• Published 16th Jul 2014
  • 2,957 Views, 51 Comments

That Which Plagues the Mind - Journey Blue

King Sombra has returned from the shadows, his sights on a new conquest. Twilight Sparkle's efforts to save the Crystal Empire may have gone unnoticed by the masses, but not by Sombra. She has earned his interest. Much to her dismay.

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Prelude - Not So Different.

“We are not so different”, he had said, in a faded memory. Faded like the waking dream that is quickly forgotten. And forgotten it would have been had it been a dream. It had all been in her mind, but is was no less real.

Her encounter with King Sombra had frightened her at first, but there was nothing to fear from a mere shadow. No, if anything, it left her feeling ashamed. Soiled. She had given into to the darkness, just for a moment, but given in nonetheless. In a moment of panic, in a moment of rage, as an act of spite, she had seized the very darkness that sought to consume her. She had brought it into herself, merging it with her will, and used it against the shadow who thought himself a king. And she maimed him. It had been her intention. To hurt him, to humiliate him, to show the he was inferior to her, that she was greater than he. And yet she had only proved him to be her equal.

They were not so different after all it would seem.

“You must not think such thoughts my faithful student. They are the only means he by which he can harm you”, Celestia had said to her, “You must not let him feed off the doubt in your heart, most importantly, you must not doubt yourself. There is no shame in using the dark powers as you did. They were the only means by which to free yourself from his control. And you were able conquer the darkness he had set upon you. For that you should be proud.”

But she wasn't.

Why? Why couldn't Celestia, her teacher, her mentor, in all her centuries of wisdom, not see the truth?

There was no doubt in her heart because she knew. She knew that she could have stopped Sombra without resorting to dark magic. She was Twilight Sparkle, previously one of the most powerful unicorns in all of Equestria, and now an Alicorn Princess with Alicorn Magic! She could have thwarted Sombra without a second though, with a quick spell, all she had had to do was focus for just a moment and the shadow of a king would have been no more.

But she hadn't.

Instead she had given in to weakness. After just a moment of weakness she had given in. Without hesitation. She had barely resisted before she turned to the darkness. She hadn't conquered the darkness. It had conquered her. And Celestia’s words –words spoken to comfort, but spoken in ignorance– for all their good intention, only added to the guilt in her heart.

Why couldn't she see?

But do you really want Celestia to see the truth? Wouldn't her words of praise, even if undeserved, be better than her silent disappointment?


Twilight would do anything to not disappoint Princess Celestia. Even if it meant avoiding the truth.

But Luna knew the truth.

That was certain.

Twilight had seen it in the princess’s eyes. The sadness, knowing despair that came with understanding. Luna knew the truth, because she knew what it was like to give in to the darkness. She knew better than anypony what it was like to give in, and the consequences it entailed. How could Celestia, the Princess of the Sun, the Bringer of Light, know what it was like to give in to the darkness when she was the very antithesis? She didn't know, she could never know. But Twilight had seen that sad knowing look in Luna’s eyes. That sad, disappointed look.

She could turn to Luna for comfort no more than she could turn to Celestia.

So she had sought the comfort of her friends. And for a time it had helped.

Fluttershy had given her a sympathetic ear, and a kind hoof. But Twilight hadn’t felt deserving of her kindness, nor had she wanted it.

What good is sympathy when you want to be understood? What good is kindness when it only adds your guilt?

It is pointless.

Applejack’s honest opinion had dispelled only some of her guilt, “Ah can’t see the point of gettin’ worked up over a dream. But if ya’ not proud of somethin’ ya’ did, or if ya’ think ya’ made a mistake, as long as ya’ learn, then Ah think it’s okay.”

But what did you learn? How readily you gave in to the darkness? Did you not feel pride as you overpowered him?

She had. And still did. Which only added to her shame.

Pinkie Pie had helped her laugh and smile at her anxieties; and at the absurdity of worrying about a nightmare. Had it all just been a nightmare?

Why are you letting something so insignificant weigh on your conscience so much?

How petty.

Rarity had been generous with her time, and with her opinions, and, in a way, the most understanding. For what was generosity than the understanding another’s hurt and the wanting to correct it? But did she truly understand? Could she truly understand? Yes, Rarity had listened to her, had been patience with her, giving time, giving reassurance, but—

Wasn’t it as much for her peace of mind and it was for yours?

Wasn’t it self-serving?

Rainbow Dash had been the least sympathetic, least understanding, most tactless, and most effective.

“Who cares?” she had said, “So you might not be the perfect princess everypony expects you to be. So what? Everypony slips up every now and then. Even The Princesses. Look at Nightmare Moon. Look at what what happened to Celestia at your brother’s wedding. Hay, look at what happened to everypony at your brother’s wedding,” she paused, realizing she was getting off track, “My point is we all make mistakes, what’s important is that we do our best not to make them again.”

A bit blunt, very blunt in fact, but it was enough. It had help Twilight push her worries to the back of her mind. Instead of dwelling on what had happened in the past, she’d make sure not to repeat it in the future.

You can do it can’t you? If he ever showed himself to you again, you’d be able to face him without using dark magic, right?


But she wasn’t certain, and in truth she hoped she would never have to find out. She would try to forget it. Letting the memory and feeling of guilt just fade away in some corner of her mind, and hopefully, Sombra along with it. He was just a shadow. Just a shadow teetering on the edge of oblivion. A thought, a dark little thought that hoped to feed off her emotions.

But thoughts could be forgotten. Sombra could be forgotten. And he and his power would cease to exist. The Dark King would be no more.

You think it so easy to be rid of me?

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