A Mortal Dillema

by Queen Sanguine Dreams

Dreams and Things

Now that we had progressed inside of the castle, Twilight was leading me on a tour. There seemed to be endless rows of hallways with no clear purpose lined with doors to nowhere. The castle was also decorated more like some peasant's home than a place of commanding authority. I should have expected that, to be honest. What I could not have expected, is that she would allow a tree to grow inside of the tree-castle.

I pointed a hoof at the roots of some tree that had been decorated with lights, poking from the ceiling like it wasn't a grievous safety hazard and an eyesore. "Are you serious?"

Twilight groaned and rolled her eyes. "What now?"

I had been pestering her about the state of her pitiful 'castle' and It was getting on her nerves. That was a good thing, and when this castle was eventually assaulted, she might have time to thank me for warning her of all the flaws in her defense before the serfs overwhelm her. "You're letting a tree grow inside of your tree? What, do you have a fetish for foliage?"

"No, I don't have a fetish." Twilight harrumphed.

"You have a stained glass mural of a tree in your main entrance, Sparkle. There's trees on the walls like cave paintings. Your windows have branches!" I then looked upwards around the room. "You even have green and gold banners of trees!" I pointed with an exasperated hoof. "Admit it! You have an affection for trees!"

"What's wrong with trees?" She countered defensively.

"They burn! Easily!"

"Really? You're upset I have so many tree decorations in here because of firewood?" She asked incredulously.

"Do you know where firewood should be in a castle? In the fireplace."

"You're really going to rant about lumber now, aren't you?"

"Why would you even need this many tree decorations? Why would you need a fire pit when you can light a fire magically and not have to worry about smoke? Why do you live in a Treehouse-castle that's obnoxiously decorated with countless trees!?"

Twilight sighed dramatically before yelling, "Spike, where is that cocoa!? Sombra is having an existential crisis about trees!"

"If the peasants didn't need them, and they didn't provide the air in my lungs, I would deforest the entire planet just to be rid of the things!"

"What about all of the wildlife that need the trees?"

"Who would even care about wildlife? All they do is make more of themselves out of sight, hide or run away when things get the slightest bit too chilly, and steal food!"

Twilight sighed and whispered to herself. "This isn't helping him calm down, Twilight."

"You're very correct!" I replied in my hysteria that I was self aware of. It felt good to vent my frustrations, and I was going to ride this crazy train until I got my much deserved cocoa. "At the very least you should have embrasures in the main entrance to provide cover for your guards, of which you have absolutely none! Please tell me you at least have a lock on the front door!"

Twilight looked at be with confusion. "What's an 'embrasure'?"

My jaw dropped. "You're absolutely kidding right now."

She shook her head in the negative.


She nodded. I facehoofed and fell backwards with an exasperated groan. "I can't believe this." I threw all four of my hooves in the air very dramatically, it feeling both good to stretch and to provide a bit of drama. "The Alicorn Princess of a castle has no idea what am EMBRASURE is! What's next, I won't know a crystal when I see one? The dragon is afraid of fire? PEGASAI CAN'T FLY!?"

"Twilight?" I heard Spike call worriedly.

"Over here, Spike." Twilight replied. "He needs cocoa, stat."

My ears perked up and I sat upright quickly. "Cocoa?" I asked in a hush, my eyes flicking around a moment before locating the source of the sweet aroma. "Cocoa..."

Spike slightly recoiled in worry at my behavior, which amused me slightly. I was having fun acting like a peasant as I so seldom get the opportunity to drop my 'regal posture'. It gets very tiring, honestly. Eventually, my persistent staring at the dragon roused him into action, placing the cocoa in front of me on the crystalline floor. I blinked a few times before replying. "You expect me to drink from the ground like a peasant?"

Realizing his error, he quickly recovered the cup and sprinted off -carefully, as to not spill the cocoa- into another room. "I hope he is taking my delicious to a table." I grumbled, following after him. Twilight made some kind of upset tittering noise and wandered off elsewhere for the moment. I walked past several more banners depicting trees, still somewhat genuinely upset by the lack of diversity in the decorations. They could at least have placed some potted plants, glowing crystals or some kind of statue somewhere. A few paintings were present, mostly of her friends however. Some kind of rural farmer, an obnoxious pegasus with a lot of colors, a regal looking unicorn, the... literal embodiment of the color pink, the other unicorn I had met in the entryway previously... and some yellow pegasus I almost missed noticing. They didn't look like much, but they were apparently the bearers of the Elements of Harmony at some point.

"Sombra?" A voice called to my left. I turned to view Spike standing partially from the doorway, using a claw to cling to the wall and lean around the corner. "Are you going to drink your cocoa?"

I was now suspicious. "Why the insistence, Spike? Perhaps you've drugged it again?"

Spike immediately looked guilty. "No, I didn't drug it this time, I swear!"

"This time?" I hounded on him for the slip of information. Loose lips sink ships, after all.

"Uh, yes?" he replied, clueless.

"Uhg." I grumbled, covering my face with my hoof. "Whatever, whelp. Direct me to the cocoa."

He then leapt from the doorway, outstretching his arms to point into the room he had just come from. "Right this way!"

I cautiously walked past Spike, giving him a disapproving look and appearing as haughty as possible with my nose in the air. That lasted all of a single moment before my haughty nose detected cocoa in the air. I scanned the room quickly, eyes darting in search of the mug I had seen only moments before.

There it rest, placed gloriously upon the tabletop of a nearby... table. I rolled my eyes at my own descriptions for the events taking place before deciding cocoa was more important than self admonishment. Completely oblivious to anything except for the wafting steam from the cocoa, I hastily approached the divine beverage and knocked over a chair in my haste. I might not want to drink from the floor, but I can drink while standing perfectly fine. Besides, the chairs were crystalline. Have you ever sat upon a crystal, voice in my head? No, you do not have a body, so you couldn't have. Ha, take that, ethereal voice in my mind! You'll never have corporeal form!

I shook my head, refocusing my attentions upon the sight of the es-steam-ed cocoa. Hah, puns. I amuse myself. The cup itself was simple enough to hold, given my armored hooves preventing any feelings of heat through the metal. Unfortunately, it did not prepare me for the heat of the beverage itself. I immediately burned my tongue.

"Haa! Haaaht!" I cried, my tongue was burnt and I knew only pain. "Haaaaaaht!" I did a small dance, my hooves clanking on the ground while I tried to brush the hot from my tongue uselessly. I was rewarded with the taste of metal on the edges of my tongue that hadn't been burnt to a cinder.

Spike was laughing his scales off in the meantime, completely ignoring my pleas for help. He's so very useful, isn't he? I was beginning to immensely loathe my lack of magic even more than before. I knew a plethora of spells, all suited for every task I could imagine needing a spell for. One of which was to cool beverages. Another was to ensure they hadn't been poisoned or drugged. The one I was wishing the ability to use currently was a silencing spell, specifically for Spike.

"What's going on in... here?" I heard a voice call from outside of the room, soon wandering in to reveal the Unicorn from before. "Spike?" she asked, then looked to myself. I was standing on my hindlegs, still trying to brush the hot from my mouth and frozen like a deer caught with a fireball spell hurling towards them. Yes, I love hunting. I also love the taste of meat. You thought the pointy teeth were for show, didn't you? Silly voice in my head, you know nothing!

"Sombra?" she asked.

"Yeth?" I replied, my tongue still burnt. This caused Spike to laugh even more.

"Are you... okay?"

"Noh, mai tunn ith burn." I explained.

"Ooo...kay." She started backpedaling out of the room slowly. "I'm just... going to leave now." Her head was peeking through the doorway. "Nice meeting you- Bye!" she hurriedly said, vanishing.

I then set my hooves on the floor, my tongue sticking sideways out of my mouth to cool off. "Am juth goin uu go uu beh now." I sighed. I was tired; both from the journey, the encounter with Princess Luna, the walk through the village... and now rendering my ability to speak nearly useless. It was better to recover from this inconvenience than to make a mockery of myself further. I had no idea where my room would be, so I simply left the current 'kitchen' room and wandered through the halls looking for an unlocked door with anything resembling a cushion. Several minutes later, and after nothing of note had occurred, I happened upon a room with a very large double bed.


I readied myself for a galloping start and proceeded to leap across the room, directly onto the mattress. I bounced once unexpectedly, causing me to flip forwards due to the weight imbalance of my armor and land with my face in between two pillows.

Still perfect.

The pillows were extremely fluffy and soft. Combined with the bed's blankets and the overall tree-free aesthetic of the room, I was pleasantly surprised. If this wasn't my room, it was now. I wiggled my legs, causing my armoring to eventually pry themselves free of my hooves and clatter to the ground. With more vigorous wiggling, I pulled off the chest armoring I was wearing as well, leaving myself with just my snuggle blanket of a cape and my crown. I decided to place the crown gently on a nearby nightstand and curl up underneath the sheets. With my tongue slightly hurting, I tossed and turned for a while until I was finally able to sleep.



The best part about dreams is that I am allowed to do anything I want. Thankfully, I was aware enough of my current dream to be able to influence and direct it. I was floating aimlessly in a black nothingness, far as I could imagine. That would be easily fixed soon enough.

The setting would be the Crystal Empire. The Empire as it should be, with myself in power once again. The useless Crystal ponies would be my slaves as well, going about whatever inane task set before them to maintain my rule. This was a dream, and even in my own dream I would like everything to be in order and working smoothly.

I was atop my balcony overlooking everything, as I usually had been, when I decided to get creative. I wished a moat of boiling cocoa around my castle, included some chocolate alligators and marshmallow seagulls. I transformed the railing of the balcony into an array of cup holders, each holding a cup of Cocoa.

With that indulgence in place and the memory of cocoa's smell happily hanging around the atmosphere of my dream, I sought about improving what I could.


Actually, what was there left to add? I had my slaves, my Empire, my cocoa... Oh, my cocoa moat... Oh!

Sanguine, of course!

She was nothing more than an idle fancy, but still interesting. For some reason, she had caused enough of an impression for me to remember her. I strongly suspected that she was without any currency and simply riding the train from town to town looking for free meals, but... something about her intrigued me. Perhaps the accent?

I summoned my mind's eye view of Sanguine before me, and she stood blankly staring out to the empire from the balcony. I circled around her, some parts of her remaining blurred or fuzzy as I had never seen them or sought to remember. I even lifted the part of her mane that obscured half of her face, and looked upon empty blackness like a void. I had seen such a thing before when I came across a pony I couldn't fully view, but it was still unsettling.

"King Sombra!"

Huh? I didn't give anypony in my dream permission to speak...

I looked around the dream-realm I had created, everything in order and nothing amiss from where I had left it just a moment before. Odd.

"I need to speak with you!"

There it was again! Why does that voice seem familiar?

Actually, why is the world shaking?


"Huh, wha!?" I yelped, sitting bolt upright and looking around the room I had awoken in. It was the same one that I had fallen asleep in, so there was some small comfort in that. "Who?" I blurted in my tired haze.

"Sombra, focus!" The voice said. I realized at that point that it was morning time; obnoxious birds chirping outside of the window and the sun just beginning to blind me.

"Who is there?" I asked again, shielding my face from Celestia's obnoxious rays. The silhouette of somepony was obscured in a dark corner of the room, my eyes still failing to function correctly from my sleepy state.

"Keep your voice down, please!" The voice harshly whispered... with a specific accent.


"Eh... yes?" came the nervous reply. "Don't tell ze Princess I was here, ja?"

"How did you even get in here? Wait, don't tell me. I want to guess... Window?"


"Balcony entrance?"

"Zis is a large tree house; I can't fly, Sombra."

"Right, right... wait, no... don't tell me it was the front door!" I groaned, falling backwards onto my mattress and facehoofing. My hoof was less metallic than I remembered, before I remembered I removed my clothing before taking my nap.

"It... wasn't the front door?" She lied terribly.

"It doesn't really matter, Sanguine. Why are you here?" I dismissed the issue, deciding to get to the point so that I could return to my sleeping adventures. At least Dream Sanguine didn't question me or wake me up.

"Um... how should I put zis?" She started, still nervous and slightly annoying me at this point with her indirectness. "Your null ring-- how does it work and why are you wearing one?"

Nevermind, she went straight for the point. No riposte, no fallback, just a full on charge for the heart of the matter.

I pointed to the ring with my hoof, sitting upright on the bed. "This contraption around my horn prevents me from using my magic. Princess Twilight placed one on my horn so that I couldn't 'return to my evil ways', and so she could 'rehabilitate' me." I air quoted with hooves where appropriate.

"Evil ways?" She questioned.

Hmm... how should I phrase this? I could go straight for the truth as she had, but there's the risk it will ruin any chances I have with the mare. On the other hoof, mind control always works if I could convince her to remove the ring.

"Mind control, mass enslavement of an entire empire... and dark magic?" I replied with a shrug and non-committal 'Eh?'

Her expression had gone from curious to intensely focused after that, seeming to skim through scrolls that were incorporeal the way her eyes darted around. She also made a few noises of thought, muttered a few times while pacing and looked at me more than once. I simply sat on my bed and slowly became accustomed to the cushions while she mulled over what I had told her.

"Would you do it again?" She asked suddenly, standing next to me.

"As soon as my ring was removed." I blurted without thinking. Seriously? I just let that slip? What is wrong with me?

"Hmm..." she hummed, obviously. She had gone back into thinking mode, remaining stationary this time and rubbing her chin. "Would you mind control me?" She asked.

What is this mare getting herself into? Does she think that... oh, she must! The fool will probably remove my ring If I just tell her that I wouldn't!

"Ah... of course not!" I lied, though not as convincingly as I had hoped.

Her face scrunched in disappointment. Drat! What, did she want to be mind controlled?! "Well... I was thinking about helping you with zat ring of yours, King Sombra." She began before moving towards the door to my bedroom. "But, if you won't be honest with me and admit that you would enslave me, zen I can't trust you for what I'm planning. I'll see you around, Sombra." She explained cryptically.

"Hold a moment, what plan?" I asked as she opened the door.

"Try to make some friends, Sombra." she winked, closing the door behind her and leaving me terribly confused.

What could she possibly seek to gain by myself earning 'friends' of all things?

This would take some thought on my part to figure out, yet my sleep had been rudely interrupted. I would have to multi-task. I flopped myself back onto the mattress, completely ignoring the unlocked door as I doubted it even had a lock. Pulling my blanket/cape close, I drifted off to sleep once more.


Thankfully, my work previous had not been undone. Everything was as I had left it before being awoken, so it was a simple matter of walking inside of the dream castle and warping to the planning room. I placed Sanguine's form on top of a large circular table in the center of the room. The decorations were kept to a minimum, the walls were a discolored grey hue and clay-like in appearance. It took more effort than I was willing to indulge at the moment to give them a life-like quality anyway.

"Now, for my planning team." I said to myself in the dream, helping me focus on the task at hoof. I had three advisors I would always keep a mental image of, as they were influential in my life. Madame' Opera house, Lord Blueblood and... Oh no.

I shook my head, wisps of shadow falling from my form in the dream. I attempted to remember the third with all my ability, but their name nor appearance would come to me. Something was missing! An integral piece of me hadn't survived my re materialization! Either there was a problem with my method originally, or Sparkle had overlooked something and damaged me because of it.

"Grrr, no use in complaining. I will either recover their memory in time, or forget them entirely." I grumbled aloud. The images of Blueblood and Opera House were formed to my sides around the table. Blue on my right, Opera on my left.

"You've summoned us, King Sombra?" Blue tittered with amusement. "It has been quite a long time since we last spoke, you know."

"Yes, Blue. I am aware. I was dead."

"Dead?!" Opera asked with alarm.

"I recovered."

"Recovered from death? Surely you exaggerate!" Blueblood scoffed, his monocle needing readjustment as it had fallen from his face.

"I'll send you a 'how-to' guide." I snarked.

"This is all very distressing." Opera sighed, "I get the feeling that your 'recovery' is not what you've called us for?"

I pointed to the replica of Sanguine on the table. "That, is why I've summoned you."

Blue and Opera observed the mare, my subconscious causing her image to spin slowly clockwise for some reason-- Oh, You sly devil.

"Ahem." Blueblood interjected. "The mare?"

I pulled my gaze away from Sanguine as the 'portion' my subconscious had made me aware of drifted from view. "Yes. She came to my room and woke me from my sleep."

"Is that all? Normally we hear quite a bit more coming from the mares in your--"

"That's quite enough, Madame." Blue thankfully interrupted.

"Hmmph." She retorted.

"Could we focus, please?" I sighed, they nodded. "Alright. The situation is that I have a null-ring on my horn, placed there by a Princess Twilight Sparkle." I sassed, over emphasizing her name. "I cannot remove that blasted thing, and that mare was inquiring about the ring itself. She asked what I would do if it was taken off, and I lied when I told her she wouldn't be enslaved."

"How did you even come upon the misfortune of a null-ring?" Blue asked, swirling wine in a glass that I was certain I hadn't placed in my dream.

"I was dead, remember?"

"Right, right. Carry on, then."

"Anyway, she became upset and saw through my lie. I don't know if she wanted to be enslaved, or if it was some kind of test. Whatever it turns out to have been, I failed. Her parting words were for me to 'make some friends'."

Opera and Blue both raised a skeptical eyebrow at another before politely chuckling. When they had recovered, the conversation continued.

"This mare, would you happen to know her name?" Opera asked.

"She told me it was 'Sanguine.'"

"Hmm... I've not heard of any house by the name of Sanguine or similar." Blue added.

"Well I've been dead for a millennium. I would hope not, for your sake and my own sanity."

"It is heartwarming to know that you still care for us, Sombra." Opera cooed.

"Ech." Blue gagged.

"I love you too." I grumbled.

"The mare?" Blue strained to continue the conversation. "Do you know anything about her?"

"Well..." I became distracted as the 'portion' swung past my view again, annoying Blue and Opera. "Well, she has a very particular accent that sometimes slips in her speech. I think it might be Germane, perhaps?"

"Do you have any sampling of her voice?" Opera asked.

I thought with some difficulty, trying to piece together fragments of her voice I had heard only a few hours before.

"Oh?" Sanguine purred. "Ze great King Sombra graces us with his unclothed visage, does he?"

"Sombra, you sly dog!" Blue praised, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"It is definetly not what you think it is. That was entirely out of context!"

"It doesn't need context, darling. That was quite the sample you chose." Opera teased.

"I didn't choose that sample, it was my Subconcious-- Actually, you know what? I don't need this from my advisors. You're here to assist me with my next move, not to tease me." I grumbled.

Blue looked to me with a cheeky grin on his face. "Grumpy Grandpa Sombra." he teased with Spike's voice.

"How did you even get his voice!?" I almost shouted with annoyance, my frayed temper and agitated state causing the room to shrink down to simply the table and ourselves, floating on an abyss of dark nothingness.

"Easy, Blueblood. You'll collapse the dream." Opera chided.

"Fine, Opera. Have it your way." Blue sassed.

"Enough. I need a plan, you two."

"What harm is there in playing the part?" Opera suggested. "Surely it has gotten you this far. You may not have your power now, but surely any unicorn with sufficient power should be able to remove that ring of yours?"

"Or, you could simply tamper with the ring again as you've done previously. Twilight will notice eventually, but you will gain more of your power back every time you succeed." Blue suggested.

"Certainly, for all of the few moments he will have left before the Princess obliterates him again." Opera countered. "I spent my spare time looking through your recent memories, Sombra. To keep up to date, and all that business." She explained.

"Very well, Opera." I conceded.

"Fine, I agree with Opera's plan. Mine would only work in the short term, and subtlety is needed for the moment. When that ring is removed, whenever that may be, I suggest you not play your cards immediately. Wait for your power to fully rejoin you, and contact us once more." Blue finalized.

"I will contact you both whenever I deem fit, Blueblood." I snapped unintentionally. The dream must be getting to me at this point.

"You should gain some actual rest, Sombra dear. We will still be here when you return." Opera said soothingly.

I took in a deep breath and sighed wisps of shadow from my nostrils. "Very well. You two have been a great help to me, as always. I thank you for your insights."

"That's what you keep us bound to your soul for." Blue grumbled.

"And we're happy to serve, right Blueblood?" Opera challenged.

"Of course." Blue replied with forced smile. "Till next we meet, Sombra."

I nodded, and removed everything from my dream with the force of my will. I then sculpted a makeshift bed in the center of a void of shadow, as everything else was too taxing to replicate, and laid down to sleep. Unexpectedly, a hoof came from behind me and wrapped around my shoulders.

"Aaah!" I yelped, flipping myself to find Sanguine there in the other side of the bed in my dream. "Oh..."

I smiled devilishly.

"Oh!" I purred.

No, voice in my head. You don't get to see me 'relaxing' with Sanguine in my dreams.