• 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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4 - The Princess' Passenger

A Few Months Later…



Twilight gave a loud groan, her face slamming into the desk with an almighty thud. She let herself deflate, releasing one long breath as she tried to calm her overly stressed out mind. It worked, albeit to limited success, and she slowly rose back up to look at the journal sitting on the writing desk alongside all kinds of other related material Twilight had painstakingly collected over the past few months since her visit to the Crystal Empire.

And none of it had been useful!

Since recovering the journal, Twilight had looked from top to bottom in the entirety of Equestria for a single lead as to who Sombra’s son was and if their family line still continued on to that very day. She’d collected every relevant history and genealogy book that she’d thought might give her some kind of clue, but none of them seemed to hold even a trace of Sombra’s descendants. She’s talked to historians, interviewed some of the crystal ponies and even tried to enlist the help of Princess Celestia! Unfortunately, the Princess had been just as clueless about Sombra’s lineage as Twilight herself, even suggesting that the son may have perished in the aftermath of the Crystal Empire’s banishment.

Hay, by this point Twilight had even gone to a couple of random crackpot conspiracy theorists for ideas. But she’d given up on that when a group suggested that Sombra was an alien working with Celestia to mind control the population with microwave dinners.

That had been a weird day.

She had yet to give up, though. But the latest batch of books she’d gotten a hold of, and a few she’d re-read, were about as fruitful as ever. Twilight just stared at the journal, lighting her horn and flicking through a few pages absentmindedly before closing it again. She’d read it back to front more times than she could count, but any information inside it was sadly scarce due to the whole banishment thing that happened. Just thinking about it gave her a migraine, also causing her wings to twitch sporadically in irritation.

Oh, and that really didn’t help. The wings.

Twilight Sparkle was now Princess Twilight Sparkle. She’d gained the position after finishing one of Starswirl’s spells to trigger the ascension and was coronated soon after, thus turning the Equestrian Triumvirate into the Equestrian Tetrarchy. And in the mere days since that point she’d made a visit to the Crystal Empire where she’d been dragged into an alternate universe after Sunset Shimmer stole the Element of Magic, only to then return to Canterlot in the aftermath and have Discord’s long-ago planted plunder vines cause havoc across the country.

Even since then, despite still trying to work as the local librarian in the Golden Oaks Library, Twilight had been bogged down with new royal duties that usually involved copious amounts of paperwork. It was usually something Twilight didn’t mind doing all that much, being the scholarly intellectual that she was, but when it got in the way of her research…

The frays in her mane betrayed just how little sleep she’d been getting for the past few weeks.

She leaned back in her chair, just trying to calm herself down further. She just had to breathe in… and out. Breathe in… and out. Breathe-

A shadow flickered in the corner of her eye.

Twilight turned to face the flicker, but nothing appeared. With a sigh, she rubbed some of the sand from her eye in an attempt to banish some aspect of the sleep deprivation. When she was seeing shadows, there was definitely a problem.

And yet she still continued her research…

She packed the books up into a neat pile, deciding to return to it later. After all, she still had a meeting with the Mayor later on that day. Princess Celestia would even be attending, something about expansion plans and the Princess using it as an excuse to get out of Canterlot Castle and see Twilight for a few hours. She still had a bit of time, though. And looking at the clock she had…

TWENTY MINUTES!?

Stifling her incoming hyperventilation, and inwardly cursing herself for losing track of time, Twilight jumped from her desk and rushed into the bathroom to get herself ready. The mirror showed just how much of a mess she was, but it was nothing her magic couldn’t fix! She would definitely have to thank Rarity for showing her those mane fixing techniques for when a ‘lady’ happened to be in a hurry.

With the random hairs jutting out of her mane batted down into submission, Twilight made sure to wipe the rest of the sleep from her eyes and attempted to make herself look at least somewhat presentable. Soon enough she decided it was good enough and rushed from the bathroom and made for the stairs leading down to the rest of the library.

“Hey, Twilight!” Spike greeted with a coffee in his claw, though he grew concerned as he saw the youngest Princess of Equestria rush down the stairs with a slightly manic expression. “Uh… You okay? I mean, you missed lunch so… Do you want me to make you-”

“No time!” Twilight proclaimed, grabbing her pre-prepared saddlebags and making for the door. “Lots to do and so little time so please look after things bye!”

And with that fast-paced babble, Twilight rushed out of the door and slammed it behind her.

Spike just looked out after her with a deadpan expression. “Oh, so it’s going to be one of those days.”

Unaware of her assistant’s bemusement, Twilight rushed through the streets of Ponyville with only the slightest nods to anypony that decided to greet the Princess as she passed them by.

And even as she went, her sleep-deprived mind kept letting her know just how much she really needed more rest. That same damned shadow kept flickering in every doorway and window, just taunting Twilight as she made a mad rush towards the town hall on hoof.

Wait.

Twilight screeched to a halt. “Ugh, I have wings! Come on, Twilight!”

Unfurling her new wings, Twilight kicked off the ground and took some experimental flaps into the air. She was no longer crashing, but flight was still a relatively new concept for the alicorn. Still, it would get her to her destination much faster than walking, so she took off in the right direction and bypassed the streets entirely. She could see why Rainbow Dash loved to fly so much, flying over rooftops was extremely useful when you were in a rush!

The town hall came into sight, and Twilight began her descent from her short flight down towards the main entrance.

And… Oh, Princess Celestia’s sky carriage was already outside!

Twilight steeled herself, and then gently touched down into the grass outside of the town hall. She let out a breath as she looked up at the building, and then had her gaze trail down towards the golden ornate carriage nearby. Two ponies of the Solar Guard were still hitched to it, waiting for the Princess’ business to be concluded. They both gave Twilight respectful bows when they spotted her, something Twilight still found incredibly uncomfortable.

“Your Highness,” one of the guards greeted the lavender alicorn. “Princess Celestia is meeting with Mayor Mare now, and they are both awaiting your arrival.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks!” she replied to the guard, stepping up to the main entrance and stepping inside.

Twilight bypassed the main hall and moved towards a doorway near the stage where the Mayor would usually give speeches, proclamation and hold ceremonies. The door led to a corridor that led to the stage, the viewing galleries up top and the various offices tucked away in the back. Twilight ignored the former two and headed straight towards a door marked as the Mayor’s office.

Taking in a breath, Twilight took a hold of the door handle and let herself in. The room beyond was decently sized, containing several bookshelves and filing cabinets that orbited a polished wooden desk sitting in front of a large window that looked out on Ponyville. Mayor Mare was sitting behind the desk, the light brown mare with the greyed mane wiping the lenses of her glasses before replacing them and looking towards the new arrival. So too did the second pony in the room turn to greet Twilight, that second pony being the breathtaking Princess of the Sun herself.

“Twilight,” Celestia greeted in her motherly tone. “I’m so glad to see you.”

“Me too, Princess,” Twilight replied, accepting a nuzzle from the alicorn before she turned to the Mayor. “I’m sorry if I kept you waiting, Mayor Mare.”

“Oh no, if anything you were a couple of minutes early,” the Mayor replied. “You’re as organised as ever, Princess Twilight.”

Twilight gave a nervous laugh. “Yes… totally organised…”

The Mayor didn’t seem to notice Twilight’s mood, but Celestia raised an eyebrow as she regarded Twilight with a knowing look. But for the time being the Princess filed what she’d noticed away for later and turned to look back towards the Mayor.

“Now, I do think we are ready to begin, Mayor Mare.”

“But of course, Princess Celestia. Again, I cannot thank you enough for agreeing to see me today,” the Mayor stated. “I was expecting that I or one of my assistants would have to attend one of your courts.”

“Work in Canterlot is light today, all things considered,” Celestia explained. “So, do not think anything of it. Besides, it’s nice to get out of the castle every now and then. Ponyville is such a beautiful town, after all.”

“We try our best,” the Mayor replied, but then puffed up in some small amount of pride at the compliment towards her town. “But as it is, this town is in need of some new expansion. Ever since the Elements of Harmony chose to call this place their home, and now the newest Princess of Equestria, housing demands are at an all-time high. So is our tourism and general business, so much so that what we currently possess no longer seems adequate to meet all of that demand.”

“It is as I understand it,” Celestia confirmed. “And it is to be expected, recent developments over the past year have certainly placed Ponyville on the map. I expect rapid development to occur.”

“Yes, we might even earn city status in the next couple of decades if this keeps up,” the Mayor said with a half-joking chuckle. “I was going to discuss this with Princess Twilight anyway, but approval from you would certainly expedite things.”

She got no argument from Twilight. As a ruler of Equestria she could certainly provide the land and get the ball rolling so to speak, but she was still no Princess Celestia. Her support would certainly make the process go a lot faster and equally smoother.

“I have some of the necessary documentation ready to go,” Twilight said, levitating a stack of paper out of her saddlebag. “All we need to know is which areas of land you want to use, what will be built there, budgeting… Everything you’d expect.”

“But of course,” the Mayor confirmed, opening up a drawer in her desk and retrieving a map. “Let me outline it for you, I think you will both approve…”


“I’m so glad we could come to an agreement!” the Mayor said cheerfully as she exited her office alongside the two princesses. “I know a great many ponies will be very pleased.”

“Sorry you didn’t get quite as much land as initially proposed,” Twilight apologised. “But Fluttershy would never forgive me if I let you bulldoze over the nesting grounds of such a rare species of bird.”

“But of course, I myself was unaware they even called that little spot home,” the Mayor replied, before giving a contemplative hum. “Hmm, but perhaps we could do something else with the land. A nature preserve perhaps?”

“It’d make Fluttershy happy,” Twilight noted. “And probably boost tourism as well.”

“A discussion for another time,” Celestia stated, turning to face the two as they walked into the vacant hall. “Mayor Mare, it has been a pleasure. But I would like a moment to talk to my fellow Princess of Equestria in private.”

“But of course, say no more!” the Mayor remarked, giving them both a low bow before heading towards the exit.

Celestia watched them go, before allowing herself to visibly relax and little as she turned back to Twilight.

“Well, I have a few minutes before I need to be returning towards Canterlot. A few minutes to talk if you would like.”

Twilight nodded eagerly. “I always like to catch up with you, Princess! How are things in Canterlot?”

“Thankfully quiet. I think the fallout of the plunder vine incident is finally blowing over,” she replied. “I have yet to coerce a full apology out of Discord. But give me some time, I think I can get one.”

“I don’t envy that job,” Twilight joked. “How’s Luna?”

“As she always is, guarding the dreams of our ponies like a mother over her own foal. That and trying not to strangle Prince Blueblood whenever she takes over all royal duties for the night.”

Twilight snorted. “Does that stallion ever sleep?”

“I imagine he pays other ponies to sleep for him,” Celestia remarked with a small smirk before her expression turned serious. “But speaking of sleep, have you been resting alright, Twilight?”

Twilight took an instinctive step back. “Yes! Fine! Why would you even ask?”

“Because I know you, Twilight,” Celestia replied gently. “And I know the signs of when you’re stressed and not sleeping well. Usually, you are calm and collected, organised, in meetings like the one we just had. It is one of your strengths, you always know what to do and say when arranging something. But today you seemed less certain, especially when the Mayor directly addressed your organisational skills.”

“…You know me that much, huh?”

“Twilight, I practically raised you for the latter half of your childhood and your entire teenage life. If I didn’t know these things, there would be something terribly wrong with me.”

“I… guess I have been up a little later than I really should be as of late,” Twilight admitted. “I’ve been looking more into Sombra’s lineage, but no matter where I look I always hit a wall!”

Celestia smiled, wrapping one of her giant wings around Twilight and bringing her into a side hug. “You have always had such a brilliant mind, Twilight. But every now and then even you must let it rest. I am also intrigued by the idea of Sombra’s descendants, but the fact is that the family line might not even exist. And more so, perhaps it would be best if they were never found. I’m not sure I would like to know that I had the blood of such a figure within me.”

“Maybe. But maybe they’d deserve to know, or maybe they already know!” Twilight pointed out. “I just… don’t like leaving such a huge gap in history unfilled.”

“Some things are lost to time, that’s just a fact of life,” Celestia mused. “But let it rest for now. Perhaps you could continue another day, but you need rest. I don’t like it when you run yourself into the ground like this.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Twilight conceded, rubbing one of her eyes. “I’ve been seeing shadows all day. That’s probably a sign to get some actually sleep, right?”

“I’d believe so,” the Princess agreed. “And Twilight, you know you can always speak to me when something is bothering you. Especially now that you’re a princess, I know all too well how that might leave a pony feeling scared and even insecure.”

“Scared and insecure? Who is feeling scared and insecure!?” Twilight suddenly defended with a small twitch of her eye.

Celestia just gave her a level look, and Twilight’s façade very quickly crumbled.

“Okay, so maybe I am feeling stress from more than just old history…”

Celestia chuckled, giving the smaller pony a nuzzle on the head before releasing her from the wing hug. “As I said, I know the feeling. My door is always open to you, and I’m always but a letter away.”

“I really don’t know what I’d do without Spike,” Twilight stated with a small titter. “But yeah, I know. Thanks, Princess.”

“I am always happy to help you, Twilight. But I’m afraid I must depart back to Canterlot. Perhaps next time we meet we can talk more, but I still have duties later today.”

“Yeah, I should probably get some paperwork done as well. Just a few bits for the town, really. Nothing much.”

“Mayor Mare must be glad to have you around.”

“You have no idea. Will I see you soon?”

“I would hope,” Celestia concluded, giving Twilight one last hug before walking with her out of the building.

On seeing the two alicorns, the guards both stood to attention and saluted. Celestia gave them a nod and stepped up onto the carriage.

“Get some rest, Twilight,” Celestia said to the mare as she stood off to the side. “Until we next speak.”

With that, the two armoured ponies began to turn down the street as ponies parted way for the coming Princess of the Sun. They then began to gallop forwards, kicking off and flaring out their wings as they took to the sky, he enchanted carriage following behind them as the turned back towards Canterlot.

Twilight watched them go, desperately wishing she had more time to spend with Celestia. But she knew she was a busy mare, now more than ever…

“And yet she fancies herself a mother… It is but a delusion.”

Twilight’s ear twitched. Did somepony just speak? But… no, she was alone.

Shaking her head, putting it down to her sleep deprivation, Twilight began to head back towards the library. She chose to walk this time, clearing her head as she just took in the always pleasant sights and sounds of Ponyville. When she got back, she’d get some food and do some work while eating and, after that, she’d go to bed quite early and have a very long sleep. Her research could wait.

“A mind as rich as yours, stifled by the fools you admire. You could take what you need, and yet you stumble in confusion.”

There it was again… Ugh, forget the work. Twilight was going straight to bed.

Twilight continued back to the library, picking up her pace as she saw more of those shadowy flickers in her vision. She had to be far more tired than she’d initially realised, this was getting ridiculous. She just had to get back to her bedroom and banish the cobwebs from her exhausted mind.

One day she’d learn her lesson, she was sure of it.

The library came into sight, Twilight trotting over to it and quickly sliding into the doorway.

“Spike?” Twilight called out, getting no reply. The library appeared to be empty, Spike must have gone out to see their friends or to perhaps pick up some groceries.

Twilight sighed, rubbing her eyes again before giving the library a small glance over. Something… wasn’t right. Now that she was alone within the safety of her own home, and really considered herself, something was definitely wrong. There was an odd pressure at the back of her mind… She knew being sleep deprived, she’d been victim to it more times than she’d care to admit. But this…

“And so, the cogs finally turn,” a deep, dark voice said from behind Twilight, and she gave a shout of alarm as she turned around with her horn alight.

And yet her horn blinked out alongside a sharp gasp of shock and fear at the shadow that awaited her. It was a pulsating mass that twisted and formed until it was made into the vaguest shape of a pony, a curved red horn forming out of the shadow’s forehead before two eyes of pure dark magic opened up and glared at Twilight in both spite and glee.

And then the form solidified, if still slightly transparent, into the armoured form of King Sombra that stood before her.

“Twilight Sparkle,” Sombra spoke with a fang-filled grin. “At last.”

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