• Published 26th Dec 2013
  • 18,630 Views, 316 Comments

Lost into Shadow - Lucidenn

King Sombra returns to Equestria, requesting a chance to be reformed like Discord, on the condition that Twilight be his reformer. Fascinated by Twilight's ascendance, Sombra intends to study and corrupt her, but things do not go according to pl

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8) A way of Thinking: Part II

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
~Henry David Thoreau

"This is your last chance to change your mind Twilight. There will be no going back, no stopping once we begun. We either see this through until the end, or it doesn't happen at all. Are you ready?"

Twilight nodded once, firmly. She wasn't about to back down now.

"Then come."

She followed Sombra into her basement, wincing slightly at shattered doorframe and scorch marks on the floor. Rounding the curve her basement came into full view, and she stopped in her tracks to stand there gaping. Sombra's "renovations" from last night were unbelievably expansive. The wooden stairs of her basement simply dropped off into a 100 meter cliff where the floor had used to be. Earth and rock had been blasted away, and she could faintly see the outline of several lit caverns at seemingly random locations down the circular shaft.

"Notice Twilight, that there are no stairs down. Instead, at each entrance and the bottom of the original stairs, there is black crystal shard. Beneath each crystal is a magical barrier that spans across the entire shaft. These barriers prevent magic of any kind from passing through, such as teleportation. Were you aware that the small amount of magic in pegasi that allows them to walk on clouds and control weather, is the same magic that lets them fly with such small wings? Normal animals require much larger wings in proportion to their body to be able to fly, but the pegasi magic let's them get away with much much less."

"So you're saying that the barriers would block even that magic as well?"

"Of course! If you tried to fly, you'd plummet through the air and die."

"Then how are we supposed pass the barriers?"

"Each crystal is connected to a vein of black crystal in the wall of the shaft, and that vein is connected to all of the other crystals. When you are ready, you will be able to phase into the crystal and travel through the vein, coming out at any location that you choose."

Twilight pondered this for a moment, but then smiled slyly. "Why use the black crystal network? Would not a simple pass wall spell allow us to move through the rock without the aid of your crystals?"

Sombra roared in laughter at this. "Good, thinking outside of the box is a powerful asset. But you betray your own naivety Twilight. No matter what method you use for a spell to pass through rock, slipping your matter past the spaces of the rock takes a great deal of energy. To then have to focus and try to move around while still phased inside would be slow and tedious, not to mention dangerous as a slip in focus would mean your own tomb. Add on top of that once inside the rock, you would have no sense of direction; getting lost until your energy ran out would be all too easy."

"The network on the other hand is nearly instantaneous transport between two connected crystal loci. As they are made from black magic, users of the craft have a clear and easy road between each crystal loci that only they can use. Furthermore, the energy cost will always be the same, no matter the difference between the two crystals, as long as there is an unbroken connection between them. Now let us begin, as you do not yet have the ability to travel the network, you will have to find your own way down to the bottom level. There is food and water enough to last weeks at the bottom. Obviously until you have mastered traveling the network, you shall have to remain below."

"Weeks!" gasped Twilight, "but what about th..."

Sombra cut her off, "I have already placed a ward around the building, those who wish to enter shall find themselves suddenly forgetting why, or remembering that they had someplace else they needed to be rather urgently. None shall enter while we train below. Now enough talk, we must begin." Without another word Sombra walked to the crystal at the bottom of the stairs. As he went, his form became less and less distinct, his hair and fur blurring until he looked more like a clump of solid shadow than a pony; and upon reaching the crystal simply walked straight into it like one would a through a doorway, disappearing out of sight.

Twilight looked over the edge of the stairs to the floor far down below. Without the crystal network, her wings, nor any form of magic, that left only one force that could take her straight to the bottom. Gravity. If she leapt off the edge, she could levitate herself down from the last meter or so, she'd just need to make sure her timing was perfect to avoid a painful demise. Despite the situation, she couldn't seem to find much room in her mind for fear. It was far too much taken up with the excitement. New spells, new ways of doing things; a powerful magic that had been forbidden for centuries. Even though she was only breaking taboo as a way to connect with Sombra and to get him to trust her guidance, it still sent bolts of exhilaration through her veins. With a hop, skip, and a jump, she was falling through the air, hurtling towards the first stage of her forbidden lessons.

At the bottom, Sombra stood in front of the single cavern at this level. As the princess managed to save herself just inches from the ground he turned around and led the way to the target range. The cavern was a hundred meters long, and half as wide; staged at random locations throughout were stone pony figures, earth pony, unicorn, and pegasus alike.

"Before we begin, first tell me; what is the source of magic?"

Twilight's eyes brightened at this, a quiz! And such an easy one at that, she took a deep breath to begin reciting what she had learned about how magic comes from within (unlike curses or voodoo) when she suddenly hesitated. Perhaps it was a trick question? She pondered for a moment, and it dawned on her what Sombra was really asking for. "Magic is the combination of the elements that make up friendship; it is born of laughter, kindness, generosity, honesty, and loyalty." She proclaimed with a proud smile.

"Correct, but go deeper than that, what in essence are each of those traits?"

Twilight thought for a moment more, what did each have in common that could be placed as a broader category? With a twinkle in her eye, she had the answer. "They're all positive thoughts, positive emotions."

"Very good, I had expected no less from the element of magic herself." Twilight blushed at the flattery. "Now, black magic is the counterpart to magic itself. Its source comes from negative thoughts, and negative emotions. Fear and Hatred you already know, as these are two of the most common and most powerful examples. But black magic can even come from simple sources such as greed, envy, and contempt. As you use your positive energy to fuel the power of your ordinary spells, so must you harness your negative energy to work with black magic. Observe."

Sombra turned to the nearest target dummy, his eyes flicking green and wafting purple mist in the blink of an eye. His angry red horn crackled with black and purple lightning, and almost contemptuously a bolt of energy smote the target to dust. His horn now surrounded by a stormy aura of purple black energy, Sombra reared back on his hind legs with a roar. When his hooves crashed back down on the floor the solid granite cracked, and bolt after bolt launched in rapid fire up to the ceiling of the cavern to come raining down on the remaining targets. Twilight had to shield her eyes and ears from the barrage of explosions behind her wings. When it was over, there wasn't a fragment left of the target dummies, their places having been taken by scorched craters.

"Just as with normal magic, black magic requires both power, and control. This will be your first lesson, when you can destroy all 25 targets simultaneously without harming anything else within a meter of their location, you will be ready to move on to the next level." With that proclamation, Sombra heaved upwards with his horn, and with it the cavern's floor heaved and groaned, protesting with shrieks of stone as all 25 targets rose from their granite beds. The cavern looked brand new, just as it had when she had first walked in, and Twilight gulped in apprehension. She wasn't sure if she was capable of such a feat even if she used her normal spells, Sombra's power and mental focus were far beyond what she'd expected if this was only just the first of many lessons!

*several hours later*

A feeble black bolt flew through the air to hit a target dummy straight between its stony eyes, leaving the statue unharmed, but slightly smudged now. "Again" Commanded Sombra. Twilight suppressed a groan of frustration. She could barely stand from her exhaustion; after hours of trying she hadn't even been able to destroy a single target, and forcing the negative feelings needed to fuel the black magic had been increasingly draining, both physically and mentally. She wanted nothing more than to take a break, to rest, but when she looked at Sombra, saw his eyes daring her to quit, she felt a rush of determination to prove his expectation of her failure wrong.

Seeing Twilight cease her heavy breathing and straightening up to take another shot at the statue, Sombra smiled in approval. She had impressive endurance and dedication, it was time to reveal a little known secret. "Are you aware why it is that you cannot destroy statue Twilight?" Irked by the slight taunt in his Tone, Twilight gave him a not so subtle glare and waited for him to continue. "It is because you are using the wrong source for the power of your spell."

Twilight could only stare at Sombra incredulously. At the very beginning he had explained that black magic is based on negative thoughts and emotions, and now after she'd spent hours laboring he was telling her the exact opposite!?

Sombra chuckled at the frustration shining from the mare's eyes. "Do not misunderstand me. While negativity feeds black magic, your struggle is that you are forcing the negative emotions. To truly release your full potential, you must feed your emotions naturally, to feel them instead of force them." Twilight's ears pricked forward, her head tilting slightly to the side as she listened intently and absorbed his every word. "Fear and Hate are the most powerful sources of black magic, and you already know the most powerful source for those emotions in all of equestria, in fact you probably feel it each and every day with all of your friends and family. Twilight's ears laid back against her skull as memories, Sombra's memories, flashed before her eyes. She knew the answer before he even said it.


"That's right Twilight, love isn't some pure force reserved for the good and righteous. It is a connection, the most powerful one known; simultaneously capable of being the force behind great good, and great evil. Now, try again."

She was loathe to admit it, but Sombra's point made sense. Know that she thought about it, back when her brother and Cadence had banished the changeling army, it had been Shining's shield spell that did all the work, it was just empowered by the strength of their love, their connection. And now, she could all too easily picture love turning back around to fuel the most mighty wrath. She slowly nodded her understanding. Turning back to the target, she concentrated; not on anger, but on her most beloved connections. Her friends, her family, and Princess Celestia. She imagined them all gone, ripped away from her like Sombra's family had been, and her heart recoiled in protest. The pain was so much to hold, she wanted to curl up and ride away the tide. But that was not an option, failing was not an option. She stood strong and resolute, the flow of pain becoming the waves of energy she needed to turn the tide. She opened her eyes, now green and flowing freely with purple mist, the statue a symbol for all of her imagined loss and pain, and she hated it fiercely.

Sombra took a cautious step back. As expected, now that she knew how to properly fuel her emotions, Twilight's considerable power was being reflected tenfold; but it was very unstable. The very air within the cavern hummed and whistled with the energy she was gathering to her horn, escalating in decibel until it shrieked like the edge of a tornado. Tears stained the corners of her eyes, and as she cried out in pain and rage she released all of her pent up energy at the target. With all the force of a concentrated thunderstorm, the agitated aura of crackling black energy exploded directly on her horn instead of launching forward at the intended target. The floor around her was instantly vaporized for 10 meters in every direction, and the purple alicorn's body was rocketed out of the cavern to to come crashing down against the far wall.

Meanwhile at the Crystal Empire

The crystal hanging in the center of the room was now obsidian in color, engulfed in a skin of green and purple flame. Each princess stood within one point of the Triquetra, inside of their own oval, but standing on the outside of the glowing circle. Each oval pulsed with the color of the corresponding princess, a deep blue for Luna, a golden yellow for Celestia, and a warm pink for Cadence. Arcs of colored lightning splashed from the Triquetra against the surface of the crystal as the princesses channeled their power. Suddenly, a shadow shot down from the crystal's bottom, striking the floor and sprouting small shafts of black crystal. Sparks of lightning struck them to shards again and again, but they were beginning to form faster than they could be destroyed. Pressing forward the crystals forced against an invisible wall formed by the containing boundary of the intersecting ovals. Testing each side of the perimeter, the crystal formation found its weak spot, and slammed through.

The ring of the Triquetra began to pulse like a heartbeat with a pure white light. The blue oval fluttered, dimmed, and ultimately died out as Luna stared in petrified horror at the razor sharp formation leapt forward. The white ring flashed again and again, faster and faster, and as the black spire hit its edge on the way to Luna, gave one blinding blast that filled the entire room. Each princess was blasted against the wall with the force of the detonation, and for many moments after the room remained in utter darkness.

Then, a pulse of dim light from the ring. Three shadowy forms lying limp against the walls. A second pulse, stronger and brighter this time. A princess standing on shaky legs. A third, now forming the steady pattern of a heartbeat, lighting the room with each pulse before dimming again. Princess Celestia slowly approached the still form of her beloved sister, noticing out of the corner of her eye that Cadence was stirring as well. As Celestia drew closer, she saw that her sister was hiding her face under a fore-leg, her azure chest heaving quietly in stuttered breaths. Her tears slowly dripping to the floor as she did her best to contain her sobs.


At the sound of Celestia's voice, Luna's sobs became only more ragged and audible as she tried to speak through them. "Oh Tia, i-it was her, I, I saw her. ME.

Celestia lay down next to her sister to comfort her with a warm and loving wing. "What is it Lulu? What did you see?"

*sniff* "Nightmare Moon, when the crystal broke through I saw Nightmare moon, standing there before me. It was horrible, she looked at me with such evil in those eyes, and then she charged me down, I couldn't stop her I couldn't do anything. I was so helpless." She buried her head even farther, curling up alone. She didn't deserve Celestia there, didn't deserve to take comfort in her loving embrace. "I finally know what it was like for everpony else to see me, to fear me. I'm a monster. What's to stop me from becoming her again? What if..?, What if I..?"

"What if my sister just made a bad decision that she's learned from and grown past? What if she's a gentle and loving soul just looking to be loved and appreciated? And what if her sister has learned from her own blindness? What if that sister will make sure she never has to suffer through that pain and torment ever again?"

Luna uncovered her face and looked up at Celestia, no longer sobbing but eyes still full of water. "You are not defined by Nightmare Moon Lulu, you are and always will be my gentle little sister. I will always be here for you, so you'll never have to face your pain alone again, because I love you.

"......., Thanks Tia." She said, drying her eyes off.

Celestia gently guided her sister to cuddle up close to her. "Rest now Lulu, sleep and let your dreams be happy." Celestia then turned her eyes toward the Triquetra. The blast had completely and utterly destroyed everything contained with in, leaving only a black smudge on the floor as the only remaining trace. The power of fear and hatred they had charged the crystal with must have sensed the turmoil still deep within her sister's heart and taken advantage of it to try and break free. If it had not been for the quarantine failsafe, no she didn't want to think about it. "Rest now, for tomorrow we shall try again."