• Published 8th Apr 2014
  • 5,907 Views, 508 Comments

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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29. Test of Courage (pt 3)

"Shining!" The filly Twilight shouted out as she clenched Sombra's mane. The dark stallion was shocked to say the least as he back up.

"Sparkle? Sparkle what happened?!" He shouted as he tried his best to get the filly off of him. After a little bit of struggle, he finally managed to rip her off only to have her look at him in sadness.

"Shining I was all alone!" Twilight cried out, her large teary eyes staring at Sombra. With the puppy dog stare, Sombra was practically helpless to humor the filly.

"I-I see...It's alright Sparkle, 'Shining' is here now." He said, putting the filly on his back as she once again clung to him. She was trembling in fright and her eyes closed shut as she tried not to look at the scary forest around them. Once able to get a good grasp of Sombra and able to feel his warmth, the filly began to settle down.

"Oh goodness, what happened to Twilight?"

"Your guess is as good as mine..." Sombra said, glancing to the filly on his back. "Who is this 'Shining'?" He asked after they began to compose himself.

"She must be talking about her brother, Shining Armor."

"Shining Armor? Do we look alike?"

Fluttershy took a moment to stare at Sombra. She then imagined a grinning Shining Armor next to him and snickered to herself softly."Y-Yes? I mean...you're both...unicorns?" She said, remembered Shining's sheepish smile and how Sombra rarely shows any emotion at all. "And you're both stallions?"

Sombra was not amused by the mare's snickering and comparisons. "I'll take that as a no." He said before turning around and beginning to make his way back to the path they were following. "Hurry now Fluttershy, perhaps we can regroup with the other elements and find out what happened to Sparkle exactly."

The path back was simple, Sombra just retraced their steps until they returned to the point where they first heard heard Twilight's crying, but once there the duo looked around a little confused. They knew that they had made it back to their turning point, but had no idea which way the arrow had been pointing in.

"You don't happen to remember which way to go, do you?" Sombra asked his friend only to get a nervous shrug. With a sigh Sombra looked around the ground, perhaps they had left hoof prints or a broken branch to give them a hint, but sadly, nothing seemed disturbed.

"Oh my, you don't think we're lost again are we?"

"Looks like it. Best thing to do is find the drawing once more and follow the arrow again."

"Do you know where it might be?'

"Not the slightest idea..." He said, but as doubt began to cloud their minds, Sombra felt the filly on his back begin to tighten her grip on him. "Sparkle, is something the matter?"

"I wanna go home." She said, burying her face in his mane. Sombra and Fluttershy exchanged glances as they both looked rather worried at their 'friend'.

"Say Sparkle, what is the last thing you remember?" Sombra asked, curious as to happened exactly to her.

"Well...I was home reading and...and...and then I wake up here! Mom and Dad are going to be so worried about me." She said, lifting her head to look at the stallion she was riding. "But I'm glad you found me Shining." She said as she nuzzled his mane.

"I see..." Sombra said, still very confused as to why Twilight was in such a state. Still, right now she was the only clue he had as to what happened to the others. "So Sparkle, which way should we go?"

"Do you think that she knows?" Fluttershy asked as she got close to the stallion, flying so she could reach his ear to whisper.

"No." He responded in the same whispering tone. "But letting her decide won't hurt our chances any less than just picking a random direction, plus it is best to keep her occupied so she doesn't cry again."

"That way!" Twilight said, climbing to Sombra's head and using his horn to keep herself balanced.

"And what makes you so sure it's that way?" Sombra responded with a half smile, simply starting conversation with the filly as she got into a comfortable spot on his head.

"Cause..."

"Cause why?"

"Just cause!" Twilight blurted out, hitting Sombra on the head with her hoof but only getting a chuckle out of him as a response.

"My my, you're quite aggressive today aren't you Sparkle?"

"Why do you keep calling me like that?" Twilight asked as she hung upside down in front of him.

"Calling you what?"

"Sparkle!"

Sombra raised an eyebrow as he tried to understand her meaning, but before he had a chance to say anything he felt a poke at his side from Fluttershy gesturing him to get close. Obeying her request, Fluttershy whispered in his ear as they continued to walk, only to get glares from Twilight.

"Twilight's older brother usually calls her 'Twily', maybe she wants you to call her by that."

"Call her by the nickname her brother uses? Do you not think it is a little too personal?" Sombra asked, but felt a tug at his head bringing him back to the filly's gaze.

"Who is this mare Shining?" Twilight asked almost aggressively, narrowing her eyes at him. The question puzzled him, how could she not know Fluttershy? Could this filly not be Twilight? Or...

"Her name is Fluttershy."

"Is she your marefriend?" Twilight asked out bluntly. Suddenly Sombra felt a deja vu over the question. A quick glance to the now red pegasus beside him and he knew there was very little he could do now to keep things from getting too awkward.

"No little Sparkle. Fluttershy just....wished to assist in helping me find you." He lied. Sombra thought that perhaps the best thing to do right now was to humor whatever the filly was saying, after all, what good would come in confusing the poor thing.

"Shiiniiiiing." Twilight whined at hearing him call her by her last name. Sombra sighed and took a deep breath.

"T-Twily, please calm down, won't you?"

Upon hearing her beloved nickname, Twilight's face lit up in a happy shade of pink, as she smiled and blushed at his voice calling her. "Okay~" She said, getting back onto her comfortable spot on his head, using his mane as a pillow.

Fluttershy couldn't help but giggle at the filly's antics, but mostly at the faint blush developing across Sombra's cheeks. "You're good with kids."

"I pride myself in that fact, though I never expected to have to deal with....a situation like this." He said as he looked up at the humming filly on his head, blissfully unaware of the once scary forest she was in.

《=●=》

"Pinkie? Twilight?" Rarity asked out from the think fog she was in. It was as her friends had described it, completely impossible to see anything at all. Things for silent for a while, making the white mare's mind race to dangerous theories, but after a second, she finally heard some pony say something.

"Oowwie..." Pinkie said as she rubbed her muzzle.

"Pinkie Pie? Is that you?"

"Yeah...."

"What happened? Are you alright?"

Finally Pinkie stood from where she laid and stretched her neck around. "Y-Yeah, I'm fine. I just tripped over a tree's root....I guess my face wasn't a good cushion." She said with a rather high pitched voice. Rarity giggled at her friend's child like antics and then let out a breath of relief, surely if Pinkie could try to crack a joke, she was okay.

"And Twilight? Do you know where she is?"

"No idea, I don't even know where I am." Pinkie said as she felt around the ground. If she couldn't feel the dirt in on her hooves, she wouldn't be able to know whether she really was standing on the ground or not, everything was just white. Without much thought, Pinkie leaned down and pressed her muzzle on the ground. Again she felt the earth touch her, but even being so close to something, she still could not see the ground. "Oooooh!" Pinkie screamed out. "It was frustrating enough last time!"

"Goodness, how did you and Twilight find yourselves out of this last time?"

"We heard you scream, we just followed your voice until we made it out." Pinkie said, getting back on her hooves.

"And I don't suppose Twilight or Applejack will begin screaming will they?"

"I certainly hope not, that would mean that they're in trouble!"

"Yes, you're right..." Rarity said, now trying to pin point where her friend was with her voice. "I suppose the best thing to do right now is walk and talk so we don' get separated."

"Ooooh, I can talk, I love talking."

"I know Pinkie Pie, I know." Rarity said as she rolled her eyes, a gesture that could not been seen, but Pinkie could definitely hear it in her voice, causing the mare to laugh. "I still remember your 'Cherrychanga and Chimicherry' conversation..."

《=●=》

"Shiiiniiiiiing" Sombra heard the filly on his head whine. "Are we there yeeet?"

"Not yet Twily." He responded, an annoyed grimace on his face.

"How much longer?"

"More than you hope, but less than you dread." Sombra responded without hesitation. Though it was the usual answer to such a question, the studious filly on his head stood her head up as soon as she heard those words.

"What was that?"

"Longer than you hope, as in if you hope for it to be around the corner, it won't be."

"Awwwww"

"But less than you dread, so if you think it will take forever, it won't be either."

"Ooooh. So how do I know for sure?"

"You simply keep raising the time for your hope, and lowering the time you dread and you'll get to the right answer eventually."

"Roger!" Twilight said as she closed her eyes and placed her hooves to the sides of her head. Small grunts were heard as the filly tried to manually lower and raise her expectations to find the right answer. Sombra's lips began to curve in a smile as he finally had some peace and quiet.

"Wow, how did you do that?" Fluttershy asked as she stared at the filly on his head straining herself trying to get an answer.

"Kids are simple creatures, all you need to do is keep them occupied, and considering Sparkle's current attitude, I guessed she was much more 'answer hungry' as a filly. Just give the girl a question and poof, annoyance gone."

"Hey! Are you talking about me?!" Twilight asked as she leaned over his head, using his horn to keep herself from falling while glaring at him upside down.

"Of course not Twily, I'm talking about a mare called Sparkle, you're not Sparkle are you?"

"No! I'm Twily!"

"Then get back to work, or don't you want to know if we're there yet?"

"Oh! Yeah." Twilight said, as she pulled herself back up and wen't back to thinking. Fluttershy giggled at the two interacting, it was definitely nice to see such a mean looking stallion act so gentle and patient with some pony, but for all his calm interacting.

Just as she gazed at Sombra, Fluttershy began to realize something, something very unique about him. For all his static and stoic expressions, he never seemed like he was zoning out or bored, he always responded when he was spoken to and even though his eyes were almost always half open as if sleepy, he was able to jump in to help if need be. The stallion walking beside her seemed to have multiple thoughts going on at the same time, trying to please and answer every pony while keeping a vigilant eye out for trouble. It was as if a lot of personalities were all blended into one, resulting in the rather stoic stallion. After all, when you mix a wide varieties of colors, you end up with a boring mucky brown or black.

Fluttershy glanced over at Twilight and saw her still thinking, but pausing every once in a while to converse with Sombra. Fillies and colts could always see right though a pony, it must be way they take such a liking to him, they always know he means well and is there to help if he can. The yellow pegasus couldn't help but smile and blush as she realized just what kind of stallion Sombra really was, however, Fluttershy's thoughts were suddenly interrupted when Sombra stretched his fore leg in front of her, causing them all to stop. Everything remained silent for a while as Sombra sniffed the air around him.

"Is everything okay Shining?" Twilight asked, letting her front legs hang on the side of Sombra's head.

"I smell.....vanilla."

《=●=》

"Pinkie Pie?"

"Yes yes, I'm still here."

"Why did you stop talking you scared me!" Rarity said as she continued to look around to no avail.

"Well sorry." Pinkie said rather half winded. "But I can only say so many words without taking a breath." She finished as she began to pout. Again, neither could see each other's actions, but they had known each other for long enough to just know what the other was doing.

"You're right Pinkie, I'm sorry. It's just not being about to see is making me feel rather uneasy."

"I know what you mean, I've tripped like five times already!"

The two mares continued to talk, but to where they weren't sure. It was strange having to feel around each step to keep themselves from losing their balance, and footing. Out of all the bad things that could have happened to Rarity, she had stepped onto a hole that had been dug just a few inches below ground level, but that half a second where she felt no ground beneath her gave her the heart attack of the century.

"Are you okay Rarity?" Pinkie asked out after hearing her scream.

"Yes...." She responded as she tried to slow down her racing heart. "I just...Pinkie?"

As if by some miracle, Rarity began to see a figure in front of her, and second by second the image became clearer. Soon she was able to see her dear friend again and once again in clear view the mare jumped on her pink friend. "Oh Pinkie! I'm so happy I can see you again!"

"But I was right next to you!" Pinkie said, trying to breath from her friend's iron grip.

"That may be true, but I am just so happy we can see!"

And as if it was never there to begin with, the think white fog was gone. No sign or trace of the once hindering mist remained. The duo took a minute to look around before orienting themselves. Though being blinded in white was bad, being still stranded in a dark forest is not much better even with their eye sight returned. Each of them sighed, at least they had their vision back, but a sudden rustling by the bushes startled them.

The two of them jumped back as they saw something come out of the greenery. With a loud grunt, their friend Twilight pushed herself out of the bush with a heavily injured Applejack upon her back.

"Goodness! What happened?" Rarity asked as she ran up to her friends to lean a hoof.

"When I found Applejack she was surrounded by wolves of some kind. They all stayed back in the shadows so I couldn't see....but they must have sneaked an attack on her because when I turned away to attack them she was suddenly hurt." Twilight said as she let her friend down. "And where were you two? I could have really used your help!"

"Sorry! We got stuck in the fog and we kept tripping on stuff so we had to walk slowly." Pinkie said as she tried to help their farm pony friend get more comfortable. Though still conscious, all that came out of her mouth were moans and groans of pain.

"It's alright, at least I got Applejack out of there." Twilight said as she finally had some time to rest. "And the fog?"

"Just now banished." Rarity said as she used her blue magic to soothe the orange mare's wounds. She had done this thousands of times for Sweetie Belle whenever she came home with a scrap or two, but never for an injury like this.

"Here, use these." Pinkie said as she gave her friend a few leaves and some random berries. "It seems like it isn't an open wound, so if we just rub some berries on her it might help her feel better."

"Do you know what kind of berries these are?" Twilight asked from the side, wondering if perhaps using strange berries would be a bad idea.

"Just regular wild raspberries." Pinkie said, taking one of them and eating them in front of her friends. "I use them all the time when I bake cause their so sweet!"

Twilight and Rarity smiled at their friend's actions and felt themselves relax for a bit. It was a much needed relief from the horrible forest they were in, and who else but Pinkie to get every pony smiling. Well, almost every pony. Applejack's eyebrows narrowed as the white mare began to rub the cold berry juice on her wounds. It strangely liberated her of some pain, but Rarity could not help but wonder why.

"Twilight? You say she was attacked by wolves?"

"Yeah, they had us surrounded."

"But I don't see a claw mark or a bite mark. This kind of wound looks like a burn."

"A burn?"

"Yeah, like if some pony would to have shot her with a magical beam." She said while turning to stare at the purple mare.

Twilight sat up straight as she heard her friend speak. "What are you implying Rarity?"

"Not implying anything, just letting you know what kind of injury Applejack has." She responded while going back to her hurting friend. Rarity wasn't convinced in the slightest. The forest had already produced a Sombra double, why not a Twilight as well? Suddenly Applejack coughed as she struggled to speak

"It...It wasn't Twilight who hurt me if that's what yer trying to say..." Applejack said as she tried to stand. She wobbled as her legs tried to sustain her weight. "But Ah can't really tell you what hurt me either. When Twilight attacked the wolves, I suddenly felt something hit me. It came out of no where..." She said as Pinkie assisted her in keeping herself up.

"So you just got hurt out of nowhere?"

"Eeyup." Applejack said as she put her fore leg around Pinkie, but just as she got calm around her friend, she felt her chest clench. Her emerald eyes opened wide as the sickly feeling of being stared by death befell her again. Applejack's voice escaped her as she slowly rose her head to see bright yellow eyes behind Twilight, leering at her from the shadows. Ever so slowly, she raised her hoof to point at the eyes, not able to scream out a warning.

Twilight quickly took the hint and jumped to her hooves, quickly backing up as more and more glaring eyes began to open up around them. Pinkie and Rarity looked around in shock as all the glowing irises made their coat stand on end. They grabbed onto Applejack in a protective hug as Twilight's horn began to spark with energy.

A wooden claw stepped out into the light. The large creature created a small tremor with each step it took, but before long the beast was in full sight, a Timber Wolf, but just any Timber wolf, a Timber wolf so large it seemed to be composed of dozens of other wolves.

"It-It's him..." Applejack managed to say with a chocked up voice.

"It's who?" Rarity asked, but just as the words escaped her she realized what her friend was referring to. The large Timber wolf in front of them was identical to one that had almost killed her when they were trying to trick Spike into thinking he had saved her, only to actually save her when the Timber Wolves had merged into this beast.

Twilight glanced behind her only to find her friends quivering in fear. She took this as a sign to begin the assault and proceeded to blast the Timber Wolf with a charged blast of magic. Twilight smiled as she saw the attack make contact, but it quickly faded as she heard a scream of agony from behind her. Twilight looked back to see Applejack with yet another wound as Rarity and Pinkie tried to help her down to see if they could help.

Again Twilight looked at the Timber wolf as it began to reconstruct itself. She didn't have time to deal with the wolf, her friend needed her help. The alicorn took to the air as her eyes faded white from the magic she was charging in her horn. With a shout, Twilight threw yet another blast of energy at the Timber Wolf.

A loud smoke cloud appeared from the impact and as Twilight landed close to her friends, she gave them a reassuring smile that told them it was all over. They all returned the gesture if it wasn't for debris suddenly clearing to display the Timber Wolf completely intact.

"What!?" Twilight asked out, but before she could say or do anything else Sombra landed on the ground next to her, heavy injured and much of his clothes ripped and stained red from his previous wounds. "S-Sombra? Thank Celestia, we need your help."

"More than you know." Sombra said as he knelt down to try to recover from the impact he had taken. "Do you realize you could have killed Applejack!?"

"W-What?"

"I shielded the Wolf from your attack."

"Why would you do that?!"

"Because the wolf and Applejack are one in the same!" He said, getting to his hooves once more.

"What do you mean?" Rarity asked as she continued to try to help Applejack's injuries.

"You've seen it right? The other Sombra?"

"Yeah..." They all collectively said.

"This forest, the reason both Discord and Luna are in charge of it. They use your greatest fears against you. Each one of us was paired up so we could face out fears with a friend."

As Sombra tried to explain what was happening, The bushes behind the large Timber Wolf began to rustle, making every pony, lest for Sombra, suddenly take a defensive stance.

"C-Can we come out now?...." Fluttershy asked as she struggled to keep filly Twilight still. "Twilight here doesn't seem to like me very much...." Every pony's jaw dropped simultaneously at the strange sight of seeing Fluttershy try to keep a filly version of Twilight under control while she pulled on her long pink mane.

"F-Fluttershy! Get away from there!" Applejack shouted out, breaking free from her friend's grip and running over to the yellow mare, shielding her from the Timber Wolf. Twilight wanted to step in to help, but was blocked by Sombra who extended a crystal spike in her path. A quick glance at from him and she knew she wasn't suppose to interfere with...whatever he was planning.

"Now don't you think you can hurt poor Fluttershy!" Applejack shouted out, her fear of the wolf still apparent in her voice, but that fear wasn't about to stop her from defending her friend. Her hooves shook as she held Fluttershy behind her, but her eyes stared back at the glaring eyes of the wolf, determination and will power the only things keeping her from collapsing on her own weight.

The Timber Wolf slowly leaned close to the duo and sniffed the farm pony before standing back up, its towering height at an intimidating altitude. Applejack gulped as she expected to be attacked, but instead the Wolf cracked and then broke into shards of light. Sombra smiled as he thoughts were proven right.

"It is just as I said, our greatest fears."

At once all the remaining mare ran over to Applejack to see if she was okay, and once a few brief exchange of words, embraced the poor mare in a tight hug. They were all very glad she was okay, but more than that, proud of what she had done.

"Shiiining!" The filly Twilight shouted as she managed to escape from Fluttershy and run over to the dark stallion. At the mention of her older brother, Twilight looked over to the filly who was in the process of climbing Sombra.

"Sombra, who is that?" She asked, not really wanting to admit to her own theory.

"Can't you tell? She's you."

"And why is a filly version of me here?!"

"I should ask you that." He said, picking up the small pony and placing her on his head. "This here is your worst fear it seems."

"What?!" Twilight screamed out. "And how did you come to that conclusion?!"

"Well, like I said, we were paired up with a friend for them to help us through our worst fear. If the second Sombra was mine, the Timber Wolf was Applejack's, that means that this is your's....unless it's Pinkie's." He said, glancing at the ever so excited mare who was peeking over Twilight.

"Twilight! You were so cuuuuuuuute as a filly!" She shouted out in a squee.

"And I doubt that's the case."

"Shining..." The filly on top of Sombra's head began to whine. "Who are all these mares?...."

"Friends." He responded.

"You don't need all these friends. I do just fine by myself and my books!" The filly proclaimed. As she said that, however, adult Twilight's lowered, a shadow cast over her eyes. Sombra looked over at the mare and decided it was best to continue to conversation with the filly to see what affect it would have on Twilight.

"Surely you jest? You like having friends don't you?"

"Nope! I don't need them."

A brief moment of silence past as Twilight continued to hang her head. She then took a deep breath and looked up at the filly atop Sombra's head.

"Say, Twilight was it?"

"Yes!" The filly yelled out, waving her hoof in the air.

"I know that you won't believe me, but at one point in the future you will make friends, lots of them."

"Really? I don't think so."

"Yeah, you will, and when you do, you need to treasure them." Twilight said as she turned to look at her friends all looking at her with a smile. "Because they will be the most important thing in the world to you."

The filly took a moment to think. She wanted to argue, but as she opened her mouth to rebuttal, she heard Sombra clear his throat. She took one glance at the stallion and smiled nervously. "Okay okay. If I ever make friends, I'll make sure to treasure them!" She said with a smile. Suddenly, the filly began to glow white and then shattered into light fragments, leaving behind the mirror like shards slowly falling on the ground around them. Every pony remained quiet as Twilight took a deep breath.

"When I was a filly, my greatest fear was losing my big brother since he was the only pony I talked to. As a mare, my greatest fear was disappointing Princess Celestia when she gave me some assignment. And now, as a Princess, my greatest fear is neglecting my friends, the ones that have stood by me for so long." She said as she looked back at the mares now gathering around her, her eyes tearing up. They all hugged each other and as they made contact, the forest around them began to disappear, they all shielded their eyes at the bright sun now high above the.

"Congratulations every pony!" Discord shouted out as he made confetti and balloons appear out of nowhere. "You all survived the Test of Courage!" He shouted joyfully, blissfully unaware of how terrible the sound of 'you survived' actually sounded.

"Twilight!" Spike shouted as he ran over to the group in the middle of their hug. "Is everything alright? What happened?!"

Twilight who wiped away a few left over tears, cleared her throat to speak. "Oh, it's nothing Spike. We just had to go up against our greatest fears."

"What?! You said Celestia was overseeing the test!" Spike accused the draconequus. "They all look like they've gone through-"

"Tartarous?" Sombra finished for him, censoring out the string of curse words Spike would have said in his out rage.

"Yeah!"

"Oh but I was." A soft voice said as mist began to set back in. Every pony began to freak out over the blinding fog coming back, but quickly calmed down when it all gathered to one side, transforming into their beloved Sun Goddess.

"Princess Celestia!" Twilight shouted as she ran up to the tall princess. "You were the fog?"

"Why yes, I was suppose to make sure you all kept to yourselves and stayed near your own group's fears....but things got complicated half way through." Celestia said as she glanced over at Sombra who held a still expression. "Very complicated."

"Who cares!" Discord popped in, grabbing both of them and picking them up in a hug. "They still passed!" He yelled as he began to use a party noise blower. "It is time to celebrate right?"

"Hold thyself, there is still a question of most importance we must ask." Luna said, causing the chaos lord to stop dead in his tracks.

"And what would that be?" Twilight asked. The question made Celestia giggle as she leaned close.

"Did you find your anchor?"

The question was a surprise to the purple mare, mostly because she had forgotten completely about finding an anchor. She began to think about what her answer was, but as she thought, she was hit by an epiphany. With a quick turn to her friends, Twilight teleported herself between them and held them all together. "Yes! My friends are my anchor!" She shouted proudly.

Celestia walked to where Sombra stood and gesture her hoof in Twilight's direction. "So what do you think Sombra? Is that a good enough anchor?"

Sombra remained stoic as he stared at the mares. Slowly Twilight began to walk up to the stallion staring down at her and gulped as she waited for an answer.

"You are easily swayed by emotion, you can't seem to think straight when frustrated, and you almost got Applejack killed as a consequence." He said, his eyes never breaking contact with Twilight's. As he spoke, the mare's ears flattened against her head, taking his criticism quite harshly. "You have a lot to learn. We start tomorrow at dawn, and you must have one of your friends present or else they can't help you as your anchor." He finished.

As if a switch had flipped, Twilight's mood changed to the polar opposite and jumped up in happiness. "You mean it!? We can actually start the lesson!?"

"Don't make me change my mind." Sombra said as he looked down at the overly excited mare.

"Hehe, sorry." Twilight said as she laughed nervously, slowly backing up to her friends to rejoice. Sombra let out a puff of air as he saw the mares interact with each other. It was certainly a lively sight.

"Oh and Sombra?" Celestia said as she began to walk away.

"Yes?"

"Don't forget that the Gala is coming up really soon." She said with a giggle.

"...Tartarous Damn it...."

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