then why don't we open the door and find out who this Alicorn is," Luna says, staying calm. After all, she is the princess of the night. I turn around and open the door again to reveal the Alicorn fellow still standing there, waiting patiently.

Night Crystal's POV:
As the door opens, I see all of the Alicorns that I know of are standing there staring at me in utter bewilderment, including a baby Alicorn held by Princess Cadence. "Hi, um, I was wondering if a certain Twilight Sparkle was here?"

The purple mare slowly peeked out from behind the door, replying, "Yes, I am Twilight Sparkle. How can I help you?"

"I was originally looking for you, wondering if you could get in contact with the princesses, but as I can plainly see, they are right in front of me, along with a filly who I don't remember hearing about?"

"Oh, this is Flurry Heart, she is mine and Shining Armor's daughter, and is Twilight's niece. What did you want to speak to us about?" exclaims Cadence.

"I was wondering if you could tell me which one of you gave me my horn and accidentally turned me into an Alicorn when I was younger?" I ask. All of the princesses were shocked.

"I beg thy pardon!?" Luna shouts.

"When I was growing up in an orphanage, I was told that my wings would never work, so an Alicorn came and blessed me with a horn since I couldn't fly, or supposedly I couldn't. After I fled the orphanage I taught myself to fly by jumping off cliffs that were near the sea. So I wouldn't get hurt. I have lived in seclusion for most of my life and wanted to try to make friends ever since I read something in the paper about a princess of friendship. So here I am!?" I explain with caution. After all, this was a really, really big fib that I was telling to four (five?) Alicorn princesses.

“I have no idea. For all we know it could have been Queen Galaxia, our mother,” Princess Celestia says, looking over at Luna. Continuing on, Celestia comments, “It is possible, but of course we could never know, you may very well be the sixth Alicorn in existence and no one knew of you. Why did you-“

“Why did thee flee thy orphanage and why come into a town after so long of being alone, if thee have been living in seclusion since the time of our mother? Since that would mean that thee are older then all of the currently living Alicorns, and therefore-"

"Don't you dare suggest that Luna! That is ridiculous and physically impossible!!"

"Is it sister? Thou would not know if I hit thee in the face!" Luna shouted.

"Luna! Watch your tongue around royal company!" Cadence growled.

"Fine, but we are still going to say it sister. It would mean that dear Night Crystal here is the oldest Alicorn in existence and therefore would be Queen Night Crystal. Whether my light sister likes it or not. That would also be based on whether she would want to take the title as queen or just be her everyday self. But we would first ask that of thee Night Crystal."

"I ... I ... I don't know. I feel as if I do not fit the definition of a queen as I don't know many ponies very well, since I have lived in isolation my whole life. I would prefer to stay myself, but I would at least like some money and a place to stay to get myself started. If you wouldn't mind?"

"Of course!!" Twilight all but shouts, "You can stay here in one of the guest rooms next to Starlight, one of my friends, and I'm sure the two sisters wouldn't mind giving you a small fortune to help you on your feet."

"In that, my student and fellow princess, Twilight is correct. We will give you a small fortune to help you on your feet and also get a team started on building you a house where you wish," Celestia says in a gentle tone.

I think to myself that this day has gone perfect, and my life as an Alicorn has just begun.

Chapter 3: Settling In and Suprises

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Night Crystal's POV:
Twilight bids the other princesses goodbye and Celestia said she would send the money to Twilight to give to me the next day. I thanked all of them, told Celestia to put my house at the edge of the Everfree Forest, and then Twilight led me upstairs to where I would be staying for the next 3 weeks. Apparently that was in a room next to her friend Starlight Glimmer- Hummer? I have no idea, but nonetheless I didn't have a choice. Since I was currently in the process of pulling off probably the biggest lie in Equestrian history. Still it could have been worse, I could have told them I was born an Alicorn, and then I would have had to tell them who my parents were, and that wouldn't have worked because than they would look them up in the records and then find out they were Changelings, and in turn find out I was a Changeling, and reveal me. So, it could be worse, much worse.

I wake up the next morning to someone pounding on my door, "Come in!" I shout, and in barges the bright pink pony named Pinkie Pie. How, in all Equestria, did she get herself into Twilight Sparkle's castle? This was beyond me. As I stretch my wings, she shoots a cannon filled with little inedible sprinkles that taste like paper. I can't handle this pony, especially in the morning. I decide to jump out my window to take a nice, relaxing, calming flight, and to get some fresh air. As I flap my wings, I wish to do nothing more than change back into a Changeling. Sadly though, I can't, because if that Rainbow Dash pony is out flying, then I can't be spotted changing.

I look around me, wondering where that nice Applejack pony is. Alas, I don't have time to look as I am suddenly plummeting through the sky to the ground. OOF!

"Hey Night Crystal! What you doing up so late? Shouldn't you be at Twilight's castle helping to make preparations for your home? Who were you looking for?" a certain Rainbow Dash says.

"If you must know, Pinkie Pie woke me up with a cannon that launches inedible sprinkles--"

"Confetti."

"Okay, shoots confetti, and I was looking for the pony I met on my way here whose name is Applejack. Lastly, I didn't even know that they were making preparations on my home starting today," I say with no emotion.

“Oh, Applejack is busy working on the farm, so you should probably get back to Twilight’s, since according to her your home is going to be awesommme!”

“Well, I’ll go then. Enjoy your flight, or whatever reason you’re out here,” I say, brushing off her excitement over MY house as I fly back to Twilight’s castle.

As I make my way back through my bedroom window, I see that the door is now open. I land inside, and immediately start to hear yelling downstairs. I fly down there to find Twilight and Luna fighting over the layout of the rooms. I, in turn, look at each of their designs for my house; Luna’s design has a kitchen, two bedrooms, a living room, a basement, a small bathroom, and a small side room that has a door that leads to the backyard. Twilight’s is practically the same, except that it adds an attic, which I don’t need, and a small library. I haven’t read a book in over a year, mostly because Changelings don’t have libraries. I pipe up in the midst of them arguing with my opinion, “I like Luna’s the best, it is more practical for me. Besides, I have no need for an attic as I have nothing to put up there, and I don’t need a personal library. That is what the public library is for; and I’m sure I could always borrow books from you Twilight. You know, to catch up on what I have missed over the time I have spent in seclusion.”

“Well, that settles it then. We will get started immediately. Thy house shall be done within three weeks time,” Luna states, using the royal we, which is what she refers to herself as she hasn’t gotten used to using I. Heck, she still speaks using thee and thy.

“And of course you can borrow books from my library. You’re free to borrow as many as you want and as often as you want, as long as they are all returned eventually,” Twilight cheerfully adds.

“Of course Twilight, and thank you Luna. I will be sure to do many things during my time here in Ponyville. Twilight, I would love if you would show me around town tomorrow and introduce me to some other ponies,” I say as I walk away and go to my bedroom to rest until tomorrow.

Chapter 4: Three Weeks of Waiting

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Luna’s POV:
Although we find it curious that Night Crystal is an Alicorn, we truly wonder if she is; but the only way to find out if our suspicions are correct are to ask her directly, or visit her dreams. If those give us an insight, then maybe asking won’t be necessary.

Night Crystal’s POV:
As I canter out of my room the next day I feel strangely invaded, probably Luna watching over my dream, which was about me Spending my time in a made up orphanage. I knew to control my dreams to keep them about my made up past, as I knew Luna was going to be snooping around trying to figure out if I was lying about my past as an Alicorn. My next dream is going to be about Queen Galaxia giving me my horn. That should throw Luna and Celestia for a loop, since that would mean I am older than both of them.

I go downstairs to see Twilight talking to Cadence and some stallion who is calling her Twily. I see his cutie mark and see that it is similar to Twilight's, so I am assuming that is her brother Shining Armor. I give a greeting and ask what breakfast is since I could smell it from upstairs.

“Chocolate chip pancakes and a side of papaya. By the way, this is my brother Shining Armor.” I was right after all. “Are you ready for me to show you around town a little bit today?” pipes up Twilight.

“Of course,” I say as I stuff my face with pancakes. “I was thinking we could visit Applejack on her farm and then maybe hit up the spa that I saw on my flight in. It looks decent and I have never really had a spa day, although I have had heard about them from my orphanage nanny back in the day.” I finish up eating and then Twilight and I head off into town to do what I planned, hopefully.
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Nope, definitely not what I planned. I am currently at Sweet Apple Acres, spending time with a lot of ponies: Applejack, Pinkie Pie (my main source of feeding), Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Twilight, Rarity, Granny Smith, Big Mac, and the three fillies that ran past me at Sugarcube Corner when I first arrived. The three fillies apologized for almost knocking me over that day. I forgave them but told them to be more careful so it doesn't happen in the future. As those three went off to go play, the rest of us, except Granny Smith and Big Mac, helped Applejack harvest apples. Big Mac was injured so he wasn't able to do his chore of harvesting. I was very bored but, nonetheless, listened to everyone else chat about their previous journeys that they have taken together to save the world and to solve friendship problems. I then got lost in my own thoughts about my real past and about the Everfree Forest.

“Darling, are you going to continue helping or do you have a question on your mind?” Rarity asks me, pulling me back to reality.

“Oh, well, I do have a question, technically two. First, who else lives in the Everfree Forest? Secondly, after the War of Crystal, who took over the Crystal Empire and the Changeling Hive?” I asked, knowing very well who the answer is to both questions.

“Well that's pretty darn easy,” answers Applejack. “Zecora lives in the Everfree Forest. Princess Cadence rules over the Crystal Empire and then all of them Changelings work together to live in relative harmony. Since a good amount of them come here to Ponyville to work and all Changelings are known to us ponies now.”

“Alright, good to know. How many more trees need bucking, Applejack?” I say bucking the tree I am under and catching the apples in the basket.

“Zero, you just did the last one.”

“Great! Should we all go to the spa now, or do you have other chores for us to do Applejack?”

“Nope, all ya’ll should head to the spa. Rainbow Dash and I have a hoof ball match that we planned to do. We’ll see ya’ll later.”

I thought that meant the rest of us were going, but Fluttershy has to go take care of her animal friends, and Rarity has to go finish up her new line for Photo Finish. So it was just me and Twilight, she started babbling on about a dragon named Spike that was currently in the Dragon Lands learning about dragon customs and yada yada yada. I stopped listening eventually, and just as Twilight was going to go on another tangent we reached the spa. Just as we reached the entrance a disheveled looking pony ran out screaming her head off that the spa owners were demons trying to ruin her hair. Then the door to the spa slammed shut with a closed sign hanging on it.

“That was weird, that was Spoiled Rich, and she has never had a single complaint against the two spa owners, who are both wonderful ponies by the way,” Twilight says puzzlingly.

“Well since we no longer can go to the spa, do you want to sit down and answer a long complicated question for me?” I say almost pleadingly.

“Of course.” We walk over to the nearest bench and sit. “What do you want to know?”

“I want to know how much trouble one can get into with Celestia and Luna before they kill you or banish you? And along with it, do you happen to know how many Changelings were killed by them after the War of Crystal?”

“First off, I am not proud of Celestia and Luna for their actions of killing those Changelings, but I guess I do agree that they were right to be condemned, since they were going along with and aiding King Sombra. Their total count was about 234 Changelings, leaving about 25 orphan children, all of which Luna and Celestia paid for them to be well taken care of in the hive. As for how much trouble, probably a lot. You have to have done something horrible to them or one of the elements to deserve wrath that high. Why do you ask?”

“I’ve heard about the devastation in the Changeling hive, but also I wanted to know just how bad somepony needs to screw up to make Luna and Celestia mad. So thank you,” Night Crystal replied. Today had been a long day, so I bid Twilight goodnight. I leapt off the ground and took off towards Canterlot, leaving a stunned Twilight behind.

Chapter 5: Visit to Celestia and Luna

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Night Crystal’s POV:
As Celestia lowers the Sun and Luna starts to raise the Moon, I land on a balcony outside the throne room and wander around until I can find Celestia or Luna, or someone who can take me to either of them. I walk off of the balcony into the throne room to find Celestia leaning back in her throne sleeping. She must have had a long day, so I gently prod her awake and ask her if she would like me to escort her to her chambers. She half heartedly mumbles a yes, so I help her stand up, give her a shoulder to lean on, and I walk her to her room. She lays down, I pull the covers up over her, say that I will see her tomorrow, and tell her I am off to find Luna. In response she softly snores, as she heads off into the dream realm.

I trot off to find Luna, which goes better than expected as I round the corner of the hallway to see Luna checking to see that all of Celestia’s royal guards were sleeping so that Luna’s guards could do their own guarding without interference. Luna looks up to see me approaching and waves her hoof in greeting. I continue towards her and ask, “Luna, why is it that you are so nosy in the dream world? I mean since you were in mine yesterday night, and yet you continue to act as if I am an old friend of yours. Instead of someone who you don’t trust enough to think that I am telling the truth of my past.”

“I don’t think thee should be asking us those kinds of things, as we only wish to try to understand thy past. Thou is a friend to us, but Celestia also had her doubts about thy past, but so far all we can tell her is that what thee told us is true. We were planning on doing another trip to thy dreams tonight to see if we could find out who granted thee thy horn.”

“Well I guess the only way for you to do that is for me to go to sleep. Do you know where a guest bedroom is that I could sleep in for the night?”

“Of course, down the hall, third door on thy right. Have a good night Night Crystal.”

I enter into the room that Luna said was available for me and slip into the nice soft sheets. I enter the dream realm, prepared to show Luna the truth of my horn, or what she knows to be the truth.

I wake up the next morning feeling as if I am being stared at. I open my eyes to see Luna and Celestia staring at me in utter amazement. I simply laugh like a giggly school filly knowing very well why they are staring at me. They think I am older than both of them, which means my little lie has just been reinforced, buying me more time in the world of Alicorns and friendship. As I get out of bed, the princesses quickly compose themselves, and I say, knowing very well the answer to the question, “So now that you know who it was, care to tell me, since I don’t remember my dreams?”

“It was our mother, Queen Galaxia. Which means, we were wrong to doubt you, and for that, we are truly sorry,” says a sad looking Celestia as she lifts her crown off her head and offers it to me.

“Why are you offering me your crown? I am not fit to lead, I know nothing about doing your job Celestia. And judging by how tired you were yesterday when I helped you to your room from the throne room, I am definitely not prepared for it. I am use to doing very little for others, I am used to only helping myself. You are a wonderful leader Celestia, even though I am sure that there are certain actions in your past that you may regret,” I calmly say as I lift Celestia’s crown in my magic and place it back on her head.

“Thank you Night Crystal. You are right, there are actions that Luna and I regret, but sometimes they are necessary to appease our subjects and to quell the spark of rebellion in others. If you are talking about the War of Crystal. But Luna must rest now, but I am happy to entertain you today or just simply leaving you to wander about Canterlot. Your choice is whatever you want it to be.”

“Thank you, I believe I know everything I want to know for now, so I will wander around Canterlot for the day, and see how the food and shops are.” I bow and wander towards a balcony to fly down to the beautiful, sparkling city of Canterlot.

I land in the center of the city, and immediately feel very underdressed. Almost everyone in Canterlot dresses highly, and if somepony is not well dressed, they are usually seen as outcasts. I don’t know how Rarity deals with this scrutiny every time she comes here. But instead of being treated like an outcast, I am treated as if I am a royal princess, which makes sense since every other Alicorn is a princess of something. Suddenly, one pony yells at the general masses and says, “Everyone, it is the new Alicorn Princess that Celestia and Luna have told us about!”

Immediately, I am being swarmed by newspaper ponies trying to get a good picture and are asking me a bunch of questions. I am so overwhelmed. I do the only thing I know how to do, I vanish under an invisibility spell. All of the ponies step back in alarm and shock. I carefully weave in and out of the ponies and take off into the sky, only taking off my spell once Canterlot is but a speck on the horizon.

I return to Twilight’s castle and apologize to her for running off that night. For the next two and a half weeks we went out and did various activities with her friends and also did some major book reading together.

Chapter 6: Edge of the Forest

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Three weeks ago, I discussed with Luna and Twilight about my house. Now, my house sits just within the border of the Everfree Forest, so I will have to deal with Timberwolves, and other creatures near my house on occasion. However, my house is not really a house per say, it is a giant tree that has been hollowed out and follows Luna’s design. My “backyard” is essentially the Everfree Forest, which I am okay with, since I am use to defending myself, and I could go exploring in Changeling form without fear of being spotted. It is going to be pretty drab until I get furniture into it and decorate it the way I want to.

Today I finally move what little belongings I took from my room in the Changeling Hive, and move them into my new house. My belongings included a dog stuffed animal that my real parents left with me before they died; and the suitcase that contains only one navy blue dress given to me by my adoptive parents, and a book about the uses of dark magic, which is carefully hidden under an invisibility spell. The invisibility spell, which can only be learned by use of dark magic, is in that book. A book that I have to keep away and hide from Celestia and Luna, and most definitely Twilight the bookworm. I have control over both normal and dark magic, like my adoptive parents. My real parents died before the War of Crystal. My adoptive parents, on the other hoof, well, that's a long story.

My adoptive parents were alive during the war, and were secret agents; the brains of the war. Thankfully Sombra died keeping their secret safe, so they lived on after the war. Sombra was very generous to the Changelings who were on his side: giving them money, food, and stuff that I wanted as a kid. I was alive before the war started, and I can say it was easy to say whose side was the better one to be on in terms of treatment. Yet we all knew that Celestia and Luna would win anyway. But I guess in a weird way, we all supported Sombra because he was kinder to us then Celestia ever was. Sombra loved to visit families that had small children like myself, because we were a source of great pride for him. Although, I might be biased because he was like the father I never had. He spent a lot time playing with me and teaching me dark magic while also listening to my adoptive parents’ plans about the war. I guess you could say that I loved him like a father, and maybe you could say that he had a good heart because he would often say to me that I would make a good daughter, and would be an amazing queen one day if we won the war. Unfortunately, he was killed by Celestia and Luna, and not too soon after, Celestia banished Luna to the moon for 1000 years. Yes that makes me 1327 years old, but technically Changelings are immortal as long as we continue to feed. The only way that we die is either by choice to stop feeding, or by being killed. My adoptive parents died by choice, they said it was time. I was devastated by their choice, but then I remembered that no one knew who they or I was anyway so their deaths didn’t impact the hive. Moving on, back to the time of war.

During the war, I was raised fairly normal, besides going on missions. When the war ended, Celestia and Luna came by and determined whether my family deserved to live. They decided to let my adoptive parents live, and I was allowed to live because I was supposedly too young to be useful to the war. Which in reality was the opposite, I was severely useful to Sombra, as he often had me go to villages as a small pony filly and ask for food for my family, which was food for the troops. I also may have once been told to go to a village, act as an orphan, and be raised by the leader family. Once I was well incorporated into their family, I staged their murder, therefore crushing the resistance in that village. So yes, by that point, I really didn't deserve to live. But that is the past and now I have to keep up the appearance of an Alicorn who was an orphan with no family at all. So first order of business is to go to Twilight and ask her to give me every book on King Sombra.
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I decide to take the long way through town to Twilight’s castle. On my way I decide to buy a shiny black ceramic vase with white orchids in it from Roseluck. I decide to put it next to the window in my bedroom. I stop by the Quills and Sofas shop and pay for a black, two pony sofa to be delivered and put into my house. I also get myself a set of raven feather quills to use eventually. Over the course of the rest of the day, I accumulate a set of black curtains, a variety of plants for healing, a bed and mattress, a black bedspread, and a set of black saddlebags. I teleport all of those items back home, the joys of dark magic, and then continue on my way to Twilight’s castle.

As I reach Twilight's castle I hear screaming behind me. I whip around to see Rarity and Fluttershy running away from what appears to be a giant stuffed tarantula that has come alive. My immediate thought turns to the master of chaos, Discord.

Chapter 7: Party Time

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Sweetie Belle’s POV:
Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and I set off to visit Night Crystal who lives just within the edge of the Everfree Forest. We wanted to invite her to one of Pinkie Pie's parties, specifically the one that she was throwing at Twilight’s later today. Since, after all, she had spent most of a day helping Applejack out on the farm. Rarity didn't know much about her, other than her name, and that her favorite color was most likely black. Rainbow Dash said that she took an early morning flight for the three weeks she was staying at Twilight's. Fluttershy knew that she supposedly knew some Changelings. We know nothing more then not to run into her anymore. We arrive at her house only to find a sign that says, “Visiting Twilight right now.” Well, this was pointless. The three of us decide to head back up to Twilight’s, since that is where the party is anyway.

Night Crystal’s POV:
Of course it had to be Discord, the one creature that I preferred not to run into during my time in Ponyville. Mainly because, for some reason, he is really good at guessing when something fishy is going on. In this case, that something fishy would be me actually being a Changeling. As Rarity and Fluttershy zoom past me, I yell, “DISCORD!”

The spider vanishes and out pops Discord saying, “Why did you have to ruin my fun? I am the master of chaos after all. Then again, I’m not the only one who is exceedingly upset right now, except them for a different reason then me,” he says pointing behind me.

I turn around, seeing a cowering Rarity, a fuming Fluttershy, two upset earth ponies, an even angrier pegasus, and four enraged Alicorns. I start laughing at Discord and simply step out of the way for Celestia, and for some reason, Fluttershy. I knew her to be shy, so I didn’t know why she was suddenly so brave to stand up to Discord. Fluttershy began to speak, “Discord, you know better then to go terrorizing my friends. You should be ashamed of yourself, and most importantly because that is your first impression on Night Crystal.”

“In that she is right, a poor first impression Discord, but I guess I had low expectations to begin with. Since it was clearly obvious to me that the giant stuffed spider was your doing. Even Rainbow Dash’s pranks aren’t that bad, and she isn’t a unicorn with magic so yeah,” I say, mocking Discord and his magical capabilities.

“You will regret that comment some day Night Crystal, but I won’t ruin Twilight’s party anymore. Tata for now,” he says, vanishing without a trace.

Everypony heads back inside, but instead of following them, I stayed outside a little bit longer. A couple minutes later, I head inside too, but just before I reached the doors, I hear my name. Turning around, I see Discord smiling. He comments, “I know what you are,” then he’s gone.

I open the doors, and head inside only to find the castle decorated with bright colored streamers, confetti cannons going off, and a turquoise banner with starry violet words that say “Welcome to Ponyville Night Crystal!” I stand there staring at the banner, then tearing my gaze away to see everyone gathered with Twilight, who is holding a small starry purple cake in violet colored magic. Everyone gathers around a large table that has everypony’s favorite dishes. The last dish to be put down on the table was a sweet and sour raspberry tart, my absolute favorite. We sit around, chat, and eat until our hearts are content. I learned that Pinkie apparently whipped this all up this morning, and boy is it delicious! When we are done, we all move to the library to sit around the fire and have everyone give me my welcome to Ponyville gift. Celestia and Luna start, giving me another large sum of bits to help me decorate my house, and maybe even open a shop of some sort if I wished. Rarity gave me a dark turquoise dress, a navy blue scarf, and a black ribbon to put in my hair. Applejack gave me a basket of apples to eat, along with a jar of cider. Pinkie Pie gave me five sweet and sour raspberry tarts. Fluttershy gave me a card that told me to stop by her cottage at my earliest convenience to pick out a pet of my choosing. Rainbow Dash gave me a set of tickets to a Wonderbolt show. Starlight Glimmer, who doesn’t know me very well, gave me a small poison joke plant. Everyone else was a little concerned, but I just laughed. Lastly, Twilight gave me a journal for me to write in if I wished, and a large book regarding King Sombra and all about the War of Crystal. I thank them all for their amazing gifts and say, “I am so happy to have friends like you all. I can’t thank you all enough for this amazing surprise party that you guys threw for me. You guys are truly the most welcoming group of friends ever!” I start to tear up, but suddenly get scooped up into a giant group hug. I relish in the amount of positive energy I am receiving right now, but most of all, I am happy that I have so many new friends that care about me. Even though, in the end, I am going to probably rip that trust and friendship to pieces with my lie.

Chapter 8: Zecora and Hidden Truths

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Luna’s POV:
We shall not believe that Night Crystal is older, yet she has had the dreams to prove to us that she was turned into an Alicorn by Queen Galaxia. A decision that can only be undone by Celestia, Cadence, or we, but only if Night Crystal consented to it. Which we doubt very much, as she has grown used to being an Alicorn. Without her horn, she would be very confused. But we shall not push it, let alone mention it to Night Crystal.


Night Crystal’s POV:
I decide that it might be best to start figuring out a way to earn some bits. I think finding Zecora and asking if she needs any help finding and harvesting ingredients might be a good way to get started. Since I am a Changeling, I am technically immune to all side effects of potentially dangerous plants, which means that collecting plants is super easy. As I wander off to Zecora’s tree, I wonder if she even knows that I exist yet, seeing as she rarely comes into town. I reach her tree, knock on the door, she answers, and gestures for me to come in. She then says in her rhyming manner, “If it is a job you seek, then it is I who needs your talents unique. Although that would mean, you are the one who needs to come clean.”

“You are right Zecora, but I do ask that you do not tell another pony, even in all of your rhyming glory,” I say as I change into my Changeling form, as black as a new moon with dark sky blue eyes.

“Now I see, but you must still collect plants for me, if you are wanting to succeed. Although I must admit, you are eager to commit,” she states, handing me a list with the names, how many of each, and where they grow.

I march off into the woods, still in Changeling form, to look for three ingredients that Zecora needs, and one ingredient that she hoped I could find, even though she never had. Lucky for her however, I know just where to find them, the edge of the Changeling territory. I decide to go there first and collect the other three on my way back.

Twilight’s POV:
I decided to go to Zecora’s house today to see if she had any poison joke to make Fluttershy’s voice deep for subbing in for Big Mac for his singing. Fluttershy is fully prepared to do this since Big Mac decided to injure his voice doing a stupid turkey call competition. I knock on her door, she opens it, and gives me a funny look. She expected me to ask first, so I went on to say, “Zecora, I need you to get me a brew of poison joke to help me make Fluttershy’s voice deep so she can sub in for Big Mac in his singing part for the Pony Tunes.”

“I can help you indeed, but unfortunately I need another pony to return from her deed. If you wish to wait for the brew, then, in the meantime, I can whip up a stew.”

‘I would be delighted for some stew Zecora! I don’t mind waiting for somepony to bring you back ingredients.” So we sit and talk about remedies and how you harvest poison joke without getting the side effects. Apparently it is quite easy, you either get a Changeling to pick them for you, or you pick a path from the outside to the inside.

Night Crystal’s POV:
I was to get purple iris, poison joke, red lilies, and black crystal roses. The roses grow only with large amounts of Changeling magic nearby. The roses were a gift from Sombra for aiding him. He took Crystal roses from the Crystal Empire and infused them with dark magic, turning them black. These are used in a few rare brews, however the most common one is for stings from Flash Bees. I suspect that is what Zecora wants it for. I collect ten roses, and collect the rest of the ingredients on my way back. As I walk in the back door, I see that Twilight is there. She asks who I am, I panic, but Zecora covers for me by saying, “This is Skylight, a Changeling I met in the woods one night.”

“Pleased to meet you Skylight, I’m Twilight Sparkle,” she says holding out a hoof for me to shake.

I make my voice higher in pitch as I shake her hoof and say, “The pleasure is all mine. I love helping Zecora collect ingredients since I can get all of them without any side effects. It makes her life easier, to help herself and her friends like you. Do you want me to put two flowers of joke into the pot for you, Zecora?”

“Yes of course my dear, you can leave the rest of the ingredients over here,” gesturing to the table she was standing near. “Here are your bits for payment. I couldn’t have asked for a better agent.”

I leave Zecora’s house and fly into the forest before changing back to Alicorn form. After I have done that, I take off, flying above the trees and fly home, ready for a restful night of sleep.

Chapter 9: Decoration of Ponyville

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I learned from Applejack that two days from now is Nightmare Night and the whole town is supposed to be decorated for it, including my house apparently. The little fillies and colts will be coming around, house to house, to ask trick or treat. We give them candy and they run off to the next house. The parents very rarely will accompany these fillies because everypony knows everypony. Even me, so basically I am in charge of making sure no fillies go running off into the Everfree Forest or get eaten by Timberwolves that decide to wander to the edge looking for food. I decide to make my tree look like the old Changeling Hive, the one that Sombra always had us gather in. It has since been destroyed, namely by Celestia and Luna after the war. Although, decorating my house will be super easy, since all I have to do is tap my Changeling horn against my house and it will to take on the illusion of the old hive. I plan to do that tonight so nopony sees me in Changeling form. For now I have to go get candy from Pinkie Pie so I can pass it out to all the fillies and colts.

I arrive at Sugarcube Corner to see Gummy sitting on the front step, usually indicating to not disturb Pinkie that Pinkie, unless you are me or the elements. I sidestep him and walk in to see Pinkie in the midst of breaking down in panic. Scattered in every corner of the shop is either candy gelatin or an order paper of various candies for Nightmare Night. Judging by Pinkie’s look of panic, I am going to assume that it is going to take her all day and night for the next two days to fill all of the orders. “Pinkie, do you need help baking candy?” I say cautiously, afraid of her going into deflate mode.

“Yes, that would super dooper amazing Night Crystal! Do you know how, or do you need my amazing super secret recipe? Ooooo, what do you have in your bag?” she says suddenly returning to herself, and somehow realizing I have something in my black saddlebags.

“I have a recipe for a Changeling candy that a friend gave me. It makes it taste like whatever candy the pony wants it to. I planned on making some so my house can stand out on Nightmare Night. But I would still like some normal ones too. I would need a recipe to help you make normal candy, but I would still need the ingredients to take home to make my Changeling candy.”

“Of course you can have the ingredients, as long as I can have a few of the candies you make. Here is the secret recipe for my candies that all of Ponyville passes out,” she says as I start to shove all of the ingredients I need into my saddlebags. Then off to work we go on making hundreds of candies.

We finish all of the orders within five hours. Much faster than if Pinkie had to make them by herself. Pinkie thanks me, I grab my small order of candy, and head home to make my Changeling candy. Thankfully Pinkie didn’t ask to look at the recipe, otherwise I would have been in big trouble. Two of the main ingredients in the candies are one Changeling scale, and a sprinkle of Changeling magic, dark Changeling magic. On top of making the candy, I also have to make my costume, which is going to be King Sombra, or as close as I can get to looking like him. I have to wait until Nightmare Night to learn what all of the elements are going to be.

I lock all the doors, close all the blinds, and put a shield spell around the house to make sure nopony can spy on me through magic. Ah, I love playing with dark magic. I turn into my Changeling form and gather all of my ingredients to make my delicious Changeling candy. As I drop the scale into the bowl, fill each mold with the batter, and sprinkle some dark magic into each mold, I hear a knock on the door. I transform into my Alicorn and open the door to see Rarity standing at my doorstep. I was shocked. “Rarity, what in all Celestia are you doing at my house at this hour of the night?”

“Well, you see darling, I wanted your opinion on my costume. I was either going with Princess Platinum or Princess Celestia,” she says looking torn between which on to do.

“Well, do you want to give a history lesson every time somepony sees you? Or do you want be popular by making a great Celestia look alike costume?” I question, knowing that Princess Platinum was from the origin story of Hearth’s Warming Eve story. However, most fillies don’t know that.

“Well I guess that is true. I’ll do Princess Celestia and wow everypony with my amaaazing sewing,” she says as she leaves, her eyes filling with hope.

As night begins to fall and everypony goes into their houses to sleep, I stay awake hoping to transform my home without being spotted. My deep blue Changeling magic isn’t easy to hide in the dark. Before walking outside, I transform into my true self. I bow, touching my horn to my house, making it take on the illusion of the old hive. Looking back up to see that I had succeeded, I hear a rustle behind me and turn to see the eyes of Twilight Sparkle staring at me. I dash off into the forest, knowing very well if she catches me that I am going to suffer the consequences of my actions, and my lie.

Chapter 10: Reveal to One

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Twilight follows quickly as I run off, launching stunning spells in hopes to catch me. I run in a zigzag pattern, constantly changing forms as I go, trying to lose her. Unfortunately, she is somehow keeping up with me, and I am starting to run out of energy to change. I quickly change into a mouse, making an instant u-turn, only to find that Twilight has teleported and is directly in front of me. I stop, change back into my Changeling form, and yell “Twilight, stop it's me!” Immediately turning into Night Crystal right in front of her eyes.

“Why should I trust you? For all I know you are just some random Changeling that is pretending to be my friend.”

“Twilight, you wish that was the case. However, I am a Changeling that aided King Sombra in the War of Crystal. I lied to you and everyone else about being an Alicorn. So I ask you now to pass judgement on me, knowing that you are one of the only friends I have ever had in my life,” I say, changing back into my true appearance, dipping my head in a low bow.

“Skylight, you’re Night Crystal? I can’t believe this. How could you have aided Sombra? He was a monster! How could you lie like this to everypony, especially Celestia and Luna, since they believe you are older than them?”

“You know nothing of Sombra! He was like a father to me, I loved him! I still do, just in a different way. He is dead now, but back during the war he treated the Changelings better than Celestia and Luna ever did. Since they killed 200 of them. I had to lie, if they knew who I really was they might as well have killed me on sight. Since I was a traitor to their rule back during the War of Crystal. More importantly, I didn’t know that Alicorns were rare beings when I initially made myself Night Crystal. Secondly, I never actually knew my real parents. I grew up with adoptive parents. So the orphanage was partially true, since I have never known my parents. So, essentially, this was just a giant lie,” I say knowing very well that even my identity as Skylight was a lie, an even bigger one that would have me on Celestia and Luna’s death list, if that is even a thing.

“So you’re saying that you lied to everypony, and yet you feel no shame because you just wanted to be normal. You wanted to be treated differently than you were back in the War of Crystal. I think I understand why you wouldn’t want to be yourself. I forgive you for making up this lie. I’ll keep your secret, as long as you promise to come clean to everypony after a year from today.”

“I promise. Thank you Twilight. I really do need you to keep it to yourself, do not even dream about it. Otherwise Luna will know and then I’ll have no chance for a normal life.”

“I promise as well. Now, I think we probably should get back before the sun comes all the way up. Since I have been chasing you for most of the night.”

I turn to see the sun starting to peak over the canopy of the Everfree Forest, and I realize she is right. I nod my head in agreement and Twilight uses a transportation spell to get herself home. I turn back into Night Crystal and walk home. I make it to my illusion of a Changeling hive, go inside, close the door behind me, and realize I am going to need to be more careful.

“You and your talents are amazing, don’t forget.”

I shudder at that voice, yet I am not afraid because I know who it is. But what is my destiny? And at what cost?

“The cost is the thin trust and friendships you have made, but in return you will get me back. You may also get to keep the friendships you’ve made if you plan correctly. If I come back, I will do whatever you wish me to do, even if that means letting Celestia, Luna, and Cadence continue to rule.”

All of my friends are amazing, but being exposed to this much positive energy combined with my dark magic, I shudder. It may have some unforeseen side effects.

Chapter 11: Nightmare Night

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up after about three hours of sleep, and continue working on my Sombra costume. I also have to make sure that I have time to go help Mayor Mare decorate the town hall building. I make the final piece of my costume: a horn cover that glows a bright purple like Sombra’s magic when I use my own. I have a red cape and a replica of his silver crown, both to the best of my memory. I step back to admire my work, walk over to the mirror on my bedroom wall, then lift my work onto me. Just to make sure that the size is correct for everything. I take it off now that I know it fits, and place it back on its stand until tonight. I walk back over to the mirror, and transform into myself. I look at my reflection and, just for a second, I can see somepony else as my reflection, one that I could see myself becoming if I was to take over the rule of Celestia and Luna. Although, I guess that wouldn’t be that bad, since they really weren’t the nicest to other creatures. They were only nice to earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns. Changelings, Kirins, and Hippogriffs aren’t given the same treatment. I come out of my own thoughts and head off to town square to help Mayor Mare set up.

I arrive at the town hall to see that Twilight was also called to help Mayor Mare and they are almost done. I ask Mayor Mare if there was anything else that she wanted me to help with. She says, “I think we are good, although, if you could help Pinkie distribute the candy orders, that would be wonderful!”

“I’ll go right away then.” I turn away and head towards Sugarcube Corner to go help Pinkie. I arrive to see her handing out the last order to Roseluck and the rest of the ponies of the flower shop. I decide to not even go up to Pinkie to ask if any other pony needs help. Instead, I walk home. I arrive at my house to see Rainbow Dash standing outside my door staring at my house.

“How did you do that?” Rainbow Dash asks, still staring.

“Magic,” I say while trying to keep a straight face.

“No kidding, but how?”

“Illusion spell, not very difficult. I’m pretty sure both Luna and Twilight can do it as well, so nothing super special.”

“It’s so cool. I can’t wait to see it in the dark. What are you being for Nightmare Night?”

“It’s a surprise, you?”

“Fine, don’t tell me. It better be a really good surprise. I am being a Shadowbolt again. It’s easy and I'm not really trying this year. See you tonight.”

“See you tonight,” I say as she flies off to go to her house.

I jaunt inside my house, grab all of the candy that I will pass out, and put it right next to the door for easy access later tonight. I pass the last few hours of daylight by either taking a nap or by trimming off my plants to store some for later use. As night finally falls I put on my costume and prepare to pass out candy as ponies come knocking on my door. About ten minutes after I get my costume on I hear the first knock of the night. I answer the door and it is the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I give them their candy, two pieces of Changeling candy and one piece of normal candy. They thank me and run off back towards town to continue trick-or-treating. I continue this pattern throughout the night. Once I run out of candy around midnight, I go join the festivities in town. I arrive to see Princess Luna’s chariot pulling in and I float my replica crown that I was carrying to my head. Which was making my horn cover work, turning my magic light purple like Sombra’s. Whoosh!

“We missed,” says Luna plainly.

“Of course you missed. I made sure you missed by diverting your shot away from me. Now the real question is why were you shooting at me?”

“Thy had Sombra’s color of magic and were dressed like him, and that was all we could see since thee was coming from shadows. What else was we supposed to think?”

“Um, for starters, it is Nightmare Night. Secondly, that means everypony dresses up. Some like villains, others like heroes,” I say, gesturing to Rarity’s very well made Celestia costume.

“We suppose, we guess it has been a long time since we have been to such an event in a long time. Will thee forgive us?”

“Of course Luna. How could I not? You are, after all, a very good friend.” She nods her head in thanks and she wanders off to see all of the festivities. The Apple family has a haunted maze and I decide to stay away for fear of being startled and then possibly changing on accident. I instead decide to sit by a building and watch everypony take part in the games that have been set up in the main part of town. Rainbow Dash finds me a little while later and grins when she sees my costume. Fluttershy always stays at home, Applejack is helping run the haunted maze, Rarity and Pinkie already saw me when I was talking to Luna. So, Twilight was the only one left who hadn’t seen me. Just as I decide to go off and find her, she appears around the corner dressed as Clover the Clever. She sees me hidden in the shadow of the building, I light my horn intending to float a cupcake made by Pinkie to me from the table nearby. I watch Twilight’s face drop in fear and she launches a bolt of magic straight for my head, just like Luna did. She must get her fear of Sombra from all of the books she read, or she has been hanging out with Luna too much. I sidestep to avoid the bolt, and just as I go to look back at Twilight, she pops up next to me with a magically procured sword at my throat. I laugh a deep guttural laugh, eerily sounding like Sombra, and I start to fear for my sanity and life. Twilight presses the sword deeper into my throat, still without drawing blood. “Twilight it is me. Sheesh, you’re as bad as Luna. It’s just that Luna didn’t immediately press a blade to my throat after she missed me with a bolt of magic.”

“Sorry, I guess I know why you are dressed up like Sombra for this night. You miss him terribly. I’m sorry, any way I can make it up to you?” she says with a pleading look in her eyes.

“For starters, you can remove your sword from my throat. Then, you can let me go home in peace.”

“Oh right, sorry,” she says making the sword vanish. “I guess I got carried away. I will leave you be now,” Twilight continues as she starts walking away.

“Hey Twilight, your costume is good. Clover the Clever had a personality just like you according to the books I have read. Have a good rest of your night.”

“Thank you Night Crystal. You have a good night too.”

I will Twilight, I reply under my breath, but unfortunately it may mean planning Celestia’s, Luna’s, Cadence’s, and Twilight’s demise. I originally planned to do just that, but instead went to bed and slept through the entire next day.

Chapter 12: History Book

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Two months after Nightmare Night, I finally decide to hole myself up in my house and read the history book that Twilight gave me about Sombra and the War of Crystal. For the last two months I have mainly been reading in Twilight’s library, or helping Zecora. I was also in charge of the castle for a few days while Twilight went off to help a friend named Sunset Shimmer in the other world, known as the human world. Whatever that is, even Celestia does not know what the other world is, only Twilight does. So I guess that was fun, staying in Twilight’s castle. However, I must read and learn what everypony thinks of Sombra, probably a monster.

As I begin to read, I can’t help but cringe at the major inaccuracies of the book. In the book, Sombra is portrayed as evil, heartless, and unfair to all of his soldiers, Changelings, Umbrum, and Crystal ponies. He was seen as a ruler who forced children into the war, saying that he would kill their parents if they didn’t help. The book mentioned that he had many deserters because he was unkind to his soldiers. The war was fought between Sombra and the Two Sisters, each side with plenty of soldiers. One side were ponies, the other side Changelings, Umbrum, and the enslaved Crystal ponies. Sombra’s forces were losing, and that was when Celestia and Luna took up arms as they realized that the war needed to stop sooner rather than later to prevent anymore bloodshed. The war ended with Celestia and Luna killing Sombra and left all of his soldiers unharmed.

However, the entire opposite side is true, as I remember everything like it was yesterday. I am the last surviving Changeling that was actually working during the War of Crystal. Every Changeling today had relatives and old family members in the war, but are now dead, except me. It is the same with the Crystal ponies and the Umbrum. Well, lets just say that once Sombra died, they no longer existed. Sombra was the most kind hearted pony ever. We never had a single deserter, and the Crystal ponies weren’t enslaved. The Crystal ponies loved Sombra’s reign. They were allowed to live in peace, and only had to provide food for the troops. The Changelings and Umbrum were the only ones actually fighting. The 26 Changeling children that were alive had the option to help or live their normal lives. I was the only child that helped out in the war. The other 25 stayed normal. However, every single one of them had both of their parents killed by Celestia and Luna. They all went into pony foster homes around Equestria. However, all but one of them ended up starving themselves to death. They were so unhappy and felt betrayed by Celestia and Luna. The one that didn’t starve himself instead made a huge spectacle out of it. He was put into a foster home with Celestia and he ended up jumping off the palace roof right down into the center of Canterlot while Celestia was gone one day. Anyway, I am getting off topic.

When Sombra was killed, a sadness came over the Crystal ponies. They only turned crystal again when Cadence and Shining Armor started ruling about two years ago. We would have won the war had Celestia and Luna waited just a little bit longer to take up arms. We were winning when they did so, they thought it was the only way their reign could continue. Had Sombra won, he would have let all of the ponies keep their lives and only Celestia and Luna would have been imprisoned. Raising the sun and moon every day would then be Sombra’s job until he found a queen, and teach her how to do it. Instead, Celestia and Luna killed Sombra and most of his subjects, and the rest were allowed to live peacefully. Too many killed in the war, too many children orphaned, too many deaths happened at their hooves, too much of everything. I still, to this day, hate Celestia and Luna for what they did, but I think I forgave Luna after a while. After all, she was exposed to the influence of dark magic more than Celestia, which probably helped fuel her transformation into Nightmare Moon. Sombra predicted that something would tear the Two Sisters apart. I just never thought that it would be Luna turning into a creature of darkness due to being power hungry. I don’t blame Cadence at all because she wasn’t involved in the war; she was still very young at the time. I mostly blame Celestia. I don’t think she ever truly felt bad for her actions during or after the war. However, I need my plan to take into account that all of the Alicorns keep their titles, and I need to let myself be a worthy opponent that could overthrow them, but still keep in good graces with them. Basically make myself like Discord, still causing issues, but reformed from actual villainy. However, unlike Discord, the Elements of Harmony won’t work against me. A small advantage of being a Changeling.

I guess the only thing that the book had correct was why the war started. It wasn’t Sombra, Celestia, or Luna that started it. A high ranking crystal pony and a royal guard were the reason. They started an argument about military and which land was better. Eventually it turned into all out war because they each took military action against each other without authorization from the leaders. So, that is how we ended up with the War of Crystal, all over a silly argument, costing the lives of hundreds of royal guards, Changelings, and Umbrum; but also the life of somepony I grew to love more than I planned.

Chapter 13: The Invitations

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up sitting on my couch with the book still on my lap. I realize that I must have fallen asleep reading it or being occupied in my own thoughts. Either way, there is somepony banging loudly on my door, so I better go see who it is. I rub the sleepiness out of my eyes and answer the door, still yawning. “Can I help you?” I ask, seeing Derpy standing with an envelope in her mouth, that I take from her.

“Mail for you from Princess Celestia, enjoy!” she says, happily walking away.

A look of concern appears on my face, but I close the door, and open the letter nonetheless. I pull out a golden ticket and a letter. The letter written in beautiful purple colored script states:

Night Crystal,
It is my pleasure to cordially invite you to attend the Grand Galloping Gala as an esteemed guest of mine. This is a formal event, so dress accordingly. I hope you attend. Everypony is excited to meet you. I promise there won’t be any cameras, so no worries. Twilight and the other elements will be there for support, along with Starlight, Luna, and I. Discord may unfortunately be there as well, but nothing that we can’t handle.

Hope to see you there,
Princess Celestia

I never thought that Celestia would invite me to be her guest, although I guess that is what happens when she thinks you are older than her, that she needs to treat you better and make up for ruling. I don’t mind very much, besides the Gala gives me a chance to meet the Wonderbolts, other than Rainbow Dash, and get on the good side of some nobles hopefully. I assume that either Twilight got all of the bearers tickets, plus Starlight’s, or they each got theirs separately. I decide that I must go see Twilight first, before I go cavorting off to everypony else’s homes.

I arrive at Twilight’s castle just in time to see Spike running out the door. I grab him in my turquoise magic and ask, “What’s wrong Spike?”

“That’s what wrong,” he says, pointing back towards the castle. I look over there to see Twilight holding seven tickets. That means Twilight got all seven tickets, so I am very confused. I canter over to Twilight and ask what is wrong.

Hiding the tickets, she says, “Nothing is wrong. Why do you ask?”

“Twilight, I just watched you panic because you only have seven tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala. So seriously, what’s wrong?”

“Well, me only having seven tickets means that either you don’t go or one of my friends doesn’t go. I don’t want to have to decide.”

“That’s easy Twilight, we’re all going, see?” I say holding up my ticket that I received from Celestia.

“How, what, where did you get this?” she asks, barely forming a coherent sentence.

“Easy, Princess Celestia sent me a ticket and a letter inviting me to the Gala. She also said that you, the rest of the bearers, and Starlight would also be in attendance. We are also stuck with Discord that night, but I don’t think he should be too much trouble, hopefully.”

“Well that’s a relief, I wasn’t really sure who to pick if you didn’t have that ticket.”

“I think I would have shown up, ticket or not. I am an Alicorn, and no amount of ‘your not allowed in here’ would have stopped me.”

“Haha, I don’t think it would have either. Although, I think that it is strange that she sent yours separately. Don’t you?”

“Not really, I mean I am not as well connected to you as you are to your friends. Secondly, I am an adult Alicorn/Changeling so I mean it isn’t really that weird. You are still young compared to Celestia, Luna, or me.”

“That is true, I sent Spike to get Rarity after I started freaking out about the tickets. Rarity always designs our gowns for the Gala, so I sent for her immediately. Would be willing to help get the rest of the bearers here?”

“I would be glad to help get everypony here. Who do you want me to get?”

“You grab Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, and I’ll grab Applejack and Fluttershy. See you back here in a few.” Then she disappeared in a teleportation spell. Cheater, I think, conjuring up my own spell to teleport to Pinkie.

I appear in front of Sugarcube Corner, seeing Pinkie outside bouncing. She sees me, then comes over and bounces around me, asking what I want.

“Twilight wants you at the castle ASAP for a meeting.”

“Okie dokie loki,” she says as she goes bouncing away towards Twilight’s castle. I teleport myself to Rainbow Dash’s house, hoping she was there. I appear outside her front door and go knocking on it. Thankfully, Rainbow Dash opens it and I tell her that Twilight called a meeting.

“Thanks, I’ll head there now. See you there,” she says, taking off into the air immediately. With all of my job done, I teleport back to Twilight’s castle, into the main room with the map and the chairs set up for all of the bearers. I see that Twilight finally decided to add a chair for Spike, as well as one for Starlight Glimmer. Twilight walks in with the rest of the bearers with Starlight and Spike behind them. I go take my place standing between the chairs of Rarity and Applejack. Twilight starts the conversation by saying, “Everypony, I gathered you here to tell you that I have all of your tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala. Everypony here is going, that excludes you Spike, you are staying with Big Mac. Rarity, I assume you are prepared to make us all dresses for the Gala?”

“Of course darling, I already have designs for everypony made, I just need input from each of you. However, I am sorry that I don’t have a design made up for you yet Night Crystal.”

“No worries Rarity. I already have a dress that I made while I was in seclusion.”

“Wait, you know how to make dresses!? Oooh, would you mind giving me your insightful eye on each of their designs?”

“It has been a long time since I have actually sewed a dress, but I would love to give you a critiquing eye. However, I have no desire to help with the sewing.”

“No worries darling, I will do all of the sewing. I just want your amazing eye for fashion.”

“Well it’s settled then. We’ll all go to Rarity’s boutique and look at all of our designs, then, when Rarity finishes sewing them, we can all try our gowns on together. All of us except Spike saunter out of the castle and head to Rarity’s boutique. I am intrigued that Spike didn’t want to come, normally he is all over Rarity. But I can’t worry about that now, all I can think about is the dress designs and my own dress.

Chapter 14: Preperation

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Night Crystal’s POV:
We enter Rarity’s boutique and she pulls out all of the dress designs for everypony. She starts with Twilight’s: a four layered dress in a gradient of purple, with an ear clip of Twilight’s cutie mark, and the necklace that holds her dress was v-shaped and silver. Twilight gave a squeak of delight and Rarity took that as a yes. So she moved on to Applejack’s: a long gown, red as the top color and moving to green for the rest of it, the frill containing her cutie mark, and a red hat just like her one she always wears. Applejack nods her head and Rarity moves onto Starlight’s. Hers is a short dark turquoise dress with a veil like top layer that is a deep purple that is longer, and her cutie mark is on an ear clip. Starlight hugs Rarity and then walks out. We move onto Rainbow Dash’s: a shorter, higher off the ground dress, with clouds as the trim, the main section being rainbow, four bracers that are silver, and her cutie mark is the ear clip. Rainbow Dash rushes out the door in excitement, almost knocking down Fluttershy. Pinkie Pie’s is next: a short dress that is mostly a deeper shade of pink with blue trim outlining the dress, a pink bangle, and a cutie mark ear clip. Pinkie Pie squeals and goes bouncing around the boutique, almost knocking over all of Rarity’s fabric. Thankfully, I catch her in my magic and levitate her outside, where she goes back to bouncing, this time towards Sugarcube Corner. Second to last is Fluttershy: a short orange-pink dress with a gold yellow veil as the top layer, two gold bangles, a gold necklace with her cutie mark on it, plus the cutie mark ear clip. Fluttershy gives a small yay, and walks out the door. Lastly, Rarity pulls out her dress design and looks at me like she asked a question. Her design: a peacock feather looking dress with gold strings of beads hanging to the side, a necklace with a peacock pattern that holds the dress on, and gems that look like her cutie mark scattered throughout her mane. I hug her and say, “That is perfect for you. I can think of no pony more deserving a dress that looks like that. Especially since you work so hard on everypony else’s.”

“Thank you darling, but are you really sure that you don’t want me to make a dress for you for the Gala?”

“No thanks Rarity. I have a dress that I made a while ago that is perfect for this occasion. When you see it I am sure you will approve it. For now I should leave you to get working, after all, the Gala is only a couple days from now,” I say as I stroll out of the boutique and head home.

I push open the door of my home to see a small black filly, although it looks more like an Umbrum. It turns around, looks at me, and freezes in place, too scared to move. I see that it is indeed an Umbrum colt. Umbrum colts and fillies look exactly like normal pony colts and fillies, but just take on a more wispy looking form. “Hello little colt. What can I do for you?”

“I am lost, everypony looks at me funny and screams at me until I run away. I saw that you live here, so I hid here because you looked different than every other pony. I thought that you might be able to help me.”

“Of course, but I must ask, do you know what you are?”

“An Umbrum, I think. At least that is what the voice told me when I opened my eyes. The voice was firm, yet gentle. I don’t know who it was because there was no one around me when I opened my eyes,” he says as he starts walking towards me.

I lay on the floor with my back feet tucked under me, with my front feet out in front of me. He comes over and snuggles up next to me. I put my head down, hugging him towards me, and gently say, “You are an Umbrum, but you are amazing. I think I shall give you the name Nightlock. What do you think?”

“I like that name, Nightlock,” he says, testing the name out on his tongue. With a sigh, he lays down in between my front legs and falls asleep. He starts to snore softly, so I pick him up in my magic, carry him to my bed, and gently place him down, covering him up with blankets to keep him warm. I leave the house and lock the door behind me. I decide to spend the night in the Everfree Forest, sleeping in Changeling form beneath the stars.

I wake up the next day to hear screaming. I jolt up, switching to Night Crystal form, and take off towards the screaming. I follow it to see Twilight and my precious little Nightlock lost in the forest. As soon as Twilight sees me she stops screaming and runs behind me saying, “That thing is adorable but also really scary. Please tell it to go away.”

I look at Nightlock to see him staring at me in confusion. I simply shrug and say calmly, “Twilight, calm down. It’s just Nightlock, the Umbrum colt I found in my house yesterday after I finished going over dress designs with Rarity. He doesn’t know much about what he is, don’t worry. Now would you please get out from behind me, and try to be sensible.”

“Be sensible? Are you crazy? Umbrum are supposed to be extinct, and yet here is this colt that is very much alive. Is this some kind of joke that you are playing with another Changeling?”

“Twilight, first of all, yes I am crazy, but be sensible. Secondly, Umbrum are supposed to be extinct, but that doesn’t mean anything. Lastly, no other Changeling even knows I exist, regardless of what the other bearers have told you. So at least try to meet him before passing judgement. He is just like every other colt, innocent, and mostly clueless. Why don’t you say hi. Don’t tell anypony about him, and then go see Rarity. I’m sure she must be done with all of the dresses by now.”

“Good idea. Hi Nightlock. Sorry for screaming at you. You are actually really cute. Bye!” Twilight says rather quickly before running towards Rarity’s.

“Bye!” Nightlock yells after her as he walks towards me.

“Let’s go home silly. However, I do think it would be best if you stayed inside for a little while. Just while I break everypony into the idea of you,” I say, guiding Nightlock back towards home.

“Okay, I’ll listen to whatever you say.”

We arrive at home and I realize that the Gala is tonight. I finally get to wear my navy blue dress that is hanging in my closet. The dress is a deep navy blue with silver gemstones dotting all along the edges of the gown, with a flat red crystal stack where the cutie mark would sit on a pony if you could see through the clothing. The red crystal stack was actually Sombra’s cutie mark, but it vanished from his flank once he started ruling. I added the red crystals once Sombra died, in his memory. I put the dress on and prepared to meet Twilight, the rest of the bearers, and Starlight at the train station. I wonder what they are going to say about my dress, and if anypony knows that I now wear Sombra’s cutie mark. I tell Nightlock that he can eat the meal that I made him in the fridge, then he can sleep, and that I will be home after midnight.

Chapter 15: The Grand Galloping Gala

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Night Crystal’s POV:
The mane six, Starlight, and I arrive by the Ponyville Express to Canterlot and make our way towards the castle. Thankfully, none of them brought up the red crystals. I assume they all thought that it was just a part of my dress, and not something I added as an afterthought. Rarity did compliment the dress, saying that she indeed liked it. We come to the entrance of the castle and see that there are two lines to get into the Gala, ticket holders and golden ticket holders. Thank goodness we had golden tickets because the other line was ridiculously long. Once we made it to the palace entrance, we all showed our tickets and were allowed in. I was the last of the group to show my ticket, and the guard ponies both bowed to me after one of them let me in. I gave a small curtsy in return and continued on my way. Catching back up to the group I see that we now must wait in line for Celestia and Luna to greet us. Just as I join the group, we are transported to the front. Celestia and Luna scoop us up into one giant group hug. How these two Alicorns have legs long enough for this, I don’t know. After they release us, I see that everypony is sharing a quick exchange and then heading off towards the ballroom. I head over to Celestia and Luna and thank them for inviting me. I quickly walk to the ballroom and find myself the most remote corner.

Rarity eventually comes to me, asking if I would accompany her to speak with the nobles. I reluctantly agree, but know I need to try to get into good graces with a few of them before I topple all the trust in Equestria. The first one we go to is a noble that works very close with Rarity in the fashion department, Photo Finish. Photo Finish sometimes comes to Ponyville to get outfits for her models from Rarity, but otherwise we rarely see her. Rarity introduces me and we talk a little bit about fashion, mainly just small talk. We proceed to do this about four more times with different ponies in different industries, while also having small samples of food. Then, I see Rainbow Dash walking over to me and Rarity. She whispers something into Rarity’s ear, and Rarity nods her head in agreement.

Rainbow Dash then comes over to invite me to come meet the rest of the Wonderbolts. I happily agree, glad to get away from all of the nobles. They are very boring and their taste in food is horrendous, and that’s coming from a Changeling who feeds on emotions. Emotions at least have flavor. The food the nobles eat is bland and tasteless. We reach the VIP area for the Wonderbolts who performed earlier in the day, but are always welcome at the Gala. They are still required to dress fancy, but also can be a little more relaxed. Rainbow introduces me first to Fleetfoot, then High Winds, then Thunderlane, and finally Spitfire. She leaves me to chat with Spitfire and wanders off to try to find Soarin so he can come meet me.

“More likely to find him and go to a dark corner to kiss him senseless,” Spitfire says, earning a giggle from me. She immediately busts into laughter.

I join in her laughter for a bit before asking, “Are we sure it just stops there? Also, why is Soarin never around except when pie is present?”

“Well that’s easy, Soarin lives for pie, but he also doesn’t particularly love social situations. He is very camera shy, and he only seems to overcome that fear when Rainbow is around.”

“Well he isn’t the only pony I know who is camera shy. I hate cameras, and Celestia is a big liar when she said that there wouldn’t be any cameras here tonight.”

“I’m surprised she would do that, there hasn’t ever been a year that cameras aren’t here. I think I get my picture taken with the whole team at least once over the duration of the night.”

“I am so sorry for you. Well, I want to go back into my corner of seclusion in the main ballroom, so I’ll catch you later Spitfire.”

“Catch ya later slick.”

I find my way back to the main ballroom, brooding in my remote corner. I finally see Fluttershy over the crowd and see that she is accompanied by Discord. I was really hoping that I would get through the night without running into him. I close my eyes and hope that I can do what I want tonight after the Gala ends an hour before midnight. My eyes fling open as I hear Discord yell, “Hey, look everypony, it’s Night Crystal, the new Alicorn that everypony must meet. She is a very interesting pony. I am sure that she would love to tell you all about herself!”

The news ponies come running over to me, flashing cameras in my face, and asking me so many questions. I keep my mouth shut and start to panic, charging my horn in case a quick getaway is needed. Suddenly, the room goes dark and when the lights come back on I see the dead bodies of everypony who has ever been my friend around me. Littering the floor are hundreds of crystals, all with blood dripping down them. I look up to see a shadowy figure starting to lift the crystals to form one large crystal. Then it’s gone. I start to panic even more, but realize that my fear is making the crystals on my dress start to glow. I know that the second somepony notices me I am going to be in deep trouble.

“Hey everypony, come see what Twilight can do with her new magic!” Discord yells, making all of the news ponies rush to Twilight, leaving me alone. I run to the balcony and leap off of it, making a beeline towards the Everfree Forest.

Chapter 16: A Dark Forbidden Dance

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I land down by a stream and take a drink, purifying it with my magic as it rushes down my throat. I wander for a while, eventually ending up at the ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters, thinking about how my whole life almost came crashing down in front of me. I never should have gone to the Gala knowing that Discord was going to be there. He was the reason for the breakdown of my happy, ignorant facade. He was the one that allowed all of the news ponies to know who I was and how I supposedly loved attention. He knew all along what I was, but he only helped right as I became vulnerable, on the verge of using dark magic. Although, his interruption may have made me able to get away. He was the one that orchestrated the chaos in the first place. Speaking of the devil, “Discord! I think you know why I am hiding in this forest. You know that I have Sombra’s dark magic, making me more powerful than Celestia. I think you have known since you first met me,” I yell as I change back into my Changeling form.

“I have known, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see how this pans out. I am quite amazed that you have made it this far, only revealing it to Zecora and Twilight. I just love when ponies lie to Celestia. All the more entertaining for me. Haha! Although, I must admit, I am truly sorry for any pain I may have caused. You didn’t deserve to have those ponies swarm you.”

“Just don’t tell anypony about this Discord. What was with the vision? I-”

“I didn’t show you a vision. That was some other creature’s doing, not mine. I don’t even have the power to change the scene around somepony, I can only slightly alter it. I’ll leave that up to you to figure out.”

“Well fine. I have a plan, but I must do it my own way, without interference from any of your own plans,” I say firmly, knowing very well that I don’t have a plan yet.

“Of course. I look forward to seeing your plan play out. Have a nice day,” he says, disappearing with a grin on his face.

Once Discord leaves, I prepare to face the dark, deep, alluring voice coming from within my own mind.

“My time spent away has made you near the same age as me, since I don’t age while in Limbo. When you let me out of this infernal prison, you could be my Queen, and I be your King.”

“I would enjoy that, but I must plan this on my own. Did you show me the vision? What was it about?” I say out loud, even though the voice is in my head.

“What will happen if you don’t plan correctly. The shadow was you, not me. Even I am not that heartless, as much as some disagree.”

“I understand now, thank you.” I look up to see Rainbow Dash’s sonic rainboom spread across Equestria. Regretfully, it might be the last one I ever see her perform when she is in good graces with everypony around her.

I wander around the Castle of the Two Sisters until just before midnight, and then journey back to the balcony of the ballroom. I peek my head in to see two royal guards leaving, locking the doors behind them. Good, I think, it means I can have my dance in peace. I open the balcony door all the way and summon up the spirit of Sombra. He takes form in front of me and he looks at me like he always did when I was a young Changeling. Although his appearance is wispy looking, he is as solid as the ground under my hooves, but only for about 10 minutes. Just enough time for a slow dance and some conversation. I make some slow music play in the room, change into my true form, and rest my head on Sombra’s shoulder. I can feel his gaze settling on my black insect like mane. I relax and let myself enjoy the company of this stallion. This is the only way for me to get my craving of dancing out, even if it is with the dark magic procurement of Sombra and not the real living version. “Is this how it was supposed to be? If you won the war, would I have grown up in the Crystal Empire as your daughter?”

“Hmm, I think so. You were an amazing adoptive daughter, and here you stand today, knowing dark magic. So yes, I think you would have, and then maybe someday, when I and whoever I made Queen grew old, you would have become Queen. You are a smart mare, and once ponies know your lie, I hope they can forgive you. You had a good reason for hiding who you are, and you deserve respect. With or without dark magic, you are a pony to be reckoned with,” he pauses, shuddering. “It is time for me to go. Remember, I will always be with you, even when you seem alone. Goodbye my darling.”

“Goodbye Sombra,” I say and let him fade away. I sit in the ballroom and quietly cry. I miss him very much. I plan to sneak more of these moments in, but unfortunately they can only be performed at midnight. So they may be hard to come by if I want to be able to fully function the next day. I fly back home, take off my dress, hang it up in my closet, and see that Nightlock is sleeping in my bed. I gently pick him up and cuddle him. I told him before I left for the Gala that two days later we were going to visit Celestia and see the castle. I climb into bed and cover us both up with a blanket.

Chapter 17: A Brief Vacation and Murder

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Today is the day where I take Nightlock to see Celestia and maybe Luna. I wear my black cloak that I got from Rarity when I first came to town. I place a concealment spell on the sword that I am taking to the castle for my protection, and for Nightlock’s. Even when I pull it out of thin air, I still need to conceal it or Celestia will know I have it long before I reach the throne room. I place an illusion spell over Nightlock to make him look like a pony filly, so ponies won’t see him, scream, and then go running away in terror. We take the old fashioned way to Canterlot, the Ponyville Express. I could have teleported us to Canterlot, but I wanted Nightlock to get the full experience. We arrive in Canterlot to see an empty train station. I see that two royal guards, pulling a chariot, were sent to take us to the castle. I lift Nightlock in and then get in myself. The two royal guards take off flying and land us at the front doors of the castle. As soon as we depart from the chariot, they take off, heading to the back of the castle, where I assume the chariots are kept for training and upkeep.

We enter the front doors and Nightlock is bouncing around looking so amazed at everything in the castle. He reminds me of myself when I was a small Changeling. We enter the main foyer of the castle and head to the throne room where Celestia is waiting for us, although Nightlock is a surprise. I open the doors to the throne room, expecting a warm welcome. Along with a ‘who is this’ question, but instead all I get is a whoosh of magic launching towards me. I turn to see Nightlock disappearing in a cloud of shadow, and the last thing I see is the eyes of Sombra. I break down in grief as I stare at the spot where the Umbrum filly I was taking care of was killed. I look up at Celestia with rage burning in my eyes, pull out the sword from underneath my cloak. I bring it clashing down into the floor, inches from Celestia’s throne, leaving it there as a reminder. It’s not like I don’t have more. I can produce that sword again out of thin air. “Why do you always have to act before asking, let alone before thinking!? I’m sorry for making you think that the colt I bring with me is a danger, when he is clearly not! You are a sorry disgrace for a princess! You deserve what is coming!” I scream at Celestia and then take a running leap off of the balcony, heading straight home.

I cry myself to sleep that night, thinking of Nightlock, and how his shadow turned into Sombra’s eyes when he died. I will make sure that Celestia suffers for her actions, even if that means leaving her to rule myself. She killed a colt in cold blood. She will know true terror for her entire eternal life.

Princess Celestia’s POV:
I just killed a colt that looked like Sombra, but it was just a colt. After Night Crystal’s outbreak, I am now terribly concerned for what she is going to do. She said I was a disgrace of a princess, but why does she think that? It isn’t because I just killed an innocent colt. She sounded like she had more reasons than just that one. ‘I deserve what is coming to me’, what is that supposed to mean? We have no major villains at large, so I am lost. Unfortunately, I have a bigger problem to deal with. The sword in front of my throne.

I walk around the sword, inspecting it carefully, wondering why she would leave a sword stuck in the ground in front of my throne. I look at the jewels imbedded in it to see Sombra’s cutie mark, as well as jewels that make up his eyes, and realize that this is Sombra’s personal sword back from the War of Crystal. I jump back as the sword begins to glow. I blink and see that it was just my imagination, but I also know that there must be some explanation as to why she has Sombra’s sword. I could only think of two reasons why she would have it. She either found it if she rummaged around the Crystal Empire castle in secret or she is secretly a Changeling young that I let live from too long ago. I need to find out sooner rather than later, but right now, she needs space since I just murdered a colt in front of her.

I grab the sword in my magic, intending to pull it out, but I seem unable to. I pull harder and harder, but still unable to pull it out of the ground. I yell for Luna, and once she arrives, I ask her if she can pull the sword out. She is unable to pull it out as well, so I send her back to bed, and glare at the sword. However, within my glaring, I notice an inscription on the shaft of the blade. It reads, Only those with dark magic may hope to remove this blade from where it has been placed. I shudder in the prospect of that because nopony that I know of knows dark magic. The only known being with dark magic left is Styx, a mysterious pony that has been hidden since the War of Crystal. Legend says this pony was, and maybe still is, powerful and heavily trained in dark magic. Over time, their magic grew, and they would be unstoppable today. I am guessing that Night Crystal found this blade and doesn’t know of the power that the blade is imbued with. If she does, then I don’t know how she planned on removing it, since neither Luna nor I could detect any trace of dark magic coming from her. For now, I must close the throne room until I figure out some way to move the piece of ground that the sword is stuck in.

Chapter 18: An Extra Job, Honey, & Filthy Rich

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up this morning still in my cloak from the previous day. My face was tired from all the tears I shed over Nightlock. I force myself up off my bed and walk over to my closet and hang my cloak up. I need to do something to get my mind off of Nightlock. I look out of my window towards the Everfree Forest and realize that I could cut down trees and collect firewood as well as collect plants to heal wounds and other ailments that may befall the town’s ponies. I saunter out the back door, take off, and go flying into the dead center of the forest. I procure an axe from magic and begin chopping down trees. Once I have chopped down five trees of a reasonable size, I stack the wood in bundles and tie them each with a vine. I teleport all thirty bundles to the back room of my house, and then walk back home, all the while keeping an eye out for any rare plants on my way.

I arrive at home to see a lone female Timberwolf scratching at my back door. I loudly approach as to figure out what the Timberwolf’s intention was. She turns to look at me and starts to growl, but once she sees it is just me, she continues scratching at the door. I open the door for her to see that her little pup managed to get inside, but mom couldn’t. I let her grab the pup and she leaves, nodding to me in thanks. I dip my head back and her and her pup go running off into the forest. As they leave, I cast a protection spell over her and her pup to make sure that the pup will grow up with its mother until it is ready to leave. I walk inside, shut the back door, and go to my room to make a sign to place in Ponyville saying, “Wood for sale, 5 bits a bundle.” Cheaper than the local lumber jack, but still high enough to earn some bits off of it. Once the sign is made, I grab it and begin to walk out the door.

I open my door to see Fluttershy and Zecora running towards the hospital. Knowing something is very wrong, I put the sign back in my house, and chase after them. I catch up to them just as they are entering the hospital and go to ask what’s wrong, but then I see that Zecora is covered in orange spots. Swamp fever. “Fluttershy, what were you and Zecora doing near a lily pad that sprayed Zecora with pollen, giving her Swamp Fever?”

“Collecting moss for Sweet Feather Sanctuary, but what is Swamp Fever?”

“Swamp Fever is-” Zecora coughs up bubbles, “supposedly an incurable disease that you get from flowers on those lily pads. At least that is what the doctor will tell you. Speaking of Dr. Horse, here he is now,” I say, turning around to see him walking towards us.

“Ms. Zecora, Ms. Fluttershy, what seems to be the problem?” Dr. Horse asks. His face glances up and down, taking a good look at Zecora, seeing her orange spots. “My my, it seems you have the first stage if Swamp Fever. Next is coughing bubbles, then electric sneezes, then finally turning into a tree that drops the poisonous flowers. Unfortunately there is no known cure, I am truly sorry Ms. Zecora,” he says, leaving us standing there.

“So, now that you know from the doctor that you have Swamp Fever, want to know the cure?”

“Yes!” yelled Fluttershy.

“Okay, not so loud, you just need Flash Bee honey. However, in order to collect Flash Bee honey, you need the healer mask of Mage Meadowbrook. Her tree is somewhere deep within the Everfree Forest. Once you have the mask you simply need to put it on, approach the hive, grab the honey, and leave with the mask still on. Simple as that.”

“How do you know this? It is not like the bees themselves hiss. The knowledge you have acquired must have been sired,” Zecora asks.

“That’s easy, I had a lot of time to read a bunch of old books in solitude, mostly found within old houses within the mountains. One of which told the tale of Mage Meadowbrook and how she cured Swamp Fever. Although a bunch that was just intuition, as it never explicitly stated that it was the honey that cured it.” Although, in reality, I actually knew because the Changelings would often get Swamp Fever from collecting moss. So we often had to get honey, although we just disguised our faces as the mask.

“Great, well I guess it is worth a shot. We should get going Zecora, we’ll grab Twilight on our way there. Maybe she has read something about Mage Meadowbrook and where she use to live,” Fluttershy says as they both go running out of the hospital.

I canter out of the hospital to my house. I approach my house to see a pony standing outside my door. As I walk closer I see that it is Filthy Rich. Great, just what my day needed, to deal with a rich spoiled rotten pony. “Good day Filthy Rich. What brings you all the way to the edge of the Everfree Forest?

“I just wanted to get a look around your property and house, so if one day you decide to sell it, I can tell you how much it is worth.”

“No thanks, I don’t plan on selling this house anytime in the near future. Have a nice day,” I say, hoping that would make him go away.

“No really, it doesn’t have to be soon to sell, just to give you an estimate to see if the value might increase later,” he says urgingly. This guy is persistent.

“I told you no thank you. Now if you would kindly leave, I have stuff to do.”

“I would love to take a look around the house to see how much furniture is in there. That adds to the value, you know.”

He never gives up does he? “You know what else adds to the value?” I question him.

“What else could possibly add to the value?”

“Your head mounted on my wall with a plaque underneath saying: Here lies Filthy Rich, a marketer that pushed a pony too far.”

“Now, now, that would never do. I simply must have a look around.”

I’m going to kill him here soon. “I said no, Filthy. You aren’t stepping a single hoof inside this house as long as I live. Now get away before I scare you all the way to Canterlot,” I growl.

He stands his ground and says, “Make me.”

He asked for it. I make smoke appear around me, hiding me from Filthy’s view. I change into my Changeling form and I jump out of the smoke snarling at Filthy. He screams and runs away yelling, “Changeling, there is a Changeling in that tree!”

I walk back into the smoke, change back into Night Crystal, grab my sign that I made earlier, and follow him into town. Everypony sees Filthy Rich run by, but I catch him in the middle of town. Once Filthy sees that it is me he stiffens in my magic. “Filthy care to tell everypony what your screaming about?”

“You are a Changeling!” he screams out.

“Wrong, I am an Alicorn that can do an illusion spell. See?” I say, casting an illusion over me to make me look like a Changeling.

“But, but, that’s impossible,” he stammers out.

“Not impossible, just difficult for an average unicorn. Now you will leave me alone. Never come back to my house, because as long as I live, you will never step foot in that house.” I set Filthy back on the ground, place my sign in town, and run home.

Chapter 19: Experiment

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I decide to try an experiment involving the red crystals that were on my dress. They glowed when I was experiencing fear. Now I wonder if they absorb fear no matter who it comes from. If I am right, it means it collects it and stores it. I detach them from my dress, hide them in my saddlebags, and go off to find the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

I arrive at the school in Ponyville to find them helping a filly try to get her cutie mark. “Sweetie Bell, Applebloom, Scootaloo, would you come help me for a second? Your friend can come as well.”

“Of course Night Crystal. What do you need help with?” says Sweetie Bell.

“Your friend is going to help me put on a small play of sorts. I want you three girls to watch it and tell me what you think.”

“Ooh, this sounds fun!” The Crusaders exclaim, all in unison.

“Well then, come to my makeshift stage and we will begin.”

I tell their friend that she needs to stand on the stage and not move. She goes to the stage, I stand behind the curtain and prepare to make the illusions to scare the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I pull out the crystals and set them on the stage in front of me. I create an elaborate cute storyline, then start adding in Ursa Majors, the Umbrum, “evil” Changelings, and falling from Cloudsdale (playing on Scootaloo’s fear). After each one of those progresses in the story I watch the crystals start to glow brighter and brighter. Eventually they are glowing bright enough that I have to hide them in my saddlebags.

Twilight’s POV:
I look out my window to see an arch of red energy. I teleport to one end of it. I open my eyes to see the Cutie Mark Crusaders watching a weirdly realistic play. I realize it’s a very powerful illusion spell. The red arch seemed to be made of fear, the purest form of it. It lead towards behind stage. I decide to watch the play for a little bit, ignoring the arch of fear. I start to be afraid, I watch the return of Nightmare Moon and her slowly taking over all of Equestria. I watch Celestia be banished to the sun and all of Equestria be taken over by darkness. I watch Chrysalis return and co-rule with Nightmare Moon.

“Stop!!!!”

I take a step back to see the Cutie Mark Crusaders yelling. I look above to see I was adding to the arch of fear. I see Night Crystal step out from behind the curtain and watch the rest of the fear be sucked into her saddlebags. I go to look into the eyes of Night Crystal, asking her what she was doing. Instead I look into the glowing green eyes of an Umbrum. I blink and I see Night Crystal suddenly comforting the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I think that the fear was making me see stuff still. But I will confer with Celestia about what I saw soon. Instead I make my way over to the Cutie Mark Crusaders and help to comfort them. Night Crystal eventually sends all of them home. “What was that!?” I yell at Night Crystal.

“An experiment. I didn’t think it would work that well, but I put a calming spell on all three of them. I also put a memory erasing spell on them to make them forget they witnessed this. Although, it’s you that I am worried about. How are you feeling?”

“Honestly, concerned, but feeling better. What is in your saddlebags?” I start to pry open her saddlebags.

“Crystals that I was trying an experiment on,” she pulls out the red crystals that were on her Gala dress. “They apparently collect fear and store it. I was planning on doing more research, but only with ponies that know what might happen to them.”

“Well I am glad that you learned that, but you really should take this to Luna and Celestia immediately.”

“No!” Night Crystal yells with purple flames rising from her eyes.

“Yes, you need to go. Those crystals have corrupted you. Your eyes just had purple flames on them like Sombra did way back when.”

“All the more reason not to go. Better to protect Luna and Celestia from it. So they don’t get invaded by dark magic.”

“I guess you are right, but be careful Night Crystal. I don’t want to see you get hurt by experimenting with this.” I shudder in fear as she walks away, leaving a trail of blazing black shadows in her wake. I have a feeling she knows more than she is letting on.

Night Crystal’s POV:
I walk away, leaving a wake of shadows behind me. I watch Twilight shudder out of the corner of my eye. She is starting to be concerned for me, but also fears what I can do. I have a feeling she will take it up with Celestia soon. Although what she doesn’t know is that with the crystals in my possession, I can funnel some of it out to make somepony fear another pony or an object. I funneled a decent amount of fear into Twilight while we were talking. I made it invisible so she wouldn’t see it. It worked just like I wanted it to, and now to do it to Celestia, Luna. Once they know fear, they will be scared of me, and I will have all that I need for my plan. I will not put any fear into Cadence, as I hold no grudge against her. The only reason I put some into Twilight is because she thinks that Celestia and Luna are justified in their actions during the War of Crystal. Which they are not, every Changeling essentially went quietly into Celestia and Luna’s rule.

Chapter 20: Thoughts and Questions

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Twilight’s POV:
I decide to visit Celestia the day after Night Crystal had her fear experiment. I decided that I needed to know what Celestia has seen Night Crystal do. However, I need to talk without giving away the fact that she is actually a Changeling. This might be harder than I thought. I teleport outside of Celestia’s throne room. I appear to see a sign that says, “This room is closed until further notice. Please ask a guard if you are unsure how to get to Celestia.” Great, well I guess I should go find a guard. I turn around, my head hanging low, and start to walk away. Only to walk straight into one of Celestia’s legs.

“Hello Twilight. What brings you here today?”

“It’s Night Crystal, she is starting to concern me. I come to you with a story and ask in return you share anything that she has done recently.”

“Of course. Before you say anything, however, you should see what is in the throne room.” We walk through the doors and I immediately see what is wrong. Directly in front of Celestia’s throne is a sword stuck in the ground.

“What is that?” I ask Celestia, shuddering.

“That my dear student is Sombra’s sword from the War of Crystal. It was placed there by Night Crystal when she came to visit me with the little colt. Which I may have murdered the second he got into my throne room.”

“Well it wasn’t a normal colt, it was an Umbrum colt. I met him the morning before the Gala. But my question is why is the sword still stuck in the ground?”

“Well, now I feel less awful about murdering him. The sword can only be removed by a pony wielding dark magic. I had Luna try the day after to remove it by calling upon Nightmare Moon’s form and magic. She was unsuccessful in removing the sword. I tried removing the floor from the room, but that didn’t work out either. I would bring her back to remove it, but neither Luna or I could detect dark magic coming from her when we met her.”

“Maybe I can change your mind. She was experimenting yesterday on the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The red crystals that were on her Gala dress collect and store fear. After she finished, her eyes looked liked an Umbrum‘s or Sombra’s eyes. Then when she got angry with me, she had the purple shadow coming off of her eyes. Lastly, when she walked away from me yesterday, she left a trail of shadows behind her. So now that you know that, do you truly think she is free of dark magic? Or do you think she is just hiding it from you?”

“I cannot be sure, but I do not want to risk her sanity further by allowing her to think she might be able to remove it. For if she thinks she can, and then fails. We don’t know what could happen to her then. She could be driven mad by the desire to be able to, or she could be forced into a sadness in which we could not bring her out of. Better to leave her be then to risk either of those options. Now, you must do the same, do not encourage nor try to halt her curiosity with the crystals. For if you do, it will only lead down a path of darkness. Do you understand?”

“Yes. Although, I did try to tell her to bring the crystals to you. Then she yelled no, and I just let her be. Did I already fail in the task that you have sent me on?”

“No, but Luna received a letter from her, asking for audience with us both regarding an important matter. I do not know what that matter is, but I have a feeling it might have something to do with the crystals. You must not be here when she arrives, so I urge you to go home now. Be safe, do not let fear consume you.”

I teleport back home, only to find Night Crystal in the library, looking through a journal that Celestia gave me from Sombra’s private study. “What are you doing in here?”

“Oh, Twilight, you’re back. Spike here was kind enough to find me everything you have on Sombra. He even found Sombra’s old journal in a stack in here. I hope you don’t mind. I am going to borrow it to see if I can learn more about him. Bye!”

“Wait!” But she is already gone, leaving nothing but a small piece of paper behind. It reads:

You will not see this journal again, so I hope you read it. If not, sorry. This is private material that I am sure he doesn’t want anypony to read. I will take good care of it for you, have no worries.

I am worried. Not for the journal, for her sanity. However, most importantly, I worry for her mind. If it is slowly being consumed by darkness, how do we get her to see the light again?

Night Crystal’s POV:
As I appear at home, I think of the note I left Twilight. I never truly thought that I would become so sneaky and secretive. However, I suppose that after all, I am a Changeling who knows dark magic. I am fully consumed by it, and no matter what I or anypony else does, the fact that I am consumed by it can’t be changed. However, I have more important things to do then to worry about that now. Tomorrow I go visit Celestia and Luna to funnel fear into them. The day after tomorrow I have to go try to find gifts for Spike, Starlight, the mane 6, and Zecora. So, nine presents and a lot of hard thinking that needs to be put into finding them. Since in a little less than a month is Hearth’s Warming.

Chapter 21: Fear

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up to the rising sun, and prepare myself to go put fear into Celestia and Luna. It is fun being a villian, especially knowing that the Elements of Harmony can’t stop me, and Celestia and Luna have no way to counter my dark magic. I plan to put more into Celestia then into Luna. Luna has been kinder, whereas Celestia has done nothing but make me angry at her since my return. I may choose to reveal Skylight to Luna. Not to Celestia though, since if she knew, it would give too much away for her. She would automatically know that I was the Changeling young that she let live after the war.

I teleport myself to Canterlot directly in front of the castle doors, and ask for one of the guards to escort me to Celestia and Luna who should be awaiting my arrival. He nods, pushes open the doors, and leads me to a room next to Celestia’s throne room. Since her current throne room currently has a sword in it that she seems to be unable to remove. Once we are in the room the guard leaves and I am left alone with the two princesses. “What did want to speak with us about?” asks Celestia.

“I wished to ask what you personally knew about The Pillars who trapped The Pony of Shadows in Limbo.”

“Not much, they were Starswirl the Bearded, Mistmane, Flash Magnus, Rockhoof, Somnambula, and Mage Meadowbrook. They each had a relic that symbolized their powers, much like the Elements of Harmony. They all still exist today, Luna knows the location of all of then except for Starswirl’s who no one knows where is. They trapped The Pony of Shadows into Limbo, sealing themselves inside as well. Twilight might be able to pull all of them out but that would require Starswirl’s object, which was his personal spell book. That is all that I know. Luna and I would never be able to pull a pony out of Limbo due to the consequences and toll it would have on us both physically and mentally.”

“Thee are bold to say that dear sister. Thy forget that we have already been exposed to dark magic, and now have control over it.”

“I recognize that Luna, but it is still ill advised for the sake of our leadership.”

“Thank you for your knowledge Celestia. I now need to speak to Luna in private so are you leaving or should we go somewhere else?” I ask, as I finish siphoning fear into Celestia. Luna countered my attempt at her with her own small amount of dark magic, so she was a failed attempt.

“We shall go to the Everfree Forest, for we do indeed have something important to discuss Night Crystal. If thee is ready we shall go now.”

“I am ready Luna.”

As we appear in the Everfree Forest, I feel a blade pressed to my throat. I can do nothing but laugh.

“What are you? For you are no Alicorn as far as I am concerned.”

“What Celestia fears I am,” I say changing into my Changeling form, remarking at her sudden normal language. “My name is Skylight. I am the one Changeling young that you and Celestia let live after the War of Crystal. So now that you know, what do you think?” I continue with a blade still pressed to my throat.

“I think that I am okay with this, but that does not explain the fear siphoning. Although my idiotic sister didn’t notice, I did. So what is that about?”

“An experiment nothing more. Could you remove your sword from my throat? Or are we going to have a sword fight?” I say chuckling.

“Can you remove the fear?” she says, removing the sword at my throat.

“Yes, if I choose.”

“Good, and as for that sword fight. Maybe at a later date. For now, you must stop this experimentation. I demand it, and even though you are a Changeling, you still have to obey my orders.”

“Not necessarily. Last I checked the Changelings operate independently of the rest of Equestria. They follow the Crystal Empire more than you or Celestia.”

“While that is true, it is still part of Equestria even though we gave it to Cadence to rule.”

“I suppose, but I am tired of arguing so let’s be done with this.”

“Agreed. If I should find out that you are still lying to me, be prepared for that fight. Good day Skylight.”

“Good day Princess Luna.” I say dipping my head and then taking off towards home.

I arrive at home and decide that I will take a break from villainy for now. Let everything die down, and try to lay low. Have a normal holiday or two. I need to start finding gifts and then wrapping them all in preparation for Hearth’s Warming.

Chapter 22: Finding Gifts

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Night Crystal’s POV:
“Why is finding gifts so hard?” I moan out loud, mostly to myself, as I am walking around Canterlot. Thankfully no pony around heard me say that, otherwise I would be in some awkward conversations. I look back down at the list in my hooves. Written on it were names of the ponies and their present they would receive.

Twilight: The book: Dragon Customs (brought all the way from a hidden library in the dragon lands)
Rarity: Two rolls of Changeling fabric (color changing fabric)
Rainbow Dash:
Fluttershy: The book: Care of Rare Creatures
Pinkie Pie: A basket of Changeling candy
Applejack: A special recipe for a crystal apple pie
Spike: A basket of rare gemstones
Starlight Glimmer: Spell book of some lost spells- antique store maybe
Luna: A basket of Moon Pies
Celestia: A cake
Discord: don’t care
Zecora: A basket of Black Crystal Roses
Cadence/Shining Armor: A book on the Crystalling Ceremony

Of course that was a long list, most of which I knew where to get. Except I had no idea what to get Rainbow Dash. I asked Twilight for help on that one, and told her to send the letter directly to me. Zecora’s, Twilight’s, Spike’s, and Rarity’s I still need to grab since they cannot be found in Canterlot. I stopped by a bookstore and grabbed a copy of Care of Rare Creatures, and then went into an antique store right next door to find Starlight a book. I ended up finding a journal that had a bunch of spells in old Ponish. I then went to a baker in Canterlot that had a good rating and grabbed a cake and a basket of moon pies. After that. I headed to a newly opened book store that has copies of some books that are found in the Crystal Empire library. Hopefully I can find the two that I need so I can save a trip and not have to go to the Crystal Empire to find them. I enter the store and a bell chimes to announce my arrival in the store. I step one hoof over the threshold and am greeted by a blue pony with a darker blue mane and a white pony with a velvet and white mane.

“Hello, welcome to our shop that was opened with the help of Twilight Sparkle. She told us to make a library that helped ponies learn about the Crystal Empire before they traveled there. By the way, I am Twilight Velvet and this is my husband Night Light. Proud parents of Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor.”

“Thank you very much Twilight Velvet. Now if you will accuse me I have two specific books that I am looking for.”

“Oh, I would be happy to help you find them, o make your trip faster,” Twilight Velvet insisted.

It didn’t make my trip go any faster. It was longer than I intended it to be. All she did was talk on and on about how nice it was to meet another Alicorn and told me all about Twilight and Shining Armor. Did you know that Twilight was foal-sat by Cadence, I sure didn’t. During all the time she was talking, all I was trying to do was look. Unfortunately, I didn’t find either of the books I needed. So, I bid my goodbyes and am now flying to the edge of the Everfree Forest. I pick some black crystal roses for Zecora, then teleport those home, and walk into the Changeling Hive to the cloth seller. The Changeling known as Spinner looks a little shocked to see an Alicorn in front of him. I ask for two bolts of cloth that changes color and watch him retrieve it from the back. I pay him the 120 bits, send them home, and then head over to the candy maker. I could have just made the candy myself but I am too lazy to do that right now. This Changeling says nothing, I ask her one bag of candy, pay her the 17 bits, send them home, and teleport myself to the Dragon Lands.

As I appear on top of a mountain, I am surprised to see a letter hovering in front of me. I grab the letter in my dark green magic and open it. It reads:

Night Crystal,
For Rainbow Dash I would suggest an outfit for her pet tortoise, Tank. If you have any questions feel free to write me back.

Yours truly,
Twilight Sparkle

Well, I guess I will take a trip to Cloudsdale before Hearth's Warming Eve. Not today though, I plan on staying the night in the Crystal Empire. However, before I can go there I must grab the book and a basket of gemstones for Spike that includes his favorite gemstones, rubies and sapphires. I fly down the mountain a little ways to find the cave that holds the library. I am not expecting any dragons since they usually don’t come out this close to the border. I enter the cave and easily find the book I am giving Twilight. I send it home and turn around to see Garble, a troublemaker and annoying from what I have heard from Spike. I turn into a Changeling to hopefully appear more threatening, since I am taller than most standard Changelings.

“What is a pony doing here in the Dragon Lands?”

“Whatever this pony wants, Garble.”

“How do you know my name? I have never met you before in my life. Do you know Spike? I bet you know Spike. That’s how you know my name. So what are you doing in this land, pony?”

“Simply grabbing a book and then going to seal the cave so no dragon can come in and ruin the books.”

“I don’t think so, you have no business in these parts. If you want to get out of this cave you are going to have to fight your way out.”

“Okay,” I say simply, tying him up in a magically produced rope. “How you going to fight me now, huh?”

“Let me out of here you stupid pony.”

“Never,” I say, bucking him off the mountain. I exit the cave and seal the entrance shut.

Next, I teleport myself to the Crystal Empire and begin walking around, looking for the bookstore. I come upon the library and behold, the bookstore is right next to it. I enter and thankfully all this clerk does is nod her head in acknowledgment. I dip my head back to her and find both books that I need within 10 minutes, instead of wasting 2 hours in Canterlot. If you could even call it that, all I found was a bunch of history books and books recently written about Twilight’s discovery of the Crystal Empire. I pay for my two books and transport it all home. I planned to go say hi to Cadence and Shining Armor before I left, but before I even walk two feet towards the castle, I am knocked unconscious.

Chapter 23: Where, Why, and a Baby

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Unknown POV:
I see that my ponies weren’t completely useless; at least they captured an Alicorn. Not Celestia, Luna, Twilight, or Cadence, but at least it’s an Alicorn. This means that this is the long lost one, Night Crystal. We must convince her to join our cause and help us bring balance back to the world. Although a little bribery never hurt anypony either. “Scarlet Arrow, Chrome Shield, make sure our prisoner is tied tight. If she escapes I will hunt you down and kill you. Nowhere will be safe for you, not even this Crystal Empire, not the Dragon Lands, not Klugetown, not anywhere,” I bark to the two ponies that I hired from Cloudsdale.

“Yes my liege,” they say in unison, scurrying quickly to the prisoner.

The plan is coming together. Now it just depends on our most important piece.

Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up to see nothing but darkness. I know that whoever decided to capture me clearly doesn’t know that I possess dark magic. They put a magic inhibitor on me, but it doesn’t do anything to stop my dark magic, only light magic. I am bound tightly to a chair, but I try to wiggle anyway just to see if I could loosen it. Nope, nothing. I probe with my dark green magic to notice that the ropes have been tied by pegasi, which is odd, but I won’t question it, yet.

“Ah, you finally decide to join us. Good, let’s get started.”

“Yes, let us start by you telling me who you are and what you want with me,” I say as bright lights suddenly come on, revealing a severely disfigured pony. This pony is half shadow and half a midnight blue unicorn. The two halves blur together so there is no clear line as to where one starts and the other ends.

“Yes, I suppose so. My name is Midnight Star, but most ponies know me as Traveling Storm. I am a bounty hunter. I have my own cause that I am trying to get moving, which is where you come in. I need an Alicorn to support my cause. My cause is to overthrow Celestia, Luna, Cadence, and Twilight, and bring balance of good and bad back to Equestria. None of this ‘Celestia kills or banishes all of her enemies’. Judging by how you have been treating Celestia recently you don’t particularly enjoy her rule either. However, we do need to release Sombra from Limbo. I have been guided by his teachings throughout my life to get this cause up and running. I need him to seal the plan in place, which means I need an Alicorn to bring him back from Limbo. Will you help me?”

I pretend to think on this, whereas I technically know that I will definitely not help her/him/them, I don’t know. Since I knew Sombra, and all of these supposed teachings that this pony has been reading are all falsified stories written by other ponies. “No. Now untie me and go find an actual job to contribute to society.”

“I won’t take no for an answer, so I have no choice but to remove your cutie mark to make sure you can’t do magic unless I say so.” She starts conjuring up a spell and I writhe in agony pretending my cutie mark is being removed. However, seeing as I am a Changeling, I don’t actually have a cutie mark.

“Why isn’t this working? Scarlet Arrow, Chrome Shield, why isn’t my magic working?”

“We don’t know, my liege,” a red pegasus mare says, coming into view along with a dark blue pegasus stallion.

“I know,” I say smiling and changing into my Changeling form. “I am a Changeling and therefore possess no cutie mark. Also this magic inhibitor is really useless on somepony like me,” I continue, taking off the magic inhibitor with my dark magic. “Now along with all of that, Sombra has no such teachings. I would know, since after all, I was practically his daughter. Secondly, do you want to contribute to society, or would you rather die? Since you tend to frighten others I would think. Judging by how much you have tried to turn yourself into an Umbrum, but only partially succeeding due to it being impossible. So, what’s you answer?”

“I would rather die than see this world continue to be ruled by Celestia, or any other Alicorn! So just kill me and get it over with you traitor!” She screams, and I end her life quickly for her sake, and not just for the sake of the two ponies watching this happen.

“Now,” I start to say as I teleport out of my restraint, looking at the two pegasi. “What brings you two to be helping out this lunatic?”

“Well that’s easy ya see. She offered us a large sum of bits each if we helped her pull this plan off. We got here only to find that she was broke and couldn’t pay us, but when we tried to leave she threatened to kill us. Needless to say, all either of us want to do is go back to Cloudsdale to live a semi normal life, and put this all behind us.” the dark blue stallion says.

“Then go. I will not stop you because you were forced to do this, but you must not tell anypony of what transpired here today. Are we clear?”

“Yes!” They say in unison and burst out the door. I canter outside to see that I was in an old abandoned house on the outskirts of the Crystal Empire. I switch back to Night Crystal and fly towards the castle in hopes that Candence doesn’t have an important meeting of any kind.

I land in front of the entrance to the castle and ask the guards to let me in to see Cadence. They nod, open the doors, and gesture towards the meeting room. I nod my head in thanks and strut off towards the meeting room. So much for not being in a meeting. I reach the room and knock lightly on the door. I hear somepony say come in, and I enter to see Cadence and Shining Armor sitting at the table alone. Cadence and Shining both look exhausted, as I enter they both look up at me and smile.

“You are not who we expected to come in. Please join us Night Crystal,” says Cadence, seeming to perk up at the thought.

“So who were you two expecting? Secondly, what is going on here that makes both of you look extremely tired?”

“We were expecting my advisor that was going to tell me I have another meeting with the leader of some far away land.”

“Sitting through all of those meetings, 23 to be exact, has left Cadence and I exhausted and barely able to function. It doesn’t help when Cadence is expecting a baby.”

“Goodness Cadence, why didn’t you say something sooner? I know just the thing to make you feel better,” I say pulling two vials out of my saddlebags.

“What are those?” asks Cadence with a little more eagerness.

“These are your new best friends. This pink vile contains a mixture of poison joke and red tulips. Combining these two together makes a concoction that eases pregnancy cravings and cramps. Just drinking it by itself is fine, I have read that it tastes like bubblegum. This blue vial contains a mixture of blue lilies, black crystal roses, and purple dragon snaps. That, once put into a drink of your choosing, makes fatigue be lessened greatly that comes from dealing with nurturing the baby. Take them, drink up, and then tell me how you feel. As for the fatigue of the meetings, the only thing that will help that is a good night sleep.”

Cadence takes the vials, drinks the pink one, procures a glass of tea, dumps the blue vial into that, and then drinks that. Once she is finished with both, her mood improves greatly. “Thank you so much Night Crystal, but where did you learn all of this?”

“Old book that I found in an antique store early yesterday. I made two of every recipe in it before setting off here. You can have the other vials of those two. According to the book they last for three months each. So depending on how far along you are I would use these two carefully. Could I possibly stay the night here? I think it is too late to be taking the train back tonight.”

“Of course you can. We would be honored to have you stay the night. I’ll take these back to my room and Shining can show you to a guest bedroom up on the second floor. Have a good night,” Cadence says walking off the opposite direction of the meeting room.

“Shall we go?”

“Of course Shining, lead the way.” As we walk upstairs and down the hallway, I start to think about talking to Shining. Just as I decide to, Shining speaks up.

“So, how is Twily doing?”

“Pretty good. You know her, off solving friendship problems with her friends almost every other week. But other than that not much for news. How are you holding up Shining? You look as beat up as Cadence and your not even the one carrying the baby.”

“Honestly pretty tired. I’ve been running around trying to help Cadence with her cravings and her fatigue, so I am using up all my energy doing that. But even with all of that, I don’t know if I am ready to be a father. The day that Cadence told me that she was pregnant, I almost passed out from fear of what that was going to mean.”

“Shining, look at me,” we stop and he looks straight at me. “You are an amazing pony, you are making it through running a whole empire at the same time trying to take care of Cadence. You will be an amazing father, and I can only hope that I can see him or her one day.”

“Thank you Night Crystal. Your room is one more room down on your right. It should have the number 258 on it. Good night, and thank you again for your help.”

“No worries Shining. Good night.”

I enter my room and see that it is lavishly furnished and just right for an Alicorn. I put my saddlebags down on the bedside table and crawl into the bed. I close my eyes and fall into a deep sleep.

Chapter 24: Winter Is Finally Here

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up in the guest room bed of the Crystal Empire castle. I look over at my saddlebags to see a note propped up against them saying:

Good morning Night Crystal. When you wake we would love if you joined Shining and I for breakfast. We are in the same room as yesterday. There are some things Shining and I want to ask you.

-Cadence

I yawn, climb out of bed, and fix my mane. I double check to make sure I am Night Crystal, grab my saddlebags, and walk towards the meeting room. I open the door and am immediately hit with a blast of magic. Not one to knock me away, but one to reveal if I was a Changeling.

“Who are you!?” yells Shining Armor.

“I am Skylight. I did not choose to reveal my true nature to you originally because I wanted to try to live a normal life without being judged; because I was a Changeling that nopony had ever met or heard of. I am still the same pony as Night Crystal, just with a different form. You have no need to fear. Although I must ask, what made you do the spell in the first place?”

“When I put that note in your room this morning, there was a Changeling in the bed and not you. So I decided to test out my theory. Who else knows about this?”

“Luna, Twilight, Zecora, and now you two. Keep this to yourselves please. I have no intention of ever hurting you guys. I would love one day to meet the colt or filly you are carrying Cadence. I didn’t give you those potions out of pity. I gave them to you out of love and friendship. I use to live around Changelings that dealt with all that pain and fatigue, but they could do nothing about it. So I decided to help you out so you didn’t have to suffer as much. Can you forgive me for hiding this from you?”

“Of course we can. Twily obviously did, Luna hasn’t said anything, and Zecora is pretty trustworthy as she is very wise from what I have heard,” Shining says, looking at Cadence.

“I can as well. You are always welcome here Skylight. I would be honored if you came back to meet the foal once he or she is born.”

“I would be glad to. I must be on my way back home now. Although, I’ll take some food for the road. Thank you both so much for your hospitality, forgiveness, and friendship.”

“Of course. I must warn you, however, that you might want to teleport back. The snow is in full force everywhere in Equestria, so the Ponyville Express isn’t running.”

“Thank you Cadence. I’ll do that. Have a good one, I hope to see you again soon,” I say as I teleport myself to the Dragon Lands again. I still need to get Spike his gemstones. Then I’ll go to Cloudsdale after this to get Rainbow Dash’s present.

I arrive in the Dragon Lands to see that my cave that is my gem location is being ravaged by other dragons, including Garble. I change into a fairly large black dragon and bark, “Hey! Get away from my stash kids. Do you not know what does and doesn’t belong to you? Or do I need to teach you?”

All of them whip around to see me walking towards them. All but Garble, no surprise there, drop the gemstones they are holding and flee in terror. Garble looks at me with a bag full of gemstones in defiance and says, “You don’t scare me. Besides, I don’t see a name written anywhere.”

“There is, right above the cave entrance dummy. So put down my jewels and I’ll let you off without a scratch. Try to take off, and I will fry you to death,” I growl out, letting a loose a jet of purple flame towards him to make a point.

“Okay, I'll put your gems back. Leave me be though, cause next time we meet I may be a little more eager to fight,” he says, dumping the gems out oh his bag and flying out of the cave.

That was easy. I thought he would have put up more of a fight than that. I procure a basket and fill it up with a variety of gemstones, focusing on Spike’s favorites. Once I heaped the basket full of various gems, I teleport it home and then teleport myself to Cloudsdale, making sure I am Night Crystal before doing so.

I arrive in Cloudsdale to see every pegasus flying around like the world is falling apart. I guess Cloudsdale is a really busy place around Hearth’s Warming Eve. I go to a directory of the Cloudsdale market and look for a pet clothing store. I find that it is right around the corner to my left. I enter the store and see Fluttershy heading towards the tortoise section, probably to get Rainbow Dash a gift for Tank as well. I follow her and see that it is a separate little alcove, essentially shut off from the rest of the store. As I go to follow Fluttershy through the doorway I stop to hear a stallion pegasus snear, “Hey Fluttershy, here to get a present for Rainbow Crash?”

“Yes, and it’s Rainbow Dash. Now leave me alone, I have no interest in talking to you,” says Fluttershy quietly in return.

“Nah. What’s the fun in that? Taunting you like we used to do as fillies is still so much fun. Since you can barely fly and all you ever wanted to do was look after the birds.”

I enter the room and walk over to Fluttershy as I snarl out, “Hey, she said to leave her alone.”

“Oh, Fluttershy is this your new friend the long lost Alicorn? Ha, relying on an Alicorn to save you from us. How pathetic.”

“She isn’t relying on me. She can take care of herself, I am just sick of hearing you two taunt her. So I will politely ask you two to leave or I will take more drastic actions. Actions of which you will not find humorous.”

“What are you going to do? Magic us to death? Oh wait, then that would put you in jail.”

Since they have yet to relent, I, with a heavy heart, do the one thing I didn’t wish to do; change into my full Changeling form. I switch and the look on the two pegasus faces was worth all of the explaining I was going to have to do to Fluttershy. Since in my dark form I am far bigger than my Skylight form, almost not fitting in the small alcove area. The two pegasus glee in terror and I turn to Fluttershy, only to find her looking at me in interest, not fear like I expected. “Fluttershy, you aren’t afraid of me?”

“No, why should I be? You are still the Night Crystal I knew. It is still you right? I mean just because you look different doesn’t change who you are inside. I’m sure you are still the kind, funny, amazing pony that I have come to call my friend; even if you don’t look like Night Crystal anymore.”

“Yes Fluttershy, it is still me, but why does this not surprise you? I have revealed this to the others and they were very shocked. I had to ask for their forgiveness and understanding. But instead, here you are, taking this all in as if this is normal.”

“I guess I kind of suspected from the beginning when you asked about seeing me in the Changeling hive. I know basically every Changeling but one, and that one is you. So, your name isn’t Night Crystal, what is it? I won’t tell anypony, I promise.”

“Pinkie Promise?”

“Pinkie Promise. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

“My real name is Styx. The rest I have revealed myself to know me as Skylight. Twilight, Luna, Zecora, Cadence, and Shining Armor are the only other ponies that know. Now that that is done, do you think we should get back to shopping for Rainbow?”

“Yes, lets. Should we pair up and get Rainbow an expensive costume for Tank to make it more meaningful to her?”

“Great idea Fluttershy! Which one do you like the best?”

“I think I like the one that is Humdrum, since I know Rainbow has a power pony costume, it would compliment that very well. Don’t you think?”

“Agreed,” I say as I levitate it from the top shelf. We walk back up to the cash register, I made sure to switch back to Night Crystal before we left the alcove. I set the costume down on the counter and Fluttershy goes to pull out her bits. I stop her and say, “Fluttershy, let me get this. No need to waste your bits when I have it coming out my ears.”

“Oh, thanks.”

“No worries. I am glad that we could both get this for Rainbow. Do you want to wrap it for her?”

“I’d love to. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night then, Night Crystal?”

“Of course, have a good night,” I say teleporting myself to my house as Fluttershy stows the costume in her saddlebags and begins to walk away. Now I have a lot of wrapping to do before tomorrow night. However, I am so tired and just barely made it to my bed before slipping off into sleep.

Chapter 25: Hearth’s Warming Eve

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up to see that my house is somehow decorated for Hearth’s Warming. I wander downstairs to see Twilight in my kitchen cooking up breakfast for the two of us. “Where’s Spike?”

“Ahhh!” yells Twilight, flipping a pancake and having it land on my head. “Sorry, Skylight, you scared me is all. You are so silent walking around, I never even knew you came downstairs. Spike is doing the same thing for Starlight right now. I decided since you don’t have anypony near you I thought you might like breakfast homemade.”

“You can cook? Well Twilight, you never cease to amaze me. I am a terrible cook so yeah, I don’t eat a lot of homemade meals ever. What does Starlight think about Hearth’s Warming?”

“Honestly, no idea. However, the real question is, what do you think about Hearth’s Warming?”

“I understand the legend behind it and why ponies celebrate it, but as Changelings, we don’t celebrate it. So I guess I really only know what I have been told. I don’t particularly see why we need to celebrate it. But, I am open to the idea of celebrating it regardless, to stay in spirit.”

“What do Changelings do for holidays?”

“Nothing, we were so used to not celebrating anything. We participated one year in the Crystal Fair with the Crystal ponies but we didn’t enjoy it. So we ejected never to go again. Now we don’t do anything, but we still live happy lives with our families regardless of the fact that we don’t do anything. I don’t really have a family other than you guys now so I will celebrate Hearth’s Warming with you guys.”

“That means so much to me Skylight. I so hope you enjoy the holiday, and by the way, I will be reading one of my favorite stories for the 10 of us tonight. Let’s eat and then you can join us later tonight, since I am assuming you still have to wrap gifts.”

“You are correct in that assumption. By the way, breakfast looks delicious!”

As we eat, Twilight tells me that it is a tradition for them to gather in her castle to exchange gifts before actual Hearth’s Warming. Also they will usually go see a play about how Hearth’s Warming Eve came to be, but this year Twilight has chosen to read the book: A Hearth’s Warming Tail. Twilight says I don’t get to know what the book is about right now, and I just have to wait and listen to her read it tonight. We say our goodbyes and I rush to my side room to begin wrapping all of the presents. I am glad Twilight's was near the bottom so she couldn’t have seen it. I wrap all of the presents then send Celestia’s, Luna’s, and Cadence/Shining Armor’s presents to them. About 5 minutes later I receive three presents back from them. Celestia gave me an expert Alicorn guide to magic. Luna gave me a sword with the word Changeling written down the shaft of the blade. Cadence/Shining Armor gave me a Crystal Empire cookbook. I set my gifts aside, grab the others, and head off towards Twilight’s castle.

I arrive at Twilight’s castle to see that they did there little Mane 6 get together and gift exchange early, so only Spike, Discord, Starlight, and I have presents let to give/exchange. Fluttershy saved our gift to Rainbow Dash for me to give to her so we give it to Rainbow and she does a triple loop de loop in Twilight’s castle. Next Starlight and I exchange, she loves it. She gave me a herbal recipe book that Twilight had a copy of laying around. I give the rest of the Mane 6 their presents and they all enjoy them very much. Spike and I exchange next, he gives me another different book about herbal remedies that he found in the library as well. I give him his gemstones and he hugs me because no one else gave him gemstones. I hug him back, seemingly uncomfortable because I have never had anypony or dragon hug me before. Not even my own foster parents ever did that. Sombra never did, he only ever kissed me on top of my head before he left after meeting with my foster parents.

We finish up the gift exchange and then went into the room to have a huge feast, and I sit between Applejack and Rarity. During the meal we all have a little bit of conversation, mostly focusing on eating the huge meal in front of us. Some of the time I would have Applejack ask me for a roll, or a something way across the table that she wanted; and since she was an earth pony it is kind of hard to get. No big announcements were made, just plenty conversation.

We gather in the library after the meal and Twilight begins to read A Hearth's Warming Tail to us. Eventually we come across the part where the Spirit of Hearth’s Warming Yet to Come has a little song that she sings. Twilight asks me to sing that song, I don’t want to because I don’t think I can sing that well. Everypony cheers me on to do it. Since I supposedly have a nice voice, and apparently it would just be perfect to sing the song; at least according to Rarity and Fluttershy. I begrudgingly agree to do it, but everypony has to be quiet.

I see a cold wind blowing through
I see days neither fun nor free
I see a future caused by you
I see a path not meant to be
The future should be filled with magic
Dreams and wishes brought to life
But the days ahead are dark and tragic
No time for hope when all is strife
Whatever might have been
All the dreams that ponies share
Because of you, Snowfall Frost
Now the future is a cold nightmare

I finish and the whole room is sitting in stunned silence. Everypony claps and then once everypony calms down, Twilight continues. She tells about how Snowfall didn’t believe in Wendigos. However, in the end, Snowfall learned that Hearth’s Warming is a vital part of Equestria, eventually letting the spirit of the holiday into her heart.

“That was a wonderful story Twilight,” I say, smiling at Twilight.

“Agreed. It shows that even those that have doubts can eventually see the importance of the holiday and its traditions,” adds Starlight.

Everypony finishes their hot chocolate and then say their goodbyes. I am last to leave, and I say goodbye to Spike and Twilight. Starlight is at the door waiting for me. I approach her to see her crying. “Why are you crying Starlight?”

“What!? I’m not crying.”

“Yes you are Starlight, don’t deny it. Why? What has made you so upset on this holiday?”

“It’s just that I brought up my past to Twilight and she didn’t say anything back to me. She just looked sad, nodded at me, and walked away. I don’t know what to think about that.”

“It’s okay Starlight, what you did was not your fault. You were scared about what your future might hold so you made yourself friends. Even if it wasn’t in the best way possible, but you got past that, look where you are today. The pupil and friend of Twilight Sparkle. On top of that, you even have a lot more friends here for you, including me.”

“You just say that, but you have nothing that you aren’t proud of.”

“I have a lot of things I am not proud of Starlight. Pretty much as bad as yours. But my past doesn’t define who I am. We are who we make ourselves to be, for better, for worse. We all have our flaws, so stop acting like everybody around you is perfect, they’re not. Nopony is, nopony ever will be, not even Celestia and Luna. So you truly believe that every villain doesn’t deserve a chance at redemption?”

“No, everypony deserves a second or even third chance. Discord, Sombra, Tirek, me, and even our friends make mistakes. We forgive them every time, but unlike villains, they get hundreds of chances. Villains only seem to get a total of 2.”

“If Sombra came back, would you give him a chance to prove himself? To prove he was changed and was worthy of another chance?”

“I would, because he only got one. Especially because it was started by two noble ponies, not even the leaders were the issue. He just took the fall for the actions of his noble.”

“Well, thank you Starlight. Remember you are so much more important and worthy of forgiveness than you think. Good night.”

“Good night, Night Crystal.”

I walk home and curl up in my bed. I go to sleep that night thinking of Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. About how Fluttershy helped Rainbow find her own special pet. Maybe I should get a pet somewhere down the road soon. It would be nice to have a companion to talk to, even if they can’t talk back to me. A pet that knows the real me, and will stick by me through the end.

Chapter 26: My Special Pet

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I decided to go to Fluttershy’s cottage to pick out my pet. I am leaning towards a snake or a bat. I never planned to get a pet back when I was in the Changeling hive but now that I am here, it makes sense. All of the Mane 6 have a pet, Starlight doesn’t, but that is because she doesn’t want something to have to take care of. I think I can take care of one since I am home often, unless I am helping one of the bearers or Zecora. However, I haven’t told Fluttershy that I need to meet the animals in my Changeling form. Just to make sure the animal that I choose is used to me, and can find me even if I am disguised to every other pony.

I arrive at Fluttershy’s cottage to see that she is having a tea party with Discord.

“Hello Night Crystal, are you here to pick out your pet?”

“Yes, and Fluttershy, you can call me Styx in Discord’s presence. He does know I am a Changeling. I was thinking about either a bat or a snake. Discord, which do you think would be better?”

“Snake for sure. Bats sleep all day so they aren’t around during the day. Besides, you can do this with a snake!” Discord says snapping his claw foot, making all of Fluttershy’s house go topsy turvy. Including the snake that Fluttershy brought out for me to see. The snake simply took it in stride and found its way over to me. I change and the snake doesn’t even react upon seeing my new form.

“Fluttershy, would a snake be able to sense me even if I am disguised?”

“Well, I don’t know. We would have to test it out in a pretty large crowd. But, in order to do that, he would need a name first. Something very unique to him, nothing generic.”

“Basil,” says Discord nonchalantly.

“What?” Fluttershy and I ask simultaneously.

“Basil, you know, Basilisk; legendary, terrifying, giant snake creature that petrifies ponies.” Fluttershy and I look at him in confusion. “Oh goodness gracious, this thing,” Discord says snapping his paw foot this time, producing a 50 foot long snake with red glowing eyes.

Fluttershy squeals and hides behind her couch and asks, “Discord, could you please stop and make it go away?”

“Of course Fluttershy,” Discord snaps his paw again, “that is where the name came from.”

“Well, I mean, it works and is unique for the little guy,” says Fluttershy coming out from behind the couch, and looking at the snake that is now looking over my shoulder at her.

“Agreed, Basil it shall be. Now I suppose we should go find a big crowd to test out the ‘finding’ theory.”

“Yes, there is a big concert being held today that is a fundraiser for the school. So that should be large enough. Don’t you think?” Discord asks.

“Yes, you two stay here until I send Discord the letter to come find me. I will be my usual self, but we will see if Basil finds me,” I say, teleporting to the edge of the crowd. I switch to Night Crystal during the teleport and start weaving my way into the middle of the crowd. I send Discord the letter, and almost immediately sense him, Fluttershy, and Basil blipping onto the outer edge of the crowd. I simply stood in the middle of the crowd, waiting until I feel Basil. For now though, I pretend I am watching the concert just to keep up appearances for everypony around me who is actually enjoying the concert. After about a minute and a half I feel something slither up my right front leg and come to rest on my shoulder. I look down to see Basil curling up in a little ball on my shoulder. I kiss the little snake on the top of his head, and then teleport back to Fluttershy and Discord. “Well that worked out very well! I must say Fluttershy, you do work your own type of magic with the animals.”

“Ah, thanks, but I think the pet always chooses the owner. I mean, look at Rainbow Dash and Tank, very different but fit together perfectly. I think you and Basil will be the same way. Different, but a good team together.”

“Well I for one think that Basil is unique and is a perfect fit. Now I must be going, I have something I want to discuss with Twilight. Ta ta.”

“Fluttershy?”

“Yes Styx?”

“How exactly did Discord come to be your friend?”

“Oh, that’s a story best told over tea or coffee I think.”

“Coffee. How about tomorrow morning at Sugarcube Corner?”

“That sounds excellent. I can’t wait to tell you how Discord got reformed. He was quite ashamed of his behaviors once he realized he would lose his only friend in all of Equestria. Bye Styx.”

“Bye Fluttershy,” I say, trotting off towards Rarity’s boutique. I needed to ask her if she could make me a dress that would be good to wear in any formal setting.

I enter the boutique to see Rarity in the middle of a bunch of papers that cover the whole floor. “What happened in here Rarity?”

“Photo Finish happened.”

“What?”

“Photo Finish came and looked through all of my dress designs. Then, she handed me these five designs for me to make for a fashion show two weeks from now. It’s no problem, really, but she literally threw every other design onto the floor making this mess.”

“Well, I can help you Rarity. Do they all belong in a binder, book, or are they supposed to be organized by type or color?”

“That’s just it, she ripped them all neatly out of a book. They didn’t have any order thankfully, but I don’t know a spell to get them back into the book.”

“Well I do Rarity. I’ll do some for you and teach you how to do it. Then you can clean this mess up really fast. By the way, would you be willing to make me a dress for just like everyday formal events? Also, my new pet Basil would love a blanket.”

“Basil, is that a snake?”

“Yes, I was thinking a blue, black, and green blanket for him.”

“Of course I can make the blanket darling. The dress will have to be done after the ones for Photo Finish, but I would be glad to make a dress for one of my friends. As for the help and spell, I would much appreciate it. I just don’t know what I would do with all of the designs otherwise.”

“Glad to help Rarity. Let us get started,” I say, starting to pick up pages and hover them over to the book that Rarity pointed out. After about an hour of picking up pages and putting them back in the book, Rarity and I finish and she makes the blanket for Basil. I bid Rarity goodbye, paying her two bits for the blanket, then head home.

I reach my house to see that there is a note on my door. I take it off the door and read: Have funsies. -Discord. Well that’s not good. I started to think that Discord wasn’t going to pull anymore pranks or give anypony ideas that were bad. However, his note may now make me believe otherwise. I head up to my room to sleep the exciting day away. I put Basil down in a basket with the little blanket that Rarity made for me, and I get into my own bed and slip easily into a deep sleep.

Chapter 27: Discord Is Not Helpful

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up to somepony or ponies screaming outside my front door. I wander downstairs and look through the peep hole to see Fluttershy and Twilight at my door. I open the door and both come barreling in. I see a mob of ponies that were behind them come swarming towards my open door and I immediately slam it shut. “What in all of Equestria is going on out there?”

“Discord gave me the idea to share all of our friendship lessons with everypony so they can learn them too. Instead, it backfired because everypony is arguing with each other now, and all of us are constantly being followed by a swarm of ponies that are idolizing us,” Twilight blurts out.

“Well, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad idea. It just wasn’t taken the way it should be by everypony else. Mistakes happen, so now you know what needs to happen, don’t you?”

“What?”

THUMP THUMP THUMP

“Oh never mind, we will discuss this later. For right now, I am going to need you to get a good distance away from the door,” I say switching into a Changeling. They push themselves up against the farthest wall from the door while still being able to see it. I put a shield around my house and then open the door. “Who comes knocking loudly on Night Crystal’s door at this hour?”

“Um, we do. We know Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy are in your house. We need to discuss friendship stuff with them,” says a shaking tan pony with a brown mane and tail.

“Well, I hate to disappoint you, but neither of them are speaking to you guys. They are both currently trying to stay away from you. Hence the reason they came to me, as I am perfectly capable of making you go away.”

“We aren’t scared of you!” an orange mare pipes up from the back of the crowd.

“Are you sure?” I say, enlarging my size one more time and hissing.

“Yyyess,” says the tan pony again.

“Hahaha. You have no idea what I possess, so I recommend you leave now,” I say, changing into my dragon form.

“Ahhhhhhhhh!” the entire crowd yells as they go running away from the house, with my purple fire trailing after them.

I walk back into the house and I see both Fluttershy and Twilight are sleeping on the couch. I cover them each up with a blanket and head to the kitchen to make them each a meal for when they wake up.

About 8 hours later, they both saunter into the kitchen to eat. I tell them that we are heading over to Twilight’s castle in an hour so that we have no chance of running into any ponies.

The three of us leave my house under the cover of the midnight sky to go to Twilight’s castle. We get into her castle to see Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash all sitting next to each other. All of them are sleeping and Starlight is keeping watch over them and looks at the door when we open it.

“Oh thank goodness you are back Twilight. These four came here looking for you to help them. I told them to wait here as none of them slept last night, so I have been up helping keep every other pony away from them,” says Starlight, looking very sleepy.

“Well, Fluttershy and I are here now thanks to Night Crystal. Fluttershy and I were both in town and Night Crystal’s house was closer than my castle. We hung out there and told her about what happened.”

Starlight and Twilight keep talking back and forth. I seal the doors to Twilight’s castle so only me, the Mane 6, Starlight, or Spike can open them for the time being, and to prevent any of the idiot ponies outside from forcing their way in. Once Twilight and Starlight are done talking they decide to join in the sleeping pile of ponies, so I stay awake to guard the castle. You know, all of them are pretty peaceful in their sleep, which makes sense after the days that they have all had.

The next morning I wake all of them up. I tell Twilight that she must face the mob outside her castle. Twilight and her friends sum up the courage and open the doors. Twilight starts yelling for everypony to be quiet and listen to her. I can tell she is getting frustrated.

“Listen to me!” yells Twilight, calling upon a small portion of the Royal Canterlot Voice. Then she breaks out singing, along with the other Mane 5.

I never claimed to be perfect
My mistakes are all written in ink
None of us claimed to be perfect
And it's sad if that's what you all think
Our flaws helped to make us special
They bond us and keep us strong
Our flaws are what brought us together
So stop actin' like somethin's wrong

We're not flawless
We're a work in progress
We've got dents and we've got quirks
But it's our flaws that make us work
Yeah, we're not flawless
We're a work in progress
So tell me what flaws you got, too
'Cause I still like what's flawed about you

I immediately teleport inside my house after that last line because I had no desire to keep listening to the Mane 6 singing any longer. Although their voices together are good, I really don’t care to hear them singing. Knowing that this is all because of Discord makes that note seem all the more suspicious since I have a feeling he is planning more right now. Although, I don’t think all of the singing is going to solve anything, but I will leave that for Twilight to deal with. For now, I must sleep so I can go to Canterlot tomorrow to make sure Discord hasn’t moved his meddling there.

Chapter 28: Meddling Continued

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up to somepony pounding on my door. Not again. I wander downstairs to see Celestia and Luna outside. Great, now what could they want? Who knows, maybe Discord decided to do something to Canterlot. I open the door and see that Celestia and Luna actually look tired and out of sorts. I motion for them to come in and ask, “What has happened that brings you two out here and not to Twilight’s castle?”

“That’s just it! Twilight, Starlight, and Spike aren’t at Twilight’s castle, they have vanished. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash aren’t at their houses either. I have tried sending them messages through Spike, but they have always been returned. Do you know anything?” asks Celestia.

“Unfortunately I do not, but I have a pretty good idea who might know where they are,” I say, summoning Discord to my location, as much as he is fighting me to not come. “This would be the source of our problems, and thankfully for us I think he knows where they are. Right, Discord?”

“Oh my, well yes, you see, they were all called by the map to Seaquestria. I mean, not Spike, but they chose to bring him along just so he wasn’t by himself.”

“You’re lying Discord, you made them bring Spike, and I have a feeling the map didn’t send them there,” I say, shooting daggers at Discord.

“Oh fine, you got me. I told them there was a problem in Seaquestria, and now they are all stuck there. They are housed in a cell under the rule of Queen Nova, and will remain there until you go and get them out. Since it isn’t my domain, or part of what Celestia and Luna rule, I am afraid I can’t bring them out. Somepony must go in and get them. This is the last of my funsies, so I’ll leave you three to chat. Ta ta,” Discord says, disappearing in a flash.

“Night Crystal, you must go. Luna and I are not allowed in their kingdom unless invited. You must be the one to do it, but it must be done diplomatically. Unless of course the price that they ask is too much for you, then I give you permission to use whatever is necessary to get them out. The fate of Equestria and the Elements rests in your hooves, be safe Night Crystal.”

“Don’t worry Celestia, I’ll have them back before you know it.”

I run inside, grab my saddlebags and fill them with bits. I teleport to the edge of what Celestia and Luna rule, then fly my way to Klugetown for a rest stop. Thankfully for me, I am left alone since I am a pony currently still in Night Crystal form. Although that didn’t stop the creatures from giving me some nasty looks. I find the nicest looking inn in Klugetown and enter it. The innkeeper is standing behind a desk and as soon as he sees me he glares. “I require a room for the night, I will be gone early in the morning.”

“Go away. We don’t serve ponies like you here, so scram,” says the innkeeper, pointing at the door.

“I’m sorry, did that come off as a question? It was meant to be an order, and I won’t take no for an answer,” I say emphasizing my point by changing into my Changeling form.

“W-w-well, I mean if you insist. There is a room on the third floor, second door on the left.”

“Good. Thank you very much. Here is your payment,” I say, setting some bits on the counter, and sauntering upstairs. I enter the room to see nothing but a bed and small bedside table with a lamp on it. I lock the door with my magic and crawl into the bed to sleep until early morning.

I wake up and leave the small inn. I fly towards the coast and touch down on the beach. Now, never did I ever think I was going to have to transform into a Seapony. Especially not one that looks like my Changeling form. I was hoping I could transform into one that looks like Night Crystal. Unfortunately for me, seapony transformation has some... limitations, and needless to say, I am SCARY. Nothin’ I can do about that though. I dive down and follow my instincts towards where I believe Seaquestria would be. After swimming for a little while I sea a glowing gate looking object in the distance. I swim towards it, seeing as my instincts haven’t led me astray. As I approach the gate two sea ponies come out and ask, “What are you doing here? We have never seen you before.”

“I must speak with Queen Nova about an urgent matter regarding some prisoners she is keeping that I demand back.”

“Of course, come with us.”

The two guards escort me through the gates and towards a large cavern that I assume Queen Nova uses as a throne room. We enter the cavern and I look up to see hundreds of seaweed tentacles surrounding what appears to be a pearl. I look forward again to see Queen Nova glaring at me angrily, but also with a look of surprise on her face. “Queen Nova,” I say bowing, “I have come to request that you release the 6 ponies, and 1 dragon back to me immediately. As they are vital to the survival of Equestria.”

“You come into my kingdom demanding stuff, but yet you don’t understand that I could simply take the pearl and turn you back into a pony. But, I suppose I don’t really have a need for them. You can have them back on one condition.”

“And what condition is that?”

“You can have them back if you agree to stay in their place while we study how you were able to get down here without the help of one of us.”

“No, I can tell you how I got down here, but I will not stay to be part of your stupid experimentation.”

“Fine, then I cannot release your friends. Therefore I must use the pearl and change you into a pony. Guards, grab her.”

Suddenly the two guards grab me, pinning my fins behind my back. I don’t struggle because the pearl will make no difference on me. Although I was bound by limitations in sea pony form, I still used Changeling magic to get myself down here, not sea pony/ hippogriff magic. Queen Nova grabs the pearl down from the ceiling of the room, and swims over to me. She holds the pearl in both fins, then opens her fins as if they were a clamshell containing the pearl. The pearl grows brighter and brighter until I have to close my eyes so I’m not blinded. I hear gasps of shock, so I open my eyes to see Queen Nova staring at me in confusion. “Your pearl doesn’t work on me because I am a pony turned seapony, but not through seapony magic. So I will leave, but I will find a way to get your seven prisoners out,” I say, swimming my way out of the cave and through the gates. I turn around to see the gates slam loudly behind me, at least as loud as it can be underwater.

Chapter 29: Finished? Not Likely

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Well, that didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get to see where they were being kept, and Queen Nova’s proposition wasn’t good for me, so I left/Queen Nova tried to drown me to get me out of her kingdom. I was told to be diplomatic within reason, I tried that. Now Queen Nova leaves me no choice.

Twilight’s POV:
I hate Discord! He tricked us into coming down here and now we are stuck. Discord was called by Night Crystal back to her location and is unable to help us now. I hope Night Crystal comes and gets us soon. Since Celestia and Luna can’t come into another leader’s domain. We are at least fed three meals a day, but they won’t tell us anything. Whether we are going to be released at some point or whether we are just doomed to this existence until we are rescued by somepony else. The only thing we have been told is that earlier today a pony came asking for our release. Queen Nova apparently gave a price, but the pony didn’t agree to it, so Queen Nova tried to use the pearl to get them to leave. That is all we were told outright, but we overheard some of the guards talking about how the pearl didn’t work on the pony. Instead, the pony simply left, and seemed as if they had no intention of returning. I sincerely hope that they do come back, we need to get out of here fast. For if we don’t, all of Equestria is at risk. When we originally came down here, we seeked an audience with Queen Nova. After hearing what we had to say, she dismissed us and locked us up. She originally was going to use the pearl, but we told her that if we drowned, Celestia and Luna would seek revenge rather quickly. Since we were all a vital part of keeping Equestria from falling apart, or into the wrong hooves of some evil being.

Now night is falling in Seaquestria so all of the lights are being turned off, but our two guards still have lanterns with them. A third guard brings us our dinner and just as the door opens the lanterns go out.

“What the?” I hear one of the guards ask.

I hear three oofs, and then the door squeaks open, being surrounded by dark purple magic. I don’t know where the magic is coming from, because neither Rarity’s nor my magic works underwater. An alarm is triggered, and a red flashing light and a high pitched siren begin going off. Within the flashes of red light I see a dark black sea pony with glowing green eyes. The figure gestures towards a door, and all of us take off swimming. We find the main gates easy enough, since all the lights have come back on; but unfortunately there are at least 30 guards blocking it. As all of us wind up to charge at the guards, a black shadow goes whirling past us. Two guards are picked off by the shadow and the rest of them come charging at us. We rush in and start trying to ram into them to knock them off balance. Problem number two is that even if we get past the guards, the gates are still locked. I hope that black sea pony is going to open the gate, because if not, we might as well just go back to our cage. I ram into a guard, knocking him into another one. I look around to see all of my friends, and even Spike deploying similar tactics. I turn to look at the gate, hoping it has become unlocked, but no. I continue ramming into guards, when the shadow comes flying past me again; this time taking five guards with them. In my time spent looking at the shadow, a guard came up behind me, pinning my fins behind me. I struggle to get free, but the guard started dragging me away. I go to scream for help, but another guard comes and puts a fin to my mouth, silencing me. I look back towards the gate to see that it is open. All of my friends go racing towards it. I see the six specks of them swimming away and up towards the surface. Completely unaware that I am being dragged back towards the cell from which we came.

I stop struggling, knowing that no matter what I do, I have no chance of escaping now. WHOOSH! I am suddenly free and I take off towards the gates, not looking back. As I reach the outside of the gates I hear screams. I look back to see every single guard screaming and writhing in agony. Above them all is the black sea pony, horn ablaze with dark purple magic. I guess the black seapony senses my gaze as it turns and looks back at me. I look into its eyes and all I see are glowing green pools. In fright I look away and begin swimming towards the surface. That wasn’t Night Crystal as far as I am concerned. I wonder who that was, and why they helped rescue us from there. Better yet, how did that pony know we were there to begin with?

Night Crystal’s POV:
I teleport all the way back home, lay on my couch, and await the arrival of either Celestia and Luna, or Spike, Twilight, and her friends. It seems I don’t have to wait long as I hear a knock on my door. I get up and answer the door, but who is in front of me is not who I was expecting. Starlight and an orange stallion are standing at my door instead.

“Where is Twilight?” Starlight asks hurriedly.

“On their way back from Seaquestria last I checked.”

“What were they doing there?” asks the orange stallion.

“Discord tricked them into going there. Who are you again?”

“Oh, my name is Sunburst. I am an old friend from when Starlight and I were foals. We first met again when the Crystal Empire came to be ruled by Cadence and Shining Armor,” he says, his tone falling in sadness at the end.

I make a mental note to talk to him in private later and say, “Nice to meet you Sunburst, I’m Night Crystal. They should be here shortly. I suggest waiting at Twilight’s castle for them. Have a good day.” I slammed the door in their faces, having no desire to continue talking to them. I couldn’t figure out a nice way to stop talking to them, so I slammed the door on them.

Chapter 30: Hearts and Hooves Day

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Twilight has become unsettled in the last few days. It isn’t the fear that I siphoned into her, as it doesn’t affect her daily life around me at all, just her nightmares and daydreams. I suspect it is from the lack of doing anything. I have to bring up the idea that I had to her, the one that stemmed from her friendship journal. Although for now, I am stuck at home because Hearts and Hooves Day is upon us. My most hated holiday since it is a time for couples, special some ponies, or families. Unless of course you don’t have any of those, then you are stuck at home alone. Like me, since all of my blood family is dead, and I have no special somepony. I would spend it with Starlight, but she has Sunburst over, and Twilight is with them, going over books, spells, and other miscellaneous stuff. I locked the door and don’t plan to come out for any reason. Not even if all of Equestria started falling apart around me.

Applejack’s POV:
I have no desire to see Big Mac and his special somepony together, but better than Apple Bloom giving him and Cheerilee a love potion. Regardless, I still gotta do chores today, and so does Apple Bloom and Big Mac. Big Mac doesn’t get off free just because he has a date with Sugar Belle tonight, in Canterlot no less. Courtesy of Twilight, and her never endin’ supply of bits. Which makes sense, she is a princess after all. I just wish this family could have supplied the money for the date, but that’s what happens when ya work on a farm, at least one in Ponyville. Ya get just enough money to keep yourself going, but not enough to do much more. Thankfully this day is pretty uneventful in comparison to Hearth’s Warming Eve ‘cause on that day we gotta deal with Pinkie Pie’s family, who, lets just say, aren’t the most entertainin’ of ponies. I started the mornin’ off by feeding the pigs and chickens, along with collecting the eggs. I then fixed the fence, and now I get to start my apple buckin’ chore with Big Mac and Apple Bloom. Big Mac and I do the buckin’, Apple Bloom does the catchin’.

After five hours we have done a little over half of our biggest orchard. We finish up, head to the house to clean up, and get Big Mac ready to go to Canterlot. We have to see Big Mac off to the station. Although he is just meetin’ Sugar Belle at the station in Canterlot, he has multiple surprises planned for her throughout the night. There are so many surprises that I don’t even know about. Apple Bloom and I walk Big Mac to the station, bid him goodbye, and then head back home to spend some family time with Granny Smith. We also managed to convince Grand Pear to join us for dinner. After we made amends with him about our parents, Granny Smith was all too happy to let him back into the family.

Pinkie Pie’s POV:
I managed to track down Cheese Sandwich again, and invited him to stay in Ponyville, coincidentally on Hearts and Hooves Day. I think it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that we are interested in each other. We are so super duper perfect for each other, and his rubber chicken ended up being my key for the chest for us to be able to defeat Tirek. I do admire him very much for his party planning skills, and his personality. I have an awesome, amazing ‘Welcome Back to Ponyville’ party planned for him. I’m pretty sure he likes me too, but I am still unsure. I don’t know if he realized that I invited him over on Hearts and Hooves Day or not, but I still need to wait for him at the train station. I have met with him twenty times before now, and we have really gotten to know each other.

I bounce my way to the train station and continue bouncing in place as I wait for the train to arrive. I look around the platform to see Applejack and Apple Bloom getting ready to send Big Mac off on his date with Sugar Belle. I would go over and say hi, but I am just toooo excited to see Cheese Sandwich again. The train arrives and I am waiting to see Cheese Sandwich walk off. The train is almost empty and I don’t see Cheese Sandwich yet. Where is he? Just as I start to think he forgot I see a yellowish orange stallion walk out of the train. I know it’s Cheese Sandwich. I leap towards him, pummeling him to the ground.

“Pinkie Pie!” SQUEAK!

That would be Boneless Two. I let him up and say, “It’s super duper nice to see you Cheese Sandwich! Are you ready?”

“Ready for what my fellow super duper party planner?”

“Your Welcome Back to Ponyville party, duh.”

“Actually Pinkie, I was wondering if we could go somewhere private to talk,” he says seriously.

“Okey dokey loki. We can have your party and talk in my super secret party cave.”

We walk back to Sugarcube Corner and go to my party cave. Once we arrive I look at Cheese Sandwich expectantly, encouraging him to talk with a nod.

“Pinkie, I think it’s time we talk about what is between us. I know you meant something by inviting me over on Hearts and Hooves Day. And I want to know what that means to you. What I mean to you.”

“I-I-I really like you, and think I might even love you. Assuming you have the same super amazing feelings about me.”

“And if I do?”

“Then I promise to love you for all eternity,” I say, starting to weep as Cheese Sandwich pulls out a small box, and kneels on his other front hoof.

“Will you marry me?”

Rainbow Dash’s POV:
Soarin asked me out on a date tonight. I never thought that buffoon would ever ask me out. I always knew him to be so shy and timid about stuff like this. You know, romantic stuff. He finally did it though, and I was so excited. I practically yelled yes, and tackled him to the ground in my excitement. I decided to wear the first dress Rarity ever made for me; the one for our first time at the Grand Galloping Gala. I try to maneuver the dress on when I hear a knock on my front door. “Come in Soarin, it’s open!”

“Dash, what’s the matter? You sound like you are struggling to do something?”

At this point I am stuck trying to get into my dress. I hear my bedroom door open and then Soarin says, “Need a little help?”

“I’m fine, I just need to wiggle it around a little bit more,” I grunt out while wiggling. After a few minutes I give up, “Alright, I need help.”

“Hehe,” he laughs, helping to tug the dress down on the side that is caught on my wing. “Never thought I would catch you in such a vulnerable position. You know, the newest Wonderbolt? The coolest and bestest flier in all of Ponyville.”

“Oh be quiet. Thanks for the help. Now, should we get going?”

“Yes, follow me to our private little dinner.”

We leave my house and walk to a small, private, and very expensive restaurant in the center of Cloudsdale. We enter, Soarin tells the waitress pony that he has a reservation for two. She goes and checks, comes back, grabs two menus, and motions for us to follow her to our table. We arrive at our table, and begin looking through the menu.

“Do you want to share a plate of hay sandwiches and share a bowl of spicy pepper soup? Since I know you love spicy things.”

“Sounds like a good plan. Then we can share a peach pie for dessert?”

“Sounds good,” he says as the waiter comes back to take our order. He repeats what we just talked about to the waiter and then turns back to me. He doesn’t say anything, he just looks at me.

The waitress brings out the main meals, we eat, wait about ten minutes, then scarf down the pie. “Thank you for this Soarin. I really did enjoy this, going on date with you.”

“My pleasure Dash, now what would you think about doing this again sometime soon?”

“Of course! I would love to, I think it would be awesome!”

Chapter 31: Friendship School Part 1

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Night Crystal’s POV:
Now that Hearts and Hooves Day is over I can finally go talk to Twilight about my idea. If she hasn’t figured it out yet or if Starlight had the same idea and told her. I canter outside to see Filthy Rich standing there, staring at my house. “What do you want now Filthy?” I ask snarling.

“I just wanted to introduce you to my daughter, Diamond Tiara.”

“That’s okay, I don’t talk with fillies very much. Especially one related to you Filthy. By the way, last I checked, I especially don’t like your daughter because she constantly bullied the Cutie Mark Crusaders for being blank flanks. She still does bully them for other things on occasion. So thank you, but no thank you.”

“But she wouldn’t, she couldn’t, when we are over at Sweet Apple Acres, Apple Bloom always acts so nice to me and Diamond Tiara.”

“That’s because she is usually in the presence of Big Macintosh or Applejack. So she has to be nice, not because she wants to.”

“Oh, well I guess I’ll need to bring it up with Applejack.”

“See that you do Filthy, now if you would excuse me, I am off to see Twilight,” I say walking off. “Oh, and by the way, if you thought I left the door unlocked, you are very wrong; in fact, there is a very powerful shield spell over my entire house. So I would recommend not trying to get in.”

He says nothing, so I continue my stroll to Twilight’s castle. I turn a corner to walk down to the castle, when Starlight collides with me, only her at full running force. I go flying backwards, and grumble out, “What are you in a hurry for Starlight?”

“Oh, Night Crystal, just the pony I was looking for. Twilight is driving me crazy! I need your help. She has spent all morning organizing and reorganizing the library. She has done it at least 10 times already. Do you have any idea for Twilight?”

“I think I do, let us go grab Twilight,” I say walking beside her back to the castle. We enter the castle and go to the library, to see Twilight running around the library reorganizing. “Twilight.”

“Not now, I need to organize this by subject, in alphabetical order.”

“Twilight!” I yell, grabbing her in my magic.

“Ahhh. What Starlight!?” She turns and sees it is me holding her. “Oh, sorry Night Crystal. I thought Starlight was talking.”

“No worries Twilight,” I say setting her down. “Now, I think I have a better use of time for you than organizing, than reorganizing the library, along with driving Starlight crazy.”

“Really!?”

“Yes, remember when you published the friendship journal?”

“Yes, that was a failure.”

“The book might have been, but the lessons it taught weren’t. You just need to get it out to ponies in a different fashion. Twilight, I propose you open a school of friendship. I don’t know all the details, but I’m sure Celestia would know, since after all, she runs her own school. On top of being a co-ruler of Equestria.”

“That, that sounds amazing! Where do you propose I begin?”

“Well, I suggest starting with drawing up building plans. Figuring out who will be teachers and if it is going to be just for ponies or for all creatures. No matter how different,” I say, looking at Spike who is peeking out from underneath a pile of books.

“Well I guess all of my friends and I will be the teachers, since we do represent the elements of harmony. And if it weren’t for my friends, I wouldn’t be the Princess of Friendship. As for design plans, I guess I better ask Celestia for advice there. Thanks Night Crystal.”

“My pleasure Twilight, and I’m sure Starlight would make a good guidance counselor.”

“True, she would, especially after all of her experiences. Both good and bad, they have made her the pony she is today. And I am so happy to have her as a friend, a very special one at that,” Twilight says, smiling over at Starlight.

Twilight grabs paper and quills, then drags Spike and Starlight to the train station to go to Canterlot. Meanwhile, I am going to go home and nap. Since I haven’t been getting much sleep, thanks to Discord and his meddling. I mean, Changelings need their beauty sleep too, as much as some ponies believe otherwise. My energy and positive emotions only get me so far. I reach my house, head upstairs, and curl up in my bed. I peek up to look at Basil, who has been content to just lay around the house sleeping all day. I asked him this morning if he wanted to come visit Twilight with me. In response he yawned and curled into an even tighter ball.

I wake up hours later and it is dark outside. I decide to take a shower and go check to see if Rarity has started or maybe finished my dress that I asked for. I won’t hold my breath for it since she had a decent amount to make for Photo Finish. Although, she is a very efficient worker, surprisingly. I shouldn’t go down that train of thought, but I do anyway. Not as efficient as Changelings, even now, we are very quick at the skills that we have come to learn. Cloth making, sewing, and just about every other profession you can think of. Now, I guess something that I should have mentioned about me compared to other Changelings. I am still black and look like the “evil” Changelings in history books, the others; well let me just say that they are all pretty colors and don’t look near as mean as I do. It happened to them when they accepted Celestia and Luna’s rule. Since I have never accepted it and openly hate it, I didn’t change color. But now I guess I really should go check on my dress at Rarity’s.

I begin my short walk to Rarity’s. I arrive to find a sign saying closed. Well, guess I go to Twilight’s castle to see if they are all there, and to see if Twilight has a plan for the school yet. I decide to fly over there instead of walking, but something is definitely different about the area as I approach the castle. As the castle comes into focus I see that apparently in the time I was sleeping, an entire school has been built next to Twilight’s castle. Its crest is the Elements of Harmony, but something is out of place. I land down by the door to see a giant EEA seal over the doors. It seems that Chancellor Neighsay was not impressed by the way Twilight’s school was run, so he shut it down. I guess I better go inside to see what is going on.

Chapter 32: Friendship School Part 2

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Night Crystal’s POV:
“You lost six of your students!?” I yell. “How did you do that?”

“Well, once the seal was put on the door, these six students ran off and we have yet to locate them,” Twilight says showing me a picture of all six of the students. “The worst part is that all but one of these students are from other races. So unfortunately, I think Celestia has a bunch of angry creatures on her hooves.”

“Well thankfully for you I think I can track down the Changeling young. But, the better question is how did you convince the Changelings to send one of their young to school here?”

“Well, this particular Changeling was orphaned, as both of the parents decided to abandon their child with the rest of the hive. So the hive decided to send this Changeling off to the school. How can you track down the young?”

“That is easy, each Changeling has a specific scent that can be detected by another Changeling or even a powerful enough unicorn. Twilight, you stay here and do what you need to do to get the school back up and running. I’ll take the other bearers and go get the students.”

“Okay, be careful Night Crystal.”

I grab the rest of the bearers and take off towards where the students were. They seemed to be on the grounds of the Castle of the Two Sisters. I look down to see Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy on the ground with Rainbow just above them so she can see me. I continue flying towards the castle, and the sight that appears is not a pretty one. The students have made a barricade out of camping supplies and were surrounded by a bunch of furious pukwudgies. Seeing as everypony else is still a little ways behind, I divebomb the group, switching to a dragon and spitting out fireballs so they land in between the pukwudgies. Fluttershy never wants us to hurt them, but instead to take them out nicely. I swoop low enough to grab some, then fling them off back into the forest. I loop back around, this time switching to my Changeling form and simply grabbing and tossing the little creatures back to the forest. I hear footsteps approaching, so I change back into Night Crystal and continue grabbing and tossing. As soon as everypony joins in on the fight, the pukwudgies are cleared in less than a minute. When we are done, the students come out from behind the barricade and are all so thankful to see us. Well, except me, I have never met these students in my life so of course none of them come over to me. I am lost in my thoughts as I feel two little legs wrap around my right front leg. I look down to see the little Changeling young looking up at me, all the while still hugging my leg. I gently kneel down, move her legs around my neck, and hug her back. This was odd, to say the least, as most Changelings never give hugs. Let alone enjoyed them, but this little Changeling was clinging to me like I was the last pony in Equestria that could save her. After a brief moment Rainbow called all the students over to her so they could travel in a group back to the school. “I’ll go ahead Rainbow, just to make sure no creatures are getting angry at Twilight.”

“Sounds good, we’ll see you back at the school.”

I take off and fly back to the school. Good thing I went ahead of the group, because as I reach the school I see a bunch of angry creatures all standing at the doors of the school, yelling and asking where their students are. I land next to Twilight and yell for silence. “Every student is safe, all of them are on their way back right now. They are with the teachers and will arrive shortly. Please be patient, they ran off on their own with no guidance from any of the teachers.”

“Yak don’t understand, why would students run off and not come home?” The yak prince (?) asked.

“Well, you see-“

“Where is Smolder!? Although she doesn’t want to be here, I commanded her to go to school here!” Dragon Lord Ember yelled.

“ENOUGH!” I yell out. “No amount of questions or demands will your students back here any faster.”

“How would you know?” Grandpa Gruff asks sternly.

“I was just rescuing them and they will be here shortly. As for right now, I think Twilight has something she wants to say.”

“I do. The school will be reopened. It will be a friendship school. Its classes will be unique, and will not follow the rules laid out by the EEA.”

“But you can’t even get in,” says Dragon Lord Ember.

Twilight charges her horn and brings a beam crashing down on the EEA seal of the door, causing it to crumble to pieces. I hear the students coming down the road and immediately take to the air to stay out of the way. The students go to stand by Twilight and as they do, a portal appears, and out steps Chancellor Neighsay.

“Who dares to break my seal?”

“I do Chancellor, and this school will reopen. It is a different school, a school with different rules. I should know, I wrote the book on friendship schools,” Twilight says, plopping a large purple book down in front of Chancellor Neighsay.”

“Fine, let those creatures destroy this school and Equestria. Don’t come to me when you realize you can’t handle them,” he says, walking back through the portal.

I fly towards my house, planning to let Twilight run her school in peace. I go to sleep that night thinking about the young Changeling that hugged me. I am guessing that means she knows what I am, that I am one of her kind. My changing was obvious, but it seems curious that none of the other students brought it up. Oh well, I have to start planning soon. As it is getting close to the point where I must reveal who I am to everypony in Equestria, and every creature beyond Equestria.

Chapter 33: The Journal & Parents

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up the next morning, and fly to Twilight’s castle. I had a piece of floating parchment greet my nose this morning as I sat up in bed. That parchment told me that Twilight needed me urgently, for a matter of utmost importance. I arrive at the castle to see Sunburst running in and out of the castle doors. Trying to relax his mind, I think? “Sunburst!” I yell, making the unicorn stallion stop in his tracks. “What in all of Equestria are you doing and why?”

“Panicking, but also freaking out of excitement. That book you gave Starlight for Hearth’s Warming was actually Starswirl’s journal. Only issue Twilight and I are having right now is the fact that it is in Old Ponish.”

“Did you ask Starlight to read some of it? Also, where is Twilight?”

“Twilight was called to Canterlot by Celestia. Why would we ask Starlight?”

“Because she can read Old Ponish. So can I, but I’m pretty sure Starlight would love to help you out,” I say, and then Sunburst’s cutie mark starts glowing. “Cutie Mark Map call, you best get back inside.” We both walk inside to see Starlight staring at her cutie mark, which is also glowing. “Guess at least you two are going somewhere,” I say, pulling Starlight out of her staring.

“Yes, I suppose we better go see where we are going,” says Starlight, beginning her walk to the main room at a fast canter.

We enter the main room to see Starlight’s and Sunburst’s cutie marks hovering over a small town. I turn to Starlight and Sunburst for answers, but they both look horrified. “Something is wrong here, why aren’t either of you two wanting to go?”

“Because our parents are there,” they groan in unison.

“Really, hm, you want someone to accompany you to make it more bearable?”

“Would you? That would be amazing! I know the map called us to solve a friendship problem, but having some other pony there for support might make this easier on both of us. Do you agree, Sunburst?”

“I do agree, I think it might be good to have back up. But, you know that you can’t help us with the friendship problem?”

“I know that, but I think your friendship problem won’t be easy enough for me to help anyway. I think you have to solve the problem on your own. I’ll just be there for emotional support.”

“Thank you Night Crystal. I suppose we should be going. I already left a stack of papers in the library on top of the journal with the translation. After Twilight left I went in there and translated. Twilight should know what to do with the journal now. Although I suppose I should also leave her a note telling her that Sunburst and I were called to a map call. Along with telling her that you are with us as well.”

“I suppose that would be best, no sense in her freaking out because she can’t find any of us,” I say, and off we go to the train station.

We arrive at Starlight and Sunburst’s childhood hometown, Sire’s Hollow, and I am immediately confused at what I see. The town looks almost deserted as half of the buildings are closed for. We arrive at the fruit store, and out front is a pony that is selling fruit perfume. The pony sprays Sunburst and I in the face with one, and him and I immediately gag. As a group we walk away from that pony, but hear her yell out, “Thanks for trying a product promoted by Stellar Flare!”

“Darn my mother, trying to bring the town into new revelations,” says Sunburst, sounding the angriest I have ever heard him.

We make our way towards the town’s library. We go to enter it as two ponies block our way.

“Would you mind letting us in to do some research?” Starlight asks the two mares.

“No, you can only look at the books on the shelves. Not touching, no moving with your magic, nothing, just looking,” both mares say in unison, almost as if it was rehearsed.

“Why?”

“This building is under preservation, by order of Firelight.”

“My father, oh my goodness, I knew he would do this to the whole town,” says Starlight, trying to keep her anger under control.

I look behind us to see two ponies arguing. I know immediately that these two must be Firelight and Stellar Flare. One trying to preserve and one trying to renovate. Conflict, needs solution, but I don’t think that is friendship problem here. But I was told not to help, so I won’t, I’ll let them figure it out on their own. In the time spent in my own thoughts I see that Starlight and Sunburst are now yelling at their parents.

“Mom, I don’t need a plan, especially from you. I have my own life now, I don’t need you constantly nagging me!” yells Sunburst.

“Don’t think you’re any better Dad. You constantly treat me like a little filly. I’m not anymore, I am a grown pony. So just start treating me like one!” yells Starlight.

Both of their parents run off crying. I open my mouth to say something, but Starlight beats me to it.

“That is our friendship problem, not them agreeing. Instead, it is us needing to make amends with our parents. How are we going to do this Sunburst?”

“Talk to them, both of you,” I say, impeding on the moment.

“What?”

“You each need to go talk to your parent and talk about your feelings and what you need them to stop doing for you to come home more often. I’m sure that is all they want. If I had parents that did what your two’s parents are, I’m sure I wouldn’t visit often either.”

“You’re right, and we need to fix this before you two can go back to Ponyville, and I can go back to the Crystal Empire,” says Sunburst.

“Alright, you two go finish your friendship problem quest. I’ll meet you back at home Starlight.”

I teleport back to Twilight’s castle, into the library. Twilight is there, reading over Starlight’s translation.

“Night Crystal, guess what?”

“What?”

“In Starlight’s translation, there is a spell that can release the Pillars from Limbo!”

“That’s great Twilight! Starlight should be back soon. I am exhausted, so I am going to go home and go to bed.”

“Sounds good. See you later!”

I fly home and walk upstairs to go to bed. Although they found Starswirl’s journal that has a spell on how to release the Pillars from Limbo, they don’t realize that sending a pony to Limbo comes with a price. Bringing the Pillars out also has the same price. A price they don’t know for their situation. A price I know very well for a certain pony’s return.

Chapter 34: Styx

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Styx’s POV:
I have grown my power to be able to fully release Sombra’s spirit from Limbo. Which would mean giving him his physical body back. Right now, unfortunately, he can only see the world through my eyes. He has been able to since he died, but for the most part he stayed silent because I rarely left the land of the Changelings to do anything. Now he has seen much of Equestria, as well as the two ponies that vanquished him. Although my time spent festering in my own head has made me stronger, the only way to break down the walls of imagination is to escape the cage Luna put me in after my encounter with her. She was not too pleased to see me, but then again she thought I was just a myth when she found me. However, I am everything but a myth. Living inside your own head is quite interesting, especially when you are still controlling your body. It is like living two different lives at once, just the being is still one in the same thing. Being trapped in your own head is quite an excellent learning experience. After all, your brain power is drastically accelerated, so problems that would take us minutes in real time, only takes about 2 seconds in here. Enough of that, back to Luna caging me in here.

Luna ended up finding me when I played around with Celestia’s head. She was bound to find me sooner or later, but I wished it hadn’t been as soon as it was. I had so many more things that I needed to do. Most of which included shrouding myself from her, so I could be free to roam minds at will. Invading Celestia’s mind was quite interesting though. It showed me how much she is scared that my myth is true, along with all of her feelings about the War of Crystal, and about how she regrets letting that one Changeling young live. Of course that one Changeling is about to become her biggest nightmare. Unfortunately for her though, it won’t be a nightmare anymore, it will be reality instead. That may be cruel to say, but I mean, I don’t like Celestia, so yeah. It may seem like I have villainous intentions to overthrow Celestia and Luna, I don’t. I just need their respect and for them to pay for what they did during the war. I also need them to stay out of my way. Thankfully Cadence and Shining Armor aren’t targets in this plan because I couldn’t very well overthrow them. Since Shining Armor is the brother of Twilight Sparkle, and Cadence was her foal sitter. I don’t mind leaving them be, since they are very nice and caring ponies. Especially now that Cadence is with a foal and is bound to be due in about 4 months now. But I suppose that is just the maternal instincts coming out of me, which unfortunately won’t exist anymore in my body after I release Sombra.

Now, while I am caged within my own mind, I am technically in a weird limbo sort of thing. Not a living being, but also not a spirit. Whereas ponies that go to actual Limbo are living beings; they are simply tied to the world by an object or another being. In the case of the Pillars, they are each tied to a specific object. In Sombra’s case, he is tied to me, both physically and mentally. Now, Limbo is a living entity, a pony in a way. It provides the price that must be paid in order to release a pony or many ponies from itself. I have hidden the price that I must pay for Sombra’s release from him. For if he knew, he would be devastated, he would tell me never to give it up. Unfortunately for him, he has no control over what I do and don’t do. Nonetheless, I must keep up my act for now. Until the day I am ready, which will be soon. I hope you two are ready Celestia and Luna.

Now, we all have secrets; some left better unsaid, and some left better unthought. Many have to come out eventually, for if they fester, the entire secret could be broken down and taken the wrong way when revealed. In order to reveal my biggest secret, I have to break out of here, which is simple. I must reveal myself to all of my friends. Then, all I have to do to bring Sombra back and give up something in return for his release. I am willing to give it up, even if that means giving up the one thing I hold most dear. My ability to feel love for another pony.

Chapter 35: Improvise & Reveal

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Night Crystal’s POV:
I wake up the next morning to see a note from Twilight. It says I need to meet her and everypony else in Canterlot. It doesn’t say why, but I guess I will carry my sword sheath. Mainly because I am guessing there is a good possibility that we will be meeting in Celestia’s real throne room. I teleport to Canterlot, directly to the throne room. I arrive to see a couple of shocked looking guards, and quickly teleport to the makeshift throne room. I arrive there to see Celestia, Luna, Zecora, Twilight, the other bearers, Starlight, Spike, and Sunburst. “So what are we all here to talk about?”

“Surprisingly, Twilight’s school, and you,” says Celestia.

“What about Twilight’s school?”

“Two things. First, if you don’t make me lose my trust in you today, would you want to take a teaching position in my school? Secondly, a student came to me, regarding a very interesting occurrence. Although I don’t think she meant it to mean something quite as important as it really does to us. I’m sure you remember this student?” asks Twilight, procuring an image in her magic of the Changeling young enrolled at her school.

“I would love a teaching position Twilight. And of course I do, what about her?”

“Well, she told me that all of the other students congratulated all of the other bearers for saving them. But she instead went up to you, for she saw what you were, and hugged you. Is this correct so far?”

“Yes, what about it?”

“She then proceeded to tell me that you are kind of like a mother figure to her. She accepted you into that role, but I didn’t know how to tell her that you are not what you appear to be. No, better yet, I didn’t have the heart to tell her what you really were, even though she saw you change!”

“Twilight, be reasonable, this Changeling was an orphan, never knowing love, kindness, or friendship. What did you expect her to do after seeing another one of her kind living amongst ponies?”

“Well I for one would have assumed that you would have been nice enough to tell the rest of your friends what you really are,” says Celestia.

“I agree. It doesn’t mean a darn thing when ya don’t trust your friends enough to tell them that you are a Changelin’,” says Applejack.

“Yeah, I don’t know what you could have done in your past that is even close to what I did to my village. Probably not enough to make you sympathize with me!” yells Starlight.

Soon everypony but Fluttershy yells at me about my betrayal and how you don’t hide stuff from your friends. I can’t take it anymore. “ENOUGH!” The room falls silent. “You don’t know of my past, you don’t know how much you guys are confirming everything I believed about normal ponies. You can’t imagine the fear I had when I left the life I knew before here. You are all acting as if I am at fault. Do you really believe I didn’t want to tell you? This was the response that I had feared from the beginning about what was going to happen if I marched into town as a Changeling. A bombardment of hurtful things, and possibly physical violence. Do you comprehend how lucky you all are? No! You can’t!”

I do a mass teleport of everypony into Celestia’s real throne room. I change into my Changeling form, and pull the sword out of the floor of Celestia’s throne room. I have everypony's attention now. “This is what I am! Why do you think I didn’t show you? I am the last Changeling that looks like this! Everything you know about the War of Crystal is almost a complete lie! I lived it!”

“What?” asks Applejack, looking about as confused as everypony else in the room.

“All Changelings now look like the one that goes to Twilight’s school. I am what you would call an evil Changeling. I did Sombra’s bidding as a Changeling young. After accepting Celestia’s reign, almost all of the Changelings turned into the colorful versions you know today. I am the one Changeling young Celestia and Luna let live after the War of Crystal. So yes, I am quite a living nightmare to Celestia now. One that has come back to haunt her.”

“So that is why you could sympathize with me, and why you never discussed your life in much detail before now,” says Starlight, the imaginary lightbulb going off in her head.

“Then you aren’t who we know you to be, are you?” asks Celestia with a look of dread on her pristine face.

“No, I am not. My name isn’t Night Crystal. Twilight and Luna knew me to be Skylight, but even that is a lie.” I see Twilight’s face drop in betrayal. “My name is actually Styx,” I say as I see the faces of everyone I trusted turn to fear in light of my new name. Only Fluttershy knew this prior to now, so she was simply staring at me in sadness. I let the personality caged in my head out. I was the only pony left who possessed and knew how to use dark magic, and oh did Celestia and Luna know it. I was somepony to fear. I was the only pony who was able to bring Sombra back, and in that moment I almost do. But I decide to wait and see where my decision takes me.