The next morning started out like any other in the Equestrian capital at least, to everypony except for the two imposters now settling into their roles.
As Celestia's sun rose in the sky the next morning, the denizens of Canterlot began to awaken, unaware that there were two within their midst who were not what they seemed to be.
Chrysalis was the first of the disguised pair to greet the new day, squinting slightly at the light that shone brightly through her no, [i]Cadance's[/i] window. She groaned, turning on her side to face away from the light. Even though she woke every morning in the torch-lit chamber of her Hive, not even the sunlight that broke through the Forest's tree-cover shone with such intensity, except in clearings where there weren't as many trees.
"How does that princess get up every morning to this?" grumbled the queen as she rose, listening for anypony coming to wake her. To the changeling's relief, there was nothing. Good. It gave her time to think.
"Okay," Chrysalis muttered to herself, standing up and observing her new form more fully in the daylight. "I look just like that princess now, just as it should be. Acting the part is going to be the more difficult aspect of this, especially where Shining Armor is concerned. But in the end, it will all be worth it."
The queen placed a hoof on her chin thoughtfully as she stood in front of the mirror, wearing a confident smile. "This shouldn't be too hard - if I make sure to act as I saw the princess act, then I should go through this without a hitch
and get to be closer to Shining Armor."
With a light chuckle, Chrysalis pushed open the double doors and entered the castle hall, reminding herself that she'd have to be used the garish coloring of the castle, rather than the atmosphere of her Hive that she was accustomed to.
Oh well, the disguised changeling thought. It's all part of the charade. I might as well get used to it for the next few days.
"Morning, Princess Cadance!"
A voice snapped Chrysalis out of her thoughts as she realized that she was being addressed. It was a light blue earth pony wearing a golden helmet, which bore a silver crest to match his mane and tail. No doubt this was one of the members of the Royal Guard.
The disguised queen forced a smile. Being referred to by the Princess's name was going to take some getting used to, especially when she was so used to titles like "Queen Chrysalis" or "Your Highness".
She put on a kind smile. "Good morning."
Chrysalis left her greeting at that, as she was unfamiliar with the names of the guards, or almost anyone else in the castle, for that matter. She silently hoped that the guard wouldn't get suspicious from her not continuing the greeting with his name.
Luckily, the guard didn't seem bothered at all by the short greeting, simply returning the smile. "Did you sleep well last night?"
Chrysalis had to stop her smile from twisting into a pleased smirk as her mind turned to her feeling of satisfaction before she had drifted into sleep. "Yes, I did."
The guard smiled. "Good to hear! Bet you're excited for the wedding in a few days, huh?"
"Oh, uh, yes, yes, I am!" Chrysalis exclaimed, trying to keep up that enthusiastic demeanor, though she inwardly cursed her hesitation. Her stumble in speech could blow her cover if she wasn't careful.
"Hey, I can understand," the guard said with a casual air, "pre-wedding nerves probably got ya nervous, huh?"
The deceiver nodded, relieved that the guard saw her behavior is completely normal, and not something too out of the ordinary.
Speaking of guards
"Is Shining Armor around, by any chance?"
The guard laughed lightly, glancing behind him to the long hallway. "I wouldn't be surprised if he's still sleeping. You always do seem to get up earlier than him I swear he sleeps like a log some mornings."
Well, at least I'm doing that right, Chrysalis thought, forcing a good-natured laugh at the guard's comment.
The gray earth pony nodded in the direction of the hallway leading to the larger area of the castle. "He's likely still in his room at our sector if you want to see him," the guard pointed out, beginning to trot in that direction. "Maybe your presence will magically get him to wake up, if he's not already up by the time you get there."
Chrysalis was thankful that the guard was at least guiding her in the right direction to go she and the other changelings may have gotten a view of the castle's exterior, but aside from a few clever glances into windows, the interior of the building was largely unknown to her.
That could prove to be a bit of a hindrance when she wasn't accompanied by anypony, but the changeling queen vowed she'd be able to bypass that.
Chrysalis walked down the hallway after the guard, glad that she'd be able to find Shining Armor's room now without too much trouble, even if it [i]was[/i] close to the other side of the castle. She'd have to make sure to pay attention to her surroundings around the castle she didn't want to feel like a fool by losing her way later.
The last thing I need is for everyone to think their princess has suddenly developed amnesia.
Meanwhile, in the section of the castle where the Royal Guards lived, the room of the Captain was for the most part silent. The room's occupant was just beginning to rise from the haze of sleep, his eyes groggily beginning to open.
But once his senses became more alert to the waking world, Metamorphosis's now-blue eyes opened, all feelings of sleep quickly dissipating. He was meant to be Captain of the Guard now, after all! And with that thought in mind, there was no time for dozing.
Metamorphosis rose and stretched, shaking all sense of sleep out of him so that he could properly maintain himself for the day's events as thoughts swirled around in his head. Today was the first day of his little charade, and thus the hardest one to get into. Not only would he have to deceive Princess Cadance, but he'd also have to trick the guards into thinking that he was Shining Armor, normal as ever.
"Thank Circe that I have experience with armies and military strategies," the changeling king said, feeling more confident at the situation. "It will at the very least allow me to get well-acquainted with their course of action if it comes to that."
He glanced over at a large desk in Shining Armor's room, where, among other personal belongings, a calendar hung on the wall next to it. The king walked over to study it carefully, observing the dates.
"The wedding is three days after today
so I have today, tomorrow, and the following day to get through with deceiving everyone here." A sinister smile crossed his lips. "And after that, the day of the wedding will be here at last!"
The changeling's eyes gazed over to his right, there a small picture frame sat on the desk. Within the borders of the ornate frame was a picture of Princess Cadance and the unicorn whose form he now held.
"You really do have a beautiful bride, Shining Armor," he said quietly, though his tone was much more sinister than endearing.
A knock on the door interrupted the imposter's thoughts.
"Shining Armor?" a voice called out one of the other guards, presumably "It's Blaze Storm. You awake in there?"
"Yeah," Metamorphosis responded, turning away from the picture to face the door. "I'm up." Holding his head up high, he trotted over to the door to open it, revealing the pony who had spoken to him. Blaze Storm was indeed another member of the Royal Guard, a gray-colored pegasus with a light orange mane and tail.
Shadow Blaze raised his right hoof in a quick salute before letting a small grin come across his face. "Just a few more days before the big day, Captain! Think you can handle it?"
"You mean handle guard duty and trying not to get too excited?" Metamorphosis asked with a light chuckle. "I'm Captain of the Guard, Blaze, I think I can handle it."
As the pair of them stepped out into the ornate hallway, closing Shining Armor's door behind them, Metamorphosis felt a brief sense of surprise at how naturally this came to him. But he let it pass to replace it with a calm demeanor. Being rather knowledgeable in these guard tactics himself, he saw it as no different than talking to one of his lieutenant changelings, save having gone from the position of King to that of a Captain.
Perhaps this won't be so hard after all, Metamorphosis thought. I'll just have to remember to respond to "Shining Armor", and get acquainted to how things work around here. While it was true that this was only the first morning and he couldn't let his guard down, Metamorphosis began to feel a burst of confidence on his ability to deceive them.
Another guard came trotting up to the pair, an eager smile on his face. Unknown to them, it was the same guard who had been speaking to Chrysalis several minutes prior.
"Ah, Silver Cloud," Blaze nodded with a smile. "What's got you so eager?"
"Well, I see that the Captain here is awake," Silver said. "Your bride-to-be is here to see you, Shining Armor!" He moved aside to reveal the alicorn they thought was Cadance walking over to them, a smile lighting up her face as Shining Armor at least, who they believed to be Shining Armor came into view.
Metamorphosis darted over to the pink alicorn, grinning at her in the loving way her husband actually would. "Sleep well?"
Chrysalis smiled, gently nuzzling him. "I slept wonderfully."
The stallion wrapped a hoof around her shoulder. "Glad to hear it, mi amore," he said fondly, using the nickname he had heard the real Shining Armor give to Cadance the previous night. With Chrysalis's eyes briefly closed, she didn't notice the brief green glint in the other's gaze.
"Hey, lovebirds!" Silver Cloud called out, snapping the pair out of their embrace. He and Blaze were already heading down the hall, toward one of the larger areas of the castle. "You coming to breakfast with us or not?"
The disguised changelings forced grins at one another, but making them look just natural enough to work.
"We're coming, guys!"
As the pair walked after the two guards, side-by-side, the two changelings felt a mixture of pride and satisfaction.
The day may have just started, Metamorphosis thought, glancing at the bride-to-be, </i>but I think this is going to go quite smoothly.</i>
Chrysalis looked back at Metamorphosis in return. So far, so good.