• Published 5th Sep 2018
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The Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book I - BlueBastard

A Berylverse Story - The ponies investigate an ancient prophecy tied to Sombra's plan to destroy Equestria, all the while Sunset prepares for her coronation. But not all is as it seems when the mystery begins to imply a far darker truth of the past.

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Prologue - "It's All a Nemesis Plot"

Prologue – “It’s All a Nemesis Plot”

King Reginald Sombra was many things. He was the strongest unicorn in the world: where others had shunned the dark forces out of fear and weakness, he had embraced it by breaking its will under his own. He was the uncontested ruler of the Crystal Empire, which by proxy meant he controlled a critical wellspring of Equus’ magic, giving him a chokehold on the entire country. He was a brilliant scholar, his personal private study filled with his written musings, research notes, and other documentation into virtually all subjects that lesser ponies would foolishly deem in violation of good ethics or respect to the lives of otherwise expendable slaves.

What he was not, however, was showing any emotion other than indifference to the impending forces of the Royal Sisters breaking through his own defenses as the siege of the Crystal Empire raged on outside. Instead, the moment he knew the battle was lost, he had left his aides without any instruction as to what to do. They pleaded for his command, but he just wordlessly departed his grand black crystal throne and for the past several hours had holed himself up in his study.

We are not pleased at your hypocrisy, came the whispers of dark, malicious energies. We had an agreement, Reginald, do not think you can escape our displeasure by all but submitting yourself to the Equestrian forces.

“Yes, yes, you think I’m being cowardly,” droned Sombra. “I am well aware of our agreed upon terms, just because I’m not throwing myself at my enemies doesn’t mean I’m hiding.”

You’re in a room sealed by dark magic, within the confines of the castle!

“If I was truly hiding like a rat, I wouldn’t be in this castle at all, but instead in the deepest vaults beneath it. No, if anything, I’m actually going to make things a bit easier for you after this.”


Sombra grinned maliciously, closing the book in front of him and then shelved it. “As per our agreement, you would give me access to the greatest dark magic on this plane of existence, and in turn I would help you gain a powerful avatar through which you could submit all of Equus – barring my domain, of course – under your eternal will.”

The dark presence said nothing, though in such a way that Sombra could tell it was thinking of what to say next. Yes, those were the terms, but you’ve done nothing to hold up your end of the deal in service to us! All you’ve accomplished is making this Crystal Empire into your own twisted, personal playground with its populace its playthings! Do you expect us to think that some foal birthed by one of the mares you have chained in your harem will be acceptable?!

“Oh, those mares? Please, they have nothing to do with our deal.”

Then how-

“Come now, you came to me after my father managed to kill my mother by accident when he tried to assassinate the late Queen Faust years ago. Thus, it is obvious that your preferred…clients…are those with great magical ability and fragile states of mind. And I intend to repay your services in kind by giving you Princess Luna.”

That very princess and her sister are on the brink of victory over your forces. Hardly ideal circumstances for a fragile state of mind.

Sombra growled, “Surely you must sense it: even now Luna is a pot ready to boil over with rage. Her continual languishment in the obscurity of her sister’s shadow has seen to that.”

Petty rivalry between siblings is common, even among royalty, the darkness intoned. You really believe this will be enough?

“Not yet,” Sombra said, raising a robed hoof. “But she is close. Celestia’s zeal to fill the horseshoes of her mother has simultaneously distanced her from her sister, and put her in a position to receive all of the love and adoration of her subjects for herself. The ‘victory’ they are about to achieve will magnify that tenfold.”

There were a few moments of silence before the dark voice finally spoke. You continue to amuse and impress, King Sombra. The dark force’s tone and use of his preferred reference title both indicated that the voice was indeed pleasantly surprised. But what of you, then?

Sombra smirked, leaving his study and sealing its door with one of his strongest dark spells. “At this point, defeat is inevitable—temporary, but inevitable nonetheless. My forces will erode both themselves and those of the Royal Sisters, as that is the only use I have left for them. That selfish Sable Loam probably took his werewolves and have long since fled for Equestria in secret—not that I expected more from the self-proclaimed ‘Wolf Scourge of the North.’ And while it is purely trivial in keeping my forces fighting their own brethren, one less soldier who survives for the twin thrones after this at the cost of disposable forces is more than acceptable.”

But what about you? asked the dark voice, its tone almost as if that of childish interest. A fate worse than death at the hooves of the princesses is certain, after what you’ve accomplished.

“That’s what I’m planning on, replied the dark king, who by this point was now upside down—having reversed gravity—and sliding “up” a massive spiral staircase which led straight to the top. “The princesses cannot even conceive of performing the most obvious executions to rid themselves of problems, it’s always them sealing the offending party away in some kind of prison. Tirek? After his brother betrayed him, the centaur now rots at the bottom of an inescapable pit with a cerberus to ensure he never leaves. Discord? I don’t even understand why he was considered evil, but for his trouble he’s now ‘permanently’ trapped in a stone prison. And as for that damnable goat Grogar? He couldn’t even last against Star Swirl, that doddering dolt—the princesses didn’t even bother in that case!

And what fate do you expect from them, then?

“Probably something along the lines of ‘trapped in the ice as a shadow creature for a thousand years’ or another, similar imprisonment theme.”

You don’t seem too concerned about all this.

Sombra laughed heartily. “Of course not! How the sisters think they can just lock up problem enemies and forget about them, as if they won’t eventually escape is one of life’s biggest mysteries.” He then undid his reverse-gravity spell, uprighting him safely at the top of his castle. In front of him, levitating above a small pedestal, was the Crystal Heart—an incorruptible nexus of magic. “But I want them to think that I’m that easy to be rid of. I’ve been planning this for decades as a matter of fact.”

Decades? The dark voice sounded intrigued.

“Ever since I first communicated with that hairless monkey from beyond—that ‘Cavalcanti’ fool—I’ve known I would need plans to preserve my legacy.

“Yes, the princesses will banish me, but….” The red, deadly looking spike on the dark king’s head flared up in a ghastly purple and green fog. “By doing so, they will plunge this Empire into nothingness for a millennia, and as I tie my essence within all that lies within my domain, so too shall I return and reclaim what has always been mine!”

Bravo, you certainly have a brilliant contingency plan, which explains how you expect to return after we approach Princess Luna with our terms?

“Equestria will be tired of war—the last thing they will expect is for the princess they take for granted suddenly usurping her elder sister and plunge everypony into civil war. Furthermore, the other nations will watch and see what is happening and Equestrian lands and resources will be ripe for the taking, leaving the surviving princess—assuming there even is one—to fend off the invasions from the whole world!” He grinned maliciously. “Meanwhile, I’ll be sleeping in an icy tomb by that point, with everything I have done preserved within the vanished Empire, free from the horrors of a real war.”

Once Sombra finished his spell, linking him and the Empire together, it was now ensured that even in defeat, Sombra would prevent the alicorns from reclaiming the Crystal Heart. At that moment, overlooking the final line of defense for the Empire, the Royal Sisters had broken through and seemed to be making a beeline right for Sombra.

Before you get that long, cold nap, suddenly piped up the voice, do tell us just what all those pregnant mares were for besides being toys for your physical pleasure.

With his remaining time of consciousness rapidly declining, Sombra just smirked one last time. “They’ve already been made to think they’ve escaped, but by doing so they serve their final purpose. My children that they carry will integrate with the ponies still in Equestria proper, ensuring that even if I am truly killed before I can reclaim my Empire, there will always be one whom fate has chosen to carry on in my stead.” He shook a hoof in defiance. “Through me in person or through my blood, I will always be master of this realm!”

Suddenly, Sombra then bolted off the edge of the platform he was on, right toward the princesses with a strong dark magic spell primed to fire. They beat him in casting their own jointly powered spell, taking the form of a pure beam of energy that disintegrated most of Sombra on contact, leaving nothing but his head and a shadowy remnant of his neck down, and the last the world at the time knew of him was his vengeful screams as he fell into a convenient crack in the ice, which sealed shut soon after.

But as the world above his icy prison watched the Crystal Empire cease to exist before their eyes, Sombra couldn’t have been more elated. Everything had gone exactly to plan such that even centuries from now, should he be erased, nopony could stop his legacy.

Already those fools have guaranteed their inevitable failure, he thought as he felt the deep chill begin to put him into a suspended state of sleep, and as he prepared for the long slumber, he couldn’t wait to see the world when he woke up. It will be beautiful. Pure armageddon… a golden age of apocalypse.

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