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The Kingdom of the Changelings - A Realm Veiled in Mystery The changeling kingdom is a remote region north of Aquellia, past the treacherous Forest of Leota. It is home to the changelings, a race of parasitic, shape-shifting equinoid lifeforms known to be hostile to Equestria. Details regarding the region are somewhat scarce given the number of ponies who have successfully ventured in and returned alive remains small, but from what accounts do exist, some of the mysteries at least have begun to unravel. The kingdom as a whole is best described as being built upon inhospitable terrain. The land is rough, dry and mountainous throughout, and either by the influence of the inhabiting species as a whole or through the misrule of the queen, little vegetation seems to grow anywhere in the kingdom. The majority of the changelings are thought to live in small groups and colonies throughout the realm, building peculiar slimy green pods in the valleys and caves for their shelter. Often these structures are built out of sight, making the region appear even more empty and devoid of life than it is. At the very heart of the kingdom is the castle of the changeling queen and the changeling settlement that surrounds it. The castle is built atop an isolated platform overlooking a large lake. It is surrounded by steep cliffs with only a deathly narrow and winding path leading up to it. The settlement is nestled down the path, at the foot of the cliff. A gate emblazoned with the queen’s image built on the only pass through the surrounding mountains protects the settlement from unwanted visitors. The queen’s castle and accompanying settlement are unusual as they do not appear to be typical changeling structures. The elaborate towers of the stone castle and ordinary shape of the settlement’s homes has most researchers suspecting that they were originally constructed by a conquered griffon or pony clan and repurposed for the queen and her changelings’ use. Large portions of the castle and all of the settlement homes are thickly covered in the changelings’ green pod slime. The castle itself is of immense size, providing abundant space for the queen and her most favored servants and minions. Any bold enough to enter, will find that the interior has been designed with an unconscionable number of doors, staircases and dangerous traps, likely as a last means of defense aimed to confuse would be invaders. The queen herself is thought to reside near the top of the highest castle tower, where she is both protected and able to gaze out upon her entire kingdom. ~Canterlot Research Journal
"Just sign here and here" It was an overcast afternoon in Griffonstone, with said griffons in the skies as they made their way home from work. Standing on the edge of a cliff a teal peagsus stood idly in front of a home as she watched a griffon eye the large package she had delivered moments ago. "I'm telling you, I didnt order anything," the griffon huffed as he returned his attention to the courrier who had disturbed his afternoon nap. Rolling her eyes Dust fished out a paper, "This is 3304 Rok lane yes?" she asked, "Yes but-" "Then its yours. I'm not charging you anything, i just need you to sign." Dust interrupted, pushing forward the clipboard at the griffon again. The mention of not being charged anything seemed to change the griffons demeanor as he hastily took the clipboard and signed away. "Thank you for choo-" Dusts obligatory company schpeel was interrupted by the door slamming in her face causing the mare to wince. "Alright then," spreading her wings the mare took to the skies a moment later, her job in this miserable city over. It had only been the one package but Dust had lept at the opportunity to do some long distance flying. She had been gone for half a week now, and it would take about the same just to return home. These days Dust found herself enjoying these long stretches of flight alone, especially when it took her outside of the corrupt mess that was Equestria. Mixed with the fact she was given a generous amount of time to fulfill the delivery, Dust often found time to practice some advanced flying maneuvers, or engage in personal challenges involving the surrounding terrain. Climbing fast, the mare soon cleared the city limits as she began to head back in the direction of Equestria, the peaks of the Hyperborean mountains serving as a guide that lead her out of griffon lands and into the badlands proper. Giving a smile the mare began to fall into a spinning dive, before pulling herself up inches above a winding river, her speed causing the water to splash up in her wake. Chuckling silently she began continued along the river, not caring for the disturbances she left in her wake. It was times like this that Lightning Dust felt like she had before the Academy incident. She was the fastest, the most skilled, nopony could beat her, and all were in awe of what she could do. Of course this was all a delusion, but in the end Dust didnt care. She was happy. It was late at night when Dust finally arrived at the Orion Hostel. Located in the eastern foothills of the Hyborean mountain, the hostel was a place of refuge for those travelling to and from Griffonstone. All were welcome, so long as they payed and did not cause any trouble with other patrons. "Dust," a large griffon in the back stated, giving the pegasi a nod as she entered. The Hostel itself was nothing more than a large wooden cabin, with a large fire burning in the back and a series of cots and beds. "Orion" Dust replies giving him a nod. She was a regular visitor, stopping in during whenever she had to go into the badlands for a delivery. It was a gateway of sorts, and most who entered the badlands often stayed a night here to rest and prepare. Trotting to the back Dust placed a few bits on the table and took as seat as the griffon placed a plate of food in front of her "Done already then?" he asked, counting the bits before stashing them away in the back "Yeah," the pegasus replies, staring at her food for a moment before taking a fork and starting to eat. Stepping back out into the bar, the griffon nods silently "Well you pretty much have the entire building for tonight." he chuckles taking a bottle out of an icebox and pouring a glass for himself and Dust. Noticing the reluctance of the pegasus to take the drink he takes a sip himself "Its just fruit juice." he smiles before stepping away to prepare a cot for the mare. Shaking her head Dust really began consume her meal. A near empty hostel, good food, and a comfy bed for the night. Things were looking good for ol' Lightning Dust OOC:Simple enough, Orions hostel is just a pitstop I whipped up for the purposes of this rp. Just a simple log cabin with a max occupancy of 10 for the night. I figure places like this are common enough considering the vast distances between places, especially in areas where the trains cant go. Inspiration for what it looks like is similar to the cabin in 'The Hateful Eight'
The situation was far from ideal. By Odyrr it was far from what she'd really wanted, but this was the chance that fate had offered her. She had few leads to go on beyond hearsay from arena combatants and a few EPIC reports. Sigrun knew that the red dragon that had bested her in the arena was somewhere in these badlands and if he wasn't, he would be soon. It was strange to be in this area of Equestrian soil... it seemed oddly familiar to roam in as it many features similar to Whitescar's lowlands during the warmer seasons: Although Whitescar could be considerably greener... and encounters with dangerous beasts besides dragons were much easier to run into back home. The various dragon fiefdoms that lay scattered across these mountains had not seen much of Sigrun and her companion Balder, that or they'd just not been bothering with them. This was fine. If they would offer help, Sigrun would have to decline. If they stood in her way, she'd ask them politely but firmly to leave. If they refused, well she could only hope they wouldn't. Sigrun was determined to meet this adversary. Her wrath was coming for her prey with the certainty of a plummeting boulder. If the Dragonlord herself wished to get between her and the 'ground' ( the ground being Craven) well, they will only have themselves to blame for the repercussions. Each day in these arboreal lands, Sigrun could feel a strange drive in her. Out here in the wilds where there was little to guide you. No clan rules, no worries about the rest of the world. You could simply be. You against the uncaring wilderness sprawled out in every direction. Each morning as she watched the skyline through her telescope she kept an eye out for her quarry… She and Balder had been there for almost a week and still no luck, or at least not what she expected. One day they had seen a longship moving to the forest edge and setting up a camp. Through teamwork, Both she and Balder managed to knock out the bou who’d come and even tie them up securely to read their journals. What Sigrun read made her jaw hit the floor. There was his name, right on the page. “Craven.” She muttered under her breath, “It seems that fate is on my side.” The journal said that they were… making a purchase. One mare, evidently worth a king’s ransom judging by the amount of treasure that was brought along in the boat’s hold. More than enough gold to bring a greedy dragon to this neck of the woods. They will need a plan. Something that would allow them to safely acquire this mare and then let Sigrun deal with her captor. “Balder.” She called out to her greatbow wielding ward, “We need to set up a trap for some very large and dangerous prey. How good of a shot are you with that bow… because I’ll likely be putting your talents to the test soon.”