Once cloaked, Shining crept slowly and quietly over to the other side of the cave where the unicorn stallion and earth mare were arguing. Luckily they were so loud and so involved in their own fight they were oblivious to his presence and he wondered at the depths of Cadence’s own exhaustion that she had not been woken up by the noise as of yet.
“And you couldn’t warn me?” Coffee Talk half-yelled, half-cried at Sombra. Warn her of what, Shining Armor had no clue and thought he had perhaps missed something as he had snuck over to their side of the cave, but all that stupid, evil grey unicorn with her did was sit there patiently and let her rant over something that had obviously been bothering her for a while now.
And again, it only compounded the Prince Regent’s confusion that the King of Shadows would be playing this game of the sympathetic listener.
And then the brown mare’s tone went from angry to full of pain. “You didn’t know for sure it would work!”
Okay, Shining thought, nodding. It had been a half-assed plan of the tyrant’s.
“It killed me to watch you die,” Coffee, cried, turning away from them. “That - that was the most horrible thing I have ever seen! It blew you apart from the inside out! Sweet Celestia, Kingsley, you never even screamed,” her voice dropped to a horrified whisper, her hooves going to her mouth, shaking her head.
If you hadn’t wanted to see it happen, you shouldn’t have thrown the crystal heart.
“Yeah,” the charcoal unicorn shuddered. “That was not fun,” he agreed. “And I’m not going to argue you, Coffee. It was a chance, it was the best chance we had at the time and it worked.” His ears laid back, withers slumping a little as well. “I’m sorry you suffered all those months before I came back.”
Shining Armor held his breath for the silence that followed, piecing things together from their conversation. Sombra’s plan...Coffee throwing the heart, him not telling her it would kill him. Wait…
“Have you felt this way these past three months?” he heard Kingsley ask Coffee.
The mare shrugged, then nodded. “I - I guess I have. I just didn’t realize it.”
A goofy look came over the grey unicorn’s muzzle. “So hey, now who’s the dumb horse for not saying anything this entire time?” he teased, his eyes twinkling in the weak, ambient light.
She lightly hit him in the wither with a hoof. “You dumb baby, you started it!” she teased back.
The two friends smiled at each other, both looking relieved and genuinely happy. Their voyeur sensed it was for real, that the closure - and relief that hung in the air was anything but rehearsed. He took a step to turn around to go back to the other side of the cave, but noticed Kingsley’s eyes shift in his direction. Shining froze.
Kingsley rolled his eyes in disgust. Drawing back from Coffee Talk, he nevertheless smiled at her. “Hey, why don’t you go check the entrance again? Maybe it’s daylight by now.”
“Yeah, sure, Kingsley,” she nodded, let go of him and set off towards the mouth of the cave.
When she was out of sight, the former tyrant snorted. “You’re not only a jerk horse, but a lousy spy, you know that, Shining Armor?”
Knowing the jig was up, Shining uncloaked. “You knew I was there? How long?”
Kingsley turned towards him. “Don’t play games with me, Armor. I don’t care if you believe me or not anymore.” He looked at the Prince Regent with contempt. “You think you’re the only stallion in this cave who was Captain of the Guard? They probably made you one to keep you from getting killed out in the field because frankly, you’re as lousy at stealth as I was!”
The Prince opened his mouth to fire back a sharp retort but hesitated.
The other unicorn’s glare turned neutral, then he looked away. “Yeah, I thought so.” He walked away until he heard,
“I could never sneak up on Twilight and get away with it.”
“My sister, Twilight,” Shining answered. “The one who helped Spike - “ he hesitated. Maybe it was best to not bring that name up. But if it told him anything, Sombra’s vacant reaction to both their names was interesting. Maybe they were two separate entities after all?
As Shining pondered this thought over, the other unicorn made a little circle in place, brushing sharp rocks away with his hooves, then, when satisfied, laid down and closed his eyes. He was truly tired of all this hate and aggression radiating from Shining. How had King Sombra fed on this stuff? No wonder the tyrant king had had such a foul temper if that’s the diet he had required to survive. Maybe if Kingsley ignored the feckless Prince he’d go -
“Why does she want to talk to you?”
Kingsley opened his eyes. “What?”
“Cadence. She won’t talk to me.”
“Maybe ‘cause you’re a jerk horse?” came a sharp reply as Coffee Talk rejoined them, frowning at Shining’s proximity to the two of them.
The dozing unicorn cracked open a green eye at that remark. A hoof indicated Coffee to the Prince. “She’s got a point, Armor. I’ll bet you never get invited to parties and peace talk negotiations.”
“Wait,” Coffee put a hoof out to her forehead, closing her eyes in concentration. “Shut up. Did you say Cadence wants to talk to Kingsley?”
“That’s what she said,” Shining nodded.
Kingsley and Coffee looked at each other. The Prince was as lost as moments ago when he had heard the first compassionate thing coming from the former tyrant aimed at the earth pony. They stared at him.
“What?” the Prince said defensively. “Am I supposed to understand why my wife - the Princess of Love - wants to talk to a former tyrant of her kingdom? I doubt it’s for makeup tips or how to spread love and light throughout the Empire!”
Coffee sighed, turning to Kingsley. “Is this worth it? It isn’t our damn Empire on the line, you know.” She stomped the ground with a hoof. “Yakut has nothing to do with this!”
Kingsley shrugged, closing his eyes again. “You go talk to him, Coffee. He won’t listen to me. I tried.”
“You know, ever since your cutecinera, you’ve been twice the smart ass, Kingsley,” she said sourly.
“And twice as handsome,” he quipped, looking rather pleased with himself.
Her eyes widened. “Who told you that?!?”
“One of your friends,” he yawned.
“Which - aw forget it,” Coffee sighed, hearing him snore softly. Turning back to the Prince, she shook her head. “C’mon, you dummy. Let me explain this so I can get back to my nap too,” the earth pony said as she led him away from their companions and back towards the front of the blocked cave entrance.