A Talk With a Prince

by Jay David

Chapter 1: A Talk With a Prince

The Crystal Empire was, undoubtedly, a beautiful sight to behold. When the sun rose just high enough, the whole place glistened, like a magnificent jewel. From a balcony at the side of the central palace, looking out with awe, Thorax, the Changeling, couldn't help but smile. His eyes widened as he took in the sight, placing his hooves upon the side as he gazed upon this great view.


A chuckle to his side reminded him of his companion, and he turned to look upon Spike, his first friend, as he walked alongside him.

"Well, you've seen it before, right?"

Thorax shook his head.

"No, I...I spent most of my time hiding, remember?"

A look of guilt crossed Spike's face, and he cleared his throat nervously.

"Yes, well...that's all in the past now."

Thorax smiled to that, and as he watched Spike start to make his way back indoors, he began to follow. The two made their way through many of the long and intricate hallways of the palace, passing many a serving pony on the way. There were many smiles and nods thrown Thorax's way by those ponies, but all the same, there still seemed to be a sense of nervousness around him. The Changeling's head drooped slightly, which Spike soon noticed.

"Don't worry about it. If ponies can learn to have a dragon walking around them all the time, then they can certainly get used to you."

The young drake's companion gave him a smile to that, but he soon stopped, prompting Spike to do the same. Looking ahead, the two of them saw that, approaching them, was none other than Shining Armour. Looking down to Spike, the Prince gave a nod in greeting.

"Afternoon, Spike. Twilight wanted me to find you. Something about helping her writing a letter back to Ponyville?"

Spike slapped his forehead.

"Argh! I completely forgot!"

He turned to Thorax.

"Sorry about this, buddy."

But Thorax simply shook his head.

"It's no problem. You go do...whatever it is you do. I'll be fine here."

Spike seemed apprehensive, but soon calmed when Shining placed a hoof upon his shoulder, speaking in a reassuring tone.

"It's fine, Spike. I'll help him around."

The young dragon looked to the older stallion, then back to Thorax, giving the latter a nod before, at last, starting to make his way off to find Twilight. Shining watched him go, and when he was finally out of sight, he turned to Thorax, gesturing down the hall.

"Shall we?"

The Changeling nodded, and began to follow the Prince along the hall. The two said nothing to one another for quite a while, passing room after room as they journeyed together. But, after about five minutes of this, the silence broke, as Shining spoke to his guest in a somewhat more professional manner.

"So...you are enjoying yourself, Thorax?"

Thorax nodded.

"Oh, yes. Everypony has been so nice to me...well...after Spike explained the situation, I mean."

Shining nodded back.

"I would hope you could understand their reasons, Thorax. Changelings...well...we have not had a pleasant history with them."

Thorax's head began to droop again.

"Yes, I...I'm sorry about all of that."

The stallion's eyes flickered to him for a moment, then back ahead to where they were walking, and, as before, a silence passed between them. Almost a minute of it went by before, in the end, Shining came to a complete halt. Thorax followed suit, and for a while, he simply stared at his guide. Shining closed his eyes, weighing both his thoughts and his words carefully, before, in the end, turning to the Changeling beside him. Thorax looked up to see a sterner look now being given to him. It was not filled with anger, like Shining displayed the first time he saw him, but it was nevertheless a piercing gaze.

"Thorax...did you know Chrysalis?"

Though taken aback by such a question, Thorax gave a nod.

"Well...yes...she's our Queen. Mother to all Changelings."

Shining raised an eyebrow.

"So that makes you, what, a Prince of Changelings?"

In spite of the mood, Thorax couldn't help but chuckle.

"Oh, no! It doesn't work that way with us. She views all her children as equals. We're more...cogs in a wheel."

Shining considered that for a moment, before speaking up again.

"But your cog wasn't quite like the others...was it?"

Again, Thorax seemed somewhat uncomfortable.


Shining looked away briefly.

"Spike told me that you've been different ever since you were born. But that you were with your people in spite of that for many years."

Slowly, he looked back to him, his eyes narrowed.

"I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to be completely honest with me."

Thorax said nothing, merely nodding, which prompted Shining to ask his question.

"Were you among the Changelings that invaded Canterlot a few years ago?"

The Changeling did not move, nor did he even breathe. He simply felt the eyes of the larger stallion bore into him, urging the truth to come out. And come out it did, as Thorax gave a single, sombre nod. Shining stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, before then asking a second question.

"When attacking the city...did you personally hurt any ponies?"

Here, at least, Thorax became more active, shaking his head in a frantic manner.

"No! I didn't! I swear! I just...hovered around while all the others did all the fighting."

Shining was no expert on Changeling faces, it had to be said. But, when he looked into Thorax's un-pony-like eyes, he could nevertheless see honesty there. A time of silence passed again, and when it ended, Shining closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. When he finally opened them again, he continued to give Thorax a hard look.

"My sister has offered you her hoof in friendship...as has my wife. The ponies of the Empire have taken to you, and even my daughter seems to like you."

He paused for a moment before continuing.

"For that...I am willing to accept you as they do."

The stallion looked away for a moment.

"I will freely admit...my feelings towards your kind have not been...positive. Your Mother...well...she left her mark, let's just say that."

As before, a guilty look crossed Thorax's face, but he remained quiet as Shining looked to him again.

"I do not blame you for what happened in Canterlot, nor for the crimes of your Mother. And yet..."

He leaned in closer, causing Thorax to back away slightly.

"...you are not the first former foe my sister has accepted as a friend. The first...he was a somewhat...unpredictable individual. And there came a day..."

He looked away yet again, his expression one of restrained anger.

"...when Twilight's acceptance and trust was thrown back in her face."

Slowly, he gazed to Thorax as before.

"Trust takes time to build, Thorax...but it can be destroyed in an instant. And once broken...it almost never comes back."

He closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths. When he opened his eyes again, he looked to his guest and spoke in a softer tone, which was reflected in his expression.

"I say what I say not to threaten...nor to insult...but to warn. For the sake of my family and friends, those who have come to trust you, I am willing to do the same. But...if you break that trust...if you give me cause to believe that my sister, my wife, my child might not be safe around you..."

Thorax, at last spoke up.

"I swear to you, Prince Shining! I will never do anything to hurt ponies or to betray your family! They're the first real friends I've ever made! And...and..."

Slowly, he looked at the ground.

"...I just...don't want to lose them."

Shining stared at him, and like before, saw nothing but the truth in his expression. Closing his eyes yet again, he took further deep breaths. And when he looked upon the Changeling before him, he gave a nod, forming a small smile.

"Then don't lose them. Stay true to them, like you've promised. Do what you said you would do to help your people. Bring us closer, like we all hope you can. Do all this, continue to hold onto the friendship that has been given to you..."

The stallion turned, walking away from him as he finished speaking.

"...and even I will call you my friend."

Thorax remained behind, watching as the Prince walked further and further away. He stayed, thinking over what had been said to him, what was now expected of him, and he looked up to his companion. It took some time, but, finally, he began to charge after him, smiling as much as he could.

"I'll try, Prince Shining! If nothing else...I'll try!"

Unbeknownst to Thorax, Shining too was smiling.

"...I really hope so, Thorax."

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