• Published 8th Apr 2014
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Shadow's Enigma - Note Sketch



With his dark past heavy on his mind, Sombra is put to the test as he begins a reformation process. Though his mind is no longer crowded with the influence of dark magic, his heart is none the lighter. Let the test begin.

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10. Just another day?

Twilight's breathed heavy as she hastily made her way to the castle. Canterlot, though usually busy, was even more so today. Something was amiss as she flew over the noisy streets down below. It wasn't until she made it to the castle that she was able to hear the ponies talk and what she heard was rather disturbing.

"Did you hear about the body?"

"Yeah, third one this week."

The alicorn become ever more anxious as the guards spoke among themselves when she passed, some of them giving her a salute in respect, but most of them were much too busy making some sort of rounds back and forth. It was almost like if they were searching for something, or some pony. Shaking the uneasy feeling, Twilight kept on her way until she reached the throne room, a room that did not have good memories in recent times. She wasn't usually called up unless things were dire. Stopping just inches away form the large twin doors, the mare closed her eyes and took a deep breath before going inside.

What she saw as she entered was like nothing she had ever seen. The actual throne was almost buried in stacks of paperwork and there were dozens of guards stationed at practically every possible part of the interior. Lots of other ponies were there too, most of them with a tired and grim look on their face as they all passed more and more paperwork to their monarch princess. Celestia was in no better condition, with large bags under her eyes, her gaze rarely left the sheets of paper presented to her other than to grab another one. Twilight hesitantly made her way to her. As she got close, ponies began to take notice of her, stepping aside to allow her passage. Soon enough, Celestia too noticed her ex student.

"Twilight!" The Sun Goddess said as she stood to greet her, her posture curved from having sitting down so long, a series of pops were heard from her back as came to her feet. Offering a simple hug to welcome her, Celestia brought her over to the side of the throne, gesturing the other ponies to give them some room to talk. "I wish we could meet on a more happy occasion, but I need your help."

"What's wrong? I got a letter from Spike saying I was needed." Twilight responded, though she had some idea of what was going on, she was still completely lost as to what exactly she was needed for.

"Ah yes, Spike. He should be back very soon, I had sent him with a police force to investigate a recent...disturbance."

"Does this have to do with these 'bodies' I heard ponies talk about?"

"So you heard already?" Celestia asked with a grimace upon her face. "I did not wish for word to get out so soon."

"Only from the guards here!" Twilight defended as she shook her hooves in front of herself. "Though I did see the streets pretty...hectic to say the least."

The Goddess sighed as she waved her hoof, on queue, a pony placed a sheet of paper in her reach which she used her magic to levitate and show Twilight. It had a picture of a rather pale pony as it laid on the floor. It was terribly malnourished and seemed to be in a lot of pain.

"That's the first of three ponies, all within inches of death when they were found."

"What happened to them?" Twilight asked as she looked through more of the pictures that had been taken. All of the ponies seemed to be in the exact same condition. "These ponies look like they hadn't eaten in months."

"We suspect a changeling is a work."

To this the purple mare looked up in surprise. Her last encounter with changelings was less than pleasant. The sudden mention of them caused a small flicker of anger to spark within her. Though Celestia noticed, she paid no mind due to the events that had taken place during her brother's wedding.

"Changelings?"

"Yes, it's like these ponies had their life sucked out of them. They were all very wealthy ponies of high society, not ones that would starve themselves like so. We were able to interrogate one of them, he confirmed our suspicions."

"So what are we waiting for?! Lets go find these changelings!"

"Easier said than done." A voice was heard from the doors of the throne room. Spike, accompanied by ponies who dressed in brown trench coats made their way to Celestia and Twilight. Bowing in respect, the two ponies stayed back as Spike came in friendly distance of the princesses.

"Spike!" Twilight greeted. The dragon sent her a happy smile as he began to clear his throat to speak.

"We used the information that was given to us, but we couldn't find anything."

"I feared as much..." Clestia said. "Changelings aren't exactly the easiest creatures to fight, they do so covertly. They change shape and hide while slowly picking at the enemy to encroach upon them."

"What? But last year at my brother's wedding they weren't exactly subtle when they invaded Canterlot"

"That...was a different situation."

"How so?" Spike asked, stepping closer as the story sparked some curiosity in him.

"Do you remember what happened to Princess Cadence?"

"She was left for dead in the crystal caves under Canterlot"

"No Twilight, not left for dead, just left for a later time." Celestia said as she began to walk out and gestured them to follow. Twilight suddenly felt a sense of deja vu as she and Spike followed suit. Guards took their posts as the trio made their way out and they all gave them a salute as they passed. "Cadence has the ability to spread love to any pony she wants. Changelings feed on love, by sparing her and leaving every pony in Canterlot as husks, they would bring out Cadence and have her save them by using her magic to revitalize them with her love. The cycle would repeat endlessly, giving the changelings an infinite amount of food for them."

"So you're saying that their invasion was more than just trying to take over Canterlot?"

"Yes..."

The trio came to a stop as they reached a balcony near the top of the castle. Twilight hadn't noticed where they were until just now when they reached the outside. She took a moment to digest the amazing view the balcony provided as Spike jumped onto the railing to get a better view himself.

"Aside from our small encounter with them during the 'Canterlot Wedding Fiasco', as the incident has been dubbed, I would like you to go to the Crystal Empire."

Suddenly brought back to reality by Celestia's voice, she turned to her with a puzzled look.

"To the Crystal Empire? Why?"

"They have a lot of experience with dealing with changelings. I'd ask Sombra...but I doubt he would like to recall that point in time."

"What do you mean?" Spike asked as he hopped down, he just as confused as Twilight.

"I...might be able to answer that." A mare said as she walked close to them. Though old, she seemed quite capable of moving well unlike Granny Smith whom wobbled as she walked. With a glowing parchment as her cutie mark and large circular glasses, Twilight quickly recognized the crystal pony whose coat glimmered out in the balcony with them.

"You're the librarian we met when we first visited the Crystal Empire!"

"Yes, her name is Agatha." Celestia said as she presented her. "And she might be able to give a little bit of an explanation as to why I trust Sombra more than you think I should."

《=●=》

Sombra, with a rather annoyed expression, laid down on his stomach as Fluttershy served some tea. They were currently in a sort of picnic, not that he had any choice in the matter. With Pinkie gone preparing his 'welcome party', the yellow pegasus was to keep an eye on him. A sigh escaped his lips as he used his red magic to grab the cup that was being offered to him. Looking up, he saw Fluttershy trying to hide herself behind her long flowing hair, a rather cute gesture but it clearly wasn't working. As his eyes met hers, a small squeak was heard followed by a sudden jolt of flames flickering.

Sombra smirked while he drank his tea, this certainly wasn't all that bad, having this particular mare around restored some much needed strength to him. Though he had to admit, she sure had come a long way from their initial encounter. At least now they could be within talking distance, not that it mattered since neither spoke.

"Umm..." Fluttershy began. "How is the tea?"

"Good, never had this kind before." Sombra quickly responded. This was her third attempt at starting small talk, but it never seemed to lead anywhere. The stallion pondered if perhaps it was his fault, but he did answer as needed, didn't complicate matters when it came to other ponies, so perhaps it was because she was much more 'shy' than 'fluttery' Though he enjoyed drinking tea in silence, the awkward atmosphere was getting to him. Perhaps he should use this time to rant on a little, might relieve some pent up frustrations with his current situation.

"Why did Pinkie want to make the 'welcome party' tomorrow?" Sombra asked out as another sigh left him. Though it was clearly a rhetorical question, the mare answered it anyway.

"Pinkie is Ponyville's party planner, she makes parties about everything. It didn't taker her very long to give Twilight a party when she first arrived. I was actually kind of surprised she waited so long."

Sombra raised an eyebrow. He wasn't expecting a response, let alone one so long from such a timid mare. At least there was a back and forth to go on, even though it was more of a complaint.

"Do you really believe Ponyville will 'welcome' me? You know? The tyrant king who rules the crystal empire with an iron hoof?"

"Why do you think they think of you that way?"

"I've read the articles from when you lot returned from defeating me a few months back, the head line was just that. Prodigy Student of Princess Celestia Returns from the Crystal Empire After Defeating the Tyrant Unicorn King" Sombra said as he moved his hooves across the air in front of him as he spoke out the headlines of the article. Fluttershy giggled as she saw how animated the stallion made the words seem.

"Okay, maybe that was true, but after you took out the Ursa Major ponies began to look at you in a different light."

"It's not that I wanted that. I was actually planning to simply walk away and let the Ursa wreck havoc." Sombra said, scoffing at the idea of having ponies 'like' him.

"But you didn't." She responded with a smile. Sombra wanted to responded, retort, in some way, but the mare was right. Even after he had made up his mind again, he still decided to stay and help. He still couldn't figure out why. Silence fell between them once more as they began to sip at their tea. This time, however, the atmosphere had made a one-eighty. He was now the one feeling awkward and Fluttershy was content with just drinking her tea.

The rest of the 'picnic' was just as uneventful, though a little odd for Sombra's taste. Every so often when he reached forward to grab some of the hoof made sandwiches, his flames would flicker. Obviously Fluttershy's fear of him fed his purple embers, but it was...different. She wasn't scared of him like others, or like she was a few days back. This fear was much much different, and he didn't know why or even how.

Finally, as the picnic came to an end, the both stood to pick things up. Fluttershy began to put the plates in her basket as she usually did. Thinking it would be only polite to help as well, Sombra used his magic to pick up and fold the blanket they had been laying on, but he did so quietly. So quietly in fact, that Fluttershy did not notice him coming up behind her with the blanket levitating only a inches away. With a sudden turn of her head, they locked eyes as the two ponies were suddenly dangerously to eachother. On queue, Fluttershy's face turned red as Sombra's flames erupted from his eyes. A reaction that neither were expecting. Silence fell between them as they remained motionless, Fluttershy frozen by how close in proximity they were and Sombra by his flame's strange reactions.

"I....I have to go!" Fluttershy screamed out as she yanked the blanket form the air and quickly ran off, leaving Sombra to his thoughts.

"What....just happened?"

He remained still as the mare began to blur in the distance. After a long pause, Sombra let out a sigh, before beginning to make his way back to the library. The walk to town wasn't very long, in fact, it was less than a minute long. Their picnic was placed so that if need be, they could get to town quickly, or rather, Fluttershy could get to town quickly. He was still a 'threat', though he knew otherwise. With such small amount of dark magic left in him, he was running on fumes. Why else would he agree to spend time with the pegasus? He needs to refill his tank, but it seems that even she has lost her fear towards him. Well, except this new strange kind of fear. One that only seems to come out when he gets too close to her. He was rather intrigued by it, perhaps there was an alternate power source for his dark magic, and if so, he needed to exploit it as soon as possible.

His train of thought was cut off by the murmurs of the towns folk. He had made it into town and was so deep into his thoughts had not noticed in which direction he was going. By chance, he seemed to have ended up at a park in the middle of town. Alone, he was a sure cause of distraught among the crowd. Like a breath of fresh air, the fear he instilled in some of the ponies' hearts powered him up slightly. At the same time, other ponies seem to be almost happy to see him. It was a strange middle ground he was standing on, but beggars can't be choosers. He needed every bit of fear he could get out of them.

Sombra felt something hit his hoof and quickly looked down to see a stone that had been thrown. He quickly thought that ponies were about to attack him, but his initial thoughts were wrong. As he looked in the direction it had come from, he saw a rather frustrated filly and her mother. Upon closer inspection he noticed the filly was a unicorn and the mom a pegasus.

"Dinky!" The grey mare said as she come close to her angry daughter. "You need to be careful, you almost hit that guy."

Though upset, the unicorn filly took a deep breath and walked over to Sombra to apologize.

"I'm sorry mister..." She said as she and her mother came close to him. His expression still on fazed, he waited a few seconds before responding.

"It's quite alright. But why, if I may, did you throw that stone?"

"Because I got angry at it!" Dinky said as she once again grew upset and walked away to kick at the dirt.

"So sorry about her, Dinky isn't usually like this. She is just a little angry that she can't yet move things with her magic."

"Is that so?..."

"Oh, where are my manners, I am Derpy Hooves!" The pegasus said as she greeted him. Upon closer inspection he noticed her rather messy mane and her displaced eyes which were almost comically cross-eyed.

"Derpy Hooves? If you don't mind me saying, that is a rather strange name."

"Well, that a nickname I got from my clumsiness and my eyes, my real name is Ditzy Do."

"Ah. Well a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Do."

"Oh , it's just 'Miss'."

"Oh, I see." Sombra said as he began to put the pieces together. "And your daughter here hasn't been able to use magic?"

"Not really. She's come close. I'm sure she could do it if she practiced more...."

"But?"

"Well, Dinky wants me to be around when she first uses her magic, but I work a lot and don't get many days off. I've told her to go to another unicorn that could help her, but she insists that I need to be present." Derpy sighed and looked over at Dinky who was digging at the ground with her hoof. "My breaks from my work are few and far in between. I really think she shouldn't focus so much on having me around and just practice. I fear that maybe she might fall behind other unicorns because of me, if only I was a unicorn like her I could help her in some way..."

Sombra's eyes flickered as Derpy spoke. Another strange surge of dark magic entered him, though small, it was still dark magic from fear which was really strange. Again, he drained magic that wasn't from fear directed towards him. With a quick glance to Dinky, his stoic expression became one of melancholy. Like a mirage, the distraught Dinky became an upset colt version of Sombra as he gazed upon a long forgotten memory of himself.

"Ditzy, come with me." Sombra said as he walked over to her filly who was pouting on the ground. His shadow fell over the small unicorn, causing her to turn around to look at him. "Stand up." She did just that and looked up at the tall stallion. "Dig your hooves into the ground and don't move." Though puzzled, the filly obeyed him and stomped once with each hoof. Sombra walked around the filly and inspected her. With a nudge of his hoof, the filly fell over.

"Hey!" Dinky screamed out as she came back to her feet.

"Again, and don't let me push you over."

"...Okay." Dinky said as she dug her hooves into the ground again. Once more Sombra circled around her and then with another nudge pushed against her, and though she didn't fall down, she still lost her balance.

"I'm sorry, but what are you doing?" Derpy asked as she gave Sombra a confused look.

"I am going to teach your daughter how to use her magic right here, right now."

Suddenly excited by his words, Dinky shot up in a smile. "Really?!"

Sombra nudged her and she fell over again. "If you do as I say, yes. Now stand your ground and don't let me push you over."

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