• Published 1st Jul 2018
  • 370 Views, 30 Comments

Pink Alicorn Blues - Hail King Sombra



Princess Cadence was purged of the corruption that once held King Sombra in its grip, but she's not better. What happens when the only pony that can help you deal with the aftermath is your worst enemy? STORY COMPLETE

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8. The One Who Finally Listens

Shining Armor moped. Watching his wife and the former Crystal Tyrant from the other side of the cave also made him want to brood, but when he thought about it and saw everypony was talking out their fears and feelings with each other, a wave of loneliness broke over the shore of his thoughts, overcoming the brooding which in turn threatened his mopiness.

All these feelings and emotions and not one of them positive, he sighed.

What was he doing wrong, he wondered. Wasn’t he supposed to hate the ex-king for all he’d done to the Empire and their ponies? Why was that so wrong?

‘I’ll tell you what’s wrong,’ his conscious whispered. ‘He keeps coming back!’

It was true. Enemies that get physically blown up weren’t supposed to come back. A soldier was supposed to vanquish them, then go have a drink with their platoon buddies after said extinguishing, get drunk, then go home and make love to their wives, grateful for another night they could do so. And dammit, just as they had been getting used to lots of nights of post-vanquishing lovemaking, here came the two sisters, warning them Sombra was alive and well and coming to take back his ill-gotten Empire once again.

Sheesh. Wasn’t one crack at reseizing the crystal throne enough?

And they’d survived that too...by the skin of their hides and through nearly losing Cadence. But something had changed after Sombra’s second death. Cadence had changed. True, she had been as shaken as Shining in the aftermath of the possession, yes he was begrudgingly acknowledging it had happened now, but once purified back to her normal, sweet self, the mare of his life had profoundly changed.

It had nothing to do with how the Princesses had pulled them both off the balcony and given them a stern talking to in the art of managing crises when hiding them from one’s subjects...had it? Had they hidden the truth not just from the nervous, confused crystal ponies, but maybe - just maybe - taken it too far and also neatly tucked it away from themselves as well? Shining Armor’s eyes widened as the thought opened a floodgate of pieces that had not quite lined up neatly before now...the sleepless nights, Cadence’s bright, colorful appearance taking a more subdued then sallow cast the longer they had refused to talk - really talk to each other about how they had been individually impacted by the terrible events of Sombra’s return and Cadence’s possession.

And the coup de gras - Cadence’s loss of appetite and her love magic at first stalling, then failing completely a week ago. When that had happened and a guard had come to them in a panic that day, saying the crystal heart was spinning more sluggishly and was taking on a darker, cloudier cast, that had been the final, final straws that had made him contact the Princesses, pleading for their advice and assistance.

Luna’s arrival and insistence she take over Cadence’s duties temporarily while they go on a second honeymoon had been out of left field and just plan, well, weird. Even weirder was the recommendation they come to this tiny little town of nearby Yakut when Canterlot had been just as fine a destination with more amenities and Princess Celestia nearby to assist in her niece’s recovery. It just hadn’t added up.

But as the Prince mulled over these facts, he took another look at Cadence across the cave and squinted, lighting his horn brighter. Did she - was she...smiling at King Sombra? And was her color looking better? It certainly seemed to be the case. She hadn’t smiled in a month, he thought in wonder and again as he pondered bitterly over the fact that evil unicorn had gotten a smile out of his wife, Cadence nodded to the ex-Guard Captain and trotted back over to their side of the cave.

Her husband shook his head at her. “I don’t get it, Cadie. Please, please explain this to me. What is going on?!?” Cadence gave him a small smile. “Why are you and he - “

“Shush,” she gently said, putting a hoof to his mouth to stop him. “I had to talk to Kingsley, Shiny. He understands what I went through. We were both possessed by the same demon. True, it was for different reasons, but underneath it all, we both wanted to protect our ponies.”

“But Cadie, you expelled it,” Armor shook his head. “It’s gone - for good.”

“Only because of what Kingsley did,” she agreed. “He took it back into himself so he could blow it up and destroy it once and for all so no one would ever have to suffer because of it ever again.”

“This is King Sombra we’re talking about,” her husband asked in confirmation.

Cadence nodded.

“The same King Sombra who attacked our Empire...the Crystal Empire, right?”

Again a nod.

“The Sombra who attacked us - me in the wastes outside the city, dug around in my mind, haunted me,” he tallied off. “Who brought out my worst fears - which included doing some biologically obscene things to you while forcing me to watch - “

The Princess’s eyes widened in surprise at this. Whether she was perhaps thinking of the possibilities therein, Celestia only knew. She did have a profoundly open and kinky side to her power of love.

“The same creature who sealed off my horn. I still get a headache when I think about it,” he rubbed the appendage tenderly.

“He was, but he’s changed now, Shiny,” his wife nudged him underneath his chin. “Ponies can and have changed. You’ve seen it for yourself before.”

“But this thing he said he had in his head - “ the Prince began, struggling through the illogic as best he could.

“It was in my head too, sweetheart,” the pink alicorn explained patiently.

He ignored that. He just couldn’t see it happening - and he had been there. It couldn’t happen...not to his sweet Cadie! “It was blown up too.”

“Buttface? Yes.”

“Now you’re saying it too. Who’s ‘Buttface’?!?” The stallion desperately wanted to know why they kept calling it that!

“Go ask Kingsley. He’ll tell you,” she smiled as if she was privy to some private joke Shining wasn’t.

“I don’t want to ask that bastard!” Shining nearly spat. He took Cadence’s hoof in his. “I am asking you.” This was getting exasperating and he felt so lost he was almost ready to give up trying to understand all this. It didn’t add up. None of it. No matter how Shining Armor crunched the illogic of this in his head, he still wasn’t getting it.

“Okay it is, well was an uber demon. A minor, emotion based - ”

“‘Minor’?”

“Don’t interrupt, Shiny.”

“Sorry.”

“A minor, emotion-based entity that not only fed on fear and hatred but who’s physical, well, etcoplasmic composition was fear and hatred,” she finished.

Shining Armor withdrew his hoof from hers. “This is all making my head spin, Cadie,” he confessed. “I fight physical enemies. He was physical. I had the bruises for weeks to prove it!”

The Princess nodded. “I remember. It was no fun holding off those positions in bed while you healed.” She smiled at Shining’s brief smile. At least they were communicating now and he wasn’t giving up on her, even though he still couldn’t understand all this. “It wasn’t really physical,” she continued with the explanation. “It was, well, nesting in Kingsley’s consciousness when it attacked you, me and the Empire. It was using his body - and mine to attack - ”

“No.”

“No?”

“Not you, Cadie,” he shook his head in denial as if he had hit a physical wall his logical quite simply could not cross.

Cadence thought about that, taken slightly aback by the thought that maybe all this time he had placed her on a pedestal, thought her untouchable by corruption, whether through her integrity or by virtue of her alicorn status. Her mind whirred with not only the revelation, but how in the world she was going to get him to see she wasn’t perfect.

No, he had already seen it. It was getting him to accept it that was the problem. “So,” she began thoughtfully. “It’s the fact that buttface - er Uber,” she amended at the sour look Shining gave her. “Was a non-corporeal entity and you thought I would never let in something like that that you’re having a hard time understanding.” She wasn’t really asking him so much as sorting this out verbally in case there was something else, some other issue they were failing to address here.

“Right.”

“So, do you think he’s lying about the demon?” she asked.

“Yes!” he replied a little too quickly. He could see that as his wife raised an eyebrow at him. If he thought Sombra was lying, that meant he would also be accusing Cadence of lying as well. “No. I don’t know!” he gave up, lying down, rubbing his head as if fighting an oncoming headache.

The Princess sat down next to him and put a sympathetic hoof across his withers. “You know what I used to tell Twilight when I foalsat her and she had those hard questions like ‘how do you know wind is real?’ or love? I told her what I’m going to tell you about that demon - “

“Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not real,” they said together.

“Right,” she nodded. “We can’t see them, but we can feel what they do to us.” She paused. “Though I could hear that thing in my head,” the mare shivered. “I never want to hear that sound again, or think the thoughts I did when it was there.”

“But that’s just it, Cadie,” he said helplessly. “I can’t imagine you would’ve let something like that in in the first place! And I was supposed to protect you and I didn’t. I couldn’t because I - “ he trailed off, slamming the ground with his hoof.

“ - couldn’t see it?” she finished for him. Now at last she was beginning to understand him. How strange that all this time she thought the entire problem was him not understanding her. The revelation was as disturbing as it was a relief.

“I failed you,” she heard him confess sadly. “Back in the dungeons, I had to resort to letting Sombra out just to save you because I couldn’t. At the time it was the only thing I could think to do. The Princesses had gone back to Canterlot, you had neutralized my magic, you had the guards under your toxic love spell.” He put a hoof to his forehead, as if he felt not just the emotional and physical pain of the helplessness, but the loss of his magic all over again as well. “I was okay with it at the time in the heat of battle, but afterwards, after everything settled down and I had time to work it out just what happened when I really sat down and thought about it, realized I wasn’t the one who saved you. I wasn’t the one who kicked that thing out of your mind when you couldn’t and I wasn’t the one who took it back into myself and killed myself for you!” He stabbed a hoof out in the direction where Kingsley and Coffee Talk were on the other side of the cave. “It was him! Our sworn enemy! Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?!?”

Cadence stood speechless for a moment, staring at him, her eyes shifting back over to Kingsley. Apparently dawn had come and since more light was pouring in through the topmost cracks in the cave ceiling, she could see him now without the help of their magic. The grey unicorn had heard all of this, of course. The cave was too small to not hear someone yelling from the other side, so it didn’t surprise her in the least that their earth pony and unicorn stallion companions were staring at them, Coffee with worry and Kingsley - well, he looked awkwardly at them, to his credit, instead of pleased with himself (for once). They locked eyes for a moment after which the grey unicorn turned away, back towards his marefriend and the wall.

He really has changed, hasn’t he? she thought in wonder. And now there was this whole new problem of Shining Armor’s pain she had been too wrapped up within herself to notice.

He felt Cadence’s hoof on his. “I’m sorry, Shiny, I didn’t know you felt this way. I failed you. I failed our subjects, Celestia, Luna. I failed myself, even Kingsley. I wish I could say I know how you feel, but I can’t.” She straightened, seeming to find a determination to help him and put aside her own doubts and fears for the moment. “What can I do to help?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged, ears still low, but a bit perkier than before. “I think this is something I have to work out for myself.” He took a deep breath, letting it out steadily, slowly. Somehow he felt that even though it still deeply bothered him, it wasn’t as bad as before he had said something. “Telling you helps, though.”

The Princess smiled, a bit more color returning to her body, mane and tail. She even started looking more radiant to the white stallion. His ears came back up as he marvelled at how their talking out their problems had its own magical way of restoring some of the stunning pink alicorn princess he had always been so madly in love with at first sight. She was still thin, had bags under her eyes and looked like she had been put through a clothes washer, but she definitely was no longer on the decline as badly as when they had first left the Empire for this so-called ‘vacation’. Overjoyed and relieved, he nuzzled her, which she happily returned.

When they parted, she took a good look at him. “So, are you sure you’re feeling better?”

“I am,” he nodded. Now he glanced over at the grey unicorn who had been his bitterest enemy for what seemed like an eternity. “I don’t forgive him for killing the first Crystal Princess, but it’s like Coffee Talk said, he’s paid for that twice-over now.” He was speaking in a lower tone, so the other two couldn’t make out what he was saying, so it was no surprise when Kingsley saw the Prince’s less than friendly expression, bit his lip and turned away, but it was the eye-rolling and look of veiled disgust Coffee had as she shifted her attention back to her friend that now, to his surprise, bothered him. “But I at least owe Coffee an apology.” He felt a nudge. “Okay, and at least a thank you to Kingsley for saving your life.”

“And,” Cadence prompted.

“And the crystal ponies,” he nodded.

“And?”

“And the Empire. He did save the Empire,” Shining agreed.

“And?”

What else was there, he wondered for a moment. But only for a moment. “And Coffee, for using the heart to kill King Sombra,” he said thoughtfully. “I - don’t think I could have done that. Not if it had been you,” he declared, looking at his wife.

Cadence rubbed his shoulder with a hoof. “Let’s recover from this before we talk about your duty to Princess and country,” she nodded.

“Agreed, but Cadie, you said something else I’m not sure I understand.”

“What honey?”

“You said you also failed Kingsley. Why did you say that?”

“Because, well,” she stopped, looking over at him. Was he ready to accept what she wanted to say, she wondered. “What is the saying, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’?” she gestured to the other side of the cave.

Shining Armor looked over as well. Coffee nudged Kingsley in the shoulder. He looked over at them, curious, but waiting. “I can see that,” the Prince conceded. “but failing him - .”

“His knowledge of how to get rid of Buttface was an unexpected side benefit,” he head Cadence say behind him. She smiled when Shining, at last, understanding the source of the nickname now, snickered. “I think I’ll just take the chance you’ll understand when I apologize to him because I want you there when I do.” Cadence turned back to her shining Prince and tweaked his nose. “And I trust you won’t need to defend me and will behave yourself this time?”

He nodded. “I will, as long as he isn’t being a smart-assed jerkhorse.”

“Where’d that come from?” she half laughed, asking him.

“From something Coffee Talk and I talked about,” he replied.

Cadence looked over at Coffee when she wasn’t looking at her. “Oh...I’ll bet you didn’t like her calling you that.”

“Hey, what makes you think it was directed at me?” he defended, mock hurt. “She could have been talking about Kingsley.”

“Hmm...maybe, and maybe in the past, but this time considering the stress you’ve been under, I kind of doubt it.”

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