• 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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46. Darkness Comes

Day had arrived, and with it, so did a new form of despair. Word had gone around about Twilight's eminent attack, causing many to lose heart, especially those of Ponyville and Canterlot. Oddly enough, the Crystal Ponies seemed strangely cheery for such dire circumstances. Their coats shined bright and their faces held smiles. The reason as to why, however, was nowhere to be seen...well, almost no where.

"Every pony seems awfully happy." Spike said from Shining Armor's back. They were currently making their way to the refugee camp, but had decided to pass by the market streets of the Crystal Empire on the way.

"Yeah, but I'm not complaining. Makes keeping peace much easier for me." Shining replied, a goofy grin upon his face as he waved hello to a by passer. Jumping off his ride, Spike walked over to one of the vendors and bought what he needed, a few supplies they were bringing to the camp.

"Excuse me, but how come you all are going about like nothing is wrong?" Spike asked the vendor as he purchased a few edibles, no doubt to bring to those who had not had a chance to eat yet at the camp.

"What do you mean?" The Crystal pony asked.

"Things are pretty bad with Twilight...you know." He said, not really willing to finish his sentence. It was something he had struggled to believe, but even less say himself as a fact. His Twilight had gone mad, gone into insanity and was doing horrible, terrible things.

"Yeah, I heard about Princess Twilight. But King Sombra is on the case, no?"

"King?" Shinning asked out with a nervous laugh.

"Oh, I mean, Sombra, The Reformed. We all heard about how he is back to his normal self. The Sombra who rescued us from the pit of despair all those years ago is back, that means everything will be okay."

"You sure have a lot of trust in Sombra huh?"

"Oh course! He is...good at making things better for every pony. Since he said he'll fix everything, we've nothing to worry about." The vendor finished as she noticed another costumer coming to the stand. With a swift goodbye, the attention was taken away from the drake and stallion, and now where left to their own thoughts.

"Wow, Sombra seems to have a way of making others believe in him huh?" The drake asked as he climbed back onto Shining's back.

"You mean like with Rainbow?"

"Yeah, one minute she's all angry with Sombra, the next she has complete trust in him."

"I think that's just Rainbow Dash." The white stallions said with a laugh. "From what Twily told me, she can be pretty stubborn when she wants to. I think she always believed in Sombra but couldn't bring herself to admit it."

"Eeyup." A deep voice said from beside them.

"Big Mac!" Shinning called out as he greeted his friend, an appearance he wasn't prepared for. "I didn't know you were here, Applejack said you went to Appleloosa."

"Ah had to make sure mah family made the trip over. Just got here." The red stallion said as he gestured behind him. A long line of family members walking, all tired from their trip. Breaburn, the one leading them, nodded in acknowledgement as he passed. Many others followed behind him and did the same.

"Woah...." Spike said in awe, a little overwhelmed by all the Apples who were walking by. "Did you walk all the way here?"

"Eeyup."

"Why didn't you take the train!?"

"We all wouldn't fit in one train and we weren't about to leave an Apple behind. We all agreed on making the trip on hoof instead of risking losing one."

"Now that is commendable." Shining said with a smile. "The Apple family seem to be very united."

"Eeyup." Big Mac proclaimed, his usual phrase now with a hint of pride in it. "So, how long we gonna stay here?" He asked as he and the other two began to join the herd, all of them on their way to the refugee camp. The purple dragon once again climbed onto the white stallion's back as he spoke.

"What do you mean?"

"Ah mean, how long til it's safe to go home?"

"But you just got here. Don't you want to at least rest up before you say you're home sick?" Shining teased.

"Well...pardon me if Ah'm rude or somethin', but Ah don't want to be away from my apple orchard for very long. This here place is nice and all, but we Apples belong on our farms."

With a soft smile Shining looked over to the castle that poked into the sky. "Don't you worry. Sombra and the girls have a plan. Last night Cadence told me that our good friend is taking in some of his old magic. He and Luna are going to fight Twilight head on and get her back to normal."

"How exactly?"

"Uh..." He replied, some sweat falling down his forehead. "The details escaped me, though I'm sure they know what their doing."

"I don't care what they do, I just want old Twilight back." Spike said, the green scales on the side of his head slumped down.

"Don't you worry Spike, once we find Twilight we will-"

"Ooomf!" A cry was heard as something heavy landed on the ground near them. Every pony looked over to find a rather strange sight. Before them laid an odd mix of different animal parts, all torn about and twisted. Slowly beginning to put themselves together, the familiar face of Discord soon appeared. "Hello every pony...I found Twilight." He said as he lifted a claw to talk.

《=●=》

"Like I was saying." The Lord of Chaos said as his arm was being bandaged by Fluttershy, his body barely being able to be held together. "Twilight Sparkle had spent her time in an old cave just outside of Equestria. I found her as soon as she began to use dark magic. She sure knows how to wreck havoc I'll give her that." He said, oblivious to his arm falling off as he spoke. The mares around him all gasped, but without a word the limb floated back up to it's place where it struggled to stay.

"So why didn't you tell us as soon as you found her?" Celestia asked out.

"I was on a recon mission my dear, I couldn't just leave. I poked around for a while, trying to find out what she was up to, but I was found."

"What happened then?"

"Well..." Discord said as he moved around his now bandaged extremity. "Twilight began to question how it was that all my body parts were put together...and proceeded with several experiments in order to find out." He said with a cringe. "Not fun, I'll tell you that much."

"Sounds like you've been through Tartarous." Sombra said as he walked into the chamber. Every pony was surprised and happy to see him, with a quick greet from every pony, he nodded in acknowledgement, though he was more interested in Discord's story.

"I've been to Tartarous, it's a much more pleasant stay I assure you." The draconequus said in a joke.

"So why did Sparkle let you go?"

"She didn't, I escaped."

"I do not mean to be rude, but I doubt you did. Sparkle is too cunning, and with her dark magic putting an emphasis on making sure she has everything figured out, I don't think she left any doors open for you."

"What are you trying to say?" Celestia asked.

"I mean to say, she was through waiting. I knew she wouldn't last those three days like she said. Her thirst for knowledge wouldn't allow her to stay still. I am willing to bet that once she got bored with you Discord, she let you get away as a sign to us that she is on her way." Sombra said, quickly drawing conclusions from what he knew. Those around him certainly seemed to agree.

"That doesn't leave us with much time to prepare."

"Prepare for what exactly?" Shining asked. "I mean, I know I wasn't in the room when all this went down last night, but as far as I know, Sombra and Luna are going to fight Twily alone. It doesn't exactly leave very much for us to do."

"That is where you're wrong." Sombra interjected. "Like when I attacked the Crystal Empire, a dark fog will begin to spread over Equestria. While we are away, you all have to keeps the hopes of the citizens of Equestria high."

"Why though? Ah mean, Twilight won't even make it to the Empire will she?" Applejack asked out this time.

"No, but as an Alicorn, she is now much more potent in her magical abilities. No doubt she can drain dark magic even when she isn't present."

"Can you do that?" Pinkie asked.

"No..."

Silence. For the first time, Sombra had admitted that he could not do something and that wasn't exactly something they wanted to hear from the stallion who had proclaimed himself able to do anything the night prior. It certainly created a strange tension in the air.

"Celestia, make Sombra and Alicorn so he can do it like Twilight." Pinkie said, finally speaking out. Her words caused a few to giggle.

"While you're at it, me too!" Shining shouted, this time even more began to laugh, brining his smile to that of a nervous one. "No, I'm serious. My wife and sister are Alicorns, you guys have any idea how hard it is." He said, trying to get some sympathy, but with all the giggling going around, none heard.

"Yes well, let's talk after you return okay Sombra?" Celestia said with a wink. The atmosphere around them was clear again, allowing them to get to business. Falling into his old customs, Sombra began to give out orders. Even though several ponies out ranked him, they all simply nodded in agreement. He was in charge, this was his plan, and that in it of itself brought an easing feeling to them all.

"There is strength in numbers. The more ponies around, the more powerful they will feel."

"So we should bring all the refugees and citizens in one place?"

"Yes, but be careful. A large crowd is also easily influenced by a single variable. That means that if one begins to get scared, they all will."

"It's like follow the leader right?" Shining asked as he leaned over to see the plans his friend was making.

"Exactly. You all have to make sure nothing gets them riled up. If they begin to fall into their own fear Luna and I will be outmatched by Sparkle."

"That reminds Us." Luna said. "We are still not very sure how thine plan of fighting as Nightmare Moon will play out. Thou said We would have dark magic at Our disposal, but We still do not know how to use said magic."

"You don't have to. Sparkle will no doubt have memorized my fighting patterns. Using regular dark magic tactics would be falling into a trap. Dark magic is very powerful, simply use it as an alternative to your usual magic. It will add a boost, and if you need extra help, I think I can still erect a pillar of two from with in your subconscious."

"Think?"

"I have never done this."

"And you're just gonna place the fate of Equestria on a bet?"

"I've placed my faith in things with lower chances of success. Do not worry, everything will be fine." Sombra said, trying to reassure. them.

"And you think we can do all of this in a few hours?" Cadence asked as she looked down at the map Sombra had scribbled out. It held all sorts of details on where to place what. Who should stand where, and what should be said. Awfully detailed for something he had only had a couple of hours to come up with.

"Yes, though I will need you all to be ready in less than one hour."

"What!?"

"Luna and I must leave at once, Sparkle is making her way here, and the closer she gets, the more magic she has. We shall leave when the Crystal Empire is as I described." He said, again pointing out the paper he wrote.

"Aye aye." Many said, already on their way out to get things done. Pinkie, who was smiling from ear to ear, was also about to leave to do what needed to be done, but was stopped when she felt something pull on her pink coat.

"Got a minute?" Sombra asked softly after getting Pinkie's attention. His gentle voice was strange, but with a faint blush and a small nod, the mare answered.

"Yeah."

《=●=》

Sombra led the pink mare up into the castle. It was a short walk from the chamber they were in to the balcony, but it had felt like an endless hike since no word was spoken on the way. Things were still a little awkward, having not really talked since the pep talk Pinkie had given him, Sombra had dozens of things to say, but didn't know how to say them exactly. Reaching the balcony's edge, Sombra sighed as he tried to gather his thoughts.

"Everything okay?" Pinkie asked.

Sombra opened his mouth to speak, but then decided against it. Instead he held out his hoof, gesturing her to hold a moment. Reaching into the drape of his clothing he searched around his many pockets. Finding what he was looking for, he came close to Pinkie and reached for her hoof. Extending it out in between them, he places something small in it. The pink mare takes a moment to look at it and her eyes open wide.

"Wow, this is a very pretty ruby." She said as she gazed upon the small stone.

"It was suppose to be Fetch's birthday present before he...passed away." Sombra said. "It is something very important to me, something I hold very dear."

"I see." Pinkie said as she held the ruby up, the sun's light shined through it, causing it to sparkle in a beautifully. "So is this your new anchor?"

"Not exactly." He replied, coming in a little bit closer. "It is just something I care about. And I want you to have it."

"What?!" She asked, suddenly looking back at the tall stallion. "But you said it's very dear to you."

"It is. And I want you to take care of it."

"What? No, I can't" She said as she tried to give the ruby back, only to have her hooves pushed back to her, a small struggle that ceased when Sombra began to hold her hooves tightly in his.

"I want you to keep it...until I get back. Okay?" He said, not really sure as how he wanted to phrase his sentence.

"But why?"

"Just...humor me, please?" Sombra asked, his eyes begging her to comply. Like the ruby Pinkie was holding in her hooves, his red eyes shined to her, called for her to look deeply into them.

"Okay... but only until you get back right?"

"I promise, once I get back, I'll get my ruby back."

"Pinkie Promise?"

A chuckle escaped the stallion as he saw the mare in front of him gesturing out the promise she was known for. Sitting down and mimicking her actions, Sombra spoke the words she mouthed.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." He said in a soft voice. A smile spread across both their faces as they began to laugh out. It was rather silly for them to be doing such a thing at a time like this, but it was definitely something they needed. A break from all the high tension that was building within them.

"Now..." Sombra said as he leaned close and wrapped his arms around Pinkie in a hug. His sudden action causing her to get flustered. "I must go. I am sure Shining and Macintosh are eager to tell me they are done." He said as he gestured over to the stallions waiting behind them.

Releasing his embrace, Sombra waved bye as he began to walk back into the castle. Not stopping when he reached his friends, they began to follow him as grins appeared on their faces.

"Getting pretty close to Pinkie huh?" Shining asked out in a tease, though the answer he got was not the one he expected.

"Yes. Pinkie means a lot to me." He said as he finally came to a stop. "Shining Armor, Macingtosh Apple." Sombra said as he turned around in a rather formal manner.

"Uhh, yeah?" They asked, a little thrown off by his sudden attitude.

"While I'm gone...will you take care of Pinkie Pie for me?" Sombra asked out. His voice gentle in tone, but bold in volume.

"Of course, nothing will happen to her while we're around, ain't that right Big Mac?"

"Eeyup." They answer back, though Sombra continued his tall stance and high head for a while longer before sighing. Turning on his heels, he began to walk off again. His friends stood still as their minds were plagued with worry.

"Hey Big Mac?"

"Eeyup?"

"Is it just me...or did Sombra have the eyes of a soldier going into a battle he's going to die in?"

"Eeyup." He responded quietly.

《=●=》

"Everything is ready." Celestia said as she and the others came to see Sombra and Luna off. Standing at the edge of the Crystal Empire, the Sun Goddess and the others stood in the grass of the Empire while Sombra and Luna stood off into the dirt where the border ended.

"Good. Just follow my instructions and everything will be fine." Sombra said as he turned around to walk away but not without sparing a glance at the crowd who gathered to see him off. The mares from Ponyville of course, but also Shining and Big Mac, friends he made on his own. Agatha, who has been there since the very beginning, and even some Crystal Ponies. The sight of all of them gave him a feeling of purpose. A feeling that he was indeed doing the right thing. With one last glance over at Pinkie who waved bye with a cheerful smile he was off.

"Art thou alright Sombra?" Luna asked as she began to walk beside him.

"Yes..." He said with his head down. Taking a moment to breath in deeply, he began to gallop out as fast as he could. "Come now Luna, we need not waste any time."

"At once." Luna said as she took flight, quickly keeping up with him. As she looked over Sombra, she noticed quick a few things that were odd, mainly the fact that he was running almost as he needed to run. Run away from those he was leaving behind.

"Is there something the matter?" She asked.

"No."

"Thou art a horrible liar."

"Have I lost my touch then?" He asked, still avoiding the question.

"Yes. Thou hath been very particular with thy word choice. Never once did thou say we would return with Twilight safely. All thou ever responds with is, 'Everything will be back to how it was before I arrived'. Doth thou wish to explain thyself?"

"No...but I suppose I have no choice do I?" Sombra said as he ran. The strain on his body was oddly relieving. His muscles were begging for something to do, and this was just what they needed...before the time came to lose this freedom. "Once you fight Twilight, your goal will be to break her spirit. Win, and win without letting her stand back up when she is knocked down. You have to break her will so I may observe her magic."

"And what will thou do with all that dark magic? Surely even thou would fall to corruption with such an intense amount of dark magic."

"Yes, even me."

"Then what will thou do?"

"I will not be returning...Once I have all the dark magic within Twilight Sparkle, I will once again banish myself and the magic to the depths of the earth where I will fight it for the thousand years this world wants of darkness."

"Art thou even listening to thyself?!" Luna shouted as she flew in close to the running stallion. "Thou wishes to spend a thousand years in combat?...trapped in the ground?!"

"The world wanted to bring darkness into Equestria, and so darkness it shall have, deep within itself. The darkness will be present, and I will fight it. I will fight it until every inch of my dark being is spent, and in turn, no harm will come to Equestria."

"Thou would really put thyself though such an ordeal? Year after year of combat?"

"I will do anything and everything to keep those I care about safe. Even if I will have to take on a few more scars. Even if I have to fight until the end of time. This is a fight worth fighting for."

"Thou means, worth dying for, for that is what thou art trying to do, find thy own death in the earth."

"Call it what you wish Luna, this is the only way of saving Equestria and Sparkle. I made a promise, a promise I plan to keep."

"What of Pinkie Pie then?" Luna asked. "Thou performed a 'Pinkie Promise' did thou not?"

"I did. And I will take back that ruby...whenever I return to the Crystal Empire, if I return to the Crystal Empire." Sombra said as he looked off into the distance. They had made quite long trip since they had left the Empire. Up ahead was a thick black cloud, no doubt Twilight's work. "Now...let us share our power so you may become Nightmare Moon once more." He said as he jumped, quickly changing his physical form to that of smoke.

"Yes..." Luna said halfheartedly. "Let us finish this battle."

Moving towards the flying mare, the dark fog began to engulf the Moon Goddess. Being absorbed into her body, the features of the mare began to change ever so slightly. Her coat became darker and her pupils thinned. Her eyes sparked out purple flames as her wings began reshape with fire like feathers. Her slippers became longer boots and her breast plate extended. Luna was once more Nightmare Moon, but it was more than that. She was Nightmare Moon, Princess of the Pitch Black Night.

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