Twilight Sparkle hummed as she flew towards her castle. The day had gone well after all, even if it had started quite poorly. News about the princesses coming for a visit was a pleasant surprise. She smiled mischievously when she thought about what Sombra would say. Soon she reached her castle, and she landed in front of the big front doors. She flexed her wings a couple of times, before cracking her neck. Then she felt a strange urge to look up, like almost every time when she stood in front of that castle.
She slowly lifted her head upwards. Her gaze followed the curves of the crystal tree, all the way up to the part where the castle itself started. It was resting on the massive branches of that crystal tree, towering over her majestically. The golden tips of the towers above her reflected the sun’s light. She examined the floating crystal above the main tower. It was strange that it always shone blue light around it, but it didn’t hurt one’s eyes to look straight at it, unlike the sun for example. Lastly her gaze met with the large banner that had her symbol resembling her cutiemark sewn on it. It wasn’t windy at all, so the banner stayed on it’s place.
Twilight stared at the castle for a moment longer.
It was her castle. It was still hard to understand it, even if she had been a princess for a couple of years now. Celestia had told her that she would get used to it in a decade or two, but it was a long time for a mare as young as she. Twilight snorted and lowered her gaze. She trotted to the large front doors and opened them with her magic. Behind them was her throne room, where she was greeted by a strange, rather surprising sight.
She saw Sombra on the other side of the throne room, sitting on her throne. The crystal windows made the sun’s light shine through them in a ghostly blue color, and somehow all the rays of light seemed to point right at him. Twilight stopped mid step and kept looking at him with her eyes wide. She had to admit that he looked quite royal in that setting, even his black mane seemed to be flowing a little. He calmly stared back at her, and it went on for a moment, before Twilight came back to her senses.
“What the hay are you doing on my throne!?” she shouted, and her horn came to life.
Clear surprise spread on Sombra’s face when he felt being lifted away from the throne forcefully, before being thrown down on the floor. He was agile for a stallion of his size though, and managed to land on his hooves. He turned to face Twilight with a frown on his face.
“Why so fierce, Twilight Sparkle?” he asked.
“You were sitting on my throne!” Twilight answered and walked towards him.
“I don’t see that as reason to go throwing other ponies around with your magic,” Sombra answered and looked at Twilight annoyedly.
“Oh really?” Twilight asked and looked at him with squinted eyes. “Back in the day, what would you have done if somepony would have sat on your throne?”
Sombra opened his mouth to answer, but closed it when he realized that he would probably have done something much much worse to the poor pony who would have dared to sit on his throne.
“I take back what I said,” Sombra answered slowly.
“Good,” Twilight said sternly. “Now why were you sitting there?”
“Oh I was just remembering the old times,” Sombra said and started to look around the big room. He looked up towards the round ceiling and said, “It’s been awhile since I have sat on a throne.”
“Being nostalgic I see,” Twilight said, getting more curious. She then asked, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice, “Do you feel like sharing some of those thoughts?”
Sombra pouted thoughtfully, scratching his chin with his hoof. After couple of seconds he shrugged and said, “I don’t see why not.”
For a moment Twilight looked more than surprised. Clearly she hadn’t expected Sombra to actually give her a positive answer. Soon a smile spread on her lips, and she forgot the big news that she was supposed to tell him.
“Great!” Twilight exclaimed, already feeling a bit excited. “We can go to the living room if you want.”
Sombra nodded, and they started to walk towards the stairs leading up to the upper levels of the castle. They climbed the long, round staircase that coiled inside the ‘trunk’ of the massive crystal tree. On top of the stairs was a round room, with three big corridors, large decorated chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and long banners with symbols of friendship and all sort of things like that. They lead to the other, mostly unused wings of Twilight’s castle, like the armory and the grand hall.
“Twilight Sparkle,” Sombra said to get her attention. “I have to ask why most of your castle seem almost like it’s… deserted?”
Twilight took a quick look at the corridors, before answering, “I don’t like having staff around the castle all the time.”
“So you have to do all the work by yourself?” Sombra asked as they started to climb yet another stair that lead towards Twilight’s living quarters. “It just seems odd to me.”
“Rarity keeps telling me that,” Twilight chuckled. An uncomfortable look spread on her face when she continued, “I tried having royal staff when I became an alicorn, but it didn’t work out. Everypony kept bowing to me and there were guards everywhere and the butler… He didn’t even knew how to arrange my daily routines. I mean what the hay was he thinking, arranging a meeting with Mayor Mare after dinner? Having dinner after the meeting would have speeded up the process by twelve point seven percent and...”
She stopped when she noticed Sombra giving her a weird look. She cleared her throat and said calmly, “Anyway… I think that I can handle things better by myself.”
“I see…” Sombra said slowly, smiling a little. “But how about cleaning?”
“With magic everything is easy,” Twilight said, and Sombra nodded, glancing upwards to the cuff around his horn. The pressure of all the unreleased magic was still present, but he had learned to ignore it. Oh how easy life would be when that damn cuff would be gone, and it was just a matter of time. No matter how things would turn out...
Sombra shook those thoughts away when they reached the doors that lead to the living quarters of Twilight Sparkle. Flash Sentry was there too, standing in attention in front of Twilight’s study. Immediately when Sombra entered the living room, Flash’s eyes were fixated on him. It wasn’t unusual. He always stared at Sombra, but that time it felt different. Sombra felt like Flash Sentry would have been examining him with a far colder look than normally, and he soon realized why. That orange-coated pegasus was glancing between him and Twilight Sparkle, who was oblivious about the strange stare that the colt was giving her and Sombra.
Sombra squinted his eyes and looked at Flash. There was something strange going on with him. Soon Twilight noticed the intense stare between the stallions, and she let out a small sigh and rolled her eyes.
“You two just don’t get along now do you?” she asked from them, before she walked towards Flash and said, “Flash, could we have some privacy, we are going to have a small conversation.”
For a second the guard seemed troubled, but he then nodded and said with humble tone, “Of course my princess.”
Twilight flashed a smile at him, before he started to walk towards the doors where Sombra stood. As he passed the dark-coated stallion, he gave him a suspicious look that made Sombra grunt annoyedly. Flash then closed the doors and Sombra was left alone with Twilight Sparkle.
He decided that he would have a chat with Flash later, but now it would have to wait. He started to walk towards Twilight Sparkle and looked around the many bookshelves and then up towards those stained glass windows he hated so much. The room was something that didn’t seem to fit to the rest of the castle with it cozy architecture and he just had to ask one more question about the castle.
“I have to say that your personal quarters are quite strange,” Sombra commented, but when he got a weird look from Twilight, he added, “comparing to the rest of the castle.”
“Oh,” Twilight said with an understanding look. “Yeah… It wasn’t in the original version of the castle. It is designed so that it would seem similar with my previous home. Celestia paid a good sum of bits do to it. I really like it.”
“Your previous home?” Sombra asked when he sat down to a sofa.
“Yes. It… It was destroyed by Tirek,” Twilight said sadly.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Sombra said.
Twilight nodded, but then started to smile. She sat down to the opposite side of the living room table from Sombra and said, “But hey, I got an castle.”
Sombra chuckled at her. Then he remembered why they were there. He took a comfortable position, and so did Twilight.
“So what were those old times you were remembering about back there?” Twilight asked from Sombra, who started to smile a weird smile.
“I was remembering the times when everything was simple, before I came to power.” he answered.
“Simple?” Twilight asked with an amused look. “I thought that being a tyrant would be simple. Your slaves doing all the job and things like that.”
“No… You have gotten it all wrong,” Sombra told her with a sad look. “ Being a tyrant is keeping the slaves under control while trying to hide everything from countries like Equestria and keeping good relations with other… Great leaders like myself. I didn’t like political hassle like that…”
“Huh…” Twilight huffed. “Then what do you mean with those simple times you were talking about?”
Sombra started to smile and his posture got a lot better.
“I mean the times when I was just a mercenary,” he said with a nostalgic look on his face. “Everything was so clear… I knew what I wanted and how to get it.”
Twilight had a slightly confused look on her face, and she asked, “You say that being a mercenary was easy? You have to fight in wars and… and...”
She stopped when she didn’t come up with any other good reasons. Sombra just chuckled and said “Exactly. All I had to do was to fight. I remember how I fought with great generals to build my name, fuelled by the need for...”
He stopped and frowned, but just for a second. This didn’t go unnoticed by Twilight, but Sombra continued before she could say anything, “I remember how I finally met with Mero. Oh how victorious I felt when I got an army of my own. Loyal soldiers…”
Twilight saw his expression starting to change, from nostalgic smile to something much more dark.
“And I remembered how I felt when I saw the silhouette of the magic barrier that surrounded The Crystal Empire…” he spoke slowly, his deep voice sounding cold all of the sudden. Twilight was starting to feel more than uncomfortable with Sombra staring right at her.
“....How I fought my way through the streets and when I finally kicked open the door to the throne room of the castle…”
Twilight squirmed up on her spot, her ears folded. This wasn’t something she had hoped to hear, and it seemed like Sombra hadn’t been supposed to tell her that in the first place. The calm and piercing look that he usually had in his eyes was replaced by a cold, menacing stare that almost made Twilight scared.
“...And when I finally sat on that throne,” he continued with a voice that sounded almost like a growl. “I remember how I felt… I had reached my goal. I had gotten what I wanted.”
Twilight was scared to ask, but she couldn’t help herself. With quiet voice she asked, “Was it p-power that you wanted?”
With that a outraged frown appeared on Sombra’s face, and he angrily snapped at Twilight.
“Revenge!” he shouted, making Twilight jump backwards on her spot. “It was revenge that I wanted!”
Sombra’s fangs were showing as he stared at the frightened mare for a moment. Twilight was leaning backwards on her place, her ears still folded and her eyes wide. She couldn’t dare to take her eyes off from his, and Sombra could see and smell her fear.
Then it hit him. When his brain could finally analyze the frightened look in Twilight Sparkle’s purple eyes, the burning he hadn’t felt in a while returned with full force, almost making him grunt from pain. He closed his eyes and turned away from the alicorn’s stare.
“I am sorry Twilight Sparkle,” he said, not looking at her. He rose up from the sofa and said, still not turning towards her, “I didn’t want our conversation to go this way.”
With that he started to walk towards the stairs, rubbing his chest discreetly as possible. He didn’t even reach the stairs when he heard Twilight speaking.
“Revenge for what?” she asked with quiet, careful voice.
Sombra stopped walking and stayed still for couple of seconds. He glanced at Twilight Sparkle over his shoulder and saw that she was still sitting on the sofa, her ears hanging downwards. Now her frightened look was gone and it was replaced by a worried, almost sad look. For a reason he did not know himself, he felt a need to talk. At least the burning in his chest told him so.
He sighed deeply, before slowly walking back to the sofa, flopping down on it in a very unroyal way. He brushed his hoof through his mane and sighed again, before making eye contact with Twilight. She was still looking at him with those big, purple eyes of hers in a way that made him look away.
He gulped and then said with tired voice, “My family was everything to me.”
Twilight blinked confusedly, but didn’t say anything.
“Our house was very close to the crown. I don’t remember much about those times anymore, but I have a faint memory of my my parents telling about my ancestors being part of the actual royal family,” Sombra told Twilight, who still didn’t say anything. Sombra sighed sadly and said, “I can’t even remember the name of my house...”
Sombra looked up at the stained glass windows above them and continued to tell Twilight his story, “King Halite was a stallion with strong opinions about houses that profited from the crown. He thought that they were just using their status in order to get easy bits, without doing anything to help their own nation. Sadly, our family was mostly working for the crow. ”
“But your family was helping, weren’t they?” Twilight asked.
Sombra chuckled darkly.
“They were, but there was a truth behind his accusations, many upper class families and houses mostly misused their status, doing fraud and inside deals to fool the commoners and even the crown.”
“That sound too familiar,” Twilight muttered. “The upper class of Canterlot acts the same way.”
Sombra nodded, and then continued, his tone getting even more tired as he spoke, “Halite did some changes that took away great slices of the power from the rich families, giving it to the common ponies…”
He said the last part with almost disgust. Twilight felt the atmosphere growing colder again. She didn’t like it.
“Needless to say,” Sombra continued and again brushed his mane. “Rich families weren’t too keen on the idea, and whispers started to spread around the houses.”
“What kind of whispers?” Twilight asked with interested voice. “Did they plot something against the crown?”
“I don’t know,” Sombra said with a shake of his head. “But when Halite got a hint about something going on between some families, he didn’t give them time to act against him.”
Twilight gulped nervously. She rubbed her front hooves together and asked, “D-did he do something?”
Sombra gave her an deadpan stare, which made her look at him sheepishly.
“Yes… He did,” Sombra said slowly. “Those houses that he suspected to be behind whatever was going on were immediately arrested.”
Twilight’s eyes went wide when an idea came to her mind. She opened and closed her mouth couple of times, before asking carefully, “What about your family?”
Sombra was quiet, and that only confirmed Twilight’s suspicions. She lifted her hoof to her mouth and looked at the dark coated stallion in front of her. Sombra was staring at the floor, and his mane hung on both side of his face in depressing way. He was completely still and Twilight saw deep pain in his eyes.
“But why!?” Twilight exclaimed confusedly. “Did they have a reason to do so!?”
“I don’t know!” Sombra said angrily, making Twilight shut her mouth. Then Sombra sighed and said, “I don’t know. I was only seventeen when it happened if I remember right. Maybe eighteen. I didn’t know anything about my parents businesses.”
He was silent for a while, before saying angrily, “But I tell myself that they didn’t have anything to do with whatever was going on, if there ever even was anything.”
Twilight didn’t know what to say. Maybe she shouldn’t say anything, yet. She could learn a lot from this conversation if she would just stay quiet.
“They came at night,” Sombra said through his teeth, and Twilight leaned closer. “That’s all that I remember. That and the way how Crystal cried.”
“Crystal?” Twilight asked, unable to stay quiet.
Sombra lifted his gaze from the floor, and it met with Twilight’s eyes. He had same kind of look in his eyes as when he had snapped at her during their dance days ago.
“My sister,” he growled.
Of course, Twilight should have realized that, but the look in Sombra’s eyes was distracting at the very least. The grief mixed up with all that anger was hypnotizing, almost attractive in it’s weird kind of way. The king that she had once thought to be just a ruthless warrior was a pony like she or anypony else after all...
Without thinking any further, Twilight rose up, her eyes still locked with Sombra, whose features seemed tired. Twilight circled the table, Sombra’s stare fixed to her all the time. She stopped right next to him, and looked down at him with a face that couldn’t tell him anything. Her unreadable expression started to change, and a small smile appeared on her lips and she looked at him a with warm look in her eyes. Sombra knew what was coming, but this time he decided not to fight it. With a long sigh he surrendered to his defeat.
And then Twilight Sparkle leaned closer to wrap her hooves around his neck, bringing his head to rest against her chest. Her wings closed him into a tight embrace and Twilight Sparkle laid her head on top of Sombra’s, who was engaging in an inner battle with his feelings once again. He felt the warmness of Twilight Sparkle’s body, and the soothing feeling of her soft wings around him. All that versus his own mind, that tried to keep those feelings away from him. He didn’t need them.
But he wanted them.
Nopony had held him like that for more than a millennium, and he liked it. It reminded him of his sister. Sombra didn’t notice it himself, but he leaned against the mare for a moment. The warm feelings that it made him feel were intoxicating.
“Do you want to continue?” Twilight asked, still keeping him in that tight hug. Sombra snapped away from his trance, bettered his posture and said, “I would prefer not to.”
Twilight nodded, before letting him go. Sombra turned to look at her with slightly embarrassed look on his face. He brushed his mane into a better shape, before he asked with his normal, calm voice, “How did we end up into this situation?”
“I don’t know,” Twilight said with a blush starting to form on her cheeks. Now that the scene was over, her own actions seemed drastic and embarrassing. She nervously looked upwards and mumbled. “But it helped, didn’t it?”
Sombra chuckled and looked at the ceiling too, before answering, “It did. Thank you.”
Twilight smiled towards the ceiling, and suddenly remembered the great news she had to tell Sombra. For a moment she thought if she should tell him right at the moment, considering the situation they had just been. After thinking about it, she decided that sooner or later she would have to drop the bomb on him. She lowered her gaze from the ceiling and cleared her throat, gaining the dark stallion’s attention.
“So… Uh,” Twilight started, scratching her neck. Sombra gave her and questioning look, and she started to smile sheepishly. She then said carefully, “The princesses are coming for a visit next saturday.
The look on Sombra’s face made Twilight grimace.