• Published 15th May 2020
  • 5,363 Views, 122 Comments

A Shadow of Your Former Self - anonbecause1

Every citizen of the Crystal Empire seemed to go through memory loss after the 1,000 years banishment. What if King Sombra did as well?

  • ...


7 years later

“I hereby declare the Radian Hope Hospital for Species Wellness open!” Twilight snipped the red ribbon, marking the hospital officially open to the public to a chorus of cheers. Gests, investors, and newly hired staff from every race entered the facility to see it at its completion for the first time. The waiting room chandelier of floating dancing crystals was obviously the star of the show. Not only was it beautiful but it served a functional purpose, they could send signals to staff regarding emergencies with their color and movement, helping communication.

“I think you can expect a lot more business after this Sombra.”

“I’ll be sure to tell my wife who to blame.”

“Heh,” Twilight laughed, “Just add that to the list.”

“It is extensive.”

“Ok, stop.”

Sombra shrugged and took a drink, “I see Celestia and Luna came, why don’t you go talk to them?”

“…Is that your way of saying ‘Discord is here and waiting to scare you’?”

“I hate it when you ruin the surprise. Whatever happened to helping me sneak up on her?” Sombra caught the paper airplane that had been flying overhead a suspicious amount of time and unfolded it to talk to the drawing of Discord.

“It was fun until my foals started copying you. I almost fell down the stairs when my oldest jumped out of a flies shadow.”

The drawing put its hands on its hips and pouted, “Well now you’re just bragging about your kids.”

“There is a lot to brag about. Shadow Dancer got hired to be in her first ballet and she’s only six years old. And Hope just received an award in-“

“Oh, would you look at the time. Catch you later Salsa, tah!” The paper suddenly vanished.

Sombra looked smugly at Twilight who was staring at him in jealously, “You need to teach me how to do that.”

“I will Princess, as soon as you stop pretending that you don’t have a crush on-“

“Oh, Discord was right, it’s getting late. I should go talk to Celestia before she leaves.” Twilight ran to the other end of the party to do just that but Sombra wasn’t alone for long. Moon Dancer came up behind him to hand him one of the horderves from the snack table.

“How is the party on your end?”

Sombra smiled at his wife, “Terrible, nopony has let me finish a sentence all evening.”

“Well you did just now so buck up.”

Sombra pretended to be offended, “I’m perfectly happy, I haven’t had a single death threat all day.”

“A record.” Moon Dancer smiled, looking over at the snack table to see fishing line after fishing line shoot up out of the shadows to grab a teat and disappear. “They’re really biting today.”

Sombra nodded, “It’s there party too. If the Umbrum hadn’t come forward with Radian Hope’s research journals, we never would have known how much she discovered about the health of other races.”

“She was quite a mare…” Moon Dancer looked up at the towering statue in the courtyard. Radiant Hope had spent her life making sure nocreature went as misunderstood as Sombra did. She lived to a ripe old age but her work lived in obscurity until Sombra looked into the life of his old friend more. It was a shame that she went unappreciated in her lifetime but now every student in Equestria would know what she did for generations to come.

Sombra nuzzled his wife lovingly, “I don’t know how we felt about each other back then but I know how I feel now. I’m sorry I couldn’t meet her again or remember our time together. But I am the luckiest stallion in the world because I get to be with the smartest, kindest, most amazing and beautiful mare I have ever met in this world.”

Moon Dancer smiled and nuzzled him back, “You’re good at talking your way out of things you know.”

“I’m offended, I will never recover, how dare the love of my life insinuate I am not genuine. Love is dead. I will go seek comfort in Tom’s arms as we sail the high seas like I dreamed so long ago.” Sombra had remained completely monotone the entire time and made to walk away but his children chose that time to grab his hooves from the shadows. Sombra looked apologetically at Moon Dancer and stuck his head in his own shadow to talk to them, sound didn’t carry from the shadow realm to earth and vice versa.

Shadow Dancer and Hope Sparkle were floating just below him with their faces stuffed with sandwiches. “Yes, what is it? Mommy and Daddy are in the middle of out sarcasting each other.”

“Can we go to the shadow city please?” Hope Sparkle asked as sandwich crumps flew out of her mouth.

“The shadow city is too far away; you’ll get too tired and I’ll have to come and carry you back. Aren’t you having fun at the party?”

“Nope.” Shadow Dancer answered simply and saw no need to elaborate further. Sombra felt Moon Dancer tap him on the shoulder.

“Stay right here and don’t move.” Sombra pulled his head back up.

“What’s the problem?” She asked.

“They want to go to the shadow city because they don’t like the party.”

Moon Dancer rolled her eyes, “It’s because they let them paint on the walls isn’t it?”

“Well it is hard to beat. If I let them mess with the crystal display, they might forget about it.”

“But it might set a bad precedent. They can’t play with it once the hospital starts using it for emergencies.”

Sombra sighed and prepared to be the bearer of bad news when he got an idea and stuck his head back in. “Mommy says you girls are too important to the party. The Umbrum can’t see which treats are best when they fish so only you two can pick the best ones to feed them.”

Both girls gasped in excitement and climbed out of their mom’s shadow to book it to the snack table. Moon Dancer shuddered with the oddness of the feeling that never seemed to get any easier and watched them go. “What did you tell them?”

“To be the new servers.” He watched as his girls went straight to the desert table to examine every cake, only picking the best to phase through their own shadows and feed the Umbrum like koi.

“I’ll never understand what made you so different from them.” Sombra frowned but understood the question.

“They only knew the void until a few years ago. After Amora banished them, entire generations came and went in darkness. They have legends of ‘the before times’ and of Radian Hope but they never had writing or school. They were too afraid to come too close to the surface with how badly they were beaten…I resented my mother a bit after I studied them but after I really met them my opinion changed. She must have been very brave to come near the surface and leave me there, thinking she would be killed for even trying. Daring to hope that even a fraction of the good stories were true.”

Moon Dancer reached for his hoof to hold, “I’m glad she did.”

“Yeah,” he gripped her hoof back, “Me too.”

-The End -

Comments ( 62 )

got excited that this got a another chapter only to find out you just repost it in small chunks hope dashed :raritydespair:

So, uh, was there a reason you decided to reupload the story into bitesized chunks?

The top comment for this story was that it was too long to be one chapter so I split it up but did it just delete all of the reviews?????

I really hope it didn’t, I read all of them and I’m so grateful for all of your comments. I went back and changed a few formatting and grammatical errors you all pointed out but are they just GONE?!

If they are and any of you come back to this I am so sorry! I was going to send you each a response personally thanking you for reading. Even those who didn’t like it, I’m so glad you gave it a try.

I am so, so sorry, that is not what I wanted to happen. I’ll just give a blanket thank you for reading and especially for sharing your thoughts on it.

Does anyone know if they are gone, gone? Can I get them back?

Yeah, unfortunately deleting chapters deletes their comments too. I don't believe the author would purposely censor their comment section because of comments they didn't like, and that is was probably an accident. I'm totally looking forward to reading this (it's just long and I've been busy) but I also was hoping to read the comments too.

(I'll be leaving a long comment whenever I get around to it to help make up for any deleted comments, if I can.) :twilightsheepish:

Hello Syroc,

Yes, the top comment was that it was too long for one sit-down read so I changed that. When I published it, I did it the way I like so I don’t have to click through chapters and I know what I’m in for. Most do not like it this way however.

Thank you for commenting!

Hello Duckmagee,

Very sorry to disappoint you but I’m very glad you liked the story (I’m assuming). I like your profile picture by the way.

yeah it deletes the reviews, and honestly i didn't mind the length either way was fine, and i loved the story it was great, love more one shot stories set in this story universe such as sombra having to deal with meeting a crystal pony etc

Curious reason, but I guess that's fine.

Well, my review in q nutshell: the story was great, but the ending ruined the whole thing. It feels like nobody learned anything or is sorry, Sombra is forced to consider himself deserving of being tortured/murdered by the EoH, Discord is an evil asshole because he knew it woukd kill Sombra but let them blast him anyways, and in the end he goes crawling back to his executioners to be their best fucking friend like a little bitch.

The story would have ended better if he died, because then his life wouldn't be knowtowing to people who'll shit on his life and not care.

Tl;dr the ending makes me extremely salty.

What happened to the first chapter, and why was it so long?

Hi Vaalintine,

Thank you for the review, I can see why you would feel that way. I wrote this because I like Sombra but when you try to write a redemption story for him you have to think about the ramifications of slavery and what should happen to those who support it. And then, you have to ask yourself what would likely happen in MLP and not the real world. Him dying would be justice so, you are right about that. Anyway, your opinion is valid, I’m glad you gave this a shot and thank you for reviewing.

Aw damn a lot of comment got deleted too. That’s kinda a bummer

I have to say this is a damn good read and a fine wholesome story. The Characters were great i loved your twist to the characters of sombra's backstory. you've done amazing and while i hope to see more from you in the future. no pressure.

MUCH better. Much easier to read.

And still fantastic.

Shame the comments got axed, but that's what happens, I guess. It's a weird quirk of the site.

~Skeeter The Lurker

Hello DarthVendar,

Thank you for reviewing, I’m glad you liked it.

Hi ppg1998,

I’m trying to get them back. I feel awful about it T-T

Hi Skeeter The Lurker,

I’m glad you wrote again; I messaged the admins to see if I can get the reviews back. Thank you for your thoughtful review the first time. I regret the loss of comments but I’m glad it’s easier to read.


No problem! This was a fantastic read, no question.

I do very hope you've other stories to tell.

~Skeeter The Lurker

Liked it more in the one chapter version

My main problem is that the epilogue seems too perfect. There are a lot of stories untold there, like how he found other Umbra, how he reacted to being an Umbra, how it was revealed that he was still alive, how he fell in love, just a lot of stuff that I would have liked to actually see.

Honestly my preference for him to have died from the blast was less about justice and more about a better end for him. Either way there wouldn't be justice because he isn't the same person who commited those crimes, he has total amnesia which effectively makes him a seperate individual. That and the EoH were ne er going to redeem him, that was a false assumption Discord led Twilight to and refused to correct knowing it would kill him, so even if he WAS totally redeemed and innocent it would still have killed him.

Why it would have been better for him to die ris that it woukd be less cruel than him living his life blaming and hating himself for things he never did and rejects, sucking up and worshipping those who blame him for it even with being a seperate individual. Plus after knowing that it would ONLY kill him no matter what they aren't beggi g forgiveness from him, but he is asserting that they are right. Such a life woukd only lead to him being self-hating and thinking he deserves to suffer and die, with those around him agreeing with that.

Also, since this is the MLP comic you're basing things in Amore was racist and evil, knowingly using the crystal heart despite it torturing him because he was an Umbra.

Will there be any sequels to this Fanfic?

Or any small mis adventures with Sombra and his other friends or the main 6?

Or heck even a fanfic on Sombra trying to ask out Moon Dancer would be an absolute Godsend.

I will rewrite my comment: Depending on what you count as a Sombra fic, this is either the best or the 2nd best one on the site. Truly a gem of this degenerate website. 11/10

Literally my all-time favorite Fanfic on this site! (Then Again I have only been here for like- Oh Fuck A Year?

Next time, either unpublish the original version, or edit it to only contain the Epilogue, and slip all the new chapters before it. I don't know how to do those things, mind, but I have seen other authors do it before.

I wasn't actually expecting you to republish the story with it put into chapters instead, that's a welcome surprise. IMO, it makes stories more enjoyable if they're put into parts, but I can see why people would like a story that starts and ends in one chapter.


Honestly I don't know why people were nit picking about splitting it up. Its a short story and crying about not having to hit a next button to read more is assinine.

So when is the sequel going to be up?

Very nice. Could use a once-over with a copy-editor for spelling.

I disagree with Vaalintine - the resolution works for me. Twilight's coming to his home and explaining/apologizing seems to cover it.

I do find the epilogue a bit weird, but no big deal there.

I gotta admit I was kind of expecting a deeper look into the Umbra’s history in this universe. I was expecting some sort of horrific truth behind the Umbra’s that alluded to them being more advanced then what the records claimed before being forced off their lands and killed off by the Crystal Ponies. Even the book’s description of the Umbra made me think of their use of dark magic being exaggerated as some sort of post genocidal justification created by biased historians. Like even with the ‘banished to a cave’ thing gave me instant thoughts of it being a sensitised way of saying mass graves.

rushed ending tbh

Yeah I hope there’ll be a sequel to expand upon the situation depicted in the epilogue.

This is a very, very good story. But... honestly, I was a little disappointed that Sombra didn't regain his memories in the end and have to reconcile the two sets of memories.

Also, thank you for splitting it up into chapters. I actually didn't mind reading the whole thing in one sitting. Haha But it makes it easier to reread the parts I really liked. And... probably good for those who want to split it into different sittings.

One good story. We need more like this one:pinkiehappy:

Oh that was my thought too. That he took it over for revenge on his people. To make the ponies suffer like his people did.

I thought the whole obsession with getting them to mine was an effort to free the Umbrums from the cavern similar to the comics where there was an army of Umbrums beneath the Crystal City

hmm...that might be part of it too. I have sadly never had the chance to read the comics

Fantastic Story. Easily my favorite with the topic of a reformed King Sombra. Great Job ^^

This was a good story. It had an enjoyable premise and your Sombra was a fun character to read about. This story could use some touch-ups to make it truly shine though, the characterization, in the beginning, was a bit rough but got better as the story went on. I also saw a few grammar and spelling mistakes, but they didn't detract too much.

With few look throughs of this, it could be a true gem of a story.

I look forward to what you write next.

A fine first story. While I do have criticisms, you did a good job of giving Sombra an entertaining romp while also making him part of the larger season 3 story.

The whole 'execution' plot did feel somewhat forced, but I'm also happy you resisted the urge to make other ponies into villains just to move it along. I do hope to see more stories from you down the road.:twilightsmile:

Will Moondancer and Twilight make up or what?

"She must have been very brave to come near the surface and leave me there, thinking she would be killed for even trying. Daring to hope that even a fraction of the good stories were true.”

This touch me deeply.

i love your writing ever thought off making a story of Sombra falling in love with another stallion?

I enjoyed this stories premise, but I also feel it was a bit rushed in the latter half. The 7 year time jump also felt a bit jarring. Still, you get a thumbs up.

You managed to make me miss my bedtime and have to drag myself out of bed for work two days in a row. That's how well this story hooked me. The beginning was a little bit rough, the plot could probably use a bit more obvious direction or foreshadowing before Sombra gets his first job, it doesn't really pick up until he's living and studying in Manhattan. I know that your protagonist was just bouncing mostly aimlessly during that time, but I think the story suffered a bit from not having a clear goal or direction by the end of the first chapter.
To tell you how to do your job, it may be best to have Sombra establish a goal early on, even if it is just to get his hooves under him and get established while staying under the radar. Alternatively, you could show more overtly that the elements and princesses are actively hunting for him, and leverage that to apply pressure onto the story to drive it forward.

In the middle, it felt both rushed and like it was stretched out. The main issues are that I think we don't spend enough time establishing that Sombra is actually making connections with all of these ponies / people and keeping up with all of them. A simple scene with Sombra writing and receiving letters would be a good patch, but ideally each major connection would be given at least 2-3 scenes for the audience to watch it grow and to see how significant that other person is to Sombra, and vice versa.
Following that, the scenes of Twilight investigating Sombra's new life seemed to drag on a bit, to where I actually said aloud that you're laying it on a bit thick by the time Daisy came up. It may be best to follow the rules of 3s, and only have a dedicated scene showing the reaction to the letters from 3-4 of Sombra's companions that were the most impactful. I would say Daisy, a quick synopsis of the other general responses, and then Moon Dancer. In that order for a strong opening and the solid emotional punch to finish.

Finally with the epilogue, I am not entirely sure that there was enough build towards it to have a fully satisfying payoff. Sombra's relationship with Moon Dancer isn't really developed in the story, and his career restarting and connection with Radiant Hope is left implied (I know it is laid out more in the comics, but it's important to the story so should be touched on as a reminder at least).
Honestly, my main problem personally with the epilogue is the same as with Endgame: it shows that we have clearly missed a lot of super interesting stories and character development, nipping the impact of that development in the bud, and making me ask why you didn't tell that story. But that's mostly just a pet peeve of mine I think.

I say all of this as someone who has never finished a full story myself, let alone proven any skill at writing, so take my advice with a pile of salt.
My main concerns are just someone bouncing out of this story before it really hits it's stride, or leaving dissatisfied so not reading your future works. Both of those would be a real shame, as this is quite good!
I'll be sure to read everything else you post up here!

That’s still the end of the Victorian era and into the Edwardian one. This story doesn’t quite strike me as using material from around that time. Instead, it feels close to being ready to snap my suspension of disbelief, hence me asking.

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