Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 62

Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter 62

“Wait, there’s no queen? Whatsoever?” The matron has stopped staring at the nymph and is staring at me slack-jawed. The other changelings look equally perturbed. “There’s always at least one burgeoning queen, they just stop after their third molt until the current queen is disliked or old enough that she needs to be replaced. What kind of monstrous magic would the Tyrant Queen use to keep her daughters from growing up?”

“Uh... the monstrous tyrannical kind, I suppose.”

The changeling looked about to argue, before stopping, thinking and shrugging. “Yeah, I guess that’s the answer.” Blunt honesty. Sometimes, it makes things better immediately.

“So if they don’t have a queen...” A thought entered my mind, one that irked me a lot. “Uh, if their ruler is killed, and I’m the one that killed her... does that make me the monarch until someone better suited is able to take the metaphorical crown?”

The matron looked at me with a look of puzzlement. “What? No, how would that work? Unless you can create the same pheromones. No, the hive will simply not have the ability to reproduce until one of the young queens steps up... unless none step up. Then...” the changeling trailed off, looking concerned.

I finish. “Then eventual extinction. No reproduction, means no more generations of the species, which means they’ll all die off eventually. As for me asking if I’d be the king, that’s sort of the somewhat unspoken rule of monarchies from my homeworld. You kill the ruler, you become the ruler.”

The ponies all shifted uncomfortably. “So, in your vision when you...”

“When I didn’t kill Celestia, that means I wouldn’t own her position or the land, leaving Equestria pretty much an unclaimed wasteland of nothing. Now can we please not go back to that again?”

The ponies shifted uncomfortably again. “I agree.” Twilight said, breaking the silence. “How about we figure out what to do about the Everfree hive? Any input from you,” she gestured at the changelings, “would be appreciated.”

The changelings nodded, and everyone settled in for what could be a long debate. I hope not, though, those get boring quickly, unless it’s heated.

“We should send a delegation to them. Offer them aid in return for fealty.” Luna said, starting off the conversation. “It would be the simplest method.”

“This could also be important: I’m the only one I know who has actually walked to the hive and knows where it is.”

“Obviously, you would lead the delegation.” Luna said. “You are also the only one who can pass through solid objects safely.”

“Why would I need to do that? We’re going in peacefully, and the entrance is accessible to anyone as big as I am or smaller.”

“Obviously, the delegation would be heavily armed. ‘Tis most prudent, given who we’re speaking of.” Luna stuck her nose towards the ceiling, looking every inch a haughty princess. At least she isn’t blithely walking into a potential enemy stronghold assuming friendship. This is why I like her, and yet she makes it so hard for me. Maybe I should make her another Moon Diamond...

“So we’re going to have a bunch of armed guards, and walk up there and talk to them about what’s gonna happen. Sounds good to me. Anything else? Anyone?”

Celestia gives a sigh. “That won’t work, we might simply send them into a panic, thinking they’re under attack-”

“Celestia, I informed them that the next time I came by, I would most likely kill them all. Me alone would probably make them panic. Some guards on the side wouldn’t change much, just saying.”

The two princesses looked down thoughtfully. The changelings spoke up. “I wish we could help, but if they thought we were horning on ‘their territory’, whether they’ve claimed it formally or not, they’d attack us immediately. It’s the biggest reason hives don’t form that often; the queen has to have produced enough pheremones to keep the rest of the group laying, but she has to refrain. Extra daughters splinter off and become new clusters, taking some of the workers and drones with them.”

“Not terribly big on mother-daughter relationships then. I think that if I showed up, alone or not, there’d be one of two reactions. Total panic, or they’d all start bowing and thanking me. The changeling I met seemed really grateful until I threatened them.”

The entire group seemed curious. “You never mentioned that, Anthony.” Celestia points out.

“Gee, I don’t know why. It could probably have something to do with the idea of a bunch of changelings serving me. Now why would I be adverse to this?” I ask the question just as sarcastically as rhetorically.

Celestia and Luna look at me, looking thoughtful for a moment. “I can’t think of any reasons. Can you, ‘Tia?”

The elder alicorn shakes her head. “No. I enjoy ruling over and protecting my subjects, so I can’t think of any reasons.”

With an audible *whump* my head hits the tabletop. “Four words, geniuses. King of the Changelings. Ring any bells?” The princesses all let out an ‘oooh’ as the understanding hits them.

“I really don’t want to keep readdressing this, so I think I’d rather just leave. You can decide on some tactic and tell me about it later, okay?”

The ponies and changelings nod, and I stand up, taking the nymph off my head and setting it on the table. I then make my way outside, and figure I’d just head back to the Library.

I’m sitting in my usual spot and looking over the Wunderland Bestiary, refreshing myself on information as well as studying facts I didn’t know. As a very helpful addition, it’s a pop-up book, so there’s a fairly well-detailed two-and-a-half-dimensional picture of each creature.

The only one I’ve looked over so far that doesn’t have a full picture is one with nothing put the middle of the book, splashed in night black, with two shining eyes of gold, a fire pattern instead of pupils. It lists the creature as a Jabberwock. There’s plenty of nonsense poetry with it, which I assume is actually meaningful, but I can’t make sense of more than one part in five. The only part I do understand perfectly is the piece about it having a ‘frightful aversion to blades of the vorpal kind, so enchanted to seek the neck with a snicker-snack and split it so’.

Yep, definitely Wonderland.

One of the things it mentions is the Flamingo, and I see that it mentions they lose many of their powerful magical properties if not born in, on, or over Wunderlandian soil, leading to a large number of them being owned by nobles. That part, thankfully, is written by someone other than Blueish, so it’s completely clear. I wonder what kinds of things we’ll actually run into on our trip?

I look up as a throat is cleared, and I see that Twilight is holding a scroll in her magical grip. She offers the scroll to me wordlessly. I’m feeling particularly lazy, and a bit n the mood for testing, so I summon some coal from my pouch and have the coal-hand grab the scroll for me and hold it open for me to read.

“Uh... how’re you doing that?” she asks, eyeing the hand. “I’ve never seen such precise elemental control!”

“Oh come on, you saw what I can do with coal! Actually, I feel stupid for not thinking of this before. Imagine all the movement I could have spared myself getting a new book.”

Twilight sighs and shakes her head. “Anyways, that scroll has the plans. We’ll be heading out, probably tomorrow or the day after, to go to the hive. The cluster is going to stay here for another couple of days, apparently one of them is about to give birth, and can’t be moved until that’s over.”

“You know, I’m surprised. You’ve learned all sorts of new things about changelings, and haven’t already rushed to add it to your notes. I think-”


Twilight has just vanished probably teleporting based on the look of existential self-horror she’d had right before then. Drat, I had something witty to say, too. Alright, let’s see what’s on the scroll. I take it from the coal hand and unsummon it back to my pouch before unfurling the scroll.

                Anthony -

Tomorrow, an hour before noon, a detachment of guards will accompany you to the hive, along with a small medical team. We will have teleportation charms set to detect surges of stellar energies, so that they will be moved to safety if you ‘Spark out’.

You are to act as guide and head liaison, but try to find a peaceful resolution if at all possible. A single diplomat will be a part of the guard detachment, and will be authorized to make decisions on behalf of Equestria.

Should you fail to return to Twilight within two hours of beginning of the journey, or at least fail to somehow communicate your well-being, an assault force will be dispatched promptly, following the tracking charm on the seal of this letter. Please bring it with you.

Our thanks,

[A messy, illegible pair of signatures splits the page]

                The Royal Pony Sisters

P.S. Cadence asked me to mention to you, if I got the chance, that she has almost everything ready, and will be able to take you on your vacation in a week. She also requested me to mention that if you get too injured to come along, she will personally break all of your unbroken limbs. She really wants to go to Wunderland.

Yup, that sounds like Cadence alright. I realize that I had passed up the opportunity to show the Lyre to Luna, but I suppose we’ll have another meeting or something once the changeling fiasco has been dealt with.

Next Chapter: Chapter 63 Estimated time remaining: 26 Hours, 36 Minutes

Return to Story Description


Login with