-sorry to break format here for a moment, sometimes i really wish you could put author's notes at both the bottom and top.
But Both Ch.39 and 40 have been completely redone, and you need to go read those if you haven't read the revisions already. Otherwise you'll probably be confused. Anyway onto the story.
Everfree Forest, dawn-
Hooves moved in relative quiet over sparse grass and dirt of a relatively dangerous forest. Because the rumors of this place were full of fear and superstition, this particular set of hooves decided to trek there. The smell of aggression was invigorating and a good way to get the day going. Or so this particular equine felt, after he drew in a deep breath through his flared nostrils.
A grey pelted stallion crashed through the underbrush, and smiled that he had something to crush under-hoof. Even if it was only plant life he could crush… His merry old tromp came to stop when he saw bird nest. It rested fairly low in the branches, and with a quick flick of magic, a pedestal of crimson crystal elevated the hopeful king, so that his eyes were level with the nest.
The nest was full of eggs, he counted five, and licked his lips. He wriggled his eyes brows at his cornered and hapless prey. They weren’t going anywhere, but where he wanted them. As he stretched out a hoof to collect the calcium coated gold, and dump them into a crystal basket he had crafted, a large black bird swooped in scooped up the nest in it’s talons, eggs and all.
Sombra’s hoof swiped at empty air, and his hemo-hued eyes glared after the raven that had thieved faster than him. He shouted a fierce bark after the brazen ebony avian.
“Those are mine!”
Instinctively he ignited his horn and fired a blast of vehement raw magic at the offending feather-brain. To his surprise, he actually blasted it right out of the air, and the raven along with the nest started to plummet towards the ground.
His focus quickly went back to his original prize, and he leapt from his pedestal of crystal in a daring dive. Hooves were outstretched and managed to catch the nest right before it impacted the ground.
Then a fried raven plopped right next to him, it’s smoky form was freshly singed. He looked at it with a sense of wonder. Did he actually just do that? Just blast another living creature? Of his own volition? Did he actually feel angry at the thing?
This, he could play with this. A wicked smile crept up his face as surely as the sun crept past the horizon. Actually the sun was a little late this morning… Queen horsefly must have slept in. In any case, he liked what this implied. Perhaps he could use it to expand his menu this morning.
The fried bird and eggs were added to his basket, though he took one of the eggs and plopped it in his mouth. He crunched down the shell, yoke, and all, and took pleasure in the slick slimy sensation. Raw eggs could carry disease, some scolding old advice came to mind, but he was greater than disease… He’d survived being locked in ice for a thousand years, what could a little salmonella do to him?
So he started to tromp through the forest again, with new possibilities to broil in his mind. The basket floated behind him in a magical aura meanwhile, and he looked for things to add to his collection.
A squirrel skitted by, a little chitter echoed from it as it scurried along. One zap later, and one hairless squirrel was added to the basket. Hmm, he could feel apathetic towards demise. Another step in the right direction…
Then a rabbit, and a snake, also a badger, besides some quail, as well as some lizards, between a turtle, that was set next to a falcon, and… was that a breezy or butterfly? Oh well, he couldn’t tell after it had fizzled beyond useful scraps. His basket had gotten rather full anyway.
When he came across a fairly large bear he stood close by. The beast hadn’t noticed him yet, and that was fine by him. Then he attempted to charge his horn for another lethal discharge, but this time it failed, and he grunted in frustration. Why did it fail this time? It might take an extra blast or two to finish this animal, but what made it so different from the other creatures?
A hoof circled the underside of his chin in thought at the nature of his predicament. It likely wasn’t because the beast was bigger, or that much more intelligent. Another thought came into the equation. Might it be he couldn’t cast a spell that wouldn’t finish it off instantly? The bear would experience pain or fear before it met it’s demise? Could he inflict willful pain?
He tried to charge his horn and zap the critter with a stinging bolt to it’s haunches. Nothing happened… He grunted in irritation to himself. The huff he made was enough to catch the bear’s attention, and it turned around to look at the surprise visitor. The bear didn’t like surprise visitors in it’s territory.
It reared up on it’s hind legs and roared, the force of which blew back Sombra’s mane a little. Some bear spittle dripped off his kingly face, and he opened his unamused eyes, which had reactively closed at the bear’s roar.
A large clawed paw swung down to cuff at the crystal king, but he had already lit up with some defensive magic. Crystal surged over his grey pelted body, and the heavy hairy arm collided with his incased form. The bear might as well have hit a steel wall for all the good it did.
When the animal realized it hadn’t hit a horse creature, but a much harder surface it pulled it’s paw back. There was a moment for it to wait and sink in… before comprehension dawned.
Sombra smiled behind his physical barrier. Others could hurt themselves upon him… even if he couldn’t compel them to do it. There was another tool to put in the shed of potential weapons. One flash of crimson magic, and the king with his basket of morning collections disappeared.
The bear was left there to cradled it’s painfully tender paw.
Sombra’s crystal chambers beneath Canterlot.
When he had taken the time to form these chambers below Canterlot he made a little kitchen for himself. During his time as king there were no royal cooks. All culinary staff had been fired… and sent to the mines. He would risk no pony to tamper with his food, besides, he had tastes that weren’t exactly the pony norm.
With his basket of woodland creatures he trounced into the kitchen, and set his collection of savory gamey samples on the counter. Hmm, how to best prepare them?
He took the eggs, and opened a drawer on the wall. There were dozens of eggs already stuffed in there, the paltry four he placed hardly seemed to add to the massive bundle. Then with a spry twist of his hooves, he rounded about towards another drawer. Everything was crystal… naturally.
So he pulled out a crystal bowl from the crystal drawer, grabbed some crystal cloths, and crystal apron that had “I’ll rule your kitchen” printed on it, along with a crystal mixing spoon. Oh, and he couldn’t forget the crystal knives, cleavers, mallets, and beaters. When everything was arranged how he liked he grabbed the bowl and mixing spoon in his hooves, then his horn ignited.
With a stunning display of choreographed grace all the kitchen instruments sprung to life as they floated and dove about in the crystal king’s crimson aura. A merry little tuned was hummed along as he proceeded to prepare breakfast.
HmmMMMm, Mmmm, mmmMMMmmm, oh little cretins, how I love little cretins
All of the creatures he had placed into the basket earlier were levitated out, and hovered towards the kitchen instruments.
When I can’t have that irritating head-of-state bedecked on my plate, it is you that will satiate
The squirrel was placed onto a cutting board, before it was diced like a tomato. Then Sombra diced a tomato, and mixed it with the diced squirrel. Both the fruit and rodent were swept into his mixing bowl. Where he mixed them in with flour and spices, then they were tossed into a pan with oil, and began to bubble in the fry.
As a surrogate you can play the part of my favorite
The snake soared through the air, where it was split down the middle like a peeled banana, by the cleaver. Then Sombra pulled some bananas out of the crystal cooler and peeled them like the snake. The flexible stretchy body of the deceased reptilian was used to wrap around the tropical fruit, and the concoction that was snake-banana sausage was pushed into the crystal oven.
With savory satisfaction you are the perfect distraction
A blast of magic cleaned out the mixing bowl, before he filled it again with more flour, and then flower, some eggs, salt, and milk. The young badger was pulled out of the basket, given a flash singe to clean off the hair, and placed on the main table. A crystal mallet with a head larger than the badger itself was levitated over, and proceeded to pound it to paste. Sombra dipped a hoof into the meaty mess, and was pleased with the texture. The badger paste was added to the dough in the bowl. Mixed till it was indistinguishable, and then put in another crystal oven. Badger bread!
Till my plans come true, it is you that will have to do
Next was the turtle, which flopped about limply, like a rag doll, and was placed into a large crystal pot full of boiling water. One of the knives Sombra had in his magical grasp started to spin, and soon it spun faster than a windmill caught in a tornado. A myriad of vegetables flew out of more crystal storage containers. Mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbages, potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, and more passed by the mad whirling blade, before they fell into the pot with the turtle.
Oh my amusement, when others get a taste of this bemusement
A pack of mice were pulled out of the basket and placed on the cutting board, before a rolling pin was set in place, and rolled forward to flatten them like pancakes. Then four dozen eggs flew out of the drawer… make that five dozen eggs, and were cracked into a buttered pan, and the pancake mice were added to it.
Hehehe, hohoho, the occasions past, if only those nobles knew what I fed them, their sound stomachs wouldn’t last
The kitchen was warm with the heat of all the cooking instruments in full swing. Crystal spoons, whisks, and rods stirred everything to make sure it wouldn’t get burnt. Crystal spatulas flipped over the egg-mouse pancakes to give them an even browning layer. Sombra peered into the transparent doors of the ovens to check on the color of the sausage and bread. Everything proceeded perfectly.
Then to finish up, he retrieved several small serving bowls, he filled them with butter, cream, syrup, raspberry, blueberry, and crystalberry jams. For drink, another bottle of heart nectar was drawn out of the cooler. He poured himself a glass and took a sip. Everything would be cooked and ready shortly.
He had to admit there was a certain convenience with miss mosquito’s prisoners, he didn’t have to feed them. Except for the one that was awake and conscious, and he found she was surprisingly ravenous. Sombra then chuckled to himself.
“Let’s see how you like badger-bread princess… hmm, what did I feed you and your sister on our last court luncheon?”
He tapped a hoof to his chin as he tried to recall what he had fixed that particular occasion. The recall was interrupted however, as a warning signal blinked over his horn. Some equine had touched his stairs… No equine would touch his stairs without him knowing about it. They were his, and whoever it was probably had dirty hooves, the gall... the disrespect… the lack of regality… the-… they were probably taking more steps as he thought this.
With a flash of blood-red magic he vanished from the kitchen.
An abrasive crack thundered at the entrance of Sombra’s crafted cavern, and the crystal tyrant himself appeared with a lordly suddenness.
“What is it now queen cricket? Did you come to join us for-…”
There wasn’t one queen cricket. There were two queen crickets. One was a little taller, and better kempt, but still, it was another cricket.
“Queen cricket? What a cute little pet name! Really sister you made him sound much more uncouth than that.”
The grey stallion was somewhere between dumbfounded and highly irritated. He mouth hung slightly agape, and his fangs poked out. He glared at the one who spoke, then looked over to whom he thought was the actual queen cricket.
“What is this?”
“You said I could visit Luna any time, my sister here would like to meet her, and yes… perhaps join you for whatever you were about to offer.”
“This isn’t a family and friends included deal…”
“Oh come now, you were a king were you not.”
“Am a king.”
“Then you understand I have more than one important thing to focus on. Besides why do I always find you here at a moment’s notice… shouldn’t you help find your own amulet?”
“I understand, but don’t be impudent with me. Ofcourse I have plans.”
“Well, you can listen in on anything Crone says with Luna, and I won’t mind.”
“Or if you’re going to be productive, I might have you collaborate with my vanguard in the search. You seem to be good at acquiring difficult to find information.”
“How about we decide over breakfast…”