Changeling Trust

by Nightmare Rift

First published

A Changeling has to earn back the trust of the friends that she had. Before she revealed she was a Changeling, she was pretending to be an Alicorn.

Night Crystal has revealed herself to be a powerful Changeling instead of an Alicorn. Now she must earn back the trust of her friends if she is to continue to live on the edge of Ponyville. If she can’t regain their trust within 90 days she will be forced to move into solitude in the mountains, never to return to civilization. If she succeeds, she will be allowed to stay. But who is she trying to convince to trust her again? Or does everypony need to trust some other pony? But can she do that while also keeping her feelings about a certain stallion in check?

Sequel to Changeling Fate.
Cover art wasn’t created by me, credit to Derpibooru.

Prologue: Recap

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Styx's POV:
While I must admit that this wasn’t where I planned to be at this moment, it could’ve been worse. I am currently sitting in the dungeons under Canterlot, locked in the most pathetic chains I have ever seen. I gaze around the small, dark, gloomy, plain gray cell I was placed in and ponder why Celestia and Luna thought a magic inhibitor would stop me from doing magic. It doesn’t, but over the last few nights I have snuck in more dances with Sombra, well the projection of him anyway. However, with nothing inhibiting my magic, I could technically get out whenever I wanted. Instead, I chose to stay here, humoring Celestia and Luna. I decided to act civilized rather than making my life difficult. Discord and Twilight have visited me each once before today, Discord being sad that I was in here. Twilight was just shocked and betrayed, but I think she got over it eventually. Today I am to duel Luna and Celestia while in Changeling form with Sombra’s sword and my magic. Simple enough I suppose, but it is going to be shown to everypony in Equestria by the use of specific unicorns essentially broadcasting it through their magic. Twilight is the source of the footage and is connected to the other unicorns. Cadence is showing it to the Crystal Empire. She was informed as soon as I was locked up. I was told by Twilight that Cadence wasn’t surprised at all. She knew something was different about me the moment she met me but neglected to say anything to Luna or Celestia. Her and Shining forgave me already and told me to visit them the first chance I got. Well, I knew to visit as soon as I get a letter telling me that she had the baby, but first, I have to get through Celestia and Luna.

I am escorted by two guards to the grounds where I am to duel. I watch calmly as Celestia and Luna put on their armor and grab their weapons. Celestia speaks toward Twilight who is now filming. “Today Luna and I will battle Styx. Anypony who knows her may have known her as Night Crystal or Skylight. She has been lying to all of us. But today, we will fight her to see if she is truly who she says she is or if she is lying again. If she is Styx, then this battle will take time. If she is not, then this won’t take much longer than a minute."

Hm, interesting speech. Although I can say that the second option is what is most likely going to happen. Since these two are foal's play to me. I am more powerful than Sombra was in his reign, since even he was a match for these two sisters. Although they think they are going to win, they are wrong. I am released from my shackles, the magic inhibitor is taken off, and I am offered armor. I take the armor and transform it into an altered version of Sombra’s cloak, crown/helmet, and hoof armor. My cloak being purple instead of red, but the silver being the same. Luna and Celestia draw their swords, and as do I a beat after them. I give myself over to my training. My eyes glow green, purple flames come streaming off my eyes, and I wait for the attack to come. I watch them take off into the air, and their blades come crashing down, only to meet mine. I continue to push up and slice both of their blades in half. They stand staring at me in shock for just long enough to allow me to bring a blade to each of their throats. Celestia yields, but Luna isn’t done yet. She smacks the blade away and flies into the air again. I lower my blade and wait, for I know her next attack won’t be with a sword. Twenty individual magic blasts come raining down on me, only to find me not there. I continue to dodge as Luna continues to bombard me. I hear Celestia shouting at Luna, something about yielding because I could kill her if I wanted to. She isn’t wrong, but I don’t mind toying with Luna and indulging in her foalish behavior. She will tire soon enough.

“Stop!” yells Twilight, managing to use the Royal Canterlot Voice. Although she is a princess, it is a very difficult thing to produce, or so I was told by Celestia a while ago.

Luna flutters down, landing next to her. “Why does thou want us to stop?”


“Because this is pointless, look at Styx.” Luna, Celestia, and Twilight look at me. “She isn’t even trying to avoid you. Let alone the fact that she has never attacked you before now. Even now, she doesn't appear to have any intention of hurting you two."

“My dear friend Twilight is correct.” Twilight looks angrily at me at that remark. “I have not even shown you half of the power I possess. On top of that, I have no desire to overthrow you. I just want your respect as an enemy, and your trust that I will bring no harm to anypony. I wish to continue my life in Ponyville with all of the friends I have made, as I have never meant any ill intent towards them. I accept whatever you may see fit for my life from now on,” I say looking at Celestia.

“Okay. You have proven that you mean no harm to any part of Equestria. You have most of my trust. Still, you will have to prove to me you mean no harm by earning the trust of everypony else back.”

“The same for us. We think thee would make a good sparring partner,” Luna cuts in.

“However, in order to stay in Ponyville, you must prove that you have the trust of all of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, along with Discord, Spike, and any other pony you have gained trust from.”

“Easy as pie.”

“But you must do so in 90 days. If you fail to show us that your trust is regained, you will go into solitude in the mountains, not to make contact with anypony ever again.”

“Deal. However, I must ask. Would you be okay if at some point I decided to bring Sombra back from Limbo?”

“An even better challenge. Regain the trust of your friends and have the bearers, Spike, and Discord come to trust Sombra within those 90 days.”

Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting, but I had no choice. So now all I had to do was regain trust, in my Changeling form. I was not allowed to change form for any reason. So the bearers and I went to Ponyville to begin this process. Discord knew the whole time so I didn’t need forgiveness and trust from him. I’ve had it the whole time. The bearers and Spike forgave me the minute we left Canterlot. Fluttershy knew since Hearth’s Warming Eve so I gained her trust immediately. The bearers understood my reason for lying to them about who I was. Starlight was hesitant at first, but apparently Twilight talked to her and she accepted me back, mostly. She will take a little more working on. The rest of Ponyville, that was easier said than done, as they were all very unsure about me.

Day 5: Ponyville Outing

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Styx's POV:
I have been hiding in my house for the last five days ever since we came from Canterlot after my battle. I have had zero interest in going out until I knew Applejack could come with me. Today is that day, so I crawl out of bed and saunter downstairs to meet Applejack outside. I grab my saddlebags and some bits, and Applejack and I go to the market to get some of the main ingredients for food. As for me, I need food, and some party supplies, both from Pinkie and some not from Pinkie. All of Ponyville knows who I am, as Royal Pin and Lyra combined magic to broadcast to Ponyville. I guess you could say that Filthy Rich was right after all; there was a Changeling in the tree. Either way, he still ain’t getting into my house. I take a deep breath and step outside my house. I see Applejack standing there smiling as if nothing has changed. Yet, everything has.

“Ready to go sugarcube?”

“Not really, but what choice do I have? I can’t stay inside my house forever if I want to start getting everypony to trust me again.”

“You’re correct about that, I just hope they can forgive ya. Ya never did anypony harm. You're still the same pony they knew, just… just…”

“Uglier?”

“Well that wasn’t the way I was gonna put it, but yeah, close enough.”

“You really are the most truthful pony Applejack, but sometimes I want to hear the lies. I guess I have no pony to blame but myself, still doesn’t mean that I couldn’t hope. I…”

“You what sugarcube?”

“I guess I always hoped that I could one day live peacefully among other ponies, in this form, without being judged and blamed. I guess even if you try to break something in slowly it doesn’t help. Cause you know, we’re here, and I am still shunned and hated, even though no one is alive to remember the war. I am blamed and hated for another reason, for my lie, and what I look like. What do you think of me Applejack? I want the truth.”

“To be honest, I don’t know. You are still the same pony I knew, personality wise; but you don’t look like you. So I guess what I am trying to say is that, I like you for who you are, and not so much what you look like.”

Applejack starts to rise and glow as she finishes that statement, indicating her honesty. I will never know that feeling, as I never will have everypony trust me fully again. If Sombra was here, I would just move the house and go hide in the mountains with him. Unfortunately, I can’t do that yet. I have other mountains to climb first, starting with going into town to be stared at and having everypony run away from me. As Applejack grounds herself, I see her cutie mark start to glow, indicating that the map is calling her. Great, she has to leave, therefore leaving me to make my town excursion on my own. Applejack runs off towards Twilight’s castle, leaving dust in her wake. I continue to walk into town and as I do, the shops all close and the vendors all leave. All but one, the Apple Family cart. I guess Applejack told them to be nice to me. I look at the cart, expecting to see Big Mac, Applebloom, and Granny Smith. Instead, all I see is Big Mac. I cautiously approach him, and as he turns around, his expression is one of complete calm, like always. I hear a psst come from a shop nearby and see a yellow hoof sticking out of a door, Applebloom, waving for Big Mac to come inside.

“Eenope,” he says, stamping his hoof down.

“Good morning, Big Mac. How are you doing today?”

“Good. How are you Styx?”

“Well I could be better if you couldn’t tell from the lack of shops and vendors open. Did Applejack tell you to be nice to me?”

“Eeyup. But I ain’t one of them superstitious ponies. Ya still act the same as always, so I don’t see any reason to treat ya differently. You're still a pony just like me. Just cause ya look different doesn’t bother me any.”

“Thank you Big Mac. It is nice to have somepony who doesn’t mind. Can I get two dozen apples?”

“Here’s a sack, take your pick. 15 bits is your total.”

“Big Mac, wouldn’t my price be 20 bits?”

“Eeyup, but not today. I wanna be nice to you because nopony else seems to want to give you a chance. It’s like Zecora when we first met her, just we already know you.”

“Thanks Big Mac.” I walk towards Sugarcube Corner and see that surprisingly, it’s open. I step through the doorway expecting to see Pinkie Pie up front. Instead, I am greeted by a pie in the face. I clean my face off with my magic to see baby Pumpkin Cake giggling. I pick up a cupcake and toss it in her face. She licks off the icing and giggles again. I suddenly have another pie on my back. I look up to see Pound Cake giggling hysterically, apparently hard enough so that he has to land down on the floor by his sister. I bop him on the nose with a cupcake, causing the giggles to continue. Suddenly the giggles stop. I look up towards the kitchen entrance to see Mrs. Cake and Mr. Cake staring at me in shock. I grin sheepishly and clean up the small mess the twins and I made. “I’m sorry for coming in unannounced, but-”

“I don’t care that you came in unannounced, I want to know how you got the twins to giggle,” Mrs. Cake interrupts, looking at me in shock.

“Both Pumpkin and Pound threw a cake at me and then I bopped each of them on the nose with a cupcake. I’m sorry if this wasn’t a good idea. I can leave if you don’t want me and my hideous self in your store,” I say as I turn to leave.

“No, wait! I didn’t mean to sound like that. I just haven’t heard the twins giggle in a while. I was kind of shocked, but I would love it if you stayed. No, I’m not saying that just because Pinkie told us to try to be nice to you, but because you just showed us that you are still the same pony you were before. Pumpkin and Pound don’t seem to care that you look different, they both somehow knew it was you. So I don’t care either. Would you like to stay for some Strawberry Shortcake and tea?”

“If you don’t mind. I haven’t eaten since last night, so I am hungry. Thank you so much Mrs. Cake.”

I spend about 2 hours with them chatting and help put the twins to bed. I thank them before heading off to see if I could get any more stores to let me in. Alas, no other vendors open their doors, so I guess I will just have to live off of apples and some varied pastries for a little while. I canter home, put the food away, and head to bed, hoping tomorrow is a better day.

Day 10 & 11: A Day of School

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Styx’s POV:
I hear a knock on the door, so I saunter downstairs, open the door, and see Twilight with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Twilight is smiling at me as if nothing had changed. The CMC on the other hand, well, they are staring at me with fright evident in their eyes. An interesting thing, since over the last few days I have been around them constantly. Shaking off that thought, I smile and ask, “What brings you here Twilight? And why are the Cutie Mark Crusaders with you?”

“I am here to ask you to come teach at my school! As for the Cutie Mark Crusaders, they want to ask you something.”

Applebloom speaks first, “We wanted to ask you if you would be willing to be our pony of interest for school.”

Sweetie Bell next, “What Applebloom means is that we would you like you to come talk to our class as like show and tell.”

Scootaloo finishes off, “That means that we would like you to come talk about yourself and The War of Crystal to our class so that we can learn about it. Not from textbooks, but from somepony that actually lived through it. Ms. Cheerilee says that if we ask you and you say yes, then we can go last so you can comment on other ponies' presentations about the War. It would be amazing, as much as we appear afraid.”

“Are you girls afraid of me?”

“No, we were just nervous about asking you and what your reaction would be. So would you be willing to help us?” asks Sweetie Bell.

“Of course girls, I would be delighted to! When is this presentation?”

“Tomorrow!” all three fillies excitedly shout.

“Goodness. Well at least I don’t have to prepare a speech. You girls can go home and I’ll see you three tomorrow.”

“Alright!” the three yell as they go running off.

“So Twilight, about that teaching position, what in all of Equestria would I be teaching?”

“Eeeee! You kind of represent trust, even though half of the town doesn’t trust you right now. However, who better to teach it when they know so much about how important it is to be yourself, and earn friendship through trust? You! So what do you think? I even have a classroom all ready for you to teach starting in three days, if you want to that is. You can decorate it and use whatever you need to teach your lessons.”

“Twilight, I would be honored to do that! I promise to be the best teacher I can be.”

“That is all I ask.”

I go back inside and spend about 2 hours cooking some different apple confections, since I have ingredients that Pinkie brought me yesterday. I spend the rest of the day cleaning and tidying up my house. I go to bed thinking about what tomorrow is going to bring, a presentation, and commenting on the things fillies can find in textbooks that are beyond inaccurate.

I yawn and groggily get out of bed. I go over to my closet, but decide against getting dressed as I don’t need to scare the colts and fillies any more than I will just by being normal. The CMC promised to meet me at Sugarcube Corner to show me to the school house. As I arrive at Sugarcube Corner I see the three fillies all standing in a line patiently waiting for me. Although their expressions betray everything, smiles like wide canyons. They see me and Scootaloo waves for me to follow them, so I do. Not like there are any shops to go into anyway, even if I didn’t want to go. Applebloom tells me on the way that there will be five presentations total, including me. We reach the schoolhouse and I am amazed to see parents with their foal’s presentations in hoof. Wow, the poor things can’t even carry their own presentations. We all enter the schoolhouse and I settle myself comfortably in the back, sitting on the ground, noticing that I am much taller than the average pony. The presentations begin and I am already bored. As the four presentations progress over the next four hours I make a mental list about everything they get wrong.

Sombra being evil.
Crystal ponies being unhappy with reign and forced to fight.
Changelings were not involved.
Umbrum are still alive and in hiding.
Children were forced to fight or their parents would be tortured/killed.
Sombra being on the losing end of the war.
Celestia and Luna stepped in when they were close to winning.

I make another little mental list about things they got right.

War started over a feud between two royal ponies with access to military forces.

That is it, that is all that is correct through all of the presentations. Cheerilee quiets the class, gestures to me, and says, “And our last presenter, who is standing in for Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootaloo. Please welcome Styx.”

“Wow, they were too lazy to put a presentation together so they just had a pony come talk for them instead,” Diamond Tiara pipes up from the front row.

“No, they were willing to come find me and ask me to speak about the real events of the war,” I say, keeping my voice steady.

“How would you know about the war?”

I flick the lights on and say, “Because I lived through it.”

Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, and two colts scream. Cheerilee calms them down and I start to explain. “I am Styx, the last known dark Changeling in existence, and I was a filly, about your age, when I aided King Sombra in the War of Crystal.”

A little filly in the back raises her hoof and asks, “So you’re a traitor to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna?”

“In a way I was. However, today I am not. I stand as an equal to them in most ways, but I don’t want to rule anypony. Now in regards to King Sombra being evil, he is not. Anything but, he was a kind and fair ruler, much like Celestia and Luna. Or better if you ask the Crystal ponies their thoughts. The Crystal ponies were happy with Sombra’s rein and weren’t forced to take part in the fighting. All they had to do was provide food for the troops. Most of the troops were Umbrum and Changelings, all willing volunteers.”

“What do the Umbrum look like?” a colt from the second row asks.

“Like this,” I say producing an image of one with my magic and showing in comparison to a normal pony.

“Woah, that’s cool, are there any still alive?”

“No, as soon as Sombra was killed, they all vanished. As the Umbrum were in link with him. Speaking of being killed, no children were forced to fight. All but one Changeling foal remained at home and lived a normal life during the war.”

“No way, that can’t be possible,” Diamond Tiara says, as if she was all knowing.

“As much as you read history textbooks, I can tell you that most of them are wrong. I was the one Changeling foal that chose to aid in the war, mostly by raiding villages for food disguised as a normal pony filly. But enough of that, did you know that Celestia and Luna almost lost the war? Had they not taken action against Sombra, his troops would have won.”

“Liar!” yells Filthy Rich from the back of the room.

“Oh, I wish that were the case, but no. Fun fact: Celestia and Luna sentenced hundreds of Changelings to death after the war for being traitors. Then they killed the parents of every other Changeling foal except mine, thereby putting all of them into normal pony foster homes. All but one of those foals ended up starving themselves to death. The last one threw himself off the roof of Canterlot castle. Filthy, you know nothing of how hard that was to watch fillies of my own kind kill themselves, just to get out of a world run by Celestia and Luna. I almost joined them, but I thought to myself why would I. I have so much to live for. Thankfully Celestia and Luna let me live, as much as it came back to haunt them later. Well that’s all I got, have a good day everypony.” I finish and go running out of the school house and back home where I immediately fall into bed and pass out from exhaustion.

Day 12: Teacher For A Day

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Styx's POV:
I wake up the next morning and prepare for my first lesson at Twilight’s school. Thankfully, it is easy to teach trust, so my first lesson is simply going to be a bunch of scenarios on trust. Holding something above some creature else’s head, creature knot, and an assignment for homework, etc. I refrain from wearing anything again since I don’t need to scare any creature off with my wardrobe choice. I grab a few things in my magic for my classroom, and gallop towards the school. Twilight told me to arrive early so she could show me my classroom. I enter the front doors to see Twilight patiently waiting for me, she gestures with her hoof for me to follow. Twilight is being eerily quiet, something I don’t enjoy. I think it might be that she isn’t quite used to seeing me in full Changeling form, along with being about two heads taller than her. We arrive at a room at the end of the hallway and enter. The room is decently sized, tall ceilings so I have no fear of running my head into the ceiling, painted midnight blue, and oak desks for the students. Twilight floats me my roster and says, “Here is your class lists, there are only two, and I would like to ask you if you would be willing to stand in the front entrance area with me today so I can introduce you to the students?”

“Of course Twilight, I would be glad to. Although I must ask, why are so uneasy today? You seem tense and barely acknowledged me when I walked in this morning.”

“Sorry, I guess I am nervous about how the students are going to take to a teacher that...that…”

“Looks like this?”

“Yes, I know the Changeling won’t have any issues, but it is the rest of my students. Mostly my pony students since, they have been taught all their life to hate the very image and idea that is you. I guess we should be going,” Twilight finishes as she turns to leave the room. I place all of my items in the room where I want them and follow her.

We arrive at front, and I say, “Twilight, thanks for telling me. I hope that I can prove to you that I belong here and want to better your students.”

“You already have. Oh, and I should tell you that the students don’t have school tomorrow. So you won’t have to come for the next three days.”

“Cool, thanks Twilight,” I say as the students begin to come in, she points out most of them to me, mostly the ponies. However, she has a few come over, specifically the dragon named Smolder, Yona the yak, Gallus the griffon, Silverstream the hippogriff, Sandbar a normal colt, and lastly Mystel, the orphaned Changeling. No words are passed between us other than Twilight introducing us and us saying hi to one another. As we finish up, the warning bell rings, telling students and possibly teachers to get to their classrooms. I bid Twilight goodbye and head towards my classroom, no students are in my room during the first or third block of time due to having this as a new class. So, I contemplate how to organize my room to fit my needs for the day. Since I am going to have activities that involve being in a circle, I decide to shove the desks towards the front of the room, leaving enough in the back to have the students form a circle.

The bell rings signally end of first block and then students have just enough time to get to their next class. Students start filing in, including all of the students that aren’t ponies. Mystel sits at the front which makes Gallus and Silverstream give her a confused look. I’m guessing because she sits in the back in all of her other classes. As much as the other creatures are confused they still sit by her. Safety in friendship and numbers. As the next bell rings signifying the start of class, I quiet the class down. “Quiet students. Now some of you may have met me already this morning, but for those of you that haven’t, my name is Styx. I will take any questions you have about the class and me.”

Mystel’s hoof shoots straight up in the air, along with Yona’s, Gallus’s, and Sandbar’s. I point to Mystel first, “Are you a Changeling?”

“Yes, I am a Changeling. I don’t look like you because, I never accepted the rule of Celestia and Luna after the War of Crystal. Yes, I was alive during the war.” I point to Gallus next.

“How did you meet Headmare Twilight?”

“I was looking to fit into pony society and I went looking for the princesses. I ended up wandering into Ponyville, and found Headmare Twilight’s friends and eventually Headmare Twilight herself.” I point to Yona next.

“How did Changeling become a teacher here?”

“Headmare Twilight asked me to teach here, since I knew so much about the Elements and how important trust was in friendship,” I say, pointing to a Sandbar next.

“What exactly is this class about?”

“This class is about trust. Not just about gaining it, but having it and ways that trust can be broken or mended. If we are all finished with questions we should begin. So students if you will all form a circle in the back of the room, we can get started.”

The students make a circle in the back and we play creature knot, where all of the students grabbed the hoof or claw of another student, so all creatures were on their hind legs. I tell them that they must untangle themselves to form a circle again without letting each other go. I tell them to begin as Twilight walks in. “Hello Twilight, come to check on me or the students?”

“Admittedly, I came to check on you. I see your still here and your students are doing a little trust exercise. So, I guess that means everything is going well?”

“Professor Styx were done!” I hear a pony yell across the room. I look behind me to see that they have indeed done it and are all smiling and laughing merrily. I hold my hoof up for Twilight to hold her thoughts. I walk over to my students and set them on their next task, leader, or essentially the leader has to guide everyone else through an obstacle course, as every other creature will be blindfolded. Calling out directions each time. I set up the course out of books, metal hoops, desks, chairs, and some cones I snuck from a construction site around the back of the room. I hover a blindfold to all creatures but Silverstream. Entrusting her to lead her team through the course. I place glowing magical arrows on the floor to guide her in how the course works, and tell them that if any creature runs into an obstacle they have to start over. I let them begin and walk back to Twilight and say, “Yes, everything is going well.”

“I’m glad, I just hope that everypony else can see how much you are still the same pony, just you look different. I was honestly worried about how this was going to work out, but I see that I have nothing to worry about. I’ll let you continue your lessons in peace.”

“Thank you Twilight,” I say, watching her walk out and turning back to my class. I turn to see that Silverstream has managed to guide the whole team through. We switch the leader so that each student has a turn. After they finish I give them their homework assignment, to gain the trust of a complete stranger. As the students file out to go to lunch, I go to follow but change my mind. I am not hungry as the students filled me up with positivity.

My second class goes essentially the same, except this one is all ponies, so it is silent. Since they have all been told to fear anything that looks like me. As the students leave I grab the grade book that I made during my third block off, to record attendance and any grades, whether that be participation, homework, or projects. I head out and wander home, hoping not to see anypony on my way. I contemplate teleporting home, but I can’t muster the energy to do so.

Day 13: A Figurative Shadow

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Styx’s POV:
I wake up to hear birds chirping, which is odd because no birds ever get near my house. As I am so close to the Everfree Forest, so I crawl over to the window and look outside to see Mystel. I glare at her and close the blinds to my window. I wander outside, still fuming that she thinks she can stalk me all day. Well, I guess I’ll give her a bit of an interesting day. Hunting for meat, essentially useless flying and tricks all the way to Cloudsdale, and ending at Twilight’s castle to have her explain why she will most likely have been following me all day. Well, explaining it to Twilight, not me, as I don’t really care. I have no interest in any other Changelings, as most of them were foolish to accept the reign of Celestia and Luna. While she didn’t have a choice as she was born into the reign, I still don’t particularly like any of them. She does tug at my heartstrings a little bit, since she is an orphan like I was. However, if I fall in love with her as being my child then I will not be able to keep providing her with that love. Since, when I free Sombra, I will not be able to continue to love.

You are giving up what!!?

Ow. I will have a headache for the rest of the day no thanks to you. Also, yes, it is my choice and my decision. Besides, is it really that big of a price to pay for your freedom?

Yes! Do you not understand that by giving that up you will never feel any type of love? Family or romantic, ever again. Meaning that all of the love you had or still have for me you will never feel again?

I do understand, and if it means bringing you back then I am willing to do it. Don’t you know how badly I want you back?

I do know, but how is giving up the feeling of love worth having me back?

It is worth it, because it means I have the one person who I know will love me unconditionally for the rest of my life. I also know that you will know I love you, even though I can’t feel it for you ever again.

I suppose, but how does that work if we ever want to have children? It’s not like you can just suddenly learn to love again. You don’t need to do this, I’m sure there is something else that Limbo would want. It’s not like it can take you and trap you in it in exchange for my release.

No, it can’t. However, the only other thing that Limbo wants it shall not get.

What would that be?

My own body. My own black, chitin, bug like body.

A beautiful body may I add.

Not important right now.

It isn’t, hmm, well never mind on that then. Anyway, what would happen to your soul then? I’m assuming it would inhabit another’s body?

Yours actually, your newly freed body. We would live in reverse to what we are now, except I wouldn’t also be trapped in Limbo. Like you and your precious body that just had to go to Limbo with you.

Not like I had a choice my dear, Celestia chose that.

Sure. Anyway, so now you know why I would rather give up my ability to love. It is much less valuable than my body.

I suppose so, but it doesn’t mean I won’t continue to argue this with you at a later date. Go hunt my precious river. I will speak to you later.

I will, I love you.

I love you too.

As Sombra fades from my mind I take off into the Everfree Forest to hunt, keenly aware of the Changeling young close at hoof. I soar above the canopy scanning the forest floor for a plump mouse or vole. I spot a small movement near a bunch of fallen acorns and plummet into a headfirst dive. With fangs all the way out, I snatch and kill the vole, taking my prey to the highest cliffside to eat. I land and gently set down the vole. Hearing a small thud behind me, I turn to face the young Changeling, who is wearing a face of shock and disgust at what I just did. “Can I help you?”

“Why did you just kill it? I mean Changelings, or ponies otherwise don’t eat meat. So, it’s not like your going to eat it. Are you?”

“That’s exactly what I am going to do. So if you would rather not watch, then I suggest you turn around or go down a cliff lower, or all the way into the forest. Up to you, but I would decide quickly,” I say, turning back around. I lay down and proceed to take a large, juicy bite out of my vole. I hear a gagging noise come from behind me and turn my head just enough to see Mystel vomiting over the opposite end of the cliff we are on. I finish up my meal and throw the bones off my side of the cliff. I lick my chops clean so that I don’t scare Mystel as I go to comfort her. I reach Mystel and say, “Now I know you haven’t ever seen anypony eat meat, but long before you were born, Dark Changelings ate meat. It wasn’t anything foreign to us, in fact, it was norm. When Celestia and Luna took over they forced all of us to no longer eat meat. Hence the reason for the relative skinny and short stature of all of you today. Me eating meat is still the reason I am larger and taller than all of the adult Changelings you know. So, just don’t think about it, are you ready to continue following me the rest of the day?”

“I think so, where are we going next?”

“Cloudsdale.”

We take off, her still behind me, I do all sorts of aerial tricks on the way up. Cloudsdale isn’t far from Ponyville, but it is still a little ways up there. At least for me, for Mystel I’m sure it feels like it is a long way as she isn’t use to flying long distances. So I’m surprised that she is keeping up with me all the way. We land in Cloudsdale and I decide to check in on Spitfire and maybe finally meet Soarin. We head over to the Wonderbolt headquarters and head inside. The Pegasus at the front desk is thoroughly shocked to see us, and quickly says something into the phone. Apparently she called security as I see six guards come running towards us. I turn around, pulling Mystel to me, and form a shield around us. All of the guards don’t see this so they all end up bouncing off, I project my voice to outside the bubble and say, “I am here to see Spitfire, tell her that Styx is here and tell her to bring Soarin along too.” The Pegasus mare at the front desk doesn’t move so I emphasize my point, “Now!” She quickly does so and up comes Spitfire and Soarin.

“Somepony care to tell me why all of the guards in this building are surrounding my friend and her guest!” she pauses waiting for an answer, “No, well then get back to work and while your at it, you all can call the rest of the ponies that are supposed to come into today and tell them they get today off! Now move it!” She blows her whistle, emphasizing her point. A shrill sound to say the least, I can’t imagine hearing that almost all day. Rainbow said that Spitfire blew it almost constantly during Wonderbolt Academy, so I am really glad that this is the most that I will be hearing of it today.

The guards leave and the receptionist begins making calls. I drop the shield and turn to Spitfire and Soarin, “Thanks Spitfire, I didn’t know what else to do.”

“No worries, I knew who you were as soon as Flare sent for me and Soarin. By the way, care to introduce me to your guest?”

“Oh, this is one of Twilight’s friendship school students, Mystel, she is following me around today for some reason. I don’t care to hear the reason so I haven’t asked her. How have been Spitfire?”

“Good as can be, holding up, Dash has been showing up so that is always good. Soarin here has been trying to lay off the pies, but we all know how well that works. Isn’t that right Soarin?”

“Yes Spitfire, although I haven’t had a pie in a week. Cause I have been in your sights almost the entire week, so it has been going better. Good to finally meet you Styx, even though the first time we were supposed to meet you would have been Night Crystal. But hey, no judgement here, I guess I understand why you did it. So what did you come here for?”

“Mostly just to check in and say hi, since it has been a little while.”

“Well you know, you should come by more often, maybe watch a few routines and try some out with us,” says Spitfire.

“I might take you up on that, I could use the challenge. Good to stretch my wings and test my limits now and then.” I hear a snicker behind me, I don’t turn, and pretend I didn’t hear it. I probe around into the mind of whoever is behind me, Celestia. I bid Spitfire and Soarin a good day and then Mystel asks to use the restroom. I tell her how to find it, and once she is out of sight I turn around to face Celestia. “Can I help you Celestia?”

“Well shoot, I didn’t think you heard my snicker,” she says, revealing herself.

“It is difficult to tell if my ears twitch at a sound as my movements are much more subtle than that of an average pony, being that I am a Changeling. Now if you will excuse me, Mystel and I are going to continue our day, meaning that we are going to Twilight’s castle. So, if I ever catch you following me again, my next response will not be as calm and collected as this one.”

“Okay, I just wanted to see if you were making progress. But I can see that I left you in good hooves with Twilight.”

“Actually I haven’t seen Twilight all that much, so not really. Bye Celestia.”

“Goodbye Styx.”

As Celestia vanishes, Mystel comes back and we descend from Cloudsdale all the way down to Twilight’s castle. I am sure that whatever reason she has for following me can’t be good for me, but I will stay and listen to it anyway once we arrive and find Twilight.

Day 14: Understanding

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Styx’s POV:
We land in front of the main doors and we walk inside. I have a feeling that Twilight is going to be in the library, so I head that direction with Mystel close behind. Twilight comes careening around the corner, plowing into me. We go crashing into the wall.

Ouch! You okay?

I’m fine Sombra, thanks for asking.

Twilight and I get up, and I check her over for injuries. Nothing is broken, maybe bruised, but that is it. “What’s the hurry Twilight?”

“I just got news that Ms. Harshwhinny will be going around to different locations and seeing which location is the best fit for the Equestria games. What did you need Styx?”

“I am here to bring one of your students to explain why she has been following me all day. Mystel?” I say, watching her come out from behind a pillar in Twilight’s castle.

“Mystel? The orphaned Changeling? Why have you been following Styx all day?” Twilight asks skeptically.

“I just wanted to know how she lived her life and what she did on a daily basis, but I have a feeling today wasn’t a normal day, was it?”

“Nope, my day has been purely to show you what I do when somepony follows me around all day. Including a rare thing I do on occasion, eating meat. So, now that you figured that out, what do you want with me?”

“I guess I hoped I could learn how to fend for myself, and hoped to convince you to let me stay with you. I don’t want to go back to the orphanage in the hive.” Mystel says meekly.

“That’s it? That’s all you wanted? What was the matter with just asking me?”

“Well, every time I asked something to the headmare at the orphanage I would always get yelled at. So I have refrained from asking questions altogether. I didn’t think you would listen to me since you were busy and have other things on your mind.”

“Well, the second part is true, but the first isn’t. Don’t ever be afraid to ask me anything, I won’t get mad. Actually, don’t be afraid to ask anypony here in Ponyville a question. Now, about the headmare in the orphanage. Was there anything that she did to you or any of the other children that would seem cruel?”

“Well, just before I left to come to Twilight’s school, I saw her grab two young in her magic and hauled them off towards the punishment room. We have heard rumors about that those children often get tied up and beaten.”

“Mystel, could you recognize the two children she carried off?”

“Yes, I was close friends with one of them, the younger one, but I could recognize the other one if I tried.”

“Mystel, how old are you? And in comparison, how old was your friend?”

“Well, I’m 8, she is probably about 3 or 4. I don’t know for sure though.”

“Mystel, you will come with Twilight and I to the orphanage in the hive and we will make sure that the headmare is punished, and we will get your friend out of there.”

“Okay, so how are we getting there?”

“We are going to fly. Ready, Twilight?”

“Ready Styx.”

We run out of Twilight’s castle and take off into the air, flying towards the hive. I lead the way as neither Mystel nor Twilight have ever flown to the hive. As we come up upon the Changeling hive, I fall back to let Mystel lead the way to the orphanage. We touch down outside a large, black stone building that looks the same as the day I left it all those years ago. Twilight and I flank Mystel as we walk in, as I don’t need her getting snatched up before we can talk to the headmare. Inside there are children milling about; some playing ball, some reading, and even some taking care of babies. There is a desk with an adult Changeling behind it. I feel Mystel shake in fear and know that this must be the headmare. She sees Twilight first, Mystel second, and me last. She jumps slightly upon seeing me.

“Are you here to return Mystel for misbehaving in your school? If so, I am sorry that we couldn’t drill manners into her.”

“Actually no, we come looking for one of Mystel’s friends. So we will just take a look around for a few minutes.”

“No worries, I’ll be in the back, just holler if you need me.”

I get the feeling the back means the punishment room. “Mystel, what does your friend look like? Because I am going to follow the headmare.”

“She is orange, with a yellow tummy, and teal wings. I’ve never seen another kid like her, her name is Orla.”

“Okay. You two go see if you can find your friend out here. I am going to follow the headmare.” The two head off to scour the house, and I walk behind the desk to follow the headmare. As I peek my head into the hallway I see the headmare disappear into the last room on the left. I creep slowly towards the door, as not to make the floor squeak. As even though the outside and walls are made of stone, the floor is old wood. As I reach the door, I hear crying. I cautiously open the door just a crack until I can see inside. However, the sight that greets me is not what I wanted.

A small purple Changeling is laying on the floor, blood pooling beneath her. Dead. I knew the headmare would be mean, but I never expected her to resort to killing children. I look towards the headmare as she says, “Orla, you know that this was inevitable, as both you and Violet never listened and always disliked everything I told you to eat or do. Now seeing that Mystel and the Princess of Friendship are here looking for you, I can’t very well tell them the truth. So I have no choice but to kill you and dispose of your body and Violet’s. Now hold still while I tie you up.”

I can’t take it any longer, I barge in and tackle the headmare to the ground. Sinking my teeth into her neck, killing her instantly. Orla has already seen death, but once is enough. So I throw up an unseeable shield, meaning that I can see in, but Orla can’t see out. After I teleport the headmare’s body into a volcano, I remove the shield spell from around Orla.

She sees me and looks scared at first, but once she notices the lack of the headmare she comes running to me. Hugging my leg and doesn’t want to let go. I lift her up in my magic and look at her and ask, “Do you want to hold a funeral for Violet in a very special place?”

“Yes, I do. I want a home.”

“Orla, I’ll take you home. You and Mystel can live together. Do you remember Mystel?”

“Of course, she was like a big sister to me. Is she here?”

“Yes, and we can go see her now if you wish.”

“Yes please, but what about Violet?”

“I will come back for her, and take the three of you for a funeral later tonight. For a proper Changeling funeral.”

I place Orla on my back and walk back out to the front. I see Twilight and Mystel standing on the other side of the desk waiting for my return. As soon as Mystel sees Orla on my back she comes flying over the desk. I gently place Orla down on the ground and walk over to Twilight. Placing a sound-blocking shield around us I say, “Violet, Orla’s friend and the one Mystel said she could recognize is dead. The headmare killed her in front of Orla’s eyes. I had not been there Orla would have shared the same fate. I killed the headmare and teleported her body into a volcano.”

“Good, I sent a letter to Mala, a Changeling excellent with working with fillies, asking if she would like a job as the headmare in the orphanage. I just received a letter back saying she would love it. So I will send another one telling her to come immediately.”

“Sounds good Twilight. While you get that all sorted out, I am going to take Mystel and Orla to hold a funeral for Violet.”

“Could I come?”

“Twilight, as much as I know you want to come to do research on Changeling funerals. The other children need you here to look after them and introduce them to the new headmare. I will tell you about the funeral tomorrow if you wish.”

“Of course, I understand. You will be telling me tomorrow about the traditions of the funerals. I'll see you tomorrow then.”

“See you tomorrow Twilight.”

I turn back towards Orla and Mystel to see them both crying. “Are you two ready to send Violet off to the heavens?”

“Yes,” they reply in unison. I take them back to the room. I clean up Violet’s body and seal her wound back up. Then I teleport us to the one place that I remember enjoying so much, the Crystal Gardens. Never seen by anypony except Sombra, myself, and possibly Cadence and Shining Armor. It was a special place, it was where Sombra took me one day to play with me, two days before he was killed and sent to Limbo. As we appear, the girls are in awe. I walk them towards a patch of grass and say, “Girls, go pick a few crystal flowers for the funeral.” They both scurry off together. As they pick flowers, I conjure up a small coffin made of Changeling stone, along with a piece of color changing fabric. I swathe the coffin in the fabric as the girls return. They plucked one big violet colored rose and a few blue and orange lilies. “Which flowers go on top?”

“The violet one goes on top, and the rest go inside,” says Mystel, looking down at the coffin.

“That is a beautiful coffin, how is the fabric doing that?” asks Orla, staring captive at the fabric.

“It is Changeling fabric, so it changes color until it finds the correct color that the pony wants. Except in the case of a funeral, it will continue to change color, since the pony it belongs to has passed.”

“Cool,” both of the girls say in unison.

I gently place Violet’s body into the coffin, then allowing the girls to place the flowers inside. I close the lid, and lower the coffin into the ground. I take the Violet rose and replant it over the grave. I manifest a small rectangular section of small metal fencing around the grave, and place a small plaque on the outside of it, saying,

Here lies a Changeling of great strength and heart.
Violet
A sister, a daughter, unwanted, but still loved.
Rest easy, you are loved by many.

As I finish up the plaque, both girls break down into tears. I hear a small sob from behind me, and whip around, only to find Cadence, standing alone, watching us. I nod as I pull the girls close with my wings comforting them as they say their final goodbyes to their friend, or sister in a way.

Once they are done, I teleport all of us back to my house, and tuck the two of them into my bed. Leaving myself to go sleep on the couch, but it is worth it, as I hear the small snores of the two Changelings not long after.

Day 17: Location, Location, Location

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Styx’s POV:
I have woken up for the past two mornings to Mystel and Orla still in bed, so of course, today is no different. I wander to the kitchen and see a note taped to the outside of my kitchen window. It is from Twilight, telling me to meet all of them at the castle. It also says that Twilight will have told the others about Mystel and Orla before I get there. I teleport to Twilight’s castle and appear in the map room.

“What’s going on Twilight?” I ask, making Fluttershy jump a little at my unannounced appearance.

“I wanted to gather everypony because we are going to the Crystal Empire; to give it the best shot of possibly hosting the Equestria Games."

“Well, I’ll be Twilight. You’re sayin’ we are all goin’ to the Crystal Empire today?"

“Yes, because we are in charge of making sure that Ms. Harshwhinny is treated to the best day ever and is thoroughly impressed by how amazing and prepared the Crystal Empire is to host the Equestria Games. We know that Ms. Harshwhinny will have flower luggage, and will be arriving two trains after ours. To give us time to prepare our tour, ending with a spa treatment and meeting with Cadence and Shining Armor at the Crystal Castle.”

“That’s great Twilight, but what am I to do with Mystel and Orla while I am gone? I can’t leave them by themselves, now can I?”

“No you can’t, that is why I asked Big Mac, Applebloom, and Granny Smith to keep them company. They can share my bed while I’m gone. Mystel can help Big Mac a little bit and Orla can help Granny cook.”

“That would be amazing Applejack! I’ll go get the girls and meet you at Sweet Apple Acres.”

I teleport home to get the girls and head back to the farm. Applejack, Big Mac, Applebloom, and Granny Smith are all waiting for us outside the house. I introduce the girls to the Apple family and tell them that they will be staying here while I am gone. I tell them that they will be well looked after and that I will get them when we get back. Once the girls are settled into the Apple farm, I teleport Applejack and I back to Twilight’s castle to meet up with the others. Then, off we go to the Crystal Empire.

No matter how many times I come to the Crystal Empire, the radiant blue gemstones of the castle and the plethora of colors of crystal houses never ceases to amaze me. We leave the train station and head towards the castle to meet with Cadence to go over what Ms. Harshwhinny should see around the Empire. We make it to the castle, managing to avoid any Crystal ponies seeing me. We enter the castle but I am immediately stopped by the guards.

“Let me in.”

“Sorry, no Changelings are allowed into the Crystal Castle until Princess Cadence has had the baby.”

“I’m so sorry Styx, please come in!” I hear Cadence yell through the door, more to the guards than myself I’d wager.

The guards humbly apologize and move out of my way. I enter the castle and make my way towards the main throne room. “Styx, you made it! Are we all ready to go over what we are going to do?”

“Actually Twilight, I feel it would be best if I didn’t help all of you out. Seeing as I am, well, an unreformed Changeling.”

“That shouldn’t change anything darling. After all, aren’t all races of ponies expected to compete at the Games?”

“Actually Rarity, no. Changelings have never been included. Nor do I think they are very eager to join. I don’t plan on being at the games unless I am needed for security reasons. Cadence, what do you think?”

“As much as I hate to agree, as I feel you need to be included, I also think it would be best if you didn’t help. But, would you consider sticking around to have dinner with us?”

“I would be honored Cadence. I will be out enjoying the many things the Crystal Empire has to offer while trying to avoid Twilight and the gang. Maybe I’ll go see Sunburst.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea. Starlight and Spike can go with you, show you around,” says Twilight eagerly.

“Sounds like a plan to me.” The three of us make our way out of the throne room. “Although, I should warn you two that the Crystal ponies might be very excited to see a Changeling like me.”

“Why would that be? It’s not like your a hero in the Crystal Empire. Are you?” asks Starlight, pondering why they would be excited to see an unreformed Changeling.

“Actually, seeing as I am an unreformed Changeling, like the ones that fought for Sombra in the War of Crystal, they might be ready to worship me for my bravery and managing to live under the radar of Celestia and Luna without being caught.”

“Oh, well I this will be interesting. Honestly, I think that I would enjoy seeing how a hero is celebrated in the Crystal Empire.”

“Haha Starlight. I don’t know what they do, or if any will recognize me.” We exit the castle and start our walk to Sunburst’s house. On the way we decide to get food and stop by the library to see if there are any books on the Crystalling ceremony. Since Cadence and Shining Armor are going to need to hold the ceremony after the baby is born. We surprisingly make it to the library without any Crystal pony seeing me, let alone seeing a baby dragon. As we enter, the librarian doesn’t acknowledge us until Starlight asks where to find information on the Crystalling. The librarian looks up and stares at me in shock.

“Styx?” The librarian hesitantly asks.

“Yes Rosetta?”

“You are alive, how is this possible? I thought that none of Sombra’s Changelings survived the war, especially one as young as you. Didn’t you go into a pony foster home?”

“No, I was allowed to live with my adoptive Changeling parents. They were allowed to live after the war. They died about two years ago. I honestly didn’t think any of you would be able to recognize me.”

“Of course we would recognize you. You were known as King Sombra’s adoptive daughter. Although I guess now you two probably would be more of lovers, eh?”

In that moment I am so glad that no one can see me blush. “Well, that is up to a lot of interpretation, but one could fantasize I suppose. How have you been with the Crystal Princess taking over?”

Rosetta’s appearance turns full crystal as she spoke, “It got better knowing that one of Sombra’s trusted Changelings survived this long under the rule of Celestia and Luna without yielding.”

She starts hootin’ and hollerin’ so loud that Starlight, Spike, and I have to cover our ears. It isn’t long before a mass of Crystal ponies barge in the library doors. Apparently loud yelling signals to every other Crystal pony that a dark Changeling has survived. In seconds, I am surrounded by a bunch of cheering ponies, leaving Starlight and Spike in the dust.

Sombra, any way to help?

I can try to use your body as a vessel for speaking, but I can’t guarantee it will work.

Good enough for me, do it!

You will still be able to see, but I will be moving, talking, and your appearance will change to look like me.

That’s fine, just do it!

A large surge of dark magic courses through me as Sombra projects his voice, mind, and body to mine. A weird sensation, but almost comforting, a king embracing his queen.

“Silence!”

A hush falls over the crystal ponies as they realize that their King is now who stands before them. They all immediately take to a bow in honor of their king.

“That’s better, now Starlight and Spike, please stand up. You don’t know me as a King, so I expect no respect from you except as my equal. As for my loyal subjects, I would expect better behavior towards the would have been Queen, especially one that has made it unreformed for over a thousand years. Now I expect you to act civilized, do not make me do this again.”

“Of course King Sombra,” all the Crystal ponies say in unison.

Thank you Sombra.

Of course, any time my love.

As my body returns to my control I bid the ponies to rise. A small foal rises first and asks, “How did King Sombra do that? If he is trapped in Limbo?”

“While his physical body and soul are trapped in Limbo, a piece of his soul also lives in me. When he is released from Limbo his piece in me will go back to him.”

“I see, thank you Styx. One more question, how did you escape from reforming?”

“I lived in the Changeling hive in solitude for that time, growing up and practicing dark magic, until the Crystal Empire returned.”

“Thank you. When will King Sombra come back to rule?”

“Unfortunately, he will never rule as set by Celestia and Luna. Besides I think Princess Cadence is doing a fine job. However he will definitely come back to visit all of his subjects, and catch up with you once he returns.”

A unicorn stallion pipes up, “But King Sombra is the rightful ruler of the Crystal Empire!”

“Don’t let Princess Cadence hear you say that. What is bad about her rule other than you had yet to turn crystal until I showed up?”

“That’s just it, until you showed up we have just been living mundane lives. Nothing good has been happening.”

“What if I told you here soon a royal baby is going to be born and a Royal Crystalling will happen?”

“What!?” yells the group of ponies.

“Yes! I promise Sombra agrees with this and understands why Cadence must continue to rule. For if she doesn’t than Equestria will spiral into war again. Once was enough, don’t you think?”

“Yes it was, I think that Princess Cadence’s rule is prosperous, but we have shut ourselves in our houses and not wanted to participate in the world. Maybe it’s time to change that,” says Rosetta.

“Now would be the time to start as the Equestria Games Inspector is here to deem if the Crystal Empire is worthy of hosting the Equestria Games. If you start participating in bettering the Empire I can promise life will look up, and I may even come visit more if you do. I can at least tell you I will be back for the Royal Crystalling. So go, better the Empire to show King Sombra that no matter what has happened you will make the best of life. Show your King you will continue to better the Empire even though he no longer rules it!”

As the Crystal ponies run out of the library cheering they all turn crystal. I smile at the way I handled them, and turn back to Starlight and Spike, both of whom are still standing in their spot staring at me.

Well done my queen.

Thank you my king.

“Starlight, you in there?”

“What did I just witness?”

“A body manifestation transfer, very complex dark magic, achievable only when a pony is in Limbo or trapped where the other doesn’t know. Sorry, something you will never be able to learn.”

“That’s okay, I was just trying to process how you and Sombra did that.”

“I can say with utmost certainty, magic. Now care to finish leading the way to Sunburst’s house?”

“Of course, this way.” We walk out of the library to see almost all of the Crystal ponies out and about, cleaning, opening the shops again, and having everyday conversations with each other. We head towards the northern edge of the Empire to arrive at Sunburst’s surprisingly simple house, orange gemstone, with yellow gem accents. We spend the next few hours musing over his library until we receive a letter to go back to the castle for dinner. We bid Sunburst goodbye and head back to the castle at a quick gallop.

We arrive at the castle and are directed towards the dining hall. As the doors opens I see it will just be all of us and Ms. Harshwhinny, no other unexpected guests. “Princess Cadence! Why is there a Changeling being invited into your dining room!?” exclaims Ms. Harshwhinny loudly as I take my seat, directly to the left of Cadence.

“This is Styx, and you can thank her for all of the merriment and liveliness of the Crystal ponies today. As I heard that her return to the Empire made quite a large impact on the spirits of the Crystal ponies. So I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss her as just a Changeling.”

“Well, I’m impressed. Now tell me, Styx, why were the Crystal ponies so excited to see you exactly?”

“Well, seeing as the Crystal ponies were protected by Changelings during the War of Crystal, and they all knew me very well from when I was young and often was with Sombra when he checked in on all of the Crystal ponies. So, I am kind of a hero to them for making it over a thousand years without submitting to Celestia and Luna’s rule.”

“Interesting, well I think it is safe to say that the Crystal Empire has more than earned the right to host the Equestria Games!”

We finish dinner in peace and I am so excited that I helped contribute to making it possible to have the Crystal Empire host the Equestria Games. All of us return on a train to Ponyville that night. I go and collect the exhausted girls from Applejack’s simple and of course, apple themed bedroom at the farm, and take them home. Putting them to sleep in my bed, leaving me to once again sleep on the black velvet couch.

Day 25: Pinkie Planning

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Styx’s POV:
How does one adjust to the news that Pinkie Pie is getting married to Cheese Sandwich, having never met him? I am about to meet him for the first time and hope that he isn’t too afraid of me. He will be spending more time around me since they have decided they are going to build a house in Ponyville, near the backside of Sugarcube Corner. Leaving just enough room for a pathway between buildings for supplies to be brought to the back instead of through the front door for Sugarcube Corner. From what I’ve heard of, Cheese Sandwich is very similar to Pinkie. Although I guess I expect him to be afraid of me. After all, everypony else is.

Pinkie and Cheese Sandwich’s wedding is tomorrow, but that does mean all the planning needs to happen. More specifically, dresses and tuxedos need to be made, and a pony needs to be chosen to do the vows since Mayor Mare is sick. All that can wait though; right now I am in charge of being a test for Cheese Sandwich. Can he learn to get along with a pony he has been told to fear since his foalhood? If not, well, Pinkie will marry him anyway. If he does, then, all will be well with the world and I don’t have to worry about him.

I arrive at Sweet Apple Acres and see the barn is fully decorated for the arrival of Cheese Sandwich. I enter the barn and immediately find Cheese Sandwich speaking to other ponies. His eyes revert to me, and his eyebrows shoot up in fear. He springs to the top of the barn, holding back a scream. All of us look up at the rafters to see Cheese shaking on the beam he stood on. It seems he was ill prepared to handle me, and it doesn’t seem like he has any intention of coming down.

“Cheese, please come down. She won’t hurt you, she is my friend. She just wants to get to know you.”

“But why would an evil Changeling want to get to know a normal pony like you or me, Pinkie?” His comment stings, but I don’t let it get to me.

“Because she needs friends and needs support. You are just like the townsponies, judging a newcomer by their appearance before meeting them. Now come down before I party cannon blast you down.”

“Okay,” he says, leaping down from the rafters, slowly coming to stand next to Pinkie. I move slowly towards him, and as soon as he is next to Pinkie, I hold out my hoof in greeting. He gingerly reaches out his hoof and shakes it with mine, keeping it short and sweet. I don’t stay long, and start heading out. Once I'm outside, the party goes back into a normal, happy atmosphere. Pinkie sees that I am leaving, and catches up to me. She tells me to meet her at Sugarcube Corner tomorrow morning. I promise to be there and leave the party in peace. I have already caused enough ruckus and don’t need to add to it. I swing by Rarity’s boutique to grab my dress. I fly home to rest, unsure about my conservation with Pinkie tomorrow about whether I am to be in or just come to her wedding. Either way, I know a Pinkie Promise is going to happen.

It can’t come soon enough. I am waiting for Pinkie in Sugarcube Corner to discuss my role in her wedding. I’m nervous, but also hopeful that Pinkie will see my side and let me not be in the wedding, but still come, just undercover. I hear the faded gold bell jingle above the door and I look up to see Pinkie slowly walking towards me. She has a look of determination on her face. As she approaches me, I see her take a big deep breath in, and as she reaches me she says, “Styx, you will be in my wedding as my mare of honor, no buts. Pinkie Promise?”

Day 26: Wedding Bells

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Styx’s POV:
Well that wasn’t what I was expecting. “Mare of honor? Pinkie! Do you know how hard you are going to be freaking out later today when you realize what that entails?”

“Yes, I am okay with that. So Pinkie Promise to be my mare of honor?”

“Fine. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye. There, you happy now? Even though Cheese Sandwich is still deathly afraid of me?”

“Yes, I know in time that Cheese will warm up to you once he sees how nice and normal you are.”

“Pinkie, I’m not normal, so stop pretending I am. Nopony understands what you do. Nopony understands that I am just like everypony else, I just look different. Now you should go get ready, and so should I.” I leave without another word, leaving Pinkie to stare as I walk away.

I put on my new dress that Rarity made for me, it was the one I asked her to make for formal events, but it isn’t as elegant as a dress for the Grand Galloping Gala would be. Black, with sky blue at the end of it, flowing, but not poofy. So here I am, waiting in a back room with Pinkie and all of the girls except Twilight. Each bridesmare was to be walked down the aisle by the groomsponies that Cheese Sandwich chose or together if Cheese Sandwich didn’t have enough to cover all of the other bearers. So, four, plus the best stallion to walk me down, if I agreed to it. For a best stallion Cheese Sandwich chose a navy blue stallion with yellow gold eyes named Royal Pin. I decided to agree, just to humor Pinkie. Although the size difference between him and I is a sight to see, as if walking an unreformed Changeling down the aisle isn’t enough. The poor stallion is scared out his wits, so I cast a small calming spell on him to make him seem more relaxed during this piece of the wedding. The groomsponies I have no idea who are, nor do I particularly care.

The wedding begins, Royal Pin and I will be the last to walk down before Pinkie Pie. As the rest of the bearers make their way down, I feel Pinkie tense up behind me. “Pinkie what’s wrong?”

“What if they don’t like you being in my wedding? What if this whole wedding is a party catastrophe!?”

“Pinkie.” No reaction, her breathing still heavy. “Pinkie! Take a deep breath and relax. I don’t care what anypony thinks of me being in your wedding, nor should you. You asked me to be in it because you are my friend.”

“Your right. Now go out there and do what you are meant to do!”

It is indeed my turn to walk out with Royal Pin. I link my hoof with his and we proceed to walk down the aisle. An extravagant little area, Pinkie chose one of Apple family’s orchards, the one with the most vibrant red apples. The altar is made of simple white oak wood. However, the most impressive thing is Cheese Sandwich’s tux that perfectly matches Pinkie’s dress. Courtesy of Rarity, Pinkie’s dress is similar to her last gala dress, but in white with tiny yellow accents. The Cutie Mark Crusaders and Mystel were flower girls, and Orla got to be the ring bearer. Pinkie’s family didn’t want to come to the wedding so the Cake family stood in as her surrogate family. Mr. Cake got to be the one to walk Pinkie down the aisle. He wouldn’t admit to it, but he thinks Cheese Sandwich is perfect for Pinkie.

The looks I receive from the ponies gathered are mostly ones of fear, mixed with anger, mixed with disgust. I ignore all of them as we reach the end of the aisle, next out come the flower girls, and just behind them is Pinkie and Mr. Cake. I hear Cheese Sandwich take a sharp inhale of breath and slowly let it out. As Pinkie reaches the end, she gives me her bouquet, and turns to face her soon to be husband. I zone out for the duration of the vows as I don’t want to hear them. I assume they are whatever the usual pony vows are, as I have never been to a wedding up until this point. Crystal Empire/Changeling vows are quite short, about 5 short sentences, and don’t have a whole lot of meaning behind them. As soon as I hear cheers from everypony else I briefly join in, and then we get to go eat.

Wedding receptions are really boring, especially when you are the unreformed Changeling in the room. Mystel and Orla have it easier since they are reformed, so they are welcomed easily. The toasts and speeches can not come soon enough, because then I can leave. I hear Pinkie starting the toast and speeches, being the mare of honor I get to speak first after the happy couple. Pinkie talks about all of her friends and how they supported her, and also about the Cake family being the best family ever. Cheese Sandwich talks about how they met and how they were meant to be. Cheers come after both speeches from the assembled ponies. My turn finally comes, “Cheese Sandwich, you really are a lucky stallion, one worthy of Pinkie Pie. Being one of her friends, I wish you two the happiest marriage and hope that you two will be prosperous for the rest of your lives.” My speech gets no cheers, except from the other bearers and anypony that knows me and has welcomed me back into society, so much less deafening. I snarl, hiss, and disappear in a flash, not wishing to hear anymore of the wedding.

Pinkie’s POV:
As Styx disappears in a flash of swamp colored green, I turn to Royal Pin to have him finish up the speeches. I don’t listen, as all I can think about is how angry and hurt Styx is, still not being treated like somepony normal. After Royal Pin finishes and the cheers settle down, I address all of the ponies present, “Now everypony, I know today is a happy occasion, but the truth must be said. What is wrong with all of you!?” Cheese tries to get me to calm down, but I shrug him off and continue, “Styx is just like all of you. Trying to live her life as normally as possible and you just refuse to try to get to know her before you judge her. She is no different than when we knew her as Night Crystal, she just looks different. So as you continue on your days, try to get to know her, because right now, you are all making her feel excluded. Nopony likes that, so I need all of you to Pinkie Promise me right now you will try to get to know her better!”

All of the ponies gathered, except the Cake family, Apple family, and Mystel and Orla, do the Pinkie Promise under my watchful eye. As my wedding ends, I hope that for Styx’s sake that they do get to know her, before it is too late.

Day 30: A Royal Problem

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Starlight’s POV:
I wake up in my room, my cutie mark is glowing, well, best go to the map and see where I am going. I wander into the map room to find Twilight staring hard at it, breathing heavily. I look at the map to see I am being summoned to Canterlot. Twilight is not happy about me going to see the Princesses without her, especially since it is a friendship quest by myself. Although, much to my disapproval, she insists that I bring a music box that she can transform herself onto and talk to me. It is a cute, small, gold and teal music box that plays soft orchestral music, mostly cello and violin. Twilight sends me off at the train station, unfortunately, the train must stop at Appleloosa first before going to Canterlot. Thankfully I don’t have to get off there, so I don’t have to deal with seeing Braeburn or any other members of the Apple family.

I arrive at the pristine white brick walls with accents of gold iron gates and designs on the roofs of Canterlot Castle about an hour and a half after leaving Ponyville, it is dark outside, so I will meet with Celestia in the morning. I am escorted to a guest room by two unicorn Night Guards. They leave me alone and I decide to sleep since I don’t have anything to unpack, as I only brought a small bag with my toothbrush and a spellbook.

I wake up the next morning and a guard escorts me to a private dining room for Celestia, Luna, and their guests. I arrive to see Celestia has made pancakes in the shape of faces, I almost feel bad for eating it. Luna walks in looking sleepy, she doesn’t acknowledge her sister’s breakfast, grabs a pineapple, and wanders back out.

“My sister never acknowledges that I get up every morning to make breakfast that she never eats. However, I’m sure that Luna will also say that she does something that I never acknowledge.”

“Well, I guess we will see tonight when I spend a little time with her.” We finish eating and then I spend the day watching and learning about what Celestia does everyday. When Luna awakes I proceed to spend time with her. Mostly learning about what prep she does before she enters the dream realm. I wander back to my room and Twilight decides to check up on me. I admit to her that I believe that the Princesses are not the best at communicating, so they are the friendship problem.

“Uh!” I look at her questioningly, “Sorry, you just used Princesses and ‘not the best’ in the same sentence and it is making me nervous.” Twilight then starts breathing heavily.

“Well their not, so, what should I do?”

“Their fine, you should just let them work it out, I’m sure there is two other ponies that are having a friendship problem.”

“No. Twilight, they are the friendship problem, now leave me alone so I can deal with them tomorrow.” I turn my back to her and lay down to sleep, ignoring her as she returns home, letting the music box play.

I wake up the next morning to pancakes again and as Luna comes in I address both of them, “Princess Luna, Princess Celestia, I figured out the friendship problem.”

“Wonderful Starlight Glimmer, what is it?” asks Celestia quite cheerily.

“You two.” An angry snort comes from Luna, whilst a surprised whinny comes from Celestia.

“I beg your pardon, us? There is no friendship problem between us.”

“We agree with our sister.” Luna says quite sternly, while glaring at Celestia.

“While you may not see it, I do, but Princess Celestia, what do you think about the fact that Luna never appreciates how you make her breakfast every morning?”

“I don’t particularly like the feeling, but I at least I make an effort to smile.”

“And Princess Luna, how does it make you feel that Celestia never notices how much work you put in to lining the walls with fresh lavender every night?”

“It does upset, but at least I work, and not have fun with dignitary ponies all day. Also, like smiling is that hard.”

“I beg your pardon, what do you do all night? You felt around giving ponies lovely dreams.”

“ENOUGH!” I yell, sending the sisters away from each other, casting a spell to switch their cutie marks. They stare at me in shock, “There now you will know what it is like to be each other for the day.?”

“Switch our cutie marks back this instant,” says Celestia.

“I can’t, the spell lasts 24 hours. I think this is still a good idea?”

“Alright Starlight Glimmer, we will try our your plan for the 24 hours.”

“Good. Not like you had a choice.” They both glare at me, “I should stop talking now shouldn’t I?” I follow Luna around for the day, having her following Celestia’s list for the day. Timberwolf rumors in the forest outside of a smaller village, rose smelling competition to judge, school ribbon cutting ceremony, etc.

We return to the castle that night to have Luna immediately retire to bed. I meet Celestia in the hallway and give her Luna’s list for the night. I am so sleepy I lay down on the floor and immediately fall asleep. My dream starts out normal enough, I am sitting with Celestia eating pancakes like we did this morning, suddenly I’m falling. Pancake faces start talking, “I care, I care, I care, I care.”

“Ahhhhh!” POOF! I land on a bed of flowers. I stand up to see Celestia in front of me, looking down at me worriedly. I shake off the flowers and then my dream turns into being in the red carpeted throne room of Canterlot. Nightmare Moon appears, and Celestia says, “Don't worry, I know how to handle Nightmare Moon.”

“But can you handle me?” a mysterious flaming pony behind us says as she appears.

“Who are you?”

“If Luna can turn into Nightmare Moon, you can absolutely turn into me, Daybreaker! The more powerful, prettier version of you!”

“No! I will never turn into you!”

“Haha, you wish!” Daybreaker says, diving towards and addressing Nightmare Moon. “I shouldn’t have banished you to the moon, I should’ve destroyed you!”

“No! Day, night, sun, moon, Equestria needs balance! Without balance there is no harmony!” I breathe in and start bawling, “I’m never going with gut again! Equestria will fall, because of me.”

“No, this will not happen Starlight Glimmer, my sister and I will get along. We both had a hard day and poor Luna has to work alone in the dark.” I lift my head up to look at her, “I understand now how hard it is to do her job and I’m sure she agrees that my job is also difficult. So,” Celestia says, taking off towards the battle raging on near us. She gets in between Nightmare Moon and Daybreaker, stopping each of their bolts with her wings. “I will never turn into you and Luna will not be allowed to turn into Nightmare Moon again. So, you will never exists here or in the real world!” Celestia shouts, shoving the bolts back towards their respective ponies, instantly vanquishing them. I sit up and carefully walk over to a seated Celestia, looking at her in admiration. She makes a dream ball appear of another pony, Styx, and looks into it. Styx seems to be having a normal dream, but the ball soon turns red indicating a nightmare is fast approaching. Luna told me about this in a dream one night, but it is nothing like witnessing it happening. “Do you want to come with me Starlight Glimmer?”

“I think it would be best, maybe so your not as alone?”

“Agreed, ready?”

“Ready.”

We teleport into Styx’s dreamscape to find a nightmare I wouldn’t want to tangle with. Styx is normal with glowing greens eyes, with purple shadows streaming off of them. She is facing towards Twilight, the other Elements, Celestia, and Luna. All of who are looking at each other as they link hooves, ready to destroy Styx, killing her, destroying her very being. As the rainbow beam forms and comes crashing down on Styx, I hear a wailing scream come from her. I react on instinct and try to put a shield around her. However, I only succeed in failing as my magic doesn’t work in the dream realm.

Day 31: A Dream Gone Wrong

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Starlight’s POV:
“We have to help her Celestia!”

“I know Starlight Glimmer, but how? I’ll bring Luna here to see if she knows!”

As Celestia disappears I start to think about how to help Styx. How to let her escape from a nightmare unlike any I have ever had. Trapped in a society that fears her and wants to kill her, alone and with almost nopony to trust. Wait, she might trust me, or better yet Sombra. But, do ponies sleep while in Limbo?

“No, ponies do not sleep or dream while in Limbo. However, Starlight Glimmer, we can access the dream realm, same as Luna.”

I whip around to see Sombra standing behind me, smirking as if he does this on a daily basis. “So can you help? Since I assume you have been listening in in my head?”

“I could help, but that would be too easy of a way out for you and Celestia. So I will not help, but instead impart to you some wisdom. Those that suffer in fear also gain power in equality,” Sombra says, vanishing from sight.

“Those that suffer in fear also gain power in equality…” That’s it! Equality, the very thing I forced onto my village, can be used in a different way to show Styx courage. This is a dream, so now I just need Celestia to make her dream and mine dream the same one. As if on cue Celestia returns with Luna. “Celestia, I need you to make my dream the same one as Styx’s.”

“But how would that help?”

“I don’t think you any better ideas, so do it!”

“Why? What wisdom have you gained that would help?”

“The wisdom imparted by your nemesis,” I hear Sombra say as he comes into view of the three of us.

Celestia and Luna immediately shove me behind them, as if they are going to protect me. Humph, well fine, if you think that is going to stop him from contacting me, too late. “What do you want Sombra?”

“Absolutely nothing, other than to help out Twilight’s star pupil,” he says, grinning wickedly at the sisters. Although, he is avoiding looking towards Styx, I’m guessing he doesn’t want to watch a close friend? Lover? suffer through her nightmare.

“What did you tell her?”

I pipe up as not to be excluded from the conversation, “Those that suffer in fear also gain power in equality.”

“I don’t understand what that could possibly mean in terms of helping out Styx with her nightmare.”

“Exactly, so if you are done trying to get technical, make the dreams the same.”

“Alright Starlight Glimmer, if you think that is best, then we shall go.”

As Celestia gets ready to make the dream, I take one last look at Sombra, and surprisingly, he is mouthing the words, “Help her” to me. I nod in acknowledgement as we disappear into one dream.

We appear in a realm not much unlike what Twilight described the realm under the rule of Nightmare Moon. A dark, desolate, and unforgiving wilderness. Not caring about what Celestia or Luna do, I race towards where Styx is facing her nightmare, turning myself into a dark Changeling in the process. I then duplicate myself too many times to count in order to show Styx that equality is power in her nightmare world. As I reach Styx I see her eyes widen in awe and happiness as a bunch of what look like kin come racing towards her. I run up to her and hug her tight, not planning to let go until the nightmare ends. The duplicates all form a ring and hug the two of us, creating a cocoon of Changeling bodies. I dare to close my eyes as the light comes bearing down on us, the weight of the beam threatening to tear me apart. I’m free falling, I open my eyes to see that my duplicates are gone and I am back to my normal self, still hugging Styx. She comes to, opening her eyes, and gazes around before landing on me.

“What just happened?”

“A lot, but why don’t we wake up first, then we can discuss when I get back to Ponyville.”

“Okay, I’ll see you soon then Starlight.”

I start to fade away, only seeing a glimpse of Sombra and Styx talking as I wake up. I wander to the balcony where Celestia is laying down with Luna, their cutie marks switched back to normal, and they turn as I start my sleepy, rickety walk towards them. “Well done Starlight Glimmer, you have solved your friendship problem, but also discovered something new about yourself. I think the map says your task is complete, so I guess you should be going.”

“Thank you Celestia, I hope to not have a repeat of any of that anytime soon. Goodbye Luna.”

I take the Ponyville Express back home and walk to Styx’s house to talk about the dream. Although, I can’t fathom how I am going to ask her about Sombra. I knock on her door and hear her hoofsteps descending the hollow sounding stairs. She opens the door and freezes, “Are you okay Styx?”

“Honestly, no, but I don’t get a choice about whether to feel okay or not. The dream however, Sombra told me all about it.” She gestures me in as she continues, “Thank you Starlight, I’m glad I can trust someone to understand the struggles of being seen as a villain.”

“Of course, although, you should be thanking Sombra. He gave me the hint on how to help you.”

“That is true, but you came up with the plan all on your own. Sombra just had to lead you in the right direction to how to help me.”

“Alright I'll give myself some credit, although, I am curious as to why Sombra didn’t help you himself?”

“Well, let’s just say that while he has access to the dream realm, he can’t do much in it. He can travel to dreams and communicate to the ponies in them, but no dream manipulation.”

“Interesting, but why would he help me and not just tell Celestia?”

“Arch-nemesis, besides, he sees you as much closer to me than Celestia. So, he was more willing to help you. Along with wanting to see Celestia upset, after all, she did deal the final blow. But enough of that, how was Twilight with this whole thing?”

“Oh, I haven’t actually told her yet.”

“Oh boy, well you best get back and not keep her waiting then. Since we all know how Twilight gets when somepony else is sent on a friendship mapquest.”

“You’re right, I should get back. I guess I’ll talk to you later then.” Walking myself out the door. I jump as I hear it slam rather quickly behind me, but I think nothing of it, just Styx being Styx.