• Published 4th Apr 2021
  • 2,166 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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Machinations

Ahh, Canterlot, the capital of Equestria. It was a marvel of architecture, being a hybridization of ancient and modern-day construction techniques. Sombra, or rather, Tenebris, had always hated it. The city looked too clean, too sterile, as though only for show, like it was meant to impress visitors rather than serve as a living space. Not surprising considering that Queen Concordia had majority say in its construction and Canterlot thus retained the icy remoteness of its creator.

Apparently, Concordia also built the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters for her daughters in hopes of them establishing their own kingdom. After her passing, Celestia and Luna ruled Equestria from there for a time, leaving Canterlot in the care of a trusted steward. That is, until Luna was overtaken by Nightmare's influence and was banished to the moon. Celestia then abandoned the castle and returned to Canterlot, this time as Equestria's sole ruler but decided against taking the position of queen in honor of her late mother. Of course, Celestia always was a fool, allowing trivialities like sentiment and guilt to keep her from achieving greatness, to seize glory by the throat and squeeze with all of her might until it bent to her will.

When I'm king of these lands, I won't just stop at Equestria. The Dragon Lands, Griffonstone, the lands beyond, all will fall under MY domain. I will forge an eternal empire, the likes of which will make Old Alicornia look like a children's cardboard castle in comparison. No one will forget my name.

Tenebris would've preferred parading down the streets, allowing everyone the chance to glimpse their new ruler but he couldn't have Twilight and her Merry Mares catching wind of his presence. By now, his "good" half will have informed them of his habits and thought processes, no doubt relating the meeting with Primrose the Prescient or how the old witch was the genuine article instead of the two-bit fortuneteller she pretended to be. Having his own personal royal soothsayer would do wonders for Tenebris' new empire, thus ensuring any and all threats to his reign could be prematurely thwarted before they even began. With both Death and Fate at his disposal, what could there possibly be left for Tenebris to fear? Who could possibly stand against him?

The shadow solidified in front of the small brick townhouse with its horrendous paint-job and tacky window shutters. It was still surrounded in that field of ancient magics, a form of thaumaturgical energy he was unfamiliar with and that rattled him to his core. How did an otherwise-normal earth pony get such powerful magic? Sorcery such as that was in rare supply, so much so that not even Princess Celestia had access to it. Primrose's gift of prophecy must've allowed the old bat to pull some very massive strings and that made Tenebris wonder what other kind of surprises awaited inside.

"Rrgh!"

Tenebris' right forehoof gave out, nearly sending him toppling over onto the street. His left forehoof flew to his head, a pressure steadily building within his brow and temples. He bit down on his lip to prevent a scream and took several slow, calming breaths, riding the wave of pain instead of resisting it. Pain tolerance was something he'd become adept at, courtesy of the late Grimoire, being one of the few useful skills the frail old fool had taught him. Eventually, the cranial aches subsided and Tenebris was able to stand perfectly erect, making his way up the short steps of the stone front porch.

He smirked at the wooden sign hanging beside the door, the one that downplayed Primrose's oracular abilities by proclaiming her as a simple "fortuneteller and spiritual advisor." Subtly lighting his horn, he ignited the molecules around the sign, black and purple flames licking at its surface, blackening the sign and singing the letters off. A bit juvenile, sure, but Tenebris preferred to enjoy life while he could before it'd become consumed by non-stop work. Running an entire empire appeared to be a full-time job and there'd be no telling when he'd have time off to do as he pleased. Add in keeping his future wife/queen satisfied, providing for his offspring, and demoralizing the denizens through carefully planned fear tactics, he'd be swamped with responsibilities.

Striding past the hilariously ridiculous decor, Tenebris shoved his way past the curtains leading into the well-lit kitchen, his horn burning with malefic light, expecting the old coot to tremble at the very sight of him. Instead, he found Primrose sitting calmly at the other side of the table facing him, raising a teacup to her lips before setting it down on its saucer. Tenebris despised how calm the mare was when she should be, utterly terrified to be in the presence of a being such as himself but considering her prophetic nature, he wouldn't have been surprised if she'd foreseen everything to its final conclusion. Lifting a chocolate-covered walnut macaroon, Primrose bit into the treat and, without breaking eye-contact, slowly crushed the cookie with her teeth, noisily grinding it into little particles and swallowing with a loud gulp. She smacked her lips, cleaning her face with a handkerchief.

"Do come in, I've been expecting you, Tenebris," she stated so casually that it set Tenebris' teeth on edge.

"Have you now?" Tenebris growled. "That's interesting..."

Levitating Primrose's teacup, Tenebris hurled it across the room, where it shattered against the wall.

"Did you see that coming? Maybe you did, maybe you didn't. If you know so much, then why would you wait instead of fleeing?" He then leaned forward and grinned, "You know, I'm beginning to think that you're just a phony."

Primrose remained quiet, defiantly watching him as she helped herself to another macaroon.

"So tell me, what happens next?"

"You step further into the kitchen..."

"Yes...?"

"...Your aura glows even brighter as you prepare..."

"...Yes...?"

"...To step on a walnut that rolled onto the floor."

Crunch!

Tenebris lifted his right foreleg, finding some pieces of crushed nut stuck to his heel.

"How very amusing. Now stop playing games, oracle. I didn't come here to be made into a joke."

"So where do you usually go?"

A bubbling black missile shot from Tenebris' horn, only to dissipate a foot away from Primrose's composed features. The dark unicorn's jaw almost dropped at the sight.

"How did you do that?!"

Following Primrose's gaze, he stared up at the wooden beams lining the ceiling and tops of the walls. He caught a glimpse of several orange-gold rings fluctuated down their lengths, followed by a series of matching symbols that'd been mystically carved into the wood. The rings and symbols faded, leaving only the seemingly ordinary beams. Tenebris frowned, then glowered at Primrose, recalling that only one pony not only possessed that color magic aura but was also powerful enough to create such a barrier, the only issue being that this particular sorcerer had been deceased for over a millennium. So how in Tartarus did Primrose obtain wood that'd been enchanted by Clover the Clever?

"Very impressive, Primrose," Tenebris congratulated her, his toothy grin conveying anything but glee. "I'd ask how you managed to get your wrinkly hooves on those beams but frankly, my dear, I don't give a darn. So tell me, where is the second book?"

Primrose's cat eye glasses slid down her muzzle as she peered at Tenebris curiously.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Prophecies and Predictions, Volume II. You told me once that you'd been working on a follow-up and I want it. Give it to me....now...."

"I'm not afraid of you," Primrose stated without a hint of fear in her voice. "Believe it or not, there are things in this world worse than you. Older and far more wicked than you can possibly imagine."

Tenebris scoffed at this. "And what would that be?"

"You already know what it is, who it is. Your master knew and you ignored his warnings."

"Oh no, my apprentice. Emperor Grogar is alive. He is merely trapped in between worlds, his magic weakened by those meddlesome fools Gusty the Great and Clover the Clever. I've heard his call."

"Grimoire was a pathetic old fool, a raving lunatic," Tenebris spat.

Primrose leaned forward in her chair. "Was he? Surely you've felt it. The rising darkness. Unexplained weather phenomenon, rampant magical energies, the creeping sense of something great and terrible heading this way."

"A new power is rising. Everypony thinks that Emperor Grogar is gone but this isn’t so."

"Grogar is waiting for the moment to return. Anxiously waiting to reclaim his empire of fear and tyranny-..."

"He's not waiting!" Tenebris howled in rage. "He's passed on. He is no more. He has ceased to be. He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If Gusty the Great hadn't taken his bell and used it to turn him to ash, he'd be pushing up daisies! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! He is an ex-ram!"

Primrose snorted and shook her head. "Are you really that naive or are you avoiding the truth? Why? What is it about Grogar the Horrendous that frightens you so much?"

"I'm not frightened! And why should I be? I have no fear of ghosts."

"No, what you fear is far more dangerous."

Tenebris loomed directed over Primrose, his eyes burning with green light and purple smoke.

"And what would that be?"

"You're afraid of the past. Your past. Of coming face-to-face with all of your mistakes. Accountability was never one of your strong suits."

"Enough with the diversions! Where is the book?!"

Shakily rising, Primrose grabbed her cane from the nearby chair and stood.

"You can't threaten me, Tenebris. You have no power here, no sway."

The worst part was that she was absolutely right. The protective spells woven into the house prevented Tenebris from launching any kind of magical attacks and likely would also protect Primrose from physical ones as well. He could try mind control but Primrose was obviously strong-willed and the enchanted beams probably would negate his attempts so that option was also out. Tenebris valued strength in his opponents but that was only so their defeat was all the more sweeter however, reaching an impasse irritated him deeply. Primrose had succeeded in outsmarting him but this victory was only temporary and he would be back, the next time with a proper strategy.

"It appears you've won this round," Tenebris hissed, turning his back on her as he started for the exit. "But don't get too comfortable," he warned over his shoulder. "You're going to have to leave this little sanctuary eventually and I'll be waiting for you when you do."

"We'll see about that," Primrose responded stoically. "Oh, and Tenebris?"

Tenebris rotated his head, shooting her an inquisitive glare.

"Wouldn't you like to know something about your future?"

~*~

Charity Goodwill peered through the slats of the pinewood louvered door, a hoof tightly pressed against her muzzle to muffle the sounds of her breathing, her other hoof grasping the handle of a baseball bat. She'd just wrapped up her shift at the hospital, where she worked as a Residential Nurse, and decided to visit her grandmother, receiving the oddest feeling that something was amiss. Being the granddaughter of one of history's most prolific oracles, it would've been expected that Charity also shared the same gift but this was not quite the case because whatever power it was that Primrose had seemed to have skipped both her and her mother. Although she couldn't tell the future, Charity had what she called "inklings," little moments where she could just pick up on whenever something was about to go horribly wrong. As soon as she walked through the front door, her fears were validated as Primrose quickly ushered her into the kitchen pantry moments before that stallion from before entered.

King Sombra strode in like a dark storm, only he had changed in both appearance and demeanor. Charity had been eavesdropping from the living room during his last visit, during which he was a tad rude but otherwise inoffensive, with Primrose even laughing and joking around with him. Now the elderly fortuneteller addressed the dark unicorn coldly, referring to him as "Tenebris" and behaving as though she was confronting a sworn enemy. She often kept her visions hush-hush, refusing to discuss them or what she wrote in her book so Charity was uncertain if Primrose had foreseen this encounter or was merely bluffing to give the illusion of control. Primrose once described her visions much like peering through a spyglass: sometimes the images were as clear as day, other times the lens would fog up or crack, leading to the images appearing cloudy and ambiguous.

Charity jumped when Tenebris hurled a teacup against a wall, though she mentally cheered as Primrose merely sat there eating cookies. Tenebris then shot a beam of dark magic at Primrose, who remained stiff as a board even as it impacted a foot away from her face, blocked by the magic that'd been woven into the house. Some time ago, Primrose had acquired the lumber used in the house's construction from a forest on the side of Mount Concordia, some of the trees having been planted by Clover the Clever himself, though Charity never knew how this'd been accomplished. Instinctively, she grabbed the baseball bat her grandmother kept in the pantry as an anti-burglar deterrent, getting it ready in case she needed to knock it upside the warlock's head. The dark magic dissipated and Primrose continued to address Tenebris fearlessly, even mocking him for being afraid.

Wait, did she just say "Grogar"?

Every colt and filly had, at some point or another, at least heard the name of Grogar, even if just in passing. Legend has it that he was a ram sorcerer that ruled what would eventually become Equestria long before the Three Tribes arrived, situated in his fortress Tambelon, also known as "the Nightmare City." Apparently, he was obsessed with creating new life, birthing strange and terrifying creatures that still roamed the land to this day, such as manticores, bugbears, chimeras and cockatrices, leading to being bestowed the epithet of "Father of Monsters" by the ponies. During a great battle, the Bewitching Bell, a mystic artifact that served as the source of Grogar's power, was stolen by Gusty the Great and together with Clover the Clever, found a way to destroy the tyrant once and for all, ending his tyrannical reign and establishing the equine races as the dominant species of the continent.

It's said that Grogar's power was so great that it rivaled that of the alicorns. If Grandma thinks that he's returning, then we're all in mortal danger!

After the malefic attack failed, the two continued to talk, with Tenebris even demanding Predictions and Prophecies Volume II, which was unfinished as far as Charity knew but still held important information pertaining to the fate of Equestria. She guided her hoof to the pantry door, her other hoof squeezing around the baseball bat's handle hard enough to hurt as she readied herself to launch an assault on Tenebris. Oh, there was no doubt in her mind that he outmatched her in every conceivable way but all it took was the element of surprise and one good strike to take him out. Thankfully, Primrose managed to get Tenebris to back down before that could happen but in a rather curious twist, offered to give him some information about his future. Charity was flummoxed by this.

Why would Grandma do this? She's been trying to keep her visions to herself and now she's offering to give him some for free. Just what is she planning anyway?

"You've piqued my interest," Tenebris smirked.

Primrose beckoned him with a hoof. "Come closer. Closer."

The old mare then whispered into Tenebris' ear and although Charity couldn't hear what was being said, the way the stallion drew back suddenly told her that he'd heard something quite remarkable.

"You can't be serious. That's insane! I won't believe this lunacy!"

Primrose shrugged. "Believe, don't believe. It makes little difference to me."

"You're mad," Tenebris mumbled and slipped past the beaded entrance-way.

The seconds dragged into minutes before Charity heard:

"You can come out now, dear. He's gone."

Dropping the bat, Charity opened the door and slowly stepped out.

"What did you tell him?"

"What he needed to know," Primrose smiled enigmatically. "Or rather, what Sombra needs to know."

"I don't understand."

Primrose climbed out of her chair with a grunt and Charity rushed to her aid, offering her a foreleg to balance on, which Primrose gratefully accepted.

"I wouldn't expect you to," Primrose responded, patting Charity's cheek. "But you will."

Turning to her chair, Primrose pressed a latch on the side and lifted up the cushion to reveal a hidden compartment in the seat. There, she withdrew a stack of papers bound with several small leather straps and covered in her small but legible hoofwriting. Charity trembled with anticipation

"I-is that...?"

"My new book? Yes. There's still so much that I need to record and time is against me."

Primrose set the stack on the table. "I'm going to be needing your help, Charity. I need someone I can trust to transcribe what's in my head onto these pages." She tapped a hoof on the stack for emphasis.

Charity swallowed and stared at her. "Me?"

"No, Gustave le Grand. Yes, you. There are things that I can only tell you and you alone."

"L-like what?"

Primrose stared out the window, peering off into the distance.

"I need to tell you about the Six that will become the Seven, the Seven that will become None, and None that shall become All. About the Adversary-Thought-Vanquished, the Unlikely Queen and the Prince-Who-Has-Yet-to-Come. There will be the Battle of Unity, the forging of the Heart of Equestria and the union of the Gray-Winged Mage and the Bride of Sorcery."

She then turned back to Charity, a great smile plastered on her face.

"Put on the kettle, dear. There's so much that we need to go over."

~*~

Look at how far I've fallen.

Princess Celestia hung her head in despair, unable to comprehend how events could've had turned out so poorly in just a few hours. She, Luna and Cadence were chained side-by-side, completely powerless and in the clutches of a madstallion that was Tartarus-bent on destroying everything they'd worked for. Across from them, Shining Armor, Flash Sentry and Spike were shackled to the wall, Shining's horn covered in black crystals while Spike wore a muzzle and Flash had several metal bands that tightly wound his wings together. To her left, a glowing yellow, light blue and dark blue orb rotated in place atop a small pedestal, which Celestia hazarded a guess to be the princesses' stolen magic though she didn't know why there were no traces of Twilight's raspberry aura or any sign that she was in the cavern. In fact, just where was she?

Even more shocking was the imposing figure on her right side, a colossal hooded equine trapped within a summoning circle, none other than the Grim Reaper himself. How Sombra, or rather, "Tenebris" as he was calling himself, came by the Rite of Ashk’Anter was anypony's guess but Celestia knew that keeping Thanatos confined was one of the worst things a sorcerer could do. It'd been over a thousand years since she and Luna saw the Pale Horse, her feelings of awe and dread from being in his presence just as prevalent now as they were then. It was Thanatos who led them to the Tree of Harmony and thus aiding them against both Discord and King Sombra, and later serving to banish Nightmare Moon for the following millennium. Blue orbs burned within his empty eye sockets and she wasn't certain whether or not he was looking at her or through her.

"Thanatos, can't you do something to help us?"

I'M SORRY, PRINCESS CELESTIA, BUT I CANNOT. UNLESS THE CONJURING CIRCLE IS BROKEN, I AM ONLY ABLE TO SERVE THE ONE WHO SUMMONED ME. THAT IS THE RULE.

"And we all know you're a stickler for rules."

Tenebris entered the room, cloak of darkness angrily flowing behind him.

"The power of the Reaper is mine, Tia. And mine alone."

"Where's Twilight?" Princess Celestia demanded.

"What have you done with her?!" Shining Armor snapped.

"Twilight? Absolutely nothing," Tenebris assured them before adding: "Yet."

Flash began thrashing against his restraints. "I swear, if you go near her-..."

Speeding across the room in his shadow-form, Tenebris re-materialized in front of Flash and gripped his chin with a black tendril. He gave the pegasus a cruel smirk.

"You'll...what exactly?"

"If you think you can get away with this," Flash grunted. "You're sorely mistaken."

Purple smoke curled around Tenebris' eyes, the umbrum baring his sharp teeth at Flash.

"The only mistake is your assumption that I care about anything you have to say, colt."

"Sombra, I know you're angry but this isn't right!"

Releasing Flash, Tenebris faced Spike, who was staring directly into his eyes.

"You're better than this."

"If you're trying to appeal to my good side, I assure you that I don't have one."

"Just who are you exactly?" Princess Luna shouted. "Sombra isn't this vicious."

Tenebris snorted in amusement. "I'm Sombra's dark half, all of his supposed 'worst traits.' He thought that if he got rid of me, he'd become an angel or something. What he didn't realize was that he needs me. I am his drive, his ambition and without me, he has no courage, no will to do what needs to be done regardless of qualms like right or wrong."

"So the real Sombra is still out there?" Princess Cadence asked.

Tenebris fired a black crystal dart, the projectile slamming into the wall above her head.

"I am...the real Sombra. We're here because of me. I took care of us, I came up with the plans and possessed the fortitude to see them through, I faced the trials and tribulations and came out stronger than before. Sombra was the Shadow King, whereas I am the Shadow God!"

"Why are we here?"

Tenebris smiled at Princess Celestia. "The only way a bargain can be reached is if one party has leverage. Without you all here, how else could I convince Twilight to come?"

"What do you want with Twilight?" Princess Cadence inquired.

"What's the point of having an empire if you don't have a queen? She will rule beside me and provide me with children."

"No!" Shining Armor cried, trying in vain to yank his chains from the wall.

Princess Celestia could feel that she was on the verge of tears but her determination to not to cry in front of Tenebris won out. She may have lost her magic but she was determined to retain her dignity, come Tartarus or high water. Even without her alicorn status, she was still a princess of Equestria and would conduct herself as such, even in the face of absolute defeat.

"Yes," Tenebris asserted in a pleased hiss. "Face it, you've all lost."

His eyes found Princess Celestia's and his grin grew even wider.

"As much as I'd enjoy seeing your despair at the sight of your former pupil becoming my wife, relishing in your anguish as Twilight is corrupted and twisted into being like me, I think it'd be wiser to eliminate any and all threats to my dynasty."

Tenebris' horn erupted in a fiery black aura.

"Celestia, say goodbye to Luna."

"Wh-what?"

"Tia!"

Princess Luna let out a scream before disappearing in a cloud of bubbling blackness.

"Luna!" Princess Celestia's grief turned to rage. "What did you do to my sister?!"

"I sent her back home," Tenebris casually replied. "The moon must've been so lonely without her."

"You monster!"

Tenebris released a low, bone-chilling chuckle.

"I don't know why you're upset."

He then aimed his lit horn at her.

"You're next."

~*~

Spike could only watch in horror as Princess Luna, followed by Princess Celestia, were both banished in clouds of darkness. Never had he felt so powerless, so tiny and ineffectual. He was the Seventh Element and a dragon, yet he couldn't do anything to stop Tenebris, not back in the throne room and certainly not now. He wanted nothing more to be back under the covers, hearing Twilight's voice as she droned on and on about thaumaturgical theorems about matter displacement. He wasn't fast like Rainbow Dash, strong like Applejack or as zany and creative as Pinkie Pie.

He was just a kid that was in way over his head.

I'm not even supposed to be here!

And yet...he was.

Something, call it fate or destiny, ensured that his egg was brought to Canterlot so that it could be hatched by Twilight and that the baby dragon could be raised by Princess Celestia. It couldn't have been on a whim of the universe that Spike was with Twilight when Princess Celestia sent her to Ponyville, that he met the others and went on insane adventures with them, starting with finding the Elements of Harmony and every event that'd occurred til now. Did Faust randomly place Spike in the Crystal Empire when King Sombra first showed up or coincidentally allow him to meet the Spirit of Harmony, who then happened to reveal him as the Seventh Element, the Element of Empathy? No, he had to be here for a reason and it certainly wasn't to just mope. Spike had a great power burning within him and that meant that he also had a great responsibility to use it.

If only I could do something...

"Are you planning something?"

Spike let out a yelp at the sound of Tenebris' voice in his ear.

"I saw that look on your face of calculation, of resolution," Tenebris whispered in an amused, almost mocking tone. "You have a backbone, little dragon. I think I'll keep you around."

"Get away from him!" Princess Cadence screamed.

"Cadence...don't speak to your father that way," Tenebris admonished her, as though he were speaking to a child who stuck their hoof in a cookie jar.

"Don't call me that! I'm not your daughter!"

Tenebris' face went blank for a moment, the muscles on his cheeks and brow twitching ever so slightly.

"No, not yet," he said in a detached, relatively monotonous tone. "Not yet."

"Cadence!" Shining Armor cried.

Activating his horn, Tenebris advanced on the captive princess.

Spike pulled at his restraints, flailing his arms and kicking at the wall but to no avail.

"But you will be..."