• Published 6th Mar 2019
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The Last of the Dark Ponies - Askre

Private Iceland and his brother Barricade are once again entangled in the machinations of King Sombra.

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Chapter 14. Y-your not going to say I’m crazy?

Chapter 14

Private was frowning hard as he thought about the last night’s events. His distraction had kind of worked, even if Sombra saw right through what he had been trying to do. The stallion wondered though if it had made any difference. The king would no doubt continue with the experiments on Barricade and Private couldn’t do this every time to prevent it.

Wow, kind of thought I would feel sadder over this, he mused. He kept saying I would give in eventually. It scared me to death that I would.

The unicorn felt more reflective than anything else and he wondered if it was because his parents had reassured him. Or maybe because doing this had kept his brother away from the painful magic, if only for a little while.

Did I do the right thing? Have I opened a can of worms now that can’t be closed? Private sighed and rested his head on his front legs. He grunted when the body next to him moved and pushed into him.

Private lifted his head and stared for a moment at Sombra who was still sleeping. Biting his lip, the smaller unicorn carefully slipped down the bed. Tiptoeing towards the entrance, he slipped out of the bedroom.

The unicorn made his way to the cavern with the cells. Barricade was fast asleep in his cell, so were the rest. Private, looked between the cells. With a sigh, he approached the slightly bigger one.

“Mom,” he whispered. She was sleeping right next to the bars. Carefully he reached in to shake her.

“Hmm? Oh, Private,” Mirage looked up and smiled a little, but frowned when seeing the expression on her son. “What’s wrong, honey?”

“Mom… I… don’t know what to think right now,” Private whispered and lay down next to the bars. His mother reached out to touch one of his hooves. “He kept experimenting on Barricade. I couldn’t bear it, hearing him being tortured like that.”

“Did I do the right thing?” the unicorn looked at her.

“What did you do?” she asked. Mirage had noticed that Barricade hadn’t been taken for a while out of his cell before she had fallen asleep.

Private sighed. This was very new for him to admit what he was feeling or confess anything. However, silence just wasn’t doing him any good.

“He was going to go get him. I didn’t want it to happen, I… just sprang over to him and… told him I was ready, I had given in. I just couldn’t think of anything else to do to stop him,” he whispered and looked down again. “He saw right through me, he knew what I was doing. Knew I was just trying to distract and delay him.”

Mirage didn’t say anything, she knew her son needed his time to say things. She was very glad though that he was finally speaking out. It was often so hard to get him to tell them what was wrong. Instead she just patiently waited until he had finished.

“B-but then he said that he didn’t mind a little distraction. He was testing me, I just know it, but I knew whatever delay I could provide would spare Barricade from more torture, if only for few more hours. So I just steeled myself, allowed him to take me to where he sleeps…” Private fell silent.

“Did he hurt you?” Mirage asked. She hated it that her son had been put into this kind of situation. She sighed in relief when Private shook his head.

“No. That surprised me actually. He was kind and gentle… I actually enjoyed it. I… am not feeling ashamed for this, but I don’t know if I did the right thing. I may have opened a door I can’t close,” her son whispered. He was very confused.

“Oh my poor baby,” the mare sighed. She reached further out to touch his cheek with her hoof. “You were just trying to help your brother. You were desperate.”

“I was.. I…” Private fell silent and glanced towards the cell where Barricade slept.

“Mom, I must confess something,” he turned his head back to the mare who just nodded to him to continue.

“I would be lying if I said I hadn’t wanted it. When I realized that I was interested in stallions just as much as I was interested in mares, I fantasized a lot about Commander Hurricane, King Horsneidas, The… eh… the lost son of Queen Rabia. Sometimes, two of them, sometimes all three, sometimes with Dew Doe…” Private started to blush a bit as he confessed his most deeply hidden secret. Mirage showed so far no change in expression and continued to listen.

“That interest did not go away when I learned who the lost son was… it got dampened a little because at the time I was possessed by him… but later, after all that was done… I sometimes still wondered… what if… sometimes even wishing he was good or reformed so I could justify this…” Private slowly glanced back towards the entrance of the cavern. There was nobody there. He then swiftly looked at every single sleeping pony he could see to make sure they were still all sleeping.

“Mom. I’m in love with him. Just as much as I’m in love with Dew Doe,” he finally sped out and planted his face right on top of this forelegs.

Mirage blinked as she slowly took in this confession from her son. She had expected to hear anything other than this! She reached out again and started caressing her son’s mane. Then she started to hum softly a song she had often sung to her boys when they were foals. Eventually her son raised his head again and she pulled back her hoof.

“Y-your not going to say I’m crazy?” he asked, looking unsure.

“Private, I know you never come to any conclusions without a lot of thought. I believe you when you say that you love him and I’ve always known you love Dew Doe, no, that one has been painfully obvious for the past ten years,” Mirage smiled gently. “What I want to know is, how did you come to that conclusion?”

“I don’t love the sadistic jerk who possessed me and tortured my brother, but I’ve seen traces of the pony he used to be - a curious, studious pony, just interested in how things work. Yesterday, he used a spell to see who my - our - ancestors were. It’s Timido, his last servant before he left the Dark Pony Empire. I saw genuine relief and care when he learned that Timido escaped the destruction of the Empire. That’s the pony I wouldn’t mind being with… but I doubt now it will ever happen. It’s all overshadowed by the pony Sombra is now,” Private sighed and shook his head. “I’m not even going to kid myself that it’s possible to bring that pony back.”

“You’ve always been painfully realistic, Private,” Hard’s said from behind them, causing Private to freeze. Mirage only turned her head to look where her husband was rising up a bit where he lay. The old stallion was smiling.

“How much did you hear?” Private grumbled. He took another glance at the others to see if they had all been listening as well, but so far the fillies still looked to be sleeping and so was Rainbow in her cell.

“Most of it, but you were talking to your mother and I didn’t want to interrupt,” Hard Shovel confessed.

Private just nodded, but said nothing more. His parents hid their chuckles, they knew him well enough that he had been a little annoyed by this and that meant he went silent. It was actually a good sign that he hadn’t risen up and stomped off. That usually indicated Private didn’t mind it too much, but he had clearly hoped nobody else was listening.

Suddenly Private’s shadow enlarged, went under him and the unicorn started sinking into it. He cringed as he realized that Sombra was clearly summoning him. He looked at his startled parents.

“I guess I’ve stayed here for too long,” he whispered but didn’t bother struggling, knowing it would be pointless.

“Be safe,” Mirage managed to say before her son was fully engulfed by the shadow and disappeared. The mare sighed and leaned on her husband who had scooted over. “My poor baby.”

Sombra watched with a neutral expression as Private rose out of his shadow right beside him on the bed. The smaller unicorn took a moment to look at himself as if to confirm that he was all there before hesitantly glancing at the king.

“I just… uh, went to talk with my mother.” Private couldn’t help but wonder if he was in trouble or had caused enough trouble to affect the other prisoners.

“You had a good talk with her?” Sombra asked, never changing his expression as he continued to observe him.

“Uh… yes,” Private arched his brow, not quite expecting that question. He was further confused when the king lowered his head towards him and began kissing and nuzzling his neck.

Private decided right now he best just be silent and allow the affectionate gesture to continue. Right now Sombra was not tormenting him or his family and the wrong word choice might just change that in an instant. He actually preferred the king focus on him instead of his family, or Rainbow for the matter.

Sombra did stop after a little while and raised his head again. He still sported that unreadable neutral expression. Private had to admit he was really curious what the dark unicorn was thinking right now.

“So… uh now that I’ve given in. Now what?” he decided to ask. First now did the king smirk and let out a soft chuckle.

“You haven’t given in at all. You were just distracting me to protect your brother,” Sombra murmured. “However, I will confess I wasn’t expecting you to be that brave. You didn’t strike me as being this proactive. Aren’t you still longing secretly for that blue mare? Too scared to confess your feelings to her because you worry things will end up like happened with your brother and her sister?”

Private had no response to that. At least the king had confirmed his own suspicion that the dark pony hadn’t been fooled at all yesterday.

“So dad used a slightly different word, he said ‘comforter’, not a comfort colt. What is the actual Dark Pony word for this… occupation?” Private asked, figuring he might as well ask more about this new job he had been saddled with.

“If I must be honest with you, I’ve just been using it because I find your reactions to it rather humorous,” Sombra confessed with a chuckle. “The actual word we Dark Ponies used is far more correctly translated as ‘companion’. The Saddle Arabians corrupted it and Equestrians actually started using it as well since it was widely misunderstood what this title and the duties it entailed were all about.”

“You see, the Saddle Arabians tried and succeeded in painting this as nothing better than a sex slavery. What it really was all about was an outreach by the Royal family to help the more unfortunate citizens of the Empire, giving them chances at better occupations later in life by being temporary companions to a member of the royal family. Eventually other noble families in Dark Pony society followed suit, as well as those simply with wealth and strong status,” he continued to explain. “Was intercourse involved? Yes, but back then it wasn’t considered a big deal, just a more intimate form of recreation.”

“Frankly, I’m mystified why it has become such a taboo subject these days,” the king grunted and shook his head.

“Times change,” Private quietly remarked. A snort came from Sombra that almost sounded like an agreement.

“So… uh you really think you can recreate the Dark Ponies?” he wondered, hoping these discussions would serve as a better form of distraction from further experiments on his brother.

“I haven’t given up just yet. It can’t be a coincidence that you and your brother got these dark gray coats - not with how your parents are colored. Also, I have noticed from viewing other descendants that they are far darker colored than most regular Equestrians,” Sombra said and rubbed his muzzle thoughtfully.

“Is it that very conclusive? Most ponies come in a rather vide variety of colors and some are dark-colored even if they aren’t Dark Pony descendants,” Private pointed out.

“You have a point there,” the king muttered and rolled his eyes. “I’m almost tempted to ask if there is a color you Equestrians don’t come in.”

“And those marks.” Sombra moved a little so he could glance better at Private’s book. “I mean seriously, why would you develop an image that shows your talent? Destiny? I’ve heard so many reasons for it, I stopped looking into it.”

“And to confound it all, those marks don’t even always clearly indicate it. I mean your brother has a brick wall and somehow that means he is good at community building. When I was spying on Ponyville, I heard that the local school teacher has a flower cutie mark, but that somehow means she wants to see her student’s bloom instead of gardening.” The dark pony looked at Private as if he was expecting some form of explanation. All Private could really do was shrug.

“Ugh, let’s talk about something else, this gives me a headache,” King Sombra grunted and rubbed his forehead.

Well, at least he just wants to talk, Private dared to think, though hoping that the king wasn’t listening in. “You still intend to conquer Equestria?”

To his surprise, Sombra didn’t really answer, instead grumbled something almost inaudible and looked irritated. Private wondered if he should press for an answer, because he had half-expected the king to immediately go into a speech on how he was planning it eventually.

“I’ll only say that my current goals do not include the conquest of Equestria,” the dark unicorn finally said. “I was not lying when I told Princess Twilight that right now, what I’m doing, has nothing to do with them. I even made it a point by not killing anyone, I did immobilize them, but that was all.”

“You didn’t want to risk harming Princess Celestia again,” Private stated, remembering back when the king had the perfect opportunity to cave in three-fourth of Equestria’s rulers, but didn’t because he couldn’t bring himself to harm Celestia.

“Private, I really like you better when you are quiet,” Sombra growled and glared at the unicorn who immediately slammed his mouth shut.

I can do quiet, Private cringed a little. He was running out of ideas on what to discuss anyway.

“Go to the storage cave and get me some food,” the king ordered. He still sounded irritated.

Private didn’t need to be told twice, having figured already he had depleted the apparent good mood his captor had been in. The smaller unicorn quickly climbed out of the bed and hurried out of the chamber making his way down to the caverns.

You know, all in all, I rather be at home being chased by Dew Doe and her brush, he thought as he entered the storage and started to going through the crates that had food in them.

As the unicorn quickly grabbed some food into a bag, he frowned a little as he felt something was amiss. He looked around but saw nothing unusual. He wasn’t bothering with his magic in this cave since it dampened it. Then Private looked at himself, staring at his chest for a good minute.

I’m not… nervous… scared? Well a little. We are still captive and he will continue experimenting on me and Barricade. Worried? Of course… but… I… Private shook his head, not feeling this was important. He finished putting the food in a bag, grabbed it in his mouth and then trotted out of the cave.

Once outside he switched holding the bag with his magic and went straight back up to the fort and returned to bed chamber. Sombra was now sitting on the floor by the bed, next to the side table. Private hesitated for a moment when having the king in view again.

“Will you bring the food here already!” Sombra snapped when seeing that Private had stopped on his approach.

Coming! Private let out a grunt and continued to walk over and put the bag on the table. The bigger unicorn looked at him and arched his brow.

“Something wrong?” Private asked when seeing that he was being regarded by the king.

“It remains to be seen,” Sombra muttered, sporting a thoughtful expression. “You can go back to the caverns, take some food to the others.”

Private didn’t need to be told twice, he immediately went straight back to the exit and re-entered the main hall. As he was closing the door to the bed chamber, it suddenly hit him.

I’m not nervous about what he’ll do with me. The unicorn blinked as it suddenly hit him. Before he had always been on his guard around the king, ready for yet another innuendo from him, a hint here or there. That feeling was gone. Sure, he had felt resentment as he entered the chamber, but that resentment was because he was a prisoner and so were his family and Rainbow Dash.

Oh wow, I had forgotten how it was to not feel like that. He walked to the entrance to the caverns and began heading down the stairs.

It can’t be because I finally… slept with him… no that’s not it… was it because I talked with mom? Ugh, I need Dew or Foxy to explain this… I just - oh never mind. I’ll bother with it later. If there will be a later. Better get the others their food, Private thought as he returned to the storage cave.

End chapter 14

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