• Published 3rd Sep 2021
  • 374 Views, 52 Comments

Kindness and the Fate of Shadow - Raven-Flight

An old threat is back, leading Fluttershy and Discord to confront their plans for the future. They've each been keeping secrets...

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Such a Pleasure to be Back

It wasn’t until Discord conjured some smelling salts that Twilight revived. When he said it a second time, the alicorn once again swiftly hyperventilated herself unconscious.

Discord and Fluttershy exchanged a worried glance. Then, they roused Twilight again.

“What happened? Where am I?” She glanced around the room in a panic, then relaxed when her eyes answered the second question.

“What happened,” Discord enunciated with a facepalm, “is I tried to add to your knowledge, and you got so excited, you fell asleep. Both times. I still don’t understand why ponies do that.”

“Oh right, I remember now.” Twilight stood and dusted herself off. “What were you telling me, again?”

Fluttershy laid a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “Steady yourself this time.” The alicorn nodded.

“I am not the only member of my species in existence,” said Discord. “There’s a whole society of draconequui in the place between dimensions.”

“Yep, okay, definitely remember that now,” Twilight breathed, raising a hoof to her forehead and hastily taking a seat. “More draconequui. More dimensions. Who’d have thunk?” She barked a laugh. “Certainly not me! I’m gonna need a scroll and quill for this, aren’t I?”

Fluttershy bit the tip of her hoof in concern, but Discord conjured up the requested materials. Slowly, over the course of the next hour, and with only two more uses of the smelling salts, Discord filled Twilight in on the draconequui, the founding spells, and the status of Fluttershy as his magical, fate-decreed soulmate.

The excitement of these unexpected revelations eventually overcame Twilight’s shock. “Incredible! All this time, there were whole new universes of existence just waiting to be discovered! Not just pocket dimensions, but actual, whole, self-contained dimensions brimming with uncontacted life! Ponies have been theorizing about a multiverse for centuries, but the philosophers always declare it could never be proven—and to think! Wrong, all this time! And the draconequui! We, we should visit! It would be diplomatic! Yes, diplomatic! Just think what kind of library a whole race of knowledge-obsessed immortals living between dimensions might have! How do we get there? When do we go?”

“Breathe, Twilight,” Fluttershy soothed, trying not to giggle. “He’s not finished.”

Twilight clacked her jaw shut, nodded stiffly, and sat facing Discord, eyes and ears totally focused.

Discord considered the possibility of making a joke at that moment, but then noticed the vial of smelling salts Fluttershy was still holding at the ready and thought he’d better not. A set of billowing scholar’s robes spilled over his body instead. He casually adjusted his spectacles. “You see, I’m in danger of catastrophic insanity. Fluttershy is in possible danger from tomorrow’s release of you-know-who. For our mutual protection, I suggested to Fluttershy that we go to the draconequus homelands together and perform the traditional soulmate rituals. It would irreversibly link us across the fabric of extraplanar space and establish a thought connection so we can better look out for each other.”

Fluttershy met Twilight’s eyes. “I wanted to get your opinion before I agree to a commitment like that.”

She stared blankly back in thought. Then she rose up and spun herself in a pirouette of glee. “Of course, of course, you should definitely do it—as long as you take me along!”

While Twilight was occupied with her grinning and spinning, Discord waved away the costume, leaned down to Fluttershy, and spoke in a whisper. “The draconequus king forbade our kind from sharing too much about ourselves with mortals for exactly this reason.”

“But Twilight’s not mortal,” Fluttershy whispered back.

“Well, she was. Non-draconequui, anyway. Whatever. You know what I meant.”

They both turned back to Twilight to see her seated facing them and looking perfectly sane and collected. “Fluttershy, I agree that you’re facing a tough decision, especially given how unprecedented it all is. I’m tempted to tell you to say yes for selfish reasons, but that would be unkind of me. This sort of decision is something that nopony but you yourself can make. I want you to know, though, that I’ll be behind you and beside you no matter what.”

Fluttershy knit her brows over glistening, uncertain eyes. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. Thank you. It’s just all so much, and I wish I had more time to think about it. Wouldn’t it be best to have an answer before we release… him?”

“I don’t see why you would necessarily have to make a decision that quickly,” Twilight mused.

The wide teal eyes widened even further. “You mean I have to decide when to decide?”

“Uhh… I suppose we could just postpone the release to give you more time if you wanted...”

Now there were tears in those eyes. “You mean I have to decide whether to endanger him for a few more days for my sake?”

Twilight and Discord facepalmed simultaneously. The latter scooped Fluttershy into his arms before she needed the smelling salts and swept her off for a stroll in the garden to calm her down. Once they were gone, Twilight summoned every scroll in the vicinity that had a scrap of empty space on it and started writing furiously.

She stood in the gloom until she felt that peculiar tugging sensation behind her eyes as her bat vision kicked in. A few more seconds passed, and shapes and contours materialized out of the darkness to give her a hazy, desaturated view of the room. The slow rise and fall of her foals’ breathing was now visible to Fluttershy, and she crept to the side of the nearest bed for a better look.

Coreopsis Stellurian Lux had a dark plum mane with thin streaks of pale pink that strongly resembled the typical Shy family colors. It was even growing long and straight, much like Fluttershy’s own mane. His frosty lavender-gray coat could have been a product of either parent’s lineage. The dark plum sock markings on all four of Corey’s legs must have come from his father’s side, though. Fluttershy thought it was cute that her younger son perpetually looked as if he had just been splashing in a puddle of dark, rich juice. More unnerving than cute were the red eyes in Corey’s face that Fluttershy swore were exactly like his father’s. The unicorn horn was another undeniably paternal trait.

Then she moved to the other bed and checked on her other foal. If there had been any light in the room, she would have been admiring Fio’s jet-black mane and its one lock that sparkled like it was perpetually dusted with gold glitter. She wondered where that glittering effect came from—nopony in her family had anything like that—until she remembered that his father had once been part crystal pony. Deep red fur, black hooves, unicorn horn…Did her little flower take after her at all? Yes, of course he did: set in his golden eyes were slit pupils, much like the slit pupils Fluttershy developed whenever she was in the dark. Dear Fiorello Garnet Dusk didn’t inherit just any traits from his mother—he inherited her bat traits.

Without thinking about it, Fluttershy ran her tongue over her teeth. The pointed fangs were still there. She had hoped they would return to normal when her membranous bat wings feathered out again, but no such luck. It seemed that some of the bat traits she had acquired during her captivity under the shadow king were here to stay. The ragged piercing at the top of her left ear also wasn’t healing, and neither was the brown line that snaked down her neck and into her heart from it. That vein was no longer black and swollen with poisonous dark magic, but the scar of it served as a visual reminder of the lesser concentration of dark magic that still circulated in her body, and likely would continue to do so as long as she possessed her transformative kindness magic.

There were so many ways that evil stallion had permanently altered Fluttershy. What would he do when he saw her again? If he had the chance, would he renew the old infection and once again try to turn her into an undead shadow pony? She shivered at the thought. He must not be given that chance.

Then Fluttershy heard the sleeping foal in front of her mutter “same group” in his sleep, and her attention turned to her darling twins. What would that stallion do when he saw Fio and Corey? Would he try to take them? Would he change them too? She couldn’t let that happen!

But everycreature already knew how cunning the shadow king could be. After all, he was the one who had stolen Fluttershy from her friends and threatened her life to keep Discord out of his way all those years ago. It was hard to believe he wouldn’t be up to his old tricks again after he was released. As long as Discord was with her, Fluttershy knew, she and the foals would be untouchable. The trick was not to let the shadow king separate her from Discord again.

Fluttershy sighed, moved toward the door, and looked back at the sleeping Fio and Corey one more time. There was one guaranteed way to keep her from being separated from Discord, at least. It would involve giving him access to her thoughts and linking herself with him at a level of physical, emotional, and magical intimacy that she could scarcely conceive of. Quietly, she exited her foals’ bedroom and started toward her own.

She loved Discord, certainly. But his “soulmate rituals” would give him the kind of power over her that that stallion had once had and abused. Fluttershy didn’t think Discord would abuse that power, but she couldn’t forget what had happened to her either. Then again, if it would keep the twins safe from whatever threat their father might pose...

Which was stronger, Fluttershy wondered—her trust in the goodness of Discord not to take advantage of her, or her trust in the goodness of Sombra not to resist being reformed? It seemed the answer was pretty clear, however much it terrified her.

They all gathered on the castle lawn where there would be space for whatever happened. Twilight was in the process of raising the sun, while Discord, Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack arranged themselves in a wide circle. As soon as Twilight joined them, they would begin. Fluttershy turned to Discord and motioned for him to lean down so she could whisper.

“I’ve decided.”

“About the rituals?”


“Yes, you’ll do them?” Discord smiled hopefully.

“Yes. But,” she added before Discord started celebrating, “not right now. I’d like to wait a few weeks for things to settle down.”

“A few weeks?! But what if S… you-know-who tries anything? I want to make sure I can protect you. And the foals!”

“You said he’s weak and dying. I don’t think he’ll be in a position to try anything major for a little while, at least. Discord, please, I just want to make sure we’re ready for this. It’s all been so sudden...”

“Fair enough,” Discord sighed. “Looks like it’s time.”

Twilight took her place in the circle and confirmed that they were all ready. Then she looked to Discord and nodded.

He snapped his fingers, and in the center of the ring, a large crystal appeared. Sombra was frozen inside. Several long moments passed in stillness. Discord wanted to make the stallion feel exposed and vulnerable in the light of the morning sun. He snapped again.

There was a burst of intense flame that consumed the crystal prison in an instant, searing Sombra’s eyes with its brilliance. Discord took that second to affix an enchanted sleeve over Sombra’s horn and magically lock it in place. The enormous gray stallion reared up and roared, and the girls all tensed for a fight.

Sparks fizzled from Sombra’s horn until he realized his magic had been blocked. With a grunt, he switched gears and charged at Discord. He only made it two steps before collapsing. “What have you done to me?”

“Your prison was killing you,” the draconequus explained. “Out of concern for your life, you are being released.”

“Oh good,” sneered Sombra, rising shakily back to his hooves. He spotted Fluttershy and held eye contact with her. “It’s such a pleasure to be back.”

Discord walked up to Sombra and wrenched the stallion’s face up to look him in the eye. “Just because you’re released from prison doesn’t mean you’re free. We expect a full reformation out of you before you’ll get your freedom back, Bub. And if you try anything...” Flames danced in Discord’s eyes and his clutching talons dug deep enough into Sombra’s skin to draw blood.

The former king proudly matched Discord’s gaze. “And if I refuse?”

“Then you’ll never properly meet those sweet little foals I’ve adopted as my own.”

That made Sombra’s eyes dilate, and he found he couldn’t reply. Discord shoved his face away, knocking him back to the ground, and returned to his place beside Fluttershy with a “Humph”.

Twilight walked around the circle until she was standing before the glowering stallion. “These are the terms. You will be kept in the castle dungeon under close guard, and your magic will be blocked until you have proven you can be trusted. You will be given parchment and quills, as well as approved books to entertain yourself. I and the others will visit you frequently to teach you friendship lessons. If you are respectful and attentive, and if you demonstrate enough progress, you will earn more freedom over time. Will you accept this opportunity to improve yourself?”

“What about my foals?” he hissed.

“Whether and when you see your foals will be at Fluttershy’s sole discretion.”

Sombra growled at Twilight and glanced around for any hope of escape. His eyes landed on Fluttershy again, and he suddenly straightened up and composed himself. Placing a hoof over his chest, Sombra took a deep breath. Then he met Twilight’s eyes and smiled. “Twilight Sparkle. Thank you for your concern for my physical and moral wellbeing. Thank you all,” he added, with a grand gesture to the whole circle of creatures around him. “In the sincere hope of steadily improving my station and character for the good of my dear family, I accept these terms.”

Sombra held his confident smile as the ponies around him all exchanged wide-eyed glances.

“So be it, then,” Discord concluded. He teleported them all into the dungeon, where Sombra materialized in a cell that was already locked and under guard. The stallion offered no reaction at all to the change in scenery.

Twilight then teleported a package into the cell. “Here are parchments and quills, as promised, as well as your first book. It was written by Fluttershy and myself, and might be instructive to you.”

“Thank you,” nodded Sombra.

Rarity stood and turned her hooves toward the dungeon exit. “Well, I’m not spending any more time down here than I have to. Goodbye for now, Sombra. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again soon enough.” She trotted off.

Rainbow Dash flew up to the bars of Sombra’s cell and stared him down. “Listen here, punk. Discord’s not the only one of us who’s ready to crush your skull if you so much as breathe in the wrong direction, so you’d better be on your best behavior.”

Applejack was next to depart. She had nothing to say to him, but affixed him with such an intense glare as she walked by that he could have no doubt she saw right through his little act of sincerity.

“Ohmygosh, we are gonna have so. Much. FUN!!!” Pinkie Pie bounced up to the bars and reached her front arms through, grabbing Sombra’s face and pulling it toward herself for a definitely-unwanted hug. She released him and called over her shoulder as she bounced away. “See you soon, newest friend!!!”

Sombra huffed at the indignity and brushed himself off. When he looked up again, he saw the earnest face of Twilight. “I really hope you’re being sincere. For your sake. Take today to get used to your new circumstances, and I’ll be back tomorrow for your first lesson.”

When Discord and Fluttershy were the last ones standing before the cell, the former whistled a signal toward the dungeon exit. Spike appeared, hustling two quivering colts down the stairs. He transferred Fio and Corey to their parents, shot the stallion in the cell a warning glare, and flew off again.

The twins were too excited to move or speak, so they sat side-by-side and stared in awe.

“Are those my sons?” Sombra crouched down to meet them at eye level. “Tell me, what are your names?”

Feisty Fio shook himself of his shock first. “I’m Fiorello Garnet Dusk!”

Corey could not be long outdone. “And I’m Corp-sis Stell-ian Lux!”

Coreopsis Stellurian, dear,” Fluttershy corrected. Then she frowned at Sombra. “Corey. Fio and Corey.”

Having made initial contact, the twins could contain themselves no longer.

“Father, why are you in jail?”

“What’s on your horn, Father?”

“How old are you?”

“Do you like us?”

“Can we play with you, Father?”

Sombra chuckled heartily and there might have been a glint of genuine pleasure in his eyes. “All in good time, my sons! All in good time!”

“Okay, you two,” announced Discord. “You’ve met your father; now let’s give him some space. Come with Daddy!” He grit his teeth as he scooped up his foals and marched toward the exit without so much as a backward glance.

A spark of fear animated Fluttershy’s legs, and she jumped up to follow her mate out. But a low voice made her freeze.

“Fluttershy, my dear.”

She didn’t want to look back and forced her head to face forward. Her eyes, though, did not obey.

Sombra smiled when he caught her glance. “How soon will I see you again?”

No. Not that voice. He always used that voice with me. It was never real. He never really loved me. I can’t give in. It can’t happen again—

“Mommy, come play too!”

She heard Fio’s voice echo off the stone walls somewhere ahead and she ran for it.

Listening to the retreating beat of her hoofsteps, Sombra smirked to himself and licked his lips.

The two guards standing on either side of the cell door would be on high alert for the first hour or two, Sombra figured. It would be too risky to test his magic before then, so he laid himself neatly in the center of the stone floor, crossed his forelegs, and settled in for a good think.

Your prison was killing you. Out of concern for your life, you are being released.”

He could have laughed. Concern for his life? He was already dead. Whatever life he’d had, brief as it was, had ended many centuries ago. Nopony ever cared for Sombra’s life until he had terminated it and become a shadow pony. Then, suddenly, he had become a figure of importance. A figure of respect and fear. It had made him feel significant and proud, but even so, there was only one who had ever actually liked him.


Even now, he could see her blue eyes. No, teal. Those eyes, so often bright with hope, yet always somehow hiding sadness. He remembered how it felt to stroke her silky mane, the soft, pastel color made all the softer against his dark gray fur. She was the dearest, sweetest creature he could imagine.

And now, she was not his.

It made Sombra’s eyes burn with fury to think how his mare had left him. While carrying his own sons, too!

His own sons; that was another matter. A shame it was that she should allow that beastly abomination to raise their sons. No, not merely a shame—an outrage! Sombra stood up and started pacing against the back wall of his cell.

His sons were a miracle. A gift from fate. Through them, no longer was the shadow pony race doomed. He could feel it, he could smell it, he could taste it: those colts had dark magic growing and maturing in their bodies. How this had occurred when no shadow foals in the history of their race had ever been born (save for himself), Sombra could not fathom. All he knew was that he had to get them back. They were his sons to raise, not that draconequus’s! He needed to help them reach their full potential! He needed them to help him recover the species and retake his kingdom!

But how could he possibly rescue them from Discord’s unfairly superlative power in this weakened state, with no allies or artifacts to aid him?

Sombra sat down in the corner of his cell, out of breath from walking.

How could it be done when he was so powerless?

Fluttershy, of course. His sons weren’t the only ponies exuding dark magic. He had tasted it on her too.

Sombra took a deep breath, savoring how the dark magic in his own body swelled and relaxed with the action. Maybe he couldn’t cast magic through his horn for the time being, but there were certainly other ways dark magic could be manipulated. Perhaps he still had an influence.

He recalled the sensation of enfolding her small, soft body against himself, and he grinned. If he could just remind her of her need for him, she would bring him their sons. She would be his queen again.