A Sparkle in the Darkness

by tom117z

31 - Epilogue

Sometime later…

The air was colder, colder than any mortal could bear, but the presence cared not. It wasn’t even truly there. No, it looked on from another plain. The dark place, darker than even it, banished there by the foolish meddlers who stole what was rightfully its. There it festered and watched and shouted and raved even as nothing could exist to hear it but itself. An eternal torment of nothing, but even eternity had its limits.

It watched. It waited. It would return to the world of light as it had done before, but this time it would be more careful. It would not underestimate the meddlers again, oh no. It would silently plan and wait for its best opportunity, waiting to plunge the world back into the darkness that rightfully belonged.

And, perhaps, one such opportunity yet roamed the Frozen North alongside the unseen presence. It was dark, like it was, but still of the moral plain. A pony? Yes, but… different. Touched by darkness and yet with the taint of the light starting to creep in. Subtle, careful, but it was there. A blighted tumour on what could have once been great, growing and threatening to overturn all that was.

But that could be corrected.

The presence could do nothing as it was, but it would wait further still. This being could be used, this pony a vessel unlike any other. So much spite and hatred, it would be a simple matter to destroy the glimmer of the light once contact was made. But its power was also great, and maybe its mind too. Great care would have to be taken, lest it be the one overpowered and again left as nothing.

But it still had eternity, and it would continue to watch and plan from within the depths of the nothing.

But why was this being of great darkness alone and wandering, it had to wonder. What brought it here? It would watch, it would study, it would learn.

The pony in question moved as a shadow itself across the wintery wasteland, swirling amidst the blizzard without a care as to its dangers. It moved across the icy landscape, ignoring any of the resident creatures and eventually made its way to a frozen hillside that overlooked a place that even the presence could not see into.

The Crystal Empire, the heart that protected it from any blackness that would provide a threat. And it was from this hillside that King Sombra sat alone as he looked out upon the city of his birth, his eyes stern as the consequence of entering the city played back through his mind.

He still had half a mind to try anyway, to rid himself of this tormenting exile imposed upon himself and take back his domain. It would be glorious, the slaves that were rightfully his bowing before him as that little pink princess and her brutish prince with the most decedent of his family line’s genes vacated his throne.

But as quickly as he mused such an action, it was swept from his mind almost as if by the turbulent blizzard around him. He could plan around the Crystal Heart; he had done so before. It was still within his power to take back his kingdom… But his heart was no longer in it. Even the most fleeting of thoughts as to the matter brought with it images of a certain lavender alicorn and the inevitable tears that would take her cheeks. That thought filled the dark mage with a regret like no other, sharing in the hypothetical pain he would bring upon Twilight Sparkle should he go back on his promise.

But, much to his indignation, that was no longer the sole reason. Such thoughts now also brought about the invasive point of view his granddaughter had tried so hard to drill into him. And now he wondered if such lengths to protect her were ever justified, if he could ever have reached a happy ending for any of them with the path he had chosen. That his actions had been wrong.

Sombra growled, violently shaking his head to rid himself of such a weak belief. That throne should have been THEIRS. He was their KING. Why should he care what happened to those who got in his way? They mattered not, only the safety of he and those he held close.

But what if she had been right? What if his lack of care to the fates of those under him had ultimately doomed his own happiness and the safety of his family from the outset? What if her words even had a semblance to the truth? Could friendship actually… be something worth considering?

N-no, that was ridiculous. It was a fantasy. A farce. Something that would always end in failure.

But when had his own path ever succeeded?

Long had these questions been plaguing the King's mind. Running through his head again and again, thinking back on his last encounter with Twilight and even beforehand. She had always been so confident in her assertions, infuriatingly so. And, in the end, her selflessness had defeated his selfishness. Even her fall to Midnight had been born out of a desire to protect the many rather than dominate for the safety of the few. And she was out there, a Princess of Equestria both happy and content with her choices. The ‘Princess of Friendship’ as she was now known. How sickeningly fitting.

Most of all, his greatest desire was just to speak with her again. He had always watched her, but never intervened since the day he sent her that necklace as a final loving gesture.

He had come close a few times. Very close. Mere months after he had departed, that arrogant centaur had tried to eat all magic in Equestria to feed his own ego. He had been quite proud of her combat prowess as she fought him, but to see her give it all up had seemed like valid justification for all his defiance towards friendship. She had lost because of her friends… or so it seemed.

Before he had finally had enough and attacked this ‘Lord Tirek’, she had surprised him yet again. Friendship… won. She and her friend had emerged with more magical power than Sombra had ever imagined, easily swatting the fiend aside and undoing all he had wrought.

And it wasn’t the last time.

The anti-cutie mark cult and the one who had become her personal student of all things. Another who sought power, not unlike Sombra himself, to heal old wounds caused by a failure of friendship. Another who Twilight had changed, making the mare all the happier for it.

Starlight Glimmer’s change of heart had really caused the storm within Sombra to increase in its intensity.

Then there were the changelings. That Queen of theirs had rejected their offer of redemption, just like Sombra, and so too had vanished into the wilderness. For one who was so used to being in a hive of many, he could only imagine she was in a living hell with madness clawing at her mind. Meanwhile, the changelings she left behind were more prosperous than they’d ever been.

Twilight had even saved that old fool Starswirl. She had surpassed every expectation he held towards his descendant.

And she had accomplished all of this without resorting to complete control. She had protected everything she had cared for, where he had failed at every turn. Their family line would be safe to continue because of her actions, her path under the light of friendship had done more for her than the dark ever could. Shadow was still a part of her, sure. She wore his gift and he could feel that power inside her even from afar. But all she had she used for the benefit of others, even her dark magic was put towards the light’s use.

How could this be!? How could she have been right!? He had tasted friendship in his past and it led to weakness and misery! What had he done wrong? What trickery was this!?

And how could he, the King of Shadows himself, conqueror of the Crystal Empire and killer of both Queen Amore and the great Hurricane, even be considering returning to try it for himself!?

Sombra gave a shout of rage and anguish, lashing out with a tendril of dark magic that sent ice and snow scattering into the wind.

He couldn’t return to her. It would pain her. Pain him. He couldn’t learn friendship, not after everything he had done! It wouldn’t work! Not for him, it… he…

Sombra looked back towards the Crystal Empire, memories of Radiant Hope flowing through his mind. Her visage morphed into that of Twilight soon enough, longing screaming within his heart.

And as his inner conflict raged, the unicorn’s suffering rapidly reaching its limit, the presence watched on. It was unseen by Sombra, unheard, but it was there. It watched the light’s embers grow brighter still with dissatisfaction, quite the disappointment for one who had been so promising.

But for now, it just watched Sombra sit in the snow, an uncertain future awaiting one who had once been a tyrant. As the sun settled into the horizon and dusk arose, he remained caught between old hatreds and the memory of a certain mare pressing for change.

A sparkle in the darkness.

And a shadow amidst the twilight.