• Published 1st Sep 2014
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Sweetie's Shadow - Note Sketch



Looking for a way to get over her fear of public speaking, Sweetie Belle borrows an instructional book from Twilight's library to help out. One thing leads to another and some how ends up binding King Sombra to her as her shadow...

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24. "I am King Sombra."

▂▃▅▇█▓▒░۩ Arc 2 Start ۩░▒▓█▇▅▃▂

"Mister Sombra!" Sweetie Belle asked out as she climbed the steps to the second floor. With her chessboard and its pieces levitating overhead, she quickly turned the corner to Sombra's 'room'. The smile on her face remained constant as she knocked on the door before stepping back and bouncing in place with anticipation.

A moment passed and there was no response. Sweetie Belle tried again and this time placed the board game on the ground next to her a she patiently waited. Once more, nothing. Her smile faded and her happy expression was replaced by one of confusion with an arched brow.

"Mister Sombra?" She asked as she stepped closer to the door. "Are you sleeping?"

Curiosity made her press the side of her head against the door as she listened in for something, anything that hinted that her faithful guardian was alright on the other side. To her surprise, however, she heard a rather powerful grunt of pain originate from the other side. The door muffled it, so it was soft and easy to miss if you didn't know what to look for, but her ears managed to catch it and it filled her heart with dread.

Quickly jumping back and using her magic to open the door, Sweetie Belle ran into the room to see Sombra lay on his bed, his head pressed under one hoof. Whispered grunts escape him as he slept, only causing her more concern as she slowly made her way to him.

"Mister Sombra?... Are you okay?" She asked as she reached the bedside, though hesitant to move forward now that she saw his pained expression. It was as she expected, no response. Just the muffled screams of pain as his body subconsciously held onto his head from what seemed like a horrible headache.

Sweetie Belle stepped back as Sombra let out a particularly loud grunt. He stirred in his bed and accidently allowed his other hoof to hang from the side. She looked over at it and began to reach for him. As she got close, Sombra twitched in pain again, causing her to pull back. He continued to stir in his sleep until he finally managed to turn his body around and face away from her where he calmed down and slept quietly.

Sweetie sighed and sat on the ground. She wanted to help, not that she knew any way to do so. It was frustrating, more so because she feared anything she did might make it worse. Instead she sat quietly by the side of his bed, her mind racing for an answer. Her eyes were fixated on his back and the sudden jolts of pain he went through.

She remained quiet as she looked at him. All this time he was there to help her when she needed it, but now she was powerless to return the favor. It irritated her to know all she could do was sit on the sidelines like always and let him bear the struggle on his own. The dark emotions filled her mind and lit her eyes with purple embers, a light she quickly noticed in the dark room.

An idea popped into her head and she quickly looked down at the floor as her eyes narrowed on a single point. Gritting her teeth, the small purple embers lit brighter at the side of her eyes as she began to cast out her magic. At the point she was concentrating on, a black crystal began to sprout.

She continued to let it grow until it was adequate size. As soon as it reached that point, she stopped, though mostly because of exhaustion. To be fair, it did feel easier than last time, but she wasn't really focused on her magic, instead she switched attention to the crystal and slowly began to pick at it.

Her hooves were rather fragile, as any filly's hooves would be. But she didn't care how much they would be damaged or the screaming she might hear from Rarity. All she cared about was carving and giving that crystal shape. A shape that she was all too accustomed to see. After all, if she ever needed to recall how the object she was carving looked like, all she had to do was glance over at the chess pieces sitting on the floor.

<=•=>

Mister Sombra

Sombra slowly turned his head to the sky above as he heard the soft echo enter his ears. His brows furrowed as he looked around for a clue as to where it had come from, though since it was no more than perhaps a whisper, it was hard to tell if he had heard anything at all.

"Sombra?" Luna's voice called out to him, quickly getting his attention. She remained still as she waited for him to catch up to her. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I just thought I heard something." He quickly responded.

"We're flouting around in the memories of your subconscious. You'll likely hear a lot of strange things but it's best to ignore them or it will interfere with the memory we're witnessing." Luna said as Sombra came to her side, a worried expression on her face. One he chose to ignore.

"Right, lo siento." He apologized in Spanish as he peered on over the cliff they positioned themselves to. Below was Sombra, the one living the harsh memory they were viewing. The icy winds peirced at his fur as he walked on through the thick snow and the relentless elements around him.

"I'm surprised you lived through that." Luna said as she looked down.

"I'm surprised I don't remember it." He concord before jumping down and sliding along the slant of the mountain, riding the snow down.

Being that they were simply observing the events unfold, they were immune to the cold and the winds. It was more like if they were ghosts. Freely moving through the area, restrained only by how they perceived the ground around them.

Luna and Sombra continued to follow the dream Sombra as he marched in the cold. It was almost eerie to see him do so with no sign of stopping. He didn't rest or eat. Celestia knows just how long he had been walking, but any physical weakness he had was simply overwhelmed by the powerful will to move forward.

The dream Sombra's stagnant glare into the snow-shrouded land ahead made Luna a little uneasy, but it didn't even register in Sombra. Actually, one could say he even shared the expression. The same crimson eyes were dead set on the memory, eager to understand his past and put it to rest.

The Sombra marching ahead didn't exactly have a destination. His sudden turns told them that much anyway. It was more like he was roaming while hoping to come across whatever he was after. It became the most apparent when he began to make his way towards a mountain he thought to climb. Perhaps if he looked from a high point he could figure out where he was and where to go next.

Luna and Sombra kept close to the other Sombra. They followed in all of his hoof steps but kept completely quiet. It was more on Sombra's part than Luna's. Sometimes she would wonder if he even realized she was still there. Starting conversation with him was even more difficult when he looked at her with those eyes of his. The cold leer he let off was unsettling to her.

As the dream Sombra climbed up, the real one couldn't help but notice how he was taking the most difficult route up. He was used to using his crystal magic for anything. He would often use it to throw himself up or create a structure he could use to help get to where he wanted, yet his past self was climbing like he had no said magic. Then again, he couldn't actually remember when he learned his magic or when it became such a huge part in his everyday life.

Finally reaching some sort of ledge, the dream Sombra climbed up to find the entrance to a cave. Without so much as a second thought, he walked in and continued his march. The duo followed suit, but not without exchanging glances at one another. It certainly would make for a good cover from the storm, yet there was something...odd about the cave.

There was no rest for Sombra, even now that he was out of the storm he continued down the cave's path in hopes of finding a way to the top. Suddenly a soft crackle resonated in the ground. Because of the icy tunnel they were in, the crackling was much louder than it might have been otherwise and it quickly caught the attention of the Sombras. Their ears twitched simultaneously as their hooves came to a stop at the same time.

It was like a shadow of a shadow. Both Sombras turned to the ground to where the sound came from and remained in a locked stare as their eyes narrowed on it. Again the sound of cracking was heard and both quickly jumped away in time to avoid the stone ground caving in.

The real Sombra leapt to a nearby wall and erected a small crystal spike to latch onto to avoid the collapse. The other Sombra was not so quick to do the same, or rather seemed unable to perform the same task. Instead he jumped from one spot to another, each time he landed the ground would begin to give in again in what seemed like an endless cycle.

"Sombra, you've no need to do that." Luna said as she 'walked' over to him. He had at first thought she was flying because of her elevation, but her folded wings said otherwise. She was standing in midair, one hoof extended to him to help him up.

"Right..." Sombra said as he grabbed on. She pulled him to her level and he hesitantly stood next to her in her unphysical platform. Together they watched the other Sombra struggle to remain on his hooves as more and more of the cavern collapsed underneath him. Before long, he was out of places to jump to.

Accepting his fate, the dream Sombra instead made one last jump so he could position himself and shot himself down into a clearing. His landing was less than graceful as his hooves failed to make the landing well enough to keep balance. Instead, Sombra slipped on the ice and rolled into a wall where a loud crash echoed in the cave. The wall itself cracked as he made contact, only adding to the destruction he had caused.

"Is...Is he alright?" Luna asked as she jumped down to the dream Sombra's level.

"Of course he is. I'm here, that means this past version of me made it out fine." Sombra said as he joined her in looking at his unconscious self. "I suppose it was time for a break anyway. I doubt my body would have been able to endure much more of this."

"Falling asleep in the cold is dangerous." Luna said as she came close to inspect for any real injury. She knew full well she didn't need to, after all Sombra was correct in what he had said, but it was hard to ignore what laid right in front of her after what she had seen him do.

"My flames will keep me alive." Sombra said as he pointed to the embers at the side of his past self's eye lids. "It is strange though. With all of this going on, one would think I would have used my magic more adequately."

"You mean your crystals?"

"Yes. It's like I'm out of practice."

"Or you haven't had the practice to begin with. Perhaps this is a time when you were new to the dark arts?"

"More like oblivious to it." Sombra said as he began to walk around and inspect the area. "Is this really the day before I was crowned? I seem much too inexperienced to what I do remember."

"What do you remember Sombra?"

Sombra suddenly stopped as he heard her question. Up until now he had been hesitant to even try to recall any memory in fear of migraines, but that brought up the question of how far back he could actually remember.

"I remember..." He began as he looked over at Luna. "A queen. The Queen of the Crystal Empire died and I took her place." As he did his best to recall the Queens face, he slowly began to picture her as Luna. Again his memory of the past and present seemed to mix into one. He shook his head to rid himself of the image.

"And when did this happen?" Luna asked. Sombra looked down and squinted his eyes as he looked for an answer. Another loud crash was heard elsewhere in the cave, quickly drawing Luna's attention.

"Now." Sombra said as he finally looked up to see his past self begin to awaken. He quickly placed a hoof to his head as his mind began to fight the emerging memory. Again a cracking was heard, only this time it came from outside. The sky was beginning to crack again.

"Sombra!" Luna shouted as she came to his side. "We should stop here. If we go on we could-"

"No..." He replied under his breath. "I can handle this much. Let's just follow my memory a little while longer."

"But-"

"Please. We're so close. I don't want to quit now." Sombra said as he lifted his gaze to her. His crimson eyes were like daggers piercing into her soul, yet not like he held any malice toward her, just pure determination. Chills ran up her spine as she made eye contact with him and she felt almost unable to disagree.

"A-Are you sure? If we make even the smallest mistake you could lose your mind."

"I've already lost everything else." Sombra said as he began to walk after his dream self who was now on his hooves and making his way to the crash from before. "No pony would mind if I lost myself here."

Luna remained still as she saw him go. Her throat felt dry and her mind was unable to produce the right words to say. Instead, she sighed and closed her eyes to calm herself.

"I can think of one." She said softly before running to catch up with the Sombras.

The dream Sombra struggled to keep himself balanced, but he pushed on like he had for the last few days. Before he realized, he heard muffled screams of pain from a close by pile of ice. He came to a stop and kneeled down close to it.

"Some pony there?" He asked in a raspy voice. No doubt this was the first time he had spoken since his journey began. His only response was a gasp for air and more shouts.

Luna and Sombra remained back a few meters so he could have a wall to lean on. His headache was getting worse by the second but he wouldn't quit. Especially now that he finally found her. The Queen he barely even remembered. Luna looked over at him with worried eyes but decided against saying anything. Instead, she focused her energy on keeping his mind in check.

"P-Please... You have to help..." A mare's voice was faintly heard from under the rubble. The dream Sombra quickly began to look around to see if there was anything he could do, but as he weighed his options, he decided it would prove useless to even try to help. She was dead anyway.

"Lo siento." He said as he stood back up. "There's nothing I can-" He began, but his mouth shut as soon as he came to the last word. He was about to lie. He couldn't lie.

"Please..." The mare said again.

In a frustrated growl, Sombra kneeled down again and began to pull chunks of ice from the rubble as quickly as he could. His sudden action confused the duo spectating. It was almost like if he been forced to help by some ungodly force.

"No..." The mare said softly as Sombra pulled a particularly large piece of ice from the pile and managed to see the mare. She was crushed and her face bloodied. He could hardly keep her eyes open now that light finally hit her face. "Please...help my Empire..."

"Your what?" Sombra asked as he continued to work on getting ice off of her. His eyes were set in a spiteful glare as he tossed ice aside with his near frozen hooves. It was in his flurry of digging her out that he managed to release one of the mare's fore hooves from its confinement. She quickly used the opportunity to grab a hold of him and keep him still long enough to finally make eye contact.

She was a little off taken by his crimson eyes and the rampant flames coming out of them, but she pushed her fears aside and used what little time she had left to talk. Sombra too was surprised by her image. Her coat glowed in the light he created. Her eyes glimmered in the shape of a crystal. Her mane, though a mess now, was notably detailed and styled back with a silver crown.

"I...I am the Queen of the Crystal Empire." She said softly. "My Empire is in grave peril. This snow storm came out of nowhere and has left our fields in disarray."

"This storm?" Sombra asked as he looked on at her. Her coat was beginning to dim as she spoke.

"Yes. This was once a beautiful land with lush green fields. But when that demon passed through everything went to Tartarus. I came here to-"

The Crystal Queen's sentence was interrupted by a sudden cough where she spit out blood. Sombra did his best to continue to remove some ice from her to help alleviate some of the pressure on her though it seemed to bear little fruit.

"My Empire is in desperate need of help. I am unable to provide for it. I wanted to make contact with the outside world. A place where there is no snow storm but I seem to have met an unexpected end..."

"Easy now." Sombra said as he managed to dig out her torso. "I am from the 'outside'. If it's any consolation, you were almost there."

"Is that true?" The Queen asked as a smile slowly stretched over her face. "Please, you have to help my Empire."

"I can't." Sombra said as he narrowed his eyes at her. "I have other things I have to take care off. I need to find him."

"Thousands will die if nothing changes." The mare cried out at his response.

"And I'm truly sorry about it. But there's nothing I- But I can't waste time. I need to find him!"

At this point, Luna began to pay attention more at what the dream Sombra was saying. She was partially confused by what he was doing. Up until now, the Sombra she knew wanted a stone. An 'it'. Yet this Sombra wants a 'him'. Did he change his mind at some point or is the dream wrong?

"Him..." The Queen said as she calmed down and began to think things a little more clearly. Instead of asking for help, she decided to barter. "You're in search for somepony?"

"Yes. I need to find him. I have no time to waste." Sombra replied. He was this close to simply standing up and resuming his quest.

"Do you know where he is?"

"Well... no. But I'll find him eventually."

"I'm sure you would make better progress if you had more influence in this land." The mare said, her voice now a whisper. "Help my Empire. If you promise to help the Crystal Empire then I shall grant you my crown." She said as she reached for her head and gently took it off.

"What? You can't be serious. You would entrust your crown to a complete stranger in the hopes he might keep a promise you won't be around to see fulfilled?"

"Yes..." She said as she returned her eyes to him. "Because despite your strange looks and eyes...I can tell you don't want to lie."

"That's a stupid reason to base your decision off on." He retorted. He was about to shout more but was hushed when he felt her push her crown against him.

"Please. Take my crown, my influence. Find who you're looking for. In return, keep my Empire safe."

"Your Highness?!" Another voice shouted from around the cavern as hoof steps began to echo. The Queen's personal guard and escort had finally managed to find a way down from where she had fallen. Sombra looked over in the voices direction and began to contemplate accepting her proposal.

"They'll never believe me." Sombra said as he finally took hold of the crown as he stared off in the direction the voices were coming from.

"They will..." She said as she breathed out. "They'll have to if they want to survive..." She never breathed back in.

The thundering sound of hooves finally came to a stop in the chamber Sombra and the Queen were in. Gasps erupted as they saw their beloved Queen go limp while being held by Sombra. His stern eyes quickly flashed in flames before settling down in a more steady burning flow. His purple flames were now exactly as they are in the present when he pulls out his magic. His mind was made up.

"W-Who are you?" One of them asked as they stepped closer though whatever courage he had quickly dissolved the moment Sombra stood up.

"Me?" Sombra asked as he glanced down at the crown he had in one hoof. Sighing and closing his eyes to think of what to say, he quickly gave in to the Queen's request and pulled back his mane to place the crown on his head.

"I am Sombra, King of the Crystal Empire. If you know what's good for you, you'll do as I say."

<=•=>

Sombra slowly opened his eyes. The rays of light coming from the window next to his bed peered into his pupils, making it hard to focus on anything. The headache he had certainly wasn't helping with either. He sat up and massaged his temple to try to center himself and it was then that he noticed the guest in his room.

Curled up in a ball, Sweetie Belle laid on the ground and used her tail as a blanket. It certainly brought a smile to his face seeing her, but also raised several questions. Quietly standing up, Sombra used his magic to pick her up and place her on his back and began to carry her out. The sudden movements woke her up and he was soon met with a cute yawn.

"Good morning Mister Sombra..." She said as she rubbed her eyes.

"Good morning Sweetie Belle." Sombra answered as he walked down the hall. "Why were you sleeping in my room?"

"You were shaking and shouting a lot in your sleep..." She said before yawing again. "I wanted to...to..." Suddenly Sweetie's eyes shot open as she threw herself off of him and began to run back to his room. "MAKILTON!"

Sombra remained speechless as he watched her gallop. If her actions weren't bizarre enough, that strange word she shouted certainly was. He slowly turned around and began to walk back to where she had run off to.

"Where is it! Where is it?!" Sweetie Belle shouted as she ran back and forth in his room. Again Sombra only stood still at the door frame as he watched her move frantically back and forth.

"Everything okay?" He asked with sincere concern.

"Makilton, makilton!"

"What... in the name of all things pony... are you saying?" Sombra asked as he leaned his shoulder on the door frame, one fore hoof crossing over the other in a relaxed stance. Sweetie stopped and looked back at him with a confused look.

"I don't know."

"Then why are you saying it?"

"Cause you always say it when something goes wrong!"

"Me?" Sombra asked as he raised a brow to try to think of what he meant.

"Yeah! You say makilton in a Spanish accent."

"Makil- You mean maldición?" Sombra asked as he looked over at her.

"That's what I said!"

"No you didn't. It's maldición not makilton."

"Malicion?"

"Maldición."

"Malfiction!"

"Now you're just messing with me." He said as he began to walk over to Sweetie Belle and picked her up to where they were at eye level. "Repeat after me. Mal-dee-see-on."

"Maldición." She said slowly, pronouncing even the accents correctly now that she saw his mouth movements up close.

"Good, that's exactly how it's said." Sombra said with a smile.

"Neat! What's it mean anyway?"

"It means 'curse'. It's used in the same manner as when someone shouts 'curses' when something bad happens." He said as he placed her back on the ground. Somehow, Sweetie Belle's antics made him forget the terrible experience he had had in his dreams. The dread and pain he had gone through was completely gone and replaced by the same carefree attitude she had.

"Oh I see." Sweetie replied with a grin. Her eyes were quickly drawn away when the light from the window behind her shinned on the crystal she had been working on the night before. She quickly jumped towards it and slid on the ground to grasp it in her hooves. "Gotcha!"

"What's that?" Sombra asked as he arched a brow. "Was that what you were making a big deal about?"

"Yup!"

"Let me see."

"No." Sweetie Belle said as she sat up and shook her head. "It's not done yet."

"Well what is it?"

"It's...a thing."

"Obviously."

"And it's something special I want to finish!"

Sombra couldn't help but smile as he saw her hide the object behind her back. The pouting face she gave off only made her attempts funnier to him. Still, he wasn't about to fight a filly over something so small, instead he sighed and shook his head.

"Alright, alright. I suppose I'll just let it go." He said as he walked out of the room, allowing Sweetie Belle to breathe easy and pull her crystal carving back out. "For now." He finished as he stuck his head back in, making Sweetie Belle toss the crystal back and subconsciously hiss at him like if some strange feral instinct took over.

Chuckling, Sombra made his way downstairs as he imagined the embarrassed face Sweetie Belle would be making right now as he left. No doubt even she was taken by surprise from what she did. He really didn't have any business down on the ground floor, he just wanted to allow Sweetie Belle to finish up whatever she was doing. However, as soon as his hooves reached the first floor he began to regret his decision.

"Good morning Sombra." Twilight said from her seat in Rarity's living room. Rarity herself was sitting down next to her as if they had been waiting for him to come down.

"Oh goodie." Sombra said sarcastically. "What exactly am I going to get dragged into this time?"

"About that." Twilight said with a nervous smile. "I need to talk to you about our new friend in town, Dice."

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