• Published 4th Apr 2021
  • 2,127 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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Parties and Paternity

After watching the drinking bird for nearly twenty minutes, interspersed with questions as to its construction and design, Sombra decided that it was time to meet back up with the others. He hadn't planned on becoming so consumed with the toy but it was oddly the most fascinating of his gifts, regardless of its price or the feelings of the gift-giver. Twilight walked closely at his side, her tail affectionately wrapped around his own, a common piece of modern-day body language that had originated as an ancient sign of nonverbal communication that two ponies were mates and thus off-limits to potential suitors. It was humorous to him how much things had changed since his time, yet how many practices and traditions still lingered on, albeit with slight variations and a lack of understanding as to their true purpose and origins. Sombra found this comforting, believing it to be a sign that a fossil like him could find his place in a world that had long since left him behind.

"You and I both know that no matter what you do, they will never accept you."

Midnight Sparkle's silvery, venomous tone crooned in his head. There it was, that niggling doubt that'd festered ever since Twilight first invited him to Ponyville, the very reason for his apprehension towards the whole trip. Deep down inside of him, beyond the veneer of apathy and aggression, there dwelt a self-conscious sliver of terror that he was unable to shake. This terror was omnipresent, even during his rare moments of true happiness, a parasite within his heart that leeched off of every insecurity and fear. For all their talk of friendship and acceptance, would the other ponies ever truly forgive him for his prior misdeeds and allow him to live in peace as a member of their society?

"Sombra, are you okay?"

"I'm alright," he lied, not wishing to spoil the mood with his moping. "Just tired, is all. Princess Luna paid me a visit during my nap on the train. She got me to open up about some of my emotional problems."

"That's great! See, this is what happens when you're honest and communicative!"

Twilight's smile was infectious.

"Yes, I do feel a little better," Sombra admitted. "It's as though this great weight has been lifted off of my shoulders."

"Have you ever considered seeing someone? A therapist, I mean?"

"I've heard of those. I don't know, Twilight. I'm not comfortable with a stranger poking around in my head."

Twilight patted his foreleg. "You'll be okay. Just consider it, please."

Sombra kissed her forehead and she giggled. "I will. I promise."

Sugarcube Corner was alive with activity as ponies filed in and out of the establishment. Conversations were lowered or halted altogether at the sight of the Princess of Friendship cantering side-by-side with the Shadow King, who was looking a tad timid the closer that he got to them. Bystanders parted to make way for the two, keeping a respectful distance between them and the odd pair. Although there was still uncertainty and caution, the ponies weren't openly hostile nor dismissive of the umbrum, their fear replaced by curiosity and a hopeful stillness came over them. Many of their smiles or waves were obviously artificial but Sombra appreciated it nonetheless, giving out a few grateful nods here and there.

Pop music blared inside the restaurant, multicolored lights flashing off of a disco ball while ponies bobbed and wove to the rhythm. Similar to the outside, ponies were sure to give Sombra and Twilight a wide berth, though appearing less suspicious than the other townsfolk. He soon espied the other members of Twilight's little circle-minus Spike and Rainbow Dash-in a corner of the room, sipping punch and chatting about something or other. Before Sombra could blink, Pinkie Pie apparated directly in front of him within a nanosecond. If it wasn't for the impromptu date with Twilight at the castle, he would've been flabbergasted at the pink mare's alarmingly mystifying abilities.

"Hiya Sombra!"

"Pinkie, hello. This is quite the, um, shindig?"

"Thanks! Would you like some punch?"

Sombra spotted the large glass bowl across the room. "That would be nice, thank-..."

One pink blur later, and a plastic cup appeared in his hoof, the reddish liquid barely even stirring. Twilight also had an identical cup and, again, Sombra chose to ignore this for the sake of his sanity.

"...you."

"Thank you, Pinkie," Twilight smiled.

"You're both welcome! Enjoy yourselves!"

With a ponk-ponk-ponk, the party pony bounded away.

Note to self: learn the origin of Pinkie's ungodly powers and discover a way to replicate them.

Sombra took a sip and smacked his lips in delight, finding himself caught off-guard by the fruity tanginess. He then quickly guzzled the punch and nodded in acknowledgment. With Pinkie's repertoire of culinary prowess, he really wouldn't be surprised if Pinkie landed herself a husband in the near future. "The way to a stallion's heart is through their stomach," as the old adage went.

Secondary note to self: ask Pinkie for her punch recipe. Steal it if necessary.

"Where is Rainbow Dash?"

"Dash is with Spike back at the castle," Twilight answered. "She traded with Rarity so that she could enjoy the party."

Sombra was about to answer when he felt a tug on his cloak. Three fillies stood a foot away, their shoulders hunched and heads hung low in submission. He recognized the yellow earth pony as Applejack's little sister Apple Bloom, who he'd met at Sweet Apple Acres during his time spent disguised as Parcel Post. The pegasus, who'd been the one to get his attention, stepped forward while her compatriots watched her uneasily. Honestly, Sombra had to give them credit for their courage and loyalty.

"Hi, I'm Scootaloo."

Lowering himself to his haunches, Sombra bowed his head in an attempt to make himself seem smaller. He'd heard from eavesdropping on idle conversation that getting down to eye level with foals made one less intimidating and also made them equals in the foal's eyes. He had little to no experience working with children so he hoped that this advice was valid.

"Hello there. May I help you?"

Scootaloo seemed to loosen up a bit. "Well, I...we wanted to say thank you for helping free Twilight from that evil spirit and saving Equestria."

"Tha' was pretty neat o' ya," Applebloom chimed in. "Ah heard Applejack talkin' 'bout how ya risked yer life t' help ev'rypony."

"That's what my sister said to me," the unicorn informed him. "Uh, I'm Sweetie Belle, by the way. My sister's Rarity."

Sombra gave them a closed-mouth smile. "It's a pleasure to meet you all. And thank you."

"Thank you!" All three chirped and promptly exited the premises.

"That was very nice of you," Twilight commented proudly as Sombra rose back to his full height.

"It was pretty nerve-wracking."

"You did great." She pecked him on the cheek. "I'm sure that's three more ponies that you've charmed. At this rate, I'm positive everyone in Ponyville will soon let their guard down around you."

They'll never accept you...deep down, you know this to be true.

"Sombra?"

"I'm not really feeling up for partying right now. I think I'll head back to the castle."

With that, he took his leave, neither hearing Twilight call his name nor the murmurs of the partygoers. Sugarcube Corner soon vanished in the distance and it wasn't long before Sombra soon found himself passing through the doors of the Castle of Friendship. The shimmering iridescence of the crystalline hallways did little to lighten his mood, a darkness invading his heart and drowning Sombra in a sorrow he hadn't felt in a long time. How long would it take before they could all act calm around him? And that was just Ponyville. It'd be years before he could show his face in all of Equestria without checking over his shoulder for royal guards.

What if I say or do something that they don't like? How much will I have to change about myself until I'm no longer me? Am I really going to have to bend over backwards to please these ponies by erasing my identity for one preferable to their standards?

The door to where Spike was currently residing appeared in view, causing Sombra to stare at it in confusion. This wasn't his destination, so how did he get there? He must've been so lost in his own thoughts that he hadn't been paying attention and marched single-mindedly to Spike's room. But why go here? Perhaps he needed consolation from a friend?

He sorcerously opened the door to find Spike and Rainbow sitting at the table, sipping tea and playing tic-tac-toe.

"Sombra? What are you doing here? Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing at all," Sombra answered. "How is the breath situation?"

"Under control, at least for now."

"Rainbow Dash, why don't you head to the party? I'll take your shift for you."

The pegasus stood up and eyed him suspiciously. "Only if it's okay with Spike."

Spike placed a hand on one of her hooves. "It's fine, Dash. Go enjoy yourself."

Sombra waited until the door closed behind Rainbow to take a seat next to Spike.

"So, is everything okay? You're not looking so good."

Sombra sighed, "I just...I don't feel as though I belong. And despite everyone's best efforts, it's only become more apparent. Ponies still look at me with suspicion and even the polite ones appear to be nice just so that I don't get upset with them."

Spike nodded sympathetically, reaching over and patting Sombra's hoof.

"I understand. I grew up in Canterlot, which is the most judgmental place in Equestria. Sure, there are other races, like donkeys, zebras, and griffons, but it's mostly ponies. There was a time where I was actually afraid to go anywhere by myself. All those eyes just watching me, waiting for me to go berserk and set fire to everything."

"So how do you handle it?"

"One day at a time," Spike replied sagely. "No one's going to change their mind about you in a day, a week, or even a month."

Sombra's eye bore holes into the tabletop. "I think I'm afraid of changing. I've had to be someone I wasn't before, forced to be what others believed was acceptable. Now I don't even know who I am anymore. Am I Sombra, last of the umbrums, Prince Tourmaline, heir to the Crystal Empire, or King Sombra, ex-ruler and despised fugitive?"

"I know exactly how you feel." Sombra lifted his gaze, so Spike continued. "I'm a dragon but I was raised by ponies. I'm not a selfish brute but I'm also not a happy-go-lucky, pastel-colored equine. I want so badly to fit in to both but I belong to neither. I guess I'm unique and that's not a bad thing."

"At least when you get into a fight, you have thick scaly hide and flame-breath."

"Well, it's a good thing I've never been in one."

Sombra arched his brows. "Really? You've never been in a fight? You at least know how to fight, yes?"

"No. Twilight and Princess Celestia both taught me that fighting is wrong and never solves anything. It's better to be civil and diplomatic."

"Diplomacy is a fine solution, unless it fails. Then what are you going to do? Wait, give me a minute."

Vanishing in a cloud of black smoke, Sombra reappeared with a heavy sack of oats propped up in his magic.

"I want you to hit this bag as hard as you can."

Hopping down from his seat, Spike approached Sombra uncertainly.

"Are you sure about this? Violence is bad, right?"

"It can be, if used improperly. At least being able to defend yourself is a good trait to have when all else fails."

Spike gazed at the bag. "Uh, alright. Here goes nothing."

Raising his fist, he lightly nudged the bag with his first two knuckles.

Sombra grimaced in disbelief. "Are you kidding me? A fly landing on it would've made more of an impact. Try again."

Once more, Spike's fist cocked and delivered another light nudge.

"Harder."

This time, there was more weight behind the punch.

"Harder!"

BAM!

"Harder! Like your life depended on it!"

Releasing a yell, Spike swung his arm with all of his might, striking so hard that he tore a hole through the bag. Oats fell to the floor in a golden cascade like raindrops. Sombra grinned in approval.

"Very good," he applauded, clapping Spike on the back. "I'd recommend pivoting your hip when throwing a punch."

"Heh, thanks Sombra!"

A warm tightness formed in Sombra's chest, both uncomfortable but welcome.

"What is going on here?"

Twilight was settled in the doorway and looked far from pleased.

Spike sheepishly tapped his forefingers together. "Er, um, Sombra was teaching me how to fight?"

Her eyes focused on Sombra's. "Spike, could you leave us alone for five minutes?"

"Twilight, it wasn't his fault. I was just-..."

"Now, Spike."

Casting an apologetic look back, Spike waddled through the door and lingered for a minute. He then gradually shut the door behind him. Twilight checked to see if he was still nearby before turning to confront Sombra. Her body language conveyed sheer annoyance and frustration.

"Why were you teaching Spike how to fight?"

Sombra, however, was undeterred. "It's something every young male from any species should know."

"Violence is never the answer, Som-bra!"

"Really? Then tell me, how do you and your friends solve many of your problems?"

Twilight's jaw dropped slightly. "That-that only happens sometimes!"

"Yes, so it is indeed a solution. I'm not telling Spike to go around picking fights for no reason but if one should find him, he has to know how to defend himself!"

Twilight strode up to Sombra, wings flared slightly. "It would be better if he used diplomacy or walked away."

Narrowing his eyes, Sombra ignited his horn and gave Twilight a slight push.

"Hey! Quit it!"

"No."

Whoom!

"Sombra, I mean it!"

Whoom!

"I said, 'stop'!"

The aura around Sombra's horn dissipated.

"What if Spike meets someone that refuses to listen to reason, someone who is bigger and stronger and who acts aggressively because he has both the means and the inclination to do so. Someone who will follow Spike and won't take no for an answer. What then? When diplomacy fails and there's nowhere to run, the only way to meet force is with force. This is a universal truth."

"If, and that's a big 'if,' it comes to that, Spike has his fire breath."

Sombra shook his head. "And what if his attacker has magic? Or perhaps flames won't work on them, or they're near civilians? Spike will need to know how to use his fists. You're not always going to be around to protect him. You can't treat him like a child forever."

Twilight glared at him. "You can't just come in here and make decisions like this. You're not his father."

"And you're not his mother."

A purple wing pointed towards the door.

"Please go somewhere else for a few hours. I don't want to talk to you right now."

"Fine."

Sombra turned and slammed the door behind him, trails of purple smoke flowing freely from his green eyes.