Taken In

by Speedy Quill

Chapter 1: Discovery

Load Full Story Next Chapter

I fell to the ground in exhaustion. Of course I'd been dealing with exhaustion for almost a year. So how could I have survived this long?

I honestly don't know.

I had wandered this forest for months. I had been utterly alone. The rest of my kind had been launched all the way back to the mountains. Back to the caves we crawled out of.

Not me.

I had fallen to the forest floor at top speed.

I had been left behind.

And they never tried to find me...

My kind always have had a mental connection with our Queen. I could feel that connection for the first week in the woods. And then she pulled away. She refused to sustain me, her lone soldier. She had abandoned me.

I was truly alone.

And it scared me...

I pulled myself through the dirt with no concern for the pain it caused me. I had wounds all over my body. Most of them had been caused since I had dropped into this leafy abyss.
I had always thought that I was one of the most feared creatures in Equestria. The ponies of Canterlot had run in terror from my kind. Now I know differently. Now I feel like nothing. I have seen true monsters in this forest.

I am nothing.

I...am nothing....


Zecora paused on her journey home. She had heard a sound that she had never heard before. That was something considering she knew of all the Everfree creatures.

The zebra stepped off the forest path to investigate. She parted the bushes to see a black, bloodied mass. Her eyes widened.

"Creature of darkness, you pitiful soul. You've dug yourself into quite the hole."

The changeling looked up. She could see it was wounded and that it had been out here a long time. She knew that this creature was dangerous. Or at least it used to be dangerous. But she couldn't help but pity it. She sighed to herself, still unsure of the decision she had made.

"Now it's time for hate to end. I'll help you heal and find a friend."


The first thing I remember when I woke up was that I was no longer lying in dirt. I was on something much softer. Was this... Was this a bed? Why was there a bed in the middle of the forest? Unless...
I sat up and looked around. I was in a house! Actually...more like a dirt house. There was a window to my right. I looked out to see that I was still in the forest. Who in their right mind would have a house in the forest?!

"You are awake and that is good. Would you like some tasty food?"

I turned around to see the strangest creature. At first I thought she was a pony, but that went out the window really fast. She wasn't like any pony I'd ever seen before. Her entire body was covered in stripes. And she spoke funny.
And she had just offered me food. What exactly did ponies, or whatever she was for that matter, consider food? I had known nothing but sucking the love out of ponies. And I had only gotten to do that a few times.
The striped creature set a platter in front of me. It had brightly colored orbs covering it. I picked up a red orb and sniffed it. It didn't smell bad. I thought for a moment, recalling how ponies usually ate. They used their mouths, right? My kind just absorb love. We never needed our mouths except for attacking.
I set my teeth against the orb and bit down... Hmm. Not bad. Not as filling as a pony's emotions, but still. It tastes pretty good.
The creature smiled at me and went away. I could see her doing something over by a cauldron. There were puffs of green and pink smoke every minute or so. Was she magic? She turned back to me and held up a vial.

"A potion to help you gain your strength. And to help you sleep for a perfect length."

Strength? Length? What was with her and the rhymes?!
She stepped towards me with the vial. My head finally put everything together. She was going to make me drink what was in that vial. The gaining strength sounded good, but I didn't want to get knocked out.
I hissed at her in warning. She didn't even flinch! She held the vial out, and nodded. I was supposed to take it willingly?!
We sat in silence for minutes. She never moved a muscle. My head began to pound and I sighed. I took the vial and drank the contents. It tasted fairly good actually. I handed her the vial and nodded my thanks.
And then the room spun around as my head hit the pillow.


Twilight stepped back to examine her work. She had finally found time to organize her personal library. That was the best perk of being a princess. She had never had so many books all to herself! The doors opened and Spike ran in.

"Twilight! Princess Celestia says we're going back to Ponyville!"

Twilight beamed.

"That's great news! But why are we going?"

"I don't know, but she said that we're leaving immediately."

A sigh escaped Twilight as she looked around at her library. Her reading marathon would have to wait.
Spike led the way to Celestia's study. They entered to find the princess sitting comfortably, reading a scroll. She looked up as the two entered.

"Thank you for coming so quickly Twilight. Spike informed you?"

Twilight nodded.

"Yes. But why am I going? Not that I don't want to! I definitely want to!"

"The Summer Sun Celebration is coming up soon and I would like Ponyville to host again. Are you up for organizing it again?"

"Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes!"

Twilight was skipping around the princess. When she realized what she was doing, she stopped. Her face turned red and she backed towards the door.

"I'll leave right away."

The young princess ran back to her room. She pulled out her saddlebag and began cramming it full. There was no way that she was leaving all of her new books untouched. So why not take one or ten? She paused, looking at the bulging bag.

"Hmm... I could probably fit a couple more."

There was a knock at the door and a guard stepped in.

"Princess? Your chariot is ready."

Twilight rolled her eyes and smiled. "How many times have I told you to just call me Twilight, Flash."

"At least a dozen."

She giggled and ran past him, levitating her saddlebag behind her.


The chariot touched down at the edge of Ponyville. Twilight and Spike jumped out and headed for the library. It was so good to be back.


Before either could react, the princess and dragon were tackled by Pinkie. Twilight struggled for breath as the pink pony tightened her hug.

"Good to see you too Pinkie."

Pinkie released them both, her smile stretching from ear to ear. Spike pulled himself up onto Twilight's back and took deep breaths, trying to recover from the hug attack.
The three of them walked, or in Spike's case rode, into town. Ponies called out greetings as they spotted their newest princess. Luckily she didn't have to deal with too much attention as they arrived at the library quickly. As the door shut behind her, Twilight sighed in relief.

"It's good to be back."

She gazed at the shelves of familiar books. It was a welcome sight. Some peace and quiet before Pinkie Pie was set loose on it. The party mare had taken off to gather their friends together for a celebration.

'Knock knock knock'

Her head swung to the door behind her. Who in Equestria could that be?
The door opened slowly to reveal a familiar striped shape.


Twilight stepped up to the zebra and gave her a hug.

"It's so good to see you!"

Zecora smiled.

"Welcome back my royal friend. Your journey had a peaceful end?"

"Yes. The trip was fine. The rest of the girls will be over soon for a party. Would you like to stay?"

"Party games I cannot do. A problem at home is beginning to brew."

"Oh? What's wrong?"

"I come to ask for you to see. Perhaps you can solve the mystery."

Twilight stared at her for a moment. She understood enough that she knew Zecora didn't want to say what the problem was. She couldn't decide if that concerned her or not.

"Alright. Lets go."


Zecora stopped at the door to her hut, turning to Twilight.

"What you see may cause some fear, but I will make my actions clear."

She opened the front door and ushered Twilight inside. Twilight stepped in and looked around the hut. Everything seemed normal. What was Zecora talking about? There was nothing scary in...
There was something in Zecora's bed. And it was moving. Whatever it was turned over and the covers pulled back.

It was a changeling!


The first sign that I as waking up was that I could hear again. I heard hoofsteps coming inside. The striped one must have been out in the forest. I tried to ignore her and turned over in the bed.


I froze. The striped one wouldn't have been surprised by me. That meant... Somepony else was in here!
I slowly opened an eye. The second one flew open with the first when I saw who was looking at me. I recognized her! She was that lavender pony from Canerlot. The last thing I remember from that invasion was her landing a hoof to my face. And now here she was, staring at me.
The striped one came out from behind the pony and smiled at me.

"A wounded soul to help and mend. Do not judge quickly my old friend."

My eyes widened. The striped creature knew this pony?!
The lavender pony turned on the creature.

"Zecora, that's a changeling! How could you bring a channeling into your home?! Don't you know how dangerous they can be?"

The striped one, Zecora apparently, nodded.

"This is know to be true. But turn away the weak, could you?"

The lavender pony frowned.

"It doesn't matter that it's weak! Where there's one changeling, there's more."

I wish that were true in this case.

"Twilight, you need not worry. You will not find any changeling fury."

Twilight. That's right. That was her name. I had heard it before. The Queen's thoughts had echoed through our minds. She had been very angry about this Twilight getting in the way of her plans.

"How can you be so sure this changeling won't try to hurt you?"

"He hasn't tried yet, so harmless I can bet."

I would have argued that I was dangerous, but I knew I would be lying. I had stopped being dangerous the moment I had fallen to the forest.

"The minute it's well it will attack you and run!"

"A reckless move. Can you proove?"

"Well... No."

I had had enough of listening to this. I wanted to speak for myself instead of being argued over. Could I even do that? My kind had rare need for words except to imitate ponies. I didn't even know if I had my own voice. I’d never tried being myself.

Only one way to find out...


My voice trailed off into a cough. I looked up to see Twilight and Zecora staring wide-eyed at me. I took a deep breath and tried again.


I broke off again. Come on! I could do this!
Twilight stepped forward.

"Can you talk?"

What do you think I'm trying to do?!

"Wha- wha- What...are you....doing...here?"

She stepped back and looked at Zecora.

"WhyamI here Zecora?"

Zecora nodded to me.

"A Queen he no longer has to follow. A place in his heart has long been hollow. You must help to fill this hole. Fill it with friendship to mend the soul."

"You want me to....befriend a changeling?"

Seriously? I was expected to become friends with a pony?
Twilight turned back to me. We stared at each other for a while. I don't know how long the silence lasted. She broke eye contact finally and sighed.

"I'll need to consult with the princess. She'll know what's best."

I didn't like the sound of that. I looked up at her and tried my best to look pitiful, not a changeling's best emotion. Anger and hate were a snap, but pity? Looking helpless? I probably looked ridiculous. And yet Twilight looked at me again. Her eyes softened. She stood up straight and took a deep breath.

"Hello. I'm Princess Twilight Sparkle."

That would explain the wings I guess. There were a few moments of silence before I realized she was waiting for a response. For my name. I don't think Ihavea name. I had never needed one before.

"Do you have a name?"

Give me a second here! I'm thinking!


What was my name? I was one of thousands of changelings. There was nothing unique about us! Nothing that made us individual! And yet... I didn't feel like that anymore. Had being separated from my kind done something to me?

Twilight looked back at Zecora, hesitation in her eyes.

"I don't know-“


They turned to me. Twilight leaned in closer.


"My name..."

I had been trapped in the shade of this wretched forest for a year. I might as well take the name of my prison. I was no longer a changeling. I was an animal. I was a creature of darkness.

"My name is Shade."

Next Chapter: Freedom and A Party Estimated time remaining: 5 Hours, 39 Minutes
Return to Story Description


Login with