• Published 8th Apr 2014
  • 5,765 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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38. The Grand Galloping Gala (pt 5)

Sombra and Pinkie walked around the Castle ground, making sure to keep clear of any of the other guests for now. As they walked next to each other, Pinkie felt a little awkward, though it wasn't the first time they've been so quiet with one another, this time Sombra held an eerie expression with saddened eyes, a look of such depression that it made her heart ache for him.

Making their way around one of the walls, they reached a dead end. The mare wanted to say something, but as she opened her mouth, she decided against it while Sombra continued his walk. Only a few feet away from the wall, Sombra came to a stop before slowly turning to Pinkie and holding his hoof out.

The memory of Sombra doing that once before came to the mare, though unlike then, his eyes had more of a shine to them. Like before, Pinkie reached for his hoof, hesitating to touch him inches before making contact. She looked up to him, the patient stallion still waiting for her to grab on. Building some courage, Pinkie finally took a hold of him. Gently Sombra pulled her in close and wrapped just one arm around her as the ground beneath them shook, a crystal pillar lifted them up to the rooftop.

Stepping on to the roof, they were greeted by a beautiful array of stars and the gorgeous moon in the sky. Pinkie's eyes sparkled at the sight as Sombra slowly walked to the edge. His mane and coat gently moving in the wind, he placed himself just beside the view of the courtyard, the damage from the battle still there in plain sight.

His eyes still dull, Sombra turned to face the pink mare and spoke with a deep tone, the wind still pressing against his side keeping his mane and clothes in motion, reminiscent of how he looked when he had appeared as King Sombra during his attack on the Crystal Empire.

"I was born out of wed lock." He began, not losing eye contact with Pinkie. "My mother worked as a maid for the Blood family. My father was the head of the family back then...Grand Blood."

《=●=》

"Elite Blood!" A loud voice echoed through the great halls of palace. A small colt, who had been peacefully reading perked his ears up. Knowing the routine, he stood up placed his book aside. Just as he came to attention, the door to his room slammed open.

"What are you doing here child?" A tall white stallion shouted at him. The colt used to the volume of his voice, remained unfazed.

"I was readying father." He responded, his head high and straight forward.

"You should be at the gates, or have you forgotten about our guests?"

"No, Sir."

"Good, then get to it, and don't you dare disgrace our family."

"Never father." The colt responded before calmly, but quickly making his way out of the room and to his destination. As he passed by, the stallion kept an intimidating stare on him, one Elite had grown used to and just took as his father's normal expression. Exiting and closing the door behind him, Grand Blood looked around his son's room. Glancing back and forth, he found the book Elite had been reading, and just as he had thought, it was a spell book.

With a scoff, Grand threw it to the side. "Chee, he requires guidance in magic still? By his age any true Blood should be able to perform feats many times as grand as the ones in this tome."

Elite, who had since lost his composure after shutting his door, took a deep breath as he was finally able to relax, but he got moving, knowing his father would not stay in there for long. If he had to guess, his father would probably be looking through the book he mentioned he was reading. He did have a habit of being completely aware of what Elite read, saying that only certain books were adequate for a Blood to read.

Elite took small steps as he began to make his way to the gates to greet the up coming 'guests'. He had gone through similar situations before, this ponies, usually stallions, would come to the Blood Palace to challenge one of the top tier of the Bloods to a duel. More often than naught, it was his father Grand Blood who was challenged. He always made quick work of them.

As he walked, he came across a hall with a whole wall a window for him to see through. In the glass he managed to catch a glimpse of himself in his reflection. Stopping mid trot, Elite stared intently at himself in the glass. Like all Blood's he wore bright blue eyes, but unlike all others of his family, had a grey coat instead of a white one. His only implication that he might be a Blood were two small white arrows on his muzzle almost like a birth mark. Elite reached for the white on his muzzle and pressed his hoof against them, a frown upon his face.

"Elite?" A gentle voice called out to him. In reflex, the colt jumped and stood at attention but quickly calmed down when he saw who it was that spoke.

"Mother!" Elite called out before running to the mare carrying a basket of laundry. Nuzzling against the kneeling mare, Elite took a step back and looked at his tired mother. Her coat gray and her mane black, it was easy to see where he got his own color scheme from. Aside from her being an Earth Pony, he was a spitting image of her...that and the heavy bags under her eyes from exhaustion.

"It's good to see you little Elite." She said as she placed her basket down. "How have you been?"

"I've been great mother. Well, as well as I can be with all the studying and meetings father brings me to." He responded with a gleaming smile. Even though they lived under the same roof, he rarely got to see his mother, she was always busy with work, always tired, and orders always being barked at her. Though it pained him to see her this way, every time he tried to intervene she would stop him.

"That's very good, but as I hear it, the Blood house hold has guests. I think you're needed down stairs at the gates."

"Yes mother, I was just on my way."

"Then hurry along, you don't want to make your father angry."

With a nod, Elite began to run down the hall to his destination, his grin never leaving his face. Picking up the basket and placing it on her back, the mare waved bye. The smile he had worn while speaking to her soon soon faded as a clock sounded from the other room, Grand Blood finally exiting his son's room and walking down the hall, ignoring the mare entirely.

"Cutting it pretty close, Emerald." He said in a hushed voice as he passed her, still not looking her way. Emerald kept her head down as he passed, a saddened look on her face.

Turning the corner and leaving Emerald behind, the mare stood still for a moment as she placed a hoof to her mouth as she tried her best to keep from crying. The coldness of her former lover tore her apart every time they crossed paths, but she knew in her heart, this was her fate, her's and his as well.

"At least I got to see Elite today." Emerald said a she felt a single tear drip down her cheek and trace her chin until falling down onto the ground, the halls was so silent at the moment that the sound of the drop hitting the floor echoed ever so softly.

《=●=》

"Any sign of him?" Shining Armor asked the crowd of mares as he showed up for their regroup.

"Not even one." Rarity said as she turned to face him. "What about you and Cade- huh? Where is Princess Cadence?"

"Oh, she went to help Blue Blood out of the crystal prison Sombra had left him in." He said as he joined the circle.

"Why would she wanna help him of all ponies?" Applejack asked, she and Rainbow Dash had been briefed on the situation and they too had began to look for Sombra.

"Despite what you girls think of Blue Blood, he and Cadence are in the same boat. Orphans taken in by Celestia who took the role of their Aunt. They grew up together you know." Shining said as he looked around at the present mares. "Say, wheres Twilight and Pinkie?"

"We haven't heard of either of them, think they found the guy?" Rainbow asked, though no exactly thrilled to think that some pony had beaten her to something.

"Maybe, we should keep looking. Let's split up again meet here in an hour."

"Oooh, if we don't find them soon we'll miss all of the Gala." Rarity whinnied as she began her search once more.

"No kiddin', that guy sure knows how to cause a scene."

"Told ya he was bad news!" Rainbow Dash shouted before flying off into the castle, leaving behind only Luna, Discord, and Fluttershy. Turning to the duo beside her, the moon goddess spoke.

"Being silent is not a trait you posses Discord, what troubles you?"

"Nothing, just..." He began but stopped mid sentence. With a glance to the worried pegasus to his side he sighed. "Sombra just reminded me a lot of myself."

"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked.

"How should I put it...lonely? The moment when every pony moved away from him he bore the expression of a stallion in deep pain, the same one every pony bears before doing something foolish."

"You think he's going to be okay?"

"If we find him in time, yes." Discord said as began to float in mid air, ready to continue his search, his seriousness bringing a strange tension to those around him. Luna herself could feel the winds changing as well an with a deep breath, she began to walk away.

"We already looked that way." Fluttershy called out.

"We realize that. We must, however, speak to Our sister and calm the masses. No doubt the scene Sombra and Blue Blood caused will bring mayhem if left unattended." Luna said, not turning to face them while speaking. She indeed had a lot to speak about with Celestia, especially the fact that the documents in the folder had been neatly compiled despite how they must have been stored in many different parts of the Castle Archives. It would have taken hours upon hours to bring all the documents together, hours that must have been spent before Sombra and Blue Blood even met.

《=●=》

A loud banging of hooves was heard as ponies began to jump out of their wagons. Elite stood with his head high next to the other child Bloods, all at attention as well. Scanning over everything around him, Elite tried to make a note of all that he saw like he was taught to do.

Six stallions and two mares. A mare and two of the stallions keep their heads down so they must be the servants. He thought as he saw them being to make their way down the path. It was customary for the children and servants of the Blood household to stand on either sides of the path to the castle doors, each on their respective side. As the group walked by Elite, he kept his eyes on them, still looking for details to take notice of.

The one leading is a unicorn full of scars, missing an eyes so he has a severe blind spot he must make up for; likely the one challenging the Bloods to a duel. Two of the other stallions following him seem to be carrying weapons, no doubt for the one leading. Before he could get a good look at what kind of weapons they were carrying, Elite felt some pony grab him by the collar.

"Ya eyein' my stuff!?" A stallion shouted as he lifted Elite to eye level with magic. The colt did little struggling, only enough to keep himself from choking under his own weight whole still closely observing the stallion.

It was the one that had been leading, how had he managed to run back without me noticing? Elite thought to himself as he struggled to keep his composure. He had to keep a calm facade, after all, showing weakness or panic would bring a bad name to his family. Eyes cold and ruthless, bad breath, no sense of personal space. He must be a mercenary.

A bolt of energy flew by the small space between Elite and the mercenary's face, a very small area to aim for from afar, but for Grand Blood it was child's play. Backing off from the sudden feeling of a blue magic bolt skimming his nose, the Mercenary turned to glare at Grand for what he had done. Elite landed on hooves and quickly jumped back into place, keeping quiet all the while being calm as possible even though he felt his heart skip a beat at the close call of having almost lost most of his muzzle.

"You dare lay a hoof on Prince Elite Blood, my son?" Grand Blood asked out in a loud voice as he walked down the path to 'greet' the Mercenary.

"Yer son? Ya mean to tell me that this brat is a Blood? Ha! You must have tainted your Blood line pretty bad to have that piece of-"

"We welcome you to our home and you repay us by attacking one of us and insulting the head of the Bloods? You must not be very bright. Besides, it's only natural for children to want to gaze upon a circus when it passes through town."

"What did ya say?!"

"I said, are you going to dance for me monkey?" Grand Blood asked as now he and the Mercenary stood face to face, though the sheer size of Grand allowed him to look down upon his opponent.

"I suppose we'll have to skip the formal dinner before the duel." The Mercenary said with a growl.

"It is bad to fight with a filled stomach anyway." Grand Blood responded, though unamused by his opponents attempt to intimidate.

《=●=》

"So you had to keep a very calm expression as a kid huh?" Pinkie asked as she sat next to Sombra. The dark stallion kept his eyes glued on courtyard ahead.

"I had to. I could not bring any shame to my family." He said as he saw Cadence in the distance. She was struggling to get Blue Blood free from his imprisonment, the crystal pears were locked in place. Even from this distance Sombra could see Blue Blood shout out, no doubt in anger to have some pony get him free.

Sombra's eyes blew into small flames, just large enough to make the spears disappear, leaving many ponies around to look in shock. Just as fast as the flames had been ignited, they extinguished as Sombra went back to his stoic expression.

"That would explain a lot." Pinkie said as she went back to the conversation over his 'facade'.

"Being calm, even if it is just on the outside, was always something all Bloods had to do. If we showed any sign of weakness, our enemy would take advantage of it, but more than that, our strong magic would suffer if our emotions faltered...well, at least a real Blood's magic." Sombra finished as he lifted his hoof to his muzzle, gently pressing the white arrows on his face.

"You said it's like a birth mark right?"

"More like a strange occurrence. You see, unlike today, one thousand years ago ponies kept to their own tribe. I was one of the first foals born from a mixed of two races. That being said, my genes are a little out of it."

"What do you mean?"

"If a pegasus and an earth pony would to have a foal today, the child would turn out fine just because the parents likely have some genes of other tribes in their DNA already. If the foal was a pegasus, it would have no trouble being able to fly despite the genes for thick bones from the earth pony parent." Sombra began to explain. "But in my time, if a pegasus were to have had a foal with an earth pony, the foal would be born with both wings and thick bones. It would not be able to fly, and if it could, only after much training and even then not for long periods of time."

"So what you're saying is that since you were half earth pony."

"My magic as a Blood was weak. Actually, my magic as a unicorn in general was weak."

"You're dad probably didn't like that...huh?"

"My father pulled me aside every single night to train me...and he did not hold back."

《=●=》

"Again!" Grand Blood shouted as his son struggled to lift several boulders at the same time. Every few seconds, Elite would tire out and drop the large stones while simultaneously falling to the ground as well.

Panting, Elite struggled to his hooves as Grand Blood patiently waited for him. "Y-Yes father..." Elite said as his horn began to glow blue.

"Dig your hooves into the ground. Keep your center." Grand Blood commanded. His son obeyed, and though his form was text book perfect, his magic was simply not strong enough to lift the boulders.

Beads of sweat began to run down Elite's forehead as his blue aura began to surround the boulders around him. His teeth clenched and his eyes closed shut, the colt could feel himself sink into the ground from the strain of the magic, but he persisted on. Slowly the boulders began to move, butching from side to side as they were lifted from the ground. Just as it seemed like Elite had managed to perform his levitation, his magic ran out and a loud thud was heard form the stones falling back down.

"I..." Elite said between his pants. "I'm sorry father..." He said as he looked up at Grand Blood who had made his way to him, staring down at the poor colt.

"You need more practice. We will meet again tomorrow night as well until you get it right." He said before turning and walking away, leaving the colt to the cruel power of gravity bringing him down to the floor from his exhaustion. He would rest there for a while until he had enough strength to bring himself to his room where he would rest for what was left of the night.

《=●=》

"He would train me every single night. He would use every possible method known to a unicorn to get me up to par with the other Bloods." Sombra said as he looked back to Blue Blood who came to his hooves, denying Cadence's offer of help.

"Is that why you knew just how to teach Dinky magic?"

"Yes. I was in her shoes once, frustrated with not being able to perform well."

"But you became strong, I mean look at you now!" Pinkie shouted, trying to bring some cheer to the conversation.

"No Pinkamena..." Sombra said with a frown. "Dark magic made me strong...not practice. No matter how much effort I put into my training, my natural magic simply did not keep up."

"But...so what happened?"

"I grew up...I fought as best as I could...and I won, sometimes though luck alone." Sombra said, looking up at the moon.

《=●=》

The moon shined bright as Elite sat in the middle of a balcony. His left shoulder was bandaged up from a recent battle. As he moved to adjust his posture, he grunted in pain, causing him to close one eye in reflex.

"Keep still Eli." A gentle voice said to him as she entered the balcony. He turned around and though he was happy to see her, remained stoic in expression.

"Hello mother, how does your night fair?" He asked as she sat next to him.

"Not different from any other night. How is your shoulder?"

"Manageable."

"That's good, though I would prefer if you kept yourself from any other fights."

"You know I cannot do that mother. As a Blood I cannot deny a duel."

"I know but..." Emerald said as she looked over at her son. No longer just a colt, he had grown up to be a handsome stallion. His mane much longer but still combed back plus some of it had began to grow along his muzzle with his white arrow fur ending at his nose. "It's just that you've only just come of age to accept duels, don't you think you're over doing it?"

"I cannot refuse a duel. As son of Grand Blood, Elite Blood cannot waver in any shape or form."

"I...I know." Emerald said as she looked down at her hooves.She could feel tears beginning to swell at her eyes as she did her best to hold back a cry stuck at her throat. With a sniffled voice, she turned to look at her son who was once again preoccupied with the moon.

Despite being around, despite being his mother, Emerald had not been able to hold or hug Elite since his birth. It pained her to see how distant he seemed even though she knew it was the same facade all Bloods wore. Her vision of Elite blurred as the tears began to slip out of her eyes without her consent.

"M-mother?" Elite asked as he looked back at Emerald who had a sad smile on her face. Her tears in an unwavering stream as she did her best to keep still and quiet. "What's wrong mother?" He asked out again, worried for her. He had never once seen her cry, even after any insult thrown at her, any task barked at her, or any amount of tiredness. This was the first time he had seen his mother in a moment of weakness.

"Nothing, my sweet little prince. I'm just so happy to be able to see you." She said as she stood up, making her way out of the balcony as the chime of a clock rung. Though confused, Elite did not chase after her, he knew that doing so would probably bring problems to both of them. Instead, he returned his gaze at the moon. The bright celestial being in the night sky that never wavered, much like him, much like he had to do the next morning. It was his first Duel of the Blood.

《=●=》

"Your first Duel of the Blood? But I thought that you had plenty of experience in duel by then."

"Duels, and Duels of the Blood are different. When an outsider came and requested a duel, they would choose some pony of the Blood lineage to fight. Being the son of the current head, I was a popular pick. But a Duel of the Blood is a formal duel between two of the Blood family members. It was a fight to the death, a fight I was not ready for."

"W-Why not?"

"My opponent had a cutiemark."

"Huh? What does that have to do with anything?"

"Remember how I told I did not get my cutie mark until after I defeated Dycus?"

"Yeah..."

"Well that is because unicorns of the Blood family spent their whole lives fighting and perfecting the art of combat. We had no time to explore and find our special talents. Most Blood died without a cutiemark, focusing instead on our family trade, the art of killing."

"So since your opponent had a cutiemark..."

"His 'special talent' was combat. He was not only more powerful magic wise, he was also more prepared and skilled at it than I."

《=●=》

"Gah!" Elite screamed out as he slide on the ground, using his hoof to throw himself back up, he managed to come to his hooves in time to jump away from another blast of energy.

"Is that all? I expected more from the son of Grand Blood!"His opponent shouted as he sent out more and more energy bolts at Elite. Doing his best to avoid the assault, Elite tried to think of a counter attack, but the stallion he was facing left no openings for him to take advantage of, his eye for detail was of no use.

"I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised, you are only half a Blood. There's no way you could win against me." He said as he laughed. His small monologue allowing Elite to rest a bit, his calm demeanor ever present in how he carried himself.

"No...no...no..." Elite said to himself as he ran through all the possible actions he could take. "He has a perfect formation. He leaves no openings, no gaps between his attacks, nothing I can use to my advantage."

Standing up right, this is where his earth pony heritage came into play. His body could take a lot of pressure and stress. He could regain his breath and strength after only a small break. This was his only chance, if he could not out power or out smart, Elite had to out last his opponent, tire him out until he had no magic left to attack with.

Glancing to the side, Elite saw his father and other Bloods spectating the duel, and while Grand Blood still bore his stoic composure, every other pony was in surprise.

"How is Elite Blood still alive?" One of them asked. "No pony had ever lasted this long against Steel Blood."

"Elite Blood is not just any pony." Grand said. "He is my son."

"Enough!" Steel shouted as he charged his horn. "Let's end this now!"

"Not yet." Elite said as he began to run to the side, circling around arena. Steel responded with an volley of blasts of magic, all sent in different patterns towards him. Elite's watchful eye managed to keep him one step ahead of where the attacks would land and avoided them. This continued for quite a while, the his speed never fading even a little while he ran back and forth.

Steel Blood on the other hoof seemed to become more and more frustrated with each miss of his assault. "Why won't you just die?!" He shouted out. As if time has slowed down, Elite's eyes managed to spot a few key details about Steel...his formation was just a little off. He was growing tired.

As he jumped and rolled on the ground to avoid one of the bolts, Elite sent out a blast of his own at Steel who was not prepared for such a counter attack. Taking the full blast to his face, smoke surrounded the area around Steel. Every pony gasped as everything grew quiet except for Elite's pants of exhaustion. Even as he began to rest his body, Elite continued to scan the smoke for any sign of movement. He was good at identifying weak points, but not strong enough to defeat some pony with a single hit...something was wrong.

Sure enough, a blue spark was seen glow from the smoke followed by the sound of a blast going off, but despite his readiness to dodge, the bolt never come his way. Elite furrowed his eyebrows as he tried to make sense of the situation. Soon the smoke cleared and revealed a smirking Steel. Still confused, Elite stood tall as he waited for a reaction. It wasn't until he noticed a faint trace of blue sparks above Steel's head that he realized that the bolt had been sent upwards.

Quickly looking up, Elite opened his eyes wide as he saw a rain of blue shards begin to fall his way. Jumping away, he tried his best to avoid the assault of the stinging shards, but even through his best efforts, managed to get hit by quite a few of them. The shards cut and pierced his coat and flesh, burning in the wound. In a horrible scream, Elite used his magic to pull out all of the shards that had stabbed into him at once.

"Stings, doesn't it?" Steel asked out with a malicious grin. "How about another?" He asked before sending out another bolt to the sky. Elite clenched his teeth as he followed the bolt's bath and calculated any and all possible landing locations for the attack. In desperation, Elite began to run straight towards Steel, the only safe spot being the caster's position. Managing to avoid the attack, he was greeted by an array of magical attacks which Elite could barely avoid. His reaction time to Steel's attacks were slow by being so close, and far away he was an open target to the rain of shards.

Grand Blood stood still as he saw his son fight a losing fight. Though he remained expressionless, his eyes harbored hints of emotion. Slowly twitching at the moments Elite was about to get hit and relaxing when he managed to avoid damage. It was subtle enough for no pony to notice, but he knew that Elite was fighting a losing battle.

"Stay still already!" Steel Blood shouted as Elite jumped from spot to spot. Frustrated with his opponent, Steel took drastic measures. Sending out three blue bolts into the sky, Elite looked in horror as they all exploded and a rain of shards began to fall down on them. There was no safe spot any more.

Jumping back and shooting the shards falling down, Elite did his best to avoid as much as he could, but with each shard avoided, he was struck by two others. Another shout of pain escaped him as he struggled to stay up. Steel, however, stood tall despite having several shards impaled on his back.

"What's wrong? Can't take a little pain?" He taunted as his horn began to glow. "Let me help you with that." He said as the shards on Elite's back began to glow blue, being ripped out of him and causing an immense pain to befall Elite. Still...he continued to stand, slowly bringing his head up tall.

"Lets see who can take more pain...shall we?" Steel said with a sinister expression. Again he sent out a bolt into the sky. Again Elite was bombarded with shards and pain.

A heart aching scream echoed through out the Blood Palace as Elite shed tears of anguish, his teeth grinding against each other. Emerald, who was busy with chores heard the Elite's cry and felt her heart sink. Throwing things to the side, she rushed out to balcony where she and her son had spoken the night prior and saw him our in the courtyard inches deep in his own blood, and while his opponent did not seem to fair any better, he simply laughed maniacally at Elite's pain.

Trying to straighten his vision, Elite did his best to keep on his hooves as his swayed from side to side. His vision seemed to begin to go out from his pain and loss of blood, but even then he tried to stand all like he was raised to do. Out of the corner of his eye, Elite managed to see his mother who was weeping for him. He could not hear her, but her pained expression as she began to slump down against the edge of the balcony brought a stinging pain to his heart. He did not want to see her like this, but he would not do anything about it...he was inches from death.

"One more time, shall we?" Steel Blood asked out in a laughing voice.

"...No..." Elite managed to say, his voice barely audible from his pain.

"What was that?"

"I said...no! I...I..." Elite said as he looked over at his father. His stoic composure not changed in the slightest. "I forfeit."

《=●=》

"I gave up the duel." Sombra said as he glanced down at his hooves, the pink mare next to her close to tears from the story he told. "I gave up and for the first time since my birth, disgraced my family."

"But you had no choice!" Pinkie shouted as she stood up, waving her arm in a frustrating gesture. "You would have died!"

"Most other Bloods would have accepted a death in a Duel of Blood as an honorable one." Sombra said, gazing up at the sniffling mare. Allowing for her to clam herself down, Sombra waited for Pinkie to sit back down next to him.

"What happened next was any pony's guess. No Blood had ever given up a Duel of Blood before." He said, trying to get back to his story. "I was taken in and given the medical attention I needed, allowing me to live through those wounds."

《=●=》

Pained grunts and moans were heard as Elite began to regain consciousness. Looking around, he tried to identify where he was, but the environment was foreign to him, what he could decipher was that where ever he was, he was in motion. The rustling of the furniture echoed as Elite began to recognize the noise of a train's engine.

"Are we awake now?" A voice called out to him.

"...Steel Blood..." Elite managed to say as he looked to the stallion standing next to him.

"I cannot believe you're alive." He said with a grim tone in his voice. "You stole my victory from me!"

"W-What?" Elite asked as he struggled to bring himself up.

"Yes! You were moments from death, and then you had to go and forfeit! You denied me my kill! You denied me my true victory, and now I can't kill you because apparently, a Duel of Blood cannot be rematched!" Steel shouted, his anger bleeding out through his loud voice.

"Steel...Where...Where am I?"

"Oh, this is the best part! I was put in charge of this very important task." Steel Blood said as the train engine began to die down, the rustling settling down until the motion had stopped. "I was put in charge of excommunicating you!" He shouted out in glee.

"What!?" Elite asked as he finally managed to bring his body to do as he told it to do. Placing a hoof to the wall next to him, he tried to stand up.

"Oh yes, you disgraced the family name, and so you have been stripped of your title as 'Prince'! Isn't that just wonderful?" Steel said as his horn began to glow, the door on the train slid open an a strong blizzard was seen outside. "Not only that, you are now placed in a location of my choice! So I brought you here."

Again Steel's horn glowed, but this time the blue aura wrapped around Elite's neck, dragging him to the door and hanging him out the edge of the train. "Oh, and one last thing. You have also been stripped of your name. You dishonored us so badly, you are no longer considered part of our family! You are Elite Blood no longer!" Steel said with a shrieking laugh as he let go of his ex family member. Elite fell several meters, landing on the cold snow and rolling downward for what seemed like an eternity.

Already in pain form his wounds, the cold sting did nothing to help him as he finally came to a stop. Beaten and tired, Elite did his best to come to his hooves, but he simply did not have the strength to do so. In the cold he laid there until he found the strength he needed to move. Dragging himself across the snow, he tried to climb his way back to the train, and even if it was no longer there, the tracks could lead him back home.

For hours Elite searched for the tracks, but it was to no avail. The blizzard prevented him from finding much of anything, and the white surrounds did not help orientate himself at all. Elite was out of energy and his wounds reopened. Panting, He let himself fall as he could feel himself drifting into sleep, possibly a sleep he would never wake up from.

"Is some pony there?" He heard a voice call out. He was barely conscious, and almost didn't even register the sound of the pony walking towards him. "Hello?" It called out again. This time, Elite was able to tell it was a mare's voice.

"What is this...blood?!" She shouted out as she found his trail of blood from his wounds. The last thing he could do before drifting away was feel hooves on him, shaking as some pony said something, but the noise was muffled. Darkness began to take his vision, and with it, a cold dream began.

《=●=》

"Gah!" A high pitched voice was heard, bringing the dark stallion back from the dark depths of his dream. Slowly opening his eyes, he felt warm under heavy sheets as muffled voiced argued in the room over.

"You brought him here?! What if he's a changeling!" A voice shouted out.

"He isn't! The wounds were real and if he was just pretending he would have killed me when I approached him."

"So you thought it was best to bring him to the empire? We've enough injured ponies as it is!"

"Every pony deserves to live! Resident of the Crystal Empire or not!"

"Fine!" The voice shouted as the sound of hooves was heard walking away. "Do what you want, but don't expect any help from us!" Finally the voices died down as the stallion tried to turn his head.

"Gah Gah!" The high pitched voice said again. Turning his head, the stallion saw a small foal by his pillow eagerly looking at him. He was unlike an foal he had ever seen, with a shiny sparkling coat and strangely shaped shines in his eyes.

"Oh, you're awake!" A voice said as it entered the room. "I'm so happy you made it!" The mare said, her coat sparkling in a light blue tone as well.

The dark stallion struggled to bring out his voice and where words were suppose to come, coughs appeared instead.

"Oh, don't strain yourself. I'm surprised you're alive with those wounds, so don't do anything that could reopen them, okay?" She said in a kind serene voice. "My name is Diane. This here is my son, Fetch!" The mare said as she reached for the foal who was happy to be picked up. "And you are?"

Coughing a few more times, the dark stallion finally managed to speak. "I...I no longer have a name..."

"Oh? That's weird. Well, I suppose your coat is already strange, so not having a name isn't the most shocking thing about you. Can I give you one?" She asked with a smile. The dark stallion was perplexed the amount of enthusiasm she produced.

"I-If you wish."

"Hmmm..." Diane said as she began to think. "Well, how about 'Sombra'? It means Shadow in an old language, and given your strange coat, I say it suits you!"

"Sombra?" He asked out. He was no longer Elite Blood, so any name was fine, he supposed this one was as good as any other. "O-Okay. I am Sombra...it's nice to meet you Diane." Sombra said, introducing himself with his new name.

《=●=》

"So that's why you don't like being called by anything else..." Pinkie said as she looked at her depressed friend. "But I thought you had never heard of a pony changing their name.

"It was the name given to me when I lost the one I was born with." Sombra said as he looked back up form his hooves. "I did not change it willingly. It was the name that gave me a new chance, a new beginning. A beginning that was later wasted when I became a Tyrant." He said with a saddened voice.

"But you're not Sombra the Tyrant anymore!" Pinkie shouted, trying to argue with him.

"Then tell me, who am I?"

"You're Sombra! The stallion I reformed! The stallion that saved Ponyville and my friends plenty of times over! You're a good guy!" She shouted out at him but hushed down just as quickly. "You're Sombra...a very special stallion to me." She said as she placed her head against his shoulder. Her tears began to trickle down her face again as her hooves ran to his coat in an embrace.

"Pinkamena...what are you doing?" Sombra asked without moving, not flinching or pushing himself away from her hug.

"I'm hugging you...it's what you do to ponies you care about." She said through her sniffles.

Flinching, Sombra began to lift his arms in hesitation as he grabbed a hold of her shoulders, about to move her away, but the longer she hugged him, the warmer he felt. A loving embrace he had never felt before in his life. Instead of pushing her away, Sombra's hooves slide to her back as he too returned the hug.

"T-Thank you..." Sombra said in a hushed voice.

"For what?"

"Looking for me."

Again Pinkie sniffled as she ended the hug. "Any time." She said as she smiled sadly at him, her tears drying up finally. They remained still for a while, only gazing at each other's eyes. This time, neither one of them felt awkward as they looked at one another. Pinkie's sapphire eyes focused only on Sombra's ruby eyes. Slowly, the shine that had left his eyes began to return as a smile spread across his face. She returned the gesture as she came to her hooves.

"We should probably get going. I'm sure every pony else is super worried about us."

"Yes, I must have caused quite a panic." Sombra said as he glanced over at the courtyard. Practically every pony had left and was on their way out of the Gala. Again Sombra held out his hoof at Pinkie who didn't hesitate to take it this time. Pulling her close, Sombra jumped forward as his eyes erupted in flames to conjure out a pillar that they slid on towards the courtyard. Landing on the ground, the sound of Pinkie's laugh echoed slightly.

"That was fun!"

"I'm sure it was." Sombra said as he looked inside. The once filled ball room was not even a fourth filled anymore, most ponies had left to go home by this hour.

"You never got to dance huh?"

"Yeah, it's alright though."

"No it's not Sombra!" Pinkie said as she began to pull him inside, though the name she used was strange for her to call out.

"Sombra?" He questioned, making Pinkie stop in her tracts.

"Y-Yeah! Your name is important to you, so I guess I feel a little bad about calling you 'Sombrie' all this time..." She said as she began to fidget. "I remember how you said Carrot Top was a dishonor to Golden Harvest's name, so I guess I've been dishonoring your name by calling you Sombrie for so long."

A chuckle escaped Sombra as he saw the mare blush and fidget in front of him. "I see, but you really shouldn't force yourself. I've grown used to that nickname you gave me."

"S-Still!"

"Alright alright, lets go inside alright Pinkie?" He said as he began to walk by her. Her blush only deepened when he called her by her nickname.

"Wha?" Was all she managed to say.

"You wish to call me Sombra to please my believes right?" Sombra said as he stood at the entrance to the courtyard. "So I'll honor your believes by calling you by your preferred name, Pinkie."

Pinkie smiled as she followed him in, though it was less than welcoming to see the room so empty. The musicians were also packing as they prepared to leave themselves. Making their way to them, Pinkie recognized one of them to be the same one she had interrupted last year during her...moment of frustration.

"Excuse me." Sombra called out to the grey mare putting away her cello.

"Yes?" She replied without looking in his direction, too busy trying not to scratch her equipment.

"I was wondering if you would play one last song."

"Sorry, the band is only hired until 2 A.M., though I do suppose an encore is possible for the right pony." She said calmly, still not turning around.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if some pony of importance were to ask for an encore, then that would increase my reputation, so then I would be happy to perform one last song. So...who are you to request an encore?"

Sombra glanced over to the strangely silent mare beside him as she motioned him to reply truthfully.

"I am Sombra, The Reformed." He stated with pride in his voice. 'The Reformed', a title he decided to go by now to ensure every pony now knows of his new path, a path to light even if he walked a road of darkness.

"S-Sombra?" The cellist asked as she turned around quickly to make sure it was whom she thought. "As in, the stallion who fought Blue Blood tonight?"

"The one and only."

"Wow, you're going to be big news tomorrow." The mare said with a smile. "I suppose you are worthy of a free encore." She said with a sly smile, but a quick glance to her team made it go away. "Though it will only be me, looks like my teams are all ready packed."

"That's fine, I just need one song to dance to, no need to get every pony involved."

"Whatever you want 'Sombra, The Reformed'." She said with a smile, taking her instrument out again and placing her bow on the strings, awaiting his signal to start.

Sombra took Pinkie by the Hoof and pulled her to the dance floor where she began to freak out. "S-Sombra! I don't know how to dance to this kind of music!" She said, a furious blush upon her face.

"Don't worry, just follow my lead." He responded as he helped her onto her hind legs. Placing one of her hooves on his shoulder and the other held in his own, Sombra rested his free hoof on her lower back, causing her to tense up a little. "It's alright. Let's take it one step at a time, hmm?"

"O-Okay..."

With a nod to the musician, Sombra gave her the signal to begin playing. The smooth sound of the cello echoed in the room, drawing in the attention of those had had since grown used to the quiet environment. Sombra gently pulled and pushed Pinkie along with him, guiding her through the steps of the slow dance.

Pinkie felt very nervous about dancing to something she was not used to, but quickly felt more calm as the serene flow of the music and the slow dancing kicked into her system. Slowly she began to grasp the basic concept of the dance and no longer depended solely on Sombra's lead. This made the dark stallion begin to take things a step further, continuing to put a little more flavor into each step he took.

By this time, it could no longer be considered 'slow dancing' as Sombra maneuvered around Pinkie in a dance he learned in the Crystal Empire. Spinning her around, he smiled and laughed along with her as they began to enjoy each other's movements. The other musicians began to take notice of the dancing couple, and even though they were 'off duty', felt that they needed more music to compliment their dance. With a shrug to each other, they all unpacked their instruments as each one took turns getting into the rhythm the Cellist has started. Each one adding a new flavor to the music.

Ponies began to gather around the room once more as they all seemed interested in the lively dance Sombra and Pinkie were performing, among them were the other elements and alicorns. Fluttershy, looked sad as she sat down on the floor.

"What seems to be the problem fair Fluttershy?" Luna asked as she came close to her.

"I think...I lost." She said sadly, looking at Sombra and Pinkie dance happily with one another. Luna looked over at them and then back at the yellow pegasus.

"Yes, We believe thou may have lost this battle. Though We do not believe thou hast lost the war just yet."

"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked, looking up at her.

"The war is not over until there is a ring upon Sombra's horn." Luna said with a wink before making her way to the musicians.

Sombra and pinkie spun around one another as they felt the climax of the song come close. It was exhilarating for both of them as they could feel what the other would do next, quickly reacting to act as one and move in sync. Their movements smooth and balanced. The music finally came to a stop as the Cellist did her finale, making Sombra and Pinkie come to a stop as he stood behind her, glancing at her as she looked back at her in a smile, their hooves holding one another's.

Panting, they stood still for a while as they tried to catch their breath. Slowly they let go and looked around to see they now had an audience that they had not noticed before due to their undivided attention to their dance. The crowd erupted into applause for their excellent performance and with a blush upon her face, Pinkie felt Sombra take her hoof in his before signaling her to bow with him.

"Master musicians, We bid thee play for another hour." Luna said to the group on stage.

"What?! No way! Our agreement was just until two in the morning."

"We shall double thy pay for one more hour."

"Deal." The cellist said, causing the harpist to protest.

"What?! You can't decided for every pony!"

"I lead this group, and you all depend on me for gigs. Besides, we get double the pay for just one extra hour? Sounds like a great deal to me." She said as she placed her bow on the cello once more.

"We already have out stuff out." One of them said, taking her side.

"Ugh, fine." He said as he got back on his harp.

Sombra and Pinkie were just making their way back to their friends when they were bombarded with questions.

"Where were ya'll!?"

"Is everything okay now?"

"Where did you learn to dance like that?"

"Can I dance with you next?" Fluttershy asked, causing every pony else to stop in their tracts and look at her. Sombra glanced at Pinkie who smiled and nodded.

"Sure, do you know how to dance?"

"Umm, not really..."

"It's alright, I will show you." Sombra said calmly.

"We would like a turn as well!" Luna shouted from the other side of the room.

"Me too darling!" Rarity joined in.

"How about you and I dance a little?" Cadence asked her husband with a sly smile.

"Please do not forget about me." Agatha said as she made her way to the group.

Sombra began to sweat as he looked around at all the mares. "Uh..." He said just to buy some time for a response. The Cellist saw the small commotion and could not help but shout out.

"We're only here an extra hour, you better hurry!" She said teasingly, something Sombra did not appreciate very much, causing the group to erupt into laughter.

《=●=》

Walking alone in the quiet library of Canterlot, Twilight looked around for the book she wanted. Unlike before, this book was for record keeping. Ever since she saw what dark magic could do, she felt like she had to learn more. She needed to learn more.

"Let's see here..." Twilight said to herself, getting a quill to begin a transfer order. "There we go..." She said as she finished writing down her request. "The Tome of Las Artes Oscuras" She said to herself. "If I get the tome Sombra used to become an embodiment of darkness, I will be able to learn so much faster! I have to transfer it here to the Canterlot library, he'll know if it get's to Golden Oaks, I'm sure of it..." Twilight said, her eyes glowing red and a smirk on her face.

Author's Note:

Oh My Celestia! This is my longest chapter...EVER! Well, the Gala arc is over, what do you guys think of it?

Also, what are your thoughts on the second to final flashback explaining Sombra's back story? The very last one will be a flashback where we see his conversation from King, to Tyrant, but until then, you have this 'lovely' back story to help you shed some tears.

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