Inheritor of Chaos - Chapter 25, Shadows of bravery

Sep 3rd, 2018
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  1. >The dark clouds in the sky were a gray, depressing color. Darkness filled everything at sight and there was a deep silence in the Empire, not even the slaves were heard in the deep mine.
  2. >All looked hopeless, even from the view of your window at your room in the castle.
  3. >You walk up to the only mirror in your room, it was big enough for the size of a princess. You stare and take a sigh, you felt anxiety seeing at your reflection. How can years change a filly from happiness to... how you are right now?
  4. >A filly, going to school, playing with her friends and not having a worry in the world.
  5. >A filly, escaping from a living legend only foals would think was real.
  6. >A filly, trying to survive against a mad God in a corrupted world, worrying about her friends.
  7. >A filly... in a battle armor, a sudden change in her eyes to yellow for unknown reasons and with dark powers taught by a tyrant and worried about everything.
  8. >Can you call yourself a filly after all of this? You even got renamed by this king and... you accepted it so easily.
  9. >...
  10. >But you know things will change someday, you may not be close to any friends or family but... there is hope somewhere.
  11. >Even if there is no hope in sight, even if the days you yourself made it until you're here were one by one erased, you won't give up and carry on.
  12. >For your friends, family, and sister.
  13. >There must be a way to change things back to how they were. The elements... the princess... you just need to-
  14. >Is your reflection showing something else?
  15. "Uh?"
  16. >You take a closer look at your reflection, behind your reflection on the mirror was... somepony else. But, as you turn around, there was nopony here in your room.
  17. >You keep looking until the figure of the pony becomes clear, it looks like... a colt.
  18. "Anon?"
  19. >You look back again out of reflex, but he wasn't there. Why was he in the mirror of the room? Was it magical or something? And if so, why does it show Anon, from all the ponies in Equestria?
  20. >You tap the mirror with your hoof, somehow Anon turns himself to stare at you... or was he?
  21. >"And my right eye is still yellow... I look like a freaking cat."
  22. "Anon? Can you hear me?"
  23. >"Hmm..."
  24. >Was he playing you a joke? He is... Discord's son, but... why in a mirror? It looks like he is talking to himself.
  25. >Wait, what is he doing now?
  26. >"N-Nyah!" Anon just... placed his hooves in front of him, attempting to be a... cat? "...Parezco pendejo haciendo esto... (I look dumb doing this...) good thing Discord isn’t here or he would turn me into a cat or worse! Make me wear some girly dress.”
  27. >Pen...dihjo? Somehow there were subtitles in the mirror translating his Spanish but, was he doing all of this on purpose?
  28. "What the hay is going on... Anon, if this is a joke, stop it!"
  29. >You tap the mirror twice again, just to see if anything happens or he stops.
  30. >This time he continued doing cat poses.
  31. >“Alberto the mighty cat! With powers of nocturne vision! Nya ha ha ha! Ha…”
  32. "Pffft. . ." You couldn't nearly contain your laughter as Anon was trying still to be a cat of some sort.
  33. >Maybe he is doing this for you and is trying to make you feel good... which, part of you really needed that.
  34. >"I have no powers yet I have this eye, I wonder if I still . . . . . . ."
  35. >The reflection of Anon started to fade away, leaving your reflection alone.
  36. >You really don't understand chaos and never will, but Anon is probably used to it by now... but some things he said made you curious.
  37. >He is... powerless? How?
  38. >And what is an “Alberto”? Was it some Spanish word?
  39. >If he is playing a prank on you...
  40. >You take a sigh. There is no way that was a prank, it could be anything.
  41. >Right now, the best is to ignore it and not mention it to anypony. ...Not like you can trust anypony in this empire or anypony can believe you on that.
  42. >A sudden knock on your room interrupts your thoughts.
  43. >"Princess Penumbra, it's time." Called one of Chrysalis' changelings.
  44. >You didn't reply.
  45. >"..." There was another knock from the changeling, this time a rushed knock.
  46. >You hold your breath and turn into your own shadow, as creepy and exhausting as it was, you needed to continue practicing it.
  47. >You move under the door and behind the changeling, re-appearing behind him. It was the personal guard of Queen Chrysalis, Pharynx.
  48. >And just like that your humor ran away... you dislike him a lot, not only for his stubborn appearance but because he was the first Changeling to fight against you.
  49. >"I know you're behind me, but I hate when you do that." He said, nearly hissing at you.
  50. "The feeling is mutual, I hate everything about you, changeling."
  51. >"I call you by your loyal title, at least call me by my darn rank."
  52. "I'm not a princess, but you are a changeling and nothing else to me. I don't care what ranks you guys call yourselves and will never do."
  53. >Pharynx growled, starting to walk away.
  54. >"I hope you get stuck one of these days in your shadow form forever."
  55. "And I wish you become something else that isn't a disgusting changeling and stay stuck as other creature, like the Tatzlwurm you creatures are."
  56. >Pharynx turned around, angrily and almost preparing his horn for an attack or to morph into any other creature.
  57. >"I would gladly like to turn into a Tatzlwurm, maybe dig a deep hole for you to fall and never see the light! How about that?"
  58. "Aww, what's that? Did I hurt something this time that wasn't part of your body that you had to say that?" You taunt him and prepare your horn in case he thinks of something. "I thought that tongue of yours was just for hissing and not threatening."
  59. >"Wise choice of words for a pony that can't do anything on herself without having to wait for his /daddy/ to say so!" He was also charging his horn in case you attacked first.
  60. "Is your tongue okay? I think you bite it so hard since YOU ALSO CAN'T DO ANYTHING BUT FOLLOW THAT HORRIBLE AND UGLY LOOKING QUEEN ALL AROUND!"
  61. >"Why you little...!"
  62. >You were head to head with the changeling, without a doubt you would cast a spell that would shut him for the whole week, but two other presences were in the corridor with you two.
  63. >"Enough, you two." The shape shifting voice of Chrysalis says. "Save some strength for the task ahead."
  64. >Sombra was along with her, but he didn't say a word, just had the cold expression he always had.
  65. >He may hate changelings as well, it wasn't his deal to team with the changelings, to begin with, or it was that he didn't want to share lands with the Queen. He looks like the kind to work alone, even when he captured you and forced into being a princess.
  66. >Whatever it was, you disliked it. You disliked every single thing in this empire.
  67. >Your horn stopped growing and you walked past the changeling, ignoring him and going directly at Sombra.
  68. "Is this really necessary? Shouldn't we have peace instead of starting a war? We should think contrary of what Discord says, violence just won't solve anything."
  69. >"Hmph. I don't care if that Buffon of a God enjoys the destruction of the nations my army is going to bring, time is on our side."
  70. >Queen Chrysalis complained and rolled her eyes.
  71. >"As much as I don't like to say it, Sombra is right. Discord could take control of the empire, turn Sombra's army and mine into whatever his twisted mind could think of and humiliate us in thousands of different ways within a snap of his talons, which, he hasn't."
  72. "So, your plan is to ignore Discord until some opportunity happens? Is that it?"
  73. >"I couldn't have said it better myself." Sombra held a grin in his face. "Even if he is a powerful being, that doesn't mean we can't defeat him and take control. Besides, you ponies already tried and failed from what Queen Chrysalis has told me, so we don't have many options left."
  74. >And just with that, Sombra didn't say anything else and walked to the end of the hallway, followed by Chrysalis and Pharynx, most likely going outside the castle to prepare the scouting team.
  75. >Sombra and Chrysalis were planning on invading not ponies, but creatures that weren't related with them in a search for any artifact they could use against Discord. Their worst and desperate plan yet was to unleash the doors of Tartarus, fighting the three-headed guardian dog Cerberus and freeing every soul trapped in there.
  76. >You didn't like being part of this, but you really had no other choice.
  77. >Not yet, at least.
  78. >If only you could escape somehow, you could give this information to anypony... but there is nopony left to trust on.
  79. >...There were Anon and Thorax, but...
  80. "Whatever..."
  81. >Thinking that later. As for now, you're heading north of the Crystal Empire, to a town a squad of changelings discovered scouting around, so you better go outside and prepare.
  82. >Chrysalis is being forced to be in Discord's castle for the day and Sombra is just testing you out, you could probably work out and make peace with whatever creatures you find.
  83. >If anything, you won't start the war but stop it from happening.
  85. "What do you mean I have to go with that thing?!"
  86. >You were angry, as Sombra told you just now that you were going with that stubborn changeling, Pharynx, to the current mission.
  87. >"Curious, I asked my queen the exact same thing." Pharynx says, complaining while avoiding eye contact with you.
  88. >"Stop acting like kids and obey our commands. We’ve got a heavy and busy schedule for today and as much as I would like to do ANYTHING other than visiting that clown... ugh, I have to go."
  89. >Although Chrysalis called you two out, you were a kid... not sure about the changeling and you surely don't care.
  90. >"If you have the opportunity, erase his neck with the point of your horn. I'd give anything to shut up that spirit of chaos forever."
  91. >"Oh, believe me, I will try to do so, but not only with my horn." She started cracking in laughter. "If his love for chaos is so big, I don't think he would mind giving me a part of it so my minions can carry on future operations."
  92. >"You can always ask. And who knows? Maybe I'll actually share something."
  93. >That voice that interrupted Chrysalis and Sombra made them startled and started to look around, it was the voice from Discord which was echoing from somewhere.
  94. >Changelings around were on guard, especially Pharynx who was already flying and trying to see where Discord was.
  95. >"Where are you? Show yourself! I'm not afraid! I will personally protect my Queen!"
  96. "Sure, what are you going to do? Turn into a big spider just for him to snap his fingers and trap you in some sort of mousetrap?” You say uninterested to the stubborn changeling that was looking around, but he didn’t listen to any of what you had to say.
  97. >You feel a chill down your back and while you tried to look back, you feel a lion paw coming from nowhere.
  98. >It was then that the whole body of Discord appeared, his claws made you unable to turn into a shadow or escape his grip.
  99. >”That’s actually not a bad idea! I was thinking a cage would do, but a mousetrap… you have talent, miss.”
  100. “Ugh! Release me!”
  101. >He did without a second thought and you quickly jumped back, meters from his presence.
  102. “What do you want here?
  103. >”Nothing much actually, I’m pretty bored at my domains. I just come to pick up the Queen of the bugs and go back to doing my mischief.” Discord shrugged. “But not before asking you a few questions, little crush on my son.”
  104. >Crush?!
  105. “I-I don’t have a crush on Anon! We’re enemies, that’s it!”
  106. >”Hmph. Sure. Back to the questions, tell me, wouldn’t you like to be working for me? Dark magic is-phfft, boring, isn’t it? Why don't you go for the big deal? I can remove your dark powers pretty easily and give you the good deal! Uh? What da ya say?"
  107. >He was giving you his claw as if you were one hundred percent accepting his deal.
  108. >As if you're accepting this monster...
  109. "You think after all you've done to us, I will go and take your deal? I rather go back in time and accept being under the rules of Nightmare Moon rather than you!"
  110. >"Beware of what you say, little filly." Discord made appear a notepad in his paw and started to write, or probably scribble. "I could bring her back, or maybe I already did? Or... perhaps I did it with Celestia? Hahaha."
  111. >...
  112. >You've noticed that it's been quiet ever since Discord started talking to you.
  113. >You didn't turn around but you eyed around, saw a bunch of changelings frozen in place, most likely Discord's doing.
  114. "Why did you stop time? Just to ask dumb questions?"
  115. >"Why do you think that?" Discord says as he was writing something behind Chrysalis' back.
  116. "Your territory is chaos, asking me questions like that in front of Sombra would just make him aggressive, probably."
  117. >"Probably, yes, but still, I do things without thinking... so that way nopony expects something coming from me, not even me!" He says while drawing fake glasses and a mustache with a white marker on Sombra's face.
  118. >...You tried to hide your grin behind a cough as you place your hoof over your muzzle.
  119. "So what are your other questions?"
  120. >"Questions? Oh, did I talk in plural again? Sorry, dear, I got carried away! I just wanted to do something fun to the two biggest authorities in this empire before talking business with them again. But where are my manners? If you have something to ask, go ahead."
  121. >It's as if he knows you have something to ask him.
  122. "Where is Anon?"
  123. >Discord stared at you with the biggest grin ever while touching his goat beard.
  124. "Don't get any wrong ideas, just answer."
  125. >"Sure, sure... I sent my son into another dimension, to test his abilities of course."
  126. >He... what?
  127. "You what?"
  128. >Discord complained visibly.
  129. >"Do I have to write it down? Wait, I don't. Writing isn't part of my job!" He stared into the sky. "Right? Hmm?"
  130. >What was he doing? Staring at the sky as if he was talking to somepony?
  131. >Discord stared down back at you.
  132. >"Don't worry about that. As I was saying, I sent little Anon into another dimension, he has a goal and when he completes it, he will return... eventually… probably... who knows?"
  133. "What do you mean with that?"
  134. >"Ugh... so many questions. Listen filly, I'm just giving him the same test Sombra is going to give to you. Anon doesn't have control of his powers without being near me, same goes for you with Sombra. Once he is done with that he will return, time doesn't run at the exact time like in here, it could be years in that dimension and he would still come back tomorrow."
  135. >That is worrying, just worrying! How could this evil spirit of chaos do a thing like that? Send a colt to another dimension? Just... why?
  136. >And… your powers were linked with Sombra the same way his were with Anon? You didn’t even think Sombra would test you, not this… quick, you mean.
  137. >You were about to speak but Discord placed his claw in front of your muzzle, hushing you before talking.
  138. >"And before you talk, you can't go and make him return. There is no other way to travel to that dimension, I gave Anon the only way in and out. Aaaand if you go without the required amount of magic... well, I haven't tested what happens if you travel another dimension without that. Maybe you'll change from a pony into a dragon? Or gain an extra eye! Actually, you wanna give it a try? It could be fun! For me, I mean."
  139. >You… surely weren’t going to ask that.
  140. “Can’t you… seize your randomness for a few seconds? I wasn’t going to ask that. I actually want to know how Anon is in another dimension if I… just saw him in my mirror?”
  141. >Discord’s raised his eyebrow for a second and rubbed his beard.
  142. >”You saw him? Hmm… I don’t think I believe you.”
  143. “He said he was powerless, this is what made me doubt for a moment it was some sort of prank, but you saying he is in another dimension? It… makes me feel odd about just seeing him in my mirror and I… I can’t get this feeling out now.”
  144. >”There is nothing worrying about feeling odd, just look at me! I am the king of weirdness! You should be fine." Discord teleported from in front of you to behind of you. “Or will you? Maybe the dark powers are getting to your head? Who knows how you’ll do without Sombra for a time?” He started laughing.
  145. >He wasn’t scaring you.
  146. >You didn’t even reply to his mockery as he felt disappointed that you weren’t angry or replying back at him.
  147. >”You ponies aren’t funny, you know that?” His dragon tail looked like it snapped as if they were talons and everypony around started moving once again. “So, I came here to chew bubblegum and carry the nanny home! …and I forgot to bring bubblegum.”
  148. >Discord snapped his talons and Chrysalis was suddenly levitating in a pink giant bubble.
  149. >She was so slow to react that her attacks on the bubble were doing no damage to it, the changelings around tried to save her queen but it was useless.
  150. >”Or maybe I didn’t forget! Anyway, I’m taking this home. You don’t mind, do you, King Sombra?”
  151. >Sombra took a bow to Discord and shook his head slowly.
  152. >”Be my guest, Discord. If you need me, I’ll be at the library of the empire, studying for what I missed for so long.”
  153. >Chrysalis was trying to scream inside the bubble, but nothing was heard. As for Sombra, he just gave Chrysalis to Discord as if she was nothing.
  154. >”Perfect.” Discord was about to snap his talons, but he turned to see you one moment before. “Ah, yes, I removed all the mist that used to do the lazy work for me. Nothing can’t stop you to go conquer other lands… I really wouldn’t start with the north, but who I am to say that? Go ahead!”
  155. >Was that a grim invitation?
  156. >Before Discord teleported away to his domains, you asked one last thing to him.
  157. “What if Anon gets hurt during his adventure?”
  158. >Discord stared at you with nothing but a smug, devilish grin.
  159. >”Then that will be an important lesson.”
  160. >He then snapped his talons, and they were gone from the Crystal Empire.
  162. >As Discord and Chrysalis were gone and with Sombra going into his personal library, you had no other choice but to go north to the limits of the Crystal Empire, where the hidden village was located.
  163. >Hopefully, whatever creature you find is peaceful and can retreat to somewhere more safe than near the Crystal Empire.
  164. >What you fear is that this… stubborn changeling actually messes up and threatens the whole village, starting the war just mere seconds of talking.
  165. >Maybe… just maybe, you could paralyze this changeling for a few seconds, probably a minute or so with a new spell that you learned the other day.
  166. >You haven’t tested it that much, just with the blue butterflies that appear from time to time in your room but… it could work. If it worked with a few of them, it could work with him.
  167. >It's a harmless spell that doesn't anything than paralyze the target you aim at, and, as much as you wouldn't mind harming this... bug, you need to control yourself. This is not the way either Nurse Redheart or Pinkamena would want to see you act like.
  168. >Probably Fluttershy, she always acted without hesitation.
  169. >You just need to see the perfect opportunity to cast the spell in front of his muzzle.
  172. "..."
  173. >You two keep on walking in the vast snow, you had your battle armor to protect you from the blizzard that was currently affecting the road to the hidden town.
  174. >It could take you days to get there... even weeks. But, at least there was no mist as Discord promised.
  175. >You still don't trust him.
  176. >The sky in this part of the Frozen North wasn't as dark as it was in the Crystal Empire, the clouds were closer than what it appeared to be, but it was enjoyable to see them white instead of the depressing gray.
  177. >You'd never thought you would go to a mountain, let alone with a changeling... but here you are now.
  178. >The two of you didn't try to talk with each other for obvious reasons, but time to time you eyed Pharynx. He was shivering, even when he had his own armor.
  179. >Changelings don't have coat like ponies do, so he must be suffering in this weather.
  180. >You really, really didn't want to ask or care about him... but you are not as cold as Sombra, not even in this weather.
  181. "Are you alright?"
  182. >Pharynx didn't reply, he just kept on walking. He probably couldn't fly in the situation of this weather to even get a view if we were close.
  183. "Can't you change into something more comfortable for this weather?" You tried raising your voice a bit, the blizzard was making it hard to communicate.
  184. >"Can't you just shut up?" He yelled back.
  185. >...
  186. >What else did you expect? Now part of you wanted to paralyze him and let him freeze in the middle of this mountain.
  187. >...Did you really think that? What Discord said about the distance between Sombra and you was right? He can lie at any point and whatever he said could be false.
  188. >What if Anon isn't in another dimension? After all, you saw him in your mirror... right?
  189. >You take a sigh.
  190. >Maybe trusting Discord is a silly thing to do.
  191. >As you two keep on walking, the blizzard became worse, to a point where you couldn't even see where you were heading towards. This was dangerous, you two could be walking in circles and never notice that the wind was too strong, strong enough to move your body to your left and right side constantly.
  192. >You placed your hoof over your forehead, trying to see anything through the thick snow, but you could barely see anything...
  193. "I think we need to search for shelter until the storm passes!" You yelled to Pharynx, but he didn't reply back.
  194. >You tried to see where he was currently at, and luckily you saw a glance of the shadow of him that went into the left direction.
  195. >You only could complain as you followed him, then you saw it.
  196. >Pharynx found a cavern as shelter somehow but he didn't tell you nor did he point it out.
  197. >He wanted you to freeze out here? This changeling doesn't have a heart!
  198. "I think the paralyze spell isn't a bad idea now..."
  200. >As you entered the cavern, Pharynx was already warming inside, he even placed some logs and branches to start a fire.
  201. >Still, you're mad.
  202. "What the hay is the problem with you?"
  203. >He didn't turn to talk to you but was already trying to start the fire while talking with not much interest.
  204. >"Only one, and it's in this cavern with me."
  205. >Ugh!
  206. "Couldn't you tell me you found a cavern? You did find it and didn't tell me, did you?"
  207. >Pharynx just shrugged.
  208. >"Who knows? We changelings have a perfect eye to spot and scout, but maybe I found this cave out of luck? Besides, the snowstorm was too noisy for us to talk."
  209. >Pharynx finally started the fire, but you just didn't feel like sharing it with him... and he probably thought the same about you.
  210. "Fine."
  211. >You walked to the other side of the cavern and sat there, staring at the storm as it continued without ceasing.
  212. "Looks like we'll be here for a while..."
  213. >"It seems." Pharynx said, staring into the fire and embracing the warmth of it with his hooves.
  214. >You don't need fire anyway, your armor was enough to warm you.
  216. >The sound of the snowstorm and the ashes from the branches that were in the fire were the only sound to listen to right now.
  217. >It wasn't that bad... all the noise from the blizzard could barely be heard, thanks to the cavern.
  218. >Maybe Anon has it worse than you right now? Probably doing something chaotic somewhere warmer.
  219. >Heh, if you were with him at least you could stop the snowstorm and go quickly through the Frozen North.
  220. "..." You take a silent sigh.
  221. >Why are you thinking of him at these moments? You just... want somepony right now to... cuddle... right?
  222. >Your heart started to beat a bit faster, hopefully, it was because you were thinking about Anon. Worst case scenario? It was hypothermia.
  223. >At least thinking of him makes you feel warmer than wearing this armor.
  224. >"Feeling love in this storm while inside a cavern in a mountain? You sure are sadistic."
  225. "Eep!" You weren't expecting him to talk so suddenly!
  226. >"What? Didn't know changelings can feel other ponies' feelings? Right, because we're only bugs."
  227. >You stared at him for a moment, he just stared back without saying anything.
  228. >...You should remember that almost all changelings are not the same, there was this one... Thorax, that saved you willingly. But you have a hard time remembering what happened to him.
  229. >Maybe you should start trying to communicate with Pharynx and not gain any more enemies that you already have.
  230. >You take yet another sigh... it's going to be a hard thing to do.
  231. >How do you begin...
  232. "Lieutenant or something Pharynx..."
  233. >His ears perked up, surprised that you were calling him by his rank.
  234. >"Captain, Captain Pharynx."
  235. >Oh for the love of-
  236. "Fiiiine, Captain Pharynx, I realized that our relationship is so far bad and all, we didn't have a good start with all and that fight. You... wanna start again? I'm Swe-" You stopped for a second... you really didn't like your new name, but once all this ends... you will call yourself back as to how you were. "Penumbra. I'm good, see?"
  237. >You stand up and tried to give him your hoof for him to shake, but he rejected it and slapped your hoof instead.
  238. >"I know you're good! That's why I hate you! Just look at you, a princess that has the power to start conquering! But no! You want peace and to help others! I feel it, you will never be bad!"
  239. "And why is that a bad thing? I'm a filly, let me tell you! I never asked for this! You will never feel how bad I feel! Every day that I woke up I feel as the unluckiest filly in Equestria!
  240. >The cavern suddenly started shaking, you could feel wrath raising inside of you.
  241. "I have no home, no family, no friends! But yes, I'm good! I will never move to the other side! Because! I! Will! MAKE THINGS RIGHT!"
  242. >You stomped your hoof on the dry floor of the cavern enough to make stalactites fall into the floor, near where you two were discussing.
  243. >The fire went out and your breathing was heavy while somehow your vision became purple, but you still were able to hear what Pharynx had to say to you.
  244. >"So what? No family, home, nothing? Try living as a changeling scout- The CAPTAIN of the scouting changelings, trying to look up for sources of food! Because that's the only thing that keeps us alive! You wanna know what happens with a changeling that no longer feeds on love?"
  245. >Pharynx stomped his hoof on the floor, once again there was a tiny rumble in the cavern.
  246. >"Empty shells! Nothing. ELSE! But we're just bugs, right?" Pharynx morphed into a giant monster spider in front of you, big enough for the size of this cavern. "Then let us be bugs."
  247. >You couldn't... control your magic right now to defend yourself, you had a heavy headache that was blocking any magic, he was gonna hit you and take advantage of the situation!
  248. >You heard a mighty roaring from behind, you tried to turn and see what that was, but Pharynx moved you out of the way in a rough way that you nearly collapsed near the wall of the cavern.
  249. "Gah!"
  250. >As you regained conscience, you see as Pharynx was fighting against a Yeti and by the looks of it, losing greatly.
  251. >The Yeti roared as his fangs were near Pharynx's head, easily evading all of Pharynx’s attacks; but he tried all his best to defend himself.
  252. >You could mock him about his lack of strength, but he must be weak from the walk from the borders of the Crystal Empire.
  253. >Mocking…? Seriously? What are you thinking!
  254. >This was a good moment to test your new spell in a creature. Just focus, focus!
  255. >You focus your magic into the Yeti as Pharynx was making him unable to attack him further. Hopefully, you don’t need to use any dark magic now.
  256. >After a few seconds of casting, the spell finally was completed and you cast it without hesitation against the Yeti.
  257. >The Yeti roared furiously as he stopped trying to bite Pharynx, he stood in front of you for a few seconds only to weekly fall into the floor of the cavern with a big grunt.
  258. >That was... close.
  259. >Pharynx changed to his normal self and sat immediately on the floor, exhausted from the brawl.
  260. "Now we're even." You told him while holding a grin.
  261. >"I never asked for your help." He said, probably trying to save any pride he had.
  262. >...
  263. >Still, he saved you. If it wasn't for him knocking you to the side of the wall of the cavern, maybe you would be injured by now by the Yeti.
  264. "Thanks."
  265. >"DON'T... say it... I don't need your kindness, not now that we're in a storm still. Who knows how long this Yeti will remain like that? I hope you're at least good with your magic!"
  266. "Okay then, I'm gonna say 'You're welcome' if you don't mind."
  267. >"I DO MIND! Besides... I will be the one destroying you, not this Yeti. That's right! I didn't save you, I just prolonged your destruction!"
  268. >Stubborn changeling...
  269. >It made you giggle, still.
  270. >"Right! Laugh at me! I couldn't defeat the Yeti alone without the help of a filly! Keep laughing!"
  271. "I'm not laughing for that, I'm just... glad, you know? I just... like it when nothing bad happens."
  272. >"Hmph, I rather like when something bad happens."
  273. "Oh, so you do like things?"
  274. >"No! I hate things!"
  275. "Even love?"
  276. >"...AGH!" Pharynx turned around and sat with his hooves crossing his chest, surely didn't want to answer to you.
  277. >Now, if only the weather changed to our advantage...
  278. >"...The storm is over."
  279. >You were... actually surprised that indeed, the storm was over! You should have noticed after all the silence in the cave when Pharynx went back to be a grumpy changeling.
  280. "Then let's make haste and go where we need to be."
  281. >"You don't make the orders in here!"
  282. >You started walking outside the cavern but turned to see Pharynx.
  283. "Well, have fun making friends with the Yeti then."
  284. >The Yeti groaned in reply, Pharynx instantly stands up and follows you outside the cavern.
  286. >The sky was clear, it wasn't freezing anymore and the sun was actually helping you two to keep warm and look where the village could be located.
  287. >You noticed that Pharynx wasn't shivering anymore, you didn't say anything about it but at least he no longer has to worry about that.
  288. >You did smile a bit while staring at Pharynx for that, but you turned away once he looked at you, he probably noticed you staring at him for a brief moment.
  289. >"I sense heat signatures from nearby, the village north the Empire probably started a bonfire not long ago." Pharynx's changelings ears started to perk up. "I'd say it was started as the blizzard was starting if I'm not mistaken... a few hours ago, probably."
  290. "Huh." You placed your hoof over your forehead to see if you could spot any smoke so the directions were more clear, but you couldn't find anything. "Are you sure? I don't see any smoke."
  291. >"There could be many explanations. Most likely, the bonfire isn't strong enough to make smoke since the blizzard started."
  292. >Haven't you two walked a lot though? It's hard to believe you haven't made it to the village yet. Since the blizzard was disorienting you two, it probably made it feel like you’ve been walking longer than you thought.
  293. >Well at least you packed a few snacks, not thanks to Sombra- who doesn't remember you're a filly and you probably could get hungry at any time during this mission.
  294. >Speaking of which...
  295. "Hey Pharynx"
  296. >"Captain Pharynx."
  297. >Of course.
  298. "Don't you ever get hungry?"
  299. >"All the time."
  300. >You flinched but he didn't seem to care as he continued walking towards the village, even his voice sounds serious and not unpleasant for the fact that he hasn't eaten well.
  301. "Do... you guys survive long enough without food? Or does your Queen bring you guys anything at least?"
  302. >"We do not get the love for ourselves, we bring it to our Queen in order for her to become stronger, then, if she recognizes our labor... we get a part."
  303. >That's just... mean. Chrysalis gets all the love and only gets to share a bit to her changelings? ...No wonder they're angry and hissing all the time.
  304. >You suddenly remembered Thorax and how kind he was in rescuing you.
  305. "What happens if a changeling decides to... just not eat love?"
  306. >"Pfft. The only changeling dumb enough I know to do that is my brother, but even he knows that we need love to survive. One of these days it's gonna bite him whenever he isn't aware and... and..."
  307. >Pharynx suddenly stopped, starting to stare angrily at the snow of the ground.
  308. >"That pushover is just a trouble in my fangs... he just had to run away out of nowhere..." Pharynx mid-whispered to himself.
  309. "What was that?"
  310. >"Nothing." Pharynx once again started walking.
  311. >He, too, tried to evade any questions you made.
  312. "Do you worry about where he could be?"
  313. >"..."
  314. "Is it Discord's fault too that he went missing?"
  315. >"..."
  316. "...Are you afraid he is...?"
  317. >"WILL YOU SHUT UP AND-" Pharynx stopped and hissed instantly while treating you, only to hush mid-sentence and become alert on something. "This isn't right... I can sense multiple signatures of heat where the village is. This isn't a bonfire, this is..."
  318. >You stare at the distance, there was a hill covered in snow and some that were melting, up there was a sign and a pair of closed doors with the sign "Welcome to Yakyakistan".
  319. >You never knew of this village before, never did anypony in the Everfree Forest talk about beyond the Frozen North, but there was something in the air that made you start worrying for some reason.
  320. "The smell of ashes..."
  321. >Just... what is in this village? What lives in here?
  322. >You two had a feeling that you needed to be up there, and quick.
  323. >As you two ran towards the hill, it was starting to melt and it was too slippery to climb.
  324. >You hear the sound of Pharynx magic morphing and, as you turn to see him, you see he turned into a big black Bugbear.
  325. "I'm interested in how you can transform in all these creatures... do you have to see them in order to turn or do you fight them and learn?"
  326. >Pharynx shrugged. "Something natural from changelings."
  327. >Pharynx picked you up with two of his panda paws and you two began flying over the melted hill.
  328. "You know I can turn into a shadow and just go over that hill, right?
  329. >"Shut up, I know you can but we need to recognize the terrain from above. The fire could be a trap."
  330. >Somehow, you could tell Pharynx was lying when trying to say that this could be a trap. This doesn't feel like a trap for us... rather, it felt like something else.
  331. >Also, we? Is he now getting into teamwork? With you?
  332. >Well, as long as he doesn't let you fall from here...
  334. >As you two gained a good spot to see the whole village, the realization of what happened to the whole place shocked you.
  335. >Dragons. Lots of them.
  336. >The creatures from this village weren't preparing something or just doing a bonfire, the whole place was burning down thanks to the dragons.
  337. >"It seems we weren't the only ones thinking to conquer other lands, the dragons are moving too."
  338. "But... why?"
  339. >Pharynx didn't reply and he didn't even land on the ground, he was thinking deeply into this situation.
  340. >You didn't want to see this village anymore, it was a sad view with most of the buildings that looked were made out of hay, burned down and most of the place was just ashes with melted ice.
  341. >There were only dragons and it didn't appear there were any more creatures.
  342. "You think we need to talk to them-"
  343. >Before you could finish your sentence, Pharynx moved quickly to the left, evading the fire coming from a dragon that spotted you two flying over the burned village.
  344. >"There is no use." Pharynx clenched his two Bugbear paws that wasn't using to hold you and gripped his teeth as he looked with anger at the dragon that tried to attack both of you. "You can land on your shadow, right?"
  345. "What do you think I am? A cat?! I haven't seen if I can do that yet!"
  346. >"Testing now, regret it later." Pharynx released you and went instantly towards the dragon that started the fight while you were falling to the melted ice.
  347. >You didn't have time to scream, there was no use, so you just focused your dark magic and made a portal on your shadow that was on the ground. After apparently landing on your shadow, you jumped from the shadow of a nearby burned building that made you bounce into the ground, harmless from the fall.
  348. "So now I can use any shadows and not just creatures' shadows... that will come in handy."
  349. >You used your horn to summon a barrier around you, as you felt you were in danger by an attack. And, you were right, a wave of fire just hit your barrier moments after you used it.
  350. >"In the name of the Dragon Lord Torch and the Nameless Dragon, who dares to enter the expanded territory of the dragon lands?" A voice says as you regain sight from all the smoke dispersing around you.
  351. >It was a dragon, not as big as the others that were flying around but rather triple your size. His scales were cyan and his wings a radiant indigo color. He looked to be the leader or commander of all these dragons, as he had a yellow armor that covered all parts except for some scales and wings.
  352. >You should deliver the message of Sombra, although these aren't the creatures that were meant to live here to receive the message.
  353. "I am... princess Penumbra, I come from the Crystal Empire to deliver a message to the creatures living here but, you dragons just attacked this village, I am correct?"
  354. >The commander dragon started laughing slowly.
  355. >"Well, better spill that message out because we live here now."
  356. >You don't even want to ask where the other creatures are currently at.
  357. >"Besides..." The commander started to walk around you, you just noticed now that he was holding a golden spear. "You do look like you were going to deliver a war message... Am I right? Your armor isn't for just looks!"
  358. "If I'm honest, I wanted whatever creature lived here to surrender or ran away, I don't want to start a war, only the King does."
  359. >Without saying a word, the commander dragon threw his spear at you, which you quickly evaded before it hit you.
  360. >"I'm a dragon, we dragons don't speak. We fight! So you better have a good speech." The spear came back to him as if it was a boomerang and he got in battle stance. "Besides, your partner over there seems to be enjoying talking!"
  361. >You look up, Pharynx was fighting against three dragons alone while morphing from creature to creature to create more advantages.
  362. >Can you blame him? You will blame him.
  363. >"Well, princess? What is going to be?"
  364. >There is no other choice, is there?
  365. >You close your eyes and focus your balance into reality and slowly turn it into a golden sword as your face is covered in the warmth of your blindfold.
  366. >"That's more like it."
  367. >You didn't say anything, you just stared at the commander while preparing to defend. You didn't want to harm him, you will just evade and disarm at any costs.
  368. >"Let's talk!" You could see on the eyes of the commander that he was going seriously in this battle.
  371. >The movements of the dragon commander were too quick for you to follow, his wings changed directions as he was getting near you every time. You could only take defense and not offensive yet, it was hard to look for an open spot from his attacks.
  372. >Since your last battle, you learned the hard way that your sword can't trespass a weapon, but if it hits your adversary you can paralyze them with your black crystals. The problem here was that this commander is too fast to even land a hit...
  373. >"What is it? Never fought a dragon before?" He said moments before attacking again.
  374. >You merely blocked the attack with your sword in time, but the dragon persisted the attack.
  375. >This attack... was like he was trying to disarm you!
  376. >Somehow you could feel he was grinning below that helmet, but you still have more ways to land an attack!
  377. >You smile while still guarding, only to jump into your shadow and disappear from his sight.
  378. >You will use the same trick you used with Anon, you will jump on his shadow and go for the leg or wing, giving you the upper hoof.
  379. >As you re-appear behind him and on his shadow, he turns around and somehow lands a hit while throwing you towards the nearest burning building.
  380. "Gah!"
  381. >You barely stared at the dragon commander while he was chuckling. How could he know you were going there?
  382. >"I don't know what trick that was, but I saw you before doing that as you were falling... besides, your shadow moves as you are using whatever magic that was!"
  383. >Not only that happened, but you noticed that his spear was imbued in electricity, a few hits from that and you could be out of the battle...
  384. >You stand up, having to learn your lesson the hard way.
  385. >"Ready for round two?"
  386. >The dragon commander attacks, but you enter in your shadow before he can land a hit.
  387. >His spear pierces the ground where your shadow is, but it doesn't do anything to you, even if there is electricity running through that spear.
  388. >He must think he did land a hit and that you are unable to move, so you gotta think through this.
  389. >This dragon is intelligent, you shouldn't doubt his moves or attacks. The best way right now to land a hit if is he doesn't expect an attack coming from really near.
  390. >Yes, you could use the sun as your advantage and use it when he has a shadow on himself, probably on the wing or helmet.
  391. >Then again, the problem was that he can see your shadow traveling across the ground towards him... If only there were clouds covering the sun, you could sneak past him and surprise attack him!
  392. >And you can't just stay in shadow all the time! You have a limit!
  393. ...
  394. >The sudden noise of a jingle bell startles you, where could that come from?
  395. >Suddenly, clouds in the sky started to cover the sun... that's your opportunity!
  396. >"Oh you lucky pony..." The dragon commander was on guard as he was flying, as he saw how the sun got covered in a few clouds that you surely used to get near him. "Better land a good hit, you hear that! Because I punish mistakes!"
  397. >You travel across the ground and take the opportunity to re-appear behind his helmet.
  398. >"I... didn't know you could appear there!"
  399. "Lesson learned!"
  400. >You could probably have said anything better than that, but you did land two hits on him, on the helmet and his left wing.
  401. >The dragon commander's wing got covered in your black crystal, making him unable to fly and land on the ground. As for the helmet, it was probably imbued with their magic as it only fell, revealing one true identity of the dragon commander.
  402. "You're a girl? And when I thought I was the only fighting here..."
  403. >You're not sure if that's a relief or if that is worrying. Although she doesn't look your age, that's for sure.
  404. >She couldn't stare up at you or wanted to talk, but she looked forced to reveal her identity.
  405. >"I didn't expect a pony to actually hit me..." She carefully got up while holding her spear. "Congratulations on hitting the princess of the dragon lands by yourself, Princess Penumbra."
  406. >She used her spear to try to break the black crystal on her wing, which she succeeded.
  407. >"Ready for round 3? This one tells who the real winner is!"
  408. >She sure likes to fight...
  409. "As you wish, Princess."
  410. >"The name’s Ember."
  411. >And so, the third fight started, with Ember throwing fire directly at you before you knew it.
  413. >The battle persisted for what felt like an eternity, neither of you tried to make a wrong move, knowing the other could take advantage.
  414. >Princess Ember used her fire plus her lightning spear each time to make you go on the defense. It was a hard situation to think for an open spot to land another hit and you didn't want to use your dark magic in case you lose control.
  415. >Only as a last desperate move you will use it.
  416. >As for now you were waiting for the clouds to cover the sun to do the same strategy against Ember.
  417. >Princess Ember was ready to try to land a hit once again, but you looked up and noticed a few clouds starting to go near the sun... this could be your last chance to try and win and stop this nonsensical duel!
  418. >You jump back into your shadow and as soon as you do, the clouds cover the sun, giving you the upper hoof once again.
  419. >"Oh no you don't!" Princess Ember started to breath, only to exhale fire that was starting to cover the place around you.
  420. >She is just... throwing fire at the air? Whatever! This time you will come in front of her!
  421. >As you re-appear while she stopped breathing fire, you attack with your sword, aiming for her arm, but she covered it with her spear in the instant.
  422. >"That won't work twice on me!" She says with a smug smile while throwing you to the other side, not doing much harm but still leaving you surprised.
  423. "But... how?"
  424. >"You use the clouds to move around freely, but you didn't count that I could use my fire to spot where your shadow would move, did ya?" She quickly prepared for another spear attack. "Such a pity I can't take any more prisoners today!"
  425. >Just how much stamina does this dragon have?! You can't keep this long... and turning too many times into a shadow is starting to make you feel exhausted.
  426. "Barrier!" Without hesitating, you create a magic barrier around you.
  427. >Now, your barrier was only to buy you time to think. She can try anything with that spear, but since is imbued with lightning, it won't transpass something that is made out to repeal magic. Even her fire can’t hit you!
  428. >She keep on trying to break your barrier with her spear but not to avail, she smiles as she starts using her claws while attacking your barrier.
  429. >...Your barrier starts to break.
  430. >"Never underestimate your enemy, kid!"
  431. >This was no use… you need to use your dark magic or otherwise, she’s going to…!
  432. >Her attacks continued as you thought one final time, Discord’s words resonated in your head about how the distance from Sombra can do.
  433. >This was the test, is as if Sombra wanted you to use your magic in a battle.
  434. >You don’t want to do this… but you have no other choice.
  435. >Your anger starts to rise as Princess Ember finally finishes your barrier off.
  436. >”Any last words, Princess?”
  437. >You let the anger and dark magic take control of the situation, letting your golden sword disappear and your blindfold fall from your face. With a grunt, you start feeling your vision become blurry and an incredible headache begins.
  438. >You feel it for a second, Ember’s worry. She flinched for a moment before giving you the final blow.
  439. >It was her last mistake.
  440. “I’m sorry!”
  441. Are you?
  442. “I’m so sorry!”
  443. Are you really?
  444. >Fear and anger is the core of dark magic, Sombra taught you that. You didn’t know and really didn’t want to know what powers you had within you… but you were about to find out.
  445. >”What… what are you doing?” Ember wasn’t attacking and you could barely see what you were doing, the only thing you could see was the fear of Ember in her eyes. “Get off me! Wh- What are you…”
  446. Are you really sorry?
  447. >You finally open your eyes, but… something was wrong. You were too away from the ground, as if you were…
  448. >Something was flapping near your ear, but as you look down and… stare at your… claws…
  449. “Wh…”
  450. >You didn’t had hooves anymore and in front of you… it was you! You were in front of… you?!
  451. >You were in… Princess Ember’s body?! But if you’re there! You’re here!
  452. ‘GET… OUT…!’
  453. >The words that came from your body were actually from Ember, who tried to recover her body.
  454. >You were possessing her.
  455. >Was it hurting her?
  456. Perhaps.
  457. >Is this… bad, isn’t it?
  458. A break into someone’s personal privacy, if you’re aware.
  459. >As you thought this was the worst to happen yet in this day, it started to get worse.
  460. >You started to get… visions.
  461. >One moment you were flying, probably from Ember’s point of view over a land dragons, young dragons were playing near the lava as the older were sitting on the edge of the peaks.
  462. >Another moment you were on the ground, as a colossal orange dragon called the attention of every dragon.
  463. ‘Stop…’
  464. >The dragon started to swallow all goods from the dragon lands.
  465. ‘Stop…’
  466. >The dragons started to fight against him, failing considerably.
  467. >The words ‘Nameless Dragon’ resonated in your head.
  468. ‘I said…’
  469. >You started seeing the attack of Yakyaksistan… the taken prisoners…
  470. ‘Stop! Now!’
  471. >...
  472. >You see as they take… ponies… ponies were in the village, hiding…
  473. >You take a glance at one of the prisoners that they took, she was… she was..!
  474. “Agh!”
  475. Hurts, doesn’t it? A lady should remember her limits.
  476. ….
  477. >You take a deep breath as you feel your body returning to where it belongs. You had tears on your face and your anger was no more, in exchange, you were confused and… depressed.
  478. >Pharynx descended from the sky while holding his left hoof. “Hey, Princess! Are you okay?”
  479. >You weren’t.
  480. “I…”
  481. >You stare up towards Ember, who was still trying to regain her sight and was shivering.
  482. >”Enough talk…” Ember stands up while taking her helmet and silver spear. “You are not a pony… you’re a monster!” She says before leaving, flying towards the retreating dragons.
  483. >But she wasn’t the only one that was shivering.
  484. I recommend a blanket.
  485. >”Penumbra?”
  486. “They took my sister.” You look down while tears drop from your face. “They have my sister… my sister was here, always here! So near yet… so far.”
  487. >Pharynx raises a hoof but doesn’t do anything with it as he takes it back to holding his left hoof. “We… we’ll get your sister, we are going to start war with the dragons anyway… they got a taste from us! Right?”
  488. “...” You don’t have anything to say.
  489. >”Oh come on… now what?”
  490. >You stare up where Pharynx was looking at, you two see as a green dragon starts flying down near to where you two were at.
  491. “If they want a fight… they will get it.”
  492. A lady needs to know her limits.
  493. “WHO’S TALKING ANYWAY!?” You yell, startling Pharynx a bit.
  494. >”Talking? No, more like who is arriving. And I have a clue on who is…”
  495. >The green dragon lands on the ground next to you, he didn’t look like he wanted to fight but… why was he carrying a filly on his back?
  496. >”Even if you’re transformed, I can still smell your worry, brother.” Pharynx says to the… green dragon?
  497. >The green dragon transformed into a changeling- wait… this is…
  498. “Thorax?! You’re alive!”
  499. >Now Pharynx was the one staring surprised at you.
  500. >”Excuse me? How do you know my brother’s name?”
  501. >Thorax steps in front of Pharynx. “I helped a filly not long ago from one of our Queen camps, only for that shadow King to pursue me and… I was nearly destroyed by him. At first I didn’t recognize her at first but now I’m sure she is.” Thorax raises Pharynx’s left hoof carefully while looking at it. “Harmed again in battle, brother?”
  502. >Pharynx steps back and abruptly rejects his brother’s help. “What do you care? You’ve been who knows where? I thought you were… ugh! I hate you, you know?”
  503. “And who is this filly?” You point at the alicorn filly that starts to look around with a regretful expression.
  504. >”Uh? Me? I’m… just a filly who had a plan and now I don’t…”
  505. >She looks… familiar.
  507. >After talking for a while, the alicorn filly reveals herself as nopony else but the princess of the moon, Luna. A pony that once was Nightmare Moon, the pony who defeated Celestia and made it night nearly forever... until Discord showed up.
  508. >Somehow, you believe it. Discord has the magic in the world to do whatever he pleases… but a filly? You know that foals are powerful in their youth, an alicorn filly is just… too much power to hold, and by what she told you, Celestia is a filly too.
  509. >Isn’t this enough to defeat Discord or at least Sombra or Chrysalis?
  510. >...Who are you kidding, it can’t be that easy. It never is.
  511. >”Are you sure you don’t need me to check your hoof, Pharynx?” Thorax asks once again to his brother in worry about his health.
  512. >”No! I told you I don’t need your help! I can handle it myself, especially since I have all this time.” Thorax looks behind and beyond the road that you’ve been walking. "Besides, we need to return to the empire and prepare for a war against the dragons."
  513. >Something in Thorax’s expression… gave you the look that he was done with him. Without asking again, Thorax pulls Pharynx’s left hoof, making him flinch, but Thorax focuses while closing his eyes and something starts coming out from his chest… something… purple? Pink?
  514. >Now that you think of… doesn’t Thorax look way different from the last time you’ve seen him?
  515. >A shining light embraces Pharynx around his hoof and all other wounded parts of his body for a few seconds, only to stop, showing that his bruises were no longer there.
  516. >”...Love? Did you get love? Seriously? From all the changelings in the hive? Color me impressed…” Pharynx starts to move and feel his left hoof. “This is better, I feel like new! Hah!”
  517. >Thorax starts to scratch the back of his head as if he was embarrassed by his brother's words. ”Heh… well, it wasn’t stolen love, I can tell you that.”
  518. “What?” Pharynx and you say at the same time.
  519. >”My sister, Bark and I gave him something willingly! The poor thing was starving… we couldn’t just leave him there, hungry!” Princess Luna says.
  520. “Changelings can get love without stealing it?”
  521. >”That must be a joke!” Pharynx complaints. “You can’t get love like that! Just… that’s not what makes us changelings!”
  522. >Thorax crosses his hooves while staring at his brother. "And what makes us changelings? Kidnapping creatures? Terrorizing areas and invading lands?"
  523. >Pharynx shakes his head. "The thrill of the hunt! We hunt for our prey! You wouldn't get it! You are a pushover! A weakling! I always had to help you get your own love since we were foals! Otherwise, our Queen wouldn't have had a changeling like YOU in our hive all this time!" Pharynx abruptly pokes his brother on the chest while raising his voice. "So you better thank me for taking care of you."
  524. >Thorax looked visibly hurt for a few seconds, struggling to make out his next words. "W-well, guess what? I'm not in the hive anymore. Who knows? Maybe I don't want to be a changeling anymore!"
  525. >"Fine! Then you are not a changeling! You're just a weirdo!" Pharynx, angry, turned around and called your name. "Penumbra! Let's get back to the Empire so we can give the intel to our Queen and King."
  526. >Pharynx probably decided that ignoring his brother was the best idea, but he wasn't prepared for what he had to say next.
  527. >"And maybe I don't need a brother, since I'm not even a changeling!"
  528. >Pharynx stops dead in his tracks, slowly turning around to reply to his brother.
  529. >"Wait, what did you say?" You could sense some worry in Pharynx's tone.
  530. >You do get it, they're brothers and Pharynx protects him since they were foals, it's natural one would be worried if all of a sudden the other said such words like that without flinching.
  531. >You remember the fights you had with your sister, Rarity was so easily angered at something you did by accident, such as when you were learning to be a nurse in the Everfree Forest and mixed a few potions from Zecora- or when you tried to ride a Manticore without Fluttershy's permission. But in the end, she always forgave you because of one important thing between her and you.
  532. >You two are family.
  533. >You try to raise your hoof to say something, but Princess Luna stops you from doing so. She was shaking her head slowly but without saying anything and, somehow, you understand what she was trying to tell you. She didn't want you to get involved with them. Princess Luna probably knows about this, ever since turning into Nightmare Moon and returning to being herself. Even... if she looks a bit like her old self now.
  534. >"Y-you heard me! I don't need a brother!" Thorax was trying to hold his tears while he argued with his brother. "Maybe the Queen just told you to take care of me! And since it was an order, you just followed it without hesitating!"
  535. >Pharynx just stares at Thorax with his mouth half open, trying to think of anything to say to him- He wanted to tell him that he does care, that the rules of the queen wouldn’t change anything- but nothing came from Pharynx's mouth.
  536. >Pharynx turned around, so his tears couldn't be seen by his brother, although his sobbing gave it away anyway. "I hate you, you know that?"
  537. >Princess Luna and you were still silent and waiting to see Pharynx's reply to his brother. Could Pharynx have a change of heart? Knowing how Thorax rescued you and seeing that they are brothers, there is a chance.
  538. Or is there?
  539. >You... really need to know where this voice is coming from.
  540. Eventually.
  541. >If you say so...
  542. >...
  543. >Pharynx removes his helmet and takes a look at it for a few seconds, then stares at his brother who hasn't replied to him ever since the last words. He takes a deep sigh, throwing his helmet to the ground.
  544. >"I'm gonna hate myself after doing this..." Pharynx's action makes his brother turn around to see him morphing into a giant black spider. With one spider leg, he crushes his helmet, damaging it badly enough to break nearly half of it. "You know what this means, don't you?"
  545. >As Pharynx transformed back to himself, Thorax wipes the tears from his face."A-Are you... quitting?"
  546. >Pharynx nodded.
  547. "What!?" You were shocked, never you would have thought Pharynx would just... do that! "Not that I'm against your decision but... weren't you loyal to your Queen?"
  548. >"I am." Pharynx stays silent for a while walking towards his brother, who bonks him lightly on the head with his hoof. "And as the captain, I need to look up for other changelings, even if they no longer work for our Queen."
  549. >Did Pharynx... smile for a moment? It was a brief moment, but you recognize happiness when you see it. It made you smile too, not everything was grim here, it seems.
  550. "And what will you do now?" You ask Pharynx.
  551. >"Follow my brother around, of course. There are all sort of dangers in Equestria now. Besides, going back to the Empire? Where the King that almost killed my brother lives? I’d rather go back with the Yeti and live there."
  552. "And what do I tell your Queen?"
  553. >Using his magic, Pharynx levitates his helmet and brings it to you. You hold it with your own magic.
  554. >"Just... tell the Queen I’m MIA, battling that Yeti, lost in the storm or battling dragons. Whatever excuse you say just don't tell her I'm a deserter." Pharynx stares at his helmet for a second. "I’d rather make her think that her guard fought until his last breath than fled his duties."
  555. >Pharynx... he really is loyal, even if he is lying that all he wants is to protect his little brother. It warms your heart and fills you with hope with this world.
  556. >Even Princess Luna could think the same.
  557. "Are you sure about this?"
  558. >Pharynx stares back at his brother, who nods in reply. "I am".
  559. >You knew deep inside he was sweet... you just needed to get to know him more! ...Well, besides him dropping you from the sky and nearly leaving you alone in the blizzard, yeah, he is a bit sweet inside.
  560. >Okay stop thinking about that.
  561. >Pharynx plodded up the hill towards the entrance of Yakyakistan. He looked down the Frozen North road, where you two walked all the way from the limits of the Crystal Empire, gazing at it for a moment, a light blowing across his face.
  562. >"I don't know where the direction of this war is going, we can't do anything to stop it, but..." Pharynx turns and stares to Thorax. "Wherever my brother goes, I'll go. And whatever he decides, well... I'm the big brother, can't help but help him."
  563. >Thorax was wiping the rest of the tears he had on his face, just to go and hug his brother.
  564. >Which didn't last longer cause' Pharynx felt awkward about it.
  565. >"Hey! I didn't say hugs were allowed!"
  566. >You and Luna both giggle
  567. >Luna didn't miss the chance to try giving a hug and with it, some of her love to Pharynx, maybe to tell him to get used to it.
  568. >"Hugs aren't toxic for changelings, are they?" Luna says while hugging Pharynx from one of his front hooves, she then flies in front of him and touches his forehead. "Mmmm nope! You seem fine to me!"
  569. >Pharynx mumbles, but couldn't contradict what Luna said and that just made you start laughing.
  570. >Luna and Thorax joined in your laughter, and slowly, so did Pharynx.
  571. >Well, his laugh wasn't the best and he probably was doing a broken laugh, but it was a start.
  572. >It felt so long ago since you were this happy for something! It was a good feeling seeing this happening.
  573. >Although... you were... suddenly feeling tired, exhausted even.
  574. A side effect of using a bigger quantity of what you can use, most likely.
  575. >And who... is this... voice... anyway...
  576. How rude of me, I wanted to introduce myself moments ago since you can hear me now- but you can't see me in your current state, so, I was just merely waiting for you to fell asleep.
  577. >...
  578. >"Penumbra? Penumbra! P..." You barely hear the words coming from Pharynx and Thorax before you faint.
  579. >...
  580. >..
  581. >.
  582. >You slowly open your eyes.
  583. >Your vision was a bit blurry, but you could see around you. Instead of the Frozen North, you were in what looked a dining room. You were sitting at a table, two figures were near you, one sitting and the other... holding something... with magic?
  584. >"Good evening, Miss." The figure appears in front of you, you rub your eyes to regain your sight and so you spot the pony who was talking to you, the same voice from before that only you could hear. He was an adult pony with the appearance of a butler, wearing an outfit with gloves and a monocle that completely gave away his job. He was an earth pony with a long, flat black mane with a few wisps and parted in the middle; he had a tiny mustache too that fit his kind smile. "We finally meet, and just in time, the tea is ready to serve."
  585. >He was starting to serve in teacups the tea he mentioned, one for a teacup for you and other two for the figure in front of you and where an empty chair was.
  586. >You noticed how he was... levitating the tea around the table while nodding to the other figure and where the empty chair was.
  587. >Are you going nuts? Why is the figure still... not visible to you? Where were you? Who was this butler?
  588. >"Miss, I apologize for not introducing myself." The butler takes a bow while levitating the tea and leaving it on the table. "I go for the name of Ronove, but many creatures call me Dis. You may call me as you wish."
  589. >Ronove? Dis? Dis...
  590. "Are you Discord? Is this some sort of prank again?"
  591. >The mysterious butler gave a single smile as he shakes his head. "I can assure you, I do not know the Spirit of Chaos nor I do need to know him. And before you ask, I do not have knowledge of chaotic magic, as you may have seen me levitate the set of tea to serve the individuals who join in our private tea party."
  592. >It's... odd. All of this is so odd!
  593. "But aren't you supposed to...? Ugh! This is so confusing! It doesn't make sense!"
  594. >The shadow figure started to laugh.
  595. >"As my father would say, what's fun in stuff making sense? You'll get used to it, it's a dream after all... they can do anything we can too!"
  596. >You recognize that voice!
  597. "Wait a second... Anon?"
  598. >"Oh, right, I'm wearing this disguise that makes me look all mysterious. Sorry!" In the blink of an eye, the figure was replaced by a pony, one that was wearing a black, red, blue, yellow and green jester outfit, hiding his face in a mask that was giving a creepy smile. "You like my new outfit? It holds all my chaotic powers! Neat, huh? As neat as your armor!"
  599. >You nearly forgot you were using your battle armor.
  600. >Anon removes his mask and...
  601. >He... changed. The black mane and green coat was replaced with a light brown coat and silver mane, the only part of him that didn't change was his right yellow eye, but... his left eye was a crimson color.
  602. >A chill runs down your back once the original image of Anon disappeared from you.
  603. >"What's wrong, Sweetie? You look like you’ve seen a ghost! Bahaha!"
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