Alterations Ch. 5
PinkieShy, AppleDash and Spike were sitting down having breakfast when Rarity walked through the door. Her eyes were bloodshot as if she had stayed up late. She had in fact stayed up late working on a secret project. "Goodmorning everypony!" she said cheerily. "Goodmorning." the three replied. Rarity smiled, "Girls, I think I have come up with a way to lift your spirits." she announced. AppleDash quickly replied, "Really? How?" Rarity chuckled at her friends' enthusiasm. She had come up with a great way to pass the time and it was always a great confidence booster for her. "Follow me and you shall find out." she told them with a great smile.
Rarity and Spike sat in chairs before a velvety red curtain lined with gold. It opened to reveal a small catwalk that she kept around, in case of emergencies. Down the runway strode a pony wearing an exquisite piece. She wore a rainbow colored hat, styled after the one commonly worn by a certain orange coated earth-pony. On her back was a cape. At its base, it was modeled with cotton to resemble a cloud. As the cape draped over her sides and to the floor over her back hooves, it flowed in and out, showing off a great deal of gorgeous and delicious looking red apples. AppleDash was dressed the way she felt she should be. It was very invigorating. She walked back behind the back curtain.
All was still for a moment, before PinkieShy jumped through the curtain trailed by an explosion of confetti and streamers. She trotted down the runway in a happy go-lucky type of way. The yellow and pink pegasus wore a short length dress made of white faux fur that seemed to glisten in the lighting of the room. Blue patches of fur made the dress full and complete. To complete the ensemble, atop her head lay a gold and purple jester crown encrusted with rubies. Normally a jester's crown droops at the tips, but this one had either a green or pink balloon tied to its ends. This was the longest amount of time any of them had seen PinkieShy in a happy mood. She was frolicking all around the stage; she was having a great time. These outfits weren't exactly normal, but neither were the circumstances. Rarity figured her friends might enjoy an outfit to fit their new temporary personalities. She smiled and clapped her hooves together each time one of them would gallop back on stage to show off their outfit. They were all having a grand old time and everypony was happy. It was just what she wanted for them.
Celestias' eyes fluttered as she awoke to the rising sun.
Wait, the rising sun? As she fully opened her eyes she didn't only come to the conclusion that she had overslept, but that she also was in a place she had never seen before. The trees were the tallest she had ever seen and the water nearby held a crystal blue. She looked up to the sky. There she saw some enormous birds whom could have been as big as houses! The Princess wondered how she could have gotten to this marvelous place, and as old as she was, how had she never been here? The memories of the day prior came flooding back. She had been attacked by a changeling who took on the form of her star pupil Twilight Sparkle. Celestia stood up and looked back at her body; the ropes were still tied about her waist and she could not break free. She had a new rope around her neck, and atop of her horn rested a cone made of leaves. She attempted a simple unbinding spell on the ropes, but as she had figured, it wasn't possible. The changeling must have enchanted this cone with the same magic it had used earlier to prevent her from teleporting away.
A slight snapping noise came from the left. Celestia quickly turned her head to see the changeling that had captured her emerge from the thick brush. It looked at her and opened its mouth to speak. But just as it began, the river beside them began to bubble and pop. The once blue water turned green, the popping grew louder and then the water erupted into the sky. Now a sheet of green water, suspended ten feet in the air, hung before them. Slowly a face came into view. This face looked familiar to the tied-up Alicorn.
"Hello dear Celestia, it's so nice to see you again." spoke a sinister voice, the face now clearly visible.
"Chrysalis!" cried Celestia with a harsh tone. Chrysalis smiled a sinister smile that made the changeling wince.
"You!" screamed Chrysalis while directing her stare to the little changeling. "Why are you not in Similaria?"
"There were complications your majesty." it answered with an unsteady voice.
"Fool! Perhaps I should have sent someone better suited for the job, and not an imbecile like you."
"No buts! I cannot aid you as I don't know where you are. Just bring Celestia here."
"Yes your majesty." said the changeling as it bowed.
"Upon your arrival, you shall be dealt with. Hurry back for your own sake." said Chrysalis, and just as she uttered the last syllable, the sheet of water collapsed. Celestia peered into the river and the water was once again blue. She did not try to make an escape. Chrysalis had made every necessary precaution to make sure she did not escape. She accepted her fate, at least for now.
Celestia looked at the changeling. It seemed very very scared after its conversation with its Queen. It looked as if it actually feared for its life. How could she treat her subjects this way? This pony could hardly be the same age as Twilight. Although the Princess couldn't tell the gender of the changeling by its voice, it seemed as though it were a mare. She figured, if she couldn't escape, she could at least attempt to be friendly to her captor. What harm could it cause? It may even be useful to have an ally if things went over well. "Are you OK little one?" she asked sincerely. The changeling looked at her with a look of confusion.
"I....I am fine."
"Don't be afraid, I am sure your Queen won't hurt you." Celestia said as she smiled. The changeling turned away from her, its shoulders shook. "What is your name?" she asked. The changeling looked back. This was strange; no one had ever been this nice before.
"My name is Joy."
"Joy? Such a pretty name. I am Celestia. It's nice to meet you, I just wish it could've been under different circumstances." she said in a friendly tone. So this changeling was a mare. Celestia didn't think she seemed to be evil at all. She was just simply ruled by a ruthless leader, that's all.
Joy was confused; why was the Princess being nice to her? She had been captured. Why did she not make attempts to escape? She couldn't think of these things right now. She had to focus on getting back to Similaria. The Queen would punish her for sure, but just how severe would the punishment be? She was so afraid, though she would not let the Princess know that. "We must leave, I am in enough trouble as it is." she said.
"Of course." replied Celestia. "But do not be afraid of your Queen, you shouldn't have to fear her. She should treat you with respect no matter what has happened."
Could she be being sincere? This was the first pony ever to have been nice to her. The changeling wasn't used to this kind of behavior. Changelings were taught from birth to be rough and look out for themselves. It didn't matter. She didn't want to anger the Queen further. She took the rope and tied it around her leg. They began to walk into the forest. As they walked, Joy could not help but think about how nice Celestia was being to her. No one had ever asked her about her name before. For a brief second she thought about whether or not she was doing the right thing in bringing Celestia to the Queen. Perhaps she shouldn't have to fear her ruler. She quickly pushed these thoughts from her mind. Thoughts such as these were leaning towards treason. But were there better rulers to live under? Ones who did not dispose of her subjects when they failed? She had only ever known hatred and anger. How could this mare fill her heart and head with so many conflicting thoughts in only mere minutes?
The two walked in silence for what seemed like hours. This place was so much more beautiful than they ever thought it could be. There were flowers that changed colors, trees that dropped fresh and fragrantly enticing fruits as you walk past, and grass so soft it felt like walking on clouds. Celestia was in complete awe as she walked along with Joy. She felt like she should know this place. This feeling was tugging at her heart and mind and she could not shake it away. Joy was of course captivated by the beauty that surrounded her, but it wasn't anything that she wasn't used to. Given that the changeling race does not actually eat, Similaria is a beautiful lush and green paradise. It's one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, but still not quite as beautiful as this though. This place amazed her with a variety in fauna and flora, well above the normal standards, but she did recognize some of the plant life and very few of the animals. There was a flower that produced honey that they called a 'Honeycomb'. Other changelings liked to destroy them, but Joy always liked to gaze upon their beauty and smell them. She took this opportunity now.
"Mmmm..." It was so fragrant, she loved it. There was nothing quite like the smell of a Honeycomb. She also noticed out of the corner of her eye a slight flash of color and she smiled inwardly as she recognized the animal. It was a rare creature in their land, and was sought after by many for being as close to the changeling race as it gets. The animal was normally small and green, but when it was in danger it had the power to blend in with its surroundings. They called it a 'Changelion'. It hadn't crossed Joy's mind until just now, but since the Princess was being nice to her, should she at least show some form of civility?
"Umm...Miss Princess?" she said slowly.
"Yes Joy?" Celestia replied smiling.
"Have you ever heard of a Honeycomb?"
"Well no, I can't say that I have."
"Please, smell this flower." Joy urged her to take a sniff of the honeycomb. Celestia walked forward, bent down to the flower and inhaled deeply. The sensation that followed was something she had never even imagined in her wildest dreams. It was as if she smelled the color and the life of the flower, like the honey was in liquid and she was breathing it in but only the smell filled her lungs. She took a step back with a very surprised look on her face.
"Why, it's amazing." she said to Joy.
"They are my favorites and the most beautiful flower I have ever seen. We have them where I'm from." Joy said proudly. Celestia then walked forward to the cluster of flowers and craned over them. Because of the way she was standing, Joy could not see what she was doing. She stood like this for a few minutes. When the Princess turned around, she held in her mouth a small makeshift crown made from the honeycombs. She laid it upon Joy's head and stepped back.
"There, I think that looks perfect." Celestia said as she sweetly smiled. This was too much. Joy had never felt happiness like that before. She would have cried, and it would have been the first time, but she noticed something and turned her head to the right. What she saw was a giant furry creature that stood about fifteen feet tall, with razor sharp tusks and glowing red eyes. It stomped the ground and roared to the sky. It was the loudest roar they had ever heard from an animal, so fierce that it shook the ground. The pair looked at each other, turned, and began to run as fast as they could. They no longer traveled in silence.
Joy and Celestia, joined by the rope that tied the Princess down, ran as fast as they possibly could away from this creature. It screamed to the sky and barreled after its prey. The pair ran together, not being able to get very far apart due to the length of the rope. They ran through the bushes and around the trees trying to get cover from this beast. But no matter where they went or how far they got, the creature seemed to be able to locate them. It simply tore away the seemingly endless amounts of trees without getting any further behind. The beast soon caught up and began making slashes with its tusks; it would not let this food escape. The hunger in its eyes was very apparent and this scared the pair. "Joy! We have to think of something!" cried Celestia as they ran. Joy could barely breathe. What could they do? This beast was far too fast.
Then it hit her, the rope was just long enough to maybe trip the creature if they planned it right. "Princess, get as far away from me as you can and continue running! Be prepared to stop and pull!" she yelled back. They stretched the rope as far as they could and ran parallel. The beast got closer and closer. Joy looked and figured this was a good distance to be for this to work. "STOP!" she screamed. They both stopped and pulled as the beasts' legs made contact with the rope.
Something was wrong, something was terribly wrong. "Oh no!" Joy had put a spell on the rope to ignore any resistance from the side tied to Celestia. How could she forget that? As the beasts' legs collided with the rope, it didn't trip, it simply kept running. Joy and Celestia were pulled along the ground by the rope as the beast sped up to locate its prey. It could not see them anywhere; where did they go? It took a long sniff with its huge snout and smelled the scent faintly. They were behind it. The beast stopped at a dead halt and watched as the changeling and the alicorn were thrown forward into the air out of the beast's sight. The rope acted as a belay and the ponies swirled around each other screaming and waiting to meet the ground. Joy squirmed so much that in mid air the rope tied to her leg loosened and slipped off, freeing Celestia to travel a further distance than she did. Joy hit the ground and bounced with momentum and smashed into a tree. She felt an immense pain all over her body, but she didn't think anything was broken. Her body still felt badly bruised and she decided to lie still as she waited to see what would happen.
Through blurry vision she watched as the beast walked into view, satisfied that its prey weren't moving. It gave a snort. Joy just lay there, she was helpless. Tears were forming in her eyes. The last few things she'd done in her life would be the fact that she failed her Queen and probably gotten the only person who has ever been nice to her killed. Maybe she deserved this. Perhaps if she hadn't failed her mission none of this would have happened, or maybe, what if she had realized that perhaps love was more than simply food?
The beast shoveled back dirt with its back hoof as it prepared to charge her. This was it, her demise, the ultimate punishment. The beast let out a primal bellowing and began to charge at her, growing in speed. It was getting closer, maybe less than 200 yards now. Joy closed her eyes and prepared to face the end. She heard heavy hoof beats and suddenly she was thrown to the side. She looked back. The Princess was lying where she had been just a few moments ago. Joy gasped, Celestia lived! She had butted Joy out of the way, but why didn't she move? Joy looked more closely. Celestia was pretty bruised and beat up, and her right forehoof was swollen. Oh no, Joy thought, is her leg sprained or broken?
"Joy, I think my leg is broken. Run, get out of here! I'll try to hold it off!" she yelled as she stood up. As she slowly got up, her leg bucked under her weight and she dropped to the ground.
This couldn't be happening. What was little Joy to do? The only pony in the world that has ever shown any interest in her was lying in the path of a huge beast that was going to rip her apart. She wanted to help, but what could she do? Tears began to stream down her face. She may have only known her prisoner for a few hours, but she could not just stand by as the only pony who ever seemed to care about her was killed. So many thoughts were running through her head, she didn't know what to do. Her head was pounding and was making her thought-process even worse. She looked at Celestia, her expression seeming so defeated. She just couldn't take it. Joy threw back her head as she screamed at the top of her lungs the most barbaric yowl she herself had ever heard. Now on top of her head hurting, she was being blinded by a bright light.
Celestia landed directly on a rock, very hard. She could feel her leg break on impact. It was so painful she couldn't even scream. She looked around; where was the beast? She didn't see it... Joy! Where was she? She heard a loud roar. The roar of the beast, oh no, it had Joy, she had to do something! Without thinking, she jumped up and ran towards the direction that the roar came from. Was she going to make it? She ran hard and fast on her broken leg. It hurt so badly but she couldn't give up. She entered a clearing as she saw the beast charging right at the terrified changeling. Celestia did not stop nor did she slow. She continued running and lowered her head. She rammed her head, horn down, into Joy's side and knocked her far away from the tree. As she did this, she kicked her broken leg with her back leg and buckled. Joy was safe for now.
"Joy, I think my leg is broken. Run, get out of here! I'll try to hold it off!" she yelled. She attempted to stand and turn to face the creature, but her leg would not allow her any more movement. She fell back down and could do nothing but look at the creature.
Tears began to stream down her face as she realized this was the end. There was no way to escape. She turned her head to make sure that Joy had gotten away. She watched as Joy threw her head back and began screaming. Light began to emit from the changeling's body as she began to grow. Taller and wider, stouter and furrier; it was a sight to behold as Joy transformed into an exact copy of the beast. She stood tall and snorted before she made a dash for the actual beast. She rammed into its side knocking it off of its path just a few feet from Celestia. The beast jumped up and faced its new opponent. It was of course caught off guard to see that it was facing itself. Nonetheless it charged forward and the two clashed together slamming their skulls together and locking tusks. Joy twisted and threw the beast to the ground. The beast rolled directly into Joys' legs, tripping her, and spared no time in attacking her. Biting and gnashing at her while she fought back, in a last desperate attempt to rid herself of this creature, she drove her tusks into its side and jerked her head around. The beast roared and backed off, but Joys' tusks were stuck in its side. It wrenched itself free and examined the deep wound. Joy let out another barbaric roar and walked intimidating towards the creature. It quickly looked around. Admitting defeat, the beast bolted off into the dense trees, knocking them aside as it disappeared from sight. Joy looked after it to make sure that it didn't decide to come back for round two. She waited five minutes but there was no sign that it was going to return.
She turned back to Celestia and began walking over. As she moved, she reverted back into her original form and collapsed to the ground. The battered alicorn picked herself up from the ground and limped over to her. Joy looked up at her. "Thank you for saving my life." she said softly, her voice cracking a little.
"No, thank you for saving mine," replied the Princess. "I had no idea that you could change into a creature so large."
Joy thought this over for a moment. "We can't." she said simply. It was true; no changeling had ever transformed into something over twice its original size. "Well I'm glad you did." said Celestia as she helped Joy to her hooves. "Are you ok Princess?" she asked wondering about her leg. The Princess merely looked at her and said, "My friends call me Celestia." Joy couldn't help but make the biggest smile she had ever smiled at that.
They had set the bone in Celestia's leg back to position and bound it with a makeshift splint. It didn't help that much, but Celestia could now walk on it at least.
"Miss Celestia..." Joy mumbled in a small voice.
"You don't have to come with me anymore. In the few hours we have known each other, you have treated me like no one ever has before and saved my life. I will tell the Queen you escaped and accept my punishment."
"Actually Joy, I want to come with you. I don't want you getting into anymore trouble with Chrysalis and the only way that will happen is if I come with you. I also would like to see what she has planned... But Joy?"
"While the Queen is busy with me, I would like you to free the pony you have been impersonating."
"Princess Celestia, you have my word."