• 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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44. A Cutiemark in the Shape of a Red Crystal

Entering the crystal throne room, Sombra led the group of mares towards the cold hard seat of a royal. Coming to a stop, he glanced over at the Sun Goddess for directions.

"The vase is located where you had hidden the Crystal Heart." Celestia said as she stepped forward and came to his side. "Will you do the honors?"

"Of all the places, you had to pick here." Sombra said with a decelent sigh. Taking a hard stance as he ignited his eyes in a purple blaze, he sent a small bolt of dark magic towards the top of the throne, the ground beneath them began to slide away. Quickly every pony jumped to the side to avoid falling. Sombra, remembering where everything was placed, stood in the one spot where the ground did not shake.

"What's wrong here?" Cadence asked as she glanced down at the dark spiraling stair case.

"This is where my coronation took place." He said as he began to take a step down. With each hoof he placed on the black crystal step a flame ewuld spark into ignition in the center of the spiral, gently floating and hovering as they lit the way down.


"When you first came to the Crystal Empire you were some pony we took as a threat." A council pony said as he stood in front of Sombra who was kneeling down before him and the others behind him. They stood in front of the throne of the Empire, the very throne that now rested vacant because of the murder of the Princess just the day prior.

"Now you stand before us as our only hope in survival. What say you to this?"

"We are of different lands." Sombra began as he continued to stay kneeled. "But we have both lost a great deal in this war. I will bring an end to this madness in one last fight. You have my word."

The ponies began to whisper among themselves behind the main one Sombra spoke to. With a loud hush, they all quiet down as the council pony began to speak once more.

"Then I here by crown you Prince of the Crystal Empire." He said as he turned around to walk to the throne. Those around him back out of his path to allow him through. He reached for the crown that had been made for Sombra, but as he turned back around, he was shocked to see the dark stallion standing.

"I care not for your title, I only came for your blessing in going forth into battle against Dycus."

"You must understand Sombra, we are without a leader in the Empire right now. You need to take our Princess's place if you wish to end the war. Else the fight might be held unaccountable in our books and to those around us."

Blowing air out of his nose in frustration, Sombra spoke once again. "You and your customs. It is because of those very customs that you have come this far into being annihilated."

"We are offering you something no pony else could even wish of having!" A mare from the council shouted. "You should be grateful!"

"Hush now." The main council leader said, quieting the riot about to ensue."Please Sombra. Humor us one last time. You do not have to stay Prince if you do not want to, but you must win this war as the true leader of the Crystal Empire."

"Fine. But if we have to make sure this is for political purposes, make me King then."

Again the council erupted into chatter, some claiming he was asking for too much. Most simply accusing him of taking advantage of the situation. None had good to say about his request, but again the only one who actually put some thought into what Sombra asked was the head pony.

"And why, pray tell, do you wish to be King instead of Prince?"

"Dycus is the King of the Changelings. If you need me to be Crystal Royalty to make this fight valid, make me of the same rank. No pony will be able to deny the outcome after that." Sombra said with a stoic expression. Something he hadn't had for a very long time. To be exact, not since he came under Diane's care. He didn't need to hold a facade while she was around, but now that he lost her. Now that he was once again pushed into battle, it was dire for him to have his guard up.

"I see your point. So be it." The stallion said as he walked towards Sombra, crown in hooves. "From today forward you shall be King Sombra, Ruler of the Crystal Empire."

"Until this war is over." Sombra interjected, expressing his lack of care towards his title. Together they made their way out into the balcony of the castle. Waiting for them were thousands of ponies all anxiously waiting for the decision that had been made. As Sombra stared down into the the crowd of ponies the council pony walked behind him, and holding the crown high above he spoke.

"All hail King Sombra." He said as he gently placed the crown upon Sombra's head. At once all the ponies down below began to cheer in happiness. Their new King, he was their only hope of winning, of surviving.


The group of ponies had finally made it to the bottom floor. The dark corridor that had led down had finally come to the end when the final flame ignited the floor where every pony's reflection stared back at them. They were all quiet though they had many things to say or ask.

"It is your turn Princess." Sombra said as he reached the single door on the small area that they had stepped onto.

"Why me?" Celestia asked as she stepped forward.

"I suppose it does not have to be you. Just any pony who can use light based magic. Dark magic is futile on it this door. It will cause you to see your worst fear come to life."

"Why though?"

"I...had my reasons for placing the Crystal Heart behind this door, hidden away from any and every
pony trying to get it."

"Even you?" Applejack asked.

"Even me."

The room grew quiet as tension began to build inside of him. Pinkie took a few steps forward to get to Sombra's side, though it did little to console him, memories began to plague him as he went into a blank and dull expression. He was brought back when he felt a tug at his coat. Turning to see Pinkie, he cracked a small half smile that signaled Celestia to proceed.

Celestia's horn began to glow as she sent a bright bolt of energy to the top of the door, quickly opening it as they were showered in a white light. Walking though the door, they were greeted by more stairs which cause many of them to sigh in disbelief.

"More!?" Rarity asked out, already exhausted from the climb down.

With a chuckle, Sombra began to make his way up. "Do you know how hard it is to hide a secret passage way in a castle? I only had the floor below the throne room and the walls around it to work with. How else would I keep the only way to the tower a secret?"

"Wait wait wait! Are you saying we not only have to go up all the way back to the throne room's level, but more past it?!"

"About three times more." Sombra said with a grin. "Hurry now, we've little time to waste. Any further questions regarding our destination would be directed at Celestia. After all, she hid the vase we're looking for there."

At once Princess Celestia was met with many looks of annoyed ponies as she felt herself shrink from the atmosphere around her. With an embarrassed laugh, she took a few steps forward and cleared her throat.

"Yes well, come now every pony, we've no time to waste!"


"Here for revenge?" The tall Changeling asked out as he gazed down Sombra who stood unwavering despite their prolonged battle.

The ground around them was battered and with many craters they had created from their blasts of magic. Around them hid many other Changelings that were spectating the fight, much too scared to join in and simply allowing their King to finish the fight.

"We've been fighting for over an hour and only now you wish to exchange words?" Sombra asked out as his purple flames waved in the wind, gently followed the motions of the breeze.

"I did not think you would live this long."

"Nor I you."

"You still haven't answered my question."

"Revenge would not solve anything Dycus." Sombra said as he ran towards the Changeling, erecting a pillar to propel himself up towards his hovering foe.

"You say that, but all I see is hatred in your eyes!" Dycus shouted as he dodged out of the way and began to counter attack.

"That's just my magic seeping out." Sombra replied as he erected a pillar of dark crystal to maneuver around, allowing him to move out of the way and avoid the volley of magical blasts aimed at him.

Sombra wasn't lying about fighting to simply end the war, but Dycus was right. Deep down, all he wanted was to get back at Dycus for the murder of his family. He was angry, and the fear that the changelings around them were feeding him was only making him more confident in his actions, leaving him vulnerable to the corruption he wasn't even aware off slowly taking over.

"If all you want is revenge, you could just come back later to kill Chrysalis. I sent out my dear Queen to scout out more food, after all, once we're through feeding on your precious Crystal Empire we'll need another supply."

"You dare toss your bride around like a trading token?" Sombra growled as he and Dycus continued to shoot at one another, gracefully dodging and weaving out of harms way.

"Oh please, we changelings aren't capable of love. We are King and Queen simply because we are the two strongest among all Changelings. I care not for what happens to her, no pony in our hive cares if we lose one Royal."

"Not even if that Royal is you?" Sombra asked out as he and Dycus began to elevate high up into the hive, the center of attention for all changelings to see.

"Not even if it's me. Now!" The Changeling King shouted as he and Sombra reached the dead center of their enclosed battle ground. All at once, every changeling sent out their most powerful magical bolt of green energy at the Kings fighting. They were surrounded, and there was no way of dodging this assault.

Both of them took the full force of the attack, causing a massive explosion at the center. Being the only one without wings, Sombra was falling down towards the stone ground. His eyes barely open, he managed to get a glance of Dycus grinning as he struggled to stay in the air.

With a loud bang, the dark stallion hit the ground as dust and debris was thrown all around. Small green lights lit up the cavern hive as all the Changelings prepared yet another assault, all as Dycus's grin became a chuckle, a laugh that brought chills down every pony's spin. His voice echoing in the hive in a cold and brutal tone.

"I commend you in your efforts. Had it been a one on one fight, you probably would have beaten me. Hell, had it been a five hundred on one fight you might have still won. But when you deal with a Changeling, you deal with all of us. Now....every pony, attack." He commanded his legion. Again all the changelings shot out a bolt of energy that illuminated the dark surrounding.

Using all of his strength to get to his hooves, Sombra's mind raced as he thought of possible ways to get out of this, hopefully even survive. He was still inexperienced with his new dark powers, but they hard served him well thus far, why not place his trust in them one last time? In a loud grunt, Sombra used the last of his energy to conjure out a crystal wall, one that was hopefully strong enough to endure the incoming blast.

Shutting his eyes as he strained his magical power, the ground beneath him shook as crystal sprouted out to form a shield around him. A red color began to shine out from the usual black crystal as the wall was just barely raised in time to block the attack. To every pony's surprise, it did not just block, it reflected. All the magic that had been sent to Sombra was now being redirected upwards towards Dycus. Already having trouble just staying off the ground, he was not able to avoid the concentrated beam of magic.

A loud aching scream of pain echoed in the hive as Dycus' body began to fall down. Sombra's red crystal retracted into the ground as he was once again out into the open, the magic that had summoned the red crystal now made it's way to Sombra where it traced his body under his ripped cape where a cutie mark appeared, one of a red crystal separating into three.

Though he felt drained and tired, he did not need his magic anymore. Laying in front of him was the limp body of his opponent. All was silent. Slowly, Sombra walked up to the Changeling's body and with his magic lifted him off the ground and held it above his head.

"I am King Sombra, Ruler of the Crystal Empire. I have proven to you all that your King is no match to me, so you all are no match against my Empire!" Sombra shouted out as he turned all around, speaking to all the changelings in the hive. "I will give you all one chance, leave now or face the wrath of the King of the Frozen North!"


Finally the group made it to the top of the stairs. Those without wings fell to the ground exhausted from their climb up.

"Next time...Make a rest stop somewhere near the middle, those flight of stairs were simply dreadful!" Rarity complained from the spot on the ground she was on.

"Was it really that bad?" Fluttershy asked as she flew down next to her friend.

"It's easy for you to say, you have wings!" Applejack replied as she too tried her best to catch her breath.

"I do not know why you all wanted to come along." Sombra said as he walked up the the center piece of the chamber they had entered.

"We did not want to leave you alone." Pinkie replied to his rhetorical question.

"Yes, besides, it seems you wouldn't have been able to open the door to get here on your own anyway." Cadence said with a smile, trying to crack a joke to lighten every pony's mood.

"What's in the blasted thing anyway?" Rainbow Dash asked as she circled around the small vase in the altar.

"It contains Sombra's dark magic, the one I took from him when we first found him. We took his magic before sending him to Ponyville to be reformed. It was the only way to make sure he did not go haywire while he was being reformed." Celestial said as she too took a few steps close, though only as far as Sombra was willing to go. "Though when I offered it back to Sombra at the Gala he deemed it necessary to lock it up. I believed it was more corrupting than any other dark magic."

"In truth, it wasn't because it had corruptible properties. This is the dark magic of when I was known as the King Sombra, The Tyrant of the Crystal Empire. Right now the memories I hold of when I was a Tyrant are vague and blurry. Even in that state I can tell I did horrible things. I did not wish to get this magic back because with it, I will be flooded with the recollection of all the bad deeds I performed as a Tyrant." He said as he stepped closer once more, this time not stopping until he was face to face with the small black vase.

"So...you'll be forced to relive everything you did as a Tyrant?" Pinkie asked out from her laying position on the floor.


"Thou would put thyself though such a horrible ordeal? To relive the mistakes thou regrets so much?" Luna asked.

"Luna, you are willing to become Nightmare Moon in order to fight Twilight Sparkle. Remembering a few bad memories is nothing compared to that."

"Still, it will be pretty hard on you. What if while you recall all your bad deeds, you fall to corruption once again?" Cadence asked.

With a small glance at Pinkie, Sombra let out a soft sigh followed by a smile. "You need not worry. I will not be persuaded to bring harm to those I care about so easily. Though I do ask something of you."

"And what is that dear?" The white mare asked.

"Please wait outside."

"What!?" Every pony shouted out.

"We did not climb all the way up here just to go back down!" Applejack shouted her discontent.

"Pipe down every pony!" Rainbow began. "Now lets all beat it before we get in the way."

All were quiet and shocked as the one pony who seemed to had been against Sombra was now following his instruction without complaint. The glances at her quickly let Rainbow know why every pony was confused, and with a puff of air out of her snout, she answered the unvoiced questions.

"I said I would trust Sombra unconditionally, because he said that if we placed our faith in him he would bring Twilight back." She said as she looked back at the dark stallion who, though still facing away form them, gave them a soft look. "So let's all go before we cause the guy any more problems. He's probably just embarrassed about crying in front of mares or something."

With small giggles, the mares began to make their way out, leaving a smiling stallion. Though he too was surprised at the drastic change of heart, he was grateful. Not willing to have that trust go to waste, Sombra quickly looked back at vase he was standing in front of.

"Just you and me now it seems." He said before gently nudging the vase over. Falling and breaking on the crystal ground, a large amount of darkness began to consume the chamber. Surrounded in a cloud of spiraling smoke, Sombra looked up at the eye of the dark storm. His eyes igniting in flames, he grunted as he slowly began to drain all the dark magic from his dark past.

Small tears began to trickle down his face as what was once vague, was now vivid in his mind. And what was worse, was that the first memory to come to him was not of him acting as a Tyrant, but rather, the moment he held the lifeless body of Diane and her colt in his arms. The remembrance of the promise he made to her, that he would bring a better life to the Empire. The promise he broke.

"I am so sorry Diane...."

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