Radiance

by LSTS Connor

First published

A failed invasion. A Race scattered. A Queen dead. From the ashes, their last cry of vengeance rises.

Everything was going well for Queen Chrysalis of the changeling Swarm. She had fooled the ponies completely and the barrier that blocked her swarm was gone. Victory was all but assured as her changelings descended upon the helpless city of Canterlot.

Yet, even after all of that, there would be no victory for the changelings. A barrier of pure love would repel the invasion and bring about the end of Queen Chrysalis’s great swarm. With what fleeting magic she had left, Chrysalis attempted to slow the barrier's expansion in a desperate attempt to allow her swarm to escape.

She succeeded, but at a terrible cost. Magic drained, wings gone and chitin cracking. The only thought that went through her mind as the renewed barrier launched her through the air at close to the speed of sound was how she hoped her sacrifice was not in vain.

Then she hit the ground, and the Queen was dead. Her life ended as her broken body collided against the sand of a faraway desert. Yet her journey would not end here, for the Gardener had chosen her, and the Queen would live again.

Now armed with a strange companion and power known only as ‘the Light’ a new mare, devoid of her previous life's memories, must find her place in the world before her past returns to finish what they started.


Still takes place in Equestria not on earth
Tags will be added as the story progresses
A Destiny Crossover. Knowing the lore is not needed to understand this story. I was very meticulous about that. Everything you learn, you learn with our Chrysalis.

Chapter One | Rise

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The first thing I felt was the Sun against my body. It was hot, blazingly so, and the ground did not fare much better with its temperature equally as scorching. Feeling began to return shortly after with the muffled sound of a dry breeze sending a cloud of sand across my skin. I opened my eyes for but a short moment before I was forced to raise my hoof to protect them from the blazing Sun.

It did not do much, however, as the holes they possessed let the sun through anyway, as well as a hoof-hole-full of sand cascading down onto my face. I rolled over, sputtering and coughing, trying to spit out the sand that had fallen into my open and panting mouth.

“It worked!”

I heard a faint voice call out from behind me. Between the ringing in my ears and the strange beeps and whirls that aggravated my migraine, I was surprised I could hear anything at all.

Once the sand was vacated from my mouth, nose, and eyes I sat up onto my haunches with some difficulty. My balance was not all there yet it seemed as I got a look at my surroundings. Or, well, lack thereof.

Nothing but sand filled my vision, not even a single solitary rock or boulder could be seen against the horizon. ‘How did I get here?’ Was the thought that pervaded my mind. I tried to recall what had happened before my awakening only to find…nothing. No name, no history, no embarrassing childhood memories that refused to disappear. It was as if I had not existed until that very moment.

The beep and whirls returned and reminded me that I was not alone, perhaps they could shed some light on what was happening to me. After all, waking up in the middle of the desert with no memories or identity and hearing some creature say ‘It worked!’ usually implies that they had something to do with my current situation.

I smiled internally, yes that made sense, there was no need to panic. Panicking would just make everything worse, I knew that, I had dealt with worse after all… Or at least I thought I had, it certainly felt like it. Damndable amnesia.

Turning around I was met with something quite peculiar floating several inches away from my face. It was a small geometrically-shaped construct of black and green, its color palette matching my own almost perfectly. At its center was a small black core with a single glowing green diamond-shaped eye looking back at me. Its ‘shell’ for lack of a better term appeared to orbit the core ever so slightly. Its pieces or shards resemble that of several small black pyramids that when fully formed would resemble some geometric shape. Then it spoke in a voice that sounded distinctly female, causing my dual hearts to jump.

“Hello! Oh, you don’t know how long I’ve searched for you! I thought I’d never find my Guardian!” It flew around me in what I can only assume to be happiness. Its shell was slightly upturned as if mimicking a smile and voice just as full with giddy excitement.

I still continued to observe this strange diamond. I don’t know what but something deep down in my gut knew that whatever it is currently orbiting me happily was utterly unique. Something that should be treated with caution and respect for fear of angering it. Not that I was afraid of this little construct, mind you, it was just my instincts talking.

“What…are you?” I asked with the raspy two-tone voice I had finally found.

My question prompted the little diamond as they ceased their orbiting and floated before my eyes once again.

“I’m a Ghost!” It began with a smile that was audible despite its lack of a mouth or any type of facial features. “Or to be more accurate: I’m your Ghost!” Its shell spun around the core at a speed at which I could physically see the dust on the ground being blown off in its wake.

“That doesn’t tell me anything ‘Ghost’. Who am I? What am I doing in this desert? And why can’t I remember anything about my life before waking up?!” I yelled out with a hiss at the end, my temper getting the better of me as the reality of my current situation began to set in.

“Oh, that's a simple answer. You died, and I resurrected you! Memory loss is…unavoidable. But only the first time!” The ‘Ghost’ added that last part hastily as if to ease my fears. All it did was confuse me.

“I…died? And you…brought me back?” No, I don’t believe it. One cannot simply return from death because some small diamond willed it. Even with my nonexistent memories, I knew that to be fact. Before I could voice this, however, the Ghost continued.

“Yep! The Light chose you to be its wielder! Congratulations Guardian! Ooooh, you cannot believe how much I’ve been looking forward to saying that!” The, or well I guess my, ‘Ghost’ explained. Might as well play along until I had something more substantial.

“And, what, you are supposed to be my…guide? Now that I’m a so-called ‘Guardian’?” I continued to prod. There was no way any of this could actually be real…could it? I needed more information. Preferably some that didn’t create more questions.

“I guess you could say that. I’m here to help you on your journey, whatever that may be. If you need a door opened, call me. Got a cut? No problem. Die? Well, when you do, try to die somewhere safe. I don’t exactly have any means of defending myself here… I can’t wield the light as you can. I’m more like…a conduit for the light's connection to you.”

This ‘Light’ kept coming up. Was it similar to the energy I can feel coursing through my veins and horn? Is it perhaps something different? I certainly didn’t feel anything different. Everything just felt…normal, or well whatever that normal was before waking up here. My mind didn’t know but my body most certainly did.

“You keep mentioning something called ‘the Light’? Is it some form of magic?”

The ‘Ghost’ stopped dead in their tracks as if frozen in time. It stayed like that for several seconds before speaking once again.

“I guess you could describe it like that. It’s a thing that permeates the universe and all living things, and that's really the most I know about it. We don’t exactly get a crash course on what it is. Us Ghosts may have been created by it but that doesn’t mean we understand it.”

“…Alright.” It wasn’t the answer I wanted but it's the one I got and I had no way to know if the ‘Ghost’ was telling the truth or not. And frankly, right now in the middle of this desert, with a black-as-night exoskeleton, was not the best place for interrogation.

“Well, this has certainly been an insightful conversation. Now if you excuse me, Ghost, I must be going no-” I moved to stand up on my four holed hooves intent on leaving the no doubt insane construct to its ramblings, only to freeze in place when I looked down at where I had sat.

Dried green blood was smeared all across the sand. There was so much, too much to have been made by a non-lethal wound. Expanding my field of vision it became clear that there was much more than meets the eye. A crater, for lack of a better term, surrounded us. Behind me was a break in the crater's walls, a clear groove in the sand that showed what direction the object that created this originated from.

“I’m…sorry you have to see that. Most Chosen are not found as recently as you were. Your first death was not the most…peaceful…or clean.”

“I-I…excuse me?” Fear is not a color I wore well, and I was draped in it as the Ghost’s words began to sink in.

“I believe it was… Blunt force actually. I think, yes, basically every bone and every piece of that beautiful exoskeleton of yours was shattered on impact with the ground! And I must say that even after it was shattered into a million pieces it still looked wonderful on you.” The Ghost explained almost ecstatically, unaware of the plight this information was currently giving me before the Ghost's final words reached my mind.

“I…Thank you?” The compliment caught me off guard as my gaze switched between the Ghost and the blood-stained sand that was beginning to be blown away by the wind. The blood… It had to have been mine, there's no other explanation. I…I died. Not injured and healed. Not knocked unconscious and awoken. I actually returned from the other side. My actual death…was reversed.

This ‘Ghost’ was telling the truth.

Well…that certainly changed things. “Do you know my name?” I asked, might as well see if the little diamond at least knew that before bringing me back.

“No.” Dammit. “But I can give you one?” Okay… better, “How does Queeny sound?” NO!

“I would rather die again than be called ‘Queeny’!” I hissed out with barely restrained aggression, “Also, where did you even come up with that name?!” Once again my temper erupted at the utterance of that title. It seems some vestige of the previous ‘me’ still remains. And that included a complete and utter hatred for that nickname. A hatred I support entirely.

“T-the c-c-crown that's g-growing out of your h-head.” The Ghost stuttered out with what sounded like fear as they darted behind my back legs and into my tail.

Bringing my hoof up to check I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did, in fact, have a crown growing out of my teal mane. Perhaps… I was some type of royalty? No, then the crown would be an accessory, this one is growing out of my head. Perhaps I’m… a royal species, a higher caste, a Queen perhaps? Yeah, I like the sound of that. Queen, that will be my name until my old one is found.

“You will call me ‘Queen’ until I discover what my old name was,” I commanded like the royalty I was. Yeah, that rolled off the tongue nicely.

“C-could I perhaps call you ‘Guardian’ as well?” The voice of the ghost seemed so small as they left their hiding spot in my lime green tail, their shell hanging low. I watched the ghost float back up to eye-level as I brought my hoof to my chin in thought. My tongue ran idly over my fangs as I ruminated on their request.

“I will permit it on this one occasion but no other. However, when we are out of here you will refer to me as ‘Queen’” I acquiesce this one time, it was the least I could do for them since they brought me back from death, but no more. Once the words left my mouth, it looked like a switch had been flipped as the drooping shell of the Ghost suddenly sprung back to life.

“Yay!” The sheer childlike happiness that ‘yay’ radiated was so infectious I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head in response. Anyway, with my naming now out of the way, we could focus on getting out of this desert. If I stayed out here any longer I would literally begin to cook in my exoskeleton.

“Now, do you know what direction leads towards civilization? As much as I am enjoying our introductions I would prefer not to die of dehydration.”

“Oh, you needn’t worry about that!” Well, that's good to kn-“ If you die I’ll just bring you back!” And there it is.

“Well, as…comforting as that sound, I would rather not.”

“Understandable, you're still getting used to this whole ‘Guardian’ and ‘Light’ business. Best not go testing your immortality right away, right?” The ghost looked at me as if one were trying to bump shoulders, not realizing that they did not have a shoulder to bump with.

They seemed to notice after several moments and instead flew down and lightly tapped their shell against my chitin. It felt…warm to the touch. I just shrugged it off, and let the Ghost have their fun. I would rather not ruin this strange relationship we now found ourselves in.

‘Queen and Ghost’ Sounds like the title of a bad horror romance novel. Now that I thought about it, did the Ghost have a name?

“Ghost? Do you have a name?” I ask the little diamond currently…rubbing against my shoulder?

“Hmm? Oh!” They ceased in their rubbing and flew back up to my eye level. “ Atarah. My name is Atarah.”

“Well Atarah let us leave this desert then, shall we?”

“I believe we shall. Let me just check my compass and…” The green eye Atarah had closed. Or at least I think it was closed, the light that was their eye simply vanished from view for a few seconds.”There!” Her shell spun around her core briefly in happiness before pointing with one of the shards that orbited her. “30 kilometers thataway!”

I had no idea what type of measurement unit these ‘Kilometers’ were and frankly, I didn’t want to ask, it would just make the walk longer. With a nod towards Atarah, I began to walk out of the grave I had woken up in. To my side, there was a *whoosh* of displaced air where Atarah once floated. She had vanished.

I looked around confused, I could have sworn she was right next to me.

‘Don’t worry I’m still here.’ Atarah’s response resonated inside my mind.

“Where did…”

‘Sorry, trade secret.’

I could just *feel* the smirk in that answer as I continued our trek out of the desert.

“Fine just warn me next time you decide to pull another one of your ‘trade secrets’”

‘Will do, Guardian’

What could only be described as a *Squeee* reverberated through my mind. Its pitch made me wince.

‘Oh! Sorry…it is just so exciting to finally find my Chosen, my Guardian.’

“Yes, now your ‘Guardian’ would like to be called Queen from now on. I may not have my memories, but I do have standards. Now tell me…What does being chosen as a Guardian mean? You say I am able to wield something known as ‘the Light’. How do I do that?”

‘When the time comes, you’ll know what to do.’

I stopped dead in my tracks. “Really?” I ask the empty air almost in exacerbation.

‘Sorry…’

“…Fine, whatever,” I say before continuing to trek across the desert. “Can you at least tell me what being a Guardian entails now that I, apparently, am one now?”

‘That I can! We are chosen to fight against the Darkness and protect the Traveller and its Light! The, uhh, last part…doesn't really apply here. It was kinda, sorta, implied that the trip here would be one way by the big guy soooo…’

“Sooooo?”

‘I-I guess we’ll find out together what being a Guardian means. Otherwise, the Traveller would have never brought me here to find you.’ I would have to ask about this ‘Traveller’ later but right now the heat was starting to get on my nerves.

“Yes, well, enough speaking of this Traveller. The first order of business will be getting out of this desert and finding out who I am. After all, If I don’t know where I came from, how will I know where I’m supposed to go?”

‘Then… eyes up, Guardian! We’ve got a wasteland to cross! Eeee, I’ve always wanted to say that!’ Atarah attempted to whisper that last part but due to it literally originating from my own mind, I heard it perfectly.

Looking back briefly towards what had been my grave, my mind began to wonder. I would be lying to myself if I said I didn’t feel some trepidation about what was to come. Is what killed me still out there? Would they return and finish the Job should they find out about my resurrection? Is seeking out my past life really worth the danger it may pose?

Well… whatever happens, I won’t squander this ‘Second Chance’ I have been granted by this ‘Light’ and Atarah.

I won’t repeat the actions that killed me.

With my resolve steeled I turned my back on the crater and began to walk into the sand dunes. My journey into this new life has begun, and I have no idea where it will lead.

Chapter Two | Light

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I wandered through the desert for what must have been hours. The Sun bore down on me constantly as the temperature of my outer shell began to reach dangerous heights. I had begun to use my wings as fans by buzzing them rapidly in some vain attempt to cool myself. You may have been wondering why I didn’t just fly my way out of this desert using said wings.

Well ordinarily you would be right but it appears as if my memory loss also included that simple skill. That didn’t stop me from trying though even if that did mean taking several more face-fulls of sand. At least I wasn’t alone though, Atarah’s constant cheering on and attempts at tips certainly eased the wounds my pride was receiving.

Another vestige of my previous life it seemed, this need to be above or respected. Even if I was, for all intents and purposes, completely alone with a companion that wanted nothing more than to help me. The feeling of failure that every face full of sand gave me struck deep, even if I knew it shouldn’t have to that degree. Atarah’s presence did ease that sting with her words of reassurance that ‘Every newly Risen has gone through this, you’ll get through it soon enough’

So I continued to wander through this desert. And wander…and wander… there really isn’t a single cloud in the sky huh?

“Hey, Atarah?”

‘Yes?’

“How much time until Sunset?”

‘About, hmmm… Six hours?’

“Huh, okay.”

Hey visions…starting to get a bit blurry now…

Is…is that…smoke I smell?

Y-yeah…I think…I think I’m going to go lie down now…

*thump*


I gasped loudly as my consciousness returned and my eyes wide shot open. Instantly realizing my mistake I bought my hoof up to block the blinding light that was no doubt awaiting me. I braced myself only to feel…nothing?

Now that I thought about it, the air around me seemed…cool? Cold even, what?

I squinted my eyes and opened them ever so slightly. It was dark, no… I could see the moon, it was night! Sitting up from my lying down position on my back, my spine gave multiple satisfying *pops* as I stretched myself out.

“What happened?” I ask as Atarah floats down into my field of vision, her green eye illuminating our surroundings.

“Well… you died, again. Heatstroke and 3rd-degree burns across your body did you in. I decided it best to wait until nightfall before resurrecting you!” The construct responds cheerfully throwing my mind through a loop.

“Oh…well, thank you,” I respond absently, my mind trying to process what the Ghost had just said.

“Don’t mention it!” Responded Atarah happily once again, unknowing of my shock, as she began to orbit around me once again. “ Now let's go! Maybe an hour of walking and we’ll finally be out of this desert!”

“Okay…” I can’t believe I died again. I-I didn’t even feel any pain or well…anything! Everything just went black and poof awake again! I…I need a moment.

“Hey, uhh, Queen? You, alright? You're kinda just…sitting there.”

“Yeah, I’m fine just…give me a moment to think.”

“Oh, I understand what's happening.” Atarah flew down and began to rub against my cheek. It was… comforting. “You’ll get used to it. It's just a natural part of being a Guardian now.”

“I get that. You’ve said so multiple times before but that won’t make it any easier on me these first few times.” I responded. If anything I was disappointed that was how I died and got resurrected the first time. It felt…really embarrassing, would be the best way to put it.

“Just you wait, Queen. Once you manifest the Light for the first time you’ll forget all about this!” The Ghost exclaimed enthusiastically. “And don’t you look all ashamed of yourself there, I knew of a guardian that died mere moments after being risen the first time because they tripped and broke their neck!” She began to giggle and I couldn’t help but feel my own starting to build up.

“You think he would have learned after the first time but nope! They died seventeen more times via tripping before they were found by the others!” Atarah laughed heartily at the story and I soon found myself laughing loudly alongside her.

“W-what happened to them afterward?” I managed to ask through my laughter which was beginning to die down. Atarah continued, a smile was audible in her voice.

“They actually became a pretty well-respected guardian after a time, he actually takes that moment in stride! Even calls himself ‘Trip’” Huh…that’s nice to hear. Atarah continued after taking a moment to calm down. “So you got nothing to worry about, Queen! Eventually, you’ll look back on this moment and smile. That the strong warrior you're destined to be had such humble beginnings. A nice story to help inspire people dontcha think?”

She had a point there, it would make for an inspirational story if what she said would come to pass. And frankly, with the confidence her voice was emanating, I was starting to believe it myself.

Getting up to my hooves, a slight smile on my face, I turned to look at Atarah. “Well, I’m not going to become that warrior just sitting here am I?”

“That you are not, so let's get moving.” Responded Atarah happily as her singular eye closed once more in thought. “ The end of the desert isn’t too far away now, if we go now we should reach the bordering forest by daybreak.”

“And daybreak is in?”

“4 hours”

“Ah…well, at least it’s not hot”


After hours upon hours of walking, I had finally made it. Soon I would be out of this damnable desert that had killed me twice already and I would be damned if that happened for a third time. The sand beneath my holed hooves began to harden as its malleable surface was replaced with hard rock and dirt.

Plants began to become visible and I could see light green trees against the rising sun. Clouds dotted the sky above the canopy and I couldn’t help but curse them slightly for not being there yesterday. It might have saved me the death back there if I had some sort of shade.

I looked down at the offending jet-black exoskeleton. I am sure it will be incredibly useful in the future, having built-in armor and all that, but it did get me killed out there in the sun. I made a mental note to avoid any future deserts for the time being.

“So Atarah now that we are out of that damnable desert, we should find civilization. I take it?” The sound of Atarah materializing filled my ears as she appeared before my eyes once again.

“Yep! Now let me see.” She closed her eye as her shell spun around her core briefly. “Aha! About twenty minutes away is a road, we can follow that and we’ll end up in a town in no time. There you should be able to find some answers. Oh oh maybe someone there is in need of help!”

“I doubt that”

“You never know…” Atarah finished with what sounded like an attempt to mimic a ghost as her voice wobbled before she vanished back too… wherever it was she went doing that. I just smiled slightly and shook my head at her antics as I continued into the forest.

It wasn’t a particularly dense forest allowing me a nice amount of visibility in every direction. The canopy above me however was thick with leaves, allowing for only little rays of sunlight to shine through. Birdsongs filled the air and it was quite soothing on the ears. A nice change of pace compared to the silence of the desert.

Some leaves began to rustle above me but I paid it no mind, it was probably some bird searching through the leaves for food. Speaking of since I awakened after my second…death. I haven't felt hungry at all. Was it perhaps a side effect of my new status? The birds had since ceased in their singing since I began my ruminations.

The leaves above me rustled once more with much more force knocking multiple branches loose. What is going on up ther-AAAA!








I gasped as oxygen rushed to fill my empty lungs. I opened my eyes and jumped up to my hooves. I remembered that feeling, I didn’t need to be told by Atarah what had happened. Loud growls and the sound of gnashing teeth filled my ears as my eyes locked with what had just killed me.

It was an animal, a large avian carnivore of some sort with light-blue and green feathers covering its wings and torso. Big slitted orange-colored eyes met my eyes and stared. The creature began to crouch low, jagged and green bloodied teeth bared and snapping.

This was not good. I didn’t have any weapons and my armor would only halt those teeth for so long. My horn could have worked as a makeshift weapon as it did look quite sharp but I doubt that creature would allow me to get close enough to impale them upon it.

My eyes frantically searched for anything I could use to defend myself. A rock, a branch I would have even taken a slightly larger than average leaf if I saw any lying around. There were none, I was defenseless… and then I remembered what Atarah said.

The Light… She said I could use it as a weapon, but how?! The creature took a step forward and I took a step back in response. The predator didn’t like that apparently as it snarled and began to sprint towards me. I had but seconds before I would be yet another smear of blood against its feathers.

That's when I felt it. A whisper at first, then a sentence before finally a scream, as I felt the dormant energy inside of me explode outwards with the force of an exploding star.

Flames engulfed my body, and yet, it did not burn my carapace. My insectile wings began to buzz and glow as they were engulfed by flames that expanded outwards behind me. Creating a large pair of flaming wings that extended from my back. Instincts I didn’t know I had until that moment took over as I dodged to the right leaving a trail of burning Light in my wake.

The creature howled in rage and pain as their flesh was burned leaving their side open to attack. Not one to let an opportunity like this waste, I instinctively gathered my energy towards the tip of my hoof. Right before my eyes, I watched the flames coalesce and reform into a blade of pure burning Light.

With a battle cry, I drove the blade into the creature's belly and twisted. Their flesh vaporized and turned to ash the moment it came in contact with my blade, but I wasn't done yet. Energy began to gather at the base of my horn before coalescing towards its tip creating what can only be described as a miniature sun.

The creature, now writing in pain and attempting to remove themselves from my burning blade, struck out and managed to sink their teeth into my other front hoof. Pain exploded throughout the limb as my chitin began to crack under the strain. But in the creature's desperate attempt to kill me they had only sealed their own demise.

With a whip of my head, I drove my horn into the creature's neck before willing the ball of flame at the tip of my horn to explode. Seconds later the creature was gone, its body having been vaporized to ash leaving only a black silhouette against the green grass below.

The flames that had engulfed my body began to recede and extinguish. My wings returned to their original coloring as their flaming extensions vanished as if they were never there.

“Eeeeeeeeeee! You did it! You used the Light!” I looked to my side and found Atarah floating happily next to me before her eye suddenly locked onto my injured limb. “Oh! You're hurt.” She flew down to inspect the damaged chitin. Suddenly a bright light emanated from Atarah’s eye and within moments my exoskeleton was healed.

Curious, I brought my hoof up to eye level to inspect it. It looked good as new as if there was never an injury there, to begin with. I nodded towards Atarah with a smile as thank you.

“So how did it feel?! To wield the Light for the first time?” Atarah asked enthusiastically, her shell turning into a blur at how fast it was spinning.

“It felt…really good,” I answered honestly. Its feeling was…indescribable but it most definitely felt… really good. “Is there a name for what I did?” I ask, might as well name that ability if it was to become a permanent part of my arsenal.

“Yes! You used an aspect of the Warlock Sunsingers, an ability known as ‘daybreak’ where you let your burning Light explode and radiate out from you like the sun itself!” Now that sounds…interesting. Sunsinging, huh…. if it weren't for the fact the Sun and I weren't on the best terms right now I would find that name far more appealing.

Deep down I could now feel the light inside of me, its power warming my insides as if I were sitting comfortably in front of a cozy fireplace. I wonder if there were other ways to utilize this Light. If it's able to create fire from nothing, what else could it create if I gave it the right…push.

My mind began racing with possibilities as I continued towards the distant road. My next stop would be civilization and hopefully some answers regarding my previous life.

Chapter Three | Life

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I had found the road shortly after my…encounter with that predator and the awakening of my Light. Even now I could still feel its comforting warmth flowing through my veins. Deciding to pick a direction at random I began to follow the slight dirt road that cut through the forest.

The sounds of birdsong had since returned and they even seemed to be following me as If I radiated some aura of safety for these birds. The song was soothing background noise as my mind kept on returning to this power I now wielded.

“Atarah? Now that I have awakened my Light…is it possible to learn more about it?”

With a flash of light, Atarah emerged. “There is! Although it will be time-consuming and hard to accomplish from what I could gather from other ghosts. So take what I’m about to say with a little grain of salt.”

“Atarah, I know literally nothing about any of this. Anything you can tell me would help.”

“Oh, right hehe.” The Ghost responded cheekily. “So anyway from what I know it involves quite a bit of meditation of the nature of the light itself. It's then up to you to discover its other aspects. Right now you are a Sunsinger and your light burns like the sun itself. Currently, your Light is attuned to the aspect of flame, hence your earlier form.” Atarah explained as I listened along intently, taking mental notes wherever possible.

“There are more attunements to your light you have yet to experience but as you grow more connected with your light those attunements will come naturally.”

“What are these other attunements? Can you tell me their names?”

“Yep! They’re the attunements of Grace and Sky and all together they represent the various aspects of fire.” Interesting…very interesting.

“Is that all?” Atarah laughed at my question.

“No, not at all, my dear Queen. There are more elements of the light to discover but you’ll find them yourself in time. I can’t overwhelm you now can I?” She did have a point. As much as I would love to see what else I could do with the Light it would be prudent to focus on this one aspect, this one ‘Element’ for now.

The rest of the journey continued in silence down the road with only the sounds of birdsong filling the cool air. The Sun stood at its zenith when civilization came into view on the horizon.

From where I stood it looked like a simple village. Wooden homes, brick buildings, and the distinct backdrop of chimney smoke rising into the deep blue sky. I could see small silhouettes flying above and through the various homes, their forms too large at this distance to be any reasonably sized avian.

As I began to close the distance I could begin to grasp more detail of those ‘birds’ I could see. They appeared to either be of the same species or some close relative of that predator I had dealt with earlier but these creatures seemed a lot more civilized than their counterpart.

Their bodies were covered in feathers of various shades of brown and white with a distinct line separating the two colors across the sides of their head and neck. A golden, or yellowish, beak protruded from their faces as large feathery wings sprouted from their back.

Their limbs, however, is where it got interesting. Their front limbs looked like that of any other bird with sharp talons and golden leathery skin. Their back legs however were the opposite with them more resembling that of a furred mammalian predator with paws instead of talons. The same appeared to go for their tail which was long and thin with a tuft of fur at the end.

A quite unique fusion of biology I had to admit, let’s just hope my insectile look won’t make me their prey. I mean if it did it really didn’t mean much, if they killed me Atarah would just bring me back.

Wow, I just realized how weird that is to say. I have really got to get used to this idea that death really doesn't…mean much, if anything, to me anymore. If, no…When I die it's just a minor inconvenience to me as I wait for Atarah to revive me so why shouldn’t I just stroll into town and say hello? The only thing I would lose, if they are indeed hostile, is my time.

So with confidence that only realizing that death was meaningless could provide I held my chin up high and entered the outskirts of town.

Almost instantly I could feel a change in the air as I was spotted by passersby but it was not the change I had anticipated. Instead of the hostility, I expected all I got was…curiosity. But not some type of fearful curiosity that made them watch from behind closed curtains or shut doors. It was more…cordial would be the best way to put it.

Of course, it could all be a trick and it was to lure me into a false sense of security but that's why I had Atarah. Moving deeper into the town I could most definitely tell I had made myself known. A certain silence descended upon the normally bustling town square.

The loud conversation stopped as more and more eyes began to watch me with only minor whispers audible now.

“Ahem, hello?” I greet the now-silent crowd with a small wave of my holed hoof.

“Hello!” Came a small shout from somewhere within the crowd, its origin most definitely a child of some sort. Then it seemed as if some switch had been flipped on the populous as their normal conversations resumed and their staring ceased.

“Well, that was…interesting,” I say to myself quietly as I sit down on a nearby empty bench.

‘You're telling me. I was standing by for resurrection that entire time!’

“Ah don’t mind em, ma’am, it is ma’am right? We jus’ don’t get many visitors round ‘ere.” An elder member of their species spoke as they took a seat next to me with an old cane in talon. “Them griff’s jus’ needed ta’ see if ya was some wild animal by hearing you’s speak.” He held out one of his talons. “Ya passed tha’ test. Welcome to Grifton, tha’ town at tha’ end of tha’ world, names Claw Ironbelt.”

I took his talon and shook it. “Queen” I respond

“Now is that yer’ title or yer’ name?” He asked, gaze rising to the crown growing out of my head

“Name, I came here looking to find my actual one since I woke up in the desert not too far from here without any memories at all.”

“Yer woke up in tha’ Deathlands'?! By my great uncles' feathers, you must be one crazy lady, that place is crawling with monsters that’ll tear yer head off if yous’ not careful! Let alone without yer memories!” I brought my hoof up to my neck in reflex.

“Yeah, I’ve noticed. Current theory is that I was attacked by one of those creatures and they left me for dead. Do you maybe know someone who could help me find out who I am?” I lied, if I told him what actually happened he might write me off as crazy and I’ll be back at square one.

“With a face like yous’ it won’t be hard!” The old Claw laughed. “ But in all seriousness, I know that a caravan comes through here on their trip through the mountains to and from the Capital every few weeks. If anyone knows yer face they’ll be there. Their toll to ride along however is quite expensive. And I doubt you got any talons stashed away in those holes of yours.”

“Talons?”

“Money yer nincompoop!” Claw exclaimed as he pulled out a small silver coin and showed it to me. Ah.. right… I’m broke here. But hey! On the bright side, I’ve got a lead! If anyone knew who I was it would be there, and if not I’m certain there would be something that would point me in the right direction.

The first order of business then would be money to pay for that ride. I probably could have just left town then and attempted the trek by hoof but that would take way too long. From where I was sitting I could see the mountains Claw was referencing and yeah, they did not look like fun to climb.

“Oh, sorry…Do you maybe know somewhere in town where I can earn some Talons then?” Getting somewhere to sleep for the night would also be nice even if I didn’t feel at all tired after this day I’ve had.

“Well…yer face ain’t the best for waitin’ tables.” Ouch, but understandable. “ And yer say yer came from the Deathlands… Try the Hunters Lodge, it’s the third left down the main street. Big sword hanging by the door, yer can’t miss it. I think you'll find yourself right at home with young Taris down there.” Claw pointed with a wing down the main road and for some reason a smirk was growing on his face.

“Thank you Claw, you’ve been a massive help.” I smile in thanks as I make to stand up.

“Don’t mention it. No, seriously, don’t. I got a reputation to keep. Can’t have young ladies saying I’ve gone soft.” I just smirked back at the old bird and left him to his devices.

Following Claw’s directions, I found the building in no time. It seems word about my arrival spread quickly as no one on the surprisingly barren street paid me any mind. A feeling I preferred now that I thought about it. Hiding in plain sight. Another vestige of my old personality it seemed. Could I have been some type of royal in exile, hiding from usurpers to my throne?

I couldn’t be sure unless the truth of my identity was found, all I had was theories for now. Or at least I would have until I opened that door to the Hunters lodge because sitting atop a ladder on the far wall, their back towards me and wings buzzing up a storm was a little equine-shaped from that looked just…like…me.

‘Well, that certainly simplified things, doesn’t it Queen?’

Chapter Four | Past

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Stunned by the luck that had befallen me I didn’t bother holding the door open behind me causing it to slam shut violently in a gust of wind. With a yelp and further buzzing of their wings, the creature fell to the ground behind the counter. A green light and the sound of rushing flames emanated from where the creature had fallen before suddenly a beaked face looked up from behind the counter. “Can’t you read the sign we’re clo-“

Their eyes locked onto mine as another rush of green flame surrounded the creature. And I watched as the biggest fanged smile I had ever seen grew on their face as they suddenly launched themselves with buzzing wings right into my chest. I got knocked back and soon felt the door press against my wings.

“Your alive, you're alive, oh by the hive you're alive!” I could hear them mumble into my chest as they pressed their muzzle as much as they could into my chitin. I was left… dumbfounded really. What was I supposed to do in this situation? Should I…push them off? Embrace them as well? I was expecting many things…this was none of them.

In the end, I just decided to let…whatever this was, run its course. That thankfully took only several moments as the little equine removed their face from my chitin and looked up at me with their large compound eyes. Said eyes suddenly shrunk as the creature realized what it had just done and began to backpedal away from me.

“My Queen, I-I’m so sorry! I was just…. just so happy to see you alive! Everyling thinks you’re dead! ” the creature exclaimed as they suddenly went into what I assumed to be a bow.

“That's not entirely inaccurate.”

“W-...what do you mean? My Queen are you alright?” The little equine asked with a small tilt of their head.

“Depends on your definition of alright, my little…” I circle my hoof to prompt their answer.

“Ezra, my Queen.”

“Alright… Ezra. Now what I’m about to tell you is going to sound strange, crazy even but you must believe me.”

“Of course, my Queen!”


“I don’t believe it.”

Yeah…I was expecting that answer. Ezra had since invited me into the backrooms of this building where a type of sitting room had been set up. I had placed myself on the large couch that occupied the far wall whilst Ezra was currently pacing around in front of me.

“Like, this has to be a joke right my Queen?” Ezra looked at me with a laugh and eyes full of hope. I had to dash them.

“Unfortunately no, my dear Ezra. I have no memories to speak of since I woke up in that desert.”

“But wait, it's the Deathlands out there! An entire continent away from Equestria! It took me days to travel here! Not to mention it's been over a week since the invasion. How did you survive out there my Queen, let alone without your memories?”

“I *ahem* didn’t”

“What? My Queen are you alright?”

“I am…” Just how on am I going to explain this…oh screw it I’ll leave it to Atarah. “Atarah? Can you please explain this?” I whisper to myself

‘Gotcha, Queen’ I hear the Ghost exclaim as they appear floating next to me in a flash of light.

“Hello!”

“Ahh! W-w-what is that?!” Ezra exclaimed, voice full of fear and surprise as they tumbled onto their back and began to backpedal into a nearby chair.

“This, Ezra.” I begin pointing at the…posing… Ghost. I…Okay, I'm just not going to question what goes on in that constructed mind anymore. “Is the reason I am sitting here in front of you, without any memories to speak of. As well as the explanation as to how I survived in the Deathlands.”

“Hi! My name is Atarah and I’m your Queen's Ghost!”

“I, um..uhh what?” Ezra looked at me, eyes full of desperation for answers.

“This may sound hard to believe.” As if the rest of this wasn’t already.” But Atarah here…resurrected me…from the dead.”

“B-b-b-but t-that m-means y-your a l-l-lich! And y-you've come h-here to f-feat on my s-s-soul!” Excuse me, what. I would never! Even with the completely baffled look resting upon my face and the massive question mark, Atarah’s shell had reformed itself into looking like, Ezra began to hyperventilate.

“Ezra, dear, honey, little bug friend.” Began Atarah in what I can assume to be some vain attempt to calm Ezra down. It didn’t really work as the terrified little bug crawled away from the approaching construct.

This couldn’t stand, I wasn’t going to get any answers like this if my best source of information seems to be stuck in the middle of a completely irrational panic attack. Because I most certainly did not resemble a ‘Lich’! In Fact, I find the very notion utterly distasteful!

I needed to end Ezra’s fear right here and now, so let's use a little ‘Royal privilege’ to end this now.

“Ezra as your Queen I command you to sit down, shut up, and listen to what we are trying to explain!” I exclaimed in my most regal and royal voice possible. Ezra froze and followed the orders to the letter as if his very life depended on it.

Now he sat before me once again, eyes still switching between myself and Atarah with glints of fear, but it was contained. I was quite surprised that he did indeed follow my orders with such haste, it was almost as if his life quite literally depended on his obedience.

“Now, Ezra, I want to make this clear.” I began calmly hoping to ease his fears. “I am not a lich. I am not here to eat your soul and neither is Atarah.”

“The correct term for Queen would actually be ‘Risen’ and yes we are not here to ‘eat souls’ the Light is far more efficient.” Added the little construct as I watched Ezra’s eyes intently. The fear was starting to subside…somewhat at least.

“Anyway, correct terminology aside. Ezra, until one day ago I was dead and rotting in the Deathlands until Atarah came along. Apparently, I have been ‘chosen’ and thus was resurrected by Atarah here using a power called ‘The Light’. Don’t ask me what it is, I don’t know.” I shut down that question before he could ask it. “The Price of this resurrection however took all of my memories of my previous life. I don’t know my name, I don’t know where I am, I don’t even know what species we are or what we eat. The fact I was able to stumble across you is a miracle. So please, my dear Ezra, tell me: Who am I? What are we? What killed me?”

Silence permeated the room with only the dulled sounds of Atarah’s orbiting shell preventing an awkward situation. I could almost see the gears turning in Ezra’s head as he processed the information. His gaze lingered on Atarah before he slowly, ever so carefully, poked the construct eliciting a giggle from the little diamond.

“That tickles!”

“Okay…okay! I forget just how many magical artifacts there are yet to be discovered… So!” He clapped his holed hooves together. “I get to give the Queen a crash course in the entirety of recent changeling history, great.” He did not sound the most… enthusiastic, he almost sounded worried. But no matter, my reign couldn’t have been that bad, right?

“I would suggest starting with my name.”

“Ah, right, yes. It is Chrysalis, my Queen.” Chrysalis hmm… yes, I believe I’ll keep it. Certainly rolls of the tongue and through the fangs nicely. “And we are changelings, a race of shapeshifters that feeds on love. You are our Queen.” I inspected my holed hoof as he mentioned shapeshifting. A race that feeds on emotion and can shapeshift. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that stealth and subterfuge are our evolutionary specialty.

The fact that we fed on an emotion didn’t really phase me with my mind simply accepting that as fact. That did beg the question of why I hadn’t felt any hunger yet. Could our race perhaps sustain ourselves for longer periods of time on a single meal or was Atarah and the Light doing more than I had realized.

“If I may ask: How regularly do we need to feed on love?.” Might as well answer that question, it would be good to know for the future.

“Every day. The, uh, maximum we can go without love is 5 days. After that…” Okay…can I last longer on less then? Or perhaps the hunger pangs would begin tomorrow. I will need to keep an eye out then for any…sources… of food. Maybe the emotions of the avaians here are also edible?

Snapping out of my thoughts I focus my gaze on Erza once again. His eyes looked…forlorn, almost full of sadness even.

”Are you okay?”

“Sorry, my Queen. We are all…intimately familiar with that time limit. It is not something one discusses in the presence of royalty.”

“Tell me, what happened during my reign?”

“Famine, death, war… My Queen.” He looked me in the eye, tears threatening to spill out. “ I never thought I’d live to see my race die.”

“Please tell me…What happened.”

And so he did, and I was left speechless.

I was not a benevolent monarch in the years leading up to my death. I was at one point according to Ezra, but something changed. My mood, which was apparently quite bright, soured more easily and punishments for failure became harsher. The supply of love we had sustained ourselves on had begun to dry up allowing for less and less to be hoofed out freely. A disease known as the ‘Withering‘ had struck our food sources population, preventing us from gathering enough food to stay afloat

Eggs stopped hatching shortly after, and our race was on the road to ruin. But as the end began an opportunity arose that would have catapulted our race back from the brink of extinction. The disease that had affected the ponies was cured and I sent out for more love to be collected…yet it was still not enough. I had become paranoid, maniacal, and megalomaniacal as the shortage got ever worse as I began hoarding my own supply to remain in power.

We only had one choice left, and that was to forgo secrecy and conquer our food source directly with a swift attack on their capital known as canterlot. Our chances were slim to none but something had to be done. I ordered the attack with everything we had left with myself taking point by impersonating a bride. And in what I can assume to be some cruel stroke of irony, we were repelled by the very substance we had come to collect.

I…didn’t know what to think as I watched Ezra recount our history. Recount my descent into madness and paranoia. The fall of everything the changeling race had built. I didn’t need any further proof, the look in Erza’s eyes said it all. I pulled my gaze away and to the floor.

I…I couldn’t bear to see that look.

“Why…why are you helping me then?” I ask, my voice as soft as a light breeze. “After all I’ve done…After how I failed you all…You should be screaming at me…”

“Many would, I'm sure.” Laughed Ezra mirthlessly. “But I saw what you did before we were scattered.”

“W…What did I do?”

“You stopped the pony's retaliation long enough for a majority of us to escape. We watched you stop the ponies barrier all by yourself. It showed us that even though it all, you would sacrifice yourself in a heartbeat for us, even if it meant your death.” I saw out of the corner of my eye how his gaze now followed Atarah.

I looked up from the ground with hopeful eyes, I could now see a small and comforting smile resting upon his face. I could also feel the corners of my mouth begin to upturn slightly.

“Thank you… but I’m not fit to be your Queen… I caused the end of our race, I led you all to your doom. We don’t even have a home anymore…”

“My Queen. Obviously, you’ve done something right as I don't believe your little construct here would have revived you otherwise.”

“The Traveller and the Light chose you for a reason, Queen. Don’t forget that.”

Atarah was right. She has told me so many times before that I am not some victim of random chance and fate. Atarah was brought here for me. This Light and Traveller saw something in me and allowed me to be resurrected and to wield its power. I power I had already felt a taste of. Could this be why I was chosen?

To bring my race back from destruction? To reunite my people under a new banner? A banner of light…To return not as the tyrant that brought our race to ruin…but as the beacon of Light, our race so desperately needs right now. Yeah… I think I like the sound of that.

With this new power, I will take back what we have lost. I will reverse the mistakes of my past and lead the changeling race into the Light!

I could almost feel the flaming Light within burn-in excitement as my goal was made clear to me. Standing tall I looked my Ghost and Ezra in the eye, a faint multicolored glow of Light seeping out from between my exoskeleton plates.

“Ezra, I know you have no reason to follow me. I led us all to ruin, I exposed our race and scattered our species. But if you would give me a second chance, and follow me on my journey to reunite our species and bring them into the Light, I will need your help to complete this goal.”

“My Queen, as if you had to ask.”