Canterlot was arguably the safest place in all of Equestria, with the royal guard stationed around the city, magical protections, and Princess Celestia and Princess Luna keeping watch around the clock. The wilderness around Canterlot, on the other hand, not so much. After her ejection from Canterlot during the events of the royal wedding between Princess Mi Amore Cadenza and Shining Armor, the Queen of the Changelings and her subjects have taken residence in the forest they had landed in. Close to the city to prey on unfortunate travelers yet far enough away that they are out of the reach of any significant threat from the city. However, while their consumption of strong emotions was not a necessity to continue to live, their hunger was quite insatiable. Lone travelers were no where near enough to keep all of the Queen's subjects fed and content. The Queen had reluctantly allowed some of her Changelings to travel out, away from Canterlot and through Equestria, to find smaller sources of emotions in the outer lying cities, if only to gain enough strength to once again attempt to conquer Canterlot.
Sitting in a spacious clearing in the forest, the Queen found herself sitting on a bare patch of dirt amidst the sea of grass as she grudgingly allowed a small party of her Changlings to venture ever further from Canterlot to infiltrate and feed on a fairly small village. While she called herself a Queen, she never found the need or time for vanity, her one and only concern was to gain power and find a source of emotion strong enough to strengthen her Changelings. It was a taxing task but it was for her kind and, being the strongest Changeling, the Queen took it upon herself to lead. She didn't need a throne or fancy wares to lead, so she had none of them. The only thing she needed was an emotion as strong as Shining Armor's love for Princess Cadenza so she may strengthen herself and take over Canterlot and it infuriated her that her previous attempt was thwarted by a mere, young pony.
The Queen's mental tirade against the young unicorn pony was then suddenly interrupted by a scuffle just on the edge of the clearing. Confused and yet irritated that her Changelings were fighting with one another, the Queen stood up and trotted over to the commotion to investigate. When she got close, however, she found her Changelings pinning a male pegasus pony to the ground, trying to keep him under control. While she only saw this as a rather unneeded nuisance and would have so gladly ignored this turn of events, the Queen put on her "evil" sneer and looked down at the pony with as much condescension as she could muster, which was quite a lot.
"Well well…what do we have here?" She kept a playful, almost sultry tone in her voice, and as soon as she spoke the pony looked up from where he lay and stopped struggling against his captors.
The stallion was an ordinary, white colored pony, admirable wings on his side, but what was the most noticeable was the golden armor and helmet he wore. It was one of the royal guards from the city, which the Queen immediately realized.
When the pony didn't reply to the Queen's probing question, she asked another. "Why is a pony such as yourself alone and so far from home? Or, let me guess, Celestia sent you to keep an eye on me?" Again the pony didn't speak, and the Queen let out a small, humorless laugh. "Of course she did…" The Queen paced back and forth in front of the stallion, head cocked to the side as if she were trying to make a decision. As if to emphasis this point, she posed her next question, to no one in particular. "So…what should I do with you…?"
"I didn't come on the Princess' orders…" The pony's voice came out and the Queen paused in her pacing, looking down at him. His voice was lower than the normal pony, though not so low as to be entirely unsettling. It didn't hold a jovial and somewhat sing-song tone that most ponies had throughout Equestria. But the fact that the pony DID talk peaked the Queen's interest.
"Oh?" She leaned her head down so that their noses almost touched and gave a delicate hiss behind her words. "And why did you come into my domain then, hm?"
The stallion didn't flinch when the Queen leaned in and stared back at her all the while. She found the stallion's hard look slightly disconcerting. This was definitely not one of those normally found in Equestria that was for sure. And her thoughts on the matter were only amplified by the stallion's next words. "I came to talk to you."
The Queen looked down at the stallion for a long while. Then, with a nod of her head, she motioned for her Changelings to release the stallion, allowing him to stand up. Once he was standing, the Queen looked down on the stallion from atop her tall neck. "Then speak…"
The stallion cleared his throat a little before beginning. "My name is Cedric. And like I said I just want to talk, to you, Queen…" He paused. Not once, while the Queen was in Canterlot, did she actually say anything about herself other than her title.
Cedric's hesitation earned him a calculating stare from the Changeling Queen before she answered his pause. "Chrysalis…you may call me Queen Chrysalis."
"Queen Chrysalis, then. I wanted to just…talk."
Chrysalis raised an eyebrow at that. "Just…talk? Why, in all of Equestria, would you come all this way to find me, simply to just…talk?"
"To understand you, my queen-"
"I am not YOUR queen…" Chrysalis cut in, though her curt retort quickly turned sultry, almost inviting. "Though I can be, if that is what you desire." Her alluring smile eventually faded when Cedric showed minimal response to her "invitation". "You're a rather dull pony aren't you…?" She rolled her eyes. "Continue…"
"I just wanted to understand why you wanted to take over Canterlot. You said that Changelings feed on strong emotions, and that Canterlot possesses the greatest amount of love in a single location that you've seen."
"Correct, Canterlot has enough love to feed my Changeling army, enough to strengthen them and make our numbers grow." Chrysalis felt proud of how dramatic she made that sound, as if inferring impending doom.
Cedric, however, did not seem fully convinced. "Is that all? To…feed your Changelings?"
Chrysalis' train of impending doom and gloom was rather derailed. "…What do you mean, "Is that all"?"
Cedric shrugged slightly. "Wanting to take Canterlot because it has what you require for nourishment…It doesn't sound very "evil"..."
Chrysalis went straight back, like she was offended by the statement. "Well I never CLAIMED to be "evil", now did I? Now we might not necessarily starve without feeding on strong emotions, but it is a desire that we can not shake."
"But you siphoned Shining Armor's magic from him…wouldn't that be…harmful to any pony you decide to feed on?"
Chrysalis narrowed her eyes at the stallion. "Weren't you the one who just said it didn't sound "evil"?" When Cedric gave a non-committal shrug, she sighed. "We CAN siphon magic from our prey but it's not cause and effect. I drained Shining Armor's magic to weaken the barrier around Canterlot and strengthen myself. By the sun and moon, I wouldn't even have to entrance him like I did if I didn't have to."
Cedric nodded a little. "So…it's not a parasitic relationship."
"Of course not!" Chrysalis spat. "Yes, our feeding leaves our prey vulnerable to us but whether we do more than feed is up to us. If it was, you would be seeing a lot of missing travelers as of late."
"You've been feeding on travelers?" Cedric was a little taken aback by the news. Ever since Chrysalis' removal from Canterlot, there had been no indication that she was still up to anything.
"As I said our appetite is insatiable. We will take what we can get. And it wouldn't do us good if anyone found out about it, no would it?"
Cedric shook his head. "I guess not…But then why do it in hiding? So secretively?"
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. "Oh please. You were at the wedding, weren't you?" When Cedric nodded, she continued. "You saw Twilight Sparkle's declaration and you saw the guests' reaction. We Changelings are feared. We aren't "normal" ponies after all."
Cedric nodded. "That's true…"
Chrysalis scowled at how quickly he was agreeing with her "not normal ponies" statement. "Unfortunately as time passes we end up becoming what the public believes us to be. We can't walk through a city in our normal forms without exciting the population against us. We're forced to employ underhanded methods, trickery and deception, simply to fill our stomachs."
Cedric lowered his head in thought for a moment before looking back up at the Queen. "What if an agreement could be made? No trickery, no siphoning of magic, and you have your nourishment."
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. "As if a pony exists that would willingly do that." When her eyes laid once more on Cedric, seeing the look on his face made her realize what he was offering and she attempted to read him a little more carefully. "Surprisingly, you don't have much love about you…"
The stallion stood straight, head held high. "I love the princesses, and would sacrifice everything for their safety."
"Hm…" Chrysalis couldn't help but look just a little skeptical. "Be that as it may but that is not "love", merely "loyalty". Nevertheless it is not an emotion directed at me or any of my changelings. Emotions that are not expressed towards the feeder makes it taste…" she grimaced a little. "…Stale…and barely gives us a fraction of what we desire."
"Would something like loyalty work, though?"
Chrysalis shrugged, starting to get bored with all the questions. "Most likely, especially if it's a strong loyalty. It'd probably not as appetizing or filling as something as strong as love but in our position we're not entirely capable of being choosey." She had taken to muttering and pacing a little back and forth in front of the stallion while he watched her. Her Changelings had long since departed, seeing nothing endangering their queen and the conversation being rather dull at best. Again, it took Chrysalis a little while before she realized the hidden offer she was being given by Cedric. Her head snapped back to face the stallion. "What? You? You can't possibly be saying that you'd be willing to become loyal to me so that I can feed off your emotions. Your princesses wouldn't approve."
"Well a queen should be given more consideration than a princess, right?" Chrysalis ALMOST believed that but as Cedric shook his head, she realized it was just a facetious joke. "I am serving my princesses by offering my service to a concern they have been having. You're right, Changelings are feared and the princesses are taxed with finding a way to deal with the fear. If I can offer myself to alleviate some of the fear…then I am serving my princesses, whether they approve or not."
Chrysalis looked at Cedric for a very long time before a smile formed on her face. "Well then…welcome to our world…"