A few years had passed after the completion of the mighty structure that was the Changeling Castle, when Chrysalis found herself thinking of Discord once more.
The question came back to her; was she to respect him? All her sister had told her was that he had turned her into the first Changeling, freeing her from her life as a pony, and had then left after doing so. Where had he gone?
The Kingdom was doing well. The Changelings were thriving, they had enough food to go around, and most of the pony world had forgotten about the creature that was the Changeling. They had faded into fairy tales and myths, an old mare's tale.
This made their hunting and collecting much easier. With their power of changing their appearances, hence their name, their powers of deception also increased. Coming up with convincing back-stories on a whim, keeping up different personalities, making up lies to pad down any suspicions—it all came with being a Changeling.
Queen Emerald had even opened a few schools to help refine their talents of this, which she hoped would further their success.
So, during all this good fortune and easy going, Chrysalis became restless. She was now a young mare, in relative pony terms, and felt a need to do something for her growing nation. Maybe it was time to search for that mysterious creature of Chaos.
She told her sister of her plans, eagerness burning in her soul. The Queen was hesitant about letting her sister go, but in the end, she gave her access to the military, supplies, and permission for her quest. Why was it a quest? The draccanequos had gone into hiding, or atleast that is what everypony—and Changeling—assumed, as no one knew where he was. Most ponies hadn't even heard of him before.
As she watched the Princess leave, she felt a nagging tug in the back of her mind. She didn't know whether or not she like Discord for what he'd done, or hated him. No, of course she liked it! She ADORED being a Changeling! It was the best thing that had ever happened to her!
So why did she have these memories of feeling so helpless, so alone, when she'd first been changed? Hadn't she once missed being a pony?
"No! You're better than them!" a voice snapped. Emerald had grown to call the voice Viper for its snaky sound, and how it slithered around her mind. She didn't really think of it as her own, even if she thought it might be.
Yes, yes you're right, Viper, she thought, instantly submissive to its words.
"Of course I am right!" it shouted back, "And don't pretend that you didn't think that too."
The Queen shook her head violently, a massive head ache arousing from the odd conversation from herself.
"Hahaha! That is what you get, you unthankful whelp!" it cackled, mocking her pain.
Emerald simply ignored it, as she'd learned to do a long time ago. She'd be fine. Chrysalis would be fine. She just needed to stop thinking about such silly things that weren't worth thinking about anymore. She was a Changeling now, the Queen at that! She was respected by her Kingdom, and very well off.
She could want nothing more.
A few weeks passed, and Chrysalis had found no sign of Discord. She still hadn't decided what she'd do when she found him, but she searched all the same.
No word in the Unicornian lands, and no hints of information from the pegasi. Not even the earth ponies, who were known for their legends and lore, had no idea where he was.
It was like he'd never existed.
The Princess thought back to her sister's story; he'd appeared before her sister's birth as well, when the old kingdom was falling into chaos by itself… wait. CHAOS! Of course! Why hadn't she thought of this before hoof?
They needed to create some chaos to lure the beast in, but how? She thought and thought, until she came up with a plan. A plan that would involve the best masters of deception, the most cunning of the Changelings, and a pony.
They just needed to find some small town first.
It was on the edges of the Earth Pony borders, a little village by the name of Thatch. Everypony seemed to know everypony there, being such a small and close-knit place. Chrysalis decided that this would be the perfect place to have her experiment.
A pony was replaced here, a rumor was spread there... it was amazingly easy for them to start it all off. First, it was petty gossip.
'Did you know Daisy Ways keeps a stash of chicken feed on her farm, all to herself? And to keep up her prices too!' 'I saw Barry hanging out with some mare the other night... yes, I know he has a wife!'
And the best part was, the ponies did most of the gossiping for them! They even blew it out of proportion, making things like, 'She was a widow before marrying him' go to 'She has married eight stallions before him, each mysteriously dying before she met the next one!'
It was almost too easy. Soon, they were making up their own stories about themselves, trust dissipating before them as if it had never existed in the first place. The last thing the Changelings did was order a short attack on some barn, kicking out the final straw that held up the community. It wasn't extravagant, or even that clever, but it was Chaos.
Or so the princess hoped. Come now, mysterious one, she'd think to herself as she waited. Would he come? Would this invite him to her? Or would it only look like she'd tried to beat him at his own game, making her seem unlikable before she could even get a word out? Or maybe he'd ignore it altogether... Maybe she hadn't done a good enough job. Surely ponies gossiped on their own, right? And set fire to their neighbor's farms? No, this simply HAD to work!
Too much work had gone into finding him for it not to work, and Chrysalis had never been one to give up. Ever.
Weeks passed, and the state of the small village worsened terribly. No love could be collected in the area, and they were running low on their packed reserves. They'd be forced to return home soon if Discord did not show up. The princess shivered at the thought, both from the fear of a first failure and from the growing cold.
It was early spring, but it was still a bit chilly. It seemed to be getting colder every day, but she didn't complain. She would wait until they really had to leave, for the sake of her ever loyal Changelings.
One day, a familiar face showed up.
"...Sandstone?" she asked herself, seeing him walking down the road. He seemed to be observing the tattered buildings, and was he older? She could sense his confusion and sadness, probably from the sight of the town. But he was a unicorn, and this was an earth pony village. Why should he feel sorry for it? Perhaps he did not know, and thought it to be of his own race?
She flew down to him, in the form of a pegasus, and landed in front of him. He didn't seem startled by her sudden appearance, and his eyes didn't hold any recognition in them. Why would she expect him to know who she was? She didn't look herself now, and he might have even forgot about her.
"I suppose you are the cause of all this?" his voice was cool and emotionless.
"I am but one pegasus, how could I do this?" she responded, hoping that her practiced poker face was doing well.
"Ah, but you are not a pegasus, are you?" he chuckled. Were his eye always that color? She realized that she could not fool him. Perhaps he did recognize her. Had she used this form with him before?
"How can you be sure?" she couldn't help but let her tone become icy; she just had to know! Something about him was making her become frustrated, a feeling she didn't usually get when talking to a dimwitted pony.
"Come now, Emerald. I know it's you," he said, words playful yet stern. She had suspected he knew who she was, but mistaking her for her sister? She was a step ahead of him then.
"I am afraid you are wrong about my identity, though you may have the correct species," it was her turn to be confident. And his to be surprised. He quickly recovered though, and suggested that they get of the road--several buildings were on fire--and to a safer, more private, place.
Not exactly understanding the meaning of the word, she took him to her small camp. There were a few drones present, but most were off who knows where, probably either making fun of the ponies or trying in vain to find some food.
She then revealed herself to the unicorn, her true form shocking him, though it only showed for a moment. He took a few seconds of thinking, then cleared his throat.
"So it appears that you were not tricking me then," he mumbled, as if thinking to himself. "Pray tell, who might you be?"
Now the princess was confused again. Did he really not remember her? Granted, they'd only had a few conversations whilst he worked on the designs for her sister's castle, but she'd think that the one and only Princess of the Changelings would be hard to forget.
"You do not remember me, Princess of the Changelings, Sandstone?" as soon as she spoke the words, she realized that the stallion had no blasted cutie mark--the useless things--and he didn't look much like Sandstone at all. There were just a few similarities, like the color of his coat. Wait, no. This unicorn's coat was blue, while Sandstone's had been a sandy beige... had she just imagined the sameness of the two? It seemed so, as they didn't look anything alike really.
"I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong stallion," he said to her, a knowing look in his eyes. He saw her confusion, and had found it amusing. Chrysalis started to feel a bit odd... wait, embarrassed? No! She hadn't made a mistake! He must have done something! Right?
He began a deep chuckle again, amusement dancing across his face.
"Ok, ok- I've kept this up long enough," he said through laughs. "You really are confused, but so am I. It must have been a coincidence that you knew a stallion that looked like that, but my appearance had been changing all the while. Slowly, yes, but changing all the same."
She looked at him with curiosity now; he could change his looks as well?
"Who are you?" she asked, interest in his identity almost over whelming. A rogue changeling? Emerald playing a trick on her? Maybe it was some sort of test?
He was silent again. He studied her for a moment, before looking around.
"Hmm, you know what? Follow me," and without a moment's hesitation, he walked off towards the camp again. Not bothering to change, all Chrysalis could do was follow.
She trotted next to him, different questions running through her head. She opted to wait until he stopped to ask anything, but she thought she might as well introduce herself.
"My name is Chrysalis, Princess of the Changelings if you were wondering," she told him.
"I did not know that they had a princess, or a Kingdom for that matter," he replied, still walking. His voice seemed thoughtful and curious, much like her own at the moment. Could she trust him? Should she even be following this strange stallion? He was a pony after all--why should she be giving the likes of him her time?--wasn't he?
"Well I am, and there is," the simple statement seemed childish the the princess, and she instantly regretted her choice of words. But she gave no sign of it as to uphold her air of confidence. She was not weak, and she would not make it appear so.
He let out his warm chuckle again.
"I believe you," He said to her before stopping near the remnants of a burnt down building. "Why did you do this?"
"I did not, and neither did my Changelings. This was the ponies doings; we only sparked the tension, which was very easy to do."
"That is what I meant. Why did you do that? Do you not thrive on love, not hate? You are depleting your own food by doing this,"
"Only in this small area!" she snapped. She took a moment to take a deep breath. "I also thought that maybe a certain someone would show up,"
"And who would that be?" he asked, though from the tone of his voice she guessed he already knew.
"A creature by the name of Discord," she followed the words with a short, nervous laugh. That sounded sillier than I thought it would...
"Hmhmhm, and why would that be?"
"I'm not sure," she responded, "I suppose to give him my sister's thanks, and just to meet him." why was she being so honest to him, a stranger?
"Thanks?" this question seemed more genuine than the others, like he didn't know the answer, like what she'd said was unexpected.
"Yes. Let's just say that it is because of him that we are what we are,"
"So you like being Changelings," more of a thought than a question, he looked back to the wreckage. "Chaos cannot be controlled, you know. You can start it, like a fire, but then it goes off on its own, growing and doing as it pleases. You can manipulate it to a certain extent, but there are few who can."
"Yes, Discord," he nodded, "I suggest you don't try it again." he turned to leave.
"But I can't give up now!" she yelled after him, "I can't give up! I've never failed before, and I don't plan to now."
"That important to you, eh?" he asked as he turned around to face her. She answered with a fierce nod. He let out a long sigh before his tail lifted up like an arm, and the different strands of the hair snapped like fingers. A poof of thick smoke billowed out from an unknown source about him, then disappeared almost as quick as it had appeared.
Chrysalis let out a gasp. In the unicorn's place was now a tall monster of sorts. For a while, they just stared at one another, neither moving or talking. Then it clicked. His knowledge of Chaos, his changing looks...
"...Discord..?" she asked, unsure of herself. Who else could it possibly be?
He nodded, a mischievous expression resting on his face. He was clearly enjoying her awe. How could she have missed this?
"Well?" his arms were crossed, his griffon-like fingers tapping on his opposite arm. Was he being impatient?
"Thank you," she managed to say.
"You are ever so welcome," he bowed before the princess, then stood back up. He lifted his arm to snap once more, ready to leave.
"Wait! I wanted to ask you a few questions!"
"Maybe another day. We shall meet again, Princess," and with that, he was gone.
Even if she wasn't fully satisfied, a smirk rested on her face.
She would never fail.