• 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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32. A Smile That Never Fades

"You should have seen the look on his face!" Rainbow Dash said, barely able to contain her laughter.

"You did what?!" Pinkie shouted out, panicked by what she knew Fluttershy would do once she thought Sombra was sick. "I need to get to the library!" She said as she began to run off. Rainbow, who had now stopped her snickering, could only stare at her friend oddly s she galloped away.

"What's her problem?"

Pinkie ran as fast as her hooves could take her, though the answer as to why wasn't all that clear. Between her and Fluttershy, only she knew that they were 'rivals', that being said, if one pony isn't even aware of the rivalry, is it really a rivalry? What's worse, is that the more she thought about it, the more Pinkie began to realize that Sombra had been bumping into Fluttershy on almost a regular basis. Could he share some feelings for her? Shaking her head to break out of her thoughts, Pinkie came to stop as she arrived at the library's front door. Taking a deep breath, she opened it.

"I am fine!" Pinkie heard Sombra say from else where in the library. Following the sounds he was making, Pinkie soon arrived at his bedroom where she hesitated to enter. She gulped as she rounded up some courage to turn the knob.

"You need to rest!" Fluttershy said as she struggled to keep Sombra in bed.

"How many times must I tell you? I am an embodiment of darkness, I cannot get sick." Sombra said as he tried to pull the yellow mare off of him, but with his current weak body, wasn't able to do. Finally, after another moment of conflict, the pegasus let go and took a step back to glance over at the annoyed stallion.

"Well I must admit, your fever did go down."

"There wasn't any fever to begin with."

"But Rainbow's-"

"That mare is just a devious little....oh, hello there Pinkamena." Sombra said, turning to see the observing mare. Fluttershy quickly turned around as well.

"Oh, Pinkie! Can you help me convince Sombra to stay in bed? He isn't feeling well."

"I said I'm not sick."

"You keep saying that, but never once have you said you feel alright." Fluttershy pointed out, again turning to argue with him. Sombra bit his tongue as he thought of a way to counter her statement. He had in fact never said he was feeling well because he doesn't, but it wasn't for any sort of illness. He didn't want to let any pony know of the weakness he's been feeling, after all, it isn't like him to drag himself and the last thing he wanted was for pity.

Pinkie looked over at the troubled stallion, not sure of how to take his current attitude. A moment of silence feel, but it wan't one that lasted very long before some pony else spoke.

"Sombra?" Twilight asked, poking her head from the door frame.

"Sparkle, are you done with your meditation?" Sombra asked from his bed. He wished to stand to speak to her, but knew it would be a futile effort with Fluttershy around.

"Yes....Why are you in bed?"

"Sombra isn't feeling well." Pinkie said.

"I'm not sick."

"Does that mean that we can't continue our lessons?" The alicorn asked, though remained almost expressionless as she spoke.

"Of course we-"

"Absolutely not, Sombra needs to rest." Fluttershy interrupted.

Sombra placed a hoof at his forehead, messaging his brows to calm his nerves. "Sparkle, don't listen to them, I can still teach you something."

"No no." Twilight began. "If you're not feeling well then we can put a small pause on in your lessons, your health comes first after all." She said with a smile. Sombra raised an eyebrow at her statement. That was certainly unexpected, since they had started their lessons she had wanted nothing other than to continue as quickly as possible, what was up with the sudden change of heart?

"In any case, I don't need to rest."

"Sombrie..." Pinkie said. "I know that this all started with Dashie's prank, but if you really aren't feeling well, you need to rest up."

"Prank?!" The pegasus asked out.

"I have better things to do than just lay around all day."



Twilight giggled as Sombra was left without a response. "Come on Sombra. Ever since you've been reformed, you've done nothing but help us all out in some way or another, maybe it's time you let us help you out."

Sombra remained quiet. Again he wanted to protest his 'reformed' status, but ever since the Test of Courage, had given quite some thought as to his actual status in Equestria. With a sigh, he pulled the covers over himself and turned away from the mares. "Fine, but I don't need some pony to take care of me."

Fluttershy and Pinkie smiled as soon an opportunity arose for them. "Don't worry!" Both of them said in unison. "I'll take good care of you."

Sombra already began to dread his situation.


"Here's your soup." Fluttershy said as she handed the dark stallion his meal. "I made it myself, it should help you recover some strength." She said as she sat on a stool next to his bed, waiting for him to begin eating.

"Didn't I say I didn't need any pony taking care of me?" Sombra said as he took the bowl given to him.

"I'm not taking care of you, just aiding in your recovery with some nourishment."

"I fail to see the difference."

"The difference is that I'm not here twenty-four-seven making sure you're alright."

"You would go to such lengths for me?" He asked as he began to eat. Despite his protests, the soup did seem to revitalize him slightly. Whether it was because it was actually nutritious or simply because it was made with tender care, it was helping him in some way.

"It wouldn't be the first time. One time Rainbow Dash got super sick because she was out in the rain too long practicing her stunts. I had to take care of her for a whole week before she got better."

"Couldn't one of the other of the elements have taken shifts along with you?" Sombra asked in between his spoon fulls.

"They wanted to, but couldn't. Rainbow Dash lives on a cloud home, and only pegasi can walk on clouds without the use of a special spell."

"I see. That mare, the elements of Loyalty I believe."


"What does she have against me?"

"Oh, she is just trying to keep us safe. She still thinks you're the tyrant we fought during the Crystal Empire event."

"I suppose I can't blame her for trying to keep her loved ones safe..." He said as he began to think what was left of the soup out of the bowl. "But I don't see how pranks are a viable option for doing so."

"Oh, She was trying to test you." Pinkie said, entering the room, a saddle full of stuff on her back.

Though annoyed that his room was beginning to get crowded, Sombra dismissed his complaints and continued the conversation. "How so?"

"She said that if we pranked you, and you had been faking being reformed, you would react angrily and show your true intentions." She said, letting down her bag of stuff.

"Uh huh...And what, pray tell, is all of that?"

"Stuff for you so you can still have fun!" Pinkie said as she began to take out various things from her saddle. Toys of some kind, none he had ever seen before, but what really drew his attention was a small canvas along with a paint brush. As Pinkie threw things left and right, Fluttershy stood from her seat.

"Are you leaving?" Sombra asked.

"Yes, I have some errands to run, and Pinkie said she'd take shifts with me." The pegasus said with a small smile. She waved her hoof bye from the door and proceeded to exit the library. Pinkie, who had lost some of her momentum from earlier after hearing Sombra's question to her friend, glanced at him who was putting the empty bowl he used on the night stand next to his bed.

Clearing her throat, Pinkie began some small talk. "So, how has your day been?"


"It can't be that bad, you had Fluttershy taking care of you." Pinkie said with a nervous laugh.

"Yes, but I am still confined to this bed." He said, gesturing at his sitting position on the under the sheets. "This is more stressful than having mountains of work."

"Not used to staying still?" Pinkie said, jumping on the bed, sitting down near the edge to speak with him.

"Not at all. Most nights as King, I spend doing paper work. The day was no different, but I had other tasks to attend to as well. My body just got used to always doing something."

"But always doing work is no fun."

"I admit, doing work is not very appealing, but I got a lot of satisfaction by finishing said work. After all, if I did a good job, my empire would be that much better off."

"You bring up how you were king a lot, do you miss it?"

"The loads of work, little rest, and something always being wrong? No, not at all." Sombra said without even thinking about his answer, causing Pinkie to start laughing softly. "But knowing that I helped some pony have a better life, yes. I miss being the pony others came to when they had problems. It gave me...a purpose, per say."

"So what kind of cutie mark would being helpful be anyway?"

"Cutie mark? My cutie mark has nothing to do with being helpful." Sombra said as he stood from the bed. His coat still bare from lack of any outfits to wear, his cutie mark was in plain sight. "You've seen it before have you not?"

"Never payed close attention to it." Pinkie said as she came near the stallion for a closer look. It was a red crystal shard that stemmed into three at the top.

"I got this when I defeated Dycus, the Changeling King."

"What!? You got your cutie mark when you were a grown stallion?!" Pinkie shouted out in surprise.

"Yes...in my time, that was not something particularly strange, especially for ponies of my upbringing."

"What do you mean?"

"My family...they, uh. Nevermind." Sombra said, turning away from the mare. Both remained quiet for a while, something Sombra did not find much comfort in. Slowly, he looked around his room and once again found the canvas Pinkie had brought with her. Using his magic, he levitated it over to him. "Have any paint?"

A smile stretched ear to ear as she jumped off his bed to her saddle, quickly scrambling through her things to take out many different kinds of paints, holding them out intently.

"How do you keep all those things in your saddle bag?" He asked as he glanced at all the objects that Pinkie had already taken out and only imagined what else she still had in there.

"Mare's secret." She responded with a wink.

A chuckle escaped him as he found a comfortable position on his bed. Picking up the brush and paints, he began to visualize the image he was to create as his tools were being prepared. "Say, do you want to be my model?"

"Huh?" Pinkie said as a small blush appeared on her cheeks.

"For this painting I mean."

"Uh, sure. W-What do I have to do?"

"All you have to do is stand still and smile." Sombra said as his the side of his lips curved up in a half smile. Pinkie's blush only intensified as she looked at the stallion gaze upon her, a gentle care in his crimson eyes.

"I-I think I can do that." Pinkie said as she walked to the opposite side of the room, her head tilted downward as she avoided eye contact with Sombra.

Again a soft laugh come from him as he began to softly run his brush against the canvas. "Why are you getting shy all of a sudden? it's just like taking a picture."

"Except that this picture takes forever to take...and some pony is watching me very closely."

"And now you're afraid to have some pony watch you?"

"Well...it isn't just any pony watching me." Pinkie said as she brushed her front legs against each other in a timid manner.

"So it's because the big scary tyrant is looking at you then?" Sombra teased.

"I've never thought of you as a tyrant!" Pinkie shouted out, getting a little worked up at his statement, her reaction amusing him.

"Please stay still." Sombra said as he waved his brush at Pinkie, who imminently went back to how she was previously. He continued to drag his brush against the white of his painting space. The only sounds heard where the brush strokes and the soft breathing of the ponies, a serene atmosphere to be sure. To Pinkie, however, it was simply taking too long.


"Hmm?" Sombra asked, occasionally looking back at her from the canvas.

"What do you think about Fluttershy?"

"She lives up to her element." He answered blankly.

"Yeah...She's really nice to every pony."

"And you're the element of laughter, you live up to it as well. I've read many articles about your parties."

"Yeah, I make the best parties in Ponyville!" She proclaimed with pride.

"And how come I haven't gone to them? As I recall, it was part of my contract to attend any party you are in charge of getting together."

"You didn't seem too excited about it when I first told you, so I did not think you'd have fun."

"Perhaps not then."

"Now you would?"

"More than I would have back then."

Sombra continued to paint, but soon came to a stop as he took one last glance at Pinkie, how had remained surprisingly still. They locked eyes for a while before the mare finally looked away.

"What is it?" She asked, her blush from before not faded in the slightest.

"You're not smiling."

"Huh? Oh, like this?" Pinkie asked, forcing out a smile for him, one that was much too exaggerated to seem genuine.

"No no, a real smile."

"This is a real smile!" Pinkie, protesting how Sombra was seeing right through her facade. The stallion simply waited a moment as Pinkie continued to just smile the best she could. Finally, Sombra put down his equipment and walked over to the now nervous mare. He placed his hooves on the sides of her face.

He remained motionless for a while as Pinkie's heart skipped beats at his touch. Then, out of nowhere, Sombra squished her cheeks together, making her lips pop out, after a second of that, he stretched them out and continued to mess with her face. Though at first shocked at his actions, Pinkie then bursted into laughter as she gently pushed his hooves away.

"Stop that!" She said as she giggled. "That feels funny!" PInkie said as she continued to laugh, and even snorted from just how random Sombra's actions were.

"There we go, that's more of a real smile." Sombra said, his statement drawing in the pink mare's attention again. "You look much cuter with a smile on your face Pinkamena." He said feeling accomplished.

Pinkie's face instantly flushed red as she heard his voice. "W-W-W-What?" She stuttered, unable to get a clear word out after his statement.

Again Sombra's only response was to chuckle. "I've said it before haven't I? Back when I had a drinking game with Applejack."

"B-But you were drunk! It doesn't count!" Pinkie sad, her eyes in a daze, and not entirely sure what she was trying to say or defend with that statement.

"I'll have you know I have a very high tolerance for alcohol. I remember that night clear as day."

Pinkie looked down as her face felt as if it was on fire. Sombra slowly made his way back to his bed to pick up the canvas. Getting ready, he waited for Pinkie to get back into her previous position. She took a moment to try to regain her composure, hesitantly looking back up at Sombra who patiently waited for her to get ready.

Noticing his eyes intently on her, Pinkie's face did not lose any of it's red flush. With their eyes locked, Pinkie began to laugh nervously, but what started as just a small giggle, soon became a full out honest laughter that she could not contain. She began to laugh so hard that she began to tear up for a moment. Sombra smiled as he began to paint again, gently moving his brush against the canvas, slowly finishing his portrait of Pinkie.

His gaze soften as his painting finally took the form of Pinkie, a Pinkie who had a very beautiful smile upon her face, her eyes closed gently against themselves from her giggling, small tears of joy at the corners of her eyes. Finally he put his brush down as he looked with content at his work.

"You truly are the element of laughter." He said softly, his smile never leaving his face as he glanced up to the mare now on the floor laughing to herself.


Panting was heard as sizzling sounds echoed in the background. Twilight, who had retreated into the dark of the Everfree forest, stood in the middle of a clearing, one that she herself caused. The trees around her had been blasted and turn apart, the bark stained with purple and green aura.

"Goodness, it was only a small amount of magic I drained, but it gave me enough for five magical blasts! This dark magic is more potent that I thought." Twilight said to herself, a joyful grin upon her face. "I can't wait until Sombra teaches me more stuff!"

Satisfied with her small test, Twilight turned around and began to make her way back, but as she left the clearing, she came to a stop. Slowly she turned around to see the disaster she created. As she looked around, her pupils began to thin.

"Then again....Sombra might not be able to teach me anything for a while. He isn't feeling very well after all. Maybe I should experiment a little on my own...What harm is there in just a few more tests?" Twilight asked as her smile went form a joyful grin, to an almost eerie smirk. Her purple irises blurring into red for a second. "Yes, just a few tests, no pony will know."

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