• Published 8th Jan 2017
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The Lunar Chalice - Spirals95

A magical chalice prized to Princess Luna has resurfaced in the collection of a wealthy Griffon family. To retrieve the enchanted cup, she sends one of her followers and his friends. But some of Equestria's enemies have plans for the chalice.

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Chapter 32 - Shadow's Message

Chapter 32

Barely able to move and hardly in any condition to deliver his message for King Sombra, Shadow Breeze somehow was able to keep his eyes open. A line of dirt behind him showed how he had crawled past the thermal barrier on his belly, the harsh winter and his haste out of fear of his still-flashing collar left him drained. But he could already see ponies rushing to make sure that he was fine, and he worked up the strength to stand on his own four hooves to greet them.

“Shadow!”, cried Princess Cadance, leading the pack of Crystal Ponies, “Oh my goodness, you're okay!”

He could see that all of his friends, including the three princesses were about to surround him and shower him in love.

“STOP!” he shouted, holding up a wing, “Don't come any closer!”

Just like that, all the ponies present stopped charging and stared at him, confused as to why he wanted to be left alone.

“What's wrong?!” Cadance asked worriedly, “Where were you this whole time?!”

“I... I can't tell you!” choked the pegasus in response, his eyes betraying his terror, “You just have to trust me that it's too dangerous.”

“What's the lad going on about now?” Arbiter asked, pushing in front of the other ponies, “Mr. Breeze, you'd better have a good explanation as to why you can't inform us as to where have you been.”

A bead of sweat ran down his face, “I really can't say!”

Princess Celestia squinted at the necklace around her friend's neck, curiously examining it from the back of the horde of Crystal Ponies. Her sister seemed to not notice, focusing on what Cadance and Arbiter were saying to him.

“Shadow, any information you can give us about the location of King Sombra is important,” Shining Armor urged of him, also stepping forward, “we might be able to save the others too!”

“No, you don't understand!”

The gemstone central to his necklace shimmered and let out a loud wailing sound, sparks flying and flashing while sending up a triangular ray of red light high above the ponies. A wide screen of visible magic sprawled out from the end of the pyramidal ray, and all those present looked up at the rectangle being hovered above them. A perfect image formed on the magical projection, King Sombra's image appearing clearing in the enchanted display screen created by the arcane creation firmly around Shadow Breeze's neck. Ponies gasped at the reality that King Sombra truly had returned to conquer them, and their enemy's face and neck took up the entirety of the image. He began to address his former subjects with a voice that sounded crystal clear, being filtered enough that it did not sound like it was being transmitted through an old radio. It was quite loud, but the sound coming out from collar at a projected angle that fortunately spared Shadow's hearing.

“Greetings, ponies of the Crystal Empire,” he said, looking down with a sinister grin on his face, “as you can clearly see, I am not at all the ghost you thought me to be. I've come to discuss the terms of the return of your empire to my control. All are welcome back peacefully... I hope.”

“King Sombra,” Princess Cadance declared, the 'giant' King's eyes focusing on her as she craned her neck up to talk to him, “I am Princess Cadance, the new Crystal Princess and the leader of this land. You'll never have my ponies as slaves again, understood?”

“But I already have roughly three dozen of you back as my workers,” the king commented mockingly, “my golems are more than capable of punching through any sort of defenses you have prepared. Let's not make things any nastier than they have to be, your Highness.”

Cadance turned a shade of unhappy red, and her aunt moved forward with a harsh tone, “King Sombra, my sister and I vanquished you once, we'll be happy to do it again if you do not end this immediately!”

“Ah Princess Celestia,” Sombra answered, chuckling and peering over her, “and little looney Luna, the Princess who backstabbed you all.”

“Enough, Sombra,” said Luna, answering for herself, “what have you done with Techorse and his friends?”

“Why, they're right here with me,” he said slyly, stepping back from the runic recording device he had constructed.

Sombra backed away from the device, showing the ponies a clear view of the room he was broadcasting from. It was a wide and tall room on the east side of his castle, with glass windows on the sides that brightly lit it, and a large raised platform in the center surrounded by a sunken pit in a half-moon shape, creating the effect of a podium surrounded by a deep chasm. A red carpet led out of the room towards the “camera”, and dark crystal hung from the ceiling. Gold and silver ran along columns in the walls, and a big red stained glass window bearing Sombra's cutie mark hung above what looked to be an ornate throne. It was constructed from the softest velvet and the finest ivory carved from the tusks of long-extinct monsters native to the region, and dark obsidian stone that was polished to perfection. But what made Ignitus and Faerie Tail collectively miss a few beats of their hearts, was the fact that their own son was sitting upon this cursed throne, smiling at them as if nothing was wrong. Techorse and Flaming Ivory stood at each side of the throne, looks of defeat upon their faces.

“Midnight...” whispered Faerie Tail, “oh thank goodness he's okay.”

“No, he isn't,” Ignitus commented, hugging his wife tightly, “he's far too happy to be okay. Something's wrong. Look at his eyes, honey, they're red.”

“What have you done to my son, Sombra?!” wailed Faerie Tail when it registered in her brain that her husband was right.

Ahhh, lady Faerie Tail, I've only given Midnight Blaze his rightful place in my world,” answered the king, raising a hoof and explaining cheerfully, “you see, I've decided to take Midnight Blaze in as my own son. Your husband's arrogance in ignoring his talents as an artisan of magical gear has led him to choose me over you.

“I'll kill you, Sombra,” growled Ignitus, putting a divot in the ground with his hoof.

“Such bravado. But it's far too late as you can see, please tell them, Midnight,” he said in response.

Midnight rose from the throne, and walked towards the camera, “Ignitus, you've never supported me as your son, even when I did my best to impress you.”

Ignitus made Faerie's heart melt again when he turned to begging, “Midnight, I know, but... fight whatever mind control Sombra's got on you... PLEASE!

“What mind control?” asked the unicorn plainly, before understanding what he meant, “Oh, you mean the red eyes? Here...”

Midnight closed his eyes, then opened them again, showing the turquoise irises his parents knew, “See, I'm doing this. King Sombra showed me Dark Magic, and what I'm truly capable of accomplishing. He didn't demand I start going into the military and take orders like you. Thanks to being a part of his lineage, he has become my father and has given me the ability to do what I want with my life, something you never cared about.”

“That's a lie,” shouted Faerie Tail, “King Sombra is not your father, Midnight Blaze!”

Ignitus interrupted her, “Your Majesty...”

Faerie focused her attention on the detective. He had that peculiar look in his eyes that she knew all too well from his time serving as her captain of the guard. The unicorn felt a twinge of anxiety, knowing what would follow.

“Ignitus.. it's not true... is it?”

He turned and looked at Faerie Tail, kissing her gently on the forehead before turning back to the projection.

“Midnight, the reason why I insisted you serve Equestria is because King Sombra is correct. He is our distant ancestor through a mare that escaped his rule over a thousand years ago. Generations of ponies from her gave their lives in service to Equestria to make up for the horrors Sombra caused. I only insisted you join the military so that you could take up that necessary tradition. I should have told you the family secret ages ago... I'm sorry!”

“Oh you have GOT to be kidding me,” hissed Limpwing, “That's what you were thinking this whole time, Ignitus!?”

“You don't understand, Limpwing,” he answered, bowing his head in shame, “the first son born to that mare, Autumn Wheat, was treated with harsh judgment. He couldn't find work, he couldn't make any friends... they all feared he'd become the next Sombra. And he might have, if it wasn't for Princess Celestia and Luna taking him in and turning him into a fine soldier. As a hero for Equestria, he was accepted. When the Crystal Empire reappeared, I was worried they would discover my family's past and hunt us down.”

“Aunt Celestia, when were you going to tell me about this?” sighed Princess Cadance.

Celestia frowned, “It... it never occurred to me that an incident with the Shadow Pony bloodline would ever happen again. By the third generation of Sombra's children, Equestria had become completely accepting. But the fathers of the household continued to join the Equestrian defense forces for centuries, until Midnight's refusal. He's the first to decline.”

Midnight was listening to the conversation, on his end the view of the Crystal Empire was being broadly displayed by projections from two casting towers at the sides of his new throne room, twin columns of sandstone carved with red gems in segments that rotated around each other. Now he understood why his father had kept the secret of his harshness locked away.

Midnight visibly shuddered, “You... you shouldn't have kept that from me. It would have explained so much.”

“It is far too late now,” King Sombra grunted, entering the scene again from the left and standing next to Midnight, “your failure will haunt you for the rest of your life, Ignitus. Midnight and I will rule together as a family without your secrets and insecurities.”

“Enough, just tell us what you want,” the defeated stallion replied.

“Very well. Let's move on to what will happen over the next twenty four hours,” agreed Sombra, smiling.

The view the Crystal Ponies had shifted to rows upon rows of golems outside the castle, brandishing their magic cannons and marching forward. Sombra's voice could still be heard over the scene of the advancing troops.

“Tomorrow at about ten in the morning, my golems will be positioned outside the Crystal Empire. If you drop your defenses and allow them to claim the realm for me, I will not bring any harm, and my reign will not be nearly as horrible as my first.“

“Like we can believe that,” Limpwing sarcastically said, “so why are you spilling your plans like this anyways, Sombra? Not too good of a strategy.”

“Ah, well, you see... I have something that will ensure my victory even if my plan is well known in advance,” answered the king, shifting the scene to the silo deep within the castle.

“What is that thing?” asked Princess Cadance, squinting at the display.

It was the ballistic missile Techorse had constructed, liquid nitrogen creating puffs of icy air around the machine to keep it cool as it fueled up for launch. The superweapon's tip occasionally sent out a red wave of energy around it from the afradium core being eager to go off.

“This is a missile weapon developed by your very own Techorse,” King Sombra explained, “how kind of him to develop such a beautiful piece for me. I hope you won't be viewing him as a traitor for it, Princess Celestia.”

“You forced Techorse to build a missile?” she gasped.

“Indeed, when this missile strikes the Crystal Empire, it'll blow apart the shields, detonate over the palace, and shroud the Crystal Empire in a cloud of pure fear and agony. Your ponies may recognize from the red glow of this rocket what materials lay inside... I doubt they'll let you believe this is a dry threat, Celestia.”

The Crystal Ponies were indeed trying not to scream, but panic and fear was definitely the key theme of the crowd's demeanor. The magical screen changed again into a black chalkboard background, and the castle was drawn as a 3D diagram, with the Crystal empire miles away.

“The missile is capable of hitting your palace within ten minutes of launch, and is impervious to magic and anything else you can muster,” he said, “but, if you surrender to my general, Rosseth, I'll spare you the fate of being permanently scarred by the poison this weapon carries.”

“Rosseth...” Cadance said softly, hoping to see him again.

Again, the view changed, back to the throne with the four ponies, Techorse's eyes firmly on the ground and beginning to water a bit. The guilt was endless and on display for everyone.

“Oh... poor Techorse,” Princess Celestia whispered, trying not to cry herself, “I know you didn't mean it.”

“Princess Cadance... it is all your decision now,” King Sombra said, “your friends have failed you. Even alicorn magic cannot stop us, and Midnight will be crowned my son tomorrow night at the last second of the day. The Crystal Empire must return to its rightful owner, it does not belong to cowards and weaklings like you and the Crystal Ponies. Why do you think I sent this messenger back to you? Shadow Breeze was the biggest coward of the ponies you sent to stop me!”

Shadow Breeze looked up, and grit his teeth, grumbling about something under his breath. He felt the fear in his heart start to slip away.

“And without my location, you'll never be able to stop both the missile and the army,” Sombra assured them, “your best option is surrender and return to my fold as slaves to the crown. Prince Midnight will see you are given fair treatment!”

“Hey Princess Celestia,” said Shadow Breeze angrily, “I want him to shut up, and I know a way I can save the Crystal Empire. It's just... can you please tell my mom, dad, and marefriend that I loved them a lot?“

“Shadow Breeze, what are you talking about?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

Shadow then bucked up on his hind legs, took a deep breath, and shouted at the top of his lungs,


Sombra's expression turned to raw frustration and hatred, “Shadow... how unfortunate for you.”

In the throne room, Techorse and Flaming Ivory raised their heads, seeing Shadow Breeze directly below them. His collar emitted a bright yellow light of some kind, curiously.

“Goodbye everypony,” he said, with a happy smile on his face.

Princess Celestia's eyes widened as her hears filled with a very loud chirp. Then, with extreme force and heat, a massive explosion consumed the pegasus along with the collar, terminating the transmission above and causing panic and commotion. Tears ran from Princess Luna and Cadance's eyes, and Faerie Tail buried her face in her husband's neck, crying like an infant.

Techorse and Flaming Ivory took a second to realize what had happened, and even Midnight felt a bit of shock despite the Dark Magic's effects. Flaming Ivory wanted to rage, but the ring on his horn prevented him from doing so, and darkness took its place.

“Shadow,” said Flaming Ivory, eyes wide, “what... no! NO!”

“The transmitter was a bomb,” Techorse stated, his voice stuttering, “Sombra... you... you really are a monster.”

“Poor Shadow,” Flaming Ivory blubbered, before wailing, “he's dead. Oh sweet Celestia he's dead.”

Midnight Blaze simply said, “A shame. I liked him. Perhaps he should have listened.”

Techorse felt something twist in his guts, and a lump in his throat, “Midnight... how could you? He was your friend. You... you were just supposed to pretend to go along with Sombra's plan. You've really joined him, haven't you? Why, Midnight!?

“Techorse, don't make me put a control stone on your head too to keep you from preaching,” he groaned, “father, it seems that they are aware of our location now. What's the plan?”

King Sombra cleared his throat and turned around, “We will leave a small number of golems behind to defend. But I do not think they will attack us directly, as they'll be too busy gearing up to defend themselves. Chance are they will now resist, so we will finish preparing the missile for launch.”

“Techorse is in no condition to prepare the missile with his sadness,” Midnight said, taking a little pity on his friend, “and it will likely require mathematics to calculate the trajectory.”

“He will finish the sequence if he wants to survive this,” Sombra growled, “back to your posts you two.”

Techorse worked up the courage to challenge him, drying his tears with his hoof, “Sombra, I've given you every chance I could...”

“Oh not this again,” the king grumbled, “Midnight, if you please. You and Flaming can do what you wish now.”

Midnight nodded, and his horn sparked to life, causing the two of them to vanish out of the throne room.

“Techorse, you've lost. It's really not that hard to understand if your brain is really as big as it seems to be,” Sombra said, walking up to the green stallion with contempt on his face, “now it's quite unfortunate that Shadow Breeze perished, but it was his choice to betray me. I... I did not think he would actually do it, but I understand his reasoning.”

Techorse sat in silence and thought about his next move, looking around on the floor. Sombra knew what he wanted to say, but he wondered if the sudden loss of Shadow Breeze had finally broken the inventor's heart and left him speechless.

Before the troubled pony could open his mouth to say something, Sombra continued over the top of him, “I've been reading your mind since you started, Techorse. I know you also intend to betray me.”

“Then why haven't you killed me, too?” he asked, “Will you do it once I launch the missile?”

“No,” Sombra answered, “I don't intend to end you. I intend to end your idea.”

Techorse didn't seem to understand, so he sighed and explained, “Techorse, it is very easy to dislike you, but it's very hard to hate you. The way your mind works, you find the good in others and use that to change them. Sometimes you even have to beat them down to get them to see that, but ultimately you cannot bring yourself to destroy anything that has even a tiny bit of good in it. That is beautiful, but it must be taken away from you. There are just some things, like myself, that do not have any good left in them.“

“I know,” Techorse said, looking up, “there's no good left in you at all.”

“Then you will never truly defeat me,” Sombra answered, eyes turning red, “I hope you will accept this truth, and be content with your new place in this world.”

“You don't understand,” he continued, “there's no good left in you, but you're obviously in pain. You keep trying to apologize to me in a way. That's why I'm saying you still have one more chance left.”

“If I did, it was gone along with your friend. The Shadow Kingdom will return and claim the Crystal Empire tomorrow, and perhaps Equestria as well in the future. I hope you'll understand and join me, Techorse. I think you could be great.”

“I'm serious,” Techorse responded blankly, “you're going to regret all of this.”

King Sombra felt disgusted at Techorse's lack of fear and anger, there was this gross sense of caring about the earth pony he didn't want to feel. If he wasn't implying that he would destroy him somehow, then what would?

“Techorse, return to your laboratory. Your threats are empty.”

“There's nothing to do there now,” he said in return, “leave me alone.”

The unicorn allowed it, “Very well, Techorse. Take some time to mourn Shadow. You understand now.”

Leaving him, Techorse waited until he heard the throne room doors slam behind him to sit down on the floor. He took off his battle saddle, and threw it into the deep well surrounding the throne, then sat down in front of the giant chair, and let his feelings take over, tears falling.

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