by Yukito

Chapter 1

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“Good morning, Princess.”

“Good morning,” Princess Aura responded in a cheerful tone as she walked past two of her maids.

“Good morning,” Knight Wind said as he bowed politely to the two maids. They only responded by bowing, sparing no words for the white pegasus but allowing their glares to speak volumes. He let out a sigh. It was only to be expected; in the Changeling Kingdom, Equestrians were despised.

The rest of the trek through the castle’s west wing was an exact repeat of every day; the princess was greeted by her servants and by nobles, whilst Knight would be glared at as he followed behind her. Only two changelings actually greeted him verbally. Two changelings who, like Knight, were Princess Aura’s knights – her personal champions – named Neon and Iris.

“Princess, I hope that you slept well last night,” Knight said in an attempt to break the silence.

“Yes. There’s no need to worry,” the princess responded, her gaze staying true with a determined look covering her face.

Knight smiled at the youngling, but also felt somewhat uneasy. “I don’t know what you are planning, but please don’t stress over it too much. Remember, you are young. You are not expected to take part in these discussions, only to show up.”

The princess shook her head. “No. I don’t care that I’m young, or that my brother is much smarter than me, or that my sister is more fit to rule than I am. Momma needs me to do my best and that’s what I’m going to do.”

“Such fine determination.” The two stopped in their tracks as they were approached by two changelings. One was the second prince, Odysseus. He was the elder brother of Aura and the most favoured to succeed the throne from Queen Chrysalis, due to his great intellect and political skills. It was Odysseus who had spoke out to them.

The one accompanying the prince one of his knights, General Razor Tooth. Like Knight Wind, he wore the customary military attire given to those who had achieved the rank of general, although Knight’s was a little more dirty, was missing a few pieces here and there, and didn’t come with the fancy title. Even though he had been allowed to live in the Changeling Kingdom, they weren’t about to make life luxurious for him.

“As expected of one with royal blood,” Odysseus said, smiling at his younger sister. “You’ll make a fine queen one day, I’m sure of it.” He turned his head up to face Knight, keeping his warm smile on his face. “Knight, a pleasant morning to you. I hope that you slept well last night.”

Knight lowered down to kneel on one hind leg, his two forehooves planted firmly on the ground as he kept his head low. “Yes, Your Highness. Though I am unworthy, thank you for your concern.”

“That’s good to hear, though I would hardly consider you unworthy. You are, after all, one of the few soldiers who devote everything to protect my sister. Regardless of how others may see you, for that characteristic alone, I value you as much as I do my own knights.” Odysseus and Razor Tooth continued walking on. Odysseus paused for a moment as he passed Knight to add: “Please continue to protect my sister as you have been.”

“Of course, my lord,” Knight responded, still not looking up. Once Odysseus and Razor Tooth had walked some distance away, Knight rose to his hooves continued to follow Aura through the castle.

Odysseus took a moment to look back at his younger sister and her knight before continuing his own walk through the corridor. “Razor Tooth, I trust that everything is prepared?”

“Yes, Prince Odysseus,” Razor Tooth responded.

“Good. Knowing my sister, tonight’s meeting shall be just what I need…”

Later that day, the meeting that Princess Aura had been both dreading and eagerly awaiting had started. It was a meeting held once every three months. These meetings involved two representatives from every noble family, one representative from each political party and all members of royalty plus one of each of their knights.

These meetings were where the less popular and less influential parties and households could finally have a say in the important political issues that ran the Changeling Kingdom. For everyone else, who attended the other meetings throughout the year, they were more a formality than an important event that they absolutely had to attend.

But for Aura, this was finally her chance to prove herself in front of her family and to announce her feelings on how she felt the kingdom should function. Previously, she had been too scared to voice her opinions too openly, but now she was ready. She was determined to finally break out of her shell and assert herself as a Princess of the Royal Crown, and what better place to make her big debut than right then and there, in front of all those changeling eyes, watching her, surely judging her every move…

“Oh no…” Aura said, sinking into her seat. “I don’t think I can do this…”

Knight looked down at his princess with a concerned look and put a hoof on her shoulder. She looked up at him to see his big, warming smile, filled with confidence in his princess. “Good luck,” he whispered.

Suddenly, all of the princess’ anxiety was washed away. She sat up straight and nodded to her knight, who removed his hoof as the meeting started.

Aura took a look to her right and saw her entire family gathered in a line, sat at the very front of the meeting room so that they could face everyone else and they could face them. Her mother began the meeting with an opening statement. The current issue that was brought up first was about the distribution of finances. She wasn’t very good with discussing finances, so she decided to stay out of it.

To Aura’s immediate right was her older brother and the second prince, Odysseus. He was the fourth offspring of the five royal siblings and by far the most intelligent, as proven many times in school and in strategy meetings. He was even given his very own research and development laboratory in recognition of his intellect. She looked up to him the most. He was kind and gentle, but also knew how to be stern when the situation called for it. What he lacked in brawn, he made up for in brain.

To her brother’s right was her older sister, Elizabeth. She was the middle child of the five royal siblings and the second princess. She was smart, an excellent athlete and an equally-skilled combatant, but cared little for politics or for positions of power, and was well aware of her inability to lead others. As such, she held no interest in claiming the throne; she was instead content with simply assisting her older sister Victoria in her quest to the top.

Aura’s mother, Queen Chrysalis, sat to Elizabeth’s right, in a much higher seat than her five children.

To the queen’s right sat the first princess, Victoria. While not quite as intelligent or cunning as Odysseus, she was undoubtedly the better athlete and warrior, although with Odysseus’ ingenuity and quick thinking, there was no telling who would come out on top in a match between the two of them.

Victoria has gained much popularity on the battlefield, especially after a famous incident where she had managed to devise a strategy to save thousands a changeling troops from what seemed to be an impossible demise and even take it a step beyond, turning the tables completely to win said battle and saving many changeling prisoners in the process. Victoria was the second offspring of the five royal siblings and was respected by many. Despite her cold and harsh personality to her soldiers, Victoria had a soft side at heart, especially when it came to doting on her two younger sisters.

Finally, to Victoria’s right was the eldest sibling and the first prince, Alexander. He, much like Elizabeth, was more of a fighter than a strategist. His intellect was nowhere near that of any of his siblings – except for Aura, who wasn’t incredibly smart herself – but his combat abilities far exceeded any of theirs and his ability to command an army during battle was unrivalled.

Out of all of her siblings, the only one who Aura didn’t want to succeed the throne was Alexander, because his vision of a perfect world was to destroy everything that isn’t changeling. In his eyes, if it wasn’t changeling, it wasn’t worthy of even sharing the same world. Whenever the issue of foreign relations came up, his answer was always the same: war.

After many topics had passed, the issue that Aura had been waiting for had finally popped up. It was the issue of the kingdom’s next move in regards to Equestria. Ever since the queen’s failed attempt to overtake it, the changelings had decided to continue monitoring it using their scouts and to plan their next move carefully. However, many changelings were beginning to question if the effort was worth it.

“Um,” Aura said as soon as there was an opening. Everyone in the room turned their attention to the young princess and she started to clam up. She felt a hoof on her shoulder and looked to her right to see her brother, smiling reassuringly at her. She turned back to the room and rose out of her seat. “I would like to propose something in regards to the current issue.”

Chrysalis smiled at her daughter for a second before quickly returning to her neutral expression. “Very well. Speak, daughter.”

Aura hesitated for a second, taking a moment to look around the room at all of the eyes currently on her. After a moment to steady her nerves, she spoke. “I think… that the time has come to make peace with the Equestrians.”

The entire room was suddenly drowned in the sounds of changelings murmuring to each other. Aura could tell that many were hoping it was some kind of bad joke and turned to her knight for some reassurance. Knight was just as surprised as everyone else in the room, but when he saw Aura looking his way with pleading eyes, he shot her a smile to encourage her to keep going.

“Perhaps you should explain,” Chrysalis said, breaking the silence. “I assume you did prepare an argument for your proposition?”

Aura nodded to her mother and turned back to face the room, trying to put on the best confident face that she could. “I’m aware that the Equestrians betrayed us many, many years ago, and I’m not claiming to have an understanding of the situation back then, not having been born yet.

“However, the past is the past. The ones at fault were the Equestrians of back then, not their descendents.” Aura levitated a few of her documents up and scanned them with her eyes. “As has been reported by our scouts posted there, Equestria has grown much more civil over the years. Some time ago, ‘filly foolers’ and ‘colt cuddlers’ were just as shunned as we were, and ponies of different races were forbidden to marry each other.

“But now, equal rights and understanding are becoming commonplace in the country of Equestria. They have even started to reach out to other nations.” Aura paused to let her information sink in to her audience before she continued. “The time has come to put aside our differences. War and hatred will only bring about pain, but with peace, we can move towards the future. A bright, shining future.”

Aura turned to face her knight, who was doing his best not to look like a nervous wreck. “As you’re aware, my knight, Knight Wind, is an Equestrian, and yet what he is does not change who he is. He is kind and gentle, and has helped raise me for many years. At the same time, he has protected me on many occasions.”

Aura turned back to the audience. She was no longer shaking. She was completely in the zone now. “To me, Knight is not a changeling, or an Equestrian, or my bodyguard. He is my friend, and being with him brings me much joy and happiness, and I wish to extend these feelings to all of you.”

Knight blushed as he looked at his princess with wide-eyed surprise. She decided to sum up her proposition quickly. “I believe that if we sit down and simply talk to the princesses of Equestria, we can reach some sort of understanding. Our two countries can become friends and we can work together to improve both of our countries, leading both changelings and Equestrians to a bright new era.”

Aura bowed to the audience as she finished her report and took her seat. What followed was a long, deadly silence which sent chills down Aura’s spine. She was starting to wonder if she should have just stayed silent.

Finally, Queen Chrysalis rose from her seat, her gaze fixed on Aura, who was shifting her eyes between her mother and the floor. “A very well thought out proposal, my daughter,” she said, bringing a little bit of confidence back to the young princess. “However, peace with Equestria is simply not an option. An exception was made for your knight, but nothing beyond that.” Chrysalis sat back down, her eyes still fixed on her daughter. “I appreciate you trying to contribute to our meetings, but please try to put more consideration into what you say.”

Aura’s smile fell and she resumed staring at the floor, not paying much attention to the rest of the meeting as she thought desperately for a way to make her mother reconsider. But she knew that there was nothing more that she could do and eventually gave up.

That night, the royal siblings had arranged a tea party in Alexander’s royal chambers. Aura was excited to go initially, but after the meeting earlier that day, she was too upset to attend and simply retired to her room for the rest of the day.

“Can you believe the nerve of her?!” Alexander shouted. “After what the Equestrians did, she dares to talk about peace with them?!”

“Now now, Brother,” Odysseus said, levitating his teacup to take a sip. “I’m sure she had the best of intentions for us.”

“Indeed,” Victoria agreed, pouring some tea for herself and Elizabeth. “She simply doesn’t wish for anymore conflict between us and other nations. She’s such a kind dear.”

Too kind!” Alexander shouted. “Seriously, she’ll never become queen at this rate!”

“Well, it’s not like she can help it,” Elizabeth said, grinning as she lowered her teacup from her mouth. “After all, she’s smitten with that pony, isn’t she?”

Odysseus shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know about that, but I do agree with Alexander.” Odysseus raised a napkin to his lips, wiping away a few crumbs from the shortbread he had just eaten. “Her kindness is her strongest point and her desire to make others happy is what I believe will make her a great ruler. However, she needs to learn not to rush into things, or she shall never succeed the throne.”

Victoria nodded her head in agreement. “Indeed. No matter who it is, one cannot create a peace between two nations with pretty words alone. What she needs is allies. She needs to build a reputation, gather those who she knows she can trust, and work her way up from there, and then make her move. The Changeling Kingdom wasn’t built in a day, after all.”

Elizabeth leaned over and rested her head on her sister’s shoulder, causing her sister discomfort for a moment, but as Elizabeth expected, Victoria couldn’t bring herself to push her away. “Hey, maybe you should tutor her for a bit, Sis,” Elizabeth suggested.

Victoria sighed and shook her head. “Unfortunately, I’m far too busy.”

“That’s right,” Alexander said, facing his sister, “You’ve been assigned to oversee the construction of the new research facility, haven’t you?”

Victoria nodded. “Yes. Elizabeth and I are going to be away for the next few days.”

“A shame. I was looking forward to catching up with you,” Odysseus said, a frown on his face. “It seems you’re always away these days, Sister.”

Victoria smiled and leaned over to pat her younger brother on the head. “Don’t worry. After this assignment, I’ll have some time off. At that point, let’s all gather for another tea party. Hopefully, Aura will be feeling better by then.”

“Maybe I should go apologise…” Alexander muttered, his head sinking slightly. “I think I was a little too hard on her.”

“No, I think we should give her some space for now,” Odysseus suggested.

Elizabeth giggled, drawing the attention of her three siblings to her. “Besides, she has her knight in shining armour with her. She’d probably get even more upset if we interrupted her.”

Victoria gently lowered her hoof onto her sister’s head. Although the action wasn’t the least bit painful, Elizabeth played along by acting as if it was. “Stop saying weird things. She’s only a child. I highly doubt she’s thinking about guys at her age.”

Knight watched as his princess slept peacefully on her bed. After the meeting, she made her way back to her room, completely ignored her dinner and just plopped herself down onto her bed. Knight didn’t know what to say or do, so he simply remained by her side in case she needed anything.

“Knight… do you think what I did was wrong?”

“That’s up to you to decide, Princess. Right and wrong are different for each one of us.”

“… I don’t think I was wrong.”

“But I do think you were a little rash. The idea of making peace with Equestrians is practically taboo in this kingdom. There were even changelings there that were alive during that time.”

“But you’re an Equestrian and I have so much fun with you… I just wanted to share what I have with others.”

“… Thank you, Princess. You words make me happy, nd in an ideal world, maybe everyone can see the happiness you hold and understand where you’re coming from. But sadly, such a world doesn’t exist.”

“… Then I’ll make it.”


“I’ll make a world without war. A world without hatred. Where all nations can live together in peace and where race doesn’t matter… Do you think I’m being childish?”

“… Yes, I do… However, for thousands of years, disasters have happened under the rule of strong, mature rulers, such as your mother. Maybe your childish naivety is exactly what this country needs.”

“… Thanks, Knight. You’re always able to help when I’m feeling down.”

“That’s because you saved my life, Princess. It’s the least I can do.”


“Princess, ‘follow whatever path your heart decides’. While I agree fully with this teaching, might I also point out that ‘slow and steady wins the race’. In other words, you shouldn’t rush things. You should take things slowly and work towards peace as a distant goal, not one to be achieved overnight.”

“… But I-”

“If you rush peace, it will surely fail. And the more times peace fails, the harder it will be to achieve in the future.”


Shortly after that, the princess fell asleep, but not before asking Knight if he would always stick by her. His answer, of course, was yes. He vowed to always stick by the princess, no matter what. After all, when he washed up on a shore in the Changeling Kingdom a few years ago, it was the princess who had saved his life.

Just as he was about to be killed as an ‘enemy spy’, the princess demanded he be released and, despite her mother’s wishes, insisted that he become her knight. When asked by Knight why she did this, the princess responded: “I simply didn’t want to see you die.” That was all.

She had no idea whether Knight was a spy or not, but the kind young princess, who couldn’t stand to see others in pain regardless of who they were, saved this Equestrian and gave him a home in their kingdom. True, he had had to ward off several assassination attempts against him, but over the years he had gained the trust of the princess’ other knights and, through their help, he was able to live a happy life, serving the one who had saved him out of sheer kindness.

A knock came at the door. Knight walked over and opened it up. He saw General Iris, another one of the princess’ knights. “How is she?” she asked.

Knight gestured for her to enter, which she did. “She’s fine. She fell asleep not too long ago,” Knight answered, keeping his voice quiet so as not to risk waking his princess from her slumber.

“Not that,” Iris said. “I mean… has anything happened yet?”

Knight shook his head. “No. I doubt anyone’d do anything drastic. It was an outrageous proposition to many changelings, sure, but… she’s still their princess.”

“The corrupt are everywhere,” Iris reminded him. “There are those who would stoop to great lows to hinder her rise to the throne, or to assist their favourite prince or princess. Not to mention those who were alive during that time.”

Knight closed his eyes for a moment to think and then opened them again as he turned towards the princess. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect her, always.”

Iris smiled and also turned to face the princess. “I’m sure you will,” she said. “Well, to be on the safe side, we’ve decided to double security around her.”

“‘We’?” Knight asked, turning back to Iris.

“Me, Nitros, and Neon,” she responded, her eyes still on the sleeping princess. “I’ll stand watch over her with you, and we’ve requested some guards to follow us around in the shadows, keeping an eye out for enemies.”

“I see… I hope it’ll be enough.”

“We’re also going to release a statement to the public: ‘The Princess will undergo strict re-education regarding the Equestrian betrayal three hundred years ago. We apologize for any offence caused by her words, and ask you to forgive the young Princess.’ A lie, of course, but it should at least calm down most of the offended subjects.”

Knight turned his eyes back towards the princess and felt a chill run down his spine. “I hope that’ll be enough…”

Odysseus raised his head from his book as he heard a knock at his door. “Yes?” he called out.

“It’s me, Prince Odysseus,” a voice answered from the other side of the door. Odysseus recognised the voice and told him to enter. Razor Tooth entered the prince’s study and, after confirming that he hadn’t been followed, closed the door behind himself. He then turned and bowed to his prince. “Preparations are complete,” he reported.

A smile crossed Odysseus’ face. “Very good. As expected, Aura’s proposal today was exactly what I needed to bring them over to our side.”

“So tomorrow…”

“Yes,” Odysseus answered, knowing Razor Tooth’s question before he could finish asking it. “Aura has sealed her own fate and, with her sacrifice, I will finally be able to make my move.”

A grinned appeared on Razor Tooth’s face as he kept his gaze pointed at the floor. “Yes, my lord.”

The next morning, Aura woke up with much enthusiasm, despite how down she was feeling the previous day. After her talk with Knight Wind the previous night, she was determined to keep trying her best, but this time, to try and approach things from a different angle.

The trouble was that Aura wasn’t particularly good at planning more than two steps ahead, and she was too afraid of hurting what allies she had to use them effectively. During breakfast, Iris suggested that Aura ask her older brother Odysseus for advice.

Aura thought about it and it indeed seemed to be the best course of action. She would be attending a meeting with Odysseus after dinner anyway.

Knight watched over the princess as her maids brushed her hair and applied her makeup. When she was done, she turned around to Knight with a smile on her face and asked, “How do I look?”

Knight blushed, unsure of how to answer. He wanted to compliment her, but he didn’t want to say something out of line. There were limits, after all. But he didn’t want to seem like he was insincere or unsure. “You look good,” he eventually managed to say.

“Indeed,” Iris said, trying not to laugh at Knight’s flustering. “You look like a younger version of your mother.”

Knight took another look at the princess and he had to agree. Even though he had never seen a picture of the changeling queen as a youngling, he imagined that it would be the spitting image of Aura.

Aura lowered her head and, for the first time since waking up that morning, allowed her smile to fall. “Momma… she probably hates me now…”

“Of course she doesn’t m’lady,” one of the maids said.

“Indeed. Your mother is the most caring changeling ever. She would never hate you,” the other maid added.

“But…” Aura began.

“Princess,” Iris interrupted as she approached Aura, “Trust me, no matter what you say or do, your mother will always love you. So don’t worry about it so much, ‘kay?”

Aura turned to Knight, who nodded in agreement. He knew how much Chrysalis loved Aura. After all, when she pleaded with her to let Knight be her knight, no matter how much the queen protested, Aura wouldn’t give up and, eventually, the queen gave in after seeing how much it meant to her daughter.

A smile returned to Aura’s face and she turned back to Iris. “Do you think I could speak to her before the meeting?”

“I’m afraid not,” Iris answered. “She’s away on business right now. She won’t be back for a few days.”

“Oh…” Aura felt her smile starting to fade again, but quickly stopped it. “Oh well, I guess it can’t be helped. I’ll just talk to her when she returns.”

There was a strange presence in the room when Aura, Knight and Iris entered the room that was to hold that day’s meeting. It was a tense atmosphere and, even though everyone in the room tried to pretend otherwise, it was clear that all eyes were on Aura. Knight and Iris were on full alert. Although it was unlikely, they had to prepare for every possibility.

“Oh, Sister, you’re here,” Odysseus said as he turned to face Aura. “That’s good. Now we can get this meeting started.”

“Actually, Brother,” Aura started, “I was wondering if you could help me with some-”

She was cut off by a hoof being placed to her mouth. Odysseus looked at Aura with a warm smile. “After the meeting, Sister. But we really should start things off swiftly.”

Aura reluctantly nodded and then made her way to her seat in the back of the room, her two knights flanking both of her sides.

Once she was seated, the entire room feel silent for a full minute, with Odysseus closing his eyes and holding his hooves together, as if he were praying. Finally, he opened his eyes and Aura shivered as she felt something from her brother that she had never felt before. A sense of unease and uncertainty.

His eyes were cold and showed no sign of emotion. He gave off a strange sensation that the young princess knew all too well: fear. She had always respected and looked up to her older brother, but right now, for reasons completely unknown to her, she was completely afraid of him.

“Now then,” he started, “The first order of business today: the execution of Princess Aura.”

“What?!” Knight and Iris shouted in unison. The doors to the room opened slowly, allowing Odysseus’ four knights to enter.

Iris drew her spear and stood on full guard, whilst Knight placed his forehooves on the shaking princess’ shoulders. “What’s going on?! Is this some kind of sick joke?!” he demanded.

Odysseus sighed and rose from his seat. “Surely you foresaw this eventual outcome, Knight Wind,” he said and, for a split moment, Knight could swear that a smile had crossed Odysseus’ face before returning to the frown he was currently wearing. “What my sister did yesterday was unforgiveable. With those simple words of making peace with Equestria, she dishonoured the entire Changeling Kingdom and spat in the faces of all who fell during, or indeed those who lived through, the changeling purging.

“It’s no surprise that many will never forgive her and the simple truth is that mother doesn’t forgive her, either.”

Aura, Knight and Iris all gasped in shock. “What are you saying?! That Queen Chrysalis ordered her daughter be killed?!” Iris shouted, keeping her eyes on the four knights.

“That is correct,” Odysseus said. “With Aura’s words yesterday, it is inevitable that riots will break out, and parties already against our queen will grow in power. Unless we act now, by showing that we do not agree one bit with Aura’s claims, things will only grow worse.”

“Lies!” Aura shouted, standing up and slamming her front hooves on the desk in front of her. “Mother would never do anything like that! She… She said she loves me! That she’ll always protect me!”

“Mother says a lot of things,” Odysseus said.

Knight grinded his teeth together and extended his wings. “Hey,” he whispered to Iris, “This looks bad. What now?”

“I don’t know,” Iris admitted. “I never expected an attack on this scale…” Iris stepped forward, not dropping her guard as she walked. “Show us proof! If the queen gave such an order, I demand to see proof of it, right now!”

Odysseus sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “If you wish,” he said as he levitated a piece of paper out from a stack on his desk.

Iris’ eyes widened at what she saw. It was indeed the royal signature used by Queen Chrysalis, and it was for a document ordering Aura’s execution. She turned back to Knight, who was in just as much shock as she was. She then turned back to the four knights, a cold sweat running down her body as she tried to find a path of escape.

“Now, I trust you will step down whilst we escort these traitors to the gallows, Miss Iris?” Odysseus asked.

Suddenly, a crash sounded through the meeting room. Everyone’s attention turned to the door, where they saw a changeling stumble into the meeting room, panting heavily as blood poured from his body. It was one of Princess Aura’s knights, Neon.

“Princess! Run!” he shouted as his horn lit up. Within seconds, a bright flash passed through the room, blinding everyone in it with the exception of the princess and her knights, whose eyes had been protected by a separate spell cast by Neon at a previous time.

When Odysseus could see again, the fugitives had all escaped the room. He slammed a hoof onto his table and turned to Razor Tooth. “Well?! Don’t just stand there! Find and execute them!”

“Yes, my lord!” Razor Tooth shouted as he and his comrades exited the room.

“What’s going on?!” Neon asked as the four fugitives ran down the castle corridor, passing many confused and startled servants on the way. “We were suddenly attacked while planning the princess’ birthday party! What’s the deal?!”

“It seems the queen has ordered Aura’s execution!” Iris explained.

“What?! Impossible! I know the queen! She would never do something like that!”

“I saw her signature with my own eyes! There’s no mistaking it!”

“A fake! It has to be a fake!”

“The royal signature isn’t something you can just simply forge! Only the queen’s magic can create it!”

Behind Iris and Neon, Knight was running just a little bit slower, since he had the princess on his back. The princess was understandably in a state of shock, her eyes staring off into nothing as she simply repeated: “Mother… Why?”. Knight could feel her tears dropping onto his coat and wanted to stop to comfort the princess, but there was no time for that; they had to escape fast.

Rounding a corner, Iris and Neon suddenly halted as they saw a group of guards blocking their path. They tried to turn back, but saw Odysseus’ knights catching up to them. Knight caught up to his two comrades and the four of them were now trapped, with enemies on both sides.

Neon turned around and gathered energy into her horn. Without warning, he fired a blast at the giant window behind them, shattering it into pieces and delaying the incoming troops with a shockwave. “Hurry!” he shouted to Knight and Iris. “Get her out of here! I’ll hold these guys off!”


“No buts! Now go!”

Iris and Knight turned to each other and nodded before heading towards the window and jumping out of it. They spread their wings and began flying through the air. Taking one last look back, the two of them saw Neon fending off the enemies all around him, fighting valiantly… until he stopped moving and was thrown out of the window.

“NEON!” Iris shouted as she watched her comrade plummet to the ground. Tears were welling in her eyes, her blood boiling with anger.

“Don’t,” Knight said, forcing himself to keep his gaze straight ahead. “If you go back now, Neon’s sacrifice will be in vain. We must press on… for her sake.”

Iris reluctantly nodded and continued flying forward with Knight. Soon enough, though, the group was intercepted by a pursuing group of changeling guards. Iris told Knight to continue moving whilst she held them off.

“Princess, hold on tight!” Knight shouted as he increased his speed. Iris did a decent job of slowing down the pursuers, but two managed to slip by and quickly caught up to Knight. “Damnit! I won’t let you harm her!”

The two pursuers gathered energy into their horns and pointed them at Knight. As fast as he was, Knight was unable to avoid the incoming barrage of magical energy and was soon sent plummeting to the ground.

“Oh no you don’t!” Iris shouted as she charged towards the two pursuers. She got within range of them and used what was left of her energy to paralyze them with a powerful spell, the result of which left her too weak to continue flying.

The changeling guards that were still flying watched as Knight and Iris fell down into the dark forest below. “Search the forest! Find the princess and kill her on sight!”


The guards descended slowly into the forest and soon came across the bodies of Knight and Iris. However, the princess was nowhere to be found. Only a trail of hoofprints that led them to a nearby cliff.

“She must have started flying through the forest,” one of the guards reasoned. “She couldn’t have gotten far! Search the whole area!”

“Yes, sir!”

It was a nice, peaceful night. The kind of night that the Great and Powerful Trixie liked to enjoy whenever she was travelling between towns. There were no ponies nearby to bother her and the night sky was nice and clear. Trixie enjoyed just sitting back and looking at the stars. It was a nice way to forget about all of her troubles.

The wind also carried a nice, gentle breeze, which felt nice against Trixie’s coat. She hummed a tune to herself as she washed her cloak in the nearby stream. The water was crystal clear and even clean enough to drink from. Best of all, it was free. Maybe not quite as good as using a washing machine, but it got the job done and left her with bits to spend on food in the next town.

Soon, her humming became full on singing. “Sooo… giggle at the ghosties…” Trixie stopped for a moment, raising her eyebrow at the song she was singing. “Strange… Where does Trixie know this song from, anyway?” When she couldn’t recall the song’s origins, she simply shrugged and continued washing her cloak.

The campfire behind her was heating up some marshmallows, which Trixie was looking forward to enjoying under her favourite constellations. Indeed, it was a great night. She told herself that she would have to thank Princess Luna if she ever saw her. Not that that was likely to happen, of course.

Once her cloak was washed thoroughly, Trixie hung it on a nearby clothesline that she had set up. She walked over to her campfire, but just as she was about to sit down, she heard a rustling in the nearby bushes.

Trixie turned towards the bushes on full alert. What could be there? A wild animal? A monster? A stalker? A hyperactive fan who simply wanted to spend time with Trixie? The last thought scared her most. At least the other things she could deal with, but attacking a fan would not only ruin her reputation, but she also wouldn’t be able to claim that it was in self-defence.

The bushes stopped rustling, but Trixie could hear heavy breathing coming from them. “Who’s there? Show yourself!” Nothing. “Trixie demands you reveal yourself, right now!”

After a few seconds of silence, the bushes started rustling again and Trixie watched curiously as a white unicorn filly emerged from behind the bushes, with green hair and golden eyes. Trixie noticed that the filly was injured all over her body. There were cuts and scratches all over the young filly’s body and, although Trixie couldn’t see it in the dark of the night, she could pick up the scent of blood on the filly.

The filly’s entire body shook as she stared in wide-eyed horror at the blue mare before her. Trixie began to move towards the filly, causing her to flinch and try to run away. However, something was holding the filly in place. She looked down to see that she was no longer on the ground, and that she was moving towards the blue mare.

Trixie pulled the filly closer to her with her magic. “You’re injured,” she said, examining her wounds more closely in the light of the campfire. She then heard a growl come from the filly, but it wasn’t from her mouth. She looked into the filly’s eyes as she begged Trixie to let her go. There was something in those eyes that made Trixie’s own widen.

Trixie levitated the marshmallows that she was planning on eating and brought them over to the filly. “Eat,” she said. The filly looked at her with a confused look as her stomach let out another hungry growl. “Trixie’s not having anypony’s death on her conscious. Now eat.”

The filly looked at the marshmallows, then back at Trixie, then back at the marshmallows. After one final growl from her stomach, she seemed to give in to the pressure and reached out towards the marshmallows.

Trixie lowered the unicorn to the ground but watched her carefully, in case she tried to run away. As the unicorn ate the marshmallows, Trixie realised that she wouldn’t be going anywhere and went into her trailer to bring out a first aid kit and some shampoo.

Once the filly was finished eating, not even leaving a single morsel of food behind for Trixie, she was once again pulled up into Trixie’s magical field. This time, she struggled with a little more energy. Already the effects of having a proper meal after three days of starvation were beginning to show on the filly. Even so, in her current state, she was powerless to fend off Trixie’s magic and, before she knew it, she was lowered into the nearby stream.

“Hold still,” Trixie ordered, levitating the shampoo and squirting some into the filly’s mane. “You’re covered in blood. Trixie hates the smell of it, so she’s going to fix it.” The filly resisted at first, but soon calmed down when she realised that Trixie wasn’t going to hurt her. Or rather, that it would hurt if she kept moving whilst Trixie tried to wash her mane.

“… Why are you helping me? I’m a stranger to you.”

Trixie levitated a bucket that she had brought outside, gathered some water into it and dumped it onto the filly’s head. “I don’t know,” Trixie admitted, grabbing a bar of soap and offering it to the filly, deciding that cleaning the rest of her body might be too awkward for the filly. “Trixie does what she wants. She doesn’t need to give a reason.”

The filly looked at the bar of soap quizzically, and then back up at Trixie. “What do I do?” she asked.

Trixie raised an eyebrow at the filly. “You’ve never washed yourself before?”

The filly shook her head at the question. “Vanilla and Raspberry usually wash me.” She lowered her head as she thought about her maids. Were they killed, too? Was everyone associated with the princess killed, or just her knights? They did offer Iris a chance to step aside, so maybe the others were still safe… That was the hope running through the young filly’s mind.

Trixie sighed and lifted the soap with her magic. There was no choice; she had to clean the filly and they were too far away from the nearest town. “So, where are you from?” Trixie asked. The filly winced and turned her head away. “Look, Trixie has no intention of leaving you out here. Trixie knows what the world is like on your own and you’re clearly not prepared to face it.”

The filly remained silent for a moment, before saying, “I can’t go home…” Trixie was about to ask why not, but the filly continued on her own. “If I go back, Momma will… She’ll try to… again…”

Parts of the filly’s sentence were too quiet for Trixie to hear, but she saw the tears running down the filly’s face and the fear running through her body. Trixie could only guess at what happened. ‘Could it be she was abused by her mother? That would explain why she’s so afraid of me right now… I should hand her over to the police. They’ll be able to get her the help she needs…

Once Trixie finished washing the filly and drying her off, she started to apply some first aid to the filly’s wounds. The filly winced in pain the entire time and Trixie eventually had to use her magic to keep her still. Once she was finished, Trixie offered to let the filly sleep inside her trailer.

The filly declined initially, but when Trixie warned her that dangerous animals and deadly monsters – the latter being something she made up simply to scare the filly – wandered the roads between towns at night, the filly reluctantly accepted Trixie’s offer.

Despite all that had happened over the past few days, the filly was happy to finally be sleeping in a nice, warm bed and drifted off to sleep fairly easily, her entire body exhausted from walking all day.

Trixie watched as the filly slept, preparing a sandwich since her original meal had been taken by the filly. Trixie wondered why she was going so far to help the filly. Yes, leaving her all alone would be cruel and would weigh heavily on her conscience, but there was no need to share her food with her, or was her up. She could have just made her way to town and dumped her off at the police station. Then she would be free to travel without needing to think back on the filly.

A thought passed through Trixie’s mind and she levitated the map lying on the floor of her trailer, opening it up. The nearest town was Manehatten. ‘That’s no good,’ Trixie thought. ‘Their police department is so incompetent, and they already have their hooves full with petty thefts and robberies. They wouldn’t be able to give this filly the proper care she needs.

Trixie sat in silence for a bit, before wondering why she cared what kind of treatment the filly got. She looked back at the filly and remembered the first time she looked directly into her eyes. Something about those eyes stuck out to Trixie, but she couldn’t place her hoof on it.

“Momma… please don’t hate me… I’m sorry…”

The filly was apparently having a nightmare. Trixie could see tears rolling down the filly’s cheeks, and then it hit her. This filly, she reminded Trixie of herself. Those eyes were the same eyes Trixie wore when her family had died and she was forced to live out on the streets. They were the eyes of somepony who had lost everything, including the ability to trust others. The eyes of somepony who was scared and alone.

The difference between Trixie and this filly was that Trixie was never picked up by anypony. She had to strengthen herself in order to survive and, before she discovered her talent for showmareship, had to steal in order to get by. It was a dark time in Trixie’s past. One that she’d rather forget altogether.

Trixie could tell that this filly was in the same place that Trixie was in back when she was just a filly, and if the filly wasn’t given to a warm, caring family, then Trixie wasn’t sure if she would survive or not. Her eyes were too soft, too gentle. ‘But then, so were mine, before I had to toughen myself up… I had to trade my innocence in order to survive…

Trixie wiped her tail against the filly’s face to wipe the tears away and then made up her mind. She returned to the map, scanning it to find a nearby town that would be able to properly care for this filly. Somewhere nice, where one could find a healthy education and a nice family. Somewhere quiet, with a low crime rate. Somewhere out of the way, where the filly could easily adjust.

Only one town fit the bill: Ponyville.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2 Estimated time remaining: 6 Hours, 59 Minutes
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