|Function||City of the Changelings|
|Areas|| Castle Chrysalis|
House of Eyes
House of Fangs
|Other residents||Parlys the Pale (formerly), Archmagus Secthotep, various changelings|
- "Beware. I do not like to call a culture evil, but there is little good or kind to be found among the quintessential Hive."
- — Ancient wayfarer, noted by Parlys the Pale
The Hive is the home of the changeling scourge led by Queen Chrysalis: the latest changeling capital of the world and the pinnacle of the vile fiends' artistry (to Parlys the Pale's disappointment). It is a predominantly subterranean makeshift city where, out of necessity, every denizen abuses every iota of power he comes to possess.
Over the Hive, at surface level in the dusty wasteland, sits the contemporary citadel of the changeling queen. It is a vast and dark bastion whose battlements stand tall over the surrounding desert. Although oddly placed on a map, the castle is conveniently situated between two of the scarce oases in the region. Unless an adventurer means to go without water, his route through the Badlands must wind far eastward to escape the changeling patrols.
The halls of the castle are seldom the same between visits, for the queen is constantly switching one booby trap out for another and devising twist after twist for her personal maze. A wrong turn typically means encountering a deadly illusion or some variety of horrible beast kept as a pet. The queen's favorite monsters also guard the keys to her chambers.
The throne of Queen Chrysalis is one of the few constants, situated at the heart of the castle. Nearby are her personal dining room, the court mage's chambers, and the royal art gallery. A narrow spiral staircase leads down into a southward corridor and then to the Hive proper.
Lit by luminescent slime, the hallowed Crossing is the backbone of changeling society. To the north, up the slope, is the castle where the queen dwells. In the east, along the flat, is the House of Fangs, where the military command hangs its horseshoes. Opposite and in the west lies the House of Eyes, where the queen's soothsayers cloister themselves.
Farther south and downhill, the body of the Hive awaits in darkness.
House of FangsEdit
Aside from the tall green-glowing windows, the facade of the House of Fangs is not terribly unlike that of the Equestrian courthouse, with black columns supporting a chiseled stone roof. Beyond its dark gates is a two-story amphitheater. Branching to the sides are the officer's barracks. At the end of the first floor is an observation chamber for the testing of innumerable cruel devices. At the end of the second is the war room.
Led by an armored drone known only as the Commander, the changeling high command convenes in the House of Fangs to plan everything from phony frontier towns to full-scale invasions. Queen Chrysalis prefers the company of these changelings over any others. Being a particularly warlike queen, she frequents the House of Fangs almost daily.
House of EyesEdit
A shrine to pain and cruelty, an estate built on the blood and tears of the weak, a temple for only the blackest schools of magic: the House of Eyes, or Red House, is these things and more. Decorated with jagged web-shaped windows of red-stained glass and illuminated from within so as to suggest infernal power, the very sight of the wicked chapel is dizzying. Even the changeling queen prefers to avoid what is perhaps the darkest site in her city. Such is the way of the changeling Magi.
Like its counterpart, the House of Eyes opens upon a two-story amphitheater. At the center is the Fountain of Forgetfulness, whose atramentous waters leave the unfortunate drinker impaired in memory and cognition—or worse. The left wing is known to contain the Metastasis Arch—a diabolical instrument used to transform an ordinary changeling into a red-eyed Behemoth with doubled muscle mass and destructive potential. Despite the queen's orders to dismantle the Arch, the Magi have opted to fake its disrepair and continue their experiments in secrecy, for the hooded seers' greed for knowledge and power outweighs even their obedience to "Her Grace." They alone refer to their queen as such in lieu of "Her Majesty."
At the deepest end of the House, beyond several secret passages, is the Night Weaver Chamber—the conclave of the Elder Magi, who sit upon a ring of thrones looking down from a lofty balcony. Archmagus Secthotep oversees the conclave and reports to the queen, though the true nature of their meetings can only be guessed at. It is unlikely that they share their discoveries, for knowledge to them is only valuable when it is secret. Perhaps they collectively bare their minds to the darkest forces ever understood by mortal equine.
A titanic cavern south from the Crossing, unbelievably vast and yet deeper still, reveals the rest of the Hive in all its misery. From the roof of the cavern hangs the Guardian Fly's roost, home of the queen's mightiest pet of all. Beneath this, among the crags, is a spiraling system of tunnels, leading to everything from private dwellings, to corrupt markets, to work camps for slaves and dissidents. Stone bridges span the immense Chasm for moving loads too heavy for flight, though a good number are damaged from reckless overburdens.
In the pit of the Chasm are the Arena where lowly gladiators duel, often to the point of death, and the Hatchery where every changeling starts at the very bottom of the whole society. The proximity of these two locations is no coincidence. The young who are unfit to battle for the queen's conquest must instead battle for her entertainment.
Little is known about the changeling kingdom's true economy. Amid the terraces of the Chasm are stagnant marketplaces where residents trade their ill-gotten wares, but the majority of the vendors are either so attached to their trophies or so greedy for more that the markets are perennially silent. Only a loving animal for trade is sure to cause a stir.
Mines are found deep in the walls of the Chasm, most notably for lead. There are also kennels for the kittens subjugated at the previous castle and the coyotes native to the Badlands—both superb sources of love, though the changelings use loveless coyotes for guard animals too.
Whereas Equestria uses the golden bit ($), the currency of the changeling kingdom is the pewter Hivesmark (ℋℳ).
At the summit of the changeling hierarchy is Queen Chrysalis, to whom every other changeling in the Hive owes his allegiance. Directly below her is the Commander and his select lieutenants, whom the queen considers her closest allies. The highest ranks of the military amount to the loftiest echelon of changeling society. Their power is unrivaled by any but the queen.
The only changelings who dare to challenge the House of Fangs are the Magi who dwell at the opposite end of the street. Somehow even more bloodthirsty than the army, perhaps on account of their cruel lust simply to see what might happen when two forces collide, the Magi do everything in their power to spur their queen to action. Never content with the scourge's gains, they thirst for further destruction, even backing the traitor Parlys in the hope that Canterlot will fall to another changeling if not the queen. By virtue of sheer cunning in their quest for power, the Magi have established themselves as one of the highest castes.
The majority of changelings under the queen's rule occupy the worker caste. Be they masters, apprentices, or simple laborers without any specific trade, changelings who can do work around the Hive are acknowledged as the next-highest rung on the hierarchical ladder. Nevertheless, there is a significant gap between them and the ruling classes—a gap made manifest in the separation between the Houses and the Chasm. Whereas the military and the seers are the brains with which Queen Chrysalis rules, the workers are the brawn she calls upon. Full-time soldiers do exist and occupy a place of esteem above the common workers, but otherwise the line is blurred with many workers leaving the Hive for military service in wartime.
Most workers are content to be of any use to the Hive. Those who are not useful belong to the lowest caste in changeling society. This caste has no proper name, though they may be referred to as the weak or the rotten in conversation. Among these changelings are the gladiators who dwell under the Arena and the majority of defective larvae. Slaves of other races are arguably a caste in their own right, but their treatment is hardly different from that of this bottom caste. They are held in extreme contempt.
It is possible for changelings to move between classes. Gladiators who excel in the Arena may earn the privilege to leave and serve the queen's army. Likewise, workers who excel when out for invasion may be invited into the ranks of the military command. The Magi do their own recruiting, their qualifications dubious. Nevertheless, almost any changeling may plummet to the bottom caste for suspected treason or extreme disability. These rare cases aside, few changelings are ever more or less than workers.
The changelings are a secretive race in that they seldom interact with other creatures on candid terms, yet they themselves know little of their own past—not much that is accurate anyway. Although the idea of a "hive mind" is pure fiction, the changeling queen and her drones hold incredible power over the knowledge held by the rest of the horde. Her Majesty is glorious and eternal. Freedom is slavery. They have always been at war with Equestria.
At least two other Hives are known to have existed before the Badlands Hive. One, a short-lived citadel built upon the ruins of Wuvy-Dovey Smoochy Land, now lies abandoned after Queen Chrysalis was imprisoned in her own castle. The second, a stretch of wasteland protected from non-changeling magic by the rock of the queen's dark throne, was also abandoned after one Thorax led a rebellion against her. This last debacle is what gave rise to the Badlands Hive. It is likely that dozens more have risen and fallen over the centuries, but these have yet to be discovered or named.
The Queen Chrysalis of today is actually Chrysalis III, though only a handful of her underlings are aware. The first Chrysalis was the original mother of the horde, and the second was the Bane of Timbucktu. Being a particularly warlike queen, the modern Chrysalis claims to have been both of these—that she is Equestria's ancient nemesis and that there has never been any queen but her.
Knowledge of the royal changeling family tree is so well hidden that no one knows exactly how Queen Chrysalis is related to these ancestors. She herself may have forgotten, so thorough is her tyrannical brainwashing.
The "changeling king" is an anomalous being whose role and hierarchical position are uncertain. When he staged his coup, Parlys the Pale put upon the throne a puppet king who was not well-received by the populace. The rebel Thorax has arguably become a king of his own Hive, but the horde under Queen Chrysalis has erased all knowledge of his existence and since forgotten the process of erasure. The only known changeling king who has not been completely discredited was named Ariovystis. Parlys speaks highly of this king, who permitted him to travel the world and become the first changeling wizard.