• 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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Nearing the End

"I'm sorry but...my what?!"

A chilling laugh erupted from Tenebris as he leered down at her, his lips positioned in a cruel-looking grin of near-sadistic amusement.

"Oh, of course, introductions are in order."

He levitated a filly from out of the crib and into his forelegs.

"Twilight, meet Persephone. Persephone, this is your mommy."

The wool blanket, a masterfully spun cloth of black and maroon fabric, fell away to reveal a dark pink filly with a short mane of violet, rose and golden hair. Her large purple eyes sparkled playfully in the light, reminding Twilight of all the good times she spent with her fillysitter.

"Cadence?"

Twilight's shocked inquiry was met with babbling laughter as the filly reached out for her.

"What did you do?" Twilight demanded, though she shrank beneath Tenebris' narrowed gaze

"I made things right," Tenebris coolly replied, descending the dais with "Persephone" suspended in a black aura. "Celestia stole one-thousand and thirty-two years from me and my daughter."

He stopped in front of Twilight, ominously looming above her.

"I intend to make up for lost time."

Tenebris isn't just wicked, he's insane!

Twilight gulped and tried to maintain her composure.

"And you want me to raise her...as her mother?"

Tenebris' pleasant demeanor from before returned, the transformation so jarring that it was hard to reconcile the change in only a couple minutes' time.

"Yes. Can't you see it? The entire world bowing at our hooves, with us as the rulers of a continent-spanning empire. We'll go down in history as the progenitors of a millennia-spanning dynasty."

One of his hooves caressed her cheek in an oddly tender gesture, causing Twilight to shiver from both fear and pleasure from the contact, though she didn't know what frightened her more.

"M-me?"

"Of course, my love," Tenebris purred through his mouthful of teeth. "You're the only one that I want to fill that role, the only one that I want at my side. It has to be you."

Tenebris willed a piece of his cloak to unfurl itself in front of Twilight's chest, revealing a black crystal ring within its grasp, a large dark purple gem set within the band. Twilight had anticipated the possibility of a marriage proposal but no amount of mental preparation could've readied her for the real deal. A nauseous, bubbling pit formed inside her stomach and, once again, she found herself unable to determine the emotions associated with it. There was a part of her that was disgusted by the mere suggestion of such an offer and yet, there was an equally strong part that relished his bold and unabashed proposal. None of her friends had husbands or suitors, yet here she was with a stallion who was popping the question, giving her a sliver of unparalleled pride and superiority over the other mares.

He wants me. He could have any mare he wants as his wife but he wants me...

"Marry me, become my wife and queen. You will be the mother to a nation, to Persephone, and to our future children."

Tenebris' rich, velvety words carried with it a promise of riches and eternal adoration, its underlying tone of sinister intentions inviting unbridled passion and danger. No matter the form, Twilight found it hard to resist the magnetic pull of that voice or the near-hypnotic power of that scarlet gaze peering right into her soul. It was both thrilling and frightening, the sway that the stallion had over her, the darkness that was consuming the mare. She wasn't certain if it was her attraction or some dark magic spell being cast over her but what she did know that she was enthralled all the same. The truth was, Twilight, at that very moment, was considering Tenebris' proposal.

"It's your destiny..."

This snapped Twilight out of her amorous reverie.

No! Remember why you're here!

"Um, if I say yes, what will happen to Spike and the others?"

Tenebris grinned, purple mist curling from his eyes.

"Then your friends and your brother will go free."

The ring's gem caught the light from the sun, silently begging Twilight to say the magic word and slip the ring onto her horn. But could Tenebris be trusted to honor their agreement? If he really was a part of Sombra, then it would follow that he shared Sombra's dedication to keeping his word, right? On the other hoof, Sombra was capable of underhoofed tactics and psychological manipulation and as Tenebris was all of his worse traits, then it was entirely plausible the dark unicorn was lying to her, just as Lumos told her back in Ponyville. Regardless of the different scenarios, she knew that there were very few options.

"Yes," Twilight answered, levitating the ring onto her horn.

~*~

Tenebris' letter stipulated that Twilight had to show up there without her friends and it was agreed that she should comply with that demand. However, neither she nor the six other ponies believed it to be prudent for her to go to the Crystal Empire by herself and to that end, they came up with a little plan. Thanks to Lumos' astral projection, they learned that Tenebris paid Primrose the Prescient a visit, though Lumos found himself unable to enter the house, leaving the conversation between the two unknown. However, it was apparent by Tenebris' frustrated demeanor that he didn't get what it was that he wanted from the seer and that was a plus in Twilight's book. Lumos was also able to sneak into Sombra's hidden lair and discovered where Shining Armor, Spike and Flash Sentry were being held, though he was forced to exit the astral plane before he could learn the whereabouts of the princesses, the journey taking its toll on the stallion in his decrepit state.

Five minutes passed after Twilight exited the train, just long enough for her to begin her trek to the Crystal Castle and give credence the fact that, yes, indeed, she was traveling solo. Any potential-and likely-prying eyes would be so focused on watching the mare that they'd be missing the real point of interest, namely the train itself. Back in Twilight's compartment, the lone diamond earring she left on the seat softly glowed, the center of the multifaceted stone radiating with a moderate red glow. Hopping around like a cricket, the earring ascended a foot off of the seat, the glow becoming a near-blinding ball of energy akin to a miniature red sun. The ball then suddenly exploded outward, sending six rays of light crashing to the compartment floor, each one forming into a pony.

Lumos shook his head. "Is everypony alright?"

"Ah think Ah'll be fine," Applejack answered, a hoof rubbing her temple. "Dashie?"

"Great...if someone was nice enough to get her big, fat behind off of me!"

Rarity jumped up and scowled at her. "I said I was sorry. That was just uncalled for!"

"I mean, you have been eating more than usual."

Pinkie winced at the unicorn's glare. "Heh-heh, sorry."

Lumos offered a hoof to Fluttershy. "Do you need help?"

Fluttershy gratefully took the proffered hoof and was hoisted into a standing position.

"Thank you. Is it time to do our part?"

Pinkie tip-toed towards the compartment door, now dressed in a red beret and a green and brown camo jacket with two horizontal stripes of black grease smeared underneath her eyes. She opened the door a crack and peered outside, her eyes darting around suspiciously.

"'Operation: Live Free or Twi-Hard' is now underway. No signs of enemy guards..."

"I...don't recall giving this plan a name," Lumos said hesitantly. "That's certainly a creative one, I'll give you that."

Rainbow Dash shook her head. "No, it should be 'Operation: Here Comes the Rainboom!'"

"How 'bout, 'Operation: Yer Outta Buck'?" Applejack replied.

"Really? I much rather like the sound of, 'Operation: Hurt Couture'. Get it?"

"Ah don't know, Rares. If ya make uh reference, it's gotta be one everypony gets."

"I like, 'Operation: Sparrowhawk' myself," Fluttershy suggested.

Lumos cleared his throat. "Um, ladies? Perhaps we should consider this later."

"He's right, girls," Rarity affirmed, placing a hoof on Lumos' shoulder. "Does everypony remember the plan?"

Five heads collectively gave her a resolute nod.

"Good. Then let's get going!"

Leading the way, Rarity approached the nearest exit and, ensuring that no one was watching, leapt out onto the concrete. Fluttershy, Applejack and Pinkie replicated her actions, leaving Lumos and Rainbow as the only ones left on the car. Reluctantly, Lumos placed a withered foreleg around Rainbow's neck and together, slowly made their way off the side of the train facing away from the direction of the city. While the others journeyed to the Crystal Castle, it was their job to sneak into Sombra's hidden lair and free the hostages; if there are no hostages, then Tenebris has no leverage and four incensed alicorns to deal with. Lumos was the only one who could get through the spell-locked entrance and, to both his and Rainbow's chagrin, it was agreed that the prismatic pegasus should be the one to accompany him, her speed making her the ideal companion to the base.

The two traveled out of the Crystal Empire and once they were at a safe enough distance, Rainbow unfurled her wings and shot off into the air, pressing Lumos tightly against her. The shrieking winds slapped at the pair, battering them like a mouse caught in a cat's paws, all the while the harsh, frigid coldness of the Frozen North held them in an icy grip. Despite these obstacles, Rainbow never wavered nor halted in her progress, keeping a taut grip on her living cargo, no matter how disgusting his wrinkled flesh felt against her body. For his part, Lumos lightened the load with a small telekinetic spell, keeping himself partially afloat in spite of how much his head ached or his horn was seemingly ready to implode. Neither one of them uttered so much as a single word, not that there was anything they had to say to one another and both silently agreeing that this was for the best.

Before long, the Crystal Mountain Range was rising above, an impenetrable wall of ancient stone and thick icy snow that had stood there countless eons before Equestria was settled by the Three Tribes. Explorers and mountain-climbers alike experienced the daunting size and magnificence of the mountains, with many even losing their lives in their pursuit of fame and adventure. This made them the ideal place for King Sombra to construct his concealed sanctuary, a special hiding place far away from the prying eyes of his beleaguered subjects and eventually rebellious allies. The labor-intensive progress took months to complete but it'd all been worth it in Sombra's eyes, giving him a solitary fortress in case anything went wrong during his reign and he needed a place to regroup. Lumos carefully nudged Rainbow and pointed at a nearly-imperceptible cliff-side.

"Over there!" He shouted above the winds, though the effort strained his voice, sending him into a coughing fit. Thankfully, Rainbow received his message and it wasn't before long they were touching ground, sliding through the thick powder that covered the cliff-side. Immediately, as though a fog had lifted, the cliff-side appeared larger, digging into the mountain rather than being a simple outcropping. Ahead of them stood eight tall, conical pillars, each one constructed out of rough stones of various types and lining either side of a stony walkway.

"What are these?" Rainbow asked as the two inched past them.

"Cairns. In the old days, they were used as trail-markers or burial monuments. These ones were made from stones taken from my old master's temple on Black Skull Island. The place was rife with dark magic so they were ideal for crafting talismans."

Upon closer inspection, one could detect the tiny inscriptions on each individual stone, each one covered in letters of an unknown alphabet. Even without a horn, Rainbow could feel the power radiating off of them.

"What's with the chicken-scratch on these rocks?"

"Warlock-speak," Lumos informed her. "It's a secret language known only to dark sorcerers. I used them to imbue the cairns with magic to create the cloaking spell on this location."

They soon arrived at the end of the cairns and came face-to-face with a mountainside-wall.

"Soooo...what now?"

Sucking in air, Lumos tapped into the residual negative emotions that he still had stored within himself. His horn flickered on and off, the red aura eventually changing into black with little green bubbles. The magic died out and Lumos collapsed onto his forelegs, audibly wheezing as his breaths become more forceful. Rainbow rushed to his aid, placing a wing on his back.

"You alright?"

Lumos swallowed and nodded. "I think so. Do me a favor: don't get old."

"Yeah, I'll be sure to do that."

Shakily rising to his hooves, Lumos made a second attempt, this time a sputtering stream of flames licked the wall and slowly melting the snow and ice covering it. A pair of thirty-foot-tall doors came into view, each one ornately carved with a unique blend of geometric interlacing knot patterns and ribbon-shaped animals tightly wrapped around each other. Each beast appeared to be watching the pair, though Rainbow chalked this up to either her nerves, intentional design or both, recalling that there were paintings in mystery novels that had the same effect. In place of doorknobs, there was a raised ring in the intersection of the two doors, as if it were a fancy keyhole. The ring featured a triple-spiral symbol resting within a circle of runes, the same runes that could be found decorating the outer border of the doors.

Pointing his horn at the ring, Lumos summoned a reserve of inner strength and shouted:

"Opnaðu gáttina, svo talar ég!"

The runes ignited in a fierce glow of piercing crimson light. The doors rumbled and groaned, pushing inward and opening with a booming slam that echoed into the darkness of the cavernous mountain lair.

"Shall we?"

~*~

Following Tenebris' departure, Spike hung from his restraints with his heart squeezing out its beats, the thunderous rhythm pounding in his ears and throat. He waited with mounting tension, anxiously tuning his hearing to the caverns, ensuring that his inhospitable host had indeed vacated the premises before he could enact his plan. Drawing in a sharp inhale, Spike bent his legs backwards and tapped his heels on the wall before planting his feet firmly against the stone. Grabbing a hold of the chains, he lifted himself up and began to walk up the wall, arriving at a ninety-degree standing position. Taking a moment to catch his breath, Spike pulled his arms towards his chest and, placing his right arm over his left, lined up the metal wrist bands and began to strike at the bolt on his right wrist.

The goal was to pry the bolt loose on each manacle by applying force to the heads, which he would do via using both bands as rudimentary hammers. The room, and by extension, the tunnels, reverberated with a series of bang-clinks that created a bitter metal taste in Spike's mouth and set his teeth on edge. Every strike was indicative of Tenebris' approaching hoof steps should he return prematurely, a terrifying incentive for Spike to retain a steady pace. Slowly but surely, the action began prying the rounded head up, revealing more and more of the bolt with each strike. Sweat gently trickled down Spike's brow but he ignored it, too engrossed in his task to care about a little thing like perspiration.

Once the bolt was halfway loosened, he switched focus to the left manacle, mirroring his previous action by hitting that bolt head onto his right manacle. Again, the fear of Tenebris stomping down the corridor and discovering what one of his prisoners was up to fueled Spike's work ethic and while it might've motivated him to increase his speed, he couldn't risk ruining everything by rushing through it. His friends, his family, Tartarus, all of Equestria depended on him keeping a level head and steady nerves so he kept at his regular pace, not letting his growing excitement at his progress override his patience. After fifteen minutes, both bolts stood erect from the tops of their respective manacles like flag poles.

"Way to go, Spike!" Shining Armor beamed.

"You're almost there!" Flash Sentry cheered. "You've almost got it!"

Spike jerked his head up, surveying the entrance for any signs of his captor before proceeding. Seizing the right bolt with his left hand, he tugged it until the bolt went tumbling out of the manacle and clattered to the floor. The manacle came loose and Spike swung around, spinning on his heels to keep himself standing up against the wall, holding onto the left hanging chain for dear life as sweat droplets pitter-pattered into his eyes. Blinking them away, Spike pulled himself up on the chain with both hands, gritting his teeth while the physical strain began to catch up with him. He squeezed his index finger and thumb around the bolt head and thought a short prayer to Faust.

One twist and pull later, the manacle sprang open. Spike tried grasping at the chains but his fingers fumbled, resulting in him falling onto his backside and rolling away from the wall. He groaned, turning onto his stomach and rubbing at his rear, believing that he'd be sore there for the next couple of days. Thankfully, it was a short drop and Spike was appreciative of the fact that it meant nothing was broken. If Tenebris had hung him up any higher on the wall, then his chance at liberation wouldn't have been so fortuitous. Slowly rising to his feet, he dusted himself off and stretched, giving his shoulders a good roll and rub-down, his muscles aching from the suspension and effort at escape.

I wonder if Hoofdini ever had such trouble with hoof-cuffs?

"Nice work!" Flash hollered, doing a little jig. "Now get us down!"

"Um..."

Spike scratched his head, uncertain as to how he was going to free his compatriots. A chill ratcheting down his spine forced him to turn towards the colossal figure unblinkingly staring down at him.

I COULD HELP YOU, Thanatos stated plainly. If I WASN'T TRAPPED HERE, THAT IS.

"The summoning circle! It's also a binding circle, isn't it?"

Thanatos tilted his head as if to say, "Seriously?"

"Oh, right, I forgot you can't actually answer me," Spike chuckled sheepishly. "Hold on! Sombra or Tenebris or whoever has got to have some water and a rag somewhere!"

Shining squirmed in his restraints. "Spike, wait a minute!"

The drake skidded to a stop just as black crystals leapt up from the floor, surrounding him in a jagged cage similar to the one Twilight was once trapped in at the Crystal Castle's tallest spire.

"Spike! Are you alright?!"

"I'm fine, Shining!"

Spike then gasped and leapt to the end of the cage as a large shadow fell over him. He then let out a shrill scream as the figure advanced, only to realize that it wasn't Tenebris. He looked like Sombra if he'd aged to resemble a thousand-year-old stallion, his body practically loose folds of skin hanging over rail-thin limbs. Snow-white hair dangled over his shoulders, paired up with a long white beard and tail that added to his decrepit appearance. He was even wrapped in a cloak similar to the one Rarity made for him, except it was far too big to fit his scrawny, borderline malnourished frame.

"Spike, don't be alarmed. We're here to help."

Rainbow Dash soon entered behind him.

"Spike! We'll get you out of there!"

"Rainbow! Am I glad to see you! But who's this?"

"That'll take some time to explain." Rainbow looked at the old stallion. "Can you free him?"

"I can, as I happen to know the exact counter-spell to release him."

Letting out a cough, he snorted, then charged his horn, creating the tell-tale toxic green, purple and black aura of a malefic sorcerer. The stallion winced in pain, as though the mere effort was putting a strain on his body and the energy on his horn dimmed. Refocusing on his task, he bit back a cry of agony and zapped the cage, forcing it to retract back into the floor. His task completed, he deactivated his magic and wobbled to and fro, almost ready to collapse. Rainbow kept him upright with a wing, her demeanor much more worrisome than Spike was used to.

"So...the short version is Sombra split himself into a good half and a bad half and this is his good half."

"You may call me, 'Lumos'," the elder pony managed through the pain.

"That's who Tenebris was referring to!" Shining exclaimed in realization.

Lumos gave him a soft smile. "You're my son-in-law. It's nice that we could have a discussion without me being in restraints."

"Now it's the other way around."

"Heh, heh, indeed! Irony abound!"

"Excuse me," Flash interrupted. "But if it's not at all inconvenient, I think you should release us."

Lumos nodded. "Yes, of course, Flash. We have an appointment with an old friend..."