• Published 26th Sep 2015
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Can You Find it in Your Heart? - Ravenmane



As broken as he is. As unforgivable as he acted. Could anyone find it in their heart to care for a tyrant such as King Sombra?

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12 - A Shy Prospect

“Wait, don’t go,” Sombra pleaded as two mares ran away from him. “Sometimes I wonder if this is even worth it. Is it so hard to just try and be friendly?” With a quick flick of magic he hid himself under his summoned cloak.

You can do this, thought Fluttershy as she peeked around the corner and looked at the black cloak. He’s just a unicorn. She gulped. Just a big, creepy, shadow magic using unicorn.

Sombra lowered the hood of his cloak before dispelling it. With a sigh of defeat he hung his head and began to advance on Fluttershy’s location. “Maybe somepony on the next block will put some effort towards it.”

He looks devastated, thought Fluttershy as she mustered the courage to approach him, but it can’t be all bad. Rarity said he was polite so maybe I can help him after all.

Sombra’s ears perked at the sound of hooves and he looked up and towards the source, hopeful he was looking to a willing pony. He trotted towards the hope of his salvation, one with wings and a canary colored coat. “I – uh, sorry but this is still a little hard for me to say but my name is Sombra and I was wondering if you would like to be my friend.”

Fluttershy was surprised but smiled warmly. “I um– my name is Fluttershy and I want to help you Sombra. If you don’t mind some help that is.”

Sombra tilted his head. “Would you mind explaining what you mean by help?”

“You’re afraid of something and I know what it’s like to be afraid so I tho–”

“You know the princess don’t you,” Sombra asked with a sigh. “Along with Pinkie right?”

“Yes.”

I see her high and mightiness wants to mend my scars indirectly, thought Sombra as he tried to smile to Fluttershy. “You know a thing or two about fear then? How about past experiences? Betrayal? Loss? Desperation?”

“Um, let’s try working things out and seeing how much we can handle before going into too many details. I have my own fears so I thought I should help you.”

“I hope I do not strike you as frightening, I do not wish to undermine your assistance by making your trouble greater.”

“A teeny tiny bit, but being here helps. What did you feel after Twilight left?”

Sombra’s eyes darted around before closing them, trying to remember. “After I lost my focus I broke into a panic attack.”

“Hyperventilation? Um, it’s rapid and uncontrollable breathing.”

“Yes. I collapsed and felt like I would never be safe. There was something cold. Something dark. I didn’t like it.”

“Like you were never going to be happy again? I don’t think I can help with that much but I’ll try. Anything else? Don’t worry, it’s all important. I need to know how much I can do.”

Sombra nodded, his eyes still closed tight. “Before I collapsed I told her to leave. I was in a panic. I began to see Celestia cast over her. I saw the rage in her eyes during our conflict upon this princess. I knew it was a mere illusion but I was still–”

“Worried,” asked Fluttershy as she tried to reconstruct the event in her mind. A stiff nod from the unicorn helped her put the last piece in place. “Can you tell me why you’re so afraid of Princess Celestia?”

Sombra’s eyes opened faster than Fluttershy could blink. “She took everything I still held dear from me. She turned me into the monster history knew me as.”

“Not history, just stories whenever ponies got curious about the lands beyond the Crystal Mountains. Please don’t take it the wrong way, but I just want to say that history isn’t your enemy.”

“Yes, merely tales of my darkest of days.”

“Was there ever a good time?”

“Yes, but not now. Please, that time still brings me pain. Good memories turned to ash when our war began. Our very short yearlong war.”

“I think we should head to my house before other ponies hear. Can you keep going? I mean, it helps to let it out.”

“All that I feel comfortable sharing. You understand right?”

“Repressed memories aren’t healthy to keep. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that.”

“You just need to know what it’s like to be truly afraid. To know the true face of fear. I know.”

*****

“There are a great many animals here,” commented Sombra after they entered Fluttershy’s house.

“I have a special kinship with them.”

“Just as me and the crystals.”

“Can you tell me what happened to your cutiemark?”

“There’s always a price to be paid. Yes, always a price. For some it’s their sanity and others pay with something more tangible. Can we move on to a different topic please?”

“Ok, then tell me about the dark time. If that’s okay with you.”

So she is still scared. I doubt this will help allay her fears but it will be good practice. “Well, back then I called it that for only so long. The dark time, the war of fear, the troubled nights, and so many other names. With each passing week I called it something else. I planned for war but I had no idea how outmatched I was. A single fight. Such an unfair fight. A duel of alicorns against a lone unicorn. The defenses I placed were useless and what I sacrificed was lost in vain. You can’t win against an angry alicorn, let alone an angry alicorn and her sister. In the recesses of my mind I knew I would lose and all I hoped was to buy time for her – for Celestia – to calm down.

“Now, before I continue I need you to know that I lost myself along the way. Well, mostly lost myself. Part of who I once was had been strong enough to linger in my mind. In this time I would call it my sanity but now something else has taken its place. That thing is something I fear more than anything else. Rage fuels my fear of Celestia. She made me into a monster, but this? This is a voice in my head that feeds on my fear. It lures me, tempts me, to become what I once was.”

Fluttershy gasped. “Can you control it? Are you sure you’re always in control?”

“I think I can silence it for a time but it feeds on my fears. Fear of rejection. Fear of my past relations. Fear of my kind. Fear of myself. It feeds on them all.”

“But you aren’t that pony anymore right?”

“There are times where I wonder but when I feel as though I could lose control I know I have yet to weaken.”

“How do you know?”

“Simple, Pinkie still roams the town. If it were to take hold then she would most certainly be first on its agenda.”

“So you can cont–”

“Yes, but I cannot silence it. It still speaks, but in no more than a whisper in my mind. I think the princess can help with it but–”

“I think I understand Sombra. If you can control your fear then you can get help with everything else. It won’t be easy but I have a few ideas. You might not like the first one, but just remember why you’re doing it.”

“Why am I suddenly very terrified towards your idea?”

“You’ll thank me later,” Fluttershy replied as she flew off to a small cabinet. After digging around for a while, she pulled a thick white ribbon out. “I needed this once and I think it can help you.”

“A blindfold? Are you planning to blindfold me and speak to the princess that way?”

“No,” she replied. “I want you to blindfold yourself so you don’t have to see Twilight while you talk to her. We’ll take it one step at a time. First a blindfold, then a screen, and then, when you’re ready, you can try another face-to-face.”

“But–”

“You need to talk to her sooner or later don’t you?”

“Yes ma’am,” Sombra grumbled as he brought the blindfold over to sling around his neck. “So, when are you planning to start this plan?”

“As soon as you’re ready we can begin.”

“Very well,” replied Sombra as he blindfolded himself. “Best to begin before I change my mind. Just be sure not to let me run into anything.”

*****

“I feel like a fool,” muttered Sombra as Fluttershy led him through Ponyville.

“That’s good, you should have just come to the castle before putting it on.”

“Yes, though I doubt you would let me into the castle. Me, in a place of power? In my opinion that is far from a good idea.”

“Stairs ahead, they curve gradually to the right. Twilight wants to trust you can do better but she’s smart so just relax and it can all get better.”

“Then why aren’t we starting with the screen,” asked as he carefully followed her advice.

“When I needed this method we had a light behind the screen so I could see my fear behind it. Five steps from where you are you should turn right.”

Sombra nodded and counted his steps carefully before turning right and reaching out as soon as he expected something unsure of his location.

“Oh, there’s a door but it’s open. Keep going until you hear Twilight tell you to stop. I’m not going any further so you’re on your own now. The blindfold should tell her what the plan is.”

As Sombra was left with no more than the sound of his hooves he was aware of only one thing: he was alone. His heart raced and the solitude sunk in. No, he quickly thought, I am not like that again. I can feel, I can smell, and I can hear. I am only a prisoner if I forget that I am free.

“This could work,” echoed a familiar voice. “Rarity, get something to separate us when we get to step two. I need something that he can’t see through without an external light source. Even then he should only be able to see a silhouette.”

“I’ve just the thing,” rang the unicorn’s voice before a breeze passed by Sombra’s right side.

The former king continued on, guided only by the sound of his hooves and the occasional alert from Twilight that he needed to keep going. Once the echoes of his hooves resonated louder, Sombra slowed.

“Just a little further Sombra,” echoed Twilight’s voice.

He remained still. “Just tell me how many steps you’d prefer.”

“Ugh,” echoed one voice followed by the flap of wings. With a sudden push and a second flap of wings the voice returned. “That’s better right?”

“Yes,” replied Twilight’s voice, “thank you Rainbow. So, Sombra, how do you feel?”

“Uneasy,” he replied. “I know that I am in the castle and I find that a problem. You trust me in a place of power yet you seem quite hopeful.”

“You think the castle is a place of power?”

“Yes. Not all hold ancient artifacts princess, they are symbols and–”

“You are aware that if you took control Princess Celestia and Princess Luna would notice the change right?”

“Yes, it remains a thought in my mind. You understand yes?”

“You did battle with them so I can understand your concerns.”

“More than battle, the declaration was made near here. The old castle is nearby.”

“How would you–”

“Celestia was nothing if not nostalgic. I hardly expect her to part from a vantage that would show her former home.”

“The castle’s in the Everfree Forest and I can show you the way if I can help you overcome your fear.”

“In return there is a place in the castle that you may enjoy. Provided it still exists at least. Who knows what would happen when Celestia or Luna found it.”

“You mean if right,” asked Rainbow.

Sombra smiled. “Clearly I still know better than the average pony. One of them would have found it. Without their resident, a private study rarely remains private for long.”

Twilight beamed. “A secret room? You built a secret room in the castle?”

“I did, though I am willing to doubt that it remains hidden. Just how long has it been since my failed defense?”

“Wait a sec,” said Rainbow. “Your defense? You were on the defense?”

“It was a single battle, though I would find it more accurate to call it a duel. Well, it is more fitting, but against Celestia and Luna I would call it a battle from a technical view.”

“So how come you aren’t using something like the ‘Royal We’ or that flowery language Princess Luna used when she came to Ponyville?”

Sombra laughed at Rainbow’s question. “She still talks that way?”

“Well the first time any of us spoke to her after she thought of herself as normal she did,” replied Twilight. “But to answer your question, it’s been one thousand years. Well, between your defeat and return it was just a little over that. But that brings me to a question I’m not sure you can answer. There were several things that happened that year, do you have any idea why?”

“My defeat aside, what happened?”

“Beside the disappearance of the Crystal Empire, Princess Luna became Nightmare Moon, the fall of Timbucktu, and something that collapsed the caribou civilization.”

“I am so very sorry for Timbucktu’s fall. I knew a pony from there and I merely smiled when we parted ways. What happened?”

“Queen Chrysalis happened. She leads the–”

“Changelings, yes, I know of her. I suspected she was more than a myth. Before you ask, I doubt she would be a useful ally were I to have made contact. As for the caribou, I caused it. Something had to be done to those northern raiders and I was in an ideal position to remove them from all civil species.”

“You killed their king?”

“What? No. Drove him insane? Yes. Any killing was performed by something else. I believed that by removing the leader I would remove the threat. Even if I were to fail in defending my home, the legend of the caribou’s fall would live on and secure the northern border.”