• Published 4th Apr 2021
  • 2,133 Views, 89 Comments

Sombra's Recovery - MisterEdd



Hunted by the crown, Sombra tries to evade capture while rediscovering who he is.

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The Rift

With the whole argument behind them, the three made their way to the Map Room, with Sombra following the mares. The casual observer would think that he was busy taking in the sights, as he turned his head back and forth to glance at the walls, but this was merely a part of the ex-king's mask. Contrary to his exterior, Sombra was, in fact, very nervous and a bit worried following the reconciliation. He was relieved that his and Twilight's issues were over and done with but couldn't shake the creeping feeling of dread dangling over his head like a sword attached to a single strand of hair. As much as he tried to deny it, there was no fighting the conclusion that Sombra was afraid.

This was the first time as a couple that he and Twilight had fought. Once anger had passed and hope vacated the premises, he'd become filled to the brim with apprehension, that he'd say or do something stupid enough to make Twilight reject him. The mere thought of this happening just added to his mounting sense of uneasiness. Normally, Sombra didn't care what others thought of him, regarding the opinions of ponies as inconsequential. Then again, Twilight wasn't just some pony.

Equestria could hate and fear him but as long as he had Cadence, Spike, and Twilight in his corner, then he could be content. The other Element-bearers were becoming more important as well, each one finding new ways of endearing themselves to him. Well, with the exception of Rainbow Dash. He received the impression that the pegasus didn't care much for him, nor could he really blame her, but he believed that he could still change her mind. Eventually.

They soon arrived at the "Map Room" that Twilight wrote to him about, a massive circular room surrounded by massive crystalline pillars stretching up to the ceiling. A chandelier of sprawling oak tree roots clung to the ceiling, shimmering rows of yellow, blue, violet and pink gems hanging from each limb. Just below, there was a large round table with seven white, high-backed thrones, all but two unoccupied by their respective owners. The table itself generated a glowing, three-dimensional map of Equestria, a map that apparently sometimes indicated where certain Bearers would go to solve a friendship problem. The other ponies-and Spike-put whatever conversation that they were having on hold and all turned towards the newcomers, their interests piqued by the sight of all three ponies together.

"Is everythin' awright between y'all now?" Applejack looked to each of their faces.

Fluttershy nodded. "Yep. We were able to make peace."

"It was a lot easier than I thought it'd be," Twilight admitted as both she and Fluttershy took their seats.

Sombra, meanwhile, remained in the doorway.

Perhaps it'd be better if I stayed here. It'll avoid future issues.

Rarity stared at him uncertainly. "Sombra? Would you like a seat?"

"No, I'm alright."

"Are you sure?" Twilight asked. "It'd be no trouble."

"I'm fine, thank you."

"See? He's okay." Rainbow Dash folded her forearms across her chest. "He's a big stallion."

Sombra wasn't quite certain if she was being indignant or complimentary.

"Um, okay. If you're sure," Twilight said, not a hundred-percent convinced. "Ahem, so was there any activity on the map while Fluttershy and I were away?"

Applejack shook her head. "Ev'rything's as peaceful as uh cat in a basket full o' yarn."

"Cats do like lying in yarn," Rarity observed.

A three-tone crashing sound reverberated through the castle. Twilight was instantly on her hooves.

"I'll see who it is."

BAMF!

She vanished in a flash of raspberry, reappearing a minute later.

"It's the cadre of royal guards that Princess Celestia sent. Spike, go pack your things. I don't know how long you'll be in Canterlot for but I'll wager that it'll be at least a month or two."

"Okay." He gave her tight hug. "Promise you'll be there soon?"

"Pinkie Promise."

After bidding everyone goodbye, Spike stopped in front of Sombra.

"I guess I'll see you later, huh?"

Bending down, Sombra smiled at him softly and rubbed his scalp.

"You'll see me around. I can guarantee it."

Sombra jumped slightly at the feeling of a small scaly body pressed up against his barrel. The pleasant, warm tightness in his chest was present once again, this time stronger than before. Reluctantly, he placed a foreleg around Spike and drew him into his embrace. Little by little, Sombra's anxiety was chipped away, leaving only a tiny nugget. It was amazing how much of a difference a simple gesture like a hug made.

Spike pulled away and Sombra almost wished that he hadn't. He gave Sombra one last reassuring look before walking away and turning the corner, disappearing from sight. Sombra rose to his full height, his mask of indifference slipped back firmly into place. He wasn't concerned; he could pop in to visit Spike any time he wanted as security around the castle was absolutely lackluster in his opinion. He'd dealt with the Royal Guard before and wasn't impressed.

"What do we do now?" Fluttershy inquired.

Inspiration struck Rarity like a lightning bolt. "Ideaaaa! Why don' we go on a picnic? I happen to know of a very nice spot that I happened to have discovered while on one of my gem hunts with Spike."

"That sounds like uh real good idea there, Rarity. Ah'll bring some o' mah family's special apple fritters, apple strudels, apple turnovers, apple cobbler..."

"Please say 'cider', please say 'cider'," Rainbow Dash muttered hopefully.

"...apple chips, applesauce cake, some cider..."

"Yes! I love you!"

Applejack jerked her head around. "Wha was tha'?"

Rainbow's cheeks were a bright red. "Um, I love your...family's food products. That-that's all I meant."

"That sounds like fun!" Pinkie cheered, literally jumping for joy. "Ooo, I'll bring my patented Super-Secret Party Preparedness KitTM!"

"'Super-Secret Party Preparedness KitTM'?" Sombra asked.

Pinkie gasped, then appeared right in front of him. "Who told you about that?! Was it Gummy?"

Sombra stared queerly at her. "You did. Just now."

"Riiiiight. I'm watching you, Buster."

"What do you think?" Twilight smiled up at Sombra.

"That sounds..."

Twilight's shimmering violet orbs, coupled with the expectant stares of the five other mares made saying no a virtually impossible task. Sombra mustered up as much enthusiasm as he could.

"That sounds good."

Pinkie threw a foreleg around Sombra and Twilight's necks.

"Cool beans!"

~*~

The six mares, along with Sombra, gathered together to see Spike off. A gilded carriage drawn by a team of four pegasi had arrived, along with four unicorn guards for additional security. Seeing as how Sombra was still a wanted fugitive, he wore his Guess Who disguise, the glamour completely fooling the guards, who took no notice of the stallion. Instead, two guards loaded up the carriage with Spike's luggage, all the while keenly scouring the area for any potential threats. Spike climbed in and was quickly followed by his guards, two seated across from him and two on either side.

The carriage soon took off, with Spike waving goodbye while Twilight watched him with some measure of trepidation. It wasn't that she was doubtful of the princesses' qualifications as caregivers but rather for whatever new developments they'd soon have to give her regarding his new magical capabilities. This was, after all, uncharted territory for all parties involved. Dragons weren't known for their prowess in the mystical arts, lacking even a basic command of arcane abilities like energy manipulation or spatial displacement. The Bloodstone Scepter, the symbol of power amongst the draconic race, had, in fact, been crafted by a unicorn mage for the very first Dragon Lord, thus uniting the dragons under a single monarch for the next sixty-seven years and establishing their brutal system of succession.

Please stay safe, Spike. You'll be alright. You have to be.

The carriage soon became a dot in the sky when Twilight felt a large hoof caressing her shoulder. Sombra dropped his glamour and smiled at her with his own face. Her expression mirrored his own, her heart racing at his touch and gaze and appreciative for his support. She was just over the moon to have things return to normal, well, their version of normal, and that she and Sombra were no longer mad at one another. Oh, Twilight had no delusions that everything would be hunky-dory, that they'd find something else stupid to fight about but for now, they were going to be okay.

"Come on, everypony. Let's get going."

With their picnic supplies in tow, the septet followed Rarity through town, onlookers curiously observing the group, particularly Sombra, with great interest. Twilight looked up at Sombra's stoic countenance for any micro-tics but found none, leading her to conclude that he wasn't experiencing any sort of distress. Then again, despite her own unique insight into his facial expressions, Twilight's expertise wasn't one-hundred-percent and she didn't always have a clue as to his inner thoughts. His red eyes peeked down at her and a slight smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. This gave Twilight some comfort and she let the issue go, content to enjoy the day with her friends and coltfriend.

The sun shone brightly in the cloudless, clear-blue sky, the temperature warm but thankfully not stifling. A gentle breeze danced playfully across the fields of grass and through Twilight's coat and mane. The only real damper on such a gorgeous day was that Spike wasn't there to enjoy it with them but at least he was somewhere equally splendid to appreciate the weather. They soon arrived at a clearing west of the Everfree Forest, the grass a crisp green and a nearby old tree providing the ideal level of shade. Twilight levitated out a picnic blanket as her companions set up the other supplies.

Rarity popped open a beach umbrella, even though the tree would provide more than adequate cover from the sun. Meanwhile, Applejack unhitched herself from the cart she'd been towing and threw off the tarp, the multitudinous scents of various apple products wafting pleasantly in the air around us. Rainbow stopped setting up her deck chair to hungrily eye the apple pie over Applejack's shoulder, though for some reason, her gaze steadily dropped to something at the farm-mare's hind hooves. Fluttershy placed a wicker picnic basket on the blanket and withdrew various types of nuts and clumps of bread that were, unsurprisingly, for the little array of critters that'd begun to crowd around her. Pinkie withdrew a rectangular wooden chest...from wherever she regularly summoned objects from and unlatched it, opening both lids and pulling up a series of small retractable shelves full of kazoos, glow sticks, party horns, containers of confetti, plastic baggies of balloons, and other tools of her trade.

So THIS is Pinkie's "Super-Secret Party Preparedness KitTM". I'd expect nothing less.

Twilight gave a bemused shake of the head, then spotted Sombra...just standing there.

"Sombra?"

She trotted over to his side, finding him staring vacantly into space. Sombra moved not a muscle, standing as rigidly still as a statue, with only the occasional eye-blink giving away his status as a living being. His expression was one of melancholic longing, eyes filling up with tears at whatever it was that was capturing his attention. It was then that Twilight remembered the dream-world that Midnight Sparkle had constructed for him, how thoroughly lost he was in the fantasy and how the two lifetimes of memories clashed with one another. Gently, she nudged his foreleg.

"Hello? Sombra? Just nod if you can hear me."

There a little jolt and Sombra awoke as if he'd been asleep and peered down at Twilight.

"Hmm? What's going on?"

"Are you alright? You kind of spaced out."

Sombra shook his head. "Yes, sorry, I was just...I had a vision of our children playing over there. I mean, the children that we had in my dream."

Twilight caressed his foreleg. "Does this happen often?"

"Here and there. Do you still have memories of Midnight and Luna's life?"

She hated the fact that he was deflecting. As open and honest as Sombra was with her, there were still many things that Twilight didn't know about him, personal details that he kept to himself as though his very existence depended on it. Getting Sombra to talk about his past was like pulling teeth and he treated it as such. Why was he doing this now? Didn't he know that he could trust her?

Still, he was initiating a conversation about what was going on with her, so it wasn't a total loss.

"I...still remember some things. This morning, I could've told you what Luna received for her eleventh birthday party but now I can't for the life of me remember."

Sombra nodded. "That's good. It means that you're recovering. Eventually, the memories will fade."

"I hope so. Come on, let's join the others."

They all gathered in a circle on the picnic blanket and began passing food around. Twilight was surprised to see that Sombra was sitting right amongst them, given his prior reticence with being in the group. It seemed as though he was becoming more comfortable around her friends and it filled her heart with such warm pride. Curiously, she found Rainbow and Applejack occasionally stealing quick glances when the other wasn't looking. Did something happen between them?

"Hey Sombra!" Pinkie practically shouted, even though Sombra was seated right across from her.

"Hmm?"

"What's the difference between a piano and a fish?"

"One is a musical instrument and the other a living being?"

"It's a joke, silly! Anyway," she began snickering. "You can tune a piano...but you can't...tune-a fish!"

Everyone leaned forward to watch Sombra's reaction. At first, he merely stared at the mare hysterically laughing on the ground with his regular, austere frown. Then, slowly, his facial muscles began to quiver, the edges of his lips folding upward as he snorted and released a low chuckle. This ultimately culminated in a full-on belly-laugh that evolved into mad chortling. The transformation was like a rare scientific study, a phenomenon that one couldn't look away from.

Once the two had regained their respective breaths, Pinkie wiped her brow and asked him, "Do you know any jokes?"

Sombra paused, scratching his head. "Hmm, let me see. Ah yes, I remember. Ahem, there was once a rather portly merchant who was traveling to a small town one evening when he noticed that the gates were ready to close. He asked a nearby peasant, 'Do you think I will be able to get through the gate?' Of course, he meant entering the town before it was closed but the peasant, noticing the stallion's weight, replied, 'They fit a full wagon of hay; why shouldn't you as well?'"

To his credit, this earned him chuckles all around, except for Pinkie, who was once more seized by a fit of manic laughter. He smiled in Twilight's direction and she returned it, believing that this was the start to his progression into their social circle. More than that, however, his reformation and eventual acceptance by the rest of Ponyville and later, Equestria. He reached for her hoof and she gave it to him, releasing a small, content sigh. Nothing could be more perfect...

Suddenly, several shapes charged in and formed a living ring around them. Ten especially nasty-looking, bipedal canines growled as the ring tightened, their grim faces set in toothy scowls. Unlike the diamond dogs that had kidnapped Rarity, these ones appeared to be truly malevolent, ill intention rather than mere greed shining in their large eyes. They were armed with daggers, maces, and other vile weapons and looked more than ready to use them. Two of the ruffians stepped aside and the biggest diamond dog the ponies had ever seen entered the circle, a wicked grin flashing at them.

He was covered in a thin, blue-black coat with a rust-red underbelly and his tall, pointed ears stood erect upon his head. A jagged scar raced right-to-left across his face and was decorated with several ovular metal plates. He was dressed in a filthy, dark blue overcoat and a pair of baggy brown trousers frayed at the edges and held in place with several belts. One iron tooth jutted out of his bottom jaw and was polished so that Twilight could see her reflection. He hefted a long-handled spiked club and rested it on his shoulder, clawed fingers drumming against the wood.

"You will give us whatever you have or else ponies will get hurt, yessss?" He hissed, the iron tooth wiggling with every syllable uttered. "You all understand what I am saying, yesss?"

Fluttershy gave him an uneasy grin.

"We have food, if that is what you want-..."

Iron Tooth cut her off with a snarl.

"We don't want food! Give us gold, give us gems, or else ponies get hurt, yesss?"

Twilight cleared her throat. "Excuse me but my name is Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship. My friends and I were just having a quiet picnic and don't want any trouble. I am more than happy to negotiate."

The diamond dogs began jeering until Iron Tooth held up a paw.

"What does Princess Pony mean by...'nee-go-shee-ate'?"

"Twilight..." Sombra began but she ignored him.

"We could come to some understanding without there needing to be a fight. We don't have anything of value to give you but I'm sure we could work out a deal."

Iron Tooth considered this with an audible "Hmm." He then nodded and gave her a maligned smirk.

"Here is deal: Princess Pony come with us. The rest of you, we will crush your skulls like bugs under rocks."

"I have a better suggestion..."

A black, toxic beam shot out and slammed into Iron Tooth's face, propelling him backwards and into two of the diamond dogs behind him, sending all three flying. Shifting into his shadow-form, Sombra took a sharp left turn and careened into two more bandits, tossing them aside like bowling pins. With a duck, Applejack spun around and delivered a two-legged kick to a bandit, knocking him out cold. Soaring straight up, Rainbow Dash performed a corkscrew spin and laid out a diamond dog before he could even raise his axe. A rotund bandit giggled and cornered Pinkie Pie, who merely glared at him.

"Be good little pony and let me hit you with my sword."

Reaching into her Super-Secret Preparedness Party KitTM, Pinkie withdrew a small cannon and fired, pelting the bandit with a blast of confetti that launched him screaming fifty feet into the air. She then blew the smoke out of the barrel and grimaced, twirling the cannon before slipping it back into the chest.

"Good, bad, I'm the mare with the party cannon."

Twirling her umbrella around, Rarity beat one diamond dog over the head repeatedly, ignoring his protests.

"Take! That! You! Brute!" She enunciated with every blow.

"Ow, stop, quit it! Ow, please!"

A diamond dog snatched up a squirrel and pointed his mallet at Fluttershy.

"Come closer and rodent gets it!"

The squirrel tearfully pleaded with its wide-eyed gaze.

"You...you....!"

Fluttershy unleashed the full power of The Stare, causing the unfortunate diamond dog to turn tail and scamper off as fast as he could. She then held the terrified squirrel to her chest and gently stroked its back.

"There, there. You're safe now. I'm so sorry you had to see that."

Dodging a right hook, Twilight spun and zapped her attacker, hitting him with an immobilization spell that left him paralyzed but conscious. Another diamond dog whipped a length of chain at her but she managed to catch it in time and clock him with a well-placed kick. Sombra returned to his pony form and after teleporting a bandit away, flashed Twilight a cocky grin.

"Aren't you going to try and be more diplomatic?"

"Don't start," Twilight huffed, enchanting a charging diamond dog's fist so that it pummeled its owner.

Before long, only the seven ponies were left standing, the pack of diamond dogs either beaten into submission or fled the scene altogether. The clearing was now a site of torn glass, smoking earth, trampled food, and unconscious diamond dogs. Applejack's cart had been smashed, Rarity's umbrella dented and ripped, and Pinkie's cake crushed into an inedible mush. They all regrouped at the tattered remains of the picnic blanket, staring around at the devastation they'd caused and the ruination of their good time. None of them saw it coming and yet, considering the mixed-up occurrences that went on, it really wasn't that surprising once the hindsight settled in.

"Is everyone okay?" Twilight asked.

"Ah think so."

"Mostly."

"Mr. Squeakers and I are fine."

"I'm alright, but I think I chipped a hoof."

Pinkie knelt before the cake and sniffled. "Why do the innocent have to suffer?"

"That was bracing," Sombra commented. "I didn't know you had diamond dogs out this way."

"We don't, at least not usually," Twilight frowned. "This is way outside of their usual territorial perimeters. They're also miners, not brigands. Something drove them out here."

"The coming darkness..." Sombra murmured.

"RA-AAAAAH!"

Iron Tooth, having recovered from his tumble, leapt forward and clamped his jaws tightly around Applejack's right hindleg. She frantically kicked at Iron Tooth's head with her good leg, trying but failing to dislodge him. This only made him bite down harder and Applejack's strikes became less impactful as the pain began to set in. The others rushed to her aid, each taking turns punching and kicking the diamond dog until he finally released her. Rainbow hauled Applejack away and propped her up, putting all of the farm-mare's weight onto herself.

"You okay, AJ?"

"Ah...Ah think so. Ah don't think nothing's broken..."

Twilight winced at the bite. "I don't think it is but you need first aid. Rainbow, fly her to-..."

"SOMBRA!"

They all turned at Fluttershy's scream, finding Iron Tooth suspended in mid-air, a black aura crackling around his neck. He began wildly kicking, paws grasping at his throat while his assailant glared venomously up at him. Twilight's blood froze in her veins at the sight, her heart skipping a beat. Breaking out of her fugue, a distraught Twilight rushed over to Sombra, who seemed not to notice her presence. His eyes burned with green light, purple wisps curling around them.

"Sombra, please, stop!"

"Þú ömurlega litla slím!" He growled with a malevolent echo to his voice. "You will suffer for this..."

The aura tightened around Iron Tooth's neck, a horrid gagging sound emitting from his lips.

"Sombra, release him! Now!"

Finally, Sombra turned and acknowledged Twilight's presence.

"As you wish."

Iron Tooth plummeted to the ground, gasping and sputtering as he refilled his lungs.

"Get out of here! And never come back!"

Nodding, Iron Tooth dropped to all fours and dashed away.

Sombra now faced Twilight, the green retreating from his eyes before the purple mist evaporated.

"What is wrong with you?!" Twilight was in total disbelief. "You could've killed him!"

"And nothing of value would be lost," Sombra replied icily. "He would've deserved it."

Twilight jabbed a hoof at him. "Who are you to decide that? Huh?!" She swept her foreleg to indicate her friends behind her. "We are the ones who keep the peace. You can't just do whatever you want, whenever you want! There are rules! There's the law!"

Sombra's brow furrowed. "So, what, you give these low-lives a slap on the wrist and a scolding? They're bandits! Who knows how many innocent ponies they're harmed. You jail them, they get out, and just do the exact same thing again! I'm stopping that from happening!"

"It isn't right! You can't do things like that. It's not the way!"

"Perhaps it should be."

Twilight's heart felt like lead in her chest.

"Leave. I want you to get out of here."

The umbrum's face dropped. His self-righteous callousness was replaced with incredulity and, more tellingly, pure, abject fear. He then became aware of the other mares, looking from each face to find anger, disgust, shock, or some mixture of the three. Sombra returned his gaze to Twilight.

"Twilight," he started with a noticeable tremor in his tone. "You...you don't mean that..."

"GET OUT OF HERE! JUST LEAVE US ALONE!"

Sombra swallowed with a click, his breathing heavy and eyes moist.

"I will..."

He bowed his head and was gone in an explosion of darkness.