The Three Sisters: Like Fudge

This story is a sequel to The Three Sisters: Extended Family

A story of The Three Sisters Universe

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~ Unknown Author
Chrysalis' daughters are serving their community service in Ponyville. Nothing can go wrong. Right?
Unless they all have their own agenda, and surprises keep piling up, complicating matters further. But anything to broker peace between the Changeling Nation and Equestria... right?

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14. Coffee for six

“Rarity, you’d better not be choosing a new scarf!” Chrysalis growled.

Rarity stopped rummaging through her bags and glared right back. “For this weather? Are you insane?” She levitated three head-pieces, one with flowers, one with curly lace and one with gems. “No, I am just choosing the right mane decoration for today.” She turned around and faced Chrysalis, holding them next to her. “What do you think? I like the flowers, but maybe the gems go better with our surroundings?”

“I think we’ll be late for breakfast and meeting the queen if you spend enough time deciding to make me molt again.”

"I do not take that long!" Rarity gritted her teeth, but decided to take the gem-studded head-piece. “Fine. If you must be so insistent, we shall go now.”

“Good!” Chrysalis nodded and practically pushed Rarity out the door. “We must make a good impression and we can’t be the last ones in.” She paused. “Unless… we make it sound intentional.”

“Let’s not,” Rarity said. “I wouldn’t want Queen Apocrita to wait too long for us, the poor thing had such a hard time just getting to the table last night.”

Chrysalis snorted. “A sign of weakness. But she played it masterfully with her threat to all of us were any other queen try to murder her.” She shook her head and glanced at Rartiy. “But that gives us more trouble than you might think. Now that there’s no way to strike the queen of the hive down directly, the others will definitely start thinking of ways to get rid of us.”

“But I thought the queen wanted to make her own choice as to who would rule in her stead?”

Chrysalis nodded. “Yes, but it’s easier to choose when there’s only one choice left standing.”

 

 

Unlike dinner, breakfast was a more somber affair. All the other parties were silently glancing at each other, calculations in their eyes, and a general feeling of suspense hung over the large banquet table like a shroud.

Queen Dermestid was carefully looking at the plates in front of her, as if she expected them to explode into a changeling-eating monster. Queen Dacus’ eyes kept shifting from one side of the table to the other, either expecting something to happen, or somepony to give away any ill intentions; and finally, Queen Phoenutria simply sat rigidly in place.

Having arrived a bit later than the others, Chrysalis and Rarity took side-by-side seats directly opposite to Queen Apocrita.

“Good morning, you two,” Queen Apocrita acknowledged them, nodding briefly in their direction. “Please, join us for breakfast.”

“Thank you, your highness,” Rarity said with a smile and a short bow. “We would be delighted.” Her eyes turned to the other queens. “And good morning to you, Queens Phoenutria, Dermestid and Dacus! I hope you had a good night’s sleep?”

The replies were noncommittal grunts of acknowledgement for the most part as several changelings marched into the room, levitating plates of warm food and steaming pitchers full of coffee. Queen Phoenutria snatched one from one of the changelings and without preamble drank the whole thing down while Rarity watched in horror.

Finally, she slammed it down in front of her, closing her eyes and wincing for a second before smiling a fanged grin and looking up at the others. “I simply can’t start a day without coffee.”

“Wasn’t that really hot?” Chrysalis asked with just a hint of curiosity. “As in, boiling hot?”

“Yes,” Queen Phoenutria nodded. “Yes it was.”

“Excellent!” Chrysalis said as she and the other Queens raised their pitchers and downed the burning liquid in one long gulp as Rarity could do nothing else but stare.

When they were all done, they glanced at Rarity. “Purity dear," Queen Apocrita spoke up, steam pouring through her nostrils, “Don’t you like coffee?”

“I-I do!” Rarity stammered. “But… that’s—why did you all down a pitcher-full of boiling coffee?!”

“What do you mean?” Chrysalis asked. “Coffee is one of the main ‘exports’ we ‘acquire’ from ponies. We’ve grown to appreciate the effects it has in our bodies.”

Rarity shook her head. “But doesn’t it... burn you on the way down?”

“Well, yes,” Queen Dacus spoke up, her voice hoarse. “But that’s how the ponies drink it, and although the pain is sometimes a bit much, the results can’t be argued with.”

“B-but that’s not how ponies drink coffee!”

There was a moment of silence.

“I… beg your pardon?” Demestrid asked. “Queen Purity, you can’t possibly be implying that we have been burning our throats for no reason?”

“Coffee is supposed to be drank hot, after all.” Phoenutria’s comment made everyone at the table nod sagely, except for a single Queen.

Rarity rubbed her temple gently with a hoof. “You… I believe you might have misunderstood. And before we go anywhere, ponies do drink coffee cold sometimes, it just requires a bit more flair for the taste to be good.”

“Cold coffee?” Phoenutria gasped. “What will those ponies think of next?”

“In any case.” Rarity took a deep breath and glanced at one of the servant changelings. “Dear, would you mind bringing me a cup, some sugar or honey and cream?” When the changeling nodded and left, Rarity sighed. “I remember explaining this to Bon-Bon once… I just didn’t realize it was a cultural misunderstanding. I just thought she was different.”

 

 

Later on, all Queens and their entourages were following Queen Apocrita through a long, crystal tunnel. “I’m afraid duty calls so I won’t be able to escort you myself for too long. Once we reach the inner city, you may all go your own ways to explore the Hive. I will assign guides to each of your parties so that any questions you might want answered are resolved in the most satisfactory manner possible.” She gave them all a look. “Some areas are off-limits, and if you really want to go into them, you’ll need to ask me for access.”

The Queens all nodded their understanding as they finally reached the gates that granted access to the city. When they opened, Rarity could barely keep a gasp of delight. The city itself was vastly different from her own Hive, or even Canterlot or Manehattan. The whole cavern appeared to have been carved out of a single titanic crystal, and the structures of the city were all made of the same material, worked with so much detail that it almost put to shame the Crystal Empire.

Windows were made of string-thin crystal webbing; the buildings although made of thick crystal, had been worked on the outside with inlaid designs that created rainbows if the light hit them just right.

“Oh, my.” Rarity approached on the of the buildings and slowly slid her hoof down the delicate designs. “The work that went into this is… it’s magnificent!” Nearby, a changeling that had been observing the queens with some trepidation seemed to swell with pride.

“Hm,” Queen Phoenutria looked around. “The buildings look pretty, but this whole place would crumble in an instant if there was a fight.”

The changeling's puffed chest deflated and it stuck its head inside it's dwelling with a mutter.

Queen Apocrita looked at the group and nodded as four changelings stepped forth. "These are Aculea, Tere, Cera and Chalci," she said, introducing each changeling as they bowed. "Although they usually work at the palace, they know the city and all of my domain well. Each of them will accompany one of your groups and answer any questions you might have." She motioned with her head and the four changelings went to their respective parties.

Rarity smiled at Cera while Chrysalis looked at her with an arched eyebrow. The reactions from the others were a bit different each. Queen Dermestid gave an approving glance at Tere, while Phoenutria sighed and did her best to ignore Aculea and Queen Dacus seemed slightly amused by Chalci.

"Very well," Queen Apocrita said after the parties were set. "Enjoy my hive for the day. I shall see you tonight."

The queens bowed slightly until she had left, and set off immediately without acknowledging each other.

Rarity stood there blinking for a moment, before she turned to her sister and Cera. "Well then! I say we take a look at the city!"

Chrysalis tilted her head. "Shouldn't you look at the lands or the army?"

Rarity giggled. "All in due time, sister. For now, let's take a look around, shall we? I want to see what kind of products they sell! How does their craftsmanship compare to the Crystal Empire's? Do they have SPAs?"

Chrysalis shook her head as she followed her almost-skipping sister deeper into the Hive with a slightly bemused Cera following behind.

 

 

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