• 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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34. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 1)

"What do you think?" Rarity asked as she stepped away from Sombra. The tall stallion stood head straight in a regal pose, his new outfit welcomed in his eyes. It was reminiscent of his old one, with a thick collar and a small white scarf with a red gem, but instead of the main color being black, it was brown. The red high lights were still present and the vest took on a red color this time. What was most noticeable, however, was the long coat that covered most of his body and a small shoulder cape that hung loosely around him.

"It is splendid. Comfortable and very well made." Sombra complimented her on his new attire. "How did you manage to make this in such a short notice?"

"It wasn't that short of a notice." Rarity said as she sat down on one of her nearby cushions. "I have been working on this since your old one ripped. I made it of more durable material, so it should withstand some exposure to dangerous situations. SOME!" She made clear, raising her voice in irritation.

"I take it you are still bitter about the old outfit?" He asked with a smirk.

"I just cannot believe you destroyed it."

"Now it wasn't exactly my fault, now was it?"

"Hmm, perhaps not. But you should still take better care of yourse- ahem, your things." Rarity corrected herself. Truth be told, while at first she was mortified by the condition the outfit she had so generously given him had been thrashed, when she examined it closely, she saw things she did not like.

Rarity glanced over to a nearby closet where she had hung what was let of said outfit, her eyes growing sad at the remembrance, after all, in her outrage to repair it, she noticed how many lethal wounds had been placed on Sombra. Various gashes around the vest, especially a large impale at the left chest pocket. Around the main coat were many burns and and shreds, no doubt from taking on Twilight's full energy blast to protect the Timber Wolf in hopes of saving Applejack. The more she thought, the more depressed she felt towards the stallion whom had gone through so much pain.

"Are you alright?" Sombra asked as he passed behind the white mare. She looked up in surprise, quickly shaking her head to regain her usual composure.

"Yes darling, I'm perfectly fine." She said with a half smile, then leading them over to the room next to them. Gently knocking on the door with her hoof she called out. "Big Mac? How are you doing in there?"


"Having trouble Macingtosh?"


Sombra chuckled as he opened the door and saw the red stallion having difficulties still trying to even put on the coat, his tie in a mess and clothes flung ever which way.

"Looks like your little charade came to a quick end when it came to actually getting an outfit huh?" Sombra said with a laugh, walking in and using his red magic to help his friend out of the mess he made.

Annoyed, Big Mac grunted and exhaled a deep breath through his nose. "...Eeyup."

Slowly, Big Mac's own outfit started to come into place as Sombra carefully helped him put it on. After a few minutes of rather laughable fidgeting on the farm pony's behalf, he was finally in his own suit, much like Sombra's had a thick collar and a white scarf, but unlike his, was tucked into his vest. Mac's black coat had blue highlights and was very tight on him compared to the rather lose hangings of Sombra's.

"Now don't you both look so handsome?" Rarity said as she placed her hooves on her face in admiration.

"Thank you, that's awfully kind to say to a farmer and a tyrant." Sombra joked.

"Eeyup." Mac echoed in thoughts.

Rarity giggled at their sarcastic comments before making her way towards the door. "Now, I don't mean to be rude, but you two need to get going." She said as she opened the door for them, gesturing them to exit.

"Sure, but may I ask why?"

"The girls are going to come over so we can get dressed for the Gala. This year is sure to be so much more enjoyable."

"You say it as if the previous one wasn't"

"Because it wasn't! Especially that horrendous prince, what a royal pain he was." Rarity said as she escorted the stallions all the way out to her front door. Once outside, Sombra turned to her and asked with a very puzzled look.

"Prince? I thought Celestia and Luna were the only royals in Equestria left."

"Well, Prince Blue Blood is Celestia's adoptive nephew, sort of like Princess Cadence." She said, but as the name entered Sombra's ears, his eyes narrowed in what seemed to be concealed fury.

"Blue Blood?" He asked, trying to make sure he heard her right.

"Yes, he was quite rude to me when we met at the Gala last year."

Sombra lowered his head, a shadow covering his eyes as he clenched his teeth. Big Mac, who was standing beside him glanced over and noticed his unusual behavior, but before he could say anything, Sombra turned on his heels and began to walk away.

"There is something I have to do." He said, quickly making his away about the town. The red and white ponies stood still as they watched with rather worried eyes.

"You think he is alright?"


Sombra walked as slow as he could despite his first reaction being to run. That name, Blood, it is a surname to a family of unicorns he loathes, and now that he knew 'Prince' Blue Blood would be attending, he began to realize just why Celestia had made the Grand Galloping Gala the party he should attend. As he noticed himself trotting in an angry manner, he realized he didn't really have a destination.

Sombra soon came to a stop, gazing up at Canterlot which was easily visible in the distance. Attached to the side of a mountain, it was in quite an open location, his military past telling him how many which ways it could be attacked, and his royal past also stating how inconvenient it would be for ponies visiting, making economical trade difficult. His mind was simply running rampant in different irritated thoughts all cluttering together to further frustrate him.

"You okay there?" Spike asked as he walked up to the tall stallion. Sombra looked down at him and took a deep breath to try to calm himself.

"Yes, I'm just a little agitated."


"Say, you can send letters to Princess Celestia can't you?"

"The one and only dragon that can do that!" Spike proclaimed, popping out his chest in pride.

"Would you happen to have a parchment and quill with you?"

"Always. You'd be surprised how many times Twilight has me writing something or another." He said while talking out his tools from behind him.

"Could you please tell the Princess that I need to speak with her?"

"Uh, okay, but why not just wait until the Gala? She'll be there too."

"This is urgent."


Rarity was busy trying to clean her boutique, the sudden appearance of the stallions, while not unexpected, was still a hassle to get together. Right now, she was happy she had predicted what was going to happen and came up with a good suit for both of them. Gazing at her now clean environment, she smiled at her beautiful boutique, but she couldn't indulge in it for very long. A knock was heard at her door.

"Hello?" She asked out as she opened the it.

"Hello!" Pinkie shouted as she jumped in, not exactly being invited in, but the white mare playfully rolled her eyes and stepped to the side. Behind the pink mare followed Fluttershy.

"Hi." She said softly.

"You two are early." Rarity said as she closed her boutique.

"Yeah, we actually have a favor to ask!" Pinkie shouted as she hopped in.

"If you don't mind of course." Fluttershy quickly said as she followed behind her pink friend.

"Not at all, what is it?"

"Can you make us something that goes well with Sombrie?"
"Can you make us something that goes well with Sombra?" They both asked in unison. The question threw Rarity for a loop, especially with both of them asking at the same time.


"Me and Fluttershy had a conversation."

"Y-Yes, we had a long talk about...Sombra." Fluttershy said, looking away in embarrassment.

"I-Is that so?"

"Yup! We put everything out in the table!" Pinkie shouted excitedly. "We both like Sombra, and neither of us want to give him up!"

"Well, I told you that is it's really really important to you..." The timid mare said softly. "That I could just stop-"

"No! That wouldn't be fair to you! Besides, we already agreed."

"Agreed on what?" Rarity asked, the only mare in the room, 'out of the loop'.

"We will court Sombra tonight at the Gala. We let Sombra pick on his own, and the loser can't get upset." Fluttershy said, but was quickly interrupted with Pinkie jumping in front of her.

"But that means everything is fair game! Like dances!"

"Or having a picnic under Luna's moon."

"Or sharing treats!"

"Or even...sharing a kiss."

Both mares fantasized about what they each said, causing the white mare in front of her to giggle. "Well this is certainly unexpected."

"So will you help us?"

"Please please please?"

"Of course I will!"


Sombra sat as he rode the chariot Celestia had sent for him. The white pegasi pulling it seemed to have little difficulties carrying him. He sat and panted, though not because he was tired, but rather just out of energy. It has been far too long since he had even a drop of dark magic, and even longer since he had his eyes spark in flames from absorbing fear.

"Are you alright sir?" One of the guards asked, looking back at the stallion they were escorting.

"I'm fine. Please just get me to Princess Celestia as soon as you can." Sombra responded, shaking his head to break out of his daze.

"We're already half way to the City Square. You will then be escorted via carriage to the castle."

"We're flying right now, why can't you just take me directly to the castle? Better yet, take me to a balcony of the castle."

"What? No, we can't do that, it is against the procedure we were given."

Sombra simply raised and eyebrow at the pegasus. They remained looked in a stare for a while before the other guard nudged him.

"Didn't you hear? That's the ex tyrant of the Crystal Empire." He whispered to his friend.


"Yeah, think we better do as he asks..."

Again, they bother glanced back at Sombra to confirm their suspicions. Nodding to each other, they spoke.

"Yes sir, whatever you want sir!"

Sombra held back a chuckle as he saw the 'guards' react. It had been a while since anypony had taken his past seriously, and he wasn't sure if that was a bad thing or not. It certainly was nice to have ponies like Pinkie completely disregard his tyrant past, but at the same time, he missed some of the respect and esteem that such a past gave him. After all, he can no longer introduce himself as 'King Sombra', but rather as just 'Sombra'. It felt like something was missing.

As the chariot took a quick turn to reroute, Sombra was able to get a clear view of the city of Canterlot beneath them. Though he had been here before...on various occasions, it was much different than he remembered. Much more peaceful, that's for sure. Ponies went about their business with a carefree nature, but unlike Ponyville, every pony here was much more carefree in regard with what it was they cared for, often not paying mind to those ranks beneath them. Things hadn't changed all that much.

Sombra noticed the castle starting to come into full view, and quickly began to scope out a balcony to land on, but quickly noticed a familiar mare through one of the windows.

"Guards, I bid you farewell." Sombra said as he placed a hoof to the side of chariot. Before the pegasi had an opportunity to react, Sombra jumped from the flying vehicle, quickly falling down towards the castle. The wind rushed against him, his mane and coat flapping behind him.

"I hope I still have enough energy..." He said to himself, though it was already too late to back out. Grunting, Sombra forced out what little magic he still had left, his eyes sparking in a small purple flame. At once, Sombra covered his hooves with his dark crystal while erecting a crystal pillar from the castle's wall. It coiled around from meters beneath him and by the time it was high enough for him 'land' on it, it had spun to make a rather long slide.

The crystals on his hooves and the pillar came into an abrupt contact, but because they were smooth, enacted as merely boots that managed to slide on the spiral pillar with little friction. Sombra slid on the pillar he had conjured up, the spins slowly getting him to a stop while he maintained his balance on the crystal. Finally, after coming all the way down to the balcony he had spotted, Sombra jumped of his crystal and landed at almost no impact at all on the stone balcony, breaking the crystal boots he had made on contact.

Glancing up at the now degrading crystal, Sombra smirked. "Still got it."

Even more exhausted than before, Sombra slowly made his way into the castle from the balcony. He opened a glass door that led inside, and as he stepped in, heard a voice speak to him.

"Art thou about to whisk me into Our dark night?" Luna asked in a teasing manner. She was currently balancing on her back legs while holding a dress against herself in front of a mirror. Sombra chuckled in response.

"It's not night yet though."

"The night shalt come forth faster than thou believes." Luna said, finally turning to face the 'intruder.' "But We must say, it is always a joyful event to greet a friend."

"I'm surprised you took my intrusion in such stride."

"If thou even laid a single hoof on Us, a new casket would be thy sole reward." She said with a soft smile. "Not that We believe such actions would come from thee."

"I am simply visiting. Saw you from your window and thought it best to approach from friendly ground and work my way to my destination." He said as he looked around the dark room of the mare. Much of it was bathed in lavender and royal blue, fitting colors for the Princess of the Night.

"But We reside several floors up, how could thou have possibly had seen me?"

"I jumped from a chariot." Sombra said as he made his way to the door he presumed was his way out.

"Thou never ceases to amaze Us." Luna said with a worried smile. "Might We inquire of thou's destination?"

"I need to speak to your sister." Sombra said as he opened the door.

"Are We not of high enough caliber for thee?" Luna teased, putting on the dress she had been looking at. "Down the hall, up the stairs, three doors to thine left.

"Oh don't you start getting jealous too." Sombra said as he began to recall the two mares back in Ponyville. Luna simple giggled at his remark, finishing some of the details she had left to do for her outfit. Before leaving, Sombra looked over at the dark mare and smiled softly. "That looks beautiful on you. I am sure you will be that talk of many stallions tonight." Sombra said before leaving.

Luna, who was currently looking in the mirror to fix her mane, blushed at his compliment. By the time she had turned to speak, he was already gone. "Sombra, thou hast not realized how much thine honeyed words will sway a mare." She said, her blush still remaining. "It shall, how does one say in modern terms? 'Bite you in your flank'? Yes, it shall bite thee in thy posterior!" Luna said as she laughed to herself.


Taking the Lunar Goddess's directions, Sombra soon found himself in front of a large door, no doubt Celestia's chamber by the decorations, but just as he took a step forward, he noticed a strange smell. One familiar, yet distant. He sniffed the air around him, falling into it's homey feel, he began to follow the scent. As he walked, Sombra began to feel the effects of his sudden exertion of dark magic.

The closer he got to the source of the strangely sweet smell, the weaker he felt. It wasn't that energy was being drained from him, there wasn't any energy to drain to begin with. It was almost like if coming closer reminded him of his former self, his more powerful sense. Sombra could very well feel the difference in his now weak self to when he was a tyrant, but the question was, why? Why the sudden feeling of melancholy over his days of king?

The halls he walked echoed his hoof steps, giving him an eerie feeling that slowly began to constrict him, as if the shadows around him were trying to swallow him whole. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of walking, Sombra came face to face with a door. Nothing particularly special about it visually, but as he reached for the knob his heart began to beat faster and faster.

The door creaked as it slowly came open, Sombra's silhouette remained at the entrance as he inspected the dark room. It was quite large with a large vase of some sort in the center. There were no other decorations except two torches at either side of the container. It struck him odd since every other part of the castle was adorned to the last free spot available.

Sombra took a step inside into the dark chamber, as he did the torches went out, but rather than get shocked, he was rather calm. The darkness was...inviting for him. It was so calm and serene, but whether that was because it was true or simply because he was used to the darkness, it wasn't clear. He walked over to the vase, slowly lifting a hoof to touch it.

"I knew I'd find you here."

Shocked, Sombra jumped to the side as he took a defensive stance towards the newcomer. To his surprise, it was Celestia who had greeted him. Without looking at him, she came close to the vase and began to admire it.

"It's sort of small isn't it?" She said as she circled around it, emphasizing her point. "Hard to believe that it contains such terrible power."

"What's in it?" Sombra asked as he began to stand at ease. "It feels...familiar."

"It should. It's yours after all."

Sombra stood quiet, narrowing his eyes at both the vase and the princess. "You must be mistaken, I've never even seen a vase like this."

"Oh, don't be silly. I'm not talking about the vase, I'm talking about what it has inside."

"And what would that be?"

"Surely you can tell. After all, energy can't just banish into thin air, now can it?" Celestia said as she gestured towards his horn. At once, Sombra realized what had led him here. His old dark magic, the one he had as a tyrant, the one Celestia had stripped of him when he was captured. He clenched his teeth as he looked over to the vase in distant anger.

Oblivious to Sombra's actions, Celestia continued to talk. "By Equestrian standards, I doubt you've had many opportunities to drain dark magic. You must feel empty, do you perhaps want some of this magic back? I wouldn't be opposed to giving you back some of it. In small portions of course."

"No!" He shouted, frightening the mare. She wasn't expecting such a reaction or response.

"What? But you're-"

"Take that thing and keep it under heavy locks! " Sombra said in a growl, turning away and beginning to leave the room. "Do not let any pony near the damned thing. You should have kept it hidden away." He said, leaving the bewildered alicorn behind.

"W-What just happened?" Celestia asked herself before glancing back at the vase. "It's his magic, why doesn't he want it back...I know that he is running on no dark magic as it is. An embodiment of darkness needs dark magic to stay alive."

Sombra had walked quite a distance before he had realized what had actually happened. He sighed as he turned back to look behind him. No doubt he left a bad impression to the princess. That magic, the magic of the tyrant unicorn king, he wanted nothing to do with it. He did not want to be him anymore, more over, he also had some personal reasons. He quickly fell to the side, leaning against the wall.

However, if there was one thing Celestia was right about, it was that he was very low on magic. Dangerously low... Sombra forced himself to stand up right again and began to walk again, swaying from side to side as he struggled to keep one hoof in front of the other. He continued to walk, and soon began to hear ponies talking. What started as simple murmurs, soon became the roaring noise of a large crowd of, by the sound of it, high class ponies. Again he found himself in front of a door, a pattern he was starting to dread.

Again he stood still, pondering if everything that had led up to this point had been worth it all. Twice now he had refused to drain dark magic to regain his vital strength. Be it through the absorption of his old magic, or draining it from the fear of others, Sombra had placed all his chips on this last bet. If he was wrong, he would wither away this very night. An ending he was okay with, after all, he no longer wanted to the tyrant of the stigma placed on him, but rather the benevolent king of his past, and if he had to resort to means of fear and hatred to gain life, he shouldn't deserve to live.

Taking a deep breath, Sombra placed his hooves at both of the knobs of the double doors. It was harder than he had expected to push open the doors, but given his condition, it was understandable. Exerting what little strength he still had, Sombra swung both doors open, revealing a large ball room.

Like a fish thrown back into water, Sombra took a step forward with the vigor he had lacked for many days. His eyes erupting into bright flames, he drew the attention of every pony on the other side of the doors as he felt fear enter his body, but just as he had predicted, not the fear of him.

Right now, standing all in a large cluster, every single pony was afraid, afraid of being shunned and/or feeling out of place. After all, the worst fear of being part of high society, was no longer fitting in. Each one of these ponies was in constant fear of messing up and being a laughing stock for one reason or another. In other words, Sombra was at a dark magic buffet.

The now regal standing stallion, in the sight of dozens of ponies, took confident steps forward as ponies began to part to allow him through. The flames from his eyes flickered as he walked, a soft blow of the wind waving them in place. It was good to be alive.

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