• Published 20th Oct 2018
  • 3,467 Views, 491 Comments

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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13 - Summons

“And I thought going into the Everfree Forest was crazy!” Twilight stressed, letting her horn blink out as she stamped an indignant hoof into the basement’s floor.

“Surely you do not mean to say that you, my own descendant, mean to abandon this pursuit?” Sombra asked with a mocking smirk.

“No, just… there is a lot wrong with the very foundation of this spell. Just… what!?”

The alicorn huffed, trotting irritably past her equipment and settling down next to a nearby table with a huff. She lit her magic and picked up a sheet of notes she’d jotted down during the course of Sombra’s third and final lesson to determine Twilight’s natural aptitude with dark magic. A lesson that, among all the others she’d had, was the one that sent the largest shiver down her spine. Sombra was not blind to her apprehension either, and her been persistently egging his heir onwards for the entire duration.

It didn’t help that Twilight was still very sore after her close encounter with the Roc.

After her brush with death the previous day, Twilight had limped back home with a body full of bruises and a mind of pure anxiety. Sombra had been little help in the latter regard, seemingly content to let Twilight work it out by herself. The question of her own strength and willingness to do harm, demonstrated by her particularly ‘spirited’ assault against the giant avian.

In the end, Twilight just had to remind herself that she was justified. And that she would do better to control her own emotions next time, to keep herself in line.

She could just feel Sombra’s smugness from inside her own mind, and it was coming off as something like ‘I wouldn’t bet on it’.

She would show that crazy unicorn.

Still, when she’d arrived home, Spike had a near panic attack when he’d seen her state. The young dragon had been just about ready to cart Twilight off to the hospital by the tail before she calmed him down to the point that he could breathe properly.

And then, once more, out came the half-truths and deception.

She’s told him that she had been on her way to see Zecora in regard to some research she had been doing. However, she’d been attacked by a particularly brave Roc on the way there, one which gave her a rough time but was eventually able to scare away with her magical prowess.

He didn’t try to dig into the exact details of that ‘magical prowess’.

The rest of the day after that had been made up of copious amounts of bed rest and self-casted healing spells. Considering what it could have been, her injuries were incredibly minor and well within the realms of standard magical healing. She was just glad that there wasn’t so much as a fractured bone, the last thing she needed was a prolonged visit to Red Heart over at the Ponyville General Hospital.

She wasn’t sure that the mare had entirely recovered from the migraine that was discovering the Princess’ new alicorn physiology in her last medical exam.

Still, she was practically good as new by the time the morning came. Almost, at least. There was still an irritating ache in most of her joints. But that wasn’t going to get in the way of her studies, she’d just decided that she would have to work them off! Her anxieties and uncertainty were all pushed to the side as the prospect of yet another new spell came to mind!

And they all promptly came rushing back when she found out which highly advanced spell Sombra had in mind.

It was the exact same fear spell that Twilight had suffered in the Crystal Empire.

The same fear spell that, if Sombra was to be believed, even helped bring about the existence of Nightmare Moon.

Of course, Twilight had initially and highly vehemently refused to even consider the possibility of learning such a terrible spell. It was a weapon! An abomination! She wasn’t planning on making ponies live out their fears, the very idea was ridiculous!

But, as usual, Sombra had gotten to know his protégé all too well…

He’d again pried into her desire to protect. He pointed out that by learning the mechanics of the spell that she could do something that he himself had never done. Create a counterspell. A shield. Something that, if cast on a pony before their encounter with the fear spell, could protect them from its effects. As of yet, such a method of protection simply did not exist. Not even Sombra himself apparently could resist his own spell if it was cast, not that he had ever conducted that particular experiment.

But if Twilight could find a way to counter the spell, then maybe its dangers could be mitigated for the future.

After all, as Sombra had also seen fit to point out, it was highly likely that sometime, someplace, such a spell could be replicated by another mage with dark intent.

Of course, learning said mechanics was easier said than done. When Sombra had said that this was one of his most complex spells ever devised, he was not kidding. For many hours had Twilight been confined to the recesses of the Golden Oaks’ basement. And in those hours, she had barely even started to get her dark magic to work the way she wanted it to!

And that time had given her more than a few occasions of returning to her doubts that they should even be playing around with the sinister spell at all.

“The reason you fail is because the intent is not there,” Sombra chided. “You need to want to make your target feel their fear. You need to feel that power and direct it in full force, not recess into yourself and your own doubts. Truly, such follies might even allow the spell to backfire.”

“I’m well aware and being very careful,” Twilight shot back. “But I can get the mechanics with a bit more time, but I just don’t even want to have that intent! I’m doing this to try and figure out a counter, that’s the complete opposite of intent!”

“Unless you embrace the spell’s capabilities, you will never find that counter,” he pointed out. “And as it is, we are not using a live subject.”

No, thankfully, they were not. Instead, Twilight had been trying to cast the spell on a simple scroll. To create a trap akin to the door which had caught out both Spike and herself in the Crystal Empire. Twilight wasn’t all that certain she could get the enchantment to last for more than a few minutes even if she could succeed, but it would at least prove to her distant grandfather that she was capable of it.

“Well, it’s not like I have any reason to hate a piece of paper enough to make me want it to see its worst fears,” Twilight quipped.

“Then perhaps we require a new tactic,” Sombra noted, his ethereal form walking over to the scroll and giving it a thoughtful glance. “If you cannot muster the intent to harm a simple object, then the power of imagination may be of use.”

“Imagination?” Twilight said questioningly as her eyebrow cocked up. “How so?”

“Let’s say you imagine this scroll to be of a pony you truly despise,” he began, giving her a predatory grin. “How about that roving stage magician?”

“Trixie? Please, I don’t hate-”

“Twilight,” Sombra deadpanned. “I can see all within you, do not forget that.”

Twilight flinched. “Alright… Okay, sure, I think she’s an arrogant egotistical dropout who really needs a reality check! And yes, I do probably hate her at least almost as much as she hates me. But that doesn’t mean that I’d want her to experience her worst fears!”

“But it isn’t really her… Imagination, Twilight. Tap into your deepest and darkest fantasies. Because that’s all this will be, a fantasy. There shall be no consequence, I am sure that mare is far from here. But imagine the… hypothetical nature I propose. How powerful you would be over your rival, and how she would assuredly never seek to challenge you or endanger your friends again.”

Twilight bit her lip. “…A fantasy?”

“Just a fantasy.”

For the moment.

But Twilight could not see Sombra’s sinister inner thoughts, not like the way he could see hers. And a large part of her was repulsed by the idea of ever doing such a thing to anypony, even Trixie Lulamoon. And yet, a small spiteful part of her was almost amused by the idea of the high and mighty showpony brought down to such an unrepairable low…

No, she shouldn’t. It was wrong.

And yet, what was the harm in a simple fantasy?

“I… I think…”


Spike’s call broke Twilight out of her deep moral crisis and caught both her attention and that of King Sombra. His apparition remained visible only to Twilight as the dragon burst into the basement alongside the other Elements of Harmony, all looking quite out of breath.

“Spike? Girls?” Twilight spoke out in worry at seeing their frazzled state. “What’s wrong? Did something happen? Is there a monster attacking?”

“So, that’s not it. Not this time,” Applejack was the first to say.

“I got a message from Princess Celestia!” Spike claimed, holding out a scroll in one claw. “I got the girls, but I think we need to get moving to Canterlot!”

“And fast, something pretty big is going on down there!” Rainbow Dash added in. “like, crazy big!”

“The Princess does seem quite concerned,” Rarity noted.

“Downright rattled is more like it,” Applejack remarked.

“I get the picture, I guess my studies can wait,” Twilight stated.

Fluttershy gasped. “Oh, we weren’t interrupting anything important, were we?”

“It’s fine. Nothing that cannot wait. I’m more interested in what has the Princess so worried.”

“It’s all right here,” Spike said, opening the scroll and reading it once again. “She says there’s been a break-in at the Canterlot Royal Archives!”

And just like that, Twilight’s heart sank.

The alicorn shared a glance with a frowning Sombra, though to the others it just looked like she glanced off to one side. Both were clearly considering the possibility that it was their break-in that had been discovered. And if it was, there was going to be a lot of manoeuvring to do to cover it up.

“Whatever the case may be,” Sombra began. “We shall rectify the situation. Fear not, Granddaughter, for I shall consider a course of action. Celestia must not suspect my existence, or all will be at stake.”

Of that Twilight could not agree more.

“Did she say what was taken?” Twilight asked Spike, doing her best to keep herself relatively calm.

“Not really,” he replied with a shake of his head. “Only that it was super important, and that Equestria might be in grave danger.”

“You know, the usual big quest stuff we’re called in for,” Rainbow Dash remarked with a smirk. “I say we get the first train over and see if there’s a thing we need to shoot with rainbow lasers.”

“And yet the Elements of Harmony are in the tree where we left them,” Rarity pointed out.

That caused the pegasus to deflate a little. “Oh, right. I forgot we did that.”

“Come on girls, we don’t need sparkly little gems of Super Saiyan power to defeat any meanies,” Pinkie Pie chirped with a bounce. “We got each other. That’s waaaay better than anything else!”

“Did she at least say which section of the archive was hit?” Twilight continued.

Spike shrugged. “No. Like I said, just that it’s bad and that we need to be up there ASAP.”

“Does it matter?” Applejack asked.

Twilight nodded. “The archive holds a great deal of information. Some of it far more dangerous than others. Depending on what was taken, well, some if it could be greater trouble than others.”

“It must have been one of the really bad things then,” Fluttershy said with a great amount of worry. “Oh dear, this is already sounding super dangerous.”

“Now hold on, let’s get our ‘what ifs’ in check,” Applejack interrupted. “We don’t know a thing about this whole situation yet. We just know that it was important, not that it was dangerous. We should hear what the Princess has to say first.”

“I would endeavour to say that Applejack is correct,” Rarity agreed. “It could simply be a case of the wretched thieves selling a valuable antique for a sum of bits. We simply cannot know for sure.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Rainbow asked. “Let’s go!”

Twilight sighed. She’d only been back for three days and already they were heading back to Canterlot…

“Well, we won’t find out talking about it here,” Twilight decided. “Come on, girls. Let’s go grab some of our things and head straight for the train station. Whatever was taken, we will fix it and then go home like we always do. Together.”

Because if the worst was realised, then she knew that her friends were at her back. No matter what.

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