Life, Love, and Death in the House of Path

The House of Path has grown to be an enormous influence in Equestria, Griffonia, and other nations, and has gained many unusual members. But with such a varied membership, comes some unusual circumstances. Free Agent stunned the hives with his deviant mutant nature, but can a normal changeling queen learn to love? When an alicorn's dearest friends die, how does she cope? What are the new generation like? How does a pony needs to learn how to deal with a destiny that he never expected? What lofty goals do they set for themselves?
These are highlights in the lives of the various House Path members, and all the love, fear, and hope that comes with such a family of beings. And maybe a little bit of sex in between.
This series follows after "Quantum Gallop" and is episodic, and the chapters might not be added in sequential order.


4. Crystal's Wanderings - Part 1 Part 2

Crystal got up from the sofa. “We had better get going now. Tell Apple Bloom that I’m sorry that I missed her.” She shifted to her unicorn form. “If you need to find me, I’m travelling incognito as Crystal Blue.”

Scootaloo got up and headed to the door and opened it for Crystal and Thumper. “Thanks for visiting, Cryssy. Don’t forget to check in with us when you get back from your expedition.”

“I won’t, I promise!”

# # #

As Thumper and Crystal meandered down the dirt road leading away from the CMC homestead, the stallion asked, “Isn’t there a representative of the Cutie Mark Crusaders back home?”

Crystal nodded. “Yep.”

“So why didn’t you check with them before coming here?”

The changeling mare smiled. “Because they’re my friends. I met them years ago on one of our visits to Auntie Twilight.”

“Ah – that makes sense. Did you know about their herd stallion?”

“Of course; they invited me to the celebration of their union.”

“How do you feel about that?”

Crystal looked at him curiously. “How am I supposed to feel? They’re happy and he’s happy; what more could you ask?”

“True. So what’s stopping you from doing the same?”

She stopped to stare at him. “Why do you ask?”

“I keep seeing ponies with changeling partners all over Ponyville. Three of your friends thought a changeling herd stallion was their best option. Obviously there has to be a lot to be said for changelings as a special somepony. However, you have never done anything to hint that you’re interested in that sort of thing.”

“I suppose it’ll happen one day. It’s not as if I’m in a rush. I have good friends, and I have lots of great sex with my best friend.” She grinned and gave him a hip-bump. “The only thing that I want is a purpose in life. Even you have that covered.”

Thumper cocked his head in puzzlement. “What do you mean by that?”

“You’re a warrior-scholar of House Path. Your skills qualify you to be a minder for a princess, and said princess enjoys having sex with you. So you have a career that you enjoy, while I’m still trying to figure out what I’m good for.”

Not picking up on subtle hints, that’s for sure,” Thumper muttered.

“Sorry – I didn’t catch that.”

Thumper sighed. “Never mind. So how many other friends have you got in this town?”

“Oh, plenty. When your aunt is the Princess of Friendship, you tend to get to meet a lot of people. Of course they were primarily ponies my age, but there were lots of exceptions like the Crusaders. There were the inevitable formal events too where I had to be a bit more princess-like.” Crystal giggled. “I think I frustrated Mom and Dad a few times when I kept calling out liars and sycophants before I learned a little diplomacy.”

“Kind of hard to hide your feelings from a changeling, especially a queen who didn’t like people deceiving her parents,” Thumper commented, keenly aware of her one blind spot.

“Exactly. Of course I still do it, but now I’m a lot more subtle about it.”

“How many ponies tried to court you?”

“Six or seven. I think I mentioned some of them to you?”

“Yeah, a couple of those who irritated you enough to complain a lot about them to me later.”

Crystal giggled. “Sorry about chewing your ears off. I don’t know what irritated me more – the fact that they were trying to use me for their gain, or that they thought that they could deceive a changeling as to their true intentions.”

“What about the others?”

“Not really worth mentioning. Nothing malicious – just the normal political maneuvering and upper-class nonsense. Those kind see nothing abnormal about such activities, but I’m totally uninterested in that kind of thing.”

“So – nopony has come to you with genuine intentions of dating you and getting to know you?” he pushed.

She shook her head. “Not that I am aware of. After one of those other idiots tried, I asked Mom if it was always going to be like that. She told me that she’d had similar problems, but there were nice stallions out there. She fell for a classmate who was nervous and bumbling whenever he was around her. Dad apparently was not exactly a ladies’ stallion by any means. However, she insisted that I keep an open mind, and the pony of my dreams might just be right under my nose.”

“I suppose she would know that kind of thing. So did you look?” he asked hopefully.

“No. Like I said earlier – I have everything that I want except a purpose in life.”

And we come full circle,’ Thumper thought glumly. ‘One of these days….

# # #

While being incognito restricted her ability to introduce Thumper to all her acquaintances, Crystal still managed to get him to meet a large percentage of them that afternoon before they had to head back to the castle for dinner. Crystal definitely did not want to be late for the meeting with Daring Do! Their arrival was well-timed as her aunts and uncles were all gathering in the family room at that time. She had a few minutes to chat with them about what they had been doing that afternoon before Spike came in to make an announcement.

“Hey, guys! Your guest is here!”

“Show her in please, Spike,” Twilight said.

Crystal eagerly watched the doorway for the anticipated arrival of Daring Do, only to be surprised when a rather nondescript mare wearing a large purple cape, floppy grey hat, and large red-rimmed glasses entered instead. She did seem oddly familiar though.

“A.K.! I’m so happy to see you again!” Twilight exclaimed as she trotted forward to give the mare a hug.

“Good to see you too, Princess.” A.K. Yearling looked about the room with a bright smile. “And the same for all of you. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this joint project of ours.” Her eyes rested on Crystal and Thumper. “And who might these two be? Are they going to be part of the project?”

“Yes indeed. This is my niece, Crystal, and her friend Cloud Thumper.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

Crystal gaped in awe. “You’re A.K. Yearling, the author of the Daring Do books! I’m such a fan! So that’s what Auntie Twilight meant by meeting her. She made me believe that I was going to meet the real explorer.” She looked accusingly at Twilight.

The alicorn merely smiled mysteriously, and Crystal was puzzled by the mixture of emotions that she could taste coming from not just her, but all the people in the room.

A.K. Yearling looked at Path and said, “As you might recall, my work for House Path requires a certain degree of discretion. How deeply are these two involved?”

“All the way, A.K. My niece requires the same,” Path replied. “Crystal, dear, would you please show our guest your secret?”

Crystal blinked in surprise. “Are you sure, Uncle Path?”

“Trust me.”

“Okay.” Green magic flames engulfed her, revealing her natural changeling form.

A.K.’s eyes widened in recognition. “Ah! That Crystal. I should have guessed. I’m rather surprised that Princess Crystal Path wants to go on our expedition, but I certainly don’t object. I suppose an exchange of secrets would only be fair, especially as we’ll have to work together.” She took off her glasses and hat, then unclasped her cape and shrugged it off, revealing wings, an extremely recognizable cutie mark, and trademark olive-green shirt. “Sorry I’m not carrying my pith helmet with me at the moment,” she said with a wink.

Crystal boggled at the sight. “You’re Daring Do?! This is so awesome! But why do you write those books about yourself when you could spend that time doing more adventuring?”

Daring Do chuckled. “My dear Princess, then as now, expeditions cost money. The further and more difficult they are, the more bits I need to finance them. I hit on the idea of trying to sell the story of one of my more exciting expeditions as a novel to raise the funds for my next expedition. Admittedly I had to adapt it a bit to make it read better, but making it look like a work of fiction also helped keep my professional work and my writing separate. Imagine my surprise when not only did it sell, but it was also a number one hit! So between expeditions, I wrote more novels under the name of A.K. Yearling. The rest is history.”

“That makes so much sense. So A.K. Yearling is a pseudonym?”

“Kind of. The A.K. parts are the initials of my foal name, hence the Yearling part. So in a sense it’s a real name too.”

Twilight spoke up. “Crystal asked to join our expedition to the Amarezon because she’s trying to find her place in life. Thumper is her best friend and guardian, so obviously he comes with us too.”

Daring smirked. “I’m almost surprised that Prince Shining Armor let you go, and with just one minder. I would have thought that his protective nature would have had him trying his best to prevent you from going at all.”

Crystal nodded. “Normally you’d be right, but I told Dad that I needed to do this, and while he and Mom did raise some issues, neither of them actually tried to stop me.”

“Good. They knew that it was time for you to leave the nest. I approve. I’ll try to make this a good experience for you.”

Twilight said, “You can chat with Daring over dinner, Crystal. We’ll be talking business afterwards.”

“Okay. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I’m going to be working with you, Daring Do!”

# # #

Twelve days later, the Skyshark arrived in Ponyville from Griffonia with a squad of griffon warriors. They were joined by a number of warrior-scholars from the Ponyville branch of House Path, whose task was to supplement the security of the expedition when necessary, but mostly to provide support for the team leaders. The last of the provisions were loaded onto the airship before Twilight, Free, Path, Roseclaw, Daring Do, Crystal, and Thumper boarded and the Skyshark began its journey.

Captain Kerbarok gazed at the maps that Daring Do had spread out on the chart table, and then said, “Are you sure we’re going to need this many warriors just for a trip into a jungle?”

Daring Do grinned and adjusted her pith helmet to a jaunty angle. “Captain, I barely managed to get out alive after my initial forays into the wilds of Amarezonia. Why should I deny these warriors the fun?”

The Red Changeling nodded thoughtfully. “Considering that we’re talking about griffon warriors, you make a valid point. A scary one, but valid.”

Crystal gulped. She was committed now. Every single person on this expedition had more experience at this kind of thing than Thumper and herself, and she could tell that they used humor to gloss over the seriousness of their commitment. She had chosen to dive into the deep end though, and if she was tested by it, then perhaps she would learn how she might fit into this world. At least she would be doing it with family at her side, not to mention her best friend.

Speaking of best friends, maybe it was time to for more of those side benefits to help work off her case of nerves? Yeah, that might be great way to get this adventure off to a flying start. “Hey, Thumper….”

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

Oddly enough, I had not intended to start this series with Crystal Path's episode. I have had a couple of others on my mind for a long time before I even considered what would happen to Chrysalis after her rebirth. However, I became fascinated with the idea of what she would be like growing up as the daughter of the Alicorn of Love.

I have a couple more episodes planned right now, but just as a matter of curiosity, is there any particular moment that you might be interested in reading about?

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