• Published 7th Aug 2018
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To Calm a Tempest - Broman



A Human finds himself in the company of a hot Lieutenant. If only he didn't tell her that.

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A Heated Cordial Caper (Edited)

It’s been a rough thirty six hours since my encounter with the demoness, Sombra, and Tantabus. As well as my reunion with Stella, of course.

Those 36 hours, though...were also ones of no sleeping. Even as I was only sitting on the edge of the bed.

Ever since Sombra materialized before me and told me a demoness named Misery “left her mark on me”, I became worried that she would be waiting for me in my dreams. In fact, I half assumed that she would plague me even if I was asleep or not. I don’t think I’ve ever been up this long with no sleep. Not since that time I played a video game when I was done with college semester finals anyway. Totally crashed after that but it was worth it.

But now…I didn’t want to go to sleep.

I was so tired. I wanted to rest, but I didn’t want to sleep only to suddenly meet Misery again and be played with by her.

My pillow was calling like it was singing a lullaby to me, but…no! I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to sleep.

To top it all off, I had no idea where Tempest was. I had hardly seen her since waking up in the middle of the night. As a matter of fact, right when I at one point blinked and opened my eyes after that...I suddenly saw that she was gone. Either I blacked out after that very blink or something else, because I don’t recall anyone disappearing in just a blink. She didn’t even come back to sleep like she normally did when night came.

All the while, I was stuck in the tent with an itchy shoulder.

I think I might be paranoid, but something about knowing the name of the demon who’s been haunting me and that she’s awaiting me in my dreams was making me think rather irrationally. It was like being in a horror movie, walking down a dark street only to suddenly be surprised by a monster or ghost. The moment I have the slightest inclination to fall asleep, that witch would be waiting to pluck me up in my dreams and torment me.

Although, in a strange way, she has the hots for me and I’m weirded out by that prospect. I mean, I’m not that bad looking, right?

I’m getting slimmer from the workout of constantly pulling double duty loads for the Storm King, with a nice helping of getting electrified by my taser collar. I gained my scars and bruises while being here, and yet I doubt any woman would go head over heels for me. Even with my current mood and state of affairs I wasn’t happy in the slightest. I didn’t think any woman would want to be near me, that’s for sure.

The itch on my shoulder blade was not helping either.

In fact, the whole time I’ve been awake I remained inside the tent. Even if I wasn’t ordered by Tempest to do so.

You guys want to know what I did?

Nothing. Absolutely freakin nothing.

I’ve been trying to keep myself sane by thinking of anything but sleep, like things that happened in the past while I was trapped in the Storm King’s camp. Despite this, though, my attention kept wandering to the pillows, and every time I looked at them...they were so inviting. I could be in fluffy saccharine heaven if I just lay my head down on those pillows and…

No!’ My subconscious said to me, before directly ordering, ‘Stay awake!

And with a shake of my head, I put myself back into my no-sleep strike.

To keep myself from sleeping, I began wondering what Tempest would be doing once I saw her again. For that matter, I wondered what she would be doing with me.

I pictured in my head that a hit job was going to be played on me the moment she came back. That she would come in through the tent walls, grab me from behind, throw me on the floor, toss me into that…very lovely pillow…she would slide on over, let me rest my head on her legs, and soothingly stroke my face. All the while, she would sing a lullaby and lull me to never ending blissful torment with those demon like eyes, before throwing me in the air and grabbing me, her arms wrapped around my mouth area and smothering me in that-

I realized then that my head was resting on a pillow and that my eyes were closed. I immediately bolted upward from the bed, completely wide awake from seeing the sight of Misery from my half awake, half asleep dream.

GAH! I screamed.

I smacked myself with my good hand and stomped around the floor of the room, all being in an attempt to make myself active and clear my thoughts.

Never in a million years would Tempest do what came in my head, not unless it came with preconditions. The real Tempest would bend my knees until they bent the wrong way, break every vertebrae in my spine, rip my ribcage upward, stomp on my open flesh, and pour molten lead into the wounds.

After a few moments of stomping, I sat cross legged on the floor. All the while, I couldn’t help but take haggard breaths and reflect on what I saw.

The itch was really annoying me right now.

I’ve been having these thoughts for the last few days now and I don’t know why they keep surfacing. I’ve not had anything occurring with Tempest besides the interactions with her in her dreams and learning a bit about her history. Yet, ever since Misery french kissed me, I think she did it french, that itch kept bugging me. I’ve been getting nothing but these thoughts of being with Tempest. I’m not sure if it had to do with Misery or with what King Sombra made that link did on me, but now I can’t get my head out of the clouds without thinking about Tempest.

Speaking of shady kings, Sombra hardly appeared to me since he first told me about the link. I kept speaking his name so that he would be here and tell me what he was doing, but all I’ve gotten was silence. It was starting to feel like he disregarded me all together.

I couldn’t stand that itch.

He claimed he would be by my side and offer sage advice, not outright give me the cold shoulder.

That itch.

He said he gave me a link to him, but he never showed up and assisted me when I needed it the most.

Itch.

I guess the same went for Tempest. She outright ignored me like I didn’t exist, and now she’s been gone for longer than expected like she was never coming back!

ITCH!

I screamed out and thrusted my right arm toward my left shoulder. I tore at my bandages and dug underneath the fabric to go straight at the itchy spot, feeling the skin where the unbearable sensation was. My fingers dug and scratched back and forth, going over the area. Yet the bandage still clung to my body and wouldn’t let me dig and scratch further. I pushed onward, my hand charging forth into the unknown, pushing the fabric aside and peeling away the annoying cloth that leached on me for so long. My fingernails dug and scratched the annoying spot, relief rushing through me while I did so. But it wasn't enough. The itch was being scratched but there were other areas that infuriated me. I dug my nails, pushing further onto the area, going in circle motion and digging into the itchy skin. However, I stopped midway when my left arm drooped from it’s sling and I felt an area that I did not expect.

I found a small indentation in my skin. It felt off from where my fingers pressed into it. The flesh, or what appeared to be flesh, was soft and tender. Muscle that should have been there wasn’t there, and normal tissue that was upon my shoulder blade felt raw and unnatural. I felt something warm beneath my fingertips, the first sensation on my shoulder ever since I started losing the numbness. I withdrew my hand from the wound, and when I looked at it...I saw blood on my fingertips.

Was bleeding going to start becoming a regular thing for me or something?

“I see you’ve opened your wound.” A voice said, snapping me from my trance.

I turned to the tent entrance to find that Tempest was standing there, a pile of parchments in her arm while a look of annoyance was plastered on her face. I saw similar bags under her eyes. The crescent mane that normally shot straight up in a mohawk had lost some of its luster and drooped slightly, almost in the shape of a crescent moon. She looked worse for wear than I was.

“Poor sod. You’ve been bored all day and decided to pick at your wound for entertainment,” She said, walking past me and towards her bed, “What am I going to do with you?”

I chose to ignore her and kept my head low, trying to stay awake and not slouch forward to the temptations of sleep.

“Although, I suppose it can’t be helped. I have been gone longer than normal after all.” Tempest said, “Apologies for my absence, but there were duties that kept me from coming back and I lost track of the time.”

I could hear the ruffling of papers and a chest being opened nearby.

I didn’t bother paying attention to her actions. That bed before me was all the more alluring at the moment. I leaned my head, slumping and almost wanting to plop right then and there. A brief image of Misery flashed before me, bigger than before and a slender smile gracing her lips, waiting for me to fall into the depths of the dream world.

“Spencer. Come, my dear.” She said to me.

And no sooner had she said that did I suddenly find myself moving towards her. I turned my head to find that a long and dark cloud was against my back and pushing me towards her.

“Come to me.” She said to me again, her arms wide open and ready to give me a cold embrace.

“NO!” I shouted, snapping my head up and feeling the back of my head brush against something hard, along with a grunt from Tempest.

“Take it easy. I’m just going to remove your old bandages.” Tempest said sternly.

Recovering from that fright, I found that the back of my head was against Tempest’s abdomen while she kept a firm hand onto my wounded shoulder.

I sat upright while she remained where she was and saw her hands removing the bandages, the old leather coming off like bandaids that should’ve been removed long after their expiration date. I felt her poke and press into my wounded shoulder as she continued to examine my scar. I barely registered most of what she was doing, my mind too preoccupied with the image of Misery. I closed my eyes for a brief moment, attempting to breathe normally and think of anything but sleep.

A slight touch from Tempest made me wince a little while she moved her hands over my wounded shoulder. I decided to focus on her hands, keeping special attention to where her fingers glided. I allowed my mind to wander with the flow of her fingers tracing over my left shoulder. I felt her fingers press into the muscle that remained. They were gone a moment later, only to be joining with the sound of something squishy being wrung. Not a thought before I could question what that was I felt a cold sensation dressed onto my shoulder.

I also realized that I could feel again, so it was really cold.

“Gah! That’s cold!” I yelled, shrinking back from her touch.

Yet, despite the protest, she held me there and stalled resistance from me.

“Don’t be such a baby. This is necessary for you.” she explained, rubbing into the wounded shoulder and helping ease the tension within.

I couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed by the tone in her voice.

“Be a baby. Sure. That’s the only thing you think I am, isn’t it?” I asked, yet I didn’t get an immediate reply from her.

She continued to apply the ointment on my shoulder and the small stinging sensation went away as she rubbed on it. I sighed initially at first, but my earlier annoyance from her comment made me irritable. She kept at it, her hands going over the tender muscles and sore spots. I don’t know how long I remained there but it was alluring and calm.

All of a sudden, the room around me was encompassed by a pitch black darkness. I sat up with a jolt and got out of the bed, wondering what had happened and what was going on.

“Spencer,” a familiar and alluring voice called me.

Knowing all too well who it was, I turned around to see her.

Misery, standing a few feet away from me with her arms crossed.

I gasped with fright and decided to run, but then...I felt something cold and scaly wrap around my arms and right below my shoulders. I looked to find that Misery had apparently wrapped her tail around me. And then, she lifted me into the air with her tail before staring into my very soul. I struggled by shrugging my arms around and violently kicking my legs, but so far, it was no use.

“Oh, I’ve missed you so much,” She said to me, “Let me give you a hug. It's to die for.”

And just like that, she lowered me towards her with her arms once again wide open.

In a final attempt to break free, I clasped my hands at the bottom side of her tail and pushed myself downward. Right when I gave my first push, though…I managed to break free and fall out of her scaly grasp. I landed right on the ground with a hard thud..

“Stop!” I shouted, sitting up with a jolt and opening my eyes, expecting to see Misery right then and there.

As I hyperventilated, though, I noticed that I was back in the tent again, staring in the direction of the tent’s entrance/exit. I also found that I was on the floor.

“I’m not doing anything.” Tempest said, a little farther away and behind me.

I turned my head, seeing her near the chest and gathering a few things from within.

“When did she get over there? Was I out for that long?” I wondered.

As Tempest dug in the chest, she looked back to me with a stare that was curious, yet matched her authoritative personality.

“You seem more worn out and exhausted than I am. Did you get any sleep recently?” She asked, returning to my side with a new set of bandages.

Instead of answering her question, I merely ignored it and laid on the ground. My silence apparently didn’t sit well with her, though. She moved around to my left side and sat on her knees. And then, she leaned herself down towards me, my face a foot away from hers. I felt her hand lay itself onto my forehead, pressing into me until she moved her hand down to my left eye, using two of her fingers to stretch my eyelids wide.

“Bloodshot eyes…” she moved her thumb away from the bottom of my eye and using it and her other finger to grab the top eyelid, “...saggy eyelids…” she let go of my eyelid, which collided with a snap, and gently slid her two index fingers at the area below my eye, “...crows feet…” she moved her fingers away from the bottom area of my temple and moved her hand to the bottom of my right cheek, which made me feel annoyed yet unusually...tingly, “...and a scraggly beard.”

She then took her hand away from my cheek and placed it on her lap, the tingly sensation leaving me.

“You haven’t been resting at all, have you?” she said while curiously raising an eyebrow.

As annoyed as I was with the unwanted contact from Tempest, I raised my right hand up and pressed it under my chin. She was right. I was growing a bunch of stubble on my chin and the underside of my cheek bones. I didn’t remember when I last shaved, but maybe being here has made me lazy in cleaning my body properly.

Or maybe they didn’t bother providing a shaving kit and razor.

“What’s this?” she said.

I saw that her eyes were focused on my face again. While she examined me for some weird section of my face I examined her. Her eyes were slightly red. The bags under her eyes were deep and she looked ready to sleep as well.

“What happened to your lips?” she asked.

I felt her hand move mine away while holding my chin down. It was then that I remembered when Misery kissed me and left those small imprints on my lips. The two holes had yet to heal and now Tempest was here looking at me like I cheated on her or something.

Like that was possible. There was no other female around except for the witch in my dreams.

I sucked in my lips and attempted to look away from her curious gaze.

“Now hold on, let me see.” She said to me.

But I resisted by continually moving my head to face away from her gaze, not wanting her to see despite her already noticing. The fourth time I did this, I was looking under her bed. That is, until she grabbed my face by placing a hand on my cheeks, which made me face an aggravated look of hers. She was right in front of me too, sitting on her knees and between my legs, blocking the view of the tent flap. In an unexpected turn of events, she also tightened her hold on me and sat me up to where my back was straight and I was sitting upright. Her hold and lifting made me groan with pain, even as I sucked my lips in my mouth.

“Let. Me. See.” Tempest sternly said to me, each word pounding on me like a hammer would a nail like that one time before she hugged me. Or maybe the time when I sucked at her neck and she decided to throw me to the ground afterward.

Yeah, I don’t want that to happen.

Without another word, I complied and showed my lips. Afterwards, she used her hand to press firmly on my cheeks, making my lips purse outward. I ended up looking like a pufferfish while she examined my only other smolder source.

My own patience was wearing thin. I wasn’t going to tolerate this any further, yet I found myself in a hold that my body was partly not motivated into moving from. For some reason, I couldn’t help but feel captivated by her tired yet curious stare towards me as she was inspecting my lips. My own irritation towards her, though, was overpowering.

I couldn’t take it anymore!

She had been toying with me, she practically hated me, and whenever she did care it was for some ulterior motive. I tried. I tried many times. She was only doing this because she was under orders.

My mind became all the more muddled, feeling pain, every slight, and making me feel so belittled. She rejected my kindness and offers to assist, she denied me any solace. She didn't care about me.

She didn't care about me or anyone at all!

“Spencer? How did this-” she was saying, but I cut her off instantly by using my own fingers to flick her on the forehead at the base of her broken horn, “OW!”

Right when she cried out, she jolted away from me. She clasped her hands at where I flicked her, standing up with her eyes closed while grunting with pain. As she did so, I stood up and sat back on my bed.

When it looked like whatever pain she was feeling was subsiding, she looked back to me with an angered glare and took her hands away from her forehead.

Why did you do that?!” Tempest yelled at me.

“Who gave you permission to touch me like that?” I aggravatingly said.

“Permission?” she seethed, before making her way back to me and standing in front of me, “Since when do I need permission? It’s not like you have been asking permission from me anyway, no matter how many times I told you not to touch me.”

“I only did that when you were in danger. I was trying to help you, and as far as I can remember, I had no choice but to touch you.”

“Which is just like me and not having a choice but to touch you as I be your doctor of the day, you know?” Tempest scathingly said, before taking out a bandage and focusing on my shoulder, “If you really don’t want me tending to you, why not just say so?”

“Say so? I haven’t been able to do that ever since I arrived.” I said, while I felt her hand touch my wounded shoulder and place the bandage over the wound, “Every time I try to speak up, you repressed me for doing so. I can’t even say anything without you throttling me before I finish a single SENtence!” I shouted the last bit in a high pitched wail when I felt her press her hand onto my wound and made the bandage tight.

“You have ample opportunity to speak,” she replied, pressing into my wound and making me hiss from the contact.

“You’re acting like an ignorant child, Spencer,” she stated, wrapping the bandage around my shoulder and arm while I continued to fume.

“Oh, of course. A child.” I replied with annoyance, “Anything else to describe my behavior?”

When she finished with the bandage, she aggravatingly looked towards me and said, “Yes. A grouchy old stallion. A whiny rich pony. And a crabby griffin.”

“Oh, really? I bet you have loads of fun frightening them while you raid the local towns and villages, destroying their homes and butchering their families.”

“You know that’s not true!” My conscious spoke to me. I didn’t heed it. My anger was on the forefront of my mind.

“I do no such thing.” Tempest defensively said.

“Yet you watch the Storm King kill and purge them at will, not even raising a finger to help them like with that old man at the Storm King’s tent.” I interjected, which earned a tightening around my chest as she pulled rather tightly on my bandage.

“How would you know that?!” Tempest hotly said to me, “You have no idea what the Storm King is capable of! If anyone stood up to him, he’d immediately eviscerate them off the face of the planet! Is that really worth risking your life over?!”

“It is if you’re standing up for what’s right-AAAGH!!!” I said, but got cut off when Tempest tightened the bandages again, “Why do you even work for that guy anyway?!”

Tempest looked at me hotly, “Because I owe him, that’s why. He helped me out of a tough spot once, so I’m paying him back for it. And as long as I work for him, I still owe him and he still owes me. We have a deal.”

“And that deal is?” I raised an eyebrow in question.

She sighed and inhaled through her nose, “The deal we had was that in return for helping him, and once he’s conquered the country, he would restore my horn.”

“Oh, your horn. It’s all about your horn, huh? You know that some things can never heal right? That there are some things you lose that you can never get back?”

“Like your grandfather?” She asked me with a raised eyebrow.

And that...had literally struck a nerve in me. It made me want to snap out at her, to literally put her down for comparing her losing a horn to me losing my grandfather.

“Don’t think I heard what you told me that night, Spencer. I may not have heard everything, but I heard enough to know what happened,” Tempest said to me, interrupting me from lashing out at her, “Unlike my horn, the dead are what can never be brought back, and friendship, love, and family bonds can hardly be repaired.”

“And what makes you so sure that King Kong out there can actually bring your horn back?” I scathingly asked her, before she tightened the bandage till it hurt.

“He can and he will,” Tempest said, before she left my side, “He made a promise, and I’m willing to stick by it until the time comes. It’s the only thing keeping me going, and I find that it’s better than asking some incompetent and soft-hearted ‘princess’ for help.”

“Oh, so now you’re saying that help from a psychotic yeti guy is better than help from some of the most kind-hearted ponies I’ve ever met? Do you really think getting your horn back, even on an assumption that it may or may not happen, would work? You’re situation is no better than mine.” I said, standing up and turning to face her. “I’ve been brought here against my will, trapped in a world that is vastly different from my own. I had to adjust drastically, hoping that one day the kind inhabitants here can send me back.”

I took a step toward Tempest, hoping to show her that I was not afraid. I stood in front of her, a few feet apart where I could show my bravado and keep from getting a swift beat down from her at any moment. She stood her ground, staring down at me with that glare of hers and her expression amplifying with that scar down her eye.

Yet I showed the same mutual feeling to her.

“And you know what? The more the days seemed to slip by, the more I’ve lost faith in ever going home. Everything was taken from me, far worse than what anyone else had to deal with. And the worst part of it all is that I’m stuck with you.” I poked at her collarbone and she flinched but did not react.

I kept poking her, emphasizing with each one I spoke. “The most cynical, unfeeling, and selfish person I’ve ever met. I bet that even if you did get your horn back, you’ll have nothing to go back to. You’ll be alone, afraid, and tossed aside while others treat you like trash. NOTHING. AND NO ONE! WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU!”

Tempest swatted my hand away and her fast reflexes snaked its way around my neck.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

We both stood there, statues in a garden of anger. Her eyes burned with a deep passionate ire, ready to tear my throat out if need be. I had my good arm on her wrist, holding it in place. She didn’t seem to care as she attempted to force me to my knees, the pressure being present on my neck and shoulders. My knees nearly buckled had my legs not locked up. I held my ground as she held me. Our eyes locked and kept our gaze for what felt like hours. Her teeth flashed and the tip of her horn began to spark. An eerie darkness seemed to encompass us, ready to smother us both in its wake. Her eyes seemed to glow and a hiss seemed to come around us.

Along with faint laughter coming from Misery.

Wait…Misery.

Before I could say anything the hiss grew loud and the sound of a whistle emanated from around us. Tempest horn dissipated and the glow in her eyes faded. She turned away toward the tent briefly before looking at me. She snorted and forced me back, letting go of my neck. I stumbled back a bit but was still standing. She pointed toward the tent entrance and looked down towards the ground.

“Go. Just. Go,” she seethed, “Walk straight to the nearest airship and find some new quarters, because once you do...we won’t have to see or speak to each other ever again.”

And just like that, she slowly lowered her arm down and turned away from me. As she faced the wall of the tent, she clenched her fist.

After taking a moment to let exactly what Tempest said sink in, I realized that she really meant it and slowly walked towards the exit of the tent. As I walked I couldn’t help but feel like I was wanting to pass out and flop onto the floor, but I made sure to keep myself steady and my mind sharp.

Once I got outside, rain dripping on me as I was out in the sky, I took a breath of fresh air before continuing on. The only thing was that I wasn’t planning on heading to some airship and finding a place to sleep. Instead, I wanted to take some time to walk around the camp before having to board a ship.

As I kept going, I cast one last glance at the tent I had come out of to find Tempest in front of the entrance, her head lowered and a hand on her arm. The most surprising thing, though, was that she seemed...sad. Hurt even. She hardly seemed to bother covering that up at all in case storm guards were around. I decided to look forward once more, not caring how Tempest was feeling at the moment and wanting to focus on finding a place where I could be by myself.

Moments later, after I was as far away from the tent as possible and I was no longer able to see it, I found a wooden crate and decided to sit down. All that walking wore me out some but I didn’t feel tired enough to shut my eyes or let sleep overcome me.

However, as I sat on the crate...I couldn’t help but think about how sad Tempest appeared to be. In all the days I’ve been around her, I never saw her so sad like that. For that matter, I haven’t seen her show any expressions of sadness until now. Or at least before or after that time she cried on my shoulder, but that was different. It made me wonder what she’d be sad about to begin with. I mean, it wasn’t like she had a reas-

But then it hit on me. The realization for why she was sad dawned on so much that I felt heartbroken. Mainly because the reason for why...was because of me. Because of all those things I said to her and how I acted. My chest felt like it was constricting itself as I thought about it more.

What have I done?” I thought to myself.

An argument that was not of your control. That’s what you’ve done.” I heard someone speak to me.

I jolted and stiffened my back in surprise. But, the surprise exchanged itself for annoyance, because I recognized that voice from anywhere.

“Sombra?” I asked for confirmation in a peeved voice.

Yes?” He replied.

“Why didn’t you get to me sooner?” I nearly shouted.

“Oi,” I heard another voice speak.

I turned to find the very first storm guard I met to be in front of me. The one I unleashed my bladder on, and accompanied by one of his friends.

“Who are you talking to?” The one I tinkled on asked.

I rolled my eyes.

“Talking to a ghost, what do you think?” I said, turning my gaze away from him and his pal.

The guard snorted, and then he grabbed my head and turned me to look at him.

“Is that so?” The first guard said, before letting go of me and shouting around us mockingly, “Be gone and piss off, evil spirit! Heed my warning or you shall feel the wrath of my mighty girl-swooning muscles.”

At his declaration, he suddenly made poses to show off the muscles in his arms, grunting while he did so. I heard the other guard snickering behind me, obviously having fun with the whole thing. I felt so peeved by the whole thing I slapped a hand on my forehead.

“Anywho, you hairless Miscreant,” The first guard said to me, and I turned my attention to him since it wouldn’t be polite not to given my current situation, “The lieutenant sent us to find you and escort you to whatever airship is closest to here. She told us you didn’t find any quarters yourself as ordered, so she thought you needed a little…” He paused, waving a hand in circles like he was trying to find the right word before saying, “...motivation.”

“What?” I responded with a questioning look, but was grabbed by the guards by the sides of my arms, holding me rather tightly and lifting me off the ground, my feet dangling in the air.

“As you can see, no walking will be necessary for you. And we get to pick the airship you’ll be staying in,” The same guard said to me, looking like he was enjoying causing me discomfort before turning to his companion, “Let’s go.”

And so they walked on, carrying me with them like they didn’t care if I was injured or if they were causing me pain and irritation. I took a moment to breath normally, collecting myself in my tired state and gathering my thoughts.

I guess Tempest really wanted me to do as she said,’ I thought to myself, ‘And that this is what I get for not listening to her. Typical.’

As I was carried, I looked around and managed to take in the state of the camp. A large amount of tents were removed or packed up and entire regiments of troops moved about in their formations, while a small amount of them went into the ships ahead. Large swaths of land were being used for the airships, with many soldiers loading several of the ships with supplies. Obviously I was going to be taken to one of them, but the guard said that they’d be the ones to choose where they’d take me.

“Are you finished sightseeing?” I heard Sombra speak to me, for once not feeling surprised that he’d speak to me again and knowing that I couldn’t have a moment of peace.

In my tired state, I opened my mouth to respond and answer his question. But before I could speak...

“Speak with your thoughts boy. It will be easy to avoid unwanted ears that way.” Sombra stated, and I felt that same shadow pressed over me when we first spoke.

“Oh. Well, in that case, yes I am,” I said. Well, in my thoughts that is, “What took you so long to contact me?”

“A black cat crossed my path and I had to take a detour,” he almost sarcastically replied.

“You're joking right?”

“Yes and no. I had to convince the Princess of the Night that what I did to you would not bring you harm, but it was not without getting chased me all throughout the dreamscape. It wasn’t until she had me cornered that she eventually realized the gravity of the situation.”

I couldn’t help but smirk

“Yeah, that would be Luna alright,” I said with understanding, almost wanting to laugh if not for me wanting to know why I kept hearing Misery and what’s been causing me to get easily filled with rage, “So, can you explain to me what happened back there? What’s happening to me?

“It is hard to explain, Human. I don’t think your mind can handle such implications of what is at stake and what has been happening to you.”

“Well, can you give me a run down version to save time?” I asked, my question almost being one of a plea.

“For a diminutive being such as yourself, that should be easy to do,” Sombra stated, much to my annoyance, “Misery’s influence has had its effect on you in the last few days.”

“Her influence? Can you clarify on that?” I asked, knowing one answer will lead to a thousand more questions.

“Have you noticed that ever since you met her you haven’t been yourself? That you’ve been acting irrational or making hasty decisions that lead to horrible outcomes? In most recent events, your heated argument with Tempest?”

The way that Sombra described that unsettled me more than the sharp cold updraft that came. I almost wondered why the guards didn’t find an airship to take me to yet, but that wasn’t important to me at the moment.

“Yes actually. After you told me her name, I decided to not sleep. I kept getting these vivid images of her since then. She’s been lulling me in like some siren, trying to get me to sleep and waiting for me. I’ve been forcing myself to stay awake because I’ve been scared of meeting her. I replied to him in earnest.

Sombra gave a hefty sigh, the kind you would hear when you're in a deep cave.

“That is Misery at her work, and you are playing into her hands young whelp.” Sombra said, which made me more annoyed than before.

“So tell me then. What is making me fall into her trap? Why do I have these images and visions? Why is she even doing all of this other than to torment me?”

“A trickle of answers becomes a flood of questions, boy. Speak with an explicit mind and I might be able to reward you with honest candor.” He said.

Realizing that he was right, I took a moment to clear my thoughts of what was occurring and what needed to be answered. Finally, how I wanted to sum everything up came to me, almost hearing the sound of footsteps on metal.

“What has she done to me?” I asked him.

“Now we are getting somewhere,” Sombra said in a cold tone, but more relaxed in a way, “When you met Misery before meeting me, she left an imprint on you. Or rather, she left a mark that makes you lose control of yourself.”

I remained silent while he continued to give me the details of what she did. My mind also shifted to when she had kissed me and left those bite marks on my lips. I sucked my lip against one another, which felt like they were kissed by a rotten clam.

“Misery is making you believe these irrational things because she’s using the mark left on you to influence you from the dreamscape.”

He paused for a moment, the sound of something creaking on old wood making itself known. I was too preoccupied to know what was happening because my mind weighed heavily on the implications of whatever curse or spell was afflicting me.

“Think of it in these simple terms. You know of your routines and daily drudgery. Well, after she kissed you, things had changed. Your fears and emotions of negativity are causing you to get restless and are making you think that what you’re doing normal is wrong and the opposite is right. Take for example your lack of sleep these past few nights.”

My mind wandered to when my decision to not sleep had taken effect, resulting in me becoming bitter, irritable, and loathsome.

“I see where you're getting at.” I replied.

“You’ve barely scratched the surface,” Sombra chided before continuing, “Your decision to not rest has not only caused a negative effect on your health, but it is making you delirious and causing your mind to become that of a fevered dream. Your mind is combating with itself over what is right and wrong and you yourself are not in control of it. You think that it is right to not rest so as to avoid Misery from taking over and coming to you. Yet, at the same time, she made you believe that resisting her will force you to break down mentally, unsure of what she will do next when she is doing nothing at all but watching from the shadows. She’s getting in your head, turning your thoughts on yourself, causing you to do irrational things and to lash out at anything in your way. With Misery, and to what she is doing, she plays you right into her hands all the while making you tear yourself apart.”

“Hey,” I heard another voice say, before getting bonked on the top of my head by the large clenched hand of a storm creature, “Wake up.”

I rubbed my head from the blow that the guard gave me. Before I could even question why he did that, I looked around to find myself surrounded by walls, the right being aligned with doorways to rooms. The ceiling also had quite an oval shape with a purple texture. In all the time I was talking to Sombra in my thoughts, the storm creatures must’ve chosen an airship and took me inside while I was distracted.

“Aw, what’s the matter with you? Are you pea-brained or something?” The guard who obviously bonked me on the head asked, before pushing me backward and saying, “Get in there.”

I was pushed back so hard that I stumbled into a room. I landed on the floor flat on my belly. I grunted and hissed because of the pain caused by the impact before rolling into my back and picking myself up by rocking forward. I sat on my butt as I faced the storm creatures, the first of them being in the doorway and looking like he was getting ready to close it.

“This is where you’ll be staying for the duration of the trip. Until we reach the capital of those peaceful hay-eaters, you aren’t allowed to leave even if you ask nicely. Once we get everything sorted, we’ll bring you something to eat, but only so that you won’t turn into some withering carcass later on.” The guard told me, before chuckling, “Not that it wouldn’t be fun to see that happen, of course.”

And before anything else could happen, he slammed the door. Afterwards, I heard the soft click of a lock on the other side. I was left alone to my own devices as I heard the footsteps of the guards become all the more distant.

After gathering myself and standing on my own two legs, I looked about the room.

It was a modest room, roughly fifty feet in length and across. There was a single cabinet and a stocky bed that was set up next to a porthole, which provided the only source of light, and a small nightstand. I sighed briefly knowing how the majority of my time will be cooped up in here. On the bright side, it did beat sleeping on the floor of a tent.

“In the cabinet, there is a candle and some sheets inside of it. Go to them.” Sombra spoke.

I made my move to them, albeit reluctantly. Once I came to the cabinet I opened it up. Sure enough, there was a single candle and some old dusty sheets inside.

“How did you know these were here?” I asked aloud while grabbing the items inside.

“I have my ways. And they’re ones that I hardly have the interest in explaining.”

“Oh sure, now you're telling me you have a unique sense that you don’t tell anyone about.” I thought, taking the sheets over and setting the candle on the nightstand.

I’m glad he can’t read my thoughts.

“I heard that.” Sombra said.

“Damn.” I said aloud, trying to ignore the fact the king of shadows is now in my mind and reading everything I’m thinking.

I ignored him while I focused on getting the bed set up. The sheets were worn out and had a few holes in them as I covered the bed. The bed was hard as well, having little to no softness as I stretched the fabric over the edges. After having nothing else to do, I grabbed the pillow on the end and tested it out. There was little to no structure and it was basically flat. I groaned when I discovered this and decided to leave the pillow while I looked out the window. The outside world showed a number of other ships being prepared for lift off.

I couldn’t imagine what horrors they’d unleash if they came to Ponyville, or worse...Canterlot. Is Celestia preparing as best she can or is she still trying to remove all the civilians out of the Storm King's path?

Knowing that the ships would be taking off in the air soon, and having a feeling in my gut saying that their next course will likely be either Ponyville or Canterlot, I hoped that the people within those towns would be ready to fend off the attack.

“Attend to the candle.” Sombra said, snapping me out of my thoughts.

I turned to face the candle. I still couldn’t understand what Sombra would want me to do with it. There was no use for it. There wasn’t anything to light it with either.

“Hover your hand over it.” He said to me, which caused me to give a questionable look.

“What? You plan on taking my hand for a blood sacrifice or something?” I asked, unsure whether to comply or not.

“If that’s what you want me to do, I can humbly oblige.” He retorted.

“Um, I’d actually prefer the opposite.” I heartily replied, although a little hastily.

“Then hover your hand over the candle. It’s not going to bite you or anything.”

Giving in, I did what he said. I hovered the palm of my hand over the candle and waited for something to happen. Then, I felt a single twitch in my right hand and suddenly saw what looked like a black blotch of ink shoot out from my palm and onto the candle. I jumped and retracted my hand, watching the single black spot stick on the candle wick. It remained there briefly before it looked like it was burning the wax, sending a strange light around the whole room. I looked about to see a hue of nightshade purple reflect off the wooden room. The bloom of the small light spread outward until a face appeared within. The glow of those red eyes and a purple aura surrounding them appeared, staring straight at me. Finally, the shadow king’s face appeared in the candle.

“Sombra?” I asked, astounded by the whole thing.

This is a little better. I can speak properly without using more magic than necessary.” he said.

“More magic? You mean speaking telepathically drains more magic from you?” I said, finding quite interesting how he manages to do it.

“Well, yes and no. In my current state, my magic can only be used sparingly since the Storm King has been draining me as of late. However, if I have a median, or a source that I can draw upon, I can appear to you much easier without draining myself.

His explanation only caused more questions to generate in my head than answers. Although, there was one question I just had to ask.

“Or like draining life from grass and using the energy for your own devices?” I asked him.

“More or less. I’m surprised a being of your stature understands how some elder magic works,” he said, a bit impressed at what I had to say.

“I learned it from a movie called Warcraft. It’s where a necromancer stole life from a deer to save a dying child, but his flesh turned green because of that.” I replied.

“Hmmmm,” Sombra said, looking like he was trying to figure something out in his head, “I’m beginning to wonder how your people managed to understand such concepts without even realizing what potential they can bring.”

“We're humans. Most of the time we can be inventive and creative, other times there are those who squabble for power and become tyrants, often trying to rule the world some way or another.”

“Your people are quite the...how shall I say...peculiar race.” he said.

I nodded my head to him. However, talking about Humanity and their faults wasn’t something I wished to speak about.

“About what you said earlier. Does this mean that, no matter what I do, Misery will still be calling the shots? That she’ll be controlling my actions and that I'll be manipulated even when I try to fight back?” I asked.

Sombra’s eyes turned away from me, likely to search for an answer. As he did, I felt my body lurch. The ship was beginning to move. I immediately went to the window and looked outside, and sure enough, I saw that the ship was ascending into the air. And not just the one I was in, but the others as well.

To put to your point, yes.” Sombra answered, which made me turn my attention to him, “She will not stop until she has control over you, to make you a puppet used for her own deeds.

At this revelation, I turned around and banged my head on the wall, closing my eyes after doing so. When he put it like that, I didn’t know if I would ever win a fight against Misery.

“But there is a way to stop her.” he said, a glimmer of hope rising in my chest over that.

I turned to him as the black flame continued to flicker.

“However,” he explained, “The means to do so will be rather complicated.”

There’s always a catch.

“So, then tell me. How do we stop her? What can I do to beat her?” I asked him, almost pleading in wanting to get to the truth.

Sombra lazily blinked his eyes and his black flickered out to me. The flame disappeared from the candle, turning the whole room dark while the black liquid entered into my body.

“For starters, you need rest. In order to get your mind clear for the time that is to come, you must sleep.” I heard his voice in my head. I blinked and shook my head.

“WHAT?!” I shouted with fear and surprise, “Oh no. No, no, no, I do not want to sleep. Misery is waiting for me, and if I go to sleep, she’ll-”

“You will not succumb to her.” He strongly stated in my head, which made my frightened babbling stop like a steel trap was put on it, “Listen to me. For as long as I have this link you will not fall prey to her. You must trust me.”

“Well, how do I know that this won’t be some hollow promise in the long run?” I replied, wanting to ensure that his word will be true.

He sighed, obviously noticing how apprehensive I was.

“You have my word. The word of a king.” He replied calmly.

I was terrified. The very thought of sleeping at the cost of getting played with by Misery again plagued my mind like a disease. Despite how doubtful I felt, though, I couldn’t help but find myself instantly trusting him.

What other choice did I even have at this point?

“Okay.” I said.

Immediately but hesitantly, I made my way to the bed. I got onto it and began pulling the sheets over myself when I noticed that the sling still hung on my left side. Deciding that it might be better to keep it on, I kept it on me. I pulled the covers over me with my good hand until they covered everything but my arms, shoulder area, and head, the latter which I laid on the flat pillow.

I would have taken my shirt off but I didn’t think it would have done much. It was basically destroyed at this point and all that hung on me were scraps.

Adjusting myself and allowing the sound of the ship to lull me to sleep I couldn’t help but look outside. The sky was blue, adjusting to a lighter orange as the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sight but I did not have the energy to sit up. I was wiped out for not sleeping for so long. Sombra was right. I needed rest. I did have the feeling that Misery would still be there, watching me the moment I slept. But, I put that aside in order to be brave and do as Sombra said.

I closed my eyes, allowing sleep to overcome me.


I slowly opened my eyes with a couple of blinks, feeling as if the weight of the world was on top of me. When I fully opened them, I found myself staring not at a wooden roof...but an open dark plain. I also felt something off. I was not covered in a blanket or sleeping on a bed. Instead, I was in a gigantic mud puddle, and everything but my face was submerged in it.

I tried to sit up, but the mud clung to me like glue and held me down. Finally, I sat myself up using all the strength I had, my body sinking somewhat while I did. When I finally succeeded at doing so, I tried to assess where I was. All around me, I saw nothing but mud in sight and darkness in every direction.

However, there was laughter all around me.

It was faint, but slowly growing. I looked around again, trying to find the source of the laughter. I couldn’t find the sources but the laughter grew in volume, becoming more numerous. I attempted to get out of this mud, but...it wouldn’t let me go that easily. I pulled my hands free and tried moving my legs to stand but the mud still clung to me. It felt unusual, like glue was holding me down. Everytime I broke free the laughter grew ever more.

Finally, I managed to get onto my own two feet and stand up. But then…

Something whipped onto the front of my right shoulder area and latched on me. I looked to see what was on me to find what looked like a limb, the fingers inching themselves up to grab on the top of my shoulder. I looked to the left side of me in the direction the limb came from to find the scariest thing I ever saw.

Connected to the very end of the limb was a face in the mud, with white pupiless eyes and teeth in its mouth that were the shape of stalactites. It was smiling at me in a way that was the opposite of friendly and was laughing at me in a mocking sort of way.

Suddenly, I found myself getting grabbed by something from all directions. I looked to find that there were multiple limbs from the mud grasping me, their owners being faces that were staring and laughing at me.

Their laughter was sharp and piercing, like that of a deranged harpy. They all bore the same look. Of their disgust, their hatred, and vitriol mixed with joy at making me suffer. Their eyes were like hawks, calculating, powerful, dangerous, and above all belittling of me. There were so many of them. So many hurting me. Their talon-like fingers then clutched at my chest and face, attempting to pull me back and make me fall. They all looked so familiar, but it hardly mattered to me because of the pain they were inflicting on me.

With all of the willpower I had, I tore away from them and broke free from their strong grips. Hardly wanting to stick around, I started running across the mud strewn field. It was difficult, though, because each step made the mud impossible to traverse. It kept sticking to my feet, causing me to sink to where, at times, I’d sink up to my knees. Suddenly, I heard a cackle that was louder and deeper than any of the others I heard, and when I looked behind me...I saw something that made my skin crawl. Forming behind me was a hideous mud monster, and when it finished taking shape it looked like that of a giant demon. Once it saw me, it’s expression became one of pure evil and it started walking right toward me, all the while laughing at me and the fact that I was struggling to get away.

I was stuck in a bog that wouldn’t let me go.

“Sombra! Princess Luna! Help me!” I shouted for them, hoping by some chance that I could get out of the situation that I was in. I attempted to storm my way out but the harder I pressed on the more the mud clinged to my body. It was forcing me back and I trudged on, attempting to break out of this pit and away from that thing.

“You’ll never escape me, pet. You’ll never get away.” I heard the voice of Misery around me, echoing in my head, “You. Belong. To me.”

I doubled my efforts, pounding every foot into the mud stricken ground. I did not want to see her. She was waiting for me. She was going to get me.

“Somebody. Anybody. Please help me.” I desperately said in my thoughts, “I don’t care if even Tempest comes to help, just...please. Help me!”

At that very moment, I gave up hope of ever getting out of this. I heard the monster getting closer and closer by the second, and my knees were starting to feel weak.

“RUN!”

I heard a voice. It was faint, but close. I opened my eyes, seeing a distant light ahead. My strength regaining, as well as a new sense of hope and relief inside of me, I broke free from the mud and ran towards the light. The mud lessened as I drew closer, hardly keeping me in place. The laughing from the monster behind me ceased, replaced with an angry snarl and the sound of it lashing in a fit of rage. I did not dare look back. I only aimed for the light.

I felt that my legs would give out on me while I was running on dryer ground, but I kept going and pushing, reaching for the light that I was getting closer to. I could see a silhouette on the other side of the light, which looked a lot like Luna. She was waiting for me.

I sprinted as fast as I could, the mud creature from before still hot on my heels, screeching, and bleating for blood. The sounds it was making sent chills through my veins.

Finally, I reached the light and jumped through it, and when I made it to the other side I embraced Luna. I wrapped around her form, my arms clasped around her back. I felt much relief in her presence.

“Princess Luna! You're here!” I replied in several huffs, rubbing my head against her flat chest.

Wait a minute...flat?

“Ahem.” the deep voice of Sombra said, right above me.

I opened my eyes and looked at my unexpected savior. Sombra looked down at me with a questioning gaze while I still clung to him like a lifeline. Not wanting to let this awkwardness get out of hand I let go of Sombra, brushed away any dirt that was on his metal chest plate, and backed away.

Next time I should look before jumping into anyone's chest.

“I would ask what that’s about, but I believe you had enough of a chase from her.” he said, unbothered by what I did and waving a hand.

I turned around and saw the tunnel that I exited from had disappeared, leaving Misery and whatever abominable imagination that was on the other side behind. Deciding to take in my surroundings, I saw that we were on a large busy street, with many ponies going about their business. Most of them were heading into a large building that looked like a concert hall.

I say that many of its patrons were wearing fancy get up that resembled clothes from the late 19th to early 20th century.

The women were in fine gowns and fashionable dresses while the men were wearing royal regalia that made them stand out like military officers. There were a few high nobles wearing what appeared to be simple tuxes, but they were probably on the low end of nobility compared to the commanding officers. They all commanded a regal air about them and carried themselves with a purpose. They went toward the building where the sound of opera music was being played, and they were all very lively.

I on the other hand look like I got dragged through a low tide storm that spit me out into a pig pen.

“Hmmmm...you’ll need to have appropriate attire if you are to attend this.” he said, making me turn to him in question.

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

Before I could question him further, though, he waved his hand in front of me. I blinked from the unexpected flash. For a brief moment, nothing happened. But then, I saw the mud strip away from my body and disappear before me. My ripped shirt was gone and fabric crawled its way up my body. Red cloth went over my form. I felt my hair change and tingle from a changed haircut.

After a few moments, it was finished. The magic was gone. I looked down and I could tell that I was wearing a red uniform with a white sash going from my right shoulder to my left hip. My pants were black and well pressed, and my feet had shiny boots that seemed to clack every time I took a step.

“Nevermind. This looks really good,” I admitted.

“Let us be off then.” Sombra gestured to the theater.

And with that, the two of us went straight towards the theater.

“What about Princess Luna? Is she here?” I asked, curious to know if they have a truce still active between them.

“She, Tantabus, and the royal guard from yesterday are waiting inside. We should not keep them waiting.” Sombra explained, marching in good order towards the entrance.

I followed close behind, hoping l that I could meet with Princess Luna. When we drew closer, I looked at the mirror next to the entrance and I took a pause.

The suit I was wearing was a military one, where I had the red suit with the white sash going down my shoulder. My shoulder pads had those tassel looking things, the kind you would see in the civil war and 18th century armies. A white belt was nicely tucked around my waist and the pants had two white stripes going down the legs. I even noticed that my mask was on, with the white coat and blue hair to boot, albeit the hair combed back and being sleek.

“I see that Luna has given you a disguise, though meager it may be.” Sombra stated, standing next to me.

I gave him a look over, his armor making him all the more intimidating yet strong as well. The main chest plate had several layers going off the sides that looked like they contained extra padding and stopping halfway. Over it he wore a standard uniform, with eight buttons going down the length in the middle and a red sash going around the waist. Underneath all of it, starting from the neck, he had a traditional white shirt that extended out and stopped at his wrists, and he wore armbands on each side of his arm. He wore stylish gloves and greaves that completed his outfit.

I felt so out of place compared to Sombra.

“I won’t pry about the necessity. It does at least give you a cover to hide behind, so long as the mask is not removed.” Sombra stated, before turning to look at my head. “Although, you look like more of a standard guardsman than an actual pony that can blend in to the crowds. But, it will due for now.” he said while heading to the door, waiting for me to join him.

“I wonder what he means by mask?” I thought to myself.

As the two of us got closer to the doors, they opened up and we entered inside. We were greeted by a noise chamber of ponies, all gossiping and chatting like they were on top of everything. Ladies were dressed in elegant fashion while the men were speaking about either military feats or their own personal lives. There were even a couple of stallions who were comparing their facial hair and having waxed beards and mustaches.

Can’t go wrong with men and their facial hair. Respect to those guys who can maintain it.

“It's strange how a dream like this can make everything so real.” I said while observing, walking next to Sombra as he merely grunted in reply.

“Princess Luna and I had to dedicate our time in conjuring this dream so that Misery would not get in. But beware of those who attempt to get close to you, because they may be a part of her darker powers as well.” he said.

I paused to look at him.

“You mean...Misery might infiltrate this dream, despite your preparations?” I asked.

Sombra stopped moving and he turned to me. I remained still as he looked me over, trying to find some critical flaw from what I said.

“It's... a possibility, but you can prepare for such an event if you are careful,” he said, turning to look around the room. I followed his gaze, observing the number of ponies within the room. “She could very much be here, or she could not. The way you can tell is if the equines in here are acting more out of the ordinary than they should appear. In dreams, when you feel that you’re in control, you can conjure up weapons to defend yourself.”

I watched as he lifted a sword from out of nowhere.

I blinked in surprise. I was astounded to see the weapon materialize in front of him, the blade looking as equally sharp and deadly as its creator.

“Any conjuring of thought and feeling will create the image before you and allow you to properly defend yourself. Thoughts, images, beliefs, anything your imagination comes up with will materialize to you and help you to defend yourself from the realms of dreams.” he stated, his sword vanishing as quickly as it appeared.

“I see that you're teaching Spencer the ways of defending oneself in the dreamscape,” I heard Princess Luna’s voice.

I turned in the direction her voice came from. Once I laid eyes on her, I was struck by the dress she wore and how beautiful she was. She wore a fashionable ocean blue dress that complimented her coat. She was bedecked with striking crystals within her dress that made her glow from the light around us. Her hair fell back behind her, revealing her bare shoulders and neckline. She also had a light blue sash going from her right shoulder to her left hip, with a flower on the area of her shoulder.

Disney Princesses can step aside when Princess Luna’s in town, that’s for sure.

“I also see that you neglected to inform him of the basic defenses in fortifying his mind from unnatural forces. Are your teachings lacking precision, Princess Luna?” Sombra stated, almost sounding off on Princess Luna and her teachings methods.

Luna calmly walked over to us, offering a smile before dipping her head.

“And for you to claim that I have neglected him is an obvious mistake. You forget that the two of us have spent centuries of practice in those arts. You can’t simply force him to understand everything within the time frame without straining his mind.”

“With that I can agree. But these are not auspicious times. He’ll need to learn at least the most modicum of lessons in order to stave off any attack. If you disagree with my methods, you wouldn't have taken them in the first place all of those years ago.” he said.

I waited for her to respond, expecting her to bite back like she often did with him the last time I saw them together.

Instead of a retort or witty remark, though...she smiled at him, albeit a small one.

“After all these years, and despite your flaws, you haven’t changed.” she said, her gaze drifting to the equines around her. “I’m surprised that you even kept some of the culture of the Crystal Empire. Most of it was destroyed when you took power.”

“There are things that I committed myself to during my rule of power. Yet, the arts that the empire made were the ones I did not seek to destroy. Far too much history was too important to end or be rid of. Even for one such as myself.” he replied, looking out to the throng of ponies that continued to mingle and chat.

I couldn’t help but wonder, by some small measure, at what their bond was like back before they had split apart. Maybe some small respect for their past lives before their roads led to different fates. For all things considered, and from what Tantabus had mentioned the other day, I couldn’t help but think that Sombra was not all that bad.

Okay, he might have been a tyrant afterward and enslaved a whole kingdom. And ruled with an iron first. But yet...before that, he might have been good.

I guess I could say that something in his life changed that made him become a villain.

“I still disapprove of your actions, Sombra.” Luna’s calm voice became sharp and she turned her gaze to meet him. “Having a link to Spencer, and possibly planning behind our backs?”

Sombra waved his hand to her almost dismissively.

“Tis necessary for the lad. He will need guidance, and a link to him was the best directive. It will help me monitor him from afar, and give him information when he is not in contact with you. Please understand, Luna, he could very well walk into one of Misery’s traps if I don’t have a connection with him.” he explained, his reasoning's being sound.

Princess Luna looked at him critically, casting a glance at me briefly before going back to him.

“Will you allow me to examine him. I want to ensure that you have not tampered with his mental psyche. I won’t allow any sort of dark dealings to befall him and for you to use him as his puppet.” Princess Luna demanded, although in an authoritative way.

Instead of being taken aback by this, though...Sombra merely chuckled.

“Princess Luna. You wound me. You can peer into his mind and find that I have not left anything obscure. There was hardly anything to tamper with anyway.” he explained, to which she gave a tolerable smile.

Hey, wait a minute! My mind is not a blank slate! Unless, I need it to be.

“I am still suspicious of your tricks,” Princess Luna said, waving a hand over me and her eyes flickered with light for a brief moment, “However, I shall keep careful watch.”

“Of course, you never know what I am capable of. However, with my powers being diminished as it is, I am magically limited.” Sombra stated.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” I stepped in, trying to get myself into the conversation, “Since you said you were going to help defend myself, will that mean that I could think of anything that I want and create before me something that can detect anyone that would be considered hostile?”

“To answer your palpable question, the answer is a yes and a no.” Sombra dully said, diminishing my already miniscule status, “Sometimes, if you are confronted by an unknown entity, the best way to find out if they are secretly a threat is to ask it an assortment of questions that would identify who the person truly is. Other times, which leads to much harder fights ahead, your mind will attempt to conjure a weapon to repeal the attacker.”

“So, how would I know when someone approaches me and I figure out how to appropriately respond?” I asked, wanting to get more detail.

“I think I can help with that.” a new voice had entered into our conversation, one that was all too familiar and right behind me.

“If you say you can help,” I began without turning my head, “How will I know you’re real?”

Instead of a reply, I saw arms wrap themselves over the front of my shoulder area and I was forcibly turned around. And before I could blink, I was pulled into a tight embrace by Tantabus, who enveloped me in a loving hug.

“Oh, you can be so cute when you ask complex questions.” she said, never once letting go of that motherly instinct.

‘Yep, she’s real.’ I confirmed in my head since she was amply loving me in every possible way.

Sombra harrumphed at the display while Luna merely stifled a chortle.

My ears were no doubt burning from this but I couldn’t blame her. Tantabus, unlike Misery, was welcoming and warm.

“Does this answer your question?” Tantabus asked me.

“Oh yeah.” I said, nodding ‘yes’ to her despite my head being against her ample chest.

Once I parted from her I was able to get a look at her dress for the occasion. She wore a lovely violet dress, similar in style to what Princess Luna was wearing, with a few slight changes here and there. Her hair was tied back and flowing off her shoulders, and she wore a brooch of interesting design placed in the center of the sternum. The dress she wore was a stunning off-shoulder strapless dress, making her stand out among the other royal ladies. Seeing this, I couldn’t help but give a small bow of my head to her.

“I couldn’t help but be taken by your beauty, Tantabus. You are truly a real specimen of great caliber.” I said, trying to make my words sound fancy.

She placed her fingers next to her lips and laughed while Princess Luna gave the most childish chortle. Sombra, from my angle, pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head at me.

“One of these days, you need to be taught proper etiquette when we’re not in mortal danger.” Sombra stated, clearly showing more annoyance over my lack of candor.

While I observed the three of them I noticed that there was one more missing pony. Now where was...

“Oh, curse this dress!”

There she is.

I turned my gaze when I heard the quick steps upon the floor to see a very flustered Stella approaching. I had to silence the snicker that came up but I couldn’t help but smile when I saw Stella coming up to us. She was wearing a black off shoulder stylish dress, which I believed suited her, and also had an almost flamboyant flower. A pendant hung around her neck and a small sash wrapped neatly around her waist. Speaking of which, the dress made her waist and hips tighter than normal. I couldn't tell if that was by accident or if it was because it was part of the style that was created for the time.

“You could have given me a proper chance to fit this in, Tantabus!” Stella said when she came up to us.

I gave a wild eye to Tantabus, who looked rather pleased with herself.

“Oh little Stella. This is a classical Crystalian dress dating back many centuries since the Crystal Empire’s founding. You are honoring them by wearing it.” Tantabus stated, the ever motherly smile still present on her face.

“Well they have a terrible sense in fashion!” Stella yelled back, clearly irked by how she phrased it.

“And why is that my dear?” Tantabus replied, cocking her head to the side in childish curiosity.

“Isn’t it obvious!?” she said, gesturing to me to take another quick look at her. “The dress is tight across the waist and chest, and it’s sucking the very life of me through a peg hole.” She gestured at her hips and waist, where the dress looked rather tight than it normally would. She then pointed at her chest and bosom and moved her fingers up and down for emphasis. “I don’t know what constitutes a dress, but this corset is too tight. I’d prefer me armor any day than this jammin cork you strapped me in!” she bellowed. She then turned to Princess Luna, who looked rather amused at her display, “Princess Luna, I would happily be relegated to a stationary guard or even long patrols in the Everfree Forest, just get me out of this dress!” she begged, hoping that her employer would give her some respite.

Princess Luna shook her head, not once allowing her any respite.

“I fear Tantabus is rather fickle at this time. She loves to play dress up. So no matter how much you fuss, you have to play the part.” Princess Luna stated.

Stella looked absolutely dumbfounded. Uncertainty poured from her face while I took in the priceless expression. She looked upon Tantabus and sneered at her.

“Well I won’t have it!” She said, grabbing the front end of her dress. She pulled on her bust and the fabric ribbed from her strength, freeing her from her confinement of the cloth and nearly exposing herself.

Although, I don’t think she even cared for that as long as the dress remained in tatters.

“Now, now Stella.” Tantaubs said.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a wave of her hand. The small rippings that Stella created stitched themselves back over her chest and her hands were removed from touching the fabric. The front part of her dress was unblemished and remained as beautiful as before.

Though I wouldn’t tell her that. For what she saw in beauty would be the armor she wore to the field of battle.

“Oh, c’mon!” she cried, remaining flustered and attempting to tear it once more.

Yet, each tug and tear of the dress only resewn itself back into place and it remained as undamaged as ever. It was almost comical the way she tried to shred the dress over and over again to no avail. After several more attempts, she soon after gave up and sighed in defeat. She would remain untenable against the magic that Tantabus brought.

“Oh don’t fret, Stella,” Tantabus said. “Your dress makes you stand out more amongst the crowd. It suits you, and I bet the stallions would go head over heels for you.”

“Shut yer hole! I’m a guard, not some pansy with a fetish for clothes!” Stella’s usual demeanor returned, despite the position she was in. “Why would anypony in their right mind wear such getup!? I know simple fashion and this is not the type of clothing that even my own nan would wear.”

Thank you Stella, for putting that horrifying image in my mind. Reminds me of the two old ladies from the Last Airbender.

And I might have just made it worse.

“Now Stella. Surely you can see the benefits in wanting to preserve history and cherishing those who have fallen by wearing such fine garb.”

“If by garb you mean allowing stallions to ogle over my body and stare at me front package. Armor of fine design and strong resolve is what I wish for. Don’t talk high and mighty about clothes. I don’t need to point out how your bust is probably going to burst out of the seams any moment now.” she stated, drawing Tantabus to blink in surprise.

She’s got a point there. Compared to Stella it was hard to imagine how she managed to fit into that dress in the first place.

“My bust is symbolic of maturity and great fertility. Equating my aptitude of one who represents wonderful values of love, life, and cherishing family.” she replied, giving off a wry smile to Stella. “Whereas for you, if going by said logic, you would be the least…how should I put it without sounding obvious…fitting.”

I took a step back as a noticeable twitch from one of Stella’s eyes was visible. She looked down and examined herself before returning her gaze back at Tantabus. She strode over to her, using her own wings for leverage and hovering in front of the mystical being, the latter bearing a great smug on her countenance.

“Oi, that is uncalled for. I’m just as sexy to all the lads out there, and they love women of 'any' size. Aye don’t need to point out your 'back breakers' but I’m fine with ‘my’ size. So how about you buzz off and we can-”

I was pulled to the side by Sombra while Stella continued to argue, going over things that would rather be left out. When I was with him Luna was waiting for us.

“I believe it is time we attended the show. We can let them argue as much as they like.” Sombra said, letting go of me and offering an arm to Luna. “May I have the pleasure of being your escort?” he asked, being all the gentleman.

Princess Luna looked at his arm, and for a moment it seemed like she was stunned. Then she looked back to him, drawing a breath before lifting a hand to him. Sombra took the hand, pulling her in and allowing her arm to wrap around his own.

“If I must then I must,” Princess Luna said, walking alongside him.

I noticed Sombra gave a smirk at her response.

“Don’t tell me you are enjoying this, my dear?” he asked.

But Princess Luna chuffed at him.

“I don’t care for this in the slightest. This is merely formality.” she retorted, which caused him to chuckle.

“Like the times I taught you etiquette and form whenever you attended the Grand Galloping Gala.”

She looked away and harrumphed, while the two headed down the halls. I went to follow them, but was stopped when two different pairs of arms grabbed me on either side.

“I shall be your escort, my dear,” Tantabus stated, pulling me in towards her in a gentle manner.

“No, I shall escort Spencer. I know him better, and you only met him twice.” Stella insisted, pulling me in, and I felt my arm brush up against the side of her dress after she did so. From my angle Stella was clearly enjoying this.

“That is true, but he needs an adult in the room,” Tantabus said, pulling me towards her and even pulling Stella with me.

“I’m a proper escort and can better defend him ya thunder tits! I’m the adult and proper woman here!” she said, and began a tug of war with Tantabus.

You can pretty much guess that I was the one they were tugging over.

I think I need a ‘real’ adult in this room.

Ahead of us, Luna and Sombra were already moving, heedless to my plight. I kept being pulled back and forth by Stella and Tantabus, uncertain if I should be blessed or cursed to have their way over me.

Our group went down the hall. The walls were adorned with faces of actors and famous plays, and every few paintings there was a small fancy lamp hanging off the side. Various ponies of elegant grace and stylish military were moving down the hall towards several different doors up ahead. Princess Luna and Sombra headed left and we followed suite. Or rather, I was dragged by both Stella and Tantabus, who kept insisting on being the proper escort. We soon climbed up a set of stairs and went down another hallway where less ponies were visible. I could hear the orchestra in the background, slowly growing in size the further we moved.

Ahead there was a door, and we calmly walked through it and up a small flight of stairs. Once the trek was complete, we entered a room that contained box seats and overlooked the entire room of the theater. When Stella and Tantabus finally let go of me, I headed to the edge and observed the new surroundings.

It was amazing.

Several rows of red carpet ran down the steps of the isles. The theater was spacious, bearing a second and third row of balconies overlooking the stage. The seats were covered in lavish gold and red, and hanging above the center of the theatre was a large crystal chandelier. Inside the chandelier were several dozen candles, making hundreds if not thousands of crystals sparkle and causing the room to glow. Music emanated from the orchestra pit and I saw ponies inside of it that were tuning their instruments. I could only fathom if this was a real place conjured up by them or if this was an actual place in the Crystal Empire.

I gotta get out more.

“After you,” Sombra spoke, guiding a hand towards the seats before us.

Stella decided to take the seat that was farthest. Princess Luna followed and guided me with her, to which I didn’t question as to why. Sombra sat next to me and Tantabus took the far end. The five of us remained there, watching the theatre fill to the brim with ponies. I lingered my eyes on the stage, seeing the setting of either an open field or a garden. The props and stage settings were excellently crafted, standing out so much they would look like they were the real thing. I had a hunch that this was either an opera or a musical, but I couldn’t guess as to what kind of play they were performing.

“Here we can at least be at some peace while Beyor Horiseye plays.” Sombra stated, not taking his gaze away from the stage.

The five of us watched as the final occupants sat in their seats. The candles from the chandelier dimmed, no doubt from magic, and the music began to play.

“This is a classical ballet, celebrating the founding of the Crystal Empire. I didn’t know that you enjoyed this one.” Princess Luna stated, while Sombra, from my peripheral vision, cast a sideways smile.

“As I have said earlier, I may have been a tyrant, but I am not someone who would destroy art.” he replied.

“Unless you use art as propaganda and fuel the speculation that said art is to prompt the tyrant rather than the artist behind the art.” I piped in.

Sombra stared at me, his smile vanished and he remained complacent. A moment of uncomfortable silence passed before he harrumphed at me and watched the stage below.

“Clever boy,” Sombra stated.

I felt a gentle hand from Princess Luna. I saw from the corner of my eye that she looked rather pleased from my retort. She let go of my hand as we began to watch the ballet before us.

The first show opening had a few characters explaining the history of the play. It then opened up with fun and playful music about a group of colonists leaving Canterlot and heading to the north, hoping to find a suitable colony for their people. While this continued, there were a couple of characters narrating the story as it happened. There were some interesting characters, such as a captain leading the expedition who was serious but had fun quirks. He kept talking to younger versions of Celestia and Luna, who acted more carefree than what how were today.

Princess Luna had a hand on her face, slightly embarrassed over the somewhat very similar appearance of her youth. Whereas Stella was fully enjoying the show so far, and I could see Tantabus was giddy with excitement. Sombra, on the other hand, remained stoic, watching the play with keen interest.

Guess everyone has their own way of enjoying a play. Even I could get the gist of it.

The play continued with the captain leading the expedition north, all the while dancing in a fun and vibrant fashion. The group soon ended up in the frozen north, where they found a group of ponies that lived off the land. The natives and settlers had a falling out and the two sides were in a bitter disagreement, one side consisting of the high aristocracy of Canterlot and the other side consisting of the native religious groups.

It was an interesting setting, given the natives were very respectful of the land. Their skins were different due to the crystals that they mined and were a part of.

Time went on with the play, and it appeared that things were getting out of hand between the people. Along with that, the dancing began to become more elaborate. The Captain’s forces, led by his second in command, were rousing them up for a fight, their dances powerful and bearing a strong tempo. The Captain, shaking his head, wandered off away from his men and the colonists and headed into the trees of the north. While the native crystal ponies, as they were later called, were beating upon their own drums of war, kicking high and spinning so fast that I often lost my senses. A village elder continued to ring out the call in order to remove the colonists by force.

Yet, amongst them, unseen by their fervor, a single pony walked away from them and left them to their own devices. This pony was hidden behind a blood red veil and a snow white cloak. The only one who noticed the pony leaving was a younger elder, who quickly followed the cloaked pony.

It was then that Princess Luna, after being silent while watching the play for so long, finally stirred.

“Oh, I know what’s coming. The Grace of De Lune.” Princess Luna stated.

“The what?” I turned to her, confused.

“It’s what's to come. Apologies, but I don’t wish to spoil. The guitar solo is just too pure.” she replied.

I remained uncertain about what she meant.

Sombra also stirred, having remained a pure gargoyle for most of the performance.

“It’s a memorable moment. A night of passion and grace that made the foundations of the Crystal Empire.” King Sombra putted.

I turned to him, slightly confused over what he meant.

“Judging by Spencer’s face, he has no idea of what is to happen.” Princess Luna said.

I turned to her.

Seriously, this was the first time I’m seeing this play. How was I supposed to know what was going to happen?

“If you wish, we can let loose and have a little fun since my wards are contained in this dream world.” Sombra stated with a slightly mischievous tone.

Upon hearing what Sombra said, Princess Luna couldn’t help herself from snickering.

“I’m sorry, but since I’m in the middle of this both literally and metaphorically, what are you guys talking about?” I asked, wondering what these two ancients knew that I didn’t know.

I felt a soft hand from Princess Luna and noticed a wry smile appear on her.

“Oh don’t worry, this will just be a little slight change of the program.” Princess Luna said to me teasingly.

“Spencer be wearying skivvies, Princess Luna?” I heard Stella ask, leaning her head forward and bearing a mischievous grin on her face.

“I think that would be most cute to see,” Tantabus said after leaning forward, her innocent smile looking all the most devious.

Having none of this, I decided to stand, but I suddenly felt the strong hand of Princess Luna keeping me in place.

“Boy, to be blunt in this, the adults will need to have a discussion from unwanted ears.” Sombra stated.

I quickly turned to Sombra and asked, “What do you me-”

But before I could complete my sentence, Sombra grabbed me by the shoulder. The moment he did I saw his eyes flare up. My vision changed and everything turned black.

When my eyes opened, I found myself standing on my own two feet. It was dark where I was, the only light that was visible being a simple spotlight before me. Curiously, I took a step forward. I was unsure of what was going on, but somehow I was promoted to go to the light. I didn’t know what prompted me to do so, but I had a feeling inside of me saying that something, or someone, was waiting for me.

“Of all the things that I committed, I can never be rid of this guilt.” I heard a voice close by.

I wondered where it came from while I continued towards the light. I had thought that this was one of Princess Luna’s tricks but I wasn’t sure. This genuinely felt real enough.

“Oh, how am I tormented and not be able to see this folly. Maybe I pushed too far. Maybe I didn’t do enough. The elders will never forgive me for being in love with him.” the voice again spoke, genuinely feminine and sounding much closer this time.

As I kept moving forward, I saw a figure appear just on the edge of the light. The woman, from what I could see, was wearing what appeared to be a long robe of pure white which had fur on the shoulders and a hood that was obscuring the eyes. She stood there, hesitant to enter the light. I kept moving towards her, unaware if she even knew that I was coming. When I drew closer I stopped at the edge of the light. I watched as her head dipped, and from my angle I saw tears coming down, falling to the floor below.

“A gentle voice upon the winter breeze, soothing the tempest of my heart. How can such beauty be marred by tears when one's spirit is with her people.” I said, or rather, my mouth moved for me.

My mind flashed with questions.

Why did I speak that? Why is my mouth moving on its own?

My mind was frantic and my body moved into the light without my permission.

I was beginning to freak out.

Why was I not in control of my own movements? Why was I not in control of what I said?

And why are a thousand audience members staring at me?

My head moved, and from where I was standing I could see hundreds of eyes watching me.

It was the audience.

I was on the stage. In the play.

My head kept turning without me telling it to, and from the corner of my eye, I saw Princess Luna, Sombra, Tantabus and Stella were all still sitting in the same box seats. The only difference is that I wasn’t there. There was just an empty space. I saw that Luna and Sombra were conversing with one another, and I had no idea what they were saying.

“How long must this torment last? How much time must we be separated in times of strife? If I do break this barrier between us, then we can be united as one heart and one soul.” I kept saying, getting really frustrated that I had no control over this even as my head lowered down. “If only, that this time, things can be different, and the long awaited reunion may finally come.”

I noticed that my outfit had changed. I was wearing a thin leotard. I couldn’t help but want to laugh and point at it but I was not in control of my own voice and limbs. I hoped that for some odd chance, I could actually be in control of myself. But, a calm presence began to fill my mind and Luna’s voice was in my head.

“Worry not, Spencer. You are safe. Just relax. Enjoy yourself.” I heard her speak.

My head moved up and I saw that Princess Luna gave a small nod to me while she conversed with Sombra.

It was then that I noticed the figure step into the light, and I saw that the mare in question had raised her head. The little cover on her head remained, but from what I could see past the blood red veil she wore over her snout and mouth, she was smiling to me. Her head tilted in mild curiosity.

“Our reunion is here, my love. Together, we can forge the land that was promised between us.” she said, her voice being as warm as a furnace.

The light around us grew and I imagined, ever briefly, that I was in a land of snow.

Then a single guitar string was played.

Then another.

Then a simple melody of a guitar came to life around us.

I couldn’t find where the music was, only that it surrounded us both. It was nice. Serene. I felt calm, if not a little lethargic to the melodious tune. The music continued, and the mare began to circle me, her legs stretching out and gently kicking up the snow around us. I noticed the length of her legs exposed underneath. She began moving, twisting her hands and arms in a pirouette and beckoned me to join her. I was not sure, and my body, again not on my own volition, was gesturing that I could not. Then, she pulled me forward and I was taken with her.

The land around me remained as white as snow as I pulled with her. She kept dancing, feeling the rush of the wind around her. I was in awe of the mare, who was uplifting to the love and care of the world around her. My body, whimsically, joined in on the dance.

The music of the guitar was breathtaking. I felt a sway of emotions course through me. Sadness, happiness, regret, relaxation and love.

Love?

Why was love so important?

I hardly knew her, but yet...I felt so connected with her.

Her dancing quickened from the pace and I saw her white cape get thrown back, the only thing remaining being the veil over her face, obscuring her. Her skin was purplish red, a nice hue to it, and her tail and mane were equally as red, the mane being done in a ponytail. Her leotard was a one piece suit, a blue color that complimented her coat and matched her tail and mane. A line of crystals crawled up the suit from the lowest part of her leotard, aligning on the sides of her body and stretching across her chest in dazzling beauty that made them glisten in the light. A blue gauntlet was on each arm, bearing crystals that both dazzled as she twisted and turned her body.

The two of us, beckoned by the sound of the guitar, twisted and turned, going at an equally faster pace when it quickened, and going at a slow tempo when it lessened. My body flexed and loosened from each twist and turn. I leapt into the air and curled down for when the music was most impactful. She did so in kind with my movements, drawing closer to me as the two of us spun into one another.

My arms were wrapped around her, holding her. Protecting her. She held onto my arms at that comfort, despite the fact that she was a little taller than me. She didn’t seem to care, though, because she looked at me with a smile appearing on her graces. She knew that I was her protector, and I was there to be her shield. To comfort and love her when she needed it most.

We parted when the music quickened once more, her arms flailing into the air and twisting in a splendorous fashion. I followed her moves, leaping, spinning, and attempting to copy her movements. My body, for some reason, didn’t feel the strain of such difficult movements. But that didn’t matter. I was too enamored by all this to feel it.

She spun again, kicking her legs into the air and landing hard, only to spin around to face me. I stopped, several meters away from her. She then rushed over to me and my arms instinctively went up. I caught her when she landed, and I held her up, spinning around from the force. I eventually slowed down, still holding her at the waist and holding her like she was the world and I was her atlas.

Was I always this strong?

The guitar slowed once more, and I lowered her down, her arms gliding down to my shoulders to suspend herself before slowly coming down to face me. We spun slowly, looking at one another, her feet carrying us across the snow in mindless circles. I kept focused on that smile of hers, a small gesture that made my heart unmistakably warm. Her arms gilded under me, grabbing my back and even my shoulders as she pulled herself in. The smile never wavered, never losing its grace and beauty. I wanted to kiss it, to share in that passion that was blossoming in my heart. But, I felt it was not right.

It would just ruin the moment.

The guitar slowed its tempo, the chords echoing in the background and lost to time. My body then pulled her in, my arms wrapping behind her back and holding her close. She welcomed it, her head pulling closer to my own. My eyes closed halfway, lost to the tranquility of the guitar and the mare in my arms. Her head lowered and rested into my neck and chest. I heard her hum in turn. I lowered my head onto hers and felt a small bump on my cheek from where her horn was.

The last of the strings faded into nothing and all was silent. Everything was at peace.

Not a moment later the audience boomed with rounded applause. My eyes creaked open, the first movement that I had control over, and I saw that the crowds were cheering enthusiastically, giving a standing ovation to the performance. I looked out, the audience oblivious to my actions but a spare few, and saw them standing in the box seat. Sombra, Luna, Tantabus, and Stella were giving standing ovations, the latter two giving off whoops and calls to me from my ‘performance’. All of this being despite the fact I had no idea what I was doing other than letting my body guide me.

“You did well, Spencer,” I heard Princess Luna say in the back of my mind.

For some reason, when I was dancing on this stage, I felt like I had the most fun I’ve ever had in the longest time. In fact, whoever this mare was in my arms, I felt the most calm in all of my life. I nestled my head back down on her head, feeling the horn underneath my cheek. However, I noticed several bumps pressing into my cheek, it was as if it was…

Broken.

I removed my head away from hers and looked at her. She in turn looked at me. The veil over her face was pulled back and fell onto the ground.

My heart stopped when I saw that it was Tempest in my arms.

My breath was still, my arms frozen and my mind spinning.

Why was she here? Why was she here!?” I frantically thought.

I still held her there, unsure of what to do or what to say. She kept looking at me, oblivious of me and even, to my surprise, bringing a genuine smile. The audience in the background was no help. Their applause still continued, still encouraging me when the scene should have ended. I felt a strange sensation crawl in the back of my mind, and a familiar voice was shouting at me.

“Spencer! Spencer!”

I didn’t know who was calling me, but the voice sounded urgent. For some reason, I couldn’t move my head in the direction the voice was coming from. I was too terrified because Tempest was right here with me. I felt one of Tempest’s hands remove itself from my shoulders and something stirred behind her eyes. Her smile lowered slightly, a curiosity growing in her eyes. I wanted to go away, to release her and run. But I felt something hold me down, and it wasn’t just her. Her right hand reached up and caressed my face. It was gentle and warm to the touch, but she found no satisfaction from the contact. Instead, she appeared more nervous the longer she lingered.

Her hand then clasped onto my nose and, as if a veil was over my face, removed the mask that I wore. I felt my human features return, showing her who I was. Her eyes turned to horror and her lips parted slightly to utter a single name.

“Spencer? H-how?” she said.

It was as if a spell had been removed from her facial features, replacing it with one that was as nervous and scared as I was. She was petrified, holding me in the same position, unsure of what to do. Just like me.

Suddenly, as if an imaginary needle decided to break me from my nervous state, I heard the sounds of cracking and crackling from above Tempest and I. Tempest apparently noticed too, as her ears swiveled in the direction of where the sounds was coming from.

We looked up to find the most frightening thing happening:

There was a wooden beam up above, and it was burning. The fire was eating away at it.

And then...

The beam fell straight down at us.

For a moment, it seemed like my life was flashing in front of my eyes. I wasn’t able to move, and it seemed like my death wasn’t going to be far. But to my utter surprise, Tempest tackled me like a football player and quickly got us out of the way of the falling beam. We landed a few feet away from where we stood, with me landing flat on my back. Across from us, the beam fell on the stage and went straight through it.

The fire from the beam began to spread from where it landed, causing everything to burn.

Ponies in the audience suddenly screamed because of all that happened, and I turned my head to find that everyone was leaving their seats and running straight out the doors. I was terrified to see a few ponies near the front still clapping and applauding, some having that sinister laughter that I had heard from before. Some caught fire and they didn't seem to care if they were burned. They were consumed by madness and they reveled in the unholy blaze. When I also looked in the direction of the box that Luna, Sombra, Tantabus, and Stella were sitting inside of, I discovered the second most shocking thing that night:

They were gone!

It was like they just vanished into thin air.

“Spencer?” the confused voice of Tempest said to me.

It was then that I realized I had forgotten that Tempest was still right there with me. I turned my head to find that she was sitting above me, looking right at me with an expression of continual shock and confusion. I also noticed that her hands were planted on the ground and my head was between them. I would have said something questionable, like why she is straddling me, but I found that I couldn't. I was enraptured by her stare, like she was keeping me in place with just her eyes alone.

But then…

The floor started cracking into small pieces, and it gave way under Tempest and I. When we were immediately no longer on solid ground, Tempest and I fell through a dark and enormous hole, screaming as gravity was overtaking us.

For a moment, it felt as if we were falling through an endless void, and what was merely seconds seemed like an eternity. That is, until I landed on my back on a pitch black floor. A moment later Tempest fell right on top of me. I felt the wind knocked out of me from the impact and my vision blurred for a moment. We both groaned from the impact and Tempest rolled off to my left, laying beside me. I clutched my chest and found that my ribs were bruised from the fall. I didn’t know how Tempest was feeling after landing so hard, but for me...I felt like I landed between a bed of rocks and was a cushion for an amazon.

“Well, well.” a voice slowly said, which was all too familiar to Misery’s.

As if the voice elicited a magical command, my arms got pinned against my sides and my legs were pinned against each other. I noticed the same thing happen to Tempest as well.

Out of my peripheral vision, I saw Misery standing to my right, her head low, her eyes closed, and the end of her tail going side-to-side like a clock.

“Not you,” Tempest said, and I looked towards her to see that she was looking at Misery as well.

When I turned my attention back to Misery, I saw that she lifted her head and opened her yellow-slitted eyes, a malicious smile forming.

“Yes, me,” She responded to Tempest.

At that very moment, Misery casually slithered towards us until she stopped right above our heads. Then, she lowered her head and upper body closer to our eyes.

“How interesting. After so long apart…” she paused and put a finger under Tempest’s chin, “...the powerful commander…” she paused again, taking her finger away from Tempest with ease before clasping her hand on my face and squishing my cheeks, “...and the prisoner. The handsome hunk of a prisoner. Are together again.”

She slowly unclasped her hand from my face, almost as if she was relishing the feel of my skin despite my irritation with her doing this.

And then, her arms outstretched towards both Tempest and I.

“And now. At last. You both belong to me. Forever.” she said, clasping her hands onto our shoulders.

A course of lighting went through Tempest and I. All around us everything flared into a dizzying miasma of darkness and flame. It was so painful that I screamed in agony as Misery held onto me and I looked at Tempest to find her doing the same. It felt as if this would never end.

“Spencer! Awaken!” The voice of Sombra reached me.

The darkness grew rapidly around Tempest and I. Immediately, everything went black, the fading echoing laughter of Misery remaining.


I opened my eyes and bolted from my bed. I clutched at my chest and felt my body shake from the cold. I heard thunder and lightning booming outside my window and rain pattering against the glass. The room was lit several times by the lightning, casting long shadows throughout the room. I closed my eyes, attempting to calm myself from the scene.

“How did Misery find me? How did she slip past Sombra and Luna’s defenses?” I wondered to myself, “How did Tempest…”

My eyes opened up as the thought occurred to me.

“How did Tempest appear in my dream?” I said in a shaky voice, uncertain as to how it was possible that she appeared.

I tried to gather my thoughts, attempting to think of some possibilities out of the thousands of outcomes that occurred. It was only stopped when I heard a disgruntled voice soon after.

“Boy! What did you do!?” Sombra spoke to me.

I grew annoyed and angry at him.

“Nothing! I don’t even know what I did!” I shouted back, not caring if anyone heard me in this pathetic room or this ship.

“That remains to be seen! But that must come later. We have other worries about you and you need to move now!” Sombra spoke back to me.

“Move? Move?! I can hardly comprehend everything that happened these last few minutes, and you want me to move?! Why should I listen to you when all you’ve done is keep me in the dark?! Why should I listen to you when Misery is now just as dangerous as before?!” I shouted, my hands gripping on the sheets and my face contorting in anger, “You left me in her merry company! Left me to be played with her like a ragdoll! And with Tempest! Why?!”

I was so caught up in my emotions. So angry at Sombra for all that happened. But before I could say anything else, I felt a shadow grip my head, forcing me to look right. My emotions soon abated when I was looking next and a rush of warmth was spreading towards me from the hall outside.

“Why is the door to the room on fire?” I bluntly asked.

“The reason is beyond me. But, if you hadn’t been so caught up in your ranting, you’d have noticed this sooner.” Sombra stated.

Author's Note:

This was a long time coming. I can't thank my editor enough for making this chapter possible. More chapters will be coming sooner then you think.

For those who wanted to know the music. Here you go and enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_RnlOWmZD4

Also, image for this chapter belongs to Koveliana! Do go check the artist out!