A Novel Tale

Novel Tale is an author that's been living in Canterlot for about ten years now. That's a pretty good track record for a changeling. He's even included a changeling character in his latest book, and his fans have been loving his take on such an obscure mythological creature, especially his biggest fan, Twilight Sparkle. Things are looking up!
Then an army of changelings from another hive attacks Canterlot.
Now all of ponykind knows that changelings are real, and his readers are sure to realize that the changeling in his book was too similar to the real thing to have just been based on a myth...

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/87718/a-novel-tale

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16. Epilogue: The Book

Roughly two years later...

Twilight sat at the main table in her library home. As she stared at the calendar held in front of her with her magic, a few hairs separated themselves from the rest of her mane to stick up erratically into the air. The table was haphazardly littered with numerous scrolls and letters. They were all more or less the same thing; requests from various institutions and news outlets from across Equestria requesting her presence to speak about changelings.

She had finally released her book on changelings just a few weeks ago, and such requests had started pouring in not long after. She had been ecstatic about it at first. Having a chance to lecture to ponies eager to learn more about a subject she was an expert in had always been a dream of hers. But the requests had just kept on coming in. She was doing her best to fit what she could into her schedule while still trying to find time to hang out with her friends and deal with the minor disasters that always seemed to occur around Ponyville, but it was becoming obvious that it wasn't going to happen. It was just a matter of deciding which ones to accept and which ones to reject, something that was proving to be harder than she had expected.

One of her eyes had just begun twitching when she was distracted by a whistling noise from the kitchen. She stared blankly in the direction of the noise, her mind too frazzled to identify the sound, when Spike stepped out of the kitchen carrying a tray with a tea kettle and some cups. “Tea’s ready!”

“Tea? I don’t remember asking you to make any tea,” Twilight said, still slightly confused. She tried to think back, but she had been so caught up in her work that her memory of the past few hours was a blur.

“That’s ‘cause you didn’t,” Spike replied as he cleared a space on the table for the tray. “I came downstairs about ten minutes ago, saw the look on your face, and figured you were gonna need a little pick me up. I guess you were so caught up in all this scheduling stuff that you didn’t even notice me.”

Now that her focus on her work had been broken, Twilight realized just how stressed she currently was. A small break was exactly what she needed.. “Thanks, Spike,” she said, a smile on her face. “You really are the best assistant ever.” She used her magic to pour some tea from the kettle into one of the cups, which she then levitated to her face to take a whiff of the steam coming of the hot liquid. The herbal scent alone was already calming her down, and she instantly knew which tea this was. It was a special blend that Twilight had picked up from Zecora at Fluttershy’s recommendation. She took a sip, and savored the herbal flavors and the aftertaste that could almost but not quite be described as spicy. She knew exactly what that aftertaste was; a bit of restorative magic infused into the tea, courtesy of some herbs found in the Everfree Forest. Almost immediately, she felt her muscles relaxing and her nerves winding down. She let out a relieved sigh and turned towards Spike. “Absolutely perfect! Sometimes, I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Spike gave a wry smirk. “You’d probably get yourself buried under a mountain of books, scrolls, and letters.”

Twilight gave a small giggle. “I wouldn’t be surprised!” She took another sip of her tea and looked to the letters covering the table. “I just never imagined that writing a book would be so much work… and that finishing it would result in so much more work! I wonder how Novel deals with it?”

Spike picked up a pair of letters from the table. “I get the feeling that Novel never had places like Hoofington University asking him to come give a presentation…" he said as he looked at one letter, then turned to the other one. "Or the Manehatten Post asking for an interview.” He glanced at another letter sitting on the table. “Hey, this one is from Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns!”

Twilight nodded. “Yep! I’m definitely going to be accepting that one.” She glanced back at the tray with the tea on it. “Aren’t you going to have some tea, Spike?”

Spike waved a claw dismissively. “Naw. I’ve got few more chores to do, then I'm gonna take a nap. I'm heading upstairs. You be sure to relax for a bit, alright?”

“Whatever you say, Dr. Spike,” Twilight replied with a smile. Spike rolled his eyes as he turned towards the stairs, and Twilight took the tea tray and trotted over to a couch set to one side of the room. This was her favorite couch for reading books on, but right now, it was just for relaxing. She just lay down and closed her eyes as she sipped on her tea. As she lay there, her mind began to wander, and she couldn’t help but think back over everything that had happened over the last two years as a result of her befriending Novel...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After Novel moved into Ponyville for good, he had been welcomed just like anypony else moving into the quaint little town. Which is to say, with open hooves and a surprise party from Pinkie. This was to be expected, since, as far as the rest of the town knew, he was just a regular unicorn. Bon Bon and Lyra, who Twilight had ended up explaining everything to, and the rest of Twilight’s friends were the only ponies in town who knew that Novel was actually a changeling.

Speaking of her friends, they had all mostly lost any remaining animosity towards him, although it took a while for some of them. The first had been Pinkie Pie, which came as no surprise to Twilight. They had actually hit it off right away at Novel’s “Welcome To Ponyville For Real This Time!” party. Changeling or no, Pinkie had been intent on making him feel welcome right from the get go, just like she did with every new pony in Ponyville. And then, once the pink party pony learned that changelings were able to appreciate her parties on a whole other level from normal ponies... Well, to this day, Novel has yet to miss a single one of Pinkie’s parties.

Surprisingly, Rarity had been next to befriend him. She had initially been rather aloof around him until he came to Carousel Boutique one day to ask about some clothes. According to what Twilight had heard, Novel had been trying on an outfit when Rarity made an offhoof comment wondering how he would look if he had a blue coat instead of grey. He responded by changing his coat color, and it was then that a shocked Rarity realized just how useful a changeling could be for a fashion designer (she had, according to Novel, said that it was the “Best POSSIBLE THING!”). Novel could take on almost any body type, color combination, or manestyle, allowing Rarity to try out numerous designs that she had in mind but had never had right kind of pony to try them out on. He found himself being invited over to Carousel Boutique at least once a week after that. Eventually, Rarity even got him to change into mares so that she could try out dresses on him.

Even more astonishing than that, however, is that Rarity had also been the first, and so far only, of Twilight’s friends to visit Novel’s hive and meet Queen Polistae. When Twilight had told her about how elegant Queen Polistae looked and how beautiful the throne room was, Rarity decided then and there that she simply had to go and see for herself. It actually gave her inspiration for some few new fashion styles that, while not wildly popular, had managed to carve out a small niche for themselves.

Applejack had maintained some reservations about Novel up until his first Winter Wrap Up. He wasn’t particularly good at any one job, but he tried his hardest and never once tried using his magic. And that was when Applejack finally decided that she hadn’t really been giving him a fair chance just because he wasn’t actually a pony.

For Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, it had just been a matter of time. Fluttershy soon lost the crippling anxiety that she typically had around new ponies, and while they weren’t exactly the best of friends, she treated him the same as most other ponies in Ponyville. Rainbow Dash was much the same, eventually realizing that her suspicions of him were unfounded and that he really was just here to live a normal life among ponies.

As for Lyra and Bon Bon, their relationship remained surprisingly unchanged. They did become active participants in Twilight’s studies, however, with Bon Bon always willing to provide input when Twilight didn’t want to go to Queen Polistae with a question.

In Canterlot, the Princesses and the Royal Guard had their hooves full with all the changes that needed to take place. Celestia was quick to implement what she called the Changeling Watch Program, a system for ponies to report those they suspected of being changelings to the Royal Guard or other local authorities. The idea was that knowing that the Crown was taking action would help alleviate fear and paranoia in the public. More importantly, it would also keep those who suspected others from trying to take matters into their own hooves.

Unsurprisingly, they were quickly inundated with a flood of reports of ponies suspecting everpony from their neighbors to their boss of being changelings. The entire system would have immediately collapsed under the load if they hadn't been prepared for such an outcome. With the help of Steel Wing, Shining Armor had acquired lists of changelings living in every major population center in Equestria. Thanks to this, they were able to dismiss the vast majority of reports that were filed right off the bat.

However, much to Twilight's dismay, there were still some ponies who chose to take action on their own. Of those, a few actually did manage to find and catch a changeling. For each such incident, a big show was made of the Royal Guard apprehending them and shipping them off to Canterlot to be thrown in the dungeons. Of course, thanks to her connections, Twilight knew what really happened. Upon arriving in Canterlot, the exposed changelings met Princess Celestia, who personally apologized for what had happened, and were then discreetly relocated and given a new identity to live under. This information was also relayed to the changeling hives via Novel and Polistae, so that the changelings themselves wouldn't fear what was occurring.

Twilight had finished her book at just about the best possible time. The fear and paranoia that had ruled pony's minds after the attack, while still present to some extent, had been joined by intense curiosity and rampant speculation. So when Princess Celestia announced that there was going to be a book all about changelings written by her personal student and one of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, everypony's interest was piqued.

When it was released a month later, it flew off the shelves (literally, in the case of unicorn and pegasi customers). There was some consternation over some points, especially the claim that Leonardo Da Hoovsie was a changeling, which sent both the historical and art communities into a tizzy. Fortunately, because Twilight had been so thorough with her research, and because Princess Celestia had personally vouched for the accuracy of her findings, most ponies were willing to accept her word as the truth.

Finally, the changelings hives were also abuzz with activity. Understandably, not all the changeling queens had been happy with what Nurex and Queen Polistae had set in motion. There was a short period of intense debate and no small amount of bickering. Thankfully, cooler heads had prevailed and they had eventually all agreed, some quite grudgingly, that it was the best course of action given the circumstances.

After that, focus was shifted to a very important changeling matter; discovering how and why Queen Chrysalis did what she did and what happened to her after the attack. The Queens were all fairly certain that she hadn’t died, or even been seriously injured, by the love blast, and were intent on finding her before she could cause more trouble. Twilight wasn’t privy to all the fine details, but she had learned the basics of what they’d found so far.

A joint expedition of changelings from a few hives close to where Chrysalis’ hive was had been sent out to find whatever they could. When they had arrived at her hive, however, they had found it completely deserted, not a single changeling or bit of crystal or gel to be found. This was very surprising given that hers was one of the larger hives in Equestria. The only clue they were able to find was that the underground river running through her gel growing chamber had dried up, and apparently had been dry for at least a few months before the invasion had happened. This provided a possible answer to why Chrysalis had decided to do what she did, but there were still many more questions left, questions Twilight Sparkle was very interested in learning the answers to. Not to mention, as far as she knew, Queen Chrysalis herself was still at large...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Twilight was pulled out of her ponderings by the sound of the front door opening. She opened her eyes and saw a tan colored earth pony mare with a chocolate colored mane poking her head in through the doorway. The librarian quickly put a welcoming smile on her face. “Hello! Welcome to the Books and Branches Library! How can I help you?”

The mare jumped slightly when Twilight started speaking, apparently having not noticed her beforehoof. “Oh! Umm, you wouldn’t happen to be… Twilight Sparkle, would you?” she asked as she stepped inside and closed the door behind her.

Twilight nodded. “That’s right.” She was keeping a kind smile on her face, but couldn’t help but wonder who this mare was. She could tell right away that she wasn’t from Ponyville, since she hadn’t knocked before entering. It may be a public library, but it was also her home, and everypony in Ponyville respected her privacy. Ponies from outside Ponyville, however, typically didn’t know that the library was also a place of residence.

“The Twilight Sparkle who wrote that book on changelings?” the nervous seeming mare continued.

Twilight looked at her a moment before a knowing smile crossed her face. “That’s right...”

“Oh, good!” A brief smile crossed her face before she went back to looking nervous again. “Um, well, you probably don’t know me. I’m Fine Line, and I’m from Manehatten, and I, ah… well, I wanted to thank you for writing that book.” She began fidgeting and looking anywhere but at Twilight. “Admittedly, I... wasn’t there in Canterlot when the... thing happened... But, uh, I always figured that not all changelings must be like that! That just makes sense, right? Since ponies aren’t all the same, either. And I always thought it wasn’t fair how changelings were all getting such a bad reputation over a single event.”

She looked back to Twilight and her ears folded back against her head as she realized what she was saying. “N-not that what happened in Canterlot wasn’t really serious or anything! It’s just that, I-I mean, ummm...” She stopped and took a deep breath in an attempt to regain her train of thought. “What I’m trying to say is that, since your book came out, I’ve been sen—” her eyes widened slightly “—seeing! Seeing a lot less fear and suspicion from ponies whenever the subject of changelings is brought up. And I think that’s really important, since everypony deserve a second chance, right? So, I really appreciate all the work you put into that book,” Fine finished, sincere gratitude easily detectable underneath her nervousness.

Twilight had a more genuine smile now. “Thank you, Fine. I felt the same way, and that’s partly why I decided to write that book in the first place.” She tilted her head slightly. “But I get the feeling that you didn’t come all this way just to thank me…”

Fine sheepishly smiled as she rubbed the back of her head. “It’s that obvious, huh? Well, you’re right, there’s something I really wanted to ask you. It’s about, uh…” She began fidgeting a bit again. “Well, that one changeling who helped you learn so much about u— er, other changelings. The one that you said in the book that you became friends with.” Fine looked Twilight in the eyes, confusion clear on her face. “How is it that a pony could have becomes friends with a changeling, especially so soon after the attack on Canterlot?”

“It’s quite the story, but I can do better than telling you myself. I’ll take you to meet Nurex, the changeling who helped me, and we’ll tell you about it together!” Twilight explained excitedly. Her horn glowed and a clipboard with some papers on it floated off of a nearby shelf towards Fine. “But first, I would really appreciate it if you could fill out these forms.”

“Forms?” Fine’s brow scrunched together as she grabbed the clipboard out of the air and began reading. “Alternate name? Prefered emotion...” She suddenly dropped the clipboard and jumped back. “Y-you think that I’m a changeling!?”

“Well, you are, aren’t you?” Twilight responded calmly, her smile having changed to a smirk. “I’m the foremost expert on changelings among ponies now; I certainly hope I’d be able to tell you apart from a normal pony.”

Fine was stunned. “B-but... I was... you... How!?”

Twilight tapped her horn. “I’ve learned to detect the magical signature that your disguises give off. It took a long time for me to recognize it for what it was, as it’s almost identical to the signature of Equestria’s magical background radiation field. Unicorns, being constantly exposed to that particular magical signature from birth, subconsciously tune it out, and most forget that it even exists. It took me the better part of a year hanging out around Nurex and other changelings for me to finally figure out what it was!”

Fine’s ears drooped down. “I... I see...”

“Cheer up, Fine!” Twilight said as she got up from the couch and trotted over to her. “I left that little tidbit out of the book on purpose. I want ponies to know the truth about changelings, but I don’t think that they’re quite ready yet for a sure fire method of finding them.” She raised an eyebrow at the disguised changeling. “Of course, even without knowing what magical signature to look for, I think anypony would have noticed something was off about you.”

Fine couldn’t help but blush and look away. “I’m normally not this bad. It’s just so nerve wracking actually meeting you face to face. You know more about us than any other pony, or even some changelings, and you’ve done so, so much for us with that book…” She looked back up at Twilight with a weak smile. “You’re kind of a personal hero to some of us.”

Twilight let out a chuckle which shifted to a sincere smile. “Believe it or not, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. You’re not the first changeling to come see me since I released that book, and most of them were quaking in the knees as well.” She began leading Fine towards the kitchen. “Come on, let me get you something to drink while you fill out that form. Then we can go meet Nurex and we’ll tell you the whole story together!”

Fine’s smile grew stronger. “Alright, sure!”

Twilight smiled back. She may have finally gotten the basics on changeling all nailed down and distributed to the public, but there was still so much more to learn, and every new changeling she met was another step in the right direction. They still weren’t anywhere near the point of open integration, at least in her estimation. But, assuming that nothing catastrophic happened, then they were well on their way.

Author's Note:

omg I finally finished this I'm so sorry it took so long.

I've had the epilogue in a half finished state for months now and only in the last week or so did manage to finally buckle down and finish it.

Anyway, you may notice that Twilight doesn't have her wings yet. Lets just say that Celestia decided that taking care of the changeling situation took precedence over finishing Star Swirl's spell.

 
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