• Published 17th Nov 2016
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King Sombra Wants Back Inside His Empire - naturalbornderpy



King Sombra wants back inside his Empire. And he's willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

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Using Even More Things!

By this point, King Sombra really had enough. He was fed up. Tired. Bored. Annoyed. Enraged. Confused. And worst of all achy. Once again, he’d slept outside on a thin bed of rocks. Once again, he’d covered himself with a layer of damp leaves to stay somewhat warm during the night.

But it wasn’t enough. Sleeping out in the woods night after night? Nope. Not nearly.

Sluggishly rising to his hooves as the morning sun hit him, Sombra loudly declared, “Today I WILL get back inside my Empire! That I promise you!

A nearby pony stopped in his tracks. “Were you talking to me just then?”

Sombra grimaced. “No. Obviously not, random pony! Haven’t you ever heard of rambling monologues before?”

The random pony shrugged. “Nope.”

“Just keep hiking, you dolt.”

“I’m actually on a nature walk. It’s much slower and relaxing than hiking.”

The random pony yelped and trotted away as Sombra threw one of his bed rocks at him. Alone once more, Sombra’s mind whirled as he thought about his final ultimatum.

Three distinct possibilities came to mind.

1. Give up on his dream of re-entering the Crystal Empire and settle down with somepony; perhaps a mare he’d accidentally bump into at a public market and later have two and-a-half foals with. Naturally, a three-bedroom cottage with white picket fence would follow suit. To pay for it all, he’d get a job as a door-to-door carrot peeler salespony. One that had a secret drinking problem to deal with the monotony.

2. Suicide. (Basically, the same as option one.)

3. Finally get back inside his Empire.

The correct choice seemed clear. Somehow, someway, King Sombra was going to get back inside his Empire today.

***

Sitting outside the east gate to the Crystal Empire, Sombra gently set down his set of bongo drums and gave them a light tap to ensure they were in tune. He smiled at the result. Both sounded bland and annoying—the way bongos were meant to sound.

With that out of the way, he quickly got to work, banging on both as hard as he could.

I don’t wanna work!” he sang. “I just wanna bang on my drum all day!

A minute of terrible bongos passed. Then two. And yet not a single pony or guard poked their head out from the Empire or glared down at him from its icy railings.

Not being allowed back inside his own Empire was one thing, but being ignored completely?

Sombra growled deep in his throat. “Hey! Hey! Someone inside there better pay attention to me! I had to steal these bongos, you know! And carry them all the way here! I don’t own a cart!”

Only a faint, chilly breeze greeted him following this outburst. Somewhere deep inside the Empire, he could barely hear the sounds of some rumbling construction equipment.

Sombra’s ears fell flat. “What the heck is going on here?”

“I’m not sure, but I definitely need in,” a wispy voice said.

Sombra turned and had to double-blink from the sight; there was just too much black against a mostly white backdrop for his eyes to handle. His first thought was of himself as a mare—a mare full of holes. (More holes than mares usually had, mind you.)

Sombra tapped on his chin in thought. “You look familiar. Did I steal your bongos earlier today?”

The lithe black figure gave him the smallest of grins. “Charmed. I’m Queen Chrysalis, former ruler of the changeling hive, here to seek another place to call home. Possibly rule over. We’ll see once I take a look around.”

Sombra raised a brow. “What’s a changglereer?”

In a whoosh of green light, Queen Chrysalis erupted into flames and returned as a perfect King Sombra replica, complete with identical confused expression.

What’s a changglereer?” she asked in a mocking, high-pitched tone.

“I do not sound like that!” Sombra roared, before instantly calming. “But I sure do look like that. Give us a spin, will you? I’ve never seen myself from behind before.”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes and quickly returned back to her original form.

An awkward moment passed before Sombra asked another awkward question.

“You look like you’d taste like black licorice. If I licked you, would you taste like black licorice?”

Queen Chrysalis stood stock still. “Please don’t lick me.”

Ignoring her clear discomfort, Sombra turned back to the Empire and sighed. “Well, good luck getting in there, Queen whoever you are. I’ve been trying for months to get back inside and they haven’t budged an inch. And I used to own the damn place! I carved my initials on a bedpost and everything.” He angled his head to her. “And, no offense, from one black furred ne’er-do-well to another, they don’t let just anypony in. Might as well just leave before you embarrass yourself.”

“Is that Queen Chrysalis down there?” a familiar voice rang.

Both Sombra and Chrysalis glanced up to find Princess Cadence staring down at them. In the course of a half-second, her expression went from puzzlement to pure joy.

“How have you been, Chrysalis? Long time no see!” she happily called.

“I’ve been well,” Chrysalis replied, right before Sombra painfully poked her in the shoulder with a hoof.

He got right up in her face. Kissing distance close. “You know Cadence? How?”

Chrysalis shrugged. “I may or may not have kidnapped and imprisoned her while pretending to be her during her Canterlot wedding to Shining Armor. Sadly, I was busted at the very last minute by friendship and love, but mostly the fact that I’m not all that great of an actress.”

Sombra’s jaw went slack. “You almost got married to Shining Armor? Lucky.”

Then he rethought that.

“I mean… you almost took over Canterlot? Lucky. So, why is Cadence treating you so nice now? You tried to ruin her wedding and steal her husband! I just tried to enslave an entire race! On a scale of bad to worse, you’re totally worse.”

“Well, you know what they say,” Chrysalis replied, chewing on her tongue, “forgive and forget. Water under the bridge. Time heals all wounds. Other greeting card messages.”

Sombra snorted. “Regardless of all that, you’re still not getting in there.”

“What are you two talking about?” Cadence asked from atop the wall.

Chrysalis turned. “Nothing. Just thought I might’ve lost my manebrush somewhere inside the Crystal Empire is all.”

“Oh? I could always look around for it.”

Or I could come inside and look for it with you,” Chrysalis said, tipping Sombra an overly large wink.

Cadence paused. “Not still evil and in search of power, are you, Chrysalis?”

Chrysalis gasped. “Who? Me? Still evil? After having lost everything I’ve ever loved and cherished due to all you colorful ponies? Nope. Just here for my manebrush.” She tipped Sombra another wink. In plain sight of everyone.

“Let me think for a moment,” Cadence said, causing Sombra’s eyes to bug out.

ARE YOU SERIOUS!?” he shrieked. “She literally winked twice right in front of you! Obviously, she’s still evil! Cadence! Don’t be a fool now! Don’t jeopardize the Empire!”

“Yeah,” Cadence admitted, “but she did say she wasn’t evil anymore, so…”

“Ever heard of a lie before, Cadence? Ponies lie! All the time!”

Cadence glanced from Sombra to Chrysalis and back. “But… just look at that trusting face. I think she’s learned her lesson, don’t you?”

Sombra turned and found a snarling, snapping Queen Chrysalis with drool dripping down her lips; her eyes were deep, dark pools of pure madness and vengeance. And that’s saying something coming from someone like Sombra.

Closing his eyes and counting to ten, Sombra could barely keep his hooves from shaking. “Okay. Okay! Clearly, I must’ve caught you on idiot day. But that’s cool. That’s alright. Maybe I can use this to my advantage.” He cleared his throat and stood up straight. “Princess Cadence, I too have left my manebrush inside and would like to search for it. Please.”

“Umm,” Cadence said to herself. “But your mane’s perfect the way it is, Sombra. Chrysalis, you can come in. But only for a moment, remember.”

“Sure thing!” Chrysalis said with snapping jaws, her eyes twitching spastically. “You c-can trust m-me!”

Something inside Sombra’s brain snapped. He had to get out of there or risk further brain damage. Stat.

Once inside the Empire, Queen Chrysalis dropped her ruse and greeted Cadence as his real form: Thorax. He sheepishly rubbed at the back of his neck as his cheeks burned bright.

“How did I do?” he asked Cadence after a quick hug.

“You did great.”

“I feel terrible about it, though. That was sort of mean, wasn’t it?”

Now Cadence’s cheeks burned crimson. She glanced away. “I know. Maybe we went too far on that one. But we just need to distract him a little longer and then it’ll all be over. I’m sure he’ll understand. In time. Maybe.”

Thorax nodded. “Need help with anything else while I’m here?”

Cadence smiled. “Grab a box.”

***

After eating some snow to clear his heated head, Sombra took a walk around the Empire walls. It gave him time to think and realize something rather important—something obvious that perhaps he should’ve tried long ago.

The front door. Or gate, if you wanted to get technical about it. One he had yet to try.

Sombra had always known the Crystal Empire to be a popular place—far, far more popular following his defeat and after all those new ponies took over. But even he had to admit what he was witnessing to be a bit much.

“What the heck is going on here?” he asked no one in particular.

Surrounding the Empire’s front gate was hundreds, if not thousands, of ponies from all across Equestria, happily chatting and slowly shuffling inside. Very few paid Sombra any mind. Most likely because he’d donned a dark robe he’d nabbed out of somepony’s saddlebag when they weren’t looking.

He snickered to himself as he got in line and took a single step forward.

How easy it was! This whole time! All he had to do to get back inside his Empire was visit his Empire like any old tourist jerk. Still, he was curious about something.

Carefully, he nudged the pony beside him. “Hey! Yo! Why so many ponies here? This normal turnout?” He lowered his voice a few notches to disguise it. Then stopped when he realized only a hooful of ponies had actually ever heard him speak before.

The pony he nudged stared at him as if he just ate a foal. “Really? You joking? You know this is the last day, right?”

Sombra’s mouth went dry. Had his plan been discovered after all? Thwarted before it’d even begun? “The last day?”

To the sides of the giant crowd pulled up a massive carriage. Then another. And another.

Underneath his robe, Sombra winced. “Just what the heck is going—”

Dun-duh-duh-dun!

A blaring trumpet tune pulled at his attention. As did the crowds, who collectively yelled and stomped their hooves in celebration. Someone was exiting the Empire.

“Alright! I didn’t miss it!” the pony to Sombra’s side exclaimed.

“Miss what?” Sombra asked.

“The King Sombra show, obviously! They do it every hour, on the hour for waiting guests. Never been here before, bro?”

Not since they ruined it,” Sombra muttered to himself.

Sombra had to lift himself on to his back legs in order to see what happened next. In retrospect, he should’ve just kept his head down and ignored everything.

Performing cartwheel after cartwheel, a pony dressed in a puffy King Sombra-like mascot costume shot out of the gate and immediately struck a pose before the screaming crowd.

Go get ‘em, Sombra!

We believe in you, King Sombra!

Why are your peanuts so expensive?” the crowd cried as he posed.

After that, the fake Sombra got right into his routine, using pre-recorded audio tracks to react to. He started with asking to be let back inside the Crystal Empire before swiftly being denied. He then asked the watching audience if he should give up or continue. One could only guess the response.

“Keep going, Sombra! You can do it! I know you can!”

With newfound energy, the fake Sombra grabbed a nearby pogo stick and began bouncing on it. The skit ended shortly after with him crashing into the Empire wall, less than six feet off the ground. The crowd laughed and clapped as he failed.

Sombra growled in the thick of cheering ponies. “I didn’t even try that! That never even happened!

Next, the fake Sombra got to his knees and asked the blank wall, “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?” The growing crowd only continued to eat up every last word and stunt.

“Okay,” Sombra admitted apprehensively, “I might’ve tried that last one.”

Suddenly, Sombra was bumped from behind as the line shoved forward. Missing a step, he could feel someone’s hoof on the edges of his robe. He cursed under his breath as he was bumped once more and his makeshift disguise fell to the snow.

The large crowd quieted at once. Even the fake Sombra took off his large Sombra head to stare, revealing a sweaty, pimply teenage pony underneath.

Sombra gulped and moved not an inch. He could feel the thousands of eyes upon him. If he was going to be torn apart by an angry crowd, he might as well take the time to think of some truly fitting final words.

“Stop,” was one that came to mind.

“Cut it out,” was another. “I like being whole.”

Before he settled on, “I regret around seventy-five percent of this.”

But King Sombra was not about to be violently murdered that day. In fact, quite the opposite. In the midst of the recently hushed crowd, a lone filly marched towards him.

She angled her head up, massive eyes shimmering. “Could I take a picture with you?”

The next thing he knew, Sombra was holding that very same child on his shoulder as her father hurriedly snapped a picture of them both. Then Sombra posed for another photo. And another. And another. And another. And—

“I can’t believe it’s the real Sombra!” someone shouted. “Much shorter in real life. And where’s that cool cape of his?”

The ponies closely circling Sombra were nearly knocked to the ground as a family of tourists trotted to greet him. On each and every head was a foam crown and fake curved horn—more than likely what the Crystal Empire gift shop sold.

“King!” the lead one yelled. “Picture? Autograph?”

Sombra remained outside the front gate for another twenty minutes, taking pictures and signing autographs to anyone that asked. Clearly, most ponies had forgotten his troubled past by this point and had now learned of him as something completely different in recent years. The loveable goof, Sombra mused sourly.

Still, this wasn’t getting him anywhere fast. And by the time he would manage to crawl his way to the front of the line, the sun would have set and the day would be done.

It was clear it was time to move on.

***

King Sombra stood before the wooden door, uncertain. He’d recalled a similar time not so long ago that Twilight Sparkle had offered him entry inside and his own nerves had gotten the better of him. So, what made his time so different?

First starters, Sombra was standing before one of the many secret entrances to his Crystal Empire. He’d visited each of them often during his quest; usually finding guards stationed at each around the clock. But now? Not a single guard in sight. Only a bit of parchment stuck to the door reading “BRB”.

Sombra was confused. Was it a warning to all those that may enter?

Better run, buddy?

But today was different and Sombra could sense it. It was now or never, he felt.

Taking a breath, he shoved against the door, preparing to find it locked… only to find it slide inward at once. He hitched in a breath and continued in, barely controlling nerves pulsing with anticipation.

On the other side of the door was a market square. Dozens upon dozens of ponies marched to and fro, most carrying heavy boxes either on their backs or hovering in their magical aura. Those that weren’t busily moving things around trotted across the market, taking in the scenery as fast as their heads could turn or buying fresh popcorn or souvenirs from what vendors were still open.

As much as Sombra wanted to comment on the current state of his Empire—as well as why everypony seemed to be carrying a whack-load of boxes for some reason—one large, looming fact was too much to keep sealed within his mouth.

I DID IT!” Sombra screamed. “I MADE IT BACK INSIDE!

From one shell-shocked pony to the next he galloped to, shaking their hooves for some reason while yelling their faces. Spit included.

“You all thought I couldn’t do it!” he continued. “You all thought I was never going to get back in, didn’t you? Well, who’s laughing now? Me! That’s who! Ha-ha-ha! He-he-he! That’s the sound of laughter, you simpletons! And it was so easy! I barely even had to try!”

His words caught in his throat as he noticed somepony across the market; someone rather tall and blue, with a shimmering mane.

“Almost… too easy?” he questioned himself.

The large blue alicorn came to him, regarding him uncertainly.

Sombra asked her, “You’re not the pony I stole those bongos from, are you?”

She shook her head gravely. “Afraid not, Sombra. I am Princess Luna, ruler of the night and of the dream world. And now I must ask you to—”

“Dream world?” Sombra spat, pupils shrinking to the size of pinpricks. “Now I know why you seem so familiar.” He glanced from side to side, bits of sweat flying off his mane as he quivered in a breath. “This is all a dream, isn’t it? All of it!” He faced Luna again, a mixture of disgust and sorrow on his face. “How could you? To torment me like this? Haven’t I been through enough?

Luna held up a hoof. “Sombra. Stop. Let me explain.”

Luna’s words did little to soothe him as he ran from one corner of the market to the next. “How can this be a dream if everything seems so real? The ponies? The dirt? The stands?” He hurriedly sniffed at the air. “The food?” He then snatched up a random pony’s hot pretzel and took a bite. “How can this taste so good and yet not be real? You’re a monster, blue pony! An evil, big blue monster!

And, so, Sombra left. But not before stealing another three hot pretzels from various shoppers.

Once gone, Princess Luna closed the secret entrance to the Empire and locked it. She sighed out. “That was close. Who was in charge of this entrance today? Today of all days?”

A turquois pegasus stumbled out of a nearby hay pile, yawning and rubbing at his eyes. “Zephyr Breeze, reporting for duty, Princess! Did I miss something? I sort of blinked too hard earlier today while on guard and got a little tired, so I… decided to take a nap.”

Luna glared at him. Stone faced.

“Why are you staring at me like that? Is my mane messy from the hay?”

The glaring intensified.

“Does this mean I don’t get paid? Hey. I left a note on the door. It’s not my fault he didn’t read it.”

The glaring intensified even further. Alicorn level glaring.

Zephyr Breeze gulped. “Okay, well. Good talk. Nice chat. I’m going to, uhh… run away now. Sound good?”

***

“Well, now I’ve seen everything,” Sombra said as he greeted the last “guard” in his path.

Once exiting from Princess Luna’s nightmare by running face first into a tree in the forest, Sombra had returned to the Empire and selected yet another hidden entrance at random. This one came with one guard and one guard only; not even a very impressive guard at that, standing less than a foot tall and probably weighing as much as a bag of marshmallows.

“Som-som,” Flurry Heart said, pointing her short spear at him before sticking her tongue out and blowing a raspberry. She shook her head from side to side. No entry, bud.

“Is that so?” Sombra questioned, lowering himself to her. He softly tapped on her “guard” uniform—discovering it all to be plastic and thin. Even the spear was made of soft rubber.

He smiled at her brightly. “Can you perhaps tell me just what’s going on around here? No guards stationed anywhere. More tourists than normal entering and exiting my Empire. Giant carriages parked outside. Was there a memo I missed out on?”

Flurry Heart poked him in the snout with her spear and blew another raspberry. “Som-som!”

“You want a fight, Sour Tart? Truly? You dare challenge the likes of me?” Sombra asked her with a smirk. “I don’t think you’d come out alive, little one. How about a round of patty-cake instead? Fighting just sounds tiring right now. It has been a long day, so far. Longer than most.”

Taking a seat on the cool ground next to her, Sombra played three rounds of patty-cake with the alicorn before Flurry Heart got too worked up and ended up smashing her hooves against his, causing Sombra to wince from the pain and wave his hoof in the air. Flurry Heart only giggled richly.

“Oh, right,” Sombra said snidely. “You like seeing me in pain, don’t you? You sadomasochist in training. You’re oddly strong. Stupid alicorn strength and all that, I suppose. How many cribs have you broken apart so far? A hundred? Do your parents have to order special diapers just for you? Ones made out of steel, perhaps?”

Clearly, Flurry Heart wasn’t hearing a word; with her own hoof in her mouth, she’d closed her eyes and curled into a ball on the ground. It seemed patty-cake had worn her out.

Sombra waited a moment, watching her sleep soundly. It calmed him at once. Then it made him feel drowsy and weak. It had been a long day, after all. Maybe a nap would do him some good. Just a quick one, though. Then he’d get back inside his Empire, once and for all.

“Ten minutes, tops,” he told Flurry Heart, sidling up next to her and wrapping a foreleg around her middle. And soon he slept, too. And all became dark.

***

Very dark. Too dark, in fact. He’d totally overslept.

King Sombra awoke sometime in the middle of the night, in the same spot minus Flurry Heart. Where she’d gone, he hadn’t a clue. Lifting his head up, he listened for a sound, anything at all. Even at night he knew the Crystal Empire to be a busy place, guards marching back and forth, bar patrons sluggishly stumbling in the streets in search of a place to crash.

And yet he heard nothing. Not even a lone voice caught in the wind.

And for what felt like the hundredth time that day, he asked himself, “What the heck’s going on around here?” And then he found out.

It took some time, but he marched his way back to the front of the Empire and found not a single pony in sight. The drawbridge was even down, allowing him easy entry. With growing trepidation, he crossed the bridge and entered, keeping his head down and eyes peeled for a trap.

Only none were present. No ponies or guards or anyone, as far as he could see.

“Another dream,” he spat out, before running into a wall headfirst to knock himself awake. He blinked the white dots out of his vision. “Not a dream.”

“Hello?” he asked his empty Empire, as if expecting some reply.

But the reality of the situation seemed clear. He had won. Finally.

King Sombra had made it back inside his Empire.

How? Why? He still wasn’t quite sure, but he could always figure that part out later.

“Because first!” Sombra announced triumphantly. “I’m going to use real toilet paper again!”

Author's Note:

This isn't the ending, obviously. But we're getting close.

Maybe two chapters left, depending.

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