Chapter 30 part 1
After sneaking through town and a journey through the Everfree Forest, Sombra finally stood in front of an old castle that had it’s better days. Some of the towers had collapsed, and most part of the roof were missing and the stone walls were covered in moss and vines. A sight that surely would make most visitors turn around, but not Sombra. He just thought that rain would give the scene the finishing touch that it needed to be right out of a horror novel.
He slowly walked and opened the gigantic front doors, stepping into a big hall with stairs on both sides of the room, leading probably towards a throne room. On the walls there hung banners which colors had been faded by the sun and moisture. The air smelled of mold.
Sombra didn’t really care about all that, because in front of him stood a several meters high statue which details were worn off due the exposure to the weather for many years. Still he could see the unmistakable figures of two alicorn sisters.
“Here we are,” he said and closed the front doors.
“Good,” the calm voice said. “Now get to it.”
Sombra felt cold shivers in his back as the voice spoke, and he could see the shadows moving in the corner of his eyes. He hesitated for a moment, before he felt a cold wave wash over him. They were getting impatient with Sombra, and he couldn’t blame them. The journey there had gone slowly, mainly because Sombra wasn’t too enthusiastic about anything anymore.
With a deep sigh he walked closer to the statue, his horn starting to glow. The whole statue was enveloped into a red aura, and soon big cracks started to appear on it’s surface. Loud cracking was heard as the cracks got bigger and bigger, until the whole statue collapsed on the floor with a loud crash, lifting up a big cloud of dust. Sombra coughed a bit and walked over to the pile of broken marble, using his magic to shove the pieces further away on the floor. Like he had predicted, he saw a chest in a small hole on the floor where the statue had been.
“Here it is,” he said and lifted the box from the hole, turning it around in his magical grasp, examining it.
“Don’t waste anymore of our time and open it!” the angry voice shouted.
“What if it is trapped somehow?” Sombra asked. He didn’t really care though.
“Well there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?” the angry voice retorted.
Sombra snorted and laid the chest to the floor. It had a message carved onto it’s lid. It simply said ‘Do not open’. Sombra chuckled darkly, and was about to open the chest, but he couldn’t. Not because there would have been some kind of an spell preventing it, but because he didn’t want to. He knew that under that lid there was something that he didn’t want to see. For his own sake.
“Open it!” all the voices commanded, making Sombra wince. He then bit his lower lip and grabbed the lid with his magical grasp. He hesitated for a moment, before quickly jerking it open.
The content of the chest reeked of something sinister, and Sombra jumped backwards. He stared inside the chest with his eyes fixated to a small necklace shaped like an alicorn with a red gem in the middle of it. He scrunched up his snout as he felt the negative feelings hit him like a train, reminding him of his reign of terror. He could feel the hate radiating from the gem, calling his name.
For a moment Sombra felt the need to place it around his neck once again, but immediately his chest started to burn like never before. He sat down and held his chest with his hooves, hissing from between his teeth.
The pain reminded him of Twilight Sparkle’s friends... His friends. Applejack, the one with a great flank. Pinkie Pie, who could make him laugh. Missis Rarity, who was a real lady. Fluttershy, she didn’t judge Sombra. Rainbow Dash… Well she… She stood loyally besides Twilight Sparkle, even Twilight herself didn’t seem to notice it. He even thought of Spike.
A new tug of pain in his chest made him though about Twilight Sparkle. She had all the features that her friends had. She didn’t judge him, she was a real lady, she could make him laugh, she stood by him and she had a great flank. She was an extraordinary mare.
“Take it out,” the voices commanded in unison, breaking Sombra away from his thoughts. For a moment he was about to resist the voices, but then he remembered why he was there in the first place.
With the pain still in his chest and with shaky hooves he lifted the necklace out of the chest. His ears were folded and the smell of that wicked gem filled his nose. The red gem in it seemed like it would have been staring at him, it’s gaze full of hunger.
“The King’s Gem,” Sombra said slowly, like tasting the word in his mouth. It tasted like ash. It awoke many very very bad memories in him.
“We know what it is!” the angry one shouted. “Just put it on already!”
Sombra rose up slowly, his eyes still fixated to the red gem. To his disbelief he saw his sister staring back at him from it’s reflective surface. Crystal stared at him with the most pleading look in her green eyes that a pony can imagine. Sombra shook his head a little and looked again. This time it was him staring back from the gem.
“What are you waiting for Sombra?” the calm voice asked.
“I hope that he hasn’t gotten any second thoughts,” the sad one sighed. “It would be a pity to get all the way here, just to go back again.”
“I have not gotten any second thoughts,” Sombra said annoyedly. “Just let me have a moment at least.”
“Denied,” the angry one laughed.
With a depressed sigh Sombra hung his head downwards. He knew that there would be no return after he would slip that necklace around his neck, and he wanted to say something while he could.
“I am sorry Crystal…” he muttered and closed his eyes. He then lifted the necklace over his head, ready to slip it to it’s place. “I am sorry Twi…"
“Stop!” a familiar voice suddenly shouted from the doors, making Sombra wince and turn towards the voice, only to see a white flash in his eyes.
* * *
Twilight Sparkle galloped towards the castle of the two sisters, still feeling a bit dizzy. She had teleported most of the way, but she had her limits and trying to push them only earned her a major headache. Of course she could have used her magic to take the pain away, but teleporting and healing magic takes a lot of energy, so the headache would still be there and she would only waste energy. She couldn’t do that. She needed it to fight Sombra, and at the time her headache was the least of her worries. She was completely focused in stopping Sombra at all cost.
She ran for a moment longer, before feeling that her head was clear enough to fly. With a couple of strong flaps she was airborne. She dodged a couple of branches and quickly rose above the foliage and started to gain altitude. She could see the castle in the horizon, bathing in the moonlight. Nothing suggested that Sombra had found the amulet yet. Or of course he could have found it, but knowing him Twilight could be certain that he would make a dramatic entrance like thunderstorms or snow storms… Or snow storms with thunder. Something like that.
Twilight grunted and speeded up. No matter what kind of storm it would be, there wasn’t any. A good sign, a sign that she still could stop him. As she got closer towards the castle, her mind got even more troubled. What if she couldn’t stop him? He got the Alicorn Amulet after all, and she couldn’t handle even Trixie when she was wearing it.
Even more troubling was the feeling that she felt. What if she couldn’t defeat him, even if it would be possible? What if she could get there before Sombra would get to use the Alicorn Amulet? Then she could have a chance against him, but he would probably not surrender. Would she have to… Kill him? In a way she and her friends had done it once before, but it had been different. Now she would need to stare him in the eyes and actually deliver the final blow…
Twilight shook that terrible thought away and hoped that she wouldn’t need to go that far.
It didn’t take long for her to finally arrive at her destination, where she landed on the steps of the castle. She galloped to the front doors and was about to swing it open, but suddenly it became almost impossible for her to do. It felt like she wouldn’t want to face what was behind those doors.
She took a deep breath and pushed the door carefully, immediately feeling a wave of coldness escaping from the cap between the doors. She shivered, and not only from the cold. Now she was sure that Sombra was there. She gulped and continued to push the door even more. She carefully stepped inside with her whole body tensed, careful not to make a sound. Moonlight peered through the broken roof, and Twilight gasped.
She saw Sombra. He was standing in the middle of a pile of dust and pieces of marble which had been a statue last time she had been there. In front of him was a empty chest, and Twilight knew what it was. Sombra’s head was hung downwards, and to Twilight’s horror, he held the Alicorn Amulet over his head, in his red magical grasp, ready to slip it around his neck.
Twilight couldn’t let that happen.
“Stop!”she shouted and readied her horn. Without giving Sombra a chance to do anything, she fired a bolt of purple lighting at him. She managed to see the surprised look on Sombra’s face, before the magic projectile exploded in front of him. Sombra flew backwards, landing on his side with a loud thud. The Alicorn Amulet flew down on the floor, roughly in between them. Twilight didn’t waste any time and she charged towards the gem.
“No!” Sombra shouted and got up surprisingly quickly, considering the blow he had just gotten. His eyes started to glow in green color and blue fires rose from their corners. He then stomped his other front-hoof to the floor.
Twilight’s eyes went wide as black crystals started to spurt from the floor in front of Sombra, reaching towards the Alicorn Amulet. She lunged towards the gem, but the crystals were faster. Her dive was cut short by a wall of black crystals rising from the ground in front of her. She hit it, face first.
“Oww…” Twilight groaned and rubbed her snout, before looking towards the Alicorn Amulet. She tried to get up but the crystals grew even more, and four spiky crystal poles rushed up from the ground, trapping Twilight in the middle of them. She exclaimed scaredly and saw how Sombra’s eyes stopped glowing.
“Do not try to escape, Twilight Sparkle,” he said with a raspy voice.
He began to walk towards the Alicorn Amulet, that was still on the floor. Twilight struggled inside her little prison, only to wince as the thorns scraped against her.
“Don’t do it!” she shouted to Sombra, trying to get the amulet with her magic, but her magic refused to work. The black crystal around her was working like the trap on top of the Crystal Castle. She began to panic and begged, “Please Sombra! Don’t do it!”
Sombra didn’t answer. He stopped in front of the Alicorn Amulet, lifting it with his magic.
“Sombra look at me!” Twilight commanded, and Sombra carefully glanced at her.
“I thought that we were friends!” Twilight spat with her ears folded backwards.
Sombra quickly looked away, and Twilight was sure that she had seen guilt in his eyes.
“We were,” he answered and his posture slumped down. “It is not possible any longer.”
“You betrayed me!” Twilight continued, sensing that he had found his weak spot. “You betrayed your friends!”
“Do you think that I wanted to do so?” Sombra asked quite angrily, and Twilight fell silent.
After a second she asked, “What did you say?”
Sombra frowned when he realized what he had slipped and answered bluntly, “Nothing. Be quiet Twilight Sparkle.”
“You don’t want to do this?” Twilight asked.
“I said be quiet!” Sombra huffed. “Do not talk.”
Twilight sensed that something was off with Sombra. He didn’t seem like he was the same stallion that he was when they had met for the first time. He was like… Like when he spent time with her. No matter what was going on, Twilight had to prevent it.
“I can’t let you do this Sombra!” Twilight continued. “Let me go!”
Sombra was quiet, his red eyes staring at the amulet in his magical grasp.
“You don’t know what that amulet will do to you if you use it,” Twilight tried, but Sombra shook his head a little.
“Sadly, yes I do, Twilight Sparkle,” he said and Twilight’s eyes went wide.
“What?” she asked. “What are you talking about?”
Sombra sighed and folded his ears, still staring at the amulet.
“I made it,” Sombra answered.
Twilight’s ears drooped and she stared at the dark stallion with her mouth open. Sombra had made the Alicorn Amulet? She didn’t have much time to think about it though, because she had to stop Sombra.
Twilight struggled against the spikes again and begged, “You don’t have to do this Sombra!”
“Yes I do,” Sombra said.
“Why!?” Twilight asked loudly, her voice breaking. “Look me in the eyes and tell me why you are doing this!”
Sombra turned to look at Twilight with sadness visible in his eyes. He hesitated for a second, before speaking, “To protect you,Twilight Sparkle.”
Twilight stared at him with a very confused look on her face.
“To protect me!?” she asked. “What is that supposed to mean!?”
“Do not speak anymore,” Sombra begged. “It makes everything so much harder.”
“I can help you!” Twilight said. “Let me go so we can sort this out, okay?”
Sombra chuckled darkly and said, “There is only one way to sort this out, and you know it Twilight Sparkle.”
“There is always another way!” Twilight tried. “You have changed Sombra! Don’t let your past control yourself anymore!”
“I have to!” Sombra almost shouted. “I do not want it but I have no other choice!”
“Whatever is going on, you have to resist!” Twilight wailed. “I know you can do it!”
“And I know that you cannot!” Sombra retorted loudly and stomped his front-hooves to the ground, making Twilight shut up. Sombra took a couple of steps towards Twilight, pointed at her and said, “This is the only way to keep them away from you! I will not let them hurt you or your friends like they hurt me and Crystal!”
“Who are you talking about?” Twilight asked. “The Wendigos?”
Sombra frowned and walked a bit closer towards Twilight, before sitting down to his haunches. He stared at Twilight with a tired look in his red eyes.
“You remind me of Crystal, Twilight Sparkle,” Sombra spoke. “She was innocent and kind hearted, just like you.”
Twilight didn’t know what to say, so she didn’t say anything. Sombra sighed deeply and asked from her, “Do you remember why I became what I am now?”
“Yes…” Twilight said carefully. “How does that have to do…”
“I did it to protect her… Or so I thought,” Sombra said in a troubled way. “And now I am doing this to protect you.”
“That makes no sense!” Twilight retorted from her small prison. “Why are you speaking such nonsense all of the sudden!?”
“It is you or me Twilight Sparkle,” Sombra said and got up. “And better me than you. I am the monster, remember?”
Twilight then almost cried, “I can help you!”
Sombra chuckled darkly and muttered, “Princess helping a monster. In most of the stories the monster is defeated by a pony of royal origins…”
There was a silence between them. They stared at each other and Sombra saw a tear rolling down Twilight’s cheek. His chest began to burn so he turned to look the other way.
“Please defeat me, Twilight Sparkle,” Sombra suddenly said, making Twilight stare at him with a begging look. He then began to lift the amulet around his neck.
“No!” Twilight cried out, but it was too late, and Sombra slipped the amulet around his neck.
For a moment it seemed like nothing was happening, but then Twilight heard a ghostly neighing that didn’t seem to have a physical source. She gulped as the air got even colder, and in the corner of her eye she saw a shadow moving in very unnatural way. She turned her head towards the movement and saw that a shadowy figure indeed moved across the hall, towards Sombra. Right behind it two more shadows appeared, they too making a beeline towards the dark stallion.
“What’s happening!?” she asked from Sombra, who stared at her with an apologetic look on his face, but he didn’t answer.
Twilight then saw how the shadows were merging into each other in mid-air, forming one large mass of dark, almost smoke like substance. She gasped as two green eyes opened in the middle of the smoke, staring at Sombra hungrily. It was the same thing she had seen the day when Sombra was captured.
“Sombra no!” she screamed, and the stallion winced. He looked at Twilight with his ears drooped and a hint of fear in his eyes.
Then the mass of shadows hit him.