Shadowy Love

by FinnPony

Chapter 25

Shadowy love

By FinnPony

Chapter 25

The next saturday, after Sombra’s meeting with the voices, and Twilight Sparkle’s castle was full of life that day. It was the day when the princesses were going to visit Ponyville. The hallways were filled with running royal guards in their flashy armor and the officers were giving commands to their troops. Still it seemed like all of them were running around like headless chickens, probably due the unfamiliar grounds they were in. In the middle of all that mayhem one dark coated stallion with a black mane and a red, curved horn walked calmly through the same hallways where all those guards ran. Sombra grinned at the guards who almost leapt out of their skin when they noticed him. Some of them quickly trotted to the other side of the hallway when they had to walk past him, while others just froze on their places. He liked it. A lot. It seemed that he still had some of his threatening charm in him. It almost shook the the grim memories from the uncomfortable meeting with the voices.

Sombra gulped and rubbed his throat when he remembered that. He sighed started to walk towards the grand hall, interested in seeing it for the first time.

It didn’t take long before Sombra found it. He pushed open the big, well embellished double doors and stepped into the grand hall. Besides soldiers, there were also many locals inside the hall. They all were doing different kind of things like decorating the many pillars that were in the hall with flowers, banners and ribbons of different color. The grand hall was in the south wing of the castle and it had large windows on three of it’s four walls. Sombra frowned when he saw that those windows too had enormous pictures in them, but at least they probably had pictures of Equestria’s history, not Twilight’s friends.

Sombra nodded and whistled, impressed by the large space in front of him. He noticed how all the noise and movement ceased, every single pair of eyes in the hall turning towards him. It felt weird almost, but he didn’t let it bother himself. He started to walk towards the other end of the room, where he could see Twilight Sparkle. Most of the ponies continued their work while some of them were still staring at him.

He started to see familiar faces when he walked across the hall. There was that grey mare with funny eyes, tangled in a long ribbon. Sombra couldn’t help but to chuckle at the sight. Then he noticed Applejack hauling a heavy looking table across the floor. He saw how she stopped for a moment, lifted her brown stetson off from her head and swept sweat from her brow. Then she noticed Sombra.
“Howdy,” she said a bit dryly,
“Good day,” Sombra said, stopping in front of her. Then there was silence.
After a while Applejack broke the silence, “Been honest lately?”
“Very,” Sombra answered.
Applejack snorted and put her hat back on her head, before saying, “Say something honest.”
Sombra thought for a moment with a troubled frown on his face. What should he say? ‘I am feeling rather nervous about the those demonic voices that haunt me and tell me to get rid of you and your friends’, or maybe ‘I am thinking about betraying you all because I cannot control my past life’? No. He couldn’t say those things.
He came up with something else that was completely honest. He smiled slyly and said, “I find your flank very attractive.”
There was another short moment of silence between them, Applejack’s eyes pointing in slightly different directions. She then shook her head and gave him a weird look.
“I don’t know if Ah should take that as a compliment or sexual harassment, but I guess that’s… nice?” she said awkwardly.
Again silence. Both of them staring at each other. Suddenly both of them snickered and Applejack huffed, “Jackass.”
“Hillbilly,” Sombra chuckled.
They then nodded to each other, and Applejack continued to push the table forward. With a smug smile on his lips Sombra took a quick glance towards the mare who was pushing the table, her rear held slightly upwards.

Sombra then noticed that in the direction where she was pushing the table, stood that pink mare he had had his first lesson with. Pinkie Pie was her name? She was with the other local bakers, placing all kinds of pastries to the tables. He just had to go there for some weird reason. Maybe it was because she had been the first pony to make him really laugh in the past millenium. Pinkie started to smile widely when Sombra trotted over to her. That smile made him feel quite the opposite of happy. She was so unaware of the shadows that hung over him. She thought that he was her friend, and he was about to break her trust.

“Hiya Sombry!” Pinkie greeted him. Sombra frowned at the stupid nickname.
“Hello Pinkie Pie,” Sombra sighed. “How are you?”
“Super,” was her answer. “I’ve been working with this -” she pointed her hoof at a cake, massive in size “- It’s a cake made completely out of chocolate.”
Sombra crunched up his face. He wasn’t too fond of sweets, and also he couldn’t understand one thing.
“If it is made completely out of chocolate, how can it be a cake?” he asked and gave a questioning look at the pink mare. She giggled opened her mouth to answer, but then closed it, hear ears drooping.
“Oh yeah…” she said slowly and turned to look at the ‘cake’. Her confused state didn’t last for long though, and she soon turned towards Sombra and chirped happily, “Well it can be a giant chocolate badge.”
Sombra had to laugh at the wacky mare and waved at her for goodbye. She did the same, before both of them continued with their business, and Sombra felt a bit better.
He looked around himself, not noticing a small mare right in front of him. He bumped into her, making her let out a loud scream and flared her wings open, rocketing upwards. She landed on a bird stand made from a big branch of a tree, making the birds dash in all directions.

Sombra stared at the scared mare with wide eyes. It was Fluttershy, the local vet or something like that. She stared back at him through her pink mane, still holding the stand.
“I am sorry for startling you miss Fluttershy,”  Sombra said when he could speak again.
She mumbled something, probably saying that it was okay.
“Do you need help getting down from there?” he asked, knowing that it was a pretty stupid question. She was a pegasus after all. She shook her head shyly, hugging the branch-like bird stand even tighter. Sombra thought for a moment before nodding and turning away. It was a shame that he had scared her so. Well… She had a good reason to be scared of him. At least that way she wouldn’t feel so hurt when he would find the King’s Gem. She could say ‘I told you so’ to her friends. Sombra hoped that they wouldn’t need to go to that. That he could resist the Gem’s powers but the odds were not on his favor on that one...

“Umm…” he heard from behind him, making him wince out of his melancholy thoughts. He turned towards the yellow mare and saw that she was shyly looking towards him.
“Actually…” she continued quietly. “I can’t get down.”
“But you are a pegasus,” Sombra noted with a confused look on his face.
“Y-yes, but my wings don’t work when I’m… scared,” she said, the last part being more like a whisper. Sombra chuckled and walked over to the bird stand. He snapped his fangs into the stand, tilting it backwards. The stand wasn’t the lightest of things, and Sombra seemed to be handling it with ease. Fluttershy carefully jumped down on the floor, before Sombra started to pull the stand backwards, his hooves slipping on the marble floor a little. He grunted and managed to get it upright, before letting go and leaving fang marks on the bark of the branch.
“T-thank y-you,” Fluttershy said meekly, blushing a little.
“It was nothing,” Sombra said with a proud smile. “And I just wouldn’t leave a mare as lovely as you in trouble.”
That made the blush on Fluttershy’s cheeks even redder.
“Have a nice day,” Sombra said to her with a small bow.
“Y-you too…” Fluttershy squeaked from behind her mane. Sombra then started to walk away from her. She stared after him with that blush still on her cheeks for a short moment with her other hoof on her mouth, before starting to gather her birds back together.

Sombra pouted. Damn it was hard to get from one door to one purple alicorn. Twilight Sparkle’s friends had put him on a guilt trip that was hitting him harder than he had hoped. He once again thought that his plan was getting ruined, even if there really was any plan anymore. Now he was just trying to survive in the middle of all the chaos around him. Sombra hung his head and growled quietly. He didn’t like being like that. Weak. That was what he was. He was afraid of some little mares, and worst of all, not because they could hurt him, but because he could hurt them.

 He took a deep breath and looked around. He saw a white fashionista instructing some locals on how to tie a bow to the pillars. He trotted over to her.
“I see that you can handle event design as well as dressmaking, missis Rarity,” he said to Rarity, who spun around with a surprised look on her face.
“Oh yes of course,” she exclaimed after she had gotten over her surprise. “Besides I just have to. It’s the least I can do in order to make the day go as planned.”
“So this is the generosity that you were talking about?” Sombra asked, making Rarity better her posture.
She nodded and told him, “And as you can see, it is already working like a charm.”
She pointed towards Twilight Sparkle, and Sombra saw that she was smiling while making marks to her checklist. Sombra turned back towards Rarity, who was smiling that same mysterious smile that he had seen her wearing during his visit to the Carousel Boutique.
“I can’t pretend that I would not sense that something strange is going on,” he said while looking at Rarity with a lifted eyebrow.
“Pish posh,” she huffed and waved her hoof at him. “I’m just saying that it really works.”
Sombra took another glance towards Twilight Sparkle, who was now speaking with her other guard, what was his name again? Not Flash, but the other one. She seemed happy.
“Well at least somepony is having fun,” Sombra sighed, earning Rarity’s interest.
“And you aren’t?” she asked.
“How could I be?” he huffed. “I have to meet three ponies I ha… don’t like so much, and I know that the meeting will not be like the friendly chit-chats that we have been having.”
Rarity’s expression turned more serious. She seemed to understand Sombra in some way at least. She sighed and looked at Twilight Sparkle again. Sombra noticed it and he too turned to look at that purple alicorn again.
Rarity glanced at Sombra and said, “I think that this would be a great opportunity to practise being generous.”
“What do you mean with that?” Sombra asked.
“What I meant was that if it you don’t want to do this for yourself, do it for Twilight,” she explained to Sombra, who frowned. She then added with a small, suggestive smile, “She would like that very much.”
“Are you implying something?” Somba asked with an annoyed look, and Rarity just snickered.
“Oh darling,” she said, emphasizing the word ‘darling’. “Of course not. I just said that Twilight would like it.”
“Somehow I don’t believe that,” Sombra told her, and Rarity just smiled. They then looked at the purple princess for a while, before Rarity spoke.
“Well I better get back to my work,” she sighed. “Be a dear and don’t keep Twilight waiting.”
Sombra snorted in irritated manner, before saying, “Have a nice day missis Rarity.”
“You too darling,” she answered.

Sombra started to trot forward. It was hard to understand that he had spent almost twenty minutes walking from the doors of the grand hall to it’s other end. He decided not to get involved into any more conversations, and headed right towards Twilight Sparkle.
“Has the curtains been moved here from The Carousel Boutique already?” Twilight asked from some local mare with an orange mane and tail. She nodded, making Twilight smile and scribbling a mark to her checklist. She noticed a scared expression on the orange-maned mare’s face, before said mare started to back away from her. Twilight sighed, knowing what was going on. She turned around and saw Sombra walking towards her.
“There’s our ray of sunshine,” she greeted Sombra, who gave her a deadpan stare.
“I just wanted to inform you that your guards are quite incompetent. They aren’t guarding the right places in my opinion.” He said to Twilight, who rolled her eyes.
“They aren’t incompetent,” she said. “And they aren’t my guards. They are Celestia’s.”
That made a confused look spread on Sombra’s face. He then chuckled and asked, “Those guards are responsible of her safety?”
“I think that she can handle herself just fine. The guards are pretty much just working as law enforcements,” Twilight told him and watched as a couple guards bumped against each other.
“I prefer the night guards,” Sombra suddenly said. “They are true soldiers and they have an intimidating appearance. They are a foe that I could see myself fighting against.”
He said that with a strange, nostalgic smile on his lips that made Twilight look at him a bit worriedly. She didn’t like the sudden admiration of violence that Sombra was talking to her about.

“Say Sombra,” she said slowly and turned towards him. “You always speak about your military career. You told me that you miss those times.”
“Yes,” Sombra answered. “Where are you going at with this?”
“I was just thinking, do you miss the times when you were working as an architect?” she asked and saw how a frown appeared on Sombra’s face.
“Of course I do,” he answered. “Why are you asking something like that?”
Twilight looked at him nervously and answered, “Because you never speak of those times like you do about your mercenary life.”
Sombra went quiet, but nodded to show that he understood what she meant. It took awhile for Sombra to come up with an answer.
“I think that it is because I have spent more time as a soldier,” he answered slowly and Twilight could see that he was feeling uncomfortable. He continued, “When my talent was not useful for me anymore, I guess that it got replaced by another goal in life.”
“Which was?” Twilight asked, earning a slightly angry look from Sombra.
“You know what it was, Twilight Sparkle,” he said bluntly.
Twilight nodded with her ears lowered. She knew what it had been. Revenge.
“Let’s not talk about it anymore,” she said to Sombra, who nodded.

Sombra examined Twilight for a moment as many ponies came to tell her how things were coming up. He got bored soon, and started to walk around the hall again. He watched how the town folk did preparations for the upcoming arrival of the princesses. After that he started to examine the big stained glass windows that let in the light of the sun to the big hall. Many of them were telling stories about the history of Equestria and it’s princesses. One of them told a story of Celestia and Luna imprisoning Discord in stone, and another one showed Twilight Sparkle and her friends freeing him. In one he saw a meeting of the leaders of the tree tribes taking place. He remembered some old stories about that meeting from his youth. He walked forward, before coming to a stop in front of one window.

He stared at it with glassy gaze in his eyes. In the window was a picture of The Crystal Empire’s castle, surrounded by a black smoke. In the middle of the castle was the Crystal Heart, shining it’s blue light all around it, ponies cheering around it. He could see the six mare’s who were responsible for returning the Crystal Heart. He recognized them as Twilight Sparkle and her friends. Spike was there too, and princess Mi Amore Cadenza and Shining Armor. All that hadn’t gotten his attention. There was one pony more in that picture, in the middle of that black smoke that was surrounding the castle.

It was him.

His face was twisted into a silent scream filled with hate and pain. Pillars of blue light were shooting out of his eyes and mouth, and the same light was glowing from the cracks on his skin. He remembered that clearly, how he had felt when he had realized that he had once again failed. He didn’t want to admit it, but he had felt some fear too. He was sure that he was going to die. In a way he had felt relieved that somepony had finally ended everything for him, but the monster in him was furious. Later he had hoped for death, when he had woken up in the void of nothingness, where he spent the long seven years.

A sudden female voice broke him away from his thoughts.
“Brings up some good memories, doesn’t it?” the voice asked, and Sombra turned towards the voice. He saw a cyan colored pegasus with a rainbow colored mane resting on the edge of one of the many pillars that surrounded the hall.
“Rainbow Dash,” he noted, and the mare jumped down, gliding towards him. He had to duck so that her hooves wouldn’t hit him as she swooped over him. Rainbow Dash did a sharp turn and landed so that she slid forward on the marble floor, stopping right in front of Sombra. She gave him the bravest, most challenging stare that Sombra had seen. He also noticed that many other ponies around them were curiously glancing towards them.
“How did it feel to be defeated by a couple of young mares and a baby dragon?” she asked with squinted eyes. Sombra returned the stare as calmly as he could.
“Painful,” he answered.
“So I hoped,” she remarked, making Sombra snort.
“What do you want, Rainbow Dash?” he asked, leaning closer towards the cyan mare, who bravely stood in her place, even though he was much bigger than her. “Are you here only to taunt me, because it is not working so well.”
“I am supposed to teach you something about loyalty,” was her answer, which made Sombra chuckle. Rainbow then continued, “But first I want to make some things clear with you.”
“Alright,” Sombra answered. “Please, continue.”
Rainbow Dash grunted, and then started to speak, “My friends might be gullible enough not to see that you are clearly plotting something. I am not. It’s just not right for somepony like you suddenly turning all good and stuff!”
Sombra frowned. He saw how even more ponies stopped on their tracks and staring at them when Rainbow Dash’s voice had grown louder. He didn’t like the attention he was getting.
“Why not?” he asked. “Why don’t you believe me?”
“Give me a reason why I should believe you? Slave King” Rainbow said, emphasising the last two words.
“Well there is Nightmare Moon and Discord for example,” he answered, making Rainbow Dash scowl.
“They are different!” she hissed. “Luna was just misunderstood, and Discord wasn’t really bad. He just wanted to fool around. You were plain evil! You just wanted to enslave everypony...”
She didn’t have time to finish her sentence, because Sombra suddenly cut in, pressing his forehead against hers, “You don’t know anything, Rainbow Dash!”
She quickly backed away with her wings flared open, and she took a defensive pose with her ears folded backwards. Sombra could see and smell that she had gotten scared by his outburst.

He quickly turned to face the many curious ponies near them and gave them an angry glare with his fangs showing, his ears folded. They winced and quickly trotted to different directions, some of them tumbling over their own hooves. Sombra then turned back towards Rainbow Dash.

“I can smell your fear, Rainbow Dash,” he said coldly and stepped forward, making her wince. He walked right in front of her, and he saw that she was showing her teeth to him. They stared at each other sternly for a second, before he said with softer, almost tired tone, “But I assure you, I do not want you to be afraid of me.”
That made Rainbow Dash’s pose ease up a bit, and she looked at him weirdly. Sombra in turn gave her almost pleading look.
“I am trying, miss Rainbow Dash,” he said.
“Never call me miss again,” she noted, and then continued, “And you better try harder, because you’re not impressing me.”
Sombra grunted and turned to look at the stained glass window again.
“I don’t need you to be impressed, Rainbow Dash. I just need your advice,” he said, making Dash look at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Advice?” she asked, and Sombra nodded, his red eyes turning towards her.
“Yes,” he answered. “I have sworn loyalty to only one pony in my life, but that was over a thousand years ago. After that I have betrayed my own soldiers for my own advantage.”
“And you’re asking us to trust you!?” Rainbow Dash asked with an almost angry look on her face. “I don’t know about the others but I won’t give you any sympathy.”
“Have I asked any?” Sombra huffed, making Rainbow Dash fold her ears backwards.

They were quiet for a while, staring at each other angrily. Sombra saw fire burning in that cyan mare’s cerise eyes. She clearly was a fighter, like him. He sighed. He knew that it would be hard to win that mare’s trust.
“Rainbow Dash,” he said slowly. “Could you please tell me about loyalty?”
Rainbow Dash huffed, flapping her wings once.
“I can try,” she said, before she started to walk. Sombra followed her.
“I am loyal to my friends,” Rainbow Dash told him. “I always put them before my needs, always.”
“Why?” Sombra asked. A rather simple question, but it seemed to make Rainbow Dash troubled.
“Now why do you care?” she asked, the answer making Sombra quite interested. What was she hiding? He gave a questioning stare towards her.
“I just want to know what it takes to be loyal to somepony,” he said, making Rainbow Dash flap her wings again. She stopped walking, and looked into Sombra’s eyes.
“I was a jerk back in the day, okay?” she said, and an understanding look spread on Sombra’s face.
“Ah,” he said. “I remember dear Fluttershy speaking about it when we met.”
“What!?” Rainbow exclaimed, shocked by what she had heard. “She told you!?”
“Yes,” Sombra answered. “She also told how she made you change by being kind to you. I have to say that it was quite a touching story.”
“Shut up,” Rainbow Dash snorted, and continued walking. “Anyway, after she made me realize what a jerk I was, I started to make it up to her.”
“Honorable deed,” Sombra commented.
“Yeah. Soon I realized that I felt like really good when I protected her from all the bullies when we were at flight camp. I then started to do so with all those who deserved it.”
“Who deserved it?” Sombra asked.
 “Yeah, ponies that are not like you,” she answered, making Sombra chuckle.
“Your approval is hard to win, Rainbow Dash,” Sombra said ammusedly.
“You won’t win it,” she said annoyedly.
Sombra shrugged and said, “It’s not necessary. Just teach me.”

Rainbow Dash muttered something under her breath, before she stopped again and eyed at Sombra angrily.
“I am loyal to Twilight,” she said sternly. “That means that I protect her from ponies like you.”
“Please Rainbow Dash,” Sombra said with a faked hurt voice. “Your words hurt me.”
“I don’t care!” she exclaimed. Again the same ponies were slowly gathering near them, pretending to be doing something important. Rainbow Dash then continued, “If I could decide, You would be back to being banished!”
“But you don’t decide that,” Sombra said with a teasing smirk.
Rainbow Dash’s wings ruffled a little, as a sign of annoyance. She then said, “But I stand behind Twilight’s decisions. Whether I like it, or not.”
Sombra stared at her for a while, before a small smile appeared onto his lips.
“I see where you are going with this,” he said, making Rainbow Dash snort.
“Then you’re not as stupid as you look,” she said. “I am trying to tell you that you have to be on her side. Always. Even if she would make mistakes like this sometimes.”
“Are you referring to me as a mistake?” Sombra asked with a grin.
“Yes,” she answered.

They were silent for awhile again, staring at each other. The same fire was still burning in that cyan-coated mare’s eyes. Sombra found that admirable. She clearly wasn’t too keen on the idea of him being reformed, but she doesn’t stop it from happening. She was loyal. He had to give her that.
“I have to admit some of my actions can be seen as failures, but I am trying to make up for them,” Sombra told to Rainbow Dash, who just rolled her eyes.
“Twilight keeps saying that,” she answered. “And I stand by her side.”
“So you believe that I am truly trying to become good?” Sombra asked with a raised eyebrow. He heard small whispering from the ponies around them. Rainbow Dash seemed to notice it.
“Some privacy please?” she groaned, and again the group of ponies started to disperse hastily. Rainbow Dash waited until the group was back to their jobs before she spoke.
“I don’t know what to believe,” she answered to Sombra’s question. “But I support Twilight’s decisions.”
“And I thank you for it,” Sombra said, making Rainbow look at him with an irritated frown.

They walked towards Twilight, who noticed them getting closer. Dash seemed to remember something as they got closer.
“And don’t you dare to think that we’re friends,” she muttered so that Twilight wouldn’t hear her.
“That’s a shame,” Sombra said. “You have a fighter’s spirit. I like that.”
“Shut up,” she murmured.

Twilight Sparkle smiled when she saw that Sombra was talking with Rainbow Dash. She glanced at her checklist, before rolling it into a neat roll and trotting towards them.
“I see that you two have been chatting,” she said with a smile.
“Yes we have,” Sombra said calmly. “Rainbow Dash told me about loyalty.”
“How nice,” Twilight said, before turning towards Dash and asking, “Did he learn anything?”
“I don’t know,” Rainbow said. “I guess so.”
Twilight looked at Sombra and asked, “Did you learn anything?”
Sombra was feeling almost proud to announce, “I did. I learned that I should stand on my friend’s side, even if they would make something that would not be considered as a wise action. Am I right, Rainbow Dash?”
He said her name with a teasing smirk, that made Rainbow pout annoyedly.
“Yeah, that’s right,” she answered, making Twilight’s smile grow.
“Great!” she exclaimed. “You were just in time too. Princesses should be there any minute now. All the preparations are done and I was just about to go get dressed. You should go put on your new suit.”
“My new suit?” Sombra asked confusedly.
“Yes. Rarity told me that your suit is ready. I took liberty to have it taken to your room,” Twilight told him. She then turned towards Rainbow Dash and spoke, “Thanks for this Rainbow Dash. It really means alot to me.”
“No problem Twi,” she said a bit strangely, glancing at Sombra. Twilight didn’t notice that and she continued.
“I’ll go now. See you in a bit,” she said, and nodded to them. With that she started to trot towards the front-doors of the grand hall, leaving Sombra alone with Dash.

They turned to look at each other.
“Like I said, don’t think that I’m your friend now,” she said.
“Of course not,” Sombra said. “And if I am honest, I don’t really care. If you do not believe me, then you do not believe me. I would like it if you would, but in the end it is your decision to make.”
Rainbow Dash was staring at him suspiciously. She ruffled her wings and said, quite angrily, “I won’t change my mind so easily, just you know that.”
“I know,” Sombra said to her, and she snorted.
“I’m keeping my eye on you,” she said and extended her wings. With a couple of strong flaps of her wings she was airborne, flying upwards back on top of the pillar where she had been sitting on moments earlier. Sombra stared after her for a moment, before starting to trot towards the doors from where Twilight had left moment ago.

She was a real fighter. He could tell that. She also was the only one of Twilight’s friends that was smart enough not to trust him. Oh Celestia. Twilight would really need more friends like her, and not friends like him... And what was that? He wasn’t even her friend. Friends don’t plan on using an ancient evil powers to overthrow the other friend and continue to rule as a tyrant after that. It’s not like he had a choice though.

He sighed loudly and shook his head. He didn’t have too much time before the princesses would be there. He decided to go and try on his new suit.