• Published 7th May 2014
  • 4,424 Views, 64 Comments

To Be The King - Rinnaul

A brony cosplaying a humanized King Sombra finds himself in Equestria, with the humanized form and all the power of the Sorcerer King.

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Twilight: Meeting Danger

I groaned and let the quill drop from my magic.

Another report from a guardspony, and another apology sent out. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help or didn’t feel capable. Princess Celestia assigned me this task—okay, she asked nicely and suggested that it was befitting my talents, but that’s practically the same thing—and I wasn’t going to let her down.

Despite my determination, though, I didn’t exactly have much to go on. Royal Guard squads had been running all over Equestria for the past few weeks, chasing down every hint of unusual activity they could find. Ponies who had seemingly gone mad, animals behaving aggressively, and creatures normally found only in places like the Everfree attacking towns and villages. It was almost like low-scale chaos was overrunning the entire land.

However, we had already ruled out Discord. He said it wasn’t his “style” and then swapped my feathers with my mane and tail. It took an hour of arguing and multiple transformations before he put me back to normal.

As a personal note, I catalogued that entire incident in my journal on chaos magic. I recorded the type and duration of each change, as well as precisely how much each one annoyed me. For the record, the worst—at an irritation score of 10 and lasting 7 minutes and 16 seconds—was when he turned my horn into a bouquet of poison joke, and my wings into parasprites. Please don’t try to imagine what that felt like.

Turning from my writing table, I looked across all the reference tomes that Spike had gathered for me when all of this started. I sighed, for once not looking forward to doing research. After all, I'd already been through most of those books at least twice and had yet to come up with any solid answers.

"Spike!" I called out towards the kitchen. "Have we tried Wea—"

"Weather Wax's Hexes and Hauntings?" he replied without looking around the corner. "Three times. The last time, you declared it 'outdated hogwash written by a miserable old hag', end quote."

"Oh. Well." I ruffled my wings for a moment. "I stand by that. The outdated part, anyway. Okay, what about Rides—”

“You’ve double-checked the calculations in Rides Winds’ Expeditious Retreat twice now. You still teleport faster than any spell he developed.”

“And I couldn’t cover the distances involved in the necessary time, either.” I rested my head against the table. “Well, then bring me—”

“And if you bring up Ponder Stabling’s Applied Arithmetical Thaumaturgy one more time, I’m leaving you to this and going to Rarity’s for the day.”

I groaned again. “I feel like we’re galloping in circles, Spike. The only magic I’ve ever seen like this was Sombra’s at the Crystal Empire, but we’ve already hit a dead end on covering the distances involved. The only other option is a mind-control spell cast over a massive area, but I pushed the limits of that with the want it, need it spell. This is deeper and more complex than that, which would require exponentially more power. Stabling’s formulae showed how much power would go into covering Equestria with a spell like that, and if Sombra had that much power, Celestia and Luna wouldn’t have stood a chance against him a thousand years ago! Never mind you and Cadance destroyed him with the Crystal Heart, so he’s a dead—”

I stopped as I felt small, scaly arms wrapped around my barrel. I looked down to see Spike looking up at me with a frown.

“Oh, I brought up Ponder Stabling again, didn’t I? I’m sorry, Spike, it’s just—”

“Calm down, Twilight,” he said, not letting go. “You’re getting too wound up about this, that’s all.”

“But it’s—”

“For the princess?”

I nodded.

“It’s okay. You’re not going to help anypony by having a fit.”

“I was not having a fit.”

Spiked stepped back, crossed his arms, and gave me a level glare.

“Okay, maybe I was, but only a little one.”

“Not going to help anypony by having a fit,” he repeated. “And you’re not going to let her down by taking a break to go spend time with your friends.”

“But—” I stopped myself from arguing. After all, what had obsessing over these things accomplished in the past? Putting the entire town under the want it, need it spell? Wasting a time travel spell on my own anxieties? Turning my first Winter Wrap-Up into a royal disaster? Spike was right. I took a breath using Cadance’s breathing exercise. “Okay, you win. I’ll go see what Applejack is up to.”

“Good. And while you’re at it, learn to take credit for the Sombra thing.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “What? For leaving my friends behind, falling under hypnosis, and then getting captured? You got the Heart to Cadance in time.”

I tripped and dropped it. Cadance had the good timing to catch it. You’re the one who got us to that point.”

“Well then, it was a masterfully-executed trip and drop.” I smiled at his own eye-roll and headed for the door. “And I know I need a break, but while I’m gone, could you—”

“I’ll be sending Celestia a scroll to pass on to old Mustang Redcollar at the Canterlot Archives,” he said, already pulling a blank paper from the desk. “If there’s anything useful in the uncatalogued books, he’ll know where to find it.”

“Thanks, Spike. Still my number one— AH!” I opened the door and recoiled at what seemed to be a foal’s mobile composed entirely of mirrors hanging in front of my face. It took a moment to register the pink mane in the center of the cloud of mirrors. “Pinkie?”

“Oh, hi—ow—Twilight.” Pinkie slipped past me, limping slightly as she entered the library. I had to duck as the mirror contraption swung over my head, which drew my eyes back to her completely-flat mane—generally a bad sign.

“Are you okay?” I stepped cautiously around her. I couldn’t imagine what this particular combination of oddities resulted from.

“No, I am not.” She blew some strands of mane out of her face. “I am very disappointed. It turns out ice cream baths don’t help anything. They’re just cold and make your coat all sticky.”

“Ice cream baths?” I stared at her a moment before closing the door and following her back in. “Why in Equestria were you taking an ice cream bath? And does it have anything to do with your mane?”

“Oh, no, that came later. I had an ice cream bath cause of my pinchy knee.”

“Pinchy knee? Was that—”

“Something scary is going to happen,” Spike offered. “So, something scary happened and you got so upset your mane went flat?”

“What?” Pinkie turned to him and blinked. “No, why would being upset make my mane go flat? That’s silly, Spike.” She lifted some limp strands with one hoof. “This is from my shower. I had to use a lot of stuff to get the ice cream out, and now all the poof is gone. Hey, do you have any pepper?”

“But why…?” Spike sighed, rubbed his temples, and then walked off to the kitchen, muttering something about ‘crazy mares.’

“So, why did you take a bath in ice cream, again?”

“Cause of my pinchy knee, like I said.”

“Okay, Pinkie, go ahead and walk me through this entire process, from ‘pinchy knee’ to ‘washing ice cream from your mane’.” I pulled out the notebook, prepared to create a flow chart if it just became too Pinkie to follow.

“Oh, that’s simple. I’ve had a pinchy knee all morning, and it was so pinchy it hurt, so Mrs. Cake suggested putting ice on it. So I tried that, and it wasn’t helping much, so I got some ice cream so I’d at least feel better. Oh, thanks, Spike.” Pinkie took the pepper shaker Spike had just brought her between her front hooves and gave it a solid shake right at her own face. “Ah—ah—CHOO!”

Pinkie’s sneeze knocked her back onto her haunches and set her hanging-mirror-hat-thing jingling like a wind chime, but also somehow popped her mane back out into its normal curly mass. “Oh, wow, much better!”

Spike cautiously took the pepper shaker back from her. “You’re welcome, I guess….”

“Uh-huh.” I jotted that one down. I didn’t even pretend the Pinkamena Pie Research Journal was actually for research anymore. But it was helpful, sometimes, to have a reference point for what constituted ‘normal’ Pinkie Pie behavior. Just then, I saw her ear twitch, followed by a quiver in her hind leg, and a rapid blink. I flipped back to the earliest pages of the notebook. “Hm… Ear, knee, eye… A beautiful rainbow?”

“No, no, no,” Pinkie said, standing again. “That’s an ear flop, knee twitch, and eye flutter. This was an itchy twitch in my ear and a wobble in my back hoof. And it was on the left, so it means I’m going to meet an old friend again. I’ve been having that one all day, too, but it’s been really faint, so I’m not sure if it’s cause it’s somepony I didn’t know that well, or if they weren’t actually a very good friend.”

“And the eye flutter?”

“Just a bit of leftover pepper.”

“So no rainbows, then?”

“Sorry, Twilight, not seeing any rainbows anytime soon. Just something scary and—”

“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash suddenly slammed through my door and landed solidly on all four hooves right behind Pinkie, who shrieked and dove under the couch. Dash stopped and crouched down to look under after her. “Oh, hey, Pinkie. What are you doing here?”

“Rainbow, we’ve talked about how to properly use a door before.” I bent down to peer under the couch as well. “Was that your scary thing, Pinkie?”

“No, I don’t—ow—think so. Not even close to scary enough.” She wriggled her way back out from under the couch.

“Pinkie, what are you—” Rainbow stopped and hit herself in the head with a hoof. “Wait, never mind, this is more important. Twilight! Something just came out of the Everfree Forest!”

That got me up and onto my hooves. “What? A timberwolf? A cragadile? A hydra?”

“No, nothing like that. It’s one of those things you saw beyond the mirror! You know, the thing you turned into.”

Pinkie gasped and sprung up from the couch, setting her headgear to jingling again. “I’ve always wanted to meet one of those! Ooh, maybe that’s what my Pinkie sense was about! Maybe it’s so faint because it’s a mirror-pony version of one of us!”

Dash shook her head. “It didn’t look like any of us. It actually looked kinda stallion-y if you ask me.”

“I have no idea how something could have possibly come from the mirror world without anypony noticing—not that I’m saying they didn’t,” I added as Rainbow opened her mouth to object. “No matter what it is or where it came from, we should investigate. Come on.” I headed out the door, Dash and Pinkie just behind me.

“Hey Pinkie,” Dash began as we walked. “Why are you wearing that thing on your head, anyway?”

“For constant vigilance, Dashie.”

“Is that why you smell like pepper, too?”

“Oh, no, that was to get the poof back into my mane.”

I sighed as Dash and Pinkie began to rehash the entire convoluted explanation of Pinkie’s morning. We were already past the last houses when they finally got to a point I hadn’t heard yet.

“So anyway, then I thought, why not combine them both, and just have an ice—oh, hey, is that it?” Pinkie pointed a hoof towards the split in the road between Sweet Apple Acres and the Everfree Forest.

“Yeah, it is.” Dash squinted up the road at the lone figure, who was sitting at the split. “Why’s it just sitting there?”

“Maybe it doesn’t know which way to go?”

“Not likely, Pinkie. The town would be clearly visible from there.” I paused for a moment. “Maybe it’s waiting for something?”

The three of us continued our approach at a slower pace than we’d kept through the town, hoping to avoid seeming aggressive. As we got nearer, and its features became more visible, though, Dash jumped ahead of Pinkie and I.

“See!” Rainbow Dash said, pointing a hoof at it. “Just like the things you told us about on the other side of the mirror.”

“Oh! Is that what they look like? Oh wow, I was thinking of something totally different.” Pinkie said as she bounced around, studying the creature from every angle. “They don’t look like squirrels at all!”

I tuned this one out, too. There was something familiar about this creature, certainly, but I knew I’d never met somepony like him beyond the mirror. From the spiked crown, to the red cloak, to the simply massive build, this guy would have been impossible to miss. He was closer to Iron Will in size than the mirror creatures.

I glanced over and realized Pinkie and Dash had gotten into another argument.

“Girls,” I said, “Would you mind not having this argument in front of a, um… guest?”

“Oh yeah. Right.” Dash turned to the creature. “Sorry.”

Pinkie opened her mouth to say something as well, but Dash immediately put a hoof in the way before she could be excessively Pinkie at him.

“Pinkie’s sorry, too,” Dash added.

“You have not disturbed me,” the creature said in a rumbling voice that again struck a familiar chord with me. There was no way I could have met this thing before, was there?

I gulped at a sudden nervousness that overtook me. Not just at his size, but something about his entire presence. “Sorry, but you aren’t from beyond the mirror, are you?”

He shook his head and seemed lost in thought for a moment. “No,” he said at last. “I would be as alien to that world as I am to this one, though I suspect it may, in a sense, lie between our worlds.”

“Mhs mhn mhmnhn!” Pinkie tried to shout around Dash’s hoof. “Mhs mhn mhmnhn!”

“I’ve come here for a reason,” the creature said. “I’ve seen evidence of a dark power manipulating creatures here. Are you familiar with such a thing?”

I gasped and nodded. This might be my first chance at a real breakthrough on this crisis! “You know something about that?”

“Indeed. I may even have an answer to the problem, if you'd care to hear it.”

“I'll take any help you think you can give us, but first, I think introductions are in order.” I held a hoof to my own chest. “I’m Twilight Sparkle, and this is Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie.” I pointed to each of the others in turn.

The creature stood in silence for a time, once again seeming lost in his own thoughts. Finally, he spoke, saying what may have been the last words I expected to hear: “I am called Sombra.”

I froze. A glance to the side showed that Rainbow and Pinkie were having nearly the same reaction as me. Hearing that name… The red cloak, like a royal cape. The jagged crown, with a red horn in place of the gem. The tangled black hair as a tangled black mane.

I don’t know how I missed it.

“Sombra!” I shouted, and jumped back, spreading my wings as I lit my horn. Beside me, Pinkie took a couple steps back as Rainbow prepared to take off into the sky. “What are you doing here?! How are you in that form?!”

Sombra simply held up a hand in a placating gesture, though I saw a faint glow around the tip of the staff he carried and felt the power flow through it. It was the same as before: the dark magic that sealed my brother’s magic, trapped Spike and I in our greatest fears, and warped the Crystal Empire into a nightmare of jagged, blackened crystal.

But he wasn’t drawing on it, instead allowing it to remain idle.

“I have done nothing to harm you or your friends, Princess Twilight,” he said. “I am not the Sombra of your world. Do not lay his crimes upon me.”

I stared at him for a moment. It seemed like such a huge coincidence—too huge. Under the other hoof, though... Sombra shouldn’t have any way of knowing about the mirror world creatures. This person hadn’t been aggressive and had even waited for us past the borders of Ponyville. He’d seemingly been going out of his way to avoid conflict. And, after all, he could very well be the breakthrough we’d been waiting for.

I took a breath and relaxed my wings, letting the charge in my horn fade down to below a visible level. I still had enough magic ready for a short teleport or a small and temporary shield, though. I’m all for trust and openness, but after Discord, Chrysalis, Sombra—our Sombra, anyway—and Sunset Shimmer, I’m all for reasonable caution, too.

“Okay,” I said. “You make a good point. You’ve done nothing to earn my distrust yet. I should respect that.” Another steadying breath. “You said you thought you could help us?”

Before he could answer, there was a tap on my shoulder.

“Hey Twilight, can we borrow you for a second?” Rainbow Dash dragged me back towards Pinkie, who sat at the edge of the road a short distance away, staring at her hoof. Once we were a comfortable distance from mirror-Sombra, she turned back to me. “You really think we can trust him?”

“I… I’m not sure,” I admitted. “I don’t really want to, just because he’s, well, Sombra. But like he said—he isn’t from our world, and he does seem willing to help. I’m just afraid this is too good, somehow.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. If this sort of character turned up in Daring Do, I’d put bits on finding out he worked for Ahuizotl or was him in disguise or something.”

“That doesn’t seem very likely, but if he’s being honest with us, his help could be invaluable.” I looked over to Pinkie. “What’s wrong, Pinkie? The pinchy knee still?”

Dash turned to her as well. “You mean finding out that mirror-Sombra was in Ponyville wasn’t scary?”

Pinkie shook her head. “Oh, nonono. He is scary. But he wasn’t giving me a pinchy knee. The wobbly hoof stopped, so I guess he was the old friend—and wow, that’s a stretch, Pinkie Sense—but we’ve still got something scary coming up.”

I sighed. “Which means the day is probably going to somehow get worse before it gets better.”

And right on cue, all of our heads turned towards Sweet Apple Acres as howls sounded, followed shortly by a cacophony of crashes and bangs, like somepony was kicking around an entire kitchen’s worth of pots and pans.

“You know what? I’m just going to stop talking.”

Dash was up in the air instantly. “Timber wolves? I didn’t think they’d come this far out of the forest except at night!”

“Dashie? What’s going on?” Pinkie hopped up on the fence and then on top of the farm’s gate, bouncing around and craning her neck for a better look.

“I was right, it’s timber wolves!” Dash called down. “Three of them, but they’re not headed for the farmhouse. I think they’re coming this way!”

I saw movement from the corner of my eye and turned to see Sombra standing and holding his staff outright in front of himself. He held the stance for a moment and then a look of confusion crossed his face. He lowered the staff slightly, and his face regained that distant look I’d seen when he’d hesitated in answering us earlier.

“Twilight!” Dash’s shout snapped my attention back to her. “I said look out!”

I looked back up towards the farm just in time to see a pair of timber wolves barrelling down on me. Dash swooped down and kicked one in the head, which only drew its attention away from me and towards her. The wolf, apparently angrier at her assault than afraid of whatever had sent it towards the town, took off after her.

I finally released the magical charge I’d been holding, teleporting aside from the second timber wolf’s charge and firing a blast of magic into its side. Not enough to cause much damage, but I got its attention. I didn’t know if this was Dash’s goal, but better they chase us back into the forest than run wild in Ponyville. A glance in Pinkie’s direction showed she was being pursued by the third, which was covered in confetti and a few burn marks.

I assumed she had the same idea as me.

I started galloping towards the forest, still preferring the ground over using my wings. The timber wolf was in close pursuit, but the occasional teleport kept me ahead. I could see Pinkie wasn’t doing so well, however; for all her surprising speed and agility, Pinkie sense, and random tricks she pulled out of I-don’t-know-where, the wolf was gaining on her.

“Fourth!” Dash called from above, and I looked ahead to see yet another timber wolf heading our way from the forest, even bigger than the three after us. It was still a long way off, though, and I was more worried about Pinkie. I looked back at the wolf closing in on her, and was about to try to help her when the wolf at her hooves suddenly exploded in a gout of black flames.

I stumbled and stared in shock as pieces of broken wood rained down around us. Turning to see where the blast had come from, my vision was filled with the sight of jagged wooden teeth. I shrieked and teleported randomly to get away from the timber wolf I’d completely forgotten about in my shock, reappearing near Sombra and nearly collapsing on the spot from the sheer pressure of his magic. Centuries-old traps were nothing compared to actually standing in the presence of that much dark magic.

Regaining my balance, I looked at him. His expression had hardened, and even across the species divide, his state of mind was clear. Anger, hatred, spite… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pony with such a terrible look on their face. Purple energy flowed from the corners of his eyes, while green and black magic swirled around the crystal on his staff. He touched the whirling energy and drew his hand back wreathed in black flames, which he threw towards the timber wolf that had been chasing me. It streaked forward with the same speed as my own energy bolts and erupted in another explosion of magical energy as it struck the wolf, tearing the creature to pieces. The one following Rainbow Dash met a similar end.

Dash landed at my side, and Pinkie popped up from wherever it was she’d gone to take shelter from the explosion. The three of us watched as Sombra strode purposefully towards the last and largest timber wolf, which had slowed its pace as it reached the broken remains of the others. He held his hand away from the staff, the dark magic flowing from it into the palm of his open hand, forming into an ever-growing black flame. As he drew close, the timber wolf crouched down and opened its maw to roar at him, only for Sombra to casually throw the flame directly into its jaws.

The magic detonated directly in front of the beast’s face, but, rather than blasting it apart like all the others, the fireball raged in front of it for a moment, while black smoke sprayed outward, concealing its body from us. I thought it was simply a different spell he used to destroy this one, at first, until I noticed all the broken pieces of the first three being enveloped by black and green glows and flying towards it.

Then the fireball grew small enough, and the smoke clear enough, that we could see what was really happening. The timber wolf wasn’t roaring at all. It was sucking a breath inwards, and with it, all of the magical flame that Sombra had struck it with—I could even feel it absorbing the magic itself!

As the timber wolf took in the new material, and the new magic, it grew larger. Soon, it was bigger than any timber wolf I’d ever seen, even bigger than the one that Applejack and Spike fought last year. Worse, thin streams of purple energy began flowing from the corners of its eyes, in a perfect match for the ones Sombra himself had.

Now the timber wolf roared and swept a massive clawed paw at Sombra, who thrust his staff upward and raised a crystalline barrier between himself and the wolf. Unfortunately for him, the beast smashed through the crystal wall like it was a pane of glass, and the impact sent him flying backwards, until he slammed into the ground and tumbled to a stop behind us.

Suddenly, Pinkie screamed, and I turned towards her just in time to see the timber wolf, mid-leap and jaws open, heading straight for us. I threw up the strongest shield I could manage, but the impact of the wolf against my barrier still forced a pained cry from me and drove me to my knees. Pinkie and Dash helped me to my hooves, despite both of them trembling, as the wolf roared and tried to crush my shield in its jaws.

Dash was the first to start coughing at the beast’s fetid breath.

“Twilight, can’t you—cough—block those fumes?”

“If I—cough—block out the fumes, I—cough—cut off our air.”

Dash glared out at the rampaging wolf, while Pinkie remained pressed close against me. She was still shaking. I guess it’s one thing to ‘giggle at the ghosty’, and another thing entirely when your imminent doom has teeth the size of your leg and is only inches away from tearing you to pieces. I looked back at Sombra, who was lying still on the ground, and out at the empty fields and sky around us.

No way to call for help, and no help coming.

My back leg began trembling from fatigue as maintaining such a powerful shield took its toll.

I didn’t know how long I could protect them.