I was so close, the heart was right there. Within the reach of my hooves; hooves I had not seen for an age. The smoke around me faded and I was back to my full, glorious power and as I reached out to claim my Crystal Heart; she appeared. Flying through the sky, she caught the heart and safely landed on the ground. From atop my spire I could hear the Crystal ponies crying out, calling this pony "The Crystal Princess", I believed them all to be foolish. The last Princess had died by my horn, and I was ready to end this mare the same. However I was terribly wrong.
The alicorn raised her voice, loud enough to be heard by all around the castle. Loud enough to be heard by me.
"The Crystal Heart has returned. Use the light and love within you to ensure that King Sombra does not."
Who did this mare think she is?
My thoughts raced and my heart pounded, as the words leave her mouth the ponies begin to bow, and glow with light.
I ordered them to stop, but my rule was halted, these ponies no longer feared me; therefore no longer obeyed me. Their disgusting love and friendship returned power to the heart, and in its light I experienced a pain unlike anything I've ever felt. The light did not shine over me, it passed through me. Roaring in pain was all I could do; for the power of crystal was strong. All light faded from my eyes and the only darkness I have ever feared washed over me. It was the darkness of Tartarus.
The blinding light that surrounded me has now faded, and all I see is darkness. I try to move, but can't. My eyes are opened, but I cannot see. As I breathe my lungs burn, the air inhaled into my body is toxic. I force out a cough, that only furthers the pain I feel. My brain seems to have caught up. My limbs obey my commands to move. However as my senses come back to me I begin to feel a more intense pain. A burning sensation jolts through my body, it comes from where I lay. The ground upon which I lay burns me.
I could bear this torture for only a few more seconds. My legs barely have the strength to lift me and as soon as I rose my body betrays me and I fall. My vision however, returns to me slowly. The only thing I can see is the flickering of a red light. As my vision continues to clear up I realized where it was I lay. My body sat in an ocean of fire, an ocean with no land nearby for me to take refuge on. A scream escapes from between my lips, I am ashamed by it, but due to ferocity of the blaze I had no control.
Why have I not died yet?
Glancing at my hooves I make a terrible discovery. The fire is bringing pain to me, but my body is not burning. There is no sign of charred flesh or blackened skin.
How do these flames not burn me?
I succumb to this pain and lay myself onto the flaming ground, waiting for death to claim me.
Little did I know, he already had.
After what felt like an age passing, somepony comes for me. When they lift my body from the blaze the pain subsides. Opening my eyes slightly reveals the ones who carry me are ponies. Hidden behind black armor, crimson coloured eyes gleamed out from inside their helmets. I ask them who they are, and to where they take me. No answer is given, at least not one I can understand. The noises these ponies make are strange; like whispers not meant to be heard. Without the endless pain from the fire I allow myself to sleep.
Soon I hear the sound of hooves on gravel, the sound brings my sleep to an end and I force open my eyes. It's confirmed we are somewhere new, the ground all around us is made from loose, black rocks. The ponies that carry me on their backs trot towards an obsidian gate directly in front of us. As we approach the gate, it slowly opens; behind it sits a massive stone castle. Again I ask the ones who carry me where I am being taken, and again I receive no answer. All I hear are more whispers.
The castle's doors open all on their own and I feel myself lifted up into the air and over the heads of those who have carried me. Magic tosses me carelessly into the middle of the castle's first room. I stand up, pushing through the pain that still plagues me and look around. The ceiling is tall and the walls are bare. Not a sound is heard, not a soul seen. I call out, hoping someone will tell me where I was, and how I got there. Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice, one that I heard long ago.
"Welcome, Sombra," It echoes throughout the empty castle. I recognize the voice and gallop to the door, hoping to escape it. I concentrate on the castle's entrance and will it to open, but my magic seems to have betrayed me.
"You cannot leave, Sombra. Your time has come. I told you many years ago that you could not escape from me. As always, I was correct, and here you stand," it says to me. Only before it sounded far away and now... It is right behind me.
I slowly turn and find myself face to face with Death himself. The lord of Tartarus is a terrible sight to look upon, with a coat that flickers between perfect, and decaying. With a mane that appears beautiful one moment, and burnt the next. The only thing I have ever feared now stands before me, meaning only one possible thing. I am dead.
Gravemind smiles, and speaks not with his mouth, but with his mind. His thoughts transmitting directly into my mind.
"Welcome, Sombra," he repeats. "Did you honestly think I would not find you? That you would not stand in these very halls? I knew your death the moment I met you, Sombra. Now, it is time for your judgement," The eyes of death turn blacker then the night sky, and as I look into them I feel as if my very identity is being stripped away. The process took an eternity, but eventually I am spared from the odd feeling his gaze held on me. His eyes return to normal and he smiles once more. His mouth opens, his deep voice shaking my very bones.
"The atrocities you commited throughout your long life are inexcusable. You shall be cast into the pit, where you will find the one thing you always needed, and watch it slowly be ripped away from you. For that is true torture. Goodbye, Sombra!"
The floor beneath me opens, and I fall right through. My descent was not very long; the journey ends with me appearing in a small room. I blink my eyes to help focus my vision and what I see is shocking. The wall directly in front, behind, above and to my left are made entirely of red stone. The fourth wall to my right are bars, made of metal.
I sat in a prison, and I am not alone.
Sombra, what happened to you? Why did you change?
Ventus shakes me awake, telling me I was having another nightmare. I push him off, and shout at him for touching me. I am a king, and no lowly peasant such as him will touch me.
My cellmate, Ventus is a young stallion. Cast into the pit of Tartarus after accidentally being the cause of his sister's death. He believed me to be "his friend" but he is foolish. I need no friends. I am Sombra, and all I desire is everypony to bow before me.
He is right about one thing however, the dreams I have had since I arrived in this cell are nightmares. I hear the voice of a mare, one I lost long ago. Her voice forces my heart to ache. Her voice is a reminder of something I felt long ago.
The reminder of my weakness.
A loud voice bellows from outside our cell, making Ventus jump. I cannot help but laugh at his fear.
"Wake up, scum! It's time to dig!"
The voice belongs to one they call "The Caretaker", he is respected by all who reside in The Pit. All but me. I have no fear for this pony, with his flaming whip and threatening words. As the ponies sentenced here work, he furthers our torture with hateful sayings and countless whips.
I learned quickly that The Pit is one of four pony prisons in Tartarus. It sits at near the bottom of this underworld, close to the core of the Earth, which explains the unbearable heat. Ponies sentenced to The Pit are forced to dig it deeper. We work endlessly during what we assume is daytime, for there is no sun down here to prove it us otherwise. We dig to make room for more cells; for the ponies that are sent here daily. The task is easy and pointless, but I pretend to obey. The time will come when I will be able to escape, and I will escape soon.
Day Three Hundred and Sixty Five
Everypony deserves a second chance
I sit up quickly, feeling the sweat trickle down my head. Her voice has haunted my dreams ever since my first night here. Asking me why, and telling me my redemption is coming. Whenever I wake... I feel a bit... happier. However when I remember where I am, I no longer have these feelings.
Ventus is already awake, and he looks excited to see me.
"My Lord, today you have been here for a year! Can you believe it!"
This pony never ceases to infuriate me. His excitement about my anniversary of imprisonment is childish. Ever since my first day he has kept track. Using a small rock he smuggled in from the bottom of the pit he has made one mark for each day that has passed. The only thing I can find to appreciate is his obedience, and recognizing me as 'His Lord'.
The day continues like any other, we wake, we work, and we sleep. Food is no nourishment we are allowed to enjoy. The pain of hunger is one we are forced to get used to. After all...
It isn't possible to die twice.
We are given small amounts of water to have the strength to work however. While we are unable to die again, fatigue and pain are still things we are forced to endure in Tartarus. The tortures of this place never seem to end.
This day however introduced me to something new. While we dug, a pony by the name of Shears decided to mock me.
"Have you found any crystals today, 'My Lord?'," He says. His attempt to upset me is pointless. The flightless Pegasus does not deserve my attention. However Ventus thought it fit to defend my honor.
"You do not speak to him this way! He is the wisest and most kind of those in Tartarus!"
I again am amazed by Ventus' stupidity. If he truly knew my past he would not think of me in such a way, but I allow him to continue thinking of me this way. The sudden outburst of my cellmate caught the attention of hundreds of ponies working throughout the pit. The sudden decrease in labor caught the attention of The Caretaker. In a sudden blast of fire he appeared before us, flaming magical whip hovering over his head.
"What is happening here? Why do you slaves stop working?" He roared out over us. "Speak!"
Shears, being the coward he is, places the blame on me. Accusing me of inciting a riot. The Caretaker turns his powerful gaze on me, readying his whip to strike. I have awaited this moment for a year. When The Caretaker would try and attack me, when I would strike back. As I lowered myself, ready to dodge his whip and fight back against him, Ventus stood between us. Stating it was he that tried to gather those to riot and not me.
"Then you, shall feel pain," The Caretaker hissed, bringing his punishment down on the young stallion.
Ventus' cries of pain shocked me.
Why did he protect me?
The scene lasted some time before Ventus succumbs to his pain and falls unconscious. The Caretaker looks at me, and orders me to carry Ventus back to our cell. The pony was light, the effort to climb up the long stairs to our cell was not difficult. He wailed softly as we arrived at our cell. The doors magically opened for us, and closed behind us. Ventus' injures brought tears to his eyes, but at the sight of my face he smiled and asked if I was ok. I ignored the question, and asked him why he stood to defend me... his response was simple.
"Because you are my friend."
At first I did not understand... I had never had a friend... and never felt I needed one. Yet this pony here believed me to be so. After a moment of pondering this, I smiled at him.
"Yes, we are friends."
The words of Gravemind echoed in the back of my mind.
You shall be cast into the pit, where you will find the one thing you always needed
Ventus, was my first, and only friend.
Day One Thousand and Ninety Five
Three years I have been imprisoned here, but I have learned to enjoy it. Ventus has taught me so much about friendship, and happiness. No longer does he call me 'My Lord', to him I am Sombra. I no longer think about a time when I ruled over ponies... instead regret has grown over my heart. I question my actions in the past...
Why had I not seen the truth?
Friendship is something I was denied even on the day of my birth. Love was something I had lost, leaving only rage. Now, I know friendship, and it makes my eternal punishment bearable. Today is the day I decide to tell Ventus about my past, but when I look over at his bed I notice something strange. Using his chalk, he wrote his name on the wall. He turned to me and says "I keep forgetting it... Sombra, why do I keep forgetting my name?"
You shall be cast into the pit, where you will find the one thing you always needed, and watch it slowly be ripped away from you. For that is true torture.
I remember what Gravemind said to me in full... the true curse of this place. Ventus was losing his memory, which means soon he will not remember me. He will not remember out friendship. I refuse to allow this.
I will help him remember.
Ventus is no more. All that was left of him was an empty shell with no emotion and no memory. He sits in the corner of our cell and cries. Always questioning where he is and why. The sight of my friend in this state breaks me, but when I try and comfort him he tells me to go away... he is afraid of me. It is not fair. Why has this happened? When I think these things I can hear the laughter of Death. He mocks me, finding amusement in the fact that the one thing I've always needed, is now gone.
As the days continue I have no choice but to ignore Ventus. His memory of me is gone and our friendship is non-existent.
I begin to try to think back to the days when I was alive... trying to remember if I had friends in the past... but I cannot, my memory is now fading as well. If I had friends, their memory is no more. The face of the mare I see every night in my dreams is now unfamiliar to me. Her white coat and mane, and blind eyes tell me nothing of a past we might've had together... and now I only wish I had a second chance to do it all over again. Things would be different, and I would have been loved.
Tonight, I wrote my name on the wall. I refuse to forget who I am. I am Sombra, and I know where I went wrong.
My first and only friend cries himself to sleep, not knowing where he is, or why he's here. He doesn't even believe Ventus is his name, even when it's written clearly on the wall.
I am afraid to sleep... I think tonight will be my last night as Sombra.
Celestia, find me...
Celestia forgive me.
The Final Day
When I slept, I saw the beautiful white pegasus mare again. She smiled at me, telling me I was ready for another chance. That my heart has been purified by friendship, and can now be brought back to the light.
Brought back? Second chance? That silly mare, I've been in The Pit my whole life! My nameless cellmate and I wandered down to the bottom of the pit, like we do every day, and dug it deeper for The Caretaker. His flaming whip is terrifying, and we do as we are told to keep from being hit by it.
After we worked I strolled back to my room alone. Today me and my cellmate tried to figure out our names, but couldn't come up with anything that felt right. The gate to my room opens and closes on its own as always, and as I enter the mysterious writing on my wall catches my eye. The white lettering has done this for as long as I can remember... I wish I knew what they meant.
Maybe the beautiful blind pony knows? When I see her again, I'll ask her.
"Sombra, is that you?"
I turn to find a purple unicorn standing directly outside my cell. Four others are on the opposite side of the bars that keep me trapped inside this place. I ask the pony who he is, and he tells me he is my friend.
Suddenly I see her again, the blind angel from my dreams. The other ponies don't seem to react at her unexpected appearance, maybe they just can't see her? She puts a wing around me and kisses me on my cheek. Her touch is cold, a feeling I have never experienced down in my super-heated home.
Go Sombra, you have earned your second chance
As soon as she appeared she is gone, and the purple unicorn waves at me to get my attention.
"Sombra, we need you to come with us. There's something... something we need your help with," he says to me.
I have always wanted friends... I believe I will go with these ponies. Who knows where they might take me, and what things I might learn about who I am. For in the few moments I have seen this pony he has answered the question that was written on my wall for as long as I remember.
Who is Sombra?
Sombra... is me.
I have my chance, and I'm gonna take it.