• Published 20th Oct 2013
  • 9,863 Views, 249 Comments

The Tale of One Shadow - RadBunny

Sombra was a much more complicated pony than history lent him credit. The Crystal Heart having freed him from the clutches of his own creation, Sombra now tries to find his place in the world. But can he escape the shadow of the past?

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Chapter Three: Shadows of Blood

He cried until no more tears came. The meal that was delivered was eaten with a robotic-like trance, and despite the lack of expression on Sombra's face, his eyes swirled with emotion.

Oh forgive me Amber Leaf, how could I have only now just remembered your face?

Was she alive? Cadence said that there had been a stasis field in place, so perhaps.....

How dare I even think she'd want me back! A slight growl escaped his throat- no doubt prompting a look from the invisible guards.

Because of my mistake, the entire empire suffered! I probably locked her entire family in a prison cell!

The memories flickered to the surface, at least the ones the demon had let him see. Her tear-stained face behind bars.....

Sombra let out a soft groan, sending his head thudding against the one crystal wall.

The only one who I let in...and I didn't listen to her when it mattered the most!

His horn glowed- and he heard the shuffling of spears from the shadows.

“Oh relax. I'm in no mood to have you all in a huff. Just leave me be.” Sombra growled as red crystals began to protrude from the floor. They began to arrange themselves into small shapes, Sombra's own thoughts driving him deeper into a remorseful daze.

How could I have been so blind?

Amber Leaf trotted down the hallways of the crystal palace, small saddlebags slung over her teal-colored sides. This was the second time she had been summoned by the Princess.

She had a feeling it wouldn't be the last.

Of course, the first time was...dare she call it luck? Whatever divine force there was that watched over her must have been having a good day. When Sombra had been teleported, he apparently had been mumbling in his sleep, and her name had been mentioned.

Her brother happened to have been one of the guards present. A few quick exchanges of words later, and Amber Leaf had found herself explaining the basics of what she knew about Sombra. Perhaps now she'd get a chance to further explain herself.

The guards didn't bat an eye as she walked through the doors, where she found herself subject to the gaze of both Shining Armor and Princess Cadence. The meeting area was of a simple design; stained crystal windows on both sides of the hallway-like room, a large table in the middle.

“Ah! Amber Leaf....thank you for coming! Please, have a seat.” Cadence said, gesturing to a cushioned chair near the two of them, the purpleish-pink fabric matching Amber's mane and tail.

Amber always felt closer to Cadence, in the brief time she had known her. Shining Armor was nice but a bit distant. The few times he did loosen up, he proved to be rather amusing to be around. Was that how rulers were suppose to act? Amber wasn't sure, but it was usually a pleasant interaction whenever anyone got a chance to speak to the Princess and Prince (the latter of which titles annoyed Shining to no end, as he made clear quite a few times...)

After plopping down on the cushion, Amber looked over to Cadence, who had an almost pitying expression on her face.

“This is about Sombra...of course.” Amber said quietly, more of a statement than a question.

Cadence nodded briefly.

“Yes. We...had a few more questions. We asked him earlier what motivated his actions, and the answer doesn't sit well with us.”

Amber shrugged her shoulders, not entirely sure what Cadence wanted.

“What did he tell you?”

“He wanted more power, essentially.” It was Shining that now spoke, and his answer prompted a huff from Amber.

“That stubborn...of course he told you that.” Amber mused out loud, then glancing up to the two rulers in shock.

“Sorry! I mean no disrespect. Sombra is touchy when it comes to his past. I have an idea of what caused all this....” Her words drifted off as Cadence held up a hoof.

“No need to apologize. Please fill us in. We're just trying to understand who we are dealing with, and then we can move on to how to deal with him.”

“Assuming it is Sombra, and not this demon-creature.” Shining growled, shifting slightly with unease.

Cadence shot him a glare, and for a second Amber could have sworn she saw the alicorn's eyes shimmer with dampness. Her gaze then turned back to Amber.

“It is him. A demon, from what I understand, could fake certain things. Genuine affection isn't one of them.”

Amber drew a sharp breath, looking away briefly. He still cared? To have such validated by Cadence again seemed to cement it in her mind.

“It's not as simple as power for Sombra. Perhaps that's all the demon wanted, but.....” Emotions long since buried rose to the surface, pushing out a few tears. The onslaught of memories and feelings startled even Amber, who thought all her tears had dried up, especially after the previous night.

“He wanted to be stronger, but without the evil intentions.” Amber's words were met with a barely audible snort from Shining. She glared at him, a few more tears running down her face.

“Don't you dare mock him! It's not his fault for wanting to be strong! He watched his family die because he couldn't save them! Unless you have lost your family, don't try to understand him! It's taken me years, at least....I thought it did...”

Her emotional outburst ran down, and before Amber could comprehend that she had just told off a ruler of the nation, she found herself wrapped up in a warm hug from Cadence. Just that gesture helped the words flow as Amber squeezed her eyes shut. She hadn't told anyone this. She had understood not to, but things were different now.

“It was a freak accident, I think that's what changed him. We were young, barely past getting our cutie marks. I remember how funny and go-lucky he use to be. Sombra was at his home, when it was attacked.”

Amber stopped, wincing slightly. Even years after, the image had burned itself into her mind.

“Ice wolves. They had been acting strangely in the past months, but now they....they.....”

She couldn't finish, but Shining understood.

“They killed them.” He stated bluntly, prompting a nod from Amber.

“He didn't even get to say goodbye.”

Amber could still recall when Sombra had told her. They had been on a secluded hill on a clear night. She had never seen him more vulnerable, the large stallion seeming to shrink down as he had spoken.

Never before had she seen someone in so much pain.

“He had tried to stop the wolves. His father had taken down a few of them, and Sombra...they found him next to a wall. The wolves had batted him aside. By simple luck or fate, he had slid partially under a dresser after striking his head. The wolves hadn't eaten much, just killed. Pieces led away, into the snow hills. The larger ones of the pack had been killed by Sombra's father.”

Her words drifted off.

“That was when he changed.”

Cadence let her out of the hug slowly as Amber's crying slowed, sides still shaking slightly.

“That was when I saw that there was darkness in his heart.”

That sentence drew a hitch in Cadence's breath, as well as a cautious gaze from Shining.

“What do you mean Amber?” Shining's tone was calm and caring, but not hiding the edge behind any falsehoods.

Amber Leaf paused, her own breath catching in her chest as the ancient memories rose to the surface.

“It had been only a few days since he lost his family. Sombra often went to the edges of the city to think, mostly alone. I followed him on one of those visits. I wanted to help him. I was wrong. He hadn't been going out to think. He had been searching.”

“A small pack of ice wolves found him, or he found them. I saw him just as he....”

The words didn't come, Amber Leaf's mouth frozen open, eyes wide with shock.

“He tore them apart.”

Her soft answer simply prompted a shocked look from Cadence, and a disbelieving raise of an eyebrow from Shining.

“What?” The older Unicorn asked, tone partially condescending, which earned him a glare from his wife.

“Sombra always liked playfighting. His father was a guard. We even have a portrait of him wearing the huge armor...” Amber's temporary smile faded as quickly as it appeared.

“His eyes were glowing a bright red, but I could see the tears. He was in so much pain!” The sobs returned, Amber's sides shivering as she spoke.

“I have never seen a pony so angry, so hurt. There were four ice wolves. He broke two apart with red crystals that burst from the ground. One was pierced by a shower of crystals he summoned from the air.” Pausing briefly, Amber brought her emotions under control, an edge of the pillow clenched in one of her hooves.

“They may have been the wolves that killed his family, or maybe they weren't. All I know is that when he created that sword from red crystals, he cut the last wolf to pieces....over and over again.

Ice wolves regenerate, but Sombra didn't let them. He kept going. He let them regenerate partially, finally killing them. The look on his face....”

Amber paused, taking a deep breath.

“The look on his face, was the same expression on King Sombra's face when he ruled over us. A crazed grin, a love of chaos and pain.”

The air in the room seemed to grow a bit colder, an unsettling feeling entering all the pony's hearts.

“Sombra, a mere colt, took on four ice wolves?” Shining asked, prompting a simple nod from Amber.

“You don't understand. He got hurt, and....I had to carry him back. The guards wrote it off as a rage-induced incident. Afterwards, he wouldn't talk to anyone, not me, not the nurses....only ate and thought in silence. He finally told me why.

Sombra said that he loved it.”

The chill in the air intensified, a look of horror on Cadence's face.

“Loved...the killing?”

Amber shook her head slowly.

“Not just the killing. The pain he was causing, the power he felt, he loved it all. He said that he'd do it again. He was just hurting....

He was tired of doing everything on his own.”

Amber Leaf sighed, shaking her head slowly.

“You two have no idea, or perhaps you do. You have each other...Sombra was a late bloomer. A late cutie mark, a late magical ability, even after he excelled at his spells, the damage was done. Take away his family, the few who had encouraged him, and he felt worthless.

We took him in. My family had known his for some time, and he fit right into the family. He was so withdrawn for the first while....”

There was a pause, and Amber Leaf shook her head, trying to get her thoughts in order.

“He had always been a bit of an odd stallion, but now he was something else entirely. He devoted everything to spells. More powerful offensive and defensive abilities, more physical training-”

“And you fell in love with him.”

The chill in the room fled at the sound of Cadence's soft-spoken words, her voice soft and tender.

“Yes.” Amber Leaf whispered.

“I found Sombra, the real one, buried underneath all the pain. Over time, he became more outgoing again, more pleasant. I thought he had put aside trying to find more powerful spells....”

She now shrugged, the pain in her eyes begging Cadence for help.

“You know the rest....”

Cadence nodded, a subtle hoof-wave indicating Shining to not open his mouth, to which he was already in the process of doing so, no doubt with more questions.

“Indeed we do. Thank you Amber Leaf.” Cadence said sincerely, pulling the smaller earth crystal pony in for a hug. She then held Amber slightly away, so Cadence could look into her eyes.

“I think you've waited long enough. Lets go have a talk with Sombra.”

Author's Note:

What's this? A wild longer chapter has appeared!
I'll try to make these longer. I opted for a shorter one, but faster time.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that this chapter was influenced by something I've been watching the past few days.
Interestingly enough, I had already planned something along these lines. Let me know what you think.