"Release me this instant, purple alicorn!" I shouted, struggling against my frozen bindings to the floor.
"How about you stay awhile and listen, King Smokey?" The dragon snarked back to me, crossing his claws in front of his chest and looking smug.
I'm not going anywhere. I thought, At least they haven't blasted me back into oblivion like the last time I incarnated.
"State your purpose or release me." I barked at them, annoyed.
The purple alicorn cleared her throat, using her magic to lift an official looking letter in front of my face as she read aloud from memory.
Dear Princess Twilight Sparkle,
It has come to my attention that dark magics are coalescing to the north of the Crystal Empire. I can only imagine the last time such magics were used, and immediately thought of King Sombra.
Really? Only me. What, is there some ban on dark magic?
I am requesting that you investigate this matter personally with the assistance of whomever you deem fit. However, as Sombra is known to possess powerful mind magics, you must bring only those absolutely crucial in dealing with him. We cannot risk losing all of the Elements of Harmony to him, were he to escape.
Hmmph. At least they're correct to worry. I would've already attempted such a thing were it not for these blasted bindings on my hooves and the magic null-ring on my horn.
Please keep this task a secret, as rumors spreading of King Sombra's return would only create a panic.
I trust you completely,
Princess Cadance of the Crystal Empire
There's another alicorn I didn't know about? What, are they breeding like rabbits now or something? Let me guess, I'll walk outside and all unicorns will have ascended into alicorns! The nerve of it.
"Hey, Crystal lover. You there?" The dragon asked, waving a claw too close to my face for comfort. I snarled in reply, and succeeded in startling it. "Well, he's all yours, Twilight." it shrugged after regaining its composure.
"I have an offer for you, King Sombra." She announced without any malice or sarcasm. This perked my interest. Certainly I was in no present position to overpower an Alicorn, but in my prime It had taken both Celestia and Luna to overthrow me.
This was still very irritating and demeaning however. With that at the forefront of my thoughts, I glowered and replied, "Fine. Speak your peace, Princess Twilight."
I can be perfectly nasty if I want to be. I've died twice and earned every right to be bitter.
"Learn how to be a nice pony and make friends, or be banished again." was her ultimatum.
I looked at her skeptically. Seriously? What are you, the Princess of Friendship?
"It is my duty as the Princess of Friendship to give everypony or otherwise a second chance for peace." She continued, quite proud of herself from the looks of it.
I rolled my eyes. Figures. I tempted fate with that one, didn't I? She was staring expectantly at me, and breaking my hooves free had proven fruitless. With an excellent ability for acting, I heaved a defeated sigh. "Very well, Sparkle. I will try this your way." If anything was going to go my way, this fool would instantly believe me and hop around like an escaped lunatic.
Sparkle then looked at me suspiciously, flicking her eyes between myself and my present situation. "I think you're lying."
Drat. I guess I can only tempt fate so many times, then. "Fine, Sparkle. I am serious this time."
The suspicious looks continued.
Then she pulled books from her saddlebags, still glancing at me in suspicion.
She also spoke in hushed tones with her dragon accomplice, still giving me looks. My hooves were starting to freeze.
"Listen, Sparkle Princess of Friendship and Happiness, my body is starting to remind me of its mortality. Can we proceed before the heat death of the universe?" I grumbled.
"How am I supposed to know if you're serious or not?" She asked in an annoyed tone.
"You won't." I replied, annoying her with my cryptic response. While she mulled over whatever she was mulling over, I took the opportunity to observe where I had actually reformed. It was some dark cave, surrounded in frost and cold rock that I don't remember ever placing a Phylactery. No furnishings; no warmth of any kind for when my obviously frail mortal body was going to form. This was problematic. This meant that as soon as these bindings were released, I would probably be as weak as a newborn foal. Further, this explained why I was unable to use my shadowform to simply leave this Alicorn with a dumb look on her face. For now, I would have to actually play the part of... what was it, being reformed? Making friends? I suppose I could pretend to do that until my power regained enough of its former strength.
I was then brought back to reality by the snapping of claws in front of my face from that infantile dragon. I refrained from growling at it again, because I had to keep the long game in mind. Annoying dragons when they're babies tends to beget very large and grudge holding adult dragons. I do not like the fact that I go well with ketchup, and am also crunchy. Therefore, I will refrain from making an enemy of this small dragon whelp.
"You've made your decision?" I asked, blinking away the obnoxiously close talons while trying to move what little of my head I could towards Sparkle.
"I don't like it, but I don't really have any other options jumping out at me." She replied with a reserve of hesitation. Her horn then glowed a bright lavender and covered by entire body, yanking upwards.
"Yaah!" I definitely did not yelp in surprise. It was a dignified, fully menacing growl. If you want to judge others, become a priest.
I was now floating several pony lengths in the air above the alicorn. The small dragon whelp was snickering to itself at the display of me listing aimlessly in the air, floating slightly sideways with a blank expression of annoyance on my face. "Yes, hilarious. Will you release me now?"
I got my wish, as she unceremoniously dumped me onto the cold and hard rock beneath me. I saved myself further embarrassment by not letting out a dignified and menacing growl, and settled for an "Oof!" of losing the air in my lungs.
"I would greatly appreciate your ability to befriend others if I wasn't being tossed about like a rag doll, Sparkle." I wheezed, shakily attempting to stand on my own hooves and failing miserably. Apparently, when you reform your fleshy body after a thousand plus years of not having said fleshy body, you need to do some working out. I was practically jelly at this point, and emphasized this by simply laying on my side.
"I dunno Twilight, he looks like a doll to me." The whelp joked at my expense.
"Haw." was my witty retort. I was still trying to get the air back into my pathetic lungs. Honestly, being a smoke monster is so much more invigorating.
Sparkle then gave a look of curiosity as she loomed over me. "You're not like I imagined you would be, King Sombra." she stated.
"How is that? Did you expect me to rave on and on about crystals?"
Twilight and the Whelp shared a look before answering. "Actually... yeah." The whelp replied.
I raised an eyebrow and Twilight continued, "When you were partially formed, all you ever said was 'Crystal.' "
"Mmmph. When you experiment with Necromancy, please tell me how attempting to store all of your arcane knowledge in addition to your personality goes. I'd love to compare notes."
She then got the most absurd starry look in her eye, as her dragon companion covered his face with his claw. "Now you've done it." it grumbled.
"You mean we can study magic together?!" She asked in awed excitement.
Oh grief, I think I went too far. She's seriously giving me a 'I really love books and everything to do with learning' look. Should I abort, or continue with this debacle to gain her favor? Eh, favor it is.
"Yes. Sure." I replied with a correct amount of apathy and or miserableness for the situation, which allowed her to promptly freak out, shouting 'yesyesyes' in a completely undignified display that was embarrassing for all to witness. I will spare you the details, but I will at least inform you of the several minutes it took to calm her down.
Taking a deep breath as per instructed by her companion, Twilight regained herself. "Hookay. Um, sorry about that." She giggled nervously, "Are you able to walk?"
Attempting to find out, I successfully managed to park my flank in an upright position and steady myself on wobbling forehooves. "This... is about as good as I'm going to get." I admitted. At this point, I just wanted to be warm again. Curse my frail mortal form or what have you, but being in a frozen cave in the middle of nowhere is absurd, uncomfortable and downright uncouth. The faster we left this place, the better.
"I think we'll be able to get back to the Crystal Empire before nightfall if I just carry you." Sparkle announced, promptly picking me up once more in a field of magic and floating me alongside her. At least this was better than nearly a story in the air like last time.
"So, come here often?" The whelp joked once more. I decided that comment wasn't worthy of a response, and promptly ignored him. Twilight, however, giggled in appreciation.
Our exit from the cave was uneventful to say the least. Nearly a half kilotrot of nothing but ice and rock, followed by a large entryway that looked recently excavated by force. I assumed it to have been accomplished by the magic of the alicorn currently holding me above her, and it was later bragged about by the Whelp. I also learned that the Whelp was a 'he' named 'Spike'. Far be it from me to claim knowledge of how to name a dragon, but it sounded like something a foal would come up with on the spot.
After the cave entrance, the Whelp- Spike... sat on the back of his master as I floated alongside them above the snow. She donned a scarf and some boots along with a face mask for protection against snow blindness. I was not given anything, as my armoring and cape had miraculously come along with me for the ride when I was reincarnated. Thankfully, it served a purpose of keeping me warm, stylish and protected from blunt or sharp instruments of assassination and death. I doubted the ponies of this time were as... direct in their protests as they had been in mine, but it always pays to be prepared.
Unless the alicorns of the Sun and Moon are dropping out of the sky onto your face, wielding rainbows of doom out of nowhere. One cannot prepare for that happenstance without knowledge prior. Besides, how was I to know that some random uprising leaders were alicorns? I had assumed they were disillusioned nobles from yet another political faction attempting to overthrow me.
"You sure zone out alot." Spike commented, shielding his face against the sudden snowstorm that had happened without my realizing. Apparently we had made significant distance while I was reminiscing to nopony in particular, as I often narrate my own life. I find it to be a relaxing pass-time and hobby.
"Where are we?" I asked in a loud enough voice to cut through the howling winds.
"I should be close enough to teleport us!" Twilight yelled over her side towards me.
"-aiiUUUHH!" I protested, before the teleportation promptly forced me to dry heave in the air. In surprise or disgust, Twilight lost concentration of me and I quickly fell into the snow up to my neck, continuing to heave for a few more moments.
"Oh no, are you okay?!" Twilight asked in a panic, looking around to see if anypony had noticed. "Just one more teleport, and we'll be safe, okay?"
"-ooOUUHH!" I replied in pain, being dumped onto a warm and carpeted floor next to a lit fireplace. My armor clanked against the crystalline floor during my fall, and I simply lay there in spasms as Twilight continued to freak out.
"Oh no oh no! What If I killed him?!"
"Twilight, snap out of it!" Spike insisted.
"What if Cadance comes back and finds Sombra on her floor!?"
"What if I get banished to the moon for committing murder?!"
An echoing slap had cut off her babble, and allowed me to regain control of my weak self in relative peace as she nursed her cheek.
"Thanks, Spike." She said in a mellow voice.
"No problem, Twilight. You get crazy when you're stressed out, and we just walked through a blizzard after confronting King Sombra of all ponies." He reassured her. It was somewhat sweet, but also very weak of the two of them. How would they survive in the world if they constantly coddled another? Everypony knew that only the strong would survive the harshness of reality. I would know, I've done so at least three times now.
"King Sombra?" Twilight asked.
Holding a hoof to my mouth after attempting to speak proved to be a wise choice, as my body nearly heaved up exactly nothing once more.
"Um... could you get us some food and hot Cocoa, Spike?" Twilight asked.
"I'm on it!" The dragon replied dutifully, his padding claws scraping against the crystal floor as he ran off to who knows where in search of whatever Cocoa was.
I lay there on the floor, heaving and involuntarily shivering from the cold that had attached itself to my clothing. Apparently I had forgotten to enchant my armor and clothes to resist temperature changes, and they had been soaked to the last strand of fabric in wet snow. Twilight must have taken notice of my state, as the constant clanking and scratching of shivering combined with armor would've gotten on anypony's nerve.
I had been expecting some snarky jab at my misfortune, and was thus pleasantly surprised when a warm blanket was draped over my body. I was able to shift my head enough to get a sideways look at Twilight whom was standing over me with a content smile on her face.
"Better?" She asked.
I opted to not waste energy replying and simply rested my head on the soft carpet, staring into the flickering fireplace. My breathing began to even out as I stopped being sick from the sudden teleportations; A magic that I had avoided due to its reaction to me. I had never grasped a hold of it in the first place, and the possibility of teleporting into a wall gave me enough reason to drop the pursuit entirely. I much preferred the slow but secure advance of moving through the shadows anyway. It was far easier to for me to use regardless.
"Twilight?" I heard Spike call into the room.
"Over here, Spike." Sparkle answered, having somehow laid nearby without my noticing. Either my memories coming back by peace-meal was more jarring than I had anticipated, or I was severely affected by the cold. The dragon then walked in front of my view and blocked the fireplace with his pudgy body of scales, holding cups of some kind. He waddled up to myself and his master, setting down the cups in front of us.
"Here you go. I'm gonna go back and get my own and a plate of sandwiches for everypony." Spike informed us, before leaving in a hurry. I stared at the cup in front of me, unable to lift it due to the magic null-ring around my horn. Perhaps this was meant to be some kind of punishment?
"Oh! I'm sorry, I completely forgot that you couldn't lift your mug without magic. Eheh..." Twilight said, confirming that she was simply aloof instead of malicious. "Do you want to try a sip?" She asked, lifting a second mug with her magic towards me.
Figuring I needed at least something in this body to keep it going, I nodded and attempted to sit upright. This failed almost immediately as I flopped back onto the now present rug beneath me. I then decided to provide a verbal confirmation to the best of my present ability.
"Blehf." I muttered, disturbing some of the carpeting in addition to my nose-based huff of annoyance at my frail state. I was unaware of a face that Twilight was making until a noise from her drew my attention. I hadn't seen what kind of expression It was before, but she quickly looked elsewhere when she noticed I had seen it.
"Here, let me help you." She said, lifting me upright in her magic and propping me against a chair next to the fireplace. I assumed that I wasn't placed into the chair due to my soaked predicament, and nopony wants a soaked chair. I could respect that at least. "Be careful with the Cocoa, it's hot." She warned, lifting the mug towards me as I took it in my hooves. Thankfully I was strong enough to not dump the soft brown and white substance all over myself.
I eyed the drink with suspicion. "What is this?" I asked. It looked like some kind of witch's brew with how it swirled around in the center to some unseen drain to nowhere. I also sniffed it, and received some strange scent of mystery.
"You've never had hot chocolate before?" she asked in a somewhat impressed manner.
"I've had hot before. I've never seen this 'chocolate' you speak of. Is it edible?" I asked, once more looking to my drink as if it were poison.
This caused Sparkle to giggle at me for some reason and lift her mug closer to her own lips. "You tell me!" She said excitedly, sipping her drink and staring at me intently.
Despite her lack of personal space awareness and knowledge that staring is rude, I tentatively took a sip of the--
"WHAA!?" I yelped in surprise. The taste was unlike anything I'd ever had before and after a slight period of recovery and calming myself, I quickly chugged what remained of the deliciousness. Heat and burns be thrown to Tartarus, this stuff is excellent! My wide eyed expression when tasting the drink must've been hilarious for some reason, as Twilight barely set down her mug before laughing at my reaction.
"What's wrong?!" Spike yelled, leaping into the room as well as his tiny legs could allow him. He failed miserably at appearing heroic, but the effort was what mattered. I would give it at least a five.
"Spike, do you have more cocoa?" Twilight asked between chuckles. She pointed towards me with a hoof, and I looked confusedly between the dragon and the alicorn.
Spike's reaction to seeing me was additional laughter, and I was beginning to wonder what was wrong. I tried to lift a nearby mirror from the wall with my magic, before a painful lance reminded me of the Null-ring still on my horn. Recovering, I decided to remain silent about my curiosity. Whatever was going on was making them drop their guard and would allow my eventual escape to be all that much easier.
"Yeah, lemme get some more. I hope Cadance doesn't mind how much we're using." Spike replied after regaining himself. He left a plate of sandwiches and a mug of cocoa on a nearby half-table for resting drinks. I was staring at the cup of cocoa, completely oblivious to my complaining stomach.
"Do you want a sandwich, Sombra?" Twilight asked, levitating one near me. I didn't care about a foolish sandwich. All I wanted was...
"Cocoa..." I nearly drooled before catching myself. I had leaned forward as if in a trance without my realizing, and Twilight was once again amused at something I had done.
"You're a stallion of few words, King Sombra." Twilight commented, insisting that I eat the sandwich.
I'm a stallion of great many words! It isn't my fault that you're unable to hear them is all. Well, I mean it is, because I'm not voicing them aloud... Nevermind! I'm perfectly content with how I operate myself. I thought, eyeing the sandwich with suspicion as my internal dialogue went on.
"It's not poisoned, if that's what you're thinking. It wouldn't make much sense for the Princess of Friendship to go around assassinating ponies." she added with some slight annoyance in her voice as my suspicions.
"Hmmph." Was my articulate reply. I took hold of the sandwich with my armored forehooves that had been thankfully spared most of the filth of the journey and set it down on the table. I then lifted each piece individually to check for strange spices or things I was not familiar with. Flicking my eyes between a now visibly annoyed Twilight and the suspect sandwich, I finally relented and allowed myself a bite.
Spinach, tomato, wheat bread...yuck. Hmm... oh! Olives are unexpected, and is that... no. Rose petals? I thought as I ate. What, like I'm going to check a sandwich for what I know should be on a sandwich. Please. My range of expressions to what I was eating seemed to please Sparkle as she left me alone for awhile to search for Spike. After a while I finished the sandwich and found it to be a well crafted if simplistic meal. What Sparkle had failed to realize in her rush, is that she had left the most important thing she could possibly have left behind.
"Cocoa..." I involuntarily announced, leaning forward inch by inch and attempting to not fall on my face once more from my weakened state. Various bread crumbs had fallen onto my attire, but I didn't care about how much of a peasant I looked like at the moment. There was Cocoa to be had!
Alright, be careful about this. Forehooves first, wide base. Inch forward a bit and steady... Gah, this body is so weak! Alright, enough complaining. Inch forward, scoot. Inch forward, scoot. Inch forwa-
"King Sombra?" A new voice asked in a surprised tone, causing me to jolt from my mental exercises of Cocoa acquisition. This interruption also had the unfortunate effect of startling me.
"Yaah!" I growled in a dignified manner. Yes I'm going to keep saying that no matter what you think of me, unnamed voice of cynicism in my head. I don't care if it's really a yelp. It's my head, and I'll narrate it how I see fit!
From my newfound position of being on the floor and out of reach of the delicious Cocoa, I was presented with yet another Alicorn. This one was pinkish in coat with a range of colors bright enough to bake a cake with. Pinks, violets and creams. She also had the Crystal Heart on her flank... My eyes narrowed in suspicion. Haven't I seen you before?
Her expression drooped into one of unamused grump. "I'll take that as a 'yes.'" She then walked towards me cautiously for some reason, and stopped just short a few hooves from me. She then looked between myself with my helpless position, and the cup of Cocoa I had been attempting to reach. "You like hot cocoa?" She asked while raising an eyebrow at me.
I bit my lips, looking between her and the cocoa.
She looked at me mischievously, eyeing my precious cocoa and lifting it with her magic. I tried to lunge for the drink, but my despicable frail body failed me once again and I only managed to shift slightly towards her and let out a pitiful, "Nuh." I swear I was more intimidating than this a millennium ago. This is absolutely abhorrent behavior coming from me.
"No being evil, and I'll let you have Cocoa. Deal?" She asked, tilting the drink dangerously from side to side and threatening to spill it everywhere. I gulped and then nodded as fast as my body would allow. She then chuckled to herself and set the cocoa down on the table within my reach. I quickly but carefully took hold of the drink and chose to savor its flavor this time instead of chugging it like some uncouth bar crawling peasant.
"It was nice meeting you, surprisingly." the alicorn said finally, making for the door. "I have a few things I need to do before we have a proper discussion. For now, how about you get some rest?"
Is this idiot serious? She's just going to leave me alone in the middle of her castle, unsupervised? I mean, yes... My body is practically a cooked noodle at this point and I have no ability to use my magic; Contemptible contraption needing magic to take it off when it's only a simple ring on my horn...
She sighed, "You don't talk much, do you?"
This again? "I speak." I spoke. Obviously.
Her face lit up in surprise. "You said something! It wasn't even 'Crystaaallll' either!" She mocked with a poor imitation of my voice.
"Hmmph." Was my annoyed response.
She breathed a disappointed sigh and moved for the door. "We'll talk later then. Nice mustache, by the way." she said before leaving.
I didn't remember having a mustache, so I assumed that she was simply playing mind games with me. Now it was just myself and a warm mug of delicious cocoa. Well, the blanket around me was present too I suppose.
"Yaaaahh..." I yawned unexpectedly. Did I seriously just yawn like that? It sounded like some tired foal refusing to go to sleep. Maybe I could practice and come up with some better yawn that was more regal. I was a King after all... Well. Actually... King of what? The Crystal Empire is run by that Pink alicorn, and possibly with Sparkle as well. Though if they were together there wouldn't be a need for a letter...
Breathing deeply and enjoying the smell of the Cocoa I quickly realized that I was, in fact, exhausted from being returned from the dead and dragged through a blizzard as well as being dropped a story onto rock. I definitely deserve a bit of rest. The only problem was that the door was still unlocked...
Setting the cocoa down and trying to stand on my hooves, I quickly discovered my folly of attempting to push myself further while in a very weakened state. I slumped forward and the weight of my armor was too great for me to re-balance myself. I fell forward onto my face and chest with my flank sticking into the air before falling sideways onto the carpeting.
I tried. That's all that matters. If they want to kill me in my sleep, they could've done it before I was incarnated.
"Aaaah..." I yawned again, still sounding foalish.
Whatever. I'll work on it later. The time for sleep is now.
With that, I pulled my blanket closer to me and fashioned it into a makeshift pillow on the soft carpet. With the smell of delicious cocoa, I quickly drifted off to sleep.