• Published 20th Oct 2018
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A Sparkle in the Darkness - tom117z



Following the return of the Crystal Empire, Twilight begins some intensive research into the history of the Empire and its late king. What she finds changes everything she knows about herself.

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11 - To Teach a Princess

The Next Day



“So, what’s first?”

To say that Twilight Sparkle was ‘excited’ would be a gross understatement.

It was approaching midday, the sun rising high into the sky as Twilight put the finishing touches onto her brand-new study space.

Which, of course, was just the Golden Oaks Library.

The library had been closed to the public for the day, the interior space redecorated with tables containing various books and arcane artefacts that the alicorn had dug out from her basement lab. Anything and everything she thought that she might need for a day of intense studying and magical training, it was all there. It was an all too familiar sight for Spike, the drake peaking in from the kitchen before giving a bemused sigh and retreating back to his plate of gems, though it had been some time since Twilight had found a spell so exciting that she’d spread her laboratory into the entire tree.

And he didn’t even know what it was she was studying.

Twilight, on her part, pranced over from table to table as she conducted final checks on her equipment, ensuring everything was working at its peak efficiency! Some of the more rudimentary systems had been tied into the town’s electrical grid; it’s amazing what you’re allowed to do as a Princess of Equestria, while others were being powered by magical crystals that you should never use in a coffee machine.

No, she was never making that mistake again.

Still, everything was set up and waiting for the fun to begin. Fun consisting of equal amounts of darkness and friendship!

“Still you naively cling to that folly of a concept,” Sombra dismissed the latter as he poofed into existence next to her, giving a bemused glance around the library. “None of this is necessary, it is but your magical skill I require.”

“Oh, you never know what will come in handy,” Twilight retorted. “Besides, most of it is monitoring equipment. I intend to record and catalogue every single spark I make today, there has never been a more in-depth study into the dark magical arts!”

Sombra gave the equipment another look, not… entirely sure how any of it was meant to work. Something he would have to search through his distant granddaughter’s brain for at some point, there was still much about the modern age he had yet to learn.

But that knowledge could be gained at a later date, for now, he had a lesson to teach.

“Very well, do as you will,” he conceded. “But I require your utmost dedication to the darkness from this point forth. The forces with which you play, they are not to be trifled with. It is a power of which you must always control, for it will otherwise seek to control you.”

“That… sounds bad.”

“It invites an early grave… and the graves of whoever would be unfortunate enough to be caught in the path of the nearly mindless abomination you become.”

It was true that there was a risk, even if you were using normal magic, that gaining copious amounts of new power all at once could drive an unprepared and untrained mind to insanity. It could drive a pony to do terrible things without being fully in control of their actions…

But Twilight was anything but untrained and unprepared.

“The confidence you feel is good, it provides you strength,” Sombra stated. “But we must also know your current limitation, so that is where we shall begin.”

“Alright, so what does all of this entail?”

“We shall start with a simple spell on this day,” he explained. “Then, tomorrow, we will move on to something more challenging. The day after that, something truly difficult shall be your task.”

“I see, to know where my magic is at and how well I can control my own dark magic,” she noted in turn. “So, if I have trouble with one stage in particular, we can stop and work up to it.”

“Indeed. I am glad we have an understanding,” he responded. “But I would hope that today’s spell would be easy to master for one such as yourself. If not… then we have a problem.”

“I’m more than up for the challenge,” Twilight shot back pridefully. “And I’m sure you will be there to give me pointers and support. After all, that is just one of the many advantages to having friends!”

His look became far more deadpan. “I’m sure it is, but that is not the nature of our relationship.”

“I’m just noting something I’ve observed many times, Sombra.”

“But moving on to the spell you are to learn…” he eagerly changed the subject away from his descendant’s infuriating obsession with friends. “We are going to require you dragon servant.”

“Spike’s not my ‘servant’,” Twilight chided the King. “And what do we need him for? Aren’t we meant to be keeping all of this quiet for now?”

“And we shall continue to do so,” Sombra confirmed. “But we require him nevertheless, I’m sure you can safely appease his curiosity with some conjured explanation.”

Twilight frowned. She didn’t like the idea of including Spike in all of this, but she might as well hear him out first…

“Alright. But again, why do we need him?”

“The first spell is but one of the easiest I have ever designed,” he started to explain. “A spell I based off of a dragon fire spell, capable of moving an object from one location to the next across vast distances.”

“A dragon fire spell?” Twilight questioned with a frown. “Princess Celestia can do something similar, and she doesn’t use dark magic for it!”

“Are you so certain?” he taunted. “But yes, I am aware of Celestia’s ability. But her spell is tied directly into the dragon’s own natural fire, she can only use the spell to send messages to him, while his version is far more versatile. My magic emulates that, and while we shall practice intertwining it with the drake much as Celestia has, it is not restricted to that single transfer.”

“So, you could theoretically send items anywhere in Equestria?” Twilight questioned, already taking down a few notes.

“Alas, as with a dragon’s fire, spontaneously sending an item is limited to both knowledge of the recipient and range. Long distances require a direct connection like Celestia has formed, and like you are to form.”

“But I could still use it to send items without that connection?” Twilight enquired. “Like Spike can, but the Princess is unable?”

“Indeed.”

Her eyes sparkled suitably. “That sounds amazing! Where do we start?”

“As I said, call the drake.”

“Spike!” Twilight called out towards the kitchen. “I need your help with something, are you busy?”

“Hold on a moment, Twilight!” she heard him call back, hearing some rummaging from inside the other room before the door opened and the young dragon strolled out with stray remnants of various gems around his mouth. “What’s up?”

“I need some help with this new spell I’ve been working on,” she explained to him, scooching him over and planting him in the centre of the room. “Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe!”

“When you feel the need to reassure that right off the bat, then I get worried,” Spike deadpanned, crossing his arms. “But alright, what have you got for me this time?”

“Remember how Princess Celestia figured out a way to tie her magic into your dragon fire spell?”

“Yeah. I’ve had the stomach aches to prove it,” he replied before the dragon then realised exactly where she was going with it. “You haven’t found a way to replicate it, have you?”

“Eh, not exactly,” she dismissed with a wave of her hoof. “This is… uh, my own spin on it. It’s more of an accurate recreation of the dragon fire spell rather than piggybacking off of it. I think I should be able to tie it into your stream, but I should be able to send things to other locations the way you can as well.”

“Huh, I can see why you’d find that useful,” he noted. “And it would give me a break every once in a while.”

“Or we can double our output when we have all that paperwork to send!” Twilight gushed.

He shrugged. “Hey, if it cuts my work in half, I’m all in. Where do we start?”

“Right, well…”

Actually… where was she meant to start?

“Build up the darkness inside…” Sombra started from within her head. “Let it grow and boil…”

She gave a small gulp, hoping to Cele- Equestria that Spike would continue to buy her lies about the spell.

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Twilight thought back on everything in her life that had ever made her angry and/or sad. The feeling of not being told about Shining Armor and Cadance’s engagement. The fury over not being able to figure out Pinkie Pie’s abilities. The humiliation she suffered within Sombra’s trap in the Crystal Empire…

Celestia.

She had lied to her. Betrayed her. She had trusted her, thought of her as a second mother, loved her! She was more than a Princess and a mentor, and she thought that the elder alicorn had felt the same way! But, no, it was all a lie and a game to her. From that first day she had ALWAYS known! Always! Every moment they had spent must have been such a joke to her! Knowing something that Twilight didn’t, lying to her face on numerous occasions, manipulating her! She… she…!

“Um, Twilight…?” Spike muttered fearfully.

“WHAT!?”

Reality seemed to hit her all at once.

Her horn was alight with pulsating and bubbling black and green energies, the same energy pouring sickeningly from her eyes. And the fear on Spike’s face as he took a step back…

She didn’t cut the stream, but she did immediately rein her feelings in. Those feelings she had used, they’d been powerful…

Maybe she should avoid thinking about Celestia when using dark magic for the time being.

“I’m sorry, Spike,” Twilight apologised. “I got caught in the moment, that’s all.”

“B-but, t-that’s dark m-magic…” he stuttered, pointing at her horn.

“What? Psh, no…” she denied swiftly with a fake roll of her eyes. “Sure, it kinda looks like it. A curious by-product I really need to research some more, but it’s totally safe!”

“You’re sure…?” he asked doubtfully, tapping his claws together gingerly. “Because you were really scary just then…”

Twilight sighed, wrapping a wing around the dragon and pulling him into a tender embrace.

“I’m sorry I scared you, Spike,” she said regretfully. “I’ll make it up to you after we’re done. How about I take you for ice cream, extra gem shards included.”

His eyes brightened, the young dragon stepping away and wiping a stray tear from his eye. “Really?”

“Really,” she confirmed with a nod.

“Awesome!” he proclaimed, his good mood returning. “Alright, just. try to keep a handle on it, yeah? I don’t want to put out another fire.”

“Oh please, how often does that happen?”

“Do you want me to answer?” he deadpanned.

She gave a sheepish laugh, selecting not to dignify that with a response as she used her corrupted magic to pick up an empty nearby scroll. She held it before her, preparing for the first test.

“Alright, I’m going to start off by trying to send this at you. Is that okay?”

“Whenever you are ready, Twilight!”

Now, she just had to wait on Sombra to explain the next step.

The disembodied unicorn, on his part, couldn’t help but curiously note the strange dynamic between the pair. One moment they were like researcher and assistant, and the next it was almost… paternal.

Something else he would have to examine in her memories.

But he complied, carefully and in detail going through each step towards the spell. As simple as it was compared to his wide arsenal, it was still dark magical and quite dangerous should it be improperly performed.

As was proven by the first attempt, rendering the scroll to ash.

But Twilight wasn’t to be dissuaded by one failed attempt. So, supported by Spike in her efforts, she simply retrieved another scroll and focused on improving upon her previous failures. Clearly, she’d used too much power and overloaded the spell, destroying the object before transit could occur. She just needed to use a finite amount, get the correct balance…

The next scroll vanished amidst black flames, Twilight giving a victorious shout!

Only for the scroll to spontaneously appear above Spike and almost hit him on the head.

The drake next picked it back up and passed it back to the alicorn, the mare trying to focus in on where she had failed. Clearly, she had found the right amount of power to achieve the spell. However, she had sent it at Spike rather than through his dragon fire spell. A significant achievement, but not yet intertwined with his magic successfully…

So, she had him transport the scroll back to her via his dragon fire.

Now it was her turn to almost be hit on the head, but the exercise allowed Twilight to scan the magical readings from the spell.

Just what she needed.

She started up the experiment again, this time trying to send the scroll while connecting it up to that exact signature while doing so. The scroll sparked, remaining still as Twilight encountered some resistance. She saw Spike’s eyes widen as he felt something, and after a small twitch of his head, she felt the connection establish as the scroll burned up within her black flames only to emerge from inside his green!

“Yes!” Twilight proclaimed in victory. “It works! Ha!”

“Nice one, Twilight!” Spike complimented. “I just had to accept the connection. We should be able to send things between us whenever we want now.”

“This is amazing!” she stated excitedly, letting the dark magic die off as she marvelled at her achievement. It hadn’t even hurt all that much to use…

“I suppose now you’ll just need to set up a direct line to Princess Celestia and wherever else you wanna send stuff,” he noted.

Ah, Celestia again.

“I’ll… figure that out another time,” she dismissed quickly. “But I think you’ve earned that ice cream.”

“Pfft, it was no biggie,” he replied. “But it’s nice to see you in a good mood. You were in a bad way when you ran out of here the other day.”

“Well, I have more to be happy about,” she replied. “A lot more.”

“You should be proud of this first accomplishment,” Sombra agreed. “The first step of a long journey…”

And the intensity of her anger towards Celestia had been most intriguing. She’d almost lost control, that is true. But she had also reined it in. Still, that anger was something he would most assuredly exploit.

So, he let her go with the young dragon to enjoy themselves in town. He would remain silent, planning out their next lesson and how to further her descent. Piece by piece he would show his descendant the true nature of the world, she would come to understand why it is the strong would rule and the weak lived only to serve that rule. Already she was marvelling in her new power, and that would only increase as time progressed.

Oh, he had a great many plans to fulfil.

Author's Note:

And here we go, the first update of 2019! Let's make it a good one! :twilightsmile:

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